If you like funny books, and I seem to be on a funny book spell right now, you MUST check out Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growi...moreIf you like funny books, and I seem to be on a funny book spell right now, you MUST check out Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka, by Jon Scieszka. This is a truly laugh-out-loud, every chapter sort of book. It's the sort of book that will have kids wanting to look inside from just the cover, and have them clutching their sides from laughing too hard. And all this, with an autobiography - that stodgiest of forms (NOT!).
Jon Scieszka has written over two dozen children's books, ranging from The True Story of the Three Little Pigs to The Time Warp Trio series. In Knucklehead, he writes about his own childhood - what it was like to grow up as one of six boys in Flint, Michigan in the 1950s and 1960s. Each short chapter tells a different family story. These stories are hilarious - about all the trouble six boys will get into. I loved one teacher's comments after reading a few chapters aloud to her class: "When I read a few chapters aloud to my students, they were literally in hysterics. There were shouts of, “I’ve done that!” and “My mom would flip out if she knew I did this stuff, too!”. It especially seemed to connect with boys but I had quite a few girls ask to get on the waiting list, too." (see The Reading Zone for her full review).
All in all, Knucklehead has everything that you'd want in summer reading for kids who might be a bit reluctant to pick something up: lots of laughs, body humor (just ask them about "crossing swords"), funny pictures and short chapters.(less)
Mallory is just about to move to a new town, away from her best friend. Moving stinks, especially when Mallory's big brother Max torments her at every...moreMallory is just about to move to a new town, away from her best friend. Moving stinks, especially when Mallory's big brother Max torments her at every turn, and when she has to leave Mary Ann, her best friend in the whole world. But Mallory does end up making a new buddy - Joey - breaking the biggest rule she had for herself: do not make friends with a boy.
What I liked most about this book was how spunky and happy Mallory was. Even though she was angry about moving, she figured out a way to keep telling jokes and to make new friends.(less)
The book begins with a preface: "There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to b...moreThe book begins with a preface: "There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together." So begins a simple, but emotionally powerful fairy tale about how one day a king and queen start to feel a tug on their hearts. The wise old peddlar shows them that there is a red thread leading out from their hearts, and they must follow it. They follow the thread, across a vast sea, to a foreign land. With each step, their hearts hurt a little less. Finally, they come to a little village, and see that the thread leads to a small baby. A wrinkled elder steps forward and says, "This baby belongs to you." It's a touching story, sharing how strong the bond is between parents and child, how they are meant to be together.
From the jacket flap: "Grace (Lin) was inspired to write this after experiencing many warm and wonderful interactions with families with children from China."(less)
This is a nice read for 3rd or 4th graders about a young girl's experience growing up as one of the only Chinese-Americans in her school. It was a lit...moreThis is a nice read for 3rd or 4th graders about a young girl's experience growing up as one of the only Chinese-Americans in her school. It was a little slow going for me at first, but I really grew to like Pacey. I loved getting a sense of her family life and her friendship with Melody. There are many points where any kid might relate to Pacey's struggles - with the science fair, with a crush on a boy at school. But this story also gives the reader a feeling for Pacey's Chinese-American traditions and how she struggles to accept and understand her identity.
The dramatic tension in the story grows as Pacey tells about her feeling awkward at school being Chinese - she worries about being in the school play of Wizard of Oz, that everyone would think it was odd to have a Chinese munchkin. But she also feels awful when other Chinese girls teased her for not speaking Chinese or Taiwanese.
This would make a great read-aloud for kids in 1st or 2nd grade, or a nice independent read for 3rd or 4th graders. It would appeal to any kid who likes a realistic story, especially kids who might be interested in Pacey's Chinese-American identity.(less)
Kids who are new to reading chapter books love funny stories that they can relate to. Ruby Lu is a happy kid. She likes her house. She likes her stree...moreKids who are new to reading chapter books love funny stories that they can relate to. Ruby Lu is a happy kid. She likes her house. She likes her street. Now that she is almost eight, she's allowed to walk to school by herself, and that is great. With sheer love of life and the courage to take risks, Ruby brings the reader right into the joys and fears of being a kid, especially growing up in a Chinese-American family.
Ruby loves her life – she has a great, positive outlook. But there are days when it's very hard being Ruby. Like the day when her neighbor's baby brother starts talking and Ruby’s baby brother Oscar won’t say anything. Or the day her parents want her to go to Chinese school on Saturdays. “But Ruby understood her grandparents just fine. They loved her and she loved them. They brought her treats and she ate them. They took walks in the park and Ruby led the way.” Ruby takes all sorts of paths dealing with the frustrating things in her life. Just like the kids I know, she changes her mind from hating something to absolutely loving it.
Lenore Look focuses on home, family and cuture in a way that shares this unique viewpoint, making it both universal and personal at the same time. Ruby’s creativity and voice will engage readers from any background, enticing outsiders and welcoming Chinese-Americans. She will have readers laughing at her quirks, and nodding when they see her change her mind about what she loves and hates. Young readers will also appreciate the quick pace of the novel and the funny, frequent illustrations. (less)
a beautiful, gentle, powerful story - about a boy's relationship with his brother and grandfather, about how his family supports him as he copes with...morea beautiful, gentle, powerful story - about a boy's relationship with his brother and grandfather, about how his family supports him as he copes with his brother's and grandfather's deaths, about his relationship with Uncle Sonny, and about his gift of drawing.
universal in a child's support by his family and sadness with the passing of his grandfather & brother, and yet so specific to the particular urban setting. complex and simple at the same time - fantastic.(less)
This simple but powerful picture book shows a young girl who travels between her mom's home and her dad's home. She spends nights at both homes, but F...moreThis simple but powerful picture book shows a young girl who travels between her mom's home and her dad's home. She spends nights at both homes, but Fred her dog stays with her, traveling to both parents' homes. I love how this shows the little girls' family life as ... just accepted. She has the same friend, the same school - but one of her rooms has a bunk bed and the other has a regular bed. "At my mom's, Fred barks at the poodle next door. At my dad's Fred steals socks. But Fred always time to play." "Fred is my friend. We walk together. We talk together. When I'm happy, Fred is, too. And when I'm sad, Fred is there." So when her parents tell her that Fred can't stay with either of them, she says, "Excuse me, Fred doesn't stay with either of you. Fred stays with ME!" It's a lovely book about how a child adapts to her life with her parents' separation, and how she finds the stability she needs.(less)
I enjoyed this book, especially its theme of forgiveness. I thought the author did a particularly good job showing how Groovy recognized that she need...moreI enjoyed this book, especially its theme of forgiveness. I thought the author did a particularly good job showing how Groovy recognized that she needed to forgive her father, but how she couldn't right away. She really felt her feelings, stayed with them - and then eventually moved through the anger toward forgiveness. It wasn't the best written book I've read lately, but it spoke to me. Hmmm, will it speak to kids? Not sure. Fuller review will come later.(less)
Did you ever tease your little brother or sister? Or maybe they taunted you?? All little brothers and sisters have to figure out how to deal with olde...moreDid you ever tease your little brother or sister? Or maybe they taunted you?? All little brothers and sisters have to figure out how to deal with older siblings who try to pull one over on them. If you have a littlest one in your family, check out The Chicken of the Family. It is hilarious as it shows the youngest sister deciding what she wants to do.
Henrietta's two older sisters always tease her, and she hates it. One night, her sisters tell her that she is really a chicken that their mom got from Barney's farm up the road. Henrietta finds an egg in her bed the next morning, and two brown feathers on the floor. Oh no, maybe her sisters were right...
So Henrietta goes searching for her real family ... up at Barney's farm. The chickens are actually happy to see her. They play games with her, they cluck with her - and Henrietta is full of smiles. But then, her sisters show up. This is a sweet, funny book that will have your kids laughing as Henrietta convinces her middle sister that life with the chickens is actually better than a life with a bossy big sister.(less)
I love a book that will make you laugh out loud, and then will make you and your child laugh out loud again a week later when you remember reading it...moreI love a book that will make you laugh out loud, and then will make you and your child laugh out loud again a week later when you remember reading it together. The Alvin Ho series does just this. These are perfect read-alouds for 1st graders, and great for 3rd graders on their own.
Alvin Ho is an Asian-American second grader who is afraid of everything— elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man. This first book in the series is full of everyday adventures in short, illustrated chapters. One day, Alvin is trying to grow taller and is left stranded by his siblings during stretching exercises that leave him upside down in a tree where he remains forgotten until his mother spots his empty seat at dinner. Another time, Alvin decides to bring his dad's beloved childhood Johnny Astro toy for show-and-tell, and suffers the consequences when it's broken. The funniest episode of all, in my mind, was the chicken-pox episode. Alvin one funny little guy.(less)
As we celebrate Memorial Day, I'd like to take a moment to think about the families who have sent fathers, sons and brothers to fight in war. The Hear...moreAs we celebrate Memorial Day, I'd like to take a moment to think about the families who have sent fathers, sons and brothers to fight in war. The Heart of a Shepherd, by Rosanne Parry, tells the story of an twelve-year old boy whose father is sent to fight in Iraq with the rest of his reserve unit. I was very moved by this story, especially because it shared with me a perspective that is so far away from my experiences here in Oakland, and yet such an important part of our American experiences in the early 21st century.
Twelve-year old "Brother" is the youngest of 5 boys growing up on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. His older brothers are now off at boarding school, college or the army, and he's now alone helping his dad and grandparents manage their cattle ranch. Brother feels that he's never been the rancher that his older brothers are - it's difficult trying to fill their shoes when they're away. But his dad and grandpa help him learn how to do things.
Then, Brother's dad is called up to fight with his reserve unit in Iraq. With all of his brothers away, Brother promises his dad that he will help keep the ranch running smoothly. His dad believes in him, and Brother has to keep faith that his father will return safely. Here is one of my favorite quotes from his dad:
“You don’t have to be brave,” he says, real quiet. “Neither of us does. A man’s life is not so much about courage. You just have to keep going. You have to do what you’ve promised, brave or not.” (page 24)
In many ways, The Heart of a Shepherd reminds me of A River Runs Through It for tweens. The setting is inextricably part of the story - the land, the weather, the power it holds for people living on a ranch. Brother struggles with his relationship with his older brothers, trying to prove himself a man. And Brother tries to come to terms with his faith, both his faith as a Catholic and his grandfather's faith as a Quaker.
Kids who like real stories about real people will like this book. I think it will appeal to girls and boys, most likely in 5th or 6th grade. The audiobooks has gotten great reviews - it would make a great story for a car trip this summer.(less)
A great series of picture books by Daniel San Souci celebrates kids' imaginations and shares some very funny stories of the author's childhood. They'r...moreA great series of picture books by Daniel San Souci celebrates kids' imaginations and shares some very funny stories of the author's childhood. They're definitely worth seeking out.
One summer, Danny and his family went up to Lake County for a vacation. He found a live King snake, and his brothers found tadpoles and a "real" dinosaur bone. When they get home, their friends are thrilled with the treasures they brought! The boys started a new club, The Dangerous Snake and Reptile Club, painted huge signs for the clubhouse, and the fun really began. Soon they started inviting neighborhood kids in to see their treasures - of course, charging a small entrance fee! Hilarity ensues as the snake escapes one day. Kids will really enjoy this funny story. (less)
This book is aimed at ages 4 - 8, and has lots of cartoons and short parts as part of the description. I like the way it starts with real basic questi...moreThis book is aimed at ages 4 - 8, and has lots of cartoons and short parts as part of the description. I like the way it starts with real basic questions, like how are girls and boys the same and different. It has a conversational tone, but clear information with lots of illustrations - drawings that look realistic. It shows special parts on the outside of boys and girls bodies, and on the inside of their bodies. It does talk about sex, but in a way I'm comfortable with: "When grownups want to make a baby, most often a woman and a man have a special kind of loving called 'making love' - having sex' or 'sex.' this kind of loving happens when the woman and the man get so close to each other that the man's penis goes inside the woman's vagina." My guess is that this has lots more than Maddy & Malena want, but it would make an easy introduction.(less)
Loved rereading this - brought back so many memories from childhood, not specific memories, but that wash of familiarity, of havi...more1942 Caldecott winner
Loved rereading this - brought back so many memories from childhood, not specific memories, but that wash of familiarity, of having been drawn into this book hundreds of times. This time, I was struck by how the text gave the ducks so many human qualities, but the illustrations of the ducks seemed so realistic. I was also struck by the dynamic poses of the policeman, and the interesting perspectives/angles. The rest of the book does not have much movement, but McCloskey builds the climax and tension with the policeman perfectly for young children.(less)