I almost shelved this book on my "parenting" shelf because it has a lot to say about parenting! Which brings us to the crux of the matter right off: wI almost shelved this book on my "parenting" shelf because it has a lot to say about parenting! Which brings us to the crux of the matter right off: will KIDS want to read a book that has so much great stuff about PARENTS? There are those transitional/short chapter books that focus on adults which have found good readership (Sarah, Plain and Tall perhaps), but they are few and far between. And this little book is primarily about the grown-ups.
A childless couple finds a boy on their porch, a boy who can't speak but who possesses great and amazing gifts in the arts (music and painting particularly). He can communicate with animals after a fashion as well. But the book is entirely from John and Marta's perspective, not Jacob's EVER.
A great statement about foster parenting, the gift it is to children, and how children/ unexpected relationships can enrich our lives beyond our expectations.... And it's beautifully written with succinct short chapters and just enough said. I'm going to be curious to see who picks it up more, grown-ups or kids....more
You know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??
This was a verYou know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??
This was a very cool book on a number of levels. First, I had no idea that there WERE such things as ghetto cowboys (and, yes, there are!). Cool.
Second, the single-parent-drops-kid-off-with-long-lost-other-parent plot line has gotten old. Until now. Somehow, the setting of an urban stable with ghetto cowboys makes it cool. Really.
Third, the parents are better parents by the end of the book than they are at the beginning, but not so dramatically that it's unbelievable. Cool.
Fourth, kid-finding-himself themes can be trite. Again, that idea works in this book with its terrific setting. Very cool.
Fifth, this novel manages to be very urban in setting, characterization, etc. BUT manages to stay away from some of the messiness of lots of urban street lit (no profanity, no real violence, etc.). That makes it so much more approachable for younger kids, for folks looking for "clean" reads, and the like.
Sixth, the point that teens in particular, but extrapolated to all people in general, need to be productively engaged and, I dare say it, WORKING is a very cool one to make in a middle grade/YA novel.
Finally, I enjoyed the style in which it was written and the illustrations are a terrific complement to the "feel" of the text. This would make a great movie....more
This book came out on my birthday this year (January 8) along with titles such as Hokey Pokey, Navigating EarlyReview originally posted on Literaritea
This book came out on my birthday this year (January 8) along with titles such as Hokey Pokey, Navigating Early, and The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett. Despite the "potential Newbery buzz" for books like Hokey Pokey and Navigating Early (both were on the early "to read" list at Heavy Medal, for instance), my favorite of this group is The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage.
So, why do I like this little chapter book so much? A longheld love affair with Charlotte's Web making me predisposed to like any pig chapter book? A general fondness for talking animal stories? A son who loves all things "pig"? Those are all reasons that helped me pick up this title off the "new" shelf at the library earlier this year. But those are not the reasons that make me like this book better than others I've read this year.
The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage is well written. Pure and simple. Characterization is top notch. We first meet Flora as a piglet who dreams of life beyond the pigpen, befriending the barnyard cat (Luna) in hopes of finding out "stuff." One day: escape! And Flora meets Oscar, a lead sled dog. Henceforward, after being returned to the pigpen, Flora dreams not just of exploration but of joining the sled dog team. After all, she has courage, pluck, strength, a stout heart. What more could you ask for in a sled dog team member?
One day, Flora is taken, along with Oscar and a number of other dogs, on board a ship bound for an Antarctic expedition. The reader will pick up on clues that go over Flora's head: her destiny is clearly for the crew's plates. She and her newest cat friend, Sophia, team up in the ship's hold to conquer the myriad rats, and Flora works hard to build up her strength in preparation for her anticipated sled dog/pig role.
Catastrophe strikes the ship, Flora's stout heart and strong legs help save the day, and she becomes essential to the team's survival. Flora forms an unlikely team with old Oscar, prickly Sophia, and the boy Aleric to help save the day in a heartwarming ending that is not at all saccharine.
The best chapter books for the third-fifth grade crowd feature great friendships, often between unlikely characters. You will find that in spades in this delightful book. Flora seeks adventure and finds it beyond her wildest dreams. Her courage is tremendous. Sophia's begrudging acceptance of the role of team player is well done. The scary and tense situations are just the right level for the target age group. As bizarre as the plot line is, it somehow works: we're rooting for a pig and a cat in the Antarctic and we know they will make it.
This book works on so many levels: plot, characterization, "issues" (survival, friendship, teamwork, etc.), setting (from the farm to the boat to the Antarctic). Illustrations are quirky and effective. But it also works on a sentence level: the text is excellent. A well constructed text can be read aloud easily and to great effect; Kurtz gives us that here. In fact, while this book will delight strong third and fourth grade readers (and younger), I think it's real gift will be as a read aloud so that a group can cheer on Flora together. She would like that; she's a friendly type and a real team player. ...more
It's hard to improve on the The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel for a good children's poeIt's hard to improve on the The Random House Book of Poetry for Children edited by Prelutsky and illustrated by Arnold Lobel for a good children's poetry anthology--particularly for preschoolers and early elementary students. But when you need an anthology for those elementary-middle school students (and up!), this is the one to turn to. Muth's watercolor illustrations are gorgeous (as always) and do such an excellent job of capturing the mood and tone of each poem as well as its content. Kennedy's selection of poetry for this volume is wonderful: funny poems, somber poems, classic poems, contemporary poems--it's outstanding. There's even a short section in the back of longer poems for those who like an extra memory challenge. Indeed, this volume is full of poems to learn by heart.
Index of first lines and authors as well as a clear table of contents makes it easy to find particular poems. ...more
Odette's Secrets sounded like it was right up my ally: novel in verse, WWII time period, little explored subject within its time frame. And I did enjoOdette's Secrets sounded like it was right up my ally: novel in verse, WWII time period, little explored subject within its time frame. And I did enjoy it. Little Jewish Odette lives in Paris as WWII looms large, and Hitler begins his "cleansing" of Europe. Her father goes to fight for France, and he is soon captured and taken as a prisoner of war. As Paris heats up, her mother hatches a daring plan with other resistance fighters: to send their children to willing strangers in the countryside to keep them safe. The time comes to put this plan into action, and Odette, along with three other girls she's never met before, travel by train to a family they've never met before. They are instructed in all the good Catholic ways, go to a Catholic school, attend a Catholic church, and in general passed off as "good Christians."
A series of events follows this, some heart warming, some heart wrenching. Yet, Odette's Secrets is based on the memories of the real Odette, so we know she survives. And she does.
The story in this short novel in verse is a rich one and worth reading, especially for those who enjoy WWII stories. My one complaint is the format. Although I really enjoy novels in verse, for some reason the format just didn't work for me in this one. I kept realizing I was reading a novel in verse; a really great one will suck you in and the form doesn't keep intruding on your consciousness in such a way as to jerk you back out of the story.
1. I confess to a great deal of sentimentality here: my two beloved 100+ pound black dogs are no longer with me, but when they were still alive, they1. I confess to a great deal of sentimentality here: my two beloved 100+ pound black dogs are no longer with me, but when they were still alive, they definitely frightened people. In reality, they were HUGE teddy bears who liked nothing better than to sit on your lap and cuddle.
2. The illustrations are amazing in this book: details, rich colors, perspective--it's all here. Every time I read it, I notice something new.
3. The approach: I love that the parents are part of the group that's afraid of the dog and that the little girl is the one who sees past it all. ...more
What a great book!! To sum up why I like it: 1. That dog/the illustrations--he looks JUST like my big old beastie... warm fuzzies all around. 2. The reaWhat a great book!! To sum up why I like it: 1. That dog/the illustrations--he looks JUST like my big old beastie... warm fuzzies all around. 2. The reading level/plot/characterization--a great fit together. This is an early chapter book that will hold young readers' interest with a great story and memorable characters (not least of which is the dog, Tornado). It's not going to feel too "young" for older new readers, but it will still be understandable for young new readers.
I think it will make a good read aloud to the kindergarten crowd, too. ...more
A mystery = + Boy and girl protagonist = + Traveling the world = + Lackluster writing = - Illustrations in a chapter book = + Illustrations that arEnh....
A mystery = + Boy and girl protagonist = + Traveling the world = + Lackluster writing = - Illustrations in a chapter book = + Illustrations that are not awesome = - Intentionally flipped mom/dad roles that feels a bit forced to me = - Stereotypical characters in the good guys/bad guys = -
Not terrible if you're hoping for some basic fluency-building books, but nothing to seek out in particular.
This is my favorite Penderwick book yet! I think Birdsall is nailing the beginning now (whereas I thought the first one took a wee bit to get going).This is my favorite Penderwick book yet! I think Birdsall is nailing the beginning now (whereas I thought the first one took a wee bit to get going). Characterization is, as always, top notch. I'm impressed with how well she allows the shift in focus (from Rosalind as Oldest Available Penderwick--OAP to Skye) take place as well as with how well she allows Jeffrey to find the answers to some tough questions. It's a gentle book, but definitely not cheesy. I now want to vacation at both Arundel AND Point Mouette (how do you pronounce that?) whilst living on Gardam Street. I do not care to meet any Dominics while I'm at Point Mouette, but I do intend to hang out with the Penderwicks and extended "family", see some baby moose (!), and hang out with spastic Hoover who is clearly, oh so clearly, a Boston Terrier. I'd probably even work a puzzle with Aunt Claire.
One thing I appreciate about these books, and it comes out quite clearly in this book in relation to Jeffrey in particular, is that the adults provide a stabilizing force but never, ever talk down to the kids. (well, the "good adults"). The kids know that Aunt Claire will be wise, but Aunt Claire never acts like the kids aren't wise either. She lets them be kids and expects them to rise to the occasion (which they do!). The grownups respect the kids and vice versa. There is no micromanaging....more
I confess that I went into this book with a chip on my shoulder. After all, Z Is for Moose was AWESOME and hilariously funny and clever. This soundedI confess that I went into this book with a chip on my shoulder. After all, Z Is for Moose was AWESOME and hilariously funny and clever. This sounded like a knock off (although both books were independently in production with neither author/illustrator team knowing that the OTHER was happening... weird, huh?).
At any rate, this one is a touch more complex than Z is for Moose. Musk Ox manages to make nearly every letter in the alphabet about himself. And it's hilarious. I love his expressions in this one. You will learn quite a bit about musk oxen which leads me to this stellar curriculum connection: research an animal of choice and write a report using the alphabet as your organizing theme! Fun!
Note: if you're reading this aloud to a group of children, it may be best to have TWO narrators read unless you're really good at voices and keeping them straight. There is no "he said," just dialogue.
So, to sum up: Z is for Moose is a great fit for K5-1st graders, A is for Musk Ox is a good fit for 1st-3rd graders....more
I'm a fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork, and this book lives up to my expectations. I love, love, love the illustrations--Sweet uses all sorts of sewingI'm a fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork, and this book lives up to my expectations. I love, love, love the illustrations--Sweet uses all sorts of sewing images and techniques in the illustrations: the borders (frames) of many images look stitched, lots of pages look like scraps of fabric have been pieced together for the background of the illustrations, and the perspective is well done (one picture that really stood out to me was the scene of the 300 girls sitting at tables--seen from above).
The storyline isn't quite as strong--not bad, just doesn't stand out as much as Sweet's artwork. A strong bias towards Unions seems to be present, but that could simply be our 21st century eyes looking back; working conditions are SO much better now than they were a century ago, particularly for women and young girls.
All in all, a solid informational text that will work well for elementary school students--an author's note at the end provides more information as does the selected bibliography and resources for further research listed at the back....more
I don't get what all the fuss is about: either the folks who are completely opposed to lowly Hank or those rabid fans of his....
These books are funnyI don't get what all the fuss is about: either the folks who are completely opposed to lowly Hank or those rabid fans of his....
These books are funny, but much of the tongue-in-cheek humor no doubt goes over a 9 year old's head (which seems to be roughly the target audience judging from reading level). I found the "voice" in the book (including the dead pan humor) to be DEAD ON with an old Texan looking back on his adventures. If you need corroboration of that, I'll let you read my Texan uncle's hilarious Christmas letters. This "voice" makes them funnier to the adults reading them than to younger kids.
But what's troubling to me revolves around two things: first, the coyotes (enemies of cowdogs the world over) speak in what sounds to me like a remake of those old TV shows that showed Native Americans saying things like, "me go hunt big rabbit." Or something equally dumb. And, furthermore, while what Hank's narrating is supposed to be funny, it's often an outright lie with no acknowledgement of that fact to the receiver. He's often dramatizing his adventures on behalf of his oh, so loyal friend, Drover, but he never lets on to unsuspecting, gullible Drover that he's made up most of the tale.
It makes for a genuinely funny read, but I'm not sure I'd let my kids live on a steady diet of Hank with no discussion and/or nothing else to read. Think of these books as pretzels--a quick pick me up and could be worse (candy or other sugary treat), but won't hold you for long.......more
I have a soft spot for the Lobel/Prelutsky The Random House Book of Poetry for Children and no book will top that in my mind. Still, this book is charI have a soft spot for the Lobel/Prelutsky The Random House Book of Poetry for Children and no book will top that in my mind. Still, this book is charming and much more colorful/up to date in its illustrations. It doesn't have as many poems, but the collection is solid and well organized. I'm inclined to give it a 4 star rating.
the proof is in the pudding, as they say. My three children (ages 5, 5, and 6) LOVE this book. My 6-year-old has taken it to bed with her nightly while we've had it from the library, has picked out her favorites, and rereads them or quotes them all the time.
SO, that definitely bumps this up in my opinion to a 5*. Especially since this isn't a book of gimmicky princess poems; there are some great ones in this mix.
(updated 7/20/13 to include more shelves; orig read in sept 2012)...more
I think I might give this one 3.5 stars if that were an option. But it definitely doesn't feel like Newbery quality to me. Maybe I'm reading it more cI think I might give this one 3.5 stars if that were an option. But it definitely doesn't feel like Newbery quality to me. Maybe I'm reading it more critically given that I already knew it won the award when I first read it. Still, it reads like a first novel to me--some of the prose feels like the author's trying too hard, the plot has a few too many elements in it (frankly, the whole "Rattler" hunt could have been left out), the ending is too sweet and tidy, and so forth. I enjoy historical fiction, and I liked the two time periods involved, but there were just a few too many elements. I think Lyddie is a better middle grades novel about unions and being overworked; I think Out of the Dust is a better middle grades work about the Depression; and so forth.
It's a good read overall, but not medal worthy in my book....more
As is often the case, I appreciated this book even more in the presence of children than when I first read it by myself. It's funny, has a terrific coAs is often the case, I appreciated this book even more in the presence of children than when I first read it by myself. It's funny, has a terrific combination of words and pictures, and the author "gets" children (along with their slightly irrational fears). Delightful....more
What a great read, particularly at this time of year! It took me a chapter or two to fall in love with the Penderwick sisters, but once I did, I was hWhat a great read, particularly at this time of year! It took me a chapter or two to fall in love with the Penderwick sisters, but once I did, I was hooked. Charming, old-fashioned story telling without being dated. There is the briefest of mention of the father's computer, but otherwise, this book is timeless. I love that they are having so, so much fun and so, so many adventures without TV and other technological aids (and no self-conscious mention by the author that those things are not in use either). Just good old-fashioned fun....more
Woodson gives us a succinct history of one family's migration from the South to the North and their subsequent life in the North through several generWoodson gives us a succinct history of one family's migration from the South to the North and their subsequent life in the North through several generations. The rope links the histories and events together as it lends itself to new uses (thus creating new memories). Illustrations are well done and showcase a number of period references (pop culture art on the walls from the 60s, cars changing, clothing changing, etc.).
All in all, a solid historical fiction picture book. The rhythm of the text was ever so slightly off to me, and the illustrations--while excellent--had one or two nagging inconsistencies (such as when the text mentions the mother waving, but she's not). Otherwise, this would be a 5* book for me....more
This team's book And Then It's Spring was one of my favorites last year, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. They've created another lovelyThis team's book And Then It's Spring was one of my favorites last year, so I was anxious to get my hands on this one. They've created another lovely quiet book about patience! This one is nearly as marvelous as their other one, but I must confess: the roses page didn't work for me. Something about it just knocked me out of the story each time I read it.
If my children are any indication, though, it's not a problem for them. My little contemplative reader who likes to look at a book, pore over it, notice every little detail... he's read it a lot today :-)....more
Hmm… I read this book over Christmas and today I sat down to finally write a review of it. But I didn't remember ANYTHING about it until after readingHmm… I read this book over Christmas and today I sat down to finally write a review of it. But I didn't remember ANYTHING about it until after reading the summery again. Telling? I think so. It's a fine story, well written, just not memorable for me in the least. I remember thinking I was glad it was over, and I could move on to more interesting fare. No doubt there are some kids out there who will enjoy it, especially those who enjoy stories in which the setting is almost a character in its own right and in which the plot meanders through the book--giving you plenty of time to get to know everyone. But it was not a book that grabbed me....more
Explore Gravity is part activity book, part experiment book, and part textbook that explores gravity-related conceptsFirst reviewed on Redeemed Reader
Explore Gravity is part activity book, part experiment book, and part textbook that explores gravity-related concepts (cause of gravity, effects of gravity, past discoveries) and features coordinating activities and experiments. Explanations of complex scientific concepts are very student-friendly. Most activities could be accomplished at home with basic household supplies. The book is well organized and includes a good glossary as well as resources for further study. In addition, there is a timeline that showcases a nice history of gravity-related discoveries and famous scientists (space and astronomy concepts; Copernicus, Gallileo, Kepler, and others). Remarkably little evolutionary language is used for a book that references space, but some readers may be disappointed in the use of BCE/CE references for dates. All in all, this is a nice resource for extra science enrichment and provides an opportunity to explore a fascinating element of creation, particularly when we remember that all of creation holds together in and is sustained by Christ Himself....more
Anthropomorphic robots are the stuff of science fiction movies, but they really exist! Zoobots is a very well-organizFirst reviewed on Redeemed Reader
Anthropomorphic robots are the stuff of science fiction movies, but they really exist! Zoobots is a very well-organized, well-illustrated guide to some of the anthropomorphic robots which are in actual use right now. Ranging from robots based on the lowly roly poly all the way to the human-like Geminoid, the robots in Zoobots are each meticulously modeled after a particular living creature in an attempt to make use of that creature’s unique gifts and abilities. The resulting robots can do some amazing jobs—from delivering cancer-fighting medication at the cellular level to battling large-scale forest fires. Each robot is described using the following headings: “name,” “team,” “realm,” “super skill,” “specifications,” “applications,” and “special ops,” with a final section about the animal that inspired that particular robot. A detailed diagram of the robot and a drawing of the living creature accompany the text.
Of particular note for my conservative friends is the section describing each zoobot’s inspiration. Its title is “Evolved From” which appears to be designed to add to the feel of this book as a scientific tome on various animal species. This use of words is unfortunate because there is very little else on most of the robots’ pages that even hints at evolution. In fact, the mere existence of these amazing animal abilities and the team of humans that is required even to come close to mimicking those traits in robotic form showcases the marvelous complexity of creation itself. The Geminoid robot modeled after humans is also written in this vein, but the equating of humans with other animals is troublesome....more
Lulu and her cousin Mellie are back in another adventure involving new animals. This time, Lulu's parents are takingOriginally reviewed on Literaritea
Lulu and her cousin Mellie are back in another adventure involving new animals. This time, Lulu's parents are taking the girls to the beach. Upon arrival to their somewhat less-fancy-than-expected beach house, Lulu and her family are warned by the cottage owner that there is a stray dog in the area who's been a menace. They even have to take the stinky outdoor trash can in at night (Lulu's parents test this suggestion only to have to pick up trash the next morning). Lulu's animal-loving soul, however, sees beyond the dog's presumed bad nature to the lonely, hungry dog underneath. She befriends the dog, and he, in his turn, does Lulu and Mellie a big favor at the end of the book. Will Lulu and Mellie rescue the dog like he rescues them?
The Lulu books are just what early/transitional chapter books should be: tightly written with just the right amount of words/pictures for newly independent readers. Great characterization, good plot resolution, and solid relationships make these books winners! Recommended for 1st through 4th grade. Look for these books at bookstores or in your local library....more
I like Voake's Daisy Dawson Is on Her Way! series a lot for young readers, and Hooey Higgins is a fun boy-related addition. Hooey Higgins, his friendI like Voake's Daisy Dawson Is on Her Way! series a lot for young readers, and Hooey Higgins is a fun boy-related addition. Hooey Higgins, his friend Twig, and Hooey's brother Will get into some very funny, madcap mini adventures in this book. They start by trying to catch a shark so they can charge people to view it (they're saving money for chocolate). Their adventures run the gamut from discovering what they think is a large sea urchin, to sprinting through a department store away from a bully (and getting tangled up in the women's underwear section), to watching a WWII mine get blown up. Silly and full of humor that boys will find amusing (and most girls, too), this is a cute chapter book for the intermediate crowd. Illustrations add to the quirky-ness. Note: the book is British and there are British terms that some kids may not readily pick up on if they haven't had much exposure to British children's literature....more
Stunning book. Simply stunning. E. B. Lewis never disappoints, but his illustrations seemed especially perfect in this book. His detailed author's notStunning book. Simply stunning. E. B. Lewis never disappoints, but his illustrations seemed especially perfect in this book. His detailed author's note describes how he photographed real people from a small town in SC as the basis for these illustrations. They even dressed in period costumes. The text is not as strong (4 stars), but it works and, in combination with Lewis's illustrations, captures a significant moment in the history of slavery in this country. Juneteenth is still celebrated today!
It's hard to imagine in this day and age of instant news--or near instant--from around the globe that some African American slaves in the 1860s could have missed the announcement that they were now free. But that is indeed what happened. Johnson tells of the moment they learned of their freedom through a young girl's voice.
Detailed author's and illustrator's notes in the back coupled with a time line, a glossary, and other back matter make this book a perfect one for a unit study or a companion to a study of the Civil War/1860s American history....more
A delightful exploration of some of the foods your student might have in his or her school lunch in a given week! Brief history, scientific informatioA delightful exploration of some of the foods your student might have in his or her school lunch in a given week! Brief history, scientific information, and weird facts are presented about foods as diverse as ice cream, watermelon, pita bread, and corn. Funny little drawings punctuate the text including little jokes (i.e. Pita bread says to regular bread, "Bread, you'll never understand, you were just raised differently." Bread responds, "Pita, you're full of hot air." yuk yuk yuk)
Middle school students will enjoy this little nonfiction gem--and may come home requesting some new foods! I appreciated the way certain periods of history (i.e. colonialization, spice trade, etc.) and the balance between organic and conventionally grown produce was handled. Information was given, but no judgment passed. The point of this book is not to convert anyone to particular perspective, but to open a kid's eyes to the interesting background of a seemingly ordinary school lunch. There is a nice bibliography and thorough index in the back as well.
I think a nice touch would be the addition of some kid-friendly recipes (for instance, there's a suggestion to make your own pizza...but no recipe!)....more
I'm a dog lover, to be sure. We had two mixed breed dogs (aka "mutts") for the first decade (roughly) of our marriagReview first posted on LiterariTea
I'm a dog lover, to be sure. We had two mixed breed dogs (aka "mutts") for the first decade (roughly) of our marriage. Then, after an eight month gap, we recently rescued another mixed breed. So, a book like Spunky Tells All, in which a beloved family dog of indeterminate breed is narrating the story... well, it's a given I'll willingly give it a whirl.
It's easy to be cutesy when adopting an animal's "voice" in a book, but Cameron nails it. That is largely what makes this short chapter book stand out. Spunky is concerned that after the years he's lived with his Human family (2 years in "human," and 10 in "dog"), they still don't understand Dog. After all, he's learned a lot of Human. So, when he tries to argue against their decision to get a cat, the family only hears "Yerf." (sigh) What's a dog to do?
When the family comes home with the new cat (Fiona--who smells Foolish to Spunky), Spunky is determined not to like her. After all, she's a cat and foolish to boot. The second half of the book follows Fiona's and Spunky's begrudging acceptance of--and even friendship with--each other without ever being cheesy or trite. Illustrations are done in heavy black line and are a good complement to the text. It's another great animal friendship story in a long history of solid animal fiction. Animal lovers and especially pet owners will enjoy this one.
This is a terrific early chapter book for those in the transitional reading stage between easy readers like Henry and Mudge but who aren't quite ready for a regular chapter book (along the lines of Charlotte's Web). Recommended for ages 7-11; a good read aloud for younger....more
Kids find bugs fascinating, and this poetry volume caters to that love. As is frequently the case when I read a Lewis collection, I enjoy the illustraKids find bugs fascinating, and this poetry volume caters to that love. As is frequently the case when I read a Lewis collection, I enjoy the illustrations and photography more than his poems. Poems are cute, fun, and will highlight interesting features of bugs--Lewis sure can pick kid-friendly poetry topics! But they aren't stellar examples of "poetry." That being said, the close-up photographs of the buggy faces, the hilarious little drawings on every page, and the casual poetry all combine to make this a great little addition to an insect unit or just a reference book to have hanging out in a science classroom. Endmatter includes more detailed notes on each bug featured (although the tone is very chatty--this is more for casual reading than scientific research) as well as a photograph of the bug from a different angle. Casual tone aside, this is still a collection kids will learn a lot from while they're having fun reading about and looking at bugs. (And it's a nice way to sneak in some poetry for those poetry-phobic types!)
Note for my more conservative friends: there is mention of evolution in one poem and in at least one of the buggy notes at the end....more
My kids and I have enjoyed The Tales of Dimwood Forest, having listened to all of them on CD up to now. Poppy's Return wasn't available in audio formaMy kids and I have enjoyed The Tales of Dimwood Forest, having listened to all of them on CD up to now. Poppy's Return wasn't available in audio format, so I checked out the actual book to read aloud to my children...
...only to discover a possible reason WHY it's not available in audio format. This book feels a little older in theme to me and involves Poppy's rebellious son. We've seen Ragweed be rebellious and even Poppy in her own way. We've also heard Ereth, the porcupine, swear in his own fashion ("sleepy slimy slugheads" being a favorite Ereth quotation in this house).
But Ragweed Junior's speech and actions feel a little more human and a little "older": he says thinly disguised phrases such as "rucks to be you" and "freaking--". It's a touch too much for my impressionable 5-6 year olds. When they're a bit older, about the age they'll need to be to actually read this on their own, I think I'd be more comfortable with it. But for now, I read this one on my own and skipped the read aloud with them.
There is definite familial reconciliation by the end, and this makes for a nice little coming-of-age story in a sense as well as a nicely done treatment of teen angst and parent misunderstanding, albeit in a mouse family. But those themes are still a little over the heads of my three.......more
Wow! I wish there were such interesting informational texts around when I was in elementary school. DeCristofano marries deep concepts (a black hole,Wow! I wish there were such interesting informational texts around when I was in elementary school. DeCristofano marries deep concepts (a black hole, for instance!) with such friendly analogies as this: (not a direct quote) "Imaging you are playing hide-and-seek and suddenly you find a whole group of people you didn't even know were playing the game. That's how scientists felt when they discovered black holes."
She gives a solid introduction to the history of the science behind black holes (including things like the changes in our understanding of gravity), points out that we still have much to discover and that most of our information is really only theoretical, offers solid comparisons (how far you could travel compared to light in a given amount of time), and writes well to boot. The photos and illustrations add a lot to the text as well--the balance is good between text and illustration/photo.
This would be a great offering for middle elementary and up! (To really "get" much of the information, kids will need basic background knowledge in such concepts as gravity and general space.)...more
Another marvelous installment in the adventures of the Penderwick sisters. I think Birdsall's weak point as an author is her beginning chapter or two,Another marvelous installment in the adventures of the Penderwick sisters. I think Birdsall's weak point as an author is her beginning chapter or two, but she more than makes up for it in the rest of the book. You don't have to have read book 1 for this book to work, but if you already know and love the Penderwicks (from having read book 1), then you will find this book much more enjoyable.
Gardem Street is a delightful street full of neighbors who've grown up together, a couple of new neighbors with definite potential, and a wonderful woodsy area that is a perfect natural space to roam about in. This book is part Parent Trap (of Hayley Mills variety), part Anne and Gilbert (of Anne of Green Gables variety), and part its own perfection. Birdsall navigates the often muddy waters of budding romance, pre-adolescence, and a parent dating again with sensitivity, wit, and complete lack of cheesy or vapid descriptions/activities. It's a book which you read to make sure the characters arrive at the ending that is so obviously perfect for them, not because you're in much doubt about what that ending is....Since the Penderwicks are our friends, we must make sure they live happily ever after!
I think girls will enjoy this book more than boys, but I thought the first one could be enjoyed by both. Anyone else think this?...more