This made riveting lunchtime reading (and I'm not actually kidding...). This is my first foray into Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales and I will definitelThis made riveting lunchtime reading (and I'm not actually kidding...). This is my first foray into Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales and I will definitely be going back for more. The premise of this series is that Nathan Hale is about to be hung for being a spy, but before his executioners get on with the deed, Hale starts telling them a true story from history to buy himself some time. Occasionally the executioners comment on the story as it's being told, adding some much-needed humor to an otherwise grim tale.
So, you probably know what happened to the Donner Party. They set off for California in 1846 and take a "shortcut", which results in the party getting stranded in the mountains and eventually having to eat the dead bodies of their fellow travelers to survive. The heaviness of the tale is leavened by the humorous storytelling, though this is still not a book for the faint of heart. Kids who dig the gory stuff will dive right in. Sensitive readers will want to skip this one.
I appreciated the author's note at the end, which gave some additional information about what was true and what was in there for the sake of the story. This is a great choice for kids who love to hear about the gory parts of history and/or kids who like their nonfiction with a dose of humor. ...more
**spoiler alert** When Anda joins an online game called CoarseGold, she's recruited by an experienced gamer to take missions for real money. The girls**spoiler alert** When Anda joins an online game called CoarseGold, she's recruited by an experienced gamer to take missions for real money. The girls are being paid to kill "gold farmers", game characters run by people in sweatshops who collect gold and then sell it for real money to gamers who want to cheat the system. At first, Anda whole-heartedly believes she's doing a good thing (and making money from it doesn't hurt her feelings), but when she starts to get to know one of the gold farmers, she realizes that he's a real person in a bad situation. Paid little, working long days, with no health insurance, Anda feels sympathy for Raymond, but when she tries to help, she ends up making things worse.
This is definitely a story for gamers. An intro gives some information about the practice of gold farming, but judging from some GR reviews the story might be confusing to people who are not gamers. That said, it's also a quintessential YA story about a teenage girl who realizes that she doesn't know everything. Anda's heart is completely in the right place and she goes at her projects with that gusto that is so characteristic of many teens, throwing herself into the work or her plan to help Raymond. She learns the hard way that there are other sides to the story that she didn't know. And I think that's an experience that many teens can identify with.
This is also a story examining what "real life" is. Gold farmers are real people. Interactions within the game are still (lots of times) interactions with real people. Can you have a real friendship with someone you only know in-game? Is there always something you don't know? How can your actions in-game affect you "in real life"? These are a lot of great questions to ask and to think about.
I also have to say that I really love the art in this graphic novel, particularly the fact that Anda is a larger girl and that's not ever an issue. Her entire family is large; this is not a weight-loss book or a bullying story (bullying comes into it a little bit, but it's never a body-image thing). The art of the game world is beautiful and appealing, too, which is so realistic. When I was into gaming, that was definitely part of why I liked it: those beautifully stylized gaming lands. ...more
Okay, caveat: I am probably not this book's intended audience, but I was interested enough to pick it up and Corey probably falls into its intended auOkay, caveat: I am probably not this book's intended audience, but I was interested enough to pick it up and Corey probably falls into its intended audience and he shares some of my opinions, so that is what it is.
Corey and I listened to this audiobook on our way back from Myrtle Beach. On the way there, we listened to Amy Poehler's YES PLEASE, which I really enjoyed (and for which I am entirely the intended audience), which might have invited some unfair comparisons.
PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE is part philosophical musings, part treatise on the acting life, and part personal memoir. Nick Offerman waxes poetic on topics such as religion, mustaches, alcohol, technology overuse, woodworking, and much, much more. He also shares scenes from his life, from growing up in a small farming community in Illinois to theater acting in Chicago to moving to LA to pursue a film/TV career.
I think the biggest problem is that this is at least two separate books crammed into one volume. Corey appreciated Offerman's long rantings about religion, etc. much more than I did. I wanted to dig out the biographical parts and hear about Parks & Rec (which is the show he's most known for... which is probably the reason he gets to publish this book... which is crammed into the last tenth of the book...). (Another caveat: if I'd been reading the print edition, it would have been much easier to skim and pick out the parts I was actually interested in. I tried to talk Corey into skipping ahead to new chapters, but he would not stand for that...)
Another problem is that the book is just overlong and very repetitive. Even Corey, who I think enjoyed the book more than I did, admitted that it was repetitive. I would have been satisfied (and probably enjoyed it more) with 100 pages less. I am a pretty liberal person and I agree with a lot of Offerman's philosophies and idealogical rantings, but it was a bit much even for me because he just kept going on and on and then he would still repeat himself later in the book.
And it just wasn't as funny as I was expecting it to be. While Amy Poehler's book had both Corey and I laughing out loud at multiple parts, this one got just one or two big laughs and some chuckles from us. It makes sense, Poehler being a comedy writer, but it was disappointing in comparison. (Again, that is probably not terribly fair to compare them!)
As an actor, it makes sense that Nick Offerman would narrate his own book, and I think he does it pretty successfully. We had trouble adjusting the volume at first and he has a tendency to lower his voice at the end of sentences, which made it hard to hear and understand in the car. But Corey seemed to hear it better than I did, so maybe it's just my hearing.
For superfans of Ron Swanson or woodworkers or anyone with a big interest in how theater and the LA acting business works, this might be a good choice. If you're only a superficial Ron Swanson fan or just wanting to know about Offerman's relationship with Megan Mullaly, pick up the print edition instead so you can skip around. ;) ...more
Corey and I listened to this audiobook on our way to Myrtle Beach and it was very enjoyable; pretty much just what I wanted from Amy Poehler's memoir.Corey and I listened to this audiobook on our way to Myrtle Beach and it was very enjoyable; pretty much just what I wanted from Amy Poehler's memoir. It's a good mix of humor and more poignant/serious moments, stories about her childhood and young adulthood and tales about working on Saturday Night Live and Parks & Recreation. She doesn't talk about her personal divorce, but she does muse about divorce in general. She also tackles that demon voice constantly telling many women they're not good enough and talks about her trip to Haiti to work with orphanages after the earthquake.
Both Corey and I laughed out many times and it was definitely enjoyable as an audiobook. Amy Poehler narrates and the last chapter was read and recorded before a live audience, making it a great note to end on. Several guest narrators add to the fun, including Seth Myers reading a chapter that he wrote and Michael Schur basically having a conversation with Amy about how Parks & Rec was developed. Poehler's parents both make appearances, reading their own contributions.
If you're a fan of Amy Poehler, this is a must-read, and I especially appreciated how determined she is to inspire and mentor girls and women. My only disappointment is that I feel that the number of times she mentioned that writing a book is hard and isolating means that she may never write the witty and empowering YA novels I hoped we might one day see from her. ;)
Both Corey and I enjoyed listening to this book very much (and it was Corey's first foray into audiobooks! Huzzah!). ...more
I asked for suggestions of diverse titles I could potentially booktalk to 3rd graders and this was one of them.
Calvin Coconut (yes, his real last namI asked for suggestions of diverse titles I could potentially booktalk to 3rd graders and this was one of them.
Calvin Coconut (yes, his real last name; it's a long story) is a trouble magnet. It seems no matter how hard he tries to follow the rules, trouble follows him around. Trouble might appear in the form of the school bully who just won't leave him and his friends alone, forgetting to fix the lock on his bedroom door so that their new houseguest gets trapped inside, or accidentally having a huge food fight after his teacher had provided a special treat lunch on the first day of school.
Calvin's adventures are humorous, but with a lot of heart. Kids who like funny stories or kids who always seem to find themselves in trouble will identify with Calvin. Details about Calvin's Hawaiian home make this a good choice for exposing kids to diverse cultures. ...more
Okay, so I know this is not, like, high literature or anything, but I actually LOVED this audiobook and I think it's just about perfect for what it isOkay, so I know this is not, like, high literature or anything, but I actually LOVED this audiobook and I think it's just about perfect for what it is. Teresa has been booktalking this one and I am so excited to add it to my booktalking repertoire, too.
So, when Abby's dumb little brother Jonah knocks on this weird, old mirror in the basement of their new home, Abby & Jonah are transported to a fairy tale world and find themselves wrapped up in the story of Snow White. Only, before they figure that out, they manage to totally screw up Snow White's story by saving her from eating the witch's poison apple. Now that Snow didn't eat the apple, she's not unconscious and the prince can't come and wake her up and she'll never live happily ever after! So Abby & Jonah have to figure out how to set Snow White's story to rights... and they have to figure out how to get home. Along the way, they face the evil witch (Evil Evelyn), crocodiles, and more dwarves than you can shake a stick at.
This is a light, funny fairy tale retelling, completely befitting of the series name "Whatever After". Kids looking for a spunky, funny heroine full of heart need to look no further than Abby. This is a great one for fans of fairy tale retellings and I think the reading/content level is just right for 3rd-5th grade. I'd recommend it to fans of E.D. Baker's fairy tale retellings, maybe a little younger Ella Enchanted crowd.
The audiobook recording was pretty much perfect. Narrator Emily Eidem gives life to the voice of Abby, making it lively and dramatic and very fitting to the character. Eidem impressively manages to yell and exclaim without being overly loud or annoying. She's perky without being overly so, without being nasal or annoying.
I heartily enjoyed this and I will heartily enjoy booktalking it to all kinds of third and fourth graders this year. :D...more
I enjoy listening to the Dear America series and this one is no exception. It's an interesting choice to tell the story of the Japanese internment thrI enjoy listening to the Dear America series and this one is no exception. It's an interesting choice to tell the story of the Japanese internment through the eyes of a white minister's daughter. Piper does get close to the internees as her father ministers to them and they move to a town where one of the camps is located, so Piper experiences it in a way. Piper and her father also experience their own share of prejudice - people won't rent to them since they are helping the Japanese Americans.
All in all, just fine, and it helped end the listening slump I was on. ;) ...more
Another appealing early chapter title with three different animal stories: dogs trained to locate stranded dolphins, a monkey trained as a helper forAnother appealing early chapter title with three different animal stories: dogs trained to locate stranded dolphins, a monkey trained as a helper for people with disabilities, and rats trained to locate land mines. This is a great series for animal lovers and the writing is just right for new chapter book readers.
Sidebar: I did cry in the break room about the Capuchin monkey Kasey who went to MONKEY COLLEGE* to learn how to become a helper for people with disabilities. Then, when he started working with a college kid who became a quadriplegic after a car accident, Kasey actually started challenging the kid to reach farther for objects and HELPED HIM REGAIN SOME OF HIS MOVEMENT. THIS WAS NOT SOMETHING THE MONKEY WAS TRAINED TO DO. HE DID IT ON HIS OWN. <3333333
The feels. (I don't think this would make kids cry, though. I am just a softie.)
This graphic novel collects three completely unrelated stories about Halloween. A young girl dressed up as a witch accidentally switches brooms with aThis graphic novel collects three completely unrelated stories about Halloween. A young girl dressed up as a witch accidentally switches brooms with a real witch and accompanies her on her errands, two obnoxious boys grapple with a tentacle monster in their bathtub, and a posse of tween girls dressed up as vampires scare the pants off the kids in their neighborhood before meeting a posse of actual tween vampires. I guess the stories are a little related since they all deal with kids unexpectedly running into real monsters on Halloween night? But I wanted them to be more connected, some reason that they were here together. As separate stories, each felt pretty flat and short.
But hey, kids love graphic novels and kids love Halloween (most kids, anyway). ...more
I read this book as a kid and just reread on audio. This whimsical story of a musical cricket has a lot of heart and humor. I enjoyed the audio narratI read this book as a kid and just reread on audio. This whimsical story of a musical cricket has a lot of heart and humor. I enjoyed the audio narration - narrator Tony Shaloub reads at a great clip, faster than many narrators I've listened to recently, but I liked that. He does voices for all the characters. One issue I had with the audio recording was the violin music at every chapter break - it's a nice touch, but the pieces were just a few seconds too long for me. I wish they had been simplified. However, for young children listening who may not be familiar with violin sounds, this might give them a chance to hear how Chester cricket might have sounded. ...more