This is my 1.5-year-old daughter's favorite book. She loves the whole series. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with them initially but after my 1,000tThis is my 1.5-year-old daughter's favorite book. She loves the whole series. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with them initially but after my 1,000th reading, I'm really starting to pick up on the nuances of Stanley's existence. He is an auto mechanic, a diner owner/operator, a construction worker, a farmer, and a postal worker. That is one industrious hamster. He ends every day exactly the same way, so maybe he's obsessive-compulsive? He's also very into hats.
Additionally, I've become more invested in the cast of supporting characters. Charlie is the most fascinating - we learn he's a slob and a heartthrob in Stanley the Mailman - but Myrtle, Hattie, Shamus and Little Woo also have their intriguing qualities. How has Hattie's employment at the diner affected her friendship with Stanley? Is Myrtle's car always breaking down because she's such a speed demon - or is it a cry for Stanley's attention? What happened to Little Woo's mother? Is Shamus a widower?
There's a new Stanley book coming out in 2017 (http://a.co/j3srnSc) where it's rumored Stanley is going into the retail business. Even if MJ has outgrown Stanley by that time I'll probably pick it up just to see how my favorite rodents are getting on. Cheers to William Bee! ...more
My book club kids liked this. It deals in wish fulfillment and easy answers instead of reality, so it's a light, fun read (despite one very heavy topiMy book club kids liked this. It deals in wish fulfillment and easy answers instead of reality, so it's a light, fun read (despite one very heavy topic, which I'll get into later). You don't need to be a big baseball fan to follow these books, so that's a plus. We had one of our best book club activities ever, in which I stacked a bunch of paper cups and let the kids throw beanbags at them to try to knock them down. Can you throw hard with accuracy like Satchel Paige? Most could not, but it was fun throwing stuff and knocking stuff down in the library.
Now, to get real with you, I can't give this more than two stars because I cringed a few times at the way racism is handled in this book. At one point Stosh is at a Negro League game, notices that the crowd is mostly black and then think this puts him in the "minority group" for once. And then he says something to the effect of now he knows how black people feel.
Honestly, as I read this I was thinking how it stacked up against last year's The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. AnHonestly, as I read this I was thinking how it stacked up against last year's The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. And I was thinking about how those saboteur Churchill Club boys were more exciting than the pamphleteer Scholl siblings. But then I got to the end of this book and BAM. Whoa. I teared up. I felt awful for thinking for even a minute that the White Rose story was tame by comparison. If I had known from the beginning how it ended for Sophie and Hans I think I would've read the story in a different light.
Beyond my personal reaction, I think this story is told with admirable precision (I read it in about an hour) which makes it appealing for younger readers. But there are some very rattling, morbid parts of the story that make me think it's generally best for 6th grade and up.
You could definitely have quite a discussion around the themes, particularly how the Scholl siblings both professed to know right from wrong by looking inside themselves. Do human beings have an innate sense of good and evil? Or can we only know what we're taught? Hans Scholl: "I'm searching for myself, just myself, because this much I do know; I'll only find the truth inside me." Sophie Scholl: "We carry all our standards within ourselves, only we don't look for them closely enough. Perhaps because they are the severest standards." ...more
I would've given this 4 stars, except I felt strongly punches were pulled in the penultimate scene. Specifically: (view spoiler)[ Scorpius and Albus pI would've given this 4 stars, except I felt strongly punches were pulled in the penultimate scene. Specifically: (view spoiler)[ Scorpius and Albus professing crushes on girls when they are *clearly* crushing on each other. Come on! (hide spoiler)]
Why not 5 stars? Let me nerd out a little and talk about how, IMHO, time travel ought to be portrayed in fiction. As in HP3 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the best theory of time travel is that, if it happens, it always already happened. You can never change the future because if you traveled back in time, whatever you did is already reflected in your reality. For example, in HP3, Harry thinks his father casts a patronus that saves his life, but when he travels back in time, he realizes it's actually Harry himself who casts the patronus. When he went back in time, he didn't change the future. Because he always already went into the past and cast that patronus.
So, clearly, while I think time travel fiction like Back to the Future is fun, I have more respect for the other theory of time travel. The one I thought JK Rowling subscribed to. But this play soooooo proves me wrong. I'm not too grumpy about it because the alternate timelines allowed for a lot of satisfying character exploration (mostly Ron and Hermione's relationship).
I did enjoy this. I'm dying to see the play. The magic of theater + the magic of Harry Potter = Mind Blown. (I imagine.)
This went over very well with small groups of K-3rd graders. I held the endpapers up over my forehead to give myself the girl's bright red, curly hairThis went over very well with small groups of K-3rd graders. I held the endpapers up over my forehead to give myself the girl's bright red, curly hair and the bear's ears! It was a good way to start and finish the read aloud.
The message of this book is basically that you should forgive someone if they didn't mean to upset you. There's a difference between doing something on purpose and by accident. The fun of this story, though, is really digging into the girl's the bear's anger at each other. I had the kids yell "HORRIBLE BEAR!" along with the girl and some of them got really (maybe too much) into it. You might pair this with When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry to talk about ways to calm down and self-regulate.
Ame Dyckman always does a good job of using minimal text and letting the pictures tell a good chunk of the story. I love her book Boy + Bot! ...more
I LOVE THIS BOOK. It's hard for me to even write a review of this book I loved it so much. So I guess I will just list things I loved about it.
-I lovI LOVE THIS BOOK. It's hard for me to even write a review of this book I loved it so much. So I guess I will just list things I loved about it.
-I loved Archer's voice.
-I loved the plot structure, bookended by weddings, and told as if Archer is talking to the reader, guiding the reader through his 1st grade year to his 6th grade year.
-I loved Archer's family: his cook/mechanic dad, his psychologist mom, his architect grandpa, his Uncle Paul. Even his irritating sister Holly and his witchy grandma.
-I loved that the book is realistic and not. Events are believable, but things like Lynette's overly mature outlook and the character of Little Lord Hilary are larger than life. See also: how often Archer's school makes headlines and Ms. Roebuck's computer incompetence. Stylistically, this enhances the feeling that Archer is trying to tell the reader a good story and perhaps fudging a bit to make it better, which accounts for things not being entirely believable.
-I love, love, loved Mr. McLeod (I had to Google how to pronounce that name - it's "McCloud"). I've complained in the past about too many children's books relying on the magic teacher trope - you know, like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. But Mr. McLeod, in my opinion, isn't a magic teacher stereotype. Sure, he's young and exciting, but there's way more to him than just being a great teacher.
-I love how funny and joyful this book is. Especially in 2016, which I dubbed the Year of Sad after reading offerings by some of kidlit's most prominent authors (see my review of Maybe a Fox).
I sincerely hope this will be one of our Mock Newbery books this year. Last year we got a little bit of resistance with The Thing About Jellyfish because there was a relatively minor gay character. Being that most of our Mock Newbery participants are in 5th grade and this book is pretty squarely about 5th/6th graders, I feel confident we can put it on the ballot if the rest of the committee agrees that it's really high quality literature for kids.
And, you know, if it won the real Newbery, I wouldn't be upset. ...more
Really crazy stunts in this one. I often thought of Jack Gantos' The Trouble in Me while I was reading it because that one's full of unbelievably dangReally crazy stunts in this one. I often thought of Jack Gantos' The Trouble in Me while I was reading it because that one's full of unbelievably dangerous shenanigans, too.
We read this for my children's book club and the kids loved just rehashing all the insanity. We talked about why people do crazy stuff. ...more
I've had lots of success booktalking this one at schools. The kids are super interested to find out why Perry lives in a prison, and even more why heI've had lots of success booktalking this one at schools. The kids are super interested to find out why Perry lives in a prison, and even more why he LIKES it and is upset when he moves into a normal house.
My favorite part of this book was the description of the mindset one develops in prison. Big Ed's rules and tips for serving time are also applicable to life on the outside and I think a big part of what makes Perry such a good person.
Speaking of Perry being a good person, my big criticism of this book is that Perry and Jessica are a little too perfect to feel real. On top of that, the whole setup is idealized in a way that might make kids who have incarcerated loved ones in real life roll their eyes. The warden is a humanitarian with a heart of gold. There are no mean guards. There are some prisoners that Perry keeps his distance from, but there's no drama around that. A little too good to feel true. But this is a children's book and I certainly don't think the author meant to convey the experience of an average child with an incarcerated parent. I mean, come on. Perry lives in the prison until he's 12 and he's basically a perfect human child. This might as well be named Pollyanna Prison.
I think this is a Newbery contender because of the interesting plot, the exploration of themes around being incarcerated, and the depiction of the villain Mr. Thomas Van Leer. I'm always cheering authors who give us villains with real character besides being evil. Van Leer is a great example of someone who's a bad guy *because* he's well meaning and can't see past the end of his own nose. Very realistic. ...more
I love a lot of things about this book. The big thing is how real and true it is -- the photographs and the simple text give it such wide appeal. I doI love a lot of things about this book. The big thing is how real and true it is -- the photographs and the simple text give it such wide appeal. I don't know what percentage of people are descendants of immigrants who moved to another country for a better life, but I'd guess it's high, especially in the United States. So for most people, something in this book will ring true. It's powerful and important to share with young people.
I also like that this book is positive without being too RAH RAH U.S.A. WE'RE #1! The United States is not a perfect land of opportunity and plenty (the photographs do a good job of telling that part of the story) but it's a relatively prosperous and peaceful place to grow up. This book is much more about being grateful to your parents and grandparents than being grateful to America. And that's how it should be. ...more