Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The Barn By: Avi
                It is the spring of 1855 and Benjamin is called home by his brother and sister from boarding school in Portland because their father has had a fit of the palsy.  His siblings do not know what to do and are thinking of leaving their land or getting married.  Ben does not understand just how bad their father is and knows in his heart that his father will get better. He decides to be the one to stay home and take care of their father while his siblings plant the fields and work.  He finds out that his father does understand things and is able to get him to blink yes or no responses.  He is hopeful that his father will get better and decides that if they work together to build the barn their father wants he will get better, and convinces his siblings to do so.  Will they get the barn built in time?

                This was a touching story of siblings who are forced into a hard situation of caring for their father when he cannot do anything for himself. It shows the true meaning of family and was a wonderful story. It is written at about a 4th grade reading level, but could be used with older students too.  It does have some mature themes as the father is bedridden and must be taken care of fully and is a heartfelt story as you are truly shown the emotions of the main character Benjamin.
This book is part  of an Avi author study that I am using with my students in class and I borrowed the book from the district GATE department. 
ISBN: 978-0-380-72562-5

A Beginning a Muddle and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing By: Avi
                This is the story of Avon the snail and Edward the Ant.  They have decided to write a story. But all they can come up with is “something”.  This story follows their adventures on how to write a story and what should be put in the story.  They spend days working on their story and how to best write it down, and somewhere in the “muddle” they have a great time.
                This is a funny book that continues the adventures of these two characters. It cracked me up. The ant and snail are really trying to write but have no idea what to do. There are many funny scenes in the book. I love the funny banter between the characters. Like, ““Perhaps you need to get  a grip on yourself,” said Edward. “Edward!” cried Avon. “How can I get a grip when I have no hands?””  This book is for a reader who understands how to laugh. It is written at a 5th grade level yet would be funny for anyone.

This book is part  of an Avi author study that I am using with my students in class and I borrowed the book from the district GATE department. 
ISBN: 978-0-15-205555-4

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Helen of Pasadena

Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
This is a fun book to read and enjoy. It begins with Helen's husband being killed by a panda float at the Rose Bowl parade after confessing of his affair with the local weather girl. Helen is shocked and humilated as she also finds out her husband has left her completely broke. Helen is a strong and brave woman who moves forward in her life as a working single mother. The author, Lian Dolan, is a classics major herself so she integrates this into her novel with ease. Helen's life takes a bumpy but exciting ride while she discovers her self worth and in the end, love. It's a light and easy read with a happy ending!
ISBN-13: 978-0984410224

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I recently listened to this book from the public library, The Thirteenth Tale, read by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner. The story is wonderfully written and these ladies read it beautifully! I truly enjoy hearing a story with different voices. The women portray the main characters Margaret Lea and Vida Winter. It's a mysterious plot that at times is a little scary. Margaret works in her father's bookshop and has recently written an autobiography that catches the eye of Miss Winter who is looking for a biographer to tell her own story to. Margaret agrees though never expects to discover the interesting events of Miss Winter's life mirror some of her past events as well. It is a gripping story with depth and scope and many many well developed characters. I loved listening to it and was so sad to hear it end. It's a novel that takes a big committment to read and finish. It's long and involved and so satisfying.
ISBN-13: 978-0743298032

Confidential Communications

Confidential Communications By: J.R. Reardon

Rebecca Lawson is a young attorney who lives in Vermont.  She is just getting her business started and enjoys her job.  She has met and started dating a guy who suddenly disappears.  Her new client Allan Richards seems to be a great prospect for expanding and so she is excited to help out, but something just does not seem right. Things begin to get strange, she is getting notes to stay away from Richards company, she thinks someone is following her, and she really just does not think that Richards is telling the truth.  Rebecca enlists the help of her friend Joshua Tameron, and with his help and many adventures later they solve this world wide conspiracy mystery.

I thought that this was a terrific book.  It was full of mystery, as you have no idea what is really going on with some of the characters.   I thought that the character of Rebecca showed great strength as she was battling with her own instincts in the book and keeping it together. The book kept me on my toes trying to piece the partial information together and figure it out, I am one of those people that likes to plan the ending of books and movies before we get there.  Great thrilling read! I think that any adult reader would love this book.

I purchased this book on amazon.com  ISBN:1436335884
AND Tara is related to this author so it is kinda fun!!
AND  There is a sequel to the book entitled Dishonored that I am planning on purchasing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Remarkable Farkle McBride

The Remarkable Farkle McBride By: John Lithgow Pictures By: C.F. Payne

Farkle McBride is an amazing kid with a talent for every instrument he picks up!  The only problem is he gets bored with them quickly. Follow Farkle on his journey to find his true musical calling.
I love this book for its fun and outrageous images. I think the pictures are perfect and they help create the greatness of this book.  The story is a fun one too, and I think would help kids understand that music is a gift and is also a lot of fun.
I purchased this book at Bookman's  ISBN:0-689-83340-7

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr. Maxwell's Mouse

Mr. Maxwell's Mouse By: Frank Asch and Devin Asch

This is the story of Mr. Maxwell, the cat, that is excited to go to lunch at his favorite restaurant and eat his favorite meal, a mouse.  Little does he know when he chooses his lunch, a mouse on toast, he will get more than he bargained for.  This mouse is not ready to be eaten, and begins to talk with  Mr. Maxwell. Through many convincing conversation the mouse delays the eating of himself, the mouse convinces the now hesitant Mr. Maxwell to try blindfolding himself to make killing the mouse easier, and then he hops off the table and replaces Mr. Maxwell's tail with himself. Mr. Maxwell does not realize this and then cuts into his own tail.

This book is sort of dark for younger students, so I would say that reading this to kids should start about fourth or fifth grade. The mouse and cat are talking about how to kill the mouse so little ones might be scared.  I love the pictures in this book. They are so much like a photograph it is amazing, they are clear and fit the mood of the book, very dark.   I think it is hysterical how the mouse is able to trick the cat in this book! The end of the book is also very clever and you will have  to read it yourself to know why!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody's Apples By: Madonna

Mr. Peabody is the local baseball coach.  He is loved by all, one day one of the boys Tommy Tittlebottom sees Mr. Peabody take an apple from the market without paying for it. He runs and tells all he friends. Soon all the boys come to watch him steal the apple, because he does so every day.  Before you know it, none of the boys are coming to play baseball any more, except for Billy.  When Billy comes to practice he tells Mr. Peabody what happened.  Mr. Peabody says that things are not always what they seem and tells Billy that he pays for the apples on one day a week and then takes them when he wants them.  He asks Billy to go get Tommy, when Tommy gets to Mr. Peabody he is taught a lesson on how words can hurt others and how you need to be careful about what you say if you don't know that it is true.
This is a beautiful story that everyone should read. It truly shows what can happen  to someone when they are talked about.  It has a powerful message and powerful pictures.  I love it.
I purchased this book many years ago, so I do not know from where.
ISBN: 0-970-05883-1

Monday, August 1, 2011

Theodossia and the Serpents of Chaos

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos  By: R.L. LaFevers
Theo can see curses on objects that are brought into the Museum her parents work at. Her parents are Curators at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities and so they bring in many artifacts. These artifacts are sometimes cursed and Theo can see these curses.  She is able to take the curses out of the objects by using methods, like placing wax around them that absorb the curse, and other tricky methods.  Her mother returns from a trip to Egypt with many items, one being the Heart of Egypt, which belongs in a tomb. This item is strongly cursed and Theo must try her best to get the item un cursed before it is to late.  Will she be able to do it?
This was a thrilling book full of adventure. I enjoyed the character of Theo and her quirky nature. She falls asleep in sarcophaguses and spends so much time in the museum her parents even forget to send her to school. I liked the adventure in the book with the female character. This book would be a great one for higher 4th grader readers and up. 

I borrowed this book from a friend who purchased it at Hiklebee’s
ISBN: 978-0-618-99976-7

Baby Mouse Queen of the World

Baby Mouse Queen of the World By: Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm
Baby Mouse has quite an imagination.  And she feels her life is not complete unless she is invited to a certain popular girls slumber party.  She would do anything to be invited! She finally succeeds in getting an invite but then realizes it will mean that she has to not do what she told her close friend that she would.  What should she decide.
The Baby Mouse series are a series of comic books about the Baby Mouse character. They are very popular with the 2nd-5th grade students right now. I think that while I find them a little strange they do teach good messages. This book taught that you may think that the popular crowd is better than your friends but they really are not and you should stick with the friends that are true.

I borrowed this book from a friend who purchased it at Hicklebee’s