Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chinese Cinderella

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of  an Unwanted Daughter By: Adeline Yen Mah

Adeline has never been the favorite daughter. In fact, she is the most not liked. She is blamed for her mother's death, as her mother died two weeks after giving birth to her.  When Adeline's father remarries, it is apparent that things are only going to get worse for her and her siblings.  They are not as favored as the new siblings, and they are mistreated.  Adeline works her hardest in school and outside her house to be the best she can be, she is given many awards, but never once does anyone come to see her.  Eventually Adeline is sent to live at two different boarding houses, and is never contacted by her family.  But throughout all of this she eventually makes a name for herself by winning a writing contest, that starts her career as an author.

Such a beautifully sad story.  I cannot imagine what her childhood was like, and it makes me very thankful that I lived with parents who loved me, and cared for me. What I also found heartbreaking was that there were other girls that lived in the boarding houses and orphanages with Adeline that were going through the same types of things.  A wonderful book.

I purchased this from Barnes and Nobel
ISBN: 978-0-385-74007-4


Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad By: Henry Cole

This is one of the most beautifully illustrated wordless books I have seen.  It tells the story of a farm girl that finds a slave hiding in their barn. The girl brings the slave food and keeps the secret of the slave hiding there.  Even without words this is a powerful book. The author's note at the end tells the author's story of hearing about the brave  people that helped hide slaves during the Civil War.  The illustrations are charcoal,  and simply beautiful with so much detail. Great book!

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-545-39997-5

Monday, December 30, 2013

Killer Species

Killer Species Menace From the Deep   By: Michael P. Spradlin

Emmet is moving again, his father is a biologist and so they move around where his dad is asked to work.  Emmet hates moving and especially now since his mother is gone.   He meets Calvin and they become friends, but as their parent's research continues they find a strange new species and a crazy man behind them. Dr. Catalyst wants to ride the Everglades of harmful species and so he has created monster creatures. He uses these creatures to fend off people he believes are in his way, and he is now focused on Emmet, Calvin and their parents.

Killer Species Feeding Frenzy By: Michael P. Spradlin

Dr. Catalyst is back in this next thriller adventure. This time he has moved to the water to create a dangerous type of fish.  He is out to get back at Emmet and his family again, and so he targets them each time he releases his fish.  Emmet thinks he has figured out just who Dr. Catalyst is though, and so he leads the chase to find him. Especially after Dr. Catalyst takes Emmet's dog.

These two books are perfect for any reader who likes thrillers, and  science fiction all in one. I know that readers will instantly like Emmet, and feel an instant creepiness  about Dr. Catalyst.  Being a book for upper elementary and middle school readers, this book is definitely a good one. It has the creepy element of the bad guy narrating some chapters and the good guys having no idea what is going on, but you know.  I know my son will love them.  The adventure does continue in the third book Killer Species Out For Blood

I purchased these books at the Scholastic Book Fair
ISBN: 978-0-545-56366-6 and 978-0-545-62200-4

Peter H. Reynolds

The Dot
    Vashti doesn't think she is good at art.  Her art teacher gives her advice, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."  This leads Vashti to her own collection of art dots.  Everyone is amazed at the beautiful art that Vashti has created.

  Ramon loves to draw. But one day his brother, Leon, makes fun of him.  Ramon no longer loves to draw and destroys his work.  But his little sister, Marisol,  changes his mind when she hangs all of his work and tells him that she likes them. Ramon learns to love his work and drawing again.

Both of these books are very simple, but really great.  Each book shows a child that learns to accept themselves for the work that they do.  I love the simpleness of them both. Perfect little reads.

I borrowed these from the public library
ISBN:0-7636-1961-2 and 0-7636-2344-X

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Graceling By: Kristin Cashore

Katsa is basically at the mercy of her uncle the King. He tells her what to do and who to hurt. Katsa has a Grace, that makes her very strong and a skilled fighter. She does not like doing the King's bidding and wishes she could leave.  When she meets Prince Po, she is not expecting to find a friend.  As they train together and get closer, she is scared that she has someone that she can lean on and trust.  But on one assignment things do not go as planned for Katsa and she is in a lot of trouble.  She decides to take Po up on his offer and flew with   him on his quest to avenge the kidnapping of his grandfather.  But as they embark on this journey and find much more for them to fight for, they also find each other.

I loved this book and didn't put it down until I was done.  The story of Katsa, a strong independent girl, who really just needs a friend was just great.   I found myself sad for her, and then ultimately happy when she realized what it was like to have a friend that she could trust.  I also liked that she was a strong fighter, and protective as well.  All around a great read.

I borrowed this from the public library

ISBN: 978-0-547-25830-0

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Sherlock Files Book 1

The Sherlock Files: Book 1 The 100 Year Old Secret By: Tracy Barrett

Xander and his sister Xena love mysteries.  They are playing a game about guess the person's job, when they are given a mysterious note with disappearing ink.  After working out what the message is telling them to do, they find out that they are descendants of Sherlock Holmes himself.  They are asked by the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives to help them solve a mystery. Find a painting that has been missing for a long time Girl in the Purple Hat.  As they work to solve this crime and start at a new school working together has never been more important.

I thought this was a great mystery read for upper elementary readers.  My son is doing his book report on this book, so I thought I would read it to.  The storyline is a good one, with lots of mystery solving adventure.  Mystery readers will love the tie to Sherlock Holmes stories in this book, as the adventure continues with his great great great grandchildren.

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-312-60212-3

A Day With Wilbur Robinson

A Day With Wilbur Robinson By: William Joyce

The Robinsons are a different group of people. Wilbur introduces us to all of them Aunt Billie plays with her train set, that appears to be actual size compared to her. Uncle Wormly is hanging out with his bug friends, The time machine was left on so there was dinosaurs by the pool.  A different family for sure.  I really enjoyed this book, it was another great William Joyce original work.  The illustrations are what make it great, the way he mixes pasty styles with future twists always drag me in.   Great read for elementary and up.

I borrowed this from the public library.
ISBN: 978-0-06-089098-8

Friday, December 27, 2013


Bang: Visions Book Two By: Lissa McMann

Sawyer is now having visions of a terrible thing happening. With the support of Jules, he is able to talk through what he sees.  When they realize that they are dealing with a school shooting, they know they need to act fast and find out where and when to try to stop the event.  Jules brother, Trey, agrees to help them figure it out. As they piece the puzzle together, Sawyers visions are constant and making him freak out.  They just need to stop it from happening.

I have to say that I was not thrilled with this book, which is not often what I have to say. I didn't like that the vision dealt with a school shooting, it bothered me.  I did finish it though and could say that I was happy with the ending, which leaves it open for another.  With some pretty mature topics and language, not a book I would recommend to teens. 

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-1-4424-6625-8

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars

Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars By: Nick James

Jesse lives with the Skyship dwellers and is training to help fight against the Surface.  Each force is looking for Pearls that help supply energy to them. Jesse has not been taking his training seriously, and on a mission he runs into Cassius.  Cassius has only every known what Madame has told him, and he is very loyal to her, so when he tells her of his encounter with Jesse and she tells him that he is the enemy, Cassius does what she asks him to and seeks to finish his work.  Jesse's friend Avery is instrumental in having Jesse find out more than the truth about his life, that really he has been living a complete lie that others have told him.  Jesse and Cassius end up not being enemies, but finding out that they both have been lied to and they have to work together to solve their problems.

This was a really interesting book. My summary in no way gives the best of what really happened in the book.  It is a hard book to explain and summarize. I really enjoyed the plot line in this story and both of the main characters. The way the book goes back and forth between the two leads makes it more interesting as they are living somewhat parallel lives and lies.  Any science fiction loving young adult would like this book.  Great read.

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-7387-2341-9

What Does the Fox Say?

What Does the Fox Say? By: Ylvis Illustrated by: Svein Nyhus

This is a picture book based on the popular song "The Fox".  The illustrations fit this quirky song and make the song come to life for kids.  My children are obsessed with this song and so this was the perfect gift for them from my mother.  I find this song totally annoying, but the illustrations are funny.

My kids were given this as a gift
ISBN: 978-1-4814-2223-9

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Sparkle Box

The Sparkle Box By: Jill Hardie Illustrated by Christine Kornacki

This is the story of Sam. His mother gives him a sparkly box and tell him that this Christmas they are going to be filling it with the things they do for others. So as Christmas approaches Same and his family do things for others in their lives and people they do not even know.  Then on Christmas morning they open the box and read all the things that they did for others.  Sam's mother explains that these things are the gifts they gave to Jesus this Christmas, because in serving others you serve Him.  This is a great story of how we should focus on helping others in our lives. Christmas is about giving to others not just getting yourself. 

I was given this book as a gift.
ISBN: 978-0-8249-5647-9

Monday, December 23, 2013


Towering By: Alex Flinn

Rachel has been locked in a tower with only her mother as company for as long as she remembers. Her mother says it is not safe to go out that someone will get her.  She also has hair that has to be cut each week for it grows so quickly.  Wyatt is trying to escape his life and the death of his best friends.  He comes to live with a strange old woman, who lost her daughter many years ago.  When Wyatt starts to hear singing in the forest he knows he must find out who it is.  Neither of them are expecting each other and yet they are at the  same time.  Each of them needs each other and together they can save themselves.

I love retelling of fairy tales and Alex Flinn always provides great new twists on the classic stories. I loved this book as much as her others and thought it was perfect.  I enjoyed the focus on not just Rachel but on Wyatt and how he was in need of
rescuing too. Great read!

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-06-202417-6

The Beatrice Letters

The Beatrice Letters By: Lemony Snicket

This is a book of letters to and from Beatrice and Lemony.  It is part of the Series of Unfortunate Events books.  The letters are from different times and places and somehow connect Beatrice with Lemony, as his love. What I love about this book is that the letters are made to look old and it comes with punch out letters and a poster, so that the book is completely interactive.This book is just another terrific Snicket book, and so unique.

I borrowed this from the public library.
ISBN: 978-0-06-058658-4

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Black Gold

Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives By: Albert Marrin

This is the history of how we began to use oil.  It traces the roots of oil back to its beginning and how it was created.  As an informational book written for middle school readers to high school readers it instantly captured my attention.  I do not believe that most kids know how oil is created and why it is so important in our lives. It also talks about how oil is something that we are not going to create, so we need to know that once it is gone, its gone.  The history of wars over oil are also discussed in this book, the extent to which some people went to, to control oil is quite fascinating.  This is a book that I would recommend to anyone, as I learned quite a bit.

I bought this at the Scholastic Book Fair
ISBN: 978-0-375-85938-7

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Dark

The Dark By: Lemony Snicket Illustrated By: Jon Klassen

This is the story of Laszlo and The Dark.  Laszlo is afraid of the dark, and hopes that the dark will never come to him.  But one night The Dark comes and talks to Laszlo and wants him to do something.  This book is so great!  My children and students loved it, the 5th graders said that it was creepy.  With simple pictures that help tell the story it truly is a winner. One of my good friends recommended this book and it made me smile.

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-316-18748-0

Cinders A Chicken Cinderella

Cinders A Chicken Cinderella By: Jan Brett

Jan Brett retells the story of Cinderella in a whole new way in this chicken version.  I love the illustrations and the twist in the book.  My students and children laughed about the clothing the chickens wear and how the sisters are named Pecky and Bossy. Great read!

I borrowed this from the public library
ISBN: 978-0-399-25783-4