Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review - Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst

Cooking with Henry and ElliebellyCooking with Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whether you are 5 or 45, this book will make you laugh! Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly is uproariously funny. Henry and his little sister Eleanor (or as Henry likes to call her Elliebelly) are hosting their own live cooking show. The treat they are making for us today - Raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon. YUM!
Henry is a very imaginative boy who is pretending to host his own cooking show. As he tries to go through the various steps to making his raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles, his little sister Elliebelly interjects with her own special brand of commentary. Elliebelly wants them to wear pirate not chef hats and would like to add a little pizza to the mix. Such is the way of little sisters and Henry learns there is not way to argue with a 2-year old. This is great book to read aloud, especially if you can do it with two readers or two voices.
I recommend it for reading aloud for all ages.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review - 13 Words by Lemony Snicket

13 Words13 Words by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Bird - Despondent - Cake. These are words Lemony Snicket uses in his new picture book 13 Words.

Okay - enough said about the book's premise. I did not like this book. Mainly I do not think it should be a picture book. At least that is where our cataloger chose to place it. The book actually gave me the creeps. The bird is despondent. It reminds me of the Raven of Poe fame. The pictures are colorful but remind me of an Edvard Munch painting. (Think The Scream.) I don't believe children will appreciate or even get the imagery presented by way of a book on a table by Kafka or an angel playing a tambourine. I don't even understand some of it.

My recommendation for this book is - give it a miss.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review - Daily Comet: Boy Saves Earth From Giant Octopus! by Frank Asch

Daily Comet, The: Boy Saves Earth from Giant Octopus!Daily Comet, The: Boy Saves Earth from Giant Octopus! by Frank Asch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is "Go to Work with a Parent Day" for Hayward Palmer and he is accompanying his father for the day. His father is the lead reporter for the Daily Comet, a less then believable tabloid. As Hayward tags along with his dad on various news stories, he soon realizes that maybe the Daily Comet is not so fake as he believes.
This is a wonderfully written and illustrated story for kids and adults alike. I was delighted to find "old friends" in the illustrations. I must admit that I am a big tabloid reader. Not the National Inquirer tabloid, but the World Wide News. The "newspaper" that brought us such greats as Bat Boy and "I Was Bigfoot's Love Slave." Adults reading this book can find all kinds of allusions to tabloid stories in the past. Kids will love this book for the funny, fantastic story and adults will love it for the wonderful illustrations and tongue-in-cheek poke at the tabloids we all peek at in the grocery aisle.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review - The Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin by

Plumply, Dumply PumpkinPlumply, Dumply Pumpkin by Mary Serfozo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter is looking for the perfect pumpkin. The perfect plumply, dumply pumpkin. Is it for pumpkin pickles? Or pumpkin stew? What will Peter do with his plumply, dumply pumpkin once he finds it?
This is a wonderful read aloud book for young children. The pictures are bright and eye catching. The rhyming of the words used to describe the different types of pumpkins Peter finds in the patch make even the reader laugh.
I recommend this book for children from 3 to 7. But I must say, it was fun to read aloud too!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review - Scat by Carl Hiaasen

ScatScat by Carl Hiaasen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mrs. Starch is the most feared teacher at Truman School. When Mrs. Starch mysteriously disappears on a class field trip to a nature preserve, Nick and Marta become suspicious about a classmate’s involvement. The suspected student, Smoke, argued with the Mrs. Starch just days before the trip, leading everyone to believe that he was involved. What follows is a “whodunit” that reveals there’s more to this story than just a simple case of a missing person. Nick and Marta uncover a deeper story about a shady wannabe Texas oilman and his intentions for the swamp.
I am a big, big fan of Hiaasen's work, both adult and teen. His quirky characters are wonderful to read about and there is a clear line between the good and the bad. As with his adult novels, his "bad guys" are usually messing with the ecology of Florida, putting building and development above the endangered flora and fauna of the region. This time we encounter the elusive Florida panther, considered endangered since 1967. If this book does nothing else, this book will make you laugh as the insanity surmounts.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review - Spoon by Amy Krause Rosenthal

SpoonSpoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spoon has been feeling a little down. Even though he has a great family with lots of interesting relatives (his great-grandmother ran away with a dish), he just feels a little left out. His friend Knife gets to cut things. His friend Fork gets to go everywhere. Neither of them ever gets stir crazy like Spoon. But maybe things for Spoon are not so bad. Spoon might just be surprised at what his friends think of his life.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a great read aloud. It carries a message inside of an interesting story so the kids don't know they are learning about accepting themselves just the way they are. Amy Krause Rosenthal's books each carry a little lesson placed carefully inside a fun book for the kids. I recommend this books as well as her books Little Pea, Little Oink & Little Owl.

View all my reviews >>

Read Your Own Books #2

Okay so I went over to 25 Hour Books, a blog I was directed to by Mel, and found some interesting help for my book addiction.

#1 - I need to figure out what I own. I have been known to buy the same book 2 or 3 times.
#2 - Having a good friend - in this case Mel - who will keep you on the straight and narrow.
#3 - Realizing the wonderful book I saw on the shelf at the library will be here for a while. Read what I have & let someone else have first crack at it.
#4 - Admitting I have an addiction in the first place. I know I would be happy in a room surrounded by books with nothing but a comfy chair and some chips (and a Dr. Pepper too!) I could survive that way for a long time as long as you keep the chips and Dr. Pepper coming. I even think going to jail would not be so bad if they allowed me to have all the books I could read! That is how addicted I am. I measure every bad situation with "I could do it if I had a book."

This month will be tough but I am going to make it and break this addiction!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Read Your Own Books

I have joined Mel's Read Your Own Books challenge. Here are my rules: 1) Do not buy, nor check-out, any new books for the month of August; 2) Finish reading the 11 books that I have started and gotten "a part" of the way through; 3) maybe even carry this into September; 4) Do not add any new holds to my hold list until it is shorter; & 5) review more books! So you can join Mel's Read too - just click on the button to the side here. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review - The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist, #1)The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay I usually don't give books 5 stars but I really, really loved this book. It brings to mind years ago as I lay in my bed with a flashlight, under the covers, reading Lovecraft or James Herbert and scaring myself to death.

Presented as a series of journals written by Will Henry,a young boy of 12, the tale follows the twists and turns of a journey straight to Hell and back. You see Will Henry is apprenticed to the Monstrumologist - a man who studies monsters. We are not talking Frankenstein or the Wolfman. These are monsters found in nature and myths of old, and are far scarier. Will Henry's mother and father are deceased and he is left with only Dr.Pellinore Warthrop to care for him. In his time with the doctor Will Henry has seen many strange and chilling things but the most deadly and frightening is yet to come. When a grave robber brings an unusual find to the back door late one night, Will Henry is about to enter the most terrifying trial of his young life.

*Not for sensitive readers - there are several scenes of violence with blood & gore. This novel is classified as young adult but I would only recommend it to those teens 15 and up. Adults with a penchant for "Lovecraftian" novels will love this. I am anxiously awaiting the next one.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review - Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward JusticeClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white person. This sparked the great Montgomery Bus Boycott – the day when the African-American community in Montgomery decided they would rather walk then be told where to sit on the bus or to give up their seat so a white person could sit down. But what about those who came before Rosa Parks? Was she the first to refuse to get up? On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin, a young African-American girl of 15 refused to vacate her seat to a white woman. But her story is far different from Rosa Parks. While she is not celebrated like Rosa Parks, Claudette was instrumental in changing our world – while only a teenager. The story of Claudette Colvin is brought to light in her own words in Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.

While I liked this book, it seemed to take me forever to read. Although it was set up chronologically it does jump around to try and give the whole story of what was happening at the time. I would have appreciated hearing the whole story in Claudette's own voice throughout the book rather than in spurts. I think children 10+ will do okay with the ideas brought forth in the book but younger readers will have a hard time. It definitely inspires further research into the subject. For 5th graders up, it is a wonderful read, if not to learn about segregation but to be inspired to change their world themselves.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Random Thoughts

As summer reading here at KHCPL has taken off, I find myself wondering why it seems the Garfield books fly off the shelves but I can't get someone to read The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls for love or money. I love comics, graphic novels and manga but I also love getting into a good book where my imagination fills in the blanks and pictures. So how do you get the kids to fall in love with these books too? How do you get them to understand that their imagination is as good, if not better, than the comic book illustrations? I guess it is just summer reading blues gettin' me down.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review - Murder At Midnight by Avi

Murder At Midnight Murder At Midnight by Avi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Fabrizio wants nothing more than to please his master, Magnus the Magician. But everything Fabrizio tries to do seems to be the wrong thing. Until Magnus is arrested by the Primo Magistrato Signor DeLaBina for doing magic. Now it is up to Fabrizio to save his master's life. But who can he trust? Prince Cosimo? Count Scarazoni? Or even King Claudio himself? As the clock on Magnus' life keeps ticking, Fabrizio must decide who is telling the truth and who is the traitor.

This is a "quick read" mystery for young readers who are confident in their reading comprehension. The world of Renaissance Italy is confusing in itself, it seems everyone wore a black robe. Then Avi gives us the added elements of magic, treason, and betrayal to deal with. In trying to keep the reader interested in the intrigue, Avi falls short on developing the characters fully. I did not gain connection to any of the primary characters, while the secondary were mere shadows. The progression of the story also slows somewhat due to trying to remember who is who; who is working for whom; and what they have said - between the prince and the count. While these characters in no way physically resemble each other, they seem to be interchangeable. Each claims to be helping Fabrizio and at some point seems to betray him. I am still not sure if I feel this helps the mystery or hinders it, making it too confusing. I would recommend this for readers ages 10 - 12 because it takes a good comprehension level to follow.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review - The Frog Scientist by Pamela Turner

The Frog Scientist (Scientist in the Field) The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tyrone Hayes loves frogs. He doesn’t just love frogs, he really loves frogs. He has taken his love for all things green and slimy and turned it into a way to help the declining frog population. Tyrone is a frog scientist. He conducts research as to why, across the whole world, the number of frogs is decreasing. In 1989, it was discovered that all around the globe, frogs were dying at an increased rate. Thankfully that was the same year and Tyrone graduated from Harvard University, and became The Frog Scientist.
I really liked this book. It was informative and interesting at the same time. It is well organized and laid out. The photographs enhance the storyline by adding information. I think the subject matter is one that would interest the middle grade reading levels and is pertinent to today.
I would recommend it to children from grade 4 to adult.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random Thoughts

I am taking a bit of a break from reviewing books - to simply reading them. I have around 90 books to read by this fall so may not have time to post reviews. I will try my best to keep up with posting but please don't be too hard on me if I fail.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Review - Anything But Typical by Nora Releigh Baskin

Anything But Typical Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jason Blake’s life is made up of words and acronyms. The NT’s (Neurotypicals) in his life don’t understand him and find it hard to communicate with him. He is in SPED (special education) because he has ASD (autistic spectrum disorder.) Or possibly NLD (nonverbal learning disorder,) or even PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – non-specific.) All Jason really knows is that he does not fit into the typical world. He does not look you in the eye when you talk to him; his hands and fingers flap at the end of his wrists; and it seems it is always too noisy around him. The one thing Jason does well is control words – writing stories. When Jason writes he can make sense of his world and be who he is on the inside. His writing attracts the attention of Rebecca, a girl from another town and state who reads his stories on the internet. But when the time comes for him to meet Rebecca, will she be able to see past his outside to find what is inside Jason?
As I read this book all I could think about was whether it would touch children who read it like the author intended. Truthfully, I have to wonder if children – be they tweens or teens - would really enjoy it. I think the subject matter is one they would have hard time understanding or empathizing with. While there are some children who have a fuller understanding of the world, very few would be able to truly comprehend the troubles in Jason's world. And while I enjoyed it, at times I found it a little dry and boring. While on a reading level of 12 yrs. or older, I would recommend it only to adults, especially those who deal with the problem of autism on a regular basis.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Review - Stick by Steve Breen

Stick Stick by Steve Breen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Stick is about a small frog by the name of Stick. Stick likes to do things himself. Until on day, Stick tries to catch his own lunch. Maybe his eyes are too big for his stomach, because Stick gets carried away - really carried away. He goes over the swamp, through a city and out to the ocean. Now Stick must find his way back.
Stick is a semi-wordless picture book. The illustrations tell much more of the story than the words so this a great book to share with your non-readers. You can make up your own mind what Stick is feeling as he flies through the air stuck to a dragonfly or balloons. The illustrations are beautiful and the expressions on the faces of the people, animals and Stick, as he is taken from one place to another, are delightful. I would recommend this to adults reading to those children who are getting ready to read but not quite there yet. Or for older children who like to make up the story themselves.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Review - Ain't Nothing But a Man" by Scott Reynolds Nelson

Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Author Scott Reynolds Nelson seeks to find the truth behind the folksong “John Henry”, the story of a contest between John Henry, a strong steel drivin' man, and a steam drill. Was there really a man named John Henry? Did he challenge and beat a steam drill? Nelson takes us step by step through the process that he used to answer these questions and more to find the real John Henry.
I put this book on my "must read" list. John Henry is a icon in American folklore - the symbol of man vs. the machine. No one truly knows who the real John Henry was or even where the legendary contest took place. Many have sought to find this information, and Scott Nelson will not be the last. However, the journey Nelson takes on his historical quest to find John Henry and the meaning behind the song is both entertaining and educational. Did he find the real John Henry? You will have to read the book and draw your own conclusion.

View all my reviews >>