Friday, May 27, 2016

Stinky Cecil: My Son's Reaction

Title: Stinky Cecil
Author: Paige Braddock

Stinky Cecil is back in a hilarious new adventure!

Cecil and his amphibian pals are taking a well-deserved break after saving their pond from freeway construction when a third-grade science class shows up for a field trip. The kids nab Cecil for their classroom terrarium!

At first Cecil is terrified, but he quickly gets used to being a class pet. That is, until Nesbit the chameleon shows up. Nesbit wants to be just like Cecil, so he matches his colors and follows him all around the terrarium. He’s driving Cecil crazy!

Meanwhile, Cecil’s pals back at the pond are planning a rescue mission using Jeff the hamster’s radio controlled helicopter. But what will they do about Nesbit?

Join the whole pond gang for this second delightful environmental romp.

This review is based completely on my 8 year old's reaction with the book.  A while back I reviewed the first book in this series.  When I got that book for review, I showed it to my son.  He was interested, but didn't take it right away.  But what I noticed was that slowly it kept disappearing and ending up in his room.  He liked it but didn't want me to know.  

Now this one shows up.  I have it sitting out, and he noticed it.  

Here's what went down:

Son looking at the book trying not to look interested, "Mom, what's that?" Pointing shyly at it.

Me looking around to see what he means and spotting the book, inside I start to giggle because I know he's interested but doesn't want to say, "Oh that's a book I got for review."

He's silent for a minute just kinda staring at it. 

"Do you want to look at it?"

He nods, takes it.  Walks off.  It hasn't left his side since then. 

Seriously it hasn't! He loved it!!! He's read it several times, and he keeps showing me the picture of a worm (or is it a snake) with glasses on and giggles.  What makes me excited about this is that I've been arguing with him lately to read something beyond Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  So to see him get pulled into this one makes me very happy!!! 

In full disclosure I haven't read this book, but I'm guessing it's a lot like the first one.  And I really don't feel I need to read it this time in order to review it because the reaction of my son speaks volumes for me!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3 Picture Books!

I've got three picture books to share today.

Title: Wild Child
Author/Illustrator: Steven Salerno
The jungle can be a scary place, but there is one creature who is the fiercest of all: it grabs, it pulls, it cries, it poops—it’s the WILD CHILD! All the animals live in fear of this nasty baby who cannot be tamed or soothed. No matter what the animals try, the wild child just gets wilder! Can the animals join together to bring peace back to the jungle and make the wild child a mild child?

Thoughts:  Very cute book that everyone can relate to because we've all been around that "wild child". Bright bold illustrations add to the fun.  

Title: I Love You More Than Moldy Ham
Author/Illustrator:  Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis

When a young monster sets out to create a gourmet dinner for someone special, he squelches through marsh and muck to find just the right ingredients, from beetle knees to plump slugs to chicken teeth! But who is the dinner for? A surprise awaits his special loved one and readers alike!

Thoughts:  One of those "awwww" but yet "ewwww" books that kids will love.  Great cute book about doing something special for the ones we love.  

Title: Peanut Butter & Jelly Brains
Author: Joe McGee
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Reginald isn’t like the other zombies who shuffle through Quirkville, scaring the townspeople and moaning for BRAINSSSSS! The only thing Reginald’s stomach rumbles for is sticky peanut butter and sweet jelly. He tries to tell his zombie pals that there’s more to life than eating brains, but they’re just not interested. Will Reginald find a way to bring peace to Quirkville and convince the other zombies that there’s nothing better than PB&J?

Thoughts: I LOVE zombies and this picture book is perfect!!! Cute and funny and appropriate.  How could you not love a zombie that just wants a PB&J??? Well done!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ghosts! Magic Tree House Review: A Good Night for Ghosts

A Good Night for Ghosts by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and Annie are on their second mission to find—and inspire—artists to bring happiness to millions. After traveling to New Orleans, Jack and Annie come head to head with some real ghosts, as well as discover the world of jazz when they meet a young Louis Armstrong!

Ghosts (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #20)
When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts, they had lots of questions. What are some of the most famous ghost stories? Why do people believe in ghosts? Do most cultures have ghost stories? What are ghost hunters? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts. Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures.

I have been reading Magic Tree House books with my kids for at least 10 years.  This is the first time I ever had to read one just for me though! I've always liked this series.  Some early chapter books can annoy me, but this one doesn't that much.  How's that for a resounding positive review?? :)  In this book Jack and Annie head to New Orleans and meet Louis Armstrong.  I love how it would expose children to some history and most likely history they are not aware of.  It would expose them to something beyond what they might know on a daily bases.  It was also cute with the ghost aspect.  And yes there really is a ghost in the story! It was done just right for kids - nothing scary that would keep them up at night.  As usual, Jack and Annie has to help fix something in history.  This is done with some conflict but solved easily in the end.  

Over-all a nice book and series for those beginner readers.
About the nonfiction companion book - I like that some of the Magic Tree House books have these because it gives young kids some of the information behind the story.  This one looks at several different topics including why New Orleans is considered a very haunted city.  I even learned a few things reading it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Oh Mercy! Book Review: Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride

Some of you might know that I'm currently in school to get my licence to become a school library media specialist.  It's something I should've done years ago, but at least I'm going back to it now!

Throughout the program I take classes on picking books for different grade levels.  This summer I was introduced to the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo and fell in love with them!!! They are the cutest books ever.

I want to review one of the books, so maybe you'll get a taste of how cute these are.

Title: Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride
Mr. and Mrs. Watson's porcine wonder, Mercy, loves nothing more than a ride in the car. It takes a fair amount of nudging and bribing and a "You are such a good sport, darling" to get the portly pig out of the driver's seat, but once the convertible is on the road, Mercy loves the feel of the wind tickling her ears and the sun on her snout. One day the Watsons' motoring ritual takes an unexpected turn, however, when their elderly neighbor Baby Lincoln pops up in the backseat in hopes of some "folly and adventure" — and in the chaos that ensues, an exuberant Mercy ends up behind the wheel! Soon there's a policeman on her tail, a struggle for the brake, and a blissfully airborne Mercy. Of course, it's nothing that an extra helping of buttered toast can't fix! 

For me one of the strength of this book is the facial expressions of Mercy.  If you look at the cover you get just a taste of them.  In this book they are fantastic as Mercy's car ride turns out nothing like she expected! I actually giggled at some of them! As a teacher I could so see using them to teach students about drawing inferences.  Her face says so much! The faces of the others in the car do too, but it was Mercy's I loved.  The other thing I love about this series is it's retro feel.  It looks like a book that might have been written long before it actually was.  I found that so enduring.  I went into this book a little hesitant since I'm not a huge reader of this age group, but I left it smiling! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: Izzy the Very Bad Burglar by Amy Proud

Title: Izzy the Very Bad Burglar
Author: Amy Proud

Izzy comes from a family of excellent burglars. But every time Izzy takes something that doesn’t belong to her, she gets a bad feeling in her stomach that won’t go away. She tries to tell her parents about the bad feeling, but whenever she mentions it, they tell her she needs to be a good burglar.

Izzy finds ways to make the funny feeling in her stomach subside. She and her friend, Frog, start by tidying up as they burgle. They make the beds, dust, wash the dishes, and do the laundry. When the people come home, some of their things will be gone . . . but at least they won’t have any chores to do.

But that isn’t quite enough. So Izzy also starts baking her special double chocolate brownies with gooey caramel chunks. When the people realize they’ve been burgled, at least they will have a nice, tidy house with no chores to do and something sweet to eat.

But that isn’t quite enough either. Will Izzy ever find a way to get rid of this funny feeling she gets every time she has to steal? Will she find a way to be a good burglar and a good person, too? Readers will fall in love with this little troublemaker with a very big heart.

What a cute book! At first I was thinking how will this book make a positive out of doing something wrong and can it really show kids a good message.  And it does both really well! I just love that she combats the funny (icky) feeling in her stomach when she steals by doing nice things for the family.  I always try to teach my kids that when make a poor choice you need to find a way to make it better for the person you hurt.  But it's cute how far she ends up taking this! And I really loved how the families were starting to set things up so she'd steal from their house so they could get all the cleaning and baking! Very fun twist! The ending was perfect because it allowed Izzy to do what she needed and feel good about it.  Loved that.

The illustrations were adorable.  Lots for kids to look at and notice.  I loved the details and the colors used.  They really brought the story to life and gave it a fun whimsy that added to Izzy's growing need to do more and more nice things for people.  

In the end - a cute book that shows the joy doing something nice for someone can bring.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Didn't We all Want the Wishbone? Review of Judy Moody & Stink: The Wishbone Wish

Title: Judy Moody and Stink: The Wishbone Wish
By: Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynalds

On your mark, get set, Gobblers-a-Go-Go! Judy swears she’ll win the race for a Thanksgiving turkey (though Stink has his doubts) in this full-color Moody adventure.

The town’s annual Turkey Trot race and festival is coming up, and Judy and Stink are training to win. Judy has decided that she is going to take home the big prize: a fat, juicy turkey. They can taste it already: the moist turkey, the hot gravy, the savory stuffing, the cranberry sauce! Beep! Beep! Beep!That’s the sound of Stink’s Rapidfire Ultra XE611M25 stopwatch going off as Judy and Stink hop, crawl, and climb toward race day. But what if they don’t win a mouthwatering bird? What then? Flying turkey gizzards! Will the Moody family end up starving on T-day, like ye pilgrims of olde, or will Grandma Lou cook up a tasty Franksgiving solution?

But it's more than that to this book!
With so many young people now getting involved in raising money for local food pantries and other charitable initiatives, Judy and Stink’s story about getting ready, set, gobblers-a-go-go for their local Thanksgiving Turkey Trot is a great way to keep spreading the word about the importance of supporting these ventures, and will hopefully encourage kids and parents to think about how they can get involved in helping local communities in the holiday season and beyond.

So not only is this a cute book, but it has a good message as well!  Having read the book I can attest to the fact that it does have a nice message, but the nice part is that it doesn't clobber you over the head with it! I think younger kids would find the book fun and get at kick, as always, out of Judy.  I loved how the family came together at the end when things didn't happen as they thought it would.  It as a sweet positive way to handle it! But beyond just that fun stuff (I mean really there was a girl dressed as a corncob!), I do think they'd get a bit of an understanding of Thanksgiving and giving and that's nice.  I even learned a bit by reading it about how Thanksgiving became a holiday! You can't ask more of a book for this age group - to be both fun and creating some learning as well!

Here's some praise for the book:
The latest installment in the Judy Moody and Stink series has the trademark humor and grade-school sensibility that its fans enjoy, as well as a surprise at the end when Grandma Lou saves the day. Reynolds’ lively and colorful digital illustrations appear throughout. This beginning chapter book, studded with historical facts, trivia, and wordplay related to Thanksgiving will amuse, and maybe even inform, young readers.