Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lunch Money


Lunch Money

Written by Andrew Clements

Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

ISBN #: 978-0-689-86683-8

Summary:
Greg Kenton has a knack for making money. When he decides to sell comic books at school, he discovers that his latest money making scheme won't be quite so easy. First he discovers a competitor in his neighbor, Maura Shaw. When the two put their differences aside to join forces, they face a bigger obstacle in their principal, Mrs. Davenport. With the help of their math teacher, Mr. Zenotopoulous they might be able to make money after all.
My Thoughts About This Book:
Andrew Clements knows how to write a story that kids can relate to and enjoy. A testament to this fact is evident when you look for his books on my library shelves--there are none! Lunch Money is no exception to his kid-friendly writing style. I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Greg was going to problem solve his money making problems. The characters Clements creates in this book are believable, likable people that you find yourself rooting for as you read. I like how Clements portrayed the character of Greg as one who thought things through to create a workable situation for his and Maura's plans. Having an adult character who supported Greg's and Maura's plans like Mr. Zenotopoulous, helped give believability to many of the situations you might not picture students doing on their own. (Such as confronting the school board.) I can see this book being a great one to jump start off a unit on economics and making money. It could lead to discussions about ways students could earn money to help their school.
Review Excerpts:
From School Library Journal: "Clements has created another clever, enterprising young protagonist in Greg...Along with providing a fast-paced and humorous story line, the author examines concepts of true wealth, teamwork, community mindedness, and the value of creative expression. The characters are rich with interesting quirks and motivations...fast-paced and humorous."

Babe and Me

Babe and Me

Written by Dan Gutman

Publisher: Avon Books, Inc., 2000

ISBN #: 0-380-97739-7
Summary:
Joe Stoshack has the ability to travel back in time to get to meet some of the greatest baseball players who ever played the game. He uses that ability to travel back to 1932, to learn once and for all if Babe Ruth actually called his shot during Game Three of the 1932 World Series. During his visit, Joe observes first hand the after effects of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt's presidency campaign, and observes events important to World War II.
My Thoughts About This Book:
This was my third book to read in Dan Gutman's "Baseball Card Adventure" series. While I have enjoyed them all, I have to say that so far, this one is my favorite. I like how Gutman blends both baseball and the history and culture of the time period Joe travels to. Not only does the reader learn facts about the Babe, but important events that shaped America's history as well. I love how Gutman uses historical photographs and memorabilia from the time period as well. These elements help students picture people and places in each novel that otherwise might cause comprehension problems as they tried to picture moments that happened before they were born. Gutman has researched each time period and baseball great to help create an accurate picture of events to further aid the reader in understanding characters and historic events. This book was compelling and hard to put down as I read. I look forward to reading even more in this series.
Review Excerpts:
From School Library Journal: "The book does evoke the importance of a sports hero to an America mired in the depths of the Depression. An enjoyable escape into another decade."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Ghost's Grave

The Ghost's Grave

Written by Peg Kehret

Publisher: Puffin Books, 2005

ISBN #: 978-0-14-240819-3

Summary:
Josh must face a summer of living with his aunt while his parents travel overseas for work. Convinced it will be the worst summer ever, Josh quickly changes his mind when he discovers he can see and talk to the ghost of an old miner. Josh finds himself agreeing to help Willie the ghost so he can move on to the next world, but soon wonders if that is the best decision when he finds himself having to dig in an old graveyard.
My Thoughts About This Book:
Based upon the number of times I had checked this book out this year, I knew based on kid standards, this had to be a pretty good book. Once I managed to get my hands on a copy and read it, I discovered it was not pretty good, it was GREAT! The story is fast paced and full of excitement. It was hard not to read this book in one sitting as the action kept you turning page after page, unwilling to stop. The characters were well-developed, and believable--even Willie the Ghost! I particularly enjoyed the character of Aunt Ethel, Josh's colorful aunt who would rather eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. In my opinion, this book has everything that kids want in an adventure story---great characters, fast action, and that it is a ghost story. I am looking forward to reading more from Peg Kehret!
Review Excerpts:
From School Library Journal: "This fast-paced and engaging book should be a hit with fans of ghost stories.
Josh is a rich character to whom readers can relate and they will cheer him on as he searches for the truth."

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea

A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier

Publisher: Scholastic, Graphix, 2006

ISBN #: 0-439-73933-0

Summary:

Kristi Thomas decides to create a Baby-Sitters Club with three of her friends. The four girls work together to take on challenging toddlers while becoming close friends whom they can share secrets with.


My Thoughts About This Book:

While the Baby-Sitters Club series has been popular with students, I must admit that I had never read any of Ann Martin's original series. Telgemeier's adaptation was my first exposure to Kristy and her friends. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I liked that this book was a good graphic novel for girls, as so many in this genre seem to be geared toward boys. I think that for girls who are reluctant/struggling readers, this book would be ideal. The limited text, and clear uncluttered accompanying drawings allow the reader to easily follow the story. The story line was well developed and moved along at a nice pace. It also included many situations that young girls could relate to such as a mother remarrying. I think this book would make readers want to read another in the series, or read a book from the original Ann Martin series.

Review Excerpts:

From Booklist: "The story has been effectively trimmed to accommodate the format (Kristy's actions and feelings are the focus), but there's still plenty of content, comedy, action, and emotion--in both the text and the art--as the kids cope with feisty toddlers and personal problems and fight with and help one another, while modeling right behavior and the ups and downs of friendship. "




Thursday, May 7, 2009

Island--Book One: Shipwreck

Island--Book One: Shipwreck

Written by Gordon Korman

Publisher: Scholastic, Apple Paperbacks, 2001

ISBN #: 978-0-439-16456-6

Summary:
Six students who are challenges to their schools and parents have boarded a ship as part of a program called Charting a New Course. Their ship is severely damaged when a storm strikes while they at sea. When they can no longer stay on the ship, the kids abandon it and wind up stranded on a deserted island. Now with only each other, these students who don't work well with others must learn to rely on each other if they want to survive.
My Thoughts About This Book:
This fast-moving story is a perfect fit for someone who likes a story full of action. It is high interest, but a low readability level would make it ideal for a student who struggles with reading, or finding a just right book. Korman creates a tight story that moves quickly--almost as quickly as the storm that hits the ship. I thoroughly enjoyed this story--the only thing I did not like was that it left me hanging. I will definitely be tracking down books two and three in the series to find out how the kids handled being on the island alone. A satisfying adventure read.
Review Excerpts:
From Amazon.com: "A hint of menace permeates Shipwreck, along with humor, angst, and mystery. Readers won't want to miss the continuation of the riveting saga in books 2 and 3."


Ruby Holler

Ruby Holler

Written by Sharon Creech

Publisher HarperCollins, 2003

ISBN #: 0-439-45808-0

Summary:
Named the "trouble twins" by the Trepids, caretakers of the children in the Boxton Creek Home, Dallas and Florida have spent their entire lives going from one foster family to the next. As a result, they have learned to become wary of adults and are doubtful that they will ever find a welcoming home. Tiller and Sandy are an older couple who seek companionship, and bring the Dallas and Florida to Ruby Holler in the hopes the children will accompany them on one last adventure. As the children learn to trust their new "parents," they discover that they might have finally found a loving home.
My Thoughts About This Book:
I have wanted to read this book for quite sometime--I think it was the cozy cabin on the cover that intrigued me. This module gave me the perfect excuse. I have been a big fan of Sharon Creech's writing ever since I first read Love That Dog, and this novel was no exception. I enjoy Creech's writing style because she has the ability to make me get lost in her words. When I began reading Ruby Holler, I was immediately there experiencing all of its loveliness as the characters did. The short chapters helped the story move along at a fast pace. I was always left wondering as each chapter ended about what was going to happen. I would look ahead to see that the next chapter wasn't very long, and before I knew it, I was reading one more chapter and then one more until soon the book was done. A good writer has the ability to draw the reader into the story, and Creech certainly did that regarding this story and my ability to get lost in it. I look forward to recommending this title to the numerous Creech fans I have in my school!
Review Excerpts:
From Publisher's Weekly: "This poignant story evokes a feeling as welcoming as fresh-baked bread. The slow evolution of the siblings who are no angels parallels the gradual building of mutual trust for the Moreys. The novel celebrates the healing effects of love and compassion. Although conflicts emerge, readers will have little doubt that all will end well for the children and the grandparently Moreys."


Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen

LubaThe angel of Bergen-Belsen

As told to Michelle R. McCann by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick

Illustrated by Ann Marshall

Publisher: Tricycle Press, 2003

ISBN #: 978-1-58246-098-7

Summary:

Luba Tryszynska questioned why she was spared death as she spent her first night at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. When she discovers a group of children hiding from the Nazi guards she has her answer. She was spared to protect these lost children. Knowing she faced execution if caught, Luba risked her life to bring food and provide shelter for these children. She succeeded in keeping them safe until the camp was liberated by British soldiers.

My Thoughts About This Book:

This story was extremely moving and inspirational. Luba truly exemplifies the definition of an angel for her selfless acts during one of the most horrific events in history. This story is well-written and Luba's voice is what you hear as you read the words. This is a story that needs to be read, and would be a must read for any unit on the Holocaust. I particularly enjoyed the afterward where the follow-up to Luba's story was shared as well as photographs. These additions helped bring the story further to life, and I enjoyed learning how the children thanked Luba for her help. Ann Marshall's oil and collage illustrations are the perfect touch for rounding out this beautiful story.

Review Excerpts:

From Booklist: "Just when it seems a nonfiction Holocaust book can't tell us anything new, along comes a story like this one, an inspiring, upbeat, true rescue account that is essential to the history. Just when it seems a nonfiction Holocaust book can't tell us anything new, along comes a story like this one, an inspiring, upbeat, true rescue account that is essential to the history."