Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Read Tuesday

Today is the first ever To Read Tuesday on Mrs. Archer’s Book Notes. These are just a few of the books on my to be read list.

Home of the Brave by K. A. Applegate
The Smokey Corridor by Chris Grabenstein
Emma Dilemma and the Two Nannies by Patrica Hermes
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Danger Box by Blue Balliett
The Rivalry: Mystery at the Amry-Navy Game by John Feinstein
My Life As a Book by Janet Tashjian
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
The 39 Clues, Book 10: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix

What’s on your to read list?

Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee - Zoe Fleefenbacher's Hair Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson

Zoe Fleefenbacher has gloriously wild red hair, with a mind of its own.  Without any help from Zoe her hair is a master at multi-tasking.  It often simultaneously performs many tasks:  turning on the TV, petting the cat, working on the computer, and pouring a glass of juice.  When Zoe enters first grade, her teacher Ms. Trisk quickly informs her “School has rules. . . No wild hair in my class!”  Despite Ms Trisk’s attempts at getting it under control, Zoe’s hair just won’t be tamed. No amount of discipline – even meeting with the principal, can make Zoe’s hair behave.  In desperation, Zoe tries to control her hair with scrunchies, barrettes, and even duct tape – all to no avail.  The locks escape their confinement to help out with a demonstration on rotating planets and Ms. Trisk changes her mind about wild hair.
Anderson, well known for your young adult novels,  creates a sparkling and humorous narrative that will have students sitting on the edge of their seats to find out what Zoe’s hair will do next.  The illustrations done in pen and ink and watercolor add to the vibrant story.  Very much a tall tale, this story not only entertains children but covers important back to school themes like the challenges of transition from one grade to the next, problem solving and teachers learning from their students.  This is an excellent addition to any school library or classroom library.

Recommended for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade.

Mrs. Archer’s rating 5 of 5

Friday, November 26, 2010

Battle of the Books Friday - The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

It’s Battle of the Books Friday.  This week’s book is on the 2010 – 2011 Pikes Peak Region Battle of the Books list.  The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana and her family after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.  Since that time she has only been outside in the company of her father. Her mother and two sisters have not left the apartment in over a year.  Women are prohibited from attending school, shopping or even being outside alone.  Eleven-year-old Parvana is allowed to accompany her crippled father to the market where he reads and writes letters in an effort to support the family.  She is only allowed to do this because he needs assistance walking. Before the Taliban, Parvanna’s family was successful.  Both her parents are well educated. They had a nice home.  She and her sister attended school.  After the Taliban they had to move frequently as their homes were bombed.  Things couldn’t get much worse until the Taliban arrests her father. To save the family from starvation Parvana must to become the "breadwinner." She disguises herself as a boy so she can get a job to support her family. Set in the early years of the Taliban regime, The Breadwinner highlights the harsh life for girls and women in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. 

Ellis is an excellent storyteller, able to convey the seriousness of the situation but also keeping the reader entertained with Parvanna’s resourcefulness and courage.  This is an excellent novel to use for teaching about perseverance as well as differences in other cultures.  One of my former students read this book and was so moved by the plight of girls and women under the Taliban regime that she was inspired to start fundraising to help build schools for women and girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

Mrs. Archer’s rating:  5 or 5

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Author Unknown

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.  ~Edward Sandford Martin

May your stuffing be tastyMay your turkey plump,May your potatoes and gravyHave nary a lump.May your yams be deliciousAnd your pies take the prize,And may your Thanksgiving dinnerStay off your thighs!~Author Unknown

I am thankful for wonderful books and the authors who write them, free libraries and the librarians who make them run so smoothly.  I am thankful for my family, friends and the followers of  this blog.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! And treat yourself to a good book!

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Monday - Time for Another 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

It’s a duck! No! It’s a rabbit! Actually, it’s both depending on how you look at the picture. Creative children will see both a duck and a rabbit.  Anyone who has creative children who argue for the sake of argument will identify with this book.  If you have not seen this book, you should check out the sample pages on Amazon.com.

Just as the arguers begin to see the animal from the other’s perspective, the creature runs away and the reader sees an anteater. No it’s a dinosaur. No it’s . . .  This is definitely one of those books where the illustrations play an important role. Without them there would be no story.   This is an excellent read aloud just for fun, but can also be eased to teach children about seeing things from different points of view.

Adults are not allowed to vote for the Colorado Children’s Book Award, but if we could this one would certainly get my vote.

Recommended for Kindergarten and up.

Mrs. Archer’s Rating: 5 of 5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time for Book Blogger Hop!

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!  So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun!  This is a weekly event!  And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added!  We get over 200 links every week!!   Check out hCrazy For Books for a list of participating blogs.

This week's question is:

 "Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

This year I'm thankful for many things, but most of all I'm thankful for my husband (who is not deployed this Thanksgiving), my two sons, my parents by choice (who live in Texas), my many wonderful friends and that I'm in Colorado Springs and not Missouri.  And as always I'm thankful for books.

Midnight Rider by Joan Hiatt Harlow

It’s Battle of the Books Friday. Today’s title is another book recommended for the 2010 – 2011 Pikes Peak Region Battle List.

After 14 year-old Hannah’s parents die in a pox epidemic, her cruel Aunt Phoebe sells Hannah’s horse and contracts Hannah out as an indentured servant to General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Massachusetts.  Set on the eve of the American revolution, the story chronicles Hannah’s story as she struggles with her affection for some members of the Gage household while longing for her own freedom as well as freedom for the colonists.  A neighbor brings the horse, Promise, to Boston where Hannah is able to sneak out of the Gage household, dressed as a boy and ride her beloved horse.  During her midnight rides, Hannah takes to harassing British soldiers and eventually becomes involved in the rebel cause.  Near the end of the book she rides on a dangerous mission to warn the villagers of Salem that the British will be confiscating their munitions.

Many historical figures, including Paul Revere, appear in this action-paced story.  It has the potential to grip the reader and take them on a wild ride, yet falls short of doing so.  A story about such a volatile time in American history should keep the reader on the edge of their seat.  Somehow the tension of the historical time recounted in the story does not quite come across.  It’s an ok, story but if the idea of Battle of the Books is to have students read quality children’s literature there are surely many books other than Midnight Rider, that would be bettered suited for the list.

Recommended for Grade 5- 8th.

Mrs. Archer’s Rating 3 of 5.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce

I received an Advance Reader’s Copy of Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce.  I did not receive any compensation for reviewing this book.

Kids who love Greg Hefley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid are going to love Nate Wright.  Parents will probably like Nate better.

Based on the comic strip “Big Nate” this series details the trials and tribulations of 6th grader Nate Wright.  Nate finally has a chance to win the coveted SPOFFY Trophy (Sports Played Only For Fun). He’s been selected as a team captain for fleeceball – an indoor version of baseball.  But nothing ever goes smoothly.  Kept after school by a teacher, Nate is unable to make it to the meeting to pick his team.  He lucks out and his best friends Teddy and Francis are on the team, but so is his archenemy – A+ know it all Gina!  Not only does he have to put up with Gina on his fleeceball team, he’s paired with her on a social studies project.  Can things get any worse or more hilarious?

The humor in this book is definitively age appropriate. As an elementary librarian I spend a good deal of time around young children.  The humor is right on target, but it’s not so obnoxious (as some kid like humor – Captain Underpants for example – can be) that adults will not enjoy it as well.  I love Jeff Kinney and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. But lets be honest, I think I like Nate better. (Don’t worry I’ll still anxiously await any new Wimpy Kid books.) Nate is one of those likeable characters.  Always up to something, but so charming you can’t help but like him.  If you work in a school, you know what I’m talking about.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I received an Advanced Readers’ Copy of this book.  I liked it so much that not only am I going to recommend it to my students, I’ve already ordered a hard cover copy of this and the first book in the series for my library at home.

Recommended for 3rd grade and up. (The AR reading level is 3.0 and even though Nate is a 6th grader, based on my experience I’m pretty sure 3rd grade and older will enjoy this book.)

Mrs. Archer’s rating: 5 of 5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney by Dan Gutman

Amazon Product Description
“The weirdness never stops!
Oh no! A.J.’s mom just got a job, so he has to go to After School Kids’ Kare. And Mr. Tony, the guy who runs it, is crazy. He wants to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by making the world’s largest pizza! Will A.J. and the gang be able to tunnel out of the child-care room and escape to freedom? Run for your lives! “

Children will love this book. It’s goofy and full of typical kid humor. The kids are all smarter than adults.  And if I were a kid I probably would have loved it, too.  I personally didn’t like the book. It’s not my kind of humor. But, it was not written for me. Dan Gutman is writing for kids and he knows his target audience well.  It’s not the best of Gutman’s work. I much prefer The Homework Machine, Nightmare at the Book Fair and Return of the Homework Machine.  While, I will probably not read any other books in this series (to be honest the only reason I checked this one out from the library is because Mr. Archer’s first name is Tony), I would not hesitate to recommend it to young readers who are searching for a quick and funny read.

Recommended for 3rd Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer’s rating: 3 of 5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

“When he read, he forgot that he was alone.”
Dog loves books so much that he decides to open a bookstore. (What booklover has not had that dream?)  Sadly, no customers come, but Dog, the ultimate booklover, consoles himself by reading.  He becomes very engrossed in his book adventures, but not so engrossed that he doesn’t know what to recommend for his first true customer.  This is a very simple story illustrated with soft, whimsical watercolor drawings. There is no great message to be delivered. It’s just a simple, yet beautiful illustration of a true book lover.  A perfect gift for your favorite book lover.

Recommended for Pre-school to 2nd Grade

Mrs. Archer’s rating:  5 of 5

Monday, November 15, 2010

2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee - There Was An Old Monster by Rebecca, Adrian and Ed Emberly

There Was An Old Monster by Rebecca, Adrian and Ed Emberly is another title that has been nominated for the 2011 Colorado Children’s Book Awards.
Amazon Product Description
“There was an old monster who swallowed a tick
I don't know why he swallowed that tick
'Cause it made him feel sick!
When he swallowed some ants, he danced in his pants. He swallowed a lizard, a bat, a jackal, and a bear. Then he tried to swallow a lion . . . ROAR!--Now that monster is no more! Children will laugh along with the funny text, bright bold illustrations, and delightful song.”

Children who enjoy I Know An Old Woman Who Swallowed a Pie will enjoy this book as well.  The lyrics are silly and whimsical.  The illustrations look like those done by a child – I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that children will appreciate them; because this is a monster (and other creatures) they could draw. (Much the same way they could draw the characters from Mo Willems Pigeon books.)

Recommended for ages 4 - 8.
Mrs. Archer's Rating: 4 of 5