Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

One perfect square is transformed over and over into a variety of creative pictures: a fountain, a park, a garden, and a mountain to name just a few of the transformations.

I ran across this book on a recent blogger hop. It was my "find" of the day.

This simple, yet beautiful book offers readers glimpse at art and inspiration. It inspires creativity with just a few simple changes. Hall's brief text allows the illustrations to tell most of the story. I especially like how the square reinvents itself rather than being transformed by a person or some other outside force.

Our school does not have an art program. I've set one of my goals for next year to include library lessons that will introduce the students to a bit of art. This book will be an excellent resource for an art project for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Check back next school year to see what the Chinook Tigers create with their perfect squares.

Recommended for Preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating:  5 of 5!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Night Flight Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh


Night Flight is about Amelia Earhart's 1932 historic solo flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.

Earlier this year, my third grade students had several lessons on historical fact vs. historical fiction.  One of the topics we covered was Amelia Earhart.  They became very interested in learning about this remarkable woman. As a result, I'm constantly on the look out for good books on Amelia Earhart to share with them.

Burleigh's book is a beautifully illustrated biographical picture book detailing Earhart's historic flight. Even though most readers will already know that Earhart's flight was successful, the text is written in a suspenseful manner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  Students will enjoy Wendell Minor's classically beautiful paintings and educators will appreciate the afterword, technical note, bibliography and listing of quotes by Earhart that Burleigh includes at the end of the book.  This is an excellent book to supplement lessons on historical fact vs. historical fiction or for celebrating famous women in history.

Night Flight is a must add for any school or classroom library collection.

Recommended for 3rd Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diessen

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diessen is a 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award nominee.

Early in the spring I had entered a contest to win The Pout-Pout Fish and it's sequel The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark.  I wanted copies for the Chinook Library as students had asked repeatedly to check them out.

I didn't win the contest, but towards the end of May I received an email from Ms. Diessen asking if I would like bookmarks for my students and letting me know that she would send me an autographed copy of The Pout-Pout Fish.  We were preparing to celebrate National Children's Book Week, so instead of sending an autographed copy to me, I asked that she send one for one of my students, as I like to give away autographed books as prizes during Book Week. She very generously sent two copies, one for a student, one for me and enough autographed book marks for the whole school.

I have spent these last days before the end of school sharing The Pout-Pout Fish and The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark with all the students as they visit the library. It has made their day. They love the pictures, they love the rhymes, and the love to giggle about the smooching.

These books are excellent read alouds.  It is easy to understand why children (and adults) love these books. The rhyming and repetitive story gets them engaged with the story. After a few pages, the students often start repeating the lines with me.The illustrations are delightful. There is so much going on in the pictures that students find themselves paying as much attention to the pictures as they do the words.

I know I will be looking for more books by Ms. Diessen. You can learn more about Ms. Diessen and her wonderful books by clicking here.

Book Summaries:

The Pout-Pout Fish
 Deep in the water,Mr. Fish swims aboutWith his fish face stuckIn a permanent pout.
Can his pals cheer him up?Will his pout ever end?Is there something he can learnFrom an unexpected friend?

The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark (excellent for using with children who have fears of the dark or the unknown.)

Mr. Fish wants to help his friend Ms. Clam when she loses her pearl, but though he’s fast as a sailfish, as smart as dolphin, and as strong as a shark, Mr. Fish has a secret: he’s scared of the dark! Very young children will swim along with Mr. Fish as he journeys deep into the ocean to new and mysterious places. They will discover, as Mr. Fish does, the power of friendship to light the way through the big-big dark.


 Recommended for preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Jane Matthies

Telling family members you have cancer is not an easy task.  Telling small children is even harder.  The Goodbye Cancer Garden  by Jane Matthies is a beautifully illustrated and heartwarming story about a very difficult topic.

Summary:  After Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has Cancer, the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions. "Is Mom better yet?" Jeffrey asked. "Not yet," she said. "But we're working very hard to make her better-probably by pumpkin time." That gave Janie an idea...the family plants a vegetable garden. As the garden grows, Mom's treatment progresses...surgery, chemo, head-shaving and other side effects, radiation...and when it's all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a healthly Mom!

I personally liked the way this story focused on the positive without taking away the seriousness of the situation.  This is a good resource for providing reassurance for young children (and maybe old ones like me) facing a similar situation.  

Recommended for preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating:  5 of 5!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Break Is Almost Here: Time for Summer Reading

School is almost out, but that's no reason to stop reading.  Summer vacation is a perfect time to read all those books you wanted to read, but didn't have time to read during the school year.

I have added new tabs to this page for Summer Reading lists for Kindergarten - 5th Grade. Just click on the tab that interests you.

Many public libraries will be hosting summer reading programs. You can find information on our local library's (Pikes Peak Library District) summer reading here.

Barnes and Noble is hosting a summer reading challenge. Children who read 8 books can earn a free book.  Click here for additional information or visit your local store.

At Borders, children who read 10 books can earn a free book.  Click here for more information or visit your local store.

Going on a long trip, visit your local library for some audio books to share with the whole family or visit the library's cybershelf for audio books to download to your MP3 player.

Have fun and keep reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Shadows: The Books Of Elsewhere Vol 1 by Jacqueline West

Cover from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Books-Elsewhere-Vol/dp/0803734409/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

Eleven year-old Olive and her somewhat distracted, mathematically inclined parents move into old Mrs. McMartin's house after she dies.  All of Ms. McMartin's things - including walls and walls of strange paintings are included in the purchase of the house.  Left to her own to explore, Olive finds a pair of old spectacles which she tries on - these are not just any old reading glasses.  They allow her to travel inside the odd paintings that fill the walls. This Elsewhere has a strange resemblance to her own world, but it is also full of dark secrets.  Soon Olive finds herself caught up in an adventure to save herself and the house from the dark shadows.

I read this book because I was looking for something to recommend to one of my students. Turns out it is a little higher reading level than the student has, but I do think they would enjoy the book if read with a buddy or perhaps as a classroom read aloud. I enjoyed this story so much that I am anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.

This is a spine tingling tale that is also surprisingly humorous.  Olive is a quirky yet very likable character - one that I look forward to learning more about.  It is rather spooky and younger children might find it a tad frightening, but is an all around good read.

Recommended for 4th Grade and up (good as a silent or read aloud)

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5!

June Jam by Ron Roy

Cover from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Turtleback-Library-Binding-Calendar-Mysteries/dp/0606161147/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1305042004&sr=8-8

In the sixth installment of Roy's Calendar Mysteries (starring thee younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives) Bradley, Brian, Nate and Lucy are getting ready for Father's Day. Bradly and Brian's father misses the strawberry jam his mother used to make.  So the gang decides that strawberry jam from the Pintos' strawberry patch would be a great gift. But something or someone has been taking bites out of the strawberries! Polly the Pony, Pal and the dog, and the twins' brother Josh are all suspects. It's up to our four young sleuth's to solve the mystery without getting into a jam.

A to Z Mysteries are a favorite with my students and the Calendar Mysteries are quickly gaining in popularity as well.  The stories a quick read that offers younger readers an opportunity to use some deductive reasoning.  Of the six I've read so far, June Jam is my favorite.

Great read aloud for 1st and 2nd Grades.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5.

Recommended for 1st through 3rd Grades.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Children's Book Week Wrap Up

Last week students at Chinook Trail Elementary celebrated National Children's Book Week with week long fun activities.

Students had their pictures made with their favorite books. Because of privacy issues, I can post them here. Parents who would like to see them may stop by the Tiger Den (Chinook's library) between now and the end of the school year.

In the meantime, some of the teachers agreed to having their photos posted.

The rest of the week was spent discussing books, trying to match teachers with their favorite books, and trying to guess how many books Mrs. Archer read from January 1st to April 30th.  Some of the answers were very amusing:

at least 105
50 to 100

Several students guessed in the 300 range and few came with in ten points of the correct answer (189 - sounds like a lot of books doesn't it? Don't forget I am an elementary librarian who reads a lot of picture books.)

We ended the week with A Come Dressed As Your Favorite Children's Book Character day on Friday.  There were some awesome costumes. Several prizes were awarded, but the best prize of all was seeing children get so excited about books.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - May 3rd

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~Grab your current read
~Open to a random page
~Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~~~BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+shadows+jacqueline+west&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Athe+shadows+jacqueline+west&ajr=3  
"But eleven-year old Olive had a bit more faith in her imagination. Somehow, she felt sure she that she hadn't been alone in that basement. Someone had been watching her."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/No-Passengers-Beyond-This-Point/dp/0803735340/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303562232&sr=8-1

Summary:  After the bank forecloses on their house, their mom sends Finn, India and Mouse to fictional Ft. Baker, Colorado to live with their Uncle Red. Since mom is a school teacher and they need the money from her job, she will join them once the school year ends.  However, it's not Ft. Baker where they land, but  Falling Bird.   Reminiscent of Dorothy's trip to Oz, the children soon realize that Falling Bird is like no place they have ever heard of  - and though at first it seems like a wonderful place to India and Mouse (Finn is more skeptical), they soon realize that home is where you family is and "there is no place like home."  But time is running out. Will they beat the clock and make it home?  

This story had the beginnings of a realistic story detailing an all too common experience for many families in today's economy.  When the plane lands the story shifts from realistic fiction to fantasy.   It is a little confusing - trying to figure out just what is going on - but the confusion the reader feels is the same as the characters.  Choldenko's craftily woven plot pulls the reader into the story, making it easy for readers to identify with the characters.  Half the fun of the reading the book is trying to solve the puzzle. 

Young adults/pre-teens will identify with how the children feel about being uprooted from their home. Adults will appreciate the growth the children experience as they try to find their way back. 

Readers who enjoy a bit of a mystery with a twist and a little bit of fantasy will enjoy this book.

Recommended for 4th Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 4 of 5 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Piper Reed Series by Kimberly Hold

Readers who enjoy Judy Moody, Clementine, and Ramona will enjoy reading about Piper Reed's adventures. These books will have special appeal to military children, whether they be Navy, Army, Marine or Air Force "brats."

Each book is lively with humor that will appeal to both children and adults. Piper does learn a lesson in each of the books, but the stories never have the feel of a lecture.  And Piper still manages to be her own true self without becoming a "better child."  (I recently watched an interview with Beverly Cleary who stated that she created Ramona to be real and not a moral tale about children who always learn their lesson and become "better children."  I think Beverly Cleary would like Piper Reed - and who knows, Piper and Ramona might even make good friends.)

 Piper Reed Navy Brat

Cover from Goodreads


Amazon Product Description

It’s not easy being the middle child, especially when your dad is a Navy Chief. Meet Piper Reed, a spunky nine-year-old who has moved more times than she can count on one hand. From Texas to Guam, wherever Piper goes, adventure follows, inspired by her active imagination, free-wheeling spirit, and a bit of sister magic. Unlike her older sister, Piper loves being part of a Navy family, and unlike her little sister, Piper is no prodigy genius. Piper is Piper—fearless and full of life.
Based on her own childhood experience, Kimberly Willis Holt portrays the life of a Navy family with warmth and humor.

This is the first book I read about Piper. I'm proud to say that I met Kimberly Holt at the Texas Book Festival a few years back and she graciously signed my copy of Piper Reed Navy Brat.

Piper Reed The Great Gypsy (later released as Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen.
Cover from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=piper+reed+2&x=0&y=0)

Amazon Product Description

The Gypsy Club Creed
We are the Gypsies of land and sea.
We move from port to port.
We make friends wherever we go.
And everywhere we go, we let people know
That we’re the Gypsies of land and sea.
Piper’s dad—the Navy Chief—might be gone again, but Piper’s got plenty to keep her busy at home: new neighbors, a spaceship beach house, a trip to New Orleans, and most important, the upcoming Gypsy Club pet show. Piper is determined to win, but teaching her dog Bruna tricks seems nearly impossible. Bruna is simply un-teachable! Or is she? Join Piper as she embarks on new and exciting adventures!

 Piper Reed: Clubhouse Queen (previously published as Piper Reed Gets a Job)

Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Piper-Reed-Gets-Job-No/dp/0805081992/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1303159724&sr=1-4

 Amazon Product Description

Piper Reed and her fellow Gypsy Club members are in need of a clubhouse. Raising money to buy one proves a challenge. Piper, being the resourceful fifth grader that she is, launches her own party-planning business and gets her first job throwing young Brady’s birthday celebration. But things don’t go as expected on the day of the big event. Fortunately for Piper, her friends and family come to her rescue!

Piper Reed: Campfire Girl

Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Piper-Reed-Campfire-Girl-No/dp/0312674821/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303159724&sr=1-3

Amazon Product Description

Piper and her family are going camping—nothing could be better. But when Piper finds out that the camping trip is on Halloween, nothing could be worse! Still, catching fish, roasting marshmallows, and sleeping in a trailer are right up Piper’s alley, even if getting poison ivy is not. Get ready for another terrific adventure starring the ever-spunky, ever-loving Piper Reed.

Piper Reed: Rodeo Star

Cover from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Piper-Reed-Rodeo-Star-No/dp/080509007X/ref=pd_sim_b_3

Amazon Product Description

Piper’s parents are going on vacation to France and not taking the whole family. What rotten luck! Still, Piper always looks on the bright side. The Reed sisters will be visiting their two sets of grandparents in Piney Woods, and Piper is determined to have four adventures. By working in a grocery store, listening to Tori’s scary stories, and lassoing a calf, Piper almost reaches her quota. But sometimes the best adventures are the most unexpected ones.

This series is great for classroom (or family) read alouds. It's must have for school or classroom libraries that serve military children.  Non-military children will enjoy the series as well.

Recommended for Ages 9 and up.

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Word Play

Recently, I read two wonderful books on word play: David Lubar's Punished and The Cat's Pajamas by Wallace Edwards

Book Cover From: http://www.amazon.com/Punished-Darby-Creek-Exceptional-Titles/dp/product-description/1581960638/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1302799156&sr=8-1

From the Inside Flap

Logan isn’t grounded. But he is being punished—-by a weird old guy in the reference section who seems to have a little more magic than most librarians. Now Logan’s in big trouble with his parents, his teachers, and even his best friend, Benedict! Why? Because he’s out of control, spouting puns left and right, getting on everybody’s last nerve. 

To end this vocabulary voodoo, Logan must complete three quests in record time, finding some of the wackiest word combos known to English: oxymorons, anagrams, and palindromes. Don’t know what they are? Look them up! But be careful of strange librarians with dusty books or you, too, may be . . .

This book was recommended to me by Mrs. Klock's 5th grade class here at Chinook Trail Elementary.  I just love it when my students recommend books for me to read.

This is great book to teach students about word plays.  It is an excellent read-a-loud that can be followed up with activities allowing the students to create their own puns, anagrams, oxymorons, and palindromes.  WOW! What a fun lesson.

Teachers will enjoy the teachable moments and students will enjoy the humor.

Recommended for Grades 3 and up (though it might work well as a read-aloud to 2nd graders. They will find the word play funny, even if they don't quite understand it all.)

Mrs. Archer's Rating:  5 of 5

Book Cover from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cats-Pajamas-Wallace-Edwards/dp/product-description/1554533082/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

Amazon Product Description

From the acclaimed Wallace Edwards comes his second collection of idioms, a companion to the award-winning Monkey Business. The Cat's Pajamas depicts 26 idioms, bringing new meaning to familiar sayings and tickling your funny bone with a surreal illustration on each page. To ensure you get the hang of it, each expression is used in a sentence and explained at the back of the book. And if you look closely you'll discover a cat hidden in every painting; some cats are a piece of cake to find, others may require you to use your noodle. A gorgeously illustrated eye-spy book and a unique introduction to idioms, this book is truly the cat's meow. 

I read about The Cat's Pajamas on another blog and thought it would be a good book to share with Chinook 5th Graders.  The students loved the pictures, and surprisingly knew several of the idioms.  The next time I have an opportunity to share this book with 5th graders I hope to have enough time to allow them to create and illustrate their own list of idioms.  They are rather creative bunch. I bet they would come up with some great ones. A good lesson plan to be used with this book can be found here.

Recommended for Grade 4 and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating 5 of 5!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) & Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary!

Today is National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R) Day. It's celebrated on Beverly Cleary's birthday. It is celebrated on her birthday because "Beverly Cleary receives thousands of letters a year from young readers, many who have participated in D.E.A.R. at school. Their interest in and enthusiasm for this special reading activity inspired Mrs. Cleary to give the same experience to Ramona Quimby, who gets to enjoy D.E.A.R. time with the rest of her class in Ramona Quimby, Age 8." (National D.E.A.R. website.)

Today I was honored to be invited to be a guest reader in Mrs. Nader's 2nd Grade class and Mrs. Drake's and Mrs. Brunelle's 3rd Grade Classes.  I'm also pleased to say that at least at Chinook Trail Elementary, Beverly Cleary books are still loved by elementary students.

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to grow up and be BEVERLY CLEARY!  We had the same first name. How hard could it be.  Well, I've only made it half way there. Mrs. Cleary started out as a children's librarian.  I'm a children's librarian. Maybe someday I'll make it the rest of the way and become a published children's author.  In the mean time, I'm happy to held children learn 21st Century Information Skills and develop a love for reading and books.

My three all time favorite Beverly Cleary Books are Ramona The Pest, The Mouse and the Motorcycle (wonder if Ralph rode a Harley like my husband) and Ralph S. Mouse.  I shared a chapter from Ramona The Pest and Ralph S. Mouse with the third graders.  I introduced the 2nd Graders to Janet and Jimmy, two precocious twins found in Two Times the Fun.

Even if you are not a kid, you should read a Beverly Cleary book once in a while. It would be good for you.  Times have changed.  Today's Klickitat Street would look very different from the one in Cleary's books.  But I do believe today's children can still identify with Ramona.  Wanting to know how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom if he had to work on the steam shovel all day is a reasonable kindergarten question. And so is thinking that being told "to sit here for the present" means you are getting a present.

I don't remember the name of the librarian or teacher who first introduced me to Beverly Cleary and her wonderful books. But I do know it was one of the nicest things anyone ever did for me. It got me hooked on the world of books, which has made a huge difference in my life.

It's National School Library Month and this week in particular is National Library Week.  Take time to stop by and thank a librarian. It will mean more than you know.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Clementine and The Family Meeting by Sarah Pennypacker - ARC Review

Cover Photo from GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10251668-clementine-and-the-family-meeting

I received an advanced reader’s copy of Clementine and The Family Meeting by Sarah Pennypacker from NetGalley.

I am always excited when a new Clementine adventure is published.  I’ve enjoyed all of the previous books and so have my elementary students.  This book was no exception.  In fact, it might be my favorite Clementine book .

Clementine is very worried. The FAMILY MEETING! sign has been posted on the fridge.  This usually means that Clementine is in trouble.  What could she have done now? Was she too messy? Did she eat too much junk food or was she too mean to Potato – uh, her I mean her little brother?  No matter how she schemes to find out what’s on the agenda, her parents tell her she has to wait until the meeting.  Hoping the meeting is not about her being in trouble, but is instead about the family getting a pet gorilla, Clementine is dismayed to learn the meeting is about a new baby.  She and Spinach are getting a baby brother or sister.  Clementine very politely tells her parents “No. Thanks!” After all their family is perfect as it is. There are four of them and there are four sides to the table.  How will Clementine cope? Her friend Margaret tells Clementine that if HER mom were going to have a baby, Margaret would just move to California.  Great! Not only does Clementine have to worry about a new addition to the family, she’s now worried about Margaret moving away.  Adding to all the upheaval is a missing school science project.  Will Clementine be able to sort everything out and make room for one more?

Pennypacker has captured the true essence of kid in Clementine. She’s a truly lovable character.  Older readers (parents) may just recognize their own children in some of Clementine’s antics.  She’s not perfect, but she tries very hard and she’s got a big heart (one big enough for a new baby and Acorn Squash.*)   Children who are struggling with sharing Mom and Dad (and grandparents) with a new sibling will relate to Clementine’s struggles.  This is a great resource for helping children work through the issue of sibling rivalry.

Recommended as a read alone for Grades 3 and up or a great Read A Loud for 2nd Grade.

Mrs. Archer’s rating:  5 of 5!

*Clementine frequently refers to her little brother by vegetable names.  She thinks this is only fair since she, herself is named after a fruit.  In the continuing spirit of fairness she suggests the new baby have a food name as well, perhaps Mushroom Soup?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NetGalley Review: Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

I received an advanced reader's copy of Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry back in early January.  I am appalled at how long it has taken me to get to this wonderful book, but shortly after receiving the galley, I had two surgeries.  The galley got pushed aside in all the recovery and follow up.

Summary:  Bless This Mouse tells the story of a group of church mice, led by Mouse Mistress Hildegarde and their efforts to avoid The Big X.  Hildegarde is responsible for keeping all 200 plus mice who live at St. Bartholemew's safe and hidden. Not an easy job when new litters are being born and her nemesis Lucretia is constantly looking for ways to undermine Hildegarde so she can become Mouse Mistress.  To make matters even more challenging, the mice are discovered and must seek refuge outside the church while Father Murphy calls in The Big X to get rid of them. After a few days the mice are able to return to the church, but they are not out of danger yet.  The Blessing of the Animals is any day and you know what that means - Cats! Lots and lots of cats!  Will Hildegarde be able to keep everyone safe?

Lois Lowery is perhaps best known for her serious novels: The Giver and Number the Stars - for which she won Newbery Awards.  However, she makes the transition to animal stories with ease.  This is a delightful story about overcoming dangers and appreciating all animals great and small..  While there is a significant religious connection, it is not overpowering and will not put off those of a more secular nature.  Lowry has created likable characters that will delight readers.  These mice are more like Laura Numeroff's popular school attending picture book mouse than the rodents that generally make humans squeal with disgust.  Hildegarde is a clever and hardworking character and will have readers rooting for her success against the Great X. Illustrator Eric Rohmann's wonderful pencil drawings help make the mice even more charming..

Amazon lists the reading level as 9 - 12, which sounds just right. It was also make a great read aloud for 2nd grade classrooms.

This a must read for fans of Lois Lowry and animals stories in general.

Mrs. Archer's Rating:  5 of 5.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - March 28th/And Book Signing

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~Grab your current read
~Open to a random page
~Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~~~BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

"No human knew this, of course. But each week Hildegarde led all the church mice in confession."

Last night (March 28th) I had the pleasure of attending a book talk given by Lois Lowry at The Tattered Cover bookstore in Highlands Ranch, CO.  She was promoting Bless This Mouse which is her latest book.  She shared how she came up with the idea for the book. She was in Maine at the farm house she uses for writing, working on a fourth book about some of the characters found in The Giver, when she noticed a little mouse on the floor.  Her dog also noticed the mouse, but the mouse didn't show any fear of Mrs. Lowry or her dog - not even when Mrs. Lowry walked over and scooped up the mouse. She released the mouse outside and went back to the book she was writing.  However, that little mouse kept intruding on her thoughts - so much so that she put aside the book she was working on and started writing Bless This Mouse.

I love Lois Lowry's books. The Giver and Number the Stars are two of my all time favorite books. I'm very pleased to hear there will be another book related to The Giver (possible release date is Spring of 2012).  Mrs. Lowry is also a wonderfully entertaining speaker.  I hope that you will all have a chance to hear her speak.

A few books by Lois Lowry:
The Giver
Gathering Blue
The Messenger
Number the Stars
The Willowbys
The Anastassia Krupnik series
The Gooney Bird Greene series

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - March 26th

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce, from At Home With Books.  All we have to do is post a favorite photo we've snapped, or one captured by family or friends. (No internet poaching.)

I've been working on a series of photos related to the letters of the alphabet. As a librarian who loves books and bears, this is one I'm rather pleased with.

LaRue Across America: Postcards From the Vacation by Mark Teague - Giveaway at Brimful Curiosities.

Check out this wonderful giveaway over at Brimful Curiosities.  The Detective LaRue series is not only on of my favorites, but is also a favorite with students at Chinook.  This new book is a great way to learn about the U.S.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin

I received an Advance Reader's Copy of The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin through Librarything's Early Review program.  I was not compensated for my review.


J.J. Tully is a former search-and rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement after years of performing daring missions saving lives. So he’s not terribly impressed when two chicks named Dirt and Sugar (who look like popcorn on legs) and their chicken mom show up demanding his help to track down their missing siblings. Driven by the promise of a cheeseburger, J.J. begins to track down clues. Is Vince the Funnel hiding something? Are there dark forces at work—or is J.J. not smelling the evidence that’s right in front of him?

I was both excited and wary about reading this book. I love Doreen Cronin's picture books:  Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and Diary of a Worm are two of my favorites.  Yet, I wasn't sure how her creative picture book style would translate to chapter book format.

She handles the transition beautifully.  This is a book that will have appeal to a number of audiences.  Children will find the story silly (especially if read aloud with great expression) and while some of the humor will slip past the kids, the adults will chuckle at the innuendo - making this a great family read.

At times, while reading this book I was reminded of Hank the Cow Dog by John Erickson, though I must admit I like J. J. far more than I do Hank.

Students getting reading to make the move from reading picture books to chapter books will recognize Cronin's name and will be eager to give this story a try.  While School Library Journal levels this a 2nd Grade - 4th Grade read, I would recommend it as a read alone for 4th grade and up (they are more likely to get more of the humor) and a read aloud for students in 1st Grade and up.

The Trouble With Chickens is a great addition to any school, classroom or home library.

Mrs. Archer's rating:  4.5 of 5!

Book Beginnings on Friday - March 25th

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. This weekly meme is hosted by  A Few More Pages every Friday.  Check out their blog for a list of other book beginnings.

The Trouble With Chickens A J. J. Tulley Mystery by Doreen Cronin

"It was a hot, sunny day when I met that crazy chicken.  So hot that sometimes I think the whole thing may have been a mirage.  But mirages don't have chicken breath, mister."

What a great beginning. I love Doreen Cronin's picture books. I can't wait to see what she does with this chapter book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Paolini Book To Be Released in November

Fans of Eragon by Christopher Paolini will be excited to hear that Random House Children's Books has announced the release date for Inheritance, book four of the popular series.  According to Random House, Inc. the book will be available for purchase on November 8, 2011.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday - March 18th

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. This weekly meme is hosted by  A Few More Pages every Friday.  Check out their blog for a list of other book beginnings.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome. I know. I know. I don't blame you. A little while ago, I wouldn't have believed it myself.  Little girls in red caps skipping around the forest? Awesome? I don't think so.

But then I started to read them. The real, Grimm ones.  Very few little girls in red caps in those.  Well there's one. But she gets eaten."

I think this is a great beginning. It makes you want to keep reading!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Colorado Children's Book Awards Announced

Today in the mail, I received the press release announcing the winners of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Awards. 

The Picture Book Winner is:

You can read my review here.

The runner up picture books is Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

You can see my review here. (When the Chinook Tigers voted for the Colorado Children's Book Award they chose this book as the picture book winner.)

The 2011 Junior (chapter) Book Winner is The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. (Chinook Tigers chose this book as the Junior Book Winner.)

The nominees for 2012 are:

Junior Books
Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Pierce
ClockWork Three by Matthew Kirby
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not So Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russeel
Finally by Wendy Mass
Framed by Gordon Korman
Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 by Lauren Tarshis
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Picture Books
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson
City Dog, Country Dog by Mo Willems
Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan roth
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
Shark vs Train by Chris Barton  

This is an award voted on by students, only – similar to the Colorado Blue Spruce Award, but it’s geared toward elementary students. Students also nominate the books for each year's list. The criteria for a school participating in the vote is that the entire school must have a minimum of three of the books nominated.  The vote takes place in March.

WWW Wednesdays - March 16th

Hosted by Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? I'm still reading Artemis Fowl The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer.  It's a good book, there have just been so many things cutting into my reading time in the last several days.

What did you just finish reading? I just finished Stink and the Ultimate Thumb Wrestling Smackdown by Megan McDonald.

 I also recently finished Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano

And I just this morning on the way to work finished listening to Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins. (The last CD was very scratched so I'm going to have to find a print copy to see if I missed anything important.)

What do you think you'll read next? I hope to read A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. But sometimes the books shuffle themselves around and I end up reading something else.  Check back and see.

What about you?

Stink and the Ultimate Thumb Wrestling Smackdown by Megan McDonald

Stink and the Ultimate Thumb Wrestling Smackdown by Megan McDonald

SUMMARY:  Stink needs a sport, fast! Can his alter-ego, Shark Hammersmash, wrestle a win at thumb wars? Or will a perfect karate kick lead him to victory?

Stink Moody, family brain, brings home a report card that isn’t perfect? Yikes! Time for him to get into fighting shape and beat back that U for Unsatisfactory in gym! A scan of the sports channel leads to a knock-out find: world-class thumb wrestling, with tricky moves like Snake in the Grass and Santa’s Little Helper (no equipment needed, save for a tiny terrifying mask to sit on your thumb). But when Mom and Dad are not wowed, Stink gets another idea: he’ll kick and punch his way to a yellow belt with the help of a Dragon Master, a seeing-eye Moose, and a mind as still as a pond. Can you say Crouching Tiger, Hidden Thumb? Hee-ya! Ha! Ha! Ha! 

Stink is dismayed when he gets an UNSATISFACTORY in Gym.  So begins a humorous adventure to find a sport at which he can excel. He really wants to be a championship thumb wrestler, but finds it more difficult than he imagined. Soon Stink discovers karate and not only punches and kicks his way to his first belt, but finds that karate can help him with his thumb wrestling as well.

Fans of Stink and his sister Judy Moody will enjoy this latest addition to his adventures. This is also a great read aloud and wonderful way to hook some reluctant readers.

Recommended for Second Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Max's Words by Kate Banks

Summary:  Max's brothers have grand collections that everyone makes a big fuss over. Benjamin collects stamps and Karl collects coins, and neither one will share with their little brother. So Max decides to start a collection of his own. He's going to collect words. He starts with small words that he cuts out of newspapers and magazines, but soon his collection has spilled out into the hall. All the while, his brothers are watching. Benjamin brags that he has one thousand stamps. Karl is just a few coins short of five hundred. But a thousand stamps is really just a bunch of stamps, and a lot of coins is only a heap of money. A pile of words, however, can make a story.

Bright, bold pictures incorporating clever wordplay accompany this highly original tale about a younger brother's ingenuity. 

This book would work very well as a read aloud and to use in connection with a vocabulary lesson or writing sentences. (It would work well with a lesson on sharing, too.) 

Students will enjoy hearing the story read aloud and may even be inspired to create their own word collections. Kulikov's excellent illustrations are designed around the stories that Max creates with his word collection. This will allow young readers to find clues to help them with the harder words.

In addition to showing how to create sentences using a variety of words, the story also illustrates the value of working together. In the beginning Max's brothers refuse to share their collections with him, but once they see how cool his word collection is that want words, too.  Max agrees to share, if they share.

This is a good edition to any elementary classroom or school library.

Recommended for Pre-school to 3rd Grade

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5! 

Teaser Tuesdays - March 15th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~Grab your current read
~Open to a random page
~Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~~~BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

pg 262

"Artemis knew that the situation merited at least a hug, and some day in the future, after years of meditation, he might feel comfortable spontaneously hugging people, but at the moment it was all he could do to lay a hand on Juliet's shoulder and another on Butler's forearm.

I'm so sorry, my friends, to have lied to you."

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter by John Gosselink

Summary:  Thaddeus A. Ledbetter is a middle-schooler who has been unjustly imprisoned. Well, not exactly imprisoned, but relegated to the outcast society of in-school suspension. To extract himself from this shameful sentence, detail-oriented Thaddeus has amassed a case file of notes, letters, emails, annotated drawings, journal entries, and other exhibits in his defense. This ingeniously constructed paperback "defense brief" draws you in and then nearly drowns you in giggles.

As a parent and an educator, I found Thaddeus infuriating! But I know my students will find him to be hilariously outrageous.  Once I stopped reading this book with an adult's perspective and started just reading it for the wonderful entertainment it provides, I found myself really enjoying it.  

Gosselink has created a character that only a mother (or perhaps a tolerant and patient teacher) could love.  To put it simply, Thaddeus is so full of himself, so convinced that he knows all and can do all and everyone should bow to his superior intellect. (I did find myself wondering if Thaddeus ever gets out of in-school-suspension would he grow up to be another Sheldon from TV's Big Bang Theory.)  Thaddeus is a good kid with a good heart - he just doesn't see the flaws in all of his schemes.  And when they fail, it couldn't have possibly been because they were flawed - the failure is always due to someone or something else - at least it's that way in Thaddeus' mind.

This is a laugh out loud read, perfect for 5th graders and above who enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid and want to move on to something just as humorous, but perhaps a little more advanced.

Recommended for Grades 5 - 8th.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 4 of 5.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Fair

The materials for the Book Fair arrived on Friday. There are a great selection of books for readers of all ages.  Older readers will be happy to see Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The 39 Clues.

There are several choices for Star Wars and Fancy Nancy Fans.  Like cookbooks? We have those too.

We even have copies of the books nominated for the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award.

Can't find something you are looking for - no problem.  You can order online as well.  Click here if you would like to order online. Books will be shipped to Chinook and I will make sure they get your student.