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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella (Tyme #2) by Megan Morrison

DisenchantedCan I just say that I am a Megan Morrison fan!  I read her fractured fairy tale version of Rapunzel last year and was waiting for her next book to come out.  Imagine my thrill when I saw it land on our newly arrived shelf.  Disenchanted is fabulous! I'm going to tell you just a few reasons why I liked it. I don't want to spoil it for you!
  • Meet Ella.  She is passionate, smart, determined, angers easily but has a big heart.
  • Great family.  Even though she has a stepmother, she's not the evil kind that we are used to in fairy tales.  Plus her step siblings (a boy and girl in this Cinderella version) are way cool.
  • Fairy godfathers!
  • A handsome prince with a loving mother.  While he has LOTS of money, he is not conceited and spoiled (unlike some of the other characters).
  • Focuses on the different socioeconomic classes and questions what is right and fair.
  • Deals with bullying.
  • Boarding school setting.
  • Story is told from three points of view (really liked this part).
  • Great courtroom drama!
  • A visit from Rapunzel
  • Just a great world.  The end leaves you guessing on the topic and heroine for Tyme #3!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Ballad of a Broken Nose by Arne Svingen

Ballad of a Broken NoseA heart-breaking and a nose-breaking fiction from Norway

Arne Svingen has received many awards for his writing which entails all age groups including adults. However, this is the first time that his work has been translated into English. Perhaps you might detect a nice "flow" and a different "rhythm". When you come across the Norwegian currency, kroner, just pretend that you pronounce it "crew' nah".

Bart is going to be thirteen. To start things off, he was named after Bart Simpson so that he would be a funny wise guy that could get by in life. Bart needs all the help he can. He does not know who his father is; neither does his mother. They live in a slum apartment complex among drug users. His mother has her own problems of alcohol, weight, poverty, etc. The only other person in his life is one grandmother who doesn't want to interfere. Bart takes boxing lessons to prevent bullying, but he can't hit. His only way to cope is to sing opera in the shower. He surprises himself and gets stuck signing up for the year-end talent show. He didn't want to - a girl that can't keep a secret is so amazed with his singing that she makes him sign up. The teacher hears the CD and cries because it is so beautiful. The problem is that he can't sing in front of anyone - let alone an audience. This book includes references to current times such as Beyonce and smart phones. Yes, this book was published just a few months ago. This is a humorous book believe it not and try not to dwell on a few words that many consider inappropriate.
This book is very substantial because it includes topics of weight discrimination, bullying, hiding talents, coping, keeping and hiding secrets and more. You will find much to reflect on in this book:
"It's a bit like my life has its own soundtrack. It's a pretty boring movie, with overdramatic music".
"Conversations like that are a bit like skating. Suddenly you veer off to the side and fall flat on your face.
"Whatever, I do like to let my thoughts go wandering before the day takes over".
"You regret telling something you didn't want anyone to know". 

This child goes through a lot and never, ever loses control or complains. Is that typical Norwegian or is Bart just a wonderful guy?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins

Finding WondersI appreciate science and I appreciate books. So when both are combined, I get a double bonus. Wait - there's more. It is a story written in verse. How creative is that? I don't know how the author pulled it off, but she did. Actually, verse is the best format that could have been used. You sense more of what the children are experiencing. The title could not have been better. It matches the spirit of science - stop, observe and discover the magic.
Jeannine Atkins didn't have to write this book. She already teaches writing and children's literature. I think that she felt compelled to share the awesome wonder of nature and the accomplishments of these children. What is incredible is that this takes place when superstitions and folklore were passed down through generations. Women were never included in science. Travel around the world was very rare. For women to travel was almost beyond belief.
All three women had their own unique passion:
Maria Sibylla Merian - metamorphosis
Mary Anning - fossils
Maria Mitchell - astronomy
All three shared common attributes:
family support
respect and balance of religion with science
all start with the letter "m"
m m m
magnificent meaningful material

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen

Six Kids and a Stuffed CatReaders' theater is popular so it is great that you will find a play in the last part of this book. Imagine a severe storm comes up after school. The boys still in the building find their way one by one to the safest place without any windows - the restroom. YIKES  The first one in is a boy with a nose-bleeding gusher (anxiety produced). One of the boys get caught bringing a stuffed cat to school (a coping strategy). Not one boy loses control. The time period occurs only during the storm warning. This book is short and is considered a novella. Gary Paulsen hints at the fine line between being disagreeable and abusive. The boys all add insights and coping strategies. They try to practice deep breathing and saying "It's alllllllll goooooooood".

Gary Paulsen was very astute not to give any adult interference. The children did everything themselves. They did not make fun of teachers, but one boy did a spot-on impression. Gary Paulsen gives all characters an equal voice as witness by the dialog in the play. I would be interested to know if you liked the novella better than the play.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Weekends With Max and His Dad by Linda Urban

Weekends with Max and His DadPizza, Pizza, Pizza
and more pizza
What's with all the pizza? The spy names are even named after pizza. Max plays Agent Pepperoni and his dad plays Agent Cheese. Max lives with his father every weekend. They truly make the most of their time together and help each other grow with creativity and thankfulness. Max thanks his dad for selecting a box for his habitat project. Max tells his father that he has to do the rest himself or else it won't be his project. You will spy in this beginning chapter book that Max comes up with a better idea than to break into the school where he left his material. You will also notice that he doesn't go out and buy things - he creates and finds what he needs.
Your mission - if you choose to accept it, is to spy:
the words on his dad's license plate.
the porcupettes
your favorite illustration by Katie Kath
This new book was just published in 2016. This is number one in the trilogy. I shall make it my mission to read the other two before you do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

El Deafo by Cece Bell

PaxEl Deafo
That really is the title. El Deafo turns into a superhero to show her resilience. She has a hearing loss and she just wants to fit in with the other children. She comes across pushy friends, inconsiderate friends and friends who have a hard time dealing with differences. With sensitivity and insight, Cece brings the joy and frustration that many people can't even imagine. Cece has surprising reactions and preferences - just like everyone else.

This graphic novel is almost autobiographical. I could sense that the author has a hearing loss .In just this one book, examples about classrooms, television viewing and playing outside are included. Cece Bell ties in degrees of deafness,, various causes of deafness and different reactions. I apologize for not writing about this book sooner. It has already won the 2015 Newbery Honor Award. Now it is a 2017 Bluestem Award nominee. Let's hear it for anyone with differences. Cece - I hear you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtlif

PaxRose Red is the granddaughter of the Witch of the Woods.  You might know Rose Red better as Little Red Riding Hood and the Witch of the Woods as Granny.  Well as you can tell by Granny's title, she knows a little magic and Red as some magic in her as well, only her magic tends to backfire on her.  After she almost kills her grandmother using magic, Red vows never to do magic again.

 Red's mother sends her to visit Granny while they go out of town for a few days.  When she gets there, Granny is ill and doesn't have the strength to cure herself.  So Red decides she is going to find all the ingredients for a recipe to make Granny well again.  She just needs to go find some pixies and wolves.  So Red ventures out into the Woods on her voyage to get the recipe ingredients.  What she didn't expect was Goldie.  That's right folks, thee Goldilocks of The Three Bears fame.  And let me tell you that Goldy is very annoying - always babbling about something.  Red is not a fan.  However, their relationship changes as they encounter one dangerous situation after another.  Will Red be forced to use her magic to save Granny?  Will Goldy ever become less annoying?

I have read Liesl Shurtliff's other titles, Rump and Jack, but I think this is my new favorite (and I really liked Rump!).  Liesl Shurtliff does a fantastic job of weaving other fairy tale characters into her stories and this one I felt was loaded with them.  I was totally tricked by the Huntsman and have a whole other perspective of wolves from this story. The themes of friendship and destiny were woven throughout the story and I thought were very heartfelt, especially at the end.  Don't forget to read the Author's Note at the end of the story.  It made me smile and had a nice message about the importance of family.  I can't wait to see which fairy tale she takes on next!

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