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Monday, May 22, 2017

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

The True Meaning of SmekdayFirst, Gratuity "Tip" Tucci's mom is abducted by aliens. Then, stuff gets really weird. When Tip is assigned a school essay about "The True Meaning of Smekday" (which is what Glorious Captain Smek named Christmas after the Boov took over), she decides to tell her side of the story. Tip tells how she, a Boov named J.Lo, and her temperamental cat, Pig, ended up on a cross country trip to Florida in a flying car called Slushious, trying to save Tip's mom and the Earth (aka Smekland) from yet another alien invasion.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a funny story, books about friendship, or people interested in reading about adventures or really silly alien invasions. The movie Home is actually based on this book, so if you liked the movie, try the book!

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Monday, May 08, 2017

The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best ManOkay, so I'm go to preface with stating that I am a huge Richard Peck fan.  I think it all started when I he visited my local library.  I loved listening to his stories and I still continue to love to read his books.

The Best Man features the life of Archer from the summer before first grade until the summer of sixth grade.  He lives in a suburb outside of Chicago with a great family unit (his grandparents live directly behind him).  His grandfather is an architect who designed the buildings in the town he lives in, including the school he attends.  Archer's dad restores classic cards and enjoys cooking and his mother is  marriage counselor.  His older sister Holly, is going through that difficult teenager stage (throughout the whole book).  He also has a loving Uncle Paul who works for the  Chicago Cubs (but they hadn't won the World Series before the book was published).

The book begins with a wedding and ends with a wedding.  In the first wedding, Archer meets his future best friend and protector, Lynette.  Every year brings different teachers, challenges and classic cars into Archer's life.  One year is extremely difficult as his grandfather has a stroke, his teacher leaves to have a baby, Lynette's mom becomes the substitute and then he has a student teacher, Mr. McLeod, who will change his life and the life of family member.  Mr. McLeod defends a student who has been attacked in the bathroom and had "gay" written on his forehead.  He reveals that he is gay which delightedly didn't make a difference to any of his students. 

The story doesn't have a lot of action but it's just a wonderful view into a life of a boy growing up in a very loving family environment with some very strong male role models.  It was so refreshing to see a family that truly cares for one another and stands by each other.  A main talking point of the book will be when Archer realizes his Uncle Paul is gay but this is not the main point of the story.   Even at the end of the story when Uncle Paul gets married, it is done in a supportive and accepting way.


Monday, May 01, 2017

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy MudTamaya Dhilwaddi is a 5th grader at Woodridge Academy, an exclusive school in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania.  She walks to school every day with her neighbor, Marshall Walsh, who is in 7th grade. All is well until a bully, Chad Hilligas, enters their lives.Chad is not only a bully, but a teller of outlandish stories about his adventures and often unbelievable escapades.  Chad challenges Marshall to a fight, and then the real story of the the mysterious Fuzzy Mud begins.

Meanwhile, excerpts from government hearings about a place called Sun Ray Farm, located near Woodridge Academy, and the top-secret experiments taking place there give the reader hints about the catastrophe that could be unfolding deep withing the woods of Heath Cliff.

If you like mystery-thrillers that have realistic characters, you'll like Fuzzy Mud.  Each character has his or her own struggle:  Tamaya must decide if she should do the right thing even though she knows she could get in big trouble.  Marshall has to face his fears and stand up for himself.  And even though I didn't really want to like Chad, once I learned his story I had a bit more understanding about why he chooses bullying over friendship. Fuzzy Mud is fast paced and full of suspense, surprises, and great descriptions of the mud and the gross....well, I'll let you read it for yourself.  I really enjoyed reading Fuzzy Mud, and I hope you do too!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with DragonsCimorene doesn't want to be an average, everyday princess. She wants to learn useful things like cooking, Latin, magic, and how to use a sword, not embroidery and ways to be more beautiful. And she definitely doesn't want to marry the most boring Prince Charming in the universe. So she runs away from home to find her own Happy Ending... and moves in with a dragon! Kazul loves the idea of having a useful princess around to help her organize her house. But when some very suspicious wizards start hanging around, it's up to Cimorene, a shy princess, a nontraditional witch, a stone prince, and a little bit of magic to turn the tables on the wizards.

I love this book. I will probably read it a hundred times. You have a princess who gets bored easily and wants to learn everything, a dragon who loves cherries jubilee, a tidy witch with a million talking cats, and a lot of references to traditional fairy tales (which get turned on their heads!), and it is just so much fun. I would recommend this to anyone who loves books by Shannon Hale, children who love fairy tales or princesses, and any child (or adult!) who loves fantasy.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Who Was Lucille Ball? by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso

Who Was Lucille Ball?I Love Lucy was one of my favorite rerun TV shows growing up as a kid.  I still love to watch them today if I run across one as I'm flipping channels.  Lucille Desiree Ball was born in New York in 1911.  She loved the old vaudeville acts her grandfather used to take her to see when she was a young girl.  Vaudeville inspired her to want to work in show business.  At the age of 22, Lucy left for Hollywood to work for Goldwyn Studios.  She did a few small roles in movies but they weren't making her a household name.

She met her husband, Desi Arnaz, in August 1940 and they were married by November of the same year.  Lucy's big break came in the early 1950's when CBS wanted to create a television show based on a radio comedy show Lucy was in.  That show was I Love Lucy.  

To find out more about Lucille Ball, I highly recommend you read Who Was Lucille Ball?  Then check out a few of her episodes if you can!  I promise you lots of laughter!

I love Lucy : the complete picture history of the most popular TV show ever


Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystery in Mayan Mexico by Marcia Wells

Mystery in Mayan MexicoFans of the Bluestem nominated series Eddie Red will be excited to hear there is another installment with Eddie and his best friend Jonah set in Mexico.  Eddie's mother is attending a two week conference and has brought the family plus Jonah along (lucky ducks!).  They meet Julia, the daugher of a tour guide and the chief of police's daughter, and they become friends.  A robbery happens in the hotel where they are staying and Eddie's dad becomes a suspect.  Eddie uses his photographic memory to try to help solve the case along with help from Jonah and Julia.  Will Eddie manage to find the real thief and clear his father's name?

I'm really liking this series.  Eddie is a cool kid and Jonah cracks me up with his ADHD and OCD moments.  I even like Eddie's parents who are a bit nerdy and quirky.  It's a good action packed story that might peak some interest in the Mayan gods.  Pick it up and read it!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl When twelve-year-old Astrid's mom takes her to see a roller derby tournament, Astrid knows it's the sport she absolutely has to do. She immediately signs up for roller derby camp and assumes that her best friend, Nicole, will sign up with her. Only instead, Nicole wants to go to ballet camp with Astrid's worst enemy and leaves Astrid all alone. By herself, Astrid joins up and finds out that competitive roller skating is actually really hard, and she'll have to do her best to be able to be on the team. Will she be able to be friends with Nicole again? Will she make the cut for the Rosebud Roller Girls? And should she dye her hair fun colors like all the other roller girls?

I loved this book. I read it basically in one sitting. It was so much fun! I loved Astrid's friends and family, and I LOVED the roller girls. I would definitely recommend this book to 10-12 year olds. It talks about friendships getting weird like they do sometimes, deals with bullying, and it definitely is a story about a person figuring out who she is.

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