Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review of Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Age Range: 9 - 12 years

Grade Level: 4 - 7

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 28, 2013)

Series: None

Genre: Historical fiction

Source: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars



About the Book:

A good book about a bad deed. Think Wonder meets Stand by Me in this warm and accessible literary middle-grade novel. Perfect for fans of Jerry Spinelli, Jennifer L. Holm, and Rebecca Stead.

It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with powerful writing that will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.




About the Author:

MARK GOLDBLATT is a lot like Julian Twerski, only not as interesting. He's a widely published columnist, a novelist, and a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Twerp is his first book for younger readers. He lives in New York City.



My Thoughts:

Being a boy is no walk in the park. Learning to be a better boy even harder.  Julian has something hanging over his head. He refuses to acknowledge it, but it's there. He writes stories for his English teacher in order to get out of writing a book report on Julius Caesar. Through these stories we get to know Julian, his friends, their lives, and their mistakes.

Twerp is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. The author's sense of humor is a beautiful thing. He completely understands what it is to be a boy, with all the ups and downs and sideways.  He gives us the chance to see the world through a twelve year old boy's eyes—and it's a confusing world. One where girls don't make sense, best friends can talk you into anything, and being the fastest kid at school means everything.

This book is hilarious, but it is more than just a book full of laughs. It's about growing up, owning up to your mistakes, and making restitution for them, even if they're in the past. It's about learning who you are, and discovering who you want to be. Every kid should read this book.

Highly recommended!

Content: some crude humor and bullying

5 STARS



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Blast + Giveaway: Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell


Welcome to the Official Book Blast for SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS by Bethany Crandell!



About the Book:

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS
Genre: YA Contemporary.
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids


Synopsis:
Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, she is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this is actually a camp for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.
Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance–and losing her sanity.




Praise:

"Crandell creates a wonderful and relatable protagonist with Cricket but even better than that, she surrounds her with equally relatable, flawed, and real characters...This book is an absolute winner!" – Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“A novel oozing with heart and humanity.” - Ken Baker, E! News correspondent and author of Fangirl and How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love

“A hilarious and heartwarming ride.” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of How My Summer Went Up in Flames and Famous Last Words



About the Author:

Bethany lives in San Diego with her husband, two kiddos (one of whom is differently-abled), and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. She believes that prayer solves problems and that Jake Ryan is going to show up at her door any minute now…. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services.






Giveaway:

One Winner will get: a Signed Copy of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS
One Winner will get a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N – winners choice!
Open Internationally for the Gift Card. Book Ships in US only. Must be 13 + To enter

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Two More New Picture Books From Kids Can Press

Kids Can Press has released a bunch of beautiful new books this spring.  Check out the two that I featured yesterday HERE.  Today I am introducing two new books called The Mermaid and the Shoe and A Fish Named Glub.


The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell

Age Range: 3 - 7 years
 
Grade Level: Preschool - 2
 
Hardcover: 32 pages
 
Publisher: Kids Can Press (April 1, 2014)

Series: None

Genre: Picture book

Source: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars




About the Book:

Each of King Neptune's 50 mermaid daughters boasts a special talent, except for little Minnow, who seems to be good only at asking questions. When she finds a strange object, Minnow follows her questions to a wondrous place and finds answers, including the answer to the most important question of all: Who am I? A gorgeously illustrated story about finding one's purpose.



My Thoughts:

This book is super cute. My girls, of course, loved it. I think they mostly liked the illustrations of the mermaids, and I don't blame them. The artwork is beautiful. I love the colors the artist used.

The story is also very charming. It's about the youngest mermaid of a family of 50 girls. She feels like she doesn't have anything special to offer because she can't sing well and fish don't obey her. But then she discovers something (a shoe) that takes her on an adventure where she makes a huge discovery. I like the theme of being inquisitive and the message that you don't have to be just like everyone else in order to be special. In fact, it's the things that make you different that make you special.

4 STARS




A Fish Named Glub by Dan Bar-el and Josee BiSaillon

Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool - 3
 
Hardcover: 32 pages
 
Publisher: Kids Can Press (April 1, 2014)

Series: None

Genre: Picture book

Source: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars




About the Book:

In this truly original picture book, a fish named Glub ponders the big questions ("Who am I?" "What do I need?" "Where do I belong?") as he looks out from his fishbowl at the end of the counter at Foster G. Willikers's diner. For every one of his questions, Glub instantly receives an answer via the variety of conversations he overhears, as the colorful people who frequent the diner go about the business of their lives. At the same time, all these people, including Foster, are finding some answers of their own as they look back at Glub swimming around in his bowl. Rich yet accessible collage-style illustrations by Jos?e Bisaillon warmly invite readers into Glub's world on each of the spreads of this unique book, while the text alternates between the poetry-inspired thoughts of Glub and the lively dialogue of the humans. What award-winning children's author and storyteller Dan Bar-el manages to do in this moving and optimistic book is to present two different layers within one story. There is the delightful, simple narrative about what happens to Glub and the people in the diner -- a fun, humorous read-aloud, perfect for storytime. But there is also a more reflective and poignant tale here of love, self-discovery and hope, which provide an opportunity for deeper reading, understanding and critical thinking, and which would make an excellent resource for a character education lesson on dealing with feelings.




My Thoughts:

I'm not sure what to think about this picture book. On the plus side, the illustrations are gorgeous. The artist has a unique style that I can't help but be drawn to . In fact, the illustrations are what caused me to pick the book up in the first place.

The story is beautifully written and has an interesting message to it.  I liked the fish's search for home and his view on the world from inside his glass bowl.  However, I'm not sure that kids will like the story. I read it to my kids and they were both confused at the end. While the writing was fun, it was WAY over my kids' heads. They didn't understand what the book was about or what it was trying to say.  So I'm going straight down the middle and giving it three stars.

3 STARS


Monday, April 21, 2014

Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop! Win a Fairy Tale!


Welcome to the Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop!  This hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, The Book Rat, and A Backwards Story.  The giveaway is sponsored by me. :)


Win one of these books:

One winner will receive their choice of the fairy tales listed below.  Good luck and make sure to hop along to the next blog on the list!





Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.


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Two New Picture Books From Kids Can Press

Kids Can Press is one of my favorite publishers for children's books.  They publish some really fun and entertaining books that both my kids and I enjoy reading.  Today I am featuring two of their new spring releases: 100 Hungry Monkeys and There was an Old Sailor.


100 Hungry Monkeys by Masayuki Sebe

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool - 2

Hardcover: 24 pages

Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2014)

Series: None

Source: I received a digital galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars






About the Book:

This playful picture book encourages pre-readers and early readers to explore the concept of 100. Unusual in that it is a narrative-driven counting book, it offers a delightful and lively story about 100 hungry monkeys who set out to find themselves some food. Once their bellies are full, they all settle in for a nap, but then a monster suddenly appears. They fear he wants to make them lunch, so they all run for their lives. All ends well, however, once the monkeys realize the monster really just wants to be their friend. Japanese author-illustrator Masayuki Sebe, well-known for his high-energy activity books for children, spreads every scene of the story across two pages, with all 100 monkeys arranged in a chaotic group in nearly every spread, making it a challenge for children to keep track while they count them all. Though the activity mainly centers on counting, there are also cues for children to search for specific items within the busy artwork, encouraging a close reading of both the text and the images, and promoting visual literacy. This book works well, with the emphasis on 100, in the math curricula for the early grades, and it would make an excellent tie-in for the important celebrations of the 100th day of the school year. As well, since the monkeys are described using a different adjective on every page -- from excited to brave to sleepy -- it would also make an excellent resource for a language arts lesson about the parts of speech.



My Thoughts:

If your kids like to search for things (kind of like in Where's Waldo) or do lots of counting, then give this book a try. The illustrations are really fun and energetic, and each page spread has a small section of things to look for. The monkeys also encourage lots of interaction by asking kids to find things on the page or count stuff. Each page is loaded with 100 monkeys as they all go through an adventure together. It's pretty funny, and kids will love searching, counting, and reading the monkeys' commentary along the way.

4 STARS





There Was an Old Sailor by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool - 2

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2014)

Series: None

Source: I received a digital galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars





About the Book:

This playful, rhyming picture book offers a fresh and fun new take on the song "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." In Claire Saxby's telling, a white-bearded, big-bellied sailor sets things in motion by swallowing a krill. He then goes on to swallow progressively larger sea creatures, each meant to catch the preceding one. Every new introduction is followed by a retelling of all the previously eaten animals, and "I don't know why he swallowed the krill -- It'll make him ill." The sailor's tale finally ends when he swallows a whale, "then with a burp ? set sail." The burp allows all the other creatures to be released out of his mouth and back into the sea, presenting the surprise of a happier ending for the sailor than for the old lady in the song. The story is perfectly complemented by Cassandra Allen's jaunty, simple and playful illustrations, which provide a terrific source of visual clues for pre-readers looking to recognize words. The rhyming and repetition will make this a favorite read-aloud choice for storytime, as children will happily participate in reading the repeated sections, which are so easily and quickly memorized. In addition, there is a "Fishy Facts" spread at the back of the book that contains a true fact about each animal in the story (including "A blue whale can eat millions of krill a day!"), which would make for a fantastic introduction to a discussion on the size of sea creatures and the food chain.




My Thoughts:

This is another spin on the song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. It seems like it doesn't matter how many versions of that song I read, I still like them. This one takes on a new twist that I haven't seen before. The old woman is swapped for an old sailor and the farm animals are replaced by sea life. The rhymes are pretty good the whole way through, and the book flows easily. Nothing feels forced or awkward.

The illustrations have a lovely, hand drawn, doodle-like feel to them, even though they are finished paintings. They also depict the sailor actually eating the animals whole, rather than just showing the animals alongside him. My kids laughed at the pictures of the sailor trying to fit an whole creatures into his mouth.  If your kids like the Old Lady versions, they'll like this one too.

4 STARS



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Easter holiday.  I encourage you to take a few moments to think of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and his beautiful gift to each one of us.





Have a blessed day and a lovely Easter!



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #9


Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  This is where I share the new books I've gotten recently.

These are books I've won or received from publishers and NetGalley.


Picture Books and Apps:

Thank you to Tressa from Tressa's Wishful Endings and Deseret Book Company for One Little Match!  And thank you to TribalNova for Caillou: My First Play!


One Little Match is such a good book!  It's beautifully illustrated, too.  I'll share my review of it soon.  My kids love the Caillou apps. This one is especially fun for my daughter who is about to make her own play debut next week. 



Middle Grade Books:

A big thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for Loki's Wolves and thank you to Zonderkidz for Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Treck


I've heard excellent things about Loki's Wolves so far, so I'm looking forward to reading it. I haven't heard much about the Riley Mae book, but it sounds like a cute story. 


What new books did you get this week?


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