Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peter and the Starcatchers (Starcatchers Series #1)

Peter and the <span class=

written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
illustrated by Greg Call
grades: 4-6

Peter is a lost and lonely orphan who has been put on the ship The Neverland in order to become a servant in the court of the evil King Zarboff. When Peter discovers a mysterious trunk aboard the ship, he takes it upon himself to discover its secret. Little does he know, but the trunk will change his life forever.

The adventurous prequel to Peter Pan is fast paced and exciting. Authors Barry and Pearson answer the questions of how Captain Hook lost his hand, how Peter learned to fly, and how he ended up on an island with mermaids, a group of boys, and pirates. Consider this book only if you have plenty of time and a very comfy chair!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pacific Crossing

by Gary Soto
Ages 10+

Lincoln Mendoza has an opportunity to leave San Francisco for the summer and spend it in Japan.  Lincoln thinks that Japan only has Martial Arts, but learns about Japan's history, family life, baseball, and traditions.  As he learning from his host family, they want to learn about him.  He tries to find a way to explain what it means to be both Mexican and American to his host family. 

This book reminds me of the "The new Karate Kid" movie.  A young boy travels to a foreign country and then finds himself while learning new things about where he is living.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Twits

by Ronald Dahl
Ages 8+

Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the nastiest, meanest, ugliest, and smelliest people in the world.  They hate everything except playing jokes on each other, catching birds to make bird pie, and making the Muggle-wumps (caged monkeys) stand on their head all day.  Finally, the Muggle-wumps have had enough and seek revenge.

I normally enjoyed Ronald Dahl.  This book has highs and lows for me.  It is typical interesting Dahl book, but I didn't enjoy how mean the Twits are others.  If you are concerned with your child reading about bad behavior this book may not be for your children.  It is funny, but didn't finish the book feeling good.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Mother-Daughter Book Club (The Mother-Daughter Book Club Series #1)

written by Heather Vogel Frederick
ages: 12 and up

Sixth grade is never easy-especially when your mother decides to start a mother-daughter book club. This novel follows four unlikely friends throughout a year of reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Cassidy would rather be playing hockey, Jess loves animals, Megan has her mind on the world of fashion, and Emma loves to read. Together the girls will learn to navigate crushes, stolen journals, Halloween pranks, first dances, and the difficulties that come with growing up.

Although this is written as a children's book, it is probably most appropriate for girls who are preparing for or are already in the 6th grade. Frederick touches on challenging issues of family and death with heart and candor. Kudos to Miss Frederick for writing with clean language and subject matter that is as appropriate as it is charming. Maybe this will inspire you to start your very own mother-daughter book club; it did for me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pleasing the Ghost

by Sharon Creech
Ages: 8+

Award winning author Creech writes a light hearted book about ghosts.  Dennis's father recently passed away and since then he has been receiving a parade of ghosts through his bedroom window.  When the ghost of his uncle arrives, Dennis is not surprised his uncle needs something done for him.  Dennis would love to help Uncle Arvie, but he is difficult to understand.  Dennis has to figure out what his uncle is saying and please the ghost.

This book is great book about a young boy dealing with death of his father.  His able to deal with death by helping other ghosts.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

California Blue

by David Glass
Ages 12+

John didn't expect to discover a new species of butterfly.  He knew what a powerful effect of his discovery would have on his town and his family.  The town lived and died with the business the lumber mill generated.  His relationship with his father was already strained because of their differences.  He has a difficult decision to make, whether to stick with family and friends and fight for his town or side with the those who want to protect the new rare butterfly?

This is great story about a young teenager.  He can't relate to his father because he is interested in father isn't.  They can't talk.  His father is dying and now he has to choose to help the town and his father or pick against family and friends.  This story is heartbreaking as you experience the dilemma John faces.  His choice will affect his future.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Adventure of Captain Underpants

by Dav Pilkey
ages- 8+

George and Harold are best friends and trouble makers.  They have created their own comic superhero, Captain Underpants and sell them to their friends at school.  Their principal, Mr. Krupp, catches them during one of their practical jokes and blackmails them into doing good.  The boys decide to hypnotize him to get out of being blackmailed.  Quickly, they decide to make Mr. Krupp, their comic superhero, Captain Underpants.  Then, he escapes before they are able to turn him back into Mr. Krupp.  Mr. Krupp tries to save the world as the boys try to find him to un-hypnotize him.  

This is the first book a a great popular series.  It is funny and hilarious that a grown man is running around in his underwear believing he is a super hero.    

Sunday, September 26, 2010


by Patricia Calvert
ages 12 +

Tyler is glad the Civil War is over and his father will come home after fighting for the South.  Tyler learns that his father's regiment has refused to surrender and is headed for Mexico, he decides to find his father and bring him home.  Along his way, a strange dog, named Bigger joins him.  As the two journey south, Tyler is forced to confront his feelings and let go of his most cherished dream.  Bigger becomes his best friend when Tyler has to face the truth about his father. 

This is a great historical fiction and teen coming of age book.  Tyler is a great character and you fall in love with him.  You are able to connect with him as he faces growing up after the Civil War.  The country has changed and so has his family.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Series #1)

written by Anthony Horowitz
ages: Young adult

When 14 year-old Alex Rider's uncle in unexpectedly killed in a car accident, he knows that something is amiss. When he discovers his uncle's car riddled with bullets, it confirms suspicions that his uncle was murdered. Alex soon finds out that his uncle was a spy for the British Secret Service. He is recruited to complete the mission that his uncle began and save Great Britain from a mad man. Alex must impersonate a boy who has won a trip to the facility where Stormbreaker computers are being made. Stormbreaker is a revolutionary new computer created and donated by a multimillionaire to all of the schools in Great Britain. Now it's up to Alex to avenge his uncle's murder and save a nation.

I first heard about these books through an interview with the author, Anthony Horowitz, on NPR and couldn't wait to get my hands on one. Think James Bond in his earlier years-complete with gadgets, quirky characters, and near death experiences. This is truly an on the edge of your seat read-I can't wait to jump into the next book in the series.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Call It Courage

by Armstrong Sperry

Mafatu is a son of Chief in the Pacific Islands.  The tribe calls him a coward because he is afraid of the water, ever since he watched his mother drown in the sea.  When Mafatu turns 12 years old, he decides that it is time to face his fears.  He builds a canoe and set sail.  He almost drowns in a storm and finds himself trapped on an island with cannibals.  Will he make it home?  Does he have the courage? 

I remember reading this book in middle school and enjoying it then.  I could call it a classic since it won the Newberry Medal in 1941.  It is still a great read, no matter how many times you read the book.  I found myself relating to Mafatu about facing my fears and trying to conquer with resistance.  It teaches those readers that with persistence you can overcome anything. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Esio Trot

by Roald Dahl

Mr. Hoppy is in love with his neighbor, Mrs. Silver. She is in love with her pet turtle, Alfie. Mrs. Silver doesn't even noticed Mr. Hoppy because all of her attention is on taking care of Alfie. Mr. Hoppy is a shy man, so he devises a plan to get her attention and have her fall in love with him.

Although, I am not a fan of other works of Dahl's, I am a fan of this book,. It is cute, light hearted story about a man who is willing to do anything to have the woman he loves notice him. He finds out what she is interested in and uses that as the attention starter. If you have not figured it out Esio Trot is tortoise spelled backwards.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Watcher

by james howe

Three troubled teens lives converge at a seaside resort. Chris Powell, a lifeguard, whose is dealing with the loss of his younger brother and how it has affected his family and their relationships. Evan, vacationing with his family, is watching his parent's relationship struggle. They both noticed "The Watcher", Margaret. Margaret is a small bony little girl, who sits on the beach watching others and writing in her notebook. She creates fairy-tales about Chris and Evan's lives to escape her reality. Can Chris and Evan stop and see what is really going on in "The Watcher"'s life?

"The Watcher" is a book about a three powerful teen subjects: Lost of a loved, facing parent's divorce, and admitting abuse and asking for help. The book hops around from the different perspectives of Chris, Evan, and Margaret and their interactions. How perception of a perfect life is wrong? This book can be a great way to talk about these difficult subjects with your teens.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


by Mike Lupica
Ages- 12+

Micheal Arroyo has pitched is Bronx-All Star team to the District Finals and has a shot at the Little League World Series. Michael is good, maybe too good and it creates problems. Rival coaches and players can't believe Michael is only twelve years old. He also has no way to prove it because he has no mother, no father, and his birth certificate is in Cuba. If social services finds out his secret, he will create more problems: being separated from his older brother Carlos. In baseball games, you have winners (with champion hearts) or losers (crushed dreams). For Michael, life and baseball have collided.

Lupica uses sports as metaphor for life. If you like sports, like me, you will enjoy reading this book. Something about Lupica's writing style allow me to connect to Michael. He is only 12 years old and he has to carry a big secret. He deals with the fear of the unknown and whom to trust.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Tiger Rising

by Kate DiCamillo

Rob Horton, 12 years old, recently moved with his father to a seedy motel in Lister, Florda. Following his mother's death, Rob has shut his feeling in a big "suitcase." He vowed nothing would make him cry again, including the bullies at his new school and the weird rash on his legs. Two amazing things happen to Rob, he discovers a real-life tiger in a cage near the motel where he lives and meets Sistine Bailey. Sistine is feisty girl, who doesn't hold back her feelings. They learn to trust each other and become friends. They show that some things like memories, heartaches, and tigers are not meant to be locked up forever.

Kate DiCamillo has become one of my favorite authors. I found myself hurting for Rob and hoping that he would be able to deal with his mother death and gain a better relationship with his father. Death of a loved one is a difficult subject and again, Kate is able to write about dealing with that loss. Sistine and Rob are dealing with changes, loss, and growing up, but found friendship in their growth to understanding the world.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Too Many Toys

Too Many Toys by David Shannon: Book Cover
written and illustrated by David Shannon
ages: pre-reader through grade 3

Spencer has toys of all kinds: wooden pull toys, big toys, small toys, and electronic toys. But his toys are starting to take over the house. When Spencer's Mom tells him that some of the toys will have to go, the battle begins. Which toys will Spencer get to keep? Will Mom prevail? Will they ever see the floor of his room again?

David Shannon is a shining example of an author who combines creative storytelling with wonderful illustrations. The result is a story that both parents and children will enjoy; in our house we have read it multiple times in one day! Any family that has more than just a few toys will find that this book hits home-especially for Moms who get to take care of all of them. Witty and fun, Too Many Toys is a great read for preschool through the early elementary years. Look for Shannon's other picture books: Alice the Fairy and the David series.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Frog Princess

by Ellen Conford
Ages: 10+

Chandler has everything money could buy except what she really wanted. She was an orphan at the age of nine and has longed for someone to like her for her and not her money. One day Danny, the cutest boy in the whole school, asks if he can kiss her and she was very excited. When Danny kissed her, she turned into a frog. Now she has to rely on Danny to help her find a cure to her curse.

Cute book! It was a great remix on the princess and the frog story. It is a modern version of Disney movie version, recently released. Chandler who doesn't trust anyone has to trust Danny. You journey with her as she learns what true friends are.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Save Queen of Sheba

by Louise Moeri
Ages: 10+

David finds himself and his sister alone after the vicious attack on their wagon train. He survived a failed scalping attempt and now has to find a way to survive with his sister, whom he calls the Queen of Sheba. David has to use his wits and whatever supplies they can scavenge. The Queen of Sheba is counting on him and he is seriously hurt. He only hopes that their parents are somewhere up ahead and if he can find them.

I enjoyed this book. David and Sheba have the typical older brother and younger sister relationship. Sheba is the baby girl and David has always had to take care of her. David often resents her and is frustrated, but ultimately he realizes how much he cares for her.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Inside Story (Sister's Grimm Series #8)

The Inside Story (Sisters Grimm Series #8) by Michael Buckley: Book Cover

written by Michael Buckley and illustrated by Peter Ferguson
ages: 8- adult

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are storybook detectives. In the small town of Ferryport Landing where they live, all kinds of strange things can happen; the Queen of Hearts is the mayor and Snow White teaches self defense classes. Descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm, who chronicled the lives of the Everafters (or characters in fairy tales), Sabrina and Daphne are off on another adventure to help solve a crime involving the evil Master and the mysterious Book of Everafter. As Sabrina and Daphne navigate their way through the book, they must watch out for the Editor and his monster-like story editing revisers. The future of the Master, their family, and ultimately, the whole world lies in the girls ability to succeed. The Grimm sisters are certainly becoming more savvy in the ways of the Everafters, but will it be enough to save their family?

Buckley succeeds in creating yet another fun page turner. Readers will not be disappointed as book eight is just as engaging and intelligent as book one. Smart and sassy, the Grimm sisters are delightful characters. The Sisters Grimm is a series to add to your summer reading list!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Julius: the Baby of the World

Julius by Kevin <span class=

written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
ages: pre-reader through age 8

Before Julius is born, Lilly is a wonderful big sister. She shares with him and tells him secrets. But after the baby, things change for Lilly. Lilly begins to pinch his tail and say ugly things to him in his crib. Her parents even say that Julius is, "the baby of the world." Of course, Lilly thinks that this is, in her own words, disgusting. Lilly has her own ideas of how to get rid of Julius: she tries learning magic to make him disappear, ignoring him, and even scaring him with her clever disguises. Needless to say, Lilly spends a lot of time in the uncooperative chair. It isn't until her parents throw a party in Julius's honor and her cousin Garland remarks on his "slimy nose...beady eyes...and stinky fur" that Lilly begins to rethink her baby brother.

Julius: the Baby of the World is the perfect book for any family expecting a baby. Henkes demonstrates his understanding of the struggles of children and of sibling rivalry. The endearing Lilly has spirit and spunk. Look for her in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Lilly's Big Day. Wildy funny and clever, both parent and child will enjoy the humor and delightful illustrations that Henkes creates.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins
Ages: 12+

Second Book in the Hunger Games: Katniss afer winning the Hunger Games finds a new set of challenges. She is older now and realizing that she can't resist the feelings of injustice she has witnessed.

I would like to write more about this book but it would ruin the intensity of the first book "The Hunger Games." Collins leaves in suspense the entire read. Every page brings a new surprise. The best and worst part is that the next book in the series is not due out until late August. I don't know if I can wait that long.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins
Ages: 12+

Katniss, a teenager, finds herself volunteering to replace her 12 year old sister in this year's Hunger Games. Katniss has practice surviving, after her father was killed in a coal mining accident and mother went into a deep depression. She find herself making difficult decisions and choices. The Games were created to remind the 12 districts that the Capital stills controls them. She and 23 other teenagers must fight to the death in a televised arena after being chosen this year. Her whole world is turned upside down after her name is selected.

I LOVE THIS BOOK! A MUST READ! I recommend it for everyone, not just young adult. It is like The Giver and Fahrenheit 451. Even if you don't like science fiction, you will still enjoy this book. It is a parody on society and control. The State of Panem needs to keep control of the tributaries and the gluttony of the rich people living in the Capital. You fall in love and relate to Katniss and her situation. Then, just when you think you know what is going to happen next, Collins throws you for a another loop. Warning: I couldn't put this book down and you are going to immediately want to read the next book in the series, Catching Fire.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Boggart

by Susan Cooper
Ages: 9-14

What is a Boggart? The Volnik family finds out after they inherit a old castle on an island off Scotland. Once they return home, Emily and her brother Jessup notice strange things happening. They realize that a mischievous boggart was accidently trapped in a piece of furniture the family shipped home to Canada. Of course, no adults believe them. After a crazy Halloween incident, doctors believe Emily is a troubled adolescent in need of hospitalization. They have to find a way to return the boggart back to Scotland, but HOW!

I was a little worried when I read the premise of this book. I thought it might be another silly ghost story, but the author is able to take an old-story creature and infuse him into a modern times creating a good story.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Report to the Principal's Office

by Jerry Spinelli
Ages: 10+

Plumstead Middle School is opened for the first time and Principal Brimlow is determined that this new school with start off well. He memorizes every student's profile. He decides to befriend a few 6th graders; Sunny Wyler, Eddie Mott, Salem Brownmiller, and Pickles Johnson. Sunny has decided to not bathe until she is transferred to the old middle school to be with her best friend. Eddie hopes to survive the 6th grade by being friendly and avoiding 8th graders. Salem is an aspiring writer and is in everyone's business. Pickles is an inventor of gadgets and getting into trouble. Principal Brimlow names the sixth graders his Principal Posse and assigns them, among other things, to come up with a name for the new school mascot. He can't control everything that happens in the middle school. These students have to learn how to survive middle school on their own.

A very delightful, lighthearted book about surviving middle school from many perspectives.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heist Society

Heist Society by Ally Carter: Download Cover

written by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has tried to leave the family business by going to boarding school. However, leaving her former life proves harder than expected when she is unjustly kicked out of school. Katarina's family is not typical, nor is their chosen profession. Katarina's family appreciates fine art and culture-so much so that they steal it. When her father is accused of stealing priceless paintings from a very dangerous man, Katarina and a motley crew work to save him. As Katarina returns to the life that she so desperately wanted to leave, she finds strength in her family, friends, and most importantly, herself. Will the love that she has for her father be enough to help her outwit a dangerous villain as well as a brilliant thief?

Heist Society is the second series penned by author Ally Carter. Although not as well written as the previous Gallagher Girls Series, Heist Society is still a well executed story. Hopefully the remainder of this series will provide Carter with the opportunity to return to a more engaging and thoughtful writing style.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Police Officers on Patrol

written by Kersten Hamilton
illustrated by R.W. Alley

Who are police officers? What do they do? How can they help you when you are in trouble? All of these questions are answered in this rollicking tale. Fun illustrations and catchy writing make this book fun to read and share. This great book is a wonderful way to introduce preschoolers to police officers and what they do to help the community. Not only is this a perfect book for fans of police officers, but also for those who are hesitant of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Say Please, Louise!

by Phil Roxabee Cox
Illustrated by Jan McCafferty

A cautionary tale for children to warn them about the perils of behaving badly. Louise can't remember to say please and demands everything. Her parents pleaded to "Say Please" because that was all that was needed. Louise would not listen and when she demanded a new pet, she learns her lesson.

My sister recommended this book to me because it helps her with her 3 year old. When her daughter forgets to use kind words, she asked her what happen to Louise. It is a cute and fun story with great illustrations.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane <span class=

written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
ages: 2-6 years

What happens when a dinosaur gets sick? Does he whimper and whine in between each atchoo? What if a dinosaur goes to the doc? Does he drag all his feet till his mom is in shock? No, a dinosaur rests, takes all of his medicine, and gets well soon!

The How Do Dinosaurs... books are such a wonderful treat for parents and their children to read together. The rhyming text is fun and easy for even the youngest child to understand. Mark Teague’s illustrations are whimsical and delightful. Young readers will love seeing parents with giant dinosaur children. This book proves that silly is indeed wonderful!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Something Upstairs

by Avi
Ages 10+

Kenny moves with his family to Providence, Rhode Island. He finds himself intrigued by a 100 year old murder of a teenager slave, Caleb, who used to live in the house he moved into. Kenny is haunted by Caleb and the injustice of his murder and finds himself back in time trying to solve the murder or stop it. Kenny finds himself making difficult choices whether to return to his time or save Caleb.

I really enjoy reading this book. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. You think you have it figured out, but Avi changes the pace on you. This book will spark discussion of slavery and violence of the past.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Touching Spirt Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen
ages 12+

Cole has no other options left. The Circle Justice was the only way of avoiding jail time, after he beat up a fellow classmate brutally. He didn't care or understand why they decided to send him to an island on Alaska by himself for year. Who cared? Garvey, his parole officer, was the one who suggested it. Once banished to find himself and prove his is sorry for his actions, he allows his arrogance to set him directly in the path of a mysterious, legendary white bear. Mauled almost to death, Cole awaits his fate and begins the transition from anger to humility.

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It is not a typical story. I thought he would just go to the island and find himself in nature and learn his lesson. Oh, no, Cole makes some decisions that cause the story to have many twists and turns that happened in real life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Trumpeter of Krakow

by Eric P. Kelly
Ages 12+

A fictional story based on the history of Krakow. Joseph and his family are forced from Ukraine to Krakow, Poland in 1461 after their home is burned to the ground by Cossack-Tarters. His family tries to hide in the city but they are hunted by the infamous "Peter the Button Face" (for a birthmark on his cheek). Peter knows Joseph's father is hiding the "Great Tarnov Crystal" and has been asked to obtain it by any means. Joseph settles into his new identity making friends with his neighbors, Elizabeth and her uncle, an alchemist. Joseph's father takes the job of the trumpeter in the evenings to keep his face hidden. The book shares the many attempts by Peter to steal the crystal.

This book won the Newbery Medal in 1929. I was easily confused by this book. It is a great story, but times have changed. I had a hard time keeping focused on what was happening in the story and had to reread many parts again to understand the plot. I think children who have heritage from this part of Europe or interest in Polish history may enjoy this book, not my favorite.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pony Brushes His Teeth

Pony Brushes His Teeth by Michael <span class=

written by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Pony likes to do the same things as his Dad. After they eat the same things, Pony brushes his teeth, runs the water, and swishes just like Dad. Pony does a great job of brushing his teeth until he swishes, then oops- watch out Dad!

This is a great book for any reluctant brusher in your family. The illustrations are punchy and fun and the text is simple and easy for younger listeners to understand and enjoy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cook It In a Cup

Cook It in a Cup! by Julia Myall: Book Cover

written by Julia Myall with photographs by Greg Lowe

This is a wonderful book for the budding chef in your home. With 29 recipes ranging from breakfast in a cup to sweet treats, you and your child are sure to find something that sounds appealing. The book comes with 6 colorful silicone cups that look like cupcake holders. Author Julia Myall covers kitchen safety as well as how to care for the cups in the beginning of the book.

This cookbook has gotten quite a bit of use in our home. The recipes are easy to follow with simple, step by step instructions. The results have been tasty and appreciated by even the smallest eater in our family (and that is no small feat!).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ella Enchanted

by Gail Carson Levine

It was written in 1997 and a movie made in 2004 with Anne Hathaway. I was nervous about reading this book because I had already seen the movie. I was pleasantly surprised at the differences between the two. THE BOOK IS BETTER!

Ella is given a "gift" of obedience at birth by a fairy named Lucinda. She has to obey all commands. The story is the same as the movie, where Ella tries to overcome her gift and falls in love with the prince during her journey. In the book, the adventures are different. She meets the prince off and on in her adventures. She is forced to attend finishing school, so she can attract a rich husband for her father. She is able to pick up languages of the elves and ogres. The prince and Ella find glass slippers which fit her perfectly. They come into play during a ball where the prince has to pick his bride, after Ella "protects" the prince by refusing his love. She believes her curse could be used against him. How Ella breaks the curse is very inventive? Read the book.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jack and the Beanstalk


retold by Ann Keay Beneduce and illustrated by Gennady Spirin

ages- K-5

This richly woven fairytale set in Elizabethan times finds Jack and his mother destitute. Jack
goes to market to sell the family cow 'Milky White.' When he brings home magic beans, his mother is deeply troubled and knows that they will soon meet with disaster. Jack plants the beans and in the morning bravely climbs up. It is on the beanstalk that Jack meets a beautiful fairy all dressed in white. She explains that it was she who enchanted the beans and that poor Jack was indeed tricked into trading his cow for worthless beans. Jack presses her for news of his father and she tells him the story of losing her powers and, although she ultimately gains them back, being unable to save his father who is killed by the evil and greedy giant. Upon hearing the story, Jack feels that he must avenge his father and secure his mother's happiness. The clever Jack enters the giants house and, aided by the giant's unknowing but kindhearted wife, is able to retrieve what is so rightfully his family's fortune.

I seem to be on a bit of a Jack and the Beanstalk kick these days; I can't help myself- I love a good fairytale! This tale has a very different feel to it as Jack understands that he has a duty to kill the giant rather than robbing him through trickery. This Jack has a moral compass and feels duty bound to honor his family and the memory of his father. The illustrations are bewitching and beautifully rendered. Don't be put off by the length of the story- children will stay riveted not only to the story but to the intricate illustrations. Share this enchanting version of Jack and the Beanstalk with your children or grandchildren.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Look out, Jack! The Giant is Back!

Look out Jack! the Giant Is Back! by Tom Birdseye: Book Cover

written by Tom Birdseye and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

What happened after Jack stole the Giant's gold, the goose that lays the golden eggs, and the singing harp? What happened after the Giant fell to his death and Jack made it to safety? Wouldn't you know that the Giant had a brother- a bigger and meaner brother- who began to make a rope ladder the minute that Jack chopped down the bean stalk. Well, Jack and his mother hightailed it to the mountains of North Carolina where they set up shop and lived a peaceful life growing the most beautiful smelling roses around. But that mean old giant finds Jack and demands to have the gold, the goose, and the harp returned- or else. Jack is clever and quick, but is he quick enough to outsmart yet another giant?

This book is absolutely wonderful! The illustrations are entertaining and the insight into Jack's life is fun and witty. Introduce your kids to a new side of Jack and the beanstalk!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bud, Not Buddy

by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ages: 12+

Ten year old Bud lost his mother 3 years ago and has been in an orphange and recently was placed in a foster home that was abusive. He escapes and decides to look for his father, whom he is convinced is famous musician, Herman F. Calloway. He decides to walk from Flint, Michigan to Grand Rapids. He experiences many setbacks and kindness of many strangers. At the mission where Bud is too late for the evening meal, another homeless family pretends that he's with them. Once Bud reaches his destination, Bud's search must continue because it turns out the musician cannont possibly be his father.

Bud is a loveable character and good nature. He survival skills make memorable. The setting is in the 30's, the height of the Great Depression and the small tastes of racism that the author carefully intergrates into the book. Great Read!