Books & DVDs

When Mischief Came to Town
Katrina Nannestad
Ages 9-11

After her mother dies, ten-year-old Inge Maria is sent to live with her grandmother on a small island off the coast of Denmark.  Set in 1911, Inge soon finds that country life is much different than the life she's led in Copenhagen.  Although she tries hard to behave in order to gain her grandmother's love, Inge's high-spirited, quirky personality often gets in the way. 

A funny, touching read that Pippi Longstocking fans will enjoy.

Apr 4, 2016
StaceyQ
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Christopher Paul Curtis
Ages 8-12

The Watsons have a pretty good life living in Flint, Michigan, despite the cold that Mrs. Watson complains about. There is the “cry baby” youngest, Joey, the “smart” middle child, Kenny, and the “bully” oldest, Byron and of course Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Byron pulls one too many stunts, his parents finally follow through with their threat to send him to his grandma’s house in Birmingham, Alabama. So the whole family packs up and drives to Alabama; but there is civil unrest in the South and the Watson family might be driving into the worst danger they’ve ever faced. 

Although there are serious issues addressed in this book, it is a rollicking story about the lives of one family told from the point of view of Kenny. Kids will be able to relate to Kenny who is often bullied by his older brother or his classmates while being at the age of trying to decide if he’s too old to play with things like plastic dinosaurs. Curtis creates a family that is a joy to read about and travel with as they go from Flint to Birmingham and back again in their “Brown Bomber” car and “Yakety Yak” playing on their portable record player. 

J FIC Cur

Apr 4, 2016
TamieB
Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (Compilation of The Julian Chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling)
R. J. Palacio
Ages 9-12

The three stories reviewed here are off shoots of the fabulous book Wonder by R. J. Palacio which does need to be read first in order to understand The Julian Chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling

Wonder, tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy entering school (middle school) for the first time in his life and how he copes with how others treat him. Auggie was born with a facial deformity and is often shunned by those who aren’t closest to him. While most of Wonder is told from Auggie’s point of view, several of the chapters are told from other’s perspectives, including his sister and friends, Summer and Jack. However, we never hear from the bully Julian’s side of things…until The Julian Chapter.

The Julian Chapter briefly recaps the fifth grade school year from Julian’s perspective including the real reason he didn’t go to camp with the rest of his class and his lack of remorse for bullying Auggie (and Jack) throughout the year. The burning question before starting the story was whether Julian would ever reform and realize that his actions were hurtful and wrong. This question is answered during Julian’s summer break, when he goes to stay with his grandmother in France. His grandmother quickly catches on to how Julian had been acting during the school year and decides to tell him a story of when she had to flee from the Germans in WWII and of the boy, handicapped from polio, who hid her until the war was over. The Julian Chapter is worth reading for Julian’s grandmother’s story if not for Julian’s change of heart. 

Pluto tells the story from Auggie’s childhood friend, Christopher’s point of view. Also entering fifth grade, Christopher is trying to deal with his bad habit of always forgetting his school stuff at home, choosing sides in his band group, and his parent’s talk of divorce. After forgetting his school work once again, his mom drives back home to get his stuff and gets into a car accident on the way. The accident makes everyone realize what is important in life. This was an enjoyable short story but not as rewarding as The Julian Chapter

Shingaling tells the story from Charlotte’s perspective, who had been one of Auggie’s “welcome” buddies at the beginning of the school year. Charlotte’s year is full of gossip, figuring out how to change her social status, and of her making new friends with her afterschool dance group who are learning to dance the shingaling. Some of Charlotte’s story was interesting, such as her budding friendships with Summer and Ximena and the mystery of the homeless man, but if stories full of Truth or Dare, quarrels over who sits at which lunch table, and gossip aren’t your thing you probably want to give this one a pass.

J FIC Pal Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

THESE TITLES ARE ALSO AVAILBLE ON AUDIO CD WHICH IS HOW I READ THE BOOKS.  

Apr 4, 2016
TamieB
Swap!
Swap!
Steve Light
Ages 3-7

When the Captain's ship proves to be unseaworthy, a young sailor shows his Captain how to barter in order to make the necessary ship upgrades.  A small button is swapped for teacups, teacups are swapped for rope, rope is swapped for oars....soon the two friends are sailing again in a new ship. 

Another fantastically illustrated book by Steve Light. Readers will love the detailed pen-and-ink drawings.

Apr 4, 2016
StaceyQ
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Katherine Applegate
Ages 4-8

This amazing true story is recounted for young children with lovely illustrations by artist, G. Brian Karas.  Ivan was only 6 months old when he was trapped and captured by poachers in 1960s Africa.  For three years, he was raised in a home as a child, wearing clothes, eating a human diet and sleeping under sheets and blankets.  Then, when he got too big for his caretakers to handle, he was placed in a cell in a shopping mall, looking out a window while passersby gazed at him.  Eventually, amidst growing protest, a campaign was mounted to give Ivan a proper home.  Young readers and listeners are sure to be attracted by Ivan's touching and poignant experiences.

Apr 4, 2016
Claire
Smiles Ahead: Cool Music for Cool Families
Various Artists
Kindergarten and up

I LOVE this CD. 

Full of songs by different artists and different music styles this is a fun upbeat CD. The first song on the disc, Jump Up by Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could is sure to get you (and your kids) up and smiling in the morning. My favorite song on here though has to be Box of Crayons by The Pop-Ups which is a song about using your imagination...and a box of crayons to create a whole new world. I could (and have) listened to this song over and over. Highly recommended. J CD MUSIC Smi 

Mar 3, 2016
TamieB
This Side of Wild
Gary Paulsen
Grades 5 & up

Gary Paulsen is known for his wilderness and survival stories for youth, teens, and adults, including the Newbery Honor book, Hatchet.  In this memoir, Gary relates vivid stories of how animals have not only been his companions, but taught, protected, and inspired him throughout the stages of his life.  Raced in the Iditarod? Farmed in Minnesota? Survived in the desert?  Check, check check!  Gary Paulsen has experienced all of that and more.  You'll laugh and cry as he describes encounters with a talking bird, instinctive horses, grizzly bears, greedy ravens, and very intelligent dogs.  Not just for animal lovers, this is a great read from a legendary author!  J BIOG Paulsen

Mar 3, 2016
Claire
Another Kind of Hurricane
Tamara Ellis Smith
Ages 9-12

Two separate storms wreak havoc on the emotions of two boys from very different backgrounds.  With chapters alternating between the voices of Zavion and Henry, we are planted right in the midst of the compelling tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the wave of grief coming from a singular loss on the opposite end of the country.  But, there is joy in the sadness and a series of intertwining events propels these two characters together and begins to alleviate the pain for both of them in this bittersweet tale of loss and healing.

J FIC Smi

Feb 2, 2016
Claire
Last in a Long Line of Rebels
Last in a Long Line of Rebels
Lisa Lewis Tyre
Ages 9-12

Twelve-year-old Louise Mayhew and her friend, Benzer, are determined to have an exciting summer in their small town of Zollicoffer, Tennessee.  But when Louise discovers that her historic 175-year-old home is in danger of being demolished, she regrets wishing for excitement.  After finding a diary belonging to her great-great-great-grandmother, Louise learns that one of her ancestors may have stolen a great deal of gold during the Civil War.  Convinced that the gold may still be hidden in her house, Louise is determined to find it.  Will Louise be able to locate the gold in time to save her family's house?

A nice choice for Mystery readers.

Feb 2, 2016
StaceyQ
Breakthrough! How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever
Jim Murphy
Ages 8-12

"Blue Baby Syndrome", a medical condition that led to a lack of oxygen in a child's blood, was common up through the mid-1940s in the U.S.  At Johns Hopkins University, in 1944, the chief of surgery, his African American research assistant, and a woman pediatric physician all collaborated to design and successfully perform a groundbreaking surgery to give these children a new chance at life.  Read this fascinating account of the individuals who overcame significant workplace and cultural obstacles to achieve their goals and save generations of children born with this syndrome!

J 617.023 Mur

Jan 1, 2016
Claire

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