Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Review

I love the holidays for reading!  Here are the books I read this week and last (I had 27 people here last weekend for an annual Friends' Thanksgiving, so I did not review last Sunday):

Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) Oh No! Not Again! by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat

adventure, fantasy-science-fiction, gifted-girls, history, humor, mock-caldecott-2013

My students really enjoyed this funny book about a girl who builds a time machine (have fun identifying the ordinary household objects she uses) to go back in time to change history so the question she got wrong on the history test would be right. Trouble starts when the cavemen she's visiting decide to do a little time-traveling themselves. I also read the original one, Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World), to my students, and it was a toss-up to which they liked better.  A Mac Barnett could certainly win the Caldecott or Honor in 2013 with Extra Yarn and Chloe and the Lion also published in 2012!

 Life in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

biography, character-motivation, character-traits, gifted-girls, mock-caldecott-2013, nature

This is the story of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who from an early age, loved to explore the outdoors. When she was twelve, her family moved to Florida, and she discovered the Gulf of Mexico. "It was then, her mother said, that Sylvia 'lost her heart to the water.'" Beautiful illustrations and interesting facts about this amazing woman.

Infinity and Me Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

connections, mock-caldecott-2013, picture-book, thinking-philosophy

On the night Uma got new red shoes, she couldn't wait to wear them to school. Because she was too excited to sleep, she went outside and looked up at the sky, wondering how many stars were up there - a million? A billion? INFINITY? The next day she asks people what they think about infinity and ends up thinking about it until she's overwhelmed. In spite of the existentialism in her life, she really just wants someone to notice her shoes! Finally, that's exactly what her grandma does, and the world seems a little cozier. The illustrations in this book are just beautiful. I can't wait to ask my students what they think about infinity!

Another BrotherAnother Brother by Matthew Cordell

brothers, family, humor, individuality, mock-caldecott-2013, picture-book, sisters

I'm an only child, but I can appreciate Davy's frustration as he goes from being an only child with undivided attention to sharing it with lots of brothers. Not only that, but they have to do everything Davy does!  Time passes, though, and just as he becomes slightly sad that his little brothers aren't mimicking him anymore, a sister comes along! As a mom, I loved the illustration of the parents looking slightly haggard when sitting in the living room after a long day, listening to Davy's complaints about his siblings.

hello! hello! hello! hello! by Matthew Cordell

animals, character-traits, humor, mock-caldecott-2013, picture-book, technology, theme, family

So excited to receive a signed copy of this gem in the mail from Mr. Schu! This book is so cute and funny, but poignant at the same time. We need to put down our technology (ironic, I know, since I'm posting this after checking Twitter and Facebook) and pay attention to the world and each other. Gotta love the spunky little girl headlining this story. Good companion to Blackout by John Rocco.


Delirium Book Cover


I really enjoyed this dystopian novel about love being "cured."  This story is not really original - similar themes to the Uglies series, The Giver, Matrix, etc. However, Lena and Alex will have you rooting for them, and I liked it enough to start the sequel, which is saying something. A lot of times I only read the first in a series in order to get the gist. This one makes me want to keep reading!  I'm currently listening to Pandemonium.


Nighttime Ninja
Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young

mock-caldecott-2013, picture-book, predicting, inferring, adventure

This is a cute story of a boy moving Ninja-like around the house at night to get a snack. His mother snags him before the mission is accomplished. The fun thing is when you're reading this aloud, the kids don't know that the Ninja is actually a kid until the end. Fun! The paper collage illustrations are awesome!

Mossy  Mossy by Jan Brett

animals, mock-caldecott-2013, nature, theme

Jan Brett's illustrations are beautiful. I've been a fan of hers for a long time. I started a collection of Jan Brett's books for my oldest daughter 19 years ago! This newest one does not disappoint. It's a story of an eastern box turtle who grows a gorgeous garden on her back. Much admired by a naturalist, Dr. Carolina, she is plucked out of her natural habitat and put in a glass-enclused case in her museum (much to the dismay of a male suitor turtle, Scoot). Dr. Carolina's niece, Tory, realizes Mossy is not where she should be and is sad. Before returning her to her pond, Dr. Carolina has the idea of having her portrait painted. When Mossy is returned to the wild, she and Scoot live happily ever after. This book would be a great way to teach kids to respect nature.  Good companion to another book in this review, Stephen and the Beetle.


To Be Sung Underwater  to be sung underwater by Tom McNeal

 I have to throw in an adult novel every now and then in my reviews. I read this one for my book club.  I haven't read adult fiction like this in a long time. It's beautifully written, compelling, and full of angst and heartbreak. I love the beginning of the summary on the front book flap: "Judith Whitman believes in the sort of love that 'picks you up in Akron, Ohio, and sets you down in Rio de Janiero.' But life took her to Los Angeles." She met Willy Blunt in Nebraska when she was seventeen, and his gray-blue (or were they blue-gray?) eyes captivated and then haunted her forever after that. Judith ends up going to Stanford for college and meeting and marrying someone else. They have a daughter, and Judith has a successful film editing career. Love has its way with her, though, and she ends up finding Willy again. When she goes to meet him, she finds out he has always loved her, just as she has always loved him. The whole thing reminds me of the song "For You" by Bruce Springsteen. It's interesting that Ann Packer wrote one of the reviews on the book jacket because this book reminds me of Dive From Clausen's Pier.  A must read!  Be prepared to be sad, though.

One Cool Friend
One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small

animals, friendship, humor, mock-caldecott-2013

This is a cute story about Elliot, who was a proper young man, and in spite of his doubts (kids, masses of noisy kids) when his father suggests Family Fun Day at the aquarium, decides to go. There he finds the penguins who remind him of himself (think tuxedos), so he asks his father for one. His father, who thinks he wants a plush penguin, gives him $20 to make the purchase. Elliot crosses over into the penguin display and selects the smallest penguin. I love the quirky father and all the ways Elliot makes his new pet comfortable. A fun twist at the end!


More More by I.C. Springman and illustrated by Brian Lies
inference, mock-caldecott-2013, nature, theme

This beautifully illustrated and sparsely told story is about a bird who starts out with nothing in his nest, but is given a marble by a mouse to start his own collection. He starts gathering tchotchkes and adding them to his nest. The mouse starts to get concerned when the bird keeps adding things and doesn't know quite when to stop. Unfortunately, the bird doesn't heed the mouse's final warning, "Enough!" and adds one too many items and the branch collapses. The mouse and his friends help the bird remove the excess items so that he ends up with just enough. This book makes me want to clean my basement! It would be a good companion to The Cloud Spinner with a similar theme.

Bear Despair

animals, character-motivation, character-traits, humor, read, wordless

This wordless book reminds me of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat with the same slightly twisted and hilarious humor. This bear loves his teddy, so watch out when it's taken! This book is the final one in a series called Story Without Words. I haven't read the other titles, but this one makes me want to.

Step Gently Out  Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder

creative-nonfiction, nature, photography, poetry, science, theme

Stunning photographs of tiny creatures accompany a poem about the magic of nature in this book. My favorite photo is of a praying mantis looking right at us with the words "A praying mantis looks at you - do you know she's there?" reminding us to notice!!


This is the story of the formation and evolution of the Galapagos Islands and the creatures and plants that inhabit them. Chin's paintings are outstanding, and I think a lot of kids will be fascinated by this book.

 Archibald FrisbyArchibald Frisby by
Michael Chesworth

gifted-character, picture-book, poetry, science

Archibald Frisby LOVES science! He ignores kids his own age and is bored at their games. His mom grows concerned, so she decides to send him to camp to see what fun is all about. Archibald has fun, but it's because he sees the science in every activity. This story is set to rhyme, and it would be a great book to kick off the year in science class. This is an older book, but it would certainly appeal to kids now!



1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an exciting list of books! I need to get busy reading....