Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Whew!  It's been a while!  But I've finally gotten around to writing reviews of some of the books I've been reading.  There's a long list, so hang onto your hats...

Secrets of a Lab Rat: No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) by Trudi Trueit

In my quest to find books that Diary of a Wimpy Kid lovers will enjoy, I picked up this book. Scab is an almost ten year-old boy with an affinity for getting into trouble. Which is ironic considering what he wants most is to prove to his parents that he is mature enough to get a dog of his own. He tries really hard to be good, until his sister gets int he way. That's when he invents the "sister repellent."  It's full of disgusting ingredients like dog pooh, and the small is enough to drive anyone away, not just sisters.  So, of course, he just has to sell it to the other boys at school.  Unfortunately, one of the bottles of sister repellent bursts in the classroom and the whole class has to evacuate because of it. Did Scab just blow his chances for owning a dog?  Boys will love the gross humor in the book, but I did not. Guess I will keep looking for that DOAWK alternative.

Word After Word After Word by Patricia McLauchlan

Fourth grade is boring for classmates Lucy, Henry, Evie, Russel, and May until Ms. Mirabel arrives and shows them the power of words.  I found this book a bit unrealistic that fourth graders would be so insightful and interested in the written language. If the setting was in a middle school or high school, it would have been more believable. In spite of that, I did enjoy the book, but I doubt most younger readers would appreciate the meaning behind the story.

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

Comfort lives in a funeral home in the small town of Snapfinger, Mississippi so she is no stranger to death.  Many of her friends find it strange that she lives in a funeral parlor, but to Comfort it is the only home she's ever known.  Together with her family and her dog, Dismay, Comfort faces growing up and losing her best friend, Declaration to what could be called preteen angst.  Although Declaration has known Comfort all her life, suddenly she's not good enough to be seen with.  But life has a way of bringing everything back around, even if not the way we want or expect.

I love that Wiles named the main characters after words in one of her favorite Christmas carols and that the book was written to help her through a difficult time in her life.  I think more mature upper elementary students could take hold of the meaning within the story, but it might be lost on readers younger than nine.

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

This short picture book from Wiles tells the story of two friends of different races during the summer of 1964.  Joe and John Henry are best friends and they do everything together, everything but swim in the same public swimming pool. But that's all about to change with a law that forbids segregation...or so they thought.  They soon find out people are a lot more difficult to change than laws.  This would be a great book to read during a unit study of segregation. 

Lulu and the Duck in the Park, by Hilary McKay

This  book is about Lulu, a young girl who loves animals, all animals.  Unfortunately, her teacher does not care for animals and does not want them in her classroom. Too bad because Lulu finds a duck egg that has been saved from being squashed from a bunch of rambunctious dogs who ran through the park.  What could she do but take the egg with her to care for it?  But will her teacher appreciate her good deed?  I first read a Lulu book a few months ago, but I really didn't care for it too much.  The writing just didn't seem to flow and I didn't find the plot very interesting either.  But I thought I'd try another Lulu book to see if maybe I just wasn't in a good mood or something when I read the first one.  I can't say that my mind has been changed.  There is just something about the style of writing of this author that bugs me. While the story line is cute, I can't get past the mechanics.  Maybe it's because the author is British.  I am not sure, but I personally didn't enjoy it.  Younger readers might like it, though.  

Waiting on the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

William, his sister Elinor, and his mother have a lively house full of critters, four dogs and two cats, to be exact.  But his house wasn't always this exciting.  It wasn't until his dad moved out permanently that their house was taken over by furry friends.  But William loves all of his pets, and his sister, well, younger kids often have a special relationship with animals. Elinor's relationship is really special...she can hear them talking.  And with the help of those animals, William will learn to hear the magic, too, and maybe even forgive his father.  This is one of those books that if you "get it," you'll really love the book. Would be good for upper elementary and up.

Ducks Don't Wear Socks by John Nedwidek

If you want just a silly, fun, quick read, this book is it!  Emily is a very serious girl, but she needs some silliness in her life so duck comes along and helps her realize that it's okay to be silly sometimes.  Such a fun, cute book!  I read this book on We Give Books for free.

I Hate Picture Books! by Timothy Young

Don't let the title fool you...this book is not about hating picture books, not really. It's about realizing how much you love picture books, especially the classics like Are You My Mother, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Where the Wild Things Are.  I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Max says he hates picture books until he starts to throw the out and he states why he is throwing them out. That's when he realizes that he doesn't really hate these books. He loves them and doesn't want to live without him. There were a couple of things that gave me pause in the book. One was the picture of Mr. Knox (of Green Eggs and Ham fame) throwing up because he ate green eggs and ham. And the other is that the pictures in the book are clearly of well-known books. I am wondering how legal that is with copyright to do a parody of these books.  I looked and could not find anything stating that the author/illustrator had gotten permission to use the well-known characters in his book.  I would love to know for sure if this was the case or not, because it could ruin what is truly a very cute book.  It just wouldn't be the same without the well-known books in the story.

Source                                    Source

The Lemonade War  and The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies

Evan and Jessie are in competition to see who can raise the most money selling lemonade and the winner gets to keep all the money. The war started after Evan found out that his sister, who is 14 months younger than he, will be in the same class with him next year. He finds this terribly unfair and begins feeling annoyed with his sister about everything, even the lemonade stand they were going to set up together. And thus the war begins. But who will turn out to be the winner?  A great brother/sister relationship book, with a little bit of math thrown in for good measure.

In the second book, Evan and Jessie are determined to find out who stole the profits from their lemonade stand and Jessie organizes and official courtroom style trial, complete with judge and jury, made up of Evan and Jessie's fourth grade class.  While the first book is a good study of math and money, the second is a great study of the judicial system. I think both of these books would be great for a book study or book club with fourth grade and up.

I have lots more books to review, but I will save those for another post. 

So what have you been reading lately?

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