Friday, July 29, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Nadia who won the ARC of The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer. Nadia, I hope you enjoy reading the story and trying out the recipes as much as I did.

Ponyella by Laura Numeroff & Nate Evans

You know the story. Stepsisters mistreat pretty girl. Fairy godmother gets her to the ball. Pretty girl meets a handsome prince and loses a shoe. Prince finds girl and they live happily ever after. Now imagine the girl is a pony...

What I thought: Love it! Such a fun version of Cinderella that's sure to please both princess fans and horse aficionados. I love all the horsey details. The illustrations are lovely. I wouldn't expect anything less from Ms. Munsinger. My favorite is Ponyella and Princess Penelope.

Story Time Themes: Princesses, Horses, Cinderella

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Disney Hyperion, 2011. )

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

When we first met Grace she was just a girl with an obsession with the wolves who lived in the woods outside her house. When we first met Sam he was a guy and a wolf. When Grace and Sam met, the rest, as they say, is history.

But it isn't. Along the way, we've added Isabel and Cole to our story and Grace is now a wolf. Sam's agenda is to save the wolves from the planned hunt that will wipe them all out. Meanwhile, Cole's working hard to find a cure at the risk of his own health. Can he find a cure? Will Sam, Grace, Cole, and Isabel save the wolves in time?

What I thought: Well, it's always nice to see a series end--that is, to have an conclusion. I LOVED Shiver when I first read it. I had a more lukewarm reaction to Linger. I must admit that I found Forever lacking. It came across as lackluster. The great Sam and Grace romance wasn't there and even Isabel and Cole's blossoming love-hate relationship couldn't make up for it. Fans of the series will like the book. Me, I prefer to pretend that Shiver was the only book. The story didn't feel done. I wanted to know more about Cole and Isabel.

(Scholastic, July 2011. ARC provided by publisher)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unraveled by Gena Showalter

Aden still has voices in his head though there are only three now. Oh yeah, he's also the new vampire king. Yes, I know he's a mortal, but that's what you get when you kill Vlad.

Mary Ann still has a calming effect on supernatural beings and activities. You might even call her draining.

Victoria is still a princess, but she can't quite deal with Aden being forced to date other vampire girls before he chooses a queen.

Riley is still a protector. At the moment, he's protecting his king (Aden), his princess (Victoria), and his girl friend (Mary Ann). But no one can protect these four from a date with the witches and possible death.

What I thought: Yeah, I liked this one. More complicated than the first book by far. If you can imagine, the situations Aden, Victoria, Riley, and Mary Ann face now are even more serious than in Intertwined. I loved seeing the relationships develop more. Definite guy appeal in this series with two male main characters. What a cliffhanger of an ending! All four of our characters have new problems. I'm saving the date, August 30. The third book Twisted will be published then.

(Harlequin Teen, 2010)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara is an Angel Blood. As such, she has a purpose in life. Her purpose comes slowly through dreams--a forest fire, a boy, a license plate. With the last clue in hand, Clara, her mom, and brother move from California to Wyoming. She meets her purpose--Christian. Her life becomes about realizing her purpose while appearing like a normal teenager. An Angel Blood friend Angela and a mortal friend's (Wendy) pesky twin brother Tucker complicate things for Clara. Suddenly her purpose isn't as clear or as easy as it should be. Who will she save when the time comes?

What I thought: Interesting mythology. Quite an expansion on Fallen and Hush, Hush. The idea of a purpose is interesting and adds momentum to the story. I couldn't put this book down especially as Clara and Tucker's interactions started. A quick search of the Internet has made me very happy. There will be a sequel to Unearthly!

(Harper Teen, 2011)

Friday, July 22, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Pigs/Clean & Dirty Pigs

I originally made these to use for my United Kingdom story time this summer. The kids recited the traditional nursery rhyme "This Little Piggie."

I've seen several good felt pigs on previous #FlannelFridays. I wanted to get the most use out of my pigs, so I used brown craft paint and a foam brush to dirty up one side. Apparently, I was a bit too zealous in my application because the paint bled through to the other side. I'll be making another set of pigs to use as the clean ones.

These pigs can be used for the following story time themes: nursery rhymes, pigs, farm animals, opposites (clean and dirty).

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Two girls, one plot...

After being freed from the curse that made her dance every night away, Poppy is ready for a normal life. As normal a life as one that doesn't include dancing. Her life is anything but normal during her stay in Breton. Balls abound and Poppy continually refuses to dance. Instead, she plays cards. The arrival of Prince Christian of the Danelaw causes quite a stir among the ladies. Poppy enjoys Christian's company. Her enjoyment is thwarted by a plot that threatens both the prince and other men in Breton.

Eleanora, daughter of an earl, is now a housemaid. She's clumsy to a fault. Everything she touches is ruined. Eleanora sees no way out of her new life until the day she meets her godmother. The woman promises Eleanora beautiful dresses, balls to attend, and a prince to marry. But is there more to the bargain than that?

What I thought: I was not disappointed in this sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. I love how Jessica incorporated the Cinderella story into Poppy's. This book was suspenseful until the end. Roger was a great character--a levelheaded man of action. I think Poppy's brother-in-law Galen will like him. I love the descriptions of the dresses. The knitting was nice, but is it too much to ask for a crocheting heroine? I hope this series will continue. I really like the princesses. We know that Lilac and Orchid are in Spania and Hyacinth is in Analousia. Might their stories be next? The mythology behind the Corley was interesting. The ending (the last chapter, to be exact) was great.

Other Books by Jessica Day George:
Dragon Slippers
Dragon Flight
Dragon Spear
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Princess of the Midnight Ball

(Bloomsbury, 2010)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Roger is a means to an end. Amy's mom needs her car in Connecticut. Amy's not driving. Not after what happened. To get the car from California to Connecticut, Amy's mom arranges for the son of a family friend to drive her car and Amy cross country. The perfectly planned four day road trip turns into a journey of detours as Amy deals with her grief and Roger makes peace with his ex-girlfriend.

What I thought: This was a good book with a great story. I loved the journal pages that were interspersed throughout the book. They added such interest to the story. Roger and Amy's relationship was hard to figure out. First, he played the role of family friend/big brother; then, a friend; and finally, an interested guy. Well, I guess that's the progression that most relationships take. I enjoyed how Amy's story (why her grief and guilt were so bad) was revealed little by little. It really kept me reading. On a side note, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour fits perfectly into the 2011 Collaborative Summer Library Program's Teen Theme: You Are Here. In fact, I used this book in the "Take a Road Trip" section of my Read Across the US book list for teens.

(Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash just happens to wander around bookstores.

Lily just happens to not have a boyfriend.

Lily's brother just happens to think she needs one, a boyfriend that is.

Ergo, the red notebook hidden in the Strand and the adventure of Dash and Lily's young lifetime.

What I thought: This book was incredibly sweet and romantic. The red notebook and the dares are great ideas. I like that Lily comes from a conservative, even "perfect" family while Dash's family is more broken. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was a fun read. I haven't read the other books by this duo, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but I have seen the movie and I liked it. May I suggest that Dash & Lily's Book of Dares be turned into a movie?

(Knopf, 2010)

Friday, July 15, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Pandas

Here they felt pandas! I'll be using them for my China & Japan story time during Summer Reading. I'll be using a "Five Little Pandas" rhyme that I found in the PUBYAC archives and I might also make up my own.

I used Veronica Vasylenko's illustrations of Cynthia Platt's Panda-Monium! for patterns. I used a copier to enlarge the illustrations.

I used hot glue to attach the black felt to the white. Hot glue is effective, but rather messy (the strings!) What do you use for your felt pieces?

Puff paint (silver and black) worked very well for the eyes, noses, and mouths.

I plan to use this set again when I do Bears story time. They might also come in handy for an endangered animals story time.

Giveaway: The Secret Ingredient (ARC) by Laura Schaefer

Today, I reviewed a lovely middle grade novel, The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer. It's the sequel to her first book The Teashop Girls. I really liked the book. It's a nice sequel, but you can read it as a stand alone novel. Now that I've enjoyed the book, I thought I'd share the love by giving away my ARC.

The contest is open to US residents only. The giveaway ends Thursday, July 28 at 11:59pm. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced Friday, July 29. To enter, fill out the form below.

The Secret Ingedient by Laura Schaefer

Now that her grandmother's tea shop (The Steeping Leaf) is safe, Annie turns her mind to other important matters. She's entering a scone baking contest and she's determined to win. This is also the summer The Teashop Girls face the hardship pf growing apart. They each have individual interests. Annie's is baking. Zoe's is campaigning for an improvement in school food. Genna's is body image (to the point of self harm). Does being individuals mean they can't be friends?

What I thought: I continue to be charmed by Laura's characters. I loved The Teashop Girls ad the sequel is wonderful. The Secret Ingredient can be read as a stand alone novel. It's been a couple of years since I read the first book. but I wasn't lost in the plot. The incorporation of blogging and recipes is wonderful. I may just try one of Annie's scone recipes. This book touches on serious issues without coming across as weighty. I find it quite true to life. When may I expect the next book?

(Simon & Schuster, June 2011. ARC provided by publisher.)

Chuckling Ducklings & Baby Animal Friends by Aaron Zenz

You know all about ducklings, kittens, and puppies, but what about all the other animals? What do you call a baby platypus, llama, or swan? You're in luck! Chuckling Ducklings & Baby Animal Friends will educate you on what ordinary and extraordinary animal babies are called.

What I thought: A great idea for a book. I learned so much from reading this book. Baby animal names are something I've never really given much thought to. Animal group names, yes, (Murder of crows, anyone?) but baby animals, no. The illustrations are so cute. There's no other word for them. I mean cute in the most complimentary sense of the word. The colors are lovely bright pastels. I can't begin to name favorite illustrations (all of them!), but I love the last page that has a head shot of each animal and both the adult and baby names for them. This book is a great way to introduce the youngest children to the concept of baby animal names.

I first heard about Aaron Zenz through his interview with Jennifer Bertman on her blog. I couldn't wait to order Chuckling Ducklings after seeing the illustrations. Aaron ran a contest on his blog and I won an original illustration of a puppy (a Boston Terrier to be exact). Click here and scroll down until you see my name to see the illustration I won. I can't wait to see what he'll be doing next. I have added Baby Animals to my Fall story time line up.

Story Time Themes: Baby Animals

(Walker & Co, 2011)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Red Wagon by Renata Liwska

Lucy loves her new red wagon. She can't wait to play with it, but playing will have to wait because Lucy's mom sends her and her wagon on an errand. To market they go! On the way, Lucy and her friends have some highly imaginative adventures with the red wagon. It becomes a sailboat, a covered wagon, a circus caboose, a train, a rocket ship, and a truck. When your imagination is in the wight place, even chores can be fun!

What I thought: Such a great book. Most kids have owned red wagons at one time or another. I received one for Christmas when I was four-years-old. Lucy's adventures bring back fond memories for me. I love the simplicity of the story and how well it pairs with the imaginative illustrations. The illustrations are soft (almost on lines) and yet vibrant. My favorite illustrations are the first page (Lucy and her wagon) and the wagon as a covered wagon. Liwska is a truly gifted author and illustrator.

Story Time Themes: Toys (use Raffi's "Bumping Up and Down" song), Imagination

(Philomel, 2011)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forever ARC Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Laurie of FrugalWahms. She won the ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I'll be mailing it out today.

Thanks to all who entered and especially to my new followers.

Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley

After reading the story "Puss in Boots," Dog decides he could do with some fancy footwear, too. However, each type of show he tries is only good for one activity. What's a dog to do?

What I thought: A fun story. Dog is a lovable character. I love that his quest for boots was inspired by a story. The illustrations are bright and colorful. They suit the playful, fast-paced story well. My favorite illustration is Dog swimming with rubber boots on. He looks so mad! Dog in Boots had a great ending. I hope there will be another book about Dog.

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Shoes

(Illus. Roberta Angaramo. Holiday House, 2011)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Jellybeans & the Big Camp Kickoff by Laura Numeroff & Nate Evans

It's summer and the Jellybeans (Bitsy, Emily, Anna, & Nicole) are off to camp. The only problem is that the camp doesn't have any activities that interest Nicole. Starting their own soccer team is how the Jellybeans solve Nicole's problem. Will they win in a game against a rival camp?

What I thought: A perfect book for spring and summer. And I've finally caught on...The first book was Emily's, the second was Anna's, and the third is Nicole's. I can't wait to see Bitsy's book. The Jellybeans & the Big Camp Kickoff would pair well with Numeroff's If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. I love how the girls solve their own problems. They are proactive. The illustrations are lovely as always. My favorites are around the campfire and the hug after winning the game.

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Abrams, 2011)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Forever ARC Giveaway

That's right! I have an extra ARC of Forver by Maggie Stiefvater to giveaway. Contest open to US residents only. Contest ends Saturday, July 9 at 11:59pm. Winner will be selected randomly and contacted via email. My review of Forver will be coming soon. To entry, simply fill out the form below.

Giveaway Closed...Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Little Red Chicken has a problem. She gets excited and interrupts the bedtime stories her papa reads to her. She just has to warn the characters . Will she ever stop interrupting and go to sleep?

What I thought: What a great book! I love Little Red Chicken. She's spunky and quite right. Why shouldn't she warn the characters. (Interesting idea: what if the stories didn't end after Little Red Chicken warned the book characters?) The illustrations are very nice. (Well, you know this book did receive a Caldecott Honor.) I love the saturated colors and lack of visible lines. My favorite illustration is when Little Red Chicken sees her papa has fallen asleep. I liked this book so much that I've compiled a list of other interrupting books with the help of the great PUBYAC subscribers. I'm looking forward to adding this story time to my fall schedule.

Story Time Themes: Interruptions, Chickens, Bedtime

(Candlewick, 2010)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter

You want to be a writer? This is the book for you. Two skilled (and published) authors cover every topic from getting started, revision, and writer's block. It's all there.

What I thought: Wow! What a great book for young writers. I would have loved to have had a book like this when I was younger. I've read quite a few writing books (both for children and adults) and Spilling Ink is one of the better ones. A side note: as an adult, I still prefer the children's writing books. I loved the book's organization and how the different topics were covered in short essays. Spilling Ink is fun and upbeat. Not dull and monotonous like some writing books can be.

My favorite sections: Naming Your Characters (I've went through more baby name books that I can remember.), How to Write Dialogue (Truly eye-opening advice), and The Writing Habit (I need to make my own writing more of a habit!)

Page 217 has a great writing exercise. The Spilling Secrets Appendix (Ellen interviews Anne and vice versa) was so interesting. Before reading this book I wasn't at all familiar with these two authors. Their books are now at the top of my "To Read" list. Overall, Spilling Ink is an excellent book. I'm adding it to my other favorites: Writing Magic and Pizza, Pigs, & Poetry.

(Illus. Matt Phelan. Roaring Brook Press, 2010)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson

Cooking is Evie's way of dealing with her parents' divorce. Her dad is a foodie--he has his own show. Cooking allows Evie to remain close to him while dealing with his departure from her everyday life and all the subsequent changes his absence created. Cooking lessons lead to more than Evie could have hoped for--new friends, new pets, and even a reconciliation with her dad.

What I thought: I liked Eggs Over Evie. The book deals with tough issues but manages to remain lighthearted. Evie is a likable character. Her interactions with Mrs. Hamilton and Corey were great. The cooking was nice. I can't resist a food book. Eggs Over Evie will appeal to tween girls. My favorite recipe was Evie's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans & Coconut.

(Christy Ottaviano Books, 2010)