Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Fault in our Stars movie trailer!

The movie trailer is finally out and even these clips made me cry! See it for yourself HERE!! And get your kleenexes ready for June 6th.

Monday, January 13, 2014

When Audrey Met Alice, by Rebecca Behrens

From the Publisher: Living in the White House is like being permanently grounded. Only with tighter security. When First Daughter Audrey Rose discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary, the White House will never be the same. Because Audrey stops being the perfect "First Daughter" and starts asking herself, What Would Alice Do?

Strengths: Similar to the way many girls want to be princesses, many people think being a kid in the White House would be fun.  I mean, they have their own bowling alley!! This story presents both the good and not as good things about living in the White House.  I really enjoyed the tie-back to history, especially because Alice Roosevelt, whose supposed diary Audrey has found, was a delightful whippersnapper whose character I love.  Strong voice from both first daughters. This story was plain fun to read. Great endnotes by author.

I'm excited to have such a strong debut by this author - it bodes well for the future!

Weaknesses: Although I find it charming, I do not think the cover will be very appealing to kids and will make it a harder sell.  I hope I am wrong.

This book is perfect for grades 5-8.

This book would pair well with  the picture book What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy... by Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham 

Publication date: Feb. 4. I read an e-galley of this book from NetGalley.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. By Deborah Heiligman. Illus. by LeUyen Pham

I am not a girl who loves math.  I love reading. I like Math.  Paul Erdos, however, was  a boy who looooooved math. This book made me love him and love math just a little bit more.

Notes: Presents a brief biography of mathematician Paul Erdos.

From the Publisher: Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn't learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made "Uncle Paul" a great man.

Strengths: I loved how the editor and illustrator incorporated all kinds of math in the artwork of the book, including in the text.  For example, when it says Paul loved his mama to infinity, they use the infinity symbol instead of the letter. I was pleased that the author didn't try and make Paul Erdos, who was clearly eccentric and had less than stellar social skills, out to be a fabulous guy.  She wrote about his fabulousness and his foibles. Excellent end notes. A good entry level biography.

Weaknesses: This book will require some guidance for all but the most mathematically gifted young readers, and even some adults will struggle with some of the math concepts. Some reviewers have commented on font size.  This isn't something I think a lot about, so I will have to pay better attention to that. I actually see this as more appropriate for older elementary readers, although the target age is 3 and up. Unlikely to be read by those for whom it is most appropriate without someone hand selling it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky - Jack Prelutsky, ill. Carin Berger

Notes: A collection of poems describing imaginary creatures such as Bluffaloes, Swapitis, and Stardines.
From the Publisher: The poet, author, and indomitable naturalist Jack Prelutsky, having returned safely from far-flung places with an extensive collection of unique creatures that are a blending of the animate and inanimate, has worked in close collaboration with the fine artist Carin Berger, who herself conducted considerable field operations in preparing Mr. Prelutsky's specimens for exhibition and publication. While many creatures (two dozen species in all) were discovered and recorded and their precise qualities examined, we are presenting sixteen here for the first time and for the enjoyment and education of the general public.

Strengths: The poems in this book are funny and as delightful as Prelutsky always is. I think this would be a terrific book to use with a class as a model for student writing. The art is exceptional. Check out this amazing art illustrating Prelutsky's poem "Jollyfish". Carin Berger creates art in the book from all kinds of ephemera including cigar boxes (and I'd JUST read The Matchbook Diary when I picked up this one!). Lots of 3-d looking stuff. Just amazing. Should get a Caldecott something or another. Truly outstanding.
Weaknesses: Vocabulary is very challenging, so this book will probably best be read with an adult for most young readers. To my mind, however, that's not actually a weakness, just a point to note.

LOVE this book.  One of my favorites of the 2013 crop. Hoping it gets a shiny sticker!

Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan

Notes: Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.
From the Publisher: In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

Strengths: Willow's character is very well developed, as are all the characters in the story. Her situation is heartbreaking and makes readers feel for her immediately. Willow's unusual narrative style was very appealing to me; it felt like it fit perfectly for this story. I like a happy ending, even though I know it's not necessarily always the case in real life.

Weaknesses: This book may be a hard sell to many middle schoolers because Willow is just a bit too quirky (such as her narrative style that I liked so much) and it will take a strong reader to put together why. I also felt that the situation was  a bit too unrealistic as far as the whole foster family thing and the school counselor. I'm all for suspending some disbelief, but for me I had to over-suspend. Perhaps kids, without the background knowledge of the state/education systems wouldn't struggle with this as much (or at all). Interestingly, I didn't struggle with the idea of the taxi driver seeing Willow as divine guidance, but other readers might.

Fly Guy vs. the Flyswatter

Notes: "Cartwheel books." Fly Guy accompanies Buzz and his classmates on a field trip to a flyswatter factory and causes a commotion in his efforts to escape a robotic flyswatter.

From the Publisher: When Fly Guy goes to school with Buzz, they learn that his class is taking a field trip to a flyswatter factory! BAD NEWZZ! Fly Guy tries to hide in Buzz's pocket, but when the tour guide starts insulting flies, Buzz cannot help but stick his head out. A robotic flyswatter named the Super Swatter detects Fly Guy, and Fly Guy causes a hilarious ruckus in his efforts to escape.

At the end of this zany adventure, the flyswatter factory announces an end to its factory tours and the students use their free flyswatters as art to celebrate the "best field trip ever!"

Strengths: Simple, easy to read in both font and vocabulary. Funny, compelling story.

Weaknesses: Not necessarily a weakness, but some students may not appreciate the humor (although I certainly did!)

This series is also a big hit in the elementary school, especially for boys.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, James Dean

Notes: Pete the cat loves the buttons on his shirt so much that he makes up a song about them, and even as the buttons pop off, one by one, he still finds a reason to sing.

From the Publisher: Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt—the one with the four totally groovy buttons. But when one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness, no! He just keeps on singing his song—after all, what could be groovier than three groovy buttons? Count down with Pete in this rocking new story from the creators of the bestselling Pete the Cat books.

Strengths: Pete the Cat is always a big hit in the elementary school library.  I mean, what's not to love.  Pete is a very hip and funny cat. In this book, he's got a coat with four groovy buttons. Unfortunately, they're always popping off. But Pete doesn't cry. Goodness no, buttons come and buttons go.  He just keeps on singing his groovy song. Easy subtraction from 4 to 0 included in the text.

Weaknesses: I would not dare to call Pete weak for fear of a retaliatory scratching!

To see a video of the book with music, check out this link