Bookscoops

The Scoop on Children & Adolescent Literature

Archive for July, 2011

A Few Things on My Summer Reading List…

Posted by hollybookscoops on July 20, 2011

 

It’s been a very busy summer, as I’m sure you all agree. Cari and I spent our first full week of summer vacation at the WIFYR 2011 Writer’s conference (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers). Boy did we come home changed! Cari took the YA novel class by Emily Wing Smith and I (Holly) took the Picture Book class by Kristyn Crow. I think my inner creator grew three sizes. At least! So, due to opportunities to submit manuscripts and all the entailing writing and revising, things here at Bookscoops have slowed down. I know, you thought they were already slow. It’s probably a little more honest to say they practically came to a standstill. Sorry about that!

I thought that I would make a quick list of some of the books that I have read and enjoyed this summer. I know, I know. How can I have time for reading, if I have no time for blogging? The key to reading even when you’re busy is having a book every place you might have a moment to read. Even with four kids, there is always a moment to read. Like, that 3 minute time slot when everyone is taking forever to buckle their seatbelt… don’t get mad, read! They’ll get the point eventually, and even if they don’t, you’ll get more reading time :) So, without further ado, here is the list:

Hitch by Jeanette Ingold: I actually re-read this book on accident. Apparently, I had no memory of the original first two chapters. Or the cover. But I did, all of a sudden, have one of those Ah Hah! moments, and it all came rushing back. Despite my questionable memory, I did love this book the first time, and the second time. So, since it was worth the re-read to me, it’s definitely worth a look for you. Did you know that during the Great Depression there was a government funded program that paid young men to work? Most of these young men worked on National Parks and agricultural projects. It was amazing. What a concept- provide jobs, and improve our country, all at the same time. I’m a little curious to know why no one has thought of this during our current recession. I have read multiple times in the news about how difficult it is for young people to get jobs these days. Perhaps we are not yet desperate enough to do this kind of back breaking labor.

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller: How many of you have ever thought of the Helen Keller story from the teacher’s perspective? I loved this peak into the life of Annie Sullivan. Amazing, and profound. I can’t believe what she rose above to become Helen Keller’s key to life. Annie and her brother spent time sleeping in the corpse room at a sanatorium after their mother dies and their drunk father abandons them to relative who can’t handle their handicaps or Annie’s spunky attitudes. Defnitely a must-read.

Dark Fire and Fire World by Chris D’Lacey: Books 5&6  in his Dragon series. My soon-to-be 5th grader and I have been fighting over these all summer. I steal the book from him after he goes to sleep and he steals it from me in the morning. All the time in between is a free-for-all. When his friends are over or he’s at swimming lessons, it’s my turn. I just finished Fire World last night. Anyone interested in dragons and who likes fantasy will find these books a fun escape from reality. If you are, or have, a voracious reader that needs something new to read, this series will keep you busy for a good amount of time as each one is three inches thick.  Fire World was quite different than I expected, there definitely will be at least one more book to come. It’s been fun tag-teaming the series with my son, I look forward to the next one- actually, we both do!

Picture Books

The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Will Terry: This is a fun remake of the three little pigs, with gators and a big bottom boar. The author and illustrator are the same as the fun fractured tale of the Little Red Hen: Armadilly Chili (loved this one too!)

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis: a husband and wife team. I was tipped off to this book by a friend I met at the WIFYR conference (Thanks Christy!). It’s a fun book about compromise and friendship- the text is honestly a little long for my taste, but the pictures are adorable.

Mudkin by Stephen Gammell: A rolicking tale of fun in the mud, imagination… you get the drift. Perfect for my kids who turned our backyard dirt pile into a mud slide. What’s amazing about this is that there are only around 55 words! The rest is all illustration. Sometimes I wish I had more experience with illustration. I would love to be like Stephen Gammell and be able to tell stories through my art as well as my words. Maybe someday…

My Cat, The Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bachelet: Take a look at the cover. No, that is not an elephant, it’s a cat. Really. I’m not kidding. Neither is Gilles Bachelet. We loved this book, over and over and over. There’s just something inherently hilarious about a cat that’s an elephant. The twist at the end, was very satisfying. Your kids will love this book!

Fuddles by Frans Vischer: Fuddles is a spoiled, fat house-cat. Fuddles dreams of adventure, but when he experiences the real thing, he’s not so sure he dreamed the right dream anymore.

Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett: Physical comedy in a picture book! An adorable chameleon changes color and shape as he tries to match the things he encounters. What he really wants is a friend- someone like him. This is another author-illustrator project, with few words, and lots of laughs.

Owls Backyard Animals by Nick Winnick: A fun non-fiction picture book full of fun information about these varied creatures of the night sky.

These aren’t all the books I’ve read- just some of them. I do read adult books too, which I don’t review here- anywhere, actually. Plus lots of books that are still in the que for special features, coming soon. I went to a few great book signings and I’ve gotten some fun review books in the mail. Stay tuned for more fun reads!

Posted in Books for teaching history, Books for teaching Math and Science, Children's Literature, Fantasy, News, Non-Fiction, Picture Books, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | 3 Comments »

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

Posted by hollybookscoops on July 20, 2011

I just finished reading an amazing book! It would make a great audio for vacation- especially for middle schoolers and older. Without being preachy in any way, it will help your kids- especially your daughters appreciate the privileges and freedoms we enjoy today. You might find yourself discussing some important subjects about equality of the sexes and traditions that don’t make sense, but that are hard to question because they are so entrenched in society.

Lela and her family live in India at the cusp of Gandhi’s new political and social ideas. Lela has the misfortune of losing her ‘husband’ at the young age of twelve, making her a widhwa, or widow. I love the parallels that Sheth weaves throughout the story between the political and marriage practices of 1918 India. I found myself angry at the injustices that Lela must face because of her sex. Widows are not allowed to remarry, so Lela’s life as she knows it, will never be the same. For those unfamiliar with these marriage customs, children were engaged, and marriages arranged, by parents for their children at very young ages. Lela was on the cusp of actually moving to her in-laws’ home, when an unfortunate accident occurred, altering her life’s course forever. I encourage you to read this amazing story- that is actually based on the true life story of one of Kashmnira Sheth’s aunt’s.

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Young Adult Fiction | Leave a Comment »

Cabin Creek Mysteries: The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake by Kristiana Gregory

Posted by hollybookscoops on July 14, 2011

I first learned about the Cabin Creek Mysteries when I stumbled upon a book club for boys called Mysteries by the River at one of our area libraries. It is lead by Kristiana Gregory, who is a mother of grown boys, and an author who understands the drive that many children have to read about creepy things and solve mysteries. Although we were only able to go a few times after we found out about it (due to a new baby, new house further away, and sports conflicts), my boys enjoyed it and I enjoyed seeing so many boys shy, but excited about reading.

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake is a formulaic novel similar to all those Nancy Drew and Hardy boy mysteries that Cari and I inhaled as kids. The only difference is, they are geared more specifically to a younger audience. With the perfect amount of suspense and fingernail biting, brothers Jeff and David, along with cousin Claire, solve mysteries in their cozy home in the Blue Mountains. The mystery of the moment all starts when Jeff and David witness someone dumping a lumpy, heavy bundle into the lake, across from their home and right in the front yard of their secret fort on Lost Island.

If you are looking for some fun summer reading for your kids- this series is affordable and perfect to inspire some great summer adventures when things are hot and ‘boring’. You just might find you have some detectives in your home who want to sketch (like David), or keep their things organized (like Jeff), or who are thinking up great diversions to trick the criminally minded (like Claire).

*For full disclosure, I must admit that Kristiana gave this book to my second son with her autograph inside the front cover. My other son was too embarrassed or self conscious, I’m not sure which, to get his own copy. Oh well. Son #2 wants to be an author one day anyway. Son #1, last I double checked, still wants to be a paleontologist. Anyone have a dinosaur bone out there they want to autograph? j/k

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Middle Readers, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

 
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