Posted by hollybookscoops on December 31, 2012
Long winter nights are now upon us and I have the perfect book for family reading snuggled up by the fireplace. I love finding the perfect read-aloud and am so excited to share this new one with you. Twelve Kinds of Ice brings the magic of family and homemade fun to life. It has a beautiful, melodic rhythm that will lull your family members into peaceful dreams- not full of sugar plums, mind you, but full of figure skating and hot chocolate and melting marshmallow comfort.
This is a magical story of a family that waits for all the subtle signs of winter, so that they can have fun together on the ice. It speaks of Little Women and ‘old-fashioned’ happiness. It makes me long for the simplicity that reminiscing brings to the hard work of creating lasting memories. It reminds me of some of the favorite things of my early years…
I spent some of my childhood at the local ice rink dreaming of becoming a figure skater. The rink closed down at just about the same time I learned to skate backward, so my dreams didn’t take off (but that was the only thing that stopped me, I promise!). One winter, the road froze over in front of our house and we spent a delightful evening shoveling off the top layer of snow and skating around on our instant ice rink. Under the cozy cloud-filled sky laying winter down upon us like a farm maid shaking out a feather bed, I was my own star. Unfortunately, I grew up in a place where winter snows usually melt by afternoon instead of staying for the duration as they do in Maine at the Bryan Gardens Ice Rink Under the Sky in Obed’s book.
I loved this book and plan to snuggle up with my loved ones around the fireplace and share it’s magic with them. I hope you like it as much as I do!
*I received a review copy of this book.
Posted in Middle Readers | Tagged: creating lasting memories, winter | 3 Comments »
Posted by caribookscoops on May 7, 2012
I read this book about 2 months ago and absolutely loved it! I first heard of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains when Laurel Synder (she has epilepsy) participated in our Purple Day challenge for epilepsy a few years back. Some books take a while to start enjoying, but Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains was enjoyable from the start.
Lucy is a milkmaid whose best friend happens to be the crown prince named Wynston. Unfortunately, as she and the crown prince are getting older, protocol gets in the way. Apparently a milkmaid could never marry the prince no matter how much they liked each other. Frustrated with the sudden absence of her best-friend she sets off on a zany and wild adventure to find her mother.
Not much more to say than that without ruining anything, but it was a fun read. I laughed and cried and then laughed some more.
Laurel Synder’s Website
Posted in Fantasy, Middle Readers | Tagged: epilepsy awareness, Middle Readers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by caribookscoops on April 9, 2012
I loved The Kneebone Boy. Have you ever read a book that was so well written that you just wanted to be part of the book? Well this is one of them a story of love, family secrets and mystery. Three English children go on journey and while at times it seems a little bit out of the ordinary, the story keeps you going. Mom mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Rumors abound in their small town as to where she went. Artist dad paints portraits of exiled royals and while he is out of town again painting the portrait of another royal, the babysitter who is supposed to watch them happens to go out of town as well. This unintentionally leaves the children to fend for themselves. Being resourceful children they manage to come in contact with a cousin from the United States who happens to be staying in a castle. Join them on the adventure that while changed their lives forever.
Ellen Potter’s Website
Posted in Middle Readers | Tagged: Middle Readers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hollybookscoops on March 17, 2012
For those of you who like to celebrate holidays with a good book- here’s a great one for St. Patrick’s Day! We all know that Irish folklore is filled with tales of faeries and supernatural beings. So, although the specific country is not spelled out in Princess of the Wild Swans, it seems an ideal fit for the setting to be in an Irish country. Especially with the fact that the villagers in the book dance Ceili dances together. Cari and I grew up with Ceili dancing as part of our family’s involvement in Irish step dancing. There’s a great site with a thorough history on this form of dance that you can check out at Ceili Dancing. However, there is no mention of kilts in the book, so if you imagination takes you to another land of faeries, kudos for you.
I enjoyed Diane Zahler’s third princess book- although A True Princess is still my favorite out of her three. Many of us avid readers know the basic story of the Princess and the Swans, but for those who need a refresher, here’s a summary: Like so many classic fairytales, this one begins with a princess who’s mother has died, and her father remarries a wicked woman who is a witch. She is determined to get rid of the king’s 11 sons and 1 daughter. Zahler’s book only has 5 sons and the faerie’s in her story are evil, rather than good, but it’s a great re-telling. Zahler clearly knows her folklore and fairytales well. You can check out wikipedia for fuller details if you care to compare the similarities and differences between the two.
Now, here’s a quick review of some of the highlights and things that I loved. The stepmother was one of my favorite characters. Why? Because she was so evil. You can’t have a really good fairytale without some opposition between good and evil. It was interesting to see just how persuasive she could be with her enchantments and silver tongue. My other favorite, of course, was Princess Meriel. It was especially gratifying to see how much she changed from being a spoiled little brat who thought she was entitled to everything, to a much more self-sufficient, thoughtful person. I think this part was so gratifying to me because I work with girls of this age on a regular basis in our religious community and Meriel’s character was spot-on to things I see consistently among this age group. Often my girls can’t see the point of learning a certain skill. Let’s say, for example’s sake, sewing. And so they pout, and roll their eyes, and sigh and sometimes sit there regally refusing to learn. They can’t imagine ever having a need to use such an archaic skill. Heaven forbid they should ever need it. Luckily for them they do not live in the land of faeries and witches and spells! Otherwise, they might find themselves in dire need of this basic skill like Meriel. Hopefully someday, they’ll be grateful for all those things I torture them with- just like Meriel becomes friends with her governess, who was another of my favorite characters.
If you’ve read the book, who is your favorite character? How about your favorite of the three princess books, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Posted in Books for Girls, Fantasy, Middle Readers, Young Adult Fiction | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hollybookscoops on December 1, 2011
We have been loving some books lately that I want to share with you. The first two, my boys and I have read together. We’ve all laughed and it has allowed for some great conversations. Not to mention some fun activities.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. My boys and I read this out loud together last year and all got a kick out of Dwight and his escapades with the sixth grade and his talented origami finger-puppet Yoda.
Darth Paper, an Origami Yoda Book also by Tom Angleberger. We ordered this one from the Scholastic Book Order. It seemed to take forever for it to arrive. Monday, my 3rd grader came home triumphant, book in hand. I toyed with the idea of making my boys wait until Christmas- it is so close. But, I just couldn’t wait myself. The only one who likes to wait for presents in this house would be my husband. He’s good with surprises. And waiting. Me? Not so much.
Right after dinner, my husband and boys flipped to the back where there are instructions for folding your own Darth Paper. We then folded and colored a multitude of ten-fold Darth Papers. Mine turned out to be the five-fold Origami Yoda. Somehow I must be a little paper-folding challenged. Either that or I just never listen to the dark side (yes- that would be blatant denial there). I think all of my kids, including my kindergartener, have taken some form of Star Wars Origami to school this week. We’ve had such a great time together reading and folding. I (we) highly recommend this for a family-friendly Star Wars activity.
My last recommendation is a super big secret. You can’t tell my kids. If you do, you will spoil Christmas. Don’t be a scrooge!
If you can’t keep a secret, the post ends here. I know, I know, I’m not good at keeping things secret. Let’s just say it’s a surprise. You can tell after December 26th. Here goes: Last year, Santa bought some lovely little reading lights from Costco for our boys. Unfortunately, they didn’t stand up to the destructive power of busy boy hands. They probably wouldn’t have lasted for girl hands either, but as we don’t have any of those in our house, I can’t make any promises. We were all sad when they ended up broken. Our nights were certainly more full of noise and rambunctious bunk bed escapades after the lights broke rather than peaceful, quiet reading-filled evenings. I have tried a few other kinds of book lamps but one thing has always frustrated me. The light never focuses where you want it by just hooking it on the book. It always required one hand for the light and one for the book. Leaving one or the other or both hands tired. Not to mention if you do manage to hook it effectively on the book, you end up moving it when you turn the page. Grrr! Not good for extended periods of reading in the dark. Which, if you are a night person and your sweetie is not, those little lights are necessary to happiness at times. So, I did some internet searching and found some Head lamps at Harbor Freight of all places. And check out the price! Only $2.49! For this price, I think Santa will definitely be stocking up. No more finger fatigue! They can break multiple times and still be cheaper than all those other more expensive, not to mention awkward, book lights. Happy reading! Yes, I will be wearing one of these ugly lights before long. They can double as Nerf Gun in the dark lights too. Think of the possibilities…
Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Middle Readers, Young Adult | Tagged: Books for Boys, Books for older Children, Christmas Book ideas, Headlamps, Middle Grade, Origami, Star Wars, Young Adult | 5 Comments »
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 »
Posted by hollybookscoops on January 24, 2011
It’s been a busy new year, and before January is officially over, I wanted to mention how much we loved the books we got for Christmas! My family and I love books. We love to give them and get them. Well, except for my husband, who mostly loves to give them to me. After the wrapping paper was stuffed into bulging garbage bags, and we had a moment to breathe, I took an inventory: 31 Books! We had a Dragon book, a Flat Stanley book, 3 Star Wars sticker books, 4 Animorph series, some Beverly Lewis Amish books, and a few other adult books including Austenland, by Shannon Hale. Let’s see, what else? I knew I should have made a list. You can read about some of our very favorites below: Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth.
This one has been loved on as much as any little baby could love it. Literally! A few days ago, my little one was opening it and closing it, turning it upside down, trying to pull the ladybugs off one by one. And finally? I had to laugh when I saw him toss it on the ground and crawl across it, licking each ladybug to see how they tasted! Yes, I admit, he’s still under one, but this is some great hands on baby-lovin’ book reading! My 4-year-old actually loves this book too, but he insists on reading it backwards, because he doesn’t think it’s proper to count backwards from 10. Never mind, that when the words say a ladybug ‘disappears’, and we turn back a page, one automatically appears. It’s almost like magic! I’ve tried changing the words, but it’s very hard to make them still go along with the pictures. Ahh! The challenge of reading to young minds who are determined to see the world their way. I highly recommend Gerth’s fun contribution to children’s literature. It’s definitely a top ‘flavor’ scoop at our house.
The really popular book with my 10-year-old was the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid
My two oldest boys were also thrilled to find that Santa Claus had given them each an LED flexible arm book reading light. I now have to confiscate them at night or else I end up finding out my little rascals didn’t go to sleep. Some nights I beg to borrow their lights so that I can read while I lay down by little brother to help him fall asleep. So far, my boys have been generous to share with me.
What books did you get for Christmas?
Posted in Board Books, Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Children's Literature, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Readers, News, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Posted by caribookscoops on November 10, 2009
I need to preface this review with a bit of explanation. As many of you know I live in Utah and I grew up in western Idaho, which means we heard a lot about pioneer stories growing-up both the traditional Oregon Trail, ones complete with covered wagons, gold mines, buffalo and American Indians plus heavy dose of the Mormon Trail stories as well, being that I belong to the Mormon church or rather The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So when I first saw Charlotte’s Rose was part of the selection for the Children’s Literature Book Club in June I was not too excited to read about another western migration story. However, the author, Ann Edwards Cannon, was going to be at our book club (it doesn’t look very good if you haven’t read the book). Plus I am not always a fan of historical fiction (and I taught U.S. History for 5 years and I made my students write historical fiction, funny huh? ). The main reasons is I am picky when it comes to historical fiction. If an author hasn’t done their research and then written well enough tomake me believe I am in that particular time period than I just can’t get into the story.
But I have to say that I loved Charlotte’s Rose!!!I was with Charlotte the whole way and I wanted her to succeed. Charlotte’s Rose is about a Welsh handcart company full of Mormon immigrants who are making their way west to Utah. A handcart is similar to a wheelbarrow and is pulled by a person and were designed to allow immigrants who were too poor to afford a wagon to still make the trek across Great Plains. It was by in large a success allowing over 3,000 converts to move to Utah.
Charlotte is a 12 year old girl traveling with her father and one of the women in the group dies in childbirth leaving an infant daughter. The father, struggling to deal with the grief of losing his wife refuses to care for the baby. Twelve year old Charlotte volunteers for the task, names the baby Rose and literally carries her across the Great Plains.
I have to say I really felt like I was in the 1800s and I thought that Ann Cannon did an excellent job, her research is superb and I thought this book appeals more to a national audience. Really I think she hit the nail on the head as to what it was like to be a poor immigrant coming to the United States. Like a lot of historical fiction, Charlotte’s Rose is based on a true story. Ann once met a man who said that a pioneer relative who at the age of 12 carried a baby on her back across the Great Plains as part of the Mormon migration to Utah and that became the inspiration for this story.
I learned a valuable lesson, that you can’t always judge a book based on previous experience with stories that are similar. I really do think this book appeals to a general audience, it’s not didactic or preachy, it really is about a girl who struggles to find herself while caring for this baby named Rose.
Charlotte’s Rose is currently out of print, used copies are available and at book club Ann stated she is hoping to get the rights to this book, which I truly hope she does.
Ann E. Cannon’s website and blog. (She really is a great lady and has a wonderful sense of humor so a visit to her blog is well worth it)
What books have you been surprised that you liked?
Posted in Middle Readers | 4 Comments »
Posted by caribookscoops on October 7, 2009
I really liked Night Hoops by Carl Deuker and I am not what you would call a big sports fan, but I do like a good story and Night Hoops is definitely a good story. Here is a basic summary of the book.
Nick has everything he needs to be a star basketball player. He lives, breathes and plays basketball. His dad even put a full size basketball court put in their yard. However, when trouble maker Trent Dawson, who also happens to be Nick’s neighbor, makes it on the varsity team, Nick is not sure how he can play on the same team. Not only does Trent add to Nick’s problems, but his parents are splitting up possibly over his father’s obsession with basketball. Also Trent finds himself in serious trouble – possibly on the wrong side of the law. How can Nick remain loyal to family, friends and the sport he loves?
One thing I did appreciate about the book was even though sports is a major part of the story it doesn’t have to be the end all of life. Nick’s brother, a talented play decides to choose music over basketball because that is what he wants to do rather than sports (much to their father’s chagrin).
I highly recommend this book! I also read another one of Carl Deuker’s books entitled Gym Candy and I really liked it as well. Carl Deuker’s website.
As a middle school literacy specialist I am on the look out for some more great sport stories for teens, what are some of your favorites?
Posted in Middle Readers | Tagged: Books for Boys, Sports | 13 Comments »