12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Wild Women of the Wild West by Jonah Winter, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

I was really looking forward to reading this book about the wild women in the Wild West, but was disappointed with the execution of it. The book does profile some truly fascinating women like Carrie Nation and Annie Oakley, but the information given about each is too brief. Winter barely gives each woman a page of text to tell their entire life stories. Some of the information seems very general and random. Winter also seems especially fascinated by the bigger women. There are at least three in this book who were giants…6 feet tall and 180 pounds…yes all three were those dimensions exactly. Really?!?! I think the biggest disappointment was the poor writing. The transitions between sentences were horrible; my English teachers would have covered this book in red ink. Too brief, poorly written and sketchy research. Not a book I would recommend.

Teaching children ethics, values, and morals has become a real challenge for parents today. These topics aren’t usually covered in school curriculums, and many families no longer attend religious services, so most modern moms and dads are clamoring for a helping hand.

Ian James Corlett, an award-winning children’s TV writer, was inspired to write this book as his own family grappled with this issue. When Ian’s two kids were very young, he and his wife started a weekly discussion period he dubbed “Family Fun Time.” Every Monday after dinner, they all sat down and Ian would tell his two kids tales about two young children, Elliott and Lucy, who were much like them.

- They hated going to the dentist.

- They were disappointed when a favorite aunt couldn’t visit.

- They dreaded raking the leaves in their backyard.

Ian’s kids really looked forward to these talks and they hardly even realized that the stories were serving a deeper purpose — to teach tact, understanding, and responsibility. So he decided to write these stories down to help other parents — like you. The result is in your hands: twenty-six simple, clear, original, and entertaining stories for you to read aloud with your child.

Teaching your children values, life skills, and ethics has never been so much fun!

06. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, History, Madeline, NonFiction

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson, read by Madeline, on 06/10/2013

The inspiring story of one of the greatest moments in civil rights history as seen through the eyes of four young people who were at the center of the action.
The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March was a turning point in American history. In the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, the fight for civil rights lay in the hands of children like Audrey Hendricks, Wash Booker, James Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter.
Through the eyes of these four protesters and others who participated, We’ve Got a Job tells the little-known story of the 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail between May 2 and May 11, 1963. The children succeeded – where adults had failed – in desegregating one of the most racially violent cities in America.
By combining in-depth, one-on-one interviews and extensive research, author Cynthia Levinson recreates the events of the Birmingham Children’s March from a new and very personal perspective.

A terrific book! I’ve read a good amount about the civil rights movement but didn’t know about this.

24. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Great Katie Kate Tackles Questions about Cancer by M. Maitland DeLand, read by Angie, on 06/23/2013

In this book a young girl learns she may have cancer and she has a lot of questions. So the Great Katie Kate answers all her questions and shows her that she doesn’t need to worry. I really liked the idea of a Worry Wombat so she had something to focus on. The explanations of what you go through with cancer treatments were also spot on and appropriate for very young children; didn’t go into a lot of detail, but just enough to alleviate fears. My only concern with this book was the doctor telling the little girl she might have cancer before even running tests. It set up the book, but I think it might have been better for the girl to have been diagnosed first so she wouldn’t worry needlessly.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Wombats by Barbara Triggs., read by Lisa, on 05/14/2013

Presents, in text and photographs, the habits, life cycle, and natural environment of the Australian wombat, one of the world’s largest burrowing animals.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Ariel Bradley, Spy for General Washington by Vanita Oelschlager, read by Angie, on 05/27/2013

This is the story of how young Ariel Bradley became a spy for General Washington during the Revolutionary War. His job was to get into the British camp and find out how many men and weapons they had. Ariel does this by playing the country bumpkin, but it gets the job done. This is a very short book that only deals with this one incident. I kind of wish we would have found out more about Ariel and his family, but it was still interesting.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson, read by Angie, on 05/28/2013

This is an excellent account of the short voyage of the Titanic. It covers everything from its construction to the aftermath. I especially enjoyed the first person accounts that were interspersed throughout the book. It helped make the tragedy come alive. I listened to the book on audio and it was wonderful. The narrator did a great job telling the story and distinguishing between the different people. There are a lot of interesting facts in the book which help shed light on how the tragedy came about. Some myths are dispelled…like the fact that the 3rd class gates were not locked as the rumors said. There are also amazing accounts of heroism until the very end. Many of the passengers and crew helped so many people only to perish themselves. Truly one of the great tragedies of our time.

2013 Sibert honor book.

Pie

29. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah · Tags:

Pie by Sarah Weeks, read by Sarah, on 05/08/2013

pieAlice’s best friend, Aunt Polly, was a kind-hearted woman who made pies and forged friendships like no other.  When she dies, she leaves her award-winning pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo.  Alice is left in charge of Lardo, Lardo disappears, pie making fever abounds as a pie baking contest looms closer, Charlie works with Alice to find the cat thief, and Alice comes to realize that her gifts are worth sharing.  Aunt Polly always brought out the best in people, even in her death.

This was a slower moving book but it had a great message.  I enjoyed the peek into the future in the epilogue.  This was a 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award Nominee.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, read by Angie, on 05/18/2013

I am so glad narrative nonfiction is becoming the “in” thing because it is so much more interesting to read than boring old regular nonfiction! This book is as compelling as any novel I have read. Sheinkin did an amazing job researching the events and the people that led up to the creation of the bomb. I can’t imagine all the FBI files he had to read to get some of this stuff. In Bomb, he takes a look at how the Americans started the race to beat the Germans to the atomic bomb and how the Russians stole the plans. We get first-hand accounts of the events and what the people involved thought at the time. It was truly fascinating and hard to put down.

This is a 2013 Newbery Honor Book, the 2013 Sibert Medal Winner, and a 2012 National Book Award finalist.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle, Deborah Durland DeSaix, read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

There are many stories of people helping their Jewish neighbors during WWII, but this is one I had not heard of. The Grand Mosque in Paris was responsible for saving many Jews by hiding them and getting them Muslim identification papers. Of course this only worked on those Jews who could pass for Muslim. There are many individual stories in this book and it all paints a picture of heroism at a time of great risk. The illustrations are wonderful and beautiful. Definitely a book to recommend to those interested in WWII, history or heroism.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

There is just something about WWII stories that really pulls at my heart. I find the people who worked for the underground movements and helped the Jewish people fascinating. There is something about their courage and heroism that really makes you look at your own life and wander what you would have done in a similar situation. Not everyone was strong enough to stand up for what was right, but Irena Sendler was definitely one of those heroes. Her story is similar to others who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, but it is definitely worth knowing. I thought this picture book biography did a good job of showing her courage and dedication to doing what is right. She is a hero from a very dark time in our history and her story deserves to be told.

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd, read by Angie, on 05/06/2013

It is amazing how much Ben Franklin did in his long life. I am not sure there is any part of life that he did not explore and conquer. He was an inventor, a scientist, a statesman, a diplomat, an educator, an author and so much more. Many of the things we use in every day life can be attributed to Franklin. Many of the institutions and concepts we rely on were first suggested by Franklin. If there is any man who is responsible for our way of life it might be Franklin. He is an amazing historical figure. This biography does a great job of breaking his life down into its most important eras. I loved all the information and the sidebars the author provided not just about Franklin, but life during his time period.

This book was a Sibert Honor Book and an Orbis Pictus Honor Book in 2013.

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags:

Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley, Edwin Fotheringham (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 05/06/2013

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two of our founding fathers. They could not have been more different yet they believed in the same thing…an independent America. Together they helped this country become free and were both presidents. They even died on the same day. I think their story is an interesting one and this book does a great job of illustrating the time period and their friendship. The illustrations are wonderful and very child friendly. The entire book read like a Saturday morning special…School House Rocks maybe. 2013 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children honor book.

12. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, read by Sarah, on 04/10/2013

hw7.plPearl is a young lady who lives with her mom and grandma as a group of three.  At school, she believes that she is a group of one, but through a series of events she realizes that her group of one has expanded to include classmates.  This is a heart wrenching story written in verse through Pearl’s viewpoint as she struggles with rhyming in school when her grandma taught her that free unrhymed verse can tell a story much more effectively, sometimes.  This story really touched my heart as the little girl has to deal with her grandma’s decline.  I recommend reading it with a kleenax ready!

02. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Claudia, Fiction

Out of my mind by Sharon Draper, read by Claudia, on 02/19/2013

After repeatedly hearing what a great book this is from several people, and most importantly my 10 year old son, I decided to read it out loud to my 8 year old daughter.  Neither of were prepared for the emotional impact his book would have on us and for me, it lingers in my mind to this day.  Meet Melody.  She is a 5th grader who suffers from cerebral palsy. Although Melody has never spoken a single word or walked one step, she is one brillant young girl.  Her mind is always working overtime! This book is about assumptions….the ones we make about people who are different than us, especially people with disabilites.  Everyone in Melody’s world assumes just because her body doesn’t work that her brain doesn’t either.  This book is told in Melody’s unsentimental voice, and she tells it exactly how it is!  With the exception of her parents and another caregiver, she is considered invisible and incapable of interaction, let alone actually being able to learn something or contribute in a classroom setting.  She is literally going “out of her mind” from boredom and frustration and the inability ot express herself.  She is wasting away in school classes that don’t even begin to quench her thirst for learning….until a special teacher sees her potential.  Soon after, with the help of her devoted after-school care giver, Melody acquires a medi-talker (a machine that gives her a voice) and a whole new world is opens up to her….but it isn’t necessarily an accepting one.  Melody still struggles against preconceived notions about her and her disability….even from teachers!  This book is a must read for 3-6 graders, and is a Mark Twain nominee with a strong chance of winning this year’s award.  My money is on Sharon Draper!  This is a great book with a tough, but realistic ending.

19. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, History, Melody, NonFiction · Tags:

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, and Rebecca Guay, read by Melody, on 03/15/2013

Bad Girls is the perfect foil to the book I just read about women who changed the world.  While Girls who Rocked the World was about scientists, activists, and heroes who made the world a better place, Bad Girls is about women who made their mark in a different way.  There are blood baths, axe slayings, fallen women, and outlaws.   Mata Hari, Typhoid Mary, Catherine the Great, and Salome.  Yolen and her daughter and co-author Stemple debate in asides between the chapters whether the women were really as bad as history paints them or were there other circumstances to consider.  Fun read and who doesn’t love a bad girl?

13. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Melody, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Girls Who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann and AMelie Welden , read by Melody, on 03/11/2013

Girls Who Rocked the World is a collection of 46 short biographies of women who changed the world.  It is a great mix of famous and less famous women ranging from the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut to actress Natalie Portman.  It is a children’s book so it is light on the scandals and controversies of the rich and complicated lives of some of these women but it is enjoyable quick read for Women’s History Month.

07. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah · Tags: ,

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer, read by Sarah, on 03/06/2013

Foster is the best cupcake baker in West Virginia, but she is hiding a secret she is too embarrassed to admit.  She and her mother have just escaped a rough relationship and have started fresh in this little town named Culpepper.  The town boasts a prison, Angry Wayne’s restaurant, a church for sale, and a haven house for prisoners’ families to stay in while visiting.  Foster and her mother have won their way into the town’s hearts with their hard work, perseverance, and dedication.  Foster wants to be the first kid on the Food Network with her own show, so often she will practice her shtick with the stuffed catfish on the wall of their borrowed trailer.  Good stuff.

I really enjoyed this 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award nominee.  The author connects you to Foster immediately and you can’t help but root for her.  If you believe in yourself and work hard, then you can be successful at anything you put your mind to.

27. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, History, Lisa, NonFiction

Little Rock girl 1957 : how a photograph changed the fight for integration by Shelley Tougas, read by Lisa, on 02/27/2013

 

Recounts the events surrounding the 1957 photograph taken by Will Counts that captured one of nine African-American students trying to enter an Arkansas high school while being taunted by an angry white mob and discusses how the photo brought the civil rights movement to the forefront of the nation’s attention.

Nine African-American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957. It was the photo of one of the nine trying to enter the school- a young girl being taunted, harassed, and threatened by an angry mob- that grabbed the world’s attention and kept its disapproving gaze on Little Rock, Arkansas. In defiance of a federal court order, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent the students from entering the all-white Central High School. A chilling photo by newspaper photographer Will Counts captured the sneering expression of a girl in the mob and made history.

What a wonderful book! This book has Martin Luther King Jr.’s I have a dream speech and tells you what he meant. I love how the speech is broken down and translated for today’s young readers. The translation let’s you know what King was saying and what was going on at the time of the speech. Wonderful introduction to the civil rights movement.