Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Monday! What are you Reading? #IMWAYR 3/28/16



I absolutely truly loved Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick (Mother-Daughter Book Club author). Mystery has always been my favorite genre so this book has been on my list for a while.

At over six feet tall, 12 year old Truly has always stood out in a crowd and being the new girl in the small town of Pumpkin Falls certainly makes her feel even more awkward! Truly is the middle child of five and her family has always been close- until Black Monday. That's the day her father was injured in Afghanistan and lost his arm. His easy smile and good-natured personality disappeared, and lovable Truly would do anything to make him happy again. That includes not complaining when he moves Truly and her siblings to his teeny-tiny hometown to take over the family bookstore. At the Lovejoy's store, Truly finds a mysterious letter tucked inside a copy of Charlotte's Web that sends her and some new friends hunting for clues all over town. Who wrote the letter? Who was it for? Where will each clue lead the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes next?

I love that Truly is such a positive heroine. She is funny and likable and brings together a group of kids that all really need each other. Also, the town of Pumpkin Falls reminds me of Stars Hollow (for all the fans of Gilmore Girls). It's full of quirky characters like Mrs. Bellow the town busy-body and Mrs. Winchester who always happen to have a kitten or two in her coat pockets. This story makes me want to move to a quaint New England town and start my own charming bookstore on Main Street! Another refreshing thing about this story is that these tweens are rarely on their phones or using the internet. They work to solve the mystery by meeting in person and walking all over town. I almost forgot that this book takes place during modern time.
Perhaps my favorite part of this story, besides the mystery, is the many references to children's books (which makes sense as much of the story takes place in the bookstore). I'll be dusting off my copy of Owl Moon to read in the library this week!

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's Monday! What are you Reading? #IMWAYR 3/14/16

Just finished reading the new Gordon Korman book Slacker. Like the other Korman books, this one is easy to read and will be high interest. 

Cameron Boxer is an eighth grade student whose life is devoted to playing video games above all else. When his parents decide that he needs to change his ways and get involved at school, he does what any other self respecting gamer would do- he invents a fake school club to appease them. If the club doesn't really exist, unbeknownst to his parents, he'll still have plenty of time to be a slacker. Of course, his plan backfires and The Positive Action Club becomes the most popular extra curricular at the school. Cameron soon has a decision to make that will effect his gaming, his friendships, and his town. Should he spend all of his time trying to dismantle the club from the inside or actually try to make a difference in his community? 

The video game language will definitely appeal to boys and most kids can relate to Cameron's slacker tendencies. There's also a feel good ending with a positive message. Additionally entertaining is that each chapter is told from a different character's perspective. Besides Cameron, there's insight from the guidance counselor, the star football player, Cam's friends, and Daphne who takes the P.A.G. very seriously. 

This is a good choice for reluctant readers.

Monday, March 7, 2016

It's Monday! What are you Reading? #IMWAYR

It's Monday!  What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

Today I finished a beautiful book- Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley.

As soon as I turned the last page, I ran to my computer to order everything ever written by Cassie Beasley. I was in awe to discover that this was her debut novel. It is a beautifully written, mysterious fantasy about a mystical circus that can only be seen by children who truly believe in magic. 

Years ago, Ephraim Tuttle spent some time at Circus Mirandus and on his final day, was offered a miracle by "The Lightbender" (the illusionist).  Ephraim saved his miracle with the hope that in the future, when he really needed it, The Lightbender would keep his promise. Now, years later, Ephraim is dying and his grandson, Micah, is desperate to find the circus and The Lightbender to help his grandfather. Micah's adventure to locate the circus along with his skeptical friend Jenny Mendoza, is a gripping tale that kept me hooked throughout the entire story. The detailed descriptions of the remarkable characters and circus scenes are fantastic!

This is a lovely story that I started and finished in the span of two hours. My children wanted dinner and my husband needed my attention but they all had to wait until I could finish reading- I was that engrossed in the magic of Circus Mirandus!
Grades 4+

Friday, March 4, 2016

My Diary from the Edge of The World

I have never read a book quite like this one by Jodi Lynn Anderson. My Diary from the Edge of the World is a story told by young Gracie Lockwood who lives on an alternate Earth. Her world mirrors ours- there's a T.J.Maxx, Wendy's, Taco Bell and even reality T.V., but in her world, dragons fly overhead, Sasquatches freely roam the forests and no one can go to the beach anymore because of the dangerous mermaids that drag people out to sea. Even her world's reality T.V. is a group of witches  living together Big Brother style. What was so fun about this book is that one minute I was reading about a typical 12 year old girl going to school, but then she causally mentions the genies that live in caves or unicorns she saw at the circus one year. I never knew what magical creature was going to be thrown into the mix of her typical suburban existence.

           "Nothing terrible or exciting ever happens in Cliffden. Only baseball games and lying in the grass and chasing the ice-cream man in summer.....collecting earthworms in puddles after rain or hunting for dragon scales in the fall. Mom puts them in a big glass jar because they add a splash of color."

She goes on to write in her diary about Cliffden's boring Halloween except for that one year when a ghoul escaped from the underworld scaring kids and stealing candy until the police sent him back. This book is great fun!
The conflict in the story is that her family is trying to run away from a Dark Cloud. When a Dark Cloud hovers near your house, it's just matter of time before it takes one of your family members away. Her father has told stories for years about the existence of another world just like theirs except there is no magic (of course he is describing our version of Earth). Her family (parents, siblings, and a friend from school) begin the journey to the edge of the world to try and find this universe and a place where the Dark Cloud can't follow them. The end is a surprise and I'm not sure what I think about it yet. One thing I have learned is that not all stories can end in a neat perfect bow, and that's usually for the best.
It's a fairly long book with 400+ pages but I hope that doesn't discourage students from giving it a try. It's easy to read, Gracie's voice is really funny, and it's really quite entertaining.