Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Monday! What are you Reading? #IMWAYR 6/20/16



One of my absolute favorite books of last year was What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada. It's a picture book that tells the story of how a child keeps a brilliant idea growing and growing until he realizes all ideas have the potential to change the world. It's incredibly inspiring and teaches a most wonderful lesson about protecting ideas from fading away and how to nourish them and keep them alive. I think ALL ages can benefit from hearing/reading it.

Last month Yamada published, What Do You Do With a Problem, and it is as wonderful as the first book. This is the story about experiencing a problem and how it grows bigger and stronger until it becomes completely overwhelming bringing feelings of no escape. Then, like in Yamada's first book, the story shifts and the boy faces the problem and finds that he has been given an opportunity- a chance to be brave and face the dilemma and find a solution. I think it's an uplifting book that will help many children who feel like their problems, big and small, will swallow them whole. This story will be useful for many young students. 
Unfortunately, I read a review of this book from School Library Journal calling it simplistic and heartless as some problems are too tragic to be solved on one's own. This review REALLY annoyed me. It's a sweet, simple book designed to teach courage and hope. Yes, if a child is suffering horrific abuse or lives in a war zone (as the review stated), this book most likely won't fix their problem, but give me a break. Why does everything have to be a politically correct guide to life? Calling a picture book designed to help children "heartless" is probably the most ridiculous review I've ever read. I will FOR SURE put this one on my library shelves because I find it valuable just the way it is!


I was thrilled when I read this book because I think I just found a new favorite series for my elementary school students (especially the boys). The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett is a series I've been looking for to fulfill the wish list of my youngest reluctant readers. 
Miles Murphy has a very special talent- he is a prankster and a very famous one in his home town. Now, after having to move to a new city over the summer, Miles is a bit lost. His new school, in the cow capital of the world, already has a class prankster, and he seems to be even more successful than Miles ever was. Is the school big enough for TWO ingenious prank players? As one can gather from the title, when the two join forces their pranks have the potential to become epic.
O.K., so this isn't The Lightning Thief, or City of Ember or even an Alex Rider adventure, but it's funny and cute and it kept my own little reluctant reader laughing until the very end. Sometimes a book is perfect if it can be simply light and entertaining. They don't all have to be Lord of The Rings.


I picked this book just from the cover, barely skimming the description. Looking at Finley Flowers New and Improved by Jessica Young, I saw what was supposed to be a 4th grade girl on the cover dressed in "inventor" clothes. I  scooped it up thinking it would be perfect for budding female engineers in this age range. I assumed she was an inventor extraordinaire, and I had FINALLY found a book with a strong female scientist and a cute name. Well I should have know better than to assume. I was, however, actually half right. This is an adorable new series for girls, but outside of this book, Finley isn't especially focused on S.T.E.M. Also, even though she is supposed to be in fourth grade, I think this series would be better suited for 8-9 year old girls. That being said, Finley is a great character! She is funny, bright, and determined. She's also a great friend. This book focuses on her school's invention convention and Finley's struggle to make the perfect contraption to win the fair. It was really endearing. 
Looking at the other books in the series, I think Finley Flowers books are a great choice for 2nd grade and up.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's Monday! What are you Reading? #IMWAYR 6/6/16


I can't believe it's been a month since I posted, but I promise you I have been reading like crazy! I got caught up in this "Twilight-esqe" series called The Shade that has 27 books in all! I'm not kidding- 27 books!!!! I made it to book 8 and then I had to be done. A reader can only take so much angst between one couple and lets face it- no one will be Edward and Bella.  After that I was reading a few books from my favorite adult authors (Karen White, Jane Green, and Diane Chamberlain) but now I am back to books for my library. Sorry boys- all girl books today!


Summerlost is by Ally Condie, the author of the acclaimed Matched series, but this book is NOTHING like that series. It would be like J.K. Rowling writing a romance novel as a follow upto Harry Potter- totally different. I liked Summerlost. Not loved, but liked. It is a tender story about a girl who just suffered a great loss in her family. After the tragedy, Cedar moves to a new house in Iron Creek and begins to work at the town's famous summer Shakespeare festival where she meets her soon to be best friend, Leo. Leo doesn't quite fit in with the other boys, but he's a perfect fit for Cedar. Soon, she and Leo embark on a mystery to discover what happened to a famous Hollywood actress that once graced their summer stage.

This is sweet story about grief and healing and the power of friendship. I also enjoyed the relationship between Cedar and her little brother Miles as they have to navigate a new path after the tragedy. It was refreshing to read about siblings who like each other, and I feel like all the characters are interesting and fresh. Additionally, the story kept my attention and I was happy to keep reading (but it wasn't one that I had to stop everything until it was finished). The mystery is a little slow moving, but I do think ages 9+ will really enjoy this book.


This is my kind of story! The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly is an excellent debut novel. One twin, Scarlett, dies under mysterious circumstances and the other twin, Ivy is forced to take her place in a creepy old boarding school called Rookwood- complete with  an evil headmistress who favorite past time seems to be disciplining with her cane! Upon arriving at the school, Ivy finds a piece of Scarlett's diary that begs for her sister's help. Fearful of someone reading her words, Scarlett has hidden pages all over campus and Ivy has to solve the clues, find the pages, and discover the truth about her sister's final days at Rookwood. Of course the headmistress wants to keep the truth buried, so Ivy must watch every step she takes.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. The gothic setting, the spoiled boarding school classmates, and of course the twin mystery. I loved that shy Ivy begins to come out of her shell as she impersonates her feisty sister. There were a lot of twists and the ending was a complete surprise.

This is the first book in a trilogy. The other two have already been published in the U.K. so I might have to order them from there because I'm dying to know what happens next. I contacted the author and she's not sure when the other two will make it to the U.S.
I highly recommend this to students who like this kind of story. I promise it's not too scary at all!