Saturday, August 24, 2013

Three Times Lucky - an audiobook review

Turnage, Sheila. 2012. Three Times Lucky. New York: Penguin Audio. Read by Michal Friedman.

I was looking for a good book to listen to while traveling, and I had heard rave reviews about the 2013 Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky.  It features North Carolina, the latest addition to my college road trip cycle, and it comes in Playaway format - how convenient since I've misplaced my mp3 player. I picked up a copy from the library before heading out.

This was the best book that I've listened to all year!  I can't tell you the number of times that I had to pause the recording, chuckling all the while, to repeat a well-turned simile or metaphor to my daughter.  If I had the print copy in hand, I could quote you a dozen - just in the first chapter.

Rising sixth grader, Mo (short for Moses) LoBeau is the funniest, winningest, spunkiest heroine of children's literature that I've met in quite a while.  By the time you've finished Three Times Lucky, you'll know every resident of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, as well as if they were your own relations. Robbery, snobbery, lies, domestic violence, and alcoholism rear their heads as they do in every community; but despite some heavy-hitting themes, this modern-day, first person narrative is not "contemporary realistic fiction," but rather a delightfully funny, quirky murder mystery, and the story of a loving family, best friends, and a close-knit community. And oh yes, there's a hurricane.

I think you'll love it.  Suggested for ages 10 and up.

Do listen to an audio excerpt of Three Times Lucky here.  You'll love it!

After reading the book and looking for more information on its fantastic reader, Michal Friedman, I discovered that she died in 2011, from complications from a Cesarean section after giving birth to healthy twins. Heartbreaking and tragic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Road trip!

Headed out on another college road trip!   Be back in a week or so. 
Enjoy the waning days of summer.
By Šarūnas Burdulis (Flying home. Cape Fear 
Uploaded by Gary Dee)
 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 12, 2013

Twerp - an audiobook review

My review of Twerp, as it appeared in the August, 2013 edition of School Library Journal.

Twerp. By Mark Goldblatt. 5 CDs. 5:22 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2158-3. $40.

Gr 5-7--A terrible bullying incident involving fellow student, Danley Dimmel, prompted the week-long suspension of Julian Twerski (Twerp) and his friends from their sixth grade class. When he returns to school, in lieu of writing a report on William Shakespeare, Twerp's teacher, Mr. Selkirk, asks him to keep a journal. The teacher hopes that through the journal, the boy will reveal the untold truth about the incident. Like Holling Hoodhood's teacher in Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007), Mr. Selkirk is determined that Julian will learn something about life, himself, and maybe a bit of Shakespeare. Julian is funny, smart, and loyal to his friends, except perhaps when girls are involved. Though he doesn't always do the right thing, he's likeable and believable. Set in the 1960s, the themes of friendship, family, peer pressure, and bullying are timeless in Goldblatt's novel (Random, 2013), which is related in a first-person, confessional style. Everette Plen's portrayal of Julian's Spanish-speaking track rival, Eduardo, is forced; however, he does a stellar job of voicing Julian, his sister, and his friends. This novel delivers heavy themes with a light hand, and should be popular with middle-grade listeners.

Copyright © 2013 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Floats in a Moat? a STEM Friday review

OK, here's one for you - can you think of a funny, rhyming picture book that teaches Archimedes' Principle? It's hard to believe, but yes, it does exist! What Floats in a Moat?

Berry, Lynne. 2013. What Floats in a Moat? New York: Simon & Schuster. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell.

Archie the Goat
stopped short at a moat.

He measured and mapped.

He doodled and drew.
He sketched and scribbled
 and scrawled.

"Aha! To cross the moat,"
pronounced the goat,
"we build a contraption to float!"
And so begins a silly tale of trial and error as Archie and Skinny the Hen try to cross the moat in the S.S. Buttermilk, a barrel that is in turns full, empty, and finally, just right.  If there is a more fun way to learn about Archimedes' Principle, it surely involves actual water!  Fun, entertaining, and educational, too.  What more can you ask for?

See a preview of What Floats in a Moat? here.

Today’s post is part of STEM Friday, a weekly round-up of children’s science, engineering, math and technology books.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain - a review

Freedman, Russell. 2014. Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. New York: Clarion.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Many of us, especially here on the East Coast, are familiar with stories of immigrants passing through the inspection station at Ellis Island in New Jersey. (Yes, folks, it is in New Jersey. The Supreme Court of the United States has said so.)  Less familiar are the stories of Asian immigrants who arrived and were processed or detained at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.

  • Title: Immigration station, Angel Island, Cal.
  • Related Names: 
       Givens, J. D. (James David), 1863- , copyright claimant
  • Date Created/Published: c1915.
  • Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ds-03059 (digital file from original item) LC-USZ62-125996 (b&w film copy neg.)
  • Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
  • Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Thanks to the efforts of Park Ranger Alexander Weiss and an encouraging librarian, Russell Freedman has brought the stories of these Angel Island immigrants and the story of the Immigration Station's preservation to young readers in this brief, yet powerful, image-filled book.

When the buildings on Angel Island were falling into disrepair and slated for demolition in the 1970's, Alexander Weiss found rows and rows of poetry, much of it written in Chinese characters undecipherable to him, etched into the walls of the island's detention center.  Convinced of the historical significance of these poems, he brought them to the attention of Chinese community leaders in San Francisco, and so began a movement to retain the buildings as landmarks of cultural and historical significance.  Many of the poems were translated and included in the book,

Oh, poor me, Banned from landing,
     fearful of being deported back to China.
There is no way for me to face the elders east of the river.
I anticipated wealth, but it's only poverty, alas, that I've
Because of exclusionary laws, Chinese immigrants faced particularly intense scrutiny and interrogation, sometimes even questioning about the location of household items left in China! Answers were then checked against those of relatives to test for truthfulness.

Angel Island contains nine chapters, beginning with the discovery of the carvings by the park ranger, continuing with typical experiences of the immigrants and the notation of important laws and political events affecting immigrants, and finishing with a look at Angel Island State Park today.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly Chinese, passed through Angel Island Immigration Station.  This is their story that deserves to be told.  

The final copy will have Source Notes, Selected Bibliography, Acknowledgments, Picture Credits and Index. Keep an eye out for its 2014 publication date.

A perfect fictional pairing for Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain is Laurence Yep's,The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island (2008, Harper Collins).

The Nonfiction Monday roundup is here today!  
Add your post to the form below, and I'll add them later in the day after work. Thanks for participating.

And don't forget - there's still time to enter the giveaway for an autographed copy of The Bear Hug by Sean Callahan. See Saturday's post for the online entry form.

Thanks to all of today's Nonfiction Monday contributors!  Be sure to check out these posts:

Jeanne at True Tales & a Cherry on Top, is featuring Write On, Mercy! The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren.  Jeanne just attended an SCBWI conference and felt inspired to feature a picture book biography of a female writer.  Write on, Jeanne!

At NC Teacher Stuff, Jeff has a review of No Monkeys, No Chocolate. "This is an interesting and informative account of how the cocoa tree produces cocoa beans for chocolate."  Thanks, Jeff, however, after reading your review, I think I now know a little too much about what's involved in the life of a cocoa bean! 

Sue, at Sally's Bookshelf, has Noisy Bug Sing-Along. "Summer is one huge concert of chirps, buzzes, hums and thrums. Who wouldn't want to sing along with the bugs?"  As this year is a 17-year cicada hatch in my area, there's been a lot of "singing!"

Made You Look is a featured book at Ms. Yingling Reads.This is a narrative nonfiction book for older readers. "This updated book on advertising includes helpful information on internet and social media advertising."  

Alex at Randomly Reading has a review of Lifetime: The Amazing Number in Animal Lives, a "counting book using different behaviors or features of animals in the wild."  Thanks, Alex.  I love the cover!

At Booktalking, Anastasia (our Nonfiction Monday organizer extraordinaire) features a picture book biography for older readers, Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio.  Baseball history - one of my favorite topics!

Wrapped in Foil's, Roberta, has a book on another of my favorite topics - space.  Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galaxies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More is a "great book that ties history and astronomy with hands-on activities, perfect to share with the upcoming Perseid meteor shower."

(Don't miss the Perseid meteor showers coming up on the 11th and 12th of this month!)

At Jean Little Library, Jennifer has a review of the narrative nonfiction book, The Mystery of Darwin's Frog.

At A Mom's Spare Time (is there such a thing as a mom's spare time?), Ami has a picture book for young readers, A Little Book of Sloth.  No one will be able to resist that cover, and my teenage daughter tells me that sloths are the new hip animal. They do seem to popping up where they're least expected!  (How long before they get their own pistachio commercial?)

Sondy at Sonder Books has a review of Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball.  A picture book biography for young readers, Hoop Genius is a fun look at the invention of basketball.

At Stacking Books, Reshama has a review of Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express, "a true story of a brave 15 year old girl, Kate Shelley, who saved lives in a raging storm by risking her own life when a railroad bridge collapsed."  

It's a wrap!   Thanks to everyone who participated!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Autographed book giveaway!

Thanks to a generous offer by Albert Whitman & Company, I'm delighted to offer a great summer giveaway - an autographed copy of The Bear Hug by Sean Callahan, with illustrations by Laura J. Bryant.

"Cubby loves to visit Grandpa Bear. Often Grandpa and Cubby practice growling. In fall, they find food in the doughnut shop. In winter, they hibernate by the TV. But the very best thing about visiting Grandpa Bear is the Bear Hug. “Nobody ever gets out of the Bear Hug,” warns Grandpa Bear. Can Cubby get out of the Bear Hug?"

To enter, just fill out the form below.  The winner will be announced on this post.
(Signing in with Facebook or other social media sites is not required)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The autographed giveaways from Albert Whitman and Company continue tomorrow!

On Sunday, August 4, visit:

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...