Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pink: Pop Singer & Songwriter

Rebecca Rowell
Minneapolis:  ABDO, 2014, Ages 10-16

This story is about a troubled teen named Alecia Moore and how she matured and became the pop star Pink. Pink was not always the pop star that she is known as today, but this book gives her fans some insights into the sort of person Pink really is. This book tells of the defining and life changing moments in Alecia Moore /Pinks career. There are a lot of things that could have changed Pinks career for the good or bad, but since Pink always stayed true to who she was and gave it her all she has always made it out on top and has been successful. 

The writing style is very easy to read and pulls the readers in with nice details. It reads similar to a captivating magazine article.

There were no illustrations in this book but there were many pictures that were excellent quality that helped tell Pink’s story. 

I really enjoyed this book it was very informational and had great pictures. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that has interests in music or likes learning about people. This book is a great read and it could capture the attention of non-readers too with its great graphics, interesting facts, and great writing style. I feel that this book is best for ages 10 and up, it would not be appropriate for anyone younger than the age 9 because it does talk about pinks troubled past. 

Reviewed by Rebecca Rowell

Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival

Eight Dolphins of Katrina:  A True Tale of Survival 
By Janet Wyman Coleman, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, Ages 11-15

This story is about eight dolphins who survived the disasters of Hurricane Katrina. These eight dolphins lived and were raised at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Mississippi. Before the storm hit the trainers moved some of the dolphins to safer locations but the last eight dolphins had no other place to go and had to be left. When Katrina hit it destroyed the Oceanarium and those eight dolphins were washed back into the Gulf. The trainers were worried they would not be able to survive on their own but insisted on searching the Gulf for them. Miraculously, all eight of them turned up and were healthy and unharmed because they stayed together.

This is a nonfiction book and written as an expository. This means that the book was written to share an event that happened and it was not written in first person but has a lot of details. Coleman did not experience this situation first-hand but she interviewed the doctor and trainers and got the information first-hand. Along with gathering a lot of first-hand information, the author does a great job at capturing emotion and keeping the readers interest. It is an easy read but because of the knowledge the reader must have about what Hurricane Katrina was, I think it was meant for a 4th or 5th grade student. 

While the book had a great story line, I think what I liked best was the pictures. The book's cover shows a real picture of two dolphins in the water smiling up at you. This picture is what pulled my attention to the book in the first place before I even read the title. The book starts off as illustrated drawings and they are perfectly portraying what is happening in the story. They are vibrant, detailed, and really grab the reader’s attention. The pictures even do a good job at capturing the emotion that the trainers and readers must be feeling about these missing dolphins. At the end it also includes real pictures of the dolphins, trainers, rescue helicopter and the Oceanarium to give the readers an exact picture.

In my opinion, this book deserves 5 stars. I think that it shares a lot of content about what really did happen during Hurricane Katrina, gives a good story line and provides a lot of detailed pictures. The book for me was easy to read and kept my interest the entire time, which is why I think it would appeal to lower middle level students. The only reason that the book may not appeal to some readers is if they did not know what Hurricane Katrina was, how big of an impact it had, and how incredible it was that the dolphins were actually rescued.

Reviewed by Amanda Monschein


Gordon Korman
New York: Scholastic Books, 2014, Ages 9-13

The action-filled novel titled Jackpot, by Gordon Kormon is the 6th novel in the mystery series Swindle. A young and ambitious Griffin Bing, also formerly known as the “man with a plan” competes over a lottery ticket. His competitor, the new “man with a plan” Victor Pheonix, is the latest addition to the city, Cedarville. There is an unclaimed lottery ticket worth $30 million dollars that is lost and soon to be expired. Friends have to overcome emotional obstacles in this novel, all the time hoping to find the lottery ticket that is lost somewhere in Cedarville. Jackpot captures middle school friendship drama realistically.

This fictional novel reflects Korman’s style very well. It is mainly a narrative tale, as it is largely trying to tell a short story. Korman is also a very descriptive writer, especially when developing his characters throughout the novel. There is much dialogue, showing conversation among characters, to further their development. 

There are not many pictures throughout Jackpot. However, the book cover is something that can catch the younger student’s attention. Pointing his head through the dollar bill is a picture of Savannah’s dog, Luthor. Throughout the novel the protagonist, Griffin, feels a companionship with Luthor. Both of these characters have been sent away from their friends by Victor. The cover of the novel clearly suggests that it is a narrative that will have to do with currency.

I thought this was a great book by Gordon Korman! It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, with all of the action going on. I would say it was a page-turner, always getting me to want to know what happens next! I thought the novel was very action-packed, and I just wanted to know who had the lottery ticket! The book made me feel like I was in it because the characters were thoroughly developed. The shifting point of view and the foreshadowing captured my attention very well. There was much description and anticipation built up. I feel that Jackpot is meant for the younger middle school students, although I thoroughly enjoyed it as a college student. 

Reviewed by Olivia Webb 

Revenge of the Flower Girls

Revenge of the Flower Girls
 Jennifer Ziegler 
New York: Scholastic Books, 2014, Ages 9-15

Triplet sisters take turns telling the story of their older sister's wedding. Or rather, how they try to stop the wedding, and why. They love social studies as much as they love their sister's ex-boyfriend, and get up to all sorts of antics as they work together to try to get the two back together and stop the wedding.

The author manages to make the three girls' perspectives different from each other, in keeping with each girl's personality and temperament as described by the other two. Ms. Ziegler used highly effective descriptors to get inside the heads of her characters. One of my favorites was the following; to express a moment of the disillusionment that accompanies change, particularly for preteens: "As if someone grabbed the world and shook it like a snowglobe, stirring everything up."

There is one picture on the front cover depicting the wedding. The bride and groom have their backs turned. In front of them stand the three girls in pink dresses matched with high-top tennis shoes. One looks like she's plotting something, one looks miffed, and the other looks amused. Since all three wore all of these expressions throughout the book, it's hard to tell which is which. Maybe that's the author's intent!

I enjoyed this book thoroughly! The three narrators evoke the reader's empathy. The ways they talk about their struggles- dealing with the aftermath of their parents' divorce, the change of their sister getting married, and just being eleven- ring very true, even if they adore U.S. history and government more than any sixth-graders I've ever met. I recommend for all ages, but especially for grades 5-8.

Reviewed by Abigail Kruse

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Blue Bunny, Bubbit

My Blue Bunny, Bubbit
Maggie Smith
Boston: Clarion Books, 2014, Ages 5-8

This story is about a little girl and her shared interest in sewing with her grandmother (whom she calls "Nonni"). Since Nonni made her granddaughter a stuffed animal when she was just a baby, the little girl wants to make her new little brother a stuffed animal so he isn't lonely in his crib. Together they build the little girl's new baby brother a stuffed animal elephant. 

The book is a narrative given by the little girl. There is dialogue, punctuation, and full sentences used throughout the book. The book is not necessarily a quick read, but a cute story to incorporate into the classroom. It would be good to recommend this to a student who has a new baby sibling on the way. Alliteration is also featured in the title "My Blue Bunny, Bubbit." 

The illustrations are very beautiful and colorful. At the very front and very back of the book there is illustrations of what is "in my sewing basket" which includes labels of all the different items used in sewing such as a "seam ripper" and "felt for practicing." Children will enjoy all that is going on in the pictures. 

I would recommend this to a child who has a new baby sibling or family member on the way. It would a great book to expand on by making something special for that new baby sibling. This is also a fabulous book for a child who is interested in making things, sewing, or has a family member who sews often. 

Reviewed by EmKAsh

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover

Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover
Josh Schneider
Boston: Clarion Books, 2014, Ages 3-5

Amelia's favorite doll gets destroyed by her dog because she left her toys on the floor unsupervised. She is heartbroken, however her mother makes a new doll for her. Amelia designs her new doll all by herself.

The author used very short sentences that have lots of description in them. It is more of a picture book than a reading book.

The illustrations really reflect the sentences well and will hold younger children's attention. The dog looks mean, and acts mean while tearing up her doll and then looks afraid of it once she gets a "makeover" and also really demonstrates how a child would really feel after their favorite toy was destroyed.

I like that Amelia got to design her new doll and loved it just the same even though it wasn't as "pretty" or "feminine" as her first doll. I would like to read it to a preschool or kindergarten class, they would really like the pictures and they may think twice about leaving their toys on the floor. 

Reviewed by SC

The Meanest Birthday Girl

The Meanest Birthday Girl
Written by Josh Schneider
Boston: Clarion Books, 2013, Ages 7-9

The book tells the story of how a mean girl, Dana, got everything she wanted for her birthday, including an elephant. The elephant is so much hard work that it takes up all her time and energy then she starts to become bullied by another girl, Gertrude. Later, Dana gives Gertrude the elephant for her birthday.

There is dialogue, and does everything in a logical order with longer sentences. The book is also broken up into chapters to give an overview of what the chunks of the story are about.

The illustrations are very nice, and makes the elephant look fun to have, and also shows very well how stressed out Dana gets from caring for it. Also displays very well the children's attitudes that are reflected in the text.

I feel passing on the elephant is indirect bullying as the kids who have had it know how hard it is, and they pawn it off on the next kid when they are done with it. It does show kids though to have empathy and understanding (with the elephant) and that no matter how mean someone is, they can change their ways and people will still like them and give them presents even if they are mean. I disagree with that method because it is praising bad behavior, when no kids should have brought her gifts if she was mean to them, and have them explain why. I wish the book would go into more detail about why the children changed their attitude when given the elephant.

Reviewed by SC

Tony Baloney: School Rules

Tony Baloney: School Rules
By Pam Munoz Ryan and Edwin Fotheringham
New York: Scholastic Books, 2013, Ages 3-6

Tony Baloney the penguin learns about the rules at school and how to follow them. He learns things the hard way however, but later improvises when he understands that there is a situation that would be against the rules, however his friend needed help so he broke the rule and the teacher explained why that was a good thing. 

Has a dialogue with Tony and his stuffed animal. The stuffed animal talks about common fears children have before going to school about rules, and Tony is more optimistic about how fun school will be despite the common fears. 

The illustrations are really cute and demonstrate what would really happen at school. Everyone is a penguin. 

I think it's cute and I would read this to a group of Pre-K and Kindergarten students at the beginning of the year. I think telling the consequences through Tony's bad experiences will help students realize the bad things that might happen if they do not follow rules. I wish they would have added a rule about how to stand in line, I think first graders have a particularly difficult time with this concept.

Reviewed by SC

Thursday, July 03, 2014

I Have a Garden

I Have a Garden
Written and illustrated by Bob Bamer
New York:  Holiday House, 2013, Ages 2-4

This story is all about different animals in a dog's garden. The writing style is simple, using action verbs and common nouns. The illustrations fill the entire page and focus in on the subject of the page.  

I recommend placing this book in a toddler or preschool room. It's an easy one for kids 2-4 years of age. It's a good book to integrate with a lesson about gardening or what animals you may find in a garden.

--review by EmKAsh

Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie

Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie
By Sophia Grace Brownlee and Rosie McClelland, Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
New York:  Orchard Books, 2013, Ages 4-7

This story is about two little girls who love girly things like pink, fairies, tutus, and tea parties. The story is told by the two little girls featured in the story.

The writing style is descriptive and enthusiastic! The illustrations are colorful in pink and purple, and are very detailed. The pictures complement the text.

I recommend this book for parents with little girls who absolutely love dressing up and pretending. The book encourages pretend play which enhances the pragmatic knowledge. It supports the use of imagination and creativity. These cousins (the authors) were even featured on the Ellen Degeneres show with famous actresses like Katy Perry. However, it is a little over the top with all the girly things!

--review by EmKAsh