Saturday, December 27, 2008


Duel!  Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words by Dennis Brindell Fradin is another one I think the kids will thoroughly enjoy.  The 1804 deadly duel of words between vice president, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.  This famous match is explained in this wonderful children's book.  This is a famous duel but one I am not sure people know much about and one, I think, kids will devour!!  Another great one for boys - it will reel them in and hook them!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman

Ever wonder how Superman came to be??  Did you know that TWO men thought him up??  Did you know they scrimped and saved during the Great Depression to make their idea a reality??  If not - (or even if you did) - you NEED to read this one!  Boys of Steel:  The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ross MacDonald is just super!  I can see it being a hit with boys of ALL ages - ok, girls may enjoy it too - but this is just a "must" for boys especially.  (And those are hard to come by!!)  Loved it and the illustrations are also wonderful - they add that "comic book" feel that adds to the credibility of the story.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

To any and all who read my blog - a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!!
(Back tomorrow with regular programming!!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Making Cents

Making Cents by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson is a great introduction to money. This would be very useful in a unit to teach about currency and what each coin/dollar represents. I was fascinated with how the author shows that a dime, for instance, is worth ten penny nails, two wood screws or a marking pencil. I'd never have thought of a dime that way!! Bob McMahon's illustrations are very fun and add to the interest in this one. What a fun book! Definately worth a look!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Den is a Bed for a Bear

A Den is a Bed for a Bear: A Book about Hibernation by Becky Baines is a National Geographic book that I think kids will enjoy. It is a fun look at bears and where they live with the photgraphy that National Geographic is famous for. I would recommend this one - I think young "animal book" fans will love it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

April Pulley Sayre's Trout are Made of Trees is a fun look at food chains in the forest/streams. Who would have thought that if you trace it all the way back - really Trout are "made of" streams!?!? I love it!! Very neat concept and I think kids will like it too. The illustrations are very fun - Kate Endle did a super job of keeping the book fun and intriguing. Great one on ecology.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mom's Choice Awards

I was so excited when I found this Mom's Choice Award program AND then was EVEN MORE excited when they asked me to be a judge.  I am coming to the end of my judging period this round but I have had SO much fun doing it - we have played a lot of games here to choose our favorites, and I have found some great new books as well.

Winter Trees

If you need a book that has an interesting way of teaching about trees - just by looking at their shape, bark, etc. - then Winter Trees by Carole Gerber might be the one for you. This is really a good look at the "winter shape" of trees. Leslie Evans has done a wonderful job of illustrating this book - I think kids will find it interesting and a fun way to learn. I enjoy tree indentification and this one intrigues me - I guess I hadn't thought of how you can identify trees even in the winter without the leaves!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells

Philip Dray has written a wonderful story of the life of Ida B. Wells - as the subtitle says, "The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist." It is just that - a deeply touching story of a girl in a slave family - given their freedom - yet struggling from then on to keep it. It is a powerful story - Ida was tough and she deserves this recognition. At the end of the book, there is a beautiful timeline of Ida's life - it adds the authenticity and information that readers can use for reports and other projects. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells is a great addition to our Civil Rights units, slavery, etc. Stephen Alcorn's illustrations add such a wonderful touch to this book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fabulous Fishes

This is a fun find!! Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale has striking illustrations and even more fun?? It rhymes. This one will be great for story hour, younger ages, and any little ones interested in fish. It is a catchy, fun book that I know little ones will enjoy. The back pages are more information on each of the fish shown - I love it when authors do that!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wanda Gag: The Girl who Lived to Draw

Deborah Kogan Ray's Wanda Gag: The Girl who Lived to Draw is remarkable. (I suppose it helps to be a BIG fan of Millions of Cats -which I just happen to be!!) The book is just a beauty - the illustrations are magnificent - they truly add a nostaligic touch to the story. I just thoroughly enjoyed this story of Wanda Gag's life. She did not have an easy life, but she did work hard and overcame her circumstances. It was one of those books where you get so caught up in the story that you just want to keep reading to see how her life ends. Marvelous - simply marvelous!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Famous Day in History

Visit my "family blog" to see why this day is famous in history!! :)

Gerbil on the Loose

Just ran across this book and accompanying blog - I think kids would really enjoy this combo. I am ordering the book so I can't give a review on it yet - but soon!!! (If you've read it - let me know!)
Gerbil on the Loose

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Give a Goat

Jan West Schrock, a teacher and worker for Heifer International, has given us a story that will really bless you during this Christmas season. Give a Goat - is a wonderful story of a fifth grade class that decides to make a difference after hearing their teacher read to them the book, Beatrice's Goat. They figure out a clever way to sell "healthy snacks" and raise money to buy a goat through Heifer International - but WOW, they far surpass a goat - they end up purchasing a goat, a flock of chickens, and some ducks!! And that is the beauty of the story AND Heifer International - when you purchase an animal then when that animal has a baby, they give it to a neighbor and the gift goes on and on. This is what we nee do be teaching our kids - and this is such a great reminder during the holidays - giving to others less fortunate than ourselves. The book is wonderful and the illustrations add just the right touch - Aileen Darragh does a great job of adding simplicity and tenderness to the story. Don't miss this one this season - it's a great holiday book!

Andrea at Just One More Book posted a podcast all about Give a Goat recently.

Colleen from Chasing Ray wrote a great piece for Bookslut that mentions Give a Goat.

And, Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books put a post tie in with her other features on Hands for Hope and Heifer International.

Check them all out for more info on this wonderful book!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Doghouse

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE Jan Thomas!!??!  Well - I know I have but I must say it again.  Chloe and I just hooted and howled last night over her latest, The Doghouse.  How can you not LOVE these adorable characters - pig, cow, duck, and mouse!?!?  They are splendid - the books are at the top of my list!  What Chloe loves is that each book kind of builds on a previous one - you will see snippets of What Will Fat Cat Sit On? and A Birthday for Cow tucked in this book.  I use these for story hour and they are instant hits!!  I am telling you - you can check them out, but you will WANT to own them!!!

Under the Night Sky

I must say first of all - if you haven't read Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek - you MUST!!  Go grab a copy and ENJOY!  This is such a sweet, tender story - I just loved it!!  I have never seen the northern lights but this book just makes me want to find them this winter!  And what I loved even more is the tenderness between this hard-working mother and her son - parenting is not easy - but it can have its sweet moments - this is one of them!!  Anna Rich's illustrations are also magnificent - her style is beautiful - it lends a beauty to this book that is amazing!  REALLY, this is a must find -you will be glad you read it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ten Cents A Dance

Christine Fletcher's Ten Cents a Dance was sent to me as a preview copy.  I was not familiar with it before I received it in a box of books.  But the cover is catchy and I am always up for a new author, so I read it.  I have to say - it caught me and kept me going.  I liked the premise - teenage girl living in Chicago in 1941 - trying to support her family after her father dies.  She is working in a pickling plant BUT can make almost TRIPLE the money if she goes to work in a dance hall.  There's the dilemma - does she do what she know she should, listen to her mother and stay at the plant?  OR can she take matters into her own hands and go to the dance hall, make the larger amount of money AND move them out of the rough neighborhood they live in ALL without her mom ever knowing??  Ruby gets in with the wrong crowd, the wrong boys, and even the wrong girl friends.  This book is powerful and shows what can happen when you get mixed up with the wrong crowd, but I wasn't sure I'd want my teen daughter reading this one until she was VERY MATURE.  There is quite a bit of foul language and some sexual situations as well.  The book redeems itself well and shows that Ruby wasn't mature enough to make her own decisions - that she still did need a mother and family to help her, but the content is such that you would only want mature readers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wangari's Trees of Peace

I enjoy Jeannette Winter's books and this one is no exception.  Wangari's Trees of Peace is a great look at the people of Africa and their land.  Wangari is a woman that grew up in Kenya, comes to the U.S. to study, and when she goes back to her dear land, she sees there are no trees and no birds - buildings have been built instead.  So it becomes her mission to replace those trees - she begins in her own backyard and gradually encourages others to do the same.  It really is a great story - one that our kids need to read - we get so wrapped up in our culture sometimes that we forget that the rest of the world has a story too.  Wangari's story will inspire you - she was the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004 - and I love her words, "Right is right, eevn if you're alone." 

Her illustrations only enhance this wonderful story - they are rich in culture as well - marvelous!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A River of Words

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant jumped right out at me in my pile of books - Probably BECAUSE, we have just studied some of his poetry in our writing curriculum. So, for me, this was a very relevant and interesting read. William Carlos Williams has changed the face of poetry and is famous for that achievement but what you often don't know about his life is that he was a doctor by trade, only writing poetry on the side, as his enjoyment in life. I enjoyed the book and LOVED the interesting illustrations by Melissa Sweet. This is an area I think we can all stand to read more about, and so often overlook.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's Moving Day

Pamela Hickman's It's Moving Day is a gem! What a great story of how many animals can live in a burrow at all different times of the year. I thought it was fun to follow the antics in the burrow and the woodland animals that chose to live there. The illustrations, by Geraldo Valerio, are fun and whimsical and add a neat flair to the book. And if kids want to know more about the animals, there are some more facts at the end of the book. Kids will enjoy this one.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Looking Closely Inside the Garden

I always enjoy Frank Serafini's Looking Closely titles. So Looking Closely Inside the Garden was no exception! The photography is amazing and the text is short enough that it goes over very well with young ones too. This book is all based around what we can find in our gardens, and Serafini sets it up so that you see a small circle of the larger picture and have to guess what it could be. Then, on the next page, it reveals itself to the reader. These guessing books are very popular with our younger readers and this one will be no exception!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ballots for Belva

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has written Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency. I have to admit - I knew nothing of the life of Belva Lockwood - but she was quite a woman! Talk about your strong female character!! Back when it wasn't conceivable to do so, Belva received a law degree, ran for president, and just plain fought for equal treatment of women. I like her spunk and it comes through in this great non-fiction read for children. It has a nice timeline in the back of the book that shows the progress of Women's Suffrage in the United States.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Simple Salutations

Need Christmas Cards?? What about birth announcements, thank you cards, bridal shower cards, just note cards?? Really - anything at all - you can get them here! I LOVE their work - it is very classy and original. This online card company is run by two sisters and THEY ARE GOOD!!! Visit Simple Salutations and see what they have to offer.

Oh, and if you use our special offer code - "beckyb" - you get 10% off of your order!!

Nic Bishop Frogs

Nic Bishop's Frogs is simply put, stunning! Whether you like, or don't like, frogs - this book has amazing photography and makes you want more! I thought some of the reading was a bit long for younger readers, but, the pictures alone, will hold the young-ones' attention. This is one I will be showing to all of our non-fiction readers - it is fabulous!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Farmer George Plants a Nation

Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas with paintings by Layne Johnson is a new-to-me non-fiction title. I always knew George Washington was also a farmer, but I didn't realize how innovative he was with farming NOR how much it mirrored his techniques to build a free nation. Very interesting and would be a fun addition for a unit on George Washington. The illustrations are beautiful - they really give it an old-world feel. I would say that it is definately upper elementary - there is a lot of text and would quickly lose little ones.

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