October 24, 2012

Review: May B

May B by Caroline Starr Rose

This is the story of a girl with dyslexia on the prairie, but it's no little house! When May's father hires her out to help a neighboring homesteader and his young wife, she must deal with their strained relationship and the wife's poor treatment of her. When the wife decides to return home and the husband follows after her, May ends up being abandoned in their sod house during heavy winter weather and it becomes a story of survival.

Strengths: The story is told with very few words in the first person, like a journal, a little Hemingway-like.

Weaknesses: Reading about May's loneliness gets a little old after a while.

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!


October 23, 2012

Review: Dork Diaries 4


Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell

This is a Cybils review.

I confess that I have not read any of the Dork Diary books, even though they are extremely popular in my library. The fourth book has Nikki volunteering to raise money for an animal shelter by entering an ice skating competition.  The problem is, she doesn't know how to skate.  Making the whole thing even messier is the fact that the shelter is owned by the grandmother of her crush, Brandon, and her nemesis Mackenzie is a fantastic skater.

Strengths: Fun, entertaining, light with wonderful illustrations (though I have to wonder about the hands - they always look like mittens!).

Weaknesses: Although the series is very popular, don't expect anything really meaningful here.

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

October 22, 2012

CYBILS Nominations

Well, my reading dance card is pretty full right now!

Here is a link to the books that have been nominated for the Cybils this year:
http://www.cybils.com/2012-nominations-middle-grade-fiction.html

I'm working my way through them (it's easier to read than to write the reviews!). So far, I have one title I'm recommending move on.  Can you guess what it is?  You'll have to stay tuned to find out for sure.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

October 20, 2012

Review: Liar & Spy

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
This is a Cybils review.
I enjoyed reading Rebecca Stead's first novel, First Light, but thought the boy character in that story was not very well written. When I read the synopsis of this, which featured another boy main character, I was very worried it would be similar. However, the character in this book is very real and very believable. Liar & Spy is the story of Georges, whose parents named him after Georges Seurat. When his family moves into an apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, he finds a sign advertising a spy club and meets the aptly Safer. As the two boys track a mysterious neighbor, the boys learn a lot about each other, and themselves.

Pros: Realistic characters in very real situations dealing with family and friendship.

Cons: Much of this story happens in very subtle, subdued situations. As result, it's not the fasted paced read.

This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

October 19, 2012

Review: Interrupting Chicken



Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

As Papa Chicken reads his daughter bedtime stories, little red chicken just can't help but interrupt and tell what he thinks some classic fairy tale characters should do to get out of their problems. This is a funny story with wonderfully colorful pictures that reminds me of my own interrupting daughter! I highly recommend Interrupting Chicken as a fun picture book.

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyages and happy reading!

October 18, 2012

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece



My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

This is a Cyblis review.

This book tells the story of Jamie, a boy who's sister Rose died in a terrorist attack in England. As a result, his family is pretty messed up. He moves to a new school with his absent, alcoholic father and his older sister Jas (who was Rose's twin). He meets one friendly student, who is Muslim, but the rest of the students bully him and treat him like an outsider. The book was funny, touching, and very poignant at times. Jamie deals with a very wide range of emotions as he works to overcome the event that so shaped his life.

Pros: This book is very touching, sweet, and real. I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it late into the night. Also, Jamie's thought processes are perfect for a ten year old boy.

Cons: It's very real, and may be too real for some students as it deals frankly with some very sensitive subject matter (terrorism, race relations, alcoholism, loss, and others).

This review is based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

October 3, 2012

Cybils Nominations Now Open!

Yes, and you can nominate your favorite book published during the last year! Anyone can! Nominations are open between now and October 15th.

There are ten different genres, but each person can only nominate one book per genre. The genres are:

  1. Book Apps
  2. Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books
  3. Fantasy & Science Fiction
  4. Fiction Picture Books
  5. Graphic Novels
  6. Middle Grade Fiction
  7. Non-Fiction Picture Books
  8. Non-Fiction: Middle Grade & Young Adult
  9. Poetry
  10. Young Adult Fiction
If you have a title you'd like to nominate, head on over to http://www.cybils.com/2012/10/nominate-here-for-the-2012-cybils.html, sign up for a nominating account by clicking the nomination form link, and enjoy!

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

October 1, 2012

Review: The Incredible Rockhead



The Incredible Rockhead by Scott Nickel

Graphic novels have become a new favorite of mine. I use to think they had weak stories and shallow characters, or where only for older students. Not so any more! Now I love them and look forward to finding new ones. Unfortunately, this just doesn't measure up as a great graphic novel. It's the story of Chip Stone, who is drugged by a crazed ex military type pretends to be the school nurse and gives him a shot. When he needs to, Chip becomes Rockhead, literally a boy with a great big rock for a head. Although this give him a strange super power that lets him crash his head into things, he still is just as insecure and clumsy as always. There are lots of rock, paper, scissors gags, especially toward the end of the story, but my favorite part were the special offers on some pages in the book that were just like the things I used to see in comic books of my day. Although this would appeal to readers who liked humorous graphic novels such as Captain Underpants, I just don't see it having a wide readership.

There is a fun website for fans of the book that has activities and downloads. It can be found by clicking here.

This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading.