Monday, May 30, 2011

#102 The Kind of Friends We Used to Be

I will never forget 6th grade...and the moment my best friend joined the popular kids at a different lunch table and left me wondering how our friendship had changed and what made those kids so much cooler than me.

This is the story of Marilyn and Kate. Best friends forever. But now something has changed. Now they are both remembering their friendship and trying to figure out if it's more important to be who you are or to fit in with your friends.

Marilyn's new cheerleader friends can be so mean to others - always judging what they do and laughing at the other kids. They even make fun of Kate - and Marily isn't sure if she should stick up for Kate or not.

Kate is trying out new things - like playing the guitar - and becoming friends with people who share her interests. But when the two girls need to talk or need help with a project (like Marilyn's campaign for student council) they realize their friendship is still very real.

#101 The Healing Spell

Well, here it: I've passed 100 and I'm continuing on. It has been a fun journey, and I guess I'm just not ready to quit!

Livie believes that she is responsible for her mother's coma, because she was the only one with her mother when it happened. They were in her little boat, arguing once again, when her mother fell out.

Now Livie's mother has been brought home from the hospital, but Livie does not want to go anywhere near her. She tries to help out around the house, but she just doesn't feel like she's even a part of the family. She decides to visit the traiteur's house out in the swamp. Livie believes that the traiteur (who is something like a healer who uses herbs to make potions) will be able to come up with a healing spell that will bring Livie's mother out of her coma. Little does she know that the spell is intended to heal Livie and to bring their family closer together than ever before.

The bayou is an amazing place for this story - and it is certainly one that will fill you with hope and faith. If Livie can just open her heart perhaps the healing can take place. Enjoy The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


It is time to celebrate!! I have read 100 books during the 2010-2011 school year and achieved my goal!! Just for fun I went back and tried to select my top ten books of the year (but I'm afraid I couldn't narrow it down to 10!) In no particular order, here are my favorite books of the year:
  1. How to Steal a Dog
  2. Faith, Hope and Ivy June
  3. Everything for a Dog
  4. Fablehaven (the whole series!)
  5. Found (the whole series!)
  6. Wild Girl
  7. Saving Zasha
  8. Finding Danny
  9. Jip: His Story
  10. Fish
  11. Pond Scum
  12. Shooting the Moon
  13. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
It has been a great year of reading!! I think I'll read a few books that aren't written for 10 year olds, and then I'll get right back at it. This is a habit I'd like to continue!!

Have a great summer everyone!

#100 Dancing Through Fire

Anyone who has read even a little of this blog knows that I love to read. Dancing through Fire by Kathryn Lasky is a perfect example of why I love to read. I don't know anything about dance. I never took a class, never stood en pointe, and I never dreamed of being a prima ballerina. However, in this book, I began to experience a little bit of what it would be like.

Sylvie is 13 years old. She lives in Paris in 1870. She wants nothing more than to grow just 3/4 of an inch so she can be tall enough to move to the next level in the dance company. But this is not just a book about ballet. We soon learn about the dream Sylvie's mother had of being a prima ballerina but how she gave it all up when she married Sylvie's father (who died shortly after Sylvie was born).

Times are hard enough for Sylvie and her mother, who does laundry for wealthy women in Paris. But things get even worse when the war begins and it becomes impossible to buy food. Sylvie discovers that there are members of the ballet, including her own petite mere, who are involved in the war effort, and Sylvie begins to realize that her dreams can be more than just on the stage.

This book is one in a series of Portraits - books that are written about a famous piece of artwork. Kathryn Lasky wrote the story of Sylvie based on a famous painting by Degas. It's a wonderful way to learn about art and history, and to enjoy a great book!

Visit Kathryn Lasky's website here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#99 Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

You can't imagine how sad I feel: here I am at the 99th book...and it was a good one!

Leven is a kid living a really rough life in Burnt Culvert, Oklahoma. He gets picked on at school and forced to do all the work at home (where he lives with his terrible aunt and uncle). However, we learn early on that Leven has some pretty fantastic gifts - like the ability to see the future and even change it for the better.

Lev is soon found by Winter, a girl with some pretty special abilities of her own, Clover, a cool little sycophant, and finally by Geth, who had been a great king but has been reduced to a little toothpick. Together they need to avoid Sabine and the dark shadows and travel across the world to find, and ultimately to destroy, the gateway to Foo.

This fantasy will grab you right away and keep you laughing! They new-found friends have some great adventures together. Geth continually reminds them all that everything depends upon fate, and together they help Leven overcome his feelings of doubt and realize that he has the power to save humanity.

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo is the first in the series of five books. I know I can't wait to read the next one! Special thanks to Jacob for recommending this series to me: I know you will love it as well!

Check out the author, Obert Skye, on his website here:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

#98 Shooting the Moon

Jamie Dexter has grown up in an army family. Her Dad is the Colonel, and she is a self-described "army brat". She's a delightful girl: a tomboy, a card-shark, a hard worker, and very eager to please.

Jamie and her older brother TJ have played "army" for most of their lives. She thinks there is nothing more wonderful than going off to war, so when TJ enlists she is as much jealous as she is proud. She can't understand why her parents don't feel the same way.

Once in Vietnam TJ sends regular letters to his parents, but to Jamie he sends rolls of film with the direction that she should develop them. She learns to use the equipment and solutions and finds that TJ's pictures to her tell the story of all that he sees. These pictures, along with her relationship with Private Hollistar (one of the soldiers she meets at the base), provide her with another side of war, and gradually Jamie realizes that the war is not at all what she thought.

Shooting the Moon is a beautiful story. It is told in a way that will make you laugh, with characters you wish you could meet in real life. You won't want to miss this awesome book!

#97 The Maze of Bones

I am probably the last person to finally read book 1 in The 39 Clues series! I finally read The Maze of Bones by my favorite author Rick Riordan.

As I imagined it would be, this turned out to be a fascinating beginning to a series that I can't wait to continue reading! For those of you who haven't already read it, the story is about Dan and Amy Cahill (and their many, many relatives) off on the adventure of a lifetime. At the start of the story we learn that Dan and Amy's beloved grandma Grace has died. They attend the funeral with this huge family, and then are invited to the reading of the will. Here's where the mystery of the 39 clues begins. Each person in the room has a choice: accept a clue and embark on a challenge to discover the most important treasure in the world, and become "powerful beyond belief", or accept an inheritance of a million dollars.

Now I'm not so sure I wouldn't just take the money and run, but Dan and Amy turn in their money for the first clue. This sends them off on an exciting adventure to France to try to solve the mystery of the first clue, and perhaps even discover the 2nd clue.

Check out the whole series:

#96 The Sisters Club: Rule of Three

Sisters Alex, Stevie and Joey usually get along famously. Although they each have their own interests, they support each other and cheer each other on. However, when both older sister, Alex, and middle sister, Stevie, decide to audition for the same part in the upcoming play their great friendship seems to fall apart.

This book was written by Megan McDonald - most famous for the Judy Moody and Stink books. I think The Sisters Club will join those other series as being especially loved by students!

Each girl has their own creative, upbeat and fun personality, and Megan McDonald does a great job bringing them alive for us. Oldest sister Alex is the actress (think: drama queen) in the family. Middle sister, Stevie, does most of the narrating of the story. She is the singer in the family, but she also loves to be creative with cooking - and in this story she bakes hundreds of cupcakes. I love the way she puts her personality and her mood in the cupcake batter and in the cupcake names! Little sister Joey is doing her best to keep up. Her passion is Little Women, and she is constantly quoting from that book (which was one of my favorites too!) Throughout the book we get to read journal entries from Joey and plays written by Alex. They really add a lot to the story, and definitely let us know how each sister is feeling.

Whether or not you have sisters, check out Rule of Three - and the other books from this fun series by Megan McDonald!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#95 Sabotaged

I've been waiting anxiously to read the 3rd book in the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Sabotaged: I had really enjoyed the first two.

This book begins with Jonah and Katherine accompanying Andrea to the time period where she had been kidnapped. Andrea is Virginia Dare - the first English child to have been born in Roanoke County.

As they are traveling through time, Andrea takes out the elucidator and reprograms it, and then loses it, so the children arrive in a different location and different time period. It doesn't take them long to figure out that Andrea has been tricked by someone, (who they call "Second") and is using them to change history.

The three children soon find two tracers, and then rescue the man the Andrea (Virginia Dare) believes to be her grandfather. The action is fast-paced - and the adventure continues right up to the last page.

These books have a tremendous history lesson for all of us: they really make the past come alive. I found that I remembered very little of this time period, right around 1600, and it was fascinating to consider why the events happened the way they did.

Here is an interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix that tells a little more about her writing process:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

#94 The Toilet Paper Tigers

Are you in Little League? Corey Johnson and his friends are - and they're looking forward to another fun season, until they find out that their coach, the lovable Professor Pendergast, forgot to show up on the day of the draft (so they got all the players not picked by any other team)! Worse than that, he doesn't even know a thing about baseball! How can they win?

To make matters worse, PP has left the coaching duties to his annoying granddaughter, Kristy Pendergast, who is visiting from New York. Kristy is sure that she can whip the team into shape to win their games - but so far it looks like they can't even get to first base. Their uniforms have pictures of toilet paper on them, their catcher is afraid of the ball, their right fielder falls asleep during the game, and Kristy seems to have mixed up and offended everyone! She even took a picture of the boys in the locker room while they were changing...just to have something to blackmail them with.

This fun baseball book is typical Gordon Korman humor. It's a great book to read just as you're beginning your summer baseball. And it will make your team look like they could win the Little League World Series!

Enjoy Gordon Korman's website at: Now - PLAY BALL!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

#93 Cabin on Trouble Creek

It is 1803, and many families are traveling from the east to the new undiscovered west and staking their claim on the wild land. Eleven year old Daniel and his younger brother Will make this long journey with their father. They begin to clear the land and build a rough cabin, and then father leaves Will and Daniel to complete the work on the cabin while he travels back home to pick up their mother and their brothers and sisters.

At first the days go by quickly, and Will and Daniel work hard, but have some fun too - trying to catch fish and learning to trap rabbits. They think the rest of the family will be joining them in about 6 weeks - but pretty soon winter comes and they realize they won't see the family again until spring. Neither one dares to think what might have happened to them.

This great adventure is based on a true story about two similar boys who stayed alone for 8 months waiting for their family. They chopped wood, kept the fire burning, and even had to defend themselves from a bear! As I read the book I couldn't help thinking about my own son at age 11, and I wondered if he would be able to survive this life.

You will learn a lot about life in the frontier days, and you will pick up some great tips about being in the wilderness and finding food, tracking animals and listening.

I think this book, although not a brand new one, will be enjoyed by many of you! Check it out today!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

#92 Captain Nobody

Have you ever felt like nobody even knows you're around? Newt Newman feels that way. His parents are super busy, his big brother is a football star, and even in school Newt and his friends JJ and Cecil are ignored. Newt is disregarded so much that during the biggest football game of the year he gets squeezed out of his seat and kicked out of the stadium when he can't find his ticket. He tries to explain that he is Chris Newman's brother, but all people say is "I didn't know Chris Newman HAD a brother!"

At the end of the big game, however, Chris scores the winning touchdown and is knocked out from a hard hit to the helmet. He falls into an unexplained coma, which keeps Newt's parents even busier, and Newt is left alone. It's Halloween - and Newt pulls on a costume to go out with his friends. When asked who he is, he replies "Captain Nobody!" and this begins his week of fame as a hero himself. You see, as Captain Nobody, Newt is brave enough to help a lost neighbor, prevent a robbery, and even clear out a highway so an airplane can land on it. Why, he's even brave enough to climb way up to the top of....oh wait, I'd better keep that part a secret!

Newt has so many great qualities that it's hard to imagine he could be ignored. He literally takes care of his parents all by himself - making breakfast and keeping track of their schedules. Newt is a fantastic artist with a wonderful imagination. If he was a student in our school I'm certain he would be a popular kid!
The story gets better and more exciting with each chapter - and the ending is terrific! This book is a 2011-12 Maud Hart Lovelace nominee, so it is one you'll be sure to want to read!

Here's the Captain Nobody website: for you to enjoy as well.