Saturday, October 30, 2010

#19 Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

Ivy June and Catherine are as different as two girls can be. They live miles apart in Kentucky - and Catherine's family is as well-to-do as Ivy June's is poor. Catherine lives in the big city and goes to a private school, while Ivy June attends a poor public school. The girls participate in a program where each girl is hosted by the other for two weeks. They are required to write a journal about their experiences and feelings while they're together. We get to read their journals, which really helps us get to know each girl.

You can imagine the difficulties both girls have, both in school and in each others' homes. Both girls begin to understand how different their worlds are, but how similar they are. Will they get along? What would it be like to have an exchange like this?

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is one of my favorite authors. If you enjoy this book, there are many others that you will love just as much! The author does a great job of making us sympathize with both girls, and she makes us feel like we've met two new friends!

Enjoy more information about Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and her books at:

#18 The Magical Ms. Plum

Move over Wayside School: welcome to Ms. Plum's classroom! This 3rd grade classroom is unusual because Ms. Plum has magic ways of taking care of any child's problem. Whether they have trouble speaking English, are feeling shy, can't seem to keep things neat, or see the world through "rose-colored glasses", Ms. Plum has a solution in her supply closet.

The chapters in this book are short and easy to read, and each one tells its own little story. Although Ms. Plum only teaches 3rd graders, I think 4th graders will enjoy reading the book - and perhaps can learn some of the same lessons that Ms. Plum's students learn in the book.

Need a fun little book about school? Check out The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonny Becker. Oh - and if you need a fun story for a younger brother or sister you might want to look at some of Bonny Becker's picture books. You can learn all about her at her website:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

#17 How to Steal a Dog

"Sometimes, the more you stir it, the more it stinks."

I think that's my favorite line from How to Steal a Dog. It sure seems to be true in this story, where Georgina comes up with a plan to steal a dog in order to solve her family's financial troubles and finally find a real house to live in.

I learned so much about the difficulties other people deal with in this book: poor Georgina has so many issues just because she doesn't have a home to go to, but has to live in her car. It really helped me become more sympathetic to others. I would rate this one of the best books I read this year so far. It was funny, adventurous and really a blast to read.

Barbara O'Connor has a neat website that you'll want to take a look at: There is also a wonderful interview with her at the end of the book. Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

#16 Katie Kazoo Switcheroo: Don't Be Such A Turkey!

Katie Kazoo and her class are visiting a pilgrim village, but as usual, things don't go as planned for Katie. A big wind comes up again, and Katie becomes Patience Mitchell, the corn husk doll maker. Since Katie doesn't know how to make corn husk dolls, this is sure to turn out badly, and before she knows it, Katie, I mean, Patience, is fired from her job! How can this one turn out well?

Katie's family is heading to New York to celebrate Thanksgiving and to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Are Katie's adventures over? You'll want to read this fun short story and find out for yourself.

You may also enjoy the Katie Kazoo webpage - with fun and games for everyone! Visit it at

Friday, October 22, 2010

#15 Muttley

Don't you just love puppies? Charles and Lizzie Peterson do! They volunteer at an animal shelter, where they meet Muttley, and take him into their home as a foster puppy. But Muttley is not like other dogs. He wants to sleep all the time. Lizzie doesn't think anyone will ever adopt him when he's always lying around.

While working at the animal shelter Lizzie learns a lot more about herself, too, which I think makes people who are reading the book think about themselves - and what they do to make friends with others.

After reading this book you might want to read all of the other Puppy Place books, and you might even want to volunteer at the local animal shelter! I know they need people to help out there, just like at Caring Paws in the story. So, curl up with your favorite dog (or cat!) and enjoy this great story today!

#14 I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912

Wow! If you like adventure, you've just got to read this book!

George and his little sister are lucky enough to get to travel on the Titanic: they even meet the man who designed the ship! George is a very curious (and mischievous) ten year old. He gets in a little trouble on the ship, but it's a great way for the reader to find out more about the Titanic. George discovered the third-class area, (where he meets new friends by the boiler room), the baggage area and he even slid down the banisters!

Even though we all know how the story ends, this book gives us a lot of wonderful information about the Titanic, the time period, and George's home in upstate New York. I couldn't put it down - and I'll bet most of the readers at Pine Meadow won't be able to either!

This is the first book in a series of 6 about surviving historical events. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book: I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

#13 Eleven

Sam is turning eleven years old, and before his birthday he looks everywhere for his present. (Do you do that? I remember doing that!) What Sam finds instead, however, is a newspaper clipping with a picture - a picture of Sam as a little boy! Stranger still, the headline says he is missing, and it gives a different last name for him.

Sam is confused and scared. He turns to a new friend, Caroline, and together they decide to solve the mystery of his life. They also become very close friends - and they create the most amazing project together!

Patricia Reilly Giff is a really good author: we have over 50 books by her in our library! She tells an excellent story once again. If you like this book, you'll want to try many of her others!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

#12 The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy

Poor Ordinary Boy! Everyone in Superopolis has a wonderful super power - except Ordinary Boy. He would give anything to have some kind of super power, and it is really fun to hear about all the super powers of his family and friends. His friends, Plasma Girl, Stench and Halogen Boy have some pretty unique powers, but his biggest hero is the Amazing Indestructo!

This is a quick read that is funny and has lots of adventure. I had a lot of fun with it, and was pleased to see that there are now three more titles in the series. I'm not sure I'll go rushing off to read them, but I promise I will get them on the library shelves so Ordinary Boy fans can check them out as soon as possible!

And if you were a super hero, what would your super power be? I'd like to be able to fly. Feel free to share a comment here and let me know what super power you'd have.

#11: Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We the Children

I was wandering through Barnes & Noble and caught sight of this newest book by Andrew Clements. Ever since I read Frindle years ago, I have been a huge Andrew Clements fan. I bought this one right away and read it as soon as I got home. It did not disappoint!

It seems that Benjamin Pratt find the janitor, Mr. Keane, in need of medical attention. Mr. Keane entrusts Benjamin with a gold coin that is inscribed with the words ". . . Defend It. Duncan Oakes 1783.” So begins the story of a school that is going to be demolished and replaced by an amusement park. Benjamin and his friend Janet have a mystery on their hands, and they are determined to solve it before the school is closed.

This is the first book in the series, so it lays the groundwork and then leaves the reader with lots of questions. I can't wait to read the next book so I can find out the answers to all my questions. Based on the title I'm guessing Janet and Benjamin have a big fight ahead of them: but I certainly hope they can save the school!

If you are as big an Andrew Clements fan as I am you will probably enjoy visiting his website at:

#10 How to Save your Tail

Or, as the full title states, How to Save Your Tail: if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy, chimney trolls…and cookies, too.

I have to say I loved that Bob got into his messy situation because he was so distracted by a book. I also thought it was great that the author decided to name the rat Bob – I was expecting something a bit more fancy or fairy-tale-ish.

Have you ever been in a sticky situation, but were able to get out of it by telling a good story? Bob certainly knows how to tell stories! However, his stories sounded so familiar to me! I'm quite sure I know a story where a house of straw is blown down, where a giant lives in a castle at the top of a beanstalk, or where a person in a little red cape brings food to Grandma's house. I also thought I recognized Rumplestiltskin - and many other tales told by Bob.

This was a great easy story to read. It was certainly totally different from the Fablehaven series I just finished - and it is very suitable for your younger brothers and sisters. Say - you may want to read it aloud to them and see if they know some of Bob's tails...oops, I mean, tales!

#9 Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison

Wow! This is definitely the most scary and most exciting book of the series!

The artifacts that are the keys to the dragon sanctuary are quickly being collected by the "bad guys", and Seth, Kendra and their grandparents (and other friends) don't seem to be able to do anything about it. It looks like the dragon sanctuary will be opened and the end of the world will arrive.

Of course Seth and Kendra have great ideas of their own, and are trying desperately to protect the world. They take on unbelievable risks as they battle, and they are not even certain if they always know who is fighting with them and who is actually fighting against them.

The book climaxes with a horrifying epic battle: exciting right up to the end!

You have to be a very good reader to make your way through all five books in this series. You may want to wait until you're in 5th or even 6th grade or older to attempt the entire series - but someday, especially if you like fantasy, these five books should be on your list of "books you must read". They are that good!

#8 Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

This is the fourth Fablehaven book in the series - and it definitely is the most exciting so far! I think I mentioned that Kendra has a bit of a crush on one of the characters in Book 3. Well, you really have to keep reading to see what happens!

In Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, Seth and Kendra are kidnapped, are chased by vampires, and even sneak into a dragon sanctuary to steal an artifact. There is so much excitement and adventure I don't know where to begin in telling you about it! I guess the only thing to say is: if you love fantasy stories (and you aren't bothered by some scary situations) start with book #1 and read your way through the entire series. You'll be glad you did!!

#7 Fablehaven 3: Grip of the Shadow Plague

Kendra and Seth are back at Fablehaven for yet another exciting adventure!

I am recommending the Fablehaven titles only to students in grades 4 and above: the fear factor can be a bit high at times. The fantastical creature are amazing - and it is really fun to see them close-up! I love how their personalities shine. I especially enjoy the satyrs, who are very comical, and make really good mischievous friends for Seth. I don't like the centaurs, who don't want to do anything to help Seth, Kendra and Fablehaven.

Kendra gets a bit of a crush on one character in this book, so for those of you who like romance, I think you'll enjoy it! And since I started reading this series I've decided I just have to continue on and read them all...and although I don't usually select fantasy, I am really excited about reading the next book! Let me know if you've been reading the Fablehaven series as well, okay?

#6 Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

At the end of the school year, Kendra and Seth are allowed to go back to Fablehaven for the summer. The story takes up right where it left off - with many more adventures and some risky behavior by Seth.

I just couldn't stop reading the series once I got into it, and I thought this second book in the series was even more exciting than the I couldn't wait for the third!

If you are frightened by scary stories, these books are probably not the ones you'll want to read: they can be pretty scary. They are fast-paced and exciting, and they will definitely keep you interested!

#5 Fablehaven

Do you like fantasy? I admit that it is not always my favorite type of book - but I really wanted to read this series to find out if it was appropriate for my friends at Pine Meadow.

Kendra and Seth go to stay with their grandparents (isn't that where all fun things happen?), and soon it becomes apparent to them that something strange is happening there. It isn't long before they begin to recognize the fairies and other creatures that abound on the Fablehaven grounds - so Grandma and Grandpa fill them in on what is happening.

The fairy tale creatures are amazing! I especially love the cow who gives the milk which allows them to see the fairies! The relationship between Seth and Kendra is typical of a brother and sister: Kendra always seem to be bossing Seth around, and he is a bit mischievous and daring!

When I was reading about Halloween night I was on the edge of my seat - and I couldn't believe it when Seth opened the window and let in the scary creatures surrounding the house! I just knew when I finished the first book that I would have to check out the second and keep on reading this great series!

Here's a link to a fun website on Brandon Mull, the author of Fablehaven.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#4 The Sloppy Copy Slipup

Just like at Pine Meadow, the students in Brian's class have to do some writing assignments. Brian's problems start when he has writer's block, and just can't think of anything to write about. He begins to tell a wild tale about all of the things that have prevented him from writing - and his story just gets more and more wild! Brian learns that he really has a great imagination, and he gives the readers lots of great tips for writing along the way.

Although I didn't think Brian was always acting very respectful (he just wasn't quite "in the zone" some of the time), I really enjoyed the way he told his wild tale. I also thought the tips in the book were excellent. I've always loved writing, and have wanted to spend more time writing. Brian made me realize that I just need to write my words down...because I have great stories to tell too! In fact, we all do!

#3 The Coastwatcher

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres (that means "writing style"). This story is based on a period of time when families were worried about the polio outbreak, so Hugh's family moves out to the beach house in South Carolina to avoid being around other people who might be ill.

Hugh spends his time watching the coast, believing that one day he will spot a submarine. You have to understand that 1943 was a scary time. The US had been attacked at Pearl Harbor, and people on the coast were very afraid that the Germans would come ashore in another location. So Hugh looks through his binoculars every day...and sure enough, one day he thinks he sees a German submarine! But will anyone believe him?

This story will keep you entertained, but it will teach you some history at the same time. I thought it was amazing the way Hugh took his watch so seriously, and when he did see the submarine he did everything he could to keep his family safe. I wonder if I would be so brave?

#2 The Lemonade War

I have to admit that The Lemonade War is one of the best books I've read in a long time! I could totally understand how both Evan and Jessie felt as they learned they would be in the same classroom. When I was growing up I had an older brother, Tim, who was just one year older than me. Although we were great friends at home, it seemed like we never agreed on anything when we were at school!

I think everyone at Pine Meadow will love this book! There are some very funny parts - when both Jessie and Evan are trying to outdo eachother in their lemonade sales - but there are also some times in the story when you can see how bad each of the children feels.

The Lemonade War also made me think of the lemonade stands that the kids in my neighborhood have in the summer. Although I sometimes bought a glass or two, I can't imagine that any of them were ever able to earn $100!

#1 Deep and Dark and Dangerous

Do you like scary stories? I do, and you really have to if you're going to take this one on. It is SCARY! It even gave me a few nightmares, so if you don't want to be scared, stay away!

Claire, the main character in this story, travels to the lake with her Aunt Dulcie to help take care of her cousin while her aunt does her artwork. The book gets scarier when Claire and her cousin Emma meet a new friend, Sissy, and they get downright spooky when Claire begins to think that Sissy is a ghost! Do you believe in ghosts? This book will surely send shivers up your spine.

I loved the story, and I thought it was very well-written and fun to read. However, it is a very scary book, so beware! I have a feeling, though, that it will be one of the favorites for our Pine Meadow fourth graders!

One hundred books in one year!

All right, I have officially taken the one hundred book challenge! I am going to try to read 100 of our Pine Meadow library books this school year - and tell you all about them.

For those of you who are avid readers this probably doesn't sound like such a huge task. However, in addition to these books I am also reading "adult books" (like those for my book club), technology books (to keep up with the computer part of my job), and just the pile of books I want to read!

Anyway, for all my student friends at Pine Meadow I'm going to us this blog to tell you all about the books I'm reading. I hope you'll want to read some of them and let me know what you think, and tell me all about the books you're reading, too!

Here we go: happy reading!!