Oliver Has Something to Say!  By Pamela Edwards 


Oliver has a very common problem found among children with an older sibling.  Oliver doesn’t get a chance to speak.  Oliver opens his mouth to speak but someone always answers every question for him.  First, it is his older sister.  She seems like the typical older sister who is trying to be helpful.  She just has not noticed that Oliver has grown up and is able to speak for himself.  Mom and Dad are also guilty of speaking for Oliver instead of waiting for him to form the words and make his own voice heard. 


It takes a kind, patient preschool teacher to help Oliver find his voice.  Oliver seems a little overwhelmed when he gets to make a choice for himself about where to play.  Mrs. Samra is patient while Oliver tries to get his underused mouth in motion.  Through the process Mrs. Samra listens with her eyes and heart as well as her ears.  Finally, Oliver is able to tell her what he wants to do. 


Oliver has learned his lesson well.  After his first day in pre-school he gets up in the middle of the night and lets everyone know they have not been right about what he really wanted as they spoke for him.  Loudly, he lets them know all the things he tried to say over the week.  Mom, Dad, and Margaret are so surprised that this time they have nothing to say.


This is an excellent book to be used in the home or classroom, not only to encourage children  to speak up, but to let talkative children  know they are not being helpful when they rush to finish someone’s thought or sentence.  Sometimes, children need an extra few seconds of time before they can gather their thoughts.  Those who are a bit quicker in forming their thoughts (Mom, Dad, older siblings, and even teachers) need to take the lesson in this book to heart. 

Thanks to Jill at The Well Read Child for sending the book for me to review for her website.  You can see the review there if you click the link above.  Spend some time there checking out the rest of her site… it is wonderful. 


This historical fiction novel for middle school students takes place in a often neglected setting in literature.    The novel is set in Los Alamos.  Los Alamos at that time did not officially exist.  Mail coming into and out of the area was strictly censored to prevent anyone from finding out a group of scientist were all living there and working on a gadget to end the war.   Dewey and Suze are both outcasts forced into a relationship by the events surrounding WWII and their parents jobs in Los Alamos.  Dewey has a physical disability and a passion for climbing around in the dump to find things she can use to work on her inventions. This has earned her the nickname Screwy Dewey.  Suze is called Truck behind her back because of her large size and her tendencyto boss others around.  The fact that they are both outcasts in their class does not make them friends.  In fact, Suze is one of those who teases Dewey when she first arrives.  When Dewey’s dad is called away on secret war business Dewey has to live with Suze and her parents.  All does not go well from the beginning for either girl, but slowly they begin to understand and tolerate each other.  Eventually their relationship grows and they learn from each other.  The relationship building takes most of the book and misunderstandings lead to Dewey running away. 

The historical facts surrounding this story add much to the book as a whole.  The title is not explained until the last chapter and describes a scene not many people have ever read about in history books. 

I think girls from ages 10-14 will enjoy accompanying Suze and Dewey on their journey to friendship. 

There is a sequel and I will be reading it soon.  It is White Sands, Red Menace.  Look for a review soon but not too soon.  I have a growing stack of books to get read!

  WOW!  What a great book.  I am going to go out on a limb and say this book is going to be one of the next BIG books.  Actually, the author says this is the first book of a trilogy.  I agree that there needs to be more books after this one.   This book goes on my BEST book list.

Now, how can I tell you about the book without giving away all the intriguing details? 

Imagine the USA is no more.  In its place is a new government that is very cruel.  One district was annihilated because they tried to rebel.  Now, all the districts must pay the price for that rebellion.  Each district must have two contestants, one boy and one girl enter the Hunger Game.  The Hunger Games are televised and mandatory viewing for all of the country.  You might want to call the Hunger Games “Survivor Extreme!”  These games are not over until one only person remains alive. 

That is all I can tell you without giving away parts of the book.  I can say that the author does make you care what happens to district twelve’s contestants.  I can say there is violence but it is not there just for the sake of gaining readers.  The violence is driven by the plot.  I can say there is a love story of sorts.  Beyond that, I won’t ruin the suspense for the readers.

Warning:  I would not recommend this book to elementary students because of the violence.  Some junior high students might not want to read this book if they can’t handle scenes entailing graphic descriptions of violence.

A little girl chased up a tree by a pack of hunting dogs, has no memory of her name or family.  How did she get there?  Where is her family?  The girl shows up the very same day the men of the village have set fire to an old ladies house because they think she is witch who steals babies.  A kind family finds the little girl and helps her heal from the pack of dogs.   Soon, the family whose baby was stolen by the witch shows up and claims this unknown child as their own baby Isabella who was also stolen by the witch as an infant six years ago.   Is this child Isabella?  If not who is she? So many questions.  So, little time to find answers.  This family is taking her home, a home they hope she remembers.  She does not.  Nothing is familiar.  Nothing seems right.  Especially her new older sister.  Who is the witch  everyone keeps talking about?

This is a suspenseful story, with a twist.  I enjoyed this book.  Whenever I put it down my mind wanted to work on solving the mystery.  I had to pick it back up and see if any of my theories were correct.  This book does not have a lot of action but it does keep you turning the pages. 
















Tears of a Tiger is a story that is too farmiliar in many schools in our country.  A high school basketball captain and his friends are celebrating after a winning the game.  The celebration involves alcohol and a car.  The scene is set for tragedy.  Andy is the driver whose reckless behavior kills his best friend.  Tears of a Tiger takes the reader inside the guilt ridden life of Andy as he tries to get his life back in order.  Nothing seems the same.  Why did he live while Robert died?  How can life really go on when his friend is lying in the cold ground?  Andy tries reaching out but thinks he should be able to handle everything on his own.  The story is told in many ways and from many different characters’s viewpoints.  English essays, letters from students, newspapers all help the reader see and hear the life of the teenage students.  Without giving away the ending, I will say the ending was too quick for me.  It seemed a bit rushed.  I knew it was coming but I still was not ready for what came.  I think many teens will like this book.

Show Me Award Nominee 2008-2009

Show Me Award Nominee 2008-2009

Winning contests can bring unexpected problems.  One young man finds this out when he thinks he won a pterodactyl and can’t keep it at home.  He pleads with his teacher to let him bring it to school.  As I read this book to the students they all were joining in on the “Please, Ms. Johnson can I bring my Pterodactyl to school.  Can I?   Please!” 

This student is very persuasive in his attempts to convince his teacher to let him bring the pterodactyl to school.  He uses all of the unique aspects of the dinosaur to show how helpful it would be to the students and even the teacher.

A couple of things I really liked are first the illustrations.  They added just the right touch to show the readers how the dinosaur would behave. The details were just right… the lunch box in the dinosaur’s mouth and the dinosaur being used as a jungle gym.  The little girl in its mouth was commented on by several children.  Before I began to read the book, one little girl told me she was afraid of dinosaurs. After listening to the story, she informed me she was not scared anymore. 

The other aspect I enjoyed is the ending.  I won’t spoil it for you; it does go over the heads of students who need the book read to them. However, it is entertaining to the older child or adult reading it aloud. 

This book would be helpful in teaching children the skill of predicting, it could lead to research about pre-historic animals, it would be an aid to begin a discussion of bullies.  Best of all, I think this book could be used to teach the craft of writing as the students brainstorm about reasons for bringing other animals to school. 


Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

For those who like well written scary books, put this one on your list.  Coraline finds a door that leads to another apartment that looks just like hers.  Only in the OTHER apartment there lives an OTHER mother and father with black button eyes and magic ways.  The other mother wants to keep Coraline for herself and never let her see her real parents again.  In fact, the other mother makes Coraline’s parents disappear.  Coraline must find a way to escape, rescue her real parents, and help release more of the captives.

A talking cat contributes much to the adventure.  This conversation captures the personality of both charcters. 

“But how can you walk away from something and still come back to it?”

“Easy,” said the cat.  “Think of somebody walking around the world.  You start out walking away from something and end up coming back to it.:

“Small world,” said Coraline.

“It’s is big enough for her said the cat.”  “Spiders’ webs only have to be big enough to catch flies.”

Coraline shivered.

To be honest the cover of this book did not attact me.  I looked at it, read the back, looked at the cover again, and put it back on the shelf.  But, I am constantly getting asked for a “scary book” and I was running low on ideas for some students.  That is when I remembered this book and decided to give it a try.  I am so glad I did.  For someone who does “not do” scary books this one had just the right touch.  The illustrations added so much to the story.


I wrote this post on Saturday.  Today, (Sunday) I was delighted to open my in-box  and find an interview with Niel Gaiman in the Good Reads newsletter.  They also said a movie is coming soon.