This is NEWS I can get excited about.  Flat Stanley is a staple in many classroom.  He is read to students, he goes home with students, and is a going to become a world wide traveler.  I read on Sara Pennypacker’s site (see post from yesterday) that she has taken over the writing of the Flat Stanley books.  I wonder if Flat Stanley will every borrow Stuarts cape?  Maybe he will get a nickname from Clementine.  I can’t wait to see where Stanley travels and hear about his adventures.

Stuart has just moved to a new town and EVERYTHING is going wrong.  His box of treasure were mistaken for trash, he has no friends, and school starts in three days.  What if he is the shortest kid in his class?  What if he has no friends?  This is all TOO much for Stuart… he needs an adventure to get his mind off his troubles.  Where can you find an adventure?  Stuart decides that all the super heroes have adventures because they are wearing a cape.  Stuart needs a cape.  Stuart staples 100 ties together and the adventures begin! 

I love the understated humor in this book.  I love Stuart.  I want a cape made of ties!  Well done, Mrs. Pennypacker!  Sara Pennypacker is also the author of the Clementine books. Clementine is a little girl with a lot of spunk.  Clementine and Stuart would be great friends. 

The Stuart books and the Clementine books are great books for the second and third graders who need to move beyond the first start easy books but they are not difficult.  There are engaging illustrations that are important to the story line.  I would love to see more from Sara Pennypacker.  I hope she is working on some sequels with both characters.

Getting to know Mississippi Beaumont (Mibs) and her family was an unexpected delight.  I thought that because of the lower reading level this book would not hold my attention and the characters would be a bit dull and flat.  But, happily that was not the case with this book.  Mibs and her family and friends are believable, full of life, and interesting.  I thought I would do a quick read to see who might like the book and found that I can excitedly recommend it to anyone. 

Mississippi  is just about to turn thirteen.  And at that magic age Mibs knows she will be getting her savvy.  When her brothers got their savvy’s one cause a huge black out with electrical sparks while the other was the cause of a hurricane.  In fact, the family had to move to keep this brother far away from water until he could gain control of his savvy.  When Mib’s dad is injured in an auto accident, she believes her savvy will be healing power. Mibs is sure her touch will wake her dad from his comma.   In order to get to her dad’s side Mib (and her entourage) stow away in the van of a bible salesman.  Mibs discovers her savvy and it is not what she thought it would be.  Along the way she learns to find her voice amid all the other voices clammering for attention. myspace graphic comments It is the perfect time to get out a travel book and follow the map to a new place you have never seen.   I have just such a book to read.  We get a free book from the Reading Is Fun representative when the school sells 10 books from their display.  It is a nice way to get free books for the library and a great way for the staff to get bargins on books.  I am so glad we get a chance to see these books.

Backroads and Byways of Missouri:  Drives, Day Trips, and Weekend Excursions by Archie Satterfield

This is not the kind of book you snuggle up with and not get up until you are finished.  And that is fine.  This book serves it purpose well.  Backroads and Byways of Missouri is the kind of book you pick up when you are ready to travel.  Each chapter takes you on a trip from one part of Missouri to another.  Along the way you find out the interesting histroy you would not have known without this book as a guide.  I am from Doniphan, Missouri so my interest was peaked when I saw the name General Doniphan. I knew the town was named after him but I did not know the rest of his story.  At one point in the general’s career he stood up to his commanding officer and refused to execute a group of Mormans.  Besides the history, this book tells about Bed and Breakfasts and small hotels along the way.  It also tells about some selective shopping areas. The next time you are going on a trip in Missouri come to the library and check out this book.  You will enjoy a bit of history and find some great places to stop along the way.  



Newbery Honor Book

Newbery Honor Book


WARNING:  This book is laugh out-loud funny.  Students, if you plan to read The Wednesday Wars while others are working or taking tests, think again!  You might find yourself in big trouble!
Holling Hoodhood doesn’t know what hit him.  For some unknown reason, his seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, has demanded he meet with her every Wednesday after school.  The only reason Holling can come up with to explain this extreme punishment is that Mrs. Baker HATES him. 
No one in his family has any explanation (or sympathy) for his situation.  Mom can only say that Mrs. Baker is a nice lady; Dad’s only advice if for Holling NOT to upset her.  Dad’s architecture firm is bidding on The Baker’s Sporting Emporium.   Holling even lowers himself to ask his sister for help.  All he gets from her is a bit of sarcasm (and the advise to move to California.) 
And so, the Wednesday wars begin.  Holling is determined to endure (for the sake of the family business he may one day inherit.) Mrs. Baker, for her part, is determined to keep Holling busy.  First, he is made to clean the classroom.  When that doesn’t work out too well, Mrs. Baker changes tactics.  Now, she will kill him with Shakespeare! 
Holling Hoodhood is truly a like-able character.  Not that he doesn’t get into his share of trouble in his escapades.  Mrs. Baker is full of surprises too.  Just when you think you know her, she comes up with some surprises all her own.  Holling’s lively sense of humor, the witty dialogue and all the mishaps along the way make this one book that you will keep you laughing all the way to the end. 
Beyond the humor, this book tackles some important issues.  Set in the era of the Vietnam war, the peace marches, and flower children, these important issues find a way to  reach in and touch the innocence of the community and Holling’s family. 

When Jill at The Well Read Child asked for guest reviewers I decided to send her an email to request a chance to review some books.  She was gracious enough to accept my request and send me three books to review.  The first review can be found here and follows here.  My thanks to Jill for such a wonderful opportunity to review these books and add them to our shelves at the library. 
Let’s Clear the Air: 10 Reasons Not to Start Smoking is probably the most readable book on the subject I have seen. There are ten chapters. Each chapter is devoted to one reason not to start smoking. Within each chapter, the reader is introduced to pre-teens and teens who think no one should start to smoke. After the introduction. the reader is allowed to peek into the mind of person by reading his/her original essay dealing with the topic of smoking

The ten reasons given for not smoking are the ones you would expect: cancer, other health issues, relationships, addiction, performance, appearance, the entertainment trap, false advertising, and money.

What you might not expect is the honesty of these young people as they tell how family members suffered because someone in the family smoked. They tell of the pain they felt when their parent or grandparent died from cancer. They tell of cousins addicted to cigarettes who have told them NEVER to start smoking because they themselves can’t quit. In the chapter about how tobacco affects athletic performance oral cancer and smokeless tobacco were also addressed.

Included in each chapter are interesting facts which highlight the dangers of tobacco in brief sentences inside gray boxes. Lighter gray boxes have the student essays. This layout helps the reader to focus on specific aspects that interest them. Other features that will keep students reading are black and white pencil drawings. For students who want to take action facts relating to how they can become active in spreading the message about the dangers of tobacco are included.

I believe this book would be a wonderful addition to a school or public library. Students will not feel someone is preaching to them as they read this book. The teens included in the book speak with words that are convincing and not overly edited to sound less than authentic.

Adrienne Joy Lowry was seven when her dad died of cancer. The book includes Adrienne’s story in her own words.

“My dad died on November 2, 2002. I wrote this in my journal on the day that he died.

‘Today my daddy died. It was really sad. I will miss him. He took his last breath and poof he was gone. His spirit went to heaven. He is special.’ ”

She concludes her essay with this statement of firm resolve:

“I will never smoke because I don’t want my kids someday to have to go through what I went through” (p 15).

Another essay I liked was by Brenna on page 107. She writes,

“If you think you want to start smoking, you should think again! Because if you like the way you look now, that can all change when you start smoking. When you smoke the tar in the cigarettes will stain your teeth and fingers yellow. Smokers also have really bad breath!”

How much more honest can you get?

This book was published in Canada and includes photos of Canadian cigarette package warnings. It is interesting to note that these warnings include photos of the disease along with the warning. I think it would be much harder to pick up a pack of cigarettes that had a photo of diseased lung or a clogged heart valve along with the words “smoking causes lung cancer or doubles your risk of stroke.”

For Eben McAllister, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence world.  He is fascinated with the seven wonders of the world and spends his time wishing to be some place exciting… anywhere but in Sassafras Springs.

Eben’s Pa, a wise man, gives his son a challenge; find seven Wonders in Sassafras Springs.  If Eben is able to find seven things in seven days Pa will buy him a ticket to see some relatives living in the Colorado mountains. 

So the scene is set for adventure!  Not everyone likes a kid coming around asking questions.   Eben  soon finds himself saddled with a annoying pest who wants to follow him as he tries to find Wonders.  Eben does his best to ditch the Rae Ellen the pest, but she stays hot on his trail with a “Wonderful” of her own to show him.

My favorite part of the story happens when tough Coogie Jackson, sends for Eben to show him an outhouse and tell him about a Wonder.  Could an outhouse in the middle of nowhere be a wonder?  Was it a trick?  Eben has little time to decide if he believes the story before Coogie is sending him inside to get the proof neded to verify the story. 

This is a delightful story full of rich country language and descriptions.  The stories Eben gathers and the Wonders he finds give him a new perspective for seeing common things.  This story is perfect for reading aloud. 


You can read about the author Betty G. Birney.

If someone saved your life would you do anything to help them?  Would you let a pint sized spirit (dybbuk) live inside of you (for a little while) so he can get the truth out of a German soldier who killed him and other defenseless children?  What if your girlfriend threatens to call off the marriage because she thinks you are acting too strange?  What if the dybbuk steals your spotlight as you entertain audiences as a ventrioquist?  Would you want an exorcism?  

The Dybbuk has a name.  It is Avrom.  Because Avrom knows the truth, he feels he must share that truth with as many people as possible.  He needs a body in order to accomplish his mission.  Freddy has a career as a ventrioquist but it seems to be at a standstill since he can learn to talk without moving his mouth. 

If they work together can both of them succeed?

Even though this is a book with a ghost, it is not a mystery.  It is not even scary.  It is funny, light, and powerful all at the same time. 

Sid Fleischman uses humor, an interesting plot, along with true facts about the holocaust to present a message that needs to be remembered.

New in Sept. 2008
New book in September 2008


Sometimes, real life is messy.  Sometimes the truth has a hard edge.  After mom dies, eleven-year-old Mackenzie O’Rourke and his brother, Kid, live with a parent who is controlled by alcohol and gambling.  After a night of gambling Mackenzie’s dad brings home a puppy.  And love happens.  No one has to remind Mackenzie to feed his dog (Cash) or take care of him.  MacKenzie lives to be right by Cash’s side and Cash, for his part feels the same.  Then Dad, in a fit of anger, gets rid of Cash by taking him into the country and dumping him by the side of the road. 
After the separation the story is told from MacKenzie’s point of view and Cash’s.  Cash tells of the pain of hunger, his capture by men who run dog fighting rings, and of heroic deeds.  All the while, MacKenzie searches desperatly for his dog.  Besides, losing his dog MacKenzie must deal with the loss of his brother, Kid, who can’t take any more of dad’s anger.
In the background of this story another tale is being told.  Cash is pit bull and the town has decided that pit bulls are dangerous and not welcome.  But, what about this mysterious pit bull that is rescuing people in cars parked on train tracks?  Are all pit bulls dangerous?  Can Cash find his way back home?  Can Kid? Fans of Shiloh will enjoy this tale of a dog lost. 
For ages 9-adult

For ages 9-adult

“What-the-Dickens” are the first words the newborn creature heard, and assumed that was his name.  His lack of information came from the fact that he is an orphan.  What-the-Dickens thinks he is alone a world he doesn’t understand.  Bravely, he does his best to get adopted by a cat.  When that doesn’t work out he finds himself in a tiger’s mouth examining a sore tooth.  One day the creature sees a someone who looks like he does and can fly like he does.  It is a skibbereen (tooth fairy) going about her business of exchanging teeth for money.  What-the-Dickens finally has someone who can tell him about himself, but she wants nothing to do with him.  So goes the story Gage tells to his cousins in the middle of a terrifying storm.  As the story grows more suspenseful, the children are able to put aside their fears and concentrate on the troubles What-the-Dickens finds himself confronting.  This is really two stories in one. The author is skilled at getting the reader to the edge of one story and weaving the other story back into the readers mind in surprising ways.  While the children deal with the lack of electrical power, adequate food, and howling winds, the skiddereen have to deal with a harsh assignment given as punishment for allowing What-the-Dickens to enter the secret colony of fairies.  The two stories intersect when Gage tells how he met What-the-Dickens and his friend Pepper on the night of this secret assignment.