Monday, May 23, 2016

Messy Penny by Roopa Weber

Messy PennyMessy Penny by Roopa Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Messy Penny is an adorable book. It has a lovely message and cute illustrations to compliment the story. Like many of us, Penny is concerned about her outward appearance. She experiences frustration about how she looks in a way that is relatable for young children. Penny comes to realize that her beauty comes from inner joy. I really enjoyed this sweet story. I hope to see more Penny books in the future!

Highly recommended for young children and those work with young children.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Funny

I Funny: A Middle School Story (I Funny, #1)I Funny: A Middle School Story by James Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not every middle-schooler deals with the issues Jamie Grimm has to face, but, let's face it, every middle-schooler has issues. That's why I think they'll enjoy and relate to Jamie. His life is tough, but he's still able to laugh. I think this is an important lesson for everyone to learn - not just middle-schoolers.

Highly recommended for middle-schoolers . . . and everyone else.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

My first year as a school librarian is winding to an end.  It's been a year of much work and learning. One gift this year has given me is the returned joy of working with kids.  I really enjoyed building relationships with students and experiencing a love of teaching that I haven't felt since my initial years in education.  A perfect example is illustrated by my review of The Underdogs.

The UnderdogsThe Underdogs by Mike Lupica
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some of the best books I've read were recommended to me by students. Recently, a 5th grader who was working on a book trailer project for my class asked for help. The conversation went something like this:

5th Grade Boy: Mrs. Salcedo, what city does The Underdogs take place in?
Me: What?
5GB: You know, The Underdogs, what's the city?
Me: I don't know.
5GB: Yes, you do. You know the book about the boy with the football team. You know, the really good book.
Me: No. I've never read that.
5GB (looking at me in total shock): What?! That's the best book ever!
Me: Actually, I don't think I've ever read a football book in my life.
5GB's jaw actually drops and he looks at me more as an alien now than a human librarian. Then: Okay, can I just go over to the library and get the book.
Me: Sure.

A few minutes later.

5GB (clearly hiding something behind his back): Mrs. Salcedo, would you come into the library for a minute.
Me: Okay...
5GB walks over to the circulation desk where I keep the teachers' library cards for check out and pulls The Underdogs from behind his back: May I get your library card?
Me: Yes.
5GB (checks out book in my name): Is this okay? Will you read this? You have to read this! We need to expand your football book repertoire.
Me (wondering where on Earth a 5th grade boy learned to use language like "repertoire"): Sure. Yes, I will read it!

I'm so glad that happened because, yes, I did need to expand my football book repertoire. I was totally unfamiliar with the book and only vaguely knew that Mike Lupica wrote sports books (can't keep them on the shelves). Now, I want to read more Mike Lupica books and more football books. This is a wonderful story about football, but also about love, purpose, teamwork and making a comeback in life. I really loved this book. Thanks, 5th Grader!

By the way, the student also checked in on my reading periodically, including quizzes! I passed every question! :)

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Case of the Cursed Dodo (The Endangered Files Book #1) by Jake G. Panda

The Case of the Cursed Dodo (The Endangered Files, #1)The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was intrigued when I received a review copy of The Case of the Cursed Dodo. I wasn’t entirely sure what a “jungle noir” book for children was all about. This book is not only a wonderfully original idea, but an absolute delight to read!

So, how do I explain this book? It’s like Casablanca, only with endangered animals. That in itself is cool considering it’s geared toward upper elementary/middle-school readers. Jake Panda is the in-house detective at the Wildlife’s Last Resort, a getaway for endangered species. There are many fun and furry characters encountered here and on Jake’s outside adventures.

It’s also very unique in that the whole book is written as a script. Now, I’m not familiar with reading scripts, but it was really neat that directions for shots and settings were introduced in that way.

As an educator, I could see this book being used to facilitate teaching visualizing to older students who still struggle with this. If you’re like me, when you read a book, there is actually a movie playing in your head. You see/hear/feel everything that’s going on. This is visualizing. It’s a reading comprehension strategy often taught to young students. In my opinion, older kids and adults who don’t like reading fiction probably have difficulty or just don’t visualize what they’re reading. They don’t have a movie playing, so they think reading is boring. Using the Cursed Dodo (and hopefully other books in the series if they follow suit) would be a great way to scaffold visualizing with older readers because it guides what we are to see (experience) in each scene.

As a reader, this was a story I really enjoyed. There are interesting characters (including a wide array of endangered animals – one or two I’d never even heard of), fun plot twists, and great messages about protecting endangered species. The illustrations are very cool as well and add a great deal to the overall presentation of this eBook.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE the Lunar Chronicles series!

Cress (Book 3) continues to extend and add complexities to the series as a whole. As with the second book, Scarlet, at first I wasn't sure that I could come to care for Cress as much as the other characters with whom I'd already become connected. Cress is very different from Cinder or Scarlet and I still need to get to know her better through the final installment (Do I really have to wait until November?!). However, her character (and Throne for that matter) grew on me. I was also glad to have Kai and Cinder finally in the same room together again (well, I was glad, then I wasn't, then I was nervous, then I definitely wasn't, then I was, I think . . .).

If you liked the first book at all, give the 2nd and 3rd books a try. The story definitely gets more complex and enjoyable. I also like how more and more of the characters' back stories are being revealed as the story progresses.

Highly recommended, but read the series in order!

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me just say . . . I LOVED this book!

At the very beginning, I wasn't sure I could get into it because I loved Cinder so much. I didn't see how I could enjoy and connect with Scarlet and Wolf and their story as much as Cinder and Kai, but I fell in love again!

In this second book in The Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder escapes from prison and accidently acquires a partner in crime, "Captain" Thorne. Their escape and search for answers is played out between chapters telling the story of Scarlet, a young woman who is desperate to find her missing grandmother. Scarlet partners with a street fighter named Wolf to track down her grandmother's kidnappers. Mysteries surrounding Wolf's life and true identity slowly come to light as they get closer to finding Scarlet's grandmother. Will Scarlet get too close? Will trusting Wolf be a mistake?

I can't wait to start book three, Cress!

Highly recommended - read the series in order!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started this book. I love all things Grimm, so I was interested in reading another fairy tale revamp, but I didn't know anything about how this one was done.

Initially, it took a bit for me to get into the story. I don't normally associate cyborgs and world wars with fairy tales. Once I got into the story though, I REALLY got into it! There is enough of a nod to the original tale to satisfy the connection, but enough originality to make this story extremely appealing to current YA fans.

Despite trying to shorten my "to read" list, I can't be too upset with Marissa Meyer for adding 3 more books to the list. I must read the whole series now! I have to find out if there will be a happily ever after for Cinder and Emperor Kai!

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews