December 05, 2010

Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brain Caper

The Drained Brains Caper (Chicagoland Detective Agency)The Drained Brains Caper by Trina Robbins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interest group: Boys or girls
target audience: grade 5+, although younger grades should be able to read it

This graphic novel is a take off of the Stepford Wives story but geared for kids but with a twist! The graphics were great and the story was really funny! Megan reminded me of the girl from Beetlejuice but younger. The premise of the story is not new and the characters are not all that new either but they are really funny! Sometimes I didn't understand what was being said and I had to think about it (may be an adult thing) like why the boxes at the top of some pictures that told a book title? Well I figured out it was her point of view in a book title but some kids may not get that. Also I think it was pig latin that was used in one spot that stumped me and it took me a few minutes to figure it out (didn't use pig latin growing up).

One thing that may bother some parents/kids is that they mention doing experiments on the students and a dog. This may offend some people because it does show the dog all beat up. It didn't bother me but just wanted to mention it.

A great beginning to a new series. I would have definitely bought this for my Third grade class when I taught Third grade. I am debating whether to purchase for my Second Graders though. I will probably see if I can get a copy through the library to see if they like it before I will buy it.

Midway Monkey Madness

Midway Monkey Madness (DC Super-Pets)Midway Monkey Madness by Sarah Hines Stephens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the recent years graphic novels have really made a come back and I have done lots of research on how using graphic novels can help get those reluctant readers to read (particularly the boys). So I am always on the look out for easy to read graphic novels to use in my Second Grade Classroom. This is not what I would consider a true graphic novel or comic but a cross over which is text with graphic novel/comic elements.

best for: First and Second Graders that can read pretty fluently. Third Graders and above may think the story too easy.

Interest group: While the main characters are male (except one of the twins Jayna) I think that girls will like this too.

What I liked:
-The story is pretty easy to follow (problem and solution) and the words for the most part are easy to read.

- The story has some good points like working together to solve a problem and to not give up if things don't work out right away.

-The text uses big bold words for sounds like in the old Batman cartoons and I think the kids will really like that.

-The cast of characters in the front is great for the young readers who need more structure.

-I also liked the glossary and the little section of jokes. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the facial expressions on Beppo and Gleek are hilarious!

What I didn't like:

-I think in some places it is too basic. I would have liked a little more description (showing) rather than telling us what happened.

Overall I think my students would love this book and I will definitely check out the others in this series.

Petunia Pepper's Picture Day

Petunia Pepper's Picture DayPetunia Pepper's Picture Day by Cathy Breisacher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review was provided by publisher for an honest review.

Overall this was a cute story that most girls would identify with. As a teacher I have had a few Petunia's in my class!

What I really like:

-The pictures are bright and cheerful and cartoonish.
-This is something that most kids have anxiety over, having a good picture. I really liked how the
   author showed physically and emotionally how Petunia felt.
-The Christian aspect is not glaring so I could use it in my public school without an issue. The value
   is added at the end of the story to discuss if you choose.
-The different reasons she didn't like her picture were funny!

What I didn't like:

-No teacher would hold a student back from taking a picture or not have them in the class picture!
  They would call a parent to bring clothes or the Nurse would have some extra clothes to wear.
-Petunia jumps into the street and traffic to save the poodle. Great concept for saving the dog but
  would rather have had her do something more safe to save the dog (another situation or no cars around

While there were some things I didn't like this is a book that would be great to read before picture day or even as a spring board for a writing assignment.

November 28, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White won from Goodreads

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had this book for a while and I decided to take it with me when we went out of town for Thanksgiving. I couldn't go to sleep (as usual) and started reading this about 11pm. Needless to say I stayed up until 2 am to finish reading it was sooo good! Interesting take on fairies. Loved the friendship between her and Lish. Reth was a surprise for me. I kind of liked him but I wasn't sure where the author was going to go with him. Was he an anti-hero who was bad with a good side or was he bad all the way and just acted good to get what he wanted? Lend was unique to me too. Don't think I have read about a boy that could do what he did. I liked him but I just didn't see him as a love interest more of a friend. The end was a little short for me. It seemed like a lot of waiting toward the end then was wrapped up really quickly. It was good but a little rushed. The one thing I really couldn't wrap my head around and maybe this was due to my reading and watching so much sci/fi and fantasy was that they were so naive about fairies and being able to control them. I mean did they not read any fairy tales about how tricky they were? They even mention this in the story but maybe they were so arrogant to think that this wouldn't be problem, but still!!! I would always be keeping an eye on my enemy even if I was 100% sure they couldn't do anything to me. I would want to go that extra mile to make absolutely sure of it by not trusting them all of the way. This didn't ruin the story for me but I could see where it could be a problem for some people.

I will definitely check out more by this author. Hoping more coming about this world!


July 20, 2010

Finished moving

Well I finally finished moving and getting my phone and dsl hooked up. I was suppose to have had it on Thursday the 15th but they messed up. The kind lady at first said that I wouldn't be hooked up til the 29th but she tried to get it moved and she did so here I am. I did have problems with the dsl and after 1 hour on the phone with a person in India not able to help me they transfered me to someone in CA who told me in under 5 minutes that I needed to wait until the end of the work day for my dsl to kick in even though my phone worked. He gave me info on what to do if that didn't happen and how to register without calling back. OMG!!!! This just reinforces my opinion that we should not be outsourcing our tech support. The Indian lady talked too fast when she did speak at all. I had to prompt her several times before she would even tell me anything. Like she would tell me to type something I would type it and tell her done and I would wait for like....2 minutes of silence and repeat I was done and what do i have to do next. After another 1 minute she would tell me the next thing and it would repeat.  I am glad it is over.

I also have some ARCs that I will be reading soon. These include: Tyger, Tyger, Wildthorn, and Hunger. The majority of these are Teen Fantasy and have heard about them through other blogs.

July 06, 2010

Skid and the Too Tiny Tunnel

** I recieved this book through NetGalley review**

Title: Skid & the Too Tiny Tunnel
SubTitle: A story of courage based on Deuteronomy 31:6
Publisher: Warner Press
Imprint: Warner Press Kids
Pub Date: 01/01/2009
 ISBN: 9781593173555
Author: Jeffery Stoddard
Genre: Fantasy (talking machines)
Reading level: grades 3-5
Interest level: grades 1-5

I have never read anything by this author before so when I saw it I thought this would be a great book to read first on NetGalley. It seemed like a book I could use to teach character. I was a little wary about the reference to Deuteronomy and the Bible because I teach in a public school and usually religion references are frowned upon even though most of my students talk about going to church at some point in the year. But after reading it was not really discussed at all except on the cover. So I shouldn't have a problem having this in my  classroom. Things I liked:
  • The  illustrations are nice and simple with color being done in crayon.
  • Vocabulary is great, lots of unusual words that students need to be exposed to like massive, belching, careeening, and chuckled. 
  • The moral of the story was great. The story talked about having fear of doing something and doing it anyway and not sit and complain it. Also about even the smallest person can make a big difference. Great for character lessons as I thought!
Things I didn't like or readers may have difficulty with:
  • The vocabulary can be difficult to read for lower readers but this can be fixed by reading first in a read aloud or with a partner who has a higher reading level.
  • At the end of the story with Pillar there was a section where Skid first comes upon Pillar that was a little awkward. I think more showing rather than telling would have worked better. Seeing as this was the only thing I didn't like it is really only a minor thing.

Overall I really liked this book and would purchase it for my classroom. The story had a great message and I think students will identify themselves in Skid. It reminded me a lot of the story of the Little Engine that Could.



Personal Demons Giveaway!

Lisa Desrochers is having a Arc Giveaway of her book Personal Demons. Interesting premise and will definitely check it out if I don't win. Go here to enter!

Angelfire Giveaway!

Courtney Allison the author of Angelfires is giving away one signed Arc! Go post a response here to get a chance to win!

July 05, 2010

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamarillo

genre: YA Fantasy (talking animals)
propriate for: grades 2-adult
rating: ****

I have wanted to read this book since it came out a couple of years ago but have never gotten around to it. I loved Kate's The Tale of Desperaux which I had read aloud to my students in Third Grade. This would was a great story and used a lot of great writing techniques that I point out to writers in my class even now (the best book for voice I have found). So when I found it at the library and it was the end of the year I decided for it to be one of the choices for our read aloud in 2nd grade. Needless to say after reading the flap and flipping through the chapter titles once the kids heard the words Hobo camp they were determined that was the one they wanted to read.

One thing that drew me to this story was the cover and beautiful illustrations. This book reminded me of books I had read when I was growing up. There were a few minor things I didn't like but over all I definitely would read this again to my students.

What I liked:
  • The beautiful illustrations.
  • That there was a moral to the story about love and how important it is.
  • How Kate showed the passage of time and movement from one owner to the next. Also it didn't just cover a couple of days or a year but many years. Different time periods were learned about in a round about way while I was reading. Several times I stopped to answer some questions about why certain things were happening or to explain a little about what was going on. This would be good to use for a mentor text in writing.
  • That it dealt with some tough issues in a good way such as homelessness, poverty, and death. I almost cried at the end and the students where like what is wrong Miss Dudley? They couldn't believe I had such emotions for a book. Any book that draws such emotion from me is a great book since it is hard to get me to cry.
Some things I didn't like or that may cause problems for readers:
  • While the illustrations were beautiful sometimes they were placed after the part they represented in the story. I stopped and showed the picture on the next page several times.
  • The tough issues that I liked may be too difficult for some students. My students had no problems but other students may in particular be upset over the death of the little girl from tuberculosos. I believe though that my students have experienced death and should be exposed to how people react and deal with death (I teach in a low income area).
  • The note at the end I didn't get at first when I read it. I had to read it a second time then I got it (a good teaching technique but the students may have difficulty getting the circular ending).

The students LOVED this book. They always reminded me of read aloud time and were silent as mice when I read it, even my most difficult students (which is a sure sign that they like it). I loved it just as much as they did and plan to add this to my student library.

June 30, 2010


Last night stayed up late surfing blogs I read for contests. I entered about 10 so hopefully I can win something!

June 28, 2010

13 to Life by Shannon Delaney

Looking forward to this book for a while. It seems to take a different look at werewolves. Hoping to win the contest at Dark Faeries Tales.

Hunger Contest

One of my fav blogs is hosting a contest for Hunger by Jackie Kessler. I haven't read anything by her before (at least I don't think) and this will be her first YA book since she normally writes adult paranormals (at least I think maybe paranormal romance). It is an interesting twist on the apocalypse with the main character being one for the four horsemen in this guessed it Hunger.
Check out La Femme Reader for this contest and more!

June 24, 2010

Still under construction!

Well I have been tinkering away and getting more understanding of how to layout my blog. I am now trying to decide what exactly to have on the main page on what to have on the static pages. This should keep me busy for awhile LOL.

June 22, 2010


I am soooo frustrated! I have been doing this all day and have lost my work by not saving the template the last time!!!!! I will redo it tomorrow and change to a 2 column template instead and make static pages for stuff that doesn't need to be seen every day. Boy if I wasn't at least a little bit techno savvy I would have said the BLEEP with it and given up by now. Now I know why people just choose a template and just add their stuff LOL. I WILL PREVAIL! Stay tuned.

Testing... Testing...123

Another test to see if my signature works! I am trying it by adding it in the post template under settings.