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.