Posted in Picture Books

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

159061Go Away, Big Green Monster!
Ed Emberley
1992 Little, Brown and Company
ISBN – 0316236535
Age – Toddler, Preschool
Genre – Picture Book
4 Stars

Each page of this book builds up the face of a big green monster. The first page is all black except two big yellow eyes cut out of the paper. It proclaims that the big green monster has two big yellow eyes. Each page adds a colorful body part like a blue green nose, or purple hair, until a big monster face appears on the page! Then the page says that the monster is not scary and he should go away! Each page proceeds to get rid of one of the monster’s colorful features until the page is completely black!

The pictures are really fun, and include cut out for each shape, which adds even more fun for kids. They are bright and have clear bold lines placed on top of a black background which makes it easy for the younger kids to see. It is also a great way to teach toddlers colors, strange shapes, and to not be afraid of monsters!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

6482837Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
2010 Harper
ISBN – 9780061726804
Age – Young Adult
Genre – Fantasy

 

 

Samantha is a popular senior in high school. Her and her group of friends do what they want, when they want to without thinking about anyone else. That is until the last day of their lives. It starts off a typical Friday, February 12th, a school day with a party to look forward to later in the evening. However, this typical day spirals out of control and ultimately leads to Sam’s death.

The next morning Sam wakes up, only to find that she hasn’t died, in fact it is the same day. She continues to live February 12th over again for a week. Will she realize what is important in life that she has been neglecting? Will she change herself, or others in time to save themselves from destruction?

Before I Fall starts off slowly not to mention repetitively, however as Sam begins to realize what is going on, her days, her attitude, and her life begin to change ultimately making for a more interesting read. Although the book is full of cliches, and shallow, annoying characters, it does a great job of demonstrating that every action we take produces reactions, and that we should keep other people in mind throughout our daily lives.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

13377The House of the Scorpion
Nancy Farmer
2002 Antheneum Books
ISBN – 9780689852220
Age – Young Adult
Genre – Futuristic, Dystopian
3 Stars

Matteo Alacran is different from other children. He is a clone that has been harvested and grown inside of a cow. He grows up as an outcast, as all clones are. As he comes of age he realizes that the purpose of his life is not to be loved, but to be used by his rich “father.” As his father becomes sicker Matteo realizes that his life may be a lot shorter that he thought. When he finds out that his heart will be needed, he must make a decision whether to help is father, or live the life he always felt he deserved.

Nancy Farmer battles with issues of love, growing up, and fitting in in this book. She does so with eloquence. There are times that I absolutely loved this book, but in the end, I felt that it left something to be desired. The ending of the book did not seem to fit the progression of the story. It just didn’t make sense. Or maybe it just didn’t end the way I wanted it to. I also found that for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot happening.

Posted in Picture Books

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman

15727792Chu’s Day
Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Adam Rex
2013 Harper
ISBN – 9780062017819
Age – Preschool
Genre – Picture Book
3.5 Stars

Chu is an adorable little panda bear and “When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.” We follow Chu along in his day as he visits the library which is very dusty, then he goes to have lunch at a diner, which has a lot of pepper, and finally he goes to the circus. He made it through most of the day without sneezing until he was at the circus, and when he finally did sneeze, well, very bad things happened.

The story is cute and the illustrations even cuter. Some pages are very simplistic with an image of Chu on a white background. Other images are full of color and detail. Many illustrations span both pages and do a great job of setting scenes. Very simple, yet completely adorable!

Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef

13356657The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne
Catherine Reef
2012 Clarion Books
ISBN – 9780547579665
Age – Young Adult
Genre – Nonfiction
4 Stars

 

 

 

World famous writer Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte all had very short lives, and very difficult childhoods. The book starts by telling us that their mother passed away shortly after Anne’s birth, then the two oldest Bronte sisters died at ages eleven and ten of tuberculosis. After the death of their mother, their aunt came to take of of the children as well as their widowed father. As the girls get older they are sent to boarding school, they take on many jobs as teachers and governesses, and attempt to make writing their profession. Writing as a female was frowned upon in the 1800’s as women should have their place as wives and mothers in the home. These three sister, however, would not give up.

Very interesting read that feels like the stories of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights coming to life. It becomes obvious while reading this book that these stories and others written by the Bronte sisters were probably semi-autobiographical. It is a tragic story of a family full of lives cut short.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

7247856Hunger
Jackie Morse Kessler
Series –  Riders of the Apocalypse
2010 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN – 9780547341248
Age – Young Adult
Genre – Fanasy
1.5 stars

Lisabeth Lewis is just another suburban teenage girl…with an eating disorder. Not matter how skinny she gets a voice in her head always tells her she is fat. It also always calculates calories she consumes and workout times to counteract those calories. Her life seems completely normal to her, until one day a black horse appears in her garden eating her mothers bushes. She has just been appointed Famine, one of the riders of the apocalypse. Ironic, huh? It is through carrying out this job that she realizes she has taken for granted everything she has, and what many others don’t.

This book poorly melded together fantasy and realistic fiction. Lisabeth, her family, and her friends were all unlikable characters. Not a single person was portrayed positively. Actually, the only thing portrayed positively in this book was anorexia and bulimia in the first half. Pestilence, another rider of the apocalypse makes an appearance, riddled with diseases including common cold sores which are referred to very negatively. I think this book sets a very poor example for teenage girls, and it was poorly written.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

12384972The Princesses of Iowa
M. Molly Backes
2012 Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763653125
Age – Young Adult
3 Stars

Paige Sheridan has aspired to be Homecoming Queen just like her mother since she was in Middle School. All her hard work seems to be paying off. Until One night just before summer break, she leaves a party intoxicated, and allows her other drunk friend to drive her home. After a horrible car accident her parent exile her to Paris for the summer, which is somehow a punishment. When she returns just before school starts she learns that everything has changed. Her boyfriend and her friends all seem different, but maybe she is the one who changed. We follow Paige as she makes friends with the less popular kids at school, who make her question whether if everything she worked so hard for, is actually what she wants.

Backes writes with an honesty that made me wonder if she was a popular kid or not during high school. The great thing about this book is that Paige is a relatable character no matter what crowd you are (were) or are not (were not) a part of. She is battling the same  battle that many teens do, trying to find a spot in the world, a place to fit, where one can be themselves.

Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

8685554 (1)

The Notorious Benedict Arnold

Steve Sheinkin
2010, Roaring Book Press
ISBN – 9781596434868
Age – Young Adult
Genre – Nonfiction
5 Stars

 

 

Everybody knows Benedict Arnold as one of the first American traitors, but not everyone knows his full story of bravery and heroism as an American Revolutionary fighter. Sheinkin tells Arnold’s story from birth to death with all the good, the bad, and the ugly in between. He depicts his less than honorable childhood, his struggle to regain his good name, his rise in the first American Army, and his ultimate fall from grace. This narrative nonfiction is action packed and full of drama, and may actually have you empathize with Arnold until the very end.

The writing is well researched by Steve Sheinkin, who is obviously very interested in the era, and specifically Benedict Arnold. It is full of fact to pique your interest, and not just teach a history lesson. Well Done!