Posted in Children's Lit, Uncategorized

Doll Bones by Holly Black

15944406Doll Bones
Holly Black
2013 Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN – 9781416963981
Genre – Mystery
Age – Middle School
4 Stars

 

Poppy, Alice, and Zach are best friends. They love creating characters and making up adventures about pirates, warriors, mermaids, and the Queen, which is a bone porcelain china doll. After Zach’s dad throws out all of his characters, Zach decides to stop playing these games. But then a ghost begins to approach Poppy telling her a story about her death, and that she will not rest until the doll is buried. So Poppy and Alice approach Zach and beg him to join in on one final real life adventure. Will they be able to put the ghost’s soul to rest?

I thought this book was solid. I liked the way that it showed three kids that still actively use their imaginations instead of playing video games and watching TV all day long. These kids were brave and active, and just plain fun. I liked that it addressed the changing dynamics of individuals and groups of friends during the middle school time period. It can be a hard and sad transition, and Holly Black does a great job of portraying these changes. I understand that these changes do happen, but at times I was super frustrated by them while reading. I just wanted to yell at the pages and tell the kids to get over themselves. Although I was frustrated, I see this as a sign of a good book. I also liked that the entire book, I wanted to know if they would succeed in their mission, and because of that, I read it in one sitting.

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Posted in Picture Books

I dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau

15798653I Dare You Not to Yawn
Helene Boudreau
Illustrated by Serge Bloch
2013 Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763650704
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4 Stars

 

We all know that yawns are contagious. Here we are minding our own business, doing our own thing, when suddenly we yawn. You know what happens after that right? Mom takes us up to  our room and makes us go to sleep! Ugh. So in order to avoid yawning we must stay away from stuffed animals, pajamas, your blankie, and many other things. But the second you do…Off to bed!

This is a cute story about something we all know to be true, yawns are evil contagious entities. As soon as a little kid starts to yawn, they are forced to go to bed. This book gives great advice for little kids to avoid the yawn. I find it perfectly hilarious because talking about yawning and cozy things may make kids want to yawn. I yawned more than once while reading this book. The illustrations are great as well. They are simple, but hilarious. You can really see how upset the kid is just thinking about yawning. I just think this is the perfect bedtime story, disguised as a funny daytime story for the little ones. Bedtime – 1, Kid – 0!

 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

6760780The Grimm Legacy
Polly Shulman
2010 G. T. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN – 9780399250965
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

 

Elizabeth’s father just remarried a woman with two not so nice daughters. The only way he can afford to put them through college, he must transfer Elizabeth to a new, cheaper school. In order to waylay her loneliness she take a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository. It is similar to a library, but instead of circulating books, it circulates objects. Soon after starting, Elizabeth hears about the secretive and magical Grimm Collection. It contains the magical items you hear about in fairy tales, like Snow White’s mirror, mermaid combs, and more. Lately someone has been stealing objects from this magical collection. Is it a patron, or maybe even a staff member. Elizabeth and her friends put themselves into the line of danger in attempts to try and get to the bottom of the mischief.

I liked this book. I think the idea of putting together all of the magical elements of fairy tales is a really fun one. I also love the idea of “different” kinds of libraries. It reminds me of the Human Library (yes its real!) Throughout the book, the dangers felt real, no matter how crazy they were. Overall, it was just fun to read and get into. One big issue I had was that it just was wrapped up into such a neat little package in the end. In order to make it a happy ever after ending, things were explained simply and ridiculously. Although this did bother me, I realize that is kind of how fairy tales work. I just expected a little bit more of reality in a YA fairy tale.

Posted in Picture Books

Chamelia by Ethan Long

9642670Chamelia
Ethan Long
2011 Little, Brown and Company
ISBN – 9780316086127
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4 Stars

 

Chamelia is a chameleon who really loves to stand out. She is always doing something different than the rest of the crowd. Her clothes are brighter and she is always more dramatic.  Sometimes this tactic doesn’t work out for her. Sometimes her need to stand turns out badly, and when that happens Chamelia feels left out. Her parents teach her that you can still join in with everyone else and be yourself at the same time!

Chamelia is an adorable book. I like that the concept of being a chameleon and standing out are juxtaposed. I also like the way that all of the other chameleons and the background are just a little bit more dull in color than Chamelia herself. It is a big enough difference to notice, but not so much that you look past everything else. The illustrations of all of the characters are wonderfully expressive. I could tell every emotion, and every apprehension that was present. On top of all of that, there is a good lesson to be learned. We are all a little bit different, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

13112915In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
2013 Amulet Books
ISBN – 9781419705304
Genre – Historical Fiction, Mystery
Age – High School
4.5 Stars

 

The year is 1918, and America is plagued by the Spanish Influenza and the tragedy of WWII. After her father is arrested, Mary Shelley Black is forced to leave her home  in Portland Oregon to live with her aunt in San Diego. She arrives in California only to find out that her childhood friend who joined the army months ago, did not survive. Although many who have lost loved ones to the flu or the war have turned to spirit photographers in order to remember the dead, Mary Shelly does not believe in spirits. That is until her childhood friend’s spirit begins to visit her. Can she help him, and put his soul to rest?

This book was really well written. From the very beginning I was left wondering what was coming next. Everything from minute details to  the major plot was mysterious. I always love a good historical fiction, especially when it revolves around “plagues.” I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly Cat Winters was able to meld this genre along with mystery.  Not only was the story well-rounded and intelligently (and accurately) thought out, but the characters had an amazing amount of depth. Even the characters that were unlikable were wonderfully fleshed out. Throughout reading this novel, I really felt like I was inside of the world. I am really looking forward to her next book, unfortunately I will have to wait a year. How refreshing!

Posted in Children's Lit

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

11982396Glory Be
Augusta Scattergood
2012 Scholastic Press
ISBN – 9780545331807
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – Elementary School
4 Stars

 

It is 1964 and the summer that Glory will turn 12. Things are beginning to change in Moss Hill Mississippi. People from the North called Freedom Workers have been coming into town to help African Americans gain more rights in the South and many residents of Moss Hill are not happy. As the 4th of July and Glory’s birthday approaches, she fights to keep the public pool open for her birthday celebration. She then makes a new friend, the daughter of a Freedom Worker from the north. Through the changes in her town and her new friendships, Glory learns how to be true to herself, and she learns that things may never be the same again. 

This is a beautifully and simply written story. It reminds me that although the issues of the civil rights movement were complicated, they were also simple in many ways. From the viewpoint of a child it could be hard to understand what the big issue was. I like that Glory was open to new experiences, and she stood up for what she believed even though many people did not agree with her. That can be a very hard thing to do for a child and even adults. Glory Be is an easy to read book with some difficult to understand concepts. Perfect for a young child to learn about history and the civil rights movement. 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

24770Uglies
Scott Westerfeld
2005 Simon Pulse
ISBN – 9780689865381
Genre – Dystopian
Age – High School
4 Stars

 

Tally is going to turn sixteen soon, and she can’t wait. In her futuristic world, when you turn sixteen you undergo a surgery that turns each person from an Ugly to a Pretty. After the surgery, she will get to move to New Pretty Town, and just have fun! Then one night she meets Shay, another Ugly who will turn sixteen on the same day as her. In their last few weeks as Ugly they have lots of adventures together. The night before they are to have their operation, Shay asks Tally to come with her to another community, one in which everyone stays Ugly and they live self sufficiently off of the land. When Tally decides to stay, Shay leaves her a map in case she changes her mind. But the authorities are quite keen on finding this settlement, so they bribe Tally to lead them there. When Tally finally makes it, she learns some things about her world, that may change her mind on wanting to be a Pretty.

I like this story, as I like most Dystopian stories. I think the plot is well thought out, with originality. The characters are believable and they have depth., which in turn made the relationships between the characters believable. I really appreciated that none of the characters were to preachy even when they disapproved of certain behaviors.  I also like the way the book ended. It felt like it ended at a perfect place, there is no cliffhanger but it definitely left me wanting to read the next book. My only tiny problem with the book, was how absolutely mind numbing it was to read the parts that interact with the Pretties. They are just so shallow, but I know that is the point.

Posted in Picture Books

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace

12983415Vampirina Ballerina
Anne Marie Pace
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
2012 Hyperion Books
ISBN – 9781423157533
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4 Stars

 

A little girl vampire wants to be a ballerina, but there is more to being a ballerina than just wearing a cute tutu. You have to go to class, don’t overshadow your classmates, and do not be afraid to make mistakes. The road to being a ballerina may be a long one, but as long as you follow through with your goals, eat healthy meals, and practice a lot you will be ready for your first performance. You may be nervous, but you will shine, and become what you always wanted…A Ballerina!

This book is super cute and quirky. There are little vampire jokes mixed into the story. For instance, the little girl takes evening classes, and trips on her cape while practicing. The pictures are very expressive. I really felt like I could tell all of the emotions the characters are feeling. I also love how the little girl dances her way through the pages throughout the book. The message of the story is an important one for little children. It teaches that nothing comes easily, you have to put time and effort into everything you do, but if you work really hard, you can accomplish your goals. Bravo