Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks

I made this list from several sources I have read. Tweaked it for my library. I created a Piktochart  here

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks!
  1. You can experience things you would never do
  2. You can read in any weather
  3. You can experience the past
  4. You can dream about the future
  5. It’s the cheapest way to travel anywhere
  6. It doesn’t require batteries
  7. You may become  smarter than a 5th Grader
  8. Reading increases brain power—it’s heavy lifting for the brain
  9. You can learn how things work
  10. Reading is a great escape
  11. Reading stimulates creativity
  12. The mind…a terrible thing to waste
  13. You never know what you might find out from a book
  14. You will never outgrow reading
  15. Reading helps you become a better writer
  16. You will find new heroes in reading and some old friends!
  17. Reading is inspiring
  18. Reading satisfies curiosity
  19. Reading expands your mind
  20. The book is ALWAYS way better than the movie!
                         Reading----the ultimate superpower!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Action Pick: Boy X

Boy X
by Dan Smith
Chicken House
2017
288 pages
ISBN: 9781338065640

Available February 28, 2017

Kdnapped, drugged, and transported to a remote location, Ash wakes up in a bed surrounded by stark white walls. He remembers bits and pieces of being kidnapped along with his mother, and he begins searching this hospital (prison?) for her. The place is deserted and Ash cannot find any clues about where he is until he sees the view from the front doors. It looks like he is stuck in the middle of a jungle somewhere. Ash exits the doors, goes into the forest and sees a girl about his age. She tells him he is on Isla Negra, Black Island, and that her father works inside the BioSphere (the building he woke up in). Ash and Isobel go inside to search for her father and Ash's mother.

 Gunshots ring out, a helicopter crashes, the building is sealed, and their  parents are locked inside of a lab.  There they were exposed to Kronos, a poison that will kill them in 24 hours unless they get the antidote. Ash feels strange and disoriented. He has a heightened sense of smell and hearing. Ash is changing, and he's not the only one.

Ash is determined to save his mother's life but he'll need the help of Isobel to cross the island, find the thieves, steal the poison back along with the antidote, and stay alive long enough to deliver it to BioSphere and save his mother and Isobel's father.

What is BioSphere and why is Ash's mother involved? What happened to Ash when he was unconscious? And who wants to change him?

Fast pacing and non-stop action make this a must read for reluctant readers. Each chapter shows a clock showing hours and minutes left that the kids have to get the poison and cure. Readers will feel on edge as Ash races to save the world and his mother.

Highly recommended for action and adventure junkies. Anyone who loves a medical mystery/government cover up story will love Boy X.

Grades 4-8.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Non-Fiction Pick: Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
176 pages
ISBN: 978054431959

Fascinating and extensively researched, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White pays homage to one of America's most beloved children's writers.  Young readers will be amused and captivated by White's childhood notebooks and sketches. Showing artistic and literary promise from a young age, White's journals and papers narrate his life.

Bookish and shy, White was no good at sports although he did enjoy summers in Maine, canoeing and swimming. When WWI broke out, White did not weigh enough to serve in the military. He always loved Maine and returned there after college. After living and working in New York, he sought the solace of Maine and bought a farm that would end up being the model for Charlotte's Web.
It was unheard of in those days for a serious writer to jump from adult fiction to writing children's books, but White wrote Stuart Little which came under fire from critics and librarians. The adults did not know what children did. Young readers loved the fact that a mouse was born to a human family. Children could imagine!

Charlotte's Web is probably the most loved children's book of all time. Writer Eudora Welty praised it saying, "...as a piece of work it is just about perfect." Kate diCamilio says of White's style, "The thing about White that comforts and fascinates me (and challenges me) is how he manages to make his words matter more. It is as if he is able to make one word do the work of ten."

The book is marketed for middle readers it is enjoyable for anyone who loves words, writing, books, reading and magic. E.B. White made generations believe in magic decades before there was a young boy named Harry Potter, and we are all better for it. He believed, "Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick and generally congenial readers on earth....." Because of this, he never wrote down to them. He inspired them and was inspired by them.

HIGHLY, highly recommended for every reader from eight to eighty and beyond. This is one of the best biographies I have read.

FTC Required Disclaimer; I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.




Thursday, December 8, 2016

Middle Grades Pick: Brightwood

Brightwood
by Tania Unsworth
Algonquin Young Readers
2016
260 pages
ISBN: 9781616203306


Compelling and mesmerizing, Brightwood is a dazzling middle grades read sure to captivate!


Eleven year old Daisy is still waiting for her mother to return to Brightwood. It has been five, or was it, six hours ago that she left? Daisy knows her mother would never go away and not return. Daisy hunkers down in their moldering mansion and awakens to find her mother still missing. It is just the two of them, and Daisy has never left the grounds of Brightwood, not once. Her mother has made it painfully clear that there is nothing out there in the world beyond the gates for Daisy. What can she do now?

There is enough to eat--more than enough. Daisy's mother buys in bulk--everything in bulk. In fact, it is hard to maneuver in the mansion. Even the once grand ballroom is stuffed with boxes and old furniture. Daisy has to clear paths to walk. Keeping her company is her pet rat Tar (aptly named Tar because it is rat backwards) who not only talks but  has a wicked sense of humor. After the first day, Daisy meets a specter of a black and white girl named Frank. Frank has been around the world on expeditions with Daisy's own kooky grandfather. As Daisy begins to panic, Frank is the voice of reason who calms Daisy and talks her through problems.

A stranger shows up and acts like he is right  at home. Daisy is afraid of the newcomer and talks it over with Frank who warns her that the stranger seems to be taking over Brightwood. Daisy looks for clues not only to where her mother could have gone, but also who this newcomer could be and what could he want. When she realizes that the stranger is her mother's cousin--the estranged black sheep of  the family--Daisy goes into defense mode. his words are chilling:  "Nobody  knows you exist."  What are the odds a sheltered eleven year old, a pet rat and a made-up friend defeating a maniacal killer?

Brightwood is everything a story should be! The setting is a creepy, near abandoned mansion located far from help. There is a  missing mother, a scared eleven year old girl who has to rely on herself to save her own life and that of her mother, a family secret, generations of mental illness, strange ancestors, strange family portraits, and rooms full of boxes that hold the clues that will save Daisy and Brightwood.

Cover art is beautiful and evokes a sense of gloominess: the mansion in the background, trees and grass overgrown, the massive iron gate holding Daisy inside the grounds, a girl at the window looking out hoping to see her mother. 

Highly, highly recommended for all middle grades and anyone who gets lost in a great story. I LOVED Daisy! If you know readers 8-up, give them Brightwood. They will love it.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Top Titles 2016: YA and Middle Grades

Pamela's Picks 2016 (Prezi)

It has been a great year for YA and middle grades, too! With so many books to choose from, I've developed my list of favorites this year. Click the link for a Prezi 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

YA Pick: Spontaneous

Spontaneous
by Aaron Starmer
Dutton Books
2016
355 pages
ISBN: 9780525429746


Laugh out loud hilarious, Spontaneous will leave readers snorting with laughter.  Then they realize that they are laughing at a teenager  who just blew up. While that is not cause for laughter in a normal world, Starmer frames teens blowing up in such a comic way they it is instantly (spontaneously) hilarious. This kind of black comedy is rare in YA and done only by a few writers like Andrew Smith and Libba Bray.

When teens begin blowing up, Mara Carlyle  is present each time a classmate meets a  terrible demise. She has the record, in fact, of most teen blow-ups witnessed.  As time wears on, Mara treats it like combing her hair in the morning--just a part of life. Mara is glib, witty and chatty as the narrator and takes the reader on an entertaining journey through her senior year. While insensitive and blatant, Mara uses it as a coping mechanism against the blood and gore around her. Instead of breakups and make-ups, it's blow ups and clean ups. When it becomes obvious that kids from the senior class are blowing up and it's not some random thing that cannot be explained, the government gets involved and surrounds the city. The kids are now prisoners and then lab rats. What is causing the senior class of Covington High to blow up?  Is it something they ingested? Something they took in an illegal drug? Did they pick up a parasite? Is it a medical condition?

The agent covering the case is FBI agent Carla Rosetti who Mara secretly admires, even striving to be her best buddy. The agent lets her know that the government may indeed be involved. She gives Mara and her  bff Tess burner phones to contact her if they find out anything about the case.

Spontaneous is enjoyable and entertaining although some may find the ending disappointing as the cause of the blowups is never addressed. Readers will have to write their own ending to this novel.

Recommended for laughs! High school grades 9-up. Profanity, lots of sex, bad behavior, alcohol, drugs, partying like it's 1999--hey, they are all blowing up, you know.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Mystery Pick: Running Girl


Running Girl
(Garvie Smith Mysteries, Book 1)
by Simon Mason
David Fickling Books
2016
432 pages
ISBN: 9781338036428

Garvie Smith is a genius. He is smarter than any student at Marsh Academy but also is failing all his classes. His teachers and school bore him. It is not until his ex-girlfriend Chloe  is murdered that Garvie is interested in leaving his room.

The police are investigating, but Garvie knows they need help. Working alone, Garvie will leave no stone unturned in Chloe's murder. Inspector Singh is no slouch at police work. He is methodical and precise. He advises Garvie to leave the investigating up to the police, but Garvie does not listen.

Everywhere Garvie goes, Singh is right behind him. This is infuriating to the policeman. He orders Garvie off the case, but the teen is not hearing it at all. The dynamic between the adult detective and teen genius is competitive in nature  but each admires the other.

Garvie begins to investigate some nefarious characters and finds himself in dangerous surroundings. With his keen eye and his Sherlock Holmes' deductive reasoning he is able to know who the true killer is before the police can move in.

American readers will find Running Girl charming with its British place names and some slang words. America seems to have a love affair with all things British: One Direction, Adele, Lord, and way before them: the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the British Invasion.

Recommended for high school readers grade 9-up. This is a solid detective/police thriller and mystery story with a memorable character: Garvie Smith.

Profanity, drug use, sex, mature themes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hour of Code December 5-11: New games, new codes, new apps

New games, new codes and new apps! December 5-11  is fast approaching. Take a look here for all that is NEW!  



Teachers, sign up your students for an EVENT! 
Join millions of students worldwide in learning code.
Go beyond the event and teach all year. The site is full of content for coding.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (book 11)


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (Book 11)
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet
2016
217 pages
ISBN: 9781419723445


Readers young and old  know what makes Greg Heffley endearing and likable, but how do they convey their feelings  to adults who may have never heard of Wimpy Kid books? (Okay, I cannot imagine anyone who has not heard of  Wimpy Kid, but I guess some exist)  They may tell you that he is like every kid who ever came before him. He is funny, sarcastic, sloppy, lazy, intelligent but unchallenged, misunderstood and adorable. In a word, he is like them, the every child, and that is what makes Wimpy Kids books worldwide bestsellers and Jeff Kinney one of the most influential people on the planet!

Book 11 does not disappoint. It is a glimpse into the mind of Greg Heffley, and it is hilarious.  Greg swears he is on some secret reality show where he is the star of the show. In order to keep his audience entertained, he whispers funny asides to the hidden cameras. Later, thinking that aliens from space are so advanced they send houseflies in  as their drones to gather information on human life before deciding to invade. Why they seem to be attracted to dog poop, Greg cannot answer. 

Greg continues to entertain with stories about school and Rowley, his best friend. Greg goes so far as to join the school band, not that he wants to play an instrument or for the pleasure, but just so he can get invited to the hottest middle school party of the year. Talk about over achievement!  Of course on the night of the band recital, Greg somehow manages to get himself locked up in the band room with no way out. Not only that, he splits his pants so that even if he is rescued, there is no way he can appear on stage. 

Jeff Kenney's sense of humor comes through in copy and in hilarious illustrations. There is no stopping Wimpy Kid. Kenney is now on his second world tour visiting all the countries where kids love Greg Heffley. Double Down is currently #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Highly, highly recommended for all ages! 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not not receive monetary compensation for this review.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hour of Code: Begins December 5-11, 2016

Hour of Code


Hour of Code December 5-11, 2016—Join millions of students worldwide  Hour of Code 2016

Video “Computer Science Is Changing Everything”-watch

“Why I Code” –watch inspirational video


Learn How To Code for Hour of Code. Play the games and learn. Play Minecraft, Star Wars, and help Anna and Elsa on ice! Play all three code games. All ages

Code.org

Go to Code.org
Create an account and REMEMBER your login and password information !
You will need to sign in each time if you want to print certificates.

Click on Try Hour of Code

WATCH ALL VIDEOS and play the games all the way through.

You will learn about EVENTS; PRINT your certificate when you finish the game.

Intermediate Code:

Introduction to Javascript- learn Java from Khan Academy. 

Build your own game with Tynkor Use Code Monster, K-3, Dragon Dash, grade 3+, Tynker + Minecraft, grade 6+
The Easiest Way To Mod Minecraft—sign up and learn new skills. How to modify Minecraft

Bill Gates Explains If/IfElse Statements-video

Mark Zuckerburg Teaches REPEAT LOOPS-video

For Teachers:


Get tips and watch videos; sign up for FREE and help your students learn code! 

Compiled by Pamela Thompson http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/
feel free to use any information and links as long as you credit the site and link. If you are using my entire blogpost, please link back to this blog. Thank you! Pamela 

Hot Tech Tools for the Classroom and Beyond

Hot Tech Tools for Classroom and Beyond
                                      Some for testing, some for studying, some just for fun!
                                                               List by Pamela Thompson, LMS
                                                              http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/




http://www.flubaroo.com/    Use with Google docs; self-grading tests, send reports, and best of all, email students their grades. Save time grading. Flubaroo does it for you!

https://edshelf.com/  Get a free account; extensive collection of apps, web links, lessons that teachers can use and add content of their own. A great place for ideas!

https://infogr.am/  Create charts and infograms for free.

http://www.cdc.gov/bam/gameroom.html   games for kids from the CDC; interactive learning

https://www.geoguessr.com/  Students can play in single or challenge mode; guess their location using blank world map and photo. Great fun!

http://bighugelabs.com/  Free site to make your photos into amazing things! Movie posters, puzzles, mosaics, special filters.

http://www.fotobabble.com/  create talking photos and slideshows. Add a message to photos.

http://www.flashcardmachine.com/  create flashcards to study for your next exam; share them with students, friends or study groups.

http://www.funbrain.com/  games to hone math and reading skills; fun!

http://www.imagechef.com/  Choose a photo/image and add your own words; share to Twitter or Facebook.
                            





Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fun Pick: Girls Like Me

Girls Like Me
by Lola StVil
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
320 pages
ISBN: 9780544706743


Girls Like Me is a novel written  in verse and a series of chat room posts. Shay Summers is a high school teen who has lost both her parents--her mother abandoned the family and her father died in a car accident-- and now Shay is living with her stepmother. Shay uses food as a crutch to help her deal with her pain and loneliness. Even though Shay has two good friends, she feels alone in the world. On a whim, full of teen angst, and  bored, she answers an interesting post in a chat room.

Shay is surprised and delighted when the guy (?)  responds and their  posts to each other are fun and clever. The boy keeps pushing for a photo of her, but  Shay is terrified to send him one. Then he will know she's not the beautiful, skinny girl she knows that he imagines her to be.  Shay's self-doubt, body image and boredom make her a believable and loveable character that readers will empathize with. All teen girls struggle with doubt and  questions like: Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Do people like me?

The social media aspect of the book drives the interchange between Shay and a mysterious boy she becomes enamored with. Readers are drawn into Shay's world and they see how funny and how beautiful she truly is. Godot (the boy) is clever and snarky. Together they are playful magic.

BFFs Boots and Dash are the type of friends every teen would want to have, but each has a huge problem/concern of his/her own. Boots is dying; she is handling it the best she can, but really, how can a teenager even think about not living to see 20 years? Dash is afraid to come out to his family; he knows that his father will not only be disappointed but he thinks his dad will never accept of forgive him.

The only drawback to this books is the cover! While it is true that readers  like to read books with characters like them; that being said, girl or boy readers with weight/body issues are  not likely to be excited about carrying around a book with a "curvy girl" on the cover and with the title Girls Like Me. One can only imagine the comments and bullying asides that would ensue.

Highly recommended for  high school readers and collections. A fun read that touches on important issues.

Not recommended for middle school: talking about sex in the chats. Sexual and mature content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LEGO Wall at Middle School

Our ribbon cutting ceremony for our LEGO wall happened today. Carpenters installed our LEGO wall. Students donated unused, unwanted LEGO toys for our Let Go My LEGO drive and today they BUILD!

Check out the photo gallery from The El Paso Times --more photos here

                                                                     Day 1 of build

Our wall is 64 LEGO base plates mounted on plywood. Liquid Nails is the only way I would go. Create a "X" in the middle of each plate and then use steady stream of Liquid Nails around perimeter of each base plate. Liquid Nails also dries fast.

Inspired by LEGO walls around the country, I wanted a LEGO wall for my students.All four local television news stations, including the largest Spanish station interviewed students and taped footage. We were also covered by The El Paso Times. Our LEGO wall is the first in this district's libraries and the first in the region.

                                                Carpentry installs our LEGO wall; Thank you!                  
                                                                     Students Build!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Middle Grades Pick: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742


Big-hearted, full of promise and whimsy,  and seriously entertaining, The Littlest Bigfoot is a sure winner for middle grade readers.

Alice Mayfair just does not fit in--anywhere! She's big for her age, well, she's enormous. Her hair is a tangled mop that she has no control over.  Every school Alice goes to, something goes wrong and she is asked to leave or worse, she herself wants to leave to avoid further confrontation. Her parents just don't know where to turn until Miss Merriweather finds her a new school: The Experimental Center of Love and Learning. Alice dutifully packs and take the trip to Standish Town.

The school is located the woods in upstate New York and run by a quirky hippie-ish,  yoga posing, granola eating, meditation practicing couple who probably study Mother Earth News magazine, grow their own pesticide-free food and live off of  the grid. Alice doesn't seem to mind the strange camp/school and settles in to her cabin and begins  helping the cook in the camp's kitchen.

Just across the lake lies a secret community of Bigfoots who are afraid of humans and fear discovery.Millie is the littlest bigfoot--so little, in  fact, that she doesn't resemble any of her tribe. Millie is charming, intelligent and curious--too curious for her own good.

Two worlds collide when the girls meet by chance, but each girl  brings something to their unique friendship. A boy from town is convinced he will find a Bigfoot. When he joins forces with another Bigfoot hunter, the Internet notices. What will happen if he digs too deep?

Jennifer Weiner takes this tale of sweet friendship to the next level. The message that we are all different comes across with a warning that sometimes differences are the reasons actions happen. The ending allows readers to guess what happens to Millie and Alice. Alice is left with many more questions than answers but sets the stage for book two.

The Yare (Bigfoot) dialect is charming. Children are known as "littlies" and snacks are "snackles." The Bigfoot tribe even has a source of income. They have their own Etsy store selling all natural remedies they  get/make from the forest

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Middle Grades Book Giveaway: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742

I have 5  FREE copies of The Littlest Bigfoot up for grabs! For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. The deadline for posts is Wednesday, October 19 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Check your email on October 19. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my  email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!



Reviews

"A charming story about finding a safe place to let your freak flag fly." (People)

"Bestselling adult author Weiner (In Her Shoes) makes a winning children’s book debut with this witty story of outcasts coming together, first in a trilogy. . . .Well-drawn characters, high comedy, and an open-ended finale will leave readers eager for the next installment."

  (Publishers Weekly)

"Weiner writes an engaging tale that helps children to understand both bullying and the difficulties faced by people who in some way deviate from the norm. . . . Enchanting right up to the sequel-beckoning end."

  (Kirkus Reviews)

"A heartwarming tale about friendship and belonging that will resonate with those young readers who have ever struggled to fit in or find their place in the world."

  (School Library Journal)

"Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike will enjoy this story that focuses on the importance of friendship and acceptance amidst bullying, loneliness, and a lack of self-confidence."

  (School Library Connection)

"Plenty of youngsters—legendary creatures or not—will relate to this smartly crafted tale of appreciating your own quirks." (Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books)

Middle Grades Book Giveaway: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742

I have 5  FREE copies of The Littlest Bigfoot up for grabs! For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. The deadline for posts is Wednesday, October 19 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Check your email on October 19. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my  email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!



Reviews

"A charming story about finding a safe place to let your freak flag fly." (People)

"Bestselling adult author Weiner (In Her Shoes) makes a winning children’s book debut with this witty story of outcasts coming together, first in a trilogy. . . .Well-drawn characters, high comedy, and an open-ended finale will leave readers eager for the next installment."

  (Publishers Weekly)

"Weiner writes an engaging tale that helps children to understand both bullying and the difficulties faced by people who in some way deviate from the norm. . . . Enchanting right up to the sequel-beckoning end."

  (Kirkus Reviews)

"A heartwarming tale about friendship and belonging that will resonate with those young readers who have ever struggled to fit in or find their place in the world."

  (School Library Journal)

"Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike will enjoy this story that focuses on the importance of friendship and acceptance amidst bullying, loneliness, and a lack of self-confidence."

  (School Library Connection)

"Plenty of youngsters—legendary creatures or not—will relate to this smartly crafted tale of appreciating your own quirks." (Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Are Pirates Polite?

Are Pirates Polite?
by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig
Illustrations by David Catrow
Orchard Books
2016
40 pages
ISBN: 9780545628747

Available November 29, 2016

Vibrant illustrations and fun loving, raucous pirates paired with rhyming text makes this book a real keeper. Even though pirates plunder, fight, and are loud, they do share. Pirates use their manners according to this book.

Pirate manners include: knocking before entering a door, showing respect and being a good sport. There are twelve manners in all and they are listed for young readers on the last page.

So much fun! Any child who loves pirates and ships will love this gem of a story.

Highly recommended for all young sea-going lads and lasses. This is a great read to help instill manners and have that discussion about always eating with your mouth closed, saying "excuse me," sharing, and other polite behaviors.




Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
Jimmy Patterson Books
(Little, Brown and Company
2016
336 pages
ISBN: 9780316273497

Atmospheric, creepy, macabre and satisfying, Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first book (and it's a good one)  published by James Patterson's new children's  imprint Jimmy Patterson Books. Debut author Kerri Maniscalco gets the details right: the infamous London pea soup--the  fog, the eerily quiet streets, the hurried footsteps on cobblestones, the terror that stalks its victims in the dark ghettos of 1880's London, the seedy dens of inequity, the bloody cadavers, the gruesome murders, the creepy yet kind doctor uncle, the strong, young heroine with a mind of her own in a society  that says she can't be a doctor or study medicine and that says women should be wives and mothers, subservient to their men.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is a London debutante from a family of financial means. Her father and uncle have an ongoing feud over the death of Audrey's mother, so Audrey Rose must sneak out to visit her uncle's gruesome yet fascinating laboratory in his home. She asks her uncle to attend his classes at the university to learn about forensic science but must masquerade as a boy since women were not allowed to learn medicine. She outshines most of the male students  at university but must keep quiet in class lest someone realize her true identity. One boy--a tall, good looking boy who works with her uncle--notices Audrey Rose for what she is. Thomas, Audrey Rose and her uncle, Johnathan Wadsworth,  study the murdered prostitutes to try to find clues to the killer.

Audrey Rose is strangely fascinated by the gore in her uncle's laboratory, but as a woman, she empathizes with the young women who are being murdered. She is the kind of heroine readers will love: strong, passionate and not afraid to buck authority. 

The deeper Audrey Rose digs, the closer she gets to the killer. Uncovering clues will cause events to be set in motion and Audrey Rose will be in danger.  Can she save herself? Will she be able to save her family's name and honor?

Shocking plot twists and some uncanny, unpredictable turns will leave readers breathless. Well done, Kerri Maniscalco! Well done, Jimmy Patterson Books!

Beautiful cover design  conveys the gloomy setting and atmosphere. The brilliant emerald color of the woman's gown is an eye catcher designed for sales.

A MUST have for collections! A MUST read for horror and mystery fans. Gothic horror fans will rejoice! 
Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up due to gore and mature situations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Penguins Love Colors

Penguins Love Colors
by Sarah Aspnall
The Blue Sky Press
2016
ISBN: 9780545876544

Available November 26, 2016

Bright, lively, bouncy, and fun, Penguins Love Colors is sure to be a hit with young readers who love animals and colors. Sweet illustrations will captivate and children will want to embrace a warm bunch of siblings and their loving mother.


Six penguin siblings love colors.  Living in a land that is covered with white snow,  the penguins decide to paint their world and make it a more vibrant place. Each penguin is named after a colorful flower: Dandelion, Broccoli, Tulip, Tiger Lily, Bluebell and Violet. Each penguin loves their color and paints with that color.

Their world becomes a brilliant landscape of flowers and colors which they are happy and proud to show Mama. She is overjoyed to see their work and young readers will be,  too! Aspinall's illustrations are BOLD and bursting with color. She is the most brilliant penguin of them all.

Although this book is targeted for young readers, the preschool and kindergarten ages, art classes of any age could read and critique this book for illustrations and learning primary colors. Penguins Love Colors embraces smart design layouts and vibrant colors that children will love and want to visit again and again. Questions in the text will engage readers to answer them.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and all art classes. I shared this F & G with my art teacher who raved over the book. So, there you  have it, art teacher approved! Five stars from me!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Sports Pick: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
by Karlin Gray
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
40 pages 
ISBN: 9780544319608

"The story of Nadia Comaneci gets a treatment as energetic as the gymnast herself. . . . Sprightly watercolor illustrations are both strong and springy, capturing Nadia’s literal and metaphorical ups and downs as she works hard, fails, and picks herself up."—Booklist



"Gray debuts with a picture book biography of phenomenal Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the star of the 1976 Olympic Games. . . . The jaunty narrative takes readers from Comaneci’s childhood through her first Olympics with lively illustrations in ink, watercolor, and pencil."—Publishers Weekly



"Gray's narrative is as sprightly as a gymnast's back flips. . . . [A] respectful, 40th-anniversary tribute to Comaneci's soaring achievements."—Kirkus Reviews

 

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still balances an endearing story of a young gymnast and her country's hopes of a gold medal. As a young girl, Nadia was said to be fearless: roller skating right out the entrance door of a department store or riding her new bicycle before her dad had tightened all the screws. She was a ball of kinetic energy that could only be contained by a gymnastics coach and his wife. Nadia's parents enrolled her in the gymnastics school where Nadia could expend all her energy. Soon she was learning routines on all the equipment, afraid of nothing.  she ran, tumbled, cartwheeled, flipped, flew from bar to bar, jumped and soared.

 When her team entered the Olympics  in Montreal, the competition to beat was the Russian team who had two gold medalists. The crowd went crazy when little Nadia performed. She was the first gymnast EVER to score a perfect 10.0! In fact, the scoreboard could not even record her score correctly. It was designed to score only up to 9.9. She went on to score seven perfect scores of 10.0. Winning five medals, Nadia was the youngest person to win a gold medal in gymnastics history. 

 Beautiful water color illustrations capture the energy and bounce of young Nadia and her teammates. After the Olympics when asked by a reporter if she had plans to retire, spunky Nadia replied, "I'm fourteen years old." In the afterword, readers learn that Nadia never did retire. She continued in gymnastics and later become a coach.  Eventually she defected from Romania to the United States via passage through Hungary. 

 This book  is a winner of a sports story that both boys and girls will enjoy. Children will empathize with Nadia's energy and applaud her hard work and dedication to a sport she loves. Gymnastics was like breathing for Nadia; she could not live without it. 

 Highly, highly recommended for all collections.  A real gem of a picture book biography. 

 FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.  




Sci-Fi Pick: Diabolic

Read more: Publisher's Weekly interview with S.J. Kincaid 

The Diabolic
by S.J. Kincaid
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2016
416 pages
ISBN: 9781481472678

The Diabolic available November 1, 2016

S.J. Kincaid's exciting new adventure story takes place in space where senators rule a galactic Senate keeping all technology away from the common people, the Excess, and their planets. In this way, mere humans  will remain subservient.Science is forgotten and only machines can fix other machines. Humans lack the knowledge to repair any of their spaceships and many are breaking down and vanishing into deep space. The powerful senate would rather lose a few ships then give humans knowledge and power that could overthrow their rule.

 Diabolics were created from human DNA to be ruthless and to kill in order to save their charge. Diabolics lack feelings like empathy and love; they kill without emotion or remorse. Diabolics are not human and they undergo genetic modifications to imprint them on their masters.

Nemesis is selected out of a training pen by a powerful senator's wife to guard her young daughter. Nemesis and Sidonia grow up together almost as sisters, at least in Sidonia's mind. Nemesis cannot feel love, but she knows she would do anything to protect Sidonia. The Emperor declares death for all Diabolics, but Nemesis is hidden away by Sidonia's parents. When Sidonia is summoned to the galactic court by the powerful Emperor who is angry with Sidonia's father for studying science, the Matriarch decides to use Nemesis as a stand in for her own daughter, keeping Sidonia safe at home. Nemesis must now fit in among her superiors; she must pretend to be meek and mild Sidonia and not the trained and ruthless killing machine Nemesis. If she is discovered, she will be killed--and even worse, she will bring death to Sidonia and her family.


One slip of the tongue, one misused phrase, one gaff in manner can give her away. Nemesis isn't afraid of the powerful and treacherous court; she is terrified of hurting Sidonia. Nemesis crushes down her instincts to break necks and stomp on heads.

There is much to debate and discuss in The Diabolic: what place does religion have in science and vice versa? Should religion fear science? Should science be maintained only by a select few? Artificial intelligence--when is enough enough?  Just because we find a cure for something, when do we know whether it is right to use the cure if it causes other events? What part does power play in science? In religion?

The Diabolic is a solid YA sci-fi adventure that is sure to appeal to the masses. Though I am not usually a sci-fi reader, I was drawn to The Diabolic due to the character of Nemesis--the girl who is not a girl but so much, much more.

Highly recommended for high school readers and collections. Violence and mature situations make this a high school pick.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 





Striking cover art is eye-catching and provocative. Smart marketing uses red tipped (evocative of blood) butterfly wings with steel blades ( violence and warfare) and a  a part of white wing (purity?)to sell the cover. Kincaid fans of Insignia will not be disappointed by this exciting new stand alone adventure..



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Teaching Tone and Mood

Why is it so hard for students to understand tone and mood? Setting, they get. Plot, check. Character, all good. Mood? Ummmmm? Tone? UMMMMMM?

Fear no more! Check out these great word lists that you can print in word.

Our English Class by teacher Gary Scott

http://ourenglishclass.net/class-notes/writing/the-writing-process/craft/tone-and-mood/


Make sure you watch the videos! Show them to classes. Kids will "get" tone and mood!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Giveaway and Blog Tour! The Cabin

Two ways to win! 

 I have 1 FREE copy of The Cabin for giveaway. Post a comment to the blog. Include your first name, city, state and email address. The Winner will be chosen at random by Randomizer. Deadline for posts is Tuesday, September 20 at noon MST. Please check your email after that time. The winner has 24 hours to respond to email and claim the prize. 

There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new young adult thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar, a New York Times Bestseller, and Awake

They think they’re invincible.
They think they can do and say whatever they want.
They think there are no consequences.
They’ve left me no choice.
It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead—murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over...



Can you survive The Cabin?

Another way to win:

Starting on August 30, we'll be releasing a series of questions every Tuesday and Thursday at different locations.

Here's how you play:

1. Take a look at the schedule below.
2. Go to the location on the specified date.
3. Find The Cabin graphic with the question.
4. Solve the question.
5. Head here to submit your answer for that day's question.
6. Complete all 8 questions and be entered in to win a $500 Visa gift card! We'll also be drawing a winner each week who will win a Sourcebooks Fire book bundle!
7. Make sure to submit all answers by September 25, 2016.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hey, Gamers! Learn Code and Develop Your Own Games! Hour of Code: December 5-11, 2016



Hour of Code



Hour of Code December 5-11, 2016—Join millions of students worldwide  Hour of Code 2016

Video “Computer Science Is Changing Everything”-watch

“Why I Code” –watch inspirational video


Learn How To Code for Hour of Code. Play the games and learn. Play Minecraft, Star Wars, and help Anna and Elsa on ice! Play all three code games. All ages

Code.org

Go to Code.org
Create an account and REMEMBER your login and password information !
You will need to sign in each time if you want to print certificates.

Click on Try Hour of Code

WATCH ALL VIDEOS and play the games all the way through.

You will learn about EVENTS; PRINT your certificate when you finish the game.

Intermediate Code:

Introduction to Javascript- learn Java from Khan Academy. 

Build your own game with Tynkor Use Code Monster, K-3, Dragon Dash, grade 3+, Tynker + Minecraft, grade 6+
The Easiest Way To Mod Minecraft—sign up and learn new skills. How to modify Minecraft

Bill Gates Explains If/IfElse Statements-video

Mark Zuckerburg Teaches REPEAT LOOPS-video

For Teachers:

Get tips and watch videos; sign up for FREE and help your students learn code! 



Compiled by Pamela Thompson, LMS