Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Wish I Had...

Zobli, Giovanna. I Wish I Had....  2013, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

In this beautifully illustrated and written picture book, a narrator tells the readers of their desire to have attributes specific to different animals.  By taking this approach to looking at some of the qualities animals possess, the author manages to teach its reader about several different animals, as well as their habitats and practices.  For instance, Zoboli writes, "I wish I had the tail of a lemur to swing through the maze of branches..." (p.9) and "I wish I had the eyes of a blackbird to see every blade of grass growing in the meadow..." (p. 1).

Zoboli devotes two pages to each of the thirteen animals she highlights.  She wrote in a pattern that introduced two animals within each sentence in the form of, "I wish I had the (attribute) of a(n) (animal)...and the (second attribute) of a(n) (second animal).  Her writing style is very descriptive and contains a lot of imagery that only adds to the bold illustrations.  For example, Zoboli writes, "I wish I had the night-black coat of a panther as it slips through the darkness...and the far-reaching gaze of an owl, light as a ghost," (pps. 19-21).  Some of the descriptive phrases are rather dense and poetic, but this could serve as an introduction to symbolic writing styles for more advanced readers.

The illustrations created by Mulazzani are incredibly intricate and bold.  Relying on a combination of paint and pen, she creates vibrant illustrations with texture and depth.  Possibly the most effective illustration in developing the story is of the whale "singing as it crosses the wide ocean," (pps. 15-16).  The majority of the background is varying and textured shades of blue, with a row of houses and trees on the horizon in order to establish a scale upon which the reader may compare the size of the whale that is covering the majority of the page.  The large whale is covered in intricate and attention-grabbing pen drawings of various animals and plants.

To the reader, it may appear as if this book meets its artistic goals more than its educational goals; while there are some specific details relating to each animal, the dense and poetic writing style limits some of the clarity of the book.  This book was originally published in Italian and therefore the translation process may have robbed this book of some of its straightforward nature.  There is no attempt to define the narrator, which does not allow students the ability to connect to a character.  There is also no conflict, climax, or resolution within this story to provide its reader with an engaging story line.  Lastly, there is a giraffe featured on the front cover and "I wish I had the towering neck of a giraffe to reach up into the clouds" on the back cover, but the giraffe does not appear with the book, which is a bit misleading.  However, the illustrations and poetic writing style create a beautiful work of art that provides its readers with engaging artwork and an introduction to descriptive language, symbolism, and metaphors.

Recommended for ages 2-9

Katherine Franklin, BGSU student

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let's Visit Venice!

Manzione, Lisa.  Bella & Harry: Let's Visit Venice. 2011. Bella and Harry, LLC.

The book is about two chihuahuas that explore Venice, Italy.  They visit historical landmarks, experience different customs, and live the culture.  The author is informative, interactive, and enthusiastic and the illustrations are accurate, interesting, and fun to look at.

I love the Bella & Harry series!  I would recommend using this in a first or second grade classroom.  The information is subtly integrated into the story and learning is fun through Bella and Harry's adventure in Italy! It's a good introduction to Italian language and teaches geographical and historical contexts.

EmKAsh

Me Too!

Gorbachev, Valeri. Me Too! New York: Holiday House, 2013.

This story is about two characters named Bear and Chipmunk. Bear tells Chipmunk what he is doing, and Chipmunk always responds with a "Me too!" 

The author is simple and easy to understand. The language used is good for preschoolers.

The illustrations are cute and descriptive. They are good for pointing out what activity or objects surround Bear and Chipmunk.

I would recommend this book for preschool teachers to use. It contains only two pronouns used very consistently throughout the book, "me" and "you," setting a good basis for learning about pronouns. The theme is winter! Age ranges to which this book would appeal: 7 to 12. 

Reviewer: EmKAsh

Monday, December 16, 2013

Forest has a Song

VanDerwater, Amy L, and Robbin Gourley. Forest Has a Song: Poems. Boston: Clarion Books, 2013.


This story is composed of poems about nature, specifically in the forest. The writing style has a lot of figurative language such as alliteration, similes, metaphors, and repetition. An example of repetition is
"Puff!
I found one.
Puff!
It's plump."
There is transitions in punctuation as well as exploring emotions in context. The illustrations are colorful and painted with watercolors. The scenes are all nicely and cohesively set in nature.

I loved the poems in this book! They did a great job at capturing parts of nature. Children would enjoy hearing a story in a different way - poems! This book would fit nicely with Language Arts lessons and help jump start students' imaginations for their own poems. Children will relate to how nature is described in the poems and gain a new perspective. 

Reviewer: EmKAsh

How Do Humans Depend on Earth

Lundgren, Julie K. How Do Humans Depend on Earth? Vero Beach, Fla: Rourke Educational Media, 2013.

The nonfiction story tells of how humans interact with the Earth by use of its resources.  The book highlights how resources are provided, used, and explains threats to overusing resources.

The writing style is very informative.  The author includes specific examples on how humans depend on Earth.  She tries to make complex processes easy to understand for the child reader.  The illustrations mainly consist of real-life photographs that depict the examples given.  Diagrams of certain processes are also included, for example, the greenhouse effect.

Although the book is very informative, it often uses vocabulary that target audience may not be able to understand. Luckily there is a glossary in the back, but it still could be slightly difficult for a child to read. This being said, I would recommend this book to other children, particularly 5th graders.  The content matches up with this grade levels science standards.  I feel this book would be great if read by the teacher, to the class as an engagement on the topic.

Reviewer: Zach Cowell

The Further Adventures of Jack Lime

Leck, James. The Further Adventures of Jack Lime. , 2013.

At his high school, Jack Lime becomes involved by solving three different mysteries; when he looks into mysteries of the football team, art show, and comic club.  His grandmother and principal believe he is spending too much time with his cases.

Leck's writing is unique because he does not write any chapters.  In the novel, there are three sections - one for each mystery that Jack Lime investigates. Also within each section, Jack Lime narrates in the genre of a journal.

This book was interesting because Jack Lime finds a place at his school by helping the sports team, art students, and comic group.  He works with the members of student council too.  Students who enjoy mysteries will find this book intriguing. This book would appeal to 13-17 year olds.

Reviewer: S.P.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Albert Einstein: Brilliant Scientist

Tourville, Amanda Doering. Albert Einstein: Brilliant Scientist. 2013, ABDO: Magic Wagon.

This book describes Albert Einstein's life.  The author's purpose is to inform readers of Einstein's life, accomplishments, and facts about him through a narrative.  The author's writing style is informational.  She uses a descriptive approach to relay Einstein's life to readers.  The illustrations capture Einstein's life in a watercolor medium.  They depict Einstein and the points the author mentions.

This book is great to introduce Einstein to children in grades 2-4.  Physics, science, and math topics are addressed.  I think children will enjoy this book because there are also fun facts to accompany the information.  Students in need of doing a biography could easily extract useful information from this book.  I enjoyed this read and believe it would be greatly appreciated and liked in a classroom library or a school library.

EmKAsh

Danny, Who Fell in a Hole

Fagan, Cary. Danny, Who Fell in a Hole. 2013, House of Anansi.

This story is about a boy named Danny who runs away from home because his parents are splitting up to pursue careers.  Danny falls into a hole at a construction site, meets his best animal friend, mole, and is saved at the end of the book.

Cary Fagan writes in a way that engages the readers.  The style provides real life situations and fictional animal talkers that keep the readers interested and wanting to find out more.  It is very humorous, interesting, and moving.

The illustrations are appropriate for readers ages 12 to 15 to understand what the author is "drawing" with the writing.  The illustrations also confirm what the author meant by the writing.

I enjoyed reading this book!  I would recommend this book to other kids who enjoy fictional, interesting stories.  This was a fun book to read in my free time and I would love to pass it on.

J.W., BGSU student

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nothing But Blue

Jahn-Clough, Lisa. Nothing but Blue. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

This book was about a girl who wakes up one day on the side of the road, alone. The only thing she can remember are the words "All dead. No one survived." The girl, Blue, ignores these thoughts are starts walking towards what she hopes in home.

The author has a fair writing style. The are chapters, but they are not numbered. Instead the chapters alternated between past and present events. The vocabulary is at a good level and would probably introduce some new words to this age group.

This book had no illustrations.

I would recommend this book to others because it has an interesting plot line which differs from other from other books I have read. I think this book is best suited for young adults because it mentions he use of drugs and sex. This book is definitely more suitable for girls than boys. Overall, I thought it was an interesting and enjoyable read.  Age ranges to which this book would appeal: 15 to 19.

Reviewer: MLW

Awaken

Cabot, Meg. Awaken, 2013. Point.

17- year- old Pierce is sent to the underworld with her boyfriend , John, after her possessed grandma killed her.  While in the underworld, she and John are in charge of sorting souls, but a storm comes due to an imbalance in life/death.  They work together through many challenges trying to get things back in place before death takes over.  In the process, John loses his life and Pierce searches for a way to bring him back, while also trying to find the balance between life and death.

Cabot's writing style is very thorough throughout the book.  She tells, in detail, Pierce's thought process and the descriptions of the scenery around her.  Although the book sounds very dark in my explanation, it doesn't seem like it at all.

I think this book is very good.  It has some suspenseful moments that kept me on the edge of my seat and I found myself wanting to just read more even when I knew I didn't have the time.  I don't know how I feel about this being a teenage book, but I guess I have seen worse.  Some of the descriptions were a little too much at times because I found myself having to go back and remember what was going on between the characters which is a problem I have never had before.  Overall, I would recommend this book.

Melissa Pullano, BGSU student

The Lightning Dreamer : Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

Engle, Margarita. The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist. Houghton Mifflen Harcart, 2013. 

In this story Tula loves words, writing, and everything about it. However, Tula is rowing up in Cuba where it is taboo for women to be knowledgeable. Tula desperately hopes for freedom. The thought of freedom from an arranged marriage and slavery to all drives all her thoughts. Tula will do whatever it takes.

I find the author's writing style to be very interesting. This particular book was written in poem style but in free verse. The shapes of the poems helped the reader understand Tula's feelings. For example, when the lines only contained one word, you could feel Tula's pain, longing, and hope.

The cover is the only area of illustration. It is just a picture of a hand and a crow on top of one finger with a sky blue background. The picture is whimsical looking. I feel the simpleness of the background represents the freedom Tula desperately wants.

I think the book was very good and an easy read. The story flowed nicely, and the characters all had a voice. I would recommend this book to students. It introduces to them to forms of slavery but in a way that is expressive and not just facts. I think this book would be good for fifth to seventh graders.

Grace Mulikill, BGSU Student 

Gaby, Lost and Found

Cervantes, Angela. Gaby, Lost and Found.  2013. Scholastic Press.

Gaby is an 11 year old girl whose mother was deported from the U.S.  Her dad is forced to take care of her but is poor and doesn't do a very good job of connecting with Gaby.  Gaby's class, along with her best friend, volunteer at an animal shelter where Gaby connects with a cat that was abandoned and left to die.  The owners decide they want the cat back but Gaby refuses and steals the cat to keep the cruel owners from getting their cat back.

The author uses many Spanish words repetitively throughout the book, such as "gato" (for cat), "princesa" (princess), chica (girl), etc.  They are basic Spanish words so young children could easily pick up on their meanings through context clues.  For example, she writes "You're out of luck, gato!"  She yelled- "my mom, master tree climber and cat rescuer, isn't back yet."  The author is very straightforward yet provides enough detail to picture things clearly.

There were no illustrations in this book.  There were, however, typed flyers that Gaby made for the animals at the shelter and although it was all writing, it still gave a good visual of what the fliers were like.

I think the book is great and very educational for kids.  It is especially good for animal lovers and girls between the ages of 9 to 13.  I would also read this book aloud to 7 and 8 year-olds.  The book has a great story line to follow, while also raising awareness about issues with immigration and deportation.  It is important to show young children the effects of deportation on a personal level for them to make a difference later in life.

Melissa Pullano, BGSU student

Puppies and Kittens

Arlon, Penelope, and Tory Gordon-Harris. Puppies and Kittens. New York: Scholastic, 2013.

The story talks about baby puppies and kittens.  It describes how they rely on their mothers when they are first born, but grow and eventually love to play.  As they age, pets can communicate their wants by the sounds they make or the way they tilt their heads.

The writing style is fun, informative and easy to comprehend.  The style is very descriptive when giving information about puppies and kittens. 

The illustrations follow the puppies and kittens from birth age to growing up.  It shows all the varieties and colors dogs and cats can have.

I would definitely recommend this book!  It's a fun and full of great pictures for younger children in elementary school to enjoy.  It would be good for a young child interested in getting a traditional house pet.  It goes through the early life stages of a pet so children would know what to expect of their own puppy or kitten.

Reviewer: JSL


May I Please?

Steinkraus, Kyla. May I Please?Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Educational Media, 2013.

This story is about teaching children about using manners.  It talks about saying please and thank you and how it makes us feel when others are kind to us.

The author uses kid friendly words and situations.  The situations used are life like and students can relate to them.

the illustrations are all real photographs of children in certain settings.  I think these images fit this particular type of story nicely as a real life connection for children.

I would recommend this book to children, especially if a child needs to use a social story for a particular situation.  I would use this for children from kindergarten to about third or forth grade.  I do not believe this would have to go along with a particular interests because it is important for all children to learn manners.

Reviewer: MNN

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jackie Robinson: American Hero

Robinson, Sharon. Jackie Robinson: American Hero. New York: Scholastic, Inc, 2013. 

Jackie Robinson: American Hero talks about Jackie's family life and how he got interested in sports in general and how it led up to baseball.  Jackie was a young black male growing up in a time where there was a lot of racial problems making it tough for him to be on a white team.

It's a unique story opening by describing how the game would be if you were there before introducing who Jackie Robinson is.  Ex. "Jackie Robinson danced off third base.  He was going to try to steal home."  throughout the book the author is able to really connect with the reader through specific game examples, his love life, and what it was like to go through that.

The pictures used in this biography were all real photos taken during his and baseball career.  Having real photographs impacts the reader more because it is a true story.

I think when books talk about how someone great succeeds during the hardest times it is really inspirational for anyone.  Jackie Robinson achieved great things and really helped break racial barriers and I think it's important for all kids/people to be educated on it.  Younger kids may not understand as much but certainly in the middle school age range.

Reviewer: Tamera Cochran





Dragon Run

Matthews, Patrick. Dragon Run. New York, N.Y: Scholastic Press, 2013.

It is about a boy who was labeled and then had to fight for his life.  He ultimately saved the people he loved by defeating the dragons and proving his label incorrect.

His style is very blunt with very little suspense or cliff hangers.  A very well told story but not enough cliff hangers.  He didn't explain some things as well as I would have liked either.

I think the front cover describes the overall scene of the book very well because it shows a lowly human standing up to a mighty dragon.

I really enjoyed reading the book, I'm not sure if he is planning on writing a sequel or not but he didn't finish the story very well.  He left  a lot of things out in the open.  I would recommend this book for anyone middle school on up because it is a good story with a great moral.

Reviewer: DWR

A Narrow Escape

Kerrin, Jessica Scott. A Narrow Escape.  2013. Kids Can Press.

This story is about a boy whose father owns a large cannery and the town is located on the coast.  The boy is put in charge of caring for his class' cactus but the breaks the cactus and comes up with an elaborate scheme to pass the trouble onto someone else while using the town's lobster festival as aid.

The story is written as the view of the main character (Norris) as well as a narrator.  The author does use some repetitive phrasing of similar words throughout the text.  As far as the difficulty of text, the author uses many vocabulary words such as accusation and dismissively.

The illustrations in this book are located on the front and back covers, within the front and back cover when opened, and a small picture at the beginning of each new chapter.  These illustrations are done in watercolor and pencil.  The pictures at the start of each chapter give the best insight into what is occurring.

I certainly would recommend this book to children.  It is well written and is just challenging enough for children from ages 8 to 10.  These ages I recommend specifically because the text has words that would be challenging for to these ages but also the different writing styles would enhance comprehension.

BNT

Where is Curious George?

Platt, Cynthia. Where is Curious George?.  2013.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The story is about finding Curious George making this book similar to Where's Waldo? and I Spy.  The author makes the book kid-friendly.  There's some rhyming and every page offers something different.  The illustrations are amazing.  3-D objects fill the page, making the pages come to life.  Since it's a look and find, the book illustrations are most important.

This book is awesome!  It takes a small childhood character and turns him into something for an older group.  I think the age range would be for 4 to 8-year olds.

MJW, BGSU student

You Make Me Smile

Marlow, Layn. You Make Me SmileHoliday House , 2013.

You Make Me Smile is a picture book that details a day which begins normally then transforms into a special tale of friendship. An unknown narrator begins the tale with a child waking up on a cold winter day. He assumes it will be boring, but is given a promise that it will soon become special. As the day progresses, the snow begins to fall until it completely covers the ground. The child goes outside to play and then creates a new friend and the narrator, a snowman. The child gives the snowman his smile (hence the title) and they share a picture together. In the end, the snowman talks of the transience of winter and not knowing what weather tomorrow will bring and if he will be able to stay. But he assures the child that if he is patient they can “share a snowy smile again someday.”

While this book was short and to the point I thought it shared a very special meaning and I could see young readers connecting to the text. I think that aside from the obvious meaning of the text it can be used to describe several similar situations (i.e. death, or a parent who is traveling). The text is accessible for young readers because there are beautifully illustrated pictures that accompany descriptive yet decodable words.

   
I would recommend this book to a kindergarten teacher as a read aloud story or to a learning reader to increase their confidence and passion for reading.

April McCoy, BGSU Student

Tea Time With Sophia Grace and Rosie

Brownlee, Sophia Grace et al. Tea Time With Sophia Grace and Rosie. 2013. Scholastic.

Sophia Grace and Rosie are cousins.  They want to throw the perfect tea party and decide they are each going to invite one guest.  Throughout the whole story they are planning and decorating for their tea party.

The authors of this book are the two young girls in the story.  The writing style is young and you can tell it was not written by an adult.  The quotes are written how an 8-year old would talk.  The illustrations are very bright and colorful.  They are realistic but still have a cartoon feel to them.  The pictures are all over the pages and are very inviting and intriguing.

I would recommend this book to young girls.  Sophia Grace and Rosie have been on tv so this would be a great book for any little girl who know knows them.  This book would also be very good for any young girl who likes princesses and anything pink, just like Sophia Grace and Rosie.

Rebecca Eidnier, BGSU student

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

Eulberg, Elizabeth. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. New York: Point, 2013. 

The main character, Lexi, is not pretty like her five year old pageant sister.  Pageants are Lexi's single mom's life and all of their money goes towards that.  Everyone loves Lexi's great personality but that is it.  She is sick of being known for just her personality and not beauty.

Eulberg writes form Lexi's perspective which really helps the reader relate to all of the things Levi is struggling with.  The dialogue Lexi has with her friend is really true to how teenagers speak.

This book does not have any illustrations but the cover does.  The title is written in read lipstick and the lipstick is laying broken at the bottom. This illustration on the cover foreshadows a lot for the book.

This book gives a great example of how older siblings may feel when it comes to the attention that they don't get as much of.  It also shows that you don't need make-up and designer clothes to be pretty or noticed.  I think this book would be appropriate for seventh grade up because of some topics discussed.

Reviewer:  T.C.

I Have a Garden

Barner, Bob. I Have a Garden. New York: Holiday House, 2013.

Told from the perspective of a dog, the dog is telling the reader everything that can be found in a garden...besides flowers.  The dog finds a variety of small animals and bugs.

Barner's writing style is very simple in this book.  One page says, "I have a bug in my garden." While another page says, "I have a bee."

Barner's illustrations are very big, bright, and colorful.  The artwork is consistent from page to page. The artwork was made with paper collage, gouache, pastel, and pencil.

I would recommend this book for any beginning reader, the illustrations match the text perfectly.  The bugs and animals in this book are very cute. The text shouldn't be intimidating to a beginning or struggling reader because there are only about five words for every few pages, and the pictures match the text.

Reviewer: Alycia Robinson

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hot or Cold?

Webb, Barbara L. Hot or Cold?Vero Beach, Fla: Rourke Educational Media, 2013.

This story gives examples of places and weather that is hot or cold.  The illustrator provides a visual of a thermometer to help the reader tell whether it is hot or cold.

The author explains a simple concept and follows it by asking the reader a question.  The author's writing style is very organized and understandable.

The illustrations consist of high contrasted colors of different scenery, pictures of people with positive facial expressions, and a picture of a thermometer to match the "hot" or "cold" pictures.

I would highly recommend this to students of the ages 3 to 7 years old.  Students who live in Ohio can relate to the pictures of kids playing in the snow and swimming during the summer.




Reviewer: Kim Vovko

The Lost Boy

Ruth, Greg. The Lost Boy. New York, NY: Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic, 2013. 

The story is about a boy who stumbles upon a mystery that no one has ever fully solved.  He follows a mysterious tape recorder that gives him clues that helps him in his attempts.  Going into places before, he will learn that he is is not only living in one world.
The author does not have to say much or use many descriptors in his writing because the pictures say it all.  His writing works well with the comic style book.

The illustrations are top notch.  They show emotion where it is needed.  The words that are different from the regular font helps the readers, read with different character voices and roles that are portrayed in the story. The best part are the black background pages because it clearly indicates it is a different story.

The book was different because not many people read books in comic book form.  The story was interesting and I did not want to put the book down.  I recommend it to kids who are visual learners because there are plenty of images, but just the right amount of reading.  There is one violent part part and one part that might scare children.  Anyone over the age of 11 should be ok.

Reviewer: Aaron Smart

Monday, December 09, 2013

Freaks

Larwood, Kieran. Freaks. New York: Chicken House/Scholastic, 2013.


This story is set in 1851 in London England.  The main characters are freaks in a show.  They try to solve the mystery of disappearing mudlarks because it seems like no one is going to do anything about it.
The author sets the story with the historical background of London in 1851. Then he layers his own creativity over top of it.  The writing is pretty simple but it is full of action and creative inventions and characters.
The cover is very eye catching.  And at the end of the book there are some black and white drawings of some of the characters, which is nice to have.
I would recommend this book to a child probably in the 4th to 7th grade depending on the reading level of the child.  If the child is interested in Victorian London they would love this book.  At the end the author includes some extra information on the time and place of the book.


Reveiwer: Edie Greaser

Under the Light

Whitcomb, Laura. Under the Light: A Novel. , 2013.


This book is about Helen, a ghost, needing a body so she could be with her beloved. Jenny was her host and James, the beloved, was with Blake.  The story goes on to explain how the ghosts intertwined Jenny and Blake's lives.

I feel that the author uses a lot of great detail, "She looks exhausted as she set her purse on a chair, but the next moment her eyes were sharp and she grabbed my arm with an iron grip, hushing me with a finger to her lips."  The details make the images come alive.  Also the initialized conversations between Helen and Jenny stick out.  
There is only the front cover.  It is a very whimsically done with a photo of a girl making a ripple effect in the water.  This photo is connected and creates a ripple on one another.
I would recommend it to other kids.  I feel this book is more suited for the upper range of middle level students.  The book is not difficult, however, the content is better for older students.  Ages 14-17 year olds.
Reviewer: Grace Mulvihill




See Me Dig

Meisel, Paul. See Me Dig. New York: Holiday House, 2013.


This story is about a group of dogs who likes to dig.  They find places to dig, only to be told to go away because the places they choose to dig is already occupied and they get upset.  In the end they find a place to dig.
The author's writing style is very simple.  Each sentence contains but a few words, not too complex.
The illustrations are nice and depicts the animal well.
I enjoyed the book.  I like the fact that the book is simple and that it repeats words.  Also, the images do well to match the story.  I would recommend this book to children, especially for those who have an interest in digging or in dogs.

Reviewer: Dakota Harris

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K

Pincus, Gregory K. The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. , 2013.

This book was about a boy who hated math.  The only thing that made it worse was that his whole family loved it...a lot.  His math teacher gives him a chance to bring up his grade, and this changed his life. Trying to follow in his father footsteps he enters a contest.  With the help of his math teacher, Mr. Davis, his best friend, Kelly, and some pie he finds out math isn't that bad.
The author's writing style is perfect for middle school aged kids.the words are understandable, and not to challenging.  The most important part of his writing is that he connects it to real life, meaning this can relate to any kid.
There are not many illustrations, but the cover says it all.  Math word and equations explain the math portion.  then with the poetry and words explain the writing portion of the story.
I thought that the book was great and there are many audiences.  Children who do not like math, children who do like math, and any kind of teacher.  For the kids it shows that any subject can be integrated together.  As for teachers, it shows them the same thing.  This can give teachers ideas on how they can incorporate math with any subject.

Reviewer: Aaron Smart

A City tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner

Blundell, Judy. A City Tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner. New York, N.Y: Scholastic, 2013.



My story is about a girl named Minnie Bonner and her family who owns a tavern in Philadephia.  The Sump family try to buy Minnie's father's tavern and Minnie has to move to San Francisco to live with the Sumps. Minnie's father disappears after his tavern is bought, which is when Minnie goes to California. She then survives the earthquake of 1906 and since the Sump's were rich she found a bag of cash, and becomes very rich. Minnie's life changed forever and she found out a lot about her tavern.

Judy Blundell's writing style is written in first person format.  Her writing is written more mysteriously, because we don't know what's going to happen next in Minnie's life.  A quote from the book "And as she said it the rumble started". This is mysterious because no one knew when the earthquake was coming.

The illustrations are very interesting because they are actually photos of what happened during the San Francisco earthquake.  It shows the fault and the aftermath the city went through, and this gives the reader a better idea of how/what/when the quake was.

I thought the book is a great read for middle grades, particularly 7th - 9th. It gives a lot of historical facts about America during the 1900's, yet, it's fictional.  The book is slow at first, but it becomes more interesting by the middle of the book. This may be a hindrance to middle grades because they want to be interested in something right away. 

Reviewer: Krista Kavalauskas



Friday, December 06, 2013

The Look

Bennett, Sophia. The Look. 2013.  Scholastic, Inc.

A high school girl in London, England named Ted Trout tries to navigate her way through the world of modeling.  Meanwhile, her sister is sick and fighting to stay alive.

The language used in the book keeps the reader engaged.  The author uses several references to popular culture, which makes the story more relatable.  For example, "I am utterly not Kate Moss" is one of many references made to celebrities throughout the book.

The only illustration used in the book is the cover.  The picture on the cover is a photograph representing the sisters in the story

I enjoyed reading this book.  It is well written and engaging.  I would recommend this book to high school girls, especially if they enjoyed reading the "Airhead" series by Meg Cabot or "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.

Hiding Phil

Barclay, Eric. Hiding Phil. 2013. Scholastic.

Three children find an elephant named Phil.  They bring him home to play but then realize mom and dad won't like him.  They hide him in many places, eventually mom and dad find out and ship him off, but finally let him come back to stay.

Barclay has geared this book to a young age and made all the thought processes so children can enjoy them.  It is fiction and kids enjoy fiction!

The illustrations are wonderful with a lot of colors and just enough detail.  The pages are not too overbearing and would be enjoyed by all ages.

I most definitely recommend this book to kids.  It is something they could read on their own and it is humorous.  Students PreK- grade 2 would enjoy reading this.

Samantha Ramkey, BGSU student

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge

Standiford, Natalie. The Boy on the Bridge. New York: Scholastic Press, 2013. 


A College student named Laura Reid studies abroad in Leningrad, Russia during the Cold War. Laura wants to get to know Russia better and she meets a Russian boy named Alyosha.  Laura gets to know more about Russia and the culture, but it is dangerous for Laura because she is American.  She becomes close to Alysha and he wants to come to America with Laura, but nowhere is safe for them because of the Cold War.
The author has written a romance between Laura and Alyosha. Natalie's writing is easily understandable as well and is very interesting.  She makes the story suspenseful because of the Cold War.  An example of her suspense writing is ...:she walked back to the dorm alone, just in case Ivan the guard happened to be looking out the window".
There are no illustrations within the book, so the reader has to imagine the illustrations.  The cover of the book does grasp the reader. The buildings in the background are beautiful and it looks like there is a lot of romance between the two people. So the cover of the book is watercolor.
I like the book.  It gives more insight on what it was like during the Cold War, with a twist of romance.  The romance adds suspense, which made me interested the whole time.  I would recommend it or older kids in middle grades because there is history involved.  I would give this book to ninth graders because they learn more about Russia in this grade. The only thing is that middle graders won't relate well to college students or romance well.

Reviewer: Krista Kavalauskas

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disaster Day

McKenzie, Precious. Disaster Day. 2013.  Rourke Educational Media.

This book is about the experience of two turtledoves attending flight school.  They are not the most skilled birds but they do work the hardest.  The author's writing style is very descriptive.  He uses unique words that transition well and bring the story together.  The illustrations in this book are very eye popping.  The colors were not extremely bright but they do serve their purpose.

I would not recommend this book to kids.  I find it kind of challenging at the beginning.  I believe most of the book is written for children but the beginning would be more for a student in a higher grade.  The author could have used a better choice of words.

Michael Lee, BGSU student

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten

Fergus, Maureen.  The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten. 2013. Kids Can Press.

The story is about a student who is a Kindergartener experiencing the joys of being in school and mainly focuses on her mother's trouble of being away from her. The child invites her mother to class with her for an entire day.  The student is surprised her mother cannot follow rules and spends the day showing her mom how a Kindergartener should behave.

The writing style was comical, yet simple enough for a Kindergartener to understand.  The reading was not very difficult or lengthy.

The illustrator definitely brought the entire story to life and made the reading even more fun by seeing the characters- most importantly the mother- misbehaving and the daughter correcting her.

I would recommend this book as it was really fun to read and won't take much time at all to get its point across.  Many children might enjoy sharing this book with their parents or vice versa.  I think it would be appropriate for no older than first graders and maybe age 4.  Really great reading style even highlights words that could be used as vocabulary terms in a classroom setting.

Anonymous Reviewer

To London to Visit the Queen

Robertson, J. Jean. To London to Visit the Queen. 2013.  Rourke Educational Media.

Camp counselors Omar and Esme take their campers on an adventure to see the Queen in London.  After stopping at Piccadilly Circus to grab something to eat, they head to London to find the Queen.

The author is focusing on the "q" sound and words that begin with the letter "q."  She uses short sentences with simple vocabulary.  There was a word list at the beginning of the book that the students should know prior to reading.

The illustrations were nicely done and computer-generated.  The colors were bright and eye-catching.  The pictures followed along well with the story.  Specifically, I enjoyed the picture of the double-decker bus with Big Ben in the background.

Personally, I believe this book was very confusing.  I would not use this book in my classroom.  The author jumps around too quickly without supplying enough background information.  I am not sure how the students got to London or what Piccadilly Circus is.  The upside down writing in the storybook was extremely confusing as well.

Kimberly Campbell, BGSU student

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jack and The Hungry Giant Eat Right with My Plate

Leedy, Loreen. Jack & the Hungry Giant Eat Right with My plate. , 2013.

Jack's beans turn into a huge beanstalk which leads him to the giant's house where Jack and the Giant prepare a healthy meal together.

The author uses short sentences and many conversation bubbles.

The illustrations are very well created and the food pictures are very life-like. The photos are hand drawn with fantastic coloring.

This book does a very good job of illustrating proper food choices.  I like how the book begins with the familiar Jack and the beanstalk story line and then takes a turn in a completely different direction. I would highly recommend this book to all children regardless of age to teach them the importance of healthy eating.

Reviewer: Christina Hofelich

Vote for Me!

Robertson, J J, and Marc Mones. Vote for Me!Vero Beach, Fla: Rourke Educational Media, 2013.


Penelope Pony is helping to coordinate the class elections for the year.  The students make posters and help one another prepare their election posters.

The author used short sentences that were conversational based between the classmates.  An example sentence of the author's writing style is provided below.
"No you won't,Snyder.  With my long neck, I can reach it for you."

The primary medium for the illustrations I believe is animated characters that were computer generated. The illustrations were great representation of what the text was describing

I would recommend this book to help demonstrate teamwork as well as to explain how to work together while "competing" against one another on something such as a class election.  I thought this was a great book and the illustrations went well with the text.
I would recommend this book for 7- 9 year olds.

Reviewer: Brittany Scott


Ukulele Hayley

Cox, Judy, and Amanda Haley. Ukulele Hayley. , 2013.

This story is a about a third grader named Hayley who was unsure of her talents.  Shortly after, Hayley bought a ukulele and fell in love with playing it and even started a school "uk" club, planned concerts, and saved the music program!

Judy Cox's writing style is unique.  She tells the story as if you were there.  She writes and uses words easy enough for middle schoolers to understand and be engaged.

The illustrations are very relevant to the important parts of the book.  They are eye-catching and match perfectly to the text.

I enjoyed reading this book!  I think the message of this book will grasp it's reader's attention.  I would recommend this book to kids if they enjoy music and fiction. This will be appropriate for ages 9-12 year olds.

Reviewer J.W.

Hunter Moran Hangs Out

Giff, Patricia R. Hunter Moran Hangs Out. , 2013.

Zach and Hunter are twins from a rather large family and when a neighbor girl tells them she heard of a possible kidnapping that is going to happen, they take charge. The twins have only four days until their summer is over so they work hard to find the kidnapper before he strikes.
The writer does use some words that would take some thought to understand it's context.  One word in particular that I noticed was, accomplice.  This word was important to the plot since it is a mystery.  The author used it when she wrote, "No, the accomplice isn't here."
There were very few illustrations within the text.  The ones included in the book created anticipation for the upcoming setting written in the following chapters. These illustrations where mysterious and effective in setting the mood and scene throughout the chapters.
I think that this book has a great story, flow, and plot but I think that the description of the Moran family in the first few chapters is lacking.  This would be a book of recommendation for kids ranging from 9-12 years of age. I think that both boys and girls could enjoy this story.

Reviewer: B.N.T