Book reviewer extraordinaire!

Archive for October, 2011

39 Clues

Okay, I read the first one and liked it, a lot; however, I never finished the series for various reasons. So, I began reading The Medusa Plot this week and realized I need to finish the 39 Clues first! I went to Books-A-Million tonight and spent a few bucks and bought book two in the series. I will post the review of book one soon and as soon as I finish book two the review will follow. I am still reading The Medusa Plot because it is intriguing and I can’t stop!

We (husband too) bought the next few books in the series. After reading Cahills vs Vespers my husband was hooked. While he read book one (Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan) I read book two (One False Note by Gordon Korman). The series is made up of eleven books written by eight different children’s authors. That is one of the great things about the series. Each book has its own ‘flavor’ or ‘feel’ about it. The authors have different styles but are writing about the same characters. The manner in which the characters are revealed makes them more well rounded and full. Much more like real people than characters in a book.

Amy and Dan Cahill are orphans, they live with a horrible relative, and have a wealthy, but mysterious, grandmother. Upon her death the children learn about their other relatives and some crazy familial history. Their grandmother left a challenge behind for the entire family that could make the winner wealthier than Amy or Dan could ever imagine, if they won. They could opt out of the challenge and still walk away quite wealthy but stuck in their same situation with someone else controlling their lives. With the help of their au pair the Cahill children run away and begin an adventure of a lifetime as they find the 39 Clues.

Amy and Dan are hunted and hindered by the crazy array of relatives who also want to find the clues. Some of those relatives are willing to do anything, even kill each other, to figure out what the clues lead them to.

Maze of Bones (book 1) begins the journey in the US and leads them to France with information about Ben Franklin – Cahill relative, One False Note (book 2) takes them Italy and connects them to famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – another Cahill ancestor with connections to Ben Franklin and Marie Antoinette. Book 3, The Sword Thief (by Peter Lerangis), leads the siblings to Japan where they face down the Yakuza … HOWEVER, I am not done with book three so you will have to wait for my review!

Finished book 4, Beyond the Grave (by Jude Watson aka Judy Blundell) and book 5, The Black Circle (by Patrick Carman).

Okay, here is the update. Both hubby and I have read books 1 through 5. First, I need to state that my husband is dyslexic and has adult ADHD. As we read, he stayed on my six the entire time. I would finish a book and an hour later he picked it up and began. If I can get him to read something other than computer manuals and magazines I think that is an accomplishment but to keep his attention for 5 books in a series? THAT is a real accomplishment.

The only negative he had to say was that the books were “too fantastic” and “need more history.” Another shocker, he wanted more history and less fantasy?! I tried to explain that most kids reading these books would prefer less history.

The 39 Clues are a wonderful series for children and adults. The series is fun, funny, interesting, educational, and I can honestly say adults will love reading them as much as children.


Teaching Authors–6 Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing: Writing Workout

Teaching Authors–6 Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing: Writing Workout.

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

Believe it or not, my daughter introduced me to Shel Silverstein. I have never been a fan of poetry but my daughter loved reading Shel. So I bought her a boxed set and read numerous silly poems. I was hooked. When Runny Babbit was at the Scholastic Book Fair I bought her a copy and read it to my students. So, when I moved to a new school district and started working on a poetry lesson I was devastated to find only one Shel Silverstein book and only a handful of other (older serious) poetry. Not the stuff kids WANT to read (unless they are like my daughter :] ) so I grabbed Every Thing On It from … you guessed it … the Scholastic Book Fair!

My students will appreciate poetry much more now, I think, that I have read Shel Silerstein. His poetry makes all ages smile as we relate to what happened in the past and to what we are going through now.

HarperCollins has published this wonderful compilation of never before published poems and art by Shel Silverstein. My daughter needs this book!


HELP!! My library is OLD!!!

I have just taken over a school library in a rural area. The first thing I did was run a collection analysis to see where were. I am so saddened to find my students’ lack of reading desire is due to the age of the collection. I am not sure where some of the books came from but even in the 1980s when the school was built the books were outdated.

The average age of my collection is 1985. Almost 35 years old. The problem with that is there are books in the collection from the 50s. No, not classics that can transcend time. The collection has been added to sparingly over the years so there are a few newer items. However, there are no Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z Mysteries, and I am certain that in my library Pluto is still a planet.

If any publisher wishes to have reviews posted here please send me your books and I will gladly review them and add them to my collection. If any bookseller wishes to be kind and donate relevant materials to my students, I will gladly make it known here! Yes, I am begging … for my students. My library reaches PK through 4th grade and I have a few upper level readers who are borrowing books from my personal collection. Please help!

No Talking! by Andrew Clements

Goodness! Do I know a group of unshushables! I am reading this book to a group of third and fourth graders with the hope and desire they will get the idea to try the same contest with similar outcomes!

So, boys against girls…no talking for two whole days…who will win? Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Not really, the lessons learned by both students and faculty alike are refreshing. Andrew Clements has a way of getting to the core of the issues and in this book it is the incessant desire of a fifth grade class to talk, constantly, non-stop, they probably even talk in their sleep kind of yakkers.

My third and fourth grade classes are loving the book. Partially because of the cooties and trash talking involved but I do’t care, THEY ASK ME TO READ IT!!! For a group of kids wit the attention span of the 5 minute commercial break I will take it!

Thanks Mr. Clements, you may have helped me spark a desire in these kids to read on their own. Great read for kids and adults. Short chapters allow students to feel as though they are moving through the book quickly and silly enough they remember where we left off from week to week. If you have a reluctant reader, this will help get them motivated. The kids are even asking me if they can read it when I am done!!!!!


I am starting a new review blog to focus on children’s books. Fiction and nonfiction alike!

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