Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Part Dinosaur, Part Truck, All Fun

Dinotrux by Chris Gail

Millions of years ago, after the dinosaurs, Dinotrux ruled the earth. Unlike the kind and helpful trucks we know today Dinotrux were mean, smelly, messy, and scary. Part truck and part dinosaur these trucks wreaked havoc on the cavemen and animals that lived in that time. From the nosy Craneosaurus to the super hungry Garnageadon to the impatient Dozeratops these dinotrux did whatever they wanted. What happened to the Dinotrux? How did they change into the trucks we know today? You will have to read and find out.

I saw this book and started to chuckle. It seemed to combine two things that little boys love, dinosaurs and trucks. The book does not disappoint, the dinotrux are very much part dinosaur and part truck. I think that most little boys will easily be able to identify which parts are which. Now I must warn you some of the dinotrux are very rude and have issues controlling their bodily functions, so if a little bit of toilet humor offends you avoid pages 14-15. Personally I know that little kids think toilet humor is funny although I don't want to indulge that too much one page spread of a little potty joke is fine with me. The illustrations are really great and the book would be lost without them. Gail does a great job of making the dinotrux easily recognizable for either the dinosaur or truck enthusiast. And while the dinotrux have claws and sharp teeth they are not scary but look more ferocious, but again in a way that will not give little ones nightmares. I did not think I was going to enjoy this book but I really did. It was a lot of fun to read and I think it is a fun book to share with little boys ages 3-5.

Click to watch the Book Trailer

Author Interview

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella was given a gift at her birth by the fairy Lucinda, Ella would always be obedient. This meant that no matter what, Ella would have to obey every command that was given to her regardless of her own opinion or needs. After her mother's death Ella was mostly cared for by her mother's friend and servant Mandy. Ella wanted nothing more than to be free of her curse, and she spent a great deal of her time trying to accomplish this. When he father returns home from a business trip married to a woman with two daughter Ella is worried that her secret will get out. Unable to stand her two new stepsisters Ella decides it is time to find Lucinda and beg her to remove the curse. While on her quest he meets the young prince of the kingdom, Char. Char is trying to meet his people before he becomes king, he and Ella disagree about his treatment of other magical beginnings and an unlikely friendship begins. Can Ella get rid of this curse and will she be rid of her awful step sisters?

I remember reading this book and falling in love the world that Levine creates. A student teacher at the time I decided to read the book aloud to my class of fourth graders. My cooperating teacher was skeptical the book could hold the boy's attention for 10-15 minutes a day but I was confident there was enough adventure to counter balance the stigma of having to hear a "Cinderella" book. I was right, the boys did not want to admit it but they were enthralled every day by the adventures and misunderstanding Ella found herself in. It was great to watch the boys really get into the story and they were always the ones who complained the loudest if for some reason the read aloud time was cut short. Ella is smart and intelligent with a kind heart and a sense of danger. She decides to take charge of her life and tries to get her curse/gift removed. There is a rich world that Levine creates full of other magical creature some good some bad and some like most of us in the middle. This is not your typical Cinderella story and it is so much better for it! I highly recommend for girls or boys ages 9-12.

There was a movie version made of this book a few years ago and I can tell you that the movie was much worse. Now I know people say that all the time but this really was a horrid interpretation of the book. Very few of the details from the book made it into the movie aside from the names of the characters. I am a big fan of kid's movies and like the cast they assembled but the script was awful and too far from the book to be saved by Levine's clever characters. If you love the book I would not recommend the movie and if you loved the movie the book is going to be a very different experience but one that I think you will enjoy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uncontrolled Magic and Minors

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Book two in the Darkest Powers series begins right where book one left off with Chloe, Rachelle, and Tori in the Edison Group facility and Derek and Simon still at large. Chloe realizes the need for escape and tries to come up with a plan. She learns that all of the kids at Lyle House had been genetically altered and the Edison Group was responsible. Because of this alternation some of their powers were weaker than normal (Simon), and that was considered a success. While others like Chloe was considered a failure because her powers were increased. Other failures have been terminated and Chloe realizes that she is only safe as long as her Aunt Lauren can hold the Edison Group to their promise of not hurting her. Chloe doesn't have much faith in her aunt and decides escape is necessary. She does find Derek and Simon and with Tori reluctantly tagging along, the four of them set out to find shelter and some answers. With the Edison Group on their heels at every moment and Derek beginning his transformations into a werewolf the group faces danger at every turn. Can they find the answers they need and more importantly can they learn to control their powers before they hurt each one another and anyone else who happens to get in the way?

I was surprised at how much is packed into this book. I think the entire story take place over a week and a half. I am still on the fence about this series. I did like that we learn more about the powers the group has and some of the past history of the Edison Group but I guess part of me still feels like this is all building up to something. I am afraid that something may never happen. The book is well written and I was very engrossed in the story the entire time so I cannot fault the author for any deficiencies there. The character development is getting a bit more in depth but we still know next to nothing about Simon, who is still merely a good looking hero type. For all my concerns about where this series is going I have to admit I am having fun reading it and I do want to read the next book so if I am disappointed in the end I only have myself to blame for being sucked into this world. Overall I do recommend, I liked how the characters struggle with the real issues of living on their own for the first time and how realistic the author is about emotions running high without some of the more basic creature comforts. I am hoping that book three will bring these two books to a glorious and jaw dropping conclusion but if not I have enjoyed the ride so far.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where Is My Mommy?

My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud, illustrated by Emile Bravo

My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill is a semi-autobiographical French comic album. Critically acclaimed, it has won both the 2008 Essentials Award at the 35th Festival of Angoulême, France, and the 2008 Tam Tam Literary Award from the Salon du Livres et de la Presse Jeunesse.

Five year-old Jean spends his days either with his annoying little brother and kind nanny, at school, or playing with his neighbor Michele. His dad works a lot so he is not home often and Jean is not sure where his mommy is. Throughout the story we learn more about Jean's life, his likes and dislikes and little adventures and mischief that he gets into. Michele seems to be the only one that knows where Jean's mommy is because she will sent Michele postcards to read to Jean, apparently Jean's mommy is traveling. By the end of the story Jean doesn't come to know the exact truth but he does come to a realization about his mommy and doesn't look for her anymore.

This is a touching and slightly sad story of trying to figure things out at a very young age. Jean is a very cute little boy who has his own set of opinions and little schemes he tries to work out. The story does not have typical narrative but rather follows him through the year and we find out more about him through chapters about school, friends, holidays, etc. The illustrations are very detailed and a lot of the story telling is through the character's expressions. I am not a huge graphic novel/comic book fan so I cannot speak to those of you who are more experienced in the genre but I would say that this story is very well written and I liked the balance of story telling between the text and the images. At the end I was left both sad and content. Jean figures things out to a point where he is not sad or scared anymore and even though he has still not figured out the truth it is a good place for a five year-old. It is sometimes sad reading about what Jean is experiencing because as an adult you realize very quickly what has happened. But there is a lot of hope in this story and a lot of wonder. It was refreshing to see the world through Jean's eyes where everything still has some mystery to it. I would recommend for readers 9-12.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Giving Back While Enjoying a Good Book

Animal Families by Lorrie Mack

Penguin Books has a new initiative to help get books into the hands of children around the world. Their new charity is We Give Books, the way it works is you go to the website and pick a charity, then you read one of their books online, when you are finished the book gets donated to the charity of your choice. It is that simple. I just read Animal Families from DK Publishing and I can tell you that it was really cool to think that just by reading a book online one is getting donated to a child who can use it. After you finish reading you are asked if you want to sign up to be apart of We Give Books, you do not have to, and your book is donated whether or not you sign up. I am really excited about Penguin giving back to communities. And I hope you go and read a book as well!

Animal Families explores how children and parents interact in many similar ways in the animal kingdom. I think kids will enjoy learning about how some animals like to be held, that they have to eat their vegetables too, or how some get a bath. Overall I found the book to be informative but not too overwhelming. Each two page spread has a new concept on it with lots of pictures, examples, and minimal text. The pictures tell a lot of the information. Great for young readers that are curious about animals and want to know more about how they live on a day-to-day basis.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Wolves Are Hungry

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

"This story takes place in 1832-in a period of English history that never happened. Good King James III is on the Throne and the country is ravaged by wolves-and nowhere is their sinister presence felt more than in the woods surrounding Willoughby Chase, the home of Sir Willoughby and Lady Green, and their daughter Bonnie. But when Bonnie's dear parents go abroad leaving her in the care of the scheming Miss Slighcarp, she finds that the danger from the wolves is nothing compared to the threat posed by her new guardian." She will need the help of her cousin Sylvia, who was bought to Willoughby Chase to be Bonnie's companion while Sir Willoughby and Lady Green are away, to try and escape not only Miss Slighcarp's evil plans but from the wolves as well.

I saw the movie version of this book when I was a child and it scared me for years. For that reason I never wanted to read the book as a kid because I knew how much the movie had terrified me. I have read the book many times in the past few years and seen the movie again and I can only conclude that I was very easily scared as a child. This is a great book and I do not think it is too scary for any young readers. It is though filled with a lot of mystery and tension that does add to the overall feeling of sinister happenings. The story is excellently told and the reader is immediately pulled into this world where the fear of a wolf attack is what will keep you alive. Aiken builds the tension in the story steadily until you reach a point somewhere near the end when you will honestly not be able to put the book down because you will have to know what will happen to give you some peace of mind. For me the added bonus was the time period when it was set, I loved all things from the past from Little House on the Prairie to A Christmas Carol, if it was a time period where girls got to wear dresses all the time, I was ready to read about it. The characters that Aiken creates are a bit predictable in that the governess Miss Slighcarp seems to be evil and really is, but for a young reader I like having the predictable characters because at that age you need those constructs of good vs. evil to be very clear cut. When you get a little older it is easier to accept and understand that not everyone is all good or all bad. A deviation from this model though is the character of Bonnie. She is very spoiled and stubborn when we meet her in the beginning and yet we are meant to like her. Aiken very wisely created a character in Bonnie that challenges the reader a bit so that when you do decide you are on Bonnie's side you want her to succeed even more. Overall I highly recommend this book for girls ages 8-12, with a lot of adventure and danger this is not your typical period story.

Here is a link to a YouTube posting of the movie, it doesn't have the best picture quality but if you enjoyed the book it is fun to watch. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Monday, April 19, 2010

I am a Spaceheadz

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

Coming in June from Simon & Schuster Spaceheadz is book one of what seems like a long series. Michael K. just moved to Brooklyn and is starting a new school. He gets seated next to two weird kids who are also new, named Bob and Jennifer. When Michael K. talks to them they tell him they are Spaceheadz and that they need 3.14 and 1 million people to become SPHDZ or earth will be shut off. Michael K. just wants them to leave him alone or fourth grade will be ruined and he will be labeled a weird kid for the rest of the year. His teacher Mrs. Halley doesn't have Bob or Jennifer on her class list and they seem to talk to the class hamster Major Fluffy. Micheal K. can do nothing but hope 3pm comes soon. But Bob, Jennifer, and Major Fluffy follow Michael K. home and Michael K. knows there is something different about these three. All the while an Anti Alien Agency Agent, Agent Umber is on the trail of some alien activity. Micheal K. decides he believes Bob and Jennifer's story after he is shown the website www.imsuregladthatdidnthappen.com with the secret code WALK DON"T WALK typed in. It is up to Michael to help the Spaceheadz anyway he can. He sets up the website www.sphdz.com instead of doing his homework on www.mrshalleyscomets.com and the rest is coming in book two.

This book is set up in an interesting way. There are parts of the story that you can only get online and there are whole parts that you cannot understand (Major Fluffy's speech outlining the Spaceheadz plans is in hamster). I found the book to be a bit crazy at times and when it ended I was upset I didn't know more about what was going on. Then I went to all the websites mentioned in the book and now I am happy and have at least enough information to not be confused. I like the way the book is laid out with new chapters starting with a black page and white text instead of the other way around and the illustrations are great. Major Fluffy is one of my favorite illustrations because Prigmore really did get a hamster to look like a military commander. I think this is going to be a fun series for boys and girls ages 7-11, especially once more and more people find out about the Spaceheadz mission. I liked that all of the websites mentioned in the book were created and now exist, but I did not like that I had to go to one of them to get the rest of the story. Call me lazy, but I wanted it in the book. I do think that these websites are a great way to get kids involved in the story and to get their own creative juices flowing. The chapters are very short which lets the reader decide how much time he or she wants to put into the book at any one moment. I am not very fond of the Agent Umber character, not only does he seem like a buffoon but there doesn't seem to be much point to the Anti Alien Agency. Maybe we will learn more about that in book two now that we know about the Spaceheadz. Overall I say pick up this book when it comes out in June, it will be a fun and quick read that will leave you wanting more and asking yourself if you are a SPHDZ.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chasing the Nightmares Away

There's a Nightmare in my Closet written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer

This is an old classic that I remember having read to me when I was little and having trouble falling asleep in my new room. A little boy is telling us the story of the nightmare that lived in his closet. He used to be scared of it and would always make sure that the closet door was closed. He was even too scared to sneak a peak at it. One night though he decides to get rid of that nightmare. He turns off the light and is waiting for the nightmare to come out of the closet. When the nightmare does come out of the closet he tells the nightmare to go away or he will shoot it with his pop gun, and then he does shoot it. The nightmare begins to cry and not wanting to wake up his parents the little boy decides to tuck the nightmare in bed with him so he will feel better. The two go to sleep and the little boy thinks there might be another nightmare in the closet but his bed is too small for three.

This is a classic. I have loved this story for many years, and I have read it to children when I was babysitting and they loved it too. The illustrations are wonderful, there is a lot of white space on every page so you can really look at everything the illustrator included. The little boy is drawn in a very cute way (his red feety pj's with a butt flap is adorable) and he is very likable. The nightmare does look intimidating but not scary and it is very sad when he begins to cry. There is about one sentence per page which makes this a great read aloud book, it is very easy to read and hold up the book to show the pictures. I think there is a lot that kids can learn from this story from confronting their fears to being nice to people who are different from you. The story also starts to teach children empathy. They will be able to understand feeling a little scared sometimes sleeping in their room and they will be able to understand wanting to help out someone else who is hurt and upset. All in all this is a great read. If you have not already had a chance pick this one up!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Alive

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

New from Penguin this year Incarceron is a young adult book you will not soon forget. I was so excited when I read about this book last year before it was released. I read it over a couple days and it was hard to put down during the time I needed to be doing other things. The story sucks you in right away so leave some time to read this one because you will not want to put it down.

Incarceron is a prison that was meant to be a utopia. The designers planned to take all the undesirables and give them a perfect world and spiritual leaders to guide them. Claudia has been taught this her whole life. As daughter to the Warden of Incarceron she is being groomed to be the next queen but Claudia does not want the life that is being forced on her and she wants to know more about Incarceron. Finn is a thief and believes that he was not born in Incarceron even though it had been sealed for hundreds of years. Finn and his oathbrother Keiro try to find meaning in Finn's odd fits and visions. One man in Incarceron believes that Finn is his key to escape and can show him out of the prison. Incarceron is always watching, it can create and destroy life, it makes storms for its own pleasure and will seal off passages to watch its inmates suffer. There is only one who has ever been rumored to escape, and the takes about him are as varied as Incarceron itself.

Wow! That was all I could think as I read this book. I finished it and just wanted to talk about. It took me a full hour to really start to think about the plot holes and even then I didn't really care. The story is told in two parts, sometimes the reader is following Claudia and other times we are following Finn, as the two stories get closer to being entwined the amount of pages between them lessens. For example in the beginning there is a few chapters about Finn and then a few about Claudia by the end their stories are on alternating pages. That really does help increase the tension that is built so well throughout the story. I really did enjoy this book and recommend it as a great fantasy read. There are some big plot holes though that in my mind need to be addressed. To discuss them here though will ruin the end of the book, so I will not go into all of that now. Just be aware that not all of your questions will be answered to your total satisfaction.

In Claudia's world they apparently had great technology at one point but some ruler decided after "the years of rage" that progress was too dangerous and made everyone live in an approximation of the 16th century. The idea that people would have to hide things like their toilets and washing machines because there were not era appropriate is fascinating. And of course people do hide their technology because living without things like modern medicine and hygiene is crazy. I really appreciated the way the author wove the two stories together. The reader figures some things out very early in the book, much before our main characters do and that wait to have your thoughts confirmed is torturous but does keep you reading. Lastly the details about Incarceron itself are creepy and wonderful. Incarceron is fitted with hundreds of thousands of red eyes that watch every movement and let the prison know all the things that are happening. From that information the prison can make its own choices about who lives and dies. It is scary and awful but wonderful to read about. I highly recommend for young adults ages 13-45.

If after all of this you are still not convinced you should read this book, watch the trailer, hopefully that will persuade you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up the Coconut Tree

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

This is the anniversary edition of this much loved alphabet book. From Simon & Schuster's new children's imprint Beach Lane Books comes this story about our alphabet. Told in rhyme this book has all the letters of the alphabet trying to climb the coconut tree. When all the letters are finally in the tree the tree sags and everyone tumbles out in a big mess. The upper case letters come to untangle the little ones and we see all the letters go home, some with a few injuries from their adventure in the tree.

When I read this book the first thing I thought was this would be great for a classroom or in teaching 3-4 year olds their alphabet. In doing a very quick search for the cover image I found many resources for classrooms to use this book and create projects based on it. I did not come across this book when I was teaching but I was teaching fourth grade and by that point the students know their alphabet. This is a wonderful book that goes through all the letters twice (unlike most alphabet books where you read through the alphabet once). The letters are even given a little bit of personality which keeps the book interesting. The illustrations are very brightly colored but very simple cutouts. That style is great for this book so you can focus on the letters who are the stars of the book. There is a repetition to the poetry and that is excellent when teaching young children how to read. It helps them to anticipate what is coming next in the story and hopefully start to 'read' along with you. I highly recommend for children ages 2-5.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gen Can Steal Anything, Even This Story

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Book one of a four part series from HarperCollins, this story will have you page turning as fast as you can. The story begins with Gen in prison for stealing the king's seal. He is brought before the magus and given an opportunity to get out of prison if he steals something for the king. Gen is in no position to argue and agrees to the deal. We follow Gen on his journey to the neighboring kingdom of Attollia with the magus and three other companions. Gen maybe a convicted thief but he does not let that stop him from making sure everyone knows that his skills are what are needed to complete this job. He learns that he is supposed to steal Hamiathes's Gift, which is how power once passed from king to king in Eddis, another neighboring kingdom. The magus hopes that if his king possesses the stone the queen of Eddis will have to marry him, uniting the two kingdoms and making them strong enough to wage war on Attollia. But of course Gen has other ideas. Trust me when I say that you will never see the end coming.

I am conflicted about this book. I liked it and was always trying to find another spare minute to read it but I am confused about the time period it is supposed to take place in. Attollia I am assuming is supposed to be Anatolia, or modern day Turkey. The books talks a lot about a pantheon of old gods that very forgotten after the invaders came and they have some crude guns. I am guessing this is supposed to be set around 1500's or so, but it is hard to tell. Being something of a history nut I find it jarring to the story to not have the time set in my mind. If that sort of thing doesn't bother you then I think you will find this story very enjoyable. It is very well told and I like how feisty Gen is no matter what the circumstances. He has something of an honest pride about him that is only fully explained at the end of the book. I loved the end of the story! My mouth fell open. I probably should have seen it coming but I was so engrossed in the action and tension of the story that when the twist was revealed I was shocked. It is a great ending to the book. At first I thought it took a while to get to know the characters but before I knew it I was already 70 pages in, so I think I just thought I had read less than I had. There are three other books in this series but this book ends nicely so you do not have to run out and get the next one the minute you finish the first. Although I am anxious to know what happens next. If you like a good fantasy book with a slightly historical feel pick up The Thief. Recommended for readers 12-16.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Give That Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Published in 1985 this is a classic children's book. The story begins when a little boy gives a mouse a cookie. From there the mouse begins to ask for all kinds of things. While the mouse is very tidy and helpful the little boy is exhausted by the end getting all of the things the mouse needs. From scissors to blankets and mops this is an energetic mouse. The lesson to take away is that you probably should not give a mouse a cookie.

I love this book. I have loved it since the first time I read it. The story is very simple but has a lot of fun in it. There is about one sentence per page and you really do feel like this mouse is all energy. The illustrations are very cute and there is no way not to love the furry main character. This is a great story for any time of the day and if you have not read it yet I think it will become one of your favorites. I like how the mouse tries to clean up after himself, it seems a little sneaky of the author to throw that into the story, like everyone decides to clean in the middle of the day. I also like how throughout the story we see the little boy trying to put things away as the mouse is done with them. There are some great lessons in here about cleaning up after yourself and finishing what you start. Highly recommended for children ages 2-6.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Excerpts of Fairy Tales

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley

The book begins with a short introduction about how to read this book with someone. There is text on the left, right, and in the middle. The text in the middle is read together. There are eight very short fairy tales in all. The fairy tales are told from the perspective of the main characters and are more a summary of the action in the original stories. In most cases at the end of the fairy tale the characters decide to read the story they are in together. None of the fairy tales have the unpleasant parts in them, no one gets hurt and in the end everyone gets along, even Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. All of the fairy tales are told in rhyme which should help young readers follow along.

I like the concept of this book. I think that the very short fairy tales would be fun to read aloud with a new reader who already knows the stories being retold. I have a few issues with how some of the stories are retold. A few of the fairy tales do not work well in this format while others are very clever. I liked The Three Bears being told from Goldilocks and Baby Bear's perspective, recounting what happened and then trying to solve the problem of Baby Bear being hungry and tired. Something like Jack and the Beanstalk though seemed too forced with Jack and the Giant being friends at the end and the Giant giving up half his treasure because Jack refused to give everything back that he stole. The format of the book with text off to the left and right did work well and it was very clear who should be reading. My bigger problem was the color choice for the text. The text to the left was an orange red while the text to the right was a purple pink. It is hard to look at. I think the designers were trying to find similar colors that were different enough so they could be told apart but these two colors just clash. After reading the book in one sitting my eyes actually started to hurt from looking at it. The illustrations though are cute and there is a lot of the story that is told through the facial expressions of the characters. Overall I would recommend for new readers. I think they will have fun getting to be a character in their favorite story and there is a lot of room for talking about what parts of the story were changed or left out.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Where's Your Tattoo?

Marked: A House of Night Novel by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Zoey is a normal American teenager. She lives with her family in Oklahoma, goes to school, and is the "rebel" of the family. That changes one day when she was marked with a tattoo on her for. In this world vampires exist and have openly for many years in society. Vampires mark humans who they have foreseen might be able to make the change. Zoey's mother, controlled by her new husband, does nothing to help Zoey to the vampire training school, the one place where she will be safe. Taking matters into her own hands Zoey goes to her Cherokee grandmother for help. While there Zoey had an encounter the the goddess Nyx (goddess of the vampires). Zoey goes to the House of Night school and finds that she is no ordinary fledgling. Her encounter with the goddess has giver her powers and desires that are equal to that of a full vampire. Zoey has to try and learn what the goddess gave her these powers for and how best to use them, while of course still dealing with the normal teenage problems of a new school and friends.

When I started this book I was determined not to like it. Middle America and vampires just seemed too forced to even be worth reading. By the second chapter though I was hooked. The book is very fun. At time the writing seemed a bit unrealistic, I read that the author had her daughter help her keep the teenage parts true to life and I don't think that always was the case. Other than that one point I really enjoyed the story. The book is very fast paced and all the action takes place over a week or so. Zoey is a strong character that was very self aware for a teenager. The plot seemed a bit predictable with the mean girl being evil, but as we are reminded throughout the book things are not always as they seem. I am hoping for a great twist in the books to come. I liked the world that is set up in this book with vampires being apart of society and being especially gifted in the arts. We read of a lot of famous musicians, actors, and artists that are actually vampires. Added into that world is Zoey's Cherokee heritage which provides a nice backdrop for some of the rituals that are performed. Overall it was a fun read and I am excited to pick up book two. Recommended for girls ages 12-16

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rhyming Mice are Very Nice

A Beasty Story by Bill Martin Jr. & Steven Kellogg

This story follows four mice as they go into the dark dark woods. The dialogue of the mice is in rhyme. As they find new things they talk about the colors they see around them. The beasty creature they find leads them to another house, where it turns it out it was just their brothers playing a joke. All six mice and the one little boy then settle down to sleep.

This was very cute. I like the rhyming in the dialogue and it would be a lot of fun to read aloud. There are little details in the illustrations to tip you off as to what might be happening and this would be a great book to go back and read again to find the details you missed the first time around. The book is large and is perfect for reading aloud to a group (you, the reader, will be able to read the words while holding the book out for all the listeners to see the pictures). The beasty creature is not that scary even before we know that it is just two mice playing a joke, so it shouldn't be scary to young readers. This is a fun way to learn your colors without even realizing it. I recommend for children ages 2-4.