Saturday, May 23, 2009

TSS: My 2 Cents on the Texas Bluebonnet Books

I have read all twenty Bluebonnet books. I always feel happy when I finish all twenty Bluebonnets.

Here's my take on them, along with a brief Good News/Bad News report on each. Note: I've listed them in the order in which I liked the books.

Bishop, Nic. Nic Bishop Frogs. Good News (GN): Incredible photography, nice text. Bad News (BN): How much do we want to know about frogs?

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. GN: Wonderful plot, a happy family for once. BN: Why aren't there any boys in the story?

Speck, Katie. Maybelle in the Soup. GN: Funny, short, and readable. BN: Can you love a roach as a main character?

Birney, Betty G. Surprises According to Humphrey. GN: Humphrey is every kid's dream friend. BN: Humphrey can be a little too good to be believed.

Stevens, Janet and Susan Stevens Crummel. Help Me, Mr. Mutt! GN: Hilarious plot with clever subplot. BN: Much of humor may be over kids' heads.

Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. GN: A story that has needed to be told; baseball; riveting tale. BN: Difficult text.

Holt, Kimberly Willis. Piper Reed: Navy Brat. GN: Great heroine; great family tale. BN: A bit girly.
Spinelli, Eileen. Where I Live. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. GN: Readable; poetry format is fun and light. BN: Writing a tale in poems can be tiring to read.

Kerley, Barbara. What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! GN: Fun format; Alice is a compelling heroine. BN: Will kids follow the story?

Feldman, Jody. The Gollywhopper Games. GN: Fun puzzles. BN: Derivative plot.

Rappaport, Doreen. Lady Liberty: A Biography. GN: Lots we didn't know about the statue. BN: Difficult text.

Deedy, Carmen Agra. . Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale. GN: Clever plot; beautiful illustrations. BN: A cockroach and a mouse?

Schulman, Janet. Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City. GN: Animal characters we always love; great length. BN: Illustrations somewhat bland.

Mora, Pat. 2007. ¡Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡QuĂ© Rico!: America’s Sproutings. GN: Food as characters; brilliant illustrations. BN: Haiku is hard to follow.

Flaherty, A.W. The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Tale of Picky Eating. GN: Oatmeal is finally useful for something. BN: Dark illustrations make text hard to read.

Lupica, Mike. Two-Minute Drill. GN: Football; boy characters, for a change. BN: Football; boy characters.

Look, Lenore. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. GN: Great title; nice illustrations throughout; Alvin has troubles with all the things boys typically have troubles with. BN: Alvin is neurotic.

Wolf, Joan. Someone Named Eva. GN: Another book about Nazis. BN: Another book about Nazis.

Law, Ingrid. Savvy. GN: Beautiful cover; clever blurb. BN: Story wasn’t quite as good as cover and blurb promised.

Neff, Henry H. The Hound of Rowan. GN: Boy discovers he has secret powers and is carted off to a school to study how to use his powers to save the world. BN: Sound familiar?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Announcing the 48 Hour Readathon

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Yet I cannot seem to stop myself....

Announcing the 48 Hour Readathon!

It is designed to be a readathon of children's books, from about 5th grade up. I may use the readathon to read all the Bluebonnets. (I know, I know, I don't hafta read these this year, but I wanna!) I wonder if I could accumulate these in time....

Or I could work a little more on the Newbery Honor books....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom Books: Great Books for Mothers in the Trenches

(The joy and miseries of motherhood epitomized by these photos of my devilishly cute yet terribly wicked niece and mom. Apologies to both my niece (top photo) who managed somehow to climb into the sink, curlers intact, and my mom (bottom photo) who was having a bad girl moment of her own)

Is there anyone who deserves a day more than mothers?

I'm through with mom-ing now (my sons are 24 and 21), but, believe me, I was right there in the trenches with you, for years. I didn't have a clue what I was doing when I put on that uniform and signed up. And when I brought home that beautiful, crying baby, I know I would have given anything for a leave of absence....Little did I know that my term of duty would last over twenty years.

What kept me going? A great husband...a wonderful extended family...supportive friends...and consoling books.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, for one. Lamott is a real mom who doesn't mind telling you how it really was for her. I am sure there must be moms out there with fairy tale lives (not that I want to hear about these lives from you) but, for most of the moms I know, it is a real help to read Lamott.

And I have enjoyed reading Katherine Center's two books, if nothing else than her genuine descriptions of what it is like to take care of bambinos. She gets mom-dom.

I will never forget the scene from Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the One-Eyed Stud Horse when Sally May comes upon her little darling, having been dressed and perfectly prepared for SM's mother-in-law visit, a little boy who couldn't help himself and went out and romped with the all-corrupting Hank the Cowdog, and returns just in time, totally covered with mud and dog smell, for the mother-in-law's arrival....a must read for every mom.

There are surely other wonderful mom books out there....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

TSS: What to Read This Summer?

School will be over in five short weeks and I will suddenly have these huge hunks of time in which to sink deeply into my reading and reflect.

Now is the time to ready myself, to request books from the library, to put books on my wishlist, stockpile.

But what shall I read?

Any great travel stories out there? Good recent fiction? Any books you have read and are pushing on everyone you meet?

My plan for today: Finish Great Expectations.