Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good Books For Kids

no time for details, bases are loaded for my 1st place Padres, go check out the site!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Read Banned Books!

Not all of them, of course, some are a waste of paper and ink.  But I certainly support their right to be written, published, and read!  Image from the ALA store and Banned Books book.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Case of the...

...Graveyard Ghost? ...Barfy Birthday? ...Crooked Carnival?

by Michelle Torrey

The detective team of Doyle and Fossey, scientists and sleuths, solve crimes for their neighborhood and teach principles of Science at the same time!

These are very cool, perfect for the classroom, highly recommended books.  Not only are they neat stories, with both clever and gross humor and Encyclopedia Brown (if he was a science/invention nerd) -like mysteries to solve, but just when the reader's curiosity is piqued there is a DIY activity included -- secret codes, dry ice, make your own pulley* -- with clear instructions and plenty of safety tips.  I think these stories (there's a few cases in each book) would be great to introduce a Science unit, to refresh student brains before assessment, even as a quiz: Can you solve the case?

* these 3 are just from one book, the others have been loaned out to neighborhood kids for summer reading; I told them that's what happens when you live next to a teacher!

Regarding the Fountain

by Kate Klise (1998)

Entertaining story, a 5th grade class and an eccentric fountain artist team up to defeat the water-hogging bad guys, told entirely in letters, postcards, memos, artwork, etc.  Great idea for students stuck on the whole writing thing -- break it down, tell a little at a time, consider the various viewpoints...

The Last Book In The Universe

by Rodman Philbrick (2010)

I read about this book skimming through The Book Whisperer, which is next on my I Read, Therefore I'll Get Hired list, and had to grab it off the shelf.  A little dreary and depressing, but well worth it.  A bit freaky to read during our recent rash of earthquakes, but it's just fiction, right?

The world is separated into the protected, advanced, "ideal" people and the struggling, dying, "left overs" fending for themselves in apocalyptic conditions. Of course there is contact, and our narrator/(anti-)hero becomes part of a bridge that might just save everyone.  Discussions on family, personal and societal responsibility, the effect of decisions.  Lots of cool invented vocabulary, some tough to decipher but a good challenge for students, and a timely story with the year 2012 coming soon...

Saturday, July 10, 2010



by Scott Westerfeld (2009)

An adventurous, thought-provoking, historical, steampunk re-imagining of the causes and beginnings of The Great War.  Moving back and forth between the machine-based "Clankers" and the DNA-manipulating "Darwinists" until the two main characters collide, Westerfeld creates quite an amazing world of 8-legged tanks, flying whales, and young people caught up in a Europe on the brink of war.  Great illustrations, old fashioned pen & ink, and a lot of invented vocabulary.

Good for many discussions, including reasons for war, loyalty, evolution, decisions that alter history, gender roles...

Of course, there is more to the story that goes unresolved than not, as this is surely part of a planned... trilogy? hexology? octology?  

I used the "sex" tag only due to the references, early, few and not dwelt on, to what our hero(ine) must hide, and is glad she does not have ample of, in order to pose as a boy.  I suppose most 4-5th graders could understand and handle it, but ya never know...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

by Sean Covey (2008)

Cute stories to teach life lessons, and not too preachy at all -- would be great for read aloud at the beginning of the school year, even for upper grades (break the ice, remind them of manners, respect, etc.).  There is also a "parents' corner" at the end of each chapter with discussion questions and helpful hints.

Wonder if I could buy several copies and pass them out the first day of school -- can we give parents homework assignments?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Mammoth Academy

The Mammoth Academy

by Neal Layton (2010)

The Wife rolls her eyes when I laugh out loud reading a children's book, so she was practically dizzy out of her skull as I chuckled my way through this one.  Full of silly art, corny jokes, sweet friendships, creative problem solving, and plain ol' good entertainment.  And cavemen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Test of Time

Test of Time

by Charles Harrington Elster (2004)

I haven't actually finished this one, I terminated my reading after the initial chapters due to the distraction of bold print words in every single sentence -- why, you query?  Because those bold words just might be on the SAT and I need to build my vocabulary!  There's also some quizzes and a glossary in the back, and it seems like a good idea to expose students to an expanded assortment of words.  My problem wasn't the story, something about college students and Mark Twain break dancing, but too many $3 words is just bad writing.  That said, I'll give it to Son #2 for another opinion...