Monday, February 27, 2012

I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

By Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a master of great stories with fun catchy words and meaningful messages. I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is no exception.

This is not as well known as many other titles by one of the most successful children's authors of all time, but it is definitely one of my favorites.

Learn how to Be Proactive and face your troubles in Dr. Seuss' typical whimsical style.


Breaking Stalin's Nose

By Eugene Yelchin

Newbery Honor 2012

Breaking Stalin's Nose is an inside look at the Communist regime under Jospef Stalin. The book does not specify the year, but Stalin was in power between 1924 and his death in 1953. This is a wonderful example of historical fiction.

Stalin's tactics of instilling mistrust, suspicion and fear among the people while demanding total loyalty to him is all pointed out in this book.

The illustrations, also by the author are stunning in black & white and add a great feel to the book.


Friday, February 24, 2012

inside Out & Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

This is a very sweet and tender story of a young girl from war torn Viet Nam. Ha and her family are able to escape from their country just before the military moves in and takes over.

When the family arrives in Alabama Ha feels very out of place and lost in her new country. She wonders if their customs can still be followed and if she can make new friends when she speaks a different language and looks so different from her classmates.

Told in beautiful free verse poetry this is a quick and touching read. Besides how can you not just love this cover


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal.

I must say that I went into this book with some hesitation. I have not been overly impressed with some of the recent Newbery picks and did not like the last book I read by this author. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by this offering.

Told by a character named Jack Gantos, we get to spend his summer with him while he is grounded in his small quirky town called Norvelt. Jack's world is filled with many eccentric neighbors from an old lady who cooks her hands and loves writing obituaries, to an old man who travels around on a gigantic tricycle to a girl who lives in the mortuary.

Told with warmth and a healthy respect for history with a lot of humor thrown in I enjoyed this story and can see what the Newbery committee was thinking.

*** 1/2

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Prince Who Wrote a Letter

by Ann Love

Prince Paul writes a letter on his very first day of school! His parents are very pleased, but the situation soon gets out of hand as more and more people think they know what was in the letter and spread rumors about what Prince Paul wrote without ever checking what exactly was written. Could this first letter ever written by a prince start a war?

A great book to read and discuss the importance of Habit 5 "Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood"


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Black Book of Colors

by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria

I apologize that the book cover is so hard to see, especially on this background.

What an amazing concept! This book is brilliant and beautiful!

The entire book is black (white words) and describes colors using senses other than sight. Each page repeats the printed lettering in braille. There are also raised "pictures" of the objects associated with the color. The concept is a bit difficult to describe and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

The Black Book of Colors helps us focus on Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to Be Understood. We gain a bit of understanding of how some people experience the world, and also see a way to help them understand our view of part of the world.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L'Engle

A wonderful classic tale! Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal this story has enchanted readers for years. It has been one of my personal favorites for years. I was introduced to it as a read-aloud in perhaps the fifth grade.

This book captivates me from the first sentence "It was a dark and stormy night" to the final pages. A mixture of science fiction, fantasy and human relationships the story unfold as Meg goes on an adventurous search for her mysteriously missing father.

With character who are flawed, but doing they best they know how I find that this book really connects with me and I am sure many others. We get to see Meg grow as a person and as a sister, daughter and friend throughout the course of the story. While her physical journey is very much a part of the fantasy aspects of the story, her personal journey rings very true.

Highly recommended. This is also a great family read-aloud.


When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead

When this first won the Newbery Medal I read it as soon as I could get my hands on it. I was less than hugely impressed. This year Provo City Library in connection with Provo School District decided to pair this with its "companion" book A Wrinkle in Time for the ProvoREADS selection. ProvoREADS choses a different book each year, all citizens of the city are encouraged to read the book during that school year. As part of ProvoREADS I decided to reread the book. Still less than impressed.

The main character, Miranda, tells her own story. Miranda loves the book "A Wrinkle in Time" and has read her copy so often that it is beginning to fall apart. She and some of the other characters refer to this classic a few times, and I guess I can sort of see the tie-in to the plots, but I hardly consider it a "companion" book, in my opinion it barely pays homage.

I did like Miranda as a character and her spunk and interaction with other characters around her. We do get to see her growth and changes throughout the story. One minor character that I found especially memorable was the school secretary "Wheelie"

When You Reach Me is set in the 70's and some of the pop-culture references likely will not really connect with the children of today. There are some clever ideas that are more apparent the second time you read the book. But for my money you'd be better off skipping this and reading Madeleine L'Engle' classic instead.

I have talked to others who enjoyed the book much more than I did. I encourage you to read it yourself and form your own opinion. Please comment and let other know what YOU thought of When You Reach Me.