Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

Title: Ramona Quimby, Age 8

Author: Beverly Cleary

Publisher: HarperCollins        Year: 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0380709564

Genre: Fiction

Age: 8 and up

Awards: Newbery Honor Book, IRA/CBC Children’s Choice, Buckeye Children’s Book Award (Ohio), Garden State Children’s Book Award (New Jersey), Charlie May Simon Book Award (Arkansas), ALA Notable Children’s Book, Horn Book Fanfare, Horn Book Fanfare, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award

Themes / Subjects: Juvenile Fiction, Elementary School, Friendships, Family Life

Plot Summary:

Check out my booktalk trailer I created with goanimate.com!

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary http://goanimate.com/videos/0ZjsHi-6puxw

My Take:

Another classic from my childhood! The pages of my copy are literally falling out, but I’ve had the book since childhood and can’t bear to throw it out for a new copy. In elementary school I had my fair share of mishaps which is just one of the reasons I love Ramona Quimby. Reading about her made me feel like it was ok that I leaned up against the wall with wet paint and got it in my hair because Ramona had gotten egg in hers. Ramona is literally the little girl inside every one of us and even if you relate more with Beezus, I am sure you have had a Ramona moment. Although this book is intended for children, I would highly recommend that parents buy it for their young kids and keep it on the family bookshelf because they are going to want to read it again and again.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar read: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. No young girl’s life is complete without Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume by their beds.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Which Came First? Chicken or Egg? (Trivia Game)

Name: Which Came First? Chicken or Egg?

Created by: iPlay

Age: 8 and up

Players: 2-4 individuals or teams

Themes/Subjects: Educational, Trivia Game

Description:

Which Came First? Chicken or Egg? is a fascinating trivia game for everyone. Players compete by answering over 300 trivia questions with detailed answers in six different categories: Eat & Drink; Life & Style; Shows & Tunes; Games & Toys; Fact & Fiction; Odds & Ends.

My Take:

This game was so much fun even if I was horrible at it! We play this sometimes on Friday’s in the library and our special needs students really enjoy it. Most of our middle school students have never heard of some of the products mentioned but they still have a ton of fun guessing. Plus with the detailed answers they learn something and hold onto these random facts. An alternate way to play without the board would be to ask the questions to the group and see how it divides the group. The questions are great conversation starters and would be fun at any party or event.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar Game: Such & Such The Answers to the Clues Come in Twos! by Patch Products, Inc.

Leave a comment »

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Title: Little House on the Prairie

Author:  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Publisher: HarperCollins (75th Anniversary Edition)            Year: 2010

ISBN -13: 978-0061958274

Age: 8 and up

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Juvenile Fiction, Family Life, Frontier, Pioneer Life, 19th Century United States, Farm & Ranch Life, Historical Fiction, Classic

Plot Summary:

Pa Ingalls is tired of how crowded the big woods are getting. So he decides to sell the house and move west with his family. Just before the ice breaks, the family loads up their wagon and heads out. They cross the Mississippi River and then head south, settling two days away from Independence, Missouri. Now they have to build a new house and survive the wilderness. Meanwhile, Laura is anxious to see a papoose. And with all the Indians in the area, she may get her chance.

My take:

Little House on the Prairie is a true classic that is not only enjoyed by children but adults as well. The writing is simple yet the story is captivating. It is a wonderfully enthralling educational adventure story that captivates its readers from the very first page. Although it is categorized as a fictional story, I consider this book non-fiction since it provides us with a pretty accurate view of the relationship between settlers and Indians and between pioneers and the government. This book and series is a great way to introduce students to the 19th century westward movement in the United States.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar Read: The Headless Horseman by Mayne Reed

Leave a comment »

A Zombie’s Guide to the Human Body: Tasty Tidbits from Head to Toe

Title: A Zombie’s Guide to the Human Body: Tasty Tidbits from Head to Toe

Author: Scholastic

Publisher: Scholastic Reference        Year: 2010

ISBN -13: 978-0545249799

Age: 8 and up

Genre: Non-Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Science & Nature

Plot Summary:

This book is a basic guide to understanding the human body but with a zombie twist! From head to toe, the human body is explored and explained with a funny combination of illustrated images and full-colored photographs of zombies. Not only will you learn facts such as what happens to your dinner after you eat and how many bones there are, but also interesting zombie facts like “the jellylike marrow (of the bones) is good on toast!”

My take:

This book is not only educational but hilariously funny!  I see students at lunchtime huddled around the book and have to remind them to keep their voices down as they enjoy the zombie humor. Full of bright colors, high quality graphics and typical zombie humor this book is a great resource. Every page contains basic science about the human body – from bones and brains muscles and reflexes – sure to both entertain and educate your kids

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars … I don’t think anyone is too old to take a refresher course in Human Anatomy 101 with a zombie professor!

Similar Read: Biology: Life As We Know It by Dan Green

Leave a comment »

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Title: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Publisher: Scholastic Press    Year: 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0545116749

Genre: Non-Fiction

Age: 8 and up (according to the publisher)

Themes / Subjects: Shipwrecks, Titanic (Steamship), North Atlantic Ocean, History

Plot Summary:

The voices and stories of real TITANIC survivors and witnesses to the disaster are weaved together in a heart stopping action, nail biting drama filled with fascinating historical details, archival photographs on nearly every page and quotes from primary sources. Hopkinson’s book follows the stories of nine-year-old Frankie Goldsmith; Violet Jessop, a young stewardess; Jack Thayer, an American high school senior; Colonel Archibald Gracie, a well-to-do gentleman; William Murdoch, a brave seaman; Charlotte Collyer, a young mother on her way to start a new life; and many others.

My Take:

We recently put this book into our library system and with the recent re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic (the movie) and upcoming anniversary of the event, I thought it would be an interesting read.

Deborah Hopkinson’s style of writing is very similar to James Swanson (I just reviewed his book Chasing Lincoln’s Killer below) in that she takes factual information and weaves it into a historical retelling of that fateful night. It is absolutely heart-wrenching to read first-hand accounts of families having to make the most difficult decisions of their lives. When the women and children boarded the life boats, little did they know that they would never see their husbands/fathers again. This book really made me think about how I would have reacted had I been on the Titanic.

The publisher of this book suggests kids ages 8 and up to read the book, but because of the chilling nature I would suggest at least 12 years old. I seriously had nightmares where I was stuck on a sinking ship, had the potential to be rescued but was told I couldn’t bring my babies. On a happier note, this book is a wealth of information and I learned a lot about the Titanic in a non-boring way.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I just could not put this book down! I would be reading until the wee hours of the morning and fall asleep with the book on my chest. Then when I would wake up in the morning I would be rushing off (usually late) to work because I tried to squeeze in just one more chapter, or two, or three …

Similar read: Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson … I am seriously looking forward to reading more nonfiction books by Deborah Hopkinson and James Swanson.

Just for fun: The release of this book was actually planned to coincide with the 100th anniversay of the sinking of the Titanic!

Leave a comment »

Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm

Title: Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff

Author: Jennifer L. Holm

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers      Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1442436633

Genre: Fiction

Age: 8 and up

Awards: ALA Notable Children’s Books, Beehive Award Master List (Utah), Booksense Children’s Pick, BookPage Notable Title, Charlotte Award Ballot (New York), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List (Vermont), Lone Star Reading List 2008-2009, NAPPA Gold Award Winner, Publishers Weekly Starred Review, South Carolina Book Award Nominee, 2007 New York Public Library‘s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list

Themes / Subjects: Middle School, growing up, girls, friendship, education, family, relationships

Plot Summary:

Ginny Davis begins her seventh grade year with a list of items to accomplish. None of these items, however, include accidently turning her hair pink, or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. If anything could go wrong this school year, then it will.

As readers follow Ginny’s story of her year through her collection of stuff – notes from friends, report cards, receipts, cartoons, poems, etc. – an image of a funny, loveable girl struggling with her identity emerges, whoever that girl ultimately turns out to be.

My Take:

I was extremely skeptical reading a book that was told through stuff. At first glance, I thought there was no way that the book would be coherent and would only work for higher thinkers/readers. This book was actually pretty cool.

The first thing that makes this book neat is that it is not written like a typical book. Instead each page has “stuff” like to do lists, notes, IM’s, receipts, programs, etc. I would recommend reading the book twice. The first time just read the book to read it. The second time you read it, really take the time to look at the connections between all the stuff and what is said. For example, second on Ginny’s to-do list that opens the book is to get the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker, so you know how much Ginny wants the role. Later on in the book you see the casting list, and on the next page you see a journal entry lamenting her stepfather’s forgetfulness, and you easily connect the dots for that plotline.

This is such a hilarious and beautiful story, about the resiliency and spirit that early adolescents have, in spite of things that always seem to go wrong.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars … A very easy read but is definitely better the second time.

Similar read: Middle School the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Leave a comment »

King of Pop: The Story of Michael Jackson

Title: King of Pop: The Story of Michael Jackson

Author: Terry Collins

Illustrator: Michael Byers

Publisher: Capstone Press      Year: 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1429679947

Genre: Graphic Novel

Age: 8 – 14 years old

Awards: N/A

Themes / Subjects: Michael Jackson, King of Pop, artist, entertainer, humanitarian, legend

Plot Summary:

In the 1960s, Michael Jackson was just a young boy with big dreams. By the time he died in 2009, Michael had grown to be a music icon and an international legend. Follow Michael’s journey as he spends his last day reminiscing about growing up in the tumultuous music industry and the legacy he would leave behind.

My Take:

What a disappointment! As a library media specialist, I expected more of from this book for my students, although what can you really expect for five bucks? Michael Jackson led such an interesting and complicated life. I’m not saying that we need to tell young people every little detail of every trial or mishap Michael had, but nor should we sugar coat a person’s ENTIRE life. A graphic novel is an excellent way to get young or reluctant readers to read, but let’s make sure we are giving them all the facts. I want to see more about Michael growing up, the charity work he did, how being such a pop icon made him an easy target for accusations, and how a horrible addiction ended his life. I’m not saying it should go into graphic detail, but come on people! There is nothing worse than lying to kids!

Rating: 1 out of five stars. Teens (and I) want the truth! But perhaps in the famous words of Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessep in 1992’s A Few Good Men (fyi, not an appropriate teen/tween movie), You can’t handle the truth!

Similar read: I’m not about to send you guys out to read an equally sucky book so this will have to wait until I come across something similar but much, much better (which shouldn’t be hard).

4 Comments »