Friday, May 25, 2012

Stork by Wendy Delsol Lexile 830

Book Jacket Summary:

Moving from LA to nowhere Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Katla Leblanc expected the local fashion scene to be frozen in time.  What she didn't expect was induction into the Icelandic Stork Society, an ancient order of women charged with a unique mystical duty.  Not only is Katla the youngest member, but Hulda, the society's omen-guided leader, immediately bestows the coveted Second Chair on her-a decision that ruffles a few feathers.
As if that weren't enough, Katla also has to deal with her parents' divorce and the social aftermath of a bad date with popular but creepy Wade.  Katla, however, isn't one to sit on her designer-jean-clad behind, and soon she's assigned the fashion column for the school paper and making new friends. 
Things would be looking up if it weren't for editor in chief Jack.  Even though they argue every time they meet, Katla is inexplicably drawn to him.  Juggling her home life, school and Stork duties, will Katla be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Jack?  More importantly, will she find a dress in time for Homecoming?   
Theresa's Thoughts:
The cover of this book was so beautiful, it compelled me to read it. This is the first book in a series centering around Katla Leblanc. Stork is mostly a fictional story with a unique magical twist that adds just the right touch of fantasy.  The Scandinavian folklore interwoven with this book was fresh and interesting.  The Scandinavian words were a little tongue-twistery, which I enjoyed.  Katla's induction into the Icelandic Stork Society with a bunch of old, slightly crazy ladies occurred in the beginning of the story.  I thought it was quirky and fun.  The folklore was very engaging for me throughout my reading of Stork.

Stork followed Katla's experience of moving to a new High School (Norse Falls High School in Minnesota), mistakes that she made resulting in being embarrassed in front of everyone the first day of school at lunch and how she made a solid peer group, a nice boyfriend and dealt with the villain of this story, Wade.  In the middle of this process, Katla learned how to use her new ability as the second-in-command of the Icelandic Stork Society.  The abilities of Stork members were slowly revealed throughout the story.  I especially delighted in reading about the birds which I have to be vague about because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Katla's emotional reaction and healing process regarding her parents' divorce was true to life as well as her response to her Mom moving on and finding a solid relationship with a new person.  Katla's teen hopes, dreams and worries were, again, realistic and identifiable for most teenage girls.  I enjoyed reading the developing friendship/love interest with Jake.  It demonstrated a relationship where two people slowly learned about each other.

That said, both Wade and Jake had secrets of their own that would be revealed to Katla.  I found both secrets entertaining and surprising.  The heart-stopping action at the end of the story with Wade's Homecoming party was superbly written and had me hooked until the last words.  In fact, I have Frost, the second book in this series, in front of me right now so I can find out what happens next.  

This was a very well-written story! I recommend it for teens.
To order a copy of this book through, please click the title.  Stork (Stork Trilogy) 
Release Date: 2010
Age Rage:  12 and up
ISBN:  978-0763648442
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy
Topic:  Moving, High School, Friends, Relationships, Finding your niche

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Glass Cafe or the Stripper and the State; How my Mother Started a War with the System That Made us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous by Gary Paulsen Lexile 1500

Book Jacket Summary:

Tony's mom, Al, is a terrific single mother who works as a dancer at the Kitty Kat Club.  Twelve-year-old Tony is a budding artist inspired by backstage life at the club.  When some of his drawings end up in an art show and catch the attention of the social services agency, Al and Tony find themselves in the middle of a legal wrangle and a media circus. Is Al a responsible mother?  It's the case of the stripper vs. the state, and Al isn't giving up without a fight.
Trent's Question Responses:
1. If you were to film this story and could not use all of the characters, which character(s) would you eliminate and why?
There is a scene in this book where a person hits a police officer in the head with a lamp. I would take the officer out of the story because he just gets hit in the head and drops to the ground. He’s so useless, but not as useless as my brother. ;)

2. If you could design a new cover for this book,what would it look like?
If I could design a new book cover, I would put a picture of Tony, the main character, with sunglasses on, paparazzi around him and a big wad of cash in his hand. Above Tony I would have The Glass Cafe and Below Tony I would have OR, The STRIPPER and the STATE; How My Mom Started a War with the system That Made Us Kind of RICH and a Little Bit FAMOUS.

3. Reread the first paragraph of Chapter 1. What’s in it that makes you want to read on?

So you know my name is Tony and I am twelve and my mother who is named Alice except nobody calls her that, they all call her Al, like she was a guy only she isn't, is a stripper, only it's called exotic dancing, at the club called the Kitty Kat, except that everybody calls it the Zoo on account of an animal act they used to have but don't anymore because the humane society said it was wrong to use snakes out of their "natural element" although Muriel, who danced with a seven-foot boa named Steve, swore that the snake slept through the whole dance except I know Steve who lives in the dressing room in a glass cage and I can't tell if he's sleeping or not because he never closes his eyes.
 The first paragraph was intriguing to me because it’s not like anything that I’ve read before. It talks about how Tony’s mom is a stripper but calls it ‘exotic dancing’. To me it’s different from the usual books I read; different in a good way. I am normally into SyFy books and mythology books, but something in The Glass Cafe was different and I like it. The first paragraph, to me, gives so many pathways that could be taken by Gary Paulsen, the writer. I was excited to read on and find out more.

Trent's Thoughts:
I really liked the voice in this book. It made me feel like a real boy my age was speaking. I love the way the book turned out. The right path was taken in my opinion-the path that lead to an extraordinary ending. Does that make you want to read this book?

Theresa's Thoughts:
Trent loved this book! I have to say that I read the title, but not the subtitle, assessed the small size and page count of the book, assumed that it was a Gary Paulsen adventure story and let a tween read this book. This was a completely foreign concept to Trent which resulted in a discussion about strippers/exotic dancers and why a person would pursue that occupation. Our conversation was excellent speaking about life circumstances, jobs and families. Trent enjoyed every page.

Well written? Yes! Engaging? Yes, again. Written for a tween? This book is not graphic, but the content and understanding of of the dynamics of this situation would make me recommend this for a mature tween only. Would I recommended The Glass Cafe for a teen? Absolutely. This is an excellent example of how "voice" is used to engage a reader.

Release Date: 2003
Age Range: 10 and UP
ISBN: 978-0385324991
Genre: Fiction
Topic: Families, Life, Fairness

To order a copy of this book through, please click the title. The Glass Cafe: Or the Stripper and the State; How My Mother Started a War with the System That Made Us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fractured Fables Edited by Jim Valentino & Kristen K. Simon, Ages 12 and up, Lexile around 900

I seriously thought I had had enough of "fractured" anything, but we picked this Comic Book Style of Fractured Fables because our little guy, Gavin, insisted on it.  He is very drawn to this style of writing.

Fractured Fables is a collection of 30 stories written by 30 different authors with 30 unique, crazy, off-the-wall, interesting styles of thinking.  I read several of these out loud to Gavin who did not understand the off-beat humor, but still enjoyed the stories.  That said, Trent hung over my shoulder and we both laughed loud and long at everything I read aloud.  Later, when I put Gavin to bed, Trent was curled-up in the chair reading the rest of Fractured Fables rocking, giggling, laughing and repeating lines out loud.

Theresa's Thoughts:
This was just plain fun to read.  My favorite was probably Rumplestiltskin by Doug Tenapel.  The main character who spins the gold is so lacking in intelligence that she drives Rumplestiltskin crazy to the point that he told her his name and ripped himself in half; I did say these were off-beat stories!  I will never look at the name Sam the same way again.

Fractured Fables lends itself well to the concept of voice.  I found myself reading aloud with many different voices and styles depending on the story.  Kids who have a great grasp of fairy tales and fables will understand the nuances of the changes in language and story lines in this collection.  
Loved it!

Release Date:  2011
Age Range:  12-17 years (I put it at an approximate 900 Lexile.)
ISBN:  978-1607062691
Genre:  Fairy Tales and Fables
Topic:  Fairy Tales and Fables, Voice

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thesaurus Rex by Laya Steinberg

Thesaurus Rex is the PERFECT book to introduce kids to synonyms and their strength.  It is written with engaging rhythm and rhyme with colorful illustrations that will surely draw younger children to the story!


 Thesaurus Rex is a little dinosaur who happily spends his days finding different adventures.  For each adventure, the author writes several synonyms for how Rex handles his mischievous situations.  The illustrator, Debbie Harter, did a fantastic job illustrating each synonym to show the strength of the word.

Thesaurus Rex starts to slip: slither, skid, slide and glide.  Whee!  What a speedy ride! 
 For those parents and teachers who are working on expanding vocabulary of their children/students, this book is a MUST ADD to your collection!                                                                            
Here is the link to Barefoot Books.  It is a new company for me, so I made sure to "follow" it on Twitter.

Release Date:  2003
Age Range:  Early Elementary
ISBN:  1-84148-180-7
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:  Expanding Vocabulary

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman Lexile 530

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous is a "Fabulous" gem of a book for intermediate students.  Roger is an energetic, easily distracted boy who thinks everything in the world is absolutely fabulous.  In fact, he ALWAYS uses the word fabulous.  

What a fabulous man in a fabulous hat.  What a fabulous tie, or perhaps a cravat?  What a fabulous boot, what a fabulous shoe.  What a fabulous suit made of fabulous blue.  What a fabulous dog, what a fabulous cat.  What a fabulous this, what a fabulous that.  What a fabulous boy, what a fabulous girl.  What a fabulous day, what a fabulous world!

The author  clearly overuses the word fabulous which lends itself perfectly to expanding vocabulary and finding synonyms for that very tired word. Roger finds himself in trouble with his parents for wandering and being late for everything including school.  They decided that Roger needed to stop saying fabulous and gawking at everything around town; therefore, they told him that fabulous was now the one word they DID NOT want to hear.  Instead of sulking, Roger found different ways to say the same word:
What a wonderful bridge, what a beautiful boat.  What an elegant queen on a dazzling float.  What a glorious band, what a magical song.  What a splendid march, may we come along?
Rogers parents decided to enjoy Roger with all of his fabulous qualities ending with an affirmation of their love for him.                                                                    
This is another amazing book for discussing word choice, synonyms and expanding vocabulary for children/students grades 3-5.  
Release Date:  2004
Age Range:  I recommend 2nd through 5th grades.
ISBN:  978-1-58246-224-0
Genre:  Fiction
Topic:  Individuality, Expanding Vocabulary