Tag Archives: library challenge

Book Review

Anglerberger, Tom:

I am still reading books by Tom from our library.  I’m down to just the last two books by him.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda 4)

They didn’t have #3 at the library, so I skipped right to #4.  This one is named for Jabba, but he doesn’t actually show up until the end of the book.  I’m not giving away who the person is behind Jabba the Puppet, but it ends up helping the children out.  The children have lost their extra curricular activities, and they have to go to extra classes that prepare them for the end of year testing.  The children not only don’t like the classes, they think the classes are making them dumber.  They all join up together and everyone, not just Dwight, has finger puppets.  The kids all form their own Origami Rebel Alliance and decide to find a way to stop the extra study class and bring back their extracurriculars.  This book ends with the principal agreeing to talk to the school board and try to come up with a solution to their issue, but nothing is decided or fixed for the kids.

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (Origami Yoda 5)

This one picks up right where the other left off, except this time the case file has been stolen by someone (it’s not revealed until the end, so I don’t want to spoil it), and that person gives the journal to the principal.  The principal ends up helping the children and working with them to convince the school board that the extra classes are hurting them and they shouldn’t have to take them.  This entire series seemed to be one big fight against standardized testing.  I hate those tests, and I don’t think they tell us anything about how our schools are doing.  The children spend most of the year learning that things that will be on the tests instead of learning to explore and learn things on their own.  They aren’t ever allowed to follow an idea or a passion for something and see where it ends up or what happens because those things won’t be on the mandatory testing, so they can’t spend time studying those things or learning about them and seeing where they take them.  Overall, these books are great, and I’m sure the number of fans that he has speaks for themselves, but if you haven’t heard of them and you have an elementary/middle schooler, I think they would love these!!

The Rat with the Human Face: The Qwikpick Papers

There are at least 3 Qwikpick Paper books, and this is the second one.  It’s about 3 friends who hang out at the Qwikpick convenient store in their town.  The kids are from very different backgrounds, but they are friends and they have formed a society for adventure.  They hear someone talking about seeing a rat with a human face, and they decide they need to investigate.  Their parents are clueless and don’t seem to care what they do, or care too much about how they behave without finding out who their children really are.  I think this is a theme in the books from him that I’ve read so far.  I know that the ways these parents behave is definitely not the way I would react or treat any of my kids.  Anyway, this book was good and it kind of left me on a cliff-hanger where the club is concerned, and i want to know what’s going to happen.

Clarkson, Sally:

The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey

I started this book in January, and i have read one chapter each month.  This kind of walks you through each month with ways to be present with your family, how to create traditions with your kids, and how to show hospitality to those around you in each month.  I have read another of her books, and she seems to make her life almost an unattainable goal, and I have to remind myself that I don’t have the same personality that she does, and understand that everything at her house is probably not as perfect as it seems at first glance.  Overall, it was a great book… it’s short, but I stretched it out so I could concentrate on each month this year as it came.  I really enjoyed it.

Hartley – Brewer, Elizabeth:

Raising Happy Kids: Over 100 Tips For Parents And Teachers

I’m not sure I would say that I loved this book.  I liked it, and I thought it had some good things in it, but it’s just like any other parenting book to me.  It had a lot of examples of real people, which I liked, but it also had unrealistic ways of talking to your children, in my opinion.  I wouldn’t ever say things the way she encouraged us to talk.  We just don’t communicate in that formal way.  There are some aspects that I will remember and use, but overall it is pretty much the same as any parenting book I’ve read.

Smith, Angie:

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms:
I got this book as part of an online study with my friend who lived in Turkey the same time we did.  I ended up not being able to participate in the study because I wasn’t able to get online every week, but I loved the book and the facebook discussion.  This book really made me think about the things that I fear and how I can do better at letting go of those things and not letting them take over my life.  This book is great for individual reading, but it is also great for small group discussions.  I recommend this for anyone also, not just women.

Book Review

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Catalyst was definitely NOT a juvenile fiction book.  This book was in the juvenile fiction section, but immediately I thought the language used in the book was definitely not something I would think would be read before Junior High at the youngest.  I think 8th to 9th grade is the youngest that someone should be to read this book.  However, regardless of that part, the book was a great book.  It was well-written and the characters were so real and awesome.  I just loved the book.  It definitely wasn’t a happy ending book or a happy middle or beginning for that matter, but it is a realistic fiction book, and I loved it!!  If you have a highschooler, or even older teenager, I think they would love this book!

Angleberger, Tom:

I already knew a lot about Tom Angleberger.  My boys have all of the Origami Yoda books and a couple others of his.  We surprised them one night and drove down to VA from MD to a book signing and got all of their copies signed.  Tom was really nice and the boys loved it.  Since I haven’t found my external harddrive yet with all of those pictures on it, I can’t share one here, but as soon as I find it, I’ll edit this post and add the picture of all of them together.  Anyway… our library has a lot of his books, but not all of them.  I’ll just review them in the order I read them.

Inspector Flytrap in The President’s Mane Is Missing (Book 2) is definitely for younger elementary and beginning readers.  It has a silly story that I think this age group can appreciate.  I didn’t find it appealing at all, as an adult.  The jokes were very silly, but again, I know they will work for their target age group.  There is a venus flytrap who is trying to solve the problem of how to get rid of a giant fly from Venus…. a Venus Fly!  All kinds of things pop up to get in the way of his quest.  It is great for 5-7 years old.  And even younger for read-alouds.

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much (Book 3) This is just more of the same.  The flytrap is in a pot, of course, so he can’t move around without his goat assistant to push him around on a skateboard.  In this one, his goat is accused of a crime and arrested, and Inspector Flytrap has to find the read criminal and save his goat.  Perfect for pre-school read-aloud and beginner readers.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda 1)  This is the first book in the Origami Yoda series.  It is about a group of middle school students, specifically a boy named Tommy, who create a case file to determine whether or not a finger puppet named Origami Yoda is actually using the force to give advice.  The owner of Origami Yoda is Dwight, and he doesn’t really give an answer about this at all, so it’s just Tommy and his friends telling stories about what Origami Yoda has done for them and they use these stories to determine if he is “real” or not.  It was a great book and I think it’ll be good for anyone who can read the words.  All the way to adults, because I found myself smiling as a read and rooting for them to get the answers they wanted.  It really set up the series well, and it a great book for any Star Wars fans… young or old!

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book This is the second book in the series, and I think I liked it more than the first one.  He didn’t have to spend as much time learning who all the kids were because we had already met them in the first book.  This time one of the other kids, Harvey, has decided to make a Darth Vader finger puppet, called Darth Paper.  He goes around telling people how bad Origami Yoda/Dwight’s advice is and pretty much tries to sabotage everything.  This book is a little more serious to me, as an adult, because Dwight says something, as Origami Yoda, to a student, and when the principal hears about it, they consider it to be a threat and they suspend Dwight and the school board is going to determine if he needs to go to a school for “troubled” kids or if he can continue at the current school.  So Tommy uses the case file this time to get more stories to present to the school board and try to save Dwight.  Harvey seems to be sabotaging all of their efforts, and we find out at the end if it works or not…. a great book for any age!

I have more books by Tom Angleberger to read, but I haven’t finished them yet, so I’m just going to share these reviews and start the next review with those books… so more Tom to come… stay tuned!!

As always, you can see everything I’m currently reading and find my profile on goodreadsHappy Reading!!!

Book Review – 6 November

Here are the books I’ve read since my last review.  We finished another family read-aloud, I finished another book from my personal reading list, and I finished a lot of library books.  I’m really surprised by the number of Juvenile Fiction books from our library that I just love as an adult!

Almhjell, Tone:

Thornghost was a really great book.  I was worried at first about it being too scary (I’m a complete whimp about scary stuff, but it had a great premise and the story really held my attention.  I definitely think this is a great read for older elementary and middle schoolers.  It’s also a good book to discuss what happens to our pets when they die.  It’s not a fluffy little books for babies.  This deals with some serious issues.  I loved it!

Alvarez, Jennifer Lynn:

The Guardian Herd: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (2015-04-21) This book was a good one too.  I wasn’t sure I would like it when I started because it was told from the point of view of a Pegasus.  I thought it would be too childish or not have enough depth, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This book is filled with action and adventure and I found myself wanting to sit down and read it instead of doing things that needed to get done.  It is, of course, magical and wonderful and has great moments of bravery.  It has wonderful friendships and shows the value of sticking by someone and believing in them even when other people don’t.  It is a great book, and I would say any age could read it, but middle elementary and older elementary will probably get the most out of it.

Amato, Mary:

Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook This book was such a cute concept.  I haven’t ever read a book like this one before.  It follows a boy named Edgar Allan, and he uses the notebook to write down his observations about multiple crimes committed in his classroom at school.  It is just such a unique concept and I love the way it is written.  This will be perfect for early elementary kids because the pages aren’t filled with words.  It is just a wonderful little book.

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories is maybe my favorite out of all the ones I’m reviewing this time.  It really is one of the best, most creative books I’ve read for children in a long time.  This class has an empty notebook and they fill it up with things that happen during the school year.  Beginning with the owner of the notebook thinking that their teacher is a vampire.  It is such a funny book that made me laugh out loud multiple times.  It also made me want to get an empty notebook for our house and start letting everyone write in it.  

Anderson, Hans Christian:

Twelve Tales I had already read some of these stories, but some of them were new.  These stories are really weird.  There are so many of them that end so weirdly and abruptly.  I guess we should read them because they are classics, but some of them are just disturbing and definitely not happy endings.  I think an older elementary student would be best for this book, but a younger one can definitely read the words.  They just might be more disturbed by the stories than more modern stories that are usually written for this age group.

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Helping Hands: Vet Volunteers, Book 15… the only one of the Vet Volunteer books that our library has is number 15, so that’s the only one I read.  It’s a great book for animal lovers.  This book is perfect for elementary and even middle schoolers who love horses.  I’m assuming that all of these books revolve around a different type of animal, but that might not be true.  This one was about a man who didn’t take care of his horses and how the volunteers rallied together to save the horses and work with the local vets.  It would be great to use elements of this book with a vet program for elementary kids.  It will at least start very good discussions about animals.

Bunyan, John:

Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress (Moody Classics)… We read this as our family read-aloud after two different people mentioned it and then I started reading Little Women and they talked about it a lot in that book.  This book was unlike any we’ve ever read.  It explains at the very beginning that it’s an allegory.  It takes aspects of our life and makes them characters.  The main character is Christian and this whole story is filled will characters that personify the fears and feelings that we have in our life.  Christian is on a journey to get to heaven, and this book walks us through the journey with him.  I’ve heard about this book just because it’s a popular book, but I’ve never read it.  I decided to start with the pictorial version of this book because we were reading it out loud and I wanted everyone to be able to understand it.  It was really good and just reinforces for us that we need to read different kinds of literature.

Penley, Janet P:

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths… This book was so good.  I really loved it.  We have learned all of our MBTI personality types, and I love the way this book talks about relating to different types as a parent.  It also helped clarify my own type and learn more about myself.  I recommend this book to anyone who is a parent.  If you know your type, this book will just help you clarify what you already know.  If you don’t know your type, this book is also great for discovering what your type is and for helping you find the next resource for discovering more about your type.

Weekly Book Reviews

We finished two family books since the last update, and I finished a book from my personal reading list in addition to the library books I’ve been reading for the challenge.

I try to read about 15-20 minutes every morning from my personal reading list, and every night that we are all home at 7pm, we read for about 15 minutes as a family.

I finished The Five Love Languages of Teenagers and as a family we finished Little House in the Big Woods.  Then for the library challenge, I’ve finished the first two books in a series called Shark Wars.

Chapman, Gary –  The Five Love Languages of Teenagers

I’ve read the one for adults, and I’ve read the one for children, so there wasn’t really a lot of new things in this book that I hadn’t already heard from him before.  I think the thing I liked the most from this book was the sections on anger and establishing different rules when your kids become teenagers.  It seems like common sense that you can’t continue to parent your teenagers the same way you did when they were children, but when you get caught up in the day-to-day living of your life, you just want to do things the way you’ve always done them.  Ron and I will take some of the suggestions in this book and use them when communicating and dealing with the teenagers in our house.  I really liked this book.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls – Little House in the Big Woods

I don’t know how I lived to be 40 years old and have never read these books OR seen the TV show, but I guess it’s never too late.  We all really liked this book.  I love books about frontier life, even though reading them makes me feel so lazy for not making all of our own food and clothes and doing everything on our own.  It was great to see the frontier life through the eyes of a child, and we can’t wait to read more books in this series.  Apparently, her family will eventually move to a place called De Smet, South Dakota, so when we finish reading the series and watch the TV show, we will take a small trip to De Smet and see all things “Little House!”

Altbacker, EJ

Shark Wars – It probably isn’t fair that I read this book right after I finished Little Women.  It was weird to go from a literary classic to a story about sharks and other creatures in the sea.  So this book was hard for me to get into.  It’s about a shark who has nearly reached adulthood when he makes a mistake and gets banished from his shiver (that’s the name for the groups/cities of sharks).  This book is mostly about Gray finding his way and meeting new friends along the way.  It has mystery and intrigue and some pretty great battle scenes.  This book would be great for 3rd-5th grade reading levels.  I was looking forward to the second book when I finished this.

Battle of Riptide – This book started right where the first one left off.  It was much better to me that the first one, but that might be because I already knew all of the characters and didn’t feel like I had to learn the vocabulary of the world this time.  This time Gray knows who he is and is being trained by a Japanese fighting fish (a beta).  Gray grows up and becomes an adult in his own right.  This book is full of back-stabbing and mystery.  It is a lot of fun to watch the small shiver that Gray is in make a big difference, and I was actually sad at the end of this book that our library doesn’t have anymore of the books in this series.  It’s a great book about friendship and loyalty!


Library Challenge

So, I know I’ve said I’m doing a Library Challenge.  In case you didn’t see the post where I first talked about this, I’m going to try to read through all of the books in the children’s section of our library on Ellsworth Air Force Base.  I thought I needed a place to keep all of the books here and I’ll link to my review of them and then where you can get the books if you want them.

Abbott, Tony (Review 1 and 2)

Ada, Alma Flor (Review)

Adderson, Caroline (Review)

Adler, David A. (Review)

Adler, Susan S. (Review)

Airgood, Ellen (Review)

Alcott, Louisa May (Review 1 and 2)


Book Reviews – Alma Flor Ada

I finished another couple of books from the library by new, to me, authors…  Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta.  A mother-son writing team.  It was the first book they wrote together, but definitely not the last.  We have two of their books at our library, and I checked them both out at the same time because I knew it wouldn’t take me long to finish them.  The first book I read is called Dancing Home.  It’s about a girl named Margarita and her cousin Lupe who comes to live with Margarita from her home in Mexico.  Margarita has done everything she can to make herself completely American without any of her Mexican heritage, including refusing to speak Spanish to the point that she’s nearly forgotten the language.  Lupe only speaks Spanish, but she quickly starts learning English after moving to America.  Margarita eventually comes to terms with her heritage and finds that she loves all aspects of who she is.  My favorite quote from Dancing Home was near the end when Margarita had decided to embrace all the aspects of who she is instead of focusing on only what will make her fit in in her mind.  She says, “I am American, and I am Mexican.  Both are important to me and neither one has to be better than the other.”  This sums up how I think she’s come to now see herself through her journey in this book.  This book felt so much like I was reading a nonfiction biography.  I loved it.  

The second book from our library is Love, Amalia.  I liked this one better than Dancing Home.  Probably because of the fact that Amalia is dealing with her friend moving away as soon as the book starts and then she’s dealing with her grandmother’s death right after that.  This summer, we moved from Spain to South Dakota, and my father-in-law passed away while we were in the midst of our move.  I find myself thinking of Amalia like one of my kids and I hate how sad she is by all of the changes in her life.  She’s going through the same things my children just went through.  Her abuelita (grandmother) used to tell her stories about her children and read her letters from them and she would take her time and write them letters back with handmade cards.  Amalia starts to feel better and starts to see how she can move on now that her grandmother is gone when her mother gives her the box her grandmother kept all of the letters in.  Amalia starts making cards and mailing them to her family as she reads the letters from them to her abuelita.  She also write to her friend who moved away and shares with her what’s been going on in her life.  I really liked this book and think it would be a nice change of pace from most of the writing for this age group.  This book says it’s for grades 3-5, and I think that’s good.  It could be read by younger children, but they need a bit of maturity to be ready for some of the topics that are dealt with in this one.  I definitely think that sometimes kids need to be exposed to more than just fluff.  I’m going to recommend all of my kids read it.


What books are y’all reading??

The Forbidden Stone – The Copernicus Legacy Book 1

I finished the book this morning, and I literally have a timer set to go to the library as soon as it opens and get the next one.  This book was nonstop action from the very beginning. There are some spoilers coming up, so feel free to stop reading and go get your own copy to read before continuing.  The kids in this book were so unique and each one had their own voice and distinct personality.  I think a sign of great fiction is once you get to know the characters you can identify who is speaking just by what they say.  You don’t have to be told who is speaking.  It was completely true with this book.  Wade started out as the main character, but you quickly find out that nearly everyone in this book gets their own section told from their point of view.  Even the “bad guys”.  Becca is my favorite, I think.  But then I love Lily and Darrell too, so I’m really not sure.  I find myself wanting to parent these kids because I can see my own children in them. Another sign of a great book…

SPOILERS COMING!! (It won’t really ruin the book for you, so go ahead and read on!) 

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Order, but we did get some sections from the leader’s point of view and even her second in command.  There are some parts of the story that seemed unbelievable that 14-15 yr old children would be doing, but that’s why it’s fiction.  And I’m sure if you were in the age group this book was written for that you would love to think you can do the things these kids are able to do.  It is great for providing a bit of actual history dispersed inside this fictionalized story of a time machine that was invented by Copernicus.  I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out, and I’m almost afraid to google and find out how many books are in this series.  I’m not good at all at waiting if all of the books aren’t out yet, but I’ll be forced to check it out because I’m pretty sure our library only has the first two.  There better be more out than just two of them.  Oh well, I’m off to check out the second book and see how many more I have to go… I’m excited to keep going.  I loved this book!  5 Stars!!

This review is also available on my goodreads page.  And the other books I’m reading are there as well.