Monday, October 26, 2009

Module 9 Journal

All Elementary Students are welcome to join the Starr Public Library in their new Summer Reading Program “Muffins and Mysteries” July- August 2010.

Someone stole all the muffins from Ms. Karen’s desk and we need your help in finding out who took them. Could it be Ms. Fran who wanted to bake the muffins herself or Mr. Bill who loves chocolate chip muffins? There are many people in the library who wanted those muffins and only YOU can help solve the mystery. We will hold a sleuthing party at the end of August to see who may have guessed the identity of the thief!

Get great tips from great literary sleuths like Cam Jansen, Nancy Drew, and Nate the Great. We will be handing out different clues twice a month so be sure to visit the library and start cracking the case!

Suggestions Grades 1-3
The Young Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler (Grades 1-3)
Nate the Great Series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Grades 1-3)
Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective by David Biedrzycki (Grades 1-5)
Mystery at the Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman (Grades 1-3)
A-to-Z-Mysteries by Rob Roy (Grades 1-3)

Suggestions Grades 4-5
The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordin (Grades 4-5)
Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements and Mark Elliott (Grades 3-5)
The Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson (Grades 4-5)
The Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler (Grades 4-5)
Nacy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene (Grades 4-5)

Prizes include:
$25 gift cards to the Bluebonnet Bakery
New Mystery Books
Movie Tickets

Module 9 Book Review

Book Info
The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman
Sally Lockhart is in search of who murdered her father and after leaving her aunts house she sets out to find the answers. After meeting Jim Taylor and Frederick Garland, she finds more clues about her fathers death but also finds answers that she may not like.
My Thoughts
I like Phillip Pullman, even if some think he is controverisal with his other series. This series was a lot of fun to read, even though I had already seen the Masterpiece Theatre films. I enjoyed the atomosphere and the dark Victorian England. I also enjoyed learning about photography and how Frederick made his living.
Grade 7 Up A rip-roaring good adventure story filled with cutthroat villains, dastardly deeds, sleezy opium dens, filthy London slums, and a delightful 16-year-old heroine... There are twists and turns at every moment, with new characters constantly entering and old ones exiting (not by their own choice). Descriptions are vivid, colorful, and fully realized. Subtle innuendos enhance character development, and the understated humor keeps readers from taking the story too seriously. There are a few lapses in plotting and several contrivances, but these are minor flaws in a story that pulls together to become a rousing tale of murder and adventure in London in 1872. It's a book for sophisticated readers because of the variety of motivations and schemes as well as the shifts in setting within chapters, and one that's not for the timid because of the many murders.
(School Library Journal, 1987)
This book would be a good introduction to the classics of Dickens and his Victorian worlds. This could be in a display for Historical Dramas and then have a list of books that actually came from that time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth & The Thirteenth Child

Book Info
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Mary's world is ruled by fear. Fear of the Sisterhood that controls everything. Fear of the The Unconsecrated that pound on the fence surrounding their villiage hoping for someone to come close enough to eat. After Mary's mother is bitten by the Unconsecrated, she must choose between joining the Sisterhood or marrying her friend Harry. Although she loves Travis, Harry's brother, she decides to marry Harry but on their wedding day the Unconsecrated brake through the fence and they have to run for their lives.
My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book and the character Mary. I do not like zombie movies and books as a rule but his was more of a character study of finding answers in a crazy and scary world. Mary is on a quest for her own truth and what it is she really wants out of this life the Sisterhood has carved out for her.
Ages 14-up.Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere. That Mary maintains emotional distance serves to render her yearnings and romantic feelings even more poignant and powerful. Fresh and riveting. (Publishers Weekly, April 2009)
This books would be a good activity for young adults to build their own story on how they would survive such a place. Would they defy the Sisterhood and try to find the answers to their questions or live the day-to-day.

Book Info
The Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
Eff is the thirteenth child and considered unlucky by her extended family. When her uncle brings a policeman home to arrest her when she is only five her mother and father have had enough. They move to Mill City and have a fresh start at life. Eff, who is scarred from believing she is evil must grow strong in herself and learns there is more than one form of magic.
My Thoughts
I have always loved Patricia C. Wrede and read all of the Enchanted Forrest Chronicles when I was younger. This book seemed a bit slower but I will keep reading the series because it looks like it s building to something fun and interesting.
(Fantasy. 12 & up) Wrede is back, with a magical alternative history set in the Columbian West, some years after the Secession War.... The world-building is effortless, flowing naturally through Eff's conversational narration. The culminating adventure of this volume-an expedition to investigate a plague of destructive grubs-ties up Eff's coming-of-age with a frontier-style bow while leaving her poised for more adventures-many more, readers will hope.
Kirkus Reviews, 2009)
I would have the middle school students write their own alternate-history story and have a literary contest with the other librarians as judges. The students would be able to pick their own spot in history where something different happened, for example: magic is common place, Germany won World War II, or the Civil War was never fought. How would their time line differ from ours?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Module 7 Book Review

Book Info

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Terra works hard to keep in shape because it is one of the few things she can control in her life. Her face is imperfect with a port wine-stain and her father controls everyone in the house with his verbal put downs. When Terra meets Jacob her life changes when they travel to China in search of Jacobs past and Terra's future.

My Thoughts
I was so glad when I saw this on the updated list. I read it last month and throughly enjyed it. Terra was such a conflicted character and all along I wanted to tell her she was beautiful. Headly did such a good job portraying three dimensional characters that had faults and self doubts. I especially liked Jacob and his emotional journey, not many books can carry two such emotionally packed characters. I highly recommend this book!

From Booklist*Starred Review*...Headley uses map metaphors throughout, even in the activity, geocaching, which helps bond Terra and Jacob in both Washington and China. She also uses Terra’s artistic medium, collage, as a literary device to create layer upon layer of experiences and insights into a artfully written journey of self-discovery, self-actualization, and love. With every carefully chosen word, well-crafted sentence, and fully developed character, Headley maps out a wholly satisfying reading experience that takes readers from terra nullis to terra firma. Grades 9-12.

This book is a good book to start a frank discussion on how verbal abuse can be just as distructive to a person as physical abuse. Terra is scared and scarred by the words that come out of her father's mouth. The youth can be told that there is help out there, such as:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
The Family Violence Prevention Fund
W. V. Coalition Against Domestic Violence T
he National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
This site is dedicated to helping people who have been wounded by others and who are seeking recovery, especially from post traumatic stress. At least 20,000,000 Americans have experienced some form of PTSD. Gift From Within was founded to help provide this support

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Macy, 16, witnessed her father’s death, but has never figured out how to mourn. Instead, she stays in control-good grades, perfect boyfriend, always neat and tidy-and tries to fake her way to normal. Then she gets a job at Wish Catering. It is run by pregnant, forgetful Delia and staffed by her nephews, Bert and Wes, and her neighbors Kristy and Monica. “Wish” was named for Delia’s late sister, the boys’ mother. Working and eventually hanging out with her new friends, Macy sees what it’s like to live an unprescripted lifestyle, from dealing with kitchen fires to sneaking out at night, and slowly realizes it’s not so bad to be human. Wes and Macy play an ongoing game of Truth and share everything from gross-outs to what it feels like to watch someone you love die.

My Thoughts

This is the first book by Sarah Dessen that I have read and I have to say that her books are awesome! I am currently reading Along for the Ride and it has a brief cameo by someone in this book! Anyways, Macy is a character on the brink of crashing and doesn’t know what to do about it. Her father died a year ago and she has not let herself grieve because she has to be the strong one, the perfect one. This is another book that has lots of characters that have life! I have become tired of all the cardboard characters in most books and find that these are all characters that could be real! Great find!
Gr 7 Up-... All of Dessen’s characters, from Macy, who narrates to the bone, to Kristy, whose every word has life and attitude, to Monica, who says almost nothing but oozes nuance, are fully and beautifully drawn. Their dialogue is natural and believable, and their care for one another is palpable. The prose is fueled with humor-the descriptions of Macy’s dad’s home-shopping addiction are priceless, as is the goofy bedlam of catering gigs gone bad-and as many good comedians do, Dessen uses it to throw light onto darker subjects. Grief, fear, and love set the novel’s pace, and Macy’s crescendo from time-bomb perfection to fallible, emotional humanity is, for the right readers, as gripping as any action adventure. (School Library Journal)

The Truth About Forever would be a good book to start a Summer of Romance display. It could feature Dessen's newest book Along for the Ride, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashears. These books have romance but they also deal with the harder issues of abuse, dealing with death, and body issues. These books will make teens think and feel something new but still entertain.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Module 6 Journal

Look at the "problem" the protagonists had to face in each of the three novels that you read for this module. What were they? Were they the type of problems that children or young adults might have to face? How was the problem handled? Was it handled realistically--even if the problem was rather improbable? What can be the value of "problem novels" for young readers?

Allie Finkle has two major problems in The New Girl fitting in at her new school and trying to figure out why the school’s bully, Rosemary, wants to beat her up. The first is a problem that many children have to face, moving is a difficult transition for anyone but a child has to deal with going to a new school, finding new friends, and even culture shock. This problem is handled by Allie making new friends and growing fond of her new house (in the previous book she thought it was haunted). She dealt with the bully by first asking advice from her father who taught her how to hit someone properly. Allie was not ery comfortable with this and asked advice from her uncle who told her to "psych her out." Allie still did not like this but when the janitor told her Rosemary may just want to be friends but didn't know how she invited Rosemary to lunch at her house to see her new kitten. The bully problem was handled realisticaly but not every situation will end happily in real life. I do think many bullies do not know how to show that they are lonley and lash out but some do it because they like it.

Piper Reed, Navy Brat is about the challenges of living as a military family. Piper Reed has to move with her family to Pensacola, Florida because her father has been stationed there. The family deals with the difficulty of transitioning from place to place and school to school as their family has to move many different times. This time is a little different because they are moving in the middle of the school year instead of over the summer break. These problems are ones that children have to deal with all the time. Moving is a difficult transition for a family and children can sometimes get the short end of the stick. Holt uses the family’s core strength to help Piper find friends and start up a new Gypsy Club. The sister’s fight over who can ride in the back seat all by themselves but in a pinch Tori will dress up as gypsies to do palm readings when Pipers club starts to fall apart. The book was handled realistically because of how it affected each sister differently. Tori, the eldest, thought all this moving was ruining her life, Piper thought of it as a big adventure (although she was a bit nervous), and Sam, the youngest, just wants to be the smartest in the class. This book can be of value to military families because children will see that they are not alone when they move place to place. Piper has lived everywhere from Texas to Guam and this will comfort young readers knowing they can make friends and rely on family wherever they go.

Frindle is a book about Nick Allen, who is just looking to waste some time in class and skip the homework assignment part of class. Little does he know that this will be the start of a nationwide change of events. Although the problem that Nick has is a bit improbable it is handled realistically. Nick is overwhelmed by his new popularity and the sense that his ideas could create such chaos makes him hesitant. His “feud” with Mrs. Granger is put on hold as she tells him it is okay to put these ideas out there and have some fun. Many kids may not have this magnitude of a problem with their ideas spiraling out of control but it is a common occurrence. Sometimes it is calling someone a name or starting a slam book but these things have a way of coming back and making you think twice before doing anything.

Module 6 Book Review

Book Info

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl by Meg Cabot
Read by Tara Sands

Allie Finkle has finally moved into her big old house and now has to worry about her first day at school. Will wearing a skir over jeans make a good first impression? Will her brother embarrass her by wearing his pirate costume? Allie also finds out the the future mother of her kitten, Musette, is ill and may lose her kittens and what this about a spelling bee? Allie must deal with all this and the school bully in the next istallment of Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this but and not just because Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors but because the character remind me of myself in the fourth grade. All she longs for is to fit in at her new school and to finally have her new kitten come home. This was the sequel to Moving Day and picked up right where the other left off. I listened to the book in my car and it took four days of driving to and from work to finish it. It was expertly read by Tara Sands who was the perfect narrator. She gave each character a different voice and made it really easy to know who was speaking before the "she said" came. Highly recommend this to any tween or younger reader.


Gr 3-5 --...Narrator Tara Sands breezes through Meg Cabot's second entry (Scholastic, 2008) in the series with an enthusiastic, youthful voice for Allie as she deftly voices more than a dozen supporting characters. This enjoyable story about the plucky youngster's struggles to deal with her family, friends, enemies, and the tricky situations life throws at her is an audio treat for girls who will easily relate to this realistic character.

(School Library Journal, April 2009)


Have the children talk about how they would deal with a bully. What would they have done in Allie's place? They could introduce the kids to websites such as or These are very good websites that give examples on how to deal with bullies.

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