Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Speechless - Silver Birch

By Jennifer Mook-Sang

Image from: http://www.scholastic.ca/books/authors&illustrators/jennifer-mook-sang
Speechless is a book that could take place in any school in Ontario. It features ordinary characters going to an ordinary school. The main character, whose nickname is Jelly, decides that he wants to win the school's speech competition. Unfortunately, so does the biggest know-it-all in his class. He sets out to win the contest even though public speaking is really not his thing. 

I liked this book because it was so relatable. I could picture this happening at our school, or really any school. I like that Jelly stretches himself to do something he wouldn't normally do, I like that he tries to convince his parents of his point of view but does it without whining or throwing a fit, and I like that he learns about helping out at a Food Bank but doesn't do his speech about it. I think that Jelly was a great character and I enjoyed spending some time with him while he was learning and growing so much. 

This book is a quick, valuable read and I would recommend it if you are planning to participate in Silver Birch this year. 

Lost in the Backyard - Silver Birch

Lost in the Backyard
Image from: http://www.orcabook.com/Lost-in-the-Backyard-P979.aspx

by Alison Hughes

Flynn can't understand why his sister loves the outdoors so much she would want to spend a weekend wilderness camping. While she's gone, he gets stuck visiting his parents' friend's house that they built in the woods. As they are checking out the backyard, Flynn wanders off and falls down a ravine. He hears wild animals, panics and makes a run for it. Before he knows what has happened he is injured, soaking wet, scared and alone. Not only that, but a light snow starts to fall. Flynn has to do everything in his power to stay alive and find his way to safety.

I enjoyed this book and think that if you like survival stories you will enjoy this one too.

Rocket Blues - Silver Birch

By David Skuy

Image from: www.accessola.org

David Skuy writes sports books for kids aged 8-12. Before this year I have never actually read one myself but my son read Striker last year for Silver Birch and said it was good so I thought I would give this one a try.

IT WAS SO GOOD! If you play hockey, if you like watching hockey, if you play street hockey, if you just want to read about hockey you should definitely read this book. I am thinking I will go back and read Striker as well, which was his Silver Birch nomination for last year. Striker also has a sequel that just came out called The Beautiful Game so if you've read the first one you might want to check this one out too. (Striker and The Beautiful Game are both about soccer).

To find out more about David Skuy's books go to http://davidskuy.com/

Monday, 21 December 2015

Between Shadows - Silver Birch

Between Shadows
Image from: http://coteaubooks.com/index.php?id=913

By Kathleen Cook Waldron

It is Forest of Reading season so I am doing some Silver Birch and Red Maple reading over the holidays. The first Silver Birch book I did was Between Shadows, since my son was reading it also. This book is about a boy named Ari who inherits a cottage from his grandfather. He is beyond excited and hopes his family will move there. Unfortunately his aunt and father have other ideas and want to sell the cottage. Ari has to see if he can convince them to keep the cottage his grandfather loved and convince his father that maybe it's time for a new start.

This book is a quick read at only 100 pages and has some exciting elements. Ari quickly makes friends in the area and is able to get neighbours to help him keep the cottage. I wish this book was a bit longer as I think the first part could use more detail. I also think the aunt's character is a bit harsh and that a bit more time on character development would have helped the story.

If you are hoping to read 5 books to vote for Silver Birch this year I would recommend giving this one a try. If you are a quick reader you can finish it in a day or two and there are some fun moments throughout this story.

The Family Cooks

Image From: http://thefamilydinnerbook.com/

Baking and cooking books have been really popular in the last couple of years. I was happy to buy a bunch more the last time I was shopping. One that I am really excited about is called The Family Cooks -- there are so many recipes I want to try! When I read through it I bookmarked about 20 pages and I have already made the pancakes.

The recipes in this book are easy to follow and often include a "play with it" at the end, which gives you ideas of how you could change the recipe to make it a bit differently. If you love cooking healthy food for your family I think you will really like this new cookbook.

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Art of Being Stared At

Image from: www.lauralangston.com

By Laura Langston

Imagine being in high school, knowing that your only dream is to be a movie producer, and having a film company approach you about applying to their prestigious program. You are beyond excited, everything seems to be going your way, and nothing is going to get you down.

Then, your hair starts falling out. At first it doesn’t seem like a big deal but more and more is lost. You have to tell someone; you have to find out what is going on.

Sloane Kendriks, the main character, has to decide what matters most and how she is going to handle the news that she has alopecia areata in the midst of chasing her biggest dream.

The Art of Being Stared At is a White Pine selection this year, which means it was selected for the High School level for the Forest of Reading. I think Grade 7 & 8 students would also enjoy this book.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Image from www.amazon.com
The Invention of Hugo Cabret has to be one of my favourite children's books that I've ever read since becoming a librarian. I have read it three times now! I just finished reading it with my son who is in Grade 2. I love this book because Hugo is such a great person; he has a very difficult life and he does everything he can to survive. He is intelligent, brave, and sneaky. I think he is a great character and meeting interesting characters are one of my favourite parts of reading.

I love that this book looks impressive; it's over 500 pages but that's mostly because there are great illustrations throughout and some pages with hardly any words. With that said, there is a very strong plot as well so, really, this book is the whole package!

I would highly recommend this book for Grade 3 and up. I haven't seen the movie yet but if you like the book you can also check out the movie, Hugo, and let me know which one you like best!

The Rule of Three

Image from: www.ericwalters.net
I love many of Eric Walters’ books and this one was great too. Basically, it is a story that takes place in the GTA but the whole world is without power and computer network access. The neighbourhood that we get to find out about decides to fortify, grow food and try to survive the best they can. What’s really cool about this book is that the setting is so local you will likely recognize street names.

There is a second book in this series called Fight for Power. If you like books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, City of Ember, etc. I would definitely recommend this book, especially for Grade 7 & 8.

Liar and Spy

Image from: www.rebeccasteadbooks.com

In this story a family has to move out their home when the father loses his job. The family moves into an apartment building in the same neighbourhood.

Almost as soon as they move in, Georges, the main character, is invited to a spy meeting via a note posted in the laundry room. He is intrigued and writes back saying he will come. The first meeting happens and Georges meets a boy named Safer, the only other member of the spy club.

The boys continue their club with Safer making up a mystery for himself and George to solve. There are some unexpected turns at the end of this book that make it interesting and I had fun reading this book with both my boys who are in Grade 2 and 5.

This was my second Rebecca Stead book and I definitely  liked iit more than When You Reach Me, which was a Newbery winner. I would recommend this book for Grade 4-5.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Truth About Twinkie Pie

By Kat Yeh

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

There is something about the cover of this book that made me really, really want to read it. I don't even like Twinkies but I definitely thought I would like this book. And . . . I wasn't wrong! 

This is a great story of two sisters, Gigi and Didi, who win a million dollars in a baking contest and use it to change their lives. It's a story of new friends, new enemies, new homes, and really, new realities as well. One thing that makes this book different is that each chapter includes a recipe that is somehow related to what happened in that chapter. 

I thought this book was unique, fun, and sweet all at the same time. Grab a snack and check it out! 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


by Jerry Spinelli

Image from: www.goodreads.com

Jerry Spinelli has written tons of books and I haven't read very many of them so I'm trying to fix that. Stargirl is the main character of the book and she is certainly a unique character. She dances around the high school cafeteria and plays her ukulele, she cheers for both teams at sporting events, she goes to funerals for people she has never met, she gives out cards and presents to strangers. . . and, while most of these things are very well-intentioned her over-the-top ways work against her and many people in the school start to hate her. 

I think this book is a good study of how we treat people who are different than us and how we expect people to conform to certain social norms. I think it's the kind of book a teacher would love to read to the class to talk about how we treat each other and I think there are some great messages in this book. I would probably recommend it for Grades 6 and up, although it looks like it could be for Grade 4 and up.

On Jerry's website -www.jerryspinelli.com - you can find out how to start up your own Stargirl society and apparently this book is going to be made into a movie so I imagine we will keep hearing about it once it hits the theatres!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot

By: Dav Pilkey

Image from: www.gobblefunked.com

My younger son wanted a turn to answer some questions so we read Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot together.

Me: What was the best part of this book?
T: When they had the final battle. It was in flip-o-rama.

Me: What other books did it remind you of?
T: It reminded me of the movie Big Hero 6.

Me: Who do you think would like this book?
T: Our friends and kids in Grade 1-3.

Me: Was it hard or easy to read?
T: It wasn't too hard to read but not too easy.

Me: Would you read more of these?
T: Yah. I want to get the second one or maybe the third. Or maybe all of them.

Parent Point:
This is a great beginner chapter book. There are great illustrations and minimal text on each page. If your child is looking to get started on chapter books I think this would be a super place to start! It also has some features kids love like a few sections with comics and the flip-o-rama, which Dav Pilkey is kind of famous for!

Magickeepers - The Eternal Hourglass

By Erica Kirov

Image from: www.amazon.com

My son and I both read this book recently so I thought I would get his opinion on it.

Me: What did you think of the book?
Son: Good. There was action and magic.

Me: What other books did this one remind you of?
Son: Harry Potter.

Me: What was the best part of the book?
Son: I liked the battle at the end with the Shadowkeeper. There was a lot of action and it was exciting. 

Me: Would you read the next one in there series?
Son: Yes. 

Me: What grades would you recommend it for?
Son: Grade 3-6

So, there you have it. An endorsement from my son who is going into Grade 5. If you want to get started on this series we have the first book in our library. Come and check it out!

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Book of Awesome

By: Neil Pasricha

image from:  http://1000awesomethings.com/book/

I remember seeing people walking around with this book everywhere a few years ago and thinking I had to read it. Well, 2015 turned out to be the *awesome* year to do it!

Basically, this book is a series of short essays about things that are awesome, such as bubble wrap, getting grass stains, having bed head all day, swimming in your neighbour's pool, etc. The author takes simple things that we normally take for granted and explains why they are awesome. Every essay ends the same. Awesome. 

There were some gems in this book that made me laugh. Overall, though, it is the kind of book you don't want to read in a couple of sittings but maybe an essay or two each day. I did read the whole thing but I skimmed through some of the essays that weren't as interesting to me as the others. 

This book wasn't specifically written as a children's book but I think kids can easily read it, especially Grade 7 & 8. This book is available through Overdrive. 

Parent Point: As this is not a children's book some essays deal with more adult content. 

The Face on the Milk Carton

By Caroline Cooney

Face on the Milk Carton
Image from: www.carolinebcooneybooks.com

What if you found out your parents weren't actually your parents?
What if you realized a family somewhere had been looking for you for 12 years?
What if you wanted your life to stay the same?
What would you do?

The Face on the Milk Carton tackles all of these questions and got me thinking what would I do if it were me?  The author, Caroline Cooney, got the idea for this series when she saw a missing person profile on a milk carton and wondered what it must be like for the family who spent  all those years looking for their child. I would recommend this book for Grade 7 & 8; it is the first in a series so if you like it there are a few more. I read it on Overdrive but we have it in the library too.

Parent Point: Some relationship details included in this book. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Completely Clementine

Image from: www.sarapennypacker.com

I love the Clementine series and I always read new ones as soon as I see them. The only Clementine book I didn't really like was The Spring Trip so I was hoping this one would be great and it was!

In this story, Clementine is worried about the end of Grade 3 because she really loved her teacher and doesn't want to say goodbye. She is also looking forward to the arrival of her new sibling and she is figuring out what to do because she is really mad at her dad and isn't speaking to him. I liked all three main parts of this story and the ending as well. 

I like Clementine's character because she is really sweet and thoughtful and when things go wrong she usually meant for them to go right. I think she is a perfect Grade 3 character!

If you like Junie B. you will probably also like Clementine. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Courage for Beginners

Image from: www.karenharringtonbooks.com

Mysti Murphy is not excited to start Grade 7. Her "best friend" has decided he needs a new image and doesn't want to hang out with her any more. He texts her at night but makes plans to completely ignore her when they are at school. Little does Mysti know, he also plans to be mean to her to impress his new friends.

Her mom has agoraphobia, which means she has a "strong fear about being in places or situations where escape might be difficult, be embarrasssing, or cause panic attacks" (Courage, Pg 12). Her condition means that she is basically unable to leave the house and the family depends on the dad for any day-to-day activities outside of the home. The family makes this work until the dad has an accident and ends up in the hospital. The start of seventh grade is less than easy for Mysti to say the least.

I loved this story for many reasons. Karen Harrington does a great job developing her characters and I really loved getting to know Mysti and her mom and dad in this book. I also liked learning about agoraphobia and "watching" Mysti make new friends throughout the school year. I would definitely recommend this book for Grade 5-7. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Eye of Minds

By James Dashner

The Eye of Minds
Image from: www.dasherarmy.com

"The world is virtual.
The danger is real."

Well, this book was fun! It kept me guessing the whole way through and I was blind-sided by the ending!
If you like gaming or plot-driven novels, you will like this book. If you liked any of the Divergent, Hunger Games, etc. type series you will like this series as well. Eye of Minds is the first half of The Mortality Doctrine Series so I will be reading the second one sometime this year as well.

And, just in case you didn't make the connection, James Dashner is the author of The Maze Runner series so if you liked those books, this will probably be something to check out as well.

Parent Point: There is some violent and dark parts in this book that are similar in intensity to some of the series mentioned above.

The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander

kalexander 19
image from: www.bookinaday.org
I loved this book! If you like basketball or any other competitive sport you should definitely read it! If you have a goal in life that you would do anything to achieve, you should check out the main characters in The Crossover. If you are in Grade 7 or 8 and need a book for a book report, you should consider this one. Great read!

Parent Point: This book is written in free verse, which seems to be becoming a more popular genre. I love seeing how poetry and the novel can come together to create a strong plot and something unique stylistically. Other books that I have read in the last year  that are free verse include Counting Back From Nine by Valerie Sherrard and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. I have enjoyed them all!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Prince and The Heir

Images from http://theselection.wikia.com
Image result for the heir by kiera cass

By Kiera Cass

I LOVE the Selection Books and was super excited to read The Heir in June. I was most excited because it seemed like a set up for a whole new trilogy and that would be amazing! However, while I was getting ready to write this post I learned that there is only going to be one more book in 2016 and a collection of other material released in one book and then Kiera Cass is done with Illea. I will take what I can get!

The other exciting thing I found out is that The Selection is going to be made into a movie. Yahoo!! Anyway, back to the books. . .  I am cheating a bit by talking about The Heir since I read it in June but if you liked The Selection series you should definitely read this book .

Also, in case you didn't know there are a few novellas written from different character's points of view. The Prince is obviously written from the Prince's point of view. It tells Maxon's point of view when The Selection gets started. I liked it because it gives a new side to things and I liked the story the first time so I was happy to re-visit it. The only thing I will say is it's too short! Yes, it's a novella so it's meant to be short but I wanted to read further into the story! When the collection comes out, which will be called Happily Ever After, The Prince will be included in the book with two bonus chapters. I think that will make this even better.

If you love The Selection, both of these books are worth reading. We have The Heir in our library and The Prince is available on Overdrive.

Dreamer Wisher Liar

Image from www.harpercollins.com

By Charise Mericle Harper

Lots of girls in Grade 5/6 have been reading this book and saying how much they liked it so I was looking forward to reading it over the summer. It is about a girl named Ashley who comes across a jar of wishes in the basement. When she pulls one out she gets drawn into the wish and sees it play out with two girls she has never met before named Shue and Ashley.  Before long the wish fades away and Ashley is back in her basement. Throughout the summer Ashley can't wait to go downstairs and see the next part of the story as she continues to pull wishes out of the jar and be transported back into Shue and Ashley's story.

Back in the "real world" Ashley is expected to welcome a new person into their house for three weeks when her parents invite a friends' daughter, Claire,  into their home. At first this isn't much fun at all but Claire has some creative ways to make the summer more fun for everyone in the whole family.

I liked this book and was surprised to realize that the author also wrote the series Just Grace, which we have in our library. I hadn't made that connection before.

The whole time I was reading this book I also thought it reminded me a lot of a book called A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson. If you enjoyed Dreamer Wisher Liar you will love A Handful of Time too.

Friday, 17 July 2015


by David Arnold

Image from: www.davidarnoldbooks.com

I really wanted to like this book. I was intrigued by the synopsis on the back and the About the Author was funny. This book was also recommended to me and is getting quite a bit of attention so I was excited to check it out.

In the book's favour, the writing is well done and some parts of the book resonated with me.

Unfortunately, there were many things about this book that I did not like. Mim, the main character, goes on a road trip to find her mother. Along the way many serious things happen to her and I felt like they were glossed over and not always handled well. For example, the bus that she is on crashes, people die and the survivors get on a new bus the next day and keep driving.  This felt very unrealistic and forced to me. Similarly, I didn't like how the author handled topics like assault and mental illness, although I suppose the story tells us how Mim handles these things and each person would respond differently to any given situation.

This book was a "one weeker" for me; when I can't get into a book it always takes me longer than a book that I really like. I was disappointed with this book and would recommend checking out other reviews online before delving into this one.

Parent Point: Includes mature themes and language. Recommended for high school students.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk Kung Fu Cavemen from the Future

By: Geroge Beard and Harold Hutchins
The Adventures of Ook and Gluck, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
Image from Dav Pilkey's Website: www.pilkey.com

I had a lot of fun reading this book with my son who is going into Grade 2. George and Harold, the main characters from Captain Underpants, put a lot of time, thought and effort into their comic book. It is funny and has an action-packed story line. Any kids who like Captain Underpants will like this book as well.

The most important thing I learned is that "His name not Glook, it 'Gluk'. It ryme with 'duck'" (15) and "His name not Uck, it 'Ook.' Ryme with 'Duke'" (17). I spent most of the rest of the book trying to remember how to say their names right! I will need to make myself a sign so I will remember in September too!

Parent Point: If you are familiar with the comic sections in Captain Underpants you know that they are full of phonetic spelling.  The whole book is a comic and does not contain the more traditional chapter book pages that Captain Underpants includes. If you find the phonetic spelling a challenge you will not enjoy this book. Also, there is some mild language that some parents might find objectionable.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

By: L. Pichon

Image from: www.amazon.co.uk
Tom Gates loves to make his sister Delia miserable, hang out with his friend and bandmate Derek, listen to Dude3 and try to get the attention of Amy Porter whenever he can. Of course, along the way he runs into all kinds of funny situations and sometimes might get into a *bit* of trouble.

I really enjoyed this book, which won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, and plan to read the second one too. If you like Diary of  a Wimpy Kid you are really going to enjoy this series as well. The format is very similar and the drawings are funny. I would definitely recommend this book to kids in Grade 3-5 who like funny stories like And Then it Happened or Wimpy Kid.

This book was written by a British author so there are some words and phrases that might be unfamiliar to Canadian readers. Not to fear! There is a glossary starting on page 242 that explains many of the words I thought might not be familiar.

Check out this book today and when you are done reading it be sure to let me know how you think it stacks up to other funny books that we have in our library!