Children’s Book Reviews: Buddy, Ferdinand, How to Eat Fried Worms, and The Hope Chest

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Even though I primarily read and review young adult books on my blog, I do have a huge passion for children’s books. One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is to recommend books to students! Here are some recent children’s books that I picked up and my mini-reviews:

Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog

Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog tells the real life story of Buddy, the first American seeing eye dog brought by her owner Morris Frank to the United States. With small, easy to read chapters, this book covers the training, Buddy (formerly known as Kiss) received as well as the the obstacles Morris Frank faced learning to trust Buddy’s training and instincts. The book also includes a photograph of the real Buddy and Morris.

This book is perfect for young readers acclimating to chapter books for the first time. Each chapter is only comprised of a few paragraphs and pages which allows for great points to stop and check for understanding. I’ve also noticed a lot of younger readers gravitating towards non-fiction, so this story is perfect to capitalize on their interests and to accommodate their reading level. Buddy is a heart-warming story that readers of all ages can enjoy! I give Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog four out of five stars.

The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand is the classic story by Munro Leaf which follows a gentle bull who is chosen for the bull fights in Spain. Ferdinand loves to stop and smell the flowers, but when he is stung by a bee, he kicks around and is mistaken for an aggressive bull. When confronted in the area by people trying to provoke him, Ferdinand decides to stay true to himself.

As the shortest of these three stories (and the only picture book), this book is definitely suited to younger readers. However, it does provide a powerful message that all readers can understand. Ferdinand is a likable and relatable character and the setting of this book could bring in a lot of conversations and non-fiction-related books to discuss Spain and its culture. I give this story five out of five stars.

How to Eat Fried Worms

How to Eat Fried Worms is a humorous story by Thomas Rockwell  that I originally knew due to the movie loosely based on the book. How to Eat Fried Worms follows Billy, a boy who loves dares, who accepts the challenge to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days in exchange for $50. When he displays no trouble eating the worms, his friends start to pull some tricks to get him to back out of the bet.

I remember really enjoying the movie How to Eat Fried Worms as a child because I thought it was hilarious. While How to Eat Fried Worms does have its funny moments, since it was written quite a few years ago, the humor didn’t really grab me as much as the movie. As a result, the book also contained some dated language and expressions that may be lost on younger readers. I have read this book with younger readers, and while they enjoyed the story, they did mention they liked the movie better because it was easier to understand and contained more fun characters, which I also find to be true. I give this book three out of five stars.

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach follows eleven-year-old Violet as she sets off to find her older sister Chloe who left home a few years ago. When Violet finds Chloe, she discovers that she is involved with the women’s suffrage movement against her parents’ approval. Despite her parents feeling towards the cause, Violet finds a lot of different individual who open her eyes to many injustices within the nation.

I love the premise of The Hope Chest and how it tries to provide probably the first look at women’s suffrage that many young readers would experience. Additionally, The Hope Chest also points out a lot of other problems occurring in the United States, such as the treatment of African Americans. While I appreciate that The Hope Chest pointed out these injustices, the overall story fell flat for me. For me, the story itself was very dry and felt like more of an information dump than something enjoyable which I feel might not draw in its intended audience. I give The Hope Chest three out of five stars.

 

What children’s books have you read recently?

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Bookish Halloween Pumpkins

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One activity that I love in the fall is decorating pumpkins. Last year, I created a donut pumpkin inspired by If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff (see how I created my pumpkin here). This year, I decided to share some bookish pumpkins that I loved from Pinterest. Here are five of my favorite book-inspired pumpkins:

I love the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and this pumpkin represents it well! I love how the person who made this got creative and even made the body of the mouse.

  • Fancy Nancy from Pinterest

Fancy Nancy is one of the most fabulous picture book characters… so she makes an even more fabulous pumpkin! I love the use of the wig on this pumpkin and all of the accessories throughout the hair. Fancy Nancy would approve of this pumpkin!

I love all of the touches on this Tin Man pumpkin from everyday household items. I think what really drew me into this pumpkin was the shiny silver paint. It’s perfect for the Tin Man!

  • Pinkalicious from Pinterest

Pinkalicious is such a fun book and the person who created this pumpkin really captured the spirit of the book. From the tutu, to the wand, to the crown, this pumpkin is perfectly pink!

  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! from Pinterest

The pigeon from books by Mo Willems is such a cute characters and this is such a cute pumpkin! This pumpkin actually looks very similar to the pigeon plush I bought at Kohl’s not too long ago. Like with some of the other pumpkins above, I like how the person who created this pumpkin thought bigger than just the pumpkin.

What book inspired pumpkin would you like to see?

#ThrowbackThursday: My Favorite Elementary Back-to-School Books

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As summer winds down and a new school year quickly approaches, I can’t help but think of the books that I loved to read when I was in school. This past May, I graduated from college. This is the first year that I’m not buying back to school supplies, dreading copious amounts of homework, or deciding what to wear on the first day of school.

Although I’m not going back to school, I love reading about characters starting a new school year. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss some of my favorite books surrounding school at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. Here are some of my favorite elementary picks:

  • The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Best School Year Ever (The Herdmans #2)

I love Barbara Park’s books about the Herman family! These books make me laugh out loud and bring back so many memories from elementary school. I remember one of my elementary teachers read this book aloud and I still loved and remembered it years later.

  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly Worried

I remember seeing this book all the time in elementary school and in my fields for teaching. However, I never read it. When I spotted it at a book sale, I picked it up without a second thought. When I finally read it as an adult, I absolutely loved the story. Wemberly is an adorable character that is so relatable to elementary students nervous about the first day of school. No wonder why this book is so popular in elementary classrooms!

  • The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing 

The Night Before Kindergarten

I discovered Natasha Wing’s The Night Before series when I started thrifting books a few years ago. I especially loved her Night Before books surrounding the first day of school, such as The Night Before Preschool and The Night Before Kindergarten. Like Wemberly Worried, these are cute books that give nervous children a reason to be excited about the first day of school.

  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald

Judy Moody (Judy Moody, # 1)

When I was in elementary school, I devoured the Judy Moody books. To this day, I still remember Judy’s “I Ate a Shark” shirt for the first day of school. This books will always remind me of my childhood and it makes me so happy to see elementary students still reading books in this series today.

  • Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park

Junie B. Jones and the  Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones, #1)

Like with Judy Moody, I LOVED the Junie B. Jones series. I’ll always remember my grandma reading these books to me and my sister using her special Junie B. Jones voice. The Stupid Smelly Bus book in particular is one of the most memorable and Junie B.’s comments about school are always hilarious.

 

What are you favorite elementary back-to-school books?

Library Book Sale Haul 2017 Part Eight: My Library Book Sale Experience

Library Book Sale

We’ve finally reached the end of my eight part series on my largest book haul ever from my library’s annual book sale. This was definitely a crazy sale for me… my sister and I walked away with 223 books for only $65! Like I mentioned in my first post, this does seem a little excessive. However, my sister and I use this sale to mostly stock up on books for our future classrooms.

Last year, I found the original price of every book we purchased to see how much we actually saved. This year, that process was a little too difficult. With so many books, many with old editions or prices not easily located online, it wasn’t possible to find an accurate percent savings or even the original price of every book. Instead, I calculated how much we paid per book and compared it to the average price for a children’s book, a middle grade book, a young adult book, and an adult book.

Since we paid $65 dollars for 223 books, we paid about 30 cents for book. To determine the prices of a standard book, I use the prices created by the School Library Journal. Let’s get into the savings!

For a hardcover children’s book the average price is $17.77 and the average price for a paperback is $7.29. That means we saved about 98% on each hardcover children’s book and about 95% on each paperback children’s book. Each hardcover young adult book averages at $19.12 and each paperback young adult book averages at $12.09. For each hardcover young adult book, we saved 98.4% and for each paperback young adult book we saved 97.5%. Each hardcover adult book averages at $26.98 and each paperback averages at $16.06. We saved 98.8% on each hardcover adult book and 98.1% on each paperback book. Overall, we saved an average of 97.6% off of regular retail price on the books we purchased at the sale.

Compared to last year’s sale, I found that I picked up more picture books, early chapter books, and middle grade books. I think this year’s selection of young adult books was smaller than last year and the books available were ones that I already had in my book collection. This year I really scored with picture books by finding several books on my wishlist, including Pinkalicious and Aqualicious.

During last year’s sale, my percent savings was a little higher at 98%, but due to possibly inaccurate book pricing, the savings may actually be slightly different. Either way, those savings are pretty high of the regular retail price. I think I paid slightly more for books this year due to finding more hardcover books on the first day of sale and inconsistent pricing across the book sale employees.

Consistent with previous years, the $5 bag sale was the craziest day of the sale. If you are looking for DVDs or books in a series, I suggest scoping out the location of these items the day before. The line outside of the library is extremely long before the sale opens and these tend to be the first items of the sale to go. I’ve seen people not even look at the DVDs before sweeping a whole pile into their bag.

Since the library most likely will give you a bag to ensure consistency, you might want to bring your own tote bag to stash items as your walk around the sale. The flimsy plastic bags won’t be able to hold everything that you will end up stuffing in them and it is difficult to maneuver around the sale with a stack of books in your arms. After you secure your most desired items and scope out the sale again for any books you missed, it’s a good idea to find a less crowded area away from the sale too review the books you picked up, take back any that you accidentally grabbed and don’t want, and to carefully organize the books into as few bags as possible. For more information on how my library sale worked and what to expect on different days of your library book sale, check out my experience post from last year here.

Overall, I really enjoyed this year’s sale and can’t wait until next year! I walked away with a lot of books that I’ve been wanting to read and supported my local library at the same time. I recommend library book sales to any book lover looking to add quality books to their collection for a fraction of the cost while supporting their local reading community!

 

May Reading Wrap-Up

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May was a hectic month for me. Between wrapping up student teaching, graduating college, and searching for a job, I am surprised that I found any time to read! Luckily, I read a few great books this month. Here are the books that I read in May (review will be linked to the title):

The Sun Is Also a Star

  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

P.S. I Like You

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Hate U Give

  • The Selection by Kiera Cass (★ ★ ★)

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  • Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz (★ ★)

Alex and Eliza

  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)

  • The Siren by Kiera Cass (★ ★)

The Siren

  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (★ ★ ★)

Tell Me Three Things

 

What was the best book that you read in May? 

Five Series I Will Not Finish

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There are some series where I rush out to the store and other series… not so much. Here are a few series that I do not plan on finishing (any book with a review will be linked to the title):

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

After hearing rave reviews of Red Queen, I went in with high expectations. However, I was disappointed because Red Queen reminded me so much of other dystopian books and I didn’t really care for any of the characters. I planned on reading the second book to see if my opinion changed, but after hearing not-so-positive reviews for the second book, I most likely will not be picking it up any time soon.

  • An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)

An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t an awful book, but it didn’t really grab me either. Even though the plot was more unique and I liked the character in this book more than Red Queen, it didn’t hook me enough to keep reading. Similar to Red Queen, the reviews for the second book were less positive. When another book was announced, and I already wasn’t too invested in the series, I decided not to pick up the next book.

  • Matched series by Ally Condie 

Matched (Matched, #1)

The Matched series was popular when I was a sophomore in high school and it was one of the first young adult-dystopian-love triangle books that I remember reading. I thought Matched was okay, but always planned to read the second book because of the hype that surrounded it. After my sister struggled through the second and third books and so much time passed and I still didn’t find myself reaching for the second book, I decided not to continue the series.

  • The Fifth Wave series by Rick Yancey 

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)

I actually really enjoyed this book when I started it. As I continued reading, The Fifth Wave grew more and more formulaic and predictable. Since I predicted the ending of the first book early on, it was a struggle to finish. When some of my favorite reviewers who loved the first book were left unimpressed by the sequel and I already did not feel invested in the series, I knew that I probably wouldn’t pick up the next book.

The Summer of Cotton Candy (Sweet Seasons, #1)

I was really excited to read this book because it seemed like so much fun. A girl takes a job in an amusement park for the summer. However, reading this book was not that much fun. Many of the characters really annoyed me and I really didn’t care for the romance. When I found out this was a series, I was slightly interested because I thought it would be fun to see the amusement park in different seasons. However, I don’t think I will be picking up the next book.

 

What series did you stop reading?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Book Covers

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a cover freebie. Since summer is fast approaching, I decided to choose my top ten favorite summer books covers. Any books with reviews on my website will be linked to the title. Here are my nine choices:

1.) The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

This cover is gorgeous! I love the bright colors and how the shells are placed in the background. I also love the simple font.

2.) The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More

Like with The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, I love how bright and summery the colors are on this book cover! I love how Sarah’s Dessen name fades into blue and pink. Also, I definitely have taken pictures like this on vacation.

3.) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything

From the ice cream truck, to the font, to the dogs this cover is perfection! It definitely captured my attention when I first saw it in the bookstore. One cool aspect of this cover is on the inside there are more pictures of the dogs!

4.) The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne

The Boyfriend League

This cover is really cute and gives me a good idea of the plot before I even read the description on the back. I really like how the cover is sporty and girly at the same!

5.) Thrill Ride by Rachel Hawthorne

Thrill Ride

Like with The Boyfriend League, I like how this cute illustration gives you an idea of how fun this book will be to read! I think the heart in the roller coaster is cute, simple, and effective.

6.) The Test: Junior Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey

The Test: Junior Lifeguards

Before reading this book, I didn’t even know about Junior Lifeguards. For the cover, I really like how the O is a life preserver and how the authors name is on the back of the beach chair.

7.) Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch 

Love & Gelato

The cover is of this book is one of the reasons that I was immediately drawn to it. The ice cream is cute, simple, and summery! It definitely makes me want some gelato.

8.) The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguié

The Summer of Cotton Candy (Sweet Seasons, #1)

At a college event, I worked the cotton candy booth. Unfortunately, my cotton candy never looked as good as the cotton candy on this cover! Whenever I see this book cover, it makes me want to go to the nearest fair or amusement park.

9.) Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita 

Sleepaway Girls (Whispering Pines, #1)

Summer camp is a staple of summer and I think this cover captures the spirit of summer camp! I really like how the suitcase includes a shirt with the name of the camp on it and includes clothes that I could see the main character wearing!

 

What are your favorite summer book covers?

 

Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright Review

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Lights, camera… action! Allie Finkle takes the stage in the fourth book of the Rules for Girls series.

In Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright, Meg Cabot’s middle grade heroine auditions for a role in her class play about recycling. Every girl in the class covets the main role, Princess Penelope, who wanders through the recycling forest while hiding from the evil queen. Much to Allie’s dismay, Mrs. Hunter casts her as the evil queen.

Last read, I read the first Allie Finkle book. I expected a cute book with a nice message for young readers. I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud at Allie’s crazy antics. Even though I didn’t like the fourth book as much as the first book, Stage Fright offers a lot of laughs and good messages for younger readers.

I think the best aspect of this book is Allie Finkle’s attitude. Unlike many novels featuring characters of the same age, Allie does not disrespect her parents or incite petty drama between her friends. Allie acts extremely mature and supports her friends even when one of her friends gets the part she wanted in the school play and acts mean towards her. Many of her rules are extremely relatable and useful for readers. She also provides many witty observations about the other students in her class.

Another aspect I enjoyed about this book were Allie’s rules. A lot of books for this age range also utilize rules within their books. However, I think Allie’s rules stand out from the other similar books. All of Allie’s rules, which are listed at the end of the book, are extremely useful and relatable for readers. I especially liked the rules in this book because they encouraged readers to be nice to others, do the best with what you are given, and to support your friends.

Overall, Stage Fright is a nice addition to the Allie Finkle series. While the beginning was a little slow for me, it really picked up in the middle and end. I rate Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright as four out of five stars.

The Winner’s Kiss Review

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All if fair in love, war, and the final book in a series.

The Winner’s Kiss concludes the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner’s Kiss is a complicated book with many twists and turns. Without giving too many spoilers, The Winner’s Kiss follows Arin who decides he is over Kestrel and focuses his attention to the war. Meanwhile, Kestrel pays for her traitorous crime in a Valorian work camp.

Last year, I read The Winner’s Curse in this series and absolutely loved it. Earlier this year, I picked up The Winner’s Crime and was equally impressed. Going into The Winner’s Kiss, I was afraid that I set my expectations too high for the final book. Even though I had a minor problem with The Winner’s Kiss, overall it delivered an exciting and satisfying ending to the series.

I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it in the first two books in the series, but I loved Marie Rutkoski’s writing style. Everything flowed so nicely. Furthermore, Kestrel and Arin’s section each reflected their personalities perfectly. Additionally, the author’s writing style allows for great world-building. The culture, attitudes, and histories of each land are highlighted so well that they actually seem real.

One of the best aspects of this book would be the battle scenes. The author must have really researched military strategy and weaponry because every battle was well thought-out and realistic. Although not a battle, my favorite strategy scene is a Bite and Sting game between the emperor and Kestrel. Not only did the scene capture both of their personalities, but it kept me on the edge of my seat!

Another aspect done well in The Winner’s Kiss are the relationships. Throughout the series, I appreciated that Rutkoski strayed away from the typical love triangle. In all three books, readers see how Kestrel and Arin’s relationships grows based on the changes they undergo in all three books. I also liked seeing Kestrel wrestle with feelings towards her father. Their ending may not be perfect, but it is extremely realistic and true to their characters. I also enjoyed seeing some of the more platonic relationships, such as Arin and Roshar. Each relationship was well developed and directly affected the plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

There was only one problem that I had with The Winner’s Kiss. Out of every plot twist, memory loss is my least favorite. When I watched Cinderella III, which uses a similar plot twist, I almost turned off the movie. Personally, I dislike how a memory loss story line almost ruins the original story by taking away the experiences of one or more characters. While the author does make Kestrel face the past, I didn’t really think this part of the story was necessary. It only dragged out the beginning of the novel.

END SPOILERS. 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Winner’s Kiss. I will really miss reading about Kestrel and Arin! I rate The Winner’s Kiss as four out of five stars.

Thrift Store Book Haul #9

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Recently, I went to a local thrift store and Goodwill. I found some great books at really low prices! Here’s what I found:

  • Biscuit’s Birthday by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing

The Night Before picture books are so cute. I’m glad that I found another one!

  • The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

I love finding picture books that make math fun! This will be a great book to add to my collection.

  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

I actually found these two Eric Carle books when I searched the books at Goodwill a second time. I’m glad that I looked again because these books are BEAUTIFUL and in perfect condition!

  • Philppa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler

I saw this book was by the author of the Emily Windsnap series. I haven’t read that yet, but the plot sounded cute, so I picked it up!

  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #3 by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #6 by Dav Pilkey

I remember seeing tons of people reading this series when I was in elementary school. When I saw a few at the thrift store, I knew I couldn’t pass them up! I know the movie is coming out soon, so I’ll have to try to read one before it comes out.

  • The Magic Treehouse #5: Night of the Ninjas
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve checked this book out so many times from the library, but still haven’t read it yet. Now that I have my own copy, I can read it whenever I want!

  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out a couple years ago. When I saw this book in perfect condition at Goodwill, I couldn’t pass it up!

 

What are some of your recent deals on books?