Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kids' Korner: Stage Fright by Meg Cabot

  • Reading level: Ages 8 and up
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Reprint edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545040469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545040464

Genre: Children's Chapter Book - Fiction

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Mrs. Hunter's fourth grade class is putting on a play. But Allie's theatrical hopes are crushed when she's not cast as the princess. Instead, she's cast as the evil queen. But as opening night approaches, Allie learns it's not the size of the part, it's the size of the heart that really matters.

My Thoughts: Allie Finkle is a typical girl and my kids thought she was awesome!! :) Cheyenne is a classmate of Allie's and is a complete brat. As the reader continues reading it's easy to see why. She has no rules and no consequences in her family life. I was able to stop a few times and discuss this with my kids. They ended up thanking me for providing rules and consequences. I thought that was really funny coming from my four and six year old. Cheyenne was a perfect example of the entitlement issues seen in today's children and I strive not to allow that to happen to my children. I am straying.... I just thought this book provided a great learning experience that I did not expect. Each time I had to stop reading my kids were angry at me for several minutes because they wanted to continue reading. They never wanted to stop. hehe! This one was a big hit for my kids!! :) I loved the subtle messages and lessons it had throughout and the fun storyline.

Author:
Meg Cabot is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for both adults and tweens/teens. Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Meg also lived in Grenoble, France and Carmel, California (the setting for her bestselling Mediator series) before moving to New York City after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Indiana University.
After working for ten years as an assistant residence hall director at New York University (an experience from which she occasionally draws inspiration for her Heather Wells mystery series—two new books in the series will be out in 2012 and 2013), Meg wrote the Princess Diaries series, which was made into two hit movies by Disney, sold over 16 million copies, and has been translated into 38 languages.
Meg also wrote the 1-800-Where-R-You? series (which has been reprinted under the title Vanished and was made into the Lifetime series called Missing), as well as numerous other award-winning, best-selling stand-alone books and series, including All-American Girl and Avalon High (on which an original Disney Channel movie was based), and several books told entirely in emails and text messages (Boy Next Door/Boy Meets Girl/Every Boy’s Got One).
Meg’s newest series include the tween hit Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, the YA trilogy Airhead, and Abandon, the first book in a new paranormal series for young adult readers (the sequel, Underworld, will be in US stores in spring 2012). Insatiable, Meg’s first paranormal romance for adult readers, was followed by a sequel, Overbite, in July 2011.
Meg Cabot (her last name rhymes with habit, as in “her books can be habit forming”) currently lives in Key West with her husband and two cats.

This info came from Meg Cabot's website.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

For Purchase:  Stage Fright (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, Book 4)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This guest post is by Heidi Angell, author of Creative Exercises to Inspire and Royal Prince Vince. For more on Heidi, visit her website at http://angellslife.com/

Genre: Mid-grade, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: The Lightning Thief introduces us to Percy Jackson, a young man who would typically be labeled a trouble maker. Percy has bad grades, suffers from ADHD, and has been kicked out of more schools than can be counted. But he has a mother who loves him and tries to assure him that he is worth more than anything to her, no matter what the world and his step-dad, smelly Gabe, think. Come to find out, Percy is pretty valuable. He is a demi-god, or half-blood, and all the trouble he has had is because of his unique gifts bestowed upon him by his father, a Greek god. He finds this out about the time that his mother disappears after being attacked by the minotaur. Then he gets sent on a quest to stop the gods from starting what would amount to the Apocalypse because they act like siblings. Fun stuff.

Review: I actually read Percy Jackson when the first movie was just coming out. This was my fix to fill the void of Harry Potter. I enjoyed it well enough, as it played on one of my oldest loves, Greek Mythology. But I recently re-read it with my kids. That was a hard decision for me. My oldest is ten, my youngest seven. I wasn't sure if they were ready for this. We had only just started reading Harry Potter and that was a bit scary for them. But my eldest was having trouble in school, was getting bullied and was developing a nasty chip on his shoulder. I originally started out reading it with him because he was frustrated how long it was taking to read Harry Potter. (His brother's attention span is shorter, so we are lucky to get through a chapter a night.)

I was nervous, but I needed him to have positive role models. He is a super smart kid, but has had so much pressure put on him to succeed that he has sort of given up in school. It hurts to be teased for being so smart. I thought it would be good for us to bond over this in the afternoons, while the family read HP together at night. Next thing I know poor Harry Potter has been abandoned and both my children are avid for chapter after chapter of Percy Jackson. I liked the book before, but watching my children's reactions has given me a whole new level of appreciation. They cry when Percy loses his mom. They are interrupting at every turn, trying to guess what will happen next. One chapter a night is not enough. And they want to know "why" about every hard issue! It has led to some great discussions!

About the Author:  Rick is an English teacher, who started out writing adult fiction. He wrote the Percy Jackson Story as a bedtime story for his son. There are Seven books in the Percy Jackson Series. Riordan then went on to publish two other wildly popular mid-grade series, The Kane Chronicles (currently on book three), and The Heroes of Olympus (currently on book four). He has won such great literary awards as the Edgar,  the Anthony and the Shamus. To learn more about Rick Riordan and his books, please visit his website.

Rating: **** Four out of five stars!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kids Korner: Funny Things I Heard At The Bus Stop: The Complete Collection by Angela Giroux

  • File Size: 265 KB
  • Print Length: 118 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Red Alien Media (February 29, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007FT5086

Genre: Children's Fiction/Chapter Book

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) As my friends and I walk to the bus stop, we do lots of things to make the walk more fun. We have snowball fights in the winter. We throw acorns at the squirrels. We sing songs. We race to the stop sign. And we tell stories. Lots of stories.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

This guest post is by Heidi Angell, author of Creative Exercises to Inspire and Royal Prince Vince. For more on Heidi, visit her website at http://angellslife.com/

 Genre: Science Fiction

Synposis: This is sort of two stories interwoven, but seemingly separate until the very end. The main story follows a young boy named Rigg who was raised as a trapper by his father. His father is his educator and teaches him much more than what Rigg thinks is important to be a trapper. When his father dies in the forest, Rigg's life is sent on a new journey in which he learns why his father taught him all the lessons he had taught. This part of the tale feels more like fantasy, taking place in the past. Rigg has "special powers" and stumbles upon others who have special powers as well. The world they live in, Garden, is a pre-indsutrial revolutionized society, and he spends a lot of time walking.

The second story being told, follows Ram, a pilot on a starship sent to colonize other worlds. This is a much smaller bit of the story, usually only a page or two at the beginning of some chapters. It seems to have no relevance to Rigg's story and is much more clearly sci-fi in nature.  When the two stories converge, a whole new respect for Card's writing is achieved!

Review: Another brilliant, multifaceted story that Card shares with us. The only thing I didn't like about it was that I started it shortly after reading Lost Gate, hoping that it was a sequel. Sometimes it is not clear through the course of the story when a book is a sequel for Card. Discarding the second story, I really was thinking it might be a sort of prequel to Lost gate. It has nothing to do with Lost Gate. As long as you know that going in, I can't imagine there being any complaints! I now have second books to two series to anticipate!!

Author: Orson Scott Card is a prolific author and college professor. Most famous for writing the Ender series, (which is currently being made into a movie!) he has also created several brilliant fantasy stories including the Alvin Maker Series. The author of over thirty novels, Card is also a professor at Southern Virginia University, has written many articles for several different magazines and newspapers,  writes critiques and offers writing lessons on his website. He lives with his family in Raleigh, NC.  To learn more about Card, visit his official web page at http://www.hatrack.com/index.shtml.

Rating **** four out of five stars