Monday, September 15, 2014

Snoring Beauty

Snoring Beauty
by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrated by Jane Manning
Snoring Beauty

Genre: Picture Book, Fractured Fairy Tale

Synopsis: Snoring Beauty is a sweetly hilarious spin on the classic fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty." Written in bouncy rhymed verse perfect for reading aloud, this whimsical reimagining from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is sure to appeal to children and parents alike.

Tucked in his little bed inside the castle walls, Mouse is eager to get a good night's sleep before his wedding tomorrow. But just as he begins to drift off, he's awoken by a tremendous roar. SNOOOOGA-SNOOOOOM! KER-SCHUPPP! Sleeping Beauty is snoring . . . again! When the handsome Prince Max arrives, Mouse thinks he's found the perfect scheme: He'll convince the prince to kiss Beauty and wake her up! But when Prince Max learns that Beauty is the one making such monstrous noises, will he still want to kiss her . . . or will he run away from the noisy princess, leaving her snoring for another hundred years?

Review:  Another fun fractured fairy tale narrated by the mouse who shares Sleeping Beauty's castle.  The rhyme scheme and meter are catchy, but I got irritated by the unusual snoring sound effects that were required to keep the reading going.  Who ever heard of a snore like Snooga Snoom?  I read it entertainingly the first time, but on subsequent re-readings, I've been irritated by having to make the snoring noises so loud and crazy. Megan especially loves this book, probably because of the snoring noises and the little funny bit at the end.

Rating:  4 stars

Little Roja Riding Hood

Little Roja Riding Hood
by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Susan Guevara
Little Roja Riding Hood

Genre: Picture Book, Fractured Fairy Tale

Synopsis: While Roja picks flowers on the way to her grandma's, a mean wolf sneaks away with her cape to surprise Abuelita. But Grandma's no fool and Roja's no ordinary chica. They send that hungry lobo packing with a caliente surprise!

This sassy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood has accessible Spanish rhymes and fresh illustrations, with hip cultural details throughout.

Review:  This was a fun book to read because it introduces Spanish words while the majority of the book is in English.  The rhyme scheme works well, for the most part, making this an easy book to read - as long as you can pronounce the Spanish words!  After reading this book to Megan last week, Aunt Julie approved.  I liked that Little Roja solved the problem of the wolf creatively on her own.  Fun illustrations, too.

Rating:  4 stars

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers
by Barry Lyga

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery

Synopsis: It was a beautiful day.  It was a beautiful filed.  Except for the body.

Jazz is a likable teenager.  A charmer, some might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Da, "Take Your Son to Work Day" was year-round.  Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could-from the crimial's point of view.

Andnow, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are pioling up in the sleepy town of Lobo's Nod.  Again.

In an effort to porove murder doesn't run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer.  But Jazz has a secret-could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
From the book jacket

Review:  This book was quite intriguing in a gruesome sort of way.  Jazz looked at murders like they were everyday occurences and therefore we has the reader also had to view them that way which was quite hard to do if you are at all squeamish about blood and guts.  But this book was still enjoyable as you are trying to figure out who the killer is and if Jazz is going to become a victim.  There were parts of the story that didn't seem to flow well and it seemed like information was left out.  Was I supposed to know the identity of the killer?  What happened after the story finished?  I know there is a second book but from the descrption it may not deal with this story at all but just be about Jazz hunting another killer.  There were loose ends that were not tied up.  I am anxious to read the next book because Jazz was a fun character although he did have some quirks.  While this book is a mystery there was some humor in it which I think was a good idea or else the book may have been a little too serious.

Rating: 4 stars

Saturday, September 13, 2014




Genre: Fiction

Summary (from the publisher):  Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up until now been invisible to the father who rapes her and the mother who batters her and to the authorities who dismiss her as just one more of Harlem's casualties. But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as she learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it truly her own for the first time.

Review:   I am completely torn about this book.  On one hand, I hated reading this book; it's written from the point of view of an uneducated black girl from Harlem in the 1980s, which means the spelling, grammar and basic sentence structure are completely nonexistent, and the vulgarities are prevalent.  More importantly, Precious is sexually, physically and emotionally abused by her parents, and she is extremely descriptive (in a matter of fact way) about the abuse.  The author is using Precious' voice, I get it, but it was hard to read.

Everything about this book is disturbing.  But the message that Precious, with the help of a teacher, finds a way to pull herself out of the hell she's living in, get an education and raise her child provided a sense of hope.

Why the mediocre rating?  Well, I would say that this is a powerful book, but not one I personally enjoyed reading.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lady Lollipop

Lady Lollipop
by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by Jill Barton

Genre: Chapter book

Synopsis: Lollipop is no ordinary pig.  According to her young trainer, Johnny Skinner, she's the smartest pig in the entire kingdom.  When people stare into Lollipop's bright, intelligent eyes, it somehow changes them for the better.  But will Lollipop be able to win over the spoiled Princess Penelope-and her not-so-pig-friendly parents, the King and Queen?
from the book jacket

Natalie's Review: I liked the book because it has a pig in it.  I like pigs and stories about pigs.  I like that the pig was called Lady Lollipop like a candy, it is silly.  The boy is nice and he trained the pig.  He trained to pig to poop by saying "busy."  That was silly.  I liked the pictures.  There were a lot of them.  I liked the whole book.

Becky's review:  This book was pretty simplistic but an easy read aloud book for young children.  The book has plenty of pictures to keep young kids entertained while reading.  There is some old fashioned language in this book which made me think the book was written a while ago (like the 1940s) but this book was written much more recently!  The language might need to be clarified for kids.  At first the main characters are not very likable, Princess Penelope is a spoiled brat and the King and Queen don't do anything about it.  But luckily all the characters get better.  It wasn't the most exciting children's book that I have read but if it entertains my 5 year old, then the book is fine with me!

Natalie's Rating: 5 stars

One Hundred Names

One Hundred Names
by Cecelia Ahern

Genre: Women's Fiction

Synopsis:  Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan's career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss.  Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying.  At her mentor's bedside, Kitty asks her, "What is the one story you always wanted to write?"

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance's office-a list of one hundred names-with no notes or explanation.  But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence.  Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection.  Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance's life...and starts to understand her own.

Review: I was quite intrigued by the premise of this story.  I HAD to know how these people were connected together!  As I started reading, I was slightly turned off to the novel because of the writing style.  It was not well written.  The book was full of full page paragraphs that just rambled on about descriptions of things or people that didn't matter and those paragraphs would be in between pertinent events.  It just didn't flow and in fact, it interrupted the storyline.  As I kept reading, the writing either got better or I was able to ignore it and was swept away by the story of the people that Kitty met.  I really enjoyed the characters she met as part of her story and how she came to care for all of them.  If I could rate this story with two ratings, I would give it a 4 for the story (there were parts of the story that just didn't seem to connect and some parts that seemed unnecessary) and a 2 for the writing.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Annie and Simon

Annie and Simon
Catharine O'Neill

Annie and Simon: Candlewick Sparks

Genre: Early Chapter Book

Summary (from the publisher):  A chatty little girl and her patient older brother share an easy bond in a charming early chapter book filled with warmth and wry humor.

Annie and Simon: little sister and big, big brother. Annie likes to talk — a lot — about what she’s going to be when she grows up, about the clouds and rain and umbrellas, about picnics in the park and meteors, about loons and canoes and turtles. And Simon is a very good listener. He knows a lot about the stars and the weather, how to fix bee stings, and where to look for loons. He knows a lot about being the kind of big brother that keeps a little sister smiling. Whether they are poking around the garden or paddling through a marsh, curious Annie and patient Simon are siblings who are clearly happy in each other’s company.

Review by Amelia:  This book is pretty good.  It's about a girl named Annie and a boy named Simon.  There are four chapters and each chapter is a different story.  I liked that they were talking about meteors in one chapter and it was funny when Annie did her brother Simon's hair because his hair looked crazy.  I liked that there were a lot of pictures and that the pictures were colorful instead of only black and white and grey like most chapter books.  There's only one thing that I didn't like - that Annie got stung by a bee.

Review by Marcie: This is a cute little book about an imaginative girl who loves to hang out with her responsible older brother.  I would classify it as an early chapter book, although some of the words might be tricky for early readers.  It has a lot of colorful pictures, and not a huge amount of text.  This would be a good read-aloud for a child who is starting to be interested in listening to chapter books; an adult could easily read this book in one sitting before bed time.  

Rating by Amelia: 3 stars (she was anxious to start reading a different book, but I am making her read books of my choice to branch out)