Posted tagged ‘Girl Power’

LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE

December 6, 2012

little blogThe “little house” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were my favorites when I was in grade school.  My best friend and I used to play in the woods behind our houses, pretending we were Laura and Mary.  When I saw this book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!  I read it last weekend and loved it.

Genevieve (Gen for short) and her family are spending the summer at Camp Frontier, with 4 other families.  They must give up their cell phones, ipods, and modern clothes and conveniences so that they can live an authentic 1890’s life.  That means eating only what they can grow (lots of beans!), using an outhouse, wearing heavy clothes and a bonnet in the sweltering heat, learning to milk a cow, and spending an entire day each Monday washing the family’s clothes in a tin washtub.    The entire family is a little overwhelmed with the changes.  Things start looking up for Gen when she becomes interested in the boy at the farm next door AND when she starts texting her friends back home on the cell phone she sneaked in to the Camp.  For older students who might wonder what it would be like to live in the “old days”, this is a fascinating, fun, and suspenseful  read.

MIA’S BOOK SHOUT OUT

January 4, 2012

Introducing Mia, one of Mrs. Conrad’s awesome fifth grade readers, who is going to start sharing her book reviews on this blog.  Her posts will be called “Mia’s Book Shout Out.”  Mia loves to read and share her enthusiasm with others, so here’s her first post!  Thanks, Mia.

 

“The undiscovered series in the “M” section”

I know that this book is already on the library shelves, but this is a truly amazing series that nobody reads very often.  Although the book is very similar to the familiar book CADDIE WOODLAWN, readers tend to overlook this book by Kerry Madden and zoom by it to Wendy Mass, who is a “hot” writer.  So if you need a book, check out the “M” section in the library.

Livy Two is the second oldest out of nine siblings.  She has a banjo- playing Daddy and a hardworking mother.  Livy Two’s sister Gentle’s eyes aren’t so good, but that’s just what Livy Two’s mother says.  It was so amazing for me to read about this family living in 1956 with the newly invented telephone and tv.  Also, reading about how Livy’s family lives with barely enough food to feed the family and a father with no consistent job made me think of how lucky I am.  Maggie Valley, where the book takes place, is very similar to Gilead , Maine – a very rural village with just a few houses, a church, school, and lending library truck that travels all over the Smoky Mountains.

Will Livy find out what’s wrong with Gentle’s eyes, and what will that lead to?  Gentle’s Holler is a thrilling story of money worries and watching three generations in a  family learn to live together and deal with all their problems.  And, if you like this book, check out the other two, LOUISIANA’S SONG and JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

December 2, 2011

Before winter and the Christmas season really set in, I want to tell you about the greatest book I read last month, Wildwood.  Set in the real city of Seattle and the fictional “wildwood” that is located across the river from Seattle, it is full of adventure, danger, colorful characters, and nail-biting suspense.  There are echoes of the “Narnia” books, but the author has put his own personal stamp on it and made it original.  There are beautiful pictures throughout the book, drawn by the author’s very talented wife.

The main character is Pru, a young girl who loses her nearly one-year-old brother one day when she’s babysitting.  One minute he’s sleeping in the little red wagon, and the next he gets carried away by crows! Very disturbing, but of course she sets out to find him, and of course the crows have taken him to Wildwood, which is the mysterious forbidden area across the river from Pru’s city. Children have been taught that it is a dangerous, uncivilized land, but Pru is a daring and loyal sister who will stop at nothing to get her brother back. What will she find when she gets there? Will she succeed in finding her brother, and why would crows carry him away in the first place? Read this beautifully descriptive fantasy if you are looking for a challenging and rewarding reading experience.

TRUE (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

September 16, 2011

Delly Pattison is always looking for adventure.  She has  a fun, loving family and the most colorful, invented vocabulary ever.  But she also gets into trouble.  A LOT.  When even her mother is about to give up on her, Delly gets some help from her very mature younger brother and a newcomer to town, Ferris Boyd.  Ferris doesn’t talk, and Delly is fascinated enough to stop her troublemaking and befriend Ferris.  Can a troublemaker find the good in herself?  What is Ferris’s secret?  This book is full of believable characters, warm family moments,  and lessons about friendship that make the difficult secret, when it comes out, easier to bear.

NEW BOOKS FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR

September 12, 2011

School is well underway, and it’s about time I shared some of the new books in the library collection that I read this summer.  I’m really excited about a lot of them, but I will start with my favorite.

How would you like to be the only girl in town?!  In THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA by Jennifer Holm, May Amelia is THE ONLY GIRL in her small farming community in Washington State.   And she has seven brothers!  Holm continues the story of this spunky, strong-willed girl and her family whom we first met in OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA (a 2002 Newbery Honor book).  The year is 1900 and life is hard for these  pioneers, who are mainly Finnish immigrants struggling to make it in their new country.  You will get a strong sense of what life was like in this time period: the hardships of farming, the danger of working in the lumber mill, the desperation of leaving home to start over in a new country.  If you think historical fiction is boring, this book is NOT:  May Amelia’s personality jumps off the page and she has a humorous way of dealing with almost everything.

ELVIS AND OLIVE by Stephanie Watson

June 22, 2011

I sat in the backyard yesterday and read this fun tale of an unusual friendship. Natalie is “perfect” and has  a nice, loving family, while Annie is the new “tough” girl who just moved in with her rather uncaring uncle. The girls meet in the first days of summer vacation and give each other secret names, Elvis and Olive, and begin to spy on the neighborhood. At first Annie (Elvis) reminded me a bit of Pippi Longstocking, with her outlandish stories (lies) and absent parents, but she lacks Pippi’s sweet and funny essence. In fact, there were a few times at the beginning of this book where I almost stopped reading, because I wasn’t sure I liked Elvis and what she was getting Olive to do. I’m glad I kept reading, though,  because their neighborhood spy mission ended in a very satisfying way, and I thought the author did a very good job of describing a street full of people that I would love to know. For older elementary school girls, this book will make you think about family, friendship, and how to treat people. There’s even a tiny bit of romance!

TUNNELS!

May 31, 2011

As I was finishing up PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder last night, I realized it was the fourth book I’ve read this spring that features a tunnel  as an important part of the story.   That got me thinking about a blog post, so here we go:

PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder is about a ten-year-old girl whose life changes in very big ways when her father quits his job and the family  leaves their mansion and their wealthy lifestyle in the city for the little town of Thrush Junction, Tennessee.  She has never had a friend before, or an adventure;  and suddenly she is surrounded by unusual characters and situations.  At the end of the book she finds herself in a TUNNEL, searching for the legendary hidden treasure….will she find it?  Will she stay in Tennessee or return to New York?  This is a great summer read with a slightly “old fashioned” feel.

THE TUNNEL OF HUGSY GOODE by Eleanor Estes

This book is set in New York in the 1970’s and features a neighborhood full of kids of all ages who have fun without video games (not invented yet!) or television.  If you are wondering how that is possible, check it out and read all about the boys who discover a TUNNEL running under their street.  What do they do there? And what on earth does the RACCOON have to do with it all?!

F IS FOR FREEDOM BY Roni Schotter

This one is more serious and historical.  Set in Vermont in the late 1800’s, it deals with a family who helps aother family of runaway slaves reach freedom in Canada.   The ending is very suspenseful, as  Amanda, the imaginative young daughter, has the opportunity to save the day because she knows of a TUNNEL that may keep the runaways safe from the slave catchers.  Find out if she is successful by reading this enjoyable, exciting historical fiction book.

THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLINS by George MacDonald

A fantasy classic that has been loved for 150 years,  this book tells the story of Irene, a princess, and her friend Curdie who works in the mines.  There is a lot of exploration of the TUNNELS in the nearby mountain, tunnels where Curdie and his fellow miners make their living and which just happen to be populated by some pretty gruesome goblins with a plan that involves Irene.  This book has one of the most interesting grandmothers that I have ever had the pleasure to read about in a children’s book.  Check it out and see what an important role  Irene’s lovely, magical grandmother plays in this exciting adventure.

New chapter books added recently

March 15, 2011

Here are some new chapter books recently added to the CPS library collection that I have read and highly recommend:

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

A 12-year-old New York City  girl is reluctantly spending the summer in Vermont with her nature-loving family.   After an argument with her friend, she decides to hike 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her dog.  Her journey is both physical and emotional, as she has plenty of time to think about her life along the way.

Out of my mind by Sharon Draper

Born with cerebral palsy, 10-year-old Melody has never said a word.  She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body.  What happens when she starts to be included in “normal” classes – will the other fifth graders accept her?  Will they understand she is actually the smartest student in the school?  Read this moving novel to find out how Melody finds her “voice”. 

The year money grew on trees by Aaron R. Hawkins

A young teenage boy and his siblings spend the summer running an apple orchard with no adult assistance, because an elderly neighbor has promised to GIVE it to them if they can make a success of it.  An interesting look at family, hard work, determination, and the pride that kids feel when they are working toward a goal.  Suspenseful and inspiring!

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Seven fifth graders in Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not necessarily from their textbooks, with an inspiring new teacher who really understands them and is always on their side.  Short chapters told in the different students’ distinct voices give the reader many perspectives on the events of the school year, including the accident that teaches them the most important lesson of all.

Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

Set in England in the winter of 1347, this suspenseful and spooky story  is about fourteen-year-old William, whose family perished in a fire 18 months earlier, and who now works as a servant at the local monastery in exchange for his room and board.  While gathering firewood  in the forest,  he discovers a creature – a hobgoblin – caught in a trap and saves its life.  As the hob recovers from his wounds, Will encounters a mystery that shakes him to his core.  This book’s fascinating attention to detail draws the reader deeply into the story, and you get a real sense of life in medieval times.

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

March 6, 2011

Wow.  I just finished reading this year’s Newbery Award Winner and I LOVED it.  Set in Kansas in 1936, the story contains flashbacks to 1918 as 12-year-old Abilene tries to piece together the story of her father’s life.  The reader of this beautifully written novel will learn about some interesting aspects of American history:  the Depression, immigration, Prohibition, orphan trains, the KKK, and World War I.  All of these topics are woven expertly into the story of Abilene’s “summer of discovery”.  This book has humor, sorrow, mystery, and excitement. If you’re up for a challenging but extremely satisfying and unusual story, check out this new addition to the CPS Library.

Touchblue by Cynthia Lord

October 18, 2010

This is a wonderful MAINE story!   You can practically smell the salt air and hear the seagulls  crying when the author, a Maine resident,  describes the main character going out in the lobster boat with her father.

Tess is a strong 11-year-old  girl who loves her family and her island way of life.  Her  small  island has a one-room schoolhouse that is in danger of closing because there aren’t enough students.  Some families on the  island decide to take in foster children to add to the school population.  Tess’s family takes a chance on Aaron, a 13-year-old boy who has been in a few different foster homes because his mother hasn’t been able to take care of him since he was five.  Tess goes out on a limb for Aaron, trying to help him feel at home.  Will he stay?  Will the school close? Read this hopeful book about what it means to belong.

*For those of you who have read Seal Island School by Susan Bartlett, here’s another look at living on a Maine island.