Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets                                                        by Jean Craighead George

Book description from living with a skunk in your closet, a bat in your refrigerator, and a tarantula in your purse!  In this hilarious autobiographical account, Newbery Medal–winning author and acclaimed naturalist Jean Craighead George describes her adventures in a house full of wildlife enthusiasts—and the amazing animals themselves.

My twenty-five cents...Loved this book! It is short stories about some of the different kinds of animals the author had as she raised three children (and 173 wild pets)!!  If you are an animal lover I think you will enjoy these short stories.  Who knows, you might even want to adopt a new kind of pet??!

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold 

Book Description from
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.  But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

My 25 cents...A wonderful story with a determined boy who wants to prove he's responsible by showing his mom he can take care of a baby skunk!  Bat has good days and bad days, just like everyone else, he also happens to be a student with autism. So for Bat, the skunk is more than just a cute little creature. By taking care of the skunk (he calls Thor) things becomes more tolerable, including the every other weekend visits with his dad where things are so different than they are at his mom's house, and at school.  This story is a great reminder that our differences are just what make us unique and that is okay.  (There are more books that have now been written in this same series!)

Distance from Home by Jenn Bishop

Book Description from summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley.
This summer, everything is different. Haley's death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn't want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without Haley, Quinnen's not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher's mound?

My 25 cents...This was a well written story dealing with the pain that comes from losing someone, the hole it can create in the heart and also the courage it can take to overcome that pain. Quinnen has to learn to be stronger than her pain after losing her sister. It's not easy, just like in real life, but the author reminds the reader it can be done.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Desperate Adventures of Zeno & Alya by Jane Kelley
Iowa Children's Choice Nominee 2015-16

Book description from orphaned African grey parrot who can speak 127 words. A girl so sick she has forgotten what it means to try. Fate--and a banana nut muffin--bring them together. Will their shared encounter help them journey through storms inside and out? Will they lose their way, or will they find what really matters?

My 25 cents...This book was a surprise for me, I really enjoyed it! I did not expect too, as I thought it was going to be "too much" fantasy for my liking.  The characters in this story (parrot and girl) both face their own struggles which are huge in their eyes.  Readers will find themselves cheering to get the two together to team up and help one another!  Pleasantly surprised by this story!! I think this book would be a great read-aloud for a class or even a family that shares books aloud for different ages.  

The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Book description from sixth grade, bad things can happen to good kids. Bullies will find your weakness and jump on it. Teachers will say you did something wrong when really you didn't mean to do anything wrong. The kids who joke the loudest can drown out the quieter, nicer kids.
Maverick wants to change all that. One of the last things his father left him was a toy sheriff's badge, back when Maverick was little. Now he likes to carry it around to remind him of his dad -- and also to remind him to make school a better place for everyone . . . even if that's a hard thing to do, especially when his own home life is falling apart.

My 25 cents...The saying—“Be nice to everyone, you never know what struggles they are facing”—TOTALLY applies here. This is a story about bravery on many different levels. Maverick is a student living a difficult home life, and then has to face daily battles at school with peers who have no clue about all he faces. It is a great reminder of what some classmates may be dealing with at home that we may not realize affects them at school.  

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Book description from

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

My 25 cents...This was a difficult story to read.  Not that it had big words or was hard to follow, but the story definitely pulls at your heart!  Ada is kept away from everyone else because she has a twisted foot! ?? Her mother is not a nice person and Ada tries every day to just keep finding the good in each day.  When she meets Susan, who has to take care of her and her sister through wartime, she realizes what she's been missing in a mother.  I hated to put it down as I wanted to know how this story was going to end. I was very happy to learn that there is a sequel to this story too:  The War I Finally Won

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Iowa Teen Award nominees 2018-19

Book description from Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?
My 25 cents...This is the first book in a series.  This one focuses on Ghost (his nickname).  The reader will get a glimpse of why Ghost doesn't seem to make the best choices.  When he meets Coach (but not on purpose!) he has found someone that believes in him and the good person he really is, despite the poor choices he's made.  Especially a great read for those that enjoy sports stories!