Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

Book description from knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind. Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.

My 25 cents...This book was hard for me to get into, but I think that is because it is being told by three different students and I was having a hard time getting to know them until about halfway through the book.  Once I felt like I "knew" the different boys, then the story overtook me!  This story looks at their relationship with their teacher through three different sets of eyes.  As a teacher it made me appreciate how we DO make a difference in certain students' lives.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake 
(Iowa Teen nominee 2016-2017)

Book description from
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha's blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

My 25 cents...I only picked this one up because it was on the Iowa Teen list.(I didn't think that I would like it since it was set in 1871 I was glad that I did though.)  Georgie is a head-strong girl with fierce determination to find her missing sister.  She believes in her heart that dead body is not her sister!  I found this story to be mysterious, as I was anxious to find out not only who the dead body actually was, but also what it was that made Georgie so sure that it wasn't her sister. If you are a mystery person, consider reading this one!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
(Iowa Children's Choice nominee 2016-17)

Book description from
Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this gawky teenager really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

My 25 cents...I really liked this book!  I am not normally a fan of fantasy/sci-fi kinds of books, but this one grabbed me.  I think I liked the thought of going to school with my grandpa?!  What would THAT be like?  Ellie learns a lot of things during this experience, but also have the chance to teach her own grandfather a few things as well!  It left me wondering...will there be another book to carry on the story?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Book description from
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's disliked them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that's the way she likes it. So when she's sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it's only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She's determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn't work out quite as she hoped it would...

My 25 cents...I picked this up after learning that this will was made into a movie in the near future.  I have read other books by this author, but never this one. I thought this was a great story and seemed very "real". Gilly has issues, is difficult to talk to, but who wouldn't having been moved from family to family so many times?! Little does Gilly know, this last family is a good fit even though she is fighting against liking them. I found myself rooting for Gilly to reunite with her bio mom, but also letting the foster mom love her the way she deserved to be loved too!?
Timmy Failure; Mistakes were Made by Stephan Pastis
Book description from
He may be clueless, but the comically self-confident Timmy Failure is CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Now Timmy’s legion of fans are invited to set off on their own path to mastery with the help from Stephan Pastis. Added material includes step-by-step instructions on how to draw Timmy and his impressively lazy business partner, the polar bear Total.

My 25 cents...Timmy is a funny dude!  He is very serious about his detective agency, but is a little "in the dark".  Readers can't  help but root for Timmy as he tries cracking cases that he is hired to solve.  This is the FIRST in a series of 5 books (so far) so plenty of chances to laugh and say "C'mon Timmy, really?!?
I enjoyed this book as a fun break from all of the serious books I'd been reading.  
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
(Iowa Teen nominee 2016-2017)

Book description from Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.   Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child.

My 25 cents...This book is told in verse, which means it's not written in regular chapters, it's considered poetry.  Many people find these to be a "quicker read", even though it is 320 pages!  The author does a  fantastic job of showing us what her life was like growing up in the 60s and 70s.  I found it interesting to compare what my own life was like compared to hers, and was surprised to find many things similar.  If you are doing the 40 book club, this book could easily count as an autobiography OR poetry book!  No wonder it's won so many awards (you can see that by the cover above)!   A Newbery Honor Book and A Coretta Scott King Award Winner
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Book description from and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.  At his grandfather's house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.
Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

My 25 cents...I am a dog lover, so any animal relationship book is high on my list!  I loved this story.  The reader can feel the love  Peter has for  Pax as well as his determination to get him back despite his father's instructions to set him free.  Peter learns some lessons along the way, as does Pax.