Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010

Autumn is my favorite season and the perfect time for a reading challenge!

This is my 3rd time participating in an event hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days.  I previously participated in Fall Into Reading 2009 and Spring Reading Thing 2010. 

I am really looking forward to Fall Into Reading 2010 - I need a kick in the butt!

The rules are simple:  Make a list of books to read.  Read them.  Review them.  Link them.  Wrap it up.  I have the entire season to complete my list. 

In the Fall Into Reading 2009 I read 26 books. For Spring Reading Thing 2010 I read 42 books, almost doubling my previous attempt.  Let's see how I do this year.

Here are the books I would like to read this Fall:
(I will not include all the picture books, that wouldn't be fair. )

*Books Read but not reviewed in BOLD

Middle Grade (4)
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
The Butler Gets a Break by Kristin Clark Venuti
The Search for Wondla by Tony DeTerlizzi
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee
Because of Mr. Terupt by Bob Buyea

YA (10)
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Torment by Lauren Kate
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Virals by Kathy Riechs
Stork by Wendy Delsol
Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
The Aristobrats by Jennifer Solow
Time Riders by Alex Scarrow
Alpha Dogs by Jennifer Ziegler
Trash by Andy Mulligan
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Dark Devine by Bree Despain

Adult (16)
Room by Emma Donoghue
13, rue Therese: A Novel by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva
Ravens: A Novel by George Dawes Green
Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta
If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now by Claire LaZebnik
Letters to Ethan by Tom McQueen
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson
Mr. Darcy's Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson
The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone
The Professional by Robert B. Parker
Hush by Kate White
The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul
The Deranged Stalker's Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy by Doug Bratton

Total Books on Original List:  31

Books Read So Far:  23

I have been in a reading funk since the end of August, so I am really hoping that, once again, Katrina's Fall Into Reading Challenge will put me back on my path to being the reader that makes people ask me:  HOW DO YOU READ SO MANY BOOKS??

Wish me luck!

Review: Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex by Lisa McClatchy; illustrated by John Manders

Looking for a new book to read to your child's class?  Look no further!

We all loved this book so much that as soon as we finished reading it, I came downstairs to my computer to e-mail the author to let her know how much we enjoyed it!  (Something I don't normally do)

"As her sixth birthday drew near, Erin decided that it was high time to invite a REAL dinosaur to her birthday party." 

Following is Erin's letter to Tyrannosaurus Rex, in which Erin tells him all about the fun things he can do while at her party.  Each page was filled with hilarious scenarios, easy language for a beginning reader, and colorful pictures that will crack you up! The illustrations are what really bring out the humor in this book.  Each time we read it, we find something new and funnier than before.

My favorite page was of the pony riding the dinosaur. 

The boys' favorite page was the very last one...showing the looks on the adults' faces when a T-Rex is at their front door!

What great fun!

Most kids - both boys and girls - go through a dinosaur phase, and whether your kids are in their dinosaur phase or not, they will love this book!  It is full of imagination and silliness that all children would love! 

Whenever we have read a book that we enjoy, one of the first things I think of is who I would give the book to as a gift.  I'm not sure that we're ready to give this one up yet!

About the Book:
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (July 27, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375856080
ISBN-13: 978-0375856082

About the Author:
Lisa McClatchy has loved parties, books, and dinosaurs since she was a little girl!  Lisa has written a number of easy-to-read books for children.  She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, Kevin, and their daughter, Eirann Grace.  She enjoys spending time on her deck, but always keeps an ear out for any loud noises or suspicious shadows - dinosaurs have been known to visit!

About the Illustrator:
John Manders has illustrated numerous children's books, including Clarence the Copy Cat by Patricia Lakin.  John lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Visit him and learn more at

Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex Treasury of Animals and Nature: Vol. II (Know-It-Alls) Eloise's Mother's Day Surprise (Eloise Ready-to-Read) Clarence The Copy Cat

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Book Week: Being a Parent is Hard...

...even when it comes to books.   Let me share a story with you.

When people say they are against banning books, they may think of books like The Bluest Eye, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Catcher in the Rye.  They may think of the readers as their friends, neighbors, or teenage nieces.  However, certain readers require a more gentle approach.  Do I believe in banning books for young children?  No.  But, there should be some adult involvement when young children are choosing books from the library.

What's a parent to do??

A little girl goes into the grammar school library with her Kindergarten class.  In this library, there is a special "Easy" section for children who enjoy picture books and books for beginning readers. 

Many of the children get a thrill over being able to choose ANY book they want from these shelves, and parents and teachers both want to foster a love of reading any way they can.

This little girls grabs a book with a cover she loves - there is a soccer ball on the cover, her favorite sport, and the little girl even has a sister, just like her!  She takes her book up to the librarian for check out, brings the book back to class, and walks passed the teacher to put it in her backpack to bring it home. 

My Big Sister Takes DrugsShe gets home from school, and asks her mom, an avid reader herself and an educator in her own right, to read the book with her.  The mom pulls out the book...entitled My Big Sister Takes Drugs by Judith Vigna.  I should point out that the reading level on My Big Sister Takes Drugs is ages 4 to 8, but the School Library Journal recommends this book for Grades 2 and up.

I should probably also point out that this Kindergartner's big sister is in 2nd grade.  Needless to say, the parents of this particular girl chose not to read the book to her, but were rightfully upset that she had access to a such a book in the first place.

So, what is a parent to do?  What is a school to do?
BAN the book??

No, I'm not saying we should ban this book, and neither were the girl's parents, as I'm sure there are children that would benefit from reading a book like this, but I do believe that there should be a reality check when it comes to young children.  

Parents trust the education of their children to the schools - an education that includes the instruction of the librarian.  When the librarian and the teacher saw this book being checked out by a 5 year old, didn't either of them think that this might not be the right book for her?  Remember that all of her siblings are under the age of 10, and this is a rural area that sees very little of the drug and violence some other inner city cultures deal with on a daily basis.

Now what?

The book has not been banned, it has been moved to the guidance counselor's office.  It is still accessible for children should they be in such a situation, but it is away from the Easy section.  I am very happy with this decision.  Yes, it's there for kids who might need it, but it's keeping it out of the hands of small children, many of whom don't even know what drugs are!  Young children require supervision and guidance. 

In Conclusion

It is Banned Book Week, and being a parent makes this issue very different from when I was a college student.  Nothing has changed me more than a parent has.  I have a new perspective when it comes to children's books.  Don't worry, I will still be the first person in line to defend a book being challenged in a high school or middle school.  Teenagers are ready for ideas outside the safety net provided by mom and dad, if their mom and dad choose to allow it for their own teens.  When we are talking about children under the age of 10, there is a gray area, and I prefer to proceed with the most amount of caution.

100 Best Books for Children: A Parent's Guide to Making the Right Choices for Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children: 3rd Edition Revised and Updated 

Review: The Butt Book: Written by Artie Bennett, Illustrated by Mike Lester

Celebrate the hieny!  Applaud the tushie!

Did we enjoy The Butt Book?  I have two boys, need I say more?

Well, maybe I should, considering this is a review.  Forgive me if I giggle.  The Butt Book is a picture book that kids, especially boys, will love.  When I asked The 5 Year Old if he wanted to read The Butt Book, his answer was a resounding, "YES!" 

We were entertained, seeing all the different kinds of butts (big elephant butts and tall giraffe butts) and things butts can do (butts sit and butts boogie).  We also learned the irreplaceable value of butts:  without a butt, one could not sit on a bicycle! 

As much as we moms don't always like to admit it, boys love butts, farts, burps, slime, dirt, bugs, and anything that smells or sounds funny.  If this is what makes boys laugh, there should be more books like this one!  Sure, we would all be happy if our children wanted to learn about the History of the World, and Rocks and Minerals, but they find butts funny.  I learned a long time ago not to get uptight about such subject matter; as long as my boys are reading, I'm a happy and proud parent!  First comes The Butt Book, next comes Captain Underpants or The Day My Butt Went Psycho...and, sure enough, we have graduated to Harry Potter.  Next, War and Peace.  See?  It all works out.  Get them loving books first, then curtail the butt jokes later...or not.  I'm still trying to work on my husband, who insists that farts are the funniest thing.  **sigh** 

Let me assure those skeptics out there.  The Butt Book is funny without being vulgar.  There are no fart jokes!  If butts could be cute, Artie Bennett and Mike Lester created a book just for the cute butts of the world.  My son especially liked the Eagle's flying butt.  The rhyming was engaging and the illustrations were bright and cheerful!  The Butt Book is a winner with me and, more importantly, The 5 Year Old! 

I couldn't have said it better than the Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz:

   "[The Butt Book] is fun for fun's sake...and that's what reading should always be about!"

Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

About the Book:
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (December 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599903113
ISBN-13: 978-1599903118

About the Author:
Artie Bennett is the executive copy editor for Random House Children's Books and he writes a little on the side (but not on the backside!). He's the co-author of 101 Ways to Say Vomit, for those who enjoy a good "gag," and the author of The Dinosaur Joke Book: A Compendium of Pre-Hysteric Puns. He enjoys the three B's: birdwatching, botanizing, and bike riding. He's been butt-besotted since stumbling upon the word "callipygian" at age three. He lives with his wife, Leah, in the bowels of Brooklyn.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

This is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren, who was inspired by an idea from Pop Culture Junkie. The idea is to share books I receive for review, books I purchase and books I borrow from the library, as well as find out what other readers are receiving, purchasing and borrowing!

This goes hand in hand with the It's Monday, What Are You Reading? meme. Now, not only will you see what I'm reading, but what books are waiting on my bookshelf too.

Ages 5-9/ Picture Books                  

Dust Devil   Gigi in the Big City Six Crows The Fantastic 5 & 10¢ Store: A Rebus Adventure

Ages 6 and Up

Magic Tree House Research Guide #22: Rags and Riches: Kids in the Time of Charles Dickens: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion

Ages 10-12

Edge Chronicles 10: The Immortals (The Edge Chronicles)

Young Adult


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week 2010 (Sept 25 - Oct 2)

Celebrating the Freedom To Read!

It's Banned Book Week 2010.  What is on your reading list?

Below are two lists of the most frequently challenged books - I have highlighted the books I have read in purple. What books have you read?


Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009
Out of 460 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

ttyl (Talk to You Later-Internet Girls)1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition4.To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

The Chocolate War (Readers Circle)10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Top 20 Most Challenged/Banned Classics:

The Great Gatsby (First Edition Facsimile) (The First Edition Library)1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Beloved (Paperback)6. Ulysses by James Joyce

7. Beloved by Toni Morrison

8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

9. 1984 by George Orwell

10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Charlotte's Web11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov

12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Brave New World16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

17. Animal Farm by George Orwell

18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Other commonly banned and challenged books:
Gossip Girl #1: A Novel (Gossip Girl Series) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) The Kite Runner Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (The Ignatius Critical Editions) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Forever . . .The Bluest Eye (Vintage International)The New Captain Underpants Collection (Books 1-5)Bridge to TerabithiaFallen Angels

Kids Right To Read Project (KRRP)
Simon and Schuster
American Library Association (ALA)
Library Bill of Rights
National Coalition of Teachers of English
PEN American Center - Right to Write
List of Challenges - prepare yourself 
National Coalition Against Censorship
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