Pairs on Ice

IMG_1546A MUST for the skating set!

Pairs on Ice, by Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt, tells the story of Jamie Bartlett, 12, as she advances in figure skating. Jamie’s dream is to compete in the Olympics. To accomplish this, she needs to make some changes. Unfortunately these changes include a new partner. As if that’s not enough, her relationship with her mom is not the best, her dad is getting remarried, and she’ll now have a younger brother as well as a stepmom. It’s a lot to handle–on and off the ice!

With Pairs on Ice, Vollstadt has written a middle grade novel that has fully developed characters dealing with realistic situations. She’s used her experience as an ice skating mom to bring the emotional side of competition alive in her book. Jamie is a likable kid. We want her to do well. When she stumbles or faces an obstacle, we feel her disappointment. When life gives her a bit too much to handle, we share her struggle. Most of all, we want to see her through to the end.

Vollstadt is a writer with many published titles to her name. Pairs on Ice is a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Award Competition. It has been featured on PinkSkate blog, as well as Goodreads.

Liz is a friend, as well as an outstanding writer and friend. Don’t take my word for it. See what the reviewers have to say!

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Hungry Caterpillar Anniversary

The Very Hungry Caterpillar  celebrates its 45th anniversary today.

Here’s a charming interview with Eric Carle on CBS.


Diary of a Part-Time Indian

IndianTITLE: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
AUTHOR: Sherman Alexie
QUICK RECAP: Native American Arnold “Junior” Spirit is 14 years old when he decides to get off the rez. At his age, this means attending the all-white school in town. The people on his reservation consider him a traitor. The people in town aren’t thrilled to have him. With a foot in both worlds, Junior struggles to create an identity for himself that is true to who he is – especially difficult since he’s not quite sure of this himself.

MY REVIEW: It’s rare that I rave about an award-winning contemporary novel for kids. Sometimes I wonder if the panels who give the awards have actually spent time with actual kids – but I digress. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie deserves every one of the awards and accolades it has received. The book is moving, engrossing, and engaging. The kids I’ve read this book with range from grades 6-11. Each has found something that resonates with him/her. This is not a stereotypical fish-out-of-water or trite triumph-over-adversity story. This is a moving look at one boy’s struggle. The writing is amazing, as are the cartoons throughout.

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW: Starred Review. Grade 7–10—Exploring Indian identity, both self and tribal, Alexie’s first young adult novel is a semiautobiographical chronicle of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian from Wellpinit, WA. The bright 14-year-old was born with water on the brain, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He says, “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one’s community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of the protagonist’s grandmother, dog, and older sister would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which Junior faces the world. The many characters, on and off the rez, with whom he has dealings are portrayed with compassion and verve, particularly the adults in his extended family. Forney’s simple pencil cartoons fit perfectly within the story and reflect the burgeoning artist within Junior. Reluctant readers can even skim the pictures and construct their own story based exclusively on Forney’s illustrations. The teen’s determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie’s tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library

LINKS: There are discussion questions at the back of the book, Buy the Book

Reading Journals

StackBooks_s A reading journal is a way to keep track of the books you’ve read. Some reading journals also include a section for books you hear about and would like to read in the future. In your reading journal, you record the basic information about a book – things like the author, title, genre… You also include your thoughts about the book. You can rate the book and include a synopsis if you’d like. If your teacher has specific things you need to include about your summer reading, a reading journal is the perfect place to do that.

The simplest reading journal is a spiral notebook. You can decorate the cover if you’d like to jazz it up. You could use different colored ink for each book you write about. You can also print out images that go with the book – think book cover or setting or characters – and glue them in your book, too. If a spiral notebook isn’t your thing, you can use a looseleaf notebook and decorate that. The main thing is to make it your own. To make it something you’re proud of and look forward to working on each time you read a new book. Continue reading

The Sisters Club

TheSistersClubTITLE: The Sisters Club
AUTHOR: Megan McDonald
SERIES: The Sisters Club
QUICK RECAP: Stevie is the monkey-in-the-middle, the midlife crisis in a long life, the intermission in a really good play… In short, Stevie is the middle sister. She’s the one who came up with the idea for a Sisters Club. And she is also, her father suggests and she comes to appreciate, the cream in the Oreo, the peanut butter in the sandwich, the glue that holds it all together… When she has the chance to step up and save the day, she does. The result is an even tighter bond between the three sisters.
MY THOUGHTS: The sisters in this book are nice people. They have arguments and disagree, but they are not viscous. The parents are involved and act as parents. In short, this is a very nice book about getting along.
OTHER BOOKS by Megan McDonald: The Judy Moody books, The Stink books, American Girl Julie books,
LINKS: Buy the books on Amazon

Frog and Toad

Frog Toad FriendsTITLE: Frog and Toad Are Friends
AUTHOR: Arnold Lobel
SERIES: Frog and Toad
QUICK RECAP: Frog and Toad are opposites in many ways. Frog is more relaxed and outgoing. Toad is a bit grouchy and serious. That doesn’t keep them from  being the best of friends with lots of funny adventures.
MORE INFO: My absolute favorite story is “Ice Cream,” in Frog and Toad All Year. It makes me laugh every time I read it. The KidWrite kids love it, too!
OTHER BOOKS IN SERIES: Frog and Toad Together, Frog and Toad All Year, Days with Frog and Toad
LINKS: Buy the books on Amazon

Ivy and Bean

Ivy and BeanTITLE: Ivy and Bean
AUTHOR: Annie Barrows
ILLUSTRATOR: Sophie Blackall
SERIES: Ivy and Bean
QUICK RECAP: Ivy and Bean, both 7 years old, are sure they won’t be friends. They’re just too opposite. Ivy likes to read big books. Bean likes to run and scream and fall out of trees. Then Bean has problems with her big sister Nancy. Ivy comes to the rescue. Along the way, the two discover they are going to be forever friends.
LINKS:  Activities, Stuff, Chronicle Books, Reviews/AwardsBuy The Books On Amazon

Why Kids Love Series

StackBooks_sKids consider reading an investment. It makes sense if you think about it. Reading a book takes time, imagination, and brain space. There are a lot of activities competing for these resources. For kids, it only makes sense that if they take the time to meet and know some likeable characters, they’ll want to spend time with them in the future. Here are some of their top reasons: Continue reading

Kids: Summer Challenge

It’s nearly the start of summer vacation. Many of you have summer reading assignments you’re dreading already. That’s not a great way to start your weeks of fun in the sun. How about looking at your summer reading in a new way?

Some of you love to read. You’ll grab a book and curl up in a corner for hours. For you, the challenge is not to read. Your challenge is to find books you love.

Some of you consider reading a form of punishment. It’s bad enough you have to read during the school year – but during summer break, too? It just doesn’t seem fair.

The challenge?

Continue reading

And Then It’s Spring

Spring CoverTITLE: and then it’s spring
AUTHOR: Julie Fogliano
QUICK RECAP: This picture book tells the tale of a young boy who is aching for spring. He decides to plant some seeds. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Continue reading