Sunday, April 24, 2011

MICHIGAN AVENUE MEDIA BOOK REVIEWS - VIRGINIA GRENIER- book reviewer

04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: The Weaver by Kai Strand
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in March, 2011

The Weaver
By: Kai Strand Published: 2010 ISBN: 978-1-61633-122-1 $12.95 Ages: 9-12 4 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: Kai Strand’s The Weaver is her first mid-grade novel. It is a wonderful book that is a must- read for kids of all ages. The story begins with Mary Wordsmith, who wishes to weave a tale just like her mother. Mary, however, is a typical teenager who has similar vulnerabilities and sensitivities. She wants to be liked and respected. She wants so badly to be like her mother. But story telling doesn’t come easily for her.

In her quest, she meets a blue man who tries to convince her that he will help her achieve her wish of weaving a story just like her mother. Since Mary feels especially vulnerable and experiences the lowest self-esteem she ever had, she allows the little blue man to help her. However, despite his help, Mary’s wish isn’t granted. She feels betrayed and even unhappier than before. And things get increasingly complex for Mary when the blue man keeps appearing after each practice of weaving a story.

Overall thoughts: I was spellbound by this book. I just couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. It is about a topic that most young and older teenagers could easily relate to. In addition, Mary is portrayed as a vulnerable character too, one that most adolescent girls will be able to relate to right away.

Kai’s book is unique in that there are valuable lessons for younger kids and teens of all ages. One of the themes underlying her book is that each of us is special and we should celebrate and accept ourselves for who we are.


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: What Is That Thing? by Kevin McNamee
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Reviewed by Irene S. Roth

Synopsis:
This is a story about a young girl, Jenna, who is trying to come to terms with the arrival of a new baby sister. She has a difficult time adapting to her, and one of the ways that she believes she could help herself is to play a game of astronaut Jenna. Through the little alien, she comes to terms with changing diapers and listening to baby cries.

The story is cute, and kids of all ages will be able to relate to it. Older siblings struggle when they have to share their lives with another little being. And this story shows how kids can come to terms with their new responsibilities when a baby sister or brother comes into the family and they have to help with the chores..

Overall Thoughts:
This is a heart-warming story of how a young child can accept a new member of the family. The illustrations are hilarious and witty. It will keep a child spellbound and captive.

I recommend the book to any child who has younger siblings or is about to accept the arrival of a new sibling. They will be able to laugh and also accept the little being into their lives, and even be very happy and enriched by the new little baby sister or brother.


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Adventures at Walnut Grove by Dana Lehman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing Written by: Dana Lehman Illustrated by: Judy Lehman Lehman Publishing, 2007 ISBN: 13-978-0-9792686-0-1 $15.95 Ages 3-8 Rating: 5 stars Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is a great book about treating others like you'd like to be treated. Sammy was different. He was a squirrel but he had the eyes of a raccoon. Because of this he got teased a lot.

Bucky, one of the animals in the forest, kept calling him raccoon eyes when he tried to play walnut ball. Because of this, he struck out. However, when Bucky got teased himself, he finally learned how much it hurt, and he wowed to never do it again. That is such a great lesson for kids to learn.

Overall Thoughts: Dana's book has many great messages for young kids. She shows that it is wrong to tease others because it really hurts their feelings. In addition, we have to appreciate people for who they are but not their physical appearance. Lastly, she shows that we shouldn't tease others if we don't like to be teased ourselves. Our true friends will love us for who we truly are. We don't need to be something that we're not.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: I DOUBLE Dare You! by Dana Lehman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Synopsis: From the author of Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson about Teasing comes a story about taking responsibility for our own actions.

Silly and Sassy come to Walnut Grove to visit Sammy, one of their cousins. They spend their time playing hide-and-seek, have frog races, and play double dare. All seems to be going well until Silly double dared Bucky to jump off a high bridge, despite the fact that he couldn't swim. Was this a right decision for Bucky to make?

Overall Thoughts: Dana's story shows us the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions. We have to say NO if we're uncertain of things. Just because someone double dares us to do something, it doesn't mean that we should do it. We should decide ourselves when, and if, we're going to do something. This is a great lesson for kids to learn from the earliest of ages.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 3 stars to: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Review by Irene Roth

Synopsis: This is a prehistoric adventure story of a tribal boy, Zan, and his twin brother, Zan-Han. The book spans more than a year in which time Zan goes on a journey to find his lost twin brother who has been captured by a dangerous clan.

While the story is interesting and Zan's story is fascinating to watch, much was packed into these two little books. Thus, there was little time to really properly develop the plot, characters, or allowing the story to naturally unfold.

In addition, there is a bit of imbalance in the reading level versus maturity level of the targeted readership. Although the prose and structure of the book seem simple enough and easy to follow, there are varying degrees in vocabulary and thematic difficulty levels. This can make it a bit confusing for the younger reader.

Lastly, I found the books to be a bit too violent in places for the younger kid as for instance in the graphic slaying of a rival clan member. So, parent supervision is essential for kids in the middle grade age group. It is best to read the book along with your kids than let them read these books alone.

Overall Thoughts: These books will be especially interesting for boys who are 13 years of age and up. These books aren't really suited for younger kids as the main character is a young man and there are really violent aspects to the story. With adult supervision, however, these books can be read at home as well as in traditional school settings.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Nobody Likes Me by Cynthia Dekel
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Reviewed by Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: Dekel's book is about a little girl who feels that no one likes her. No one will give her the time of day or pay any attention to her. When she tries to show her dance moves to her mommy, she is busy. When she shows her painting to her teacher, she doesn't pay attention to her. When she wants to play a game with her friends, they say that she has to wait her turn. Because of these experiences, and others, she felt so alone and unloved. Will her Mom and Dad be able to convince her that she is indeed loved by everyone?

Overall Thoughts: This is a wonderful book with a great message for young kids. Many kids feel that no one is paying attention to them. And because of this, their self-esteem suffers and they feel unloved and sometimes even isolated. This book has a strong message. Dekel shows that all kids are loved and special in their own unique way. This book should be read by kids who feel a bit out of place in their family and school. Many kids will be able to relate to this story. Dekel's message in this book is very uplifting and comforting indeed.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: May the Best Dog Win by Kelly Hashway
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Synopsis:
Dash is a dog that loves his human family and has the perfect life any dog could want until the Super Sweeper 5000 shows up. Dash thinks Sweeper is another dog and is not happy to be sharing his family. It also seems Sweeper gets to run all over the house sucking up leftover food scraps and even gets his own room. Will Dash understand Sweeper isn’t a dog?

Overall thoughts:
I read this story with my two little girls. My youngest (under 2 years old) didn’t really understand the story, but she did love the illustrations by Valerie Bouthyette. She loved the loveable Dash and seeing him express his disappointment in not being able to do what Sweeper was allowed to do like getting up on beds and eating the scraps from under the dining room table.

My soon to be 6 year old, on the other hand, kept laughing at Dash and how he thought the Super Sweeper 5000 was a dog. She also related to how a dog might think Sweeper was a threat. She kept saying, “Taz does that and he looks like that too when you vacuum the house, mom.”

This is a fun story young children will love to read; even if they don’t have a dog. Dash is cute and very friendly in the illustrations. His facial expressions remind me of Snoopy. The words are easy enough for earlier readers to read along aloud with their parents, too.

Links:
Publisher: http://www.futureworld.net
Author website: http://www.kellyhashway.com


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Lily Hates Goodbyes by Jerilyn Marler
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Lily Hates Goodbyes
Author: Jerilyn Marler
Illustrator: Nathan Stoltenberg
ISBN 13 978-1460960707
Retail $6.95 Soft Cover
Rating Five stars
Reviewed by David Broughton

Lily Hates Goodbyes is a special book, originally written as a way to help the real Lily, the author’s granddaughter, explore her feelings and deal with her dad's long military deployments. This little book captures many of the emotions a small child would experience. Jerilyn Marler wrote the book so well that the reader can't help but experience the same emotions. The illustrations are superb and capture the emotions perfectly. About a week before Scott (Daddy) got back, Lily and Geema were talking about Daddy’s return. Lily ran to the bedroom window, blew a kiss to the moon and said, “Good night, Daddy.” Then she smiled at Geema. "I know he heard that. Just like in the book." On the night he returned, when it was time for Lily's bedtime story routine, she took the book to Daddy, he read it to her, and they discussed the feelings the book talked about. At the end, they reenacted the jumping into his arms bit, just like on the docks. Jerilyn says that knowing Lily asked her Daddy to read the book on his first night back was “the culmination of the emotional arc" for her. Lily might say it more simply: Lily loves hellos.