Thursday, October 1, 2009

Six Great Books

After the Ball by Barb Greenberg
Rose Path Press
Source: Review copy from publisher

Women everywhere will be able to identify with this simple yet elegant book. We grow up believing that we will have a “happily ever after” ending to our lives only to be shocked when it doesn’t happen. This is a false illusion we create based on someone else’s story. We must create our own happy ending. We are shown through the change in direction both Cinderella and Snow White take that we can empower ourselves to make changes. We can give ourselves permission to grieve and get angry with wht we have lost as long as we remain strong and true to ourselves. I wish this book had been around when I went through my divorce eighteen yea rs ago. It took me awhile to gain this knowledge and only after I had empowered myself did my true prince come along. I realized like the princesses in the story that I didn’t need to be rescued.

The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties
Toon Tellegen
Boxer Books, 2009
Pages: 156
Source: Picnic Basket review copy

I know I am probably in the minority here but I rather enjoyed this little book. The illustrations were simple and beautiful. The stories at times had to be re-read because they have been translated. The way the story is developed is so different from the way American writers write. I felt like I was sitting in a proper English school listening to a tale. Some of the words were definately too difficult for younger children. My 8th graders didn't understand they writing because they seemed almost unfinished. Having said that let me say the following: My grand-daughter came to visit on the day I was reading this book. She will let me read anything to her, cereal boxes, menues, you get the idea. She popped up on the couch and asked me to read the story I was on "The Set Table". As I finshed I prepared to talk to her about the story, she is only 3 1/2 years old. Before I could say anything she asked me if the dragonfly was shy? I asked her why she thought he was shy and she said, he didn't eat with the ant. Now I know that my grand-daughter is not like many. She has been using words like "plethora", etc. for over a year. But if she could get that from the one story it makes me wonder if all it takes is reading to our children from the time they are born and talking to them about the stories before they can even talk to give them the head start on books like this? I would give this book a 4 out of 5. I have a friend at school who reads things like this to her daughter and I will pass it on to her. I know she and her daughter will find it as charming as I did.

Timescape by Robert Liparulo
Thomas Nelson, 2009
Pages: 305
Source: My purchase

Timescape is the fourth book in the Dreamhouse Kings series. In previous books they have found the real reason they moved into the house, lost their mother into one of the portals, come face to face with Taksidian and man from another time. By the time we get to the fourth book the family has taken things in a different direction. They are still searching for their mother. However, knowing that Taksidian has tried everything to get them out of the house they are taking no chances. They keep hearing intruders upstairs. They have decided to go after Taksidian instead of waiting for him to come to them. This book had one of the best endings of the four books. I can't wait until the fifth book comes out. My students have been devouring them. They are keeping them checked out with a list of who gets them next.

Chin and the Magic Stones: Becoming Guardians by L.J. Salazar, 2009
Pages 108
Source: Review copy from publisher

Chin is a young boy who seems a little insecure in the beginning of the book. His father is teaching him to visualize things to make it happen. Visualization is something that will pay a prominent role in his journey to combat negative thoughts. Chin loves to collect stones. One day he finds a beautiful blue stone that glows and vibrates in his hand. By holding the stone he finds he can speak with his dog Eagle, as well as other animals. He learns the stone is magic and it is just oneof many he will acquire on his quest. The language in this book was simple. The plot was strong enough to keep me interested. I believe that my students will enjoy this book and I look forward to the next one in the series.
How to Catch and Keep a Vampire by Diana Laurence
Sellers Publishing, Inc., 2009
Pages: 160
Source: Review copy from publisher

Have you grown up fascinated with vampires? Were you led to believe that all vampires were evil, and out to kill you, or turn you into one of them? Have you got it all wrong. Diana Laurence in her book, How to Catch and Keep a Vampire gives you the ins and outs of finding the right vampire to meet your taste (pun intended). She takes you step by step through the process of identifying vampires to finding the right one , be it a subdued vampire to the most evil of them. She has taken it upon herself to give away the secrets that they hold so dear. She has taken the myths and given us the facts. Through case studies we can learn what to expect and what to avoid. This is a must read for anyone who is fascinated with vampires. The book is full of humor. You choose how seriously you want to take it.

Saved By Grace by Sonya M. Buchanan
Xulon Press, 2009
Pages 151
Source: Review copy from publisher
Sunny Faith lived a life full of God's grace. She knew from the time she was a small child what she wanted to do with her life and she relied on God to take her there. It was all about to change. Removing herself from her hometown and her loved ones opened her up to new experiences. Not all of her friends were believers. Because she saw the best in everyone she often found herself let down by the very ones she trusted. This is her story of her path back to her faith. I really enjoyed the scripture and the reflections questions at the end of each chapter. I don't know how many of my students will read this book but I believe it is a message they definitely need.


  1. Actually, I've seen a number of rave reviews for Squirrel's Birthday! It's on my list...

    I also just wanted to say, in case you didn't know, that nominations for the Cybils have started, and maybe your students (and you :) ) would like to nominate your favorites of the past year....

  2. I am glad you reviewed "Chin and the Magic Stones". My grandson and my 5th grade students loved it, although they thought it was a bit too short. I heard they are working now on the screenplay for a yet to be released Cable TV movie. Do you have any way to contact the author? I tried t the web site but got no response to my inquiry...