Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cybils Reading Marathon Day 2

Once again I started off early this morning.  I can't write a review for every book I read for Cybils.  I tried that and it put me behind on the reading end.  The books I have highlighted below are followed by a review.

Elite Ambition - Jessica Burkhart
Zora and Me - Bond & T.R. Simon
Me and Rolly Maloo - Janet S. Wong
I Emma Freke - Elizabeth Atkinson
River Odyssey - Philip Roy
Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) - Lisa Yee
The Devil's Door - Paul B. Thompson
It's Raining Cupcakes - Lisa Shroeder
Shooting Kabul - N.H. Senzai
The Healing Spell - Kimberly Griffiths Little
Pies & Prejudice - Heather Vogel Frederick
A Million Shades of Gray - Cynthia Kadohata
Julia Gillian and the Dream of the Dog - Alison McGhee

Me and Rolly Maloo - Janet S. Wong
Publisher:  Charlesbridge           Pages:  128
Source:  Review Copy from publisher     Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

I sat reading part of this book to my husband this morning when he finally got up.  I told him that no book this simple should bring up such strong emotions in me, but it did.  Let me start by saying it struck a nerve with me because I am a 6th grade teacher.  I see bullying and unfair treatment of teachers and unfair parents all the time.
Jenna is a poor girl who wears second hand clothes, Molly and Patsy are the two popular girls whose mothers are in charge of the PTO.  The district test is coming up and and the winner usually competes in the county competition.  That is usually Jenna.  Molly and Patsy decide to get Jenna to help them cheat.  When they call and invite her over, her mother tells her no.  She mistakenly thinks they want to be her friend.  The next day they toss a note to her asking for an answer and she helps them knowing it is wrong.  Then a second balled up note flies across the room and she is caught.  She doesn't tell on the girls and that is where the trouble for me began.  The guilty girls mothers gossiped about the situation not knowing the whole story.  By the time the story had gotten around school and finally back to the principal at home, Innocent people had been pulled in and the teacher had been called and chewed out.
I kept seeing the injustice being done to students and the teacher because some thought themselves better than others.  I loved the underlying story of taking kids out of PE, Art and Music to put them in a second math class instead of bringing in a tutor to help them.  In our district we call that remedial math.  Anyway, I loved this book.

I, Emma Freke - Elizabeth Atkinson
Publisher - Carolrhoda Books         Pages:  234
Source:  Review copy from publisher        Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

What if you found yourself in sixth grade more advanced than the other students, and much taller than them?  Fitting in would be difficult.  All of these problems plague the main character.  Add to this her dysfunctional family and her name Emma Freke and you have the set up for a funny book.  I felt sorry for Emma.  I wanted someone to take her in and care for her.  Then I realized she'd been taking care of herself for quite some time.  This is one of those books I know many kids and adult will relate to.  Even through dysfuction family is family.

It's Raining Cupcakes - Lisa Schroeder
Publisher:  Aladdin          Pages:  208
Source:  Review copy from publisher       Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

I seem to be reading a lot of books about food lately.  Last week I read an Amish fiction book that I will post a review of in about 3 weeks.  It had wonderful recipes in it.  For Cybils I've read a book about ice cream, pancakes, pies and now cupcakes.    This book reminded me of one I read for Cybils last year, Angel Cke by Cathy Cassidy.  In this book Isabel the main character would love to travel.  Then she learns about a cupcake contest.  She enters hoping to win a trip to New York.  At the same time her mother is opening a bakery and going through her own problems.  I enjoyed the book very much.  My favorite part were the recipes.  My husband and daughter have been working on getting a bakery started.  Our house is always full of the smells of things baking so I added these recipes to his collection.

Shooting Kabul - N.H. Senzai
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster     Pages:  272
Source:  Review copy from publisher    Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Okay, get your box of tissues ready.  From the minute I opened this book I could not put it down.  The opening situation was such I had to read to find out how it ended.  Usually I will skip to the ending then go back and fill in the details.  This one I read straight through.  I could not imagine what this family went through trying to escape the Taliban.  My heart broke for Fadi when he realized he had messed up and lost the one thing he was responsible for, his six year old sister  Mariam, how scared she must have been.  As a mother if it had been me leaving my child behind I would have been inconsolable.  Fadi and his family are trying to figure out how to return to find her when September 11 happens.  Now Fadi faces extreme prejudice at school.  He joins the photography club and learns of a contest that might take him to India if he wins.  After all, he reasons, India is close enough to Afghanistan that he could have a better chance of finding his sister.  This is a must read and I have the perfect student picked out to read it first.

The Healing Spell - Kimberly Griffiths Little
Publisher:  Scholastic         Pages:  368
Source:  Review copy from publisher         Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

I have wanted to read this since I first saw the cover.  Usually that is not what draws me in.  However, when I learned it was set in the bayous of Louisiana, that was another reason to read it.  I have a wonderful friend from Louisiana that I will be lending this book to.
Livie's mother has been brought home from the hospital in a comotose state.  The family is going to care for her.  Livie can't seem to go near her mom.  She hides a secret about her mom's accident and feels so guilty that it is eating her up.  She decides she has to find a way to help her mother and to heal her so she seeks out a voodoo priestess to get a healing spell.  This story was wonderful and all about forgiveness.  I believe it will touch your heart the way it touched mine.

(The opinions expressed here are mine and not those of the other panalists)


  1. It makes me so happy to hear you say you don't review every book, because I've been feeling so guilty about that:) I have scribbled notes everywhere that I hope to go back to after Cybils!

  2. I have tried to review all of them and realized two things. One I don't like all of them and don't feel they all deserved being reviewed and two I was killing myself trying to read and review them all.