Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday!

Kelly Butcher, over at The Lemme Library Blog, generously hosts a weekly forum for sharing children's book reviews every Tuesday. Last week, however, Kelly's husband took a spill and fractured his ankle, so Kelly's summer just got a whole lot more hectic! To help her out, I'll be hosting Book Talk Tuesday for her this week.

Here are Kelly's (and thereby my) rules:

  1. All content must be appropriate for children in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

  2. Websites that you link to must be child friendly since lots of kids visit this site and if they click on your link, I want it to be appropriate for them.

  3. Positive reviews only, please...we only spread love here at the Lemme (and Smithville Elementary) Library!

  4. Books must be available in the US. (You are welcome to link to ARC reviews.)

  5. I reserve the right to remove any reviews that don't meet criteria 1-4.

In the link title field, be sure to include the title of the book you are reviewing and your site name. In the URL field, please link to the specific post that contains the book review. (That way, people don't have to scour your blog looking for it.)

After you submit your link, please leave a comment for this post! Since I just returned from a trip to San Francisco last week and will be leaving for a beach trip with the family this weekend, I have vacations on the brain! In your comment, tell us either (a) what your favorite place to visit is, or (b) where you would go on your dream vacation!

Have a great week, and thanks for posting!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Click here for more great book talks!

I usually like to review new titles for Book Talk Tuesday, but last weekend I took a mini-vacation to San Francisco, and while there, I toured Alcatraz island, a prison fortress which once housed a number of notorious criminals, and which is now a national park. It's been at least four years since I read Al Capone Does My Shirts, but as I toured the cell block and peered into the tiny cells, the details of this book came flooding back to me. So, instead of featuring a newly released book today, I'm featuring one of my all-time favorites!
Moose Flanagan didn't ask to leave his hometown and winning baseball team. He didn't ask his dad to take a job as a guard at the most famous prison in the country. He didn't ask for a sister like Natalie, who, even though she's older than Moose, can throw a tantrum worse than a two-year-old. And he didn't ask to live on the same tiny island as the notorious mob boss, Al Capone. But that's excatly what has happened to Moose when we meet him at the beginning of Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Moose's family has just moved to Alcatraz island, where prison guards and their families live side-by-side with the country's most dangerous convicts. But living a stone's throw from a prison house is only the beginning of Moose's problems. Moose's sister, Natalie, has a condition that makes her different from other kids her age, and the family has moved to Alcatraz so that Natalie can have a chance to attend a special school in nearby San Francisco. As a result, Moose's parents have to work constantly to provide money for Natalie's tuition, and Moose is often left in charge of Natalie while his parents are away. Add that to having to make new friends and start over at a new school, and Moose feels like he's a prisoner himself!

Things get interesting, though, when Moose meets Piper, the warden's daughter, and gets sucked into some of her deceitful schemes. As it turns out, life on "the rock" is much more exciting than Moose thought it would be.

Al Capone Does My Shirts is a great story about what it's like to support and be a part of a family, and about what it means to be a true friend, but it's also about a time in history when gangsters ruled the crime world and when Alcatraz was a name that struck fear in the hearts of prisoners and civilians alike. Al Capone is exciting, intriguing, funny, and touching. It's a great read if you want to know more about Alcatraz, or if you're looking for a funny, unpredictable story!

If you want to know more about Moose, his story, Al Capone, Alcatraz, or author Gennifer Choldenko, be sure to check out this site!

Here's me, reading outside of an Alcatraz cell!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May Reading Update!

In January of this year, I set a goal to read one picture book a day and 111 chapter books by the end of the year! To read about my original goals, click here!'s my update for the month of May! If you scroll down the page, you'll see that I wasn't able to do as much reading in April or May as I had in the previous months, but I'm hoping that summer will allow me to add a lot of books to my "read" list!

Have a great summer, read lots, and email the blog to let me know what you're up to!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer is here! It's time to read!

Summer is finally here, and for me, that means it's time for swimming, drinking cherry limeades, wearing flip-flops, staying up late, and READING!
I hope that you have a great summer, too, and I hope that your summer includes lots of plans to read! Don't forget that you can sign up for the public library's summer reading program, which includes lots of fun prizes and activities!

I'd love to hear from you over the summer, and especially to hear what you're reading! Let me know how your summer is going, where you've been, and, especially what you've been reading! You can email me at, and I'll post your email to the blog!

Have a great summer, and let me know how your reading is going!

A gift from Rose Kent!

A few weeks ago, Mrs. S. Vinklarek's class had the opportunity to Skype with author Rose Kent. Mrs. S.V.'s class had read Ms. Kent's novel, Kimchi & Calamari, and loved having the chance to talk with the author about her characters and story. After a 30 minute chat, we waved good-bye and went back to our usual routine. Little did we know that Ms. Kent had a surprise in store for us...

Last week, Mrs. Gutierrez received a bulging envelope in the mail. Curious about what was inside, Mrs. G. checked out the return address on the envelope and was surprised to find that it had traveled all the way to Smithville from New York! Mrs. G. ripped open the package, and inside, she found an autographed copy of Ms. Kent's newest book, Rocky Road! Wow! What a wonderful gift for our library!

Here are Joey and Cameron, from Mrs. S.V.'s class, posing with Mrs. G. and our autographed book:

And here's the autograph itself:

Thank you so much to Ms. Kent for sending this wonderful gift to our library! I know a LOT of kiddos who will be eager to get their hands on it when school starts back up in August!

You can find out more about Rose Kent and her books at her website!

Book Talk Tuesday: Young Fredle

Fredle is a kitchen mouse. He sleeps snugly in a warm and comfortable nest behind the kitchen walls, surrounded by brothers and sisters. At night, he ventures into the kitchen to forage for scraps of food. He avoids the house cat, and he always follows the rules. That is, until he and his cousin, Axle, discover a new food. After the two mice gorge themselves on the sweet treat they find, Fredle becomes ill. The other mice have no choice but to push Fredle out into "went," from which no mouse has ever returned.

Fredle expects "went" to be his end, but instead he manages to find his way outside of the house and in a new world he never imagined existed. How will a fat, happy kitchen mouse, who has to look no further than the kitchen pantry for his dinner, survive outside, where he'll encounter so many new things, like rain, stars, grass, snakes, and raccoons?

Fredle is a book about new adventures, unexpected friends, the beauty of everything that surrounds us, and finding a way home, even after life-changing experiences. Adventurous, humorous, and touching, Fredle is a tale for those who are curious and brave, and for those who have ever wondered what else is out there!