Friday, January 12, 2018

Mrs. Smartypants Rules (Babette Cole)


My conservative  upbringing makes me cringe a little at Princess Smartypants - and party of me delights in reading it. Not everyone wants to get married. Nor does Princess Smartypants. In this book she wants a baby, but her parents say she can't because she doesn't have a prince. She ends up getting a baby by mistake when a recipe goes awry. Then she finds out it's not that fun and finds two dragon eggs to hatch and become her full time babysitters.

After reading a couple Princess Smartypants books I had to find out about Babette Cole. I think I like her!

Why did she write stories like this?

 .... partly because she liked to shock and partly because she felt she had a duty to make sure children were properly informed. (from an obituary in The Guardian)

And you know, that isn't always a bad thing!

Goodreads says:

Princess Smartypants has always preferred her royal pets to a pesky prince, but when she decides it would be lovely to have a baby, nothing can stand in her way!
Sure enough, a twist of fate brings her just what she has been hoping for, but she soon realizes babies can be an awful lot of trouble. Perhaps Princess Smartypants wasn't cut out for motherhood after all-but fortunately she knows just who is. . . .
Publishers Weekly wrote of the first Princess Smartypants, "Truly comical watercolors in softly glowing colors complement this fairy tale parody perfectly . . . an appealing book for budding feminists."
This is a hilarious royal romp, packed with action and drama, from master storyteller Babette Cole.

Train to Somewhere (Eve Bunting)


Oh my gosh. This is so heartbreaking! We read this, hoping all along the way that Marianne would meet her at one of the stops.

She never did.

And it ends like that.

My class sat and stared at me. Then someone said, "That's it?"

Interesting to read a story that doesn't end happily! We thought maybe we could write an ending so that it actually feels like it ends.

I don't think it's a bad thing for kids to read books like this though. It certainly brought out some emotions. It started a great discussion about adoption and orphans and appreciating our parents. And it sounds like we will have a good writing project! We also had a good discussion about historical fiction.

Goodreads says:

Marianne, heading west with fourteen other children on an Orphan Train, is sure her mother will show up at one of the stations along the way. When her mother left Marianne at the orphanage, hadn't she promised she'd come for her after making a new life in the West? Stop after stop goes by, and there's no sign of her mother in the crowds that come to look over the children. No one shows any interest in adopting shy, plain Marianne, either. But that's all right: She has to be free for her mother to claim her. Then the train pulls into its final stop, a town called Somewhere . . . 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Number the Stars (Lois Lowry)


This book has reminded me how glad I am that I blog. I came across some posts from when I had previously read this book. I have actually read this book a few times. I read it first in 2008. I had forgotten that Jill wrote to Lois Lowry and even got a reply! What a great lady Lois Lowry is.

This time around I've read it a couple times. I read it through once just simply reading. Then I read it again to make questions for each chapter for my students. I still need to do it one more time to get a good list of vocabulary words. The re-reading has caused me to have an even greater appreciation for this great book.

We are discussing the book in book club next week. I will add more to this post then!

Re-read January 10, 2017
This book is a great read for reminding yourself of the greatness of people in difficult times.

My Think-A-Ma-Jink


Great story for those hard to please kids that are all too often bored. Imagination!

Goodreads says:

It’s Jack’s sixth birthday, and he’s bored. Bored! Model airplanes, stuffed dinosaurs, not even a talking robot can free him of his festering funk. Then, a mysterious box arrives. Within is a think-a-ma-jink, a bizarre contraption that bends the very laws of time and space, with which no idea is too fantastic to be realized. A wild new universe of possibilities beckons. Cotton-candy-breathing dragons! Caramel rivers! Space-traveling hot-air balloons! But as he and his sister Marie engage in a boisterous, shape-shifting struggle, the future of the think-a-ma-jink hangs in the balance. Is Jack doomed to boredom . . . or is he on the verge of an amazing discovery?

Monday, January 8, 2018



I got Number the Stars on audio book. Well worth re-reading!

Need to finish Shiloh for Grade 3 book club this month.

The Better Than Before group I'm on on Facebook is giving Finish by John Acuff. I thought I'd give it a try.

My book club is reading Once We Were Brothers this month. The meeting is next week so I'd better get at it!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling)

So this is where all those tales came from that I have heard. I remember hearing many of these stories, but they were lost to me. So glad to have found them again. The words are beautiful - poetic and magical. I found myself wanting to write down phrases and lines from the book. I loved that it is a man and his daughter in many of the stories.

I especially liked one person's review on Goodreads: personal favorite was about Elephant's Child. Sometimes 'satiable curiosity doesn't kill you; it gets you a very practical appendage with which you can spank your bossy Relatives and hove them into a wasp's nest. And let's face it, O Best Beloved, we've all had that impulse.

Goodreads says:

Twelve stories about animals, insects, and other subjects include How the Camel Got His Hump. The Butterfly That Stamped, and How the Alphabet Was Made..

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Stone Fox (John Reynolds Gardiner)


A few ELL students I have known have read this book as a novel study. I can see why. It's pretty short so it's a quick read but the story is great. It would make a great read-aloud. The story is similar to Iron Will. Willy saves Grandpa's farm, and Searchlight gives his life. Heartbreaking story!

Goodreads says:

John Reynolds Gardiner's classic action-packed adventure story about a thrilling dogsled race has captivated readers for more than thirty years.

Based on a Rocky Mountain legend, Stone Fox tells the story of Little Willy, who lives with his grandfather in Wyoming. When Grandfather falls ill, he is no longer able to work the farm, which is in danger of foreclosure. Little Willy is determined to win the National Dogsled Race—the prize money would save the farm and his grandfather. But he isn't the only one who desperately wants to win. Willy and his brave dog Searchlight must face off against experienced racers, including a Native American man named Stone Fox, who has never lost a race.

Exciting and heartwarming, this novel has sold millions of copies and was named a New York Times Outstanding Children's Book.