Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Break Reading Challenge - Day 16

Top 12 of 2012
Today we are to pick our favorite reads of 2012 for HBRC.  I am forcing myself to do this.  I dread rating things and now I see why.  My memory of my favorites turns out to be different than if I look to my Goodreads 5 star ratings!  I guess I need to do a  better job with awarding stars...  I decided to pick from my 5 star rated books.  Then, to put them in order...ughh!!!  So, without perfection - here it is!
12.  Wonder by Palacio - a great book where you can't help but to feel such empathy for the character!
11.  If I Stay by Forman - I remember enjoying this book and being satisfied with the ending.  I haven't read the next one in the series.
10.  City of Bones by Clare - Book 1 in The Mortal Instruments series.  I only read three of these, but gave 5 stars to 2. 
9.  City of Glass by Clare - This is book 3 in The Mortal Instruments series.  I very rarely give 5 stars to a whole series.

8.  Blood Red Road by Young - I listened to this on audio.  The reading was amazing.  This is the first in the Dust Land series.  I am currently listening to the second, Rebel Heart.
7.  Wonder Struck by Selznick - He never ceases to amaze me.  The way that these two stories, the one in print and the one in pictures, intertwines is nothing short of phenomenal.
6.  Cinder by Meyer - I can't wait to read Scarlet!  I have it on pre-order, it will be at my door on release day!

5.  Matched by Condie - The first in the Matched trilogy that got me hooked.
4.  UnWholly by Shusterman - The second in the Unwind series.  I only gave 4 starts to Unwind (the first book).  When does that happen? 
3.  Delirium by Oliver - I really enjoyed this series and am anxiously waiting book 3, Requiem.  The first book was the only one to get five stars though.
2.  Reached by Condie - The third book in the Matched Trilogy.  I was so excited to read this one.  I listened to Matched and Crossed, even though I had already read them.  That way my memory was up on all the characters for the release of Reached.
1.  Divergent and Insurgent by Roth - I kept these two together because both books in the series got 5 stars by me.  I ranked them number 1 for the same reason.  Though it has been so long since I read them, I am not sure that if I re-read them, if this is where I would place them.  I wish I had a strong #1!  I feel like any of my picks from 5 down, could be my #1.

And there you have it.  Another great year of reading!!!  I can't wait for all the wonderful 2013 reads coming out!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Break Reading Challenge - Day 5

Today, Edifying and Edgy have us creating a book cover and a synopsis to go with it.  I used a fake name generator for my pretend author name.  Then I used Random Word Generator for a verb to be my book title.  I had to do this twice because the first one had no match in the next step, which is to go to FlickrCC, enter my verb, and grab the first picture with a person in it.  That is my new book cover.
My author name is Jessica K. Hernandez.
My verb was commentate, but is now arch.
And here is my book cover...

Meet Charles McMichael.  He has discovered, when conditions are right, this arch appears in the countryside of Montana.  He has discovered that he can enter the arch.  He has also discovered that it takes him to a different place - a different time.  What else does this arch do?  Where did it come from?  And who is Annibel who seems to live in every era that Charles has visited?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Break Reading Challenge - Day 4

Today, the  Holiday Break Reading Challenge is to find a new blog...and boy did I find a lot.  I like this new blog because it includes not only book reviews, but contests and helpful tips for the blogger!  I can always use that.  It is called The Story Siren, written by Kristi who just loves to read YA.  She has been at it since 2007 and her list of reviewed books is quite extensive.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Break Reading Challenge 2012 - Day 3

Yayyy!!!! It's that time of year again.  The HBRC 2012 is in full swing and I missed the first few days!  Oops.

Todays challenge is to create a book spine sentence or poem.  This is always a bit more challenging than I expect, but great fun.  Here is my attempt...

Alice, I have been torn [between] looking for Alaska [at] 3 below and listening for lions, the lions of Little Rock.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Tragedy Paper

The Tragedy Paper

This is one of those books that keeps you thinking beyond the last page. It had me hooked right from the beginning as a realistic-fiction, coming-of-age book with the turn-the-page factor of a mystery.  I enjoyed the alternating points of view of Duncan and Tim, but it's even more... as both boys are intertwined through both stories, with one taking place the prior year.    I love the intrigue of the prior senior class leaving something behind in their dorm room for the new student resident to find.  I also love the premise of The Tragedy Paper being an assignment for all seniors. 

Elizabeth LaBan did an excellent job keeping the reader guessing as to what happened the year before...and it was tragic.  Her writing style is very easy to read. I would venture to say that it will be a great find for the reluctant reader.

Here is the link to Random House and their synopsis. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Best of...

I love this time of year with all the Best of Book Lists!  I thought it would be fun to create a post with links to all of the wonderful book lists. Well, not all, but all the ones I find over the next few weeks.   I love seeing titles that I have read and loved, while at the same time, seeing others that I need to add to my "to read" list. 

GoodReads Choice Awards - one of my favorites.  I love to vote each year!

Amazon Best Books of the Year: 2012 Editors' Picks

YALSA 2012 Best of the Best - Young Adult Services Association

Notable Children's Books - the New York Times picks for YA, Middle Grade, and Children's Picture Books


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Read, Dream, Grow

December 1, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day! 

It is so important to instill a love of learning and reading in the lives of our little ones.  They are sponges, and they learn from new experiences.  A book can open the door to places that children may have never been or be able to go.  Support your local bookstore while nourishing your child's imaginative and inquisitive mind on December 1.  I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Finally, the long awaited conclusion in the Matched trilogy!  It was just released November 13 and it was worth the wait.  I had preordered this one to be waiting on my doorstep on the 13th when I got home from work. 

There are several things that really impressed me about Ally Condie's third book.  First and foremost, I just love her writing style.  It is so eloquent.  She is gifted with such a poetic way of writing.  I can visualize her scenes very easily, yet I never feel like I'm reading huge paragraphs of boring descriptions.   Second, I loved the alternating chapters of Cassia, Ky, and Xander.  I missed Xander in Crossed and enjoyed his return to Reached.  Third, Ally Condie started answering some of my many burning questions in the first few pages.  That was exciting!  Yet, she kept the twists and turns coming, so I was never free from wondering and questioning.  I thought this book did a marvelous job of "sorting things out".  It is the first in the series to get 5 stars on Goodreads from me.

Here is the book trailer from Penguin Young Readers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas!

Yay!!  A new Pete the Cat picture book!  There is always a catchy tune when it comes to Pete the Cat. I can't wait to see what this one is.

So, let's click on the "browse inside this book" button and discover Pete's new Christmas song and story together!

Hmmm, I saw some of the book, which looks really fun.  But, I still don't know the tune to the song.  So, here is a short clip with some music included.

Thanks HarperKids for sharing your book with us!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Funny!

I Funny, is James Patterson's very funny book expected to be out on December 10, 2012.  I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader's copy!  I devoured this book.  Books for this age group do not always hold my interest, especially when they are trying to be funny.  This book IS funny!  It is also realistic fiction at its best.  Jamie Grimm is a great main character who deals with bullying, disabilities, and loss.  The reader grows and learns a great deal right alongside Jamie through Jamie's story hidden among the laughs and jokes (I actually even had a few tears). Of course, the back of the books says it best, "...a powerful and kid-friendly recipe of a laugh-out-loud story that packs an unexpected emotional punch." This is not normally my kind of book. If there is a sequel, I will read it!

Jamie Grimm, in his wheelchair, wants to be a stand-up comedian even though he is sitting in his wheelchair all the time.  This as part of his routine.  Jamie is being raised as part of a distant relative's family, and his worst enemy at school is his bully of a cousin, Stevie.  Jamie has a lot to overcome with this bully that he also lives with, and his story behind the laughter and the wheelchair.  Jamie's yo-yoing Uncle Frankie becomes an instrumental figure in Jamie's life.  Full of jokes and laughter, there are also tender moments of true emotion.  Highly recommended!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Hurray for picture books!!  I will be concentrating on some of the newest picture books this month.  Ok, so maybe some old favorites too.  Picture books, believe it or not, are not just enjoyed by the youngest of children.  The humor in some of them will be over their head, but the older elementary reader will "get" all the nuances.  Adults love them too!

A great example of this is Amy Rosental's Spoon and Chopsticks.  You will enjoy the humorous play on words in these two books.

Here is a book trailer of Spoon.

Amy also wrote another one of my favorites, Little Pea! It is about a cute little pea who is tired of eating candy for all his meals.  He just wants dessert...spinach!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Liar & Spy

Liar & Spy
Liar & Spy
by Rebecca Stead
Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, winner of the 2009 Newbery Award, has written another fun-loving book with a settle message.  The many twists and turns at the end made the book even more intriguing.  It is realistic fiction, as Georges has to deal with many things; his dad lost his job, his family must move to an apartment, he has to face making new friends as well as dealing with classmates that aren't always so nice, his mom has an issue (no giveaways here), and he must deal with a liar and spy.  My graduate school book club read this for our elementary/middle school selection.  I have passed it on for my public library middle school book club.  It is a great one to use for book clubs, if you can keep everyone from reading ahead.  The  mystery will keep the kids guessing all the way through.  The many twists at the end are surprising, and the lessons learned will spur on some great discussions.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hello all!

I am finally back!!!  I have finished my Master's of Library Science and have acquired a position at our local public library.  I am loving it.  I have been reading a ton, but not blogging.  So, I am back to it.

First of all, I want to send a big thanks to SYNC, who gave free audiobook downloads to our young adults (or anyone else) who wanted some books to listen to this summer.  Each week, I could download a classic and a young adult book for my listening pleasure.  I enjoyed it very much.  I am hooked on listening to a book when I drive anywhere.  Why not?  It keeps the blood pressure down when I am stuck in traffic because I just get more listening time!!  The plan is to have more available next summer, so check in with them.

I have lots of books to blog about, but I can tell you that it is much harder to blog this long after reading them!  I think I will have to pick and choose which ones to write a review about, while I try to keep current from this point forward.  I also think my blog will take a turn toward including both young adult books (because I love to read them) and picture books (because I work with the preschool to elementary kids at the library). 

It's great to be back!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

World Book Night Finale

Look what I just found in my inbox!  It brought tears to my eyes to be a part of such a wonderful endeavor.  This was so fun and I hope that some of you are moved to be a participant next year!  Or find another way to spread the joy of reading.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Litwin, E. (2012).  Pete the cat and his four groovy buttons.  New York:
        HarperCollins Children's Books.

Pete the Cat is back!!!  In this creative and colorful story, Pete loses his groovy buttons off his favorite shirt one by one.  But, it's all good for Pete.  He knows that we don't need to cry, he knows that things come and things go, and he just keeps singing his song!  In the true Litwin and Dean spirit, we have another guitar-strumming, sing-along book that is repetitive, catchy, and teaches a little lesson too! 

Here is the book trailer created by HarperCollins Children's Books.

If you liked this one, you will love his others too!!
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas (coming in September 2012)

All these books have great book trailers and catchy tunes!   There is even a stuffed Pete the Cat available at

There is downloadable music available at HarperCollins for all these books.  On this website, there is more information about the author and illustrator, plus activity guides for each book.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Zero the Hero

Zero the Hero

Holub, J. (2012).  Zero the hero.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company.

Zero was not just any number...he was nothing, nada, zip, ziltch!  Whether he was added or subtracted, he didn't mean diddly-squat.  Once he finds out the power of the zero rule in multiplication, he was excited, but the others ran for lives fearing extinction.  That is when zero decided to disappear.  He was greatly missed while he was away, no rounding to the tens or hundreds, a missing even number, etc.  Meanwhile the Romans invaded (Roman numerals) and it took ZERO THE HERO to save the day.

Such a cute story with plays on words throughout!  Here is a book trailer made by Macmillan retrieved from on May 11, 2012. 

If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy E-mergency written and illustrated by the illustrator of Zero the Hero, Tom Lichtenheld.

For some math activities, check out these math games.  You will find activities about math that were mentioned in the book; such as Roman Numerals, Rounding, and other math operations.

Here is a really fun activity from Scholastic.  It is an article talking about having a Zero Hero coming to visit your school on the 50th and 100th day of school.  However, he is a mystery, and no one has ever seen him.  He leaves footprints in the classroom and clues, etc.  It seems really fun!!

Other fun math picture books:
Once Upon a Dime: A Math Adventure
Full House: An Invitation to Fractions
Just a Second
Sir Cumference series
The Math Start series

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Cool Friend

One Cool Friend

Buzzeo, T. (2012). One cool friend. New York:  Dial Books for Young Readers.

This is a very cool book about a boy named Elliot who goes to visit an aquarium with his father.  While he is there, he asks for a penguin.  His father, who thinks Elliot wants a stuffed animal penguin, agrees.  This is when the fun starts.  I will tell you only that Elliot does not mean a stuffed animal, and Elliot does bring home his penguin.  That is all I will say...except that after you read the book once, you will open it right back up to the beginning and read it again!  It is a New York Times Best Seller and teachers can download a curriculum guide and a reader's theater script here.

Make a video of your own at Animoto.
-first penguin picture retrieved from 
-book cover retrieved from 
-rest of pictures retrieved from 

Click on the link above to go to the National Geographic kids web page on Emperor Penguins.

Toni Buzzeo, the author, has a pretty nice website.  She is the author of the Mrs. Skorupski books.  You may have heard of Our Librarian won't Tell Us Anything.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I've Lost My Hippopotamus

I've Lost My Hippopotamus
Prelutsky, J. (2012).  I've lost my hippopotamus. New York:  Greenwillow Books.

This is a collection of Jack Prelutsky's poems - 100 more poems, to be exact!  Some are about real animals and some are totally pretend animals...some even put two animals together.  Some poems are looong, and some are short and sweet.  Think about the title, which is a poem in the book, how do you lose a gigantic hippopotamus?!?! 

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.
-book cover retrieved from
-pictures retrieved from

Make sure to visit Scholastic's Poetry Idea Engine!! 
It has Haiku, Limerick, Cinquain, and Free Verse.
It is loads of fun!
Click on the link above to go to Jack Prelutsky's website!

Other poetry books by Jack Prelutsky:
It's Raining Pigs and Noodles
Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem
The New Kid on the Block
Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face:  and other Poems

Other children's poetry book authors:
Shel Silverstein
Kalli Dakos
Bruce Lansky
J. Patrick Lewis
Kenn Nesbitt
Judith Viorst

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



Rosenthal, A. (2012).  Chopsticks.  New York:  Disney-Hyperion Books.

This is the sweetest book about two best friends - chopsticks.  They are always together...inseparable!  Until one day, one of them broke at the tip, kind of like a broken ankle.  Now, they have to learn to be apart.  The story is very witty.  When the break occurred, the chopstick was "whisked" a whisk, of course (p. 11).  I literally giggled my way through this book.  I will definitely have to search out Spoon, the companion book. 

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.
-book cover retrieved from
-picture of page from book retrieved from Junior Library Guild
-all other pictures retrieved from Microsoft Online Clipart

The author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, has a website which includes activities to use with this book.

Other books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal are:
This Plus That: Life's Little Equations
Plant a Kiss
Little Pea
Duck! Rabbit!
Little Hoot
Little Oink

Sunday, April 29, 2012



Smile by Raina Telgemeier is an endearing story about the trials and tribulations of having braces...among other things!  I don't usually prefer graphic novels when I pick a book to read.  This one surprised me!  I felt like I really got to know Raina, who is the main character in the book.  Watch this fantastic book trailer made by the folks at Scholastic/Graphix with music by Harry and the Potters. 

Now that you know a little about Raina's story, I think you should go get the book - you will love it!  

Also, Scholastic has a You Be the Author section on their website page for Smile that will allow you to create your own page for a graphic novel.  It's really fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky
2012-2013 TX Bluebonnet Nominee
Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem is fascinating.  It takes place in Ethiopia, where Lucy's mom is the U.S. Ambassador.  Lucy wants to really explore the land and see the animals that she has read so much about.  She wants to experience Ethiopia, but her over-protective mother won't let her leave the compound.  One day, Lucy and her friend sneak out...just for a short time...just to have a little fun...   This is when Lucy gets kidnapped and now she will have to rely on what she has learned to try to save herself! 

Here is the book trailer created by Chronicle Books.

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night

It is finally here...the day that many of us "book givers"
 have been waiting for! 
The first annual World Book Night in the US!
There were many pick-up places located across town
for us to get our box of books.
My pick-up place was The Woodlands Barnes and Noble.
It truly took a village to make this all happen.
Yesterday I picked up my box of books.

Here it is with one book pulled out.
It is the true book, but this edition's cover is a special World Book Night cover.
It also has a really nice letter inside the front cover
 so that future readers of the book
will know where this edition came from.
In the back, it has all the companies listed that made this possible.
And don't forget, this all started last year in the UK. 
Thanks to everyone who has made this possible!

I am taking my set of books to a small charter high school
that will hand them to their teens. 
These teens have faced struggles in their lives just as Liesel does in
The Book Thief.
We must all find something that helps us get through these rocky roads in life.
Liesel finds books, during a time when books are banned and burned,
the Holocaust.

Come... read this book... from Death's point-of-view.
It is not all happy and fun,
but Liesel finds that books feed her soul.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

TLA Conference

I was very excited to be able to attend the TLA conference
that was here in Houston. 
Aside from learning lots of great ideas from classes,
 meeting lots of great people, 
getting good deals on great books, having books signed by great authors...
Wait, did I say authors? 
One day, I attended the Bluebonnet luncheon and I got to hear 
Tom Angleberger, the author of
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
He was an amazing speaker.  He even taught us to make our very own Origami Yoda! 
Here is his picture that I got from the TLA website. 
He is showing us how to fold our Origami Yoda with his giant paper.

In case you haven't read them - here are his fun, fun, fun, books!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda              Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2)

I  also found out that there is a third book in the series coming soon...
I, for one, can't wait!!!

Oh... I also had an extra lucky day...
I won a super-great, very-useful, and totally unexpected door prize!
Thank you Scholastic for the wonderful books, dvds, audiobooks, and student bracelets!