July 28, 2018

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 5:12 pm by suebe2

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
by Stacy McAnulty
Random House Books for Young Readers

Lucy Callahan doesn’t get why her grandmother is obsessed with the idea of sending her to middle school.  She’s been homeschooled for years and at 12 years-old has all the credits she needs to go to college. Still her grandmother is convinced that what Lucy needs is to spend some one-on-one time with her peers – not the math-geeks Lucy spends time with online but her fellow 12 year-olds.

Lucy is certain this is a bad idea.  And take it from a 12-year-old whose been hit by lightning, she knows a bad idea when she sees one.  She may not be good with people but she’s amazing with numbers and this adds up to one of the worst ideas Lucy has ever heard.

But her grandma stands firm.  Go to middle school for 1 year.  Make 1 friend.  Try 1 activity.

Reluctantly Lucy decides to give it a try.  And as long as she is reinventing herself where she can.  She can’t do anything about some of her quirks – having to sit-stand-sit-stand-sit and her need to wipe down shared desks and tables that certain people seem to think are OCD.  Lucy doesn’t think she’s OCD. It is simply her way to keep the numbers in her head at a manageable level.   It’s how her brain has worked since the lightning strike. Try to ignore her ticks and the digits of Pi take over.  If she wants to focus she has to follow these routines.

A school project throws her in with her would-be best friend and the boy who cheated off her in math, getting them both in trouble.  Lucy isn’t enthusiastic at the thought of working at an animal shelter.  Then she realizes that none of the shelters records have been computerized. How can they tell how likely a dog is to be adopted with such sloppy records?  Soon she is keying them in and developing a means of calculating how long before that big black, super friendly dog finds a home.

I’m not saying a whole lot about the plot because really your young reader will want to experience it for him or herself. This is a book about friendship, individuality and passion.  In it a young girl learns that everyone has struggles and if you put yourself out there you will find people who will help you along the way.  Funny and touching, this book is a great choice for class reading and discussion.




July 11, 2018

Life on Mars by Jon Agee

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 7:23 pm by suebe2

Life on Mars
by Jon Agee
Dial Books for Young Readers

When the young astronaut arrives on Mars, he carries a package across the landscape as he searches for life.  Others have told him there is no life on Mars but he is certain he will find it and walks along leaving a trail of foot prints.

As is always the case with Agee’s books, half the story takes place in the illustrations.  We learn what the main character hopes and believes in the text.  We see what takes place in the illustrations.

As the astronaut is followed through the landscape by “martian life,” he grows more and more discouraged because he still hasn’t found anything.  Eventually he even misplaces his spaceship.  Not to worry!  He spots a martian flower and, climbing up the hillside to pick it, sees his spaceship in the distance.

Young readers will love this book because Agee gives them a chance to know more than the astronaut.  Why?  Because he never spots the creature that is following him!  Never.

I’m not going to reveal the ending because I want you to experience that for yourself.  As is so often the case with one of Agee’s books, it will make you laugh out loud.  What a surprise!

But my favorite part is when the creature is following the astronaut.  Not only is it following, it is mirroring his expressions – worried and curious.  As always, Agee’s illustrations are both simple and expressive.  Heavy black lines give weight to drawings lightened with the subtle colors of the landscape.

As simple as this book appears, there is so much for young readers to love.  The setting is unusual.  No one tells the main character that, although a child, he cannot be an astronaut.  He proves that he is right, there is life on Mars.  But the book is also funny since he misses the biggest “life.”  And then there’s that surprise ending.

This is definitely a fun book that you will want to share with your young reader.


July 6, 2018

Who Am I? An Animal Guessing Game by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:08 am by suebe2

Who Am I? An Animal Guessing Game
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

As soon as I saw this book on a recommended reading list, I requested it from my library.  Even when I was a young reader, I was a sucker for the photo quizzes that show the reader a close-up of an animal and challenge the reader to figure out what it is.

In Who Am I?  one two page spread provides readers with the clues in the form of text and images.  For example, one pair of pages says, “I have . . . a sticky, flicky tongue . . . bumpy green skin . . . two bulging eyeballs  . . . ten webbed toes . . . a floating lily pad . . . and a fly for lunch! Who am I?”   Each written clue is paired with an close-up view of a long pink tongue, green skin, etc.

Readers turn the page to find a frog.  Seven different animals are featured in this way.  Then at the end of the book is a section with mor eon each animal including how big it is, what it eats, where it lives, an interesting fact, and more.

In only seven animals they have descent variety including an amphibian, two birds, an insect, and a crustacean.  Some of the animals are pretty straightforward (frog) but some are a bit more exotic (crab and flamingo).  Then again, if you live in the right part of the country a flamingo might not be particularly exotic.

Page and Jenkins work together on the writing. The illustrations are created by Jenkins in torn and cut-paper collage.  I have to admit that I’m a fan of their work.  I love the simplicity of the text paired with the gorgeous textures of the paper and the details portrayed in the illustrations.

This book will not take long to read but expect sharing the book to take some time.  After reading the book, your young reader will most likely want to look for the image clues in the larger illustration of each animal.  You might also want to have a variety of papers on hand, including scrap and recycled, to encourage your young learned to try creating their own animal themed collages.



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