Friday, September 7, 2012

Zita the Spacegirl & The Incredible Rockhead

Review by Tintin, age 9

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
Author/illustrator: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second (9/2012)
Genre: Graphic Novel

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl is about a girl who saves the planet Lumponia from star hearts. A robot who is pretending to be the spacegirl is messing things up. I like it because it is an adventurous story. My favorite part was when they used a giant to destroy the star hearts. I will recommend it to kids who like space adventures.

Review by Johnny Boo, age 6

The Incredible Rockhead
Author/illustrator: Scott Nickel/C.S. Jennings
Publisher: Stone Arch Books (8/2012)
Genre: Graphic Novel

Rockhead is about a boy named Chip Stone. In the nurse's office there was a bad guy. He gave him a pill that he doesn't usually take, and it turned him into a rockhead. Chip said, "Rockhead, smash!" His friend turned into someone called Scissorlegz. I liked everything about the book. I would recommend it to people that have rockheads.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Invisible Inkling

Review by Tintin, age 9

Invisible Inkling
Author/illustrator: Emily Jenkins/Harry Bliss
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (April 2011)

Hank Wolowitz lives in New York and owns an ice cream shop called The Big Round Pumpkin with his mom, dad, and his sister, Nadia. One day at the shop, Hank feels something under the sink. It feels furry. He finds out it is an animal called a bandapat, and it is invisible and can speak. The bandapat's name is Inkling. Inkling's three favorite foods are squash, pumpkin, and pizza. I liked that the book was silly. My favorite part was when Inkling jumped on Mrs. Cherry. I would recommend this book to children who have invisible friends.
Johnny Boo (6) says, "My mother read this book to me twice because I liked it so much."

The Big Round Pumpkin is loosely based on Blue Marble, an ice cream shop in Brooklyn. Here are Tintin and Johnny Boo at the Blue Marble stand at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn:

Invisible Inkling, about a boy starting fourth grade without his best friend and dealing with a bully who takes his lunch, is the first book in the Invisible Inkling series. The second book, coming out July 24, is all about Halloween:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Books of the Week: Sarah Noble, Explorer, Giggler Treatment, Lunch Lady, My Weird School, Tiny Titans

Here are our favorites from the past week:

Tintin, age 9

The Courage of Sarah Noble
Author: Alice Dalgliesh
Genre: Fiction
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
Editor: Kazu Kibuishi
Genre: Graphic Novel

The Giggler Treatment
Author: Roddy Doyle
Genre: Fiction
Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Genre: Graphic Novel

Johnny Boo, age 6

My Weird School #11: Mrs. Kormel Is Not Normal
Author/illustrator: Dan Gutman/Jim Paillot
Genre: Fiction

Tiny Titans and the Science Fair!
Author: Art Baltazar
Genre: Fiction/Easy Reader

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Books of the Week: James and the Giant Peach; Sarah, Plain and Tall; Mameshiba; Tiny Titans

Here are our favorite books this week:

Tintin, age 9

James and the Giant Peach
Author/illustrator: Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake
Genre: Fiction

After losing his parents in a rhino accident, James must live with his two evil aunts--until a giant peach with talking insects suddenly appears and takes James far, far away. Tintin said this is one of his favorite Roald Dahl books, and even though it's a bit different from the movie, he likes it just as much.

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Genre: Fiction

Caleb and Anna's mother dies just after Caleb is born, sometime in the late 19th century. When their father advertises for a wife, Sarah responds. She comes to the prairie all the way from Maine, but the children worry she'll grow homesick and leave. Tintin's response after a couple of chapters: "This is actually really good!" And then he finished it the next day.

Johnny Boo, age 6

Mameshiba: On the Loose!
Author/illustrators: James Turner/Jorge Monlonge; Gemma Correll
Genre: Graphic Novel

In their first book, the Mameshiba ("bean dog" in Japanese) rescue their pea-knapped friend and explore outer space. Johnny Boo has read this book every day (several times a day) ever since we got it from the library. I think we're going to have to buy it, along with the bean dogs' next graphic novel, Mameshiba: We Could Be Heroes, coming out next month. Oh, and the 9-year-old likes it, too, although I think he's only read it twice.

Tiny Titans Go Camping!
Author/illustrator: Art Baltazar
Genre: Easy Reader Fiction

The Tiny Titans (Starfire, Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy, Aqualad, and Bumblebee) go to Sidekick City National Park for a camping weekend. While there, they roast hot dogs, fish with cookies, have a tea party, and encounter a few green beasts. Johnny Boo is excited to start reading his other library find, Tiny Titans and the Science Fair!, in which Barbara Gordon, Terra, and Wonder Girl join in the fun.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

6-Year-Old Picks

Here are some of Johnny Boo's favorites from March and April:

Ricky Ricotta, Captain Underpants, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby
Author: Dav Pilkey

Mr. Men, including...
Mr. Men: Favourite Stories and whatever other Mr. Men and Little Miss books Johnny Boo found at the library (there are about 49 in all)
Author: Roger Hargreaves

And there are new Mr. Men graphic novels!

The Franny K. Stein series
Author: Jim Benton

Balloon Toons: The Totally Awesome Epic Quest of the Brave Boy Knight
Author: Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School
Author: Nathan Hale

Toys Go Out, Toys Come Home, Toy Dance Party
Author/illustrator: Emily Jenkins/Paul Zelinsky

George Brown, Class Clown: Super Burp
Author/illustrator: Nancy Krulik/Aaron Blecha

And here's an example of the writing skills Johnny Boo's developed with the help of Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot Astro-Activity Book O' Fun:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kids' Snack Menu, With 70+ Snack Ideas

I got tired of hearing things like "Mom, what should I eat?" and "There's nothing to eat!" (after I'd listed several possibilities). So I made the boys their own snack menu, to look through whenever they're hungry. I printed it out, laminated it, punched a few holes in it, and put it all together with pipe cleaners, which allows me to add more pages whenever I want.

There are more than 70 snacks on our menu right now, so I used dry-erase markers to show them what's availablewhat they can make themselves, what they'll need help with, and what they'll have to wait a little while forand what's not available. At the end of the menu, I added a page for them to fill out with dry-erase markers anything they want that's not availableso in addition to having to read the menu, they get some writing practice as well. Now I just need to find a frog's eyeball for my future mad scientist...

You can print the snack menu here. The snack ideas on the menu are all healthy, although some of them might not sound it. You can find recipes for many of these ideas at Chocolate-Covered Katie.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

9-Year-Old Boy: Series Books

Here's what Tintin's been reading lately:

Attack of the Volcano Monkeys (Ordinary Basil)
Author: Wiley Miller
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (February 2008)
Category: Chapter Book (2nd in series)

In this second Ordinary Basil book, Basil and his friend Louise travel (via pteranodon) to a planet of intelligent monkeys and try to overthrow the king.
Wonkenstein (The Creature From My Closet)
Author: Obert Skye
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (September 2011)
Category: Chapter Book (1st in series)

Rob finds a strange creature in his closet. Wonkenstein is a cross between Willy Wonka and Frankenstein, characters in two of the books Rob has thrown into his overstuffed closet. Tintin can't wait for the next book, in which Rob finds yet another creature (Potterwookiee) in his closet and probably gets in even more trouble.

Snarf Attack, Underfoodle, and the Secret of Life: The Riot Brothers Tell All
Author/illustrator: Mary Amato/Ethan Long
Publisher: Holiday House (April 2007)
Category: Chapter Book (1st in series)

Fifth grader Wilbur and his third-grade brother, Orville, catch a crook, search for treasure, and try to overthrow a king. Along the way, they also play a few games elementary school boys will love reading about. Upon finishing this book, Tintin immediately checked out the second book in the series, Drooling and Dangerous: The Riot Brothers Return.

The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse (A Chet Gecko Mystery)
Author: Bruce Hale
Publisher: Perfection Learning (April 2001)
Category: Chapter Book (1st in series)

Chet Gecko is a fourth-grade private investigator. In this first mystery, Chet is hired to find Billy, the missing brother of Chet's chameleon classmate. With the help of mockingbird Natalie Attired, Chet looks for clues that will help him find Billy before the start of the football game.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Celebrating Dr. Seuss's Birthday in the Bathtub

Dr. Seuss's birthday was March 2. To celebrate, we took our books to the bathtub and had a reading party. Instead of eating cake, as the cat does in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, the boys had popcorn while I read to them.

Of course, putting two growing boys in one bathtub at the same time doesn't always make for a peaceful experience. Tintin was much more relaxed the next day when he didn't have to deal with any kicking or pillow-stealing ("That's my pillow!" "No, it's not, I bought that pillow before you were born!"):

The printable Dr. Seuss quote on the tub can be found at The Scrap Shoppe.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Phineas and Ferb and A Platypus' World

Some of us have a small obsession with Phineas and Ferb. At the most recent Scholastic book fair, each boy got a Phineas and Ferb book, as well as a Phineas and Ferb poster to share. Tintin also recently asked for a book on platypuses because he correctly assumed Perry the Platypus was not your average platypus and he wanted to see what they were really like. A couple of reviews:

The Phineas and Ferb Comic Reader #1: Nothing But Trouble
The Phineas and Ferb Comic Reader #2: The Chronicles of Meap
Author: John Green
Publisher: Disney Press (June 2010)
Category: Graphic Novel

The book we actually got from the book fair is two books in one, Nothing But Trouble on one side and The Chronicles of Meap on the other. (We also got Phineas and Ferb's Guide to Life but haven't delved into it enough to review it.) In Nothing But Trouble, Phineas and Ferb experiment with gelatin, but of course something goes wrong and out of a pool of gelatin emerges an enormous gelatin monster. The evil Dr. Doofenschmirtz gets involved and Perry steps in to save the day. In the second part of Nothing But Trouble, Phineas and Ferb and their family explore London. Candace uses Sherlock Holmes's method of deduction to bust her brothers (once and for all). There's a little bit of Big Ben and of course appearances from Dr. Doofenschmirtz and Perry the Platypus.

The Chronicles of Meap is about a cute little alien who has crash-landed in Phineas and Ferb's yard and needs help defeating his evil enemy. Phineas and Ferb (and Perry) come to the rescue and, with the help of the universal mustache translator, Meap can finally show his appreciation.

The boys liked this book so much that I had to hide it to stop them from fighting over it.

And a review by Tintin, age 9:

Author/illustrator: Caroline Arnold
Publisher: Picture Window Books (January 2008)
Categories: Picture Book/Nonfiction

In this story it tells about platypuses and their life. It tells about their habitats, prey, enemies, food, and how babies are made. I thought this book was great. I liked how there were little pink platypus babies. My favorite part is how they make the burrows. I would recommend this book to animal lovers.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A-Z Reading Marathon Challenge

Last weekend we had nothing to do, so Tintin suggested we have a reading marathon. I decided to make it into a challenge. Each boy had to complete 26 tasks, one for each letter of the alphabet. We picked random letters from our Bananagrams game, but one boy wanted to do some tasks (especially P) more than once, so he peeked a little.

Here's what they had to do:

A. Read 1 chapter to Mom.
B. Read 1 chapter to Dad.
C. Read 1 chapter or smaller book to your brother.
D. Read 1 chapter or smaller book to yourself.
E. Read 1 poem.
F. Read 1 magazine article.
G. Read 1 picture book.
H. Write or dictate 1 book review.
I. Write or dictate 1 story and read it to the family.
J. Have Mom read 1 chapter to you.
K. Have Dad read 1 chapter to you.
L. Have Mom read 1 picture book to you.
M. Have Dad read 1 picture book to you.
N. Do 1 exercise from reading comprehension workbook or 1 word search.
O. Draw a picture of something you just read.
P. Take a break and have a 5-minute dance party.
Q. Read 1 story on Total Reader or Starfall.
R. Read 1 chapter or short book on the iPad.
S. Read 1 story at We Give Books.
T. Use word balloons to make your own comic.
U. Solve 1 code.
V. Go on a reading treasure hunt.
W. Read a recipe and make something with Mom or Dad.
X. Open the dictionary to a random page and read it to someone else.
Y. Play Rory's Story Cubes with at least 1 other person.
Z. Play Blurt with at least 1 other person.

Here are the websites and products we used during our challenge:

Total Reader: Reading comprehension website for grades 3-12 and adult.

Starfall: Reading website for pre-k to grade 2.

We Give Books: Picture books for children through age 10; donate a book to children in need simply by reading online.

Learn-to-Read Treasure Hunts (Amazon): Both boys have been reading for a while, but they still like using this book.

Rory's Story Cubes (Amazon): Or make your own story cubes.

Blurt: We don't actually have this game (yet), so we picked our own words from the dictionary and tried to stump each other.

Here's the clue Tintin had to decipher, and here are Johnny Boo's clues.

Both boys had a lot of fun and want to do it again, next time with numbers instead of letters, and Tintin wants me to think of a math marathon challenge.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sight Words in Kindergarten

This year I've been helping some of Johnny Boo's kindergarten classmates with letters and sight words. I've also become addicted to Pinterest, much to my husband's chagrin (Chagrinterest?). Following are a couple of sight word games copied from or inspired by pins I've made:

Sight Word Parking Lot (based on a bigger parking lot game at Juggling With Kids)

Print Parking Lot game here.

I decided to laminate it and write the words on with dry-erase markers afterward, depending on which words the kids needed to work on most. It's a good thing I left it blank, because my 9-year-old actually likes working on his multiplication tables this way. Just write whichever words, letters, numbers, equations, etc., you want; call out whatever you want the child to find; and have him drive his car to the correct parking space. This was a big hit with everyone last week, especially the boys.

Here's Tintin:

Word Roll (the original, with a free download and directions, can be found at Wishes Dream Love)

Print Word Roll here.

I used the 31 words (plus a few more) that our kindergarteners need to know by the end of the year. So far I've only used this with one boy. He got the hang of finding the correct word after I told him to "crash" his fingers when they met up, and then he wanted to keep rolling the dice (one with numbers and one with the letters added on) so he could keep crashing his fingers. The original directions have the child crossing each word off once it's read, but the boy I was working with needed repetition, so I wanted him to roll the same combinations over and over again.

Here are some more sight word activities I've pinned:

Road Race
Roll & Write
Sight Words Bingo
Spelling Practice With Nautical Flags

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Sea of Lost Books, and Our Reading Response Journal

The Sea of Lost Books (Return to the Library of Doom)
Author/illustrator: Michael Dahl/Bradford Kendall
Publisher: Stone Arch Books (August 2010)
Category: Chapter Book

Tintin has a journal in which he writes down the names of the books he's just finished. In the same journal there's a section for him to write book reviews in the form of a letter to me. When he's done I write a letter back to him. Here is our first exchange:

Dear Mommy,

The Sea of Lost Books was about a giant named Atlas, and there was a man named the Librarian. Atlas and the Librarian don't like each other. They fight in battles. I liked when the Specialist saved the Librarian. My favorite part is when the Librarian gets stuck in the book pages. I would recommend this book to children that like monsters.


Dear (Tintin),

I'm glad you liked The Sea of Lost Books. I thought it was interesting how Atlas used his letter tattoos as weapons. Even though he had letters tattooed all over his body, I don't think he liked letters very much. If he did, he'd probably use them for good, not evil. I liked how some of the words in the book look like what  they are, like when the word "shadow" has its own shadow and when the word "steps" has steps coming off the "p." It reminded me of the Geronimo Stilton books.

I can't wait to read your next letter!


Check out the rest of the Return to the Library of Doom series (both boys, 9 and 6, love it)!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Valentine's Day (Jack Prelutsky)

It's Valentine's Day
Author/illustrator: Jack Prelutsky/Yossi Abolafia
Publisher: Mulberry (1996)
Category: Poetry

It's Valentine's Day is a collection of 14 Valentine's poems from the nation's first children's poet laureate (and the boys' favorite poet not named Shel Silverstein). Check out Prelutsky's website for a few of his other poems and for poetry-writing activities for children.

We chose "I Love You More Than Applesauce" as a basis for poems the boys are giving to their teachers today (and because I won't be able to get them to write any more poems for a while, they're for you, too, grandmas). We got the idea from Elise in Ukraine. Here's the original Prelutsky poem:

I love you more than applesauce,
Than peaches and a plum,
Than chocolate hearts and cherry tarts
And berry bubblegum.

I love you more than lemonade
And seven-layer cakes,
Than lollipops and candy drops
And thick vanilla shakes.

I love you more than marzipan,
Than marmalade on toast,
Oh I love pies of any size,
But I love YOU the most.

Here's Tintin's:

I love you more than dim sum;
I love you more than bubblegum.
I really love lasagna,
But I love YOU the most.

And Johnny Boo's (with a reference to the Mercy Watson series):

I love you more than blood orange flan;
I love you more than naan.
I really love red velvet cheesecake and hot buttered toast,
But I love YOU the most.

Here are some of the 42 hearts we made to hand out to teachers and classmates (the teachers' poems are on the backs of their hearts). Directions for the hearts can be found at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Play, Louis, Play! and Our New Book Club

Play, Louis, Play! The True Story of a Boy and His Horn
Author/illustrator: Muriel Harris Weinstein/Frank Morrison
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's (December 2011)
Categories: Biography; Chapter Book

This is the story of Louis Armstrong's childhood, as told by his first horn, which little Louis purchased from a New Orleans hock shop for $5. Not only did the boys enjoy the book, but they now want to learn how to play the trumpet and go to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. And one of them spent two days looking up Louis Armstrong music on MOG.

The boys and I started a new book club, modeled after an idea at The First Grade Parade, and Play, Louis, Play! was our first book. We called our book club the Pop Bag Book Club because one boy wanted it to be called the Popcorn Book Club and the other wanted it to be called the Brown Bag Book Club. So we compromised.

Here are our popcorn bags, with the boys' thinking maps attached. On the thinking maps, we have characters, setting, main idea, and favorite part. I had Johnny Boo dictate to me. We talked about what they'd written down, and anything else about the book, New Orleans, jazz, and racial discrimination that came up.

Here's Tintin eating his popcorn and figuring out where New Orleans is and how far away it is from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our 2011-2012 Bluebonnet Award Choice Is...

Last week Tintin and everyone else who read at least five Texas Bluebonnet books attended a special breakfast in the school library and voted on their favorite Bluebonnet book. Students all across Texas participated in the voting at their own schools. The author of the book receiving the most votes will be declared the winner of the 2011-2012 Texas Bluebonnet Award. Here's Tintin voting for Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda:

For each book they read the children had to fill out a log describing a memorable moment from the book. Here's Tintin's collection:

Amazing Faces 9/26/11

I like "Which Way to Dreamland" because dreams are special and sometimes come true. My favorite was: How in the world do dreams get in your head? and: Do they hide with dust bunnies under the bed?
Wild Times at the Bed and Biscuit 9/26/11

I liked when Ernest and the other animals saved Sir Walter in the woods. Sir Walter was lost in the woods because he was helping the foxes dig a hole, but they got away.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda 10/8/11

I liked when they made a bet that if Tommy dances with Sara, Dwight wins, and if she doesn't then Harvey wins.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse 1/9/12

This book is about poems and fairy tales that are reversed. My favorite fairy tale is "Bears in the News." This book is reversed because it helps children like to read poems and fairy tales.

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy 1/23/12

I liked when Connor ran away and Buddy tried to help his mom find him.

Imogene's Last Stand 1/23/12

I liked when Imogene said, "Heck no, I won't go!" and wouldn't leave the museum.

You can find a list of the 2011-2012 Bluebonnet Award nominees at the Texas Library Association website.