Friday, December 4, 2015

Carole P Roman Roundup!

I have featured several series by Carole P. Roman on my blog before. She writes two book series for children that I have really enjoyed and am excited to bring you a few more books in both of those series and a stand alone book as well! Her books are always full of beautifl illustrations and rich vocabulary that can enhance a read aloud session. I have read some of the books to my past preschool classes and they are always a hit! Without further ado...

Series: If You Were Me and  Lived in...

                                                 Grade: A+

Review
As I have stated in past reviews, I think this series is a much needed addition to the world of childrens literature. Each book in the series focuses on a different country and general facts about that country that are relatable to children. The newest ones I have to review are about Greece, Scotland, Hungary, and China. Each of the books starts with a map of the location of the country and then goes into the facts. I am going to Scotland in the spring, so I was very interested in the book about Scotland. I liked the descriptions of the food and am looking forward to trying some delicious tassie scones! Something that I picked up when reading these newest books that I didn't before was that after each new word, Roman gives the phonetic pronunciation. This can be such a vital tool when reading new and unfamiliar words to children! I hope that you all have the opportunity to check out this series! I promise you won't be disappointed and will definitely learn something new!

    Series: Captain No Beard
                                                      Grade: A

Review
The Captain No Beard series follows Captain No Beard, aka Alexander, and his crew as they learn life lessons through high sea adventures with his crew. 

One of the newest books, Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles focuses on new additions to the family. Fribbet is scared because he has no brothers and sisters in his family and doesn't like the new changes. He shares his fears with the crew and the crew is able to help him through this difficult time. I really liked two things about this book. First the lesson about families growing and the changes that bring. This is a subject that is very relevant for children and it shows them how to talk through their fears with others. The other thing I liked about this book was that it went through the life cycle of a frog. It started with eggs and went all the way to an adult frog. This description included pictures and verbal descriptions on each phase. I would definitely include this book in my life cycle theme!

A Flag for the Flying Dragon is the second new book in the series. This book introduces and new character to the crew, baby Zachary. The crew struggles to find a job that will make Zachary feel included, but will also keep him out of trouble. The crew problem solves, and works together to come up with a solution. Learning how to problem solve is a vital part of my preschool classroom. This book shows an example of how to do this in a fun and understandable way.

Title: I Want to do Yoga too
                                  Grade: C

Review
I Want to do Yoga too introduces us to Hallie and her mom who are on the way to yoga. While Hallie's mom is attending her yoga class, Hallie is in the childrens area. She really, really wants to do yoga just like her mom! Robin, the babysitter, shows Hallie how to do several easy yoga poses that any child can do. Hallie is delighted to find out that she can do yoga too!

I was not super impressed by this book. It started with a good plot, but then fell stagnant. Hallie is shown how to do yoga poses, but is constantly complaining that she wants to do yoga too, which she actually is doing. I guess the book tries to show kids that they can do several easy yoga poses just like their parents. The book is just not very interesting and I don't think it would hold the attention of most of my preschoolers. If you are into yoga, you would probably find this book interesting, otherwise I would leave it. 

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic





Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: Hidden-: Like Anne Frank

Title:  Hidden: Like Anne Frank
Author: Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhis
Grade:  A+

Review
This book tells the tales of several Jewish children who survive the Holocaust by hiding.  This book had been on my TBR shelf for quite awhile. I have always been interest in the Holocaust but was pushed to read this book after I recently saw a play version of Anne Frank. I was blown away by the play and was excited (which I don't think is the exact word to describe reading about such an awful time period) to read this book. The book is divided into 14 chapters that each focus on a different child. Most of the children in the chapters do not actually end up in a concentration camp, but survive by either hiding in plain sight and acting as a non-Jewish child, or by hiding in a closet or a hidden area in a house. This is different than most of the books I have read about the Holocaust. Each of the chapters truly tugged on my heart and made me feel like I was actually there hiding along with each of them. I can not imagine how terrifying it would be to have to worry who would find me or where if I would ever see my family again. Another part of the book that I really liked was that there were photos of what each child looks like today. This really puts a face to a name and truly shows that these were real people, not just fictional characters in a book. Because the Holocaust is truly a terrible, horrible time period, when reading these books, we sometimes convince ourselves that the stories are fiction and there is no way that any of this could have actually happened. It is very unfortunate that it did happen and it is truly a part of history.

I think this book is a great read for anyone interested in the Holocaust and survival stories. It is a juvenile fiction book so it is a short read, but is still very powerful.

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: The Breeding Tree

Title: The Breeding Tree
Author: J. Andersen
Grade: A+

Synopsis from the back of the book
When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a "Creation Specialist" in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession - the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don't exist, human perfection demands that no genetic "mutants" be allowed to live. For Sector 4, "survival of the fittest" is not just a theory - it's The Institute's main mission.

When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.
Review
As you can tell from many of the books I review, I really enjoy the genre of dystopian fiction. Of course, when reading the synopsis for The Breeding Tree, I was instantly hooked. Katherine, or Kate as she is come to be known, lives in a dystopian society where everything is monitored, from food intake, what your job is, who you date, and who has children and even what kind of children. The society that the book is set in only allows children to be born if they are without defect. If they are fond to be nonviable, which means they have any sort of flaw, they are disposed of. When Kate is assigned the job of creation specialist, this is a job she must learn to do. Along the way Kate becomes friends with people that are fighting this perfect society and they make a huge impact on many of the decisions Kate has to make.

I absolutely LOVED this book. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. I feel like the issues of birth and when a child is considered a child is a hot topic in this day in age. Anderson is able to discuss this subject in a nonthreatening, but very thought provoking way. It brings up questions in the readers mind such as, at what point is a life considered a life, or would it be possible to have a perfect society?I think that Anderson also makes all of her characters very relatable to the reader. Every time Kate went through a struggle, or had to make a tough decision, I felt for her.  The book ends kind of on a cliff hanger, so I am assuming this is the start of a series. I think that anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction will be instantly drawn into The Breeding Tree!  Even those who do not typical look at dystopian books will enjoy this thought provoking novel! You can read more about J. Anderson and her books by visiting her blog.

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: Meritorium


Title: Meritorium
Author: Joel Ohman
Grade: A

Synopsis from the back of the book
Charley has escaped from Meritropolis...

but in his quest to take down the System that has taken his brother from him, he must go through Meritorium, a city where gladiatorial games of life or death combat are waged between High Scores and Low Scores, man and beast.

Charley and Sandy must face man-eating plants, religious zealots, slave traders, and the ever present mutant animal combinations that roam a dystopian Coliseum presided over by Emperor Titus, the one man standing between Charley and the answers he seeks. Man is not an animal, but if they are to make it through Meritorium, will they even be able to tell the difference?

The lines between man and beast, friend and foe, will blur in Meritorium, the riveting sequel to the bestselling Meritropolis.


Review
Meritorium is the second book in the "Meritropolis" series by Joel Ohman. You can read the review for the first book posted below this review! I was a little disappointed by Meritropolis and was hoping to be more excited about the second book. I have to say that the second book did not let me down! This book blew me away! The book picks back up with Charley and the gang on their way to Meritorium. The meet many animal combos and even some interesting plant combos. When they finally reach the city, they are instantly thrown into many situations that keep the reader on their toes throughout the entire book. The System continues to be challenged and Charley, Sven, and Sandy continue to fight it, which brings on a slew of new characters and obstacles. During the course of the book, Ohman introduces as one point the concept of grace into a situation between Charley and another character. I liked being challenged on a mental level on how difficult it is to provide grace to someone who does not deserve. As a Christian I know that I am given grace through Jesus Christ, and recognized this with Charley. It is always a plus when books can make you think on a higher level.

I am not always a hge fan of books that are turned into movies, but Meritorium would make for an epic action movie, along the lines of The Hunger Games" series. Seeing how the animal combos are depicted in real life would be pretty awesome! I was a little sad that we did not get to see what happened to Elena during the second book, but maybe Ohman will bring her back in the next book in the series. Meritorium kept me wanting more and I am anxiously awaiting the third book! I suggest this book to any readers who like dystopian fiction and anyone who is looking for a book to keep them on the edge of their seats. As the second book in the series, you do have to read the first book to understand what is going on in the second book.
Happy Reading!
Bookaholic

*I was sent this book to review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by others.*

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Meritropolis

Title: Meritropolis
Author: Joel Ohman
Grade: B+

Synopsis from the back of the book
The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment--to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.


But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn't an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing--not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science--is going to stop him.


Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn't possibly have bargained for...
Review
When I initially read the synopsis for Meritopolis I was very intrigued because I thoroughly enjoy a good dystopian book. I was not dissapointed in that aspect. Charley and the other characters live in a walled city where everyone is given a score. The higher the score, the more "important" or valued the person becomes in the society.  The score can rise and fall based on a person's situation and is constantly reevaluated. When a person's score dips below a certain number, that person is put outside the city walls and "zeroed". Ohman does a wonderful job connecting the reader to the characters who have low scores and making you feel their emotions and the struggle they have with having low scores. Charley, one of the main characters, has one of the highest scores in the city. Thankfully, he does not let this get to his head and truly feels for the other low scores, which many other high-scores do not. One interesting item Ohman introduces into the development of the characters, that I really liked,  is that each of the high scorers has a personal connection to someone that has been put outside the gates and zeroed. Something else I also enjoyed was the animals Ohman has created for this book. During The Event, something caused there to become many different animal combinations, such as a lanther (lion-panther), gobster (goose-lobster), and the vicious rothog (rottweiler-hog). The animal combos take on the characteristics of the two animals and I enjoyed seeing the various combinations Ohman came up with. He puts a picture of a different creation at the beginning of each chapter. As the first book in the series, Ohman ends the book on a cliff hanger, which makes the reader want to pick up the second book. I will be reviewing the second book next!

 I was very excited to read the book after reading the synopsis, but I felt a little let down when I finished it. There were parts of the book that definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and made me want to continue reading, but there were also parts that really dragged for me. I also felt that Ohman introduced certain characters, but did not always explain their purpose, like George, or did not give as much time devoted to them as I wold have liked, like Elena and Bree. As the first book in the series thankfully there is more opportunities for changes and character development. I reccomend this book to anyone that enjoys dystopian fiction and science fiction! You can read more about Joel Ohman and the Meritropolis series on his website!

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: No Summit out of Sight

Title: No Summit out of Sight
Author: Jordan Romero
Grade: A

Review
This book follows Jordan Romero's quest to climb the the 7 (actually 8) summits in the world. He does not set out to be the youngest person to do this, but in the end he sets the record. Jordan climbs all of them with the help of his dad and stepmom. He climbs his first summit at age 10, and summits his 8 and final, in this quest, at the age of 15. Along the way Jordan and his team face many doubters and criticisms of allowing a child to attempt this massive task. Time and again, Jordan proves them all wrong.

My favorite aspect of this book was that Jordan not only documents the positive parts of his journey, he also makes sure that the readers are aware of the mental, physical, and emotional struggles he encounters along the way. There are several times when Jordan wants to give up, but is able to push through with the loving support of his family and friends. I suggest this book to anyone who loves adventure and to anyone attempting their own "Everest". You won't be sorry you took the chance!

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review: Hope Against Hope


Title: Hope Against Hope

Author: Sarah Carr
Grade: B

Synopsis from the back of the book

Geraldlynn is a lively, astute 14-year-old. Her family, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, returns home to find a radically altered public education system. Geraldlynn's parents hope their daughter's new school will prepare her for college--but the teenager has ideals and ambitions of her own.
Aidan is a fresh-faced Harvard grad drawn to New Orleans by the possibility of bringing change to a flood-ravaged city. He teaches at an ambitious charter school with a group of newcomers determined to show the world they can use science, data, and hard work to build a model school.
Mary Laurie is a veteran educator who becomes principal of one of the first public high schools to reopen after Katrina. Laurie and her staff find they must fight each day not only to educate the city's teenagers, but to keep the Walker community safe and whole.
In this powerful narrative non-fiction debut, the lives of these three characters provide readers with a vivid and sobering portrait of education in twenty-first-century America. Hope Against Hope works in the same tradition as Random Family and There Are No Children Here to capture the challenges of growing up and learning in a troubled world.

Review
As a teacher, I always enjoy reading books about my field. I also have always been interested in books about Hurricane Katrina. This book combined two of my interests into one volume. These facts are what first drew me to add this book to my TBR list. The book followed a teacher, principal, and a family at three different school, post-Katrina, in New Orleans. Each chapter followed the three different subjects over the course of the school year. It was interesting to see the three points of views as it approached the different aspects of how a school is run. I enjoyed each person's contributions to the book, that I am not sure I cold choose a favorite. I grew up in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and attended a private school from K-12, where college wasn't even a question. The schools and areas that the book took place were completely opposite from my upbringing. Each of the three schools were charter schools located in rougher parts of New Orleans. The main focus of all three of the schools was  getting as many students as possible to attend college and put a big focus on tests that prepare students for the tests that help them get into college. It was very mind-opening to see the differences my upbringing and the many trials the students at these school face everyday. It is always a bonus when a book can open your eyes to the differences of people in the same country. 

I really did enjoy reading the book, but it didn't always hold my attention. About half of each chapter was spent focusing on the history of the New Orleans public school system and the history of charter schools in general. Those parts of the book I pretty much skipped over. I more enjoyed the parts that focused on the three different people in the book, and was why I originally chose to read it. I recommend this book for all educators out there and for anyone looking to broaden their horizons on the education system in America.

Happy Reading!
Bookaholic