Starting with the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938, the book follows three interrelated stories: the American efforts to build a bomb, the Soviet spies’ efforts to steal the bomb design, and the Allies’ efforts to prevent Germany from developing the bomb. Sheinkin does an amazing job of weaving in quotations from primary sources to create an informative and readable narrative.
Blaine enjoyed this book too. More than once, I overheard him telling his dad about something he learned from it. His concise review: Bomb is bomb.
When Larrabee came home from the library last week with a copy of Tom Angleberger‘s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, it brought back memories of a time when my purse was full of folded paper Star Wars characters. When Blaine and his classmates discovered this series four years ago, there were only three books. Now there are six (all with great titles, including my favorite-The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee).
After hearing Larrabee chuckling in the backseat while he read the first book, I had to read it too.
Tommy starts with an important question: Is Origami Yoda real? In other words, even though it’s just a paper finger puppet worn by the weirdest kid in the sixth grade, can he trust its advice? The book consists of the investigative case file that he’s put together by asking his classmates about their interactions with Origami Yoda.
Like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this book is aimed at a middle school audience but is easy enough for younger kids to read. It’s sweet and funny, though, and Larrabee didn’t seem to mind reading about middle school dances. And the Cheeto Hog and Soapy the Monkey have universal appeal.
The book includes instructions for folding your own Origami Yoda. I’m sure I’ll soon have one or two in my purse, in case you need any advice.
Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl are 5th graders and best friends. Lou Lou lives in a house shaped like a ship and grows prize-worthy camellias. Pea loves art and has a flair for fashion.
When bad things start happening in their neighborhood, they want to help. Then, they notice that new images are appearing in the murals of El Corazón. Oddly, the new images all relate to the recent crimes. They have a mystery to solve! A cryptic riddle points the way for them to find the culprit just in time for the Día de Los Muertos procession.
In a recent interview, Jill Diamond reveals that the fictional El Corazón neighborhood was inspired by her own neighborhood, San Francisco’s Mission District.
I’m planning to donate a copy of this book to Larrabee’s 2nd grade classroom. Larrabee is reading it now, and I think his classmates would enjoy it too. They made skeleton dolls this fall as part of their study of Día de Los Muertos.
Good news: Jill Diamond is already planning a second adventure for Lou Lou and Pea!
My personal favorite of all the books in the box is How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. I can practically recite it from memory. No Christmas would be complete for me without chimbleys, Whos’ mouses, and roast beast. The Grinch just puts me in the Christmas spirit. Maybe I’ll watch the cartoon version before I finish decorating… Now that’s a wonderful, awful idea.
You don’t have to be a Yankees fan to enjoy pitcher Mariano Rivera’s autobiography. From his childhood in Panama to his long Major League career, Rivera’s story is interesting and inspiring. Blaine particularly liked his descriptions of life in the Yankees clubhouse.
By the way, I do not know how the Young Readers Edition differs from the original. We just happened to find this one in the library.
Ted & Me is the 11th book in the 12-book Baseball Card Adventures series about a boy named Joe Stoshack who can travel through time using baseball cards.
In this adventure, the FBI gives Joe a Ted Williams card from 1941 and asks him to warn President Roosevelt about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Larrabee likes history and baseball, so this book was right up his alley. He especially liked the (true) Ted Williams tips about hitting and fly fishing and has quoted them often.
I love retellings of fairy tales, myths, and other familiar stories. By mixing well-known plot elements with a new setting, genre, or perspective, an author gives us a story that is both comfortingly recognizable and surprising.
My favorite type of retelling is the “inside scoop” variety. The story that tells you what really happened.
So I was intrigued by the opening of The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder:
“When you hear the tale of Cinderella, do you ever wonder about the rats who were turned into coachmen by her fairy godmother?… Now settle yourselves in comfort, and be sure you’ve plenty of provisions upon which to nibble, for you are about to hear the true story from Cinderella herself… and from me. My name is Char. In former days, they called me the Rat Prince.”
Larrabee will be the first to admit that he’s no expert on Cinderella. He’s seen the Disney movie, of course. And he loved Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine this summer–although he was well into the book before he realized it was a Cinderella story. Recently, his 2nd grade class read two very different Cinderella stories–Trollerella by Karen Stegman-Bourgeois and Bubba, the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman.
He agreed to read The Rat Prince with me, and we both enjoyed it. Prince Char of the Northern Rat Realm is an excellent addition to the story–and a worthy hero. Who knew that the rats in the castle were such interesting characters?