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Loser - Jerry Spinelli

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book was really difficult for me to get into. As a kid, I remember a lot of my friends reading it. As an adult, I still didn't really know what it was about having never read it in school, so when I saw it in the Little Free Lending Library, I picked it up for a quick read.

Mostly, the book was just sad. There is no doubt the reader will fall in love with Zinkoff's character, but you just feel bad for him the whole time. He is such a sweetheart, but nothing really goes his way. He is wonderful and has good intentions. He accepts everything that happens to him and is such a champ about everything that you just want everything to work out for him. And when something doesn't, you just die a little bit inside. It's like that repetitively. That's basically the summation of the book: Zinkoff's tries and fails over and over and over again.

The ending was a bit of a disappointment as well. I don't really feel like anything happened. Through the whole book, you are just waiting for Zinkoff's big moment, and while something occurs that maybe makes things a little bit better maybe hopefully possibly, there isn't a big moment or lesson. At least none that I picked up. 

I couldn't really figure out what the moral was supposed to be. Looking at the cover, I assumed it was about someone who was bullied and then proved the bullies wrong or the bullies got in trouble or the kid is finally accepted at the end, but none of those things really happen, at least not in a big way. The ending is very subtle and not very satisfying. 

This book is just sad and kind of depressing. As a adult I didn't enjoy it. I am already depressed about so many things, I didn't need a fictional child to feel bad for as well, especially one that you continue to pity all the way to the end.

Okay read, but apparently I just didn't "get" it. A little to subtle for my taste. 

El Deafo - Cece Bell

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Wow! This is a fantastic book. Literally everyone should read this book. It is perfect!

Written in graphic novel form, Cece Bell tells about her early life, getting sick, losing her hearing, and all of the struggles that followed including feelings to being different, hiding her deafness, refusing to learn sign language, and figuring out how to interact with (good and not-so-good) friends. It is an amazing book.

I think everyone can benefit from this book. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can definitely relate to some of Cece's struggles in the book (whether or not to learn sign language, people talking to you differently, feelings of loneliness and isolation, whether to learn to lip read and all of the issues that go along with it). While Cece grew up in the 70's and technology has changed since them, I still think this is a very relevant book.

Hearing people can also learn a lot from this book such as that speaking louder or slower doesn't help a person who is trying to read your lips. Cece is very open about her feelings of loneliness and fear of being different. I think this is an important thing for hearing people to learn. There are characters in the book who are hearing people with good intentions who nevertheless make Cece feel different or unintentionally make it hard for her to understand them (signing at her, talking too loud, talking with the light off or not facing Cece when speaking). It's also important to note that lip reading is not exact and is actually a very difficult skill. Also, just because someone is deaf or hard of hearing does not automatically mean that they can read lips. Every person is different and it's about learning about each person and their preferences on an individual basis. 

Most of all, I love the tone in the book that Cece is not disabled. In fact, she has superpowers. She can't hear exactly like her peers can, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with her. She is just different the way everyone is different, one way or another. I love the way Cece's character learns that her deafness is not a weakness and embraces her differences. 

The artwork in the book is beautiful and fun. I especially love all of the daydreaming scenes with El Deafo. I think it is a great outlet for a lot of Cece's frustrations. 

I highly recommend this book for all readers. It is especially good for children, whether deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. Everyone can get something great out of reading this amazing book. 

Jump into Science: Volcano! - Ellen J. Prager
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another great Jump Into Science book. This is such a great series for learning about the earth and the solar system. 

This book presents volcanoes in a non-scary way. The information is straight and to the point without making kids feel anxious about volcanoes (I was terrified of volcanoes growing up). It discusses how people predict eruptions and some warning signs. 

As with the other books in the series, this one is a bit text heavy so I would recommend for older children or for it to be broken up between readings. Great, fun illustrations.

There is also a fun volcano experiment at the end.

Great educational read.
Dirt: Jump Into Science - Steve Tomecek, Nancy Woodman

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I think the fact that this book made dirt interesting shows how great the Jump Into Science series is. Well done.

This is a lengthy book that is text-heavy, but very educational with great pictures. The book is packed with information and is a wonderful teaching tool for children to learn the importance of dirt. Even adults can learn from this book. 

While it was not quite as interesting as the Earthquakes, Sun, and Moon books, this is still a very engaging and educational book. Recommended for older children or to be read over multiple sittings.

Sun: Jump Into Science - Steve Tomecek
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I love the Jump Into Science series. The books are a great focal point for teaching children various things about out Earth and the solar system.

As with the other books, I would recommend this book for older children. It is very text-heavy with a lot of information. It does contain great pictures as well.

Of course the book is a bit outdated (lists Pluto as a planet), but it is still a great read and a great resource for teaching. 

There is also an experiment at the end to help teach children why we experience night and day. 

Awesome read. 
Jump into Science: Earthquakes - Ellen J. Prager
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another great book in the Jump Into Science series. I really enjoyed this one. As a kid, I was terrified of earthquakes. I didn't realize that here in Wisconsin, we don't really get big earthquakes. Part of my irrational fear was all of the books and movies that make all earthquakes seem like the end of the world. This is a wonderful book, because it teaches about earthquakes in a way that isn't scary. It is very matter-of-fact and shows a map of places that get a lot of earthquakes. It is clear that they can cause damage and injury, but it is not presented in an overly-terrifying way. It teaches what causes earthquakes and how to stay safe in them.

At the end of the book, there is a little experiment to do to learn why buildings should be built on certain soil. 

As with the other books in the series, I would recommend for older children or those really interested in each topic, because they are quite text-heavy with lots of information. There are a lot of really good pictures as well. 

Good, engaging, educational read.
Moon - Steve Tomecek
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I found a few of these Jump into Science books in the Little Free Lending Library. I work with children and they ended up being perfect books to focus mini-lessons around. 

A very informative read with a lot of great pictures. The book is a bit wordy so I wouldn't recommend for very small children unless they are very interested in the subject matter. I read this one to a five-year-old who loves space and he was completely enthralled. I'm sure he didn't take in all of the information that is packed into this book, but it was good exposure to facts about the moon. I would suggest these for older children.

The book also includes a little experiment to visually learn how craters are made.

Very interesting read. This is a great book series.
The Mystery of the Jeweled Eggs - Warner McGee
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Cute story about a mysterious egg hunt. Overall, it was entertaining enough. It's an old school Sherlock Holmes style story, which might confuse children in my opinion. Why is Pablo wearing that funny hat? What's a butler? And why would Tyrone want to be the butler in a playtime activity? But nevertheless, interesting story. 

I really liked the illustrations. The facial expressions have great detail and you can figure out everything based on the background character facial expressions. Good detail. 
Dog Man: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man #1) - Dav Pilkey

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I really enjoyed this book. It is awesomely entertaining. 

I grew up reading the Captain Underpants and Super Diaper Baby series and loved them. As an adult I read The Adventures of Ook and Gluk and didn't like it as much. It didn't have the same appeal to me. So I was a little hesitant about trying a new series by Dav Pilkey. I picked up this book from the library to see if I'd like it.

Long story short, I did. 

It is fun and entertaining. It's weird and disgusting and creepy: classic Dav Pilkey. Yes, there is gross stuff, but it's all in good humor and let's be real, it's hilarious. There are also lots of misspellings, but that's not all that surprising. For those who say they love Captain Underpants, but didn't like the intentional misspellings in this one clearly forgot that misspellings were a big thing in Captain Underpants as well. Yes, they were contained in the comics rather than the text of the book, but they were definitely still there. This one is set up as a graphic novel, so it is all in comic form and the misspellings are all over. Use it as a teaching moment or exercise for your kids to figure out which words are spelled wrong. It's still readable and makes the book relatable for kids. 

A great read. I can't wait to continue the series.

Word of Mouse - James Patterson, Joe Sutphin

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Warning: I just had my morning coffee, so prepare for a long review. 

Well, that got real weird real fast.

I picked up this audiobook at the library because it had a blue mouse on the cover and how can you mess that up? Apparently it's possible. 

This is basically a bubbly, less exciting version of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

The story itself was okay, I guess. I liked the educational components of it. There are tons of mouse facts interwoven into the text such as that a group of mice is called a mischief and that mice use their whiskers to help them smell and all that. There are also tons of big words that Isaiah uses and gives the definitions for. So that was cool.

I also really liked the focus on how different can be good and accepting everybody for who they are. It was a great message and I loved that part of it. 

However, the rest of the book was a weird string of chase scenes where Isaiah and the other mice are constantly running. I get it, they are mice, they have a lot of enemies. But there are only so many times I want to hear about how you had to run away from the "evil cat", Lucifer. What a creative idea: a book about mice where the cats are the villains. This makes sense, but I just recently read Ratscalibur and loved the idea that not all cats are evil. This one just played into the same old story roles. How dull.

Also, Isaiah's narration was kind of irritating. While living in the Brosky (sp?) house, Isaiah constantly critiques them for being fat and their unhealthy living style (which consequently proved him and the mischief with unlimited goodies so I don't even know what he's complaining about). If you want a book to make people feel terrible about their eating habits, look no further. The next time you binge in front of the TV in the privacy of your own home, just remember that there might be a super judgmental mouse right around the corner. 

This leads to the issue of the actual reading. I wish I would have read the physical book instead of the audiobook, because Nate Begle's reading really bugged me. His does a great job changing his voice for different characters, but the one for Isaiah himself was really irritating. It sounds like an overly enthusiastic cartoon character that every parent wants to strangle. Even when he is escaping "the horrible place" and is terrified out of his mind, he still somehow sounds like he's just about to blow that candles out on a cartoon cake. Like chill out, dude, there's only so much enthusiasm I can take. 

From the beginning, it is clear that Isaiah and his family are in a research lab. Whatever your opinion of this topic, it is undeniable that animal research is a very important tool in furthering medical research. This book takes an overly simplistic view of animal research. While I don't like it, I realize that animal research is very helpful to making scientific discoveries. Having worked in a research lab myself, I know that everything is done to study and experiment in the most humane way possible. This book pretty much just says it's bad and that's it. From a mouse's point of view, I get this, but I think parents should be ready to discuss the topic further with their children if they read this book. The whole thing is much more complicated that this book leads the reader to believe.

Lastly, the ending. What the heck?






Haley's (sp?) character is super accepting and cool throughout the book. Then at the end, after rescuing the extraordinary mice from the "evil" research lab, she randomly invites them to go to church with her? Because that is definitely the first thing I would do. I kind of picked up on the religious theme with the names in the book (Isaiah, Winnifred, Godfrey, Abe), but that ending was pretty random. The speech was great, but where the heck did that church sense even come from? Freaking weird. 



In summary, this book was okay. There was definitely more I disliked than liked. Glad it was a relatively quick read. Would not recommend.

Bedtime For Monsters - Ed Vere
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A fantastic bedtime story that is a little bit scary and a lot a bit fun. Great for kids who like monsters. Simple illustrations and text, that make up a hilarious, entertaining read. 

This will be an instant favorite to be read again and again. It's a nice, quick book sure to delight. Great read.
Max At Night - Ed Vere
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another very cute Max story. I didn't like this one quite as much as Max the Brave, but it still a very fun story with great, simple illustrations. I really liked the moon and sky artwork. 

This is a very good read-along story, because of the whispering and yelling elements. 

Nice Max adventure.
Max the Brave - Ed Vere

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is such an adorable story. It is very simple with simple illustrations, but it is fantastic. Max is such a fun character and I love reading all of his adventures. 

A wonderful story with a great silly ending.

The Cricket in Times Square - George Selden, Garth Williams
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I absolutely loved this book. It is an adorably entertaining read.

While reading it, I had vague recollections of having read it before, but nothing concrete. I think I read it in elementary school, but I don't remember much of it. I am so glad I read it now though.

Fantastic story. This is such a fun read. The characters are interesting and the premise is very unique. I really enjoyed the ending as well. A great all around book.
Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This was an entertaining read. I picked up a copy of the audiobook from the library to listen to while driving for work. 

The book is basically a collection of thoughts, stories, anecdotes, and jokes. I'll admit, I didn't really know much about Carrie Fisher before reading this book. She is very open in the book about various aspects of her life, especially addiction and mental health. I liked how inclusive Fisher was when talking about mental illness. The way she is so honest and open about her struggles makes it easy for the reader to connect with her. 

It is a very funny book. There is a lot of weird stuff that happens. Most of the jokes are self-deprecating, but Fisher has a way of reading the text that is very humorous. She finds a way to turn all the bad and strange things in her life around to make them a ridiculous story. 

Overall, a funny, entertaining read.
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book is wonderfully-written, majestically-crafted, and hauntingly beautiful. I loved every moment of it.

Last week, I listened to the audiobook version of this book, which was very good. Then I saw that it was an abridged version so of course I had to hunt down the full story. And here we are. I enjoyed this version more than the abridged version. The abridged version is good, but the whole story is so much more connected in the full version. It makes more sense. You get the gist of things in the abridged story, but this one is definitely more put-together. 

Also, the illustrations are lovely. I love how simplistic they are, yet still magnificent. 

Fantastic, fantastic story. 

I've been on a bit of a Little Prince binge now and watched the newest movie version last night. It is good in the way that the newest Lorax movie was good. It plays off of the original story and expands it. Not bad. Just different. 

Good book, great story.