Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Read This! Grades 2-4

by Harper Paris, Illustrated by Marcos Calo

Ethan and Ella are twins who travel around the world with their parents. Their mother is a travel writer and their father, who was a history teacher, homeschools them. In this story, the family is in Paris. The twins are in the Louvre, a famous museum, when a painting is stolen. They end up solving the mystery while visiting a secret crepe shop.

This is the third book in the series. The family goes to many different countries, and the stories are sprinkled with facts about the country, famous landmarks, cultural references and a little bit of the language of the country. In the back is a small glossary of foreign words. This is one step up for the Magic Tree House crowd, but the text and the margins are large. The story is fast-paced with lots of dialogue and a pretty decent mystery.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Read This! Adults

Still Life
by Louise Penny

In the very small French Canadian town of Three Pines, a death has occurred. Jane Neal, a retired school mistress has been shot with a hunter's arrow. Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigate, and he knows that it is not a hunting accident --- this death is murder.

Still Life is Louise Penny's first book in the Inspector Gamache series. It paints an interesting little town with some very quirky inhabitants.  Fans of British mysteries, cozy mysteries, or mysteries that rely more on investigation of relationships and inner personalities rather than clues and quick plots will dig this! There's also a fascinating view into Canadian culture, a little history, and a smattering of French words.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Read This! Nonfiction for Kids

Engineering in Our Everyday Lives
by Reagan Miller

Learn all about engineers, technology and why things are invented!  This book easily explains what engineers do and why they do it!  Each small section (the whole book is only 24 pages) has a little thinking activity that helps the reader draw conclusions and find the engineer in themselves!  Readers will be able to look at the world and see how they could play a role in shaping the space around them!

The vocabulary is not super hard and the largest words "engineer" and "technology" are repeated enough times that they may become sight words!  There is a glossary in the back, along with suggested websites and other reading.  There are plenty of interesting, colorful pictures to help readers identify with the text.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Read This! Grades 2-3

by Judy Blume

Abigail is in third grade, and she calls her little brother, Jake, "the Pain."  He calls her "the Great One" because she thinks she is so great.  They have a lot of different adventures together and apart, and in the end, the reader knows that sticking up for your family members is important -- even if you can't stand them sometimes.

Readers interested in chapter books that are just a little harder than Magic Tree House may really like this!  Parents who want to share Judy Blume with their kids will find a lot of similarities between this family and Peter's family from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Read This! Adults

by Beth Hoffman

Teddi owns an antique and restoration shop in Charleston, NC, and is preparing for her mother's first visit in all the years she has lived there.  Unfortunately, her mother dies before the visit can take place and Teddi is left to clear out the family home.  When she discovers some newspaper articles that have direct ties to the disappearance of her younger brother many years ago, Teddi wonders what secrets her family has hidden from her...and why.

This is a wonderful story, full of charming and charmed characters.  Teddi is a great character, and there are plenty of quirky, Southern side characters that readers will enjoy.  Fans of yard sales and antiques will also find this story interesting.  There's a little mystery, a little history and a little romance - something for everyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Read This! Grades 3-4

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the story of Charlie Bucket, a poor boy who longs to visit the chocolate factory where Willy Wonka makes his candy. Willy Wonka has just announced that there are five golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars around the world, and the people who find them will be granted a full tour of his candy factory! Charlie eventually gets a ticket, and brings his Grandpa Joe on the tour. A lot of mystical, magical things happen, and they meet a lot of people (and some...other kinds of creatures ) along the way. 
This is a wonderful family read, too, and would be a great book-on-cd to listen to on a road trip! You can also read the book together, and have a movie-watching party comparing the book and the movies!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Read This! Picture Books

Anna Carries Water
Written by Olive Senior and Illustrated by Laura James

Anna lives in a village where there is no running water.  Everyday, the children set off for the spring with containers to carry fresh water home.  They carry the full containers back on their heads without spilling a drop.  Anna, the youngest, wishes to carry her container on her head, but she is still too small and drops it.  One day, Anna finds the ability to carry the water on her head.

Children may be interested in learning about a society with different amenities than we have here in the United States.  The illustrations are very bright, painted on canvas, and are charming.