Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walking and Listening to "Elvis and the Underdogs"

Lee, Jenny. Elvis and the Underdogs. 6hrs. 19 min. Harper Audio. 2013. Digital Download from OverDrive

Yes, Benji is small. He gets picked on by the class bully. He doesn't have any friends. He is accident prone and he misses a lot of school because he is frequently ill. In fact he is hospitalized so often that Dino, a nurse at the hospital, has made him a punch card that once Benji fills, he gets a special treat. People at school typically ignore him, that is until he has a seizure in the hallway. After his seizure, Benji is given two options: wear a helmet or get a service dog. While he instantly realizes the supreme nerdiness of the helmet and refuses to wear it, his mother doesn't want to get him a dog due to his allergies. After Benji spends one rather miserable day at school in his helmet, his mother agrees that a dog is a much better solution than the helmet. Enter Parker Elvis Pembroke IV, a dog much bigger than Benji's family had been expecting. Not only is he huge, he can talk and has quite an extensive vocabulary. At first Elvis is rather confused by Benji and his home and soon realizes there has been a mix-up. Elvis was supposed to be delivered to the White House, not Benji's house. When Benji tries to explain this to his mother, she instantly freaks out because Benji is hearing the dog talk and rushes him to the hospital. While waiting for yet another MRI, Benji runs into Taisy, the most athletic girl in his class. She is quickly enamored by Elvis and a friendship between Benji and Taisy slowly begins. Benji, with some nudging from Elvis, meets Alexander, a new boy in school who has the most remarkable brain. Benji realizes, thanks to Elvis, that having a "pack" is a pretty amazing thing to have.

Patrick Lawlor does a nice job narrating this story. While there isn't a ton of variation between some of the supporting characters voices, there is enough variation to tell who is speaking. Elvis' voice matched what I would have thought he sounded like perfectly. He sounded very dignified, knowledgeable and mature.

I took this picture one afternoon as I was walking and listening.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Walking and Listening to "A Snicker of Magic"

Lloyd, Natalie. A Snicker of Magic. 8cds. 8 hours 14 minutes. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $34.99. ISBN 978-0-545-70679-7 not listen to this book while out walking. Your walk will be consumed by thoughts of ice cream, ice cream flavors and trying to figure out when you can get ice cream again. All silliness aside, from the moment this audiobook began, I was hooked and in love with this story. In the words of Felicity Pickle, this book is "spindiddley."

While I could go on and on about this book, I think it's best that I don't. I want people to have the opportunity to discover and enjoy it in their own way, like I did. Sure, I had seen the cover and knew that the book had gotten glowing reviews, but I didn't know much more than that. The moment the banjo began to play and Cassandra Morris spoke, I was hooked. I am going to encourage the teachers at my school to read this book aloud to their students. I think there are so many activities than can be done alongside it and lessons that their students can take away from it. Wouldn't it be great if a child in the room took on the role of the Beedle and did good for others in their classroom or community?

Please read this book, spread the word. I hope you love it as much as I did.

I took this picture one morning while I was out walking. The color of the sky reminded me of the colors of the book cover.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Best Thing About My Trip to Germany? Visiting Bookstores and Libraries Of Course!

One of things that I love to do when I'm traveling is visit bookstores and libraries. I love to see which English books they have translated into their language and to see what kids are reading there. My recent trip to Germany was no different.

Picture books: I was very surprised to see how few picture books many of the German bookstores had. Typically all they had was a shelf, like the one below, with picture books on either side and that was it.
One of the bookstores I visited in Munich had this amazing kids room right off of the kids section where children and their parents could read and play together.
That same bookstore had amazing seating areas throughout for people to sit back, relax and read.
I loved seeing my students favorites like,  The Dot, This is Not My Hat, I Want My Hat Back and Mister Tiger Goes Wild translated into German.

The most popular English title that I saw time and time again in the German bookstores? A tried and true classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Chapter Books: The selection of chapter books was quite impressive, which surprised me after seeing the picture book section. There were many more English chapter books translated into German.  There really are no surprises when it comes to what is popular in the chapter book section, these are all extremely popular in my library too. I loved seeing Origami Yoda, Diary of a Wimpy Kid  and Warriors translated for the German children to enjoy.
Libraries: My Germany guidebook pointed out a library that I must visit while I was in Wurzberg. While it was hotter than hot inside of it, the children's section was bright, colorful and full of books.
This super cute used bookstore was nearby, in the middle of the sidewalk.

I highly recommend that anyone traveling to another country visit a bookstore or library during their vacation. It really can be quite interesting and a lot of fun.