Friday, December 29, 2017

Clara Barton: Founder of the Red Cross by Augusta Stevenson

I would have loved this book as a child as I loved true stories about strong women. Clara Barton: Founder of the Red Cross by Augusta Stevenson gives the reader a feel for what Clara was like as a child. I never knew that Clara had almost debilitating anxiety (It is called being shy in the book) when she was little. I still love books about strong women who face hard challenges.

I learned that she was the youngest and adored daughter of her family. Her siblings were all a lot older than she was. She got her start by nursing sick and injured animals back to health. She started her nursing career as a child by nursing her friend and her brother back to health. She was a school teacher for a time.

This chapter book has larger text, great white space, and nice illustrations by Frank Giacoia. This book was published in 1946.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Yellow Bird, Black Spider by Dosh and Mike Archer

In Yellow Bird, Black Spider, authors Dosh and Mike Archer created a darling book with bright and fun pictures. Published in 2004, Black Spider keeps asking why Yellow Bird doesn't do things differently.

For instance: When Yellow bird takes a blue boat, Black Spider asks, "Why don't you fly across the sea?" "I like to sail, actually," said yellow bird. This continues on throughout the book until the surprise ending. Each page introduces a new color, which means this book teaches about colors and about doing what is right for yourself even if other people question your choices.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

On Christmas Eve, these two books came in memory of Liam Heintz. I find the title of the first one especially fitting for Liam. 


Michelle sent this batch over:

And Janice sent this batch of books:

Thank you for thinking of our book project this holiday season. I delivered 38 packets of books to Angie on Christmas Day.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bang! by Sharon G. Flake

Bang! by Sharon G. Flake was published in 2005. This story follows Mann, who is thirteen years-old. He and his family are dealing with the shooting death of his little brother, Jason. Being shot to death is a common occurrence in Mann's neighborhood.

Although I have not experienced the things that Mann and his family have experienced, there are  young readers who have experienced this. Mann's family isn't dealing well with Jason's death. His father is pushing Mann to be a man before he is ready and his mother who has stopped eating tries to keep Jason's memory alive by acting as if he is still alive.

Mann is hanging out with a friend who is leading him down the wrong path, but that isn't as bad as what he father does to try to make him grow up.

I wanted to strangle Mann's father, but Sharon Flake does a superb job of helping me see where his father's head is. I loved the conclusion and the growth of the characters. I was  confused on what happened to the caretakers or owners of the horses and wish that had been answered. I loved the conflict and the contrast between the city and the country and how the country also had dangers.

I wanted people to be nicer, but I know that often they are not. I wanted to see the artwork of Mann and his friend Kee-lee. I wanted to wrap my arms around all the characters and put them in a safe place. I liked that even though Jason was killed at the beginning of the book, he was still very present in the story.

Sharon G. Flake is a good storyteller. You will laugh and cry. You will be angry at her characters. You will want to shake them and protect them. Her stories will make you squirm and they may make you feel uncomfortable, but she addresses some hard topics and writes books that need to be in classrooms.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

We are currently in dire need of Spanish books. There have been a lot of Spanish speaking families who have had babies in the NICU recently, and we are completely out of books for them.

I found this stack of three board books on my front porch this morning. Thank you to whomever left it for the babies.

Michelle and I went shopping on Saturday and we found some books. Here are the books Michelle found. Thank you, Michelle.


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton tells the story of Chanda, a teen girl who helps her mother and younger siblings. The story is set in a fictional country in Sub-Saharan Africa. When the story begins, Chanda's baby sister has just died from what we later find out is AIDS.

This story follows Chanda as she tries to keep her family together while trying to grow up and go to school as he mother struggles with her own health. This story is quite complex as Stratton weaves together the tale of Chanda's history, her friends, her family, and her community. This book is well written and hard to put down.

I found myself wanting to know what would happen to Chanda, her  mother, and her siblings. I loved her dedication to her friend and to her mother. I also liked that Stratton wrote her as a complex character who wasn't perfect but instead was human.

I loved the ending of this story and how Stratton shows the value of honesty and the importance of truth in keeping people safe. I feel that I can't adequately describe the nuances of this story or the plot line without giving spoilers. This book deserved the Snow Willow Award it earned and being nominated for the Michael L. Printz award.

This book is well researched and written. Thank you, Allan Stratton for a book that could save lives.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Going Solo by Roald Dahl was published in 1986, and is the sequel to Boy. It is also Dahl's autobiography of the time he served as a fighter pilot during WWII.

I learned that Dahl flew planes in Africa. He crashed his plane and was injured. He was 6' 6" tall and struggled to fit in the cockpit, and now I think I need to go buy the book Boy and read it because Dahl had quite the life.

In this book, he shares stories about his first job in East Africa, the boat ride there, and being threatened by black mamba snakes and lions. He tells about flight training and how surprisingly fast new pilots were sent up in planes they were not familiar with.

This would be a great first autobiography for a child to read. It is interesting, funny, and introduces the reader to many interesting parts of history. Pictures, letters, and telegrams are included, which make this all the more interesting. I listened to the audio version, and it is well narrated by Dan Stevens.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord was first published in 1984; it has aged well.

Before Bandit and her mother go to the United States of America to live with her father, she is given a new name. She chooses the name Shirley Temple.

Goodreads blurb: Shirley Temple Wong sails from China to America with a heart full of dreams.Her new home is Brooklyn, New York. America is indeed a land full of wonders, but Shirley doesn't know any English, so it's hard to make friends. Then a miracle-baseball-happens. It is 1947, and Jackie Robinson, star of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is everyone's hero. Jackie Robinson is proving that a black man, the grandson of a slave, can make a difference in America and for Shirley as well, on the ball field and off, America becomes the land of opportunity. 

Bette Bao Lord based Shirley's story on her own from when she, herself, was a newcomer to America. Shirley deals with bullying, with trying to learn a new language, with trying to understand a new culture, and with trying to make friends. 

This story is endearing and sweet. This chapter book is great for 54 year-old elementary students with good white space and wonderful illustrations by Marc Simont. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I listened to I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, and the reader was perfect as Flavia. She was just the right combination of snarkiness, intelligence, and innocence. This is book four in the Flavia de Luce mysteries.

Flavia is an eleven year-old sleuth who has an inherited chemistry lab, and her favorite variety of chemicals are poisons. Each book has a mystery to solve and there is a dead body at some point of the story.

In this installment, her father has rented out their estate to a film company, and of course they bring the mystery with them. Precocious Flavia can not stay out of the way, and of course when a dead body shows up, she refuses to be left out of trying to solve the case.

The relationship between Flavia and her sisters is complicated, but their relationships develop and grow. Their butler/man of everything, Dogger, is still one of my favorite characters as he is complicated but loving. We learn a bit more about the love story between Flavia's dead mother and her father.

This is a great series for your budding scientist, or if you are like me and love everything British, you will enjoy this series. My copy of this book has a skeleton with a Santa hat on the cover, but this one is nice as well.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Michelle brought for more books for the babies. Thank you, Michelle. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Cay and Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor

The Cay and Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor are set during WWII in the Caribbean Sea. The Cay was first published in 1969 during a time of great cultural strife in the USA. I listened to the audio version of this book, and the narration by Michael Boatman was wonderful. At the end of the narration, they had an interview with Taylor and it was fun to hear in his own voice and words how this story came about.

He was inspired to write this story after learning about German subs attacking off of the Caribbean. He learned about a Dutch ship that was attacked and sunk and a young Dutch boy who was seen on a raft after the attack. He thought about this missing boy for eleven years before he wrote a story about it.

In this historical fiction, Phillip and his mother are Americans who along with his father live on the island of Curacao. As German attacks get more frequent, his father sends them on a ship to return to the USA, but their ship is attacked by a German submarine. After the ship sinks, an injured Phillip finds himself on a raft with the "blackest man he's ever seen".  Phillip's mother has warned him about black people: "They are different, and they life differently." Phillip loses his eyesight, and has to rely on Timothy for survival. They find their way to a small island, and a blind Phillip must learn from Timothy how to navigate his small world in order to stay alive.

The character Timothy was patterned after a man that Taylor knew named Robert - he only had one name. Robert knew more about the sea than anyone Taylor ever knew. He picked him to the be the rescuer of Phillip and named him Timothy.

This story is powerful and shows that in allowing ourselves to really know the "other" we deepen our love and understanding for all in the world and come to understand our own self even more. I loved the changes in the characters in this story. The story is a fast paced 137 page novel with large text and a lot of white space making it perfect to introduce a younger reader to civil rights, WWII,  prejudices, and true friendship.

Timothy of the Cay picks right up where The Cay ended, only it shares Timothy's life from the time he was a boy. This story alternates between Philip trying to regain his sight and Timothy sharing his life story. We learn why it was so important to Timothy to save Phillip.

This book is good because it is a little longer at 161 pages, and although it has a lot of white space, the text size is a bit smaller than The Cay, which is a natural progression from one book to the next.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

What happens to a donated box of books?

Recently, two of Angie's friends have donated boxes of used books to our NICU book project. I want to show you how the books are sorted and used. Books that can't be used in the NICU find a home.

Here are the pictures of the boxes of books.







The books are carefully sorted and cleaned. Some books go to a book stash in the NICU for parents who haven't received their packets yet or for nurses to read to the babies. That is where these books pictured below are headed.


 Some books will head to the NICU waiting room for visitors to use to keep their littles occupied. I like to send sturdier books to the waiting room.


Other books, like these, will be sent to teachers who are trying to build their classrooms. Kids need classrooms with a lot of books, and teachers have a limited budget or non-existent budget for books.


Books that are like new or new, like these, are put into a packet of five books. These books are read to the babies while they are hospitalized, and then these books go home with the baby.


Books that make noise are sent to a little free library so that the visitors to that library can take a book or leave a book. This assortment of books have been sorted but not yet cleaned. Some will head to the waiting room, others to the NICU, some to classrooms, and some to the little free library. No books are wasted. All of them find a home where they will be loved once again. 



We also received the following books from the friends and family of Liam Heintz in honor of his second birthday. Thanks to all who brought books for his birthday party. These will each contain a book plate with his name.


If you have access to a library of books, you are never truly alone. 

Click on this Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate new books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Written in 1938, Ayn Rand's Anthem is a short novel about the drive for a person to be themselves instead of being one of the herd. 

Blurb from Goodreads: "In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word- 'I."'

At times I found this story confusing as everyone is referred to in the plural from form of us, we, they, them. There is no you or I. People have numbers not names, and Equality 7-2521 struggles to fit into his society. He doesn't want to be a street sweeper, and when he discovers electricity, he is marked for death as he does not have permission to invent. 

When reading this novel, I could see the seeds of Lois Lowry's The Giver, and I wondered if she got the idea from this little book. The worlds and story are different, but the themes are similar. I listened to the audio version of the book and the narration was good. 



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato and Illustrated by Antonio Caparo

Invisible Lines is the third book I've read by Mary Amato. The first was The Naked Mole Rat Letters, and the second was The Word Eater. I have enjoyed all three of these books, so Mary Amato makes it onto my trusted author list meaning I'll read more by her.

Invisible Lines was published in 2009, and Amato weaves Trevor's story in her wonderful story teller way. Trevor is in seventh grade, and he has just moved into a bad part of town in a dump of an apartment with his mom, his two year-old sister, and five year-old brother. His father is in prison, and his mother is trying her best to pay the rent and keep food on the table. Trevor has to tend when he gets home from school, so his mother can work.

What Trevor really wants to do is to play soccer, but the team he wants to play on is too expensive. When another soccer player gets jealous of Trevor's skills, Trevor becomes his victim and is accused of a crime.

Amato weaves Trevor's love of soccer, art, and his ability to learn from his mother into a story that includes a baby found in a dumpster, mushrooms and the ecosystem, friends, bullies, siblings, and growth into this story. I think my own siblings would enjoy this book.

I love the relationships in this story. Trevor's mom was a teen mother who didn't finish high school, yet she is trying hard to make a better life for her children. The characters felt real. The dialog felt real. I cried for the mother trying to muster the courage to go see the school principal as I was a high school drop who didn't finish high school until my oldest child was ten years-old. I knew what Trevor and his mother felt like having him be the child care provider as I was both the child and mother in that situation. I understood the sacrifices they had to make and how worthless they felt when others looked down on them.

This is a many layered story, and to be honest, I'd love to see a sequel to this book. I loved the characters and was sad to see the story end even though it felt complete. I love how the title refers to the invisible lines that connect all of humanity including nature.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein

All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein was published in 1957 and is her first person account of being a young Polish Jew during WWII. 

She is a teen girl when her story begins, and what I liked about this book is that she gives background information as she tells her story. She helps the reader understand what was happening politically and the increasingly restrictive rules that the Jewish population faced. Her story follows her from her home to several work camps and on to a forced death march. I also liked that her story told about what she did after the war. 

She told of working in the factories and trying hard to work fast enough in order to stay safe and alive. She showed that there were kind Germans who did what they could to lighten her burden, but there were others who were horrible. I was so frustrated with Abek, and although he loved her, I felt he put way too much pressure on her. She was very young and was in such a horrible situation. She shouldn't have had to deal with him and the feeling of being trapped by him. 

Her letters to her parents and especially to and from her brother were heartbreaking. I wanted to go rescue them all. No one should have to go through what they went through. The title of the book refers to the fact that the Nazis took all from her but her life. 

Thank you, Gerda, for sharing your story and helping the world see that we must all be a little kinder.




Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton WIlder

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927. This slim little book is about five people who were killed in a bridge collapse in Peru. A local monk, Brother Juniper, who witnessed the collapse, wonders why those five, and he sets out to try to discover the reasoning behind why some people live and some people die.

Part of my brain really wanted him to find an answer to this question because as humans when we lose a loved one, we want to know why, but my logical side knows that there is not a reason that we can understand in our lifetime.

I enjoyed this book because Wilder used many words that I didn't know, so every page or so, I had to stop and look up a word. I love books that build my vocabulary. He tells the story in a way that makes you care about the characters. He also makes the reader think - a common trait of Pulitzer winners.

This little 123 page book ends with some of the most beautiful words. "But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning" (123).


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Trina by Patricia Miles Martin

When ever I read an older book that was written for children, I worry about negative stereotypes. Trina by Patricia Miles Martin was published in 1967, but Martin does well on presenting her Hispanic characters well.

Young Trina lives in a boxcar. Her father works for the railroad, and he is moved around often, so they hook up their box car and go from place to place. Trina has lived in her current town for a while, and longs to stay. She struggles to learn to read English, and her older brother doesn't help. He talks for her because she takes longer to formulate her answers. This makes Trina feel like she has no voice. Her mother insists that they speak Spanish in the home. Her father can understand English, but he can't read or write it.

Trina has high hopes when a new teacher comes, but her brother dashes those hopes by embarrassing her in front of the teacher and every student in the school. Trina and her father come up with a plan to help Trina read and speak English, but it isn't easy, and it takes a lot of work for Trina to progress. Many miscommunications happen in this story, and the children must find their way past them in order to create and maintain friendships.

I thought Martin captured well the frustrations of learning a second language. She also shows the importance of learning about different cultures and making sure that no one is the other.

This book was originally titled Trina's Boxcar and it is currently out of print.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

I read an ARC of Haunting Violet, and I always feel a little weird reviewing an ARC as I know that final edits will be made before printing. This allows me to be a little more lenient.

Haunting Violet is a ghost story that I think will appeal to teen girls. I like ghost stories, so I enjoyed it, and I am way beyond my teen years. Haunting Violet is set in 1872, and Violet's mother is a professed spiritual medium. She is a beautiful woman and a good actress, so she is able to fool everyone. Violet and their young servant Colin, assist with the seances, and while Violet doesn't feel good about lying to people, it is how her mother supports them. Her mother has a terrible temper, so Violet does as she is told.

During a seance, Violet is visited by a ghost, but she doesn't want her mother to know that she really can see and hear ghosts as her mother will make her become a spiritual medium. As the haunting of Violet becomes more severe, she works hard to keep her mother from finding out that she has the gift that her mother pretends to have.

The story is good, as is the suspense. I liked the friendship between Violet and Colin, and between Violet and Elizabeth. Issues of class and gender are brought up and handled well without taking power from Violet.

Some of the real seance scenes were a bit over the top, but I think teen readers will enjoy them. As a person who believes in and has seen spirits, I wanted it to be more like my own experiences.

I like the resolution of the story and felt the pacing of the book was right on. This book also has a cool cover that will appeal to the intended audience.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Prodigy book 2 of the Legend series by Marie Lu

Prodigy is book two of the Legend series by Marie Lu. I read the first book several years ago for brown bag and book at my school, but I was able to jump right into this one and remember what was going on.

Marie Lu writes a memorable story, and because she writes well, I remembered a lot of the story from the first book. I enjoyed Legend, but I liked Prodigy even more. The story takes place in the future and the United States has crumbled. Some want to put the country back together and recreate a democracy, and others want to keep the totalitarian government.

This books picks up right where Legend leaves off. In Legend, the reader understood who was good and who was bad. Things aren't so simple in Prodigy. The story digs deeper, and Day and June struggle to figure out which side they should fight for. The politics are a bit more complicated, and the love interests multiply.

This story alternates from Day's and June's points of view just like in Legend. Day is trying to find his little brother, while he and June go to work for the Patriots. Their characters developed even more and the action is fast paced.

I have already put the third book, Champion on my wish list.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Al Capone at Alcatraz Series by Gennifer Choldenko

I have read the first three books of this series by Gennifer Choldenko. I love historical fiction, and Choldenko has just the right balance of mystery, history, humor, and tension in this series. The fourth book is set to come out in the fall of 2017, so right away, and I will certainly add it to my collection.

I read the first book Al Capone Does my Shirts several years ago. Published in 2004, this Newbery Honor book tells the story of Moose Flanagan, a young boy whose father is an electrician on Alcatraz, and he and his family live on the island. Piper Williams, the warden's daughter, is quite the schemer, and may end up in a cell if she isn't careful. Moose also had a sister, Natalie, who I would guess has some form of autism and isn't accepted by society during the time period of 1935.

The story involves baseball, con men, inmates, and of course Al Capone.



The second book is called Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and continues Moose Flanagan's story. We see his relationship with his friends further develop, and his like/hate relationship with Piper also continues. Moose connects with Al Capone, and Al Capone needs a favor from Moose.



In the third book, Al Capone Does My Homework, Moose's dad has been promoted to associate warden, and all sorts of trouble breaks loose. His father now has a price on his head, and after a fire in their apartment, Natalie is blamed and shunned by some on the island. Moose and his friends try to solve the mystery before anyone gets hurt.



This series can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. If they enjoy history, especially prison system history, this book will get them doing further research. The characters are likable and grow over the course of the series. Choldenko presents Natalie in a realistic and positive manner. This is a fun historical fiction series.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Honor of Liam Heintz's Second Birthday

Last week, I received seven books from our Amazon book registry for babies in the NICU. All of these books were sent in memory of Liam Heintz. I didn't get to meet Liam, but he was one of our precious NICU babies who became an angel.

What I do know about Liam is that he is loved and that he was wanted from the moment his parents knew of his existence. I know that Liam's parents were delighted when they felt his movements and saw his heart beating on the ultra sound. As a parent who has lost a set of twins, I know they dreamed and planned for the baby, child, and man he would become.

Sometimes our hopes and dreams get changed, and like Liam's parents, I look forward to that great day when I will embrace my babies and they will once again hold Liam in their arms.

Liam has many people who love him, so his sweet parents held a birthday party to honor his second birthday and asked people to bring books for the NICU to celebrate his time on earth. Guests brought a whole stack of books that will be on their way to us soon. I'll show pictures when they get here.

To Liam's parents: I want you to know that each gift of books brings me to tears as I get see the love that your baby boy brought into the world. Many books were donated on behalf of Liam several months ago, but I didn't know Liam's name then. I was gladdened to see this batch come with his name.

Each of the books that are donated in his name will contain the following bookplate, and each packet we give will only contain one of his books along with four others, so that many may receive a share of the love that surrounds Liam. When we get the box of books that were brought to the party, each of those books will also receive this book plate:



These are the books that came last week from people who love Liam and his family. I can already hear the children saying, "Again, again. Read it again." I memorized Where the Wild Things Are when my now 27 year-old was little. She would turn the pages in her car seat as I recited the book while I drove. She snuggled that book in bed at night like it was a Teddy bear.


These books will become keepsakes for the babies who receive them. Thank you to Liam's friends and family who have given the gift of reading and storytime to others.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 


Friday, November 10, 2017

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus Series. I listened to the first two books and will definitely be listening to or reading the rest of this series. 

Rick Riordan writes books that kids enjoy reading. The stories are fast paced, the chapters are short, the text size is larger, and the there is more white space on each page, so even though these books are thick, they are not intimidating to students who struggle with reading. 

The Lost Hero follows a new Hero, Jason who has lost his memory. He ends up at Camp Half-Blood with two other Heroes: Piper and Leo who will accompany Jason on a quest to save Hera. As in the Percy Jackson series, Riordan does a wonderful job of teaching about Greek and Roman mythology in a way that is incredibly fun. He also writes characters who know what it takes to be a good friend. 

My grandson, Isaac, loves these books and has read all of them. He's been after me to get them read, so I am. I called him after finishing the first book because of the Jack London reference in it. The wolf house in the story is located on Jack London's abandoned estate, so I was able to talk to Isaac about The Call of the Wild, and White Fang - both excellent classic books. 

The Son of Neptune is book two in the series, and it follows Percy Jackson, who has also lost his memory and has landed in the Roman half-blood camp. He meets Hazel, a girl who is no longer in her correct time period and has many secrets and Frank who feels he is too much of a klutz to ever be a good hero. Together they will go on a quest to keep the earth goddess from awakening. Riordan uses humor and an exciting story line to keep his readers turning pages. 

Rick Riordan, I hope you have a very long writing career because you do a lot to get and keep kids reading. Thank you. 

The covers of this series are gorgeous. 





Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dear Santa by Rod Campbell

Dear Santa by Rod Campbell was published in 2004, and it you love his book Dear Zoo, you will love this darling Christmas book. You still have time to get it before Christmas.

The story begins with a child writing a letter to Santa asking for something special. Santa wraps several different presents, and your child gets to lift the flaps on each present to see what is inside. Santa decides against each present until he gets to the very special last present.

This little board book captures the Christmas morning excitement of opening presents, and each gift gives you something to talk about with your child as you see why Santa decides against it. If you are looking for a cute Christmas book for the littles in your life, this is a great choice.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

If you've been following my blog, you know that I love Keven Henkes' picture books. Some of his picture books are wonderful for children of three, four, five, six, and up, but he has also written books for babies.

If your baby or toddler loves animals - specifically cats, they will love the little kitten in Kitten's First Full Moon. Published in 2004, this storybook tells about a little kitten that thinks the full moon is a saucer of milk and tries without any luck to drink the moon.

The black and white pictures with heavy black outline are perfect for baby's eyes that are learning to focus, and this sweet story shows a kitten learning about his own world. This book won the Caldecott medal. You can be assured that if you purchase a Kevin Henkes' picture book for your child, you they will love it.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson was published in 2014 and tells the story of a teen girl struggling to deal with her father's fight with PTSD from serving in the war in the Middle East.

The story is told from Hayley's point of view, who for the first time in five years is going to public school after being home schooled by her father while he drove truck. Her father was injured by an IED, so he has been discharged from the military after serving several tours. A couple of chapters are memories told from her father's point of view and help give the reader a sense of what haunts him.

As the story progresses, we learn that Hayley is probably suffering from PTSD as well, or at least a horrible case of anxiety.

I loved the strength and vulnerability that Hayley displays in the story. She is strong, yet she also needs help from others and is not an island unto herself. Although she thinks that the friends she has made since moving back into her grandmother's old house have perfect lives, she discovers that everyone has problems to deal with, and appearances are seldom what they seem. I loved the friendships in this story and how realistic they seemed. I also liked the way the school staff was portrayed.

I wish this book would have a longer conclusion, as I wanted to see the process Hayley, her family, and friends went through to get to where they got. However, the ending didn't leave me hanging and gave a sense of closure, so I was okay with it. This book may have seemed too short because I was enjoying it so much, and I really liked the characters.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my go to writers for realistic and historical fiction. My students enjoy her books as much as I do.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova, published in 2007 tells the story of Alice Howland, a fictional cognitive psychology professor at Harvard.

She has just turned fifty, and finds herself becoming increasingly disoriented and forgetful. A tragic diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease had me questioning my own mind as I read about her stuggles.

 After I finished listening to this book, I went back and reread several sections just to relive them again, and to make sense of some scenes that I found confusing. Because this story is told from Alice's point of view and she becomes a  more and more unreliable character, I found as a reader, I had to work harder to figure out what she was talking about. I thought this lent a sense of realism to the story, so much so that I went online and did a little research to make sure my own moments of  forgetfulness were normal.

Alice is at the age where she should be enjoying becoming a grandmother, taking a little more time off work to travel with her beloved husband, but instead her world is turned inside out and upside down. Reading this story has enlightened me about what people with this diagnosis may go through. I found her portrayal of Alice's husband, John, realistic as he struggles to balance his career and needs with Alice's needs. Genova is a wonderful writer, and I will definitely be checking out her other books.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address or you can drop them off at the McKay Dee Hospital NICU in Ogden, Utah, Attention: Angie, and we will see they get to the right place. 


Read to a child today even if that child is you.