Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our Crazy Class Election by Timothy Roland

Our Crazy class Election is a tiny book that packs a powerful punch in three different ways. Firstly it is an ideal quick read for junior students, second it is funny and thirdly it has terrific little comic strips as illustrations. (Sorry my picture is so fuzzy, it was the best I could find. Scholastic the publisher have no front cover on their web site!) Did I mention this is a funny book!

A boy in my school recently alerted me to this Comic Guy series by Timothy Roland. He asked for Book 2 – we don’t have this but I thought if he enjoyed Book 1, I better get reading a find out why.

A check on the internet shows me there are now three titles in this series so we will need to add these to our order list. In Our Crazy Class election we meet Guy – he is the Comic Guy, Tank – the class bully, Ollie the science room pet monkey and Clint the new kid in class who has real talents. It is election time and Tank wants to win at all costs. Guy and the rest of the class know they can’t let this happen but who will stand against him?

The chapter names in this zany little book will give you a flavour of the story – The beginning of the end, And the answer is …, I waited for this, We’re all behind you, Speechless no more, Let the explosion begin, Ready set Campaign, and The final pitch. The chapter where Guy tries to give his speech is so funny and a great example of co-operation between friends.

I would recommend this little chapter book to anyone who wants a quick read, a good laugh and an easy way to understand class elections and even democracy in action. The newspaper for Rockyville Elementary School is called The Barker you might even get some ideas to start a class newspaper of your own.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements is one of my all time most favourite favourite favourite authors so when a new Andrew Clements book arrived in my school library this week I just had to clear the decks and read read read…

Extra Credit certainly did not disappoint me, is, quite simply, a terrific book. Once again Andrew Clements really gets inside the world of the senior primary student. Abby is a capable girl but she is just not interested in school tasks. “She was a decent reader, she was okay at math and she was plenty smart. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do the work. She just didn’t like doing it. And most of the time, she didn’t see the point.”

Extra Credit is one of those books where the voices and setting alternate, in this case between Abby in Illinois and Sadeed in a small village in Afghanistan. Abby has to do extra credit to prevent having to repeat Sixth Grade and this involves a project based around pen pal letters. She selects Afghanistan because there are mountains shown on the map and Abby is a climber. There are no mountains in her part of Illinois so she has taken up wall climbing in the gym at her school. She absolutely loves wall climbing.

Sadeed is selected to write back to Abby because he is the best English student in his school and he has neat handwriting but it is inappropriate for a boy to write to a girl so Sadeed has to involve his sister in the letter writing and it is Amira who signs the letters not knowing that Sadeed has added information, questions and comments of his own.

All of this comes to a head when Sadeed is coming home from school one day and he is grabbed by a dangerous man who recognizes the stamps on his letter from America. “he let go of Sadeed’s arm, quickly ripped the letter once, then twice again, and threw the pieces to the ground.” Sadeed does manage to piece the letter back together but now what will he do – letter writing has become dangerous, forbidden.

My advice is don’t leave Primary School without reading at least one book by Andrew Clements – you won’t be disappointed. My personal favourites are Frindle, The Laundry News, The Janitors Boy and The Last Holiday concert. These books will be loved equally by boys and girls. Take a few minutes to check out his web site it is great and there is a video of Andrew talking about his newest book. He looks like such a warm person wouldn't it be great to meet him.

I would also heartily recommend Andrew Clements to all teachers. You can easily tell Andrew Clements is or was a teacher - "After a day or two, even a really interesting bulletin board turns into wall paper, and almost nobody sees it anymore." This is so true.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hatching Magic AND The Dragon of Never-was by Ann Downer

I actually read this series back to front. I picked up our school copy of The Dragon who never was because I simply can’t resist a good looking hard cover book. Book two, the one I was reading, begins with a prologue but like the one in Rangers Apprentice I was prepared to let the story take its course safe in the knowledge that Ann Downer would give me a context, for the mysterious events that befall Ellic Lailoken, later in the book. It was not until I was well into Chapter one that I realized The Dragon who never was must be a sequel, however, I was intrigued enough to keep reading.

The first book in this series is Hatching Magic. I think I enjoyed book two more than book one except for the idea that a baby Dragon or wyvern could become addicted to chocolate via his mother’s milk. While waiting for her egg to hatch in modern day Boston, Wycca the mother wyvern discovers a Confectionery company.

The deafening clatter of the equipment frightened her, and she snapped her beak at a couple of dangling hoses, causing them to hiss and spit steam at her. Arching her back like a terrified cat, Wycca hissed back, then lunged and bit a fat bundle of multicolored cables in two. With flashing lights and a chorus of alarms, the state-of-the art robotized confectionery equipment which had been installed only the year before, ground to a halt. … a trap door opened … and all the chocolates exiting the molding room dropped into a temporary holding bin. Which was where Wycca happened to be … that was how the wyvern discovered that she adored – nay worshipped – the heavenly substance know to us as chocolate.”

Meanwhile in book two we discover more about the destiny of our heroine Theodora Oglethorpe (I love this name) and her special friends.

These books are would make terrific reading for dragon and wizard fans but be warned you will need to keep your wits about you as the action switches between characters and scenes within each chapter. While you wait for this book you can read the first chapter this might be a good way to see if it is a book you will enjoy!
You can read more about the second book here. If you are a Carole Wilkinson fan and enjoyed Dragonkeeper and the sequels you will certainly enjoy these books. When you finish these two you should look for a little book in our library called Falcon's egg by Luli Gray - Falcon is a girl not a bird in this special little book.
I was interested to see we have over 120 books on the topic of Dragons in our school library!