Friday, March 28, 2014


Tangled- movie

Tangled. Dir. Nathan Greno, Byron Howard. Perf. Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi. Walt Disney Pictures, 2010. DVD.

Summary: Tangled is a retelling of the classic Rapunzel story. As a baby Rapunzel is kidnapped because her hair has the magical ability to heal. She is kept isolated in a tower and yearns to see the floating lights every year on her birthday. When a thief happens upon her tower, she uses it as a way to get out of the tower and experience the world outside. She also discovers the truth about herself.

Strengths/Weaknesses: (This section contains spoilers for the movie) Tangled has all the appeal of a typical Disney movie-the charming guy, the funny animals, the feisty female. While Rapunzel may seem helpless at first being stuck in the tower, she shows her strength and bravery several times throughout-i.e. helping Flynn escape the guards, confronting Mother Gothel. Tangled is a fun movie for the whole family. However, there are a few moments that might be too intense for younger viewers. Flynn is stabbed by Mother Gothel and dies before being revived by Rapunzel and when Mother Gothel falls out of the window after she begins aging when Rapunzel’s hair is cut are two examples. 

Uses: Tangled would be a great movie to use in conjunction with a fairy tale unit. Students can do fairy tale retellings, read the picture book Rapunzel by Paul O Zelinsky and the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, and discuss the differences. 

Audience: Tangled is rated PG for mild brief violence. 

Watch-Alikes: Brave, Frozen, Enchanted

Won: Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television, Grammy Awards, 2012
Best Song, Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, 2010
Best Animation, National Movie Awards, UK, 2011

Top Box Office Film, ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards, 2011

Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey

Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey (Book 1) written and illustrated by Timothy Roland- early reader

Roland, Timothy. Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 2014. Print.
ISBN 9780545559768

Summary: Clyde is a very active kid. His twin sister, Claudia, tries to keep him out of trouble. His class takes a trip to the museum where Clyde eats a radioactive banana. Now, every time he gets excited he turns into a monkey.  Claudia knows this can be more trouble, but when an artifact is stolen from the museum and a stranger shows up at his school, Clyde knows a monkey may be just what is needed to save the day. This is the first book in a series. Book 2 was published in March 2014. 

Strength/Weaknesses: This is a high interest book about a very active little boy. Many kids will be able to relate to energetic Clyde. The illustrations on every page (also by Timothy Roland) move the pacing along. Roland’s use of a comic strip whenever Clyde turns into a monkey helps separate the two sides of Clyde.
There are some words that may be a little advanced for this age group, for example-radioactive and gamma ray. Overall, though, I believe most readers will be able to follow along just fine. 

Uses: This book is a good one to use with reluctant readers on the upper end of the age range because of the short chapters, fast pacing and high interest story. It would also be good to use as an introduction to graphic novels. 

Audience: Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey is recommended for ages 6-8.

Read-alikes: Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborn, Marty McGuire by Kate Messner, Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park, Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

Awards: This book was published in January of 2014. At the moment, there have been no awards given to this book. 

Year of the Dog

Year of the Dog by Grace Lin- fiction

Lin, Grace. The Year of the Dog. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2005. Print.
ISBN-10: 031606002X

Summary: Pacy is an Asian-American girl trying to find her place in the world. When her mom tells her that this year, the Year of the Dog, is the for family, friends and finding oneself, Pacy, the middle child with two sisters, sets out to find her talent. During this year she meets a new friend, struggles with disappointment, and begins to discover a talent all her own. The Year of the Dog is a sweet story about family and friendships.

Strengths/weaknesses: The Year of the Dog gives great insight into one Asian-American family. Pacy attends a school where she and her older sister are the only Asian students in the school. Even with the arrival of another Asian-American student, Pacy still struggles with being different-her friend can speak both English & Taiwanese and Pacy complains that doesn’t see kids like herself in books or plays. Students can relate to Pacy in feeling different from their peers at times. 
Although set in current day, the author uses Pacy’s mom to relate tales of what it was like growing up in Taiwan. These stories help contrast Pacy’s experiences in an American school. 
While this book is recommended for ages 8-12, the writing style may be too simple for some advanced older readers in this range. 

Uses: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated in May and this would be a great book to use. Students can read about & discuss Chinese horoscopes-find out what year they were born & symbolic meanings, practice calligraphy and Chinese symbols. 

Audience: Year of the Dog is recommended for ages 8-12

Read-Alikes: Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, Ivy and Bean books by Annie Barrows , The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (for the older end of the age range)

Awards/Honors: (from the author’s website
• 2006 Fall Publisher's Pick
• Starred Booklist Review
• 2006 ALA Children's Notable
• 2006 Asian Pacific American Librarian Association Honor
• 2006 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) GOLD Winner
• 2007-2008 Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist
• 2007 Nene Awards Recommended List (Hawaii's Book Award Chosen by Children Grades 4-6)
• 2007 Cochecho Readers' Award List (sponsored by the Children's Librarians of Dover, New Hampshire)
• NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2006
• Kirkus Best Early Chapter Books 2006
•2006 Booklist Editors' Choice for Middle Readers
•Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice 2007
•Boston Authors Club Recommended Book
•2007-2008 Great Lakes Great Books Award nominee
•2007-2008 North Carolina Children's Book Award nominee
•2007-2008 West Virginia Children's Book Award nominee
•2009 Beverly Cleary Children's Choice Award (OR) nominee

•2009 Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award (WA, OR, ID) nominee

Skulduggery Pleasant audiobook

Skulduggery Pleasant audiobook
Written by Derek Landy, read by Rupert Degas

Landy, Derek. Skulduggery Pleasant. Read by Rupert Degas. HarperChildren’s Audio, 2007. MP3.  
ISBN10: 0061341045

Summary: When twelve year old Stephanie’s quirky Uncle Gordon dies a stranger shows up at the reading of the will. Stephanie discovers the man is an old friend of her uncle’s named Skulduggery Pleasant, who also happens to be a detective, a sorcerer, and a walking, talking skeleton. When he tells Stephanie that he believes Gordon was murdered, they set off to find answers- and Stephanie discovers she has more power in her than she realized. 

 Strengths/Weaknesses: While on the upper end of the middle grade reading range, Skulduggery Pleasant is a novel that some advanced 9-year-old readers would also enjoy. The author, Derek Landy, does an excellent job of mixing in humor and sarcasm right when things seem to be getting a little too scary. It is interesting also to note that while one of the main characters is a girl, the book is not promoted as a “girl book.” 
The narrator, Rupert Degas, does a wonderful job of adding drama and intrigue to the story. Even though he has a deep, gravelly voice, he changes it for each character when they speak and it lends itself well to the suspenseful nature of the story. The jazzy music and sound effects after each chapter help hold the suspense. They do seem a little long at times, especially when tension has built at the end of a chapter and the reader is eager to find out what happens next.

Uses: At the end of the story, there is an interview with the narrator as the Skulduggery Pleasant character where he answers questions that were submitted by fans. This could be extended into the classroom or library by having students or book club members write what questions they would ask, then have the others answer how they think Skulduggery would.
Another way to use this novel would be to host a kid friendly murder-mystery program after having read the book. 

Audience: Skulduggery Pleasant is a delightfully humorous mystery novel for kids ages 10-14. 

Read-Alikes: This book is great for fans of fantasy, magic, mystery, and adventure. Other books that like this include: Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.

Awards: Odyssey Award Honor Audiobook, 2008