Tag Archives: Reviews

Disney’s Tangled!

10 Dec

(Or, how I turned into a ten-year-old girl for two hours.)

Full disclosure: I am a product of what I like to call the golden age of Disney cinema—the first movie I can remember seeing in the theater is The Little Mermaid and I’m fairly certain I watched my Aladdin VHS every day for a month…or until it wouldn’t play anymore. I can still play Beauty and the Beast songs on the piano, and my iTunes still has a very extensive Disney playlist.

That being said, I went into Tangled with some trepidation. Disney had yet to recapture that, dare I say, magic quality it had in abundance when I was younger.

Tangled easily took me back to that time. There’s the princess, Rapunzel, locked away in her tower, the rakish (but still heroic) Flynn Rider, the sidekicks, and, of course, the evil villain, Mother Gothel…and to top it all off, music by Disney heavyweight Alan Menken. The story is funny, adventurous, and romantic.

But my favorite part of Disney movies (and Tangled is no exception) is how strong the female characters are. Rapunzel is not a damsel in distress—she fights for herself, maintains her independence, and saves the hero! She, like princesses before her, is strong, capable, and confident.

We’ve got several books available so that kids of all ages can read about the fairy tale as well!

In Firefly December, you can find Tangled: A Dazzling Day, a picture book perfect for reading aloud.

In SeeSaw December, you’ll find the early reader, Tangled: Kingdom of Color. This is great for kindergartners or first graders just beginning to read themselves.

In Lucky December, we have a stepping-stone reader, Tangled: Rapunzel’s Tale, for slightly more advanced readers.

Lastly, in Arrow December you can find the junior novelization for kids who want to relive the movie (I know that I did!).

Happy Hanukkah, Everyone…and Happy Reading!

3 Dec

I love Hanukkah. I love the latkes (potato pancakes), the applesauce, the jelly doughnuts, the dreidels (spinning tops), and the gelt (chocolate candy coins). I love lighting the shamash on my menorah and the way my windowsill looks with the soft lights from the candles.

It’s really important to learn about the reasons we all partake in these traditions, as the holiday is about a really important time in Jewish History, one that can be shared by some of my favorite (yes, you guessed it) books.

Here are a few wonderful titles that can help you teach your class or family about these eight candle-latke-dreidel-filled nights:

Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale. This Lucky November title by Brian P. Cleary showcases the wonders and traditions of the Hanukkah season in an amusing rhythmic text and brought to life with rich, colorful illustrations. This funny holiday read is sure to get each and every member of the family laughing! It even includes a paragraph summarizing the holiday.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Driedel, with pictures by Amy Cartwright, will help young kids sing and read the familiar words to the Hanukkah song. Featuring sparkly (and sturdy) pages and a pop-up dreidel that really spins, this book is an excellent Honeybee November choice for holiday celebrations that is sure to delight!

Hoppy Hanukkah is my new favorite title Hanukkah title. November Firefly showcases the talent of Linda Glaser, who has crafted as story about two little bunnies want to light all the candles and blow them out! But Mama and Papa explain to them how the candles are lit each night and the menorah is placed in the window for all to see. Grandpa and Grandma come over, too, and there are latkes (potato pancakes) to eat, presents to open, and a dreidel (spinning top) to play with.

What’s your favorite part about the holiday season?

Scholastic Special: Reach Out and Read!

18 Nov

Did you know that every November, Scholastic offers a very special catalog specifically aimed at providing great reading materials for the youngest readers? It’s true! We’ve partnered with Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing young children to succeed in schools by working with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.  With our special Reach Out and Read! offer, we hope to not only provide your child with the best literature for the season, but also for children in need as well. With every item you order from this catalog, Scholastic will donate one book to Reach Out and Read’s worthy organization.  It’s that simple!

Some very special titles that we’re excited about are:

Let’s Get a Checkup!

 

Pascal Lemaitre (of Firefighter Ted fame) is fast becoming one of our favorite illustrators, and this collaboration with author Alan Katz makes for a funny and informative animal story about going to the doctor!

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

One of my all-time favorite stories about a little mouse and his wish for a real friend. We love author/illustrator Leo Lionni!

Christmas with You

This is a very sweet holiday story that’s great for introducing family traditions during the season—a fantastic read-aloud!

Disney Classic Pooh: Mind Your Manners

Winnie-the-Pooh has been invited to a party, but can he use good manners to get along with others? A sweet manners lesson featuring classic Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations.

Knees and Toes!

Follow the teddy bears as they teach you about your head, shoulders, knees, and toes! Includes tabbed pages for easy turn-the-page fun for the littlest of learners.

For more reading tips and information about this great organization, visit www.reachoutandread.org. What do you and your child do as part of your reading routine?

Teachable Moment: Saying Sorry

12 Nov

Firefly’s November featured book is Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry! by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Bruce Whatley. Laura, Firefly’s editor, had the following to say about the lovable Martha:

Martha is a well behaved little otter—most of the time. After all, she does give hugs, shares her snacks, and makes presents for her family. But there’s one thing Martha doesn’t do very well—apologize. When Martha does something “not so nice” to her mother…and father…and baby brother, she gets a time-out to “think.”  Will this stubborn otter learn to say “I’m sorry”? Featuring simple text with charming illustrations, this is a perfect story (and gentle lesson) to share with young children. Find this sweet and humorous book on Firefly November!

Now, Martha is a cute little otter who does some very nice things, but she has one teeny tiny issue: She doesn’t like to apologize for those small occasions (such as kicking, throwing, or acting rudely) when she hasn’t been very nice. But saying you’re sorry isn’t that important, is it?

As it turns out, it is—after all, you can’t get cookies, hugs, or piggyback rides if you haven’t learned to apologize! Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry! is an excellent way to teach kids the importance of apologizing. With the help of her family, Martha learns that even though we’re sure to make mistakes, using a little “sorry” can turn things around for the better. This fun and humorous story provides a great lesson for those preparing for the holiday season or anytime!

What are some ways you teach your children about the importance of apologizing?

Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice

5 Nov

It’s time for Book Trailer Friday, you guys! Today, I wanted to share one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in quite a while. (It’s had the Book Talk team wailing “Muuuuchaaaachoooos” all over Scholastic.)


Skippyjon Jones is hands down one of my absolute favorite characters…probably ever! Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice is the latest adventure for this adventurous Siamese ca—ahem, excuse me, I mean Chihuahua. This time, Skippy must travel to Mars, the red planet. You see, it’s called the red planet because it is covered in very spicy red pepper. And Skippy needs to head there to find out whether or not there are Martians who may or may not look like him! Now, I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will give you a chance to hear some of the story straight from the author herself:

Check out Judy Schachner reading during part one of Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice!

Be sure and find Skippy on SeeSaw this November so you can find out what happens!

Who Wants a Visit from the Black Lagoon?

3 Nov

Do you ever stop and think: How do authors come up with iconic characters, such as the teacher from the Black Lagoon®? What else would you ask other famous authors if you could? What if…gasp…no one even notices when a famous author visits?

Well, in Mike Thaler (author) and Jared Lee’s (illustrator) latest work, The Author Visit from the Black Lagoon®, Thaler brings this idea to life. Our Lucky Editor, Shelly, reviewed the book for us below:

“A real live author, Penny Inkblot, is coming for a school visit, and Hubie has been selected to escort her! But what if her limousine pulls up and she totally ignores Hubie?  What if the book she reads is as boring as the phone book?! And what if, instead of signing books, she stamps everyone’s foreheads with a rubber stamp!?!”

When the big day arrives, Hubie is relieved to find that Penny Inkblot is supercool. She tells the class how she much loves to write, and that everyone in class can be an author, too. All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, and your imagination! That’s all that Hubie needs to hear—by the end of the day, he has his written his own story. Perhaps Mrs. Beamster will put it in the school library!”

Remember that you should absolutely check Lucky November or click here to find out how you could win a school visit from Black Lagoon® author, Mike Thaler! Just…don’t ignore him.  🙂

My Mommy Hung the Moon

26 Oct

When you hear the name Jamie Lee Curtis, you may think of her role in the horror film Halloween or, in a personal favorite, Freaky Friday. However, here at Scholastic Book Clubs, we know her name is also synonymous with best-selling children’s books that feature common childhood experiences and feelings. Together with Laura Cornell’s expressive illustrations, Curtis has written nine wonderful books. Their latest, My Mommy Hung the Moon, does not disappoint. Currently #9 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, it celebrates the unconditional love between a mother and her child. While children will surely agree with the sentiment (Mommy is best at everything!), parents will appreciate the humor in the story.

This is what I like so much about Curtis’s books—how they can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In her first book, When I Was Little, a four-year-old remembers all the things she did “as a child” and how she is changed now that she’s “big.” In Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, a young girl talks about her ever-changing moods from angry to excited. Always written from a child’s point of view, Curtis truly captures the nature of young children. Her books are also great discussion starters, as children will love sharing their own experiences and memories after reading any of her stories.

Find My Mommy Hung the Moon in Firefly November! Watch below to hear Jamie talk about the book in her own words:

This post comes to you from Laura, Editor of Firefly.

Reviews from the Experts: Teacher Advisors’ November Picks

22 Oct

 We’ve already introduced Our Scholastic Teacher Advisors to you on the blog earlier this school year and let you know that they would be back to say hi. Well, they’re back!

Here are a few reviews from our November Book Clubs titles! You can find the rest of their reviews on Facebook.

The Chocolate Touch

(Review by Katie Flaherty, Third-Grade Teacher)

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling brings the old adage “be careful what you wish for” cleverly to life. The book follows the story of a chocoholic child, John Midas, who refuses to listen to his parents and his doctor about cutting the chocolate from his diet. John finds a strange coin on the street and enters a mysterious store he’s never seen before and purchases a box of chocolate. After eating this chocolate before bed, John wakes up to find that everything he touches turns to chocolate! What seems like a dream come true at first soon becomes a problem. Second through fourth grade students will find themselves enthralled in this hilarious chapter book to find out if John can reverse the chocolate curse! 

Llama, Llama Holiday Drama

(Review by Julie Novak, Kindergarten Teacher)

Well, Anna Dewdney does it again! In her new book, Llama Llama Holiday Drama, counting down to Christmas is hard for young Llama Llama. Young children have such trouble waiting for anything—especially Christmas, with all the magic of the season.  Mama must remind Llama Llama about the special gift of the season: FAMILY! I am excited to share this beautifully illustrated book with my kindergarten class. What fun it is to read this book with its bouncing rhythm and rhyme. After reading the book, sit down with your child and talk about all the holiday traditions you had when you were a young child. The special moments you spend now with your child will be wonderful memories when he or she grows up.

If you enjoyed any of the Llama Llama books, then you must get a copy of Llama Llama Holiday Drama to add to your collection!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: IT’S ALMOST HERE!

15 Oct

Fall is my favorite season of all. Every year I wait with budding anticipation for the temperature to drop, the leaves to turn their vibrant reds and oranges, and the first Arrow catalog to mail. But, this fall, there’s something that excites me even more than apple picking and Halloween haunting. This fall, Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5: The Ugly Truth hits Book Clubs! It’s so top secret that even I haven’t gotten a sneak peek, and I am DYING to know what happens! But one thing’s for sure: It is guaranteed to be as fun and hilarious as the first four books.

When we last left Greg, he was embarking on a lazy summer vacation that turned out to be anything but. A ruined birthday, a rainy trip to the water park, a campout at The Game Hut, two fish, and one dog later bring Greg to the end of summer and the precipice of adolescence. It is here that we anticipate the release of The Ugly Truth, which promises the memorable characters and silly schoolyard antics that have come to define the series and a new generation of readers. Will Greg and Rowley still be friends? Will Fregley ever get a clue? Will the dreaded cheese touch make its reappearance? There’s only one way to find out…read The Ugly Truth. It’s not available until November 9, 2010, but you can pre-order your copy on Arrow Book Club TODAY! Can’t wait for November 9 to get here? Be sure to check out the Jeff Kinney fan page where you can watch interviews with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid author and also find out what books he recommends while waiting for The Ugly Truth to come out.

As always, happy reading!

This post was brought to you by our very own Arrow Editor, Ann Marie.

Picture the Dead

14 Oct

A few months ago, I was wandering around Book Expo America in New York and as I passed by the Source Books booth, a book cover caught my eye. It was gothic, full of deep reds, blacks, and silvers, and it was called Picture the Dead

…I had to have it. I was actually lucky enough to happen upon the booth just as the line was starting for the author and illustrator signing! Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown were both lovely and hilariously dressed like this:

 

Adele is the one in the moustache. Lisa's in the corset.

 

At the time, I didn’t realize how perfectly their attire tied in with the book. Picture the Dead turned out to be a terrifying and romantic tale—part mystery, part ghost story—set in the Civil War era. Check out what Kristin, our very own TAB/TeenRC Editor, had to say about it:

“A spy sees everyone, but is seen by no one. Remember that, Jennie.”

Jennie Lovell has lost everything: her parents, her twin, her fiancé…even her home. Forced to depend on uncaring relatives, Jennie tries to find a way out of her shattered life. When she meets a spirit photographer who claims to take ghostly pictures of the departed, she is sure he is a charlatan. But when the photographs begin to unveil clues to her fiancé’s death, Jennie finds herself in the middle of a chilling mystery. A haunting tale with amazing illustrations about the dark secrets kept by the living…and the dead.

Want to know more? Watch this clip of Lisa and Adele talking about the genesis of Picture the Dead:

Definitely pick up Picture the Dead on TAB October!