Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

by Gail Pruszkowski

I may not be a young adult but "Vampire Academy" is a book I could definitely sink my teeth into. It's the first in a series by Richelle Mead. The author puts a new and unique spin on the vampire legends of old. Forbidden love, friendship, loyalty, romance, intrigue, this one has it all.

St. Vladimir's Academy in Montana is no ordinary school. It's a boarding school for vampires where they are taught magic and teens who are half human, half vampire are trained to protect them. Lissa is a mortal Moroi Vampire Princess and her best friend and bodyguard is Rose Hathaway, a Dhampir, who is trained to combat the immortal Strigoi, who are dangerous rogue Moroi. Two years ago Lissa and Rose ran away but they were found and brought back in disgrace. The academy has become a dangerous place for them. Gossip, peer pressure and forbidden romance are the least of their problems. Lissa has secret powers that are growing and affecting her in different ways. Now she is getting anonymous warnings from someone who knows her secret.

Rose and Lissa have a great relationship and it's the focus of the story. The plot starts when the girls are caught and returned to the academy and it takes off from there. Good secondary characters and intriguing subplots make the pages fly. There's a forbidden romance between Rose and Dimitri which adds another dimension to the story. Mead doesn't talk down to her readers. She describes a dark contemporary setting and includes some strong language and sexual content that some readers might find offensive. It might be a supernatural tale but it deals with teenage issues that are relevant to most teens. If you like "Twilight" and "House of Night" you'll probably like this series as well. It's an engaging mystery with an unpredictable ending and it is definitely worth a read.

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Razorbill (August 16, 2007)
ISBN: 978-1595141743
Paperback: 336
Price: $8.99

Gail Pruszkowski reviews for "Romantic Times BOOKreviews" magazine and her work has been published in the "Cup of Comfort" Anthologies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Childhood Cancer Book Review - Where's My Hair?

by Terry Boser

As a special education specialist I have seen many books that children struggle with because the reading is too hard. Many books lack age appropriate reading. Let me tell you about a new children's book authored by Patti Block, of Minnesota, titled Where's My Hair? This book definitely has an age appropriate reading level and can be used for educational purposes.

Where's my Hair is about the days of a young cancer patient. It starts off with the news that a young boys friend is sick. He talks about how his friend needs to go to the doctor a lot. How there will be good days and bad days. He tells how he feels about his friend. He waits for the day where they can play again. This book is a great reading book for the young reader. The style of writing by this author is simple. The author does not use big words. She gets her points across by using simple words; words that young people, including young readers will understand.

This amazing book can also be used an an educational resource for any young person who is dealing with cancer, whether it is themselves that has been diagnosed or a loved one. The book can easily be read over and over again so the child can remember what will happen when their loved one goes to the doctor for their cancer treatments. Repetition while reading is an important factor for the child to learn and remember.

This pictures in Where's My Hair? are vivid and full of color. They too will help the child understand what is happening in the story if they are too young to read by themselves.

Bottom line--this book would be an amazing tool to add to your personal or professional collection.

Where's My Hair?
Author: Patti Block
Illustrator: Swapan Debnath
ISBN: 978-1-936046-12-6

For more information about the author you may visit:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Children's Books and Their Importance

by Rita R Philips

The vulnerability of a child is a wonderful feat all on its own. One of the most important things that your child needs to learn is the habit of reading. With the digital age growing out of proportions, a lot of parents have neglected to educate their children with the use of the right reading materials. Most adults would allow their children to endlessly play video games or learn all their school lessons through the internet.

Unknown to a lot of people, there are a lot of things that your child can pick up from reading. Being immersed in various reading materials will help enhance the understanding and knowledge of your child, even at the early stage of pregnancy and childbirth. Parents are encouraged by experts to indulge their children to reading books that will help widen their understanding of different things in the world. Most children books also incorporate moral lessons that aid in the mentality of the child as he/she grows.

Being able to make a child feel comfortable in the habit of reading books will make it easier for them to achieve a lot of things while they are in school and as they go on with their life. Schools also hold book fairs that will increase their participation in several non-curricular activities. This will also give them an advantage over other children who may have not read as many books as they have. While you shop for children books, you might also want to bring your child along with you in the store.

Observe his actions and see which types of books he may be interested in. This will give you a brief knowledge on what books to buy him next. When your child feels at ease with the activity of reading, you will also be able to see a noticeable dedication in his learning for other things. Books tell stories of different kinds of people, and children will be able to compare and assess the diversities in the real world.

Opening up to a world that they barely know about will make it easier for you as a parent to educate your child. If your child is still a toddler, you can focus on board books that will make the idea of reading more interactive as he participates in different identification games. Most board books help in enhancing the child's identification in various shapes, colors and sizes. Colorful pictures also spark the interest of a lot of children. A lot of child experts believe that board books are always the best start to immersing kids to read children books. Constantly visiting the library with your child is also a healthy practice in nurturing their education. Sooner or later, you will be surprised to realize that your child can get into the habit of reading without having to be reminded by you.

Copyright (c) 2009 Rita R Philips

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Hockey Sweater and Roch Carrier

Review by Matthew Proctor

Roch Carrier is a Canadian children's novelist who has published numerous books but his most famous work is the book related to a young man caught in the middle of a heated sports rivalry and a hapless purchase mistake.

The Hockey Sweater, originally written in French, is the story of a young French Canadian who plays hockey with a group of boys out on the pond. All of the children have Montreal Canadians jerseys with the red and white so the boy decides that he is going to buy one as well. Unfortunately, for some reason the wrong jersey shows up and it is for the worst possible team.

The Montreal Canadians are in a fierce rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs so any Canadians fan hates anything related to the Maple Leafs. Wouldn't you know it? The jersey the young boy receives in the mail is a blue and white Maple Leafs jersey. The rest of the story follows the boy as he tries to deal with wearing a rival team's sweater in the midst of some of the proudest fans out there.

The book, though recently published in 1979, has become an icon in Canadian literature. The story is read to every young Canadian in school and for bed time stories; it has become ingrained in the culture. A quote from the book can even be found in both official languages (French and English) on the back of the Canadian five-dollar bill. This children's book has already proved its worth.

Roch Carrier was born and raised in Quebec in the 1940's. The book he wrote is actually closely based upon an event that happened to him in his childhood. His mother bought him a sweater from Eaton's when his old Montreal Canadians sweater wears out and then refuses to return the sweater when the wrong one arrives and worse yet forces her son to wear the rival team's sweater instead of his old tattered favorite.

The story has since been made into a National Film Board of Canada animated short. There are no two teams that have worse history together than the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They hate each other and on top of that, their jerseys are nothing alike. No one better understands what sports rivalry means than the boy in the Hockey Sweater and it is thanks to Roch Carrier's skillful presentation that all of Canada and the United States understand it better today.

Interested in more about hockey sweaters? Check out the related article Evolution of Hockey Jerseys and read more about hockey jerseys and their importance to the sport by visiting The Hockey Jerseys Guide.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Twilight" Book Review

by Lily Andrews

Twilight is a wonderfully imaginative and believable fiction novel written by author Stephenie Meyer. Bella, a teenage girl hailing from Phoenix, makes the decision to leave her beloved home town and all of her friends. She heroically sacrifices her happiness for that of her mother, because her new and adored step-father Phil, is a professional baseball player. She moves to a town called Forks, on the dreary Olympic Peninsula to live with her father, Charlie, so that her mother can be free to travel with her new husband Phil.

The town of Forks is where the story truly begins. As it unfolds, we find Bella being highly agitated, annoyed and frustrated , but also extremely attracted and curious about the mysterious Edward Cullen, who attends her new high school. There is something strangely curious about Edward and his four other siblings. They are all remarkably beautiful. They always sit alone in the cafeteria, and never eat or drink anything. His hands are so cold, and his eyes dramatically change color.

Edward warns Bella that it is not safe for her to be around him, but does not heed his own warning. Edward realizes that the intensity of their passion could drive him over the edge and put Bella's life in danger. He lusts for her blood because he is a vampire! They share an irresistible attraction for each other, and cannot keep apart from each other, despite the danger. It is through this dangerously necessary relationship that Bella and Edward fall in love. She learns Edwards family guarded secret. They are all vampires! Despite the blood-lust that Bella arouses, she is safe with Edward and his family not only because of Edwards love for her, but because the family patriarch has sworn the family to renounce human prey.

Edward and his family become entwined in a desperate struggle to protect and preserve the life of the fragile human Bella, when a group of rogue tracker vampires fixate on her. They will do anything to taste her blood, and will stop at nothing until they have her.

Will Edward and the members of his family be able to control the instinct aroused within them? Will they be able to save Bella from the rogues?

This novel is highly suggested with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you enjoy reading Harry Potter, you will enjoy the imaginative brilliance of Stephenie Meyers' Twilight . It is a fantastic read that is hard to put down once you start!

By: Lily Andrews
To Get You Copy Of "Twilight", please visit:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review of the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

by Bob Morse

Over two decades ago, Neil Gaiman truly revolutionized the comic book industry with his amazing work in the comic book industry. Roughly 8 years ago, Gaiman made the transition into novel writing and his work has been nothing short of spectacular. This is evidenced in the release of his novel, The Graveyard Book.

On the surface, this book appears to be a horror novel but upon reading the first few chapters, it becomes obvious this is more than a run of the mill horror yarn. This is an incredibly multifaceted work that is truly one of the more unique and interesting works of dark (and, for that matter upbeat) fantasy on bookstore shelves.

The plot of this work is one of the more original narratives to come down the proverbial pike in many years. The novel is the tale of Nobody Owens. When Nobody was born, his family was murdered by an assassin. Nobody, however, was spared in a very unique way: he found himself in a cemetery where he immediately fell under the protection of the ghosts that inhabited the cemetery. These ghosts not only protect Nobody. They raise him from a newborn through his adolescence. Of course, this makes for quite the unique upbringing since the dynamic between ghosts and humans is quite different.

Therein exists much of the allegorical components to the tale. The differences between ghosts and humans are a microcosm of the differences between people in general. The irony of the relationship between Nobody and the ghosts centers on the fact that humans share many of the same differences. From this, we can watch the interaction between the characters from a different perspective that allows us to examine human relationships within a framework that includes spiritual, astral beings. Yes, Gaiman is a creative author and that is what makes his work so engaging.

Of course, the ending of the novel yields a confrontation between Nobody and the assassin that murdered his family. While the confrontation does follow some of the conventions of a traditional revenge tale, there are enough "spins" present that the confrontation never becomes predictable or derivative. No, Gaiman is a far more talented author than one that would deliver little more than "the same old, same old".

What makes this an engaging work is that it harkens back to the days of gothic, grim children's literature. In time, children's literature - which was quite dark in previous centuries - began to soften and lose its bite. While this book is clearly written for and marketed to adults, Gaiman still is successful in bringing back the weird genre conventions of dark children's fantasy. This is why it stands out as such a unique work which further contributes to its popularity.

Those looking for a thoroughly original and engaging work of dark fiction will certainly enjoy reading The Graveyard Book.

Far too often, fantasy books are cut from the same mold. With Gaiman's work, this is certainly not the case as his innovative and visionary style is among the most original a reader could discover.

(The Graveyard Book which came out in October 2008 has won the Newbery Award which is one of the most distinguished awards for children's books. The book has also been nominated for a Hugo Award. First editions of the book should prove to be very collectible. Signed first editions have already appreciated considerably.)

Bob Morse has been collecting books for 11 years. His website contains collecting tips and a list of books he has been collecting recently. Also, each month a collectible Book of the Month book is selected for its appreciation potential.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Digital Books For Children

by Jeanette McLeod

Children need to be exposed to books and reading to improve their literacy levels including their vocabulary knowledge. The wider variety of reading matter they are exposed to can develop these skills. Parents/carers play a critical role in exposing children to reading as well as providing the support and encouragement every child needs. However parents/carers can often be too busy to invest the amount of time needed reading with their children to develop these literacy skills.
So what about other formats available alongside paper books? There are a number of digital or ebooks that are available on the market that require less of the parent/carers time that can supplement a child's exposure to books and reading. They should be seen as complimentary not a replacement as nothing can replace the bond that is created between a parent/carer and child when cuddled up with a book. This article explores the pros and cons of digital books for children.
Here are the pros of why you should consider digital books for children;

·         A child can get exposure to left to right reading, modelled fluency, and the opportunity to associate sounds and letter groupings/words as the text is highlighted and the audio reads along.
·         A child can listen to a story they love time and time again without adult support and the repetition element for young children is vital in their learning process.
·         Emerging readers can read stories to themselves and if they do not recognise a word they can click on a particular word and hear it spoken without having to interrupt the story and wait for adult intervention.
·         Reading electronic books can be very engaging medium for reluctant readers.
Here are the cons of why you may not want to invest in digital books for your children.
  • You need to be assured of the quality of the book before you purchase it. There are some sites that offer very poor quality books that are badly illustrated or are a PDF version of a hard copy book. Check that you can view inside the first few pages or better still a reputable site should offer free examples of books so that you can see the quality on offer.
  • Some digital books do not have any functionality such as read along or click on a word. These digitals books will not support your child reading by themselves and will need much more adult intervention. Stick to paper books in this case.
  • Digital books are not designed to replace cuddling up and having the human bond of sharing a book. You should not purchase ebooks as a replacement for this activity more that they are in addition to this activity.
  • Do not purchase digital books where there is advertising on the site. If you leave your child alone with a computer then they may click through to inappropriate sites from these adverts.
Digital books are not meant as a replacement to paper books or the bond that can be created in sharing a book together. They are meant as an additional resource to encourage children to read more and instil a love of books that will last a lifetime and improve literacy levels. Be sure to check the quality of the product before you buy to make sure it has the functionality that can help your child to read independently. Try the books with your child before you buy to make sure they are suitable. Digital books can be a great medium for encouraging children to read more. In turn their literacy and vocabulary levels will improve.
Jeanette McLeod
Bringing the Magic of Books to Life

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recycle This Book - 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green

by Lori Calabrese

Albert Einstein said it best when he stated that "Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach." And let's face it, young people today learn from many influential people- the most important being their parents, but also teachers, friends and even athletes and celebrities. So when we teach kids about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling, they should be seeing and hearing it straight from the horse's mouth!

Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green is a collection of essays from renowned children's books authors. As the title indicates, 100 authors come together to compile simple tips for families to use to help save the planet and have fun while doing it. Some of the authors include Ann Brashares, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Bruce Coville, Daniel Pinkwater, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Eve Bunting, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jon Scieszka, and Rick Riordan.

Did you know Gail Gibbons heats her Vermont home with solar panels? And Anne Brashares, author of "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," doesn't own a car! There are so many gems in this book which make it a great tool to teach young readers how they can help make the Earth a greener place. I think it's wonderful that young readers can learn from their favorite authors.

For example:

Gennifer Choldenko, author of "Al Capone Does My Shirts," suggests buying reusable water bottles, putting each person's name on them and filling them with water from the tap.

Jane Yolen suggests eating leftovers for breakfast: don't throw food away.

Joseph Bruchac ("Buffalo Song") suggests to reuse and recycle paper and envelopes.

What I like about this book is that you'll find ideas you might not have thought of before or you'll realize that great minds think alike! Either way, it gives you the chance to peek into the lives of people that bring you your favorite stories, and the ultimate result is making a positive impact on Mother Earth.

Additional Information:

Edited by: Dan Gutman
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Yearling (March 24, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0385737211
ISBN-13: 978-0385737210

Lori Calabrese is a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and children in both her personal and professional life. Lori's publishing credits include Boys' Life, Odyssey, Appleseeds, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., Stories for Children Magazine, and The Institute of Children's Literature's Rx for Writers. Lori is a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature and a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

To learn more, please visit