Thursday, October 28, 2010

November Book Post: The Dragon in the Sock Drawer

Our November book selection is "The Dragon in the Sock Drawer" by Kate Klimo. This is the first book in a series called "Dragon Keepers." This fun book is about ten-year-old cousins Jesse and Daisy. Jesse is living with Daisy while his doctor-parents are in Africa establishing a children's clinic. The cousins are good friends and have always wanted something magical to happen to them. One day, Daisy's father (Jesse's uncle), a geologist, take the kids hiking and rock collecting to High Peak. Jesse finds what he thinks is a geode or "thunder egg". He picks it up and he thinks he hears the rock talking to him! Back home, all attempts to cut open the geode result in broken saw blades. Jesse puts the geode in his sock drawer. The next day, with a huge bang, the thunder egg hatches open and a tiny talkative baby dragon pops out! The two cousins are thrilled but clueless as to how to care for a dragon. They search the public library and the Internet where they find a strange website with a talking professor who can hear everything the cousins say. The professor guides the children on everything they need to know about the dragon. He tells them that the dragon’s hatching has designated them “Dragon Keepers.” Their biggest challenge is keeping the dragon, whom they named Emmy, safe from Saint George. St. George is masquerading as a herpetologist at the local university but he is really a villainous character who has kept himself alive for centuries by drinking dragons’ blood! There are two more books in the series with a fourth book planned for May of 2011.

October Book Club: The Magic Half

The book selection for October was "The Magic Half" by Annie Barrows. This is a wonderful book--part mystery, part history, part fantasy, part realistic fiction. The main character is Miri, an 11-year-old girl with twin older brothers and twin younger sisters. Miri often feels left out, especially after they move to a new house on land that used to be a working farm. The best part of the old house is that Miri finally gets to have her own bedroom. One day as she is in her bedroom imagining how it will look with freshly painted walls, she spies a glass lens taped to the wall near the floor. Curious, Miri pulls the lens free and looks through it...and is immediately transported back in time to 1935! She is still in the same house but that's all that is the same. There's a different girl, Molly, living in her bedroom. Molly is badly in need of help to escape an abusive situation. Miri feels an intense connection with Molly and wants to help her. Molly, in turn, says she and her magical grandmother have "called" up Miri. Together, with many twists and turns and near-disasters, Molly and Miri construct a plan that eventually succeeds in bringing them both back to the present day where they find that history has been changed! It's as through Molly and Miri have always been twins. Only they have any memories of what really happened.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Book Club: Alvin Ho...

Our Ashburn Kids Book Club is off to a good start! We met on September 13 to discuss our first book pick of the school year: "Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things" by Lenore Look. This book is one of the nominations for the 2010-2011 Virginia's Readers Choice Award. It is a fine example of a transitional or early chapter book.
Alvin is a young Chinese-American boy just starting second grade. He is fearful of many things--elevators, scary movies, his piano teacher, the dark, and most of all, school. In fact, he is so fearful of school that he is completely unable to talk while at school. He can talk at home and on the school bus but once inside the classroom, he is completely mute. He handles his fears in quirky ways. For example, he carries a PDK--a Personal Disaster Kit--filled with equipment to help him survive whatever random bad stuff might arise.

Fortunately for Alvin, he has a loving and sympathetic (usually) family. Alvin's father is a particularly warm and real character in the book. He is patient and non-judgemental with Alvin and truly wants to help him overcome his fears and anxieties. Another great character is Alvin's grandfather who likes to sew (he makes all their Halloween costumes) and teaches the kids how to pitch a baseball.

Alvin's adventures at home, school, and in the neighborhood are handled with matter-of-fact humor and much fun. I think this book would be especially effective as a read-aloud. There are two more books in the Alvin Ho series, both with cartoon-like illustrations by LeUyen Pham.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

AKBC for 2010-11

Whether we like it or not, the new school year is quickly approaching. We are gearing up for another fun year for the Ashburn Kids Book Club (AKBC). Once again, we will be reading 10-12 award-winning books, many of which are nominated for this year's Virginia Readers Choice Award.

Each month we will meet at the Ashburn Library at 7 pm, according to the following schedule:

Monday, Sept. 13: Book: "Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things" by Lenore Look
Monday, Oct. 4: Book: "The Magic Half" by Annie Barrows
Monday, Nov. 1: Book: "The Dragon in the Sock Drawer" by Kate Klimo
Monday, Dec. 6: Book: "Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White
Monday, Jan. 10: Book: "Chicken Feathers" by Joy Crowley
Monday, Feb. 7: Book: "Lady Liberty: A Biography" by Doreen Rappaport AND
Book: "You Wouldn't Want to be a Worker on the Statue of Liberty" by John Malam
Monday, Mar. 7: Book: "Lady Liberty" by Doreen Rappaport AND "You Wouldn't Want to be a Worker on the Statue of Liberty" by John Malam
Monday, Apr. 4: Book: "Blown Away" by Joan Hiatt Harlow
Monday, May 2: Book: "Gully's Travels" by Tor Seidler

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And the winner is...

The Virginia State Reading Association has announced the winners of this year's 2009-10 Virginia Readers Choice Award. They are:

Primary: Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Elementary: The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Middle: Savvy by Ingrid Law

High: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The winners are determined by tallying votes from children all over the state of Virginia. Only children's votes are counted. Our Ashburn Kids Book Club also voted and the winning book for us was No Talking by Andrew Clements.

May Book Club: Igraine the Brave

The month of May brings the final meeting of the Ashburn Kids Book Club for this school year. Our book this month is "Igraine the Brave" by Cornelia Funke. It is one of the books nominated for this year's Virginia Readers Choice Award. We don't often get a fantasy selection on the nomination list for VRC so it's been a fun change to read this book. Cornelia Funke is a gifted writer (often compared to JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame) and this book is delightful! It tells the story of twelve-year-old Igraine, the daughter of two magicians, who wants to become a brave knight rather than enter the family's magic business. Igraine has an older brother, Arthur, who is mid-way through his magic studies and still struggles with certain spells, i.e. the only food he is able to conjur up are dry biscuits and blue eggs. When their castle is attacked by an scheming neighbor bent on stealing their magic books, Igraine and Arthur each demonstrate their bravery in their own ways, which is especially crucial since their parents have been accidentally turned into pigs by a miss-spoken spell and have lost all their magical abilities. This book has come-to-life gargoyles, three-headed dragons, a sorrowful knight, a talking cat, an enchanted moat, a creepy dungeon, and much more! It is just the right mix of suspense, humor, and triumph over evil without ever being too dark or frightening. I really enjoyed it and I'm usually not a fan of fantasy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Book Club: Lunch Money

Our book selection for the month of April was "Lunch Money" by Andrew Clements. It's a very fun, fast-paced book about money! Well, more specifically about a twelve-year-old boy named Greg who has always been good at coming up with schemes and projects to make money. This time Greg thinks he can make money by designing, producing, and selling his own line of mini comic books at school. But it's an uphill battle. His plan brings disapproval from the principal and he soon has a rival comic artist in the form of his neighborhood nemesis and lifelong rival, Maura. In the end Greg and Maura make an unlike team to bring many changes to their school. Their mini-comic book business succeeds beyond anyone's expectations and they learn how to solve their differences in constructive ways. It's a good read and the book club kids seemed to really enjoy the book.