MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers 
A Booked To Dine book club choice
Good Reads Description:
The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

MrsK's Review: 
I so enjoyed this book.  Given the theme, the flower connection, the month of May gathering, and all things connected to beauty... our book club chose this book from rave reviews from our friends.

At first, meeting Victoria was a bit like a leap of faith.  I wasn't sure that I would connect with this character.  I had students that would have adored a younger version of her, and yet as I continued my reading I found a variety of connections.  Just like Victoria in choosing which flowers would bless her customers, I discovered aspects of myself within the bouquet of these pages.

Right up front, I must thank the author for her desire to help me as a reader/gardener...  for I was thrilled to discover there was a flower dictionary at the back of the book which provided freedom to enjoy Victoria's story without worrying about how I would remember the numerous definitions (I never/ever look at the back pages... I do not like spoilers taking anything away from my literary journey).

Our book club discussion was filled with connections, ideas, and a few debates.  We discussed what are hopes for Victoria would be, how we would enjoy knowing more about Grant's upbringing and thoughts about the past secret, what Elizabeth would be like as a Grandparent, and why Victoria chose the decisions she made that created such a long road to happiness.  We celebrated the moment when Renata gave Victoria a chance, we were happy when Victoria allowed Grant into her life, we were very relieved when Mother Ruby arrived, and we dismayed when Victoria decided to build her life apart from those that mattered the most.  We were frustrated that the "secret" took so long in unfolding and yet, we would not have chosen the finale to bloom any quicker than it did.

This is an excellent book choice.... 
Enjoy, MrsK
Amazing read
Added to my shelf

Flower Factor Blog 
Click here for tips, ideas and advice on all things flowers.

Carly Keene Literary Detective: Braving the Brontes

Braving the Brontes
 Braving the Brontes by Katherine Rue
 ISBN: 9780989816625

Net Galley Description: 
Spunky young Alaskan Carly Keene and her best friend Francesca have never met a book they didn't like. But they've never been in a book before.

Carly Keene: Braving the Brontes is the funny and heartwarming story of a young reader caught up in the adventure of a book lover's lifetime. A chance nap in a magical bookstore sends Carly spiraling back in time. When she wakes up, it's 1846, everyone thinks her name is Caroline, and a young woman named Charlotte Bronte is trying to compose one of the greatest books ever written... Jane Eyre.

And that's not all. Maria, the spirit of the Bronte sisters' dead sibling, is haunting Carly, telling her that Charlotte's got to finish her book--or else.

With literary history on the line, Carly Keene will battle foggy moors, ghostly apparitions, cholera epidemics, and the horror that is nineteenth-century homework: needlework, French, needlework, German, and more needlework. It's as much as a spunky 21st-century girl can handle, but if anyone can brave the Brontes, it's Carly Keene. 

MrsK's Review: 
Everyone knows that I love books.  I love books about books.  I adore mysteries, they are such a delight during storms or any other season.  As a young reader, there was nothing better than my moments with Nancy Drew.  I have just been introduced to Carly Keene (great name considering any of our connection to Miss Drew).

With such delightfully fun language like tickety-boo (nincompoops; balderdash; heebie-jeebies ) Carly and Francesca "don't want to waste adventures."  With their gift of imagination they know "There's no point in an adventure where the bad guys can zap you with phasers and disappear. How would we triumph and complete or quest?"

As the story begins to unfold, the girls experience "one lucky thing in a series of lucky things."  Their mystery begins on the way back from an errand to the store, you see as adventures they are always alert for the unexpected and that is just what begins to unfold once they discover a tiny side street that was never there before.  Of course these girls are dedicated sleuths with the knowledge that "only dull, foolish children ignore mysterious alleyways that appear from nowhere."  Yep, these girls know how to "Recognize a Mystery" when the see one, "weren't they always creating Mysterious Circumstances for their own amusement?"

Once embarking down the alley, there happens to be that inviting doorway.  You know the one, it beckons quietly while the visitor ponders the reality about a safe journey within it's portal.  The girls must enter... and once the bell over the door welcomes them they experience the joy of old bindings worn and cracked.  As any of us readers would do, they begin walking the aisles, touching the bindings, feeling their way amongst new friends just waiting to be taken off of the shelves.  With an inviting fireglow, a comfy armchair and an old-distracted book dealer, Carly has a first edition of Jane Eyre placed in to her hands (now gloved of course).  "How can you expect to look at an extremely rare and valuable old book if you aren't sitting down properly?  What are children coming to these days?" And with that brief encounter, Carly begins reading... just for a moment or so she thinks!  This is such a perfected hook.....

As Carly quickly discovers this is not just a rare first edition, it supposedly is the Charlotte Bronte's personal copy.  With that being disclosed, "his pleased look faded as he started to mutter again about the binding, but Carly wasn't paying attention."  Nope, she curls back and opens the cover....With firelight flickering over her face...she doesn't notice when the old man gave a satisfied smile and went back through the doorway..."  Now I was hooked!  I kept reading until the iPad shut down.

I will not share more, I must respect the nature of a great mystery.  And yet, I will entice you with these final or should I say beginning moments of Carly's mystery: "Almost immediately she heard it.  Tap-tap-tap at the window...Carly jumped out of bed and ran over to the window...The thin, pale face of a girl stared back at her...Save my sisters or you will not save yourself..."

The setting descriptions are enjoyable, stepping from the present into the Bronte's home is such a grand idea.  Descriptions filled with vivid language, life experiences of an romantic age, eloquent poetry musings, literary connections which brings a reader's memories back to life.... and best of all new literary hooks tempting an "oh, I've got to read that one," will keep a smile on any reader's face.

This is my second review for a  Kindle download.  Once again I found myself frustrated without the book in hand, when I'm reading a book for sharing (with students, in the library, or at book club) I am always adding comments or writing "ponderings" in the margins. So I had to learn how to mark on my iPad... new techniques are fun but frustrating at the same time.  I am so excited to share this story with my granddaughters... what fun we will have together.

Enjoyable reading for everyone... Will be adding to our Library shelves!

Born and raised in Alaska, Katherine will happily tell you what to do in a variety of survival situations, including but not limited to: bear attacks, hypothermia, nettle stings, and how to start a fire in the rain. She received a B.A. in Classics from Dartmouth College and a Masters in Medieval History from The University of California, Berkeley. She lives against her better judgment in New York City (which she cordially dislikes) with her husband and sons (whom she likes, very much). This is her first book.

"I received this ebook for free from Net Galley for this review."

Publicist: Saira Rao

Dinotopia: First Flight

Dinotopia, First Flight
20th Anniversary Edition  James Gurney Dinotopia Web connection
ISBN: 9781606600573

Net Galley Description: 
 "Critics have gushed over Gurney's phantasmagorical creation, likening him to such venerated literary fantasists as Jules Verne, Wells, and J. R. R. Tolkien." — People MagazineJames Gurney's illustrated Dinotopia series has been an imaginative touchstone for a generation of readers of all ages. This new definitive edition of Dinotopia: First Flight brings together an extensive collection of James Gurney's stories, artwork, and story notes from the ancient origins of the land where humans and dinosaurs coexist. That peaceful world was forged on the flames of conflict in a dramatic Age of Heroes. First Flight tells a timeless tale of partnership and courage, where unlikely heroes cooperate to overcome the greatest challenge yet to face Dinotopia.
This lavishly produced volume begins with an unabridged republication of James Gurney's influential 1999 story about the adventures of Gideon Altaire. Gideon escapes from his post as a drone pilot, befriends a small band of animal characters, and becomes the first human to fly on the back of a giant pterosaur known as a skybax. Together they challenge a bold attempt by the rogue leaders of Poseidos to overturn the tenuous balance between humans and dinosaurs.
The second half of the book includes a bonus of over 45 new images, including never-before-published storyboards, concept sketches, and production paintings, plus new characters, stories, and backstory notes from James Gurney's creative archives. The supplement begins with a cinematic treatment about a character named Blake Terrapin, who leads the resistance on the ground while Gideon takes to the air. 
Together, the elements of this richly imagined volume combine to conjure a richly textured world, and will serve as an exciting companion volume to Gurney's other Dinotopia books.

MrsK's Thoughts:
 It was such a delight to revisit Dinotopia on my Kindle during this brief time away from the Library.  Through the years, many of my students, family, and friends have discovered the world of Dinotopia.  The story line creates such a vivid journey.  Every character is crafted with such personality.  The word choice is so well crafted that you can run, soar, and despair with each dinosaur, rider, or partner.  The illustrations enhances the pleasure of the journey.  As a reader I can "step" into the story and journey within this amazing world with all my senses satisfied. 
A journey within the covers of  First Flight will only tempt you... you will find yourself being called back again, and again.  We will not want to leave these quests and challenges.  You will find yourself drifting back to all of these characters, pondering what are they doing while you are away.  Once one adventure is finished, you will want to revisit through the illustrated windows.... and that journey will activate a imagined quest of your own.  You will need plenty of time... traveling within Dinotopia is not a quick visit!
Unfortunately, I was extremely frustrated with this ebook visit... I need to hold Dinotopia in my hands... I must have the illustrations as large as possible in order for exploration... I desire the experience and security of the book waiting for me....

Amazing read... Is on my shelf waiting for me to return!
Enjoyable reading for everyone

"I received this ebook for free from Net Galley for this review."


Monday, May 19, 2014

Papercutz Newest Graphic Novels

As the rains began to pour down once more, my grandsons and I visited the latest preview graphic novels.  So much fun!  I prefer the actual novels, but there is always something delightful about reading a comic layout/graphic novel.  Check these out... they are worth the moments of discover, the memories that comes with sharing something fun, and the intriguing allurement to the amazing graphics.

Title: The Secret of Whale Island (Thea Stilton Graphic Novels Series #1), Author: Thea Stilton  Thea is Geronimo's sister and she teaches journalism at Mouseford Academy.  Of course, she is also a Rodent's Gazette correspondent for all things fashion and in the know.  The school year is just beginning and the five "Thea Sisters," are all excited about the latest fashions, the bling, the global news, the dates, and the Mouseford Big Dance.  With the De Vissen's arrival all things are in a "cyclone" of buzz.  Off shore, the mysterious Orca is causing it's own stir.  While the dance is underway..... well you are going to read it to find out more... aren't you?

OK... they're back, and they are ready for a new audience.  My youngest son was a MMPR fan and it was great letting my oldest grandson enjoy this graphic connection.
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS #1: Rita Repulsa's Attitude Adjustment
When an ancient stone idol comes to life and starts blasting everything in its path with a morphing ray, it looks like the world is in pretty deep trouble; but it’s nothing compared to the havoc unleashed when Rita Repulsa gets her hands on it! The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers join the fray, but this new baddie has extra muscle from Squatt and the Putty Patrol. If the team doesn’t get a little help of their own from a trusted friend, this latest mission may be their last!
In 1993, the Power Rangers burst on the scene in an explosion of colorful combat, bizarre monsters, incredible robot battles, and Megazord-sized fun, spawning a global phenomenon and an ever-expanding storytelling universe. Papercutz is proud to present the long-awaited continuing adventures of the team that started it all!
6" x 9", 64pp full-color paperback, $7.99
ISBN 9781597076968 | Diamond MAR141285
6" x 9", 64pp full-color hardcover, $12.99
ISBN 9781597076975 | Diamond MAR141286
The first pages are styled as a computerized bio folder for each of PR.  Then the adventure begins... 
Limbo is still trying to get all the dudes and dudettes caught up to the newest lingo, which is the 1993 quality connection.  These six martial artists are quick changers, full of wisdom and desire to make even the worst see what's right. So as they are keeping their home area running with kindness... 
A discovery comes up out of the sands....  
"A terrifying cross between monster and robot, the assembled giant shakes
free from the dust of the ages and rises to his full fearsome height!"

GERONIMO STILTON #14: "The First Mouse on the Moon"
It's 1969, and the eyes of the whole world are focused on the moon, where the Apollo 11 mission is about to make one giant leap for mousekind. But the time-traveling Pirate Cats are on the scene and they want to sabotage this historic moment with their most audacious and harebrained plan ever. To stop them, Geronimo and his cousin Trap will have to get to the moon first. Fasten your seat belts: a rat-tastic space race is underway!

6.5" x 9", 56pp full-color paper over board, $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-59707-731-6 
This is the best of all the Geronimo's.... or least for my youngest grandson it was.  I prefer the fantasy novel series, so much to look at.  But for my grandson the action packed graphics is way cooler!  Where ever you are headed this summer, add either form of Geronimo to your bag and you will have an adventurous summer filled with outstanding discussion points of interest....

Enjoyable reading for everyone

Monday, May 12, 2014

Classics Ilustrated: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

        Classics Illustrated #19: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer is a young orphan living with his half brother Sid at their Aunt Polly’s house. A bad apple in school, he resists all efforts at correction, except when it comes to courting the lovely Becky Thatcher. Along with his buddy Huck Finn, Tom fools around, plays practical jokes and causes trouble—until the day when the two witness a murder. 

The greatest American novel comes gets the CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED treatment in this haunting, vibrant adaptation!
6.5" x 9", 56pp full-color paper over board, $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-59707-723-1


This was such a fun adventure.  Being a book reviewer, I am in the process of learning so many new avenues for readers.  My grandsons and I took some time to read this classic with our learning iPad.  The illustrations animate Tom and Huck so well.  Aunt Polly's characterization is so comfortable.

Although a graphic novel looses some of the depth and detail of the text.  The graphics sculpts a depth to the characters that helps every reader to make literary connections.  This story has a chance for a second read... once the door has been opened, Mark Twain's adventures can be revisited by a generation of "Comic-Con" readers.

If the novel seems slow for you/your reader, try the illustrated classics.  So many readers need to see the images in order to gain the writer's perspective.  This classic re-telling brings Tom's spunky-adventurous spirit to life, the characterization through the amusing graphics captures the essence of Tom Sawyer and his tale.

This is a great summertime read for everyone.....

Enjoyable read

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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