Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sofia the First: The Royal Games by Catherine Hapka

Title: Sofia the First: The Royal Games
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Fantasy, Picture Books
Reading Level: Ages 3-6
Multicultural: While the book is about three fictional kingdoms, the dress of the different kingdoms appear to represent European, Asian, and the Middle Eastern cultures.

The Royal Games is a picture book about Sofia teaming up with her stepbrother James to compete with other kids at the tri-kingdom picnic.  James is a poor sport, which embarrasses Sofia and ultimately causes the other kids to quit the competition. Sofia shows James how the adults are playing together and having fun whether they are winning or losing.  Thus, James learns to be a good sport and the book's princess lesson is that "A true princess plays with fairness and grace."

This Sofia the First book can be a good book to read to/with kids to learn about how to be good sports, especially if they are known to be poor sports and/or are dealing with peers that are sore winners or losers.  Beyond just the storyline, there is also the illustrations that portray the various emotions of the different kids that can be used to discuss how one feels when others are a overly boastful winner or sore loser.  Some illustrations are also good examples of being good sports, such as cheering on others.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First
  • Those that enjoy sports and picnic games may relate to the fantasy versions shown in the book (Flying Horseshoes, Bewitching Bowling, etc.). (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
  • Visual learners may find the emotions represented in the illustrations helpful in understanding being a good versus a poor sport. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Those that have been or are poor sports and/or know others that are may find this book helpful for understanding how to have friendly competition and have fun together. (Interpersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Disney Princess Cookbook by Cynthia Littlefield

Title: The Disney Princess Cookbook
Author: Cynthia Littlefield
Genre: Cookbook
Reading Level: Ages 6-12
Multicultural: The recipes included represent several different cultures based on the different princesses they are paired with including Chinese for Mulan, French for Belle, Middle Eastern for Jasmine, and Scottish for Merida.
Curriculum Subject: Social Studies, Math, Science

The Disney Princess Cookbook is a fun book for kids to get involved in making their own meals in the kitchen, especially for fans of the various Disney Princess movies. The recipes are rated using crowns with 1 crown being the easiest to 5 crown recipes being the most complex. The sections in this cookbook include breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, beverages, and sweets.

The basics chapter at beginning provides useful cooking and safety tips for kids, especially beginner cooks. The measuring ingredients section is particularly helpful with directions on how to measure different types of ingredients including leveling off dry ingredients. The best section, though, is the cleaning up one, which provides tips that are good habits to start forming early.

Each recipe highlights a tip below the ingredients in the side margin. Sometimes the tips are cooking tips related to what is being made, such as how to check doneness on Pascal’s Pancakes. Most of the tips are about ways to experiment with the recipes, such as using alternative ingredients or using with other recipes in the book.

The Magical Menus section in the back provides inspiration for combining several recipes in the book for a special princess themed meal. It also encourages cooks to try out making their own menus. Younger kids may require more help with the reading, but the colorful images of the finished recipes make it easy for them to pick out recipes that they would like to try out.

The glossary in the back provides definitions for a variety of words used in the cookbook. This includes explaining words used in recipe instructions that may be unfamiliar, especially to new cooks, such as fold, knead, and mince. It also describes ingredients or dish names, which can be great for helping young cooks experience new foods.

With its recipes from different ethnicities and with different difficulty levels, this is a good cookbook for kids to experiment in the kitchen and experience other cultures. Since the cooking includes measuring it can also be a fun way to work on math skills, especially if you half, double, or triple recipes. Additionally, cooking can be related to science curriculum by experimenting and hypothesizing how doing something different might change the recipe, etc.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Disney Princesses including Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Belle from Beauty in the Beast, Cinderella, Jasmine from Aladdin, Merida from Brave, Mulan, Rapunzel from Tangled, Snow White, and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.
  • Those that like to do things with their hands, especially if they are interested in getting involved in the kitchen. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
  • The colorful pictures of the characters along with the photos of the finished recipes can make it easier for younger kids to pick recipes as well as those that like to see a visual representation of what it should look like. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • Disney Princess Cookie Cutters - These would be good for the Tiana's Tasty Sandwiches (p. 44-45) recipe.
  • Disney Princess Crafts & Recipes - Find more recipes to make as well as crafts, which could be used to decorate the table when serving the recipes in the book.
  • Kids Cooking Lesson Plans - This site has different cooking themed lesson plans that could be combined with this book.  The lesson plans are divided into the following ages groups: under 3, 3-6, 7-11, 12-15, and 16-18.
Related Book I've Reviewed

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Jake Hatches a Plan Book Review

Title: Jake Hatches a Plan
Author: Melinda LaRose
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3-5
Curriculum Subject: Math


Jake and the Never Land Pirates practice the Pirate Pledge about helping out when someone’s in trouble when they help out hummingbirds in the book Jake Hatches a Plan.  This book is written in the picture reading style, which uses pictures for some of the words in the sentences.  This can make it a good book to encourage kids first learning to read to participate in reading the book.

Some of the pages in this book feature prompts in the bottom right corner that encourage increased interaction with the book and looking more closely at the illustrations.  Most of these prompts are about counting certain objects on the page, which makes this book useful for learning/practicing counting.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates and/or pirates in general
  • The use of picture reading and the prompts that encourage taking a closer look at the illustrations can make learning to read more appealing for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The prompts also encourage counting and problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those interested in nature, especially birds, may enjoy the main plot about helping the hummingbirds. (Naturalistic)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
More Disney Picture Reading Books I've Reviewed

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie-Rella Book Review

Title: Minnie-Rella
Author: Lisa Ann Marsoli
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 4-6

Minnie-Rella is a Level 1 (Pre-K to Grade 1) World of Reading book based on the upcoming Mickey Mouse Clubhouse special of the same name.  Thus, Minnie-Rella makes a good selection to read before watching the new special on Disney Junior or DVD.

The story begins with Mickey and friends asking Minnie for favors to keep her busy while Mickey works on a surprise for her.  All the work wears her out and she falls asleep.  While asleep she dreams she is Minnie-rella, which is basically a retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale.  Like the show, it also features three tools and a mystery item (Quoddles brings them) that are revealed early on and slowly used.

The illustrations not only show what the text is describing, but also add to the reading experience.  For example, they are part of the story when trying to get the right shoes to go with her dress, the images show the different wrong ones while the text simply says Oops. Additionally, the illustrations portray different facial expressions to help show the moods.  Lastly, there are a few that can be humorous that you would not get from just the text.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie fans
  • Beginner readers may benefit from the simple text and word repetition that go together with the visual scenes to tell the story. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Quoddles presenting four options of tools to use in the adventure and the text encouraging the reader to guess what to use at that moment can help improve problem solving skills. (Logical-Mathematical)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Disney Princess Spring is in the Air Coloring Book

Title: Disney Princess Spring is in the Air Coloring Book
Illustrators:Sara Storino, Francesco Legramandi, and Lucio DeGiuseppe
Genre: Coloring Books
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7

Spring is in the Air is a coloring book featuring several Disney princesses in springtime scenes.  The featured princesses include Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, and Tiana.

Most of the pages are coloring scenes, but there are a few activity pages including word finds, counting items, and a maze.  It also has two pages of fuzzy stickers in the middle.

Each page has at least one short sentence or question on it that can make it a fun activity to encourage beginning readers. The sentences or questions on the pages sometimes link together a series of pages, but for the most part they can also stand alone if pages end up being torn out.

Overall Spring is in the Air is a good coloring book with detailed scenes and accompanying text to encouraging reading.  The activity pages are somewhat weak, though, with the solutions being printed on the bottom of the same page as the activity.  Sure, it is easy to cheat when they are at the back of the book, but being right there makes it hard not to cheat even for those that do not want to.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Disney princess fans
  • Those interested in nature, especially flowers and birds, may enjoy the spring themed scenes and sentences. (Naturalistic)
  • Beginning readers may improve their reading skills with the short text that describe what is going on in the scenes. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Up: Spirit of Adventure Stepping Stones Chapter Book

Title: Up: Spirit of Adventure
Genre: Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 8

Spirit of Adventure is a Stepping Stones chapter book based on the animated Disney movie Up, which is about Russell ending up on an adventure to South America in a flying house when he is trying to earn his Assisting the Elderly Wilderness Explorer badge.  The book is pretty much exactly the same as the movie, so some that have seen the movie may find it boring while others may find the familiarity helpful as a beginning chapter book reader.

The style of writing for this book is Russell's stream of consciousness.  To some extent this can end up being distracting and make it hard to get into for some.  However, it can also make the story more interesting as you get to hear his thought process and better understand his feelings, goals, and intentions.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or those interested in being one may relate to Russell and his experience as a Wilderness Explorer.
  • Those interested in nature and animals, especially protecting them, can relate to how they save Kevin (a rare bird). (Naturalistic)
  • Those that like to get a deeper understanding of main characters. (Intrapersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Disney's Dream by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

Title:  Disney's Dream (Blast to the Past #2)
Author: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 7 to 10
Curriculum Subjects: History

The Blast to the Past series is about a group of third graders time traveling to convince historical figures from quitting at key points in history.  In Disney's Dream they travel back to 1928 to ensure that Walt Disney makes the first cartoon with sound ("Steamboat Willie").

Disney's Dream does a great job of weaving historical facts in with the science fiction adventure of the kids on a mission with a tight deadline.  The history aspect is mainly about the making of Steamboat Willie, but there are also mentions of Charlie Chaplin and what movie theaters were like in the 1920s.  Additionally, there is discussion of some of Walt Disney's other projects and what the Disney company has become when they consider the question of what if Walt Disney gave up on making Steamboat Willie.

This book is a good pick for getting kids interested in looking deeper into history topics.  For one, using the concept of thinking about how today's world would be different if a historical figure gave up helps with critical thinking and understanding the importance of different people, places, and events.  At the same time it also teaches about perseverance and in particular following your dreams.

Disney's Dream also provides examples of working together to solve problems.  This includes drawing on the members of the group having different strengths, such as Jacob knowing about electronics and explaining how a projector works to Walt and Bo being a bookworm and providing useful information throughout.  Near the end there is also the member of the group who narrates the story, Abigail, making up with her older sister, CeCe, who then ends up helping them with their mission.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Those interested in film, animation, Mickey Mouse, and Disney history.
  • Siblings may relate to Abigail and CeCe's sibling rivalry and/or eventual working together. (Interpersonal)
  • The assignment the kids are given at the end to write about their dreams and how they will achieve them can be a good exercise for readers to do themselves, especially if they already have some ideas about what they might want to do in the future. (Intrapersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Cars: The Race is On! 3D Book Review

Title: The Race is On! 3D Book
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 8

The Race is On! is a 3D picture book featuring the characters from the Cars movies.  Each page or set of pages features one of the characters along with at least one image of the character.  The bottom right hand corner image on each page is a 3D Movievision image.  There is also a fold out panorama movievision in the middle of the book.

The book comes with two pairs of 3D glasses to be able to enjoy the 3D images.  This allows for multiple people to enjoy the book at the same time, although since it is a character encyclopedia rather than a story book it is more of an independent reader book.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Cars fans, especially those that are working on independent reading.
  • Visual learners will enjoy the 3D images that accompany the text. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Phineas and Ferb: My Funny Valentine by Jon Colton Barry

Title: Phineas and Ferb: My Funny Valentine
Author: Jon Colton Barry
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8

In My Funny Valentine, Phineas and Ferb help Candice's boyfriend, Jeremy, make a special Valentine's Day surprise (a gondola ride) after Dr. Doofenshmirtz has stolen all the Valentine's presents in Danville.  In the side story, Agent P takes on Dr. Doofenshmirtz and frees all the stolen Valentine's presents.

This is a great story about brothers doing something nice for their sister, especially considering how she is usually portrayed as a somewhat mean and annoying tattletale.  Thus, it can be a great read for siblings that may not always get along and even if they do it can perhaps inspire them to make or do something nice for each other.  The stickers that come with the book could even be used to decorate a Valentine's Day card.

Overall My Funny Valentine is a fun picture book to read with children, especially around Valentine's Day.  The colorful pictures enhance the story with facial expressions that show the various moods and images that reflect the actions of what is going on.

One issue with My Funny Valentine is the title is misleading.  It makes it seem like the gift or story would be rather humorous, but there is not anything funny about the Valentine.  It's just a thoughtful one and the only part that could perhaps be considered humorous is when Agent P and Dr. Doofenshmirtz battle with Valentine's gifts as weapons.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the Phineas and Ferb TV series
  • Those with siblings may relate to how Phineas and Ferb work together and/or how their sister is always telling on them. (Interpersonal)
  • Those that like to be creative and make things even if not as on grand of a scale as Phineas and Ferb tend to.
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Book Review

 
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Changing Tides: A Gates Family Mystery by Catherine Hapka

Title: Changing Tides
Series: National Treasure - A Gates Family Mystery
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: 12 and up
Multicultural: Native American including key character and portrayal of the relationship between the colonists and natives
Curriculum Subjects: History

Changing Tides is the first book in the National Treasure - A Gates Family Mystery series.  The series is inspired by Gates family featured in the National Treasure films.  The books feature previous generations of Gates in search of treasure during different periods of American history.  This one is set in 1612 and begins in London, but ends up mostly in the Jamestown colony.

The main character of this book is Samuel Gates, who ends up signing up with his brother William to go to the Jamestown colony in the New World to seek new fortune while also escaping the bad reputation their family has in London due to their father's foolish treasure hunting schemes.  On the way to America, Samuel gets caught up in his own treasure hunt when another passenger shares a cryptic letter he received from a cousin about a hidden treasure that is related to the lost colony of Roanoke.

One great feature of the book is that it variety of historical figures as characters including Shakespeare, Pocahontas (her sister is actually a major character), Chief Powhatan, Governor Gates, and John Rolfe.  It also provides insight into the historical period including what it was like living in Jamestown and the tension between the Native Americans and the English settlers.  Additionally, the postscript explains a little about the real historical aspects featured versus the purely fictional aspects of the book.

Overall Changing Tides is a good adventure filled historical fiction novel that can be a great lead in to learning more about the early English settlements in America.  The way new clues are usually introduced at the end of a chapter is also great for encouraging problem solving, as you can stop and try to figure out where the clues are going to lead on your own, especially the clue at the end of chapter 20. 

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the National Treasure movies
  • Those with an interest in history, especially the early American colonial period.
  • Mystery lovers and those that enjoy working out puzzles, riddles, and clues. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those interested in the relationship between the Native Americans and European settlers. (Interpersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • How Do You Lose a Colony? ThinkQuest - This is a good website for kids to learn more about the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
  • Jamestown Fort Craft
  • Jamestown Lesson Plans - This part of the website for historic Jamestown features a variety of lesson plans related to the colony and the Jamestown Rediscovery archeology project.
  • National Treasure Teacher Guide - This is a PDF that contains activities for grades 4 to 12 that are designed to go with the National Treasure movie.  The writing contest part is long closed, but is still good writing prompts for exploring family history and a good exercise in creativity and problem solving by developing your own clues.


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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Loud Louie Book Review

Title: Doc McStuffins: Loud Louie
Author: Sheila Sweeney Higginson
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3-5
Multicultural: Main character is African American

The book is about Doc McStuffins rediscovering her old toy cell phone and it talking too loudly.  At first it appears to be due to a sticker stuck on the volume button, but even after it is removed the toy has trouble using its indoor voice.  They play a game of telephone to help it learn to whisper and use the appropriate noise level.  The last page also has some additional tips about using your inside voice and being a good listener.

This book tells the same story as the "Loud Louie" episode of the Disney Junior Doc McStuffins TV show.  Kids familiar with the show may enjoy the familiarity.  The picture reading feature that uses images in place of certain words in the sentences also helps make this a good book for introducing Doc McStuffins fans to reading.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Doc McStuffins fans
  • Those that enjoy imaginary play with their toys can relate to how Doc McStuffins entertains herself with interacting with her different stuffed animals and toys.
  • Visual learners may benefit from the picture reading style. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Those that need to work on when and how to using their indoor and/or outdoor voice. (Linguistic)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • Doc McStuffins Printables - Includes coloring pages, activity book, Big Book of Boo Boos project, and more
  • Loud Loud Louie Song from episode book is based on
  • Practice whispering by playing the telephone game like the toys and Doc play in the book
More Disney Picture Reading Books I've Reviewed


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Friday, January 3, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: The Croc Takes the Cake Book Review

Title: The Croc Takes the Cake
Author: Melinda La Rose
Genre: Fantasy, Picture Book
Reading Level: Age 3-5
Curriculum Subjects: Math

The Croc Takes the Cake is about Jake and the Never Land Pirates making and delivering a cake to Captain Hook in honor of his birthday.  There's a good amount of action with Hook trying to steal the cake and the crocodile almost getting before the Never Land Pirates can give it to Hook.  The book also points out about how it can feel good to do something nice for someone.

As a Level Pre-1 World of Reading book, it features picture reading with some words being replaced by images on every page.  This makes it a good book for beginning readers, especially visual learners.

This book also encourages counting with some of the pages having prompts on the bottom corners encouraging the readers to find and/or count certain things on that page.  For example, when they are baking the cake, it asks the reader to help find four eggs.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the Jake and the Never Land Pirates show, Peter Pan, and/or pirates in general
  • Those that find and seek books will like the prompts to find and/or count things on some of the pages. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Visual learners will benefit from the picture reading style. (Spatial-Visual)
Worksheets I Made for this Book
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
More Disney Picture Reading Books I've Reviewed

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Disney Fairies Graphic Novel #3: Tinker Bell and the Day of the Dragon Book Review

Title: Tinker Bell and the Day of the Dragon
Series: Disney Faeries Graphic Novel #3
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novels
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 11

Tinker Bell and the Day of the Dragon is a graphic novel with five different stories featuring the Disney Fairies in Pixie Hollow.  The stories are introduced in a style of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends sharing and reliving the memories of their adventures.  These little teasers are good for piquing the readers interest to keep reading to find out what happens.

Many of the stories in this book illustrate working together, especially how different people may have different talents and how you can draw on each others talents for solutions as well as collectively use them to make new things.  For example, in "The Cobweb" Prilla messes up the queen's bed and in the adventure to get new cobwebs to fix it the fairies use their talents to not only get out of more messes and sticky situations, but also make a new gift for the queen's arrival.  Cooperation is also specifically highlighted in how the different teams items are combined to make the prize at the end of the treasure hunt in "Fairy Riddles."

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Tinker Bell and Disney Fairies Fans
  • Beginning readers and visual learners can be drawn in to the graphic novel style with its colorful images that tell the story scene by scene with the dialogue. (Visual-Spatial)
  • Riddle lovers will enjoy the riddle/scavenger hunt "Fairy Riddles" story (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those that feel they are different and have trouble explaining it to others can relate to the "Talents After a Fashion" story in which Prilla struggles to describe the Mainland to the other fairies in order to have a dress made that represents her talent. (Intrapersonal)
  • Those that enjoy doing things with their friends and having their own adventures can be inspired by how the fairies work together to solve problems. (Interpersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun crafts, coloring, lesson plans (Amazon text links to related products)

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