Friday, February 28, 2014

The Disnelyand Quest by Matt Ainsworth

Title: The Disneyland Quest
Author: Matt Ainsworth
Genre: Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 13 and up

The Disneyland Quest is about two teenage boys and a six-year-old girl teaming up on a quest through Disneyland to solve clues and unlock a vault to win money and lifetime passes.  The quest involves some interesting tidbits about Disneyland and its history.  Along the way they also have to deal with others trying to steal their insights to win the prize themselves.

The plot is somewhat predictable, but there is still a decent amount of tension to make the story interesting, especially for those that find the setting of Disneyland intriguing.  However, there are some plot elements that some may find odd or even inappropriate.  This includes the kids meeting because their parents are dating and the adults putting the kids in a separate hotel room from them.  There is also some swearing, but it is often scolded by the mom and clearly presented as being considered unacceptable.

Overall The Disneyland Quest can be a good book to motivate Disney parks fans to read.  It can also be fun for those with an upcoming Disneyland trip.  The predictable plot and ending may not be the best, but the clues can still be interesting to work out, especially when the obvious is not always where the clues lead.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Disney parks, especially Disneyland
  • Those that enjoy solving riddles and clues may enjoy trying to figure out the clues before the characters do. (Logical-Mathematical)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun


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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Colors All Around by Sheila Sweeny Higginson

Title: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Colors All Around
Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Curriculum Subject: Art


Colors All Around  is a flap and tab style board book featuring Mickey and friends from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Each page features a color and all except the last set of pages have a flap to flip open.  For each color there are rhyming lines of text about the character featured finding objects of that color.

Overall this is a fun book for fans of Mickey Mouse and friends.  It can also be useful for teaching colors.  For those that know colors they may still learn something new from the information under the flaps being about mixing colors to make other colors and how you cannot make the primary colors.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Those that are interested in colors and/or art may find this book interesting, especially how it illustrates mixing colors under the flaps. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Those that like to touch things may enjoy flipping the flaps to discover about mixing colors. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: All Hands on Hooks by Marcy Kelman

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: All Hands on Hooks
Author: Marcy Kelman
Genre: Picture Books, Counting Books
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Curriculum Subject: Math

In All Hands on Hooks Jake and the Never Land Pirates help Hook's crew get back eight of his hooks that were taken by an octopus. Each page features a flap to open that adds to the story.  This mostly features what hooks are recovered on the page, but also includes some counting of doubloons as well as hooks recovered.

Overall this All Hands on Hooks takes readers on a fun adventure that emphasizes problem solving to recover the hooks.  It also is an example of working together with Hook's crew and Jake and his friends cooperating.  Lastly, the flaps and the questions in the text encourage active participation with the book.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Those that enjoy touching things may enjoy lifting the flaps in this book. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
  • The images behind the flaps that identify what each hook along with the active illustrations on the pages can help with understanding, especially for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Those that enjoy being part of the adventure may enjoy the questioning style of writing that encourages the reader to be part of the problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Disney Infinity: The Essential Guide

Title: Disney Infinity: The Essential Guide
Genre: Fiction, Picture Books, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 12


This is a picture encyclopedia style book about most of the Disney characters that appear in the Disney Infinity video game. It provides some background on the characters/movies that have play sets (Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters University, Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles, and The Lone Ranger).  There are also some pages that talk about how the characters make new friends with characters from other franchises, which refers to playing in Toy Box mode.

Familiarity with the game may make the book more enjoyable to read and flip through, but it is not necessary as it does not have much specific reference to actually playing the game.  To some extent this is good, as it makes for a book that can appeal to fans of the game as well as general Disney fans.  However, as it is called a guide, it can also be somewhat misleading in that beyond a little bit of inspiration for things to do in Toy Box mode and a look at some of the gadgets it does not help in playing the game.

Overall Disney Infinity: The Essential Guide can be a fun book to encourage fans of the game to take a break from screen time. Also, the images can provide some inspiration for ideas of things to create in Toy Box mode.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Accelerati Triology Book 1: Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

Title: Tesla's Attic
Series: The Accelerati Trilogy
Authors: Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 14
Curriculum Subject: Science, History

Tesla's Attic is the first book in a new trilogy published by Disney-Hyperion Book.  In this book, a garage sale and some old stuff that turn out to be some of Nikola Tesla's inventions bring together an interesting cast of characters.  The plot includes mystery as to what the inventions are as well as why a secret society wants them so badly that everyone ends up in danger.

The main character is Nick, who is the one who has the garage sale after his moves into the house in Colorado Springs with his father and younger brother to start a new adventure and life following the lose of their house and his mother in a fire in Florida.  Other characters include an outgoing boy named Mitch, a cheerleader and artist named Caitlin, and a goth named Vincent.

While it is fiction, it does discuss real inventors (mainly Tesla and Edison) and some of their real contributions including an interesting part on accidental discoveries.  With the inventions and scientific history, this book could be fun to tie in with units on discovery and science fair projects. Beyond just the scientific history, there is also some general history mixed in such as the scorched earth war strategy.

One thing to note is that this book does have some death/killing beyond just Nick's loss of his mother that while not violent could be considered somewhat disturbing.  However, it is known it is coming due to the future telling capability of one of Tesla's inventions.  How it unravels with there being many possibilities of how one of many could end up being the one is also quite an interesting portrayal of how little things can lead to near death experiences. Ultimately, the actual death ends up being a well-written and perhaps the most shocking twist.

Overall Tesla's Attic is a great fast paced novel for middle school students, especially if they have an interest in invention and science.  The one thing that may be disappointing is the ending.  It is nice that it seems to wrap everything up really well, but at the same time perhaps it wraps it up too well as it does not leave too much wondering to leave you yearning for the next book.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Those interested in science, especially energy, technology, and inventing things. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those that like mysteries.
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • Tesla Lesson Plans - PBS has three lesson plans related to Tesla on this site.  Two are for grades 6 to 8 and one is for grades 9 to 12.
  • Tesla Man Out of Time Lesson Plan Book - This eBook has 30 daily lessons as well as assessments to use including multiple choice questions and essays.


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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Disney Minnie: Flutter Bow Fun Book Review

Title: Flutter Bow Fun
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5

Flutter Bow Fun is a picture book about getting ready for a spring ling party at Minnie's Bow-tique, which is featured in the Disney Junior Minnie's Bow-Toons short-form show.  The book is mainly about flutter bows (kind of like butterflies) leading to a mess, cleaning it up, and eventually leading to a more fun party because they are there.

Flutter Bow Fun is an interesting book at least from a visual perspective.  It uses a multi-layered scene style with cutouts in the middles of pages and printed acetate sheets in some of the cutouts creating scenes with depth as well as a some glimpses forwards and backwards in the action.  The way the flutter bows and balloons are on the clear acetate also give them more of a floating and flying look than you would get from a traditional book illustration.

The prose almost ruins the book, though.  In particular, it uses a lot of contractions, which just does not seem appropriate.  If it was just in the dialogue or a few times than maybe it would be okay, but it is on almost every page and at least at one point in a non-dialogue sentence.  Other than that, though, it is not bad and in fact the instances of alliteration do make it an interesting read even if that can make it a tongue tying book to read aloud.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Minnie Mouse, especially if they are familiar with Minnie's Bow Toons
  • The multi-layered style of illustration makes this book much more interesting than it would otherwise be, especially for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Books I've Reviewed

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Caught Blue-Handed by Sheila Sweeny Higginson

Title: Doc McStuffins: Caught Blue-Handed
Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 3-5
Multicultural: Doc McStuffins is an African American girl.
Curriculum Subject: Health

In Caught Blue-Handed, Doc McStuffins finds mystery spots on Chilly and discovers it is spreading by touch.  The book shows good problem solving with them going back over who Chilly touched to eventually discover what caused the blue spots.  Even though it ends up being just paint, it still teaches about washing hands and preventing the spread of germs.

Caught Blue-Handed contains picture reading, which features images for some words within sentences.  This makes it a good pick for those just starting to read.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • The use of blue paint being spread around the toys provides a good visual for kids to learn about and better understand how germs can spread, especially for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Books I've Reviewed

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Doc MucStuffins: My Huggy Valentine by Sheila Sweeny Higginson

Title: Doc McStuffins: My Huggy Valentine
Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3-5
Multicultural: Doc McStuffins is an African American girl.

My Huggy Valentine is a picture book based on the Doc McStuffins episode of the same name.  The book is about Doc getting a new toy for Valentine's Day and Lambie feeling left out when her Valentine's Day party plans keep not going how she planned because of the new toy's involvement.

This book is not only a good book for Valentine's Day, but also for anytime kids are dealing with feelings of being left out.  The book not only does a good job of illustrating how Lambie is feeling, but also how Doc notices and encourages her to share her feelings.  It even has some good tips about sharing feelings on the back cover including expressing them through drawing or telling a story.

There are two pages of stickers that come with the book. They can be fun to share and/or use to make your own Valentine cards to give.  One problem with them is the cover is designed with a cutout to show the sticker of the new toy.  Thus, when that sticker is used the cover of the book is kind of odd with a white space or if you remove the page of stickers entirely, it ends up showing some words from of the author/illustrator information page.  Additionally, the cutout ends up being easy to catch and get bent or torn,  if you store them upright on a bookshelf.


Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • Those dealing with situations where they feel left out by friends that are spending time with other/new friends may relate to how Lambie feels and find this helpful in understanding and sharing their own feelings. (Intrapersonal)
  • Visual learners may find the illustrations that show Lambie's emotions helpful as well as the recommendation to use drawing to express their feelings. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Books I've Reviewed

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates Birthday Bash by Melissa LaRose

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates Birthday Bash
Author: Melissa LaRose
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5


Jake and the Never Land Pirates Birthday Bash is about Jake's birthday celebration.  In the book, his friends along with Captain Hook and his crew enjoy a variety of activities as they follow a special birthday treasure map around Never Land.

It is interesting how this book shows Captain Hook being part of the "fun" from the beginning.  At times he is reluctant participant and he ends up not seeing them as fun with him often ending up in bad situations such as with the crocodile or a crab.  This confirms his hate for birthday parties and near the end it is revealed he partly already hated them because no one ever came to his.  This leads to a friendly gesture by Jake to declare the birthday bash for both Hook and him.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Birthday Bash would make a good read for birthdays.  It is also a reasonably long picture book with about 30 pages and at least a paragraph of text per page.  The little tidbits from Skully in the bottom corners also add to the depth of the book, especially the clever jokes which may need explaining for some kids to get them.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Those that like treasure hunts/maps may enjoy the plot of following the birthday map to activities and ultimately ending up at a big birthday bash on Pirate Island.
  • The detailed illustrations that not only show the actions of the different activities along the way make it more appealing to visual learners as well as those that are not fluent text readers, yet. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sofia the First: Guess Who, Sofia! Book Review

Title: Guess Who, Sofia!
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 2-5

Guess Who, Sofia! is a peek-a-book style book with flaps to flip open and reveal various characters that fans of the show will be familiar with.  This makes it a fun hands on interactive book for kids whether they are learning to read or having it read to them.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First
  • Those that like to explore through touch can enjoy flipping the flaps. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Books I've Reviewed


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Doc McStuffins: Guess Who, Doc! Book Review

Title: Guess Who, Doc!
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 2-5
Multicultural: Doc McStuffins is an African American girl

Guess Who, Doc! is a peek-a-boo book with flaps to open and reveal the characters the rhyming prose on each page is talking about.  There are also some fun little details that the backside of the flaps add to the scenes.

 This can be a fun book to read with young fans of Doc McStuffins, as they can guess who it is before/as the flip the flap.  This makes the book not only verbally interactive, but also physically.  Familiarity with the show is probably necessary to fully enjoy the book the first time or at least a few read throughs may be necessary to get to know the characters and be able to guess the name of who is hiding.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • Those that like to explore through touch can enjoy flipping the flaps. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
Related Books I've Reviewed

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Disney Planes: Wings Around the Globe by Bill Scollon

Title: Disney Planes: Wings Around the Globe
Author: Bill Scollon
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7
Multicultural: Planes characters are from different countries and different parts of the world are visited during the race, although they are not as detailed as in the movie

Wings Around the Globe is a picture book based on the movie Planes.  The story will be familiar to those that have seen the movie, however, it is a rather abbreviated version of the movie.  To some extent, this can be good, as it does not give away the whole movie.  At the same time, though, it is missing the great moments of friendships forming between the racers and the tension between Dusty and Skipper that at least in my opinion are the best parts of the movie.

Overall Wings Around the Globe can be a good choice to improve interest in reading for kids that are already familiar with and fans of the movie.  With at least a paragraph per page, it also good for those want more than just a quick picture book for story time.  Since it skims over some of the conflict/tension highlights of the movie, though, it can get old quickly.  Also, it really focuses on Dusty and doesn't have the interactions with the other racers other than Dusty helping one once and Ripslinger trying to stop Dusty from finishing.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Disney Planes and/or those with an interest in planes in general
  • The illustrations help tell the story and can make the book more appealing for emergent readers and visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
  • While not as in depth as the actual movie, it does still show Dusty working hard and pursing his goal of being more than just a crop duster (Intrapersonal) and to a much lesser extent how the planes worked together to help each other. (Interpersonal)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun

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