Monday, May 26, 2014

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Rudnick

Title: The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Rudnick
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 8 to 12

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty is based on the Maleficent film.  The overall plot is pretty much the same as Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick, but instead of being mostly from Maleficent's perspective it is more from Princess Aurora's perspective.  Thus, it ends up being somewhat less detailed, but it also ends up being better for a slightly younger audience.

This book has a similar focus on Sleeping Beauty as the original Disney movie based on the fairy tale.  However, it is different and is the Maleficent version of the story, which focuses on how Maleficent came to curse Aurora and ends up providing a different perspective on who the villain of the story really is.

Since it is mostly told from Aurora's perspective, though, there is not as much insight into Maleficent as the other book.  There is enough background still provided, though, to understand Maleficent. It's just not as detailed, which to some extent may make it a less mature version because the end battle gives less detail of the violence.  However, it does provide a little more detail on Aurora's perspective than the other book, so you get more of an understanding of her and it is also somewhat different than her experience shown in the classic animated version of Sleeping Beauty.

Overall The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty is an entertaining read for fantasy lovers, especially those interested in the Maleficent movie.  The colorful full page illustrations that are every other chapter or so also sets it apart from the other book and helps further provide a reading experience that while less detailed is more visually appealing.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Maleficent and/or Sleeping Beauty
  • Fantasy lovers
  • The illustrations can make this more appealing for visual learners compared to the other book based on the movie. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The book touches a little on the fairie world and Aurora's shared views on valuing and protecting nature. (Naturalistic)
  • The struggles Aurora and to a lesser extent Maleficent have with understanding their feelings provides interesting insight into being aware of inner feelings and intentions. (Intrapersonal)
  • The end battle shows understanding each other and working together. (Interpersonal)
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Follow That Sound by Melinda LaRose

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Follow That Sound
Author: Melinda LaRose
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3-5

Jake and the Never Land Pirates end up on a musical adventure when Captain Hook takes Cubby's harmonica.  The adventure leads them to following the sound of the harmonica and making coconut maracas to trade with a monkey to get the harmonica back.

The book's pirate pledge is about asking nicely when you want something.  The lesson is illustrated with the pirates saying Hook should have just asked them to be quiet instead of stealing the harmonica, as once they knew he was trying to nap they played him a lullaby rather than just making racket.  However, the next page then has them glad he stole it because they met the monkey and jammed with him.  Thus, it sort of dismisses the point while showing an example of looking at the bright side of situations.

Currently the board book version of Follow That Sound includes a code that can be used to get Jake's Never Land Shapes and Patterns from the iTunes App Store.  The app has a story mode featuring the pirates on an adventure that involves a few games to develop and improve shape recognition and understanding of patterns. The games can also be played separately. There are also some tips for parents that provide ideas for more activities to help teach shapes. Note it only works on iPhones 4 and newer, iPad 2s and newer, and iPod touches 5th generation and newer.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Those interested in music and playing musical instruments. (Musical)
  • The way the pirates decide to follow the sound when they lose sight of the monkey and how they make a trade to get the harmonica back are some of the ways the book helps provide examples of problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The book helps show working together as well as understanding and taking consideration of others feelings, especially when they realize the noise is disturbing Hook's nap and Cubby plays a lullaby. (Interpersonal)
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Cubby's Mixed-Up Map

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Cubby's Mixed-Up Map
Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7

In Cubby's Mixed-Up Map, Jake and the Never Land Pirates go in search of the Golden Dinghy. They trust Cubby to lead them there with his map skills including him making a new map when Hook tricks them and switches their real map for a fake one.  The book is based on the episode of the same name.

Overall Cubby's Mixed-Up Map is a great detailed adventure for reading to young fans or for beginning independent readers to enjoy themselves.  The little jokes added by Skully the parrot in some of the bottom corners are a nice feature, but they don't really encourage extra interaction like they do in many of the other Jake and the Never Land Pirates books.  However, the pirates wondering how a gold boat would float could be used as a lead in to exploring bouyancy.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Fans of treasure hunt adventures
  • Following a map to find something as well as figuring out what to do when they have the wrong map provide examples of problem solving (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The use of landmarks to navigate is not only helpful for those that cannot read, yet, but also provides an example for visual learners to use their strength as an ongoing life skill.  This is further illustrated when Cubby decides to go atop Cuckoo Rock to look around and get his bearings to recreate the map Hook stole. (Spatial-Visual)
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick

Title: Maleficent
Author: Elizabeth Rudnick
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 10 to 14

Maleficent is a novelization of the Disney movie of the same name.  To some extent it is the villain's point of view of the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, but it is not quite the same exact story.  For the most part, it gives the back story of how Maleficent became evil, but there are also unexpected twists that show the good side of her while also ultimately changing the story a lot at the end.

Overall this is an entertaining read that provides an interesting take on the classic story.  Some things make sense as being different, as the story is being told more from Maleficent's perspective and from a lesser extent Aurora's father.  However, there are some odd aspects that are changed, though, such as the names of the faeries that raise Aurora.  What seems an unnecessary and disappointing change, though, is how Maleficent never becomes the dragon, yet there still is a dragon in the end.  The ending is still a full of action and great twists leading to a new perspective on who really was the evil one, but

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sleeping Beauty and/or Maleficent
  • Those interested in understanding the motives behind actions will enjoy how the book provides insight into how Maleficent also has a good side and how/why she changes her ways of thinking over time. (Intrapersonal)
  • Those interested in protecting nature may be interested in the aspect of the how the fairies are mostly portrayed protecting nature and to some extent the humans are shown to not appreciate it. (Naturalistic)
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Starry, Starry Night by Bill Scollon

Title: Doc McStuffins: Starry, Starry Night
Author: Bill Scollon
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 6
Multicultural: Doc is an African American girl
Curriculum Subject: Science, Health

In Starry, Starry Night, Doc McStuffins rushes to fix a telescope's blurry vision before a meteor shower starts.  As a World of Reading Level 1 reader, it features simple text and word repetition.  Despite being written for beginning readers, it still has a reasonably detailed plot as it is 32 pages long.

The topic of meteors is barely touched on, but Doc does provide a brief description.  Between that and the focus on fixing the telescope, this book could be a good starting point for discovering more about astronomy.  The book also provides a few tips about protecting your eyes, so it also has potential to be tied in with learning healthy habits.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • Those interested in astronomy topics.
  • The aspect of discovering why the telescope's vision is blurry provides an example of problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sofia the First: Sofia's Magic Lesson by Sarah Nathan

Title: Sofia's Magic Lesson
Author: Sarah Nathan
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 6

Sofia's Magic Lesson is based on the "Cedric's Apprentice" episode of Sofia the First.  This book can be an enjoyable read for fantasy lovers whether or not they are familiar with the episode, but some familiarity with the show characters in general is helpful. 

While this book is mostly a fantasy setting, the feelings and situations can be easy to relate to everyday life.  For one, Sofia's struggling to learn magic is something kids who are having trouble learning new things, especially at school, can relate to.  Secondly, the way Sofia handles it by asking for help provides a good example of how to handle her problem.  Additionally, the way Cedric messes up when doing magic for the king is comparable to other situations that can make one nervous.  Oh, and then there's how Sofia thoughtfully helps out Cedric and gets him to reconsider trying to take over the kingdom, which relates the book's princess lesson of how "helping a friend is magical."


The detailed plot and illustrations make this a fun book for reading together with young kids.  The potential to relate it to a variety of situations kids may be going through themselves can also make it a good selection for opening up further dialogue with them.  Finally, for those familiar with the episode, this book can be a good selection for working on reading skills.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First
  • Fans of fantasy that features magic spells/wizardry
  • The way Sofia is a friend to Cedric and helps him show the king he is a great sorcerer is a good example of understanding other's feelings. (Interpersonal)
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup - A Lift-the-Flap Book

Title: Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup
Author:
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Multicultural: Doc McStuffins is an African American girl
Curriculum Subject: Math

Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup can be a fun interactive book, especially if working on the concepts of counting to ten, shapes, and colors with fans of the show.  The title is somewhat misleading, though, as it makes it seem like it might be about having a checkup and perhaps for helping kids be comfortable with having one of their own.  It not only has pretty much nothing to do with having a check up other than the matching diagnosis page, but also the pages fail to connect into a story.

Despite the misleading title and each page being made more to standalone than go together, this book is still makes a decent choice for those that enjoy interacting with books.  For one, each page prompts readers to look under the flap to find things.  Secondly, the different prompts encourage working on concepts such as colors, counting, and shapes.  Additionally, you can further the interaction by discussing what the made up diagnosis are referring to and encourage making educated guesses in where one would find the items that the counting prompt asks about.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • The interactive aspect of the flaps can make it appealing for those that like to discover through touch. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
  • The prompts that go along with the tasks can be used to help encourage problem solving and also can help draw in those that enjoy seek and find activities. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The illustrations can help visual learners with concepts, such as counting. (Spatial-Visual)
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    Monday, May 12, 2014

    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Summer Vacation by Bill Scollon

    Title: Minnie's Summer Vacation
    Author: Bill Scollon
    Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
    Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5

    In Minnie's Summer Vacation, Minnie with some help from Toodles finds a way for Mickey, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, Donald, and herself to all enjoy their chosen summer activities together.  The simple plot and repetition make this book a good read for beginning readers, especially during the summer when it can be easy to forget to work on/retain reading skills.  The focus on outdoor summer activities can also make it a good way to inspire some outdoor play.

    Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
    • Fans of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
    • Those that enjoy outdoor activities, especially the ones featured in the book (fishing, hiking, swimming, swinging, digging). (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
    • The use of illustrations to show the different activities the characters choose can be helpful for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
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