Mills, Claudia. Annika Riz, Math Whiz
May 13th 2014
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Annika's family are all interested in numbers, and Annika prefers math to any other subject at school even though her friends don't feel the same way (Kelsey Green, Reading Queen is book one in this series). When she finds out that the public library is having a Sodoku contest, she really wants to enter, but fears that classmate Simon will beat her. The class is also preparing for a school carnival, and the third grade is in charge of cookies. Annika and her friends bake several batches but first don't put in enough baking soda, and then too much, resulting in less than optimal cookies. In the end, though, Annika is able to save the day using her math skills to make sure the group makes money on selling refreshments rather than losing it.
Strengths: This is a fun series for elementary school students; I'm looking forward to taking a peak at Izzy Barr, Running Star to see how big a role running plays in the book!
Weaknesses:This is too young for my middle school students.
Mills, Claudia. Kelsey Green, Reading Queen
June 4th 2013
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Kelsey loves to read, and frequently gets in trouble for reading her book during math class, which also explains why she is having trouble with fractions. When the principal, Mr. Barr, announces a whole school reading competition, Kelsey is hugely excited. She not only wants her class to win the pizza party and Mr. Barr to shave off his beard when the whole school reads 2,000 books, but she wants to beat Simon and get her name on a plaque as the top reader. Simon is reading a ton of books, and Kelsey thinks he may be cheating, or at least not reading all long books. One of her classmates, Cody, isn't reading any books, and Kelsey is nice to him and works with him to read Henry and Mudge books in order to help the class. She manages to read a lot of books, but will it be enough to beat Simon?
Strengths: Have to admit that I really liked this one! It also had very good points about reading competitions, though. How can they really be fair, if Kelsey is reading The Secret Garden, but other students are getting the same credit for Sarah, Plain and Tall? That said, I do get very carried away with this kind of contest, and DO follow the rules! When we had to read a book out loud in first grade in order to get a feather in our politically incorrect Indian headdress, you can bet I read every single one of the 109 books I got feathers for to my long suffering parents! The only competition we have in my school is based on Accelerated Reader points. We have one student at least who had over 1,000-- I managed to rack up 500.3 before completely losing interest.
Weaknesses:Again, too young for my crew, but a great series!
And yes, I really do read a lot, and I read quickly. I have trouble remembering some fantasy books, but in general, I remember enough to write reviews, even if I have skimmed a bit. Things like #bookaday and #throwdown get a little confusing for me to keep track of, because I no longer post books the day after I read them. I try to post reviews close to the publication date unless I am getting the book from the public library, so what I am reading and what reviews appear are very different.
For example, on Monday, June 30, I went to the library and got out The Killer Detail (a photo essay book about fashion icons), Wetterseten's My Faire Lady, Barakiva's One Man Guy, Kelsey Green, and had Harper's Dreamer, Wisher, Liar to review for Young Adult Books Central. In addition, I ran, took the dog to the vet, got a hair cut, did laundry and hung it out, cooked mashed potatoes and chicken for dinner, did normal tidying of house and consulting with girls and my parents. Probably put in about five hours of reading total. 950 pages, not counting the photo essay book. I would only have gotten 2 AR points, though, since the other books are so new, but decently lengthy and probably about 8 points each.