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Review: The Boy Problem

April 24, 2015

The Boy Problem

Tabbi Reddy is not looking forward to starting the school year without a boyfriend since all of her friends have one and she doesn’t want to be the third wheel.  She believes in signs that can predict the future and she’s hoping the right one will come along and let her know which guy is right for her.

At the same time, she’s working on a probability project with Priyanka Gupta, the perkiest girl in their class.  Pri loves cupcakes and wants to do their project on them but Tabbi wants to figure out the best place to meet a new boyfriend.

Friendships and boyfriends meet in The Boy Problem (Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy) by Kami Kinard.  Written in a diary format, the book is light and humorous and is sure to appeal to middle grade readers but I had mixed feelings about it.

All Tabbi can think about is who her next boyfriend will be.  She’s smart and has great friends but that’s not enough for her – she feels like she has to have a boyfriend and that bothered me a bit, especially for a character that young.  I also didn’t care for the snarky names Tabbi and her friends had for some of their classmates.

On the plus side, the format was cute and included some practical uses for math.  I also like the fact that Tabbi has some strong female friendships and she and her friends work to raise money for another school.

I suspect middle grade readers will love The Boy Problem and I hope they take away the right messages from it.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Scholastic. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


At the movies: McFarland, USA

April 23, 2015

McFarland USA

Teacher and coach Jim White was fired from his job for throwing something at one of his football players and ended up in one of the poorest school districts in the country – McFarland, California.  The school and its students are poor and mostly Hispanic and have little to be proud of.

After having a disagreement with the football coach and being relieved of his duties with the team, White noticed how fast his students can run.  He talked the principal into allowing him to start up a cross country team and recruited students to be on the team.  The boys had to work in the fields as well as go to school so being on the team wasn’t always easy.  Their efforts paid off, though – the team was successful and gave the community something to be proud of and helped the boys secure a brighter future.

McFarland, USA is a feel good movie based on a true story and my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it – she said she thinks it’s the best movie we’ve seen this year.  It’s full of heart and shows the sense of purpose and belonging being on a team can provide as well as the difference the right teacher can make.

The cast of the movie was terrific and I rooted for those kids and Coach White and even shed quite a few tears along the way.  McFarland, USA is rated PG and is a great movie for the whole family.



Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 22, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I only found one word last week and it was in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

1. penuche – “We place a big order at Murdick’s Fudge: chocolate, chocolate walnut, peanut butter, and penuche.”

According to Wikipedia, penuche “is a fudge-like candy made from brown sugar, butter, and milk, using no flavorings except for vanilla. Penuche often has a tannish color, and is lighter than regular fudge.  It is formed by the caramelization of brown sugar; thus, its flavor is said to be reminiscent of caramel.”


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: What I Know For Sure

April 21, 2015

What I Know For Sure

Not many things leave Oprah Winfrey speechless but Gene Siskel did in 1998 when he asked her what she knew for sure.  His question really made her think and inspired her to write a monthly column in O Magazine about what she does know for sure.  Those columns have been combined to create the book What I Know For Sure.

I found this book to be inspiring and uplifting. I’ve only seen Oprah’s TV show a time or two so I’ve never understood her huge fan base until I listened to this book and learned about her life confirming philosophy.  She shares stories from her own life and emphasizes positives like gratitude, joy, friendship, and appreciation, all with the goal of living your best life.  Most of her ideas aren’t original but her emphasis on the positive was heartening and thought provoking.  If you’re a reader of O Magazine, these columns may feel familiar to you but they have such a great message they’re worth reading over and over again.  This is a book to keep and pick up when you need some inspiration.

The audio version of What I Know For Sure is narrated by Oprah Winfrey and, as you would expect, she does a fabulous job.  Listening to the audio felt like listening to an old friend.

My friend Julie sent me this book. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

April 20, 2015

Mailbox Monday April 20

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   It’s been another wet week.  If April showers do bring May flowers, we should have some glorious ones!  I found these books in my mailbox last week:



What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Mesmerized

April 17, 2015


When Benjamin Franklin was in Paris to drum up support for the American Revolution, the French were enchanted by Dr. Mesmer.  Dr. Mesmer claimed to have power that “streamed from the stars and flowed into his wand.”  He claimed he could cure people with this power so the people turned away from traditional medicine which angered doctors.  The queen loved Dr. Mesmer but the king didn’t know what to think about him so he asked Benjamin Franklin to investigate.

After observing Dr. Mesmer, Ben hypothesized that he was using the power of suggestion to mesmerize people.  Using the scientific method, Ben tested his hypothesis and presented his conclusion to the king causing Dr. Mesmer to leave town.

I loved Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff!  The story is simplified for young readers but it was new to me and I found it fascinating. (Rockliff includes notes on the scientific method and more details of the actual events as well as a bibliography in the back of the book.)

Mesmerized is a wonderful introduction to the scientific method, the power of suggestion, and the placebo effect and I was completely captivated by it.  I’ve read it several times and keep flipping through it because it is visually stunning – the page layouts are appealing and Iacopo Bruno’s illustrations are fantastic!  This terrific book needs to be in every library and is a must read for everyone ages six and up – I cannot recommend it enough!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


We Remember

April 16, 2015

Virginia Tech April 16 memorial

It’s been eight years since a gunman opened fire on Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus, killing thirty-two students and faculty members before turning the gun on himself.  As painful as the memory is, I think it’s important that we always remember those who lost their lives that day.  I hope and pray that we find a way to end tragedies like this.  Lest we forget, the 32 who lost their lives that day are:



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