Childrens book reviews by StorySnoops, judge a book by more than its cover, serving fresh scoops of new books for you every day
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Archive for the ‘Tiffany – StorySnoop’ Category

Super Scoop–Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Monday, January 21st, 2013

One day that changes the course of your life. Paris. Romance. Self-discovery. Adventure.

I could not put Just One Day by Gayle Forman down, and now I want to go to Paris. And re-read some Shakespeare. And go back in time and be 18 again. Sigh…

This compelling and engaging story is a true quality read. Teen girls may see plenty of themselves in main character, Allyson, though even if they are nothing like her, they will certainly enjoy her story. Sheltered by her extremely controlling, “helicopter” mother, and always the quintessential “good girl,” Allyson shakes things up on a whim while on her high school graduation trip in Europe.

She meets free-spirited, adventurous and handsome Shakespearean actor, Willem, in London and spontaneously decides to leave her tour and go with him to Paris. Completely out of character for her, and out of her comfort zone, she becomes a different person with Willem, and falls in love with him over the course of their whirlwind, perfect day. When he disappears, her heart is broken, and she spends the next year depressed, floundering in school, trying to figure out who she is and how to re-capture how she felt in Paris.

I loved this story for the journey, both the physical one, and the internal one that Allyson experiences. She finally comes into her own, figures out what she loves, who she wants to be, and learns how to speak up for herself. Supporting characters are equally as fabulous.

I was dreading reaching the end of the book, and was delighted to see that there will be a sequel, which cannot be published soon enough for me! Until then, I might have to give this one a re-read. Put this one in the hands of the teen girls in your lives, or pick it up to read on your own. Be ready to yearn for adventure and youth and macarons.

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

The Best of 2012 – Part 2

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The yearly wrap-up!

It is always interesting to look back on the year in books, and see what stands out as having been noteworthy. This year my choices were easy to make – my top 5 jumped out at me from the list. Here they are, in no particular order.

Way back in January of 2012, I wrote a blog about this book, about how much I enjoyed it. The Disenchantments revolves around one turquoise VW bus, three teenage girl band members, one teen boy best friend, and a week-long tour, and it all amounts to… one hell of a story. Reminiscent of another time – late sixties, early seventies perhaps – possibly due to the music the characters love, possibly due to their alternative parents, possibly due to the very nature of the funky towns they stop in. I loved this book for the journey, the forks in the road, the music, art and the extraordinary friendships.

The Edumacation of Jay Baker was a really pleasant surprise. This book was so refreshing and funny, and I laughed out loud numerous times. Jay is a fantastic main character–he is sarcastic, smart, and full of incredibly spot-on one-liners. The humor in this book is extremely intelligent, the story a wild ride, and the pop culture references are epic. I love a stand-out character, and Jay was definitely that. One of his teachers is also an exceptional character, and the verbal sparring that takes place between the two is fantastic.

Every Day was fascinating and thought provoking and I even chose it for my book club to read in October. Main character “A” (not specified female nor male) is without his own life, identity, and body. He experiences the lives and feelings of others, but every day is different. There are valuable insights and perspectives to be gained from experiencing the innermost thoughts and feelings of very diverse people. This is a truly unique and extremely well-written concept story, leaving the reader with much to discuss or ponder. As usual, David Levithan does not disappoint.

Young adult books are usually the ones that end up being my favorites, but this little middle grade gem warmed my heart and I could not leave it off this list. Main character Mo LoBeau makes Three Times Lucky the memorable story that it is. She is spunky, honest, resourceful, courageous, and endearing. An excellent role model, Mo is utterly unafraid to speak her mind, a fierce protector of her loved ones and a strong willed proponent of justice. This is a murder mystery, and a suspenseful read as well as a funny and charming one. Teachers, take note, this is a great classroom read aloud choice.

I needed tissues for this one – The Story of Us definitely caused me to shed a tear or two.  There is so much to this story: family drama, friendship issues, a love story, a break up, and all of the feelings of a teen girl with big decisions to make in the summer after high school graduation. Family and change are at the heart of this well-written, witty and heartwarming story. Cricket is another unforgettable character, and this was my favorite summer beach read.

Here’s to the great reads of 2012, and I look forward to what 2013 has to offer! Happy New Year!

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

In the spirit of Holiday gift giving…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

In my humble opinion, there is no better gift than that of a book. Especially one that you know will be loved and treasured. My friend and fellow Snoop, Shannon, and I have been doing a holiday book gift exchange with our kids every Christmas for years and years. Each year we go out to breakfast to celebrate the holidays and the kids exchange gifts, always books. Now some of our children are not really children anymore – in fact, the oldest are leaving their nests really, really soon! – and the books have definitely matured over the years, but I guarantee you they are not too old for this special tradition.

Some of the best gifts I have ever given or received have been books. We Snoops always choose and blog about our favorite books at the end of the calendar year. The year before last, my favorite Christmas gift was a set of my own copies of my five favorite books of the year. They are prized possessions and I always smile when I see them sitting on my shelf – not only because I love the books so much, but because it was such a thoughtful gift.

Why not start a book gift exchange tradition of your own? Either amongst friends, family, or kids? Or, let us know what your favorite book is to give as a gift. What is the best book you have either given or received? Tis the gift giving season, and don’t forget that a great read is always a fantastic gift.

Happy reading!

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Giving thanks…

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

As this holiday in particular is one on which we count our blessings, I am going to start by being thankful for my fellow Snoops. Because of what we have collectively created, I am thankful that every day I get to do what I love and I get to share it with people who share my vision and my passion for books and reading.  Thank you for being everything that you are ladies!

In the world of children’s and young adult literature, there is much to be thankful for! I am thankful for the truly exceptional books I have read for this site – for the ones that reminded me of valuable lessons, for the ones that brought me to tears, for the ones that made me laugh out loud, and for some remarkable characters that I will never forget.

I am thankful for the authors who pour their blood, sweat and tears into books that bring meaning to the lives of young people, for the authors who craft entertaining and engrossing stories that just beg to be read, for the publishers who make sure these books get on the shelves and to the readers who love them so much.

I am thankful for the authors who have been so willing to let us interview them and who are so willing to discuss their work. We have been incredibly blessed with amazingly gifted writers who have been fun and funny and enlightening and so darn pleasant to interact with!

I am thankful for the books I have read that I have been able to share with my own son and daughter, who have loved them as much as I did. I am thankful for bookstores (the few that still exist!) and libraries, and even for e-readers – anything that can get a book into my hands! Most of all, I am thankful for the beauty that can exist in the written word.

Happy reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

From one teen to another…

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

As it is Teen Read Week this week, I consulted my own seventeen-year old and asked her to compile a list of books that she would recommend to other teens. Here it is, a list of books from one teen to another – and by the way, she recommends all of these very highly! Happy reading!

- Tiffany, StorySnoop

Prevent the “Summer Slide” – Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Summer is just about here! Encourage kids to keep reading throughout the summer, for fun of course, but also to keep their skills sharp. It is easy for kids to slide backward and lose the progress they made over the school year. A summer reading program is a fun and easy challenge, and a great way to keep kids excited about books and reading.

Here are some reading facts you might not have known: Kids who read one million words in a year score in the top two percent on standardized tests. In a year, kids learn 4,000 to 12,000 new words by reading books. 91% of kids are more likely to finish books they choose themselves. Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores.

Pretty good reasons to keep kids reading, right?

There are many great summer reading programs out there, for all ages.

Barnes and Noble, for example, has a summer reading program that requires kids to read any eight books, and write their favorite part about each book in a reading journal. When kids bring their completed reading journal to their local store, they get to choose a free book.

Scholastic.com has a summer challenge for kids – to read every day this summer. Their free online program involves logging reading minutes and earning prizes. They even have a Reading Timer app that can be downloaded for free.

Most public libraries also offer their own summer reading programs. These usually involve going to the library to sign up for their program and pick up the accompanying packet. This may include a reading log to record the books your child reads, possibly a bookmark or some suggested reading lists. There is usually a prize associated with completing the program, such as a new book, a coupon for a free ice cream, etc.

Here at StorySnoops, we don’t have a formal program, but we do have Summer Reading lists for tween girls, tween boys, teen girls and teen boys that are updated weekly. We’ve included many of our recent favorites that should give kids plenty of book ideas over the summer.

Summer reading does not have to be hard, but should be engaging and entertaining. Let your child choose a stack of books at the library, or scour your shelves at home for books that older siblings especially enjoyed. A special trip to the bookstore or a new purchase on an e-reader, are fun options as well. Books on cd or downloadable audio are also a fun way for the whole family to enjoy a story while driving on a summer vacation.

Check out our suggested Summer Reading lists to get started, and happy summer reading!

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Say it ain’t so! Celebrating Teen Lit Day just a bit late…

Monday, April 16th, 2012

How is it possible that I missed Teen Lit Day last week on April 12th?? I am so disappointed in myself. As a huge fan of teen lit, I would have loved to celebrate in some wild and crazy fashion, surround myself by all my favorite teen books and look lovingly at them. Never too late though, right?

Though Teen Lit Day may have been last week, I am going to have my own ltitle celebration here on the blog, with confetti and streamers and everything : )

I still have all of my favorite books from when I was a teen – Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams Romances, Go Ask Alice, Zanboomer, My First Love And Other Disasters… I could go on and on and on.  I actually have about three shelves of them, and they are dated and they are beat up and they are well loved, and if my house were on fire, I would definitely grab them.

Now I have a special shelf of contemporary teen lit that I love. And… lucky me, I have a teen girl to share them with!

Maybe I have some sort of arrested development, as I am a forty-something woman who still reads teen lit – for my website though! – but I don’t even really care. There have been teen lit books I have read in the past few years that were as memorable and moving to me as those intended for my age group.

In fact, my favorite book of all time – and that is REALLY saying something – is a teen book. But, that is a topic for another blog  : )

The modern teen lit books I own that have a special shelf all of their own are very dear to my heart. They are varied and diverse, are extremely well written, have memorable characters and stood out among the hundreds of books I’ve read.  I know that some of them have made my “best of” lists over the last two years, but it can’t hurt to mention them again, can it??

So, in honor of Teen Lit Day (just a week or so late!) here is a list of some of my all time favorite teen literature. I love these books, in a ridiculously sentimental way, and reread them every chance I get.

What are your favorite teen books??

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Super Scoop – The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Disenchantments? I think not – VERY enchanting actually. A turquoise VW bus, three teenage girl band members, one teen boy best friend, and a week-long tour, all amounts to… one hell of a story. This story is reminiscent of another time – late sixties, early seventies perhaps – possibly due to the music the characters love, possibly due to their alternative parents, possibly due to the very nature of the funky towns they stop in. For whatever reason, this story feels a bit like a step back in time, and a fantastic one at that.

The relationship between Colby and Bev becomes complicated. Best friends, though Colby has been in love with her for years, they learn things about one another that are surprising and hurtful. The teen characters in this story share exceptional and supportive relationships, thoroughly love and enjoy one another, and make you wish you were part of their journey.

A perfect choice for music and art lovers, these teens have recently graduated from an art-focused high school and are passionate about music, drawing, sculpture and theater. Their love of both performing and listening to music is beautiful and meaningful, and also contagious – it got me to listen to my favorite Supremes song : )

The journey they embark on is physical as well as emotional and leads them places they didn’t anticipate. Getting to go along for the ride, vicariously anyway, is a pleasure, and one the reader won’t want to end.

The summer after high school is such a turning point, and this one is documented in the form of a road trip like no other, with photographs, drawings, carvings, tattoos and incredible memories. The characters are so well formed and so authentic, you won’t want to let them go. The older teen girl readers in your lives who can appreciate a powerful journey, forks in the road, music, love, art and extraordinary friendships will thoroughly enjoy this fantastic read.

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

It’s World Read Aloud Day!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I will never forget my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, reading my class the book Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg. It is one of my favorite books from my childhood, most likely because I have such fond memories of those days in the classroom, sitting with my classmates, hanging on Mrs. Sullivan’s every word, so eager to find out what would happen next.

Today, March 7, 2012 is World Read Aloud Day, and is a great opportunity to look at the importance of reading aloud to children. According to the Commission on Reading, ‘The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.’

When you read aloud to your child, or to any child for that matter, you are not only providing them with important downtime, you are improving their reading skills, their written, oral and auditory skills, you are teaching them grammatical form and story structure, and you are helping them associate reading with pleasure. Reading aloud to children stimulates language, cognitive skills, builds motivation, curiosity and memory and it helps to foster a love of literature.

Children listen at a higher reading level than they read. When you read a child a story that is slightly more advanced than their independent reading level, you expose children to new vocabulary and allow them to enjoy material beyond their own reading abilities.

No child is too young or too old to be read to.

I have loved reading books to my children, and I would bet that they would tell you that they loved being read to. We have some of our very favorites still on the shelf and every once in awhile we get them out and read them again. The books themselves are beloved to us, but so are the memories of sitting and enjoying the story together.

So, in the spirit of World Read Aloud Day, make a trip to the library, stop by the bookstore, stock up from an online retailer or load up your e-reader. The world of children’s literature is full of exciting, engaging an extraordinary writing and stories that are just begging to be read – and I bet there are some children in your life who would love to hear them, from you.

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

The tried and the true…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

When I hear teenage girls say, “I don’t like to read,” I always say, “Not true! You just haven’t read the right book yet.”

I have several books in my arsenal that are tried and true, never fail, go-to choices for teen girls. I don’t know a girl who read one of these and didn’t love it. That being said, one of them was put to the ultimate test recently.

In choosing a book for my friend’s very reluctant teen girl reader, I thought long and hard about what I chose for her. I took into consideration her personality, her attention span, her likes and dislikes, and finally made my decision – Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski. Timing was very good – she was going to be on vacation with no urgent schoolwork to finish and some downtime. Poor kid had to be the captive audience of the ultimate book freak! Good sport that she is, she started reading, even though I am not sure she really wanted to. Now, here is where I get to pat myself on the back, she loved the book! Sigh… nothing makes me happier than a satisfied reader. She also dove into the book I bought for her sister – The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart – and enjoyed that one as well. Success!

Now I am not delusional enough to think that I have made a voracious reader of her, but I do know that she will probably trust me when I put a book in her hands in the future. Or, maybe she is so sweet that she will just humor me. Either way, I will be happy.

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

The tried and true list: