August 28, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration Week 3 +Giveaway




As you know here on The O.W.L. I highlight books at all ranges of middle school readers (and in my middle school that's grades 5-8), because of this I was super excited to be asked to participate in the countdown to International Ivy & Bean Day on October 13th!

These 9  weeks are going to be fun!!!!

Each week I'll be highlighting a different Ivy & Bean book plus hosting a giveaway! Then on week 9 - all the previous winners will get a chance at a super awesome prize!

Before I get into all those details I want to first talk about this week's book:


World record fever grips the second grade, and soon Ivy and Bean are trying to set their own record by becoming the youngest people to have ever discovered a dinosaur. But how hard is it to find one?

Who here remembers The Brady Bunch???? And who here remembers the episode where Cindy and Bobby decided to try and break a world record?  They tried to have the longest consecutive teeter-tottering.  I just remember that they fell asleep in the middle of the night. I loved it at a young age, and now older I love the innocence of it.  You know what else has that innocence??? Ivy & Bean books!!!!!


To learn more about Ivy & Bean check out the websites below.
Annie Barrow's site
Chronicle Books Site


And check out what other bloggers participating are doing!


And of course if you want to buy the book you can click HERE!  
(you'll be taken to my favorite children's bookstore The Red Balloon)

Now for the giveaway!

I have up for grab:
 1 copy of Ivy & Bean
3 Sets of Ivy & Bean Mini Notes

Remember the winners from each previous week are entered for the grand prize.  And what is the grand prize you ask???



A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows
1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls
1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers
AND – a super-secret really cool prize still being worked on (stay tuned!)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 21, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-A-Bration Week 2! +Giveaway



As you know here on The O.W.L. I highlight books at all ranges of middle school readers (and in my middle school that's grades 5-8), because of this I was super excited to be asked to participate in the countdown to International Ivy & Bean Day on October 13th!

These 9  weeks are going to be fun!!!!

Each week I'll be highlighting a different Ivy & Bean book plus hosting a giveaway! Then on week 9 - all the previous winners will get a chance at a super awesome prize!


Before I get into all those details I want to first talk about this week's book:

Best friends Ivy and Bean are back and looking for adventure in the second installment of this engaging new series. This time they've made an amazing discoverya ghost in the school bathroom! Ivy and Bean can see its cloudy form and its glowing eyes. They can hear its moaning voice. This is the best thing that ever happened at school until the teachers find out. Now Ivy and Bean have to figure out how to get the ghost out of the bathroom. Will they succeed? Maybe. Will they have fun? Of course!

This summary reminds me of a time my friend and I were home alone.  We were probably in the 4th grade.  All of a sudden the lights in the back of the house went out! All of them.  We both kind of panicked and basically ran out of the house.  As we are standing on the sidewalk we watch as one by one all the lights in the house go off!! We were freaked.  My sister comes down the sidewalk, and we start telling her everything.  At first she keeps a straight face, but then cracks up.  She had snuck into the the house and done it.  Was I mad??? Yes!!! But also happy it wasn't a true ghost!!!  This is looks soooooo cute! Ghost stories and ghost hunting seem to be really in right now, so it's fun to see Ivy & Bean were in on it too!  

To learn more about Ivy & Bean check out the websites below.
Annie Barrow's site
Chronicle Books Site


And check out what other bloggers participating are doing!


And of course if you want to buy the book you can click HERE!  
(you'll be taken to my favorite children's bookstore The Red Balloon)

Now for the giveaway!

I have up for grab:
 1 copy of Ivy & Bean
3 Sets of Ivy & Bean Mini Notes

There will be three winners.  One winner for the copy of the book and one set of mini notes.  
2 others will win the mini notes.

Remember the winners from each previous week are entered for the grand prize.  And what is the grand prize you ask???


A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows
1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls
1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory
1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers
AND – a super-secret really cool prize still being worked on (stay tuned!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 20, 2012

Cover Crush: The EYES Have It

I love book covers. Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me. I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm sharing all the EYES on covers I've seen lately!  
They are everywhere! Look at them!


And I know there has been more that I can't remember!

What are your thoughts about all the eyes on covers???

August 17, 2012

Friday's For the Guys Book Review: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick


On Fridays I like step back and make sure that I am addressing boy readers.  It's so easy to review and highlight books for girls, but I also teach boys, so I need to make sure to find books for them! 

Today I've got a book review.

Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Author: Joe Schreiber


Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita in this funny, action-packed young adult novel.
It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a much anticipated gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag.
Infused with capers, car chases, heists, hits, henchmen, and even a bear fight, this story mixes romance, comedy, and tragedy in a true teen coming-of-age adventure—and it’s not over until it’s “au revoir.”
My Review

I need to start by saying this book is NOT what I expected! Well it is a little, but not completely at all. I thought it was going to be humorous and that's all. While there is humor in it, there is way more.  


In the summary it says "Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita".  I didn't take that line seriously enough.  I'm thinking high school, prom, YA book.  Well yes, yes, yes BUT whoa! Maybe I should explain what I mean :) Ok when I picked up this book to read I thought it would be this romp through New York City that would have some points of danger but nothing life threatening.  I was kinda wrong.  From the Time Gobi and Perry hit Manhattan, they are in danger.  Complete danger that Gobi puts them in.  And it's not simple danger like she forgot to pay off a gambling debt - it's way deeper and more personal than that! Did I like this?? - once I figured out it was like that yes I did! I really enjoyed it.  Perry was fantastic because he was so wide-eyed, "I'm  just going to joke so it doesn't seem real" freaked out that you had to laugh at him.  But at the same time I was completely captured by what Gobi was doing and wondering why she was doing it.  At points this made for that car crash syndrome - I just couldn't look away! And to top it off it was action packed! Gobi and Perry and literally running through the streets of New York City, and you can feel that in the story.  There were points I almost felt breathless!


Now I will warn you - you need to suspend your disbelief completely or you won't be able to buy into the story. I few times I caught myself thinking "no way this just couldn't happen!". If I wasn't able to let that go I would not have enjoyed the story as much!  You have to just accept that in the world of this book all is possible.  And the second warning - you need to be ok with some violence.  Gobi pulls no punches- literally (ok I've said literally twice now - sorry!).  If you can't read about someone being beaten up this is NOT the book for you!


The best part - each chapter heading.  Perry is a senior and applying to colleges.  Each chapter title is an essay topic you might find on a college application.  They even say what college it was suppose to be from.  I really liked that! They went with the events in the chapter.  A very fun way to arrange the book.  Many times after I finished a chapter, I'd go back and reread the title, so I could see again how they fit. Very neat! 


Final thought: Loved it! I'd love to hear more about Perry and Gobi!

Best stick-with-you image: How do I narrow it down??? I think when Perry is shot.  Yes I said shot!
Best for readers who: Can handle some more graphic fight scenes
Best for ages: 14+! I know my 13 yr old could read it, but I know her! 

For the Guys? 100% yes!!! Not only is the main character a guy - he's a great guy.   He questions like a guy.  He thinks like a guy.  He acts like a guy. He learns to stand up for himself.  I would definitely hand it to some boys I know.  Not all because of the age recommendation but some for sure!

August 15, 2012

Let Me Explain My Blog to You

As I'm looking at the new school year starting, I'm also thinking about my blog.  Here's why.  

This school year I will begin teaching one class each of 5-8th grade high potential students.  For the last 10 years I've taught straight 7th grade with one class a day of readers who struggle.  This school year is going to be different, challenging, scary, AMAZING! But I couldn't be more excited about it.  The thing is that as I look at changes as a teacher, I'm looking at changes in my blog.  

As I've always said my blog reviews middle grade books (MG), but I have a waaaaaaaaaaay different definition of middle grade than the publishing industry.  I want to try to explain it.


The industry classifies MG as 9-12 year olds and YA as 12+ or sometimes 14+.  When I taught 7th graders only I had 12-13 yr olds.  Do you see how that crosses both definitions????  And some kids were completely on that YA end while some were completely on the MG end.  If you've never taught middle school or had a child in middle school you know how different kids this age can be.  Well now this year add in the fact I'll be teaching 10 and 11 year olds on the young side and 13-14 year olds on the old side! That's a span of 10-14! Now 21-25 year olds - they aren't that different.  But 10-14!!!! OH YIKES!!


That means the type of books I'm looking at just widened by a ton.  

What does this mean for the blog???? You'll see:
  • Way more diversity of what I read and review.  It may seemed very unfocused to you, but for mean it will be my job :)
  • You'll see more clear marking of what books are for what ages.  I may label a book YMG (young middle grade) or OYA (old young adult), so you know where it falls.  Just typing this now makes me realize I should create a four label system and put it in my sidebar.  Using baby owls to older owls would be cute.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm :-D Maybe I could even get a boy owl to mark a book "guy friendly". 
  • I might be asking you for more help when it comes to finding books.  Especially as I navigate the younger crowd.  I have NEVER taught anyone younger than 12!!
  • And you may see fewer posts.  I try to post every day, but as I'm learning this new job I may not have the time,
I know that the diversity of books I'll be looking at may lose me some followers that are really only looking for one more specific level, but my hope is that others will find more of what they need!


Thanks for sticking with The O.W.L.  As excited as I am about my new job, I'm also excited about what it means I can bring to my blog.  It's going to be a fantastic year!!!



To kick this off - can you tell me:
a great MG book you've read lately? 
or What cute labels would you give to the different levels of books I'll review? 
or Your sympothy for going from teaching one prep to 4! 
or Good luck!  


And maybe, just maybe I'll pick a responder and give them a prize.  What is that prize?  IDK we'll see!

August 14, 2012

Ivy & Bean Blog-a-Bration! +GIVEAWAY


As you know here on The O.W.L. I highlight books at all ranges of middle school readers (and in my middle school that's grades 5-8), because of this I was super excited to be asked to participate in the countdown to International Ivy & Bean Day on October 13th!

The next 8 weeks are going to be fun!!!!

Each week I'll be highlighting a different Ivy & Bean book plus hosting a giveaway! Then on week 9 - all the previous winners will get a chance at a super awesome prize!

Before I get into all those details I want to first talk about this week's book:


Ivy & Bean

The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn't be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to hide quickly, Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. Vibrant characters and lots of humor make this a charming and addictive introduction to Ivy and Bean.


Yes this would be the book that started it all.  I have to admit I had never read one of these books.  They looked cute and adorable, but I had just never read one.  So glad I finally sat down and did

MY THOUGHTS
What an adorable and fun little book! When I think back to my daughter and reading when she was younger, she would've loved these books.  I can completely see why little girls love them.  

Both Ivy and Bean are fantastic little characters.  Full of cuteness and spunk that would capture the love of little girls, but not so much so that an adult reading the book aloud would find them annoying.  I always find that to be a careful balance.  

I just loved how Bean didn't want to play with Ivy right away because she saw her as boring.  When yours as active as Bean I could see that being a very big concern! And then their plan to play a trick on Bean's sisters is the best! I have a 5 year old, and I can see him coming up with something like this as he gets older!

Over-all a most adorable book.  Oh I do want to mention the illustrations! They were great.  I know at the age of the reader illustrations really help with the reading.  But they were fun for me too.  Detailed but not so much to make it seem like a picture book.  They really helped me visualize the action better.

If you've never read an Ivy & Bean book I suggest you give one a try.  You'll giggle and fall in love with two very cute girls!

To learn more about Ivy & Bean check out the websites below.
Annie Barrow's site
Chronicle Books Site

And check out what other bloggers participating are doing!


Media Darlings                                  http://www.mdarlings.com/
There's A Book                                  http://www.theresabook.com
Kid Lit Frenzy                                     www.kidlitfrenzy.com
In the Pages                                       http://inthepages.blogspot.com
The O.W.L.                                          http://owlforya.blogspot.com
Coquette Maman                            http://www.coquettemaman.com
Ruth Ayres Writes                           Http://ruthayreswrites.blogspot.com
Watch. Connect. Read.                   http://www.MrSchuReads.com
One Page to the Next                    www.onepagetothenext.blogspot.com
Van Meter Library Voice                    http://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com
The Family That Reads Together       thefamilythatreadstogegether.com
Roundtable Reviews for Kids             http://roundtableforkids.blogspot.com
Sharpread                                         www.mrcolbysharp.com
The Children's Book Review        www.thechildrensbookreview.com

And of course if you want to buy the book you can click HERE!  
(you'll be taken to my favorite children's bookstore The Red Balloon)


Now for the giveaway!

I have up for grab:
 1 copy of Ivy & Bean
3 Sets of Ivy & Bean Mini Notes

There will be three winners.  One winner for the copy of the book and one set of mini notes.  
2 others will win the mini notes.


Remember the winners from each previous week are entered for the grand prize.  And what is the grand prize you ask???




A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows

1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls

1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory

1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows
Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz
Set of Ivy and Bean stickers

AND – a super-secret really cool prize still being worked on (stay tuned!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 13, 2012

Cover Crush: Scarlet


I love book covers.  Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me.  I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm crushing on:


I really like this cover.  The red is what does it. I must be into red since my book last week had red on it! What I like is the motion that comes across in the cover.  You can almost see "Little Red" running off - or maybe running to! I want to know why, and since I read the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series I really really want to know!!!

Well done!

As a bonus it fits the first book in the series really well too.



August 11, 2012

Stacking the Shelves Aug 11



Stacking the Shelves is a meme started by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews.  Here's how she explains it:

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from firends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
To find out more go HERE!

This week I got:

For Review



From Paperback Swap
(see post about PBS HERE)


Bought
For school - I'm teaching a novel in verse for grades 6-8

May B (6th grade)
Witness (8th grade)

And for my new job!
The non-fun books ;)


August 9, 2012

Paperback Swap: Just What is It?

Do you have stacks of books you don't need and want to trade them for new ones???? 
You should check out Paperback Swap.  

I really really really love that site.  I've gotten some great books there - especially books I needed to round out a series that I only had some for or only needed like one more book for. 
I know some of you have noticed in my Stacking the Shelves or IMM posts that I get books from PBS and asked about it.  I thought it was time to share! 

If you don't know what Paperback Swap is, here is how their site explains it:


What our Book Club is all about...

PaperBack Swap on CBS Atlanta
We help avid readers Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free.
  • It's easy: List books you'd like to swap with other club members.
  • Once a book is requested, mail it to the club member.
  • In return, you may choose from 5,058,882 available books!
- Books you request are mailed to you for free.
- No late fees. No hidden charges.

We're NOT just Paperback Books! Enjoy trading Hardbacks, Audio Books, Textbooks and more.



Basically you post a book.  Someone asks for it.  You mail it.  You get credit.  You request a book from someone else.  Repeat!


I've posted a bunch of books I had duplicates of or ones I knew I didn't need.  I've even posted nonfiction "textbooks" and swapped them.  

You  might be thinking:

BUT DOESN'T MAILING COST A FORTUNE????
Nope.  You send them Media Mail.  For me it's usually been around $2.50 per book.  Although I just sent one that was closer to $6.  Learned my lesson there.  Do NOT use heavy mailing envelops for hardcovers!!!

AHHHH THE PACKAGES TO MAIL THEM COSTS LOTS OF MONEY!!!
No not really.  I get around that two ways.  I reuse mailing envelops I've gotten for books I've received.  I have a HUGE stash of those.  But most people don't even use mailing envelops.  PBS actually shows you how to wrap a book with paper and mail it.  They show using the printed mailing label.  I bought a huge role of freezer paper (found it at Walmart), and I use that. Works perfectly and dirt cheap!!!

OK JUST MAILING THEM IN PAPER - THEY MUST ME ALL WRECKED WHEN YOU GET THEM!
Nope not at all!  Never once have a gotten a PBS book that was wrecked in shipping.  In contrast I've gotten books from publishers that were almost falling out of the envelop it was sent in!

IT'S ALL OLD OR YUCKY OR FALLING PART BOOKS!
Nope. Nope. Nope.  I just grabbed City of Lost Souls!!!!  Most books look like they are brand new! It's amazing!! It really it. Plus there is a "Good Condition" statement you basically are asked to agree to each time you post a book that states the book is in good condition. 

IF THERE'S A MESS UP I BET IT'S HARD TO FIX!
I've had a couple of them.  Both where the sender sent me an ARC.  You can't swap ARCs.  When you receive a book, you need to mark it received and right then you can report there was a problem.  PBS tells you to try contacting the sender first to fix it but if that doesn't work they'll get involved.  Mine were resolved very very quickly!



Ok there are some things I have learned tho that has made my swapping easier:
If you click on the pics they'll get bigger.


  • Make and use a "Wish List"!!! I put all the books I want on my wish list, so when they come available I get an email saying it's mine if I accept it!
  • Create some searches for books you want and save those searches.  I two searches saved.  One is for YA books published on or after 2007 posted in the last 24 hours.  And the other is the same for for MG books.  






  • When I want to check out new books in either category I just have to click on the saved search.  All this is found on the left of the screen:


  • Go back a lot.  Looking just once isn't going to find you anything.  It's like that one store you go to where you know if you need to keep going back because it turns over so much.  That's PBS.

Questions?????  Check out the HELP PAGE on PBS.  It has lots and lots of answers to typically asked questions.



So that's Paperback Swap.  Love that site!!!! They really work to make it a place were people are sending and receiving good used books.  It's well organized, well managed and well done! Give it a shot.  

August 8, 2012

The "I Forgot My Blog-o-versary Again" Giveaway

Well hello everyone. Hope your day is well.  Mine has been fantastic and it's only 8:45!!

Once again I forgot about my blogaversary.  I do it every year.  For some reason I have it in my head that I started blogging in August, but actually my first post was July 11th, 2009.  Yikes!!!!! But because of this I never ever ever create a fun big celebration for it. And by this time of the summer I'm preparing to go back to school.

I have loved blogging these last three years.  I'm been exposed to books and authors I didn't know before.  I feel I've found more ways to push my students to read.  And mostly I feel like I've brought an excitement about reading into my classroom that the kids are finding contagious. I know that because of a book or author I've found through blogging I've gotten kids to read that would not have before. That alone makes all the time and effort worth it!


Now even tho I forgot it, I figured it's not to late to celebrate with my followers/readers.  
With what you ask??? 
A giveaway of course!!!

It's a simple one.  The winner will get their choice of one book up to $15 from The Book Depository!!

And because I love my international followers - it's open to you too!

To enter:
Must live where Book Depository ships for free
Must be at least 13
Must love reading
Must love books
Loving owls is optional

No need to leave a comment but <sniff sniff> a little comment love is always appreciated.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 7, 2012

Tween Tuesday: The Secret of the Fortune Wookie

Tween Tuesday was started by GreenBeanTeenQueen.  It it we highlight great books for the tween set.  Being that I'm now going to be teaching 5-8 I really need to look at a wider range of books.

Today I HAVE to highlight the new Tom Angleberger book:

The Secret of the Fortune Wookie



With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their own--no Origami Yoda to give advice and help them navigate the treacherous waters of middle school. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from Dwight--a paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It's a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that's just as good as Yoda's--even if, in the hands of the girls, it seems too preoccupied with romance. In the meantime, Dwight is fitting in a little too well at Tippett. Has the unimaginable happened? Has Dwight become normal? It's up to his old friends at McQuarrie to remind their kooky friend that it's in his weirdness that his greatness lies.


My son really really enjoyed The Strange Case or Origami Yoda.  We were even fortunate enough to meet the author in person!  He was soooo fun! 



Taught us all how to made a very simple origami yoda. My son even got to help.  




And really awesome for my son too - when he signed his book he drew an X Wing fighter in it!


Anyway I digress.  I'm very excited that there is another book in this series that is so great for tweens to read!
 At the store.....Buy it you will

August 6, 2012

Cover Crush: Dance of Shadows


I love book covers.  Love love love them! I've been known to drag my sister around Barnes and Noble and show her all the covers I like. I'll hunt down certain students in the morning because I know they'll love a cover as much as me.  I really think I develop a crush on certain covers!

Today I'm crushing on:


You may have already seen this one around this past week, and I usually try to share a cover you might not be as aware of. BUT when I first saw this cover I developed a huge cover crush on it! I Why?? Well the red right away grabs me.  But I I love how her tutu is created out of petals.  And then they are blowing away like that! Why I wonder????  But you also wanna know a big reason why I love it too? It's because it's ballet! I was the high school girl that loved ballet.  The costumes.  The poincte shoes.  The dance period.  I know my high school self would've wanted this cover in poster form!

From Goodreads
Curtains up on a deliciously dark new YA trilogy!

Vanessa Adler isn’t so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family’s gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister’s destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn’t just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school’s dancers—prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline—become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.