Hi, everyone! I know that we have just passed the holiday season (around a month!) and people aren’t thinking about buying anything huge, but if you are thinking about buying an eReader, then you should be getting the right one for you. There are a lot of bad and inexpensive eReaders out there, and there are only some that will do the job well.

I have a Nook, first generation and it is great, and it gets the job well really well. If you are looking for an eReader, the thing is, eReaders are so new that the older ones aren’t that different from the new ones. (The older ones are cheaper:) That widens the selection a lot, I think!

If you have a budget, which you probably do, I will list the top 2 most inexpensive, but good, eReaders out there.

#1, Kindle with Wi-Fi, 6″ Display – $79.00 from

This version of kindle, released in September 2011, weighs less than 6 ounces and fits in your back pocket. Because of the state of the art E Ink display, this Kindle reads just like paper, even in bright sunlight. This kindle is fast, very affordable and easy to take, wherever you go. I would recommend this kindle to anyone because of the month-lasting battery charge, weight, size and all the other handy features that may come in handy on an eReader. To see more about this kindle, click here.

#2, Barnes & Nobles’ NOOK Simple Touch™ – $99.00 from Barnes & Nobles

The NOOK Simple Touch is the fastest, longest lasting battery, ad free, best touch screened eReader out there! Its battery will last for up to two months a charge and just like the kindle, it has the award winning E Ink display, except it’s a touch screen!!!! This is by far the most simply interactive eReader on the market. It reads just like a book because you swipe to flip the page and it’s the authentic black and white page color. It is as close as a real book as you can get! Wifi for buying books on your NOOK is included. To read more click here!

Now, if you have a larger budget and you want a really nice eReader, here is my preferance!

#1, The NOOK Color by Barnes & Nobles – $199.00

NOOK Color

Super-clear resolution, movies, books, apps, music, super-fast web browsing, all you could wish for. This is everything you could wish for in an eReader, and more! NEW! Kid’s books and graphic novels/comics are now availiable, making this a spectacular interactive tool for kids. Starting at $199.00 on B&

***Note: All of the kindles offer text-to-speech, for the visually impaired. 🙂 ***

For more information about eReaders, go to these websites:

Thank You!
P.S. Most eReaders are easily customized with screensaver and wallpaper pictures!
My customized NOOK!

Some pictures of my NOOK in action!

The NOOK book library!
My NOOK reading a NOOK book!

Bigger than a Bread Box

Bigger than a Bread BoxBigger than a Bread Box

by Laurel Snyder

223 pages of combined realistic fiction and fantasy for middle grade readers

Do all things have both a good and a bad side?

There are too many changes coming all too fast.  Rebecca’s home is in Baltimore.  It is where she belongs and where she needs to be, but she is not there.  She is in Atlanta feeling alone and angry and confused.  After the last angry fight, her mother grabbed her and her 2-year old brother, Lew and run away.  They left their father behind and ran to her Gran in Atlanta.  Atlanta is fine, but all wrong.

While hiding with her anger from her mom, Rebecca discovers bread box in the attic.  It stands out in that dusty place because it is shiny, bright and clean.  Rebecca brings it to her room where she learns of its power – things she wishes for — clothes, lip gloss, ipods — magically appear. Of course though, wishes have both good and bad sides and magic is never what it first seems to be.  Rebecca doesn’t stop to think where the items actually come from until it’s almost too late. By then, however, Rebecca realizes that what she truly wants — and needs — would never fit in the shiny red bread box.

Once you begin, you won’t want to stop – but do every once in a while.  This story brings up so many questions and ideas.  Snyder’s story is compelling. Rebecca is a totally real as she struggles with her desire to be popular and her instinct to do the right thing.

This book trailer created by a 12-year old reader is a wonderful summary of you should read this great book.

Around the World

Around The WorldAround the World – three remarkable journeys

a graphic novel by Matt Phelan

Last weekend I read a  newspaper about a young woman who completed a solo circumnavigation in her sailboat.  She turned sixteen on the voyage and claims to be the youngest person to complete this incredible challenge.  (Interesting to note Guinness World Book of Records no longer tracks items like this so they don’t encourage kids to take too much risk.)  In the article she said she learned many things on the journey – how to play the flute (the guitar was a challenge in choppy seas), about the world, her boat and a great deal about herself.

That got me thinking.  For me that may be what is most intriguing part of embarking on a solo journey of any magnitude.  I admire the courage, determination and perseverance of these choices.  It makes me wonder about the stories of all who have attempted this challenge – why do they think to do it?  How are they changed by the attempt or completion?  What does it lead too?

Three Remarkable Journeys Around the World adds both answers and more questions to those wonderings from me.  It starts with, “It all began, as many great adventures begin, with a story.” This sets the stage for the travels for the three adventurers featured in this book –Thomas Stevens, Joshua Slocum, and Nellie Bly.  Thomas Stevens traveled in 1884 from San Francisco to Boston on a 50-inch bicycle.  Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail solo around the world in 1895.  Nellie Bly was a pioneer journalist who traveled around the world to beat the time record of Phileas Fogg in 1889.  With his typical attention to detail, Matt Phelan captures their adventures in graphic form.  It’s beautifully drawn and skillfully arranged to capture the spirit of each adventurer.  The tales show how each person embarking on a journey of this magnitude also has an individual quest – an internal search.  It is amazing how Matt Phelan’s art and story craft develops and shows changes to the inner lives of these people.  Around the World weaves an exciting story of three historical characters whose bold endurance and stamina go beyond mere bravery.  Their willingness to focus on tasks some thought were unattainable paved the way for others who dare to dream!   What would your journey be?  It doesn’t have to be for or grand to make an impact… hmmm

Check out this preview and then dive right in – adventure anyone?

Going Solo

224 page fun read!

When I was younger, I saw my brother reading Boy, and all that appealed to me was the front cover illustrations. Then, a few years later, I was sifting through the bookshelf when I noticed the book Boy. The cover art still caught my eye, which made me start it, and for a few days, I couldn’t the book down. After I was finished with that, I asked my brother what the next one was called. “No idea,” I remember he said. I eventually found it and it may be even better than the first book!

In this sequel to Boy, Roald Dahl writes about his adult life and his experiences. As a World War II fighter pilot, he travels all over the world and meets tons of different people. From servants to snake charmers, from East Africa to Libya, he does it all. Funny, Adventure, Action, I don’t know what to call this book! His irresistible writing technique and wry sense of humor bring you straight into the action packed adult life of Roald Dahl. I promise, you will not be disappointed when you finish this book!

Click here to buy the book on!

Here is’s take on Going Solo.

Click here for the Roald Dahl website.

Out of My Mind

Out of My MindOut of My Mind

by Sharon M. Draper

295 pages of  courage, determination, love and cruelty

This book has been in my “to-be-read” pile for a couple of years.  Friends had recommended it and the reviews had been great – but new fantasies and series kept coming out and it got lower in the stack.  I never got around to reading it until two weeks ago when daughter asked me for a book that was like A Mango Shaped Space.  I said I wasn’t sure but maybe this and handed her Out of My Mind.  Two days later when I got up the book was sitting in the middle of my desk labeled with a post-it saying “AWESOME!” I began reading the next and the post-it is right.

In the book Melody has CP.  She can’t talk.  She can’t sit up.  She can’t feed herself or use the toilet on her own, but she has words – millions of them.  Though she has millions of words, she has never said one.  They’re all trapped inside.  Because of how she controls her body most people assume she has no intelligence.  She’s in the resource room with a whole assortment of disabled kids.  It’s sort of like a holding tank where the teachers do things, but no one is really teaching, and no one is learning anything intentionally.  That changes in 5th grade.

In 5th grade Melody gets a medi-talker – a device like Stephen Hawking has that allows her to type her thoughts so the machine can speak them for her.  She has a one-on-one assistant who believes in her and she participates in, and wins a spot on the Whiz Kid Team.  For the first time in her life people outside her family know she is smart. For the first time in her life Melody is part of a team – but she still can’t drink or control her limbs when excited or wipe her mouth if she drools.  That makes others uncomfortable and so “the morning that started out like crystal turns to broken glass.” You’ll never believe what happens possibly could – but it does.

I was so angry at so many of the people in this book.  They behave as no one should and yet I know their behavior mirrors real life.  I know it is easy to criticize others, and much more difficult to take action to do the right thing.  But we must!  This book makes you think about what it means to be a person –  a quality person.  It shows that flaws don’t lessen or leave with age and it shows that our beliefs are powerful things.

It is easy when it is easy, but what do you do when it is hard?  What do you do when it seem unbearable? What do you believe to be right?  Will you act on your convictions?  It is so hard to do…  I think Melody in Out of My Mind has a lot to tell you – she taught me a great deal.  I will be a much more careful teacher, friend and person because of her.

Leave a comment to let us know how she touches your life too.

The Apothecary

The ApothecaryThe Apothecary

by Maile Melloy  368 pages of  adventure based fantasy and historical fiction mixed together is an exciting read from the start… would you fly if you had to?

The year is 1952 – the United States and the Soviet Union are in an arms race – who can have the most nuclear weapons to use as a threat.  The United States is afraid of Communism.  The Soviet Union is afraid of Democracy.  Each thinks they are correct and no one is talking.  Everyone is afraid that “the bad guy” is going to take over the world.  The message is “BE PREPARED!”  At least that is how I remember it when I was growing up.  I wasn’t around in 1952, but in 1968 that was how I understood the time  Janie lived through.  Lots of worry and blame.

In 1952 when The Apothecary takes place, Janie Scott, 14, lives in L.A. She wears her Katherine Hepburn slacks to school and feels as though she is on top of the world.  She is until her screenwriter parents get blacklisted in the Communist scare.  Though completely innocent they are forced to move to London to avoid jail. Janie feels very much the outsider at St. Beden’s until she meets Benjamin Burrows, whose father is the local apothecary. Ben doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps; he thinks being an apothecary is all about dispensing aspirins and salves for rashes. He wants to be a spy and he enlists Janie to help him follow Leonid Shiskin, one of their teachers.  Through their teamwork they learn he works for the Soviet embassy, and to their astonishment, discover the passing of a secret message to Ben’s dad. Soon afterwards, his dad disappears, but not before entrusting to Ben and Janie an ancient book called the Pharmacopoeia containing secret recipes for magic herbal elixirs.

In no time at all the teens are chasing and being chased by Russians, Germans, double agents, and chemists.  They learn that the art of  an apothecary is not nearly as mundane or sedate as Ben had assumed. To save the world Ben and Janie learn about atomic weapons and containment theory. The story is a skillfully woven mix of the spies, suspense, assasins, romance, evil genius, sinsiter bad guys and resourceful teenagers.  You’ll learn about the attitudes that prevailed toward the Communists and their sympathizers after World War II. It’s interesting to think about this time in our history as it develops in the heat of the chase on land, on sea and in the air through The Apothecary.

If you’re not sure yet if this book is for you (and I think it is if you have read this far) check out this book  trailer  .  It might be the final hook in – Read it and enjoy!



by Anne Ursu

312 pages with an intriguing twist to an Anderson’s fairy tale – It will make you wonder… where is your place?  How do your fit?

For all Hazel knows maybe the changes began with a perfect snowfall of brilliant snowflakes – the morning of the snowball. Or perhaps they began when a magic mirror broke, hurling shards of glass to earth and changing all those they touched. Hazel didn’t know when, how or why the changes started, but she knows her best friend, Jack, changed suddenly.  He was mean. So now the only person who helped her fit in, doesn’t anymore.  She is alone, confused and sad. Now stories are all she has.

She doesn’t fit in at home. She supposed to try harder to stay in reality and not pretend so much.  She doesn’t fit at school.  She supposed to learn the facts and know the rules.  And now she doesn’t fit with Jack either – and he was the one who shared her stories and helped her know all the rules.  What will she do?

And then he’s gone.  Vanished.  Tyler, the one at school who calls her “Crazy Hazy” tells her he saw Jack go off in a sleigh with a snow lady.  Hazel knows immediatly it is the witch from a story, her story. How can that be?   Hazel decides to follow the white witch into the woods.  She knows stories.  She knows she has to.   It’s the only thing Hazel can do because she must find Jack and bring him home or like in all the stories, the magic will trap him forever.

This is a fun book of friendship, stories, enchantment and adventure.  There are connections to lots of different books and stories.  What can happen when story and reality collide – sometimes it’s wonderful, but not always.  Have fun following the breadcrumbs into the woods.  I hope the birds don’t eat them before you are ready to return.

The Yound Man and the Sea

Young Man And The SeaThe Young Man and the Sea

by Rodman Philbrick

192 pages of resourceful problem solving and skill (abilities I admire and wish I had!)

This year I have a group of students who love nature and everything about being outside.  They are interested in tracking and birding, fishing and falconry.  They have a great deal of knowledge and expertise.  These things are an exciting and important part of their lives.  I began to look for books that might compliment their interests.  Because of that search I was reminded of this book.  When it was published years ago, I was working with 6 year olds and I didn’t get entered on my “to read list” – but I loved Freak the Mighty so it stuck in my mind.  This year I wondered how 9 year olds would like it  – only maybe.  There are social situations that will be better understood by an older reader.  If you’re in 5th or 6th grade and think this is an interesting topic, I’m sure it’s for you.  Other middle grade readers could like it too.  I did and I like how Rodman Philbrick moderenized an old tale.  I also like how he looked at social class and and get you to question, “What makes a “classy” person?”

Living in a coastal fishing town, twelve-year old Skiff Beaman is struggling to survive.  Ever since his mother died, Skiff’s father has done nothing but lie on the “TV couch” and drink beer. He used to make his living fishing, but he hasn’t stepped foot onto his boat since his wife’s death. Skiff realizes that it is going to be totally up to him to earn money if they are to survive.

Arriving home at the end of the school day, at the end of the school year, Skiff discovers the Mary Rose, their boat, has sunk at the dock. Skiff decides that if he can raise and fix the boat he might be able to raise his dad off the couch and bring him back to life and back into Skiff’s life.  He takes it upon himself to raise the boat and with the help of ancient boat-builder, Mr. Woodwell and supportive, retired Captain Keelson figures out what has to be done each step along the way to repair the boat and rebuild the engine.

Skiff is determined.  He needs his dad back.  His work is cut out for him if he is to get the Mary Rose back on the water – back fishing and lobstering and earning a living for them. Not only must Skiff raise the sunken boat and earn money for the supplies to repair the boat, but he must also deal with the hostility of the rich brat Tyler Croft. Skiff works hard and is determination to succeed.  After numerous set backs, Skiff decides the only way he will be able to accomplish his goal is to set out to sea in his plywood skiff  (one of the last great things his dad had done when he made the boat for his birthday three years ago) to try to harpoon the bluefin tuna.

The second half of the book strongly parallels to Hemingway’s classic,  The Old Man and the Sea.  Read and enjoy.


Liesel and Po

Liesl and PoLiesl and Po

an illustrated, middle grade fantasy by Lauren Oliver

Liesel has been locked in the cold attic room of her house.  Her conniving stepmother doesn’t want her around since her father passed away – she has designs of Liesel’s inheritence.  Liesel sits alone day after day – sometimes drawing to fill her time.  Her only companions are mice and shadows. Then one day Po — a ghost from the Other Side  — emerges from the shimmering shadows. The two become friends and Po helps her escape the locked room to bring her father’s ashes home to rest with her mother by the willow tree.

Soon they meet up with Will, an alchemist’s apprentice.  He inadvertently sets them all on a dangerous journey when he bungles  his delivery and swithces the box containing the ashes of Liesl’s father with one holding “the Most Powerful Magic in the World.” Part ghost story, part fantasy and part fairy tale, Liesel and Po is a book full of characters you can care for and characters who satsifyingly get what they deserve.

The story is full of descriptive and playful language.  It would be a great choice for a read aloud.  It is a powerful story – you’ll be sucked in right from the start.


“…car accident…called the ambulance…intensive care…nothing anyone could do…so sorry.”

Ian Rider, Alex’s uncle, is dead. The police say that his uncle’s car was hit by a truck and he was killed almost instantly, but he was the last person that Alex thought would forget to wear a seatbelt. When he investigates, he finds something awful. “Ian Rider hadn’t died in any accident. What had killed him was plain to see – even to someone who had never seen such a thing before. A spray of bullets had caught the car full on the driver’s side, shattering the front tire, smashing the windshield and side windows, and punching into the side panels.” His uncle had been murdered. Then, soon after, he finds out that his uncle has been training him all his life to be a spy at MI6, just like he was! To find out what happens to Alex and his murdered spy uncle, read Stormbreaker and the rest of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.

Read Stormbreaker or others in the Alex Rider series? See below.

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Of course, every author has a website nowadays, so here is Anthony Horowitz’s website:

Click here for the Alex Rider website! It has downloads, news, an Alex Rider bio and much more!

Click here to buy the book from! Only 8.99!

There was a movie made back in 2006 of Stormbreaker and it was pretty accurate to the story. I would recommend it to anyone who has read Stormbreaker.

Here is the trailer: