Author shares her horse TC with us.

August 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Posted in about life, Community groups, Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parents | Leave a comment
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How to use books in school programs

July 26, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Posted in about life, Community groups, Education, Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parent Teacher Groups | Leave a comment
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Our goal is to develop programs that are fun for the kids that is provides an educational experience. This has not been an easy task and I will keep you informed as we move forward.

We tested our initial program with 60 kids from 4th to 6th grades. The program worked well for the 5th and 6th graders, but we found we needed to revamp the program for the 4th graders.

 The presentation encourages kids to write their own Undercover Kid story. We figure we can do it for classes up to 30 kids. After that we have to change our strategy.

Here’s how it works: The teachers are provided with a copy of the book together with a suggested list of pages to read before the author and our staff visit. They also receive a program guide to use after our presentation.

 We introduce the program by getting the kids to talk about their travels and then about the lead characters, Katie, Jake and Cooper.  We play a word game where kids get into groups and are given 5 Adventure Cards with words they must use to create their own their own Undercover Kids Adventure story. They get two more series of Adventure Cards to use to complete their story. And then kids get a chance to read their completed adventure.  

Then Gloria Smith Zawaski, our author, tells the kids how she developed the series and the kids get a chance to ask her questions. The kids are encouraged to post their stories online.

What do you think works best for kids, whether its in the classroom or as part of a community group?

Kids give new book a rousing 9 review

July 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Kids and reading, Librarians, Mystery books, Parents | Leave a comment
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trunk in the attic cover.qxpWe want to thank Nicole and her sister Sami for taking a look at “The Undercover Kids.” Nicole who is 16 asked her younger sister Samantha, who is 12, to read and review the book.  Nicole writes a blog on books.
” Okay, time to review. Even though this book was a little younger then the books I normally read, it was still good non-the-less. It was fun to find out that pannenkoeken is really pancakes with ham, cheese, and tomato on top. I wish I could’ve seen a bit more, but of course, Cooper’s gone and what not. I suggest that ages 7-12 read this book, maybe younger if they are good readers.”

Sami gave the book a 9/10. Great going! Check it out.

Illustrators tell their own stories

July 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Kids and reading, Librarians, Parents | Leave a comment
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Three illustrators share their vision

Elizabeth Kennedy‘s reviews on kids’ books are right to the point and provide a wonderful insite into the genre. If you have not visited Elizabeth’s Children’s Books Blog click on the link above and see if you agree with her review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Brian Selznick is a genius storyteller and illustrator

hugo_cabret_17Brian Selznick, the author of Hugo Cabret, has a marvelous talent for creating a beautiful story and providing the key illustrations that make the story more meaningful.  I was fascinated with his illustrations because they now only supported the storyline but provided additional insite…something I rarely find in books today.

Illustrators tell stories

The Grave Yard BookIf you are fascinated with how illustrations add to a story look at the drawings in The Graveyard Book from Dave McKean. His illustrations set the tone for the story by Neil Gaiman.

The Arrival written entirely with images.

The Arrival written entirely with images.

And then check out a book written entirely with illustrations called The Arrival by Shaun Tan. The book, written in 2006, tells they story of an immigrant family that seeks to leave their mystical homeland for a better place…supposedly New York City. Only the dad gets to leave and he trys to create an environment where he can help his entire family escape from their oppressive environment.

Shaun Tan was born in 1974 and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. He graduated from the University of WA in 1995 with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature, and currently works full time as a freelance artist and author in Melbourne. He is best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through surreal, dream-like imagery

What are your kids reading now?

July 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Education, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parents | 2 Comments
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I spoke to my son yesterday about the story I wrote about kids and reading. He remembers reading The Hardy Boys. To be honest, I don’t remember the series. Shows what a great mom I was.

So take a few minutes to share books your kids love. I am sure other parents would love the recommendation.

By the way, if any of your kids have read The Undercover Kids’ Holland Adventure would love to hear your comments and as well as theirs. Thanks.

Autistic kid solves mystery

June 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Book reviews, Kids and reading, Mystery books | Leave a comment
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As the recent publisher of a new kids’ book, The Undercover Kids’ Holland Adventure, I am always on the lookout for great books for kids.

I read Tanya’s blog on books. She mentioned that she only reviews books once they come out in paperback.  And so the reviewer waited a year, when the paperback version of  The London Eye Mystery was published, to talk about this kid’s adventure book.

She admitted in her review, she missed the mark in this book by waiting the year. And I agree.

Kids overcoming differences makes this a great read.

london eye mysterySiobhan Bowd’s book, The London Eye Mystery, introduces the readers to Ted, the younger brother of Kat. Ted loves to talk about weather patterns; he has a great memory for facts and has a hand he has difficulty in controlling – it shakes. He also has trouble in dealing with his emotions and can’t seem to quite understand the feelings of others. Dowd creates this character Ted with all the revealing symptoms of autism, but the word is never used to describe him. She talks about Ted’s teacher, who advises Ted to smile when others smile because that will help him make friends. And he is leaning other things to: To look in the direction of people who are speaking to him; to understand that if someone is crying they are having a problem and to try an control his shaking hand.

But through it all, he solves the mystery of the disappearance of his visiting cousin, Salim. Ted’s favorite thing is to fly the Eye. Like a Ferris Wheel, you sit in a capsule with 21 other folks and twist and turn above London. Salim goes on the first capsule while Ted and Kat wait on the ground for Salim to complete his spin. But the brother and sister don’t see Salim get off his capsule. And now the adventure begins.

Dowd is great in getting the true sibling love-hate relationship. We “listen” to Ted work out his frustrations as he tries to get others to listen to the nine scenarios he has created as to what might have happened to his cousin. There is the understanding mom who gets frustrated with Ted’s frantic ways. The dad who bulldozes large building to make way for the new. A crazy Aunt Gloria who uses a long cigarette holder as she smokes.  And Salim’s dad who is an doctor.

The issues of sibling relationships, relationships with moms and dads and a international flavor that we don’t often see in kids’ books. All this, plus the unusual Ted, makes this a must read for kids and their parents.

I am sorry to report that Siobhan Dowd died of breast cancer on 21 August 2007, aged 47, Just before Dowd’s death, the Siobhan Dowd Trust was set up, where all the proceeds from her literary work will be used to assist disadvantaged children with their reading skills.

Have you found a book that you wished you read earlier? Share your story.

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