Book of the Month 2013 - Book Reviews

April Book - The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition

The April Book of the Month is The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen.

First Lady, Jeanette Herbert encourages all children to read each day for at least 20 minutes and this engaging book will help children see the importance of learning about the world around us through science experiments and observation. The Mrs. Frizzle's traveling children meet Galileo and are able to ask him about his process for thinking through a problem and also about his incredible inventions.

The Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciates this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc. The books are sent to Utah's elementary school children.

February Book - Scholastic Book of Firsts

Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are excited to announce the February Book of the Month, Scholastic Book of Firsts by James Buckley, Jr.

There are more than 1,000 of the coolest, biggest, and most exciting first facts you'll ever read. Find out the answer to these questions and more:

  • Who was America's first female pilot?
  • Who was the first Vice President?
  • What was the name of the first panda in America?
  • Who was the first person to be pictured on U.S. money?

  • Readers will enjoy discovering many interesting facts and classroom teachers can help students with a variety of search games.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. for the students in Utah's elementary schools.

    January Book - Can You See What I See? Once Upon A Time

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are excited to announce the January Book of the Month, Can You See What I See? Once Upon A Time by Walter Wick.

    Readers will discover their favorite fairy tales illustrated as picture puzzles with a list of items to find in each picture. The detail in each picture is amazing and readers will have to look carefully to find each item. Young students will be able to find familiar items and older students will be able to find "hidden" items. Teachers and students will appreciate the beautiful detail of each page. They can make a game of seeing who can find the items the fastest.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. for the students in Utah's elementary schools.

    Book of the Month 2012 - Book Reviews

    October Book - LadyBug Girl and the Bug Squad

    Ladybug

    Utah's First Lady Helps Set New World Record for Jumpstart's Read for the Record

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert, chair of the Governor's Commission on Literacy, helped launch Utah's participation by reading Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad with students at Jackson Elementary in Salt Lake City on October 3rd.

    "Participating in this record setting day is a great way we can build excitement with children about reading," said Mrs. Herbert, Utah's First Lady. "Reading is so important. Anything we as parents, teachers, and grandparents can do to help maximize the number of children reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade is essential in helping our young children excel. I recommend taking at least 20 minutes a day to read to children."

    Last year, roughly 2.2 million children and adults helped set the current world record by taking part in the reading event. In the process, participants help spread the word that reading and engaging with a child before he or she even enters kindergarten can improve his or her chances of graduating from high school by as much as 30 percent.

    May Book - Riding Freedom

    Bom Ridingfreedom

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan as the May Book of the Month.

    This book has great appeal to horse lovers, but all readers will find the main character of Annie to have incredible determination and willingness to survive. Her young life began with a tragic accident. Her family was out on a carriage ride, and her father was unable to slow down and stop as they rode down a very steep hill. The carriage was turned over and both of her parents were killed, but little Annie lived. The horse came and stood by Annie until help arrived. When help did arrive, they had to pry the reins of the horse out of her small hands.

    Annie had no other family and was taken to live in an orphanage with many other children. She liked spending her time with the horses in the barn and learned to take care of, and love, a horse named Freedom.

    Annie is a very strong character with great determination and hope despite her difficulties. She has to adjust to her new life and it isn't always easy. But she listens, asks questions, and develops new skills. Readers will enjoy reading about Annie's new adventures.

    This book shows growing confidence in a young girl, as she faces fears in order to overcome repression and make a better life for herself and others. The rights of women to vote, slavery, and other historic topics allow readers and adults to have conversations on these important topics. This book is a page turner filled with excitement.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous book donation from Scholastic Inc. to the students in Utah.

    April Book - Charlie Bone and the Children of the Red King

    Bom Redking

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce the April Book of the Month, Charlie Bone and the Children of the Red King, by Jennie Nimmo.

    Charlie is a very likeable ten-year-old boy. Charlie's father is missing and Charlie and his mother live with his Grandmother Bone and his Great-Uncle Paton. Grandmother Bone reminds everyone that although she is married to Mr. Bone, she came from the Yewbeam family. The Yewbeams were an ancient family with many unusual characteristics, special abilities, and unique skills. Grandmother Bone is hoping she will be able to determine whether or not Charlie has inherited any of these unique skills. Then one day, Charlie hears the framed photographs in the house speak! His grandmother and great aunts are elated! Now they know that Charlie is one of the "children of the Red King."

    In order for Charlie to focus on his talents, he is sent to Bloor's Academy. Charlie makes friends at the academy and discovers that his classmates also have mysterious powers. In addition, Charlie finds that one of the girls at school was adopted as a baby by evil people. The girl's real aunt has been looking for her for years.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy know that readers will enjoy this book which is filled with adventure and mystery. They thank Scholastic, Inc. for their generous book donation.

    March Book - Clementine

    Bom Clementine

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert announces the 2012 March Book of the Month, Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. The author has created a delightful character in Clementine, and readers from 3rd to 6th grade will be engaged with the wonderful personality of this freckled-faced, red-haired girl. Clementine finds her best friend Margaret in the restroom with an entire clump of her long brown hair cut off because she got some gum caught in it. Clementine has the answer and helps her cut off the remaining hair into little spikes. Then Clementine colors Margaret's remaining hair with Flaming Sunset permanent marker so they look like sisters. Clementine ends up in the principal's office to answer for her misdeeds, and then later that night, cuts off her own hair so Margaret won't feel so bad.

    Readers will find that Clementine is one of a kind! They will laugh at her antics as she brainstorms a variety of ways to help her dad rid their apartment complex of pigeon splat in The Great Pigeon War. She seems to find herself in many crazy situations, most of which are of her own making. Clementine is always ready to go the extra mile to help her family and friends.

    Readers will also enjoy the wonderful illustrations by Marla Frazee. Welcome to Clementine's messy room, the pigeons splatting the apartment, and two best friends with their short and spiky heads of hair.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy gratefully acknowledge Scholastic Inc. for this delightful book donation for Utah's school libraries.

    February Book - The Wright 3

    Bom Wright

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce the February Book of the Month, The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett.

    The Wright 3 follows two good friends, Petra and Calder, and the "new" kid Tommy. They live in Chicago's Hyde Park, and all Calder wants is for Petra and Tommy to get along. The tension between his two friends makes him sad and disappointed with them. He knows if they work together as a team, they can solve this new mystery.

    Calder likes to play with pentominoes, which are mathematical tools consisting of twelve pieces. Each piece is made up of five squares that share at least one side and is named after a letter in the alphabet. Pentominoes are used by mathematicians around the world to explore ideas about geometry and numbers. Readers will enjoy looking at the pentominoes illustrated in the book. They will also enjoy discovering how Frank Lloyd Wright used pentominoes in many areas in the design and building of his miraculous home.

    The mystery begins when the friends discover that the Robie house is going to be torn down. It is an incredible architectural wonder and Petra, Calder, and Tommy hope they can save it from being destroyed. They start spying on the house. They start seeing people sneaking into the house at night, hearing strange sounds, and find a jade fish buried in the ground. They also discover a curious clue: Both the jade fish and the pattern it appears in are hidden by nature, but if you look and count, you may catch what you see.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous book donation from Scholastic, Inc. which will be sent to Utah's elementary schools.

    January Book - Rules

    rules

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to present the January Book of the Month, Rules by Cynthia Lord. The author wrote this book as she explored her own feelings and questions about living with someone who sees the world very differently than she did.

    Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants to fit in. She loves her younger brother David, but David is autistic. People stare at him when he acts out in public and Catherine can no longer just take him quietly by the hand because now he is eight years old and too strong to just go along. He is frightened by loud noises and screams many times a day. His actions become frenetic when people don't understand him. He speaks in one-word sentences, words he borrows from books and movies.

    Catherine would just like to "fix" her brother. She keeps the RULES for David in her sketch book along with her sketches of the world around her. Rules such as:

    • Don't stand in front of the TV when someone is watching
    • Sometimes people laugh when they like you
    • But sometimes they laugh to hurt you

    She likes to go to David's occupational therapy (OT) sessions so she can talk with her mother on the way there and back. At OT, someone else can be in charge of David, so Catherine can have her mother's attention for awhile. Catherine has sketched everyone who comes to OT, except Jason and his mother. Jason is in a wheelchair and can't go anywhere if he isn't pushed. He communicates with a conversation board. Catherine wants to sketch him, but doesn't want to stare. She knows what it feels like when people stare at David and she doesn't want Jason to feel that way. One of her rules is:

    • Looking closer can make something beautiful.

    Catherine is not afraid to make friends with Jason and "look closer".

    Students, teachers, and parents can use this book to begin dialogue, understanding, acceptance, and friendship for all children. Author Cynthia Lord has been able to show a piece of family life experiences with a child who is autistic: the happy moments, the heartbreaking ones, and the ones that made her laugh.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are grateful to Scholastic, Inc., for this wonderful, timely book. It will be sent to all of Utah's elementary schools.

    Book of the Month 2011 - Book Reviews

    November Book - The Maze of Bones, 39 Clues, Book One

    rules Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce the November Book of the Month, The Maze of Bones, 39 Clues, Book One by Rick Riordan. Readers will be thrilled to follow Amy and Dan Cahill, brother and sister from one of the most powerful families in human history. These books provide mystery, adventure, and suspense which will have readers trying to guess where this brave team will go next. The books include puzzles within the pages, which are challenging enough so parents and teachers can get in on the discovery. Readers will have a sense of accomplishment as they solve the puzzles and move on to the next piece of the mystery. This book is recommended for readers eight to twelve years old. Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc., which will be sent to Utah's elementary schools.

    October Book - llama llama red pajama

    llama llama red pajama

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney as the October Book of the Month. Readers will enjoy the colorful illustrations and rhymes.

    Mama llama reads a story to baby llama, kisses him goodnight and goes downstairs. It isn't very long before baby llama decides he wants a drink of water. She is busy washing dishes and calls that she will be up soon. As baby llama waits, he starts to fret, then worries, stomps, and pouts. Where is his mama and why doesn't she come? As baby llama's wails increase he worries that she might be gone and he calls even louder. Mama llama runs quickly up the stairs to see if something has happened to baby llama. She finds that he is fine and reassures him that she is there. She reminds him that mamas are busy, that she loves him whether she is right next to him or in another room. She kisses him twice and he falls sound asleep.

    All parents will relate to this story and recognize the importance of helping children to understand bedtime schedules, to be patient, to be unafraid of the dark, and to remember how much they are loved. This is also a wonderful book for siblings to read with younger brothers and sisters.

    May Book - Through My Eyes

    rules

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy announce the May 2011 Book of the Month, Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges. This is the inspirational story of a little six-year-old girl and how she and her family would forever change history with bravery, determination, and forgiveness. Ruby was the first black student integrated into an all-white school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Even though Ruby's parents argued about it, her mother eventually convinced her father that they must take this step forward, not just for their own children, but for all black children.

    A federal judge declared the black students who had been tested and passed the tests would be integrated on November 14, 1960. But there were so many angry protesters around the school, Ruby and her mother had to return the following day. The next day, four federal marshals escorted Ruby and her mother into William Frantz Public School. A young white woman, Mrs. Henry met them inside the building.

    "Welcome, I'm your new teacher," she said kindly, and took Ruby and her mother to the first-grade class. Ruby, her mother, and Mrs. Henry were alone in the classroom for the first several days. When Ruby's mother had to return to work and take care of her other children, she knew she was leaving Ruby in good hands with Mrs. Henry. Ruby did not miss a single day and spent the entire year as the only student in that big classroom. She did not let the angry things that people shouted at her each day destroy her determination to learn. Mrs. Henry always met her at the door, gave her a hug, and sat by her side as she taught her. One day, Mrs. Henry saw Ruby talking to the angry mob of people, "I saw your lips moving," she said, "but I couldn't make out what you were saying to those people."

    "I wasn't talking to them, "Ruby told her. "I was praying for them."

    Mrs. Henry replied, "Ruby Nell, you are truly someone special."

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous book donation from Scholastic, Inc. and encourage all students, parents, and teachers to read this compelling story. This book will be sent to each elementary school library.

    April Book - Elijah of Buxton

    Elijah of Buxton

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the April Book of the Month, Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis.

    Elijah Freeman was the first child born into freedom in the small settlement of Buxton in Canada. His parents thought he was a very "fra-gile" child and worried about him because he would cry easily. As he grew, he was often teased about his fear of snakes, and being very gullible. He is skilled at hunting and fishing and loves spending time in the woods around his home.

    While Elijah seems to live a simple life, he is also deeply affected by the terrible stories that his parents and others tell of being slaves before coming to Buxton. He has seen the scars and hears of the grief and sadness when neighbors' families are separated and loved ones die while in captivity.

    Elijah's friend Mr. Leroy had finally saved enough money to buy his family but the fast-talking preacher disappears with the money. In spite of his fears, Elijah knows he must help his friend to get the money back. Elijah's perilous adventures will keep readers engaged and is recommended for sixth grade readers.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. which will be sent to Utah's elementary school libraries.

    March Book - Esperanza Rising

    Esperanza Rising

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the March Book of the Month, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan.

    Esperanza is a rich and privileged 12-year-old girl until a sudden tragedy shatters her world when her father is killed. She and her mother are forced to leave their beautiful hacienda in Mexico and move to California during the Great Depression. Her mother must work in the fields as a laborer, but when she becomes ill, Esperanza learns that their survival is up to her. She is taught to help with the babies and younger children in the migrant camp. She must also work hard in the fields to provide food so her mother can get well.

    This book is nonfiction and is based on the author's great grandmother Esperanza Ortega's life and the many hardships that her family faced. It is a story of challenges, commitment, and hope.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. which will be sent to the elementary school libraries.

    February Book - The Magic School Bus, Inside the Human Body

    The Magic School Bus, Inside the Human Body

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are happy to announce the February Book of the Month, The Magic School Bus, Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole.

    Readers will enjoy this new edition of the travels of Ms. Frizzle and her students. She is taking her students to the local science museum where an exhibit demonstrates the process of digested food being converted to give the body energy.

    A short stop and picnic in the park allows one of her students, Arnold, time for his favorite treat, Cheesie-Wheesies. Ms. Frizzle gets one of her famous brainstorms and decides to jumpstart their adventure by pushing a special button in the school bus. The students start spinning and shrinking and find themselves in a dark tunnel. They soon learn that the tunnel is their classmate Arnold's esophagus! Arnold's fellow students follow the food that he has eaten at the park, through his digestive system. New words and their definitions will help the readers understand many interesting facts about our remarkable bodies.

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc., which will be sent to the elementary school libraries.

    January Book - 2011 Almanac, Facts & Stats from Scholastic, Inc.

    2011 Almanac, Facts & Stats from Scholastic, Inc.

    The 2011 Almanac, Facts & Stats from Scholastic, Inc., is the January Book of the Month. Elementary school librarians will enjoy introducing this book to all students. The various facts and statistics about amazing items from all around our world will engage older readers, and younger children will enjoy the colorful words and pages.

    Homework help, simple lessons in math and geography, and important world history facts are just a few things found in this book. Teachers can create search and find games to help their students be inquisitive about the world of science, holidays, people, and remarkable ideas.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc., for all Utah elementary school libraries.

    Book of the Month 2010 - Book Reviews

    December Book - Pet Trouble

    Pet Trouble by T.T. Sutherland

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are excited to announce the December Book of the Month, Pet Trouble by T.T. Sutherland.

    This chapter book will have readers laughing as Heidi Tyler, who absolutely loves dogs, happens upon the biggest dog ever. The huge Newfoundland dog seems to have no home, so Heidi and Avery, her neighbor, take him home and hide him in the backyard. Heidi names him Yeti, and together they secretly provide a warm place and food for the monstrous dog.

    Heidi's mom is a curator for a local museum and her dad runs an art auction center. Their house is filled with priceless antiques, and Heidi knows that her parents won't welcome Yeti, the Newfoundland in any way.

    Avery used to be a nice, childhood friend of Heidi's, but ever since his parents divorced, he has become a bully to the other kids at school. Heidi knows that their friendship is strong enough to help him. This story allows many topics to be examined and will illustrate friendship, understanding, and responsibility.

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc., which will be sent to Utah's elementary school libraries.

    November Book - Ruby and the Booker Boys

    Ruby and the Booker Boys

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are happy to introduce the November Book of the Month, Ruby and the Booker Boys by Derrick Barnes. This book is one of a series which 2nd and 3rd graders will enjoy reading.

    Ruby is a happy, confident little girl, who loves to sing. Students will relate to her fun-loving character and her older brothers in many ways. She enjoys school, learning and being with her friends.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc., which will be sent to Utah elementary schools.

    October Book - The Snowy Day

    The Snowy Day

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert HELPS TO SET NEW WORLD RECORD ON OCTOBER 7, 2010.

    Mrs. Herbert read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats with children at Edison Elementary in Salt Lake District, contributing to the grand total of 2,057,513 children reading for the largest shared reading experience on a single day. In the process, participants spread the word that reading with a child each day can improve his or her chances of graduating from high school by as much as 30%!

    While children listened attentively to Mrs. Herbert, Christine Kearl, Education Director, and Barbara Schmiett from McDonald's passed out mittens and hot chocolate donated by the local McDonald's restaurant.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate McDonald's generous donation of The Snowy Day to each Utah elementary school library, enabling students to participate in this memorable global reading event.

    May Book - Are You a Horse?

    Are You a Horse?

    Mrs. Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the May Book of the Month, Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash.

    This colorful and witty book will have readers laughing at the silly journey of Roy the cowboy. For his birthday, his friends give him a saddle with two instructions:

    1. Find a horse.
    2. Enjoy the ride!

    But Roy doesn't know what a horse looks like. So he begins a journey across the desert and grasslands to find one. He finds a cactus, a snake, a sand crab, a chameleon and many other animals and birds, all of which try to describe a horse to Roy, but he still cannot find one.

    This book is a lively adventure of guesswork as the reader turns each page to see which animal will try to help Roy next. The delightful conclusion will have everyone giggling as they take part in Roy's adventure.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous book donation to Utah elementary school libraries from Scholastic Inc.

    April Book - Dinosaur Hunt

    Dinosaur Hunt

    Mrs. Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the April Book of the Month: Dinosaur Hunt by David Catrow.

    Readers will enjoy Max the bloodhound's enthusiasm as a great dinosaur hunter. As Max encounters the wild and unexplored area of his backyard, he "sees" dinosaur pieces EVERYWHERE! He gathers a garden hose, a rake, flowers, bicycle tires, sprinkler parts, an insect net and other miscellaneous toys to create a towering prehistoric monster to guard his yard.

    The illustrations will have readers laughing aloud as Max uses his dog-gone imagination to piece together playthings and garden implements, allowing the dinosaur to actually "walk"!

    Dinosaur Hunt is a fitting selection given Utah's long dinosaur history, which is preserved and showcased in sites, museums and quarries across the state, just awaiting future discovery.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation by Scholastic Inc. for Utah's elementary schools.

    March Book - I Spy A to Z

    I Spy A to Z

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are happy to introduce I Spy A to Z by Jean Marzollo as the March Book of the Month.

    Children from preschool to kindergarten will enjoy the brightly colored pictures and kid-friendly objects hidden on the pages. As children hear the objects named, they will soon be able to repeat the words. After several readings, the adult can say "I Spy..." and wait for the children to fill in the blank. The book is filled with rhyming and phonics clues to help children at various reading proficiencies.

    Advanced readers will have fun racing each other to be the first to find the correct object. Older children will also recognize that not all identical letters are printed in the same color because alphabet letters can have different sounds. Teachers and parents alike are offered simple literacy guides for using this delightful book.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate Scholastic Inc. for the generous donation of this book to Utah elementary schools.

    February Book - The Ransom Note Blues

    The Ransom Note Blues

    The Ransom Note Blues by Jill Santopolo is the Book of the Month for February.

    Alec and Gina imagine themselves to be super sleuths in their small town of Laurel Hollows. They are very good at observing "interesting" things in their town and have recently been written about in their local newspaper after helping to solve a big mystery.

    They have been reprimanded several times about eavesdropping on phone calls to Alec's dad, Officer Flint. But when Gina's mom calls for Officer Flint at home they just can't seem to help themselves. They "accidentally" overhear, Officer Flint asking Gina's mother to meet him at the police station.

    Once at the small town police station, they sit to wait and see Gina's mom rush into the station and into Officer Flint's office. They can't hear all that she is saying, but just for a minute as the secretary walks into the office with a file of papers, the door swings open and they overhear, "If you do not comply, I will turn your town blue."

    They look quickly at each other, write down a few notes in their detective pads, and decide that they can't let anyone turn their town blue and that they can help solve this case. Readers will enjoy following the adventures of Alec and Gina in their race to discover who the culprit may be.

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. for the Utah elementary schools.

    January Book - The Blizzard on Blue Mountain

    The Blizzard on Blue Mountain

    The January Book of the Month is The Blizzard on Blue Mountain, by Kristiana Gregory. This book will be a fun adventure for students to read as cousins David, Jeff, and Claire enjoy their winter break on Blue Mountain, where they get to snowboard and go sledding between shifts of cleaning and running errands for the grounds keeper. The cousins find themselves in the middle of a mystery when things start to disappear at the restaurant and the chalet. Readers will enjoy guessing what will happen next in the winter wonderland, as the cousins try to solve the case.

    Mrs. Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate Scholastic Inc. for donating this interesting chapter book to the elementary schools libraries across the state.

    Book of the Month 2009 - Book Reviews

    December Book - Too Many Toys

    Too Many Toys

    First Lady, Jeanette Herbert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the December Book of the Month, Too Many Toys by David Shannon. Spencer has too many toys. He has toys spilling out of his toy box, in every drawer and closet, and across almost every inch of his bedroom floor. He has toys in the bathtub, toys in the backyard sandbox, and toys from all of his past birthdays.

    Spencer's mother has had enough. She hollers, "Spencer, you have too many toys!" So they begin to sort through, pick up, clear out, and choose his favorite toys to keep. But Spencer likes all of his toys, they are all his favorites. Finally after much haggling and discussion, they decide on a box full of toys that Spencer is reluctantly willing to give up.

    But readers will discover that Spencer likes the box just as much as his favorite toys, as he uses his imagination to create a spaceship from the box and imagines himself to be astronaut rocketing into outer space.

    Mrs. Hebert and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate Scholastic Inc. for this delightful book.

    October Book - The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    First Lady Jeanette Herbert, joined the 2009 Jumpstart Read for the Record as she read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, with children at Cherry Hill Elementary on October 8, as part of a global reading event. "I just think it opens the whole world to students," Herbert said of reading. "It opens them up for discovering and exploring the things around them."

    As she read the book with the students, she asked various questions and actively involved them with the story and its information. She pointed out the colorful pictures of this greatly loved-book. She also mentioned that her favorite caterpillars are the big, black, fuzzy ones. The children had created beautiful, paper caterpillars for the walls of their classroom.

    Mrs. Herbert encourages parents, teachers, civic leaders, childcare providers, librarians, grandparents, and others to read this delightful book with their children.

    Christine Kearl, Education Director for the Office of the Governor stated," The most important skill we can teach students is reading. The Governor's Commission on Literacy promotes literacy and a love for reading at all ages." Kearl also said, "Children first learn to read and then they read to learn. When they learn to read, an interesting phenomenon happens: They improve skills across the board. Math, science, and history scores increase-all content areas improve when reading improves."

    As Chairperson of the Governor's Commission on Literacy, Mrs. Herbert encourages children to read each day. She loves children and wants them to be successful. "I am so thrilled to join this global reading effort. Anything we can do to jumpstart a lifetime of reading is well worth our time."

    April Book - Little by Little

    Little by Little

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce Little by Little by Amber Stewart and Layn Marlow as the April Book of the Month. Children will enjoy the story of Otto, a young otter who can do many things well, but swimming is not one of them. Otto decides to make a "can do" list and a "can't do" list. The "can do" list is much longer. It includes being kind to frogs, rolling forward and backward, mud sliding, and many other skills. But, his "can't do" list contains just one important item...SWIMMING. An otter must swim, but Otto is afraid. Otto's older sister tells him that he can learn to swim little by little. As he listens and tries to do what she teaches him, he does learn to swim, little by little. This delightful tale is a wonderful reminder to students that setting goals, not giving up, and learning little by little, will help them to be successful.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate Scholastic Inc. for this beautifully illustrated book, which will be donated to the elementary schools in Utah.

    February Book - New Bear at School

    New Bear at School

    The Governor's Commission on Literacy is pleased to announce New Bear at School, by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes, for the February Book of the Month. This delightfully illustrated book shares the story of Miss Cluck's elementary students. The school year has begun, and a new animal moves into the neighborhood and comes to the school early one morning. When Miss Cluck says that the new animal is a bear, the other animals squeal with delight. They think they have a "perfect picture" of the new bear in their minds.

    How surprised they are when the new bear is not exactly who they had pictured in their minds. He is not pink and fuzzy or floppy with velvet paws. He is a big, hairy grizzly bear. His name is Boris, and he has a very big, fierce grin.

    Enjoy reading this story with your class about new friendships. This book was generously donated by Scholastic Inc. for Utah's elementary school children.

    Jumpstart's Read for the Record

    Governor Huntsman and the First Lady encourage local elementary school principals, librarians, teachers, students, and families to join in and Read for the Record on Thursday, October 2, 2008. Each elementary school has received a copy of Corduroy by Don Freeman, donated by the Governor's Commission on Literacy and McDonald's.

    Book of the Month 2008 - Book Reviews

    September Book - Happy School Year

    Happy School Year

    Governor Huntsman, the First Lady, and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce Happy School Year, by Susan Milord, for their September Book of the Month. This delightful book follows several children as they wake up for the first day of school. Some children are excited, some feel jittery and nervous, some turn off the alarm and cover their sleepy eyes, and several just want to hide under the covers, all because the first day of school is fun, exciting, and sometimes scary.

    The story illustrates the school staff and teachers' love and concern for the students, knowing that there may be some feelings of excitement and concern at the beginning of the school year. Working together, they welcome all the students and parents into the school. They celebrate with balloons, cupcakes, and candles for the adventures in learning that lie ahead for the school year. They join together as a supportive community and make a wish for the best school year ever.

    The Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciates the wonderful school staff, teachers, students, parents, and community members who join together in a united effort each year to support student achievement in our schools. We also know that during the year, additional children will enter our schools and that these committed members will continue to welcome each new student into their classrooms and schools and make this the best school year ever.

    We appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic, Inc.

    June 2008 is Literacy Awareness Month

    Fathers read to your children. It is the best gift you could ever give. Reading and storytelling stimulate children's imaginations, enhance their vocabulary, introduce them to characters, action, and sequence, and help them learn about the world around them.

    A child's potential for success in school starts long before he or she walks into a classroom. An easy activity you can do with children of all ages - which is consistently linked with better school performance - is reading. The amount of time fathers spend reading with their children is a very strong predictor of their cognitive abilities and verbal skills.

    The latest research indicates that children who have nurturing and actively involved fathers do better in school, have higher self-esteem, build better relationships with other children, and develop healthier ideas of how they should behave as adults.

    So fathers, don't underestimate the important contributions you make to your children's lives. Every family should have received my Summer Reading Calendar from their local school or library. This activity calendar will give your family some exciting ideas of how to keep reading throughout the summertime break. As children read throughout the summer, they retain their reading skills, and learn new and exciting things and are prepared to return to school in the fall, ready to learn. Read with your children every day for twenty minutes. Make it the most important part of your day.

    Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
    Governor

    Mary Kaye Huntsman
    First Lady

    May Book - Mom Says I Can

    Mom Says I Can

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the May Book of the Month, Mom Says I Can by Judy Cooley. Little Max is searching for the "World's Greatest Treasure." As Super Cool Max, he is off in his red wagon dressed as a pirate with a treasure map. Next, he pretends to be a cowboy with his horse Lightning, riding off to find the treasure.

    The pages are colorfully illustrated with Super Cool Max as a spaceman, king of the jungle, and a knight in shining armor. During his adventurous day, he hears encouraging words from his Mom. "Max you are so amazing," "Max you are very brave," "Max you are my hero," and his confidence grows. After an exciting and exhausting day of imaginary travels, Mom gives Max a big hug. That's when he discovers that the "World's Greatest Treasure" has been next to him all the time.

    This beautiful book reminds us to build our child's self-esteem with simple words, recognizing imagination, fun-filled days, and accomplishments throughout each day of our child's life. Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous book donation from Deseret Book, which will be sent to all of the elementary schools across the state.

    April Book - Fablehaven, Grip of the Shadow Plague

    Fablehaven, Grip of the Shadow Plague

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to introduce Fablehaven, Grip of the Shadow Plague, by Brandon Mull as the April Book of the Month. This captivating book continues the adventures of Kendra and Seth, ordinary children finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. While staying with their Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson, they discover someone or something has released a powerful plague that turns beings of light into creatures of darkness all across Fablehaven. Because of her unique powers, Kendra is recruited as a Knight of the Dawn, and must infiltrate the Sphinx and those loyal to him. The Sphinx has always given sound advice, but is he the traitor? Will Kendra find the next artifact before the Sphinx can get to it? Will Seth, with his extraordinary family members and friends, be able to protect their homes, or discover the cause of the plague, and stop it before all of Fablehaven is lost?

    Each installment of the Fablehaven series is more action packed and exciting than the last one. The Grip of the Shadow Plague has a fast-paced plot where adventure and intrigue run rampant. New and interesting characters appear. Dark secrets are revealed and mysteries are uncovered. Every turn of the page discloses a new twist in the plot. Fifth and sixth graders will enjoy reading this book.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Deseret Book. This book will be sent to every elementary school library.

    March Book - The 13th Reality, The Journal of Curious Letters

    The 13th Reality, The Journal of Curious Letters

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce The 13th Reality, The Journal of Curious Letters, by James Dashner, as the Book of the Month. This book is best suited to fourth-ninth grade readers and parents will also enjoy reading this exciting book with their children.

    The story introduces Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, a fairly average thirteen-year-old boy, who is bullied by classmates for being a bit different. He is very smart and knows that somehow, someway, he will make a difference in the world. When he receives a mysterious letter in the mail postmarked from Alaska with the initials "M.G.", he can't quite figure it out. His dad does have an old aunt living there somewhere, but Tick is sure she would never write to him.

    He is shocked to find himself invited to join a cause to thwart plans of evil-doers that could be dangerous. If Tick keeps the letter and doesn't destroy it within a week, he will begin receiving significant riddles. If he is able to solve them by a certain day, at a certain time, and in a certain place, something extraordinary will happen. He can choose to destroy the letter and not take part in any of the things that may happen; but, instead, he seizes the opportunity and is surprised when several other "chosen" teenagers from foreign parts of the world contact him and join in this remarkable adventure.

    Will they be able to solve the riddles in time? Each time there is a choice, there is also a consequence, and a new alternate reality is created. Tick and his new-found friends use science to explain and solve the twelve important riddles. This book is filled with imagination and excitement and it will be difficult for you to put down.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Deseret Book, which will be sent to elementary school libraries across the state.

    February Book - Pancakes for Supper

    Pancakes for Supper

    The February Book of the Month is Pancakes for Supper, written by Anne Isaacs and illustrated by Mark Teague. Toby is a young pioneer girl riding in the back of her parents' wagon in the chilly New England Mountains. Suddenly, they hit a bump that sends Toby flying high into the air. She lands safely in a mound of snow, but in trying to get back to the snow-covered road, she encounters several forest animals that would like to create trouble for her. To escape each animal, she offers them an article of her colorful winter clothing; her hat, mittens, coat, and scarf.

    Does her trick work? Will she escape the forest alive? Read this book to find out!

    Readers will find each animal's reaction hilarious and ridiculous in this fun, fantasy book. This is a retelling of an old folktale which was previously written by Helen Bannerman. In Bannerman's tale, her tigers melt into liquid butter. But in Isaac's version, the animals' melted forms are absorbed by a maple tree. And thanks to an exuberant woodpecker, the maple tree then produces the sweetest tasting maple syrup ever. Toby and her family have quite a feast and continue their journey westward with big smiles and full stomachs.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc. which will be sent to the elementary schools.

    January Book - Susan Laughs

    Susan Laughs

    January's Book of the Month is Susan Laughs, written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross. Susan is a happy little girl who loves to laugh and sing, to ride and swing. Sometimes she is sad and even angry. Usually she is very good, but sometimes she is naughty just as all children can be.

    But as you read through this colorful book, you will discover that Susan, even though she has fun just like other children, also has something else that makes her just a bit different from some children. You will read about and see a happy little girl whose physical challenges are never seen as a handicap.

    The Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciates this generous donation from the Disability Center and Overstock.com, which will be sent to elementary schools.

    Book of the Month 2007 - Book Reviews

    December Book - You Can Do It, Sam

    You Can Do It, Sam

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest, as December's Book of the Month. This delightful story is about a young bear named Sam who works with his mother to mix, bake, wrap and then deliver special treats to his friends on Plum Street. His mother's loving phrase, "You can do it Sam," encourages him every step of the way.

    The text is poetic and repetitive, so young readers will enjoy listening to it. The story emphasizes the positive qualities of thinking of and serving others. This is a wonderful holiday story that your children will ask you to read over and over.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from McDonald's. The book will be sent to elementary schools across the state.

    November Book - The Candy Shop War

    The Candy Shop War

    The November Book of the Month is The Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull. In his latest delightful book, Brandon Mull has created a mysterious new world within the small town of Colson, where Nate has just moved. He meets the other kids in the neighborhood but isn't happy about starting a new school. Several bullies pick on him right from the start and his new friends Trevor, Summer, and Pigeon help get him out of some tough spots.

    The adventures in this book are every child's fantasy. If you read this as a family, you will be drawn into the four friends' exciting after-school adventures. As you read ask questions, such as, "What might happen next?" "What would you do if this happened to you?" The author has written an exciting story everyone will enjoy.

    The likeable characters are creative, and the plot's twists and turns are extraordinary. Together the friends solve the mystery of a legendary, hidden treasure-one that could be used for evil if it fell into the wrong hands. Readers of all ages will enjoy this magical book.

    First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Deseret Book. The Candy Shop War will be sent to every elementary school library in Utah.

    October book - Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want

    Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy are pleased to announce the October Book of the Month, Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want, by Obert Skye.

    This third book from the Leven Thumps series continues the adventures of Leven, once an ordinary fourteen-year-old boy from Oklahoma, who was retrieved from Reality and sent to Foo-the place between the possible and the impossible, a realm inside the minds of each of us that allows mankind the power to hope and imagine and to dream.

    Leven is humanity's only hope to race across Foo to stop the whispered secret before the deadly truth is revealed. He must travel to the mysterious island of Lith to find the Want, the dream-master who can give Leven the gifts he needs against a fierce army of rants and other Foo beings.

    If you have the courage and are willing, you are invited to join the adventures in Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want. Travel with Leven to Sycophant Run, survive the waters of the Lime Sea, and discover a new gateway to Foo.

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation for the Book of the Month, by Deseret Book, which will be sent to elementary schools across the state.

    September book - The Night Eater

    The Night Eater

    Our September Book of the Month is The Night Eater, Arthur A. Levine Books, illustrated by Ana Juan. This eye-catching book is about a plump little character who wears a long stocking cap, footie pajamas that match his bubble-gum-pink skin, and a tied-on pointed red paper nose. The delightful pictures illustrate his travels around the world as he devours the nighttime so the sun will rise each day. He eats the soft cloudy nights that taste like cotton candy and the dark black nights that taste like bitter chocolate.

    One day the moon jokes with the Night Eater that he has eaten so much nighttime he is bursting the buttons on his pink long johns. Embarrassed, the Night Eater wonders what may happen if he stops eating away at the nighttime hours. Read The Night Eater to find out what happens next. This is a delightful bedtime story for parents to read to their children as they tuck their little ones in at night.

    First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate this generous donation from Scholastic Inc.

    April book - How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

    How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

    Familiar bedtime antics provide the story-line for this delightful good-night picture book. Perfect for sharing and reading aloud, this is one nighttime adventure your young children will want to read again and again. This book is a humorous springboard for colorful bedtime conversations, highlighting the unique roles of parents and children. Who do you think models the role of the dinosaur?

    Perhaps How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? will lead to a discussion about Utah's rich dinosaur history and maybe even a summer visit to places dinosaurs once lived. Many of our state's museums and libraries have wonderful displays and fascinating information about these pre-historic creatures. This book is especially recommended for dinosaur enthusiasts. Inside the cover are creative illustrations of well-known dinosaurs. Your little one can practice lessons in phonemic awareness as he or she names the pictured creatures.

    First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy appreciate Scholastic Inc.'s generosity in providing a copy of this charming book for each elementary school library in our state.

    March book - Sneezles and Wheezles

    Sneezles and Wheezles

    "Ignoring a sneezing fit isn't always easy, especially after you've sneezed your folks out of sight!" What begins as a simple sniffle soon turns into sneezes of monstrous breezes.

    Written by Marion Passey and illustrated by Jerry Harston, Sneezles and Wheezles will appeal to children of all ages - and allergies - with its delightful rhyming and wonderful illustrations. Come along for the ride and prepare to laugh yourself silly.

    Tips for parents:
    Sing, recite poems and use fun, creative rhyming words as you speak with your child. You are helping to "wire" your child's brain so his or her vocabulary and listening skills increase. As your child's first teacher, you are helping him or her to learn every day by "Reading Each Day for Twenty Minutes."

    February book - The King's Highway

    Kings Highway book cover

    The best children's books are the ones that combine a well-told story and a meaningful message with wonderfully memorable illustrations. The King's Highway, a classic folktale retold and illustrated by Howard Fullmer, really fills the bill. Mrs. Huntsman recommends this title as an engaging classroom read or a great book for children to explore on their own.

    The King's Highway is the timeless fable of a ruler in need of a successor. The king announces that whoever best travels his highway to the castle will be crowned the new king. But a pile of rubble on the king's highway is blocking passage. Watching the splendid parade of wealthy travelers, a shepherd boy named Michael decides to help and clear a path big enough for all the travelers to pass. In so doing, he unexpectedly uncovers a precious object.

    "I am sorry it is so late, Your Highness," whispered Michael, his voice trembling. "I found this while traveling. No one was left to return it so I have come." Then carefully unwrapping his bundle, he revealed the king's ring for all to see.

    Taking the ring in his hand, the wise king looked first at it, then at Michael. "That ring is not mine," he said.

    "But it must be yours, Your Majesty," said the boy. "It bears your crest."

    "Yes, it does bear the crest of royalty," said the king. "But the ring now belongs to you. I proclaimed that he who best traveled the highway would become the new king. By clearing the road so that all could travel, you showed that it is not fine clothing, fancy horses, or even great wealth that make a king. It is by serving others that one becomes great."

    Readers of all ages will enjoy this satisfying tale of hard work and selfless service rewarded.

    January book - Fablehaven

    Fablehaven book cover

    What could be more fun on a cold January day than to curl up with a blanket and a wonderful book? This month, Mrs. Huntsman recommends Fablehaven, a book that is equally delightful to read alone or aloud with the whole family.

    Fablehaven is a story of fanciful characters with an enduring and important message. For centuries, mystical creatures of all description have been gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a remarkable world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, the story is very intriguing.

    Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws provide relative order among not-so-nice trolls, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules are broken, unpredictability occurs, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

    Young readers will be completely enthralled by the magical world of Fablehaven, while teachers and parents will enjoy the carefully crafted writing and enriching vocabulary employed by the author. Classroom and reading groups will especially appreciate a reading guide found at the end of the book.

    Book of the Month 2006 - Book Reviews

    November book - Christmas Jars

    Christmas Jars is a story filled with the spirit of giving that makes Christmastime such a wonderful season of the year. It makes a great read-aloud and would be a perfect kickoff for a family Christmas project!

    The story of Christmas Jars is both simple and touching. Every Christmas season, glass jars filled to the brim with money are being given anonymously to people in need. The most recent benefactor is newspaper reporter Hope Jenson. Her apartment has been robbed, but during the police investigation, Hope discovers a "Christmas Jar" sitting just inside her open apartment door. Hope's search for the nameless, good Samaritan leads her to an unusual family with a closely-held Christmas secret.

    Christmas Jars is a heartwarming story that will help children feel the sweet joy that comes when we serve others. Parents shouldn't be surprised if their children come to them wanting to start a "Christmas Jar" of their own!

    October book - Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret by Obert Skye

    Leven Thumps book cover

    Mrs. Huntsman is pleased to announce the October Book of the Month, Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret. The Leven Thumps series continues to teach children to have courage, think big, and be great. Teachers and librarians across the country are discovering that the magic of Foo is helping kids learn to love to read.

    Readers of Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret will go with Leven Thumps, Clover Ernest, and Winter Frore as they travel across Foo to free Geth from his existence as a toothpick and restore him, as the rightful heir, to the throne. It won't be easy. Foo is in chaos, and Leven must overcome several adversaries and survive the Swollen Forest to save his friends and keep hope alive. As fate would have it, bad goes to worse when Leven digs up a buried secret - one that stalks him, determined to whisper a truth that could be deadly in the wrong hands. Will Leven master control of his power, or will Foo crumble under a dark, new enemy?

    Mrs. Huntsman and the Governor's Commission on Literacy gratefully acknowledge Deseret Book for donating this wonderful book which will be sent to elementary school libraries for the enjoyment of children across the state.

    Obert Skye will be visiting Utah schools this October. Visit LevenThumps.com for his author tour schedule including dates for his visit to Utah.

    September book - The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

    Mrs. Huntsman introduced her first book of the school year by reading one of the most famous and popular books of all time, The Little Engine That Could, to children at Hogle Zoo on Thursday, August 24, by the train station.

    First Lady Laura Bush, Honorary Chair of "Read for the Record", encouraged parents, teachers, and other community members to read The Little Engine That Could to a child on this day as part of this national initiative.