11 Experiments That Failed

11 Experiments That Failed is a perfect book for anyone who enjoyed Jenny Offill’s 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore. The book itself is absolutely hilarious, and Nancy Carpenter’s illustrations are complex and still manage to depict exactly what’s going on.

Furthermore, this may be just the introduction to the scientific method that teachers have always wanted. I foresee this book encouraging lots of kids to try their own experiments. Hopefully, their results will be better than those in this book!

Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel

Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything.  It’s not absolutely essential that you read the first book before this one, but it would definitely help.  Also, the first book is made of awesome, so you need to read it anyway.

If there is a perfect summer read for kids who just finished the fifth grade, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley, might just be it.  As a matter of fact, this is an excellent summer read for kids of all ages, especially those of us who have ever been to summer camp!  Everything that made Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything a great read also holds true for this sequel.  Cheesie’s voice is delightful and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I know my students will love this book as much as they are currently eating up the first one (which is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award).

In Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, readers follow Cheesie, his best friend Georgie, and a whole cast of characters to Camp Windward (for boys) and Camp Leeward (for girls) in Maine. (Events in this book pick up right where they left off in the first book.  It’s the summer after fifth grade graduation.)  Cheesie is sure that this will be the best summer ever because he and Georgie will be the oldest of the Little Guys at camp. Unfortunately, thanks to events that occurred in the first book, things don’t quite work out the way Cheesie had hoped. Now, Cheesie and Georgie are the youngest in the Big Guys group at camp. (Not a big deal if you’re already kind of big like Georgie, but it’s bad news if you’re already a little guy like Cheesie.)  This presents a whole new set of problems, and the biggest one is probably Kevin Welch, his sister Goon’s boyfriend.

Camp Windward is not off to a stellar start, but Cheesie comes up with a way that might help him to make the best of things.  He challenges Kevin to a Cool Duel.  Whoever is voted the coolest in their cabin at the end of a week is the coolest guy at camp!  Kevin gets out to an early lead, but Cheesie isn’t a quick-witted kid for nothing.  He comes up with a couple of things that are sure to earn him some votes.  But will he get enough votes to win the Cool Duel?  You should definitely read this book to find out!

Even though the Cool Duel is a big part of this book (hence the title), there’s also a lot of other stuff going on:  a dance with the girls from Camp Leeward, sneaking into the computer lab, snakes, a talent show, and the most epic scary story in the known universe.  Cheesie also introduces readers to exciting new words (only a few of which are made up) and questions to ponder.  Cheesie’s website, http://cheesiemack.com/, also plays a big part in this book.  This wonderful site makes this book, like its predecessor, truly interactive.

All in all, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the perfect follow-up to the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Cheesie gets up to next!

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything

I few minutes ago, I finished reading yet another nominated title for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  The book is Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley.  I could tell just by the title that the book would be humorous, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how funny it actually was, and, even though the book is geared toward students in upper elementary school, there’s definitely a lot in this book that older readers—including lots of adults—will find enjoyable.  This book is laugh-out-loud funny and will be an easy sell in most libraries.

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything basically takes place during the span of just a few days—all of them revolving around Cheesie’s fifth grade graduation.  (Cheesie’s real name is Ronald, by the way.)  This book is Cheesie’s account of everything that happened in this short—but action-packed—span of time.  He recounts events that involve mice, BLART sandwiches (which I may just have to make for myself), old pennies, haunted houses, his best friend Georgie, and his horrible sister Goon (June to everyone else).  Peppered throughout the book are interesting facts, words, and side notes that may or may not have anything to do with the story.  Cheesie is a character that a lot of kids will relate to, and they may just learn a little along the way.

This book is a great one for any reader who, well, just likes knowing stuff.  (I am one of those readers.)  Cheesie researches things he doesn’t know a lot about, and he shares what he finds with the reader.  Cheesie is very interested in words and their meanings, and he even makes up his own words.  (This might be a great book for educators to use when teaching lessons on voice, word choice, and using vibrant language.)  There’s even a website that goes with this book, http://cheesiemack.com, that students will enjoy visiting while reading.  (I visited the site myself, and it’s pretty cool.  I may even use it as a selling point when I booktalk this with my students.)

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything is, in my opinion, perfect for readers who enjoy books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dan Gutman’s My Weird School Daze series, Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary series, or Rachel Vail’s Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters.  I, for one, plan to push this book to any and all of my students who are looking for something funny to read.

The Christmas Genie

When a genie crash-lands in the middle of a 5th grade classroom on the day before Christmas break, the students are given one wish. One wish for the whole class (and none of that pesky wishing for more wishes). How do they decide what to wish for? And can they make a decision before the genie’s 2:30 deadline?

Each kid has some idea of what to wish for, but they also have to consider the possible consequences. What if a wish isn’t really as great as it seems? Always remember…be careful what you wish for!

This book was super awesome! I loved reading the arguments for or against each wish. It really made me think, especially when considering what I would wish for.

I highly recommend this book and would like to remind readers that this book is nominated for the 2011-12 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

I really enjoyed this book, especially the parts with the librarians. I always knew that librarians were awesome (I am one, after all), but I never realized that librarians were the “most elite, best trained secret force in the United States of America. Probably the world.” Cool.

This first offering in the Brixton Brothers series is great for kids who love mysteries with a bit of humor. Steve Brixton falls prey to every private detective stereotype there is, but he still manages to solve a couple of cases, mainly by bumbling his way through. Steve is a likable character that many kids will relate to, primarily because they’re used to adults not listening to them and they often wonder if there’s more to their teachers–and librarians–than they realize.

I’m glad this book is a nominee for this year’s South Carolina Children’s Book Award. Otherwise, I may not have picked it up.

Two more Brixton Brothers books are already available:  #2, The Ghostwriter Secret; and #3, It Happened on a Train.  For more information on these books and author Mac Barnett, visit http://www.macbarnett.com/.