Thursday, July 11, 2013

Iva Honeysuckle and Lulu at the Beach!

Two young girls head with their families and best friends to the beach! Sounds like solid transitional chapter book reading for what's left of this summer. I liked Lulu (of course) better than Iva Honeysuckle. I'm a huge, huge fan of McKay's Lulu series--and my review of the first is even quoted IN PRINT along with the other professional reviews in the front of the book I review below (I have an ARC of the third which I'll review soon, and it has my one line of fame in it, too). But Iva Honeysuckle is a worthy companion to Lulu, and these two books below offer great summer reads.

But onto the books!

Iva Honeysuckle Met Her Match
Candice Ransom, author
Heather Ross, illustrator
Disney-Hyperion, 2013

Iva Honeysuckle and her best friend and cousin, Heaven, head to the beach with their families for what Iva is sure will be a grand adventure. Rumors of a sea monster like the Loch Ness Monster ("Chessie" instead of "Nessie"), a mysterious stranger in the upstairs apartment, and a location called Stingray Point: all practically guarantees of adventure for young Iva. Iva's dreams are upset by the BFF status Heaven soon develops with a girl from the beach, Heaven finds a lucky penny instead of Iva, and Iva and Heaven can't seem to get along. Finally, at the end of the trip, Iva learns that blood is thicker than water--that family really IS important, even if you don't always get along.

A solid transitional chapter book (think: short chapter book sprinkled with illustrations) for 2nd-4th graders, this will be a fun read for those who, like Iva, struggle sometimes with their friendships and with life not always going as planned. I liked the extended family connection in this book partly because I have such vivid memories of beach trips with my own extended family when I was Iva's age. Check for this book in bookstores this summer.

Book in ARC form via netgalley; cover image from goodreads

Lulu and the Dog From the Sea
Hilary McKay, author
Priscilla Lamont, illustrator
Scholastic, 2011 

Lulu and her cousin Mellie are back in another adventure involving new animals. This time, Lulu's parents are taking the girls to the beach. Upon arrival to their somewhat less-fancy-than-expected beach house, Lulu and her family are warned by the cottage owner that there is a stray dog in the area who's been a menace. They even have to take the stinky outdoor trash can in at night (Lulu's parents test this suggestion only to have to pick up trash the next morning). Lulu's animal-loving soul, however, sees beyond the dog's presumed bad nature to the lonely, hungry dog underneath. She befriends the dog, and he, in his turn, does Lulu and Mellie a big favor at the end of the book. Will Lulu and Mellie rescue the dog like he rescues them?

The Lulu books are just what early/transitional chapter books should be: tightly written with just the right amount of words/pictures for newly independent readers. Great characterization, good plot resolution, and solid relationships make these books winners! Recommended for 1st through 4th grade. Look for these books at bookstores or in your local library.

Book from my local library; cover image from goodreads

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LiterariTea in the Days to Come

We've not posted much AT. ALL. here on LiterariTea since we began with Redeemed Reader, but that doesn't mean we haven't been reading and discussing behind the scenes.* This coming school year, we'll be back in action here on LiterariTea! As mentioned earlier, Megan and I both view Redeemed Reader as more of a professional commitment and LiterariTea as more of a hobby. If you've not checked out Redeemed Reader, we encourage you to do so--the site is far bigger in scope than this little blog, and we're enjoying partnering with Janie and Emily over there immensely. That being said, our hobby is reading kids' books and telling the world about our favorites, and sometimes we just want to throw out a quick review that's more casual than some of our material on RR.

So, what's our plan for LiterariTea? Since I (Betsy) had the privilege of reading 300 wonderful picture books this summer for my LAST graduate school course (for now :-) ), I plan to post those reviews throughout this coming school year. I'll continue posting other random reviews for chapter books and middle grades novels, but there will be mostly picture books--old and new. For our class, we're required to list curriculum connections, so if you're a teacher (at home or at a traditional school), then stop by. We'll be extra education-friendly this year.

I'll revamp our categories a touch and perhaps even the overall layout if it needs it to be more search- and user-friendly. And perhaps we'll finally post our "revised" book lists--which we revised almost a year ago and may need to revise again! In the meantime, I have a few early chapter book reviews for this summer for all those newly independent readers out there. Don't want them stagnating between now and the start of the school year.

*Finally, on a personal note, for whomever might be reading this, I wanted to comment on how much this little blog has meant to Megan and me and our relationship with each other. We have so much enjoyed discussing books together (which we do a LOT by phone--we're so old school), and we hope those who've followed LiterariTea along have enjoyed the outworkings of those conversations as much as we have! These discussions happen in the midst of our mothering (6 kids between the two of us so far), our home-making, our various other commitments (like grad school), and all the other events the Lord chooses to throw our way.