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Cam Jansen and the Chocolate Fudge Mystery

CAM Jansen: The Chocolate Fudge Mystery #14

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Bibliography

Adler, D. (1997). Cam Jansen and the chocolate fudge mystery. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., by arrangement with Viking Penguin.

Summary

Cam Jansen is no ordinary little girl. She has a photographic memory and a knack for solving mysteries. On this afternoon, Cam and her friend Eric are going door to door selling chocolate bars and rice cakes to raise money for a charity. Cam notices a suspiciously dressed woman and a yellow house that appears to be vacant. After further investigation, she sees evidence that someone is possibly hiding in the house.

Soon Cam, Eric, her dad and the neighbors to the yellow house see a suspicious man on the porch of the house. At first they think he may be a writer, but then after reading a crime bulletin in the newspaper, they think he may be a bank robber! They call the police and then notice the suspicious woman again and begin following her. The police and Cam chase her into a supermarket where she admits to being an accomplice to the robbery. The suspicious man is then arrested too. Eric and Cam are commended by the police and they are amazed by Cam’s photographic memory.

My Impression

This is an amazingly simple, yet entertaining mystery for young readers. I think there is series would only hold a child’s interest for a little while as they might quickly outgrow it. However, it does make a great introductory mystery book. It is safe and fun for all children.

Reviews

Cam (short for Camera) Jansen and her faithful companion, Eric Shelton, encounter yet another mystery as they try to raise funds for charity by selling fudge bars and rice cakes. (They never do explain the mystery of that unlikely combination.) This time Cam spots a woman behaving suspiciously in the vicinity of a supposedly vacant house. It requires only Cam’s photographic memory (which she activates by saying “Click” constantly), deductive reasoning, and a short surveillance for the duo to ascertain that a criminal is hiding out and to alert a grateful police force. Cam satisfies the childhood fantasy of being smarter than adults and dealing successfully with mystery and danger, and young readers seem to be able to tolerate the clicks and to suspend reality in order to marvel at her wonderful ways. Another fix for the beginning readers who demand mystery books. Category: Middle Readers. 1993, Viking, $11.99. Gr. 2-4.

O’Hara, S. (1993, October 15). [Review of the book Cam Jansen and the chocolate fudge mystery, by S. O’Hara]. Booklist 90(4).  Retrieved from www.booklistonline.com

Jennifer a.k.a. Cam (short for “The Camera”) Jansen is a detective with a photographic memory. Like a pit bull with a Porterhouse, Cam won’t let go of a mystery until she gnaws it to the bone and bares the truth. In this book, the fourteenth in the “Cam Jansen Adventure” series, our sleuth and her friend, Eric, (under the watchful eye of Mr. Jansen) sell fudge bars and rice cakes door-to-door to raise money for a local charity. En route, they spy a mysterious woman walking alongside a seemingly deserted yellow house. She hurries past them, deposits a bulging trash bag into someone else’s garbage, then disappears into the house across the street. Upon closer examination, they discover that other strange things are going on at the yellow house. With a click of her mental camera, Cam records them all. Her determination, fast thinking, and unique ability enable her to solve this mystery and help the police capture an elusive thief. 1999 (orig. 1993), Penguin/Puffin Books, $15.99 and $3.99. Ages 7 to 10.

Braaf, E. (1999, orig. 1993). [Review of the book Cam Jansen and the chocolate fudge mystery, by S. O’Hara]. Children’s Literature.  Retrieved from http://childrenslit.com/

Uses in the Library

I would introduce this book when introducing mystery books to the youngest patrons. It would be fun to explain what clues are and what a photographic memory is. Then play a short game where one student looks at the library class then turns around. Each student then changes something small about themselves; such as tucking in a shirt, removing a bracelet, or parting their hair on the other side. Have the first student turn around and see if they can spot any of the changes. This may spur their interest in reading mysteries and seeing how good of a detective they can be.

The Face on the Milk Carton

Image Source Page: http://www.paperbackswap.com/Face-Milk-Carton-Caroline-B-Cooney/book/0440220653/

Bibliography

Cooney, C. B. (1990). The face on the milk carton. New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

Summary

Janie is a typical suburban teen living in an upper middle class neighborhood. She has many friends and loving parents. She has enjoyed a happy childhood. One regular school day everything changes. She almost instantly recognizes the face on her friend’s milk carton. She remembers the dress the little girl is wearing. Janie keeps the carton and goes through numerous emotions as she tries to figure out what to do. Her boyfriend is supportive, but has his own issue on his mind too. She begins to see the clues all around her.

Eventually, she turns to her parents and they tell her about her childhood as they honestly believe it happened. They believe they are her grandparents. However, it still does not add up. In the end, with the encouragement of her mom(grandmother), Janie gets the courage to call the number she suspects to belong to her birth parents. We are left in suspense as to how the conversation goes and how this will change Janie’s life.

My Impression

I have never been a mystery book reader, but I did enjoy this book. It has richly developed characters and is suspenseful throughout. The relationships seem natural and Janie’s emotions are believable. Some of dialog and scenes reinforce this book’s place in the Young Adult section of the library. Due to the sexual content and the serious topic of kidnapping, I would recommend this book for high school students only.

Reviews

Gr 7-10 The message on the milk carton reads, “Have you seen this child?” Three-year-old Jennie Spring was kidnapped 12 years earlier, but Janie Johnson, looking at the photo, suddenly knows that she is that child. Fragments of memory and evidence accumulate, and when she demands to know about her early childhood years, her parents confess what they believe to be true, that she is really their grandchild, the child of their long-missing daughter who had joined a cult. Janie wants to accept this, but she cannot forget Jennie’s family and their loss. Finally, almost against her will, she seeks help and confides in her parents. Her mother insists that she call the Spring family, and the book ends as she calls them. Many young people fantasize about having been adopted or even kidnapped, but the decisions that Janie must face are painful and complex, and she experiences denial, anger, and guilt while sorting her way toward a solution. Janie’s boyfriend-sensible, funny, with problems of his own-is an excellent foil for her intensity. Their romance is natural and believable. Cooney again demonstrates an excellent ear for dialogue and a gift for portraying responsible middle-class teenagers trying to come to terms with very real concerns.

Castleton, T. (1990).  [Review of the book The face on the milk carton, by C. Cooney]. School Library Journal 36(2). Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

Uses in the Library

I think this book could possibly be controversial in a school library setting. I would not recommend it for everyone and therefore probably would never display it. I might work for a book club made up of the oldest students who enjoy mysteries. They could discuss how they would handle Janie’s situation. Also, could this situation even still occur in our current environment of technology aided information sharing?

             James and the Giant Peach

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Bibliography

Dahl, R. (1996). James and the giant peach. New York, NY: Puffin Books. (Original work published in 1961).

Summary

Poor little James has had to live with his evil and lazy Aunts for three years already when his great adventure begins. One day in the garden, an old man gives him magic green things. He is supposed to put the beans in a jug and drink them and then they will make it so that James can never be miserable again. James, however, slips and spill the things under the peach tree and a huge peach tree grows.

Later that evening James sees an opening in the peach and crawls in. He meets a cast of colorful characters including a grasshopper, a lady bug, a spider, a centipede and an earthworm. They are all large and can talk. The centipede nibbles the peach stem and they all roll away, squashing the evil aunts and then landing in the ocean. Luckily, they devise a way for seagulls to save them and they fly till they land in New York City. The peach lands on top of the Empire State Building. Once safely out of the peach and down from the building, they are all treated like heroes.

My Impression

After reading this book, I am amazed by Roald Dahl’s imagination yet again. This is a wonderful fantasy book for elementary age children. There is lots of action, a great adventure, and everyone lives happily ever after. This book could even be read to the youngest of children. It reminds me of the great older fairy tales of the past, except it may be a little less violent.

Reviews

This is a multi-book review. See also the title Disney’s James and the Giant Peach. Dahl: Kirkpatrick: If you haven’t heard the news by now, you soon will. Disney’s latest production is an animated version of James and the Giant Peach, with illustrations by Lane Smith. This, of course, offers new opportunities for movie-book tie-ins, the first of which was by Dahl’s daughter, Lucy, a “scrapbook” of the movie combined with mementos of her childhood . Now, with a text by screenwriter Kirkpatrick, Disney is offering a picture-book version of the movie that has condensed and changed the story, and in the process, flattened it considerably. The book may be all right for the preschool set who have seen the film and want to enjoy the full-color artwork again, but there is no substitute for the original. To that end, Knopf has reissued James with new pen-and-ink artwork by Smith. The art in both books is pure Smith, lots of geometric shapings and Stinky Cheese Man-style faces. Kids new to the story or fresh from the movie won’t mind a bit, but the contemporary artwork may cause a sigh among older readers who are fans of Nancy Burkert’s delicate and detailed illustrations. Libraries that buy these may want to hold onto their original copies as well. Category: For the Young. 1996, Knopf, $16 and $16.99. Gr. 3-5.

Cooper, I. (1996, May 1).  [Review of the book James and the giant peach, by R. Dahl]. Booklist 92(17). Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

This newly illustrated edition of an avowed children’s favorite has all the makings of a classic match-up: Milne had Shepard, Carroll had Tenniel, and now Dahl has Smith. Yes, there is a movie tied in to all of this, but more importantly, author and illustrator were made for each other, and it’s of little consequence that it took almost 35 years for them to meet. 1996, Knopf; Puffin/Penguin, $16.00 also available in paper; $4.99. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus. (1996).  [Review of the book James and the giant peach, by R. Dahl]. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/

Uses in the Library

After building a fantasy book display including this book. I give the children time to read one and then encourage them to create a poster of the book. The posters could resemble  “Now Playing” posters at the theater. Each child could make a poster for one of the books and I could hang them behind the books on the wall. This would encourage their artistic creativity, imagination, interest in fantasy books, and make an awesome looking display!

          Clementine

Clementine (Clementine, #1)

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Bibliography

Pennypacker, S. (2008). Clementine. New York, NY: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children.

Summary

 Clementine is having a rough week. It seems she really tries to do the right thing, but things just never work out the way she pictures them. Although she and Margaret do not always get along, she began cutting Margaret’s with the best of intentions. She also had good intentions when she colored Margaret’s head, cut off her own hair, and colored her head too.

This week Clementine has a couple of problems that are really upsetting her. She and Margaret have a small argument and Margaret sits by another girl on the bus. Then she overhears a conversation between her parents and thinks they plan to get rid of her because she is the difficult child in the family. A bright spot in the week was when she  solved her dad’s problem dubbed, “the great pigeon war. ”

Her parents love her and have tons of patience. They, of course were not planning to get rid of her, but rather were planning a party for her to thank her for helping solve her dad’s pigeon problem. She and Margaret made up in time so that Margaret came to the party. Best of all, she received a new kitten.

My Impression

Clementine is bright and funny and good at expressing her honest observations and opinions. I thoroughly enjoyed Clementine’s direct, first-person dialog and seeing the world through her eyes. I hope that there are not too many children out there who have visit the school principal this often! This book is flows quickly with lots of action. It really reminds me of the Junie B. Jones books. I think it would be fun for boys and girls in third, fourth, and maybe even fifth grade.

Reviews

Maybe it was because third-grader Clementine was a little bit angry with her best friend Margaret that things got out of hand with the scissors and the permanent markers and the hair. Or maybe she really was just trying to help. In short chapters, set in the city apartment building her father manages or the school where she has some tough days,Clementine relates the events of the trying week she discovered she was the difficult child in her family and thought she was about to be given away. Middle-grade readers will sympathize with Clementine’s conflicted feelings about her friend and her family, and laugh out loud at her impulsive antics, narrated in a fresh first-person voice and illustrated with plenty of humor. Just like her family they will cheer when she comes up with a way to end The Great Pigeon War as well as the temporary rift with her friend. Energetic and imaginative, Clementine is gifted with understanding and patient parents. Give this to readers of Cleary and Blume and cross your fingers for more. 2006, Hyperion, 144p, $14.99. Category: Fiction. Ages 7 to 10. Starred Review. © 2006 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

 Kirkus. (2006, July 15). [Review of the book Clementine, by S. Pennypacker]. Kirkus Reviews 74(14).  Retrieved from www.kirkusreviews.com

This humorous novel for young readers is reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby and Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones. The author has created a character who is lovable and very realistic. Clementine is in third grade and is a very unique and determined young girl filled with good intentions that don’t always work out the way she hopes. People are always telling her to “pay attention.” Several elements are key to the story – her relationship with her friend Margaret; missing her cat who dies before the story starts; her desire to help people, especially her dad with his pigeon problem; and worrying over the fact that she thinks her parents like her little brother better than they do her. This book makes a fine introduction to chapter books for upper primary grades; kids will relate to the funny situations. The pen and ink illustrations complement the storyline. They are especially good in showing what Clementine herself draws and thinks. This book would make a funny and fairly quick read-aloud too. I think it will become a favorite with your students. Recommended. 2006, Hyperion Books for Children/Disney Publishing Worldwide, 144pp., $14.99 hc. Ages 6 to 10.

Millwe-Widrick, M. (2007, February). [Review of the book Clementine, by S. Pennypacker]. Library Media Connection.  Retrieved from www.librarymediaconnection.com

Uses in the Library

I am hoping to start a “Book Character Day” during Children’s Book Week. It would fun if I could get all of the staff to dress up like a children’s book character. I would dress up as Clementine and begin reading this fun book.

            A Dog Called Kitty

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Bibliography

Wallace, B. (1992). A dog called kitty. New York, NY: Pocket Books. (Originally published in 1980).

Summary

Ricky has suffered being attacked by a dog as a young child and it left its mark psychologically. He remembers the pain of the shots and stitches and now as an older boy he is still afraid of dogs. However, when he finds a starving pup in the barn, he cannot stand to watch it suffer and begins to care for it. He initially does not plan to let it stick around permanently, but his parents are excited and the pup, which he calls Kitty. slowly wins over his heart. Ricky and Kitty have many exciting adventures. Ricky teaches Kitty to avoid traps set with raw meat and Kitty and Ricky fight off a pack of wild dogs and become town heroes. Just when everything seems to be going well, there is a tragic accident near the oil rigs and Kitty is instantly killed.

My Impression

This is a heart wrenching story for a young child. I remember that I read it in elementary an cried when the dog died. Since I did not really remember the story, but remembered that I had been moved by it, I decided to read it again. I have to admit that I did not cry this time and was not near as moved. This book is not for soft-hearted children, but it is a great realistic fiction book nonetheless.

Reviews

Gr 4-7  The relationship St. Louis born Ricky develops with an abandoned puppy on an Oklahoma farm has the power to triumph over his intense fears resulting from an attack by a rabid canine he experienced as a toddler. Ricky only acknowledges his love for the dog he names Kitty after his pet is accidentally killed at the site of an oil rig. Ricky’s telling of his childhood ordeal (a doctor administered 63 stitches without the benefit of anesthesia) is for strong stomachs, and the colloquial style features an occasional annoying sentence fragment. Nevertheless, the believable characterization of soft-spoken, unpretentious Ricky makes the book work.

Moose, L. D. (1981). [Review of the book A dog called Kitty, by Bill Wallace]. School Library Journal. 27 (6). Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

Uses in the Library

I often recommend books by Bill Wallace to chapter book readers who love animals. I would be careful with this book and only recommend it those who I think can handle the tragedies in the story line. I would showcase this book and many other of Bill Wallace’s books during a discussion about the definition of Realistic Fiction.

      

          The Relatives Came

The Relatives Came[Paperback]

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Bibliography

Rylant, C. (1993). The relatives came. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., by arrangement with Bradbury Press.

Summary

The Relatives Came is a humorous and heartwarming story of one family coming to visit another. A large family loaded up the car and drove all the way from Virginia to visit a smaller part of the family. There were lots of hugs and tears upon arrival. As they settled in together there was lots of laughter and visiting. Accommodations had to be made at supper time and at bedtime to make room for all of the extra people. Things felt different for everyone, but not in a bad way. The relatives stayed for weeks and fixed many of the broken things around the house. Everyone bonded and were sad when it was time to say goodbye. Things felt strange again when the relatives left. They missed each other and looked forward to visiting again next summer.

My Impression

Maybe it is because I have close relatives that live far away, but I found this book to be very endearing and emotional. I have already chose to read it to a class of second graders and it was very well received. The illustrations have so much going on that you should really stop and enjoy them before turning the page. I think this book makes people of all ages pause and appreciate their family.

Reviews

K-Gr3 The title of Rylant’s exuberant tale is an understatement, for when “those relatives” came, they came en masse and they came for an extended stay. Their anticipation at seeing kin during their long, long drive and finally hugging them”against their wrinkled Virginia clothes” set the tone for this welcome family reunion, a visit that never wears thin. The relatives are depicted as a support system to help a fatherless family with all the things that need to be done in and around their house. In down-to-earth language that harbors strong emotion, Rylant recounts the festive celebration of the relatives’ stay-and the ensuing sadness when they depart. The relatives in question are a large rural brood, depicted in Gammell’s joyous color pencil drawings, as running the gamut from porcine to scrawny, old to young and rowdy to silent. In pictures of this group hugging, eating and sleeping, the unspoken closeness of the unnamed relatives can be felt. These softly colored pictures, which capture the spirit of the brief text, are large enough for sharing in groups-a use of this warm book that seems particularly appropriate.

Gale, D., & Jones, T. E. (1985). [Review of the book The relatives came, by Cynthia Rylant]. School Library Journal 32(2). Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

Uses in the Library

This book would be a great centerpiece for a storytime to be done near the end of the school year. Many families travel during the summer to visit relatives. This book will remind children of how it is different when we are sharing our home with relatives, but it is still good. Cherished memories are made and close bonds with family are reinforced. For a craft project during the storytime, the children could use colored pencils and draw their own family gathering.

                                 A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes

Image Source Page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/474858.A_Bad_Case_of_Stripes

Bibliography

Shannon, D. (1998). A bad case of stripes. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press.

Summary

Camilla loves lima beans. Yet, she will not eat them because her friends do not like them and Camilla really wants to fit in. She also cannot decide what to wear to school and tried on numerous outfits. Suddenly, she becomes covered in stripes! The doctor tries an ointment and sends her back to school. Things get worse. She begins changing to any color that kids shout out like, “purple polka dots.” She is sent home, embarrassed, and then visited by many more doctors. Next, she begins changing shapes too and growing plant like appendages. She is dissolving into her walls when a sweet old lady arrives to help. The lady convinced Camilla to eat lima beans regardless of what anyone thinks. Camilla then miraculously gets better.

Camilla is a different person after this event. She no longer worries what other people think. She also eats all the lima beans she wants.

My Impression

This is a great story with a great message. I had noticed that this book was frequently checked out by teachers and now I understand why. Children can be so self-conscious and this is addressed in this book in a fun and colorful way. I would suggest this book for a large age group of children, from Pre-K all the way to fourth grade.

Reviews

Imagine it’s the first day of school and you are trying to decide what to wear. You find the perfect outfit, put it on, strut to the mirror, only to find you have STRIPES!! That’s just what happened to poor Camilla in David Shannon’s richly illustrated book Stripes . The doctor sees no reason for Camilla not to go to school, since she is not contagious. The children are utterly amazed and her principal calls her a distraction! Will Camilla have stripes forever? You’ll have to read to find out! Enjoy! Category: Adventure; Humor. Grade Level: Primary (K-3rd grade); Intermediate (4th-6th grade). 1998, Blue Sky Press. Ages 5 to 12.

Annie. (n.d.) [Review of the book A bad case of stripes, by D. Shannon]. Book Hive. Retrieved from www.bookhive.org

Camilla, who loves lima beans but won’t eat them because it’s not cool, finds that deferring to others isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, her desire to please and be popular causes her some spectacular problems: she suddenly breaks out in stripes, then stars, then turns “purple polka-dotty” at the behest of a delighted classmate. Her weird mutations, which stymie doctors and send the media into a frenzy, become more and more extreme until she finally blends into the walls of her room–her lips the red-blanketed mattress on her bed, her eyes the paintings on the wall. Will she never be herself again? Shannon’s over-the-top art is sensational, an ingenious combination of the concrete and the fantastic that delivers more than enough punch to make up for the somewhat heavy hand behind the story, and as usual, his wonderfully stereotypic characters are unforgettable. The pictures are probably enough to attract young browsers (Camilla in brilliant stripped glory graces the jacket), and the book’s irony and wealth of detail may even interest readers in higher grades. Try this for leading into a discussion on being different. Category: For the Young. 1998, Scholastic/Blue Sky, $15.95. Ages 6-8.

Zvirin, S. (1998, January 1 & 15). [Review of the book A bad case of stripes, by D. Shannon]. Booklist 94(9-10). Retrieved from www.booklistonline.com

Uses in the Library

The colorful and expressive illustrations in this book make it a wonderful read aloud story. I would include this book in a story time centered around being yourself and include other books that address independent thinking in the story time. I would discuss how we are all different. We dress different, we may talk different, and we may even like to check out different books at the library and that is perfectly normal.

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