Tuesday, February 24, 2009


TEACHER TUESDAY'S TALES FOR TOTS by Professor Bingo will periodically feature reviews of children's books. As a veteran Reading teacher, these are books I have read and reviewed, and you may like for your children!
Here are this week's listings from "Professor" Bingo!

LUCKY BREAKS by Susan Patron

Author Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 John Newbery Medal for children’s literature and her story of THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, has written a sequel in what Ms. Patron says will be a trilogy eventually as she works on the third book in this charming series. Meanwhile, in this second book, LUCKY BREAKS, we find our main character Lucky, almost 11 years old, is looking for more adventure in Hard Pan, California, and for a new best girl friend. Lucky seems to have taken to her new mother from France, Brigitte, who has recently bought a nice, round barbeque grill to be able to fit in better with the California lifestyle for her café. Brigitte is still working to become a citizen. When a group of geologists enter Brigitte’s café, Lucky’s meets a new girl named Paloma who is with them, and who shows Lucky what it is like to have fun and to laugh. They become great friends and Lucky escapes from the boredom she had begun to feel as some exciting and almost dangerous experiences ensue. Lucky forgets that her good friend Lincoln, who is a knot-tying whiz, and Miles, the five-year-old genius. Even Short Sammy is still around making it even more important that one reads THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY first so the reader can have that background to build on.

Short Sammy digs a hole by his front door when a mysterious looking coffin kind of box is delivered while Miles invites the whole town to his sixth year birthday celebration. The story is filled with touching, dangerous, and humorous antics that also include a wild burro that keeps coming back to Brigitte’s Hard Pan Café, and the scary part when Lucky gets trapped in the bottom of an old abandoned well. While she waits to be rescued, Lucky’s mind is going a mile a minute and she tries to figure how all things can work and that even includes the universe. She spends her time “well” earned as she wonders how the Milky Way can be where the Earth is located when it is so far away. During this time, Lucky rids herself of some things that are precious to her while she chooses to learn some of the mysteries of the universe.

All these things and many more happen and help Lucky to learn to make room in her heart not just for one friend or person to love, but to make room for many people. Although Lucky can be a little pain and a brat at times, she can also be quite sweet. She even goes so far, unknowingly, to get herself and Paloma in trouble.

The story is one that will further endear you to Lucky and culminates in teaching a lesson to show that the strength of the family that is created rather than perhaps one we are born into is just as important!

Illustrations in black-and-white by Matt Phelan add to the creative flair and gentle feel of the entire story.

Submitted Originally to Amazon Vine by K.H. (Bingo)



Millicent Madding, a sixth grader at Winifred T. Langley Middle School, is not your normal sixth grader. She lives with her Aunt Millicent, who used to work as a human cannonball, and Uncle Phineas, who is an eccentric inventor. Millicent’s parents were literally lost when they entered a time machine they had invented and vanished seemingly never to return. However, as a smart student with many friends, Millicent is nominated to be class president because actually nobody else wants the job. As an inventor herself, Millicent feels she can do the job and in turn help to make her school a really good school. On top of this, it should be an easy win since she is the only one running!

Things seem simple and set until Pretty Liddy’s Junior Fashion Academy must move in with Winifred T. Langley temporarily and then enters Fiona Dimmet. Fiona is beautiful and popular, and a very fashionable model who decides SHE would like to be president even if she isn’t going to be at the school that long. She turns the election upside down as she promises to give makeovers to those who vote to her. The election turns into a fashion show battle rather than political war!

Suddenly, what appeared to be an easy win for Millicent has turned into a fashion fiasco and nightmare for her. Millicent really wants to win and decides she will probably have to revise her clothing campaign to do it. Although fashion is not Millicent’s strength, her imagination, inventiveness, and initiative just may pull this off. But Fiona will not give in easily and how the campaign and election results go make for a hilarious and terrific teen tale.

The story is entertaining and funny. Middle school age readers will enjoy reading about the Millicent/Fiona battle and how the friends come and go, loyal one minute, and fickle fashion minded the next.

Submitted by K. H. (Bingo) originally to Harper Collins Kids


Once again Leo Lionni wrote and illustrates a lovely book with a lesson for children to learn. FISH IS FISH is the story of a tadpole and minnow who are friends in the pond. As the tadpole begins to grow legs, the fish questions it and the tadpole says it is because he is a frog. And the fish doesn’t understand why he isn’t changing but the frog says it is because “fish is fish”! When the tadpole becomes a full-sized frog, he decides to leap up onto the bank and when he does, he is gone for a long while. The fish misses him and wonders where he went. The frog returns and tells the fish about all the wondrous things he has seen while hopping around in the great big world. He describes the birds with two feet and colorful wings, the cows with 4 legs, and even people. Poor fish is so excited to hear but just can’t imagine what all these things must really look like. When frog leaves again for a while, fish finally lets his curiosity get the best of him and he takes a giant leaps and lands on the bank. Suddenly, he realizes he can’t breathe if he isn’t in the water. He gasps but who should appear but his old friend the frog who pushes him back into the water and jumps in to make sure he is OK. The fish takes a minute to get water back through his gills so he can breathe and then he tells the fish what happened. At that point, he realizes that “fish is fish” and he needs to stay where he was meant to be.

Here again in the tradition of fables, Leo Lionni teaches a lesson while he tells an exciting story for children. He teaches them to be happy with what they have and who they are. His illustrations are bright and beautiful especially as the frog describes what he has seen and the fish imagines it in his head. This is a good story for this age group and even the small scare when the fish lands on the bank is not objectionable or scary. This is another book I would strongly recommend for ages 4-8.