Monday, May 18, 2009

Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley

The theme for this picture book could very well be, don't let anyone discourage you. When Mouse tells Bear that four leaf clovers are lucky, he is determined to find one. Along the ways his friends give him plenty of reasons to give up. Bear and Mouse do triumph in the end, with a special twist. The simple drawings accompany perfectly the text. Most kids will delight in the ending again and again.

Little Chick by Amy Hest; illustrations by Anita Jeram

Little Chick is lucky to have such a wise, patient and loving aunt. Little Chick, like all young children, wants something, and wants it right now. Told in three stories, Little Chick is frustrated by his carrot not growing, impatient with his kite not flying and disappointed that he cannot put a star in his pocket. His Old Auntie comes each time with words of advice and time to spend. Jeram shows the chickens feelings and expressions by posing them just so. The chickens remain chickens, an extremely nice touch.

Bertie: Just Like Daddy by Marcus Pfister

Bertie the young hippo wants to do all the things his daddy does: drink coffee, shave, shop and cook. Daddy always tells him he can when he gets older. Daddy also finds clever ways to give Bertie a way to take part in all their activities (i.e. he can't cook yet but he can taste). A great father and son story. Children will see themselves as Bertie as the try to fit into the grown up world. Not sure why each spread has the same flowered background but it is not distracting.

No More Blanket for Lambkin by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams

Lambkin loves her blanket. It is small, soft, and rather dirty. When Ducky comes to play and suggests playing laundry day, Lambkin doesn't really want to let go of blanket. All goes relatively well. Blanket is clean, but not quite the same after the washing. Ducky makes blanket into a doll and all is well. A nice concept book. Not the first on the subject but a good addition. The illustrations are soft colors well suited for young listeners.

Bee and Me by Elle McGuinness

"Gallop" and "Swing" by Seder were clever uses of the new Animotion techniques. This book is using the same technology to tell an environmental story, just not very well. The storyline is dull, the rhyme is blah, and the Animotion does nothing to add to the story. Kids will enjoy the new technology, but the story will be lost to the wow factor.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Celestine, Drama Queen by Penny Ives

Celestine was hard to ignore, from the moment she was born she was destined to be a star. She only ate pink food and thought tiaras a necessary accoutrement for school. When her teacher announces there will be a school play, Celestine cannot wait to shine in front of everyone. But even the greatest divas of all get stage fright. So even though she forgets her only line, she thrills the audience with a jazzy dance. I hope to see more of Celestine. She is just like so many of the children we already know. She's a princess, she's a diva, she is a superstar.

No! by David McPhail

No is the only word in this nearly wordless book. Said three times, it follows a young boy as he sets off in the city to mail a letter. Along the way he sees multiple acts of war: bombs, tanks, soldiers. He eventually meets a bully leaning on the mailbox and the young boy tells him, no and no! On the way home he sees acts of peace and people rebuilding together. It might be a book about war, it might be a book about bullies but I think it is really a book about children standing up for what they think is right and wrong in the world.

Tsunami! by Dimiko Kajikawa; illustrated by Ed Young

Ojiisan is the oldest and wealthiest man in his village. He lives on the mountainside with views of the village below and the vast ocean beyond. On the day of the yearly rice festival, Ojiisan thinks something doesn't feel right so he stays at home with his grandson. An small earthquake hits but it is not enough to stop the festivities. Ojiisan knows something is about to happen. Soon the ocean receded and Ojiisan knows a tsunami will be coming. The only way to warn the villagers is to light his entire rice crop on fire. The villagers coming running to help put out the fire and all are saved. Ojiisan lost his entire wealth to save all 400 villagers. The story is well told and creates suspense. Ed Young's cut paper illustrations are, as always, exquisite. A great addition to folk and fairytale collections.

Always in Trouble by Corinne Demas; illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Toby is a very naughty dog. He digs in the garbage, he runs into the road, and he eats baked goods. Toby's family has had enough and Toby is sent to dog training school. Toby becomes the star of the class and responds to every command. But he is still naughty. He pees on the rug, he messes up the laundry and he digs in the garden. The family decides to send him back to school. A week later Toby is nearly perfect. He takes out the garbage, folds the laundry and bakes his own treats. I think the question I have and all the children reading the story will have is, what happened during the week Toby was away? The author doesn't tell us, and I think that's the real story here. Too bad it's missing.

Super Duck by Jez Alborough

It is hard to be Duck's friend. Nothing ever goes right and his friends always end up in the mud or in the mess. In this installment, Goat wants to fly his new kite with Sheep and Frog. And who comes along to save the day. Superduck. It all goes wrong as each time Duck tries to help the situation gets worse and worse. Frog ends up flying through the air and does end up saving his friend Frog. If you've followed Duck's other adventures, the exasperation from his friends will make sense.

Funny Farm by Mark Teague

Edward is a city dog who likes to visit his relatives on the farm. Edward is shown how to do the daily chores, and occasionally he likes to help. The story is scant, but as usual, Teague's illustrations are superb. A quick read that children will enjoy because of the detail given to the animals and antics on each page.

Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler; illustrated by Heather Maione

Princess Bess must change her clothes for every new activity throughout her day. She couldn't possibly wear the same gown for breakfast as she does for painting. And the pantaloons she wears while climbing a tree will just not do for the ball. But what Bess likes to wear best is her underwear and nothing else. So underneath all the laces and pearls, she is a regular kid after all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eleanor, Quiet No More: the Life of Eleanor Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Gary Kelly

A nearly impossible task to sum up the life of a true heroine in a picture book for children, but Rappaport has done a superb job. By using Roosevelt's own words alongside brief descriptions of her life, Rappaport guides the reader through her early childhood, education, marriage to FDR, teaching and political careers. There is certainly enough information for a student to use the book for a project, but more importantly, the books reads like a story. It is engaging and stands up to several readings. There is end matter that leads those interested to other sources for additional information. Another excellent picture book biography by Rappaport.

Seymour and Henry by Kim Lewis

Seymour and Henry are duck brothers who never want to stop playing. Mommy duck tells them it is time to go home, but Seymour and Henry are not done playing. Instead the run off to chase each other and play hide and seek. But when it starts raining they want their Mommy again and have to run home to find her. The difference with this book than so many others like it, is that the ducks are not scared when it starts to rain and mommy isn't around. Instead they simply retrace their steps back home. While hard to give cloth stuffed ducks facial expressions, the ducks' actions speak for their feelings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Dessen, S. (2009). Along for the Ride. Viking: New York. ISBN 978-0-670-01194-0

Another Sarah Dessen that delivers. Auden finds herself spending the summer with her recently divorced Dad whose new wife has just had a baby. Auden is prepared to dislike her annoying new step-mother and sister and spend the summer preparing for college in the fall; after all, if she's anything like her mother, she'll be the best at everything she does. But while Auden wants to show disdain for everyone around her, she begrudgingly starts to make friends and even meet a few boys. It's too bad the first two she meets are brothers: Jake, the player and Eli, the one who has suffered a secret loss. But it's Eli she's drawn to, and they soon realize they are both insomniacs and are spending evenings together drinking coffee and exploring the night. Good things don't last forever as somone is bound to screw up and it does. Can they overcome their past to make their love work? A fun novel perfect for summer reading. Ages 12 and up.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Cashore, Kristin. (2009). Fire. Dial Books: New York. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-8037-3461-6

Part human/part monster, Fire is the unusual beauty who has the power to control the minds of everyone around her. She lives in the Dells, but in King City the ruling King Nash is battling enemies from all fronts who want to overtake his throne. Because Fire is the last remaining human monster alive, her life is frequently in danger. For protection, she depends on Archer, her devoted lover and childhood friend. But as war beckons, they leave for King City in hopes of fighting to help the King retain his power. Treachery is everywhere, and Fire must choose who she should trust, not only with her life, but her love as well. Intricate plots, dazzling imagery, and fantastical characters make this companion novel to the popular Graceling a magical good vs. evil novel difficult to put down. Ages 14 and up.

Marcel in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Stork, Francisco. (2009). Marcelo in the Real World. Arthur A. Levine Books: New York. $17.99 ISBN 0-545-05474-5

Seventeen-year-old Marcelo hears music in his head—“internal music” or IM has he refers to it. This music is a result of his Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, which is the reason he is able to attend Paterson, a private school for kids with disabilities. Marcelo is comfortable there and is looking forward to spending the summer working in the school stables. However, Marcello’s father feels it is time for Marcelo to spend some time in the “real” world and makes a deal with him: If Marcello spends the summer working at his father's law firm, he will allow him to finish out his senior year at Paterson. At the firm, Marcello meets the beautiful Jasmine and Wendell, a son of another partner at the firm, who introduce him to real world feelings: jealousy, competition, anger, and desire. However while researching a case, Marcelo stumbles upon a photo of girl with a half a face that leads him into an investigation that will change his life forever. Poignant and thought-provoking, this book is for older readers 14 and older.

The Red Blazer Girls by Michael D. Bill

Beil, Michael. (2009). The Red Blazer Girls. Alfred A. Knopf: New York. ISBN 978-0-375-84814-8

Sophie, Margaret, and Rebecca are three seventh-grade girls who attend St. Veronica’s, an all-girl Catholic school on the Upper East of Manhatten. When our narrator, Sophie, spots a mysterious face in the window of the school church during English class, the girls decide to investigate. But instead of solving that mystery, they discover another that involves the loss of an ancient piece of jewelry: The Ring of Rocamadour. They must solve tricky riddles, puzzles, and math problems to reclaim the prize, but with danger and intrigue around every corner, the girls decide they need help. They find it in their childhood friend, the very cute Rafael and the new girl Leigh Ann, who might be just too pretty for her own good. Quirky characters, hilarious situations, and characters with a pitch perfect middle school voice make the Red Blazer Girls one you will want to share with a friend. The first of a series, this book is for ages ten and up.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love by Lauren Tarshis

Tarshis, L. (2009). Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love. Dial: New York. ISBN 978-0-80377-3321-3

Emma-Jean Lazarus is back. In a follow up to Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, this story finds Emma-Jean and her seventh-grade friends in the midst of spring fever and its aftereffects, most notably “love”. Normally pragmatic Emma-Jean can’t stop thinking about Will Keeler and wondering whether she should ask him to the Spring Fling—against the advice of her girlfriends. And what happens when Emma-Jean’s friend, the normally shy Colleen, finds a secret admirer note in her locker? Everyone seems to be acting out of character in this humorous account of girls, their crushes, and how friendship can often save the day. Grades 4 -8.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Silly Tilly by Eileen Spinelli; illustrated by David Slonim

Tilly really is a very silly goose. She bathes in apple juice, kisses fish, and tickles frogs. It seems that her silly ways have finally annoyed the barnyard creatures too much and together they all ask her to stop. Until the day they realize how boring the barnyard has become and reminisce on Tilly's silly ways. Together they apologize and Tilly is thankfully back to her old ways. Truly a delightful rhyming picture book. Kids will giggle at Tilly's goofiness and delight at the illustrations full of expression and fun. Bravo Eileen, another great accomplishment.

Good Night, Baby Ruby by Rohan Henry

Ruby's parents want her to go to bed but she keeps coming up with new ways to delay bedtime. The line drawings are simple but the faces lack expression. Kids will likely enjoy the varied ways Ruby stalls. While not destined to be the next Goodnight Moon, this will certainly finds its intended audience.

Two at the Zoo: a Counting Book by Danna Smith; illustrated by Valeria Petrone

A boy and his grandfather visit the zoo and count the animals from 1 to 10. Most of the animals have serene smiles, but a few variations give them personality and keep the it interesting. The grandson/grandfather relationship is nicely portrayed. A good addition to any counting collection.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson with photography by Ben Fink

Tillie and her six henhouse mates share three nesting boxes. The other chickens are content to lay their daily eggs in the nesting boxes and scratch in the yard for corn. Not Tillie. A true free range chicken, Tillie searches for better places to lay her eggs and along the way finds better meals than the same old corn. The other chickens peek in on each spread from the side. The detail in each photo make this a great I Spy book also. Children can figure out which chicken is spying on Tillie and find the chicken memorabilia on each page.

Monkey Monkey Monkey by Cathy MacLennan

Following up on "Chicky Chicky Chook Chook" is the story of a monkey swinging through the jungle searching for monkey-monkey-monkey nuts. Monkey has a similar rhythm to Chicky but doesn't quite read as well aloud. MacLennan plays with alliteration, assonance and rhyme. There is a lot of sound play going on in the story. A few readings would be necessary for the reader to figure out the rhythm and accents. Still, the monkey illustrations are delightful. Good for use in storytime to highlight Phonological Awareness.

The One and Only Marigold by Florence Parry Heide; illustrated by Jill McElmurry

A little bit Ramona Quimby, a little bit Olivia. Marigold is a spunky little monkey with her own way of doing things. Follow her in four short chapters as she shops with her mother for a new coat, develops a new hobby of bugging her best friend Maxine, creates a rival "lemonade" stand and creatively dresses for school. This is a fun new look at the always popular quirky girl protagonist genre.

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Can it get better than "Not a Box" and "Not a Stick"? Yes it can! On my list of favorite picture books of 2009 is this gem. Edna the penguin only knows three colors: white for snow and ice, black for night and blue for the sea. She decides there must be more and so she goes looking. Edna finds the color orange. Scientists have come to her cold home and they brought orange coats, orange tents and an orange plane. Edna runs and brings all the other penguins. Now her world contains four colors, could there possibly be any more? As Edna stands with an orange glove on her head, you can almost see your audience pointing at the small boat entering from the right and yelling, "green!"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

St. Crow, L. (2009). Strange Angels. Razorbill: New York. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-251-1

Dru Anderson is not your normal 16-year-old girl. She and her father travel around the country in the relentless hunt for ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and reanimated corpses. But this is a dangerous business and death comes calling, leaving Dru to battle the monsters by herself. Heroes come in unlikely forms as Dru happens upon Graves, a goth boy who lives in a mall who suffers a wulfen bite while protecting Dru from attack. Dru and Graves are attacked again, and this time they are saved by the handsome, blue-eyed Christopher who just happens to have razor-sharp fangs. Graves starts to show signs that he's turning into a wulfen, and Christopher seems to know more about Dru than he's letting on; who can Dru trust to get her out of this alive? Nonstop action, mysterious characters, and a little romance will make this series popular with teens. Ages 12 and up.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Lincoln Said by Sarah L. Thomsom; illustrated by James E. Ransome

A short, easy, picture book biography of Abraham Lincoln. Using his own words as inspiration for the text, the author shows Lincoln as a boy, a young lawyer and eventually President. The majority of the book covers Lincoln's own views of slavery, the outbreak of the civil war, and his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Picture books about historical events are always hard to present to our youngest readers because they haven't yet developed a sense of themselves in the larger world and in history. That said, this is a good and simple view of one of our most important historical figures.

Adventure Annie Goes to Work by Toni Buzzeo; illustrated by Amy Wummer

Every Saturday is Annie's adventure day. On this particular Saturday, there will not be any jungle adventure or mountaintop adventure. No, Mommy's important report is missing at work. Adventure Annie will have to don her cape and help her mother out at the office. Annie explores, creates a map, makes a mess and eventually find the important report. While it may not have been the author's intention to make this a single parent picture book, this is one of those hard to find picture books showing normal single parent households. A book that isn't strictly about a single mother and her child.

Faith by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon

A beautiful photographic depiction of faith throughout the world. With the photos, the authors show how our world's many faiths are really much more similar that they are different. All those of faith pray, sing, celebrate holidays, read holy books, etc. A summary of each element of faith is described in greater detail at the end and a glossary is provided. The simple text and photos are truly engaging.

Bella and Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Aileen Leijten

Bella is a studious poet, Bean is a whimsical, fashion conscious gardener. They are, however, bestest mice friends. The story takes place over a single day and evening. Bella only wants to write poems. Bean keeps bothering Bella with requests such as walks to the pond, and planting a snow bush. Bella is annoyed and eventually shuts Bean out completely. Bella realizes that her best friend is truly a part of her artistic process. In the end, the two friends come together to write a poem together. A nice illustration of the poetic/artistic process. A bit text heavy. Best for elementary aged children.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Fletcher the fox is enjoying his first days of spring when he thinks he sees snow falling to the ground in the orchard. He is concerned for his friends and starts by warning the birds and encouraging them to fly south again. The birds join him in warning Porcupine and then together they all warn Squirrel and so on. At the end, all the animals figure out it wasn't snow, but apple blossoms falling to the ground. If you read the title, you'd probably already have figured it out. Having already featured Fletcher in a book about autumn, it looks like Rawlinson will complete a whole year of seasons.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who is librarian love, please?

The Magician's Elephant

DiCamillo, Kate. The Magician's Elephant. Candlewick. Fall 2009.

So Kate DiCamillo. So wonderfully worded. So many characters. Boy is told that his sister is alive by a fortune teller. AND he will be led to her by an elephant. This is not set in an area where elephants are. Let's believe it will come true. And it does. Fast read. Kids will love it! Once again, so Kate!

Anytime, Anywhere: a Little Boy's Prayer by Marcus Hummon, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Francer

A picture book story of a boy saying his goodnight prayers to his father. All kids try to delay their bedtime and the child in this story does it by including anyone and any thing he can think of into his blessing. It turns into a thoughtful discussion between father and son about God and prayer in general. The text is lengthy, however. Regardless, this is a pleasant story that doesn't try to hit you too hard over the head (yes, I did feel it slightly in a few spots0.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Fiesta Dress by Caren McNelly McCormack, illustrated by Martha Aviles Junco

A good sibling rivalry picture book which also incorporates the quinceanera tradition. Lolo is usually the center of attention, but not on her sister's quinceanera day. She accidentally sets in motion a potential disaster by letting the dog out to play. Of course, she fixes everything and her older sister makes her a special part of the party. One thing confused me. I always thought it was one tamal, two tamales. This author uses the word tamale, which I've always been told isn't actually a word.

Tough Chicks by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber

"From the moment Mama Hen's eggs burst open, she knew she was dealing with some pretty tough chicks." And so begins this tale of three wonderfully non-conforming chicks. All the other barnyard animals think Penny, Polly and Molly need to be docile and peck and chirp like good little chickens. No, they would rather swing from the cow's tail, roll in mud and figure out the inner workings of a tractor. And as you can probably guess, the farmer gets into a big mess and it is the 3 wild chicks who must rescue the animals and fix the tractor. Obviously this is a book showing girls in non traditional roles, but it is not heavy handed. Older preschool and young elementary is the perfect audience.

Unexpected Treasures by Victoria Osteen, illustrated by Diane Palmisciano

I was sort of determined not to like this book from the start, and I was not disappointed. Yes, her husband has quite a way with words, but Victoria does not. I guess it's a story about pirates, or at least children pretending to be pirates. It tries to cram way too many messages about friendship and Christianity into a picture book. Yes, Victoria knows end rhyme but this rhyming book has no scansion whatsoever. The text doesn't bounce, it bumps and it is nearly impossible to read aloud. Dr. Suess she ain't. It will sell well, of that I can be sure.

Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by John Butler

A short, sweet story of a shy lamb who cannot be convinced to play, sing or explore by any of the animals in the field. No, this lamb only hides behind his mama. He is coaxed out by a shy mouse and together they play, near both their mamas. Not much meat to the story, but the illustrations in pastel colors are lovely. Good for those shy ones who you only see peeking around their own mamas.

Auntie Tiger by Laurence Yep, illustrated by insu Lee

A Little Red Riding Hood tale set in China. When their mother leaves the house, a tiger disguises himself as the aunt of the two little girls left at home. The older sister is wise to his tricks, but the younger sister lets him in, and, of course, gets eaten. Although the tiger has sharp teeth, the drawings are certainly not menacing. Lacking in rhythm, this will still be popular with young picture book listeners.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

North of Beautiful

Headley, Justina Chen. North of Beautiful. Little, Brown and Company: Books for Young Readers. 2009. ARC ISBN: 0-316-03317-0

Terra has tried everything possible to get rid of the large port wine birthmark on her cheek. She is perfect in every other way. North of Beautiful is a coming into your own kind of story. Terra’s father still angry over a botched map discovery makes his wife and daughter the scapegoats for his perceived failure. After a trip to China with an adopted Chinese boy and his mom, both Terra and her mom begin to peel away the layers of insulation so they might live as they have dreamed. Mom stands up to Dad by refusing to be bullied. Terra faces her fear of being shun because of the birthmark. There is a bit of romance, a parallel drawn between Terra and Jason’s “defects” and the family dynamics are believable. Not a page turner but a solid read for young adults.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skeleton Creek

Carman, Patrick. Skeleton Creek. Scholastic. ARC ISBN: 978-0-545-07566-4
Sarah and Ryan are best friends who are on an adventure—the thriller, scary kind. Ryan is a writer; Sarah likes to shoot video. They have questions after exploring the town’s sledge which has long been closed. Why is their small town called Skeleton Creek now? Does the tattoo on Ryan’s dad provide a clue to the phantom, ghost, person at the sledge? Does everyone know the truth except Ryan and Sarah? The reader of Skeleton Creek will want a computer close by! Turning a page in the book will lead one to grab the computer from whoever may be using it at the time because the reader will have to see Sarah’s video—right then! A password is given for each video on Sarah’s website so you can witness the same eeriness, anxiousness and hair-raising twist. Reader, beware—the end is another mystery!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

Hoberman, Mary Ann. Strawberry Hill. Little, Brown and Company: Books for Young Readers. ARC ISBN: 978-0-316-04324-3

When Allie’s father takes a job in another town, she is not looking forward to a new school and new friends. She likes her life just the way it is. Old-fashioned stereo-typical families and values are evident. She struggles with finding the true meaning of friendship on Strawberry Hill. Strawberry Hill is set during the Depression, written in the style of depression textbooks. The ideals and tone of the book depict an earlier era which today’s readers may not identify with. Strawberry Hill may be a biography of sorts of Hoberman’s childhood. As the Children’s Poet Laureate, Hoberman should stick to her beloved poetry and picture books.

Home on the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Song

Hopkinson, Deborah. Home on the Range: John A. Lomax and His Cowboy Song. Schindler, S.D., Illustrator. The Penguin Group: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN: 978-0-399-23996-0.

Home on the Range is a historical fiction account of a man who loved cowboys songs, decided to preserve them, and shared them with the world. The story tells Lomax's story through narrative, song and captivating illustrations that all capture the cowboy spirit and the essense of each setting. The story builds to a climax when Lomax records the famous cowboy song "Home on the Range" to share with the world. Reminesent of Snowflake Bentley and his story, Lomax shows how one man's passion can ignite intrege and passion in others. End notes discuss important points about fact, fiction and the research the author did. Read specifically for this blog because of the publication year, Home on the Range proved to be a delightful illustration of the importance of music to culture and the importance of individual contributions.

Listen to the Wind

Mortenson, G. and Roth, S. L. Listen to the Wind: The story of Dr. Gred and Three Cups of Tea. The Penguin Group: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3058-8.

In this beautifully illustrated and touchingly written book, Mortenson and Roth make the story of the New York Times Best Seller, Three Cups of Tea, accessible to young readers. Simply told and marvelously illustrated through collage, this book offers a picture of hope, of determination, and of how individuals can change our world for the better. A true account, this story gives perspective to readers and brings our ever shrinking world even closer in a highly relatable way. Notes about how individuals can make a difference and photographs of individuals impacting the children of Korphe leave the reader hopeful and inspired.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems

Is anything Mo Willems produces less than brilliant? Nope. In Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Wilbur, unlike any naked mole rat he know likes to wear clothes. Of course, everyone teases him. Until, Grand-pah, the most naked of naked mole rats makes a proclamation: it's okay to be dressed or naked. Huzzah! A great and clever addition to the "It's Okay to be Different" category.

Same Same by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter

An interesting, shall I say, essential addition to a collection of concept books. In simple and sharp cut paper illustrations the reader and child are introduced to classification. On each 2 page spread, 3 objects are shown. For example, on the first page we see an apple, the earth and a tamborine with the caption, "round things." The tamborine carries over to the next spread where we also see a guitar and a bird with the caption, "things that make music." The pattern continues. This book begs to be used for dialogic reading and expanding into a child's everyday world.

Hugging Hour! written and illustrated by Aileen Leijten

Drew, who would rather be called Drool is quite anxious that she has been orphaned at her grandmother's house. She's really only there for her first overnight. Drool has great fun with her grandmother who appears to be a baking genius and the house chicken named Kip. Grandmother makes every delicious thing a child could want and Kip allows himself to be dressed up. Drool is relieved when her parents show up at the end, and is already planning her next visit. The book is really about separation anxiety, however, the illustrations are much more delightful than the story. The story feels long, longer than its intended audience. Also, the title doesn't fit, there is only one hugging hour the whole story and it is never mentioned again.

Harry Hungry! Written and illustrated by Steven Salerno

Baby Harry is so hungry his mother can't find enough food to give him, he's eaten everything in the house. So Harry wanders outside and starts eating anything he finds: garden hoses, cars, houses and on and on till he hits the sky. Tired, Harry decides it is time for a nap, that is, until he wakes up hungry again. Kids will like the big Harry burp and guessing what things he could possibly eat next. Decent picture book with an entertaining story.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love, Aubrey

LaFleur, Suzanne. Love, Aubrey. Random House, June 2009. ISBN 978-0-385-73774-6. Ages 9-14.

Young Aubrey's world is shattered when she is abandoned by her mother after a tragic accident that kills her father and younger sister. Through a sweet friendship with her neighbor, Bridget, a guiding relationship with her school counselor, and stability with her grandmother, Aubrey learns to move forward through her pain and confusion. Aubrey's reflections on her feelings and her family members draw the reader into her life and the story. Thought-provoking and full of real emotion, Love, Aubrey will speak to the reader in a tender way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Henry Holt, May 2009. ISBN 978-0-8050-8841-0. Ages 9-13.

Calpurnia Tate is the only girl in a family of seven children living outside Lockhart, Texas in 1899. Against her mother's wishes that she become a proper, marriagiable young lady, twelve-year-old Calpurnia has ambitions to become a scientist and answer the many questions she poses in the notebook her oldest brother, Harry, gives to her.
Calpurnia finds a kindred spirit in her Granddaddy, who spends his retirement studying Central Texas wildlife and flora when he's not trying to distill pecans into some sort of drinkable whisky. Calpurnia learns about the Scientific Method, reads The Origin of Species, and becomes acquainted with Dickens under her grandfather's tutelage.
The book takes a little while to get going, with a serious lack of dialogue for several chapters. Soon, though, Calpurnia's character begins to blossom and it's easy enough for the reader to become engrossed in Calpurnia's life. The book is episodic, with the characters driving the book more than a strong plot. It's an easy book to come back to and enjoy in several sittings without losing pace with the action. I would have appreciated a little more development of Granddaddy and some of the other secondary characters, but overall I thought this was a nice debut novel.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson, Laurie Halse.Wintergirls. Viking. March 2009. ISBN 978-0-670-01110-0

Lia’s former best friend Cassie is found dead under suspicious circumstances in a cheap hotel room, and Lia can’t shake the guilt of knowing that Cassie tried to call her over thirty times the night she died. Anderson’s use of flashback brings Lia back to the beginnings of their friendship and subsequent fall into the desperate struggle of eating disorders and cutting. Lia battles to overcome her depression, but is she destined to suffer the same plight as Cassie? A haunting, disturbing story that will stay with you long after you’ve read its final page.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Den of Thieves

Golding, Julia. Den of Thieves. Roaring Brook, May 2009. ISBN 978-1-59643-444-8. Ages 10-14.

Third volume of the Cat Royal Adventure series. Mr. Sheridan has decided to close the Drury Lane theater, meaning that Cat is now homeless. After a harrowing spell of living on the streets of London and being taken hostage by an evil bookseller, Cat is "saved" by Sheridan and sent on a spy mission to Paris during the French Revolution. Familiar characters from the previous books play pivotal parts and add to the drama and intrigue, including Johnny, Pedro, Billy "Boil" Shepherd, and the Avon royal family. As usual, Cat uses her wits and luck to save the day while writing of her adventures in the style of the theater.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Rules

  1. All books must be published in 2009, CE.
  2. Young people aged 0 to 18 must be the target audience for all 2009x2010 books.
  3. Reader must read the entire book for it to count towards the 2009x2010 goal of 2,009 books.
  4. More than one reader can read and comment on a book, but each title only counts once towards the goal of 2,009 books read by January 2010.

The Setup

One snowy Denver night in late January, a group of childrens', young adult, and school librarians met for after-dinner drinks at the Hotel Monaco bar. Books were discussed. Reading was discussed. Bourbon was sipped. A challenge was issued:
Over 6,000 books for young people are published in the United States every year. It's probably not possible for one person to read all of them, but would it be possible for her to read 2,000?
The Group of Eight decided that, rather than attempt to read 2,000 books as individuals, we'd start with a readily achievable goal: 2,009 by 2010. We'd share our resources and, between the eight of us, would read 2,009 books published in the year 2009 before the announcement of the Youth Media Awards at the 2010 ALA Midwinter meeting.
To keep ourselves honest, we've started this blog, where we'll be listing our thoughts about what we're reading. We're also listing our titles over at Library Thing, so look for us there.