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.