Thursday, May 16, 2013
Hans was an orphan that washed ashore as an infant and was adopted by Knobbe the Bent, who is a grave robber. When Knobbe banishes Hans because he is unable to carry out grave robbing on his own, he meets up with Angela. She has managed to escape Archduke Arnulf's castle, but wants to go back to rescue her parents, who are still the Archduke's prisoners.
This leads to a series of adventures that includes highway robbers, a pack of wolves, a group of monks who are not as they appear and a circus family with a troupe of trained bears. Archduke Arnulf is a truly evil antagonist, who had his own brother and infant nephew killed several years ago, allowing him to seize control of the Archduchy of Waldland. Ah, but was he truly successful in having his brother and nephew killed? The Archduke is assisted by the evil incarnate, Necromancer, and his unholy posse of Weevils. Additionally, he has an army to do his bidding and his subjects are too afraid of him to revolt. Can Angela and Hans overcome such insurmountable odds and rescue Angela's parents from the dungeon, and also return the rightful Archduke to the throne?
This is a fun read and even though the elements of evil and the underworld are present, there is comic undertone to the book. Despite this light undertone, there is suspense as Hans and Angela go from one nail bitingly close call to the next. The male and female protagonists make it equally appealing to girls and boys.
Renee Rauch 2012
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
This book warns readers from the start that true fairy tales are "strange, bloody, and horrible," not like the drivel children hear nowadays, and that readers are about to hear many terrible things. Not unlike the warnings in A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is certain to pique the interest of most kids reading it. And in a style similar to the Lemony Snicket books, In a Glass Grimmly does indeed present some horrid deeds, but in such an entertaining and light-hearted style that kids are much more likely to laugh than to be frightened.
The book tells of the exploits of cousins Jack and Jill, accompanied by their friend Frog the frog, as they search for The Seeing Glass. As they go on their travels, many of their adventures are based on some sort of fairy or folk tale, although they are often very different than the original story. But whether they're killing giants or outwitting goblins, Jack and Jill always triumph through the use of their wits and their daring.
This is a very entertaining and enjoyable book, and it's great fun to see old fairy tales being re-imagined in such creative ways. There are a few mentions of horrible deaths and mutilations, but in true fairy-tale style, they come to those who have earned such a fate. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun book with lots of imagination and adventure. 2012
Saturday, May 11, 2013
New neighbors, the Crofts, move in next door to the only house in sight of Zoe's house. Mrs. Croft is a nervous woman who seems to like order and be afraid of her own shadow. Her nephew, Philip, is staying with her and her husband while his own parents "solve a problem." Philip won't speak but is instantly drawn to the dogs, especially Kodi and the newest rescue dog, Jack.
In the big climax to the story, Philip disappears during a storm and it is Jack, the dog, who leads him to shelter. This all leads to a happy ending for both the dogs and Philip, who experiences a breakthrough. This well-written book is a great story for those new to chapter books, reluctant readers and animal lovers. 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
Wilma Sue has never had a home to call her own. Orphaned since birth, she has been passed from one foster home to another, briefly spending time at Miss Daylily's Home for Children, or as she puts it, Miss Daylily's Home for Unwanted and Misunderstood Children. When she learns that two missionary sisters are interested in having her come live with them, she does not know what to expect. At first she assumes they simply want her there to act as kitchen help and to take care of their collection of feisty chickens. Then she discovers that the sisters concoct mysterious cakes in their kitchen which appear to have magical powers. Each cake seems tailored to the recipients specific needs and is capable of helping each person overcome whatever is ailing them at the moment. There is the opera singer suffering from stage fright, the elderly woman grieving the loss of her daughter and an elderly man riddled with arthritis, all of whom seem to feel instantly better after the first bite of his/her magical cake.
As Wilma Sue assists the sisters in creating their concoctions, she begins to feel as if she has a permanent home, at last. But trouble ensues when Wilma Sue takes it upon herself to create a cake of her own, and ends up in a misunderstanding that causes her to be accused of burning down the sisters' beloved chicken coop.Will Wilma Sue be able to clear her name? Will she ever find out the secret of the sisters' magical cakes? And most importantly will she finally end up in a loving home? Some of the questions are answered as Wilma Sue learns that things are not always what they seem and sometimes you have to trust in people in even if you've been disappointed in the past.
This is a very endearing story with charming illustrations throughout the chapters. Some questions never get answered and that might prove frustrating to the reader. Also, since the sisters are missionaries, Bible quotes are interspersed throughout the story and there seems to be a underlying Christian message , which might put off readers not expecting there to be a religious tone to the story. Overall, it is an enjoyable and interesting read.
P. Sassoon, 2013
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The saga continues with repulsive milk, lumpy oatmeal and slimy eggs. James's dad offers creative solutions and alternatives in every case. This is a funny book, written in short chapters that can stand alone as separate stories or read together as one. It would be a fun book for new readers to share with their parents, although if they are picky eaters, they may not appreciate the creative insights their parents may gain from James's dad. 2011
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
This beautifully illustrated book is very simple -- it counts from one to ten, using illustrations of different primates. But the illustrations themselves are not simple at all; they are lovely and incredibly detailed, and each animal clearly has its own personality. I think children will enjoy studying each picture and talking about each animal and what he might be thinking.
Then at the end of the book, the author points out that all the animals in the book are primates, and are part of one big family, our family. It ends with another sweet illustration of all sorts of people. This is a book to linger over with your favorite little primate! 2013
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Naomi and Lizzie are both orphans and live in an obscure little Southern town called Blackbird Tree, which has a full cast of unusual characters, including Witch Wiggins, one-armed Mr. Farley, the Dimmens clan up on the mountain, Crazy Cora and Mr. Canner. One day a boy named Finn literally drops into their lives and so begins a chain of events that change both their lives.
In the meantime, a separate plot line involves an old lady on a grand estate in Ireland who is hatching a plan and sending a spy to gather information on the people in Blackbird Tree. Her heart being broken many years ago and an estrangement with her sister were both caused by another boy named Finn.
This book is well written and creates an air of mystery as the two storylines unfold, eventually joining up to create a satisfying, if slightly too good to be true, ending. 2012
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Jake and Billy are kindred souls, according to Jake's mom. Jake loves Billy's stories and his way with animals. Every day when Jake finishes his chores, he and Billy walk the farm visiting the animals and their favorite spots, ending at the site of the old sod house.
Billy is extremely nostalgic about the old sod house and would like to see it rebuilt, something he is not physically capable of doing at this point in his life. He asks Jake to do it, but Jake, who loves his grandfather tremendously and is usually on his wavelength, doesn't really want to do it. It is physically taxing work and would take big chunk out of his summer. He doesn't see the need for it, nor understand his grandfather's desire to see it rebuilt.
When Billy is taken ill, however, rebuilding the sod house becomes a labor of love and soon the rest of the family join in, all hoping that Billy will survive to see it.
This is a very sweet, inter-generational family story. It would be a good choice for any child dealing with the potential loss of a grandparent. 2012
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Friends can be messy. And Victoria does not like mess of any kind. She likes perfection in all areas of her life from her appearance to her grades to her home life. She prides herself on her perfect hair, her perfectly organized bedroom and mostly her flawless grades. The only complication she allows into her life is one extremely messy friend named Lawrence. When Lawrence goes missing, Victoria realizes that all the children in her seemingly perfect town, who are a little different in some way, have all disappeared. She traces the disappearances to the mysterious Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls where children seem to go into but never come out. The problem is Victoria is the only one who seems to notice that the children are gone. Even their parents seem strangely unaware.
Once Victoria gains entry into Cavendish, the mystery only heightens. It's run by an ominous headmistress who takes delight in torturing the children, who are held captive, using their specific weakness against them. The walls and floors seem to move of their own accord and the rooms are crawling with insects that are capable of carrying off any rule breaking children.
As Victoria and her friend Lawrence manage to bring down the evil Mrs. Cavendish and save their friends from her clutches, she learns that being different and having "mess" in your life are the things that make life rich and interesting.
While the message of this book is important and the plot definitely holds the reader's interest, the story is incredibly creepy and dark. Scenes of children being physically and emotionally tortured may be extremely difficult for some children to tolerate. Lovers of horror stories will enjoy the story but caution should be used when recommending this book.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker, illustrated by Tim Probert
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
As Wen adjusts to life in America and learns to trust and love her new family, her emotions remain conflicted as she remembers her best friend. Can she find a family for Shu Ling before Shu Ling becomes too old to be adopted? Will her new family send her back if she causes trouble by trying to help Shu Ling? This well-written and touching book details Wen's life and development as she bravely does all she can to help Shu Ling while coping with the many changes in her own life. 2012.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
This lovely picture book tells the story of Katie Honors, "a really friendly kid" whose best friend is Jennifer. Jennifer's smile "is as bright as the morning sun in your eyes." They always play together and walk in together from recess -- always, that is, until today. Suddenly Jennifer is playing with Roy, and Katie is left out and hurt. "My whole self felt like a bruise." Worse yet, Katie and Roy hold hands to walk in together. Katie is left feeling flabbersmashed. Luckily, Arabella, the quiet kid in the class, takes Katie's hand, and smiles a smile "gentle like the afternoon sun between the leaves."
Flabbersmashed About You addresses a common concern for children in a simple yet entertaining story. I liked that Jennifer is not portrayed as deliberately mean, instead, she is simply interested in playing with someone else. Katie is still hurt, but she is open to Arabella's offer of friendship. By acknowledging Katie's feelings but showing that other friends can also be fun, the book gently suggests a solution for children smarting over the shifting alliances between friends. Yumi Heo's illustrations are bright and cheery, yet effective at portraying Katie's feelings when she is upset.
This book is entertaining for anyone, and particularly good for instigating a discussion about feelings, friendship, and loyalty. 2012.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Imogene has already locked herself in a stockade when the bulldozers arrive. Fortunately the Liddleville historian and the President of the United States declare the house a national landmark! This will definitely put Liddleville on the map!
Filled with appropriate quotations from several United States presidents and other actual historical figures, this book is a delightful call to stand up for what you believe in. The charming illustrations perfectly complement the old -time feeling of the story. The endpapers describe the origin of each famous quotation. The book ends with Imogene's own "immortal" quotation: "That was totally fun," which is a perfect description of the experience of reading this book.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
Joseph Lambert created a special cartoon style--wordless, in mostly gray and black, and using simple human forms without visual details--for the period during which Helen, up to about age 8, had no language whatsoever, due to her blindness and deafness. These pages are interwoven with detailed, colorful pages showing what else is happening at the same time (such as conversations between Helen's parents and Annie), that Helen is not aware of.
Those of us familiar with some of the conventional biographies of Helen Keller will recognize these scenes, such as Helen running around her family's breakfast table, helping herself to everyone's plate, grabbing and eating their eggs. A strong pair of arms, which we know must be Annie's arms, are shown restraining Helen, repeatedly, making her sit in a chair, and hold a spoon, which Helen endlessly resists.
There is the well-known scene at a water pump, in which Helen finally understands what Annie has so long been trying to teach her--that the word for "water" represents water. And so Helen acquires language, which transforms her life. After this, their relationship deepens, and becomes a flourishing and life-long friendship and collaboration.
This beautiful book is very highly recommended. 2012.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Starting middle school is a challenge for any child. But for 10 year old August Pullman, "Auggie", it seems like an almost insurmountable feat. Born with severe craniofacial abnormalities, Auggie has been homeschooled his entire life and undergone countless surgeries. When his parents decide to send him to private school, he is not sure how his new classmates will react to his strange appearance. While initially, he does make a few friends, most of the children stay far away from him and he also attracts the attention of an outright bully.
Through it all, Auggie's voice as a typical 10 year old, rings true, even as he faces obstacles that are anything but ordinary. Adding even more richness to the story is the fact that there are also chapters told in the voices of Auggie's sister Olivia, his supposed "best friend" Jack and Olivia's boyfriend and best friend. As each one of them details how their lives are changed through their interactions with Auggie, it becomes clear that while Auggie's difficulties are extreme, no one is exempt from the challenges that life often throws our way.
A turning point is reached when Auggie is the target of bullies on a school trip. When he receives help from an unlikely source, he realizes that sometimes the worst of circumstances turn out to be the moments when our true character and the characters of others shines through.
This is a completely satisfying read that honestly portrays the perils of middle school as well as the individual suffering that those that are different must often face in our society. 2011
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The author has done extensive and meticulous research and it shows on every page. Morse code messages, Titanic miscellany and an impressive bibliography including Internet sources and societies are a welcome resource for readers interested in learning more. Highly recommended. 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Very readable, and with appealing pen-and-ink illustrations as well as photographs, this book is highly recommended for middle-grade elementary students. 2012.
This short narrative reads like a well-written novel, but it's the true story of Tuyet Son Thi Anh, a young girl who endured polio and war, and who was flown out of Saigon in 1975 by Americans, at the end of the Vietnam War.
Tuyet spent most of her early years in a Vietnamese orphange, caring for children younger than she was, and with only vague memories of her mother. After the fall of Saigon, Tuyet and hundreds of other Vietnamese children were airlifted to western countries--and Tuyet found herself in Canada.
Her memories, as told to the author, are fascinating and poignant. Having never seen a bed, a bathtub, or a fork, Tuyet had many adjustments to make. But luckily she was cherished in her new Canadian family, and has been able to survive and thrive.
An author's note at the end of the book tells of now-adult Tuyet's life today.
Highly recommended! 2011.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Theo, the only child of two lawyers, is very familiar with the law profession and spends a great deal of time at his parents' office, in their law library. He also spends a lot of time at the local courthouse, where he observes as many trials as he can.
April's disappearance, naturally, throws their small town of Strattenburg into a panic, as everyone hopes for April's safe return and worries that the other children in town may be in danger. April's family situation, of which Theo was aware but sworn to secrecy, comes to light. Her father, an aging and not very successful rocker, is on the road with his band. Her mother, who raises goats and peddles cheese from a old hearse that is painted yellow, stays out until all hours of the morning, partying. That is why she doesn't discover that April is missing until 3:30 AM. When both parents are home, they fight constantly and pay little attention to April.
The police discover correspondence between April and a convict, who has recently escaped, named Jack Leeper. Sightings of him in the area, prior to April's disappearance, are reported and the police pursue the lead, finally picking Leeper up. He proves to be quite a slippery character. Next, a body is recovered from the river, lending more suspense to the tale.
Theo and his friend, Chase, pursue leads on their own, when they think the police are going in the wrong direction. They turn to Theo's uncle, Ike, when they need adult help to finish the case.
The first book in this series and this one was got mixed reviews, but this is a good mystery. It is a page turner, but without the gruesome violence that some mysteries have. Unlike some of the snarky protagonists that populate many of the books for this age group, Theo has a healthy respect for adults and turns to them for help when he needs it. 2011
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
During recess one day, Jack is struck in the eye by a sharp object and is taken for medical attention and then home. Hazel decides to stop at his house to check on him, and his parents tell her that Jack has gone to a relative's house to recuperate. Hazel finds this odd, and decides to go to a shed in the woods where she and Jack used to talk out their problems as well as plan fun stuff. As she approaches the spot, she sees Jack climb into a white sleigh with a woman who closely resembles the Snow Queen of fairy tale fame. She decides that Jack must have been tricked into doing this, and she must rescue him.
Hazel's mission takes her deep into a forest filled with literary references that she and Jack have shared over the years. She is frightened but determined to help her friend. With each scary incident she realizes that she is stronger than she thought she was, and makes up her mind to be more focused on the positive aspects of her life, and less dependent on Jack as her only friend, if they ever emerge from this dark and threatening forest. They do! 2011.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Dealing with her grief over Aunt Polly's death, is hard enough for Alice, but suddenly all kinds of disreputable characters are after Lardo and the townspeople are all hot to match the secret pie crust recipe and become the new prize winning pie maker of Ipswitch, Pennsylvania.
This is an intriguing mystery as well as a heart-warming small-town story set in the 1950's. Readers will be truly surprised to learn how a cat could be in possession of a secret, prize-winning recipe. As an added bonus, each chapter begins with a mouth-watering pie recipe! 2011.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
When Abigail, a very nerdy, quiet girl from his class, offers Nathan a way out of his pain, he jumps at the opportunity. She tells him that her scientist uncle has developed an experimental formula that makes anyone who takes it impervious to pain, physical or emotional.
After Nathan takes the formula, he feels better and even notices that his asthma seems to be improving. But then his ability to withstand pain becomes frightening, as he is stabbed with a fork in the face during a food fight and doesn't even feel it. He has no appetite and his asthma is improving because he doesn't seem to need to eat or breathe. The formula has turned him into a zombie.
Abigail's uncle has disappeared and the government is pursuit of him. Can Nathan, Abigail and Nathan's best friend, Mookie, find the missing uncle or come up with an antidote on their own, in time to prevent Nathan from becoming a zombie permanently?
In the process of their search, Nathan comes to some realizations about people, popularity and the social order in middle school that will ring true with many middle schoolers. It may even open the eyes of others.
This is fun, quick read that will appeal particularly to boys of this age, but can be enjoyable for either gender. It is the first in a series, Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, and the title pretty much answers the question as to whether or not Nathan remains a zombie permanently. It does turn out to be a matter of choice,however, rather than a failure to find a cure in time. 2009
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Jefferson’s Sons is an interesting, sometimes disturbing, novel told from the point of view of three slave children on Thomas Jefferson’s estate, two of whom are Jefferson’s sons. The author did extensive research, and in this story she imagines how life may have been for the children of the slave Sally Hemings. Well written and engaging, the story covers twenty years as it describes growing up on the Monticello estate as the secret children of Thomas Jefferson.
Told in the first-person voice of each of the three narrators, Jefferson’s Sons manages to convey the complexity of emotions the children feel as they grow up and realize their complicated situation. Drawn to Jefferson as a father and yet repelled by his status as a slave-owner, Beverly and Madison face difficult decisions as to what to think and what to do as they get older. Their friend Peter also grows up as a slave at Monticello, and faces his own difficult future.
This book does not shy away from dealing with the topic of Sally Heming’s relationship with Jefferson – she goes up to his house each night – making it appropriate for children who would understand that concept. However, for children ready for life’s nuances, this book gives a fascinating look at the lives of the slaves, and of Jefferson’s family at the great house. Historical notes at the end of the book tell what is thought to have happened to the people in the book after it ends. The author’s meticulous research and excellent writing style combine to make this book a story you will remember long after you finish reading it. 2011
Monday, January 30, 2012
This is a picture book about a young child whose mother has recently gotten sick and died. The boy is terrified that he will forget his mother's smell, or even that he will forget her, entirely.
The adults in the story want to support him, but must also cope with their own sadness and devastation.
It's a comforting story that acknowledges the child's pain, and also offers the hope of being able to go on--but without sugar-coating anyone's grief.
The red and sometimes gray charcoal and watercolor illustrations work with the text in prioritizing the child and his feelings; the adults in the story are present but mostly out of sight, except for the immensely satisfying central double-page spread, in which the grandmother reassures her grandson, with her hand on his heart, that his mother (her daughter) is "in your heart, and she's not going anywhere."
I recommend The Scar as a deep and beautiful book for preschoolers who may need it.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
15-year-old Waverly was conceived in space and has lived on a spaceship, the Empyrean, for her entire life. Her ship is on a voyage to a new home planet, since Earth has been destroyed due to circumstances that are never fully explained. The excitement begins when the inhabitants of another ship board the Empyrean and kidnap all the young females. Waverly soon learns that they are to be used to provide children for the families living on the ship since their women have become infertile.
Waverly is determined to avoid this destiny at all costs, and quickly wages a revolt to save herself and all the other young women and girls being held with her. Back on the Empyrean, the males left behind are desperately trying to figure out the whereabouts of the kidnappers while trying to save their own ship from destruction.
This is a truly exciting story that combines elements of science fiction, mystery and even romance. Intended to be the first in the Sky Chasers series, this book is a great read for teens, especially those who enjoy science fiction that's not overly technical. 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
J.J. Tully is a retired search and rescue dog, trying to relax and enjoy his new life on a farm. His peace and quiet is disturbed when a hen, Millicent, and her two chicks, Dirt and Sugar, try to enlist his services to rescue her other chicks, who have been kidnapped.
The alternating narrator is Vince, the farm dog,who lives in the farm house and resents another dog invading his territory. The kidnapping is really ruse to set J.J. up to receive the medical procedure for which Vince is scheduled. He also plans to bump off Millicent and all her chicks, laying the blame on J.J.
Can J.J. figure out who is responsible for the kidnapping and lay waste to Vince's plans? Will Millicent, whom J.J. call Moosh for no apparent reason, and her chicks be a help or a hindrance?
This book is a quick read with plenty of the humor that we have seen in Doreen Cronin's picture books. While any mystery reader can enjoy it, it is a good choice for those patrons who approach mysteries with trepidation or are assigned a mystery book report and don't like them because they are scary. 2011.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Birds of a Feather: Poems by Jane Yolen. Photographs by Jason Stemple. Foreward by Donald Droodsma, Ph.D.
Exquisite color close-up photos set off Yolen's conversational, loving, witty bird poems. A double-page spread includes a short description, including the scientific name, of each featured bird. 2011.
Missing on Superstition Mountain is a good old-fashioned adventure story, with enough suspense and intimations of creepiness and danger to spice it up, but not enough to truly frighten the readers. When three brothers, Simon, Henry, and Jack, move to a new town in Arizona, they are bored and lonely, and in search of something to do. The one thing they are told not to do is to go near Superstition Mountain, which looms invitingly behind their back yard.
Of course they soon find themselves climbing the very mountain they were warned away from, but they have a good excuse -- they are looking for their lost cat, who was seen heading that way. They don't find the cat on the mountain, but they do see something more intriguing: three skulls lined up on a ledge. When they return to town, they decide to do more research about the mountain, and find out why the townspeople are so tight-lipped about it. They team up reluctantly with the girl who found their cat, and with the help of the local library and a few local residents, they discover even more creepy facts about the mountain, including a history of mysterious deaths and disappearances.
The climax of the book finds them back up on the mountain, facing perils as the night falls. They eventually are rescued, but the book leaves enough open questions to set up the next book in the planned trilogy, which readers are sure to await eagerly. For now, however, this book stands alone as a rollicking adventure set on a real-life spooky mountain. 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Elementary school children are too young to remember September 11, 2001. Don Brown has written and illustrated a short, beautiful book which straightforwardly and sensitively tells them what happened in New York and Washington that day.
The text gives the chain of events from the points of view of named individuals who survived. The pen and watercolor paintings convey the emotions, always keeping in mind the book's young readers--compassionately, and accurately, but not too overwhelmingly.
Don Brown keeps his focus on the individuals portrayed, while minimizing mention of larger questions about the perpetrators of the attack.
I recommend America Is Under Attack as a well-written and age-appropritate introduction to the topic.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Jack has always felt as though there were something different about him. No one seems to pay much attention to him, even his own family. It's almost as if he were invisible. Things really start to get strange when, following his parents divorce, he is sent to live with his eccentric aunt and uncle. He swears he has never met them before, but they have photographs of him in their home and the townspeople all seem to know who he is. Unaccustomed to all the attention, Jack struggles to make sense of his new life as he makes strange new friends, including Wendi and her twin brother Frankie, who has recently resurfaced after having mysteriously disappeared for several years. Frankie seemingly cannot speak and appears to hold the key as to why the whole town, including some nefarious characters, are so interested in Jack. As magic and mystery continue to unfold, Jack discovers his destiny and his true place in the world, which is nothing like his ordinary life back home.
This novel definitely draws the reader in with its magical elements and feeling of suspense. However, in the end, the premise doesn't completely make sense, even if you suspend disbelief and give yourself over to the "fantasy" of it all. Still, it is a unique story and one that children certainly wouldn't have encountered before. For that reason it is recommended, especially for fantasy lovers. 2011.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
This is a beautiful, funny book for anyone who, in loving a dog, recognizes their pet's inner wolf.
The deadpan but hilarious text and engaging illustrations combine perfectly to tell a story of longing and of love. The satisfying ending balances the dog's need for adventure and security, and provides both--with a heavy dash of comfort.
Highly recommended. 2011.
Bootman's watercolor illustrations and Uhlberg's first-person fictional account is of a ten year-old boy and his parents who are displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The child describes what he sees, and goes through; his observations of the things his parents, and other adults say and do affects how he feels.
This picture book is a moving and well-crafted story, intended for elementary school-aged children.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
This wordless book features Daisy, a sweetly illustrated dog who obviously loves her red ball – to the point that she sleeps with it. Then one day on an outing to the park, another dog accidently bites it too hard and deflates it. Her joy now gone, Daisy is also deflated as she sadly makes her way back home.
But it all turns out well in the end. On her next outing to the park, Daisy gets a wonderful surprise from the puppy that accidentally broke her beloved toy – the gift of a new ball (this time blue). Both dog’s exuberance is contagious as they rush off playing together.
Packed with heartfelt emotion in every brush stroke, this is the perfect book to spark the imaginations of both young and old. 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Jerome is eleven years old, and is trying to come to terms with his mother's recent death from cancer. An only child, he and his mother were very close; he misses her terribly. He moves in with his aunt and uncle and their two sons. Both boys are a bit resentful because Jerome seems to be without any faults--at least that's what their mother is always saying, suggesting that they try and be more like him. Jerome, mature beyond his years, senses that he and his cousins need some time to adjust to one another. While he's waiting for this to happen, he bonds with an elderly man who works for his aunt and other folks in the neighborhood, in exchange for food. Jerome and Mr. Willie share a love of music, gardening, and stone walls.
Mr. Willie lives in a dilapidated carriage house on the property of a nearby empty mansion. He has very few possessions and that's the way he likes it; he believes in minding his own business and thinks that other people should do the same. His homespun wisdom appeals to Jerome.
A "For Sale" sign appears one day on the mansion, and Jerome fears that both the mansion and the carriage house will be demolished. The new owners arrive and begin restoring the large house, but decide to tear down the carriage house. Mr. Willie disappears when he hears the bulldozers approach. Jerome and his cousins are hired to help clean out the mansion which will be turned into a school. He was told by Mr. Willie that there was a lovely piano in the house, and he starts searching for it. It cannot be found, and Jerome is very disappointed. The piano is missing, Mr. Willie is missing, and Jerome feels that his new life is unraveling before it has hardly begun. He thinks of his mother's advice to "listen and come back in" whenever he would miss a musical note, and he decides that he's going to do that in his new life, too. You cannot help but wish that only good things happen for Jerome from now on in this new life. 2011.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Although in picture book format, LIBERTY'S VOICE tells a story that will interest readers of all ages. The bright watercolor illustrations wonderfully capture the feeling of the nineteenth century. This book may even inspire a family trip to Liberty Park and Ellis Island.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Here's an opportunity to introduce your youngster to the pleasures of poetry by reading several selections at bedtime from this charming, as well as accessible, collection. Divided into three sections, Going to Bed, Sweet Dreams and In the Night, the poems vary in length from four lines to three or four stanzas. Written by well-known poets, such as Langston Hughes, Vachel Lindsay and Alfred Lord Tennyson, and lesser known writers too, most of the poems rhyme and many are wonderfully humorous. What makes this anthology especially appealing is the charming illustrations. Each poem is accompanied by a full page illustration which sets the mood, adds to the humor or enriches the reader's understanding.
Three or four year old children will enjoy being lulled to sleep listening to these bedtime selections. The poems and sweet illustrations will hold the interest of young school age children too. With an index of first lines and of poets' names in the back of the book, readers can select their old favorites or try something brand new. Hopefully these sixty delights will open young readers' minds to the joys of poetry.
Friday, November 4, 2011
When Henrietta discovers an injured cat hiding in her attic, a chain of events unfolds which leads the children toward discovering the origins of the Wikkeling and the secret to breaking it's power over them. It is a journey in which understanding the past takes a pivotal role and in which problems in the present cannot be solved without an appreciation for history.
This novel is engrossing in it's originality and storytelling, with beautiful block print illustrations scatterered throughout. Lovers of fantasy and mystery will find much to engage them here. It does, however, wrap up a little too quickly, leaving too many loose ends and unanswered questions. Possibly this is to leave room for a sequel. Still, this is a highly recommended read. 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
A National Book Award Finalist, Chime, is a highly original tale that blends elements of dark folk lore, supernatural creatures and gripping suspense, with a tender, endearing love story. Seventeen-year-old Briony is a self-proclaimed witch who possess the gift of second-sight and can see the “Old Ones.” Believing herself responsible for her sister’s mental infirmary and the arsenic poisoning of her beloved stepmother, Briony’s crushing guilt has slowly turned to self-loathing. But when a beautiful young man, Eldric, comes to live at the family parsonage, he awakens Briony's true spirit and allows her to hope that she might not be as wicked and horrible as she first thought.
As the drama and mystery build within the tightly woven plot, Billingsley’s poetic, stylistic prose and fast-paced dialogue pull the reader totally into this supernatural world. A memorable book that many readers should enjoy and fantasy fans will treasure. 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Say Hello to Zorro! is a charming book about a dog, Mister Bud, who has the perfect life. He has his own house, his own bed, and his own schedule, and he likes it that way! All that is changed, however, when an interloper named Zorro shows up one day, right at Greet and Make a Fuss time. Mister Bud is not at all happy at having to make room for another dog in the house. Luckily, over time Mister Bud and Zorro disover that in fact, they have the same schedule, and that life is better when you have someone to share in the fun.
What really makes this book stand out is its delightful illustrations. Carter Goodrich must own a dog, because he has captured their expressions and their habits so perfectly, from the noses on the bed in the morning to the tussling on the couch in the evenings. And while you're enjoying the simple yet lovely story and the perfect illustrations, you're also getting a deeper lesson in the rewards of sharing and accommodating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs or friends! 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Chet Gecko and his detective partner, mockingbird Natalie Attired, are back for their fifteenth case. Serious shenanigans--a stink bomb, a fire and several thefts--are wreaking havoc at Emerson Hickey Elemetary and Chet's pal and supporter, Maureen DeBree, the head custodian, is taking all the heat. Principal Zero really has it in for her.
When Maureen gets fired and then the problems continue and escalate with a classroom collapse and the mysterious disappearance of several students, Chet and Natalie are determined to find out who is responsible and clear Maureen's name.
This is a fun read and a very light mystery. It is a good choice for anyone who wants a mystery but doesn't want to be too scared. Chet's 1940's style private-eye wisecracks are probably lost on kids, but can be amusing for any adults reading the book with or to children. 2009