Monday, January 26, 2015

MEERKAT LOVE


Sunny thinks the other side would be less sunny and less crowded than where he is now with his many siblings. So off he goes to stay with different relatives in different places but each location lacks a little something or has too much of something. In the end Sunny finds that there's no place like home, in the Kalahari Desert eating yummy scorpions, surrounded by his family. 

Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett, for ages 4 and up, is a hilarious story told in postcards sent by Sunny.  Created with Gravett's usual stylish and expressive illustrations she will have everyone loving these meerkats!  

Friday, January 23, 2015

ONE MAGICAL SUMMER


A review by Theresa:  

Summer is supposed to the best time of the year. It should be a time of no school, no homework, and no schedules just lots of free time to do what you want and hang out with your friends. For Ashley it is just the opposite. Her best friend is going off to camp and then moving across the county. They had planned to spend their last weeks together but instead Ashley has to entertain some strange little girl her mother has invited to come and stay with them for the first three weeks of summer. 

Life looks bleak for her as she faces the worst summer of her life. Without her best friend Lucy she wonders how she will cope with the rare condition that causes her brain not to recognize people even if she knows them well. But cope she does even when Claire, the summer visitor, turns her life upside down and Ashley finds a magic wish jar in the basement that has the power to send her back to a time of two girls very much her and Lucy. Before she knows it the three weeks she had dreaded and all the changes this summer brought to her life mean that her worst summer might just be the best one ever. 

Dreamer, Wisher, Liar by Charise Harper is best for readers in grades 5-8.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TELLING TALES - NEWBERRY 2015?


Thirteen-year-old Astri has a head full of fairy tales, but her life is far from being one itself. Sold off by her aunt to work for a vicious "goatman," Astri bides her time until she can figure out a way to escape the goatman, get her younger sister from her greedy aunt and uncle, and find a way to get to America to join their father. Along the way, she meets a girl who may or may not be a changeling, a brush that may or may not make coins fall out of hair, and what appears to be a troll's treasure. Though her journey is fraught with many perils, the dangers outside are not the only thing Astri needs to fight. Eventually, she has to face the barrier she created around herself and the fairy tales that threaten to take over her reality.

West of the Moon is inspired by the Norwegian folktale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," and also by the author's great-grandparents, who met a young girl on their journey to the United States from Norway. Through lyrical prose, Margi Preus tells a story that is a combination of fairy tale and historical fiction, but most importantly it is a story about a girl who may not always do the right thing, but who always manages to find a way out through her courage and wits.

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 PICTURE BOOK ROUND UP- CALDECOTT 2015?






The Huffington Post's contributor and Early Childhood policy analyst Minh Le compiled a list of what he considered some of the best picture books of 2014. After reviewing many of these, I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Considered by Le to be the "Best Overall" picture book of 2014, THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND, written and illustrated by Dan Santat, is a cute story about an imaginary creature just waiting to make his first human friend. Tired of waiting around, his adventures begin when he sets out on a quest to find the perfect child for him. The illustrations are vibrant and charming, and the story will capture any kid's attention even if they don't have an imaginary friend of their own - but I bet they'll want one after reading this!


While Le did not rank this next title as the "Best Dark/Mysterious" picture book, it was listed as an honorable mention and is FANTASTICALLY GORGEOUS. A wordless story, the images in FOX'S GARDEN by Princesse Camcam are a mix of pen and ink drawing placed in three dimensional scenes of cut-outs will draw the eyes of many a curious reader as they attempt to unravel the story of a fox looking for a place to have her babies. An absolutely beautiful book!

Le and I are in agreement when it comes to the "Most fun/Silliest" story of 2014 - CHURCHILL'S TALE OF TAILS by Anca Sandu. This poor pig loses his beloved curlicue tail, and tries a number of other tails from meager mouse tails to splendid peacock tails as a substitute. Trying all the different tails transforms Churchill, and his friend's just don't recognize him anymore. Eventually he finds his own tail and re-finds his friendships, so all's well that ends well in this tale.

I love, love, LOVE Le's pick for "Most Touching/Heartwarming," as it sheds light on the sad truth about zoos. I KNOW A BEAR by Mariana Ruiz Johnson has a little girl tell all about a bear she's met who's told her about a "land of bears" that is full of wonderful things that bears love, and the little girl is sad the bear doesn't live there any more. She does what she can to listen to the bear, and even has her own revelation about the importance of freedom.


My honorable mentions would include THANK YOU OCTOPUS by Darren Farrell and DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD by Bob Shea (two very funny stories), as well as the adventure SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE by Mac Barnett (illustrated by Jon Klassen), and THE ACROBAT by Alborozo.

DECEMBER 2014

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A TIME WELL REMEMBERED - NEWBERRY 2015?


In her very rich free verse author Jacqueline Woodson shares in her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming the story of what it was like to grow up as an African American child in the both the North and the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Her very accessible and eloquent poetry draws the reader into the world of her childhood. Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, the same year Martin Luther King lead the march on Washington and not many years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, she eventually moves to the South when her parents separate to live with her mother’s family. It is there that she intimately experiences the still in place Jim Crow culture of that era alongside the warm and loving support provided by her family and community well. 

The author shares images of that warmth in small details from time spent with her grandfather in the garden to catching fireflies with her brothers and sisters. She also shares her sense of loss when her Mother ultimately moves the children to New York City. But it was there that the gift of a composition book and her love of stories made her realize that her true talent was to write. Fortunately for the reader she developed this gift and ignored her mother’s advice not to write about her family. 

For readers in 5th - 8th.


Monday, January 12, 2015

MURDER MOST FOUL


A review by Theresa from the Children's Room: 

For the seven girls who are students at St. Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies it was a typical Sunday in the 1890’s at the boarding school. Sunday dinner meant buttered bread and hot beans for the girls and veal and the trimming for the headmistress Mrs. Placket and her brother Mr. Aldous Godding. They had learned to be content with the privilege of watching the two adults consume the meal that the girls had cooked. But on a particular Sunday in May that all changed with both Mrs. Placket and Mr. Godding dropped deal in the midst of the evenings repast. Following the unfortunate event the girl’s (each has a less than desirable nickname and the reader must make sure not to gloss over the brief introduction) quickly decide to hide the crime as no one desires to return home to their families. 

What happens next is a dark comedy full of hidden corpses, investigation worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a great deal of strength and ingenuity on the part of the girls in Julie Berry’s The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. A tale for mystery lovers in grades 5-8.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

THE SCAVENGER HUNT IS BACK!

Start January off with a new scavenger hunt this Saturday, January 10.  The game will continue through the 16th.  Pick up your scavenger hunt sheet at the desk in the Children's Room.  Come have some fun, check out a few books and there you have it, a perfect weekend.   Children's Room, Central Library, 222 E. Harvard St. (818) 548-2035.  

Thursday, January 08, 2015

THE LONG HAUL

Sit back and laugh as you go on this chaotic, hilarious road trip with Greg, the main character.  Greg is the middle child of three boys and part of semi-ordinary family. Susan, Greg’s mother, never fails to surprise the family with last minute vacations. Once again, like the other family vacations no one gets to decide where to go except for the mom.  

Greg Heffley shares every moment of what it means to go on a horrible family road trip. Poor Greg who ends up sitting in the back sit along with the rest of the family belongings cannot find anything amusing about his situation.  His mom tries really hard to get everyone to participate in educational games as well as learning Spanish.  Many unpleasant situations occur as the family tries to reach their destination, the beach. When the family finally makes it to their first stop things get worse. The motel they stay at could not get any worse than it already was. Seagulls, car crashes, and winning a pig are just a few of the trip’s highlights.

The Long Haul is the 9th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. Jeff Kinney will definitely make the reader laugh out loud. 

For grades 3 -7.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

JASMINE SKIES

Jasmine Skies is the sequel to Artichoke Hearts written by Sita Brahmachari. In Jasmine Skies, Mira Levenson is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives with her family. The story begins with Mira convincing her mother, Uma, to let her visit her cousin, Priya, in India after her granddad, Bimal, passed away.  Mira finally got her way, but she knew there was more to her mother’s words other than the reasoning she gave Mira which was that they did not have enough money for a visit and eventually, they lost touch with their family.  However, Mira set on a mission and not only was she going to meet her extended family, but she was driven to find out what happened between her mother and her aunt Anjali, Priya’s mother.

When Mira arrives in India her baggage is lost but that does not change her mood when she sees her family.  From the first moment Mira and Priya get along.  Mira confides in Priya that she has taken her mother’s personal letters to uncover the problem that lies between her mother and her aunt. Mira asks Priya to keep quiet and she wants to visit the old family house on Doctor’s Lane.  Janu, the sixteen-year-old boy who lives at Priya’s house, takes Mira sightseeing. He also fulfill's Mira’s wish to visit the old family home. Unfortunately, when Priya and Mira go to a party that takes place inside the old family home, an accident happens that unravels what Mira was searching for.

Sita Brahmachari ends this wonderfully written realistic fiction that lets the reader know there will be another story to follow. Jasmine Skies introduces the Indian culture, family ties and friendship. Although, realistically it’s a lot for a fourteen-year-old to endure as described in the story but it was never-the-less remarkable.

For 4th grade and up.

Monday, January 05, 2015

GET BACK TO SCHOOL!



 

Some fun picture books to help you get back in the mood for school after all those days off. 

My Teacher is a Monster  by Peter Brown

Like the Library Dragon, Bobby's teacher is really mean in the classroom, but outside in the regular world, she feeds the ducks and play with paper airplanes.  She seems so... different.  


Dog Days of School by Kelly Dipucchio and Brian Biggs is not your usual hilarious swapping bodies fantasy because Charlie and Norman are a boy and a dog.  They swap bodies for a week because being able to go to school would be better than napping all day long, right? Right!  Would you want to swap your life with a dog?

B. Bear and Lolly Off to School by A.A. Livingston and Joey Chou

This time it's Goldilocks (Lolly) and Baby Bear in an unusual twist on the fairy tale where they attend first day of school. You'll notice a few familiar characters and moments sprinkled throughout the story.  A fun riff on the classic.

For readers from preschool through 2nd grade. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

MEET ONE SPUNKY GAL


A review by Theresa:  

Meet the latest of the picture book heroines, red-headed Sadie in Marilyn Singers I’m Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes as she goes camping with her family. This is one of the most well-prepared campers that you will ever meet as Sadie has the perfect wardrobe to deal with anything including Bigfoot that this camp out has in store for our girl. From ruffled pants to her string of pearls, Sadie pitches her tent, picks berries, deals with the wild life and more. 

While her little brother doesn’t have any dialog, he appears in most of the fun chalk and graphite illustrations and is a good foil for the adventurous older sister. Rhyming sentences make this a story that begs to be read aloud to not only a favorite preschooler but slightly older girl as well. 

For preschool through grade 2.

Monday, December 29, 2014

WAR CAN MAKE YOU DO DANGEROUS THINGS


A review by Theresa from the Central Library: 

Before the war started Hannah, the youngest daughter in the family, was well on her way to become a famous concert pianist. She was also living the life of an average fifteen-year-old girl and about to experience her first date and dance. But for her and her family everything changed abruptly when the Second World War started in Europe because they were not only living in a country at war, they were Jews. Moved from the only home she had ever known into a small apartment in an area just for Jews and forced to wear a yellow star on her clothing, all the familiar things from her life started disappearing. 

Suzy Zail tells this story of a young girl caught in a terrible moment in history in her book Playing for the Commandant. The story though is not just one of many holocaust stories, it has a bit of a twist as Hannah ends being sent to play for the camp commandant every day and while in his home becomes friends with his son Karl. While the harsher elements of this brutal period are less prominent than in other holocaust tales, this story is a good place to start.

For grades 5-8


Friday, December 26, 2014

THE RIGHT THING


Fifth-grader Rose Howard loves homonyms, prime numbers, and cannot help speaking her mind if she sees someone break a rule. Despite doing well in her classes, Rose has a difficult time in school, and is not treated with much sensitivity by her classmates or teachers, and even got banned from taking the school bus after a particularly passionate outburst over the bus driver breaking a rule.

Through it all, Rose's single father refuses to acknowledge that Rose is anything but normal, or that she has no control over her anxiety or obsession with homonyms. But Rose gets along well with her uncle Weldon and her dog Rain, whose name is a homonym and adds up to a prime number. It even seems like Rain is helping Rose make friends in school. But then, Rain goes missing during a storm, and Rose has to devise a plan to find her.


Rain Reign is a candidly told story from the point of view of a girl with Asperger's Syndrome. Rose is a brave girl who tries hard to carve a place for herself in a world that does not always understand her. In the end, Rose has to make difficult choices, but they are ones that bring her closer to people around her. 


This book will appeal to readers in grades 4-6.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAY

ALL BRANCHES WILL BE CLOSED 12/24 & 12/25.  
SEE YOU ON THE 26TH.