Thursday, March 23, 2017

IMAGINATION AT FULL SPEED

Max just finished cleaning his room and off he zooms on a super adventure: dodging volcanoes, dealing with sharks and super secret underwater caves, and just having a good time. An adorable preschooler, Max is drawn with bright simple illustrations, shown having a good old time imagining himself in fun and exciting fantasy play.  

Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan makes for great read aloud fun with your toddlers up through kindergarteners. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

PLANT THE TINY SEED

It’s springtime again, and a new picture book by author-illustrator Christie Matheson is blossoming once more.

Following the success of Tap the Magic Tree (a storytime favorite for all ages!) and Touch the Brightest Star, Plant the Tiny Seed presents a simple interactive story of growing zinnias from seed to flower. As in previous books, readers are invited to tap, clap, wiggle, and rub images to progress the story. Nature is a marvel, and this book beckons to young listeners with the promise that magic is everywhere.

For a complete toddler-friendly gardening experience, check out Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott. To explore more interactive app-like picture books for a screen-free audience, look for Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup, This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne (previously reviewed here), and books by Herve Tullet.

Ages 2+

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER


A book review by Theresa: 

One of the things I always tell people browsing the shelves for something to read is to just look at the spines of the books, pull out a title that sounds interesting, look at the cover and if you are still interested, read the inside flap and see if that convinces you. This one fails the first two miserably; spine black, outline of a cloud, author’s name and the word “moo;” cover author’s name, title and a less than appealing drawing of a black and white striped cow. Even I, who really likes this author, had a hard time settling down to read this one. 

MISTAKE! If I had never opened up Sharon Creech’s book Moo, I would have missed some of the best characters in all of stories. Meet Reena, her brother Luke and their parents who have decided to abandon city life and move to rural Maine. Meet also their very unusual neighbor Mrs. Falala and her animals, a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna and a very special cow named Zora. They are the central characters in Reena and Luke’s summer when their parents offer Mrs. Falala, who was very old and rumored to make weird things happen, the services of their children to help out around her small farm. 

Less than thrilled the two kids find themselves doing chores way out of their comfort zone—shoveling out a barn, not fun. Slowly there is a change of attitude when they are challenged with Zora, the loud, belligerent cow and lose their initial fear, ultimately becoming very attached to her. Zora expands their world and teaches them that a little kindness works well for both animals and people. 

This novel is written partly in prose and partly free verse which helps heighten the emotion and the mood and make this a story and characters that will stay with you for a long time. 

For grades 5-8




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FOR DINNER - DIRT OR SMELLY SOCKS


James' father tells him some outrageous tales to get him to eat broccoli, smelly lasagna, slimy eggs, lumpy oatmeal, and repulsive milk ( I'm with you on this one, James).  The story James is told is that if he doesn't eat the smelly lasagna, then the troll chef that made it will have to go back to his awful job at the rat circus.  When James turns down smelly broccoli, his other food choices are sweaty socks, the finest dirt or specially chewed gum. Delishhhh! 

The stories keep getting wilder and wilder with an increasing less gullible James. By the end of the story, James knows how it works and just gives in to the delicious eggs sitting in front of him.  Tales For Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider is for beginning reader in 1st - 2nd grades who enjoy silly humor.  

Thursday, March 09, 2017

FRAZZLED

Abbie Wu is suffering from an extreme case of the middles.

Not only is Abbie a middle child (squarely between her amazingly good at everything older brother Peter and her annoyingly adorable younger sister Clara), she’s now starting middle school, and she’s currently in the middle of an identity crisis!

It seems like her best friends know exactly where their talents lie: Maxine is natural actress, while Logan is a young tech genius. Meanwhile, Abbie has tried plenty, but has yet to find her Thing. So when it comes time to choose the ever-important elective class, Abbie finds herself in dread study hall instead. But it’s once there that Abbie is drawn into a campus-wide underground lunch revolution that may reveal to everyone, including herself, just how much she has to offer.

With an air of dramatic doom and plenty of attractive cartoon illustrations on every page, Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat is a great read-alike to middle grade staples like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. Perfect for the humorously hyperbolic and melodramatic middle grade reader in your life.

Grades 4-6

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

THE BEST (almost) MAN

 A review by Theresa: 

Newbery Award winning author, Richard Peck starts his latest book The Best Man at one wedding and ends it with another. Narrated by Archer, who was six years old and the reluctant ring bearer at the opening wedding, the story continues until he is in the sixth grade. The events of that take place at that opening wedding are equal to another very funny story also told by a boy* and will have you laughing with tears running from your eyes as one mishap after another happens. Fortunately for Archer the rest of his story runs more smoothly. 

Aside from getting off to a funny start this is a story that has the elements of several stories. It’s a family story about the men Archer wants to be like when he grows up; his grandfather, a great architect; his dad, a great remodeler of cars; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. It’s a school story since so much of the action takes place at school and that is the spot where we meet one of the important characters, Mr. McLeod, the student teacher for Archer’s fifth-grade class. There’s also a touch of romance, a bully or two and a lot of growing up that takes place on these pages in this easy to read very enjoyable novel for grades 5-8.

*The funny book referred to here is Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen. If you like to laugh and have missed this one, get yourself to the library immediately and check it out, along with a copy of The Best Man, of course.  


Thursday, February 23, 2017

TWO MORE COOKBOOKS FOR KIDS!


These are two more children's cookbooks from the library's collection and with the holidays and vacations coming up, take a through some of these recipes to see if there's some fun cooking to be had with your family.

The Piccolo Chef Cookbook :  Healthy Cooking With Your Kids 
by Fanelli Moraccini and Lilian Palmieri from the children's culinary school in Los Angeles. This book is full of easy recipes for children to follow.  

Chop Chop:  the Kid's Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson is the bound book version of their magazine's recipes for kids.   On top there's a bar that tells you prep time, cook time and if adult help is needed (mostly yes).  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS


Florian, a 7th grader, is once again at another new school in a new city, despairing about his predicament when the neighbor across the street forces herself into his house and befriends him after demanding to be   shown how TOAST works. TOAST is Florian's methodology of Schedule
observation which helps him adjust to new situations in his life.  While testing out his observational method, the two inadvertently stumble onto the mystery of stolen paintings at the National Gallery where both of Florian's parents work.  

Framed!  A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti is for those who love a good mystery, Sherlock Holmes and a dash of international spy thriller--you will love this book. 

For readers in 6th - 8th grades. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP


Plum, the dog does not love the new surprise in this new picture book, Plenty of Love to go Around by Emma Chichester Clark. The new pet is a cat, Binky, which is as white as Plum is black.  Binky follows Plum everywhere and gets the attention Plum feels should be his alone.  All his humans love him but Plum's dog friends teases him relentlessly about Binky so he's going to have to something to put an end to all of this unwanted attention. 

Will Plum reject Binky or open his heart to Binky? A touching book about caring and loving of all kind to read to book lovers of all ages.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE


"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws..." So begins author-illustrator Brendan Wenzel's newly-awarded Caldecott Honor Book, They All Saw a Cat. While most readers can conjure up a pretty standard image of a black cat, this thought-provoking and innovative picture book makes clear that even something as uniform as that image is still in the eye of its beholder. 

Though the book features simple, streamlined language, it is in the clever and inventive art (which even uses different materials and techniques depending on the page) where the true heart of the story lies. As the cat strolls from page to page, a child, a dog, a mouse, a snake, a bat, and many other animals along the way, each see him very differently, and the fluctuating representation of the black cat--on one page a fierce predator and on another as plump and docile prey, for example--allows the reader a glimpse of the subject from another animal's perspective. 

Even with the concise text, the ideas examined are complex, making this title a good pick for sharing on different levels with preschoolers through second graders. Furthermore, this book would make an engaging introduction to point-of-view and seeing the world through one another's eyes. 

Monday, February 06, 2017

A TREAT FOR ANY SEASON


When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad, is nothing but a pure delight. The poems, grouped by season from spring to winter, focus on small moments of the day in perfectly childlike yet lyrically evocative language. Be it getting rain boots soggy, eating peanut butter sandwiches at the beach, watching the last leaf fall from a tree, or sitting by the fire on a cozy snow day, Fogliano finds innovative new ways to relate these universal experiences through the lens of childhood wonder with a striking economy of language. 

Meanwhile, Morstad's lovely goache-and-pencil-crayon illustrations perfectly compliment the simple yet charming words, showcasing a diverse cast of children experiencing all the earthly pleasures each season has to offer. 

This makes a perfect book to share with preschoolers through second graders, no matter the date on the calendar. 

Friday, February 03, 2017

THE WALLS HAVE EARS


Things can change in a heartbeat. Just ask Noah. One moment he's a pretty regular eleven-year-old living in Oasis, Virginia, looking forward to his friend's birthday party over the weekend. The next, his parents pick him up from school and tell him his name is actually Jonah, he's really only ten, he's from Roanoke, and he's on the way to the airport that very minute to move to East Berlin without taking anything with them. And, since the year is 1989, that means his family will be moving behind the Iron Curtain, where his every move and utterance will be monitored and nothing less than total compliance to the Communist way of life in the German Democratic Republic will be tolerated, where maps show the other side of the Berlin Wall as nonexistent blank space. 

When Jonah (née Noah) meets Claudia--whose parents have disappeared--it seems that she's the only other one who is interested in finding out what's really going on, despite the many strict rules they are told to adhere to--remember they are always listening, don't call attention to yourself, don't let your worries show, never talk about your old life, and so on. Why did his family really come here? What happened to Claudia's parents? And what happens to kids who don't follow the rules? 

This captivating novel packed with strong characters, vivid historical details, and plenty of fast-paced intrigue will keep fifth through eighth graders turning the pages to find out. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

JACK AND THE SCARY BEANSTALK : A GRAPHIC NOVEL

In Mighty Jack:  Book One, Ben Hatke twists the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk into a more diabolical tale where the plants are not helpful tools leading Jack to fame and fortune, but evil forces to be reckoned with.  The author gives Jack an autistic younger sister, responding only to the seeds and plants that come alive in their yard.  Jack also has a another female spitfire in a new home-schooled neighbor, who loves fighting with cool weapons and dragging Jack headlong into anything that looks like an adventure.  

This is for readers in 4th - 6th grades, especially lovers of graphic novels and Ben Hatke. Keep an eye out for the sequel.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

MEET THE FLETCHER FAMILY

Watch out for the Fletchers!  The eldest, Sam, is athletic and an all-around great big brother.  Jackson is hard working in school and enjoys being at the same school as Sam.  Elliot, on the other hand, decides to venture off in a different direction from his brothers and attend a school for exceptional students. Frog, the youngest Fletcher, is absolutely the sweetest youngster in his class. 

The Fletcher boys are incredibly close, even as they encounter challenges that fall out of their normal school routine.  Thankfully, they have their loving parents to help each of them get through it all.  Adventures sometimes pull families together.  But for the Fletchers, it’s the misadventures that draw them closer together.

Dana Alison Levy weaves a family tale that highlights the importance of respect and individuality.  The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is a surprisingly fun read!
For 4th - 8th grade