Saturday, July 30, 2011
Sierra, Judy. Davick, Linda. We Love Our School! (A Read Together Rebus Story), 24 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011. $7.99. Inside cover: “Today is the first day of school for frog and three of his friends- a duck and a mouse and a polka-dot snail. After a day of fun with their teachers, a turkey and a rabbit, everyone feels like a star. This read-together-story- (you read the words, your child “reads” the rebus pictures)- is just right for the child who is one small step away from being able to read words.” This is a fun, well written rhyming rebus story. We loved the pictures and the ease at reading in rhythm. Great book for early readers! Pre-K. El (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.
Starmer, Aaron. Rash, Andy. DWEEB: Burgers, Beasts, and Brainwashed Bullies, 240 pgs. Yearling, 2011. $15.99. Inside cover: “Strange things are happening at Ho-Ho-Kus Junior High. The cafeteria is covered in a sea of burger wrappers. Bullies aren’t bullying anymore. And there’s an eerie growling coming from the walls. If anyone can get to the bottom of these mysteries, it’s Denton, Wendell, Eddie, Elijah, and Bijay. They may be misfits, but they’re also the smartest kids in the eight grade. There’s just one problem. Vice Principal Snodgrass has framed them for a crime they didn’t commit and imprisoned them in a secret room in the bowels of the school. His terms: Ace the dreaded Idaho Tests and all will be forgiven. Their plan: Figure out who-or what- is to blame for the changes at school. It will take the nerdiest of skills. It will be scarier than talking to girls. It will be a true test, one that can only be passes by a select few. And those five boys are known as DWEEB.” We really had a hard time getting through this book. It was kind of weird and silly- but not in the funny way you would expect. The book was OK. OPTIONAL. EL. Student Reviewed: ML- age 12. JL- age 8.
Moore, Peter. Red Moon Rising, 321 pgs. Hyperion, 2011. $16.99. Language- PG-13 ( 22 swears, 0 ‘f’), Sexual Content- PG, Violence- PG. Danny Gray is half vamp, and half wulf, a rare anomaly at his all vampire high school of Carpathia High. In a society where vampires are the elite and wulfs are trucked away each month at the full moon, this does not bode well for Danny. When he was younger he had genetic treatments to override his wulf genes, but the treatments had to be stopped before they were finished because Danny got sick. All the doctors assumed Danny’s wulf genes would never manifest themselves, but when he starts feeling sicker and sicker the closer the full moon gets, Danny has to decide if he wants to turn himself in, or become a rogue wulf. I liked this book. It’s a really different spin on the vampires and werewolves genre, so it was intriguing. Worth reading! Middle School, High School- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer- AL
Crouch, Katie. The Magnolia League, 348 pgs. Poppy, 2011. $17.99 Language PG-13 (21 swears, 0 ‘f’), Sexual Content- PG, Violence-G. After her mother’s death, Alex Lee is forced to leave her friends and home on the West Coast to live with her grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. Being ripped from her free spirited hippie lifestyle and being forced to conform to her grandmother’s debutant society, the Magnolia League, doesn’t sit well with Alex. But soon her new lifestyle of magic and voodoo finds Alex skinny and beautiful, a far contrast from the pudgy, plain girl she was in California. But a she dives deeper and deeper into the secrets of the Magnolia League, she finds that beauty and power come at a price. I loved this book! It’s easy to see yourself in Alex’s place, what would happen if you had power and beauty at your fingertips. The storyline is full of intrigue and very well written. Middle School, High School- ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer- AL
Friday, July 29, 2011
Janni, Rebecca. Avril, Lynne. Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots, 32 pages. Dutton Juvenile, 2011. $16.99. Inside cover: “Nellie Sue has brand-new dancing boots, but she can’t go dancing all alone. Mama suggests playing with new neighbors, but those glitter girls are too busy pirouetting in their ballet shoes to hoedown with Nellie Sue. So what’s a cowgirl to do? Throw a big bash and invite all the neighbors- including the glitter girls. But will a slip, trip, and fall threaten to ruin her party or will the ever resourceful Nellie Sue save the day (and make a friend as well)?” This is a great book about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, and making the most of a bad situation. It could be used in a unit on friendship, personalities, or a western/cowboy themed unit. We loved the tenacity of Nellie and worried with and about her throughout the whole book, then breathed a sigh of relief in the end. The illustrations are adorable and inviting. EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.
Bliss, Harry. BAILEY, 32 pages. Scholastic Press, 2011. $16.99. Inside cover: “Bailey is not your average dog. In fact, he’s top dog at Champlain Elementary School. And with Bailey around, school has never been so unpredictable- or so much fun. Bailey loves reading, and his best subject is math (and lunch!). But dogs will be dogs, and maybe someday he will remember NOT to eat his homework.” My kids enjoyed this book. There is humor in the regular text, as well as the speech balloons found on every page. We loved Bailey’s everyday moments like trying to determine which color of colar to wear each morning, or getting stuck on the slide at recess. Students will enjoy this book! EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.
Czekaj, Jef. Cat Secrets, 32 pages. Harper Collins Publishers, 2011. $16.99. Inside cover: “I’m sorry- this book is not for you. This book is for CATS ONLY. What’s that you say? You are a cat? Okay… get ready to prove it!” We LOVED this book! We enjoyed the anticipation of turning each page in hopes of finding out what the cats expected from us next! My kids laughed hard! The comic type illustrations are wonderful! As a teacher, I loved the possibility of the students interacting with the cats in the book by stretching, purring, meowing, etc. This is an absolute for every preschool and primary grade teacher! Pre-K. EL (K-3). ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL.
Maloney, Peter. Zekauskas, Felicia. One Foot, Two Feet, 48 pgs. Putnam Juvenile, 2011. Inside cover: “Watch the fun add up! One foot, two feet. One mouse, three mice. One goose, four geese…In this clever counting book, die-cut windows frame a single object and a turn of the page reveals the whole group. Featuring familiar objects and funny artwork, this inventive concept book is a great introduction to both counting and common irregular plural nouns. Kids will also have tons of fun playing a hide-and-seek game, spying the little airplane that zooms through each spread.” This book is not only fun, it’s educational! Children will have to be on their toes to remember which number comes next, AND figure out irregular plural nouns. I was sure that my kids would be stumped on a few of them! The age range is wide spread, from babies to early elementary grades. The illustrations are simple and charming! Pre-K. EL (K-3). ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL.
Alter, Anna. A Photo for Greta, 40 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011. $16.99. Inside cover: “Greta loves spending time with her dad. She loves reading books with him, playing checkers in the park with him, and eating ice cream with him on Saturdays. But Greta’s dad often has to travel far from home for work. He’s an important photographer who takes pictures of astronauts, opera singers, and circus performers. Greta has her own adventures while her dad is away, but she misses him. When he finally returns home, Greta learns that taking pictures isn’t the only important thing to her dad. Here’s a reassuring story about the special bond between fathers and daughters and the love that endures even when one of them has to be away from home.” When I review books, I try to picture reading to my classroom and whether the book will keep the attention of the students. I didn’t see that this book would really be an attention grabber. We liked the tenderness of the bond between Greta and her father, but didn’t see a huge application to the school. (Unless doing a unit on careers or family). EL (K-3). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: SL.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Everything a student might want to know about whales including: legends, history, biology, sociology, and human interaction.
That short description sounds really dry, but this book was far from it! It was beautifully constructed with a great palate of designs, colors, illustrations, and photographs. The text was incredibly inclusive and yet managed to maintain an appropriate tone and language level for elementary students. Woven throughout was the authors personal experiences with whales and stories of awe and wonder that provided a lot of extra heart. Having worked as a volunteer on a humpback whale research team a number of years ago and being somewhat of a whale junkie, I found this book to be accurate and even touching. I think in the right hands readers will be soon be transformed into ‘save the whales’ activists.
Elementary -ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The author presents every single thing a person who thinks they might be, knows they are, or hopes to be a werewolf. A broad span of topics that cover: the legends, today’s wolf breed descriptions, types of werewolves, how to become one, historical people who claimed the affliction, how to dress, what to eat, how to party, and popular media.
This book was so informative I almost forgot that it was mostly fictional. It was stuffed with absolutely great artwork, photos, and great formatting in lots of eye catching varieties. The writing itself was inventive and intriguing. Despite being a popular genre, I ran into a wall as to the intended reader. An 8-10 year old might be the perfect age group, but the book recommends the HBO TV show True Blood, which is as close to an X rating as a TV show can get. (Author calls it 'sultry') Older students would hesitate at the cheese factor. (But might like an actual book distilling just the historical legends and figures).
MS – PUBLIC ONLY. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Cinderella is a little girl with a lot of creativity! She is also notorious for losing shoes. But when she loses a new red tap shoe, it becomes quite a big deal. It must be found if Cinderella is to participate in her upcoming dance recital. In the meantime, a new girl at school, Erin, wants her advice on her new and potentially wicked stepsisters. Cinderella devises a plan to find out.
This is a great simple chapter book. The main character could be any age from a second to fifth grader. The text is simple and fun, with a lot of memorable characters and fun subplots. The plot is well paced and Cinderella is just quirky enough for me to keep my eye out for any possible upcoming sequels.
EL, Elementary – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Tougas, Shelley Little Rock Girl 1957: How a photograph changed the fight for integration, 60 p. Compass Point, 2011. $34. Elizabeth Eckford just wanted a good education, and she was willing to brave ridicule and scorn to get it. And scorn she received in heaping measure on the day that she first tried to go to class. Will Counts, a local photographer was able to snap an iconic photo that changed the national dialogue. This slim book manages to not only give us a history of the push for desegregated schools, but it also delves into personal stories of the photo’s two main subjects – Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan, the white girl who was shouting at her so vociferously. Students are given a chance to dive into the turmoil of the era and feel as if they were there. Not only should middle schools and high schools have this book, but anyone who teaches photography or photojournalism would love it also. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library
Nardo, Don Migrant Mother: How a photograph defined the Great Depression, 60 p. Compass Point, 2011. $34. The iconic cover on the cover is a classic that has exemplified the story of The Great Depression for decades. Through detailed research and masterful story-telling, Nardo not only lets us live the creation and aftermath of the photograph, but also the photographer’s life and the lives of her subjects. And he doesn’t skimp of furthering our knowledge of The Great Depression, either. While the volume is slim and the price is a bit high, you definitely get your money’s worth. Not only should middle schools and high schools have this book, but anyone who teaches photography or photojournalism would love it also. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher
Here are the best novels of what we read for you during June of 2011 - There are some really great ones here. Make sure you read the reviews and stock up in time for the opening of school!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Cousins, Lucy Maisy Goes to the City. Candlewick Press, 2011. $12.99. PICTURE BOOK. Maisy the mouse and Charley the alligator go to the city to meet up with their friend Dotty the donkey. They experience traffic, see tall buildings and crowded sidewalks, and then go to a great toy store. Plus, Maisy gets lost and then found--all in the same day. This is a typical Maisy book. But children love to see books with characters they already know, and this one is a safe bet for the youngest readers. Pre-K – ADVISABLE. Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.
McAllister, Angela Little Mist, illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. When Little Mist, a baby snow leopard, is born all he knows is his mother's warm fur to snuggle in and her milk milk to drink. Then one day, Little Mist's mother takes him out into the world where he is exposed to the snow, a river, and a mountain. His mother also shows him various animals and how he will compare to them. For example, he will be bigger than the red panda and faster than the moon bear. He will one day be "King of the Mountain" and a great hunter. This is a nice book. It's a sweet story of a mother showing her son the world that will one day be his to enjoy. The illustrations are excellent, and they give younger readers an opportunity to learn about snow leopards as well as other animals (like red pandas, wolves, and yaks). This probably won't be a book that children want to read again and again, but it is sweet and well-done. Pre-K, EL(K-3) – ADVISABLE. Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Yankovic, Al. When I Grow Up, illustrated by Wes Hargis. Harper Collins, 2011. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK . Weird Al Yankovic’s first foray in children’s literature is a little weird and entirely delightful. Mrs. Krupp, Billy’s teacher, asks the kids in the class what they want to be when they grow up. Billy is picked and begins spouting out possibilities: a chef, giraffe milker, snail trainer, “pit sniffing deodorant tester,” and several other off-of-the-wall careers. He mentions his grandpa who is 103, who hasn’t decided yet what he wants to be. Since he’s only 8, he still has time to explore different options and change his mind. The cartoon illustrations are engaging and original like the text. ADVISABLE – RATING. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Young, Ned. Zoomer’s Summer Snowstorm. Harper Collins, 2011. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Zoomer the dog is back for another adventure. It is summer and hot, so Zoomer asks his mom if he can have a snow cone. He flips on the snow cone machine and gets three feet of snow. He shoots the snow out the window and begins to sculpt it into animals. His two brothers are playing baseball and are above such fun, until Zoomer builds an amusement park out of the snow. The three dogs get hungry and go inside for dinner. They ask their mom for chili, because it’s been cold. The illustrations are truly a tribute to a child’s boundless imagination. A fun reading adventure for summer or winter. ADVISABLE – RATING. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Plourde, Lynn. Dino Pets Go To School, illustrated by Gideon Kendall. Dutton Children’s Book (Penguin), 2011. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK . The teacher says the can bring a pet to school, so a little boy brings his pet dinosaurs. First the tallest dinosaur, then the loudest, next the spikiest, then the widest, and the smartest, and finally the youngest. Each dinosaur has difficulty at school with buses, class rules, recess games, lunch tables, and homework. Luckily the youngest dinosaur (still an egg) was well behaved. The back of the book gives a short bio on each dinosaur in the story. Each illustration is a painted masterpiece with personality. The rhyme sequence makes this book a natural read aloud and the delightful story will appeal to all ages. ADVISABLE – RATING. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Beaty, Andrea. Hide and Sheep, illustrated by Bill Mayer. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2011. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. A clever play on the nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb,” and the phrase “counting sheep,” and the game "hide and seek." While Farmer McFitt is asleep, 10 sheep escape to play they go the zoo. 9 sheep to the circus. 8 sheep to the ball game. 7 sheep to the movies, etc. Farmer McFitt catches and shears the last sheep at the school and then knits the sheep clothes and falls asleep. The appealing vintage looking illustrations are done in subdued fall hues. The anthropomorphically illustrated sheep fit in every place they go and still the show. EL – ESSENTIAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Meadows, Michelle. Traffic Pups, illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Simon & Schuster, 2011. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. A charming companion to Pilot Pups, air pups continues the same fun illustrations that highlight toys coming alive and thriving in their own toy town in a child’s room. The traffic pups are like traffic cops, they patrol, give tickets to toys speeding, clean up accidents, and are always ready for duty.
The short text and rhymes make this a great book for reading aloud. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.
The short text and rhymes make this a great book for reading aloud. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Thomas, Shelley Moore. A Good Knight’s Rest, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas. Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin), 2011. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Another story with Good Knight and the three dragons, the title is wordplay on “Good night’s rest” because the Good Knight is tired from all of his good-doing and needs a vacation with relaxation. The three dragons want to accompany him and he agrees. They don’t get very far, when two dragons need to stretch, and the other needs to use the bushes. They stop at a river, a grassy field, and a high peak, before the Good Knight finally demands rest, so the three dragons take him to their cave and take very good care of him. As always, the illustrations are charming and eye-catching. Parents who have taken small children on vacation will particularly appreciate the Good Knight’s patience and exasperation at all the stops and how many times the little dragons change their minds. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Kornell, Max. Bear with Me. G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin), 2011. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. A little boy was happy with his life—he had a mom and dad, blocks. What more could he want? His parent’s however, decide to bring home a bear and now the family is complete. The little boy is disgruntled to share his room and toys, and his parents’ time. He slowly realizes that the bear is good with blocks and a good friend. The illustrations are cartoon and the people (and bear) look like they have been cut out and pasted on the page. A fun book about dealing with family life transitions, particularly a new sibling. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Thompson, Lauren Chew, Chew Gulp, illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011. $14.99. PICTURE BOOK. Everyone loves to eat good food, and the children in this book are no exception. These unnamed characters swirl mashed potatoes, curl spaghetti, scoop pudding, and loop licorice. Chew, Chew, Gulp exposes young readers both to new foods as well as new words. It's not an engrossing story (there is no story), but I feel this book deserves a place on household, classroom, and library shelves because of the different words kids can learn by reading it (words like "prod" and "guzzle"). While maybe it would be better to have these words actually in a story with even more context than a fun picture, it still does a lot of good in a short amount of time. And that makes it worth the money in my opinion (perhaps even for older students). Pre-K, EL(K-3), EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.
Beaty, Andrea Hide and Sheep, illustrated by Bill Mayer. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. When Farmer McFitt wakes up, he must shear his sheep. Of course, the sheep must be aware of this because they have all snuck out to go and experience the world. Mysteriously, the book then turns into a counting book and ten go to the zoo, nine join the circus, eight eat the grass at a baseball game, etc.... Will Farmer McFitt find his sheep and shear them? That is the question that no one is asking while reading this book. It's a confusing book that is unsure of its purpose from the start. Then, at the end, the book is suddenly over and the reader wonders how she even got there. There are so many counting books on the shelves these days, I can't believe that this one is worth buying. I will say that Bill Mayer's illustrations have great personality in them, but they are not worth the price of the book to look at them. Pre-K, EL(K-3) – NO. Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.
Thomas, Shelley Moore. Plecas, Jennifer. A Good Knight’s Rest, 32 pages. Dutton Juvenile, 2011. $16.99. Inside cover: “The Good Knight is tired. He needs a vacation. Get some rest, the king tells him. The Good Knight thinks that’s a very good idea. But when his three little dragon friends tag along, relaxation becomes impossible. “I’m hungry,” says the first dragon. “I’m thirsty,” says the second. “I need to use the bushes,” says the third. And that’s just the start! Now the Good Knight is afraid he might do something very not good. How will he ever get the rest he needs? It’s a rollicking vacation adventure every little dragon- and parent- will recognize.” Fun and adorable book! We enjoyed every page. The illustrations are inviting and bright. The ending is tender and sweet. ADVISABLE. EL (K-3). Reviewer: SL.
32 pages. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011. $9.99. Back Cover: “I’m not scared if I have a night-light. I’m not scared when I stay close to Mommy. I’m not scared when I make new friends. In his signature playful style, Todd Parr empowers kids to face their fears and say, “I’m not scared!” This is a great and simple book about facing one’s fears. My only hesitation in giving it an “ESSENTIAL” rating is the page that talks about fear of buying new underwear? None of my kids have ever feared buying new underwear. In fact, they are always excited to pick out a new package! My only guess is that Todd Parr was trying to be humorous? In that case, teachers and librarians might want to prepare for the laughter and jokes that might result when reading that page. We love the illustrations and enjoyed this book. Great sounding board for talking about feelings. ADVISABLE. EL (K-3). Reviewer: SL.