All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

All Four StarsIt’s the end of August, and school is starting (or has already started!) everywhere in the country. Starting school can be busy and chaotic, and not a little bit stressful. What’s the best way to combat that? A light, fun, cheerful book!

10-year-old Gladys Gatsby loves to cook — but her parents don’t care ANYTHING about good food. They prefer badly-microwaved things that are simultaneously overcooked, mushy, raw and rock-hard-crunchy. Gladys has to sneak around and cook delectable dishes (like creme brulee!) behind her parents’ backs, but nothing stays a secret forever. When disaster strikes and her parents forbid her to do any cooking (or reading about cooking or watching T.V. shows about cooking) whatsoever, her life seems ruined (and a lot less tasty).

Little does Gladys know it, but things are about to look up for her. A fabulous new teacher, Ms. Quincy, assigns her class at school to write an essay on their hopes for the future, to be submitted to the New York Standard’s state-wide essay contest. Due to a series of misunderstandings and erroneous assumptions, Gladys’ essay is misplaced and is assumed to be an application for a job — the job of restaurant critic for the New York Standard!

How will Gladys — who lives in a suburb an hour away from New York, has no transportation, and, let’s not forget, is forbidden by her parents to have anything to do with cooking — manage to get her reviews written? Who can she rely on to help her? Gladys discovers that she has more friends — young and old — than she thought she did, and makes other friends where she would never have expected to.

All Four Stars is a rollicking good read, with fun characters, a delightful setting, and just enough zaniness to be appealing while remaining realistic. It’s just the sort of book to leave a smile on your face after a long, hard day. If only every copy came with a serving or two of the delicious desserts that Gladys makes — THAT would be perfect!

Posted by: Sarah

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Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer Mann

Two Speckled EggsSometimes you think you know all about someone, but it turns out that people will sometimes surprise you in good ways and in bad. When Ginger plans her birthday party, her mother tells her that she must invite all of the girls in her class, including Lyla Browning. Lyla Browning is a little different; some might call her “weird”, especially if you never get to know her. She likes things like tarantulas and ladybugs and nature, and she carries a magnifying glass in her pocket.

When Ginger’s birthday finally arrives, her friends from her class all come, and so does Lyla. Much to her surprise, her friends aren’t exactly on their best behavior. They use the Pin the Tail on the Donkey on each other and don’t want to even try her coconut and pineapple birthday cake. Ginger is also surprised that she and Lyla have some things in common, like for instance ladybugs. Lyla brings her a beautiful homemade gift of a nest made from paper, tinsel, ribbon, and string, and in the center are two speckled malted milk eggs. This is Ginger’s favorite gift, and eventually Lyla becomes Ginger’s favorite friend. What a wonderful surprise!

Posted by: Mary

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Kelly shares the book Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems, by Patrick J. Lewis:

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Moonsilver (The Unicorn’s Secret, #1), by Kathleen Duey

Moonsilver (The Unicorn’s Secret, #1)In Moonsilver, the first book of the series The Unicorn’s Secret, we meet Heart Avamir, a young girl who was abandoned at birth and raised by Simon Pratt, a demanding and unloving guardian. Despite this, Heart grows to be a kind, gentle, and hard working girl. When she meets an abandoned and starving white mare in the fields one day, she is instantly devoted and fights to keep the mare. Heart wakes up extra early to gather food for the horse, and enlists the help of the village healer and her only friend to help her nurse the horse back to health. When the mare begins to regain strength, Heart discovers that she is going to have a foal. But the foal turns out to be no ordinary horse, and in order to protect them both Heart must set out on a great adventure.

This beginning chapter book makes a great fantasy introduction, and is also recommended to young horse lovers. This would also make a good read aloud for children not yet ready to read chapters on their own.

Posted by: Parry

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My Bus by Byron Barton

My BusOne of my toddler’s favorite books right now is My Bus by Byron Barton. My son has taken quite a liking to Joe, the bus driver, and his dogs. In this story, the reader meets Joe and learns about his job picking up dogs and cats and driving them to their destinations. Joe has a busy day making lots of stops and dropping animals off at the boat, train, and plane. Besides for the bus, little vehicle lovers can see the animals sail, ride and fly away. The simple illustrations and minimal text appeal to the youngest readers. For slightly older readers, it is a nice introduction to addition and subtraction.

Posted by: Liz

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A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

A Lion in ParisIn the Children’s area we have a special section of picture books called K-3rd. This section contains books that would be great read alouds for children in Kindergarten through grade 3; especially in a large group like a classroom. Occasionally, we also have picture books that are more suitable for older children due to themes, complex language, or that do not work well as read alouds for a large group. Because there are not many books like this in the picture book collection, we do not have a designated area for them and they are shelved alphabetically with all of the other picture books. These books are often high quality literary works that deserve attention, but do not always find an audience because most people only look for picture books for young children. We recently acquired a book like this called A Lion in Paris that I hope does not get overlooked. This oversized picture book that reads vertically like a calendar rather than horizontally tells the story of a lion who is bored with life in the grasslands so he sets off to find “a job, love, and a future” in Paris. Through short sentences and expressive mixed media illustrations, Alemagna manages to paint a picture of a very despondent lion, a beautiful, yet aloof city and how to find your place in the world wherever you may be. The lion visits several famous Parisian landmarks including the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa smile at him, Monmontre where he helps an older woman down the many steps and the River Seine to look at his reflection. The lion goes from being stranger in Paris to loving the city so much that he decides to stay there permanently and becomes the famous lion statue at the Place Denfer-Rochereau. This book would be perfect to share with a child interested in Paris or planning a trip there, a child struggling to fit in, or anyone looking for something a little different in terms of format or storyline.

Posted by: Kelly

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Road Trip by Gary Paulsen & Jim Paulsen

Road TripNothing says “Summer” like a good old fashioned family road trip! Now take that family road trip, throw in a reformed juvenile delinquent, a feisty waitress, an ornery auto mechanic, and an introspective border collie, put them on a big yellow school bus, and send them off to rescue a puppy. What do you get? You get Road Trip, a fun summer read by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen!

Road Trip is the first collaborative effort by prolific author Gary Paulsen and his sculptor son Jim. Similar to a game of Exquisite Corpse, the father-son duo took turns writing chapters and sending them back and forth to one another. As they did, the story and characters grew in ways neither could have expected. Despite what might sound like a disjointed writing method, the Paulsens manage to maintain a cohesive feel to this short novel. Quirky characters abound throughout this madcap story of a father and son struggling to understand one another. Road Trip is a perfect quick read for vacationing 5th graders and up. Perhaps it will even inspire an impromptu road trip or two along the way.

Posted by: Staci

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