Here’s Eileen with a video review of Butterflies by Darlyne Murawski
Archive for April, 2011
Do you like your fantasy light and fun instead of dark and portentous? Do you like realistic fiction and school stories as well as magic and spells? If so, you might like the Magic Repair Shop books.
Maggie has to live with her grandmother while her scientist parents are doing field research in the Amazon. When she gets there, she lucks her way into a job at a magic shop—a REAL magic shop—and discovers that her late grandfather had been a powerful magician. Whether Maggie is dealing with mean girls at school or solving magical mysteries in the wilds of Scotland, her adventures are always enthralling—and funny! Three books in the series are currently available, and hopefully there will be many more to come.
Posted by: Sarah
There’s adage often repeated to authors to “Write what you know.” Monika Schroder is a teacher in India and Saraswati’s Way is a school story—of sorts. It’s obvious from the beginning that she’s writing from experience—and from her heart. Akash, her main character, is a 12-year-old boy with a dream. He’s got a gift for mathematics and would like nothing more than to earn a scholarship to continue his education. The education he gets though, has nothing to do with school—unless it’s the “school of hard knocks.” Even in modern day India, life can be harder than we in Middle America could ever imagine. Akash knows that side of life only too well. Much like the Biblical character Job, for him, life is sweaty, grimy, miserable, disgusting, uncertain and terrifying. But Akash is also 12 years old. He’s bright, bold, resourceful and ever hopeful even in the most dismal situations. I found myself drawn completely into the story, hovering over the pages like some sort of guardian angel. I cheered for Akash’s small triumphs and moaned—literally—when his desperation took him in the wrong direction. He became real to me; which, I would assume is the aim of every author. When the book ended, I knew I would miss Akash but was content to have known him. I am anxiously awaiting Ms. Schroder’s next book and acquainting myself with the new friend that I will almost certainly find there. Posted by: Eileen
They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but this title proves conventional wisdom wrong. Baghead is a story about a boy with a bright idea. A very big, brown, bag idea. People who encounter the boy with the bag on his head don’t believe he can do the things he‘s setting out to do. However, Josh proves them all wrong. This book has very cute illustrations that make the story come to life. So why is Josh wearing a bag on his head? Only his younger sister is smart enough to ask. And let’s just say his name was not Mario Tricoci. Another winning title by Jarrett Krosoczka.
Posted by: Liz
Talk about a timely book on a very important and current subject! The Magic School Bus series is great for helping kids (and grown-ups) understand very big and sometimes complicated topics, and this one is no exception. This book caught my eye because of the subject matter and the sweet polar bears floating away on a little piece of ice on the front cover. Of course, as always Ms. Frizzle takes her class on another very cool adventure to learn more on the subject – this time about global warming, climate change, alternative energy, conserving and recycling – all covered in a fun and inviting way. Even though the jury is still out on some of these issues, this book would be really valuable to teachers and environmentally-conscious parents wanting to talk and learn about some of the issues facing our world. And the great thing is, you could use this for younger kids too (maybe 6 or 7), since Magic School Bus books can be read with or without all of the extra captions and charts. This is a really great resource!
Posted by: Mary
Frannie Miller is a spunky little girl who can’t wait to be grown up and have an amazing job. She uses grown up words such as “actually” and “certainly” as often as possible in order to impress on everyone that she is mature beyond her years. She puts together a resume and business cards and assembles important “adult” things, such as glasses missing their lenses, in her dad’s old briefcase. Look out world! Well, look out local radio station, where her class is slated to visit for a field trip on the mayoral Election Day in her city.
Frannie’s plan is to wow the DJ, her classmate’s father, while her class is at his radio station and thus secure a job for herself right then and there. She starts off by scattering her business cards and resume on various desks at the station. But, then she finds herself presented with the perfect opportunity to prove that she, too, can answer questions during the “on air” caller segment of the radio program. After all, she thinks she is filling in during what she perceives as an emergency! Needless to say, things don’t go quite as Frannie had planned and more than one disaster takes place.
This humorous book will have readers of all ages laughing out loud. Even the use of some of Frannie’s made-up words such as “machillion” and “oftenly” is somewhat endearing. Not only are there other books about Frannie, but there is also a fun interactive Frankly Frannie website www.franklyfrannie.com
Posted by: Wendy
Mem Fox is an amazing picture book author whose titles are always lyrical and fun to read aloud. Her titles span a wide spectrum from the sweet, soothing bedtime stories like Time for Bed to the absurd, like Where is the Green Sheep? Her latest is Let’s Count Goats and definitely falls in the absurd category. Paired with Jan Thomas’ zany illustrations, this title had me laughing with every turn of the page.
Rather than write a story that enumerates each goat, the author asks the reader to count goats in a variety of unlikely circumstances. Every page features goats in silly situations like at the seaside, at the airport “looking for her cases”, “careening round in cars”, and making sand castles. I think that kids will really enjoy pouring over the hilarious illustrations and relish the details such as the funny facial expressions on the goats, the trumpet playing goats with trumpets on top of their heads and backwards in their mouths and, of course, goats chewing on just about anything on the page. If you are looking for a unique way to practice counting, or just a laugh, this book is for you!
Posted by: Kelly
This is quite a yarn. Hiaasen’s characters are bigger than life. This ecological tale is set in Florida and revolves around the protection of an endangered Florida cougar and her cub. There is an evil oil man trying to make an illegal fortune by scamming the government. He fancies himself a cowboy and uses a Texas accent and cowboy expressions. His top henchman knows his boss isn’t a cowboy and he is so aggravated with his boss’s pretensions and so stressed from the details of this illegal business deal that he is eating Tums like they are candy. There is also a teacher who makes children memorize every endangered species in Florida, an environmental activist who captures one of the oilman’s workers and glues him naked to a tree, and a troublemaker student who gets expelled for arguing with his teacher and bites the end of her pencil off and eats it.
When the fanatical teacher goes missing and so does the troublemaker student who ate her pencil, two students decide to investigate. The story is part adventure story and part mystery. I give it a thumbs up for fun! Do you know the double meaning of the title? Good reading for children in Grades 5-8.
Posted by: Fran
Annemarie and Ellen are best friends in 1943 Denmark. Their life is pretty ordinary, despite Annemarie’s older sister’s tragic accidental death, their difference in religion (Annemarie is Christian and Ellen is Jewish) and the ever-present face of the Nazi soldiers on the street. The girls know that their brave king, Christian, will protect them from whatever the war will bring. However, one night the families learn that all Jews of Denmark are about to be deported to concentration camps. Annemarie’s family, with the help of the Danish Resistance, hide Ellen and attempt to send her to safety in Sweden.
Though a fictional story, Number the Stars recounts the little-known historical event where the Danes evacuated 8000 Jews into Sweden. Because of the Resistance’s efforts, and a German soldier who alerted a rabbi of the impending deportation, and despite great personal risk to all those involved, about 99% of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the Holocaust. It’s too bad this story isn’t more well-known in Holocaust history; it’s a fascinating story that I had never heard very much about.
Posted by: Cindy