One of the main things that causes a poem to be great is if it is true. It doesn’t need to be epic, or shocking, or about global events, it just needs to be real.
Valerie Worth’s small poems are some of the truest, realest poems that there are. They may be “just” about a cow, or a carrot, or a porch, but they will astound you with their perfect simplicity.
Posted by: Sarah
Our book of the month is The Many Faces of George Washington by Carla Killoug McClafferty.
One of my favorite parts of summer is the return of butterflies. Little Lucy shares this same love in the book Butterfly, Butterfly. This story follows her quest around the yard for a butterfly that she spotted. She comes across beetles, ladybugs, and worms but can’t seem to find the butterfly again. Finally, when she settles down in the yard to look at the sky the butterfly reappears. Young readers are in for a pop up surprise. This beautifully illustrated book is a nice introduction to colors and bugs. The simple plot is engaging and a good summertime read for young preschoolers.
Posted by: Liz
This is a wonderful book about a girl who has lost her father. He had died recently in a car crash. Now she has to figure out how to live with that reality. Her mother has become very distant. A woman who loses herself in online shopping . She no longer has the vitality to fix dinner and Molly misses that time that they would spend together making dinner. Now they just argue. To let off some steam, Molly goes outside to pitch a few balls. Her father had taught her how to play catch and how to pitch. They had shared an enthusiasm for baseball which her mother couldn’t relate to. As she throws her first pitch, her knuckleball, a pitch that flutters and flits, she realizes that she wants to play boys baseball this year. She wants to be a pitcher. Her best friend is supportive but she’s afraid to tell her mother about her decision.
This is a really good sports book. Molly has to deal with prejudice and failure and team dynamics. She is lucky to have a good best friend, a good coach and actually makes a friend on the team. I recommend it for girls grades 5th through 8th.
Posted by: Fran
At some point in our late tweens or early teens, all of us are exposed Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and the like and this book is a perfect gateway into those novels. Those of us who as adults love the literary romance, jabs at historical “society” and the pure adventure will be immediately drawn to this book. The book is focused on the Stephenson family.
Mr. Stephenson, a clergyman, is remarried to his second wife after the passing of his first. The new “Stepmama” is trying to wrangle in the four unruly Stephenson children into respectable society which is proving most difficult. From the start the family name is under poor repute because the children’s mother is known witch, a fact that has soiled the family’s reputation in society since before the children were born. The derelict older brother, Charles, is in danger of going to debtors’ prison for gambling and has put the family’s finances in ruin. So, Stepmama has resolved to groom the three Stephenson sisters to become respectable members of society so that they can marry into wealth and save the family both in reputation and financially. None of the three sisters have been easy to tame, but at the book’s start, the eldest, Elissa, has resolved to accept a proposal from a horrible member of society, Sir Neville, following the example of the tragic Gothic Romance characters that she loves to read about.
Kat, the youngest and most unladylike of the girls will not stand for Elissa’s arranged marriage, and hatches a series of poorly conceived plans to thwart the marriage and save her sister from this horrible fate. Along the way, Kat discovers that her other sister, Angeline, has discovered her mother’s magic books and has been practicing witchcraft which becomes completely obvious when a man the family has never met before walks across England and shows up at the family’s door to pledge his undying devotion to Angeline. As Kat tries to discover more about of her mother’s past and Angeline’s new found magical abilities, Kat learns that she has inherited even more powerful magic from her mother. The family, with the smitten Mr. Carlyle in tow, leave for a weekend country party at a high society estate and hilarious adventure and drama unfold at every turn.
Hysterically funny, action packed and very well written, this would be a perfect pick for 4th-8th graders who are looking for a light, engaging read.
Posted by: Kelly
If you were a naked mole rat why would you ever want to get dressed? I mean, based on the name of your species you should prefer to be naked shouldn’t you? Well, not all naked mole rats are alike and Wilbur really enjoys wearing clothes. He likes to dress fancy or funny or sometimes even in a cool outfit. All the other naked mole rats think he is a bit strange and when they sarcastically suggest that he open a clothing store, he thinks it’s a great idea! But the other naked mole rats aren’t happy with Wilbur because as they say “NAKED MOLE RATS DON”T WEAR CLOTHES!”
Wilbur’s buddies decide that he needs to visit the very oldest and wisest naked mole rat, Grand-pah, who will certainly set him straight on his choice to get dressed. They explain to Grand-pah how Wilbur enjoys wearing clothes in spite of the fact that he is a naked mole rat. When Grand-pah asks Wilbur “why” he likes to wear clothes, Wilbur responds “why not?”
Sometimes life is as simple as that. . .”why not?”
This is another delightful book by Mo Willems and I highly recommend it.
(And for those of you in the Chicago area, the Lifeline Theatre will be performing an adaptation of the book next spring: check it out!)
Posted by: Wendy
Isabelle lives in Runny Cove, where the sky is always “as gray as a pair of filthy socks,” and it has rained every day for as long as she can remember. Like everyone else in town, Isabelle is forced to work long hours at Mr. Supreme’s Umbrella Factory, where she earns barely enough to afford a rain slicker, cheese sandwiches, and the rent at Mama Lu’s boarding house.
Dreary as life is, Isabelle has always had a feeling that she has a special destiny. Then, one day, she receives an interesting gift: an apple. It’s a slimy apple, having been sneezed into her lap by a long-nosed sea monster. And thus begins Isabelle’s adventure. The apple leads to a strange boy named Sage, she takes a ride on the aforementioned long-nosed sea monster (actually a long-nosed elephant seal named Neptune), and she learns that she is the heir to a magic farm whose crops include Curative Cherries (which heal sickness) and Floating Fronds (which make you fly). But her adventure doesn’t end there. Although Isabelle finds a home and a family at Fortune’s Magic Farm, she feels compelled to return to Runny Cove, knowing the people she left behind need her help. Once again, she must face the terrible Mama Lu and cruel Mr. Supreme. But this time she has magic – and her new-found family – on her side.
Funny, sweet, and filled with delicious details, Fortune’s Magic Farm is a great book for readers 8 and up who enjoy magical adventure stories. It might also make a wonderful choice for a family or classroom read-aloud.
Posted by: Perry
Nowadays, especially this summer with all the rain and storms and more rain and storms, it is important to remain optimistic. This little book does! The main characters are a dad and his daughter Sadie, and they have been trying to get to the zoo, but something ALWAYS comes up. Mom tripped over a toy fire engine, and so they had to go to the hospital instead of the zoo. Then, her grandparents showed up for a surprise visit, and they don’t like the zoo, so they all went to the museum instead. And then, when nothing was going to stop them, it started to rain. Well, Sadie is not about to let that get in her way, and so she lets her dad know that they can still go, because it’s not raining on her side of the car. Her dad hates to be the bearer of bad news, and asks Sadie “is it raining on your side of the car YET?” She tells him that the sun is shining on her side of the car, and people are putting on their sunglasses and heading to zoos all over the world on her side of the car. So… her dad keeps driving toward the zoo, but little by little Sadie has to admit that there might be just a little drop of rain on her side of the car. Then when she gets out of the car and steps onto the muddy ground, she agrees that they cannot go to the zoo. She and her dad reluctantly leave the zoo, and after travelling a short distance, what should happen, but Dad realizes that it is not raining on his side of the car!! Oh happy day! They are FINALLY going to the zoo. I love Sadie’s optimism, and that makes this a wonderful story to read aloud. The illustrations are a little old-fashioned for my taste, but the story carries the story and makes it so worth reading. Very fun.
Posted by: Mary
September is a transition month. The weather is still very summer-like but, with the advent of a new school year, summer is definitely at an end. It’s a good time to reminisce about the wonders that were the carefree days of June, July and August. It’s a good time to relive picnics, swimming with friends, bike rides and vacations.
This past summer, I went on a vacation with friends, Skye, Jane, little Batty, the Penderwicks and their “almost brother” Jeffery. Rosalind went to Atlantic City with a friend and it was a little weird without her around but despite all her anxieties, Skye was a responsible OAP—Oldest Available Penderwick. Oh, Aunt Claire came, too because Father, Ianthe and baby Ben were honeymooning in Britain.
We spent two wonderful weeks in a teacup cottage on the Atlantic Ocean in Point Mouette, Maine. We met new friends. Weathered a few unforeseen “twists in the road.” Made some discoveries about Batty and Jeffery and, all in all, had a thoroughly enjoyable time. If I had taken the time to write a postcard it would have most definitely said, “Wish You Were Here.”
Posted by: Eileen