What if your favorite cereal company had more in mind than just making sure you got a tasty breakfast?
Scott (short for, well, you don’t want to know what), who gets migraines and sometimes sees things, sees a rabbit-headed man on the way to school, and finds a leprechaun in a public bathroom. Emily and Enzo (twins who look so little alike that it’s suspicious), who have an incredibly tall, big-footed housekeeper, think that their foster father is acting weird. What do the kids have in common? Their parents work for the Goodco Cereal Factory, a company with ties to nearly everything in town. Is there maybe something a little funny about Goodco? Is there REALLY “a little bit of magic in every box”?
Rex’s new fantasy is hilarious (a delight in a genre that is too often filled with portentious prophecies, grim weather and unsmiling heroes) and engaging. In spite of its (appropriately) epic length, the story moves quickly, and no reader will be tempted to put the book down. The characters, both the realistic and fantastical, are wonderfully drawn, and the back-story incorporates traditional myths and legends in a refreshingly original way.
While Scott, Emily and Enzo’s adventures are not over at the end of the book–a sequel! Hooray!–the volume is wrapped up in a very satisfying manner. In spite of that, I still can’t wait for the next book.
Posted by: Sarah
This month, Kelly tells us about Stress Less: Your Guide to Managing Stress by Heather E. Schwartz, a helpful book for anyone nearing the end of the school year.
It’s not often that the combination of picture book and haiku get “mashed-up.” Andrew Clements used a series of haikus to tell his story, Dogku but as endearing as the book is, those were more a series of poems fit to describe the dog and his family. In Won Ton, Wardlaw is able to tell the story using only haiku and it doesn’t seem stilted or strained—not that Clements’ did, it was wonderful, too.
There’s nothing revolutionary about the story. Won Ton, a cat, finds himself in an animal shelter, is finally adopted by a family, reluctantly settles in and becomes the “ruler of the roost.” Don’t get me wrong, he is a cat of great personality and definite opinions. He’s very “cat-like” and engaging.
It’s the haiku though, that makes the whole thing work. The short, precise form fits perfectly with the cat’s “thoughts” and actions. It will also appeal to those youngsters who need shorter but fulfilling texts. All in all, just like the boy in the book, you’ll be beguiled by Won Ton, a new friend you’ll want to visit over and over again.
Posted by: Eileen
Monica Wellington’s books are perfect for the young preschool crowd. Right now, her book Mr. Cookie Baker is a favorite in our house, especially when I make cookies to go along with it. The story is a simple one. Mr. Cookie Baker takes readers through the steps of cookie baking and sales. After a busy day at his shop, Mr. Cookie Baker is able to enjoy one of his tasty creations. You can recreate the fun of this story with the cookie recipes included in the book. A yummy treat!
Posted by: Liz
Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word is a delightful collection of poems sure to be engaging for a wide range of kids and adults. Inspired by the concrete poet Andrew Russ, Bob Raczka set out to make poems using only the letters from one single word, which is also the title of the poem. The poems are visual in that each letter of the poem is lined up vertically with the corresponding letter from the title word. This makes reading the poems a little bit like solving a puzzle. The poems are also typed in conventional verse on the next page. Aside from those “aha!” moments when you understand the poems, the best part of this collection is the likelihood that readers will be inspired to make their own “single word” poems.
Posted by: Parry
Summer break is upon us and for those of us in the Chicago suburbs that often means trips into the City to enjoy all it has to offer. Michael Mullins offers the perfect primer for preschool and young school aged children to read before your adventure begins. The picture book tells the story of a boy named Pete and his family taking a trip to Chicago, complete with their dog, Larry.
This is not the family’s first trip nor is it Larry’s first time getting lost on vacation. Other books in this series feature Larry getting lost in Los Angeles, Texas and Seattle. This book covers all of the main attractions in Chicago including “The Bean” which is prominently featured on the cover. Larry and his family also experience a boat tour on the Chicago River, Navy Pier, Wrigley Field and of course, Larry getting to taste both a Chicago-style hot dog and Chicago-style pizza. In fact, Larry is separated from his family by the smell of one of our world famous hot dogs. The book takes Larry on a journey through Chicago as he looks for his family, and is continually distracted from his goal by Chicago’s many attractions.
This is a first-rate lost and found journey. The book also offers stunningly bright retro-cartoon style illustrations, often from the perspective of Larry the dog that will appeal to all preschoolers. Larry himself is particularly engaging with his round face and big, pink nose. The factual information about the City of Chicago is written at the right level to pique the interest of a preschooler or kindergartner. In addition to being an excellent choice for local children, this book would be great to have in your home for out of town visitors coming to stay during the summer months and planning on taking in the sites of Chicago.
Posted by: Kelly
Today, in preparation for summer free-time, Eileen shares The Junior Jetsetters Guide to Chicago by Pedro F. Marcelino.
I really enjoyed Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes which I blogged about earlier this year. In this second book, Pete the Cat is off to school and he is rocking in his school shoes! He sings his catchy little song throughout the book as he visits the library, the lunchroom, the playground and many other places in his school. His happy disposition shines all day long. As he gets off the bus, his mom asks him, “What did you do at school today?” He sings out that he was rocking in his school shoes and that he will do it again tomorrow!
This book is fun anytime of the year, but would a perfect book to share with a child about to start school or during the first week of school because in Pete’s words, “it’s all good!”
To hear the song click here.
To visit the author click here.
Posted by: Wendy
In the months of February and March when winter seems to be dragging on and on, it is time for my own personal countdown to Spring. For me, it starts when I can’t bear the thought of wearing my winter coat one more day, and I love my winter coat! Luckily this year Spring came early, but in this story the wait is a little longer. The book starts out with the world all brown, “all around you have brown”, and then day by day inch by inch the world starts to wake up. The little boy plants a seed, and he wishes for rain, and then gets his wish, and then there’s more waiting and wondering. Finally, one day there is a little rain and the next day a little sunshine, and the boy walks outside to check on all the brown, and everything is GREEN! This wonderful book is a hopeful and still realistic view of what it feels like to be young and to wait for Spring!
Posted by: Mary
This story is about the year after Arkansas was forced to integrate their high schools. The Little Rock Nine, nine African-American teens, braved the crowds, the publicity, the hate and the racism to take that first step toward equality in the Little Rock public school system. The author thought that that was what she was going to write about when she went to Little Rock. But when she started talking to people, all they could talk about was the year after the Little Rock Nine, when the governor of the state closed the schools in order to avoid integration.
Marlee is twelve years old and very shy–she only talks to her family. Her older sister has been sent away to highschool because the school in Little Rock is closed. Marlee misses her terribly. Then she meets the new girl, Liz, who says she just moved to Little Rock. Liz singles Marlee out to be her best friend and Liz is everything that Marlee is not. Liz speaks her mind, even with Marlee’s best friend Sally who is really kind of a bully. But Liz is very diplomatic and is able to get around Sally with flattery too. Liz decides that she is going to help Marlee talk and Marlee is amazed to find herself speaking up for the first time in her life. She also finds out that being friends with someone you really like and admire and share interests with can be very good. But then Sally finds out that Liz is actually African American and Liz has to leave school.
Can Marlee and Liz stay friends? How does Marlee feel about integration? Her Dad believes in it. Her mother is afraid of it. Can Marlee make a difference? Can she help reopen the schools so that her sister will come home? And what is going to happen with the older brother of the boy whose math homework she does? He wants to get back at Liz and her family for passing for white and Marlee knows he has dynamite in the trunk of his car! This is a wonderful friendship story, a coming of age story and a scary adventure story too. You may get bogged down a bit when Marlee is helping the Women’s Organization but keep reading. The action is yet to come!
Posted by: Fran