Archive for March, 2008

The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble

The Orange ShoesAdella (or Delly, for short) is a poor girl in a loving family, who has wonderful artistic talent.  She goes to a one room school house in the country.  She doesn’t wear shoes to school because she likes how the dirt road feels under her feet, and she also doesn’t have an eraser on her pencil so that makes her drawings true pieces of art. 

When the school plans a Shoebox Social to raise money to purchase art supplies for the students, Adella sees a pair of orange shoes at the store in town.  Her father, however, needs new tires on his truck.  But, to Adella’s surprise, he buys the shoes for her!  Her classmates, especially Prudy Winfield, don’t like that she has new shoes, so they step all over them.  Adella paints a design all over her ruined shoes and shoebox from paints her mother made for her from vegetables and flowers. 

At the Shoebox Social, Adella’s shoes are a hit and her father is the highest bidder for them at $3.00!  This is one of those nice, old-fashioned kinds of stories that tell of a simpler time, but has themes that resonate in today’s world.

Posted by: Lori

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The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend

The Perfect NestJack the cat’s plan to have a perfect omelet starts with the building of the perfect nest.  He plans to use the nest to lure a chicken to lay an egg.  His plan produces even more than he hoped for when not only a chicken lays an egg but a duck and a goose lay one as well.  Jack can’t wait to eat 3 tasty omelets – one for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner.  The large double spread illustration shows just how eager Jack is.  But now Jack has a new problem – a mother chicken, a mother duck, and a mother goose that don’t want to leave their eggs.  After Jack cleverly resolves this problem, he is in for another surprise.  With spring and the hatching of eggs just around the corner, this book is the perfect read aloud. 

Posted by: Liz

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The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald by Clifford B. Hicks

Marvelous Inventions of Alvin FernaldHave you ever come up with an idea for an invention but didn’t know how to make it work? Maybe Alvin’s creative escapades with the sure shot paper slinger, the electric periscope and other intriguing contraptions will inspire you to be even more inventive. Whether you are inventive or not you can laugh and puzzle along as Alvin uses his inventiveness to try to solve the mystery of Mrs. Huntley’s disappearance. You can read more about Alvin’s exploits and inventive mystery solving in Alvin and the Secret Code.

Posted by: Iris

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Brendan Buckley’s Universe by Sundee T. Frazier

Brendan Buckley's UniverseBrendan has not gotten over losing his grandfather.  Before he died they were great friends and went fishing together all the time.  Imagine how astounded he is when he finds out he has another grandfather who doesn’t live far from him and who is a scientist and head of the local rock club.  Brendan is also a scientist and has a great interest in rocks.  However, Brendan’s mother never talks about her father and doesn’t want Brendan to know him.

Brendan goes to Tae Kwon Do lessons with his best friend, Khalfani,  and they conduct scientific experiments together, like competing to see who has the biggest bladder!  Khalfani helps him meet with his grandfather and covers up for him.  After getting to know his grandfather, Brendan begins to suspect that his grandfather may be prejudiced (Brendan’s mother and grandfather are  white and Brendon’s father is African-American).  Brendan decides to discover if this is true.   

This is not the only prejudice that Brendan encounters in the book and it is interesting how Brendan’s family prepare him for dealing with prejudice.  They surround him with love and instill in him pride and self-confidence so that he can deal with the prejudice that he will inevitably face.

This is a fun read with humor and adventure in spite of the serious subject and Brendan has an interesting and scientific way of approaching problems.  This is a good story for 4th, 5th and 6th< grade readers especially if they like science.

Posted by: Fran W.

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The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep by John Hulme and Michael Wexler

The Glitch in SleepIf you are looking for a great fantasy book that is packed with adventure and not too long, then this book is for you.   Hulme and Wexler develop a fascinating premise about Earth.  First off, the main character’s name is Becker Drane; what a great name!  He is a Fixer in The Seems. 

 Turns out the world as we know it does not really exist.  It was create by a place called The Seems and is kept running by all the people who work there.  Everything from weather to sleep to meeting someone on the street is orchestrated by them.  Don’t worry though, it doesn’t make humans seem like puppets or Earth like a place where a bunch of robots live.  There is “A Plan”, but no one is privy to it (not even the higher-ups in The Seems). 

Unfortunately, things do not always go as they are supposed to and, on the night Becker gets his first job as a Fixer, there is a Glitch in sleep causing everyone in the world to be awake and unable to fall asleep.  Can Becker fix it or will the world as we know it come to an end?  Well, if I told you that wouldn’t be a good incentive to go read the book now would it? 

This is a great start to what looks like a great new series in kids lit.  I also highly recommend it for a book discussion.  It is very meaty and would make for some great talks.

Posted by: Kate

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Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan

Edward’s EyesThere’s a quote that’s been attributed to everyone from Plutarch to Mark Twain but I prefer to think that they’re the words of that old scoundrel, Ben Franklin, who seemed to have his finger on what makes human beings tick.  It goes, “It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.  That being said, here’s my opinion of Edward’s Eyes.

I’m a web “lurker”.  I’m on a lot of different lists which I read avidly but I seldom add to the content.  I like to stay in the background.  My lurking goes into high gear at the end of December and beginning of January when I can tap into all the wisdom of the literary types who make their pronouncements about the “best books of the year.”  It was in those pronouncements that I came across the title Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan, more than a couple of times.  I like most of MacLachlan’s books so I was very interested in reading her latest and greatest.

Now that I’ve read it, I don’t know what to think about it.  It has a rather mysterious beginning but, then fizzles out until the last chapter or two.  The majority of the book is devoted to explaining to the reader what an unusual and wondrous child Edward is—or is supposed to be.  Frankly, other than being able to pitch a perfect knuckle ball, he seems rather ordinary, weird even.  It’s also one of those books, that because the author is making such a big deal about the character, even the less observant reader knows that something’s up and it’s probably not going to be good news.  The plot is saved however, by the ending–which reveals the meaning of the beginning.  It’s an interesting and unusual twist.

So, if you’re looking for a quick read, I’d suggest reading the first two or three chapters, flipping through to the final two or three—with the acknowledgement in between that Edward is indeed an astounding, other worldly child—and calling it a day. Now, I guess I have to hope that any book that I might write doesn’t fall into Patricia MacLachlan’s lap in need of a critique.Posted by: Eileen

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The House of a Million Pets by Ann Hodgman

House of a Million PetsThis was a very fun, quirky book about a woman who LOVES animals and has had many many pets over her lifetime.  The author explains that kids were always asking her to tell them stories about her family’s pets and sometimes telling her that she should write a book about them – and so she did.  The stories are written in a very relaxed and conversational way, sort of how you might sit around and tell stories to kids.   We learn lots of things about the animals, for instance how each pet came to live with her family and about the personality of each.  This book is filled with humor and honesty about living in a house with many pets — you know them and love them with all their quirkiness (sort of like family).  What a fun read, even if you don’t own any pets!

Posted by: Mary

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