Archive for October, 2010

Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper

Beaver is LostI have a weakness for beautiful picture books. What could be wrong with loving beautifully wrought illustrations? It seems like gorgeous art is always paired with a more difficult or intricately written story. As a librarian, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to put a picture book if it’s not for young children, the books’ ostensible audience. Picture books on historical subjects or with complex ideas can be great for older kids, but it’s hard to sell a “baby book” to a 10-year-old. Luckily, my latest favorite is appropriate for all ages.

Beaver is Lost tells the story of a Beaver who finds himself in the big city, and his efforts to get home again. The watercolors are delicate and almost impressionistic, but still perfectly expressive of the subjects. The story–told with almost no words (a few appear on the first page, and one on the last)–is universal and just as thought-provoking as those ‘older’ picture books, and can be understood by very young children. A delightful, gentle story for anyone who loves beautiful pictures.

Posted by: Sarah

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Falling In by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Falling InIsabelle Bean lives with her mother, a single parent. Her mother grew up in an orphanage and married another orphan so they really have no family. Isabelle’s Dad divorced them. Isabelle’s mother doesn’t seem to know what to make of her daughter or how to make a house a home. Isabelle considers herself an unusual child. She loves to read, especially fantasy, and she has a very vivid imagination. In fact, she thinks there is a real possibility that she is a changeling, a baby left by the faeries in exchange for her mother’s real child. This would explain why she is so different from her mother and why she doesn’t fit in at school.

And then one day, when she is on her way to the principal’s office for not paying attention in class again, Isabelle Bean falls in – to another world, that is. A medieval world where people still believe and fear witches and the only medicines come from healers, who are suspected of being witches if they are single women living in the forest by themselves.

Isabelle finds out that the children in the villages have been sent away so that they will be hidden from the witch. This witch is very angry over a terrible crime committed by some children many years ago and, according to the child she meets, has been killing children in revenge for many years.

Isabelle likes this world, she has a friend, she finds a mentor and she begins to develop a sense of possibilities and accomplishments here. But will this world be torn apart by hate and revenge? Will she be able to stay here? I won’t tell you but I can say that this world causes many changes in her life and attitudes.

I actually listened to this on CD and it had a very nice rhythm to it. Recommended for girls in grades 4-6.

Posted by: Fran

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George Brown, Class Clown: Trouble Magnet by Nancy Krulik

Trouble MagnetFourth grader, George Brown, is trying really hard to be on good behavior. Unfortunately, sometimes his stomach gets a funny feeling like there are a million bubbles trying to get out and when that happens they explode into a super BURP! That super burp always causes George to do crazy things and his good behavior is out the window!

George’s band The Runny Noses plans to perform an original song for the school talent show. They are hoping to win first prize. On the day of the show, everything seems to be going great for George until his band is on stage and a super BURP simply can’t be squelched! Crazy behavior happens!

His super BURP also interrupts his carefully planned oral presentation on Hawaii when he prematurely over activates the volcano that he and his friend Alex have worked so hard on. More crazy behavior!

Poor George just seems to be a magnet for trouble!

Posted by: Wendy

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City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems

City Dog, Country FrogCity Dog, Country Frog is a lovely, episodic picturebook that will affect every reader, no matter their age or life experience. With just three characters and about 330 words, Willems has composed a story of friendship as warm and touching as any I’ve ever read—children’s or adult’s. Basically the story of a rambunctious young dog and a more “worldly wise” frog, his oh so subtle intergenerational theme will not confuse youngsters but adds poignancy for adult readers.

Better known for his yuck-a-page easy readers, Willems has moved on here to a multi-leveled tale with slightly dreamy, “just right” illustrations. I’d highly recommend City Dog, Country Frog as a charming addition to any grandparent’s “cuddle up” library for sharing with a special moment with their own “city dog.”

Posted by: Eileen

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Code Quest: Hieroglyphs by Sean Callery

Code Quest: HieroglyphsCode Quest: Hieroglyphs is like two books in one – part fictional mystery story, part activity book. Readers are introduced to the fictional Dr. Cameron Stone who is an archaeologist. As he visits his favorite Egyptian museum, he stumbles upon a mystery. The mystery involves a missing gold cat statue and a mysterious woman. The story takes place both in the museum and in ancient tombs in Egypt. As the mystery unfolds, readers learn about Ancient Egypt, how the ancient Egyptians wrote using hieroglyphs, and are then asked to decode some of the hieroglyphic clues in the story. As each code is solved, it moves the story along. This book does an excellent job of involving the reader in the story while at the same time teaching them about Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphs. A CD is included with the book which gives the reader the ability to write their own messages using hieroglyphs. This book would be an excellent resource for a lesson plan on Ancient Egypt. Or a great book for any child with an interest in Ancient Egypt or secret codes.

Posted by: Julie

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Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

Attack of the Fluffy BunniesThis book is hysterically funny. It tells the tale of three fluffy bunny aliens who come to take over and eat everyone on Earth. Kevin and Joules are twins whose parents drop them at camp while they go to a SPAM cooking competition. Yep, SPAM. Camp is not what they expect, especially when the adults all get eaten by 7 foot tall bunnies who force the kids to eat sugar. The twins and their friend Nelson must save the day. Much hilarity ensues and then the world is safe once more. A great book that is perfect for reluctant readers.

Posted by: Kate

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Flabby Tabby by Penny McKinlay

Flabby TabbyThis is a cautionary tale (no pun intended) about what can happen if you eat too much and don’t exercise and sleep all day and are carried everywhere – you too could become a FLABBY TABBY. This chubby cat is perfectly content living the slow and easy life until she is taken to see the vet and everything changes! The vet has a plan to get Tabby fit, and it involves a cute little bouncing kitten and a lot less food each day (that darn kitten keeps getting there first).

Tabby knows SOMETHING must be done, and she has a plan – she starts Tabby’s Secret Feline Fitness Plan. At first, it’s rough going, but gets easier and easier as she starts to get in better shape. It is a triumphant day when Tabby makes it to the bowl before the new little kitten, and the two of them run off playing and jumping all over the house. Very fun and perfect illustrations!

Posted by: Mary

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Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

FlippedSince Flipped has just been released as a Rob Reiner-directed motion picture, it seems like a good time to introduce the book version to readers of this blog. The story is told as a he said-she said novel spanning 6 years in the lives of Bryce and Julianna, neighbors with very different approaches to life.

When the novel opens, the characters are about to start second grade and Bryce has just moved into Juli’s neighborhood. Immediately, Juli runs over to the moving van, and it is there that she sees Bryce’s beautiful blue eyes and she is HOOKED. Thus begins her story, which chronicles her love for Bryce . . . mostly. Juli’s story demonstrates her passion—yes, her passion for Bryce, but also her passion for life—for the beloved sycamore tree in the neighborhood; and for her family—and her desire to protect them from neighbors who don’t like her messy yard or her ruffian brothers or her mysterious uncle. As the book progresses she begins to mature and starts to realize that there should be more to a person than his pretty blue eyes. Has she finally fallen out of love with Bryce?

Bryce, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with Juli those first few years. She is WEIRD—hanging out in that big tree all day or raising her chickens. And look at her YARD, it’s a mess! She is obsessed with Bryce, always following him and wanting to be his girlfriend. Bryce has much more important things on his mind and wants nothing to do with that crazy neighbor of his. Once Bryce’s grandfather comes to live with the family, though, things start to change. Suddenly Bryce begins to see Juli in a whole new light. He notices her passion and how protective she is of her family and wow, she really is pretty, too, isn’t she? Perhaps Juli’s long-held dream of a kiss from Bryce will come true.

Posted by: Cindy

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