Archive for November, 2011

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

IcefallIt is very difficult to write a review of a book you love. For books you merely like it is easy to list all the good points and wrap up the review with a pithy phrase. For a book you love, you find yourself jumping up and down and saying “It’s great!!!” and shoving copies of it at people. This does not work when you are writing an online review.

Solveig is the king’s younger daughter. Her older sister is beautiful and her younger brother is the heir. Solveig thinks she has nothing to give or to be, but when she and her siblings and retainers are sent into hiding at a protected fjord while her father fights a war, everything changes. Solveig’s perception of the familiy’s warriors, servants, and even her sister slip in the face of the devastatingly hard winter they go through, and in the process she learns something about herself — though this discovery does not play out in the way the reader is expecting.

Kirby’s prose is beautiful, and fully evokes the Norse culture and cold winter setting.  His retellings of myths are skillfully woven into the narrative and never seem like afterthoughts, or take the reader out of  Solveig’s story.

Give this book to any child who liked Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud, or who is fascinated by Norse myths — they’ll find it just as stirring as I did.

Posted by: Sarah

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The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

Night FairyWhen Flory’s wings are crushed in an accident, she is separated from the rest of the night fairies and stranded in the garden of a human (“a giantess”). She is still young and only as tall as an acorn, and now she must learn to survive on her own. She defends herself, makes clothes out of cherry blossom petals, finds an ally in the greedy but lovable squirrel, and embarks on a dangerous journey to save a hummingbird. It’s ultimately a story about making a home for yourself in your own little corner of the world, even if you were born a night fairy and didn’t really plan on living in a bird house with a squirrel for your best friend.

This slim book is a wonderful read, full of charming details, vivid imagery, friendship, and plenty of adventure. While it will, of course, appeal to children who love fairy books, I think it will also appeal to young readers who enjoy animal stories and outdoor adventure stories. As it’s so pretty, with illustrations by Angela Barrett and deep blue endpapers that are just a little bit sparkly, The Night Fairy would make a beautiful gift. It would also make a great family read-aloud; I can definitely see snuggling under the covers with this one.

Posted by: Parry

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Basketball Belles by Sue Macy

Basketball BellesI wouldn’t be surprised if, like me, many folks think that women’s basketball is a relatively recent phenomena. Sure, I played basketball is high school—and had a lot of fun. We played half-court “girl’s rules” though and mainly just for the exercise. Cutthroat? Hardly. Hardly even sweaty.

Basketball Belles, on the other hand, chronicles the story of the first intercollegiate women’s basketball game from the point of view of Agnes Morley, a Stanford guard. The game was played between Stanford University and University of California Berkeley in San Francisco, 1896. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t realize that basketball was being played—by anyone, much less young women—in 1896. It was a hard-hitting, grueling game that had nothing to do with “girl’s rules.”

The story is presented in a 32-page picture book format that is as fast paced as the game. The wonderful full-color illustrations by Matt Collins are packed with action and emotion. They keep the momentum of the text moving at a heart-pounding clip.

By the end of the experience, both teams, would have readily agreed that “a good time had been had by all.” Readers will feel exactly the same.

Posted by: Eileen

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I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom

I Am a BunnyI am enjoying sharing one of my childhood favorites with my son. In I Am a Bunny, children are introduced to Nicholas Bunny and his activities throughout the year. Eddie loves smelling the flowers and making the frogs hop in the springtime and kissing Nicholas goodnight when it’s time to hibernate. Beautifully illustrated by Richard Scarry, this is a great introduction to the changing of the seasons.

Posted by: Liz

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Review

Warm up in chilly November reading about Terrible Tilly!  Kelly shares a favorite book:

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My Best Frenemy by Julie Bowe

My Best FrenemyIda May is in fourth grade. She is a popular girl but her best friend is Stacey. She confides in her diary which she calls Stella. Things are changing within her group of friends. Some of the girls are getting very interested in fashion and makeup and some have had their ears pierced. Ida May’s main interest is art but she would like to have her ears pierced. Her parents want her to wait until she is older.

Two of Ida May’s friends are not getting along. They used to be best friends but now things are tense between them. One of her friends likes sports and can’t understand why some of the other girls care so much about what they are wearing. Then one of her friends gets a Truth or Dare game for Christmas and starts bringing it to school. The girls are beginning to get into trouble for wearing eye make-up and for doing dares they have been given because of the game. In fact, some of the Truths and Dare make Ida May very uncomfortable.

Ida May is a smart girl with a warm heart and you can really identify with her feelings and her problems. Best of all she is a good friend and manages to come through a lot of difficult situations because of her personality and, at least in one situation, she just gets lucky! Recommended for girls from 4th through 6th grade.

Posted by: Fran

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The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

Wonderful BookReally little children already know all the uses for a book – to chew on, to sit on, to pretend to read – but now they will know even more creative uses for books. In this charming story, a variety of animals happen upon something WONDERFUL (a book)! Each animal has a special use for that something wonderful as a cozy little house, a pretty hat, a perfect table, a comfortable bed, etc. – all good uses until the little boy happens upon the book and finds the best use of all – to READ! The Wonderful Book does not disappoint and is in fact, WONDERFUL!

Posted by: Mary

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Backward Bowwow: A DC Super Pets Book by Sarah Hines Stephens

Backward Bow WowDC Super Pets are fantastic easy readers. The text is clear, sentence structure is perfect for beginning readers, and they even use comic book style fonts and color to denote dialogue which helps beginning readers distinguish dialogue from the rest of the text AND adds a fun, comic book element. The illustrator, Art Baltazar has won the Eisner award and it shows in his illustrations for this book. The Eisner award is awarded to outstanding comic book artists each year. Backward Bowwow contains high gloss, bright illustrations that will draw kids into the stories.

In this title, Superman’s dog Krypto meets his evil counterpart, Bizarro Krypto. Bizzaro Krypto crash lands on Earth with the intent of reversing the relationship between dogs and humans. In Bizzaro World, the dogs are in charge and the humans are the pets, and Bizzaro Krypto is determined to make Earth the same way and it is up to Krypto to stop him. The title also has bonus material at the end including jokes and a glossary to define some of the higher level words called “Word Power”. This series has everything a beginning reader would want: superheroes, pets, great pictures and fun stories.

Posted by: Kelly

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Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

Pete the CatPete the Cat is one cool cat! He has brand-new white shoes and he loves them so much he walks along singing a song, “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes.” Then UH-OH . . . he steps in a pile of strawberries. His shoes aren’t white anymore, but does Pete care? NO WAY! He keeps walking along singing his song with new words to match the new color of his shoes. As you might guess, he continues to have mishaps along the way.

This delightful picture book is sure to be a big hit with children and adults alike. Pete’s positive attitude shines through and sometimes we all need to be reminded that “it’s all good!”

Posted by: Wendy

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