Archive for April, 2012

Nini Here and There by Anita Lobel

Nini Here and TherePoor Nini! She is confronted with a chaos of shoes and boots and hats and books and coat and suitcases. This can only mean one thing: her people are going away without her!

Even worse is when Nini is put into a Big Black Thing, where she has to stay for so long that she falls asleep and dreams of clouds . . . the ocean . . . the desert . . . until she wakes up: where?

I have a cat myself, and I always wonder what she’s thinking about when we do leave her all alone, and when she’s put into her cat carrier. Anita Lobel’s captivating illustrations of Nini’s journey drive this little story, but it’s her understanding of her own cat (also named Nini, and on whom the character is based) that makes the book feel so real and true. Nini herself is so charming (without being anthropomorphized), that the reader will be completely drawn into her small-scale world.

For more of the endearing Nini, check out Lobel’s other books about her: Nini Lost and Found, and One Lighthouse, One Moon.

Posted by: Sarah

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month Eileen talks about one of the best books of last year: Wheels of Change by Sue Macy.

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Is Everyone Ready for Fun? By Jan Thomas

Is Everyone Ready for FunJan Thomas is back for more fun! This time some cows are looking to have fun. The only problem is that they want to have that fun on chicken’s sofa. While chicken doesn’t approve of them jumping, dancing, or wiggling on her couch, there is one activity she’ll approve. Get ready for some laugh out loud fun and while you’re at it check out her silly, new Easter book, The Easter Bunny’s Assistant.

Posted by: Liz

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Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl and PoIf you are looking for a scary ghost story with blood thirsty, terrifying ghosts this story is not for you, though you will get a little peek into the after life. This is a rather sweet ghost story. There are some very evil, dangerous, and unlikeable characters in this story, however. One of them is the ugly stepmother who has locked her stepdaughter, Liesl, up in the attic. Another is the wicked alchemist who has taken a lot of the life, beauty and sunshine from the world in order to make a magic potion for the Lady Premiere, also a nasty character. The alchemist has an apprentice whom he uses to run his errands. He is an orphan and his name is Will.

It is actually Will’s mistake which starts the story in motion, he delivers the box of magic to the wrong person. When Liesl runs away, Will follows her and her ghost friends, Po and Bundle, come too. They are also helped by a friendly watchman, Mo, who carries his pet cat in a sling. This is a fun story with lots of action, creepy characters and a satisfying ending.

Posted by: Fran

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Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

Drawing From MemoryI was captivated by this quiet book, told with words, photographs, drawings, and paintings. It is an account of author and illustrator Allen Say’s coming of age as an artist and a young man, as well as a tribute to his teacher, the famous Japanese cartoonist Noro Shinpei.

Growing up in Japan, Allen Say wanted to be a cartoonist from a very young age, despite the disapproval of his father. He was able to begin pursuing this dream in earnest after various circumstances – World War II, his parent’s divorce, a cruel grandmother – resulted in his going to live in a Tokyo studio apartment alone at the age of 13. This independence allowed Say to draw as much as he liked, and facilitated his decision to seek out famous cartoonist Noro Shinpei as a teacher. Though separated from his family, Say finds a spiritual and artistic home with his Sensei (teacher) and Sensei’s other pupils.

Drawing from Memory will appeal to young artists, those who love stories told in words and pictures, those who enjoy memoir and history, and to any reader whose imagination might be captured by the story of a 13 year old boy living alone in a big city – free to explore, adventure, and pursue a dream.

Posted by: Parry

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Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson

Ghosts of the TitanicI mentioned it before but I’m going to repeat myself. I’m a Titanic nut. With the 100th anniversary looming just ahead like the fateful iceberg, I’m in my element. Books, TV miniseries, documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles, I can’t get enough.

When the galley for Lawson’s Ghosts of the Titanic arrived at the Library, I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading—I also love a good scary tale. Right after dinner, I propped up my pillow, settled under the covers and read straight through to the end. My husband was a bit miffed—you’d think by now, he’d have learned to sleep with the bedside light on—but I was thrilled. What a book, what a story! I was enthralled.

It’s a grabber. First there’s the Titanic story—more about that later—then there’s a really spooky ghost story, a coming of age story, a mystery, time travel and even a sports angle. That may seem like a lot but Lawson is able to tie all the elements together to make a modern, realistic plot with a strong, historical fiction backbone.

A particularly interesting facet of the book is the “Halifax connection.” When they think of the voyage of the Titanic I think most folks conjure images of the grand staircase, elegant passengers and/or the docks at Belfast. Lawson’s story begins at the end of the crossing after the ship has sunk off the coast of Nova Scotia and hundreds of dead bodies are being collected from the frigid water.

There’s a whole Canadian point of view that is seldom considered as a part of the tragedy. The entire world was stunned by the story of the “unsinkable” ship, the marvel of modern technology, going down. Afterwards, while reporters were interviewing the glamorous celebrities and other survivors in New York, in Halifax, they were doing the “mopping up.” This is where the ghost story begins, in the pitch black of the open ocean in a small boat surrounded by floating corpses.

How does Ms. Lawson sweep us into the 21st century while keeping our attention firmly rooted in the past? Masterfully. Ghosts of the Titanic has already won awards in Canada and is now destined to be remembered as a “Titanic classic” here in the US as well. In the meantime, I ‘m making plans to visit Halifax.

For more information and to hear an interview with the author, click below on Julie Lawson’s “Story behind the story” website.

Posted by: Eileen

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Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press HereThis unique and wonderful book can’t help but put anyone who reads it in a good mood. The author asks you to follow the directions and press and jiggle and tap and clap as instructed, and magically things happen to the brightly colored dots. You can clap your hands and make the dot get bigger or press the dot and turn the lights out. Even adults who may now be far removed from the imagination of their childhood will be able to imagine once again. Brilliant and loads of fun!

Posted by: Mary

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