Archive for October, 2012

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Splendors and GloomsIt’s the season for spooky books, and for kids who want a scare, ONLY a spooky book will do. Some children, though, want their creepy books to be creepy with a difference–not just cheap scares and cliffhangers, but something atmospheric that draws a reader fully into the world of the book. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is perfect for those readers. Schlitz takes us into the Gothic, foggy 150-years-ago world of Lizzie Rose and Parsifal, two children who work for Grisini, a not-at-all-nice puppeteer. When Grisini is hired to perform for the birthday party of rich Clara, a girl who seems to have everything (except siblings, all of whom have died), Lizzie Rose and Parsifal think their fortunes are looking up. Unfortunately, first Clara, and then Grisini disappear, and their lives take a turn for the desperate.

This book is beautifully, spookily written, with compelling characters and perfectly described settings. It won’t be for children who hate historical fiction, or anyone who wants a quick read, but for kids who want a long spooky night where they can enter another world, this is an excellent choice.

Posted by: Sarah

Leave a comment »

Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares a way to make physics fun–really!–with the book Zombies and Forces and Motion by Mark Weakland.

Leave a comment »

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

All the Lovely Bad OnesWith Halloween fast approaching it is time to crank up the creepiness with a good ghost story. Mary Downing Hahn has been sending chills up the spines of young readers for decades, and she does not disappoint with All the Lovely Bad Ones.

Twelve year old Travis and his sister Corey love stirring up mischief, but when their pranks go too far and they are no longer welcome back at summer camp, their parents decide to send the children to stay with their grandmother for the summer instead. Shortly after arriving at their grandmother’s rural Vermont inn, Travis and Corey learn that the inn has a history of paranormal activity. Armed with this newfound knowledge, a little dime store face paint, and some not-too-shabby acting skills on the part of Corey, Travis and his sister decide to liven things up by haunting the inn themselves. Their seemingly harmless prank wakes more than the inn’s guests, however, and as mischievous spirits begin ransacking the inn and a malevolent presence lurks in the shadows, Travis and Corey are soon forced to face the consequences of their actions. Having woken the spirits from their rest, Travis and Corey must now help to settle them once again…this time for good.

Hahn wastes no time getting to the action and quickly hooks readers. She manages to maintain a pace that is energetic and suspenseful, making this a hard book to put down. The characters, both alive and dead, are dynamic and well developed. Hahn successfully blends mystery, suspense, historical fiction, and the supernatural to create this chilling tale that is perfect for brave young readers from 4th to 7th grade.

Posted by: Staci

Leave a comment »

The Blue-Nosed Witch by Margaret Embry

The Blue-Nosed WitchBlanche is a young witch who belongs to a special scurry of witches known for its beautiful flight formation. Some witches might think she isn’t fit for such a distinguished scurry – Blanche is young and scatterbrained, and despite her best efforts she always manages to be late. But she also has a very special bright blue nose which she can flash on and off at will, and that counts for a lot. Even so, Blanche realizes she cannot be late for the most important flight of the year on Halloween night. Her efforts to be early work a little too well, though, and Blanche finds herself awake hours before midnight, fallen in with a group of human children out for trick-or-treating. The children are charmed by Blanche’s fantastic blue nose, her flying broom, and her little black cat named Brockett, so they invite her to join them – and that is how Blanche the little witch has a Halloween adventure unlike any her fellow scurry-members have ever had.

Originally published in 1956, The Blue-Nosed Witch is charming and old-fashioned. It is a very short and quick-moving chapter book with black and white illustrations scattered throughout – perfect for new chapter book readers. If you’re like I was, and looking for a light-hearted Halloween story without the spook factor, then this might make an excellent choice.

Posted by: Parry

Leave a comment »

The Grumpy Dump Truck by Spangler

The Grumpy Dump TruckIn The Grumpy Dump Truck, Bertrand, an ill-tempered dump truck, tries to wreck everyone’s day. He is rude to everyone at the construction site and spends most of his time grumbling. Then he meets Tilly, a porcupine who tries to spread a little sunshine everywhere she goes. Tilly pokes a hole in Bertrand’s grumpy exterior and discovers the real reason he’s down in the dumps. But is it enough to get him to change his ways?

Posted by: Liz

Leave a comment »

Making a Jack-o’-lantern, Step by Step by J. Angelique Johnson

Making a Jack-o-LanternYou just got home from the pumpkin patch and you are your preschooler or young elementary school-aged child are ready to dive in and make something great out of the big, orange blank canvas. If you can’t wait to show your child how to create a Jack-o’-Lantern, but you are not quite sure how to approach this project with such a young child, this title is perfect! In just 32 pages, you will go from a simple gourd to creating a great Halloween decoration for your home.

Each page has large photo illustrations that share a step in creating your Jack-o’-Lantern. The book features a page of tools to have around while you carve your pumpkin, including an ice cream scoop to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and pumpkin “guts.” The text is large and clear so most beginning readers will be able to read the book with an adult. And the order of the story is carefully laid out to help young readers who are developing sequencing skills. This title is great for kids interested in learning how to carve a Jack-o’-Lantern or adults looking for a little extra guidance as they take on this fun, seasonal project.

Posted by: Kelly

Leave a comment »

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

World According to HumphreyHumphrey the hamster is the class pet in Room 26 of Longfellow School. Ms Mac, the temporary teacher, purchases Humphrey for the students and she personally takes tender loving care of him by bringing him home with her at night and on the week-ends. He is no ordinary hamster and during the school day he learns lessons along with the students. He even has his own little notebook and pencil.

Life is wonderful for Humphrey until it is time for Mrs. Brisbane, the regular teacher, to return to the class. Mrs. Brisbane does not like him one bit and she is not about to bring him home with her on the week-ends the way Ms Mac did. But there is no need for Humphrey to panic because the room mothers arrange for him to spend time with the family of a different student each week-end. As I mentioned, Humphrey is no ordinary hamster and he finds ingenious ways to help the various families solve their dilemmas during his week-end visits. He is so very remarkable that even Mrs. Brisbane has a change of heart toward him.

This book is written from the voice of Humphrey who is simply the smartest and most lovable hamster I have ever encountered. There are other Humphrey books in the series so his antics will continue to entertain you.

Posted by: Wendy

Leave a comment »