Archive for December, 2012

Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

Everyone loves to celebrate New Year’s Eve, even kids! Today, with her second video in one month, Eileen shares the book Creative Nail Art for the Crafty Fashionista by Mary Meinking, sure to help anyone get gussied up for their New Year’s plans.

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Scary Mary by Paula Bowles

Scary MaryWell of course the title of this book caught my eye, and I was happy to discover that this is a wonderful book covering a subject that is not so wonderful. Scary Mary is a chicken and also happens to be a barnyard bully – she rules the roost and doesn’t want to share anything, not the barnyard and definitely not “her” sunflower seeds. She makes signs, she puts up gates, and even builds a fort to keep the others out. She also continues to work on her very scary faces and various other ways to scare the barnyard animals away. As you might suspect, Mary succeeds in keeping the other animals out and ends up playing by herself and eating by herself and clucking by herself. Of course, she quickly realizes that being scary is SO LONELY. In the end, Mary decides she doesn’t like to be lonely and asks the other animals if she could play too. Wouldn’t you know it, they say YES!, because they already know that it is much more fun to do things together. While still being fun to read, this simple story manages to get an important message across about bullying.

Posted by: Mary

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

In a very timely offering, Eileen shares the book Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story by Lise Friedman.

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

A Child's Christmas in Wales “It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas.”

One book that I always turn to in December is Trina Schart Hyman’s presentation of Dylan Thomas’s wonderful prose poem A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Thomas’s almost achingly evocative descriptions of the Christmas of a small boy, sometime in the nebulous past, are perfectly matched by Hyman’s glorious illustrations, which show the boy’s eccentric, yet all-too-real relatives and friends.

No other story and no other illustrations have ever so perfectly captured the hilarity of holiday relatives, the conversations of little boys, and the feeling of world-wide silence after a snowfall. Undeniably the most perfect Christmas book ever.

A Child's Christmas in Wales

Posted by: Sarah

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The True Gift: A Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan

The True Gift: A Christmas StoryIt starts out like every other Christmas for Lily and Liam – they are going to stay with their Grandma and Grandpa in the country, where they plan to read, bake cookies, and head into town to buy Christmas presents using the money they earned through babysitting and doing odd jobs. But everything changes when sensitive and thoughtful Liam notices that Gran and Grandpa’s cow is now standing all alone in the meadow that he used to share with the donkey (who has since gone back to live with his owner). Liam knows that White Cow must be very lonely, and he cannot stop thinking about it. He is determined to help White Cow, even though it won’t be easy and it will disrupt all of their Christmas plans. Liam finally enlists the reluctant Lily to help him, and they find a way to give White Cow a gift, which really turns out to be a gift for them all.

This is a very gentle story, told in gentle, simple prose and illustrated with soft pencil drawings. The book’s calm and quiet atmosphere, as well as its message which celebrates generosity, empathy, thoughtfulness and courage, make it a perfect choice for the Christmas season. This short chapter book would make a good holiday read for any independent reader or as a read aloud for the whole family.

Posted by: Parry

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The Quiet Christmas Book by Deborah Underwood

The Quiet Christmas BookThe hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us, but this delightful picture book reminds adults and children alike how so much of the season really is about being quiet. The author, Deborah Underwood, is the creator of The Quiet Book and The Loud Book.

Underwood brings the soft pencil drawn woodland animals from those two books back for Christmas. Each page highlights a different winter tradition from animals bundled up and knocking quietly with mittens on their hands arriving at a party, to making snow angels, drinking cocoa, and a beautifully reverent lighting ceremony. Not all the Christmas quiet is positive, as seen when one of the creatures forgets his line during the Christmas pageant, but he is saved by a quiet whisper from a friend backstage. This lovely, quiet read would be perfect for a calming moment during a busy day of shopping, wrapping and cooking or a bedtime read all holiday season.

Posted by: Kelly

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Wonder by R. J. Palacio

WonderIt is no secret that middle school can be tough, but clearly some kids have a tougher time than others. August “Auggie” Pullman’s first year of middle school would fall under the “tougher” category. Auggie is a normal kid, or at least he would like everyone to see him that way. However, Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity for which he has undergone numerous surgeries. As a result, he has had to be homeschooled…until now. Just as he is about to begin the fifth grade, Auggie’s parents have decided that it is time for him to start attending school outside his home. Among the numerous other challenges of beginning middle school, Auggie is also saddled with the challenging task of convincing his new classmates and teachers that, despite his extraordinary appearance, he really is an ordinary kid. In the novel Wonder, author R.J. Palacio uses multiple first-person narratives to weave an achingly realistic account of the hardships Auggie faces during his first year in middle school as well as how his arrival in his new school affects those around him.

Through the use of a multi-cast recording, the Brilliance Audio recording of Wonder brings an enhanced depth and authenticity to Auggie’s story. If you have never listened to an audiobook, this is a great title to try out. Palacio’s style of first-person narratives lends itself perfectly to an audio recording, particularly one with multiple cast members to represent the book’s various narrators. Each narrator breathes a whole new life into his or her character as we, the listeners/readers, are able to experience more fully the complicated emotions that drive his or her actions throughout the story. Listening to Auggie’s story also adds a whole new level to the humor that Palacio skillfully places throughout the book. It is virtually impossible not to crack a smile when listening to Auggie and his parents joke about the fact that his new principal’s last name is Tushman.

Whether you read it, listen to it, or read along while listening to it, Wonder is perfect for any middle schooler or those of us who remember what it was like to be one…but if you ask me, you really should try giving it a listen.

Posted by: Staci

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