Archive for January, 2013

Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich

Say Hello to ZorroMister Bud has a pretty great life–every day he follows the same routine, eating, sleeping, playing, waiting at the door, watching movies. The only thing he wants is for everyone to follow the routine, with NO derivations.

One day, though, his scheduled waiting at the door is rewarded by BETRAYAL! His family has brought home a second dog! Zorro and Mister Bud do NOT get along, and things get extremely tense before they both suddenly realize that they both have the same routine! After that, things become much easier — two dogs are much louder, and busier and squirmier than one, and, of course, they become best friends.

This book has the most adorable illustrations that I’ve seen this year, and anyone with a dog will find Zorro’s and Mister Bud’s behavior very amusing — and very familiar!

Posted by: Sarah

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares a animal-centric biography by one of the library’s most popular authors: Peg Kehret!

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Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close

Chuck Close: Face BookSuppose you were really bad at most school subjects. You had a hard time learning to read and couldn’t memorize the times tables. But, suppose you were really good at art, really good. Artist Chuck Close was that kid. He was dyslexic before anyone knew what that meant. Despite that, he was also lucky, because a lot of people—especially his parents–believed in his artistic ability and encouraged him to follow his passion. He even managed–with a lot of help–to get into college and attend a prestigious summer art program at Yale University. He became famous for painting gigantic portraits of ordinary people and sometimes other more famous artists he admired. Oh, did I mention that he has a medical condition, prosopagnosia, commonly called “face blindness?” That means he has a lot of trouble remembering people—what they look like or their names—even if he sees them every day. Then there was “The Event,” a collapsed artery in his spine that left him paralyzed from the neck down when he was 48 and rising to the very top of the modern art world. And yet he persevered. He triumphed.

He’s taught college art courses, married, has two daughters, has received numerous accolades for his work and last year, in 2011, Chuck Close was appointed by Barack Obama to The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Not too bad for a boy who might not have amounted to much and still needs to use dominoes to add or subtract.

Because this is an autobiography, you’d think that perhaps Mr. Close has written to crow about his accomplishments. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Set up in a question/answer format, Close has made an effort to address the inquiries of children about his art and life in a quiet, matter-of-fact manner. A truly remarkable feat of design, a type of “book within a book”, is a 20-or-so page “flip book” in the center. Well known for his self portraits, Close has chosen to show them rather than write about them in a way the readers can interchange portraits in varying styles and media to make a completely different work.

Much like Close’s life, his book is a tour de force. It can be read and appreciated by children and adults alike and I certainly hope it will be.

Posted by: Eileen

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Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Touch BlueLiving on an island off of Maine is idyllic to eleven-year-old Tess. She likes to ride her bike, read, swim, and to build things. She especially loves going lobstering with her Dad and attending the one room school where her Mom is the only teacher. She likes knowing all the year-round islanders, as well as the summer-only islanders. When the State of Maine threatens to close down the school due to a low student enrollment, Tess worries about how life would change for her and her family if they would have to move to the mainland.

After much talk of how to save the school, the solution is to simply increase the number of school children on the island. To achieve this goal, families are asked to consider taking in a foster child and Tess’s close knit family decides they have room in their hearts and home for another child. They look forward to the arrival of thirteen-year-old Aaron and Tess and her sister are excited about the prospect of a brother.

The smallness of living on an island can be somewhat overwhelming to an outsider, especially one who has been bounced around from foster family to foster family. Aaron is not charmed by island life and clearly resents the fact that he is unable to live with his mother. His only comfort comes from playing his trumpet and the piano. In time, he also comes to enjoy going out on the lobster boat with Tess and her Dad.

Tess, who is a very superstitious girl, worries that if Aaron doesn’t stay on the island, then she also will not be able to stay due to her school closing. “Touch blue and your wish will come true” is one of her sayings about luck. She tries hard to show Aaron the simple joy of her everyday life and she tries to help him cope with his past disappointments. She hopes that her belief in good omens will hold true and Aaron will find a way to fit in both her family and the island community.

This often touching story shows how children can find ways to help one another when faced with adversity. I found it a most enjoyable read and would heartily recommend it.

Posted by: Wendy

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First Light by Rebecca Stead

First LightPeter and Thea live in two separate worlds, and neither has any idea of the ways that they are connected. Peter is a resident of New York City, where he lives in an apartment building and can easily satisfy his love of Chinese food. Thea lives in a home almost entirely made of sealed ice, in a city under the icy surface of Greenland, where her people have created a viable life for themselves underground after they were persecuted generations ago.

When Peter’s father, a scientist who studies global warming, takes the family to Greenland on an expedition, Peter’s mother becomes increasingly withdrawn, and the mysterious headaches Peter has been experiencing worsen. Meanwhile, Thea’s desire to experience the larger world brings her very close to danger but also brings forth long hidden truths, which reveal her connection to Peter and his family. Their two lives come together in a story which involves science, mystery, family drama, and adventure.

Readers of fantasy will enjoy the vividly drawn underground world Thea lives in, and science enthusiasts will be fascinated by the way Rebecca Stead weaves global warming, molecular biology, and genetics into her story. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

Posted by: Parry

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Get Real! A Nonfiction Video Book Review

Liven up the cold days of January with Kelly’s latest pick: Create with Maisy by Lucy Cousins.

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The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest

The Dog Who Belonged to No OneWhen I saw this book with the sweet puppy on the cover, I was immediately drawn to it since we recently got a rescue dog ourselves. The author has also written a few of my favorite stories, a couple of which are You Can Do It, Sam and Kiss Goodnight. Luckily, this story does not disappoint. It is the story of a little dog who is a stray, and although he is a perfectly nice dog who is not a loud barker or biter or jumper, no one wants him for their very own. He tries to be helpful by chasing baseballs in the summer and finding lost mittens in the winter, but still no one wants to take him home. This lonely little dog hopes and wishes for a friend and for a forever home. Then there is Lia, a helpful and sweet young girl who helps her parents who are bakers by delivering their goods to town. Lia herself is a little lonely riding her bike on the long road to town, and so she thinks up stories to pass the time.

It is obvious that this dog and this little girl need each other, and one day their paths finally cross. It is a Sunday morning and very rainy and stormy, and a little stray dog is trying to outrun the rain – run, run, run. At the same time a young girl is racing to get home and out of the rain – pedal, pedal, pedal. Each are soaked to the bone and shaking and shivering and dripping wet. It just so happens that the little dog runs and runs until he reaches a crooked little house with a warm porch light, and what do you know, it is Lia’s house! Both Lia and the little stray dog get warmed inside, and each find the friend they have been hoping for. What a warm and cozy story!

Posted by: Mary

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Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson

Leap Back Home to MeThis delightful picture book features a young frog whose mother is encouraging him to explore the world, and when he is done, to “leap back home to me.” The young frog’s journey starts small as he leaps over a ladybug and a bee, but soon he is going farther, over the creek, over the hilltop even over the sun!

Playful pen and ink with watercolor illustrations show the small frog’s confidence and joy as he becomes more independent. Equally playful are the illustrations of the mother frog waiting with crayons or dinner for her young frog to return. Toddlers and young preschoolers will love listening to the text which is told in short, bouncy rhymes and even feature jumping sounds (plip!).

We are living in complicated times and it is difficult for parents to let their children out of their sight for even a moment, but this sweet picture book captures the joy that exploring and independence bring for young children, especially when they know a caring adult is waiting for them to return. This may be a comforting read for parents struggling to let their children explore the world as much as it is an amusing read for 2’s and 3’s who are longing to explore.

Posted by: Kelly

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Moo Hoo by Candace Ryan

Moo HooCow and Owl are best friends. They do everything together…just the two of them. Until Kangaroo shows up, that is. Suddenly Kangaroo wants to join the fun. Is there room for “Roo too?” He likes all the same things as Cow and Owl, but Cow and Owl like being a twosome. Kangaroo tries in vain time after time to show Cow and Owl that he can play too, but the tight-knit duo are not interested in adding another friend into the mix. Kangaroo can only take so much rejection, and eventually he gives up trying to play with Cow and Owl. Only then do Cow and Owl realize that maybe Kangaroo is an alright guy. He is pretty good at drawing, and he does know how to make some pretty cool airplanes for their super hero toys. Cow and Owl decide to try to find Kangaroo and ask him to play again, and when they do they realize that three can be even more fun than two.

Told through very simple text and delightfully quirky illustrations, Moo Hoo is a charming story about friendship and acceptance. Presented with a gentle sense of humor, author Candace Ryan creates three very lovable characters. Mike Lowery’s inviting illustrations and soft color palette enhance the story through their simplicity and warmth. It is not hard to see why Kangaroo would want to befriend Cow and Owl and, conversely, how the “New Roo” is able to win over the pair.

It is all too easy to get swept away in the routines of our lives and feel like there is no room for anything new. However, sometimes taking a risk and opening yourself up to new experiences and people can bring great rewards, as Cow and Owl discover when they take a chance on Kangaroo. So take a chance on Moo Hoo…you just might find that this new crew is perfect for you too.

Posted by: Staci

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