Archive for May, 2014

Gravity by Jason Chin

Gravity by Jason ChinOver the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more very young children–almost toddlers–asking for books about science. There have always been tiny kids interested in dinosaurs and outer space, but it seems like they’re becoming savvier (and more interested in a variety of topics) at a younger age than ever before.

Thank heavens for Jason Chin. His books–Redwood, Coral Reefs, Island, and now Gravity–are perfect for this set. Each one is a beautifully drawn, engaging story that will teach a reader more than expected about the topic (also helpful for the adult reader who might feel slightly behind when it comes to the child’s knowledge base!) As well as being intellectually stimulating and lovely to look at, Chin’s book is also subtly funny, in way reminiscent of David Wiesner. What better way to reinforce what gravity does than to show us what would happen without gravity? And what better way to drive that point home than to show us the reassertion of that gravity after its absence? Understated, but hilarious.

Gravity also sports a double-page spread at the end of the story, explaining the subject in greater detail–and with smaller, but still extremely helpful illustrations. A keen-eyed reader will also notice that there is a small bibliography on the copyright page. Probably not for toddlers, these books, but definitely helpful for anyone who would like to learn more on the fascinating subject.

Posted by: Sarah

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, to help us kick off our summer reading clubs — Paw Pals and Pawsome Readers — Kelly shares The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins.

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Urgency Emergency: Big Bad Wolf by Dosh Archer

Urgency Emergency! Big Bad Wolf When the penguinmedics burst through the hospital doors with a choking wolf, Dr. Glenda wastes no time diagnosing his problem – something is obstructing his airway! Quickly, Dr. Glenda and her faithful, if not slightly skittish, aide Nurse Percy deduce that it is not something stuck in the wolf’s throat, but rather someone. After much back-slapping and wolf-squeezing, a formerly missing grandmother is finally dislodged from the wolf’s gullet. Subsequently, police are called to haul away the carnivorous canine, and the undigested grandmother is reunited with her distraught, red-hooded granddaughter. It’s all in a day’s work for Dr. Glenda and crew.

Dosh Archer’s Urgency Emergency series is a fun take on fractured fairy tales for beginning readers. Each installment takes well-known characters from nursery rhymes and folk and fairy tales out of their storybook realms and into the E.R. with Dr. Glenda and Nurse Percy. As the author herself states in a 2009 interview, Dr. Glenda, Nurse Percy, and the rest of the City Hospital staff attempt “to bring an element of order to the chaotic world of fairy tales and rhymes,” and the results are rib tickling. These books are fun on their own, but would also make for a great read-aloud addition to a folk and fairy tale unit for Kindergarten through Grade 2.

Originally published in Britain in 2009, the third title in the series, Little Elephant’s Blocked Trunk, is scheduled to be released in North America in September of this year. Until then we always have The Big Bad Wolf and Itsy Bitsy Spider to tide us over.

Posted by: Staci

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Princess Posey and the Perfect Present by Stephanie Greene

Posey feels very lucky to be in Miss Lee’s first grade classroom. She loves her classroom with her very own cubby, she loves being in class with her two best friends, and she loves her teacher, Miss Lee. So when Posey finds out that Miss Lee’s birthday is coming up, she wants to give her the perfect present. She decides to bring Miss Lee roses grown from her family’s garden, but when her friend Nikki unknowingly arrives first and presents Miss Lee with a big, expensive-looking bouquet from the flower shop, Posey feels her gift is too humble and she hides it away. Feeling miserable, Posey doesn’t eat her birthday cupcake, sits alone at recess, and is even very mean to her friend Nikki. Things are all wrong. But, Posey talks to her mom about it. She puts on her pink tutu, in which she always imagines she is Princess Posey. She thinks: “Princess Posey (is) beautiful and kind. She wouldn’t cry if someone gave the same present. She would just think of another present.” And Posey is able to find another gift to show Miss Lee how much she cares, reconcile with her friend, and to once again feel very lucky to be in Miss Lee’s first grade classroom.

Stephanie Greene’s Princess Posey series depict a playful and sensitive first grader making her way in the world, and making plenty of mistakes while she’s at it. Greene handles well the difficulty of feeling jealous and inadequate, and how Posey is able to successfully transform these feelings with the help of her supportive family and her imagination. Young readers will relate to Posey’s experience of both the joys and traumas that unfold in the first grade classroom. With large print, ten short chapters, and an abundance of illustrations and white space, the Princess Posey books are perfect for readers just starting out on beginning chapter books.

Posted by: Parry

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Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I by Alison Hart

Darling is enjoying a comfortable life as a family’s dog in the farming community of Cosham, England during World War I. He loves his family, especially the children, Katherine and Robert. He has a friend in a stray dog named Rags. Best of all, there are sheep all over Cosham that Darling chases with glee, allowing his herding nature a frequent workout and irritating the neighborhood farmers. When Katherine and Robert’s father is called away to war, another family sacrifice is quick to follow. Because of a steep dog tax, the family can no longer afford to keep Darling. They enlist her into the military in hopes that their beloved pet can help with the war effort. At first, Darling’s happy-go-lucky attitude does not make her a very good soldier, however, when the sergeant who cares for her is injured in a training exercise, Darling rushes to his side and barks until someone helps him. This focus and caring make Darling a perfect fit for the role of Mercy Dog. Darling is trained to find wounded soldiers during battle and stay with them until a medic can help.

This book is action-packed, focusing on Darling’s training as much as her combat experience. There are interesting facts about World War I, military dogs and life in England during the war. This is the first book in a series called Dog Chronicles. This book and the forthcoming sequels are a wonderful way to introduce historical events to young dog lovers in 2nd grade and up. The details are rich, but not gruesome and the conclusion is satisfying so that young readers never are overly stressed emotionally while reading about this lovable dog and the people she cares for.

Posted by: Kelly

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Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton

Goldi Rocks and the Three BearsI am always impressed when someone can redo an old story and make it fresh, while still staying true to the original. This is definitely not an easy task, but the authors of Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears manage to remake this classic story in a fun and appealing way. The story starts out with the three bears and their band trying to figure out why they are not so popular. Eventually, they come to the conclusion that they need a lead singer who can hit the high notes that they cannot, and thus begins their search. Meanwhile, Goldi happens upon their empty house and finds their music studio, which thrills her to no end. She tries out some of the instruments and equipment, but unfortunately takes a tumble and breaks the microphone stand. Then she tries out the headphones, but Mama Bear’s are too tight, Papa’s are too loose, and Baby Bear’s fit her just right (you see where this is going . . .)

Goldi is exhausted from all that grooving, so she decides to take a nap. Meanwhile the three bears are holding auditions to find a lead singer for their band, but to no avail. When they return home, they are surprised by the terrible mess left by Goldi. She is startled awake and screams with a “pitch perfect high C”, and they have found their singer! This book is very clever and definitely a fun version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Posted by: Mary

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You Make Me Smile by Layn Marlow

You Make Me Smile by Layn MarlowWe may have had enough snow and cold weather this year, but this is a story that will make you smile. It begins on a gray day that turns into a beautiful snowy one. A little girl bundles up and hurries outside to begin work on a snowman. The day is a special one. It is the day her snowman makes her smile. The story spans the season. The following winter the little girl meets her friend again. The adorable illustrations will make you smile. It’s one to remember next winter or to read on a steaming-hot summer day to remind us that winter isn’t always so bad.

Posted by: Liz

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