Archive for December, 2014

Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Kelly shares a great book for winter, Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill. Let’s hope that our winters are a little easier than his!

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Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the CountryChristmas in the Country is a picture book full of Cynthia Rylant’s remembrances of Christmases in the country where she lived with her grandparents when she was young. From stringing lights, to singing in the choir in the church at the bottom of the hill, to writing a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve – the traditions remembered are not unusual, but they are so lovingly evoked with Rylant’s sweet, simple prose and Diane Good’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Reading this book with loved ones will be a sweet celebration of the season, and may prompt a conversation about your own Christmases past. If you are feeling at all harried or overwhelmed with all you have to accomplish this holiday, this book may inspire you to slow down and remember all the simple joys the season offers.

Posted by: Parry

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Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass HouseIt seems like every year at this time, I assert once again that winter is the best time for slightly creepy stories — it’s cold outside, and we all like to huddle by the fire (or the radiator), feeling cozy and protected. A spooky mystery can add to that feeling of coziness — weird things are happening out THERE, but in HERE I’m nice and warm.

Greenglass House takes place right before a freezing cold, snowy Christmas. Milo is happy to have his loving innkeeper parents to himself for once, and planning to laze about over the school break. Unexpectedly, and at a time of year when this NEVER happens, the inn fills up with guests. And not just any guests: shifty guests. Shady guests. Guests who seem to be hiding something (or who are just plain unpleasant). It’s an open secret that Milo’s parents’ inn is friendly to smugglers, but do the guests know that? Is that why they’re there at such an odd time? Can anyone be trusted? And that’s before the mysterious thefts start, or the electricity fails due to sabotage Not to mention the ice storm! Milo’s parents and the cook are run off their feet, and Milo is either ignored or needed to help out. So much for Christmas!

Luckily for Milo, the cook’s younger daughter, Meddy, hitched a ride with her mom, so he has someone to talk to. She introduces him to the role-playing game Odd Trails, one that his father used to play when he was Milo’s age. Milo’s game character is braver (and tricksier!) than Milo himself, and their games are a great cover for an investigation into the thefts and sabotage. Do the guests have anything to do with the most famous historical owner of the house? What do they really want? And what significance is there in the guest that arrives on Christmas Eve itself?

Greenglass House is one of the best books I’ve read all year—it was enthralling, amusing, and emotionally affecting, with stellar, atmospheric prose. I’ve been able to recommend it to both adults and children, and everyone who has read it has loved it. If you love Greenglass House as much as I did, check out any of Kate Milford’s other books. None of them are as cold and wintery, but we have them all here at the library, and they’re all truly wonderful.

Posted by: Sarah

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Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

Fly AwayLucy can’t sing. She wishes she could, but she just can’t seem to carry a tune. Her sister Gracie has a lovely voice. Even her brother Teddy who is not quite 2 and who hardly even talks, can sing perfectly in tune. However, only Lucy really knows that Teddy can sing at all. It’s their secret until a family crisis brings his talents to light. Every year Lucy and her family pack up their van, chickens and all, and go to help her mom’s aunt Frankie in North Dakota during the rainy season when the river floods. This year the raging river looks particularly fierce to young Lucy. When little Teddy goes missing one afternoon it is up to Lucy to overcome her fear of not only the river, but also singing, in order to find him.

In Fly Away Patricia MacLachlan has captured the essence of the child’s point of view beautifully. Told from Lucy’s perspective, the family trip to Aunt Frankie’s takes on a childlike wonder. While the flooding river and the storms that cause it are certainly precarious, Lucy’s perspective adds a level of intensity that is specific to her youth. In addition, something as simple as her inability to sing carries extra feeling because we are experiencing the emotions through Lucy’s filter.

Fly Away is a short, but moving story about what it means to be part of a family and accepting the talents we have been given instead of lamenting those we have not. It would make a good choice for fans of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books or Tomie DePaola’s memoir series. Readers who enjoy Fly Away should also try MacLachlan’s White Fur Flying as well.

Posted by: Staci

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Stanley the Builder by William Bee

Stanley the BuilderWhen you read Stanley the Builder with its simple story, likeable characters, and bright illustrations, it brings to mind another favorite character named Maisy. And I LOVE Maisy! I think little boys and girls will also love reading Stanley the Builder and the other stories about Stanley as well – Stanley’s Diner, Stanley the Farmer, and Stanley’s Garage. This book is just the right length for those little ones who typically have a very short attention span, but will be able to sit for Stanley. I like the boyish themes in the series; and just as with Maisy, I think boys and girls (and parents) will enjoy reading these very much! Yeah!

Posted by: Mary

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Richard Scarry’s The Best Lowly Worm Book Ever!

Richard Scarry’s The Best Lowly Worm Book Ever!Holiday gift buying season and Richard Scarry is a safe choice, but for good reason. When I started my Library career it was during a time when most of Scarry’s work was out of print. Libraries were holding on to tattered copies of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, Busy Town, Busy People and Busy, Busy World Book and the like because although the books may not have been purchased in a while, people were still sharing them with their children. Finally, someone figured out that these well- loved copies of Richard Scarry books were not enough. New people were being born, needing an introduction to the world from Huckle the Cat, Bananas Gorilla, and Lowly Worm. So recently, much of Scarry’s book has been put back into print.

The Best of Lowly Worm is actually a new addition to the Scarry canon that Scarry’s son completed after finding the start of the book in Scarry’s unfinished works. In true Scarry fashion, the pages are packed with details, each double page spread featuring another concept important to early childhood development including counting, letters and getting dressed. Children and adults will love looking at the pages many times over, watching new subplots unfold with every viewing among the characters and situations featured in this book. Scarry’s books are a perfect way to introduce young preschoolers to new vocabulary as they will find the art so appealing, they won’t be able to stop looking and wondering at all of the new words and situations.

Pick up some of Richard Scarry’s work at the Library, choose your favorite and buy it for the young child in your life to keep this classic children’s illustrator’s books alive and well on your shelves at home and in the Library.

Posted by: Kelly

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Rex Wrecks It! By Ben Clanton

Rex Wrecks It!If you have anyone in your life that enjoys knocking down towers or destroying things, Rex Wrecks It! is the story for you. Gizmo the robot, Sprinkles the bunny, and Wild the monster love to build things, but Rex always wrecks them. From block towers to rockets and magical hearts, Rex wrecks it all. After he wrecks their awesomerific block tower, they finally realize that the solution is to build something as a team and knock it down together. They discover that it really is more fun to work as a team. Kids will enjoy shouting the refrain and you can’t help but not like Rex. I love his apologetic “rawry” after knocking down the block tower. This is a story that will be read again and again. It’s also a great story to share with older siblings with a little one in the family that likes to destroy things. On a side note, depending on your kids, I’d recommend skipping the blockhead comment in the story. We didn’t when we read it, and now my kids have a new name to call each other.

Posted by: Liz

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