Saturday, February 28, 2015

Earmuffs for Everyone!

 Cover image for Earmuffs for everyone! : how Chester Greenwood became known as the inventor of earmuffs
Earmuffs for Everyone
by Meghan McCarthy
Simon & Schuster, 2015. Biography. Unpaginated

Chester Greenwood is considered the inventor of earmuffs.  There is even a Chester Greenwood day that is celebrated every year in his home town of Farmington, Maine.  But did Greenwood really invent earmuffs?  Well, not really.  Other people invented things that were like earmuffs, but Greenwood made an improvement that helped the earmuffs work better and be more popular.   McCarthy includes other examples of inventors who are credited with inventing something, when they really only made critical improvements on someone else's idea.  The book is illustrated with colorful cartoon drawings of people and places mentioned in the text. McCarthy includes a insightful end note about her research journey. This is an interesting picture book biography that gives a real world example of how history is not always clear cut.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Display: Monstrously Fabulous Books

Zombie in Love
By Kelly DiPucchio
When all his efforts to find a sweetheart fail, Mortimer the zombie decides to place an ad in the newspaper.

Go Away Big Green Monster
By Ed Emberley
A scary green monster begins to disappear, piece by piece and page by page, in a die-cut picture book that lets youngsters take control of the monsters in their lives.

Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance
By Keith Graves
Frank the monster indulges his love of dancing by strutting his stuff on stage until his head unzips, his brains flop out, and he continues to lose body parts.

Always Listen to Your Monster
By Florence Parry Heide
When a new neighbor moves in next door, Ernest's mother, who always insists that he obey all the rules, encourages them to play together every day.

Even Monsters Need Haircuts
By Matthew McElligott
At night under a full moon, a child operates a barber shop with a monstrous clientele.

I Need My Monster
By Amanda Noll
When Ethan checks under the bed for his monster, he finds a note saying that Gabe has gone fishing and will be back in a week. He tries out several substitute monsters, but finds that none are as perfect as Gabe.

Monster Mansion
By Sean O’Reilly
The Mighty Mighty Monsters are convinced they can spend the night in a haunted mansion--until they encounter the ghosts. Presented in graphic novel format.

New Monster in School
By Sean O’Reilly
Being new in school is never easy for monsters except in Transylvania where all the schoolchildren are monsters too.

Lost in Spooky Forest
By Sean O’Reilly
When they get lost in the Black Forest, the Mighty Mighty Monsters discover that even the scary Frankenstein can get spooked.

Monsters Mind Your Manners
By Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrations and rhyming text reveal the terrible ways monsters may behave in one's home, on crowded sidewalks, on a bus, or at school as they do what they wish without thinking of others.

Magic Trixie
By Jill Thompson
Magic Trixie doesn't understand why no one will take her seriously! First, she's not allowed to do anything fun, while her baby sister gets away with everything, and then she needs to come up with a trick that's really special to impress her friends. Luckily Trixie has the best plan ever.

Magic Trixie Sleeps Over
By Jill Thompson
Magic Trixie is tired of her parents telling her when to go to bed and decides to stay over at each of her friends' houses to see what other young monsters do when the sun goes down.

Magic Trixie and the Dragon
By Jill Thompson
Magic Trixie, a young witch, wants a real dragon for a pet, but finds that getting one is not as easy as she thought.

The Black Stars

Cover image for The black stars
The Black Stars 
By Dan Krokos
Starscape, 2014. Fiction. 304 p.

In his first adventure (The Planet Thieves, 2013) Mason Stark and his cadet crew saved earth from a terrible war with the Tremists. Now the Earth Space Command wants Mason to attend the Tremist Rhadgast school as a gesture of peace, but also to act as a spy to check out rumors that someone at the school is developing a weapon to use against Earth. At the school Mason and fellow human cadet, Tom, must overcome prejudice and earn the Tremist's trust.  A threat from the students' common enemy, the Fangborn, unite the teens just in time for them to face their greatest challenge yet. This is a new, fast paced, science fiction series for tweens.  Mason is a likable hero, and the other characters are interesting and well developed. The setting is very like the futurist world of Star Trek.  This is a great book to give to kids who have enjoyed the adventures of Percy Jackson or Alex Rider.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


 Cover image for Firebird : ballerina Misty Copeland shows a young girl how to dance like the firebird
by Misty Copeland
Illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam Sons, 2014. Picture Book

Misty Copeland is one of the leading ballerinas at the American Ballet Theater.  She writes this book to encourage young ballerinas to keep working even though they feel that "the space between you and me is longer than forever." She assures her young readers that with practice and time, some day they will be the ones the young dancers look up to. The writing is brief and lyrical as Copeland uses imagery from nature and dance to describe the glory of motion.  Myer's illustrations are a stunning combination of painting and collage. His use of line and color to show both the gracefulness and strength of ballet won him the Coretta Scott King award for illustration last year.  This is a great book to share with any aspiring dancer.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Flying Dutchman

 Cover image for The Flying Dutchman
The Flying Dutchman
(Jr. Graphic Ghost Stories)
by Jane H. Gould
PowerKids Press, 2015. Comics 24 p.

This new short graphic novel tells the story of the ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman. Captain Vanderdecken wants to sail his cargo ship from India to Europe faster than anyone has before so he makes a deal with the devil.  As he tries to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, the ship is lost in a storm.  Because of Vanderdecken's bargain, the ship is doomed to sail forever, causing disaster to anyone who sees it.  Gould recounts several instances where people, including the prince of England, have claimed to see the ghost ship.  Unfamiliar terms are defined in a glossary in the back of the book.  Gould illustrates the story with full color, but in a graphic novel format.  This is a good choice for a reluctant reader who likes spooky stories.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Fine Dessert

Cover image for A fine dessert : four centuries, four families, one delicious treat
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
By Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015. Picture Book

Do you want a fun activity to do with your children this weekend?  Check out this book.  It presents four different families and shows how they each make a dessert called Blackberry Fool.  The first family, from 18th century England, picks the berries, milks the cow, whips the cream with a whisk made of twigs, and cools it in an ice house.  The next family are slaves in 19th century America. They use a wire whisk, and have to serve their masters before they eat, but the dessert is the same. The 20th century family has an ice box and a rotary mixer.  The modern family buys their berries at a grocery store, and mixes it with a food processor, but each time the dessert is delicious. The author includes the recipe for Blackberry Fool in the back of the book.  Both author and illustrator have historical notes about how they carefully researched to make the book as accurate as possible. Blackall even used blackberry juice in some of the illustrations and to color the end pages.  This is a well thought out and charming glimpse at history.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I am Jackie Robinson, I am Rosa Parks

Cover image for I am Jackie Robinson Cover image for I am Rosa Parks
I am Jackie Robinson, I am Rosa Parks
(Ordinary People Change the World)
by Brad Meltzer
illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015.  Biography (unpag.)

February is Black History Month.  These new picture book biographies celebrate two famous people who worked for racial equality.  Rosa Parks, a quiet middle-aged black woman, inspired the Montgomery Alabama bus strike when she refused to give up her seat on the bus. Jackie Robinson was an amazing athlete who was able to break through the color barrier in professional baseball.  In these inspirational books, the characters tell their story first person. They talk about the discrimination they suffered as they grew up, and how they stood strong to make a difference. The books are illustrated in a child friendly, comic book style with both linear text and speech bubbles. These are appealing and accessible introductions to the lives of two remarkable people for grade school age readers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

Cover image for Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
by Joyce Sidman illustrated by Rick Allen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  32 pgs.  Nonfiction

     Joyce Sidman's reliably beautiful poetry and Rick Allen's amazing linoleum block prints (digitally scanned and layered) make Winter Bees . . . an instant classic of children's nature books. Tundra swans sense the imminence of their migration in the opening poem of the book:  . . . "That night, we dreamed the journey;/ice-blue sky and the yodel of flight,/the sun's pale wafer,/ the crisp drink of clouds./We dreamed ourselves so far aloft/that the earth curved beneath us/and nothing sang but/a whistling vee of light." Besides Allen's lovely pictures, each animal is given a paragraph of detailed explanation of why and how they do what they do. Art and science combine in this fine volume for nature lovers, young and old.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole — Book Page Interior.jpg

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick, 2014. Unpaged. Picture Book

     Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole and they will not stop until they discover something spectacular. Nothing odd about that, but magic realism seems the order of the day in this delightful, Caldecott-honor-winning picture book. The boys dig a good distance straight down in a beautifully squared off hole that doesn't seem to require piling dirt anywhere else. Spectacular items in the form of cut diamonds of all sizes lie a mere shovelful away from the boys' search, but they veer off just before making the discovery - let's split up, they say, or go in another direction. They fortify themselves with chocolate milk and animal cookies, and then, tired out, go to sleep. The digging continues when they awake, but soon they break through and fall through the air . . . to land in a place you will never suspect. Lots of fun from two masters of the genre.

The Princess in Black

Cover image for The Princess in Black
The Princess in Black
by Dean and Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Candlewick, 2014.  90 pgs. Intermediate

     Princess Magnolia, dressed in pinkety-pink-pink-pink is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when the call comes in on Magnolia's glitterstone ring (Brring! Brring!). A monster has invaded the kingdom and Princess Magnolia must swiftly and secretly ditch the duchess and become The Princess in Black, the masked crusader who alone can save the two frightened goats who are about to be swallowed by a large blue monster. The P in B has no problem driving off the monster; her trouble now is that the nosy duchess is searching the castle in her absence to discover whatever secrets she can (everybody has them) about Princess Magnolia. Magnolia hastens home, but too late to keep Duchess Wigtower from discovering a pair of black stockings! What to do? The Hales' sparkling early reader has a "whew!" of an ending, which young readers should discover with delight. Parents often ask for beginning chapter books that lie somewhere between easy readers and regular chapter books. The Princess in Black should fit that bill nicely, with many large colorful illustrations and an easily accessible text.