Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Super Book: I'm Trying to Love Spiders

Cover image for I'm trying to love spiders : (it isn't easy) 
by Bethany Barton
Viking Books, 2015. Picture Book.

“I keep telling myself: ‘Spiders are cool.’ I want to love them.” The narrator of this book is heroically trying to love spiders despite being afraid of them. The narrator and reader pump themselves up by going over awesome arachnid facts, and just when it seems like it’s working… “Ahhhhhh!! It’s moving!! Squish it!! Squish it!! Squish it!!” A dotted-line handprint around the spider lets the reader help with the squishing, and on the next page there is a big dark ink splat. Oops!
Full of fun spider facts, clever captions, and cute cartoon spiders, this book is just plain hilarious!

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)
by Geoff Rodkey
Little, Brown, and Co. 2015. Fiction. 219 p.

It all starts with Claudia thinks her twin Reese took her toaster pastry.  She gets back at him by insulting him at school.  He gets back at her by calling her a name in front of her friends.  The war escalates with hilarious results. The story is told in notebook form, and includes transcripts of parent texts and interviews with friends and teachers.  The general tone of the story is humorous, but there are serious (and a little bit preachy) overtones. That said, the voices of the two tweens and the junior high atmosphere are spot on, and the book is illustrated with cartoons like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the Dork Diaries, so kids will be willing to overlook the tiny bit of moralizing.  (219 p.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Super Book: Big and Small

Big and Small
By Elizabeth Bennett
Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Tiger Tales, 2014. Picture Book.

Big, a bear, is best friends with Small, a mouse. One day, they go outside to play but as they are climbing trees, crossing a stream, or playing in the field Small calls on Big’s help to assist him so he can keep up. But when they get home and it’s time to go to bed it is Big that calls on Small’s help for a hug because he can’t sleep.

A cheerfully illustrated picture book about friendship that shows that no matter your size, each friend has a very important role in helping the other.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mothman's Curse

Mothman's Curse
by Christine Hayes, illustrated by James K. Hindle
Roaring Book Press, 2015.  310 pgs. Fantasy

     Josie, Fox, and Mason Fletcher live in Athens, Ohio, a mere forty miles from Point Pleasant, West Virginia where the "real" folk monster, Mothman, began to appear just a year before Point Pleasant's Silver Bridge collapsed, killing forty-six people. In Hayes' story of the Mothman, he appears hither and yon just before similar tragedies such as the one in neighboring Clark, Ohio, where a landslide claimed many lives. The children's father runs an auction house and has been asked to sell items from the estate of John Goodrich (and he was good and rich, but not untouched by disaster); when the children look over the sale items they find a camera that has no film and yet spits out picture after picture of Goodrich; Josie finds a pin with a moth encased in it which she keeps, with dread consequences. The Fletcher children's encounters with the Mothman are frightening, as are the consequences of the curse he has the power to lay whomever he choses. This is a terrific story for 4th to 6th graders who like being spooked, with a great cast of characters with whom to relate, but it is definitely not for children inclined to nightmares.  Local author Christine Hayes has a winner her very first time out of the gate, and no doubt will have a large, national readership clamoring for her next title.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Super Books: ABC ZooBorns!

Cover image for ABC zooborns! 

By Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland
Beach Lane Books, 2012, Picture Book.

Another fun entry in Bleiman and Eastland’s ZooBorn series, ABC ZooBorns introduces a cute and cuddly animal for each letter of the alphabet. Filled with beautiful photographs of well-known animals like a giraffe and a rhinoceros as well as a few lesser-known animals like a dhole and a vicuña, this is another good book for little ones learning their abc’s. Each page includes a letter, a photograph of an animal and a brief sentence that acts as a caption for the photo. Be sure to check out all of the books in the ZooBorn series!  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Super Book: House of Robots

House of Robots
by James Patterson
Illustrated by Chris Grabenstein
Little Brown and Company, 2014. Fiction

Sammy has a crazy home life.  His father is a comic book author and his mother is a robotics expert.  Sammy tolerates the teasing he gets about his unusual parents, until one day when his mom wants to send one of her robots to school with him as his "robot brother."  After a first disastrous day, Sammy starts to get used to having his "bro-bot" around. "E" is smart, strong and funny.  Most of the other kids like "E" as well, but not everyone is glad to have him at school. Sammy's story is illustrated throughout with line drawings reminiscent of  Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Patterson includes plenty of silliness, especially at Sammy's house which is filled with a whole cast of whacky robots.  There is a touch of tenderness, too, in Sammy's relationship with his home-bound sister. Patterson proves, once again, that he knows how to write what school-age kids like to read.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Super Book: Necessary Skills and Then Some

Cover image for Necessary skills and then some ... 
DK Publishing, 2014.
Nonfiction, 192 pgs.

This book offers kids step-by-step instructions about how to make, explore, and experiment in every imaginable life category, both practical and outrageous. A small sample of activities: perform magic tricks, make origami animals, learn to juggle, make real hot chocolate, attract and feed moths, escape from an alligator, pan for gold, find your latitude, learn CPR, make balloon animals, and build a compost pile. Full of fun tips and great diagrams, this book is an excellent boredom buster which will keep kids busy, give them new knowledge about the world, and might even introduce them to their next favorite hobby.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Super Book: Dinosaur Farm

Dinosaur Farm
By Frann Preston-Gannon
Sterling Children's Books, 2014. Picture Book.

Working on a farm is hard work but it’s even trickier when your livestock are dinosaurs. The story follows a farmer and his pet dinosaur as they go about their busy day feeding, bathing, and cleaning up after the dinosaurs on the farm. Sparse text and humorous colorful collage illustrations make this book one of my all-time favorite dinosaur picture books—and I read a lot of dinosaur picture books.

Frann Preston-Gannon was the 2011 Sendak Fellowship recipient which gave her the opportunity to live with and learn from master illustrator Maurice Sendak for a month in his home.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Super Book: Captain Amercia The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger
by Alexander Irvine (adapter)
Little, Brown and Co. 2014. 152 p.

Captain America is one of the most beloved of Marvel superheroes.  Irvine tells his story, based on the Captain America movie, with clear, straight forward prose in this short novelization.  Readers can follow Steve Rodgers as he goes from being a super wimp to a super soldier. Irvine portrays his struggles as a propaganda star and his final triumph over Hydra. Irvine focuses on the plot, and does not use a lot of detail in describing the fighting and action sequences.  This helps the story move at a good pace, and keeps the violence levels more appropriate for the target audience.  The library has both the print and audiobook formats.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Super Apps: iMotion (Creating Stop Motion and Time Lapse Videos)


iMotion is hands-down the best stop-motion app I have seen.  It is educational and has a simple enough interface that kids can easily use it on any iPhone or iPad. The videos it creates are high quality and can be saved to a computer, or posted online to places like Facebook. Once your child learns how to use the app, prepare yourself for hours spent creating their own clever stop-motion short films. We used this app in one of our library programs. (I found that action figures and LEGOs are some easiest items to use for stop-motion.) The kids LOVED making their own film. Parents later reported that some of them went straight home and started making films of their own. In all, it is an app that should not to be missed.