Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mango and Bambang: The Not a Pig

Mango and Bambang: The Not a Pig
by Polly Faber
illustrated by Clara Vulliamy
Candlewick Press, 2015. Intermediate. 135 p.
Mango lives with her father who is always busy "balancing books."  She tries to stay busy, too, but is often lonely, until the day she meets Bambang.  Bambang is not a pig, but a tapir from a far away land. He is very nervous about living in the big city, but Mango is kind and gentle with him, and soon they are best friends. When Mango finally faces something that makes her nervous, Bambang knows he must step up and help his dear friend, the way she has helped him. This book is a treat, both literarily and visually. With simple language Faber creates a wonderful story of friendship and kindness. Vulliamy's two tone lavender cover art calls out to young readers and promises good things and her interior illustrations deliver on the promise. Gentler than Junie B. Jones or Ivy and Bean, this is a great choice for a young child who is an advanced reader, or anyone who has a tender soul.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Big Book of Bugs

The Big Book of Bugs
By Yuval Zommer
Thames & Hudson, 2016. Informational.

This book is half gorgeously illustrated picture book and half informative non-fiction. Each spread has a subject title – such as “Butterflies” or “Night-Time Bugs” – 4 or 5 single-sentence facts spread around the page with matching illustrations nearby, and often a “Can you find?” challenge. The layout is beautiful and accessible, inviting readers to learn facts broken down into manageable pieces.

This is a wonderful book for all different ages. Very young children can study the detailed illustrations or try the I Spy games; early readers can listen to or practice reading the short but interesting facts. And older kids will enjoy breezing through the book and picking up interesting tidbits of information. The answers to all the “Can you find?” challenges are shown in the back, and there is an index as well.

Monday, September 26, 2016


By John Patrick Green
:01 First Second, 2016. 84 p.

The zoo is in trouble! People aren’t coming to visit and the animals aren’t being taken care of as they should be. Red Panda (Hippo’s neighbor at the zoo) decides it is time to go out into the world to do something other than living at the zoo. Red Panda often comes back to tell Hippo just how wonderful the outside world is. Soon Hippo decides to become a Hippopotamister (a hippo pretending to be a human and get a human job out in the real world). Job after job Hippo carefully tries his best—while Red Panda does such a “great” job that both eventually are fired. Red Panda’s optimism keeps them going from job to job while Hippo seems to just be along for the ride. Eventually Hippo realizes just what this Hippopotamister should do (and with the details of the run-down zoo at the beginning of the story and the choices of jobs that the animals “try” readers will not be surprised or disappointed with Hippo’s decision). With great full-color illustrations and simple panel designs, this is a great book for young readers who want to start reading graphic novels but are intimidated by large amounts of panel work. Another great new graphic novel.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tell Me a Tattoo Story

Tell Me a Tattoo Story
By Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Chronicle Books, 2016. Picture Book.

As a young boy goes through his nightly routine of getting ready for bed he asks his father to tell him again what each of his tattoos mean. The father goes on to explain the story behind each like the dragon on his shoulder from a story book his mother use to read to him as child and the words “Be Kind” tattooed on the inside of his wrist because he always wants to remember those words from his father. Just as he is tucked into bed, the boy asks about his favorite, a tiny heart with a date on it, and the father tells him it’s his favorite, too, because it represents the young boy. A loving bedtime story shared between a father and son. Illustrated in India ink and watercolor, it replicates the feel of real tattoo ink.

Friday, September 23, 2016

This Book Just Ate My Dog

This Book Just Ate My Dog!
By Richard Byrne
Henry Holt and Company, 2014. Picture Book.

Bella tries to take her dog on a walk, but it doesn't work out like she'd hoped. Unfortunately the binding or gutter of picture books can sometimes, accidentally, eat up their characters. And even more unfortunately, Bella's dog isn't the only one that's going to get lost in the book. It's going to be up to you to rescue them in this fun, interactive read.

Curse of the Boggin

Curse of the Boggin
(The Library, Book 1)
by D. J. MacHale
Random House, 2016. Fantasy. 242 p.

First in MacHale's new series (The Library, Book 1), Curse of the Boggin begins with a nine-year-old boy named Alec who is scared of something under his bed. Only this time there really is something there - a big black pit bull who chases him out the window and onto the roof. His father, following his terrified cries arrives in time to save Alec but not to save himself as the pit bull drives him off the roof to his death on the pavement four stories down. All that remains is a sentence carved into the wood of Alec's bedroom floor: Surrender the key.  Enter Marcus O'Mara, cocky middle-schooler who starts to see visions of his own - a frightening old lady in a green dress, a black bull charging through the hallways of his middle school. Scariest of all, he is being shadowed by a man in a bathrobe who turns out to be Alec Swenor's dead father, Michael. Turns out Marcus is the heir to the key the witchy woman wants surrendered to her, and the key opens the door to The Library, an otherworldly place where everyone's story is on the shelf, either finished or in progress. In this adventure, Marcus and his friends must defeat the Boggin, a frightening creature who thrives on the fear of others, and finish Michael Swenor's story. Tweens should love this thriller by the much-beloved author of the Pendragon series.

The Turn of the Tide

The Turn of the Tide
by Rosanne Parry
Random House, 2016. Fiction. 294 p.

     Kai is in school when the earthquake hits. He knows what he is supposed to do.  Stay put. But he also knows what will follow the quake so he runs toward the harbor to rescue his grandparents. The three make it to a place where they think they will be safe, but they are not. The water keeps rising, and when Kai's grandfather tells him to run, he does. But they can't follow. Kai's parents both work at a nuclear reactor damaged by the quake and tsunami, so they send him to his aunt and uncle's home in Oregon though he is desperate to stay to help. In Astoria, Kai meets his cousins: Jet and Oliver. Jet has made a recent mistake of her own, not checking the tide tables before taking her sailboat out, endangering herself and her brother and damaging the boat. So much for her dream of becoming a harbor pilot when she grows up. During the summer, Kai and Jet try to be friends but have a lot of cultural differences to overcome, which they manage to do when they start sailing together and enter a race they both hope to win as a sort of redemption. Parry's book is not well-served by its cover, which suggests her story will be a frothy and funny affair. The narrative is actually thoughtful and engaging, telling the stories of two fine young people who want to do well in the world and to be a blessing to their families and others.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mighty Jack

Mighty Jack
By Ben Hatke
First Second, 2016. J Comics. 205 p.

 Jack lives with his Mom and sister Maddy, who doesn’t speak. At a flea market, Jack is shocked when a man mysteriously knows his name and Maddy speaks to Jack and urges him to buy some seeds from the man. After acquiring the seeds, Jack and Maddy begin planting them and quickly learn that the seeds are magic. With the help of a Lilly, the sword-wielding girl Jack just met, they begin to “maintain” the garden which consists of battling creatures and eating magic vegetables that give them powers. However, Jack is becoming increasingly nervous about the intentions of the garden.

 Ben Hatke, creator of the popular graphic novels Zita the Spacegirl and Little Robot, succeeds in creating a new fractured fairy tale graphic novel that is exciting and funny. With good characters and well-done twists on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, this is a solid graphic novel series opener that kids will really enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Poe Estate

The Poe Estate 
(Grimm Legacy #3)
by Polly Shulman
Penguin Group, 2015. Fiction. 259 p.
Because of financial troubles, Sukie's family moves in with an elderly cousin who lives in a creepy old house. Sukie soon discovers that the house is haunted, but that is nothing new to Sukie. She has been haunted by her deceased sister since her death years earlier. The house ghosts tell of a lost treasure and soon Sukie and a new friend, Cole, are on a quest to discover the treasure and save her family from financial ruin.  But they can't do it alone.  They need the help of the New-York Circulating Material Repository and its mysterious archivist, Elizabeth Rew.

This is a companion book to The Grimm Legacy, and The Wells Bequest. Although Elizabeth Rew is the common thread between the books, this story has a host of new characters, and works just fine as a stand alone. The premise of all three books is interesting and original, but the book's real appeal comes from the strong characters and plot. Sukie has a kind of "Harry Potter" feel as she gradually discovers her own powers and her place in her family history. This book is available from the library in print, on CD, as an ebook and an audiobook download.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dirt + Water = Mud

Dirt + Water = Mud
By Katherine Hannigan
Greenwillow Books, 2016. Picture book.

A girl has amazing adventures in her backyard with her dog, her active imagination, and a few props. Each page has a simple equation (“sheet + flowerpot + stick = Her Majesty, the Queen”) and a few speech bubbles, including humorous translations of the little dog’s different “woofs” and “ah-roos.” The two best friends have fun, communicate, and express emotions.

The short phrases and fun word equations mean this book could work well as an easy reader. The story and the illustrations are both warm and cheerful. The dog’s face and body language are wonderfully expressive. This book offers lots of action and some great ideas about using imagination and working through emotions.