Monday, October 20, 2014

Half a Chance

 Cover image for Half a chance
Half a Chance
By Cynthia Lord
Scholastic, 2014. Realistic Fiction, 218 p.

Lucy has moved to a new town on a lake in New Hampshire.  She quickly becomes friend with the boy next door, Nate, who is visiting his grandmother for the summer.  Together they get involved in helping Nate's grandmother keep track of the loons for a bird preservation group.  Lucy is also a photographer, like her father, and decides to secretly enter a contest for which her father is the judge.  As Lucy and Nate search for good pictures, and keep track of the loons, Lucy has to decide if winning the photography contest and helping Nate's grandmother is worth risking her friendship with Nate. Lord has created rich characters that deal with heart-wrenching questions about being willing to face both the beauty and the pain of life. This is a good title for kids interested in photography or who just like a good story about friendship.

Friday, October 17, 2014


 Cover image for Breathe
by Scott Magoon
Simon and Schuster, 2014. picture book

From the time the baby beluga takes his first breath, his life is filled with joy.  He swims, plays, dives and explores in the ocean depths with his mother close by.  There are dangers but the baby beluga knows how to stay safe and find "another way up."   Magoon's text is very simple, with only two or three words per page, but the writing is lyrical, like a free verse poem. The depiction of the beluga's undersea world is full of contrasts; the dark sea, the beluga's white body, and the shimmering silver bubbles.  This is a lovely STEM book for the youngest readers that encourages not only an appreciation for nature but a sense of wonder and well being.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Goose the Bear

Cover image for Goose the Bear
Goose the Bear
by Katja Gehrmann
Translated by Connie Strandling Morby
Sky Pony Press, 2014. Picture Book

Fox finds a delicious looking egg but before he can eat it he bumps into Bear and drops the egg.  Bear picks it up just as a baby goose pops out of the shell. The gosling thinks the bear is its mother, and starts following him around. Bear is impressed that the gosling can scale a tree and swim as well as he can and decides that the gosling is just like him. But the fox has not forgotten the egg. Is the gosling enough like Bear to take care of the fox? This book is another story about an unlikely friendship built on respect. The light-hearted acrylic and crayon illustrations suggest Gehrmann's native Germany. This one would work great as a read a loud, or for a child to read on his/her own.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amazing Visual Math - Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Amazing Visual Math
by Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Dorling Kindersley, 2014. 18 pages.

If you want to help your child get excited about math, look no further. As the title suggests, this interactive book uses visuals to teach math concepts including basic number lines, addition, subtraction, geometry, and fractions. There is even an interactive quiz at the end that kids will enjoy and parents will appreciate checking their child's understanding.

This book does require adult supervision as there are many flaps and pop-outs that could easily be destroyed and be a choking hazard. It makes a great read and discover together book. Appropriate for kindergarten and older. (Please don't let children tear it apart!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue

Cover image for Princess Labelmaker to the rescue : an Origami Yoda book
Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue: An Origami Yoda Book (#5)
By Tom Angleberger
Amulet Books, 2014, Fiction, 194p

The kids at McQuarrie Middle School are back, suffering through the incredibly boring and inane FunTime test prep program. To fight the evil FunTime empire, they have formed a "Rebel Alliance."  Kids that used to be opponents are now united, each with their own origami puppet based on a Star Wars character. Will their combined force be enough to triumph over the powerful Principal Rabbski, or is she, as Yoda suggests, secretly sympathetic of the rebel cause?  This is the 5th installment in the hilarious Origami Yoda series. As in the others in the series the book is formatted as a "case file" written by the kids, and illustrated with doodles and cartoons by the students. The library also has a recorded book version, performed by a full cast of voice actors. Either format works well. This series is a great choice for those who liked the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Five Nice Mice and the Great Car Race

 Cover image for 5 nice mice and the great car race
Five Nice Mice and the Great Car Race
by Chisato Tashiro
Michael Neugebauer Publishing, 2014, Picture Book

The five nice mice are excited when they see a poster announcing and upcoming car race.  Each of  the mice have their own skills, and they combine efforts to create a homemade, battery operated car to enter into the race.  Their main competition is a snazzy, store-bought, remote controlled car. Does  their home made jalopy have any chance to win the race?

Originally published in Hong Kong, there is much here to delight young readers.  Each of the little mice has their own personality and appearance.  The illustrations are detailed and interesting and the story, though longer than some picture books, is fast paced and exciting. In many picture books about mice, the mice are never seen by the humans, but in this one the mouse cars are out in the open, zig zagging through crowds of humans, trying not to get stepped on. Tashiro's tale will appeal to mice lovers and anyone who likes a thrilling ride.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scarier Than Fiction

Sick at Sea? Cure It or Cut It Off!
by Anna Claybourne
Would you dare be the surgeon on board a sailing ship in the 1700s? You'll need to know where to find dragon's blood, how to drill into a skull without anesthetic, how to stop rotting limbs from falling off! Learn all of the curious cures you'll need to treat dreadful diseases at sea.

Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
by Albert Marrin
Describes the conditions in the textile industry in the early 20th century behind the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company that led to the death of many young women, and explains its impact on the labor movement and on society.

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
by Sally M. Walker
When two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, on December 6, 1917, one of them was full of munitions for World War I. The ensuing explosion, aftershocks, and tsunami wrecked unbelievable devastation. It was the largest explosion in the world until the atomic bomb was detonated in World War II in 1945.

Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem
by Rosalyn Schanzer
Recounts in electrifying detail the true events of the 17th-century witch trials in Salem Village, Massachusetts. After two girls exhibit strange behavior, the colonial town's doctor concludes their symptoms are the result of witchcraft. Even today, the chilling events of this period remain one of the most disturbing passages of U.S. history.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
by Georgia Bragg
A look at the deaths of several famous people throughout history and the circumstances surrounding those deaths.

Scalpels, Stitches & Scars: A History of Surgery
by John Townsend
Read real-life stories and fascinating news reports to learn how surgery and medical treatment has changed throughout the years.

Scary Science: 24 Creepy Experiments
by Shar Levine
Presents over twenty science experiments designed to scare and gross-out others, including shrunken heads, rubber bones, and zombie food, and explains the scientific principles behind each experiment.

Ancient Medicine: From Sorcery to Surgery
by Michael Woods
Describes medical techniques such as brain surgery, splints, taking a pulse, forceps, and sanitation in ancient civilizations including the Stone Age, Egypt, Greece, China, India, and Rome.

Dangerous Creatures
by Angela Wilkes
Describes various kinds of dangerous animals, such as lions, piranhas, killer bees, and vampire bats.

Scary Creatures of the Wetlands
by Penny Clarke
Explores what animals live in the world's wetlands and how big a wetland can be.

Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off! : The Science Scoop on MoreThan 30 Terrifying Phenomena!
by Glenn Murphy
Presents useful information and facts on some of the most common fears, from poisonous spiders and shark bites in the ocean to the probability of being struck by lightning or killed by a flesh-eating bacteria.

Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead
by Rebecca L. Johnson
Are zombies real? Scientists know this for sure: dead people do not come back to live and start walking around, looking for trouble. But there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet nature's zombie makers--including a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming wasp--and their victims.

Goldie Take a Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade

 Cover image for Goldie Takes a Stand : Golda Meir’s First Crusade
Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade
by Barbara Krasner
illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Kar Ben Publishing, 2014. Picture Book Biography

Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, but when she was a girl she went to school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Even as a child, she got involved with social causes.  This little picture book biography tells the story of how she organized the children in her school to raise money for text books.  The story is written in first person, and the simple text conveys the strength of Meir's personality.  Garrity-Riley's gouache and collage illustrations use historically appropriate patterns for back ground and clothing that suggest the time period of the story.  This is an inspirational tale that gives incite into the origins of a amazing world leader.

I Love You Night and Day

Cover image for I love you night and day
I Love You Night and Day 
by Smriti Prasadam-Halls
illustrated by Alison Brown
Bloomsbury, 2014. picture book

Every child needs an affirmation of love from their parent or caregiver.  This simple rhyming picture book assures a child that they are loved in many different ways and in different situations. "I love you huge, I love you vast,/For the fun to come and the fun that's passed." Brown's acrylic and pastel illustrations show a stylized bear and rabbit enjoying a variety of activities together.  The gentle pictures done in rich colors reinforce the supportive message of the text. This is a great story for bedtime or any time a child needs to feel loved.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

West of the Moon

Cover image for West of the moon
West of the Moon
by Margi Preus
Amulet Books, 2014. Fiction, 213 p

When Astri is 13, she is sold by her aunt to a harsh goat herder.  Astri decides to escape and, along with her little sister, Greta, travel from Norway to where her father lives in America.  As the two girls set out, Astri tells her sister traditional Norwegian stories that give both girls courage to face the difficulties of their journey.  Strangely, the events in their journey seem to parallel the challenges the heroes face in the stories. Astri is a strong and complicated character.  She knows what is right and wrong, but is repeatedly faced with situations that make her choose between obeying convention and accomplishing her goal. She ultimately does what she must to get her and her sister to America. The story reads like a well written action/adventure story, but an author note at the end of the book explains that many of the events and even some of the the dialog in the book are based on historical records of immigration from Norway to America in the 1800's. Some thematic elements make this appropriate for older readers.