Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bob's Hungry Ghost

Cover image for Bob's hungry ghost
Bob's Hungry Ghost
by Geneviéve Côté
Tundra Books, 2014. Picture Book

Bob wants a dog or cat for his birthday, but instead he gets a ghost.  He names the ghost Fluffy and wants him to act like a dog.  Fluffy doesn't want to "sit" or "fetch". He wants to do what ghosts do, like hiding and flying. Finally out of boredom, Fluffy starts eating things.  As he eats he gets bigger and bigger until he finally eats Bob.   From inside the Fluffy, Bob finally comes to understand the ghost and later, when he comes out again, the two become best friends. Côté's text is clever and accessible, but Bob's story is largely told through lighthearted and expressive watercolor and pastel drawings. This is a fun new book for Halloween, with a great lesson about accepting people as they are.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stanley the Builder

Cover image for Stanley the builder
Stanley the Builder
by William Bee
Peachtree, 2014. Picture Book

Stanley the hamster is going to build a house for his friend, Myrtle Mouse.  Stanley clears the site, digs the foundation, stacks the bricks and adds the windows. Step by step Stanley builds the house until it all done and Stanley has earned a good night's sleep. Bee tells the simple sequential story with only one sentence a page, printed in large font.  The computer drawn illustrations are also simple but appealing and age appropriate. This is a good early literacy title that promotes narrative skills and supplies simple information about a child's world. Other Stanley titles include Stanley's Garage, and Stanley the Farmer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There's a Pig in My Class!

 Cover image for There's a pig in my class!
There's a Pig in My Class!
by Johanna Thydell
illustrated by Charlotte Ramel
Holiday House, Swedish Edition, 2012
English Edition, 2014, Picture Book

The "loneliest pig in the world" watches the children at the school across the way.  He longs to join them, so he digs under the fence and heads toward the playground.  The children instantly accept him and help him devise a disguise so he can go with them into school.  Pig has a wonderful time hearing stories and singing songs, but at last he is discovered.  He sadly returns to his pen, but soon his new friends come to visit him.  Thydell's story about uncomplicated friendship is illustrated with stylized ink and pastels cartoons. Little details make the characters endearing, like the flies buzzing around Pig when he is sad, and the pig noses the students wear when they come to visit him.  This is a fun import from a talented Swedish author.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ever After High Yearbook

Ever After High Yearbook
Various Authors
Scholastic, 2014,  Fiction, 93 p.

This is a companion book to the popular Ever After High online video series by Matel and its companion book series by Shannon Hale. It is formatted like a school yearbook, with snap shots and articles about students and school activities. Fans can see "photographs" of the school, classes, teachers, dances and other activities.  There are pages for each of the Ever After High characters, listing their special interests and extracurricular activities. The high gloss color artwork mirrors the style of the Ever After High online video series. "Hand written" notes added by the "students" in the end pages and margins look amazingly authentic.  This is a fun offering for the many fans of Matel's successful franchise.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Qwikpick Papers: The Poop Fountain

 Cover image for Poop fountain!
The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain
By Tom Angleberger
Amulet Books, 2014. Fiction 134 p.

When Dave, Lyle and Marilla discover that they all have nothing to do on Christmas day they decide to find an adventure.  After much research and debate, they decide to go and see the soon to be torn down  "poop fountain" at the town's waste processing plant.  As they set out on their quest they get more adventure than they bargained for during an afternoon none of them will ever forget. Angleberger is a master at portraying junior high personalities and relationships.  The situations the kids get into are both utterly believable, and totally hilarious. This book was actually written before the Origami Yoda series (but recently republished with new formatting), and the reader can see some of the themes and techniques that would later make the OY a smash hit. This is one even reluctant readers won't be able to resist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Display: Caves

Haunted Caves
by Natalie Lunis
Profiles eleven supposedly haunted caves, from one where Spanish conquistadors are supposed to have hidden treasure over 350 years ago, to another where a thirteen-year-old boy discovered the largest underground lake in the United States.

Cave Sleuths
by Laurie Lindop
Discusses the science of speleology and what scientists have learned about caves, how they are formed, and what lives in them.

by Anna Claybourne
An introduction to cave exploring, including information on travel preparations and safety, cave formations, wildlife, famous explorers, and conservation efforts.

Caves: Mysteries Beneath Our Feet
by David L. Harrison
A basic examination of how caves are formed.

Cave Crawlers
by Pam Rosenberg
Teaches readers all about caves, and the scientists who go to extremes to study them!

Caves and Crevices
by Sharon Katz Cooper
This book explores the slimy and gross creatures that call caves and crevices their homes.

Me Pregunto Por Que Cuelgan las Estalactitas Y Otras Preguntas Sobre
by Jackie Gaff
Answer all sorts of fascinating questions that children ask about caves such as: Where is the twilight zone? Why do oilbirds go click-clack? Which insects feed on bat guano? Who buried their dead in caves? - discover the answers to these questions and much, much more.

I Wonder Why Stalactites Hang Down and Other Questions About Caves
by Jackie Gaff
Answer all sorts of fascinating questions that children ask about caves such as: Where is the twilight zone? Why do oilbirds go click-clack? Which insects feed on bat guano? Who buried their dead in caves? - discover the answers to these questions and much, much more.

Forget Me Not

Cover image for Forget me not
Forget Me Not
By Nancy Van Laan
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Schwartz & Wade, 2014.

Julia can remember when her grandma was her sweet old self, but lately she has become forgetful.  At first she would just get Julia mixed up with her cousin, but later she couldn't remember things they had done together.  As her grandmother's dementia increases, Julia misses her old grandma, but she tries hard to do things to make her grandmother happy.  She visits her in the care center, and brings her forget-me-nots in the spring.

Dealing with a grandparent with dementia is difficult for adults and children. This book, illustrated with soft pastels, helps children understand what is going on, and gently lets them know that even though things are not going to get better, there are still ways to show their grandparent that they love them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel - Hope Larson

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
Adapted and Illustrated by Hope Larson
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012. 392 pages.

As part of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Newbery winner A Wrinkle in Time, Hope Larson created this brilliant graphic novel version of the story. I like Madeleine L'Engle's original book and I enjoyed what this version has to offer. Larson's illustrations are beautiful interpretations of the original. Because of the nature of graphic novels, we don't get into Meg's head as much and the story progresses quicker. While this version doesn't have the same literary quality, it offers a high quality visual experience.

There are mixed feelings about making a classic into a graphic novel. For kids who enjoy science fiction, I would give them the original book first and then let them read this one after (just like reading the book before seeing the movie). For kids who wouldn't be willing to give the original a chance but love graphic novels, I would give them this version to try out.

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 takes a great photograph that is offensive to Nate. Lucy has to decide if winning the photography contest 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.