Friday, September 4, 2015

The Luck Uglies

The Luck Uglies
by Paul Durham
Harper Collins, 2014. Fiction. 387 p.

Rye and her mother Abigail live outside the protection of the city walls, and near the dark and dangerous forest. Abigail promises Rye will always be safe from the fearsome Bog Noblins, and the dangerous Luck Uglies as long as she lives by the five house rules. Rye tries to be obedient most of the time, but when she "accidentally" takes a forbidden book, it triggers a sequence of thrilling and terrifying events that cause Rye to question all that she ever thought about her mother, the house rules, and who she really is. This is a fun and exciting new fantasy featuring a gutsy girl in a whimsical world.  Durham has a clever imagination, a good sense of pacing, and a knack for getting just the right balance between plot and action. Luckily the second in the series is already available. This book is available in print and as a recorded book on CD.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

If I Built a Car

Cover image for If I built a car 

By Chris Van Dusen
Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. Picture Book.

Jack has decided that his dad’s car “is not bad” but that Jack has planned an even better car. His car is futuristic and made of a “polymer gel.” It comes complete with snacks, a robot driver and pool. It can turn into a boat, submarine or a jet. The reader will fall in love with Jack’s cool car and may even think of some ideas for an even cooler car. Winner of the E. B. White Read Aloud Award, If I Built a Car is a great book to read to kids of all ages. With its rhyme structure and sleek cartoon-style illustrations adults and children will enjoy reading about Jack's fantastic car together.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Grade Dropout

Cover image for First grade dropout 

By Audrey Vernick
Clarion Books, 2015. Picture book.

The first grade narrator of this book has decided he cannot go back to school because he made a mistake so big that he can never recover from the embarrassment of it. After briefly considering time travel and elaborate disguises, clearly his only real choice is to drop out of school in the first grade, never see any of his friends again, and stay home and work on his jump shot for the next decade or so. With great comic timing, the terrible incident is eventually revealed. Anyone who has survived an embarrassing situation will relate to this first grader’s agony and appreciate the idea that things are not usually as bad as they seem and can even be incredibly funny.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Display: If You Liked...

If You Liked Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park:

Ivy and Bean
By Annie Barrows
When seven-year-old Bean plays a mean trick on her sister, she finds unexpected support for her antics from Ivy, the new neighbor, who is less boring than Bean first suspected.

Annabel the Actress Starring in Gorilla My Dreams
By Ellen Conford
Though a little disappointed that her first acting part is to be a gorilla at a birthday party, Annabel determines to really get into the role.

Owen Foote, Second Grade Strongman
By Stephanie Greene
Owen, a second grader who is being teased for his small size, discovers that his friend Joseph is just as concerned about being overweight, and they share their fear of being humiliated by the school nurse.

Ruby Lu, Brave and True
By Lenore Look
Almost-eight-year-old Ruby Lu spends time with her baby brother, goes to Chinese school, performs magic tricks and learns to drive, and has adventures with both old and new friends.

Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth
By Jane O’Connor
In her chapter book debut, Nancy Clancy must find the culprit when a prized possession goes missing at school.

By Sara Pennypacker
While sorting through difficulties in her friendship with her neighbor Margaret, eight-year-old Clementine gains several unique hairstyles while also helping her father in his efforts to banish pigeons from the front of their apartment building.

If You Liked Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

Out of My Mind
By Sharon M. Draper
Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.

By Tony Abbott
A middle school boy's life is changed when Jessica, a girl disfigured by burns, starts attending his Catholic school while receiving treatment at a local hospital.

By Kathryn Erskine
Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
By Jack Gantos
To the constant disappointment of his mother and his teachers, Joey has trouble paying attention or controlling his mood swings when his prescription meds wear off and he starts getting worked up and acting wired.

Absolutely Almost
By Lisa Graff
Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, best at gym, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself.

Okay for Now
By Gary D. Schmidt
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends, an abusive father, and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him until he finds an ally in Lil Spicer--a fiery young lady. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.

If You Liked The Giver by Lois Lowry:

The Maze Runner
By James Dashner
Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape.

The City of Ember
By Jeanne DuPrau
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions.

Dark Life
By Kat Falls
When fifteen-year-old Ty, who has always lived on the ocean floor, joins Topside girl Gemma in the frontier's underworld to seek and stop outlaws who threaten his home, they learn that the government may pose an even greater threat.

The House of the Scorpion
By Nancy Farmer
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Among the Hidden
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong.

Running Out of Time
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
When a diphtheria epidemic hits her 1840 village, thirteen-year-old Jessie discovers it is actually a 1996 tourist site under unseen observation by heartless scientists, and it's up to Jessie to escape the village and save the lives of the dying children.

If You Liked Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne:

The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet
By Tony Abbott
A Hidden Door. A Magical Staircase. Discover the World of Droon! Eric, Julie, and Neal have just found something magic in Eric's basement. They have discovered a staircase to another world! The world of Droon is amazing - full of magic, flying lizards, and fun, furry creatures. But how will Eric, Julie, and Neal find their way home? Maybe their new friend, Princess Keeah, can help?

Secret in the Tower
By Candice Ransom
Alex discovers an old spyglass and, in the blink of an eye, he and his two sisters find themselves in the middle of the American Revolution.

Knights of the Kitchen Table
By Jon Scieszka
When Joe, Fred, and Sam are sent back in time by a magic book, they find themselves face-to-face with giants, dragons, wizards, and the Knights of the Round Table.

Enemy Rising
By Tracey West
The evil ninja was said to have mysterious powers. And no ninja who had faced him had lived to talk about it. And now his shadow loomed over Hiro's remote mountain village. Fujita sought an ancient amulet that would bring him one step closer to absolute power over the Kenkoro kingdom. Hiro and the rest of the Hinata family had to find the amulet first. But Hiro still had much to learn, and many ninja skills to master. How could a young ninja-in-training help defeat the most evil ninja in the kingdom?

Ready for School, Murphy?

Ready for School, Murphy?
By Brendan Murphy
Disney Hyperion, 2015. Picture Book.

Reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Sick”, Ready for School, Murphy shares the story of a boy who is worried about all the things that could go wrong at school and therefore tries to convince his father he should not attend because he is unwell. When his father suggests that they should go to the doctor's to get a shot or trade him in for a better model, Murphy gives up and decides to get ready to go to school--only to find out that it is Saturday.

The relatable storyline and humorous illustrations will have children wanting to have the story read repeatedly. The author/illustrator departs from the standard picture book format by having the story start from the inside cover and continue all the way to the back cover, leaving no white space. Aside from its entertainment value, the illustrated depictions of Murphy's concerns make this a great discussion opener for talking with a child about what they might be worried about at school or in other situations.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Stranded Whale

The Stranded Whale
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Melanie Cataldo
Candlewick Press, 2015. Picture Book.

Autumn has arrived in coastal Maine, and Sally and her brothers are walking home from school along the beach. As they worry whether they will make it home in time for supper, Sally discovers a beached whale struggling for life. She instantly takes action, soaking her sweater and sponging it against the giant creature. A crowd from town arrives to help push the whale back to sea, but their challenge is only amplified by the receding tide. The whale dies, with Sally caressing and comforting it during its final moments. Sally is heartbroken and frustrated by this seeming injustice, and her parents' consoling is little help. She falls asleep angry and hurt, but dreams of her whale friend, alive and happy.

The Stranded Whale is a deeply melancholic book that doesn't offer easy answers about loss and ensuing grief. It is beautiful, almost impressionistic in its illustrations of this seaside town and the enormous whale they try to save. Readers may relate to Sally's frustration, since she tried so hard and yet the whale still died. Life is often unfair, and this gorgeous story can help console those who are struggling with their shortcomings and limitations.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Freckleface Strawberry: Backpacks!


Written by Julianne Moore
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Doubleday Books, 2015. Easy Reader.

Freckleface Strawberry and her best friend Windy Pants Patrick have lots in common. They have loving families, ride the bus to school and keep homework, pencils and sticky treats in their backpacks. When a colored map is assigned for homework how will they get out of this sticky situation?

Teaching that honesty is the best policy and that everyone makes mistakes makes this Easy Reader a good story for kids. The bright illustrations will delight and entertain all.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Good Little Book

Cover image for The good little book

Written by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Marion Arbona
Tundra Books, 2015. Picture Book.

The Good Little Book chronicles the relationship between a boy and a book. Bored and in trouble, the boy is sent to the study where he picks up the good little book and begins to read. After hours of reading it he develops a love and appreciation for this good little book. He takes it everywhere he goes and reads it over and over again. However, tragedy strikes and the boy loses the book. When he finally finds the book in the hands of a girl, he realizes that he is ready to pass the book on to someone else because, “You see, a good little book never completely goes away.” Lively illustrations using lots of shades of red support this ode to the role that a good book can play in our lives. A fun book to read aloud to children ages 3 and up.