Saturday, November 17, 2018

From Story Time: The Letter "K"

Read in Monday Book Babies

By Ethan Long
Holiday House, 2018.  Easy Reader Book.

Introducing Horse and Buggy, the hilarious new characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Medalist Ethan Long! Horse and Buggy are best friends, but they don’t always see eye to eye. When Buggy sees Horse dancing, he asks, "What are you doing?" "I am dancing," Horse replies. "I am the best dancer. I have the best dances!" "You are not dancing. You are just moving around." Can Horse convince the reluctant Buggy to lighten up and join in? YES! In this side-splitting story about friendship, Horse and Buggy learn that doing something together makes it twice as fun. 

Read in Monday Cuentos

Mi día de suerte
By Keiko Kasza
Grupo Editorial Norma, 2006.  Spanish Picture Book.

Cuando un cerdito toca a la puerta del zorro por equivocación, este no pude dar crédito a su buena suerte. No todos los días aparece la comida a la propia puerta! Pero, ¿no tendrá razón el cerdito en que debería bañarlo antes de comérselo?, ¿y no será mejor engordarlo un poco también, y darle un masaje para que esté tiernito?  --Publisher

Read in Toddler Time

By Emma Dodd
Templar Books, 2015.  Picture Book.

Which part of you do I love best?  I'm going to try a little test...  One little koala discovers that a mother's love makes everything better, from unhappy tears to twinkly smiles.  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

By Christoph Niemann
Owlkids Books, 2015.  Picture Book.

Once upon a time there was a Prussian King, Frederick, also known as Fritz, who saw potential in the lowly potato — a newly introduced crop from South America — and decided to plant it for his people. However, it quickly became clear that his subjects didn’t like being told what to eat. Determined to see the potato thrive, Fritz cleverly used reverse psychology to pique his people’s curiosity and make the crop popular, and the potato has flourished ever since. 

Potato-stamp illustrations throughout are simple and effective, exhibiting Neimann’s trademark wit and playfulness. The book includes a short informational note on the historical background to the story. Readers will be interested to discover how one of today’s most common foods likely rose to popularity and may also be inspired by the king’s creative problem solving.  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Jen Hill
Roaring Brook Press, 2018.  Picture Book.

When a young girl named Tanisha sills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better and remembers that Mom always says, "Be kind."  But what does it mean to be kind?  As the child ponders everything from asking a new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what kindness is, and how any act, bit or small, can make a difference--or at least help a friend.  

With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie's Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.  --Publisher

Read in Friday Book Babies

A Greyhound, a Groundhog
Written by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by Chris Appelhans
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2017.  Picture Book.

A greyhound, a groundhog, a brown little groundhog!  Open this delicious tongue twister of a picture book—full of energy and perfect for reading aloud—and find out what happens when a greyhound and a groundhog become fast friends.  All it takes is a groundhog and a greyhound to make a rollicking read-aloud treat!  --Publisher

Read in Friday Cuentos

Escrito y illustrado por P.D. Eastman
Traducción de Teresa Mlawer
Beginning Books, 2016.  Spanish Easy Reader.

Esta edición en español de Are You My Mother?, la historia de un pajarito que busca a su mamá, brinda la oportunidad a millones de hispanoparlantes de leer esta entrañable historia de P.D. Eastman en su propio idioma. Traducido por Teresa Mlawer, una de las figuras más respetadas en el mundo editorial en español, este clásico recrea el eterno vínculo que existe entre una madre y su hijo. El regalo ideal para futuras mamás, el Día de la Madre o cualquier ocasión especial.   

Friday, November 16, 2018


By Carl Hiaasen
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018. Fiction

In typical Hiaasen fashion, “Squirm” is a book about taking care of the world we live in packed into an insane adventure full of hi-jinks, wild animals, and the great outdoors. Unlike Hiaasen’s other books, “Squirm” offers a slightly more serious story, with a little less silliness than his usual style, but with the same classic wit that always make his books a delight for young and older readers.

“Squirm”, while told with a little less humor than Hiaasen’s other books, still offers a story full of excitement, with a whole lot of heart, and an important message at the center. “Squirm” asks readers to consider the implications of their actions, both involving wildlife and people. While the main adventure deals with a poacher trying to kill protected species, and the illegality and unethical nature of his decisions, the underlying story is about Billy and his father coming to terms with their fragile relationship.

Readers will enjoy both the chaos of the wildlife adventure and the embedded tale of familial love and forgiveness. And as always, Hiaasen doesn’t skimp on exciting animals.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

No Fixed Address

No Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
Wendy Lamb Books, 2018. Fiction. 280 p.

Felix and his mom Astrid are living in their van. Astrid says it's only temporary, but they've been down on their luck for a while. She looks for jobs while Felix goes to school with his two friends, Dylan and Winnie. Felix is really good at trivia and sees a chance to get his small family out of their bad situation by trying out for a Jeopardy-style game show. In the meantime Astrid and Felix deal with the tricky logistics of food and hygiene and finding new places to park overnight. Felix is aware that his mom is not always honest and that her rules of morality are flexible. Then there are the grey areas when Felix finds himself dodging questions from the authorities and concerned friends alike. The secret of their homelessness is exhausting. But if Felix can win Who What Where When maybe he can change everything.

No Fixed Address addresses the cycles of poverty that can affect decision making and the circumstances that can lead to homelessness. It is nuanced, complex, and heartbreaking but Felix's first person narrative is also very funny, honest, and believable. This book has some difficult themes and mature content in it making it appropriate for older readers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Display: Gingerbread

By Hallie Durand
Illustrated by David Small

Marshall refuses to believe that gingerbread men can run, even after a series of clues leads his class on a riddle-filled gingerbread cookie hunt.

By Paul Galdone

Retells the popular story of a boastful cookie that runs away from a group of hungry people and animals.

By Krisitn Kladstrup
Illustrated by Matt Tavares

When Jim's gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, comes alive, the tasty treat prepares to battle Santa Claus, who likes to eat cookies on Christmas Eve.

By Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

A freshly baked gingerbread man escapes when he is taken out of the oven and eludes a number of pursuers until he meets a clever fox.

By Jan Brett

Lonely Gingerbread Baby, having set out to find a friend, enters a bakery where he tries to talk to different cookies and other figures, but winds up leading a crowd back to his house on a chase similar to the one in the familiar tale.

The Darkdeep

The Darkdeep
By Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
Bloomsbury, 2018. Fiction.

When Nico Holland disappears into Still Cove - a mysterious and mist shrouded place near the small Pacific Northwest town of Timbers - Tyler, Emma, and Opal rush in after him and all are surprised to discover a mysterious island hidden in the fog. Though the island seems abandoned, the four soon discover a houseboat full of curios and covering a dark and ancient secret beneath its hull - a secret that knows more about them than they may care to admit.

This new, middle-grade, horror fiction novel from YA big-shots Ally Condie  and Brendan Reichs was exactly the kind of spooky, paranormal read I was looking to dig into this fall. Part "Stranger Things", part Stephen King, and part something totally new - this book builds momentum quickly and keeps the excitement going until the last page. A sequel to this book is already planned, and is sure to be highly anticipated.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rosa's Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie

Rosa's Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie
By Maryann Macdonald
Abrams, 2018. Biography.

There's a good chance that Rosa Bonheur is the most famous artist you've never heard of. The first woman to earn a French Legion of Honor, Rosa Bonheur was a successful Realist painter in the 19th century when women weren't usually allowed to train as artists. Thanks to special training from her father, Rosa grew up to have her impressively naturalistic paintings of animals displayed at the French Salon and all over the world. This book introduces readers to Bonheur and marvels at her extraordinary life - she was a friend of Buffalo Bill Cody, she kept a miniature zoo complete with three lions at her home near Fontainebleau, and received a special permit to dress as a man and visit the Paris Horse Fair.

This is a well compiled biography about a female artist many children will likely not learn about in school. The text isn't jazzed up or bedazzled like many children's biographies tend to be, but her unbelievably non-traditional life is enough to hold the interest of those impressed by animals, Art History, or women ahead of their time.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Ogre Enchanted

Ogre Enchanted
By Gail Carson Levine
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2018. 340 p.

I have been a fan of the book Ella Enchanted for two decades. It is a brilliant book that reworks the fairy tale Cinderella. (For all of you who haven’t read that book—you really should. But the basic premise is that Ella is “blessed” with obedience from a fairy. So she has to do everything that people tell her to do.) Anyway, Ogre Enchanted is the story of Evora, a healer, who has been turned into an ogre by the same fairy that made Ella’s life miserable for not saying yes to a marriage proposal (she thought she was too young at 15 to get married and didn’t even want to think about marriage until at least 17). So Evie has to live as an ogre—a being who all the humans want to get rid of or kill—and figure out how to find true love and another marriage proposal so that she can turn back into a human.

I liked this book. I don’t think it is as strong as Ella Enchanted (though that was so amazing, it would be rather hard to top). But I did like seeing how another strong female character had to out-think the fairy Lucinda. This is a fun addition to a great world where sometimes fairies are a little too big for their fairy-britches and strong women have to figure out life despite the crazy hand Lucinda gives them. And even though this book could stand on it’s own—I still think that readers might be better off starting with Ella’s story. After all, that is a classic that won a Newbery honor.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

From Story Time: The Letter "J"

Read in Monday Book Babies

By Jules Feiffer
Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.  Picture Book.

From acclaimed author-illustrator Jules Feiffer, Bark, George is a hilarious, subversive story about a dog who can't . . . bark! This picture book geared for the youngest readers is perfect for those who love Mo Willems' Pigeon series.

When George's mother tells her son to bark, George goes "Meow," which definitely isn't right because George is a dog. When she asks him again, he goes "Oink." What's going on with George? Readers will delight at the surprise ending!  --Publisher

Read in Monday Cuentos

No es una caja
By Antoinette Portis
Kalandraka Editora, 2008.  Spanish Picture Book.

Para un conejito imaginativo, una caja no es solo una caja.  --Publisher

Read in Toddler Time

Written by Bowman Wilker
Illustrated by Marie-Ève Tremblay
 Owlkids Books, 2018.  Picture Book.

Crackerjack Jack has met his match--he's found a safe even he can't crack!  So he's enlisted the help of a firecracking duck.  Can this bumbling duo change Jack's luck?  Tag along on this rhyming, rollicking misadventure to find out!

Rhyming text, onomatopoeia, and an energetic beat paired with comical illustrations make this a fast-paced read that guarantees laughs. The playful language will entice young readers to follow along and repeat sounds and phrases in this outrageous and unapologetically reckless tale.  

Read in Preschool Time

Written by Tim McCanna
Illustrated by Stephen Savage
Orchard Books, 2018.  Picture Book.

Jack B. Ninja! Jack, be quick! Jack, jump over the bamboo stick! Secret mission starts tonight. Hide in shadow, out of sight.

In this imaginative ninja fantasy inspired by the classic nursery rhyme "Jack Be Nimble," cheer on Jack as he sneaks over castle walls, swims through hidden tunnels, and uncovers a secret treasure -- all while avoiding detection. A sneaky rhyming adventure with a surprise one-two birthday punch twist.  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

By Jennifer K. Mann
Candlewick Press, 2016.  Picture Book.

Sam and Jump do everything together.  One day they go to the beach, where they meet Thomas.  They play all day, but when Sam gets home, he realizes he's forgotten something: Jump!  Jennifer K. Mann's sweet and relatable story about friends, old and new, is perfect for anyone who's loved (and lost) a special toy.  --Publisher

Read in Friday Book Babies

By Kate Beaton
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016.  Picture Book.

ALL HAIL KING BABY!  King Baby is gracious -- bestowing splendid smiles on his public, allowing tickles and hugs, and posing for photo after adorable photo.  But he also has many demands, and when his faithful subjects let him down, King Baby himself must take royal action!  From the creator of The Princess and the Pony and the hit webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, King Baby is the perfect gift for anyone who knows the joy (and the exhaustion!) of having a lovable little tyrant in their life.  --Publisher

Read in Friday Cuentos

Cómo dan las buenas noches los dinosaurios
Escrito por Jane Yolen
Illustrado por Mark Teague
Scholastic, 2001.  Spanish Picture Book.

¿Cómo da las buenas noches
un dinosaurio a papá
cuando va a apagar la luz
porque hay que descansar?
¿Quizás haga pucheros
y pegue con la cola
golpes en el suelo?

En cada una de las páginas de este libro, los padres están listos para acostar a los niños a dormir. ¿A los niños? Cada uno de los chiquitines de este libro es ¡un dinosaurio! Pero a pesar de ello, los dinosaurios son muy parecidos a los humanos: a la hora de dormir dan un gran beso, apagan la luz y dicen "buenas noches.”  --Publisher

Friday, November 9, 2018

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

By Ryan T. Higgins
Disney Press, 2018. Picture Book. 48 p.

In this story Penelope Rex (a T. Rex) learns how to make friends. Rule number 1: Don’t eat them, not even a little bit. Penelope is very nervous to start school. She really wants to make friends, however when she first walks into her classroom and sees all the children she can’t help but gobble them up. Children are delicious. When her teacher sees this she very sternly tells Penelope “We don’t eat our classmates” and Penelope very apologetically spits them out. Obviously the children do not like being eaten and are justifiably annoyed with Penelope and do not trust her. This makes making friends very difficult, but Penelope doesn’t seem able to help herself. When an encounter with the class goldfish goes a little awry, Penelope learns just how not fun it is to be chomped on and learns to curb her appetite. The adorable illustrations and Penelope’s stuffed-animal look makes the story very fun. Higgins delivers a great paced and funny story that is very enjoyable for any reader.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Just Like Jackie

Just Like Jackie
Written by Lindsey Stoddard
Harper Collins Children's Books, 244 p. Fiction.

Robinson loves baseball and working on cars. She is named after Jackie Robinson, the famous baseball player. She doesn't like bullies and unfortunately she has an issue controlling her anger. She loses it when Alex Carter starts making fun of her name. The worst part is after she punches Alex in the nose they have to call her grandpa and that gets him off his schedule and makes him forget more.

Robinson meets together with Ms. Gloria, the school counselor, and a group of students to work through hard things they are going through. A family tree assignment ends up being tricky for everyone in the group for various reasons, but it does provide an opportunity for Robinson to ask her grandpa more details about her mom, who died just after she was born.

Robinson doesn't know the name for it, but her grandpa suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She does her best to keep him on schedule and fix all the little mistakes he makes, but it is getting worse. She is worried about getting taken away from him, so she tries to keep it a secret. She confides in Harold, who works at the car garage with her grandpa, but then Robinson gets called into the principle's office when she hasn't even done anything wrong. She shouldn't have confided in Harold! Now what will she do?

Stoddard has woven a lot of real issues children deal with in today's world. It is easy to feel empathy for Robinson and her classmates who are going through some tough times. This is not a light read, but Stoddard's portrayal of Robinson feels very genuine. For kids who like to dig through realistic fiction about hard things, they will relate and understand Robinson and her journey to save the only family she has ever known.