Friday, December 19, 2014

Zeraffa Giraffa

Cover image for Zeraffa giraffa
Zeraffa Giraffa
by Dianne Hofmeyr
illustrated by Jane Ray
Frances Lincoln, 2014. Picture Book

In 1824 a baby giraffe was captured in Africa.  The king of Egypt decided she should be a gift to the king of France. He arranged for the giraffe and a servant boy, Atir, to make the long journey to Paris.  Atir named the giraffe Zeraffa and the two of them traveled for two years, walking the last 550 miles, to reach their destination, the King's pleasure gardens.  When they arrived, Zeraffa, the first giraffe ever seen in France, made a sensation throughout the country.  This engaging story, based on a real historical incident, it told with fluid, translucent prose.  Ray's lovely watercolor illustrations are done in rich, warm colors and do a good job of communicating the mood and setting of the story. This is an delightful informational book for parents and children to explore together.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Display: Let It Snow!

Snow Moon
By Nicholas Brunelle
One wintry night, a child awakens to find at his window a mysterious owl that beckons, and together the two set off on a moonlit journey to a place called Owl Ridge.

Snow Friends
By M. Christina Butler
After awakening early from his winter sleep and wishing for someone to play with, Little Bear is joined by new friends who help him make a snowman.

Snow Day!
By Lester L. Laminack
Someone is very, very excited about the possibility of missing school due to snow, and plans a whole day of sledding, building forts, reading, and sipping hot chocolate rather than going to school for that test on chapter ten.

Olivia Builds a Snowlady
By Farrah McDoogle
Olivia and her friends build a snowlady for the winter festival but when the weather warms up and the snow melts, she and her friends have to get creative to save the day.

By Cynthia Rylant
Celebrates the beauty of a snowfall and its happy effects on children.

Skippyjon Jones Snow What
By Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese cat that thinks he is a Chihuahua dog, stars in a fairy tale set in the winter wonderland of his imagination.

Cold Snap
By Eileen Spinelli
A cold snap has everyone in the town of Toby Mills feeling down, until the mayor's wife thinks of a way to warm things up again.

Red Sled
By Patricia Thomas
A boy and his father lift one another's spirits by going sledding on a winter's night.

Snow Party
By Harriet Ziefert
When the first snow of the year falls on the first day of winter, all the snow people have a snow party.

Display: Cinderella

By Maribeth Boelts
With the help of her fairy dogmother, Dogerella attends Princess Bea's ball where she competes with other dogs to become the princess's royal pet.

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal
By Paul Fleischman
The author draws from a variety of folk traditions to put together this version of Cinderella, including elements from Mexico, Iran, Korea, Russia, Appalachia, and more.

Just Ella
By Margaret Peterson Haddix
In this continuation of the Cinderella story, fifteen-year-old Ella finds that accepting Prince Charming's proposal ensnares her in a suffocating tangle of palace rules and royal etiquette, so she plots to escape.

Cinder Edna
By Ellen Jackson
Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who live with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, have different approaches to life; and, although each ends up with the prince of her dreams, one is a great deal happier than the other.

The Way Meat Loves Salt
By Nina Jaffe In this Eastern European Jewish variant of the Cinderella story, the youngest daughter of a rabbi is sent away from home in disgrace, but thanks to the help of the prophet Elijah, marries the son of a renowned scholar and is reunited with her family. Includes words and music to a traditional Yiddish wedding song.

By Dan Jolley
The story of Cinderella set in Korea and presented in graphic novel format.

Ella Enchanted
By Gail Carson Levine
In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her.

By Laura Numeroff
Ponyella's dream of showing Princess Penelope her tricks at the pony championship comes true with the help of her fairy godmare.

The Gift of the Crocodile
By Judy Sierra
In this Indonesian version of the Cinderella story, a girl named Damura escapes her cruel stepmother and stepsister and marries a handsome prince with the help of Grandmother Crocodile.

Little Gold Star
By Robert D. San Souci
A Spanish American retelling of the familiar story of a kind girl who is mistreated by her jealous stepmother and stepsisters. In this version, the Virgin Mary replaces the traditional fairy godmother. 9780688147808

By Karen M. Stegman-Bourgeois
This version of the Cinderella story features a troll living under a bridge who finds an invitation to a ball, where she dances with Prince Charming.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
By John Steptoe
Mufaro's two beautiful daughters, one bad-tempered, one kind and sweet, go before the king, who is choosing a wife.

Cinderella CTR
By Rick Walton
Poor Cinderella! Sent to a place where no one even knows what "CTR" means, and forced to do awful chores! Her horrible cousins may try to stop her, but Cinderella has her eye on the ball-- the Royal Ball. With hard work and a few tricks she learned in Young Women's class, she just might make... but will the prince choose the right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Love Monster and the Perfect Present

Cover image for Love Monster and the perfect present
Love Monster and the Perfect Present
by Rachel Bright
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013/2014, Picture Book

In Love Monster's first book, the "not cute and fluffy", and "slightly hairy" monster manages to find a best friend.  Now as Present Day approaches, Love Monster wants to get his friend the perfect gift, but when he goes to the store, all the "shinyful" gifts are too expensive. Love Monster is worried he won't find anything to give his friend, until he comes up with the great idea. Love Monster and his world are drawn with invitingly bright and bold lines and colors.  The text is printed in a wonky, but readable, font that lends the simple story energy and kid-appeal. This is not a Christmas book but contains a timely message--in a child friendly package--about what makes a gift special.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Words with Wings

 Cover image for Words with wings
Words with Wings 
by Nikki Grimes
Wordsong, 2013, Free Verse Fiction, 84 p.

Gabby has always been a daydreamer, but since she moved to a new school after her parent's divorce, her daydreaming has gotten to be a bigger problem.  A single "word with wings" can send her off into a world of her imagination and make her forget what she is supposed to be doing.  In an attempt to please her parents and teacher, she tries to suppresses her daydreams for a while, but that just makes her sad. Finally her teacher encourages her to write what she is thinking and both her parents and teacher discover that her daydreaming has made her a wonderful writer.  This is a short novel written in free verse.  The text expresses a clear flow of ideas and images with a surprising economy of words. Though the text is short, Ms. Grimes uses amazing word craft to create dimensional and sympathetic characters in a heart warming story.  It is no wonder that this book won Ms Grimes the Coretta Scott King Honor award last year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rain Reign

 Cover image for Rain reign
Rain Reign
By Ann Martin
Feiwel and Friends, 2014. Fiction, 226 p.

Rose is a 5th grade girl who has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She has an aid at school and an uncle that are very kind and patient with her fixation on rule keeping and homonyms, but her father gets frustrated that Rose is not "normal."  At home, her main comfort is her dog, Rain, which her father found in a storm and gave to his daughter.  When Hurricane Susan hits Rose's town, Rain comes up missing. Desperate to find her beloved dog, Rose begins an extensive and systematic search that leads to more questions, and answers, for the brave and sympathetic little girl.  This book is getting starred reviews everywhere and is probably a major contender for this year's Newbery award.  Parents should know that the book contains some profanity and emotionally difficult situations.  Parents might want to read this book first before giving it to a sensitive child.

Friday, December 12, 2014

What's Your Favorite Animal? - Eric Carle and Friends
What's Your Favorite Animal?
Eric Carle and Friends
Henry Holt and Company, 2014. Picture Book.

In this collaborative picture book, 14 well-known author-illustrators answer the question: "What's your favorite animal?" Answers include cat, elephant, and Amazonian neotropical lower river tink-tink. The best part of this book is seeing the different author-illustrator personalities. While some pages are thoughtful and beautiful like Chris Raschka's spread about the snail, other pages are downright hilarious such as Nick Bruel attempting to describe the octopus while a miffed Bad Kitty interrupts him. The humor reaches young children and parents. The variation in answers and art styles is an opportunity to encourage children to write and draw about their own favorite animals. All royalties from this book go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Johnny Boo Zooms to the Moon!

 Cover image for Johnny Boo zooms to the Moon
Johnny Boo Zooms to the Moon!
by James Kochalka
Top Shelf Productions, 2014. Comics, 40 p.

In this sixth adventure of the "best little ghost in the world", Johnny decides to skateboard to the moon.  At fist his friend, Squiggle, tries to carry him up to the moon, but without much success. Then some stars decide to help.  They take the place of wheels on the skateboard, and soon Johnny is zooming to the moon.  There he meets a very cool girl ghost, has an encounter with an ice cream monster, and then ends up back on earth, safe and sound. But did his awesome moon adventure really happen, or was it all just a dream?  The Johnny Boo books are charming comic style picture books, appropriate for younger comics fans.  Kochalka's color cartoon illustrations, simple and imaginative story lines, and large font text make this series inviting to even the most reluctant reader.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Memory Maze

Cover image for Memory maze
Memory Maze
by Gordon Korman
Scholastic, 2014. Science Fiction, 234 p.

In this sequel to The Hypnotists, Jax has relocated with his family to Connecticut in an attempt to hide from the evil Dr. Mako  They have taken on new names, and his parents are attempting, without much success, to take on new careers. Jax is having a hard time fitting in at school because he has to take extra measures to keep from hypnotizing people. Despite his best efforts to keep a low profile, he ends up winning the school chess competition.  This leads him to competitions on the district and state level, and brings him to the attention of an elderly tycoon who figures out Jax's real identity. The tycoon promises to pay Jax handsomely to put him into a deep hypnotic state in an effort to slow the advance of the old man's terminal illness.  As Jax starts creating daily extended hypnotic connections with the man, Jax starts to experience his memories. There is more in the man's head than Jax had bargained for and soon Jax is struggling to maintain his anonymity, his family's safety and his own sanity. While the first in the series was a "kid with super power" type book, this second is more like a psychological thriller. As the plot advances, both Jax and the reader are not quite sure what is reality and what is illusion. This book will appeal to older grade school and middle school kids who like the fast paced action of the Percy Jackson and Alex Rider books.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Display: Starred Review Fiction of 2014

The books in this display received starred reviews in at least 
three national review sources during 2014.

The Witch’s Boy
By Kelly Regan Barnhill
When a Bandit King comes to take the magic that Ned's mother, a witch, is meant to protect, the stuttering, weak boy villagers think should have drowned rather than his twin summons the strength to protect his family and community, while in the woods, the bandit's daughter puzzles over a mystery that ties her to Ned.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
By Kate DiCamillo
Saddle up for this first volume in a spin-off series starring favorite characters from DiCamillo's "New York Times"-bestselling Mercy Watson books. Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn't have is a horse--until he meets Maybelline, and then it's love at first sight.

The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigsa
By Jack Gantos
Everything goes topsy-turvy for Joey as he becomes the man of the house, looking after his new baby brother, taking care of his troubled mother, and seeking out his missing father.

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.

The Glass Sentence
By S.E. Grove
In 1891, in a world transformed by 1799's Great Disruption--when all of the continents were flung into different time periods--thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims and her friend Theo go in search of Sophia's uncle, Shadrack Elli, Boston's foremost cartologer, who has been kidnapped.

Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle
By George Hagen
Eleven-year-old Gabriel, with the help of the young raven Paladin, which whom he has a magical bond, travels to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face challenges and unanswerable riddles to rescue his long-missing father.

The Secret Hum of a Daisy
By Tracy Holczer
After 12-year-old Grace's mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. Then she discovers clues in a mysterious treasure hunt--one that will help her find her true home.

Rain Reign
By Ann M. Martin
Struggling with Asperger's, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

Nuts to You
By Lynne Rae Perkins
After surviving being carried off by a hawk, a young squirrel resolves to find his way home, as his best friends begin their search for him.

The Red Pencil
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder.

West of the Moon
By Margi Preus
In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms
By Katherine Rundell
Will must find her way after she's plucked out of a wonderful life in Zimbabwe and forced to go to boarding school in England.

The Map to Everywhere
By Carrie Ryan
Twelve-year-old Fin, a master thief from the pirate world of Khaznot Quay, and Marrill, also twelve, of Arizona, cross paths in the magical world of the Pirate Stream while on a quest for a mysterious map.

The Thickety
By J.A. White
When twelve-year-old Kara discovers her mother's grimoire in the dangerous forest, she must decide if she'll use it, even though such magic is forbidden.

By Deborah Wiles
It's 1964 in Greenwood, Mississippi, and Sunny's town is being invaded by people from up north who are coming to help people register to vote. Her personal life isn't much better, as a new stepmother, brother, and sister are crowding into her life, giving her little room to breathe.