January 2006 Reviews
January 2006 Reviews by A.G.
Drvenkar, Zoran. Tell me what you see. NY: The Chicken House (Scholastic Books), 2002/2005. $16.99 290 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-439-72452-X P9/Q7
This German novel, published for the first time in English, is in the gothic horror genre. The short chapters are a bit confusing since each is written in the first person but from a different character’s point of view. Between the first person and present tense, the writing could have been a lot worse, but in fact the story is carried along well and is intriguing enough to make the reader continue. The story is about a girl who is mysteriously compelled to eat a plant that’s growing out of a dead child’s body in a crypt, and it changes her so that she has a “gift” and can see ghostly figures no one else can see. She attempts to find a mentor that can help her understand her situation, but is frustrated. The ending is less than happy, and also somewhat less than satisfying, but the book should keep teens reading.
Hearne, Julie. Sign of the raven. NY: Ginee Seo Books (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster), 2003 (first published in Great Britain; 1st US pub. 2005). $16.95 328 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-689-85734-9 P8/Q8
This modern fantasy set in London, England, is about a young teen boy coping with his mother’s illness (breast cancer) and their move to his grandmother’s so she can sort out some old emotional baggage. In the basement of grandmother’s house, Tom finds a time anomaly that allows him to travel back in time to 1717 in the same house of his ancestors. The Sign of the Raven is the tavern next door. He discovers the world of “freak shows” when he meets the “fairy child” that lives in the basement, held captive for paying customers. The story is sensitive to the mood swings of the ill mother, and it touches carefully on the difficult family situations that seem to run through generations. The “monsters” are depicted in a human way, reminiscent of the old movie “Freaks”. Enjoyable reading, with action that will take the reader to the end.
Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew, girl detective #14: Bad times, big crimes. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $4.99 139 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-689-87883-4 P5/Q3
The Nancy Drew series has long been popular, and at one time that was reasonable; they were well-written. This book has only a couple of things going for it: it’s short, and it tries to bring the Great Depression to life for young readers. Unfortunately, the writer(s) didn’t even get all their history correct; for example, they claim that television wasn’t popular until the 1940’s. Guess again—it was the 1950’s. In addition to the error, the writing is choppy, the plot is thin, and Nancy has none of the sophisticated appeal that I remember. I’d recommend reading the original series again, even with its dated cars and clothing.
Lynch, Chris. Me, dead dad, and Alcatraz. NY: Harper Collins, 2005. $16.99 227 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-06-059710-0 P2/Q2
It’s a little scary to think that some reader out there would actually identify with the “hero” of this book. Not only is he deplorably lacking in self-esteem, but it may be justified. Other than changing his hair, this boy has no character development in the book. Having been told that his dad was dead and so was everyone else in his family but he and his mom, he’s surprised when an uncle shows up and shows an interest in him. The uncle is clearly very ill, and has spent a long time in prison after stealing the family’s money along with a lot of other money, and he’s apparently trying to “redeem himself” by showing the boy how to “improve himself”. “Dead dad” was not the point of the book, it was the “dead” uncle. Alcatraz was never mentioned in the story; one can only guess that the writer meant to refer to the uncle’s prison term, which couldn’t have been in Alcatraz since the prison has been closed for decades. This book was so bad, I don’t know why I kept reading it other than to see if at some point there was some redeeming feature; there wasn’t.
Abbott, Tony. Kringle. NY: Scholastic Press, 2005. 317 pp. $14.99 ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-74942-5 P9/Q8
With its gilt edged pages and colorfully illustrated cover, anyone would pick up this fresh treatment of the Christmas story. Kringle is the name of a 12-year-old boy living at the time of the Roman departure from England. The life of the time is nasty, brutish and short, and is helped not a bit by the goblin king’s desire to own all of the elves’ rune stones which are, of course, magic. The story pulls together a number of elements of the lore of Christmas as we celebrate it today—Santa’s elves, flying reindeer, sleigh, his interest in giving toys to children—and weave it into an action adventure. The author weaves in some Roman priest’s story about the Christ child, but it’s clear that his view of the primary motivating factor in the winter celebration has to do with the climate of the North. Told like a bedtime story, the narrative is sometimes telegraphic, but it works and the reader will feel compelled to find out how the story ends.
Ketchum, Liza. Where the great hawk flies. NY: Clarion Books, 2005. $16.00 264 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-618-40085-0 P8/Q9
The Revolutionary War has just ended (1782) and 13-year-old Daniel lives in Vermont with his Pequot Native healer mother and his white father. The story is told alternately from the point of view of Daniel and of his new white neighbor, Hiram, who is haunted by his experiences of a deadly Indian raid on his farm during the war. The book explores the nature of racism and fear in the context of a rural community whose members need to help each other to survive. The author is writing about her own Pequot family, and brings sensitivity to the issues. This would be a good companion book to middle school Revolutionary War studies.
Whitney, Kim Ablon. The perfect distance. NY: Alfred Knopf, 2005. $15.95 246 pp. ages 10 & over. ISBN 0-375-83243-2 P8/Q7
A Mexican-American teen girl is working as a groom at a riding stable and has high aspirations for riding steeplechase (equitation). The “perfect distance” literally refers to the distance from an obstacle that a horse needs to take off from in order to jump successfully; clearly it’s a metaphor as well. This coming-of-age novel features the usual social interaction difficulties that any teen faces as well as challenges of class differences. Having self-confidence in the face of overwhelmingly critical and unsupportive teachers and the issue of cheating at all levels are the primary themes. It’s pretty easy reading, and should appeal especially to girls who love horses (often preteens) as well as to any teen who likes stories about real teens.
Houston, Julian. New boy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $16.00 282 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-618-43253-1 P 8/Q9
The “new boy” of the story is a high school sophomore entering an elite northern boarding school as its first black student. Written by a judge who was born in the South and went to boarding school in Connecticut, this story clearly is drawn from the author’s own experience, though it is fiction. It gives context to names famous to blacks of the 1950’: Malcolm X, Joe Louis, Garvey, Dr. Martin Luther King. The story of the beginning of the civil rights student is given from perspective of a black activist student. The narrative is educated, the vocabulary at times sophisticated, but it’s supposed to reflect a bright honor roll student, and it makes for pleasant reading. Any young person wanting to get a feel for what it was like to live in the segregated south as opposed to the sometimes prejudiced north would get a good picture from reading this story.
Alcantara, Pedro de. Befiddled. NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2005. $15.95 183 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-385-73265-1 P7/Q7
Becky is a 13-year-old violin student who tries too hard; she practices 3 hours a day and still sounds terrible. She can’t afford private lessons, and her violin teacher is extremely critical and unsupportive. Only after her apartment building handyman starts coaching her does she learn the importance of other factors in improving her playing (“it’s all in the back and legs” is one of the lessons). The story has a lot to do with learning self-confidence, and likely reflects the “Alexander Technique” that the author teaches which, according to the liner notes, is “a method that improves habits of movement and thought in everyday activities.” The story has an exciting conclusion with a competition for a music school scholarship. Chapters are interspersed with a quirky “newspaper” that Becky’s younger brother produces that is hardly worth reading but keeps the tone light. This might be recommended reading for sincere students with low feelings of self-worth.
Provensen, Alice. Klondike gold. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 38 pp. $17.95 ages 5-10 ISBN 0-689-84885-4 P7/Q8
The story of one man and his friend on their trek to the Yukon to find gold in 1897 is richly illustrated with informative paintings in a “primitive” style. As a read-aloud book, the vocabulary may occasionally have to be explained to the younger age group. Because the book is a straight-forward adult travelogue, it could be used to illustrate and bring out talking points with an older audience studying the time period, even high school. Marginal comments give interesting facts such as the recommended supplies for each traveler, or the fact that ten percent of the gold-seekers were women.
A.G. December Reviews (posted here)
Day, Alexandra. Carl’s sleepy afternoon. NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. $12.95 36 pp. ages 3-6 ISBN 0-374-31088-2 P8/Q8
Good dog Carl, a sweet Rottweiler, returns in this pre-reader’s story. Mom goes shopping and leaves Carl to a “sleepy afternoon”, which turns out to be anything but. Carl does everything from make deliveries, to helping the vet, to saving a mother dog and her puppies from a burning building. While there is some text, there are plenty of illustrations without text that will challenge the youngster to pay attention to the details of the story and talk about it.
Reich, Susanna. Illustrated by Raul Colon. Jose! Born to dance, the story of Jose Limon. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $16.95 ages 5-8 ISBN 0-689-86576-7 P7/Q8
The story of the famous Mexican American dancer and choreographer Jose Limon is told here. The colored pencil (?) illustrations reflect the artistic style of the era and give a feel for his life. The text is easy to read aloud, punctuated with short quotes and expressions. More space is given to his early years and progession as an artist than to his years of dance, which culminated his career. An historical note and bibliography follows, as well as a web address.
McAllister, Angela & Middleton, Charlotte. Monster pet! NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2005. $15.95 30 pp. ages “3-6” (3-8) ISBN 1-4169-0371-2 P8/Q8
For parents who have gotten REEEAAALLLYY annoyed by too many pleas for a pet from their children, this is a funny story about what happens when one boy gets a pet and doesn’t take proper care of it. The tables are turned, and he becomes the hamster’s pet, and he isn’t taken care of. Lesson learned.
Troupe, Quincy. Illustrated by Lisa Cohen. Little Stevie Wonder. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $18.00 28 pp. ages 5-10 ISBN 0-618-34060-2 P7/Q6
The bold, colorful illustrations and accompanying 2-song CD are the strong points of this biography of Stevie Wonder. Maybe if you read it out loud while playing his music in the background it would work, but standing alone I found the “isn’t he lovely” line repeated again and again a bit saccharine. Nevertheless, for a young student it presents the essence of his career in a very positive tone. A one-page “author’s note” gives more detail, and is followed by a timeline and discography.
Raschka, Chris. New York is English, Chattanooga is Creek. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005. 32 pp. $16.95 ages 4-7 ISBN 0-689-84600-2 P8/Q9 This charming picture book introduces the origin of place names as though they were party guests of different heritage. The endpapers have a map with the places highlighted, and the book begins with a list of U.S. city names and their name origins phrased in a young person’s vocabulary. The story should make a good read-aloud, and would be particularly appropriate in the areas of language and geography, teaching while being plain fun.
Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw, illustrated by Deborah Milton. Garden of the Spirit Bear: Life in the Great Northern Rainforest. NY: Clarion Books, 2004. $16.00 40 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 0-618-21259-0 P7/Q8 This beautifully illustrated book written by a zoologist focuses on the rainforest of coastal British Columbia that is the home to the white-colored black bear called the Spirit Bear. There are many references to the Natives of the area. The book focuses on the ecology of the rainforest, and makes a case for eliminating clear-cut logging in the proposed Spirit Bear reserve area. This book should be useful for (second grade) classes studying particular animals and (third grade) classes studying rainforests. It is also a good companion book to “Touching Spirit Bear”, which takes place in the same area, or as interesting reading for any age.
Aveni, Anthony. The First Americans: The Story of Where They Came From and Who They Became. NY: Scholastic Inc., 2005. $18.99 125 pp. Ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-55144-7 P9/Q9 This generalized book on Native Americans uses a conversational narrative style that should make it more accessible than many on the same subject. Chapters are devoted to culture areas, with some detail on pre-Columbian cultures such as the Hopewellian moundbuilders of Ohio and Cahokia. The final chapter talks about archeologists and their methods. The book is heavily illustrated, with helpful timelines on the endpages. It has an index.
Erdrich, Louise. The game of silence. NY: Harper Collins, 2005. $16.89 256 pp. ages 8 and up ISBN 0-06-029790-5 P8/Q9 This story, second in a series set in 1850 in the Great Lakes region among the Ojibwa, could be a companion to the “Little House in the Prairie” series. The protagonist is a young girl who has to deal with an annoying little brother and various personalities among the other villagers. Her tribe has been double-crossed by the white government, forced to leave their land but not paid as they were promised. It’s a good way to learn everyday cultural life of the time, similar to the Wilder series, while following a family over time as they leave one home and start a new life. Erdrich is a good writer, and her use of many Ojibwa words works (not only is there a glossary in the back, but she usually defines the words in the sentence). Longfellow wasn’t the only author to use these words; students may run across them elsewhere as well.
Flanagan, John. Ranger’s Apprentice. Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan. NY: Philomel Books, 2005. $15.99 249 pp. Ages 10-18 ISBN 0-399-24454-9 P 8/ Q 8 This medieval fantasy centers on a boy coming-of-age in a world where a dark lord threatens to come back to war with his mysterious creatures. The hero, Will, is a foundling raised in the royal household. When it comes time to apprentice, he is chosen by the mysterious Rangers, who are essentially spies/special forces. The story has the appeal of discovering hidden talents, and of course the hero comes through in the clinch. It’s a quick and satisfying read, and likely to lead to the desire to read the rest of the as-yet-unpublished series. The vocabulary keeps invented words to a minimum, and doesn’t resort to the common artifice of “medieval” flowery talk. This may work as an introduction to the fantasy genre for students who appreciate action-adventure.
MacPhail, Catherine. Underworld. NY: Bloomsbury, 2005 (first pub. in Great Britain in 2004) $16.95 285 pp. ages 10-18 ISBN 1-58234-997-5 P 8/ Q 8 Students on a school field trip in Scotland explore caves inhabited by a legendary Great Worm, only to have the cave collapse on them. Most of the book focuses on a small group of students of varying backgrounds who have severe social difficulties with one another. While extreme at times, the problems are not unfamiliar, sort of “Breakfast Club” meets “Tom Sawyer”. There is a minor plot problem with the elimination of all other characters but the main half-dozen, but it isn’t too annoying. The adventure moves along, and, by the end, through their shared ordeal the characters have resolved their differences and shown how to get along. The Scottish vernacular provides some flavor, and the “legend” gives the story some spookiness. It is light reading for either sex, without particularly challenging vocabulary and set in large font.
Cooney, Caroline B. Code Orange. NY: Delacourte Press, 2005. $15.95. 200 pp. ages 12 and up ISBN 0-385-73259-7 P9/Q8 This mystery thriller centers on a teen boy who has to write a biology research paper on an infectious disease. The catch is that he has to use books, not just the Internet. The topic he chooses is smallpox, and the story is a good way to cover the history and epidemiology of the disease that nearly wiped out North American Natives. The mystery includes the teen actually experiencing symptoms and encountering terrorists who try to use him as a “weapon of mass destruction”. There is much that is familiar to teens—procrastinating term papers, preferring to listen to music, an active social life, etc.—as well as the action which should make this lesson in biology and history fascinating. The author includes an endnote that contains a bibliography of the written sources she used to write the book.
Yee, Lisa. Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time. NY: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2005. $16.99 296 pp. ages 10-15 ISBN 0-439-62247-6 P 8/ Q 8 Sixth-grader Stanford Wong bucks the Asian stereotype of being an academic, preferring basketball to anything else in life. He flunks English and in order to play on the A-Team he has to do summer school, getting tutored by his “arch-enemy”, Millicent Min. The book has lots of enjoyable family moments, especially Stanford’s relationship with his grandmother, and focuses especially on Stanford’s difficulty in living up to his cold father’s expectations. The book’s strength is in leading young people to overcome prejudices, whether it’s about “nerds” or the elderly, and it has a heart-warming ending where Stanford shows true leadership. This book may be something to give the reluctant boy scholar to read.
Carlson, Lori Marie, Ed. Moccasin thunder. NY: Harper Collins, 2005. $16.89 156 pp. grades 7 and up ISBN-13: 978-0-06-623959-0 ISBN-10: 0-0006-623959-1 P9/Q9 The stories of modern (and good) Native American authors are collected here. From Sherman Alexei to Louise Erdrich, their stories are of modern Indian youth, sometimes gritty and sometimes humorous, reflecting the variety of experiences that face Natives today. The stories are short and their vocabulary is not overly-challenging. They may be the ticket to interesting unmotivated Native teens to read.
Spooner, Michael. Last child. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2005. $16.95 230 pp. ISBN 0-8050-7739-1 P8/Q8 Set in the Upper Missouri of 1837, this story centers on the experiences of a half-Mandan girl, daughter of a white trader. The aim of the author is to portray the devastation of the 1837 smallpox epidemic on the Mandan, Hidatsa, et al. and also the internal and external social conflicts resulting from mixing the white and Native cultures. It is entertaining, but perhaps is a bit harping on the “walking in two cultures” theme. The author appears to be Ojibwa and male, though he makes a good effort at understanding the mind of a pre-teen girl.
January Book Reviews D.C. Library District
Byrd, Robert. The Hero and the Minotaur: the Fantastic Adventures of Theseus. Illus. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. $17.99 ISBN 0-525-47391-2 Ages: Grades 3 – 9 P – 5, Q – 6
The book opens with great end pages showing where the various adventures of Theseus occurred. The other illustrations are also good. The myths were told fairly well but with a spot or two that seemed not as connected as it could have been. This is a very good purchase for any library, especially those where mythology is used as part of the school curriculum.
Collins, Suzanne. When Charlie McButton Lost Power. Illus. by Mike Lester. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005. $15.99 ISBN 0-399-24000-4 Ages: Preschool – Grade 2 P – 7, Q – 8
Poor Charlie can’t handle it when the electricity goes out and he can’t play computer games, watch TV or do anything else that requires electricity. However, as the day goes on he does find other things to do and has fun. But will children really appreciate this story? Maybe not but their parents will.
Horowitz, Anthony. Raven’s Gate: Book One of the Gatekeepers. Scholastic, 2005. $17.95 ISBN 0-439-67995-8 Ages: Grades 7 – 12 P – 5, Q – 9
Raven’s Gate is a compelling story about a 14-year-old boy who has lost his parents (through mysterious means it turns out). He becomes part of a new foster program and ends up with a very odd woman in a remote area of Yorkshire. Every time he tries to get away he ends up unable to leave the area because all roads lead back to where he started. Every time he turns to someone for help they end up dead. There are more children who will join him in future books as those sent to defeat the evil that has shown up at Raven’s Gate, and perhaps other places. This book is not for everyone since it deals with witchcraft and has some fairly graphic descriptions of violence. But those that do read it will have a hard time waiting for the next book in the series.
Jackson, Donna M. ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room. Illus. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $17.00 ISBN 13-978-0618-43663-7 Ages: Grade 3 on up P – 6, Q – 8
This is a very nice presentation about emergency care for pets and the veterinarians that provide the care. There is even an interesting piece on the history of “vets and pets.” The layout of the book is very appealing with boxes of color and text along with photographs of everything. This should appeal to fans of Animal Planet’s vet shows.
Meyer, Adam. The Last Domino. Illus. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005. $16.99 ISBN 0-399-24332-1 Ages: High School P – 6, Q – 6
The Last Domino is a very disturbing, and well-written, look at the factors that lead a high school boy from being a normal kid to the extreme rage that accompanies his killing of parents, friends and others. There are different pieces throughout the story that make it seem even more realistic. Parts are police interviews with other students and Travis. There are other pieces that are part of a journal being written by another student, Jordan, who is one of the popular kids at school and is killed by Travis. It was scary how things escalated so fast, illustrated in the chapter headings ( Ex. 15 days to go) because it was so believable.
San Souci, Daniel. The Dangerous Snake and Reptile Club. Illus. Tricycle Press, 2004. $15.95 ISBN 1-85246-131-7 Ages: Preschool – Grade 2 P – 7, Q – 5
The illustrations make this a book that will be picked up. However, the story itself is pretty average. It does express imagination pretty well. I had been worried about all of the creatures the boys had captured in jars but they were all released back into their habitat in the end.
Book Reviews – January 2006 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Rees, Elizabeth M. The Wedding. Watson-Guptill Publications., New York, 2005 (Uncorrected Proof). $15.95 ISBN: 0-8230-0407-4 240 p. Gr. 6-12. This book is another in the publisher’s “Art Encounters” series, which seek to educate young readers about the lives of famous artists “through evocative and thrilling stories that reflect the individual paintings featured.” It’s really hard to know what to think about this book, it’s a pleasant enough story, though it leans towards being a cheap romance. It’s very readable, but is it valuable? I don’t know – any truth about Jan van Eyck is far too buried in fluff to ferret out. Some of this is undoubtedly due to time – the painter lived in the 1400’s and little is known about his personality, unlike Frida Kahlo (who was fictionalized in another “Art Encounters” tome.) That said, this story is almost wholly about the characters in one of his more cryptic works, “The Wedding.” The painter plays such a minor role in the story that it’s tough to get a grip on him at all. One thing the book does do that is very positive – it entices the reader to thoroughly peruse a painting for clues of what the characters are going to do next. As a result, I studied “The Wedding” like I have never studied it, even through 2 years of art history classes. The author, an accomplished artist and art instructor, creates vivid, beautiful, and dynamic settings throughout the book that help make the truly mediocre plot into an engaging tale. Personally, I would’ve preferred that the author focused less on fabricated characters, and more on van Eyck. P5 Q6
Keller, Laurie. Grandpa Gazillion’s Number Yard. Henry Holt., New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN 0-8050-6282-3 26 p. Gr. K-4. From the author/illustrator of Arnie the Doughnut: Open Wide comes another irreverent, madcap romp through the numbers 1 through 20. Those of us who have long known that each number has a personality will revel in the author’s “uses” of each one. The wildly creative, richly colored illustrations will engage even the most reluctant preschooler, giving them a number lesson they will not soon forget! This book would be a great read-aloud in any elementary or preschool classroom; adults will appreciate the craziness of it all. Undoubtedly, it would surely inspire some very creative number artwork! P8 Q9
Non-Fiction Selections – Biography:
Partridge, Elizabeth. John Lennon: all I want is the truth; a biography. Penguin Group, New York, 2005. $24.99 ISBN: 0-670-05954-4 232 p. Gr. 9-12. Author Elizabeth Partridge sums up her approach to writing a biography on one of this century’s most complex men as “I’ve done my best to find my way back to what actually happened, to who John really was.” Though this is an exhaustively researched account, it’s been presented in such a straightforward, artfully edited manner that it would appeal to young adults who hate nonfiction, especially biographies. The author manages to ferret out some amazing, unpublished photos and the overall text layout is outstanding. Arranged in chronological order, each chapter covers a major period of Lennon’s life. From his birth in a Liverpool hospital during a German air raid to his death on the steps of the Dakota, the book is an amazing tapestry of photos, quotes, and non-judgmental analysis. Because of the adult themes and language in the book, it would not be appropriate for middle schoolers. Also contains: source notes, bibliography, index. P9 Q9
Fleming, Candace. Our Eleanor: a scrapbook look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s remarkable life. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-689-86544-2 176 p. Gr. 7-12. This book goes so much farther than being a biographical sketch, it’s truly a portrait of a complex time and a multifarious woman. Fleming takes us through the sad, yet privileged childhood of Eleanor to the White House and her rise as an Ambassador and university faculty. The text is richly interspersed with sidebars, snippets of letters, newspaper clippings, and photos and is very easy to read. While the author is frank in her portrayal of Eleanor’s social foibles and political mistakes, she is non-judgmental in revealing Eleanor’s character. It is a great story of a woman discovering her power to change the world, and would make a nice addition to any middle or high school library. P7 Q9
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Don’t Tell the Girls: A Family Memoir. Holiday House, New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1818-8 131 p. Gr. 6-9. This little tome is delicately written and nicely laid-out and will make a nice addition to any middle school library. I can see it being a good tool for inspiring students to write autobiographies, as the story is rather humble and seemingly ordinary, with a very quirky ending. It covers the search for family connections, back to Ireland. What originally began as a tale of a family enduring hardship together becomes the story of a woman leaving a bad marriage to come to America and start over. Unfortunately, it lacks the depth and detail needed to make this a truly great read, which is too bad, because the potential is certainly there. P7 Q7
January 2006-Book Reviews C.B.
Cummings, Priscilla, What Mr. Mattero did, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2005, 216 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0-525-47621-0, Gr. 6+, P 8,Q 8,
Mr. Mattero, a middle school music teacher, is sent home after being accused by three of his students of having touched them inappropriately. The three girls have trumped these charges up so that they can get out of music class. Claire and Suzanne start to waver on what they have done but Jenna holds to the story even after seeing the devastating results to Mr. Mattero’s family. The story is told though Claire and Melody, Mattero’s 8th grade daughter so that the reader can see both sides of this touchy subject. A quick read aloud that teacher’s could draw upon when dealing with topic of sexual abuse in their classes.
Glasser, Linda, Bridge to America : based on a true story, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2005, 200 pgs, $16.00, ISBN:0-618-56301-6, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Fival, is a young Jewish boy who lives in Poland with his sisters and mother and all waiting for their father in America to send for them. Stark reality of the life that the European Jews faced, the discrimination and their fight for survival, is conveyed in this work. Fival and his family do eventually make it to America, here Glasser, gives poignant view of emigrants trying to fit into a new country. History buffs will enjoy this historical work of fiction.
Horowitz, Anthony, South by southeast : a Diamond’s brother mystery, Philomel Books, New York, 1991, 1997, 148 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0-399-24155-8, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,
Horowitz does it again, supplying young readers with another book in his Diamond brother mystery series. This book is sure to draw readers who like Horowitz easy style of writing but also has a suspenseful catch to it to. Tim and his brother Nick, a private detective that is almost broke, are drawn into a mystery that they must solve are England could lose one of their best diplomats. Peppered through out are cliques which one brother takes for being a true statement.
Lawrence, Iain. The Cannibals, Delacorte Press, 2005, 230 pgs, $15.95, ISBN;0-385-73088-8, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,
In 1787 England started to ship their convicts to Australia, this story is based on one these ships, that is carrying Tom to his life new life in Australia. Tom and other convicts escape off his father’s ship, during a severe storm. They come to rest an island that is inhabited by another man who escaped from Australia. They make their way from island to island with cannibal men pursuing them. A mystery adventure that is sure draw the middle school readers in with rapt attention.
Levitin, Sonia, The goodness gene, Dutton Books, New York, 2005, 259 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0-525-47397-1, Gr.8+, P 8, Q 8,
Set in the future, in the year 2305, the world as we know has come to an end. It is with the Hayli and 4 others that a new world is created. All known clones are destroyed and food is created to ensure the peace of this new world. Will and his twin Berk are the Supreme Compassionate Director’s, Hayli, sons who will proceed him after his death. Sent on a mission to prove themselves to Hayli, Will discovers that he is a clone and that his DNA came from Adolf Hitler. Will has to learn why his father has cloned him and what he has planned for him and his brother.
McNab, Andy, Traitor, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2005, 263 pgs, glossary, $15.99, ISBN:0-399-24464-6, Gr.9+, P 7, Q7,
Danny Watts has nothing to do with his grandfather a traitor to England. Danny’s, grandfather has been MIA for years, when the British military approaches him in regards to his knowledge of his grandfather and the offer of a scholarship if he will help them locate his grandfather. Thus begins an adventure for Danny and his grandfather as each learns trust and love one another again.
Napoli, Donna, The king of Mulberry Street, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2005, 245 pgs. $15.95, ISBN:0-385-74653-9, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Beniamino, is nine years old when his mother puts him on board a cargo ship, which is leaving Napoli, Italy to go to New York. It’s 1892 and this young Jewish boy must find his way alone on the streets of New York after escaping from Ellis Island. The life of those who lived in the tenements of New York city are brought out in stark detail, any teacher dealing with this time period will find this book a great read aloud.
Schmidt, Gary, First boy, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2005, 197 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0-8050-7859-2, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,
Cooper, is 14 when his grandfather dies leaving him alone on a dairy farm to survive. Here in New Hampshire, Cooper who does not want to leave his farm is aided by his neighbors so that he and stay on his farm. There is however a mystery surrounding Cooper and he must discover what it is. Sure to delight all middle age students.
Dahl, Roald, Vile verses, Viking, New York, 2005, 191 pgs, index, $25.00, ISBN:0-670-06042-9, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
Ronald Dahl has gathered several of his poems from his other books and presented them together in this volume along with many new ones. Broken up into seven different topics Dahl with aide of many illustrator’s presents a variety of vile rhymes and poems that is sure enchant middle and elementary age students. An index of his works is included at the end of the book for quicker access. Teachers who are planning a unit in poetry must include the delicious book too.
Deen, James, Bodies from the ash: life and death in ancient Pompeii, Houghton Mifflin mpany, Boston, 2005, 50 pgs, photos, index, map, $16.00, ISBN:0-618-47308-4, GR. 5+, P8, Q9,
On August 24, 79 A.D. Mt Vesuvius in Italy erupted and rained down on the town of Pompeii volcanic ash. Within 24 hours of the eruption the city was covered and the remaining people were dead. In 1843 workers found bodies and artifacts and thus began the dig to uncover this lost city. The devastation that the city and people faced are shown through photos of the city and plaster models of bodies uncovered. If you are looking for a book to introduce archeology as a career this one will appeal to middle and high school students.
Fradin, Dennis, The Founders: the 39 stories of the U.S. constitution, Illustrated by Michael McCurdy, Walker & Company, New York, 2005, 162 pgs, index, $22.95, ISBN:0-8027-8972-2, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
In September of 1787 delegates from the newly formed USA gathered in Philadelphia to help write the U.S. constitution. Dividing the 39 delegates, who signed the constitution, by the states they represented each is profiled on two or more pages each. Sure to be of great value to elementary and middle school students who are researching the constitution.
Gifford, Clive, Soccer skills, Kingfisher, Boston, 2005, 48 pgs, index, glossary, $4.95, ISBN:0-7534-5932-9, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7,
This paperback book is packed with details of the game of soccer. Everything from warm ups to strategy of the game is covered. Digital graphics and actual photos of the game are used to demonstrate to the reader movements and rules of this game. Young readers find this book an easy read.
Johnson,-Davies, Denys, Goha the wise fool, Sewing by Hany El Saed Ahmed from drawings by Hag Hamdy Mohamed Fattough, Philomel Books, New York, 40 pgs, 2005, $16.99, ISBN:0-399-24222-8, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 9,
Folktales from the Middle East are brought to life for middle and elementary age students through the character Goha. Using a technique called khiyamiva; hand sewn material is used to depict the character, Goha in the 15 tales which show life’s many problems. Teachers and students studying the Middle East will also enjoy these tales.
Markle, Sandra, Outside and inside mummies, Walker & Company, New York, 40 pgs, glossary/index, photos, 2005, $17.95, ISBN:0-8027-8966-8, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
Using clear stark photos Merkle, shows the many new techniques and machines that scientists and archeologist are using to look inside of mummies. A glossary/index at the end of the book aide’s student’s terms used and what page they can be found on. Students in middle school can now gaze themselves at close-ups of the inside of a mummies.
Menchu, Rigoberta, The girl from Chimel, translated by David Unger, illustrations by Domi, A Groundwood Book House of Anansi Press, Toronto, Canada, 54 pgs, glossary, 2000, 2005, $18.95, ISBN:0-88899-666-7, Gr. 4+, P7, Q7,
Rigoberta Menchu draws upon stories that her grandparents told her while living in their Chimel village in Guatemala. Full page colorful illustration, by Domi is used to give students and teachers an accounting of village life in Guatemala. Those who are studying Central America will be drawn to this book of folk tales.
Lester, Julius, The old African, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, Dial Books, Toronto, Canada, 2005, 79 pgs, $19.99, index, ISBN:0-8037-2564-7, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 10,
Slavery has been and always will be a blot in America’s history. Here though the actions of the old African we, the reader are able visualize the horror of slavery. Using full page layouts and with the use of subtle swirling colors this fantasy adventure of the slaves escaping back to Africa. All history teachers who are teaching about slavery must read aloud this book to their students.
Prelutsky, Jack, Read a rhyme, write a rhyme, illustrated by Meilo So, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, 23 pgs, index of titles, $16.95, ISBN:0-375-82286-0, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7, Elementary students who are learning to write poetry will find this book to be a use aide in helping them to write poetry of their own. Prelutsky has collected poems by authors on several different subjects. What makes this book unique is that Prelutsky has also left a poem unfinished and with several rhyming words so the reader can finish them. Using Meilo So whimsical, colorful full page illustrations the reader and writer are charmed into finishing the poems.
Taback, Simms, Kibitzers and fools: tales my Zayda told me, Viking, New York, 2005, unp, glossary, $16.99, ISBN:0-670-05955-2, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,
13 Yiddish tales that will tickle any readers fancy are presented with cartoon style illustrations. Each story is accompanied with sayings and Yiddish vocabulary words that are translated by the author. What a delightful way to introduce the Jewish language, tales and culture to young children.
February 2006 Reviews
Book Reviews – February 2006 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Smith, Jeff. Bone: The Great Cow Race. Scholastic, New York, 2005. $18.95 ISBN: 0-439-70624-6 132 p. Gr. 5-8. The second of a 9-volume series, this story is a quick romp though Stony Gulch with the celebrated Bone family and their friends, Thorn and Gran’ma Ben. Though it follows the action of a previous book, it works OK as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the reader wanting more. The classic comic book illustrations by Smith are lively and well executed, a bit redolent of Walt Kelly’s Pogo. Coloring in the hardbound, later editions is very well done and makes the books worth the heftier price tag. Most of the Bone books have reached collector status, with price tags anywhere from $15 to $30 each. Many of the volumes are not in print currently, so it might be difficult to establish a complete collection in a school library. There is a paperback compilation of all 9 books available as well, for $39.95, but it isn’t in color, and, at 1341 pages thick it’s doubtful the binding is durable enough to withstand heavy circulation. Bone may not be the first graphic novel, but it’s one of the most widely read and well-accepted, and is sure to engage and inspire reluctant readers/comic book artists. P10 Q8
Gerstein, Mordicai. The Old Country. Roaring Brook Press, Milford, CT., 2005. $14.95 ISBN: 1-59643-047-8 130 p. Gr. 5-8. This beautifully printed fantasy has a dark, folktale feel to it, not unlike original Hans Christen Andersen tales. Set in the midst of a bloody war, the book contrasts the grace and lightness of a make believe world to a facist and violent human reality. The story – told primarily through the eyes of a young girl who changes into a fox – challenges the reader to look beyond stereotypes of good and evil. While too violent and disturbing for elementary readers, The Old Country would make a great read-aloud to a class of middle schoolers, challenging their critical thinking skills as well as inspiring their descriptive writing. P8 Q8
Non-Fiction Selections – Biography:
Robertson, James I., Jr. Robert E. Lee: Virginian Soldier, American Citizen. Atheneum, New York, 2005. $21.95 ISBN: 0-689-85731-4 # p. Gr. 5-9. This most impressive, well-presented biography belongs in every middle school library, as it’s a very useful research/report tool and a great read. It’s interesting and engaging, and the profuse photos, illustrations, and maps help make this biography come alive. The biography presents a well-balanced portrait of Lee’s youth, private life, and military career, and illuminates much Civil War history. Also contains table of contents, notes, works cited, photo credits, and index. P7 Q9
Anema, Durylynn. Ynes Mexia; Botanist and Adventurer. Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Greensboro,, NC., 2005. $26.95 ISBN: 1-931798-67-2 144 p. Gr. 6-9. One of 3 of the publisher’s “Women Adventurers” series, this biography is a well-researched, easy-to-read synopsis of the life of a non-typical scientist. Ynes Mexia was an unusual woman for the 1920’s, fearlessly climbing steep ravines and mountains in South America in pursuit of new plant species. This is made even more incredible by the fact that Ynes did not begin her studies until age 50, after treatment for a nervous breakdown landed her in San Francisco, where she joined several environmental groups and took classes at UC Berkeley. Joining several collecting expeditions in Central and South America, Ynes soon learned that she worked better alone, with no one but her native guides to assist her. True to her pugnacious, independent personality, Ynes forged through dangerous jungle passages, fording rapids and tribal civil wars in pursuit of new plant species to collect. The book is interspersed with numerous botanical terms, elucidated in a glossary in the back of the book.. Photos, illustrations, and maps help make the text come alive for younger readers. While this biography might not be the most popular one in a middle school library, it’s an important addition for several reasons: botanist biographies, stories of women scientists, and examples of late-blooming careers are rare. Ynez Mexia was truly an adventurer, and this book chronicles her life in an engaging manner. Also contains: T of C, timeline, list of expeditions, glossary, source list, bibliography, web site listings, and index. P5 Q7
Graydon, Shari. In Your Face: the Culture of Beauty and You. Annick Press, New York, 2004. $14.95 ISBN: 1-55037-856-2 176 p. Gr. 6-9. After reading this book, I found it no surprise that the author is a media literacy activist. In Your Face is a great tool for helping young adults winnow through the messages our society sends them about beauty, to “help you focus on being,, instead of just appearing to be,” as the author states. The text is supported by lively illustrations, cartoons, photos, and thought-provoking sidebars. Also contains t of c, notes, and index. P7 Q7
Parker, Toni Trent. Sienna’s Scrapbook: our African-American Heritage Trip. Illustrated by Janell Genovese. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2005. $15.95 ISBN: 0-8118-4300-9 61 p. Gr. 4-8. This profusely illustrated gem of a book is written in a travel journal/scrapbook format, through the eyes of a spunky, young African American girl. We follow her from the Amistad slave schooner in CT, to Harlem, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Viginia, to her family reunion in North Carolina and tour many black historical sites. Her commentary makes the tour come alive as she peppers it with facts and anecdotes. This would be a great addition to any elementary or middle school library and would make a great classroom read-aloud Also contains endnotes – addresses, phone numbers, Web sites, and additional places to visit . P7 Q8
Harris, Caroline. Wild Weather. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $14.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5911-6 53 p. Gr. 4-8. This is one of those ‘wowie-zowie’ books sure to get lots of circulation in elementary and middle school libraries. Nicely presented, well-organized and easy to read, Wild Weather tantalizes students with vivid photos and fun facts. While not in-depth enough for serious research, it’s the sort of book that inspires and opens doors for even the most reluctant readers. There are some fun features as well: transparencies, tabs, fold-outs and the wire-o binding make this book more fun, even if they do mean less durability. Also contains glossary and index.. P7 Q8
Hughes, Lynn B. You Are Not Alone: teens talk about life after the loss of a parent. Scholastic, New York, 2005. $16.99 ISBN: 0-439-58590-2 192 p. Gr. 6-12.
This book would be a nice addition to middle- or high-school libraries. The author, founder of Comfort Zone Camp, a treatment facility for grieving children, has had first-hand experience with the subject, having lost both parents before age 12. You are Not Alone is one of those ‘oh my God, this is me’ anecdotal therapy books and it would help a grieving teen tremendously. That said, there are some not-so-wonderful things about this book. For one, the author centers much of the discussion on her own experiences. For another, she repeatedly states how little information exists to help teens (which may have been true 20 years ago, but certainly not true now.) Finally, she doesn’t hesitate to focus much of the book on her facility, Comfort Zone Camp, so much so that teens reading this might feel that grief counselors/therapists available in their own communities might not have the expertise that the CZC staff does. The author has also neglected to provide a list of resources (books, websites, social agencies) that might help teens. P6 Q6
Caputo, Philip. 10,000 Days of Thunder: a History of the Vietnam War. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $22.95 ISBN: 0-689-86231-8 128 p. Gr. 6-12. It’s hard to imagine a more thoughtfully presented, eloquent book for young adults on any subject, much less on such an underrepresented topic like the Vietnam War. Thorough research, a balanced viewpoint, engaging text, knockout photos, and a beautiful layout make 10,000 Days a must-have for any middle- or high-school library. The author includes a timeline, conveniently printed on the book’s endpapers for quick reference. While some of the photos might be considered ‘strong’ for their message, none of them are gory or inappropriate. There is a lot of discussion on why/how US involvement began, and much military history, presented in a non-judgemental manner. The book would foster important classroom discussion and critical thinking, beyond the topic of the Vietnam War. Also includes t of c, timeline, glossary, bibliography, web sites, and index. P8 Q10
Fortin, Caroline, Ed. Scholastic Atlas of the Earth. Scholastic, New York, 2004. $17.99 ISBN: 0-439-67270-8 80 p. Gr. 4-7. This attractively presented atlas would make a nice addition to elementary and middle school libraries. Though not in-depth enough for serious research, the nicely-done illustrations and vivid schematics dynamically portray earth processes and features in a manner that is truly engaging. Also includes t of c, glossary, index, and a handy measurement table. P6 Q6
February 2006 Book Reviews C.S.
Hale, Nathan. The Devil you know. Walker & Co., 2005. $16.95. 0-8027-8981-1. Unp. In the correct hands: ages 3 and up. P7Q6. Gives a new meaning to “You’re better off with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” I thought this story was amusing. Some folks might be offended or totally put off. When the Fell family reaches wits-end – they call in Ms. Phisto. Nanny 911 she’s NOT! The Fell family must find the contract they signed and Ms. Phisto grants one last request… Cute, original……but not everyone’s cup of tea.
Holabird, Katharine. Angelina at the palace. Helen Craig. Viking, 2005. $12.99. 0-670-06048-8. Unp. Ages 3 and up. P7 Q7 Angelina Ballerina is asked to help the princesses prepare for a wedding anniversary dance. Angelina worries she is not worthy. When Miss Lilly succumbs to a terrible cold, Angelina and Henry save the day.
Kressley, Carson. You’re different and that’s super. Jared Lee. Simon & Schuster, 2005. $12.95. 978-1-4169-0070-2. Unp. All ages P7 Q7 Kressley, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, has written a story about finding oneself and embracing your uniqueness. A lesson for all ages.
Fallon, Jimmy. Snowball fight! Adam Stower. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. $15.99. 0-525-447456-0. Unp. Ages 4-10 P5 Q3. Fallon, a celebrity from Saturday Night Live fame, has penned a remedial story, with a cute ending……the only worthy part of the text in my opinion. The illustrations are passable, but the text is mediocre at best.
Naidoo, Beverley. Making it home: real-life stories from children forced to flee. Photos. Dial Books, 2004. $17.99. 0-8037-3083-7. 117 p. Ages 13-18 P4 Q5 Real kids from war torn countries tell their stories. These children have all lead terribly bleak lives just trying to survive. Once they find asylum, they unanimously agree that school is the best thing they have to look forward. Seems a bit sanitized…as if we are hearing what we want to hear…. nonetheless, a real reality check for luckier kids who find way too many things to complain about. This book could provide some thought provoking discussion.
Snicket, Lemony. The Penultimate peril. [A Series of unfortunate events: book 12]. Brett Helquist. HarperCollins, 2005. $12.95. 06-029643-7. 353 p. Ages 9 – 15. P8 Q9 As the title suggests this is the next to the last book…… Penultimate isn’t a word you hear every day, but after reading book twelve you understand its meaning. Still entertaining, still dark, still out there increasing the reader’s vocabulary. “Book the Twelfth” sticks to a formula, but adds some extra plot twists – just who can the Violet, Klaus and Sunny really trust? With ominous anticipation, I’m awaiting “Book the Thirteenth”!
Stewart, Paul & Chris Riddell. Vox. Book 6. The Edge Chronicles. Random House, 2005. [Originally published in Great Britain in 2003.] $12.95. 0-385-75080-3. 384 p. Ages 9 (with Webster’s Unabridged nearby!) and up. P7 Q5 A teenage (approx. 14 years old) Rook Barkwater, “under librarian”, continues his adventures protecting and patrolling the Free Glades when his Stormhornet skycraft crashes in dangerous Screetown. Rook is captured and sold as a slave to work in the kitchen of Hestera Spikesap, an evil concocter of potions and poisons for Vox. Vox, the evil nemesis, was a former academic and colleague of the librarians. What made Vox go to the “dark side”? Is Undertown (home of the librarians) “done for”? This story is still a bit Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter and Star Wars. The story contains so many factions, it is difficult to keep them straight and EVEN MORE goblins, cloddertrogs, shrykes, muglumps, mobgnomes, gyle-goblins, and on and on and on…… One new character, “ Speegspeel ” (pg. 119- ) is a dead ringer for Smeagol in LOTR, both in speech pattern and language. Other recurring characters from the previous book pop up after LONG intervals. The vocabulary is, at times, difficult. (i.e.: phial, sibilant, miasmic, derisory, gantries, sluice, panniers, delectation, niggling, embrocation, ingrates, stanchion, fusty, etc.) Abrupt scenery/conversation changes make the story hard to follow at times. I found this a slightly more interesting story than book 5. Can Rook escape the evil clutches of Vox and Hestera Spikesap? The writing continuity could STILL use some polishing, however I doubt that will dissuade young readers from enjoying the gruesome action. Or, perhaps this book is really aimed at an older audience, hoping for cult status. This is my second, and final Edge Chronicle.
Leitch, Will. Catch. Penguin Group, 2005. $7.99. 1-59514-069-7. 286 p. Ages 14-18. P6 Q7 Catch is a coming of age book about a high school graduate who takes a menial job during summer before heading off to college. Tim Temples is a smug jock from a small town who seduces an older woman, who happens to be a secretary at his place of employment. During the summer he enjoys his affair, and spends less time hanging out with his looser friends. As college approaches, he begins to doubt himself, much of his self-doubt stemming from things he learns about his older brother who has moved back in with his parents. When Tim has to step up to the task at hand and attend a college orientation – his life takes a new turn. You begin to see that turning point where maturity starts to set in. Too much of the book is focused on “small-town-beer-guzzling-teenagers” – but, hey, maybe some of these same small town guys will pick up this book and read it. I must say, my favorite part is a conversation with Munesh, the graduate-student-mentor from India – with a rather laid-back approach to showing the “new guys” around. (pg. 190-191) Munesh makes a great case for encouraging small town kids to break out and experience something beyond the familiar! That conversation makes the whole book worth $7.99 and then some! Particularly if it encourages someone to give college a try.
Book Reviews February 2006 D.C.
Best, Cari. Are You Going to Be Good? Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. $16.00 ISBN – 13: 978-0-374-30394-5, ISBN-10: 0-374-30394-0 29 pp. Ages: Preschool P – 6, Q – 6
Robert is going to his first adult party, which is for his great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. He keeps getting reminded about his manners and all of the things he can’t do. However, his Great-Gran Sadie knows how to have fun and enjoys Robert’s dancing and enthusiasm.
Bunting, Eve. That’s What Leprechauns Do. Illus. by Emily Arnold McCully Clarion Books, 2005 $ 16.00 ISBN 0-618-354107 32 pp. Ages: Preschool – 3rd Grade, P – 7, Q – 8
Any library needing books for St. Patrick’s Day will probably get this book and be pleasantly surprised that it is of better quality than most holiday related books. McCully’s illustrations really bring the fun loving, mischievous leprechauns to life. The 3 leprechauns in the story are hurrying to get their pot of gold ready so that it will be at the end of the rainbow. However, they do get into a bit of mischief along the way. They are always disappointed that no one finds the pot of gold but they keep hoping it will happen some day. The information about leprechauns at the back is a fun twist on the usual factual information given in this book location.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Willow Run. Wendy Lamb Books, 2005. $15.95 ISBN 0-385-73067-5 (trade) 0-385-900096-1 (lib. bdg.) 149 pp. Ages: Grades 4 – 7, P – 4, Q – 7
Giff’s novel gives a very human view of life in the U.S. during World War II from the perspective of 11 year old Meggie. Meggie was first introduced in Lily’s Crossing (Delacorte, 1997) as Lily’s best friend. Lily is in this story but stays in Rockaway, NY when Meggie’s family moves to Willow Run, MI so that Meggie’s father can help build B-24 bombers. Meggie’s brother is reported as missing after the invasion of Normandy. Their Michigan neighbor is waiting for her husband to return from WWII where he is flying bombing missions. Though the living conditions for Meggie aren’t as nice as in Rockaway, she meets other children who are living in better circumstances because of the factory work. All are worried about friends and family members fighting in Europe or the Pacific. This is a well-told and moving story.
Johnson, D. B. Eddie’s Kingdom. Illus. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $16.00 ISBN 0618-56299-0 29 pp. Ages: Preschool – 1st Grade P – 7, Q – 6
Eddie decides to make a picture of everyone in his building. All of his neighbors seem a bit grumpy and most blame him for various noises and messes but they all let him come in a draw them. In the end he displays his picture of everyone up on the roof and all enjoy his work and get to know each other a bit. A bit preachy but has good illustrations and is fun.
Kitamura, Stoshi. Igor: The Bird Who Couldn’t Sing. Illus. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. $16.00 ISBN 0-374-33558-3 30 pp. Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade, P – 7, Q – 8
Igor is so excited when his first Spring comes because he knows it is time to sing. He just can’t wait to sing. However, the sounds he makes are not what the other birds expect. He goes off and studies music and tries his best but still his singing is not pleasant to those around him. He finally goes to an isolated place and sings and sings only to awaken a Dodo that happens to like his singing. The best part of this book is the pictures portraying the music, giving a real feel for the music. Some of the music is in colorful ribbons. Some music is in colorful bits and pieces. A good purchase for most libraries.
January 2006 Book Reviews By J.C.
Hill, Susanna Leonard. Punxatawney Phyllis. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, c2005. 1 v. : col. ill. ISBN 0-8234-1872-3 $16.95 Ages 3-7. When Punxatawney Phil grows too old to continue predicting Spring, the groundhog families expect that one of the boys will take on the job. However, young Phyllis is the only one who truly enjoys studying weather patterns—and she proves herself a worthy successor to the retiring Phil. A fun and silly book about gender expectations. Recommended for elementary school media centers and public library collections.
Larbaestier, Justine. Magic or madness. Razorbill, c2005. 271 p. ISBN 1-59514-0220 $16.99 Ages 14-up. Reason and her mother have been on the run from her grandmother, the witch, for years. When her mother is institutionalized, Reason has nowhere else to go and is trapped in her grandmother’s posh house. How much of her mother’s rantings are truth? Reason steps through a door and finds herself transported from the Australian summer into a New York snowstorm. Adequate fantasy, not stellar. (Includes glossary of Aussie slang.)
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Going going. Greenwillow Books, c2005. 232 p. ISBN 0-06-029366-7 $16.89 Ages 14-up. Florrie, high school student, San Antonio native, and community activist, starts a movement to support independent community businesses and boycott franchises. A fun read and a call to action for students (and others) to take an interest in their own communities. Recommended for high school media centers and public library collections.
Pierce, Tamora. The will of the empress. Scholastic Press, c2005. 550 p. ISBN 0-439-44171-4 $17.99 Ages 12-up. A continuation of the adventures of four wizards-in-training. Sandrilene fa Toren (Sandry) has stayed at her uncle’s castle while her three friends went on adventures to the four corners of the world. When she is summoned to the Namorese court, the four friends travel together, but their earlier ease is marred by secrets from their years apart. As a continuation, this book ties up loose ends from earlier books in the series. However, Sandry’s whining irritates through most of the text. Where are the strong feminist characters that we expect from Tamora Pierce? Recommended for those libraries already owning the previous books in the Circle of Magic and the Circle Opens series—otherwise, don’t bother.[Note: In 2014, I re-read The will of the empress. The young magicians each have decisions to make while at the Namornese court. Daja’s stay includes a first love with a young woman of the Empress’s court, a rare depiction in young adult mainstream fantasy. I have to change my recommendation–libraries should purchase the book. It is an important part of the Circle of Magic story cycle. JLC]
White, Linda Arms. I could do that!: Esther Morris gets women the vote. Pictures by Nancy Carpenter. “Melanie Kroupa Books.” Farrar Straus Giroux, c2005. 1 v. : col. ill. ISBN 0-374-33527-3 $16.00 Ages 4-8. A picture book biograpy of pioneer suffragist Esther Morris who became the first woman to hold public office in the United States. Esther’s repeated refrain “I could do that”(and she did) shows that girls can made a difference with their decisions. Includes lively illustrations and coherent text. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections.
February 2006 Book Reviews by A.G.
Usher, M.D. Illustrated by William Bramhall. Wise guy: The life and philosophy of Socrates. NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. $16.00 34 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-374-31249-4 P7/Q9
It’s not easy translating an ancient Greek philosopher into something interesting to a child, but this author has managed. The caricaturish drawings are fun. The story line is reasonably simple, clear and in easy vocabulary, and can be quickly read to get the gist of the life of Socrates. For more depth on his philosophy, there’s “boxed” sections on every other page, still using simple language. The final pages illustrate later thinkers who reflected Socratic thinking, and there’s a bibliography following. This could be a fine adjunct to sixth grade studies on ancient civilizations, right on up to high school.
William, Murray, Glenn, & Gundy, Elizabeth. Illustrated by Audrey Colman. Rough weather ahead for Walter the farting dog. NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. $15.99 29 pp. ages 6 and up ISBN 0-525-47218-5 P9/Q7
This hilarious book has wonderful illustrations. The storyline points out that, even when you have a disgusting disability, you can do good in the world and be appreciated. (Walter floats away filled with gas, but is able to expel it in time to save a cloud of frozen butterflies from falling into a lake.) While a teacher may not appreciate having to read this “f” word to a class out loud, it should capture the attention of reluctant young readers.
Browne, N. M. Hunted. NY: Bloomsbury, 2002. $15.95 336 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 1-58234-759-X P8/Q8
Teenager Karen gets beaten up by a gang of girls and lies in a coma. She falls into a fantasy world in which she finds adventure and fulfillment, and eventually has to choose between that world and the one she left. The story draws one in; the end is unpredictable. A fun reading book for middle school or high school.
Pearson, Mary E. A room on Lorelei Street. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2005. $16.95 266 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-8050-7667-0 P8/Q8
Zoe is an older teen who has to cope with an alcoholic mother. Her father died mysteriously a while back, and her relatives aren’t coming through for her. In desperation, she decides to quit enabling her mother and to rent a room for herself elsewhere. The things she goes through to get enough money to keep the room could be an eye-opener for teens planning for their future, and understanding what unexpected costs can come up. For teachers who have an occasionally defiant but usually quiet girl in class, this could lend some insight into the kinds of challenges faced by many students. This book is not only interesting, keeping you guessing what will happen by the end, but gives valuable insights into life with alcoholics.
Blegvad, Lenore. Kitty and Mr. Kipling, neighbors in Vermont. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $16.95 128 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-689-87363-8 P6/Q8
This simple story of a young girl who gets to know her new neighbors—Rudyard Kipling and his wife—is a pain-free way to get to know a popular author’s personal life. Kitty observes the day-to-day struggles as Kipling adjusts to American culture and avoids reporters. Students who have enjoyed the Jungle Books, whether read or seen as a movie, will have an interest in getting this unique perspective on the author. A bibliography guides the reader to source material for the story.
Himelblau, Linda. The trouble begins. NY: Random House (Delacorte Press), 2005. $14.95 200 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-385-73273-2 P8/Q8
Eleven-year-old Du arrives in America with his grandmother, the last of the family of “boat people” to reach the US from Vietnam. He and the grandmother were diagnosed with TB back then, and had to stay in the Philippines for 10 years. While he took care of her and learned street survival skills, his older siblings became average American kids. This book follows his difficult transition, the racism and cliquishness of students, and Du’s difficulty in meeting the expectations of his father. The story is written with a nearly-choppy, simple style that captures that of a young immigrant boy. I was attracted to the good-hearted choices the hero made despite his difficulties, and the end was heart-warming.
February 2006 Reviews by N.W.
Love, D. Anne. Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia. Il. Pam Paparone. Holiday House, 2006. $16.95. 0-8234-1621-6. Unp. Ages 4-8: One of the most brilliant women in the ancient world was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in the fourth century CE. Simple text describes her mathematician father’s educating Hypatia in a time when few girls learned to read or write. An authority in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy, she taught students who traveled from far away. Period acrylic artwork shows the flavor of the time in which she lived. P6Q7
McClafferty, Carla Killough. Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium. Farrar, 2006. $18.00. 0-374-38036-8. 130p. Ages 9-13: The journeys of a poor Polish girl living under the Russian czarist regime to her fame as a scientist, the first person to win two Nobel prizes, shows her dedication to work and her love for her husband, Pierre. Blended with this accessible biography is information about the early follies and successes of the X-ray and the physical toll that Curie’s work with radium took on her. Although the text is simple to read, it sometimes glosses over the extreme conditions under which the Curies worked; i.e., the only reference to the severe cold in their laboratory is the temperature of 43 degrees in the “shed.” Curie’s bravery in carrying her gram of radium out of Paris during World War I is described in only a sentence about her taking it on a train. Yet no other quality biography of this amazing woman for this age group has been published for decades, and the photographs make a wonderful addition to the text. P5Q8
Miller, Norma. Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller. Col. & ed. Alan Govenar. Il. Martin French. Candlewick, 2006. $16.99. 0-7636-2244-3. 54p. Ages 8-12: Growing up in poverty in a place rich with music, Miller became a professional jazz dancer at the age of 15 in 1934 when the Great Depression had overcome the country. Her reminiscences of her early life show the prejudice of the times as Miller traveled first to Europe to perform and then to Rio de Janeiro just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Miller’s joy in her dancing is enhanced by the energized black-and-white full-page illustrations that shows jazz meeting art deco. The book is well worth looking at if even just for its imagery. P6Q9
Smith, Lane. John, Paul, George & Ben. Hyperion, 2006. $16.99. 0-7868-4783-6. Unp. Ages 5-8: The illustrator of early Jon Scieszka books, including the first few chapter books of the Time Warp Trio series, brings young readers a bit of trivia and humor about John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Tom Jefferson–who didn’t get in the title because he was always off doing his own thing. Use of current dialect (such as “c’mon”), anachronisms (such as seeing something from space), and downright misinformation (such as Paul Revere selling women’s underwear) may annoy some purists, but the section called “Taking Liberties” tries to clarify between true and false. Humor runs rampant in the stories and paintings, some of them on handmade parchment and weathered pulp boards. A painless way to introduce American history to early readers–and non-readers. P8Q8
Sierra, Judy. Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie. Il. Edward Koren. Knopf, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-83218-1. Unp. Ages 4-8: Prepare yourself for the disgusting in this funny read-aloud romp starring a monster who makes a goo-filled crust, lures hundreds and thousands of succulent flies into it, and invites his “disgusting-ist” friends and relations to a gala fly-pie party. The onomatopoeia will delight as the pie whirred and whined and whizzed and whooshed. Koren, known for his New Yorker cartoons, uses black and white scratch drawings highlighted with lime green for the flies and the text.
Goppel, Christine. Anna Aphid. North-South Books, 2005. $16.95. 0-7358-2007-4. Unp. Ages 4-8: An adventurous aphid sets off to see the end of the world despite her father’s concern that she will fall off the edge and disappear. What does she find? Space with the sun, the moon, comets, the red planet, and a big black hole in the cosmos before she flies “though the emptiness of the universe” back to her lush green planet. Young readers will enjoy Anna’s “universe” when they discover it is in one room as a woman cleans a baby’s bedroom. Deep colors, primarily green, red, yellow, and blue, provide the backdrop for the whimsical depiction of an aphid. Great for imagination and discovery.
Gogh, Vincent van. Vincent’s Colors: Words and Pictures by Vincent van Gogh. Ed. William Lach. Chronicle, 2005. $14.95. 0-8118-5099-4. Unp. Ages 3-6: Phrases taken from the artist’s letters to his brother, Theo, combine with parts of his colorful, dynamic paintings introduce young readers to the colors of the rainbow–and beyond. Included in this collection are his most famous paintings, The Starry Night and Sunflowers. Reproductions of the complete paintings are in the back; a brief biography of the artist with a self-portrait is in the front. P8Q9
Grey, Mini. The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon. Knopf, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-82691-8. Unp. Ages 6-10: Lush, detailed illustrations with visual sidebars breaking up the two-page spreads extend the story of what happens after the Dish runs away from the Spoon. In the midst of the Great Depression, they become rich and famous vaudeville stars until their taste for the high life puts them in debt to a gang of sharp and shady characters. The Dish breaks, and the Spoon does his 25 years behind bars, but there’s still a happy ending. The ideas and format in this book can provide fun assignments in both art and writing. P8Q10
Lester, Helen. Tacky and the Winter Games. Il. Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 2005. $16.00. 0-618-55659-1. Unp. Ages 4-8: The tubby penguin is back in the sixth Tacky book with his five friends who are training for the Winter Games. As always, Tacky refuses to follow the pack as shown by the visuals of jumping rope, doing sit-ups, lifting weights, riding bikes, and eating special training meals. But as always, Tacky wins the day although Tacky had to be X-rayed to find the baton that he ate. Both illustrations and text continue the silliness of the earlier books. And the new Tacky is just in time for the Winter Olympics this month.
Bildner, Phil. Playing the Field. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $14.95. 1-4169-0284-8. 181p. Ages 14+: Imagine the twist of a girl having to pretend to be a lesbian to get what she wants and fears being outed as a heterosexual. That’s what happens to Darcy Miller when the principal of her school allows her to play on the boys’ baseball team because he thinks that she is “g-g-g-g—.” (The principal can’t say the word.) In the midst of the plot turns–Darcy’s mother is dating the principal, Darcy has a crush on the principal’s son, and Darcy’s ex-friend Josh (who is gay) is determined to out her out of revenge–are insights into high school life for gay students and the treatment of a girl on a boys’ team. The book moves quickly with realistic dialog and characterization. Some readers may be disturbed by the storylines left open at the book’s completion, but Bilder has made a terrific beginning in his first novel. P7Q8
Korman, Gordon. Born to Rock. Hyperion, 2006. $15.99. 0-7868-0920-5. 261p. Ages 13-16: After writing over 50 novels for young readers, starting as a teenager, Korman has hit his stride in this pleasant book about Leo Caraway, a high school senior who loses his scholarship to Harvard at the same time his mother reveals that his biological father is a famous rock star making a comeback. The predictable plan is that he will hit up his bio father for the money to attend Harvard. The fun part of the book is the plotting, from the first paragraph that sentence about a cavity search through Leo’s summer on the road with his “father” that leads up to the boy’s cavity search. Korman provides a few twists, including the revelation of Leo’s real biological father, and keeps Leo pretty squeaky clean, in keeping with his being a Republican, while developing tolerance for diversity. The bits about punk rock make the book even more appealing to teenagers, and Korman never fails to appeal to male readership. P8Q7
Taylor, Kim. Bowery Girl. Viking, 2006. $16.99. 0-670-05966-8. 217p. Ages 14+: Life in Old New York is shown through the eyes of pickpocket Mollie Flynn and prostitute Annabelle Lee. They live together in a windowless tenement apartment; their friends are gang members. Recently jailed and pregnant, Annabelle wants a better life which she thinks she can find at the Cherry Street Settlement House and Mollie reluctantly goes along with the plan. What makes this book head and shoulders above historical novels about 19th-century New York is the writing and the complex characterization. Taylor’s descriptions of life are superb, and the depiction of the girls’ relationship is memorable. Also inviting is the photograph used for the cover. Altogether a top-notch read for young adults. P7Q9
More February 2006 Reviews by N.W.
Bolden, Tonya. Cause: Reconstruction America, 1863-1877. Knopf, 2005. $19.95. 0-374-82795-1. 138p. Ages 12+: Although over 60,000 books have been published about theC ivil War, much less has been written about the turbulent times following the War Between the States. The struggle to overcome the Supreme Court ruling, that blacks should never be citizens, is passionately, yet objectively, told by an acclaimed author of books about women and African-Americans. With a Democratic president who firmly believed in slavery, the Republicans fought to continue the process of freeing the slaves who were not allowed to vote even after becoming “freedmen.” Extensive research with a large collection of photographs and engravings of people and perceptions of the times expand the lucid, rich text that describes the abuse heaped on those who wanted citizenship for all. The photograph on the cover, a black-skinned fist painted with the color of the U.S. flag and marred by the wounds on the knuckles set against a black background, introduces how this time of change was “fraught with great difficulty.” P4Q10
Dash, Joan. A Dangerous Engine: Benjamin Franklin, from Scientist to Diplomat. Il. Dusan Petricic. Farrar, 2006. $17.00. 0-374-30669-9. 246p. Ages 10+: Many young people learn only that this revered 18th-century American carried two loaves of bread under his arm and that he put a key on a kite to study electricity. This biography shows that there was much more to American’s first foreign diplomat, a lightning rod in political circles as father of the Revolution and a signer of the Constitution. Dash manages to create a feeling of adventure in Franklin’s curiosity and his ability to inspire others to search the world for answers. The biography also shows a very human person, perhaps quite selfish as he leaves his family alone in the colonies for 15 years as he enjoys the rich life of London. As critic Catherine Clinton says, “Joan Dash’s wonderful new book is breathtaking–crammed full of fascinating information while maintaining a charming narrative. Dash’s research and its analysis is thorough while making scholarly discoveries fun.” The fun continues with the black and white drawings which provide touches of humor throughout the book. This would be a delightful read for adults as well as a read-aloud for younger readers. P5Q9
Jackson, Donna M. ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room. Houghton, 2005. $17.00. 0-628-43863-4. 66p. Ages 9-12: Full-color, behind-the-scenes photographs help capture the poignant stories of animals in pain being treated by a team of specialists ranging from cardiologists to anesthesiologists as emergency room veterinarians work to heal the little and large creatures that have become part of human families. Brief bios of the participants in this rescue area at the Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital are combined with health hints for caring for animals. A chapter on grieving the death of pets may be especially helpful for younger readers. Writing and layout are clear, and the photos are beautifully done. P7Q8
Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp. George Did It. Il. Larry Day. Dutton, 2006. $16.99. 0-525-47560-5. Unp. Ages 5-9: Glorification in biography has returned in this book about how George Washington was reluctant to take the presidency after leading the fight against the British during the Revolutionary War. Humorously done, the anecdotes, some of them little known, show a highly personal side to the tall man who first led our republic. Of interest is the story about how he refused to be called by any exalted title, preferring “president.” [It’s my understanding that this is not true.] Also of interest is his inability to pay for the eight-day trip to New York, needing to borrow the money. The one hundred pounds that he requested from a neighbor would probably be worth $10,000 today. One might ask why he needed that much money for the trip. Yet the illustrations are delightful and the writing sprightly, providing a good read if taken with a grain–or several grains–of salt. P7Q8
O’Connor, Sandra Day. Chico: A True Story from the Childhood of the First Woman Supreme Court Justice. Il. Dan Andreasen. Dutton, 2005. $16.99. 0-525-47452-8. Unp. Ages 6-9: In the long line of famous people writing children’s books and selling them based on their names rather than the books’ quality comes the retired Justice who tells of overcoming her fears as a young child in an encounter with a rattlesnake. This is a lovely book with lovely oil paintings and simple unexciting language. Based on an experience growing up on a cattle ranch on the Arizona/New Mexico border, this tale about O’Connor’s horseback ride alone on the desert to see a newborn calf, seemingly when she was six years old, comes from her book co-authored with her brother, Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest. Purchasers of books about pioneer life would be better off with Jan Ormerod’s Lizzie Nonsense (reviewed below in “Picture Books”). P7Q7
Platt, Richard. Forensics. Kingfisher, 2005. $12.95. 0-7523-5862-4. 64p. Ages 9-14: One of the Kingfisher Knowledge series, this book has a foreword by Kathy Reichs, the well-known author of mysteries about a forensic anthropologist, in which she outlines the history and process of crime scene investigation. A forensic scientist herself, Reichs describes the book as “a terrific introduction to my world.” Beginning with very simple information familiar to watchers of television series featuring forensic investigations, the materials becomes more complex as the book continues. Readers who do not become discouraged by the obvious material provided in the beginning will thoroughly enjoy and learn from the later parts of the book. As in other of this series, the format and colorful photographs are inviting, the drawings informative, and the websites useful for additional educational opportunities. Index and glossary. P8Q7
Reading Is Fundamental. The Art of Reading: Forty Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary. Dutton, 2005. $19.99. 0-525-47484-6. 96p. Ages 6+: The program that has provided over 250 million free books for children in the United States has produced this commemorative work in which forty illustrators “re-imagine a favorite book from their own childhood that propelled them along their life’s path of reading, writing, and creating.” Each person has selected a beloved book (even a comic book) from his or her childhood, explained who (sometimes giving insight into the book as well as the illustrator’s characters), and provided an illustration based on that person’s reading of the book. Thus the book shows both the illustrators’ memories and their artistic styles. The result is 40 two-page spreads that include a head-shot of the illustrator, a photo of the book being discussed, and the illustrator’s visual concepts of the book. Although the introductory work does not provide a good explanation of the process, it becomes evident through reading the book. The well-known artists include Ashley Bryan, Lois Ehlert, David McPhail, David Diaz, Peter Sis, and Susan Jeffers. The diversity of ethnic backgrounds doesn’t extend gender balance with three-fourths of the people being male. Readers and librarians will find this work valuable in discussing artwork and classic books that have inspired other readers. P7Q9
Hines, Anna Grossnickle. Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts. Greenwillow, 2005. $17.89. 0-06-000818-0. All ages: Following the pattern of combining poetry and quilts in Pieces and Whistling, Hines highlights the darkest season of the year in rich, luminous fabrics, eleven miles of thread, and poetry bout different winter celebrations and light sources. Words mesh with visuals as in the African images with “Kwanzaa” and the glowing dragon lantern for “Nian Is Coming,” showing the red monster that lurks at Chinese New Year. A bonus for older readers, including adults, is the description of making the qujilts for this book which begins with Hines’ explanation about different lights that lift our spirits during the dark months and then continues with specific directions such as modifying a classic quilt design into the “twisted log cabin.” The illustrations far outshine the quality of the poetry, but they come from the heart. P7Q8
Brett, Jan. Honey…Honey…Lion! Putnam, 2005. $16.99. 0-399-24463-8. Unp. Ages 4-7: This tale of the honey guide and the honey badger in Botswana is illustrated in typical Brett fashion: elaborate borders and insets in each two-page spread. In addition, a lift-up shows the lion hiding in the acacia tree. The lesson from the legend that if the honey badger doesn’t share the honey, the next time the honey guide will lead it to the lion is well done, but the illustrations seem cluttered and confusing. The book would have benefitted from an identification of the creatures on the Okavango Delta. Having just one lift-up is also odd as the reader begins to look for more. It is, however, a nice addition to stories from different cultures and for those who love Brett’s books. P8Q7
Omerod, Jan. Lizzie Nonsense: A Story of Pioneer Days. Clarion, 2004. $15.00. 0-618-57493-X. Unp. Ages 4-7: The ruggedness of pioneer life for women in the Australian bush country is vividly demonstrated through brilliant watercolors using golds and blues melded with warm browns. Using anecdotes from her family history, Ormerod rells of Lizzie’s fantasies–causing her to be called “Lizzie Nonsense” by her mother–when the young girl’s father leaves her, her mother, and her baby sister at home while he takes a load of sandalwood to town 50 miles away. Vignettes of bush life include everyday chores as well as Mama’s chasing a snake from the house as they wait for Lizzie’s father to return. First published in Australia, the book was selected as the Children’s Book of the Week by the Sunday Times (London) which praised the “skillful and immensely satisfying” illustrations and called it “a timeless story.” Lizzie’s imagination is one which all children can understand. P8Q10
Rowe, John A. Moondog. Penguin, 2005. $14.99. 0-698-40031-3. Unp. Ages 5-9: Why does the moon shine so brightly? It’s because Moondog “sweeps the craters and dusts the big rocks.” And it’s Moondog that saves the moon from being overrun when Earth people consider moving there. (“The moon rock was actually a dog biscuit that Moondog sent back with Monkey, sent to get a piece of Moon rock.) Primary colors, complemented with green, highlight the unconventional cartoon figures that extend the text with its environmental message and humor surrounding space exploration. Great whimsey from an eccentric author/illustrator. P9Q9
Say, Allen. Kamishibai Man. Houghton, 2005. $17.00. 0-618-47954-6. Unp. Ages 6-8: Before television, itinerant storytellers used “paper theater” as they traveled on bicycles. Used to entice children to buy sweets, the stories used picture cards, finishing each time with a cliffhanger designed to provide an audience the next day. Exquisite art, in the style of these picture cards, tell the story of an old man who came out of retirement to see if people would listen to his stories. It is the man’s original audience that once drifted away to watch the small television screen who return to enjoy the familiar stories. Through this quietly dramatic tale, the audience learns about an older, slower way of life before our technology and about the love of the people for what they do. P6Q9
Spirin, Gennady, il. A Apple Pie. Philomel, 2005. $16.99. 0-399-23981-2. Unp. Ages 3+: This magical ABC, beloved by children since 1600s England, follows exuberant children and the merry fortunes of an apple pie filled with delicious Victorian details. From the ants on th apple in the first two-page spread to the zebra prowling the golden fruit on the last page, the elaborate drawings with the variety of lettering provide hours of perusal. The illustrator, recipient of many international awards, moved from Russia over a decade ago at the request of Philomel and Dial Press. P8Q10
Woodson, Jacqueline. Show Way. Il. Hudson Talbott. Putnam, 2005. $16.99. 0-399-23749-6. Unp. Ages 5-10: Passed from mother to daughter in Woodson’s family, “show ways,” or quilts, once served as “street maps for freedom-seeking slaves.” Woodson traces her family back for seven generations to “Soonie’s great-grandma” who, at the age of seve, “was sold from the Virginia land to a plantation in South Carolina without her ma or pa but with some muslin her ma had given her.” And so begins the rolling narrative through the generations from childhood through search for freedom tracing them from slavery through the civil rights struggle to the present. The quilts are named and frequently blazing from the many black backgrounds that highlight the text and illustrations. Woodson has created a classic through her rich language and Talbott’s illustrations of “watercolor, chalk, muslin, workshirts, and Bermuda shorts.” P7Q10
Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Queen of the World. Random House, 2005. $5.95. 0-375-83229-7. 93p. Ages 6-10: Brother and sister, graphic designer/freelance writer and author, have joined forces to produce this charming black, white, and pink illustrated narrative about a timid mouse who fantasizes her success in her world. Wanting to be invited to Felicia Furrypaws’ slumber party, she achieves her goal only to realize that she would much rather be with her friend Wilson the Weasel. The situations are common to most young readers, and the humorous handling of them will entertain and enchant. Also check out the sequel, Babymouse: Our Hero. P9Q8
Averett, Edward. The Rhyming Season. Clarion, 2005. $16.00. 0-618-46948-6. 214p. Ages 12-16: Sports, grief, and coming of age blend in this creative look at a girls’ team from a tiny Washington state town that manages to go to state even after losing their beloved coach to an Oregon community college. Brenda Jacobsen faces the loss of her older brother in an automobile accident, the potential breakup of her parents because of her father’s unbending grief, and the new coach, the nerdy English teacher, who requires all the players to quote poetry before shooting after they are fouled. Combined with these elements is the suffering of a small logging town after its mill is closed. With the grace of basketball, the rhythm of poetry, and the eccentricities of small town life, this novel appeals to a wide audience. Toward the end, the poetry and grief become a bit heavy-handed, but the interactions of the members of the girls’ basketball team and Brenda’s pain about deciding whether to leave her hometown for college make this a memorable work. P8Q9
Buckley, Michael. The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives. Il. Peter Ferguson. Amulet Books/Abrams, 2005. $14.95. 0-8109-5925-9. Ages 10-14: For lovers of Lemony Snickett, Buckley has introduced a series that will satisfy those searching for weird adventure as two sisters, Daphne and Sabrina, learn to trust their grandmother after a series of disastrous foster homes following their parents’ disappearance. The premise of the series is that they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm and that the “fairy tales of the Grimms is a history that documents actual magical mischief of individuals who live in small town in the eastern United States. Unfortunately for the remaining Grimms, the fairy tale characters are all determined to eradicate all the Grimms. Meanwhile Daphne and Sabrina continue to search for their missing parents. Although it seems unbelievable that a seven- and 11-year-old can accomplish all the tasks of he first book as they fight off Jack the Giant Killer (who is not the nice person we would like him to be), the rest of the book is so unbelievable that probably no one cares. P8Q9
Malone, Patricia. Lady Ilena: Way of the Warrior. Delacorte, 2005. $15.95. 0-385-73225-2. 199p. Ages 10-14: Ilena became hereditary chief of Dun Alyn in The Legend of Lady Ilena. Now she must prove that she deserves the position after deserting her father in battle upon seeing her betrothed with the ruthless warriors who they battle. It is in this exile that she saves King Arthur from tribes that have joined the invading Saxons. The struggle for unification in sixth-century Britain is well-delineated, and the characters are believable, especially Ilena. The novel is plot driven, keeping readers wondering about the next adventure. P7Q7
Priest, Cherie. Four and Twenty Blackbirds. TOR, 2005. $13.95. 0-765-31308-1. 285p. Ages 14+: This first novel is supernatural horror and Southern gothic at its strongest with Eden, a young mixed-race woman using three headless female ghosts to lead her in the search for her past. The roots of her diseased family tree take her across the South, from the ruins of the Pine Breeze sanitarium in Tennessee where she was born to a corpse-filled swamp in Florida with a stop-over in time to the Civil War. Originally published two years ago with 100 fewer pages, humor, spooky and engrossing thrills, and the touch of the occult will lead Buffy fans into a fun read. The ending is somewhat anti-climatic, but Eden’s voice shows welcome diversity in a genre well populated with porcelain-complected heroines. P8Q8
Scieszka, Jon. Oh Say, I Can’t See. Il. Adam McCauley. Viking, 2005. $14.99. 0-679-06025-9. 72p. Ages 8-11: This chapter book, the fifteenth of the Time Warp Trio adventures, shows tghe intrepid time travelers Joe, Fred, and Samantha inspiring General George Washington to carry out a surprise attack on Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey, that will change the course of the Revolutionary War. As usual, quick reading with quirky characters and an irreverent sense of humor. P8Q8
March 2006 Reviews A.G.
Bolden, Tonya. Cause: Reconstruction America, 1863-1877. Knopf, 2005. $19.95. 0-374-82795-1. 138p. Ages 12+: Although over 60,000 books have been published about theC ivil War, much less has been written about the turbulent times following the War Between the States. The struggle to overcome the Supreme Court ruling, that blacks should never be citizens, is passionately, yet objectively, told by an acclaimed author of books about women and African-Americans. With a Democratic president who firmly believed in slavery, the Republicans fought to continue the process of freeing the slaves who were not allowed to vote even after becoming ?freedmen.? Extensive research with a large collection of photographs and engravings of people and perceptions of the times expand the lucid, rich text that describes the abuse heaped on those who wanted citizenship for all. The photograph on the cover, a black-skinned fist painted with the color of the U.S. flag and marred by the wounds on the knuckles set against a black background, introduces how this time of change was ?fraught with great difficulty.? P4Q10
Book Reviews – March 2006 L.F. Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Paulsen, Gary. The Amazing Life of Birds: the Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech. Random House, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 0-385-90897-0 96 p. Gr. 5-8. Following in the lighthearted tone of Paulsen’s Molly McGinty, this introspective journal covers 20 days of middle school angst with humor and aplomb. Duane is everyboy, suffering the throes of clumsiness, first crushes, and zits; readers will relate to his story and celebrate his confidence. This would be a great book for a classroom study in journaling, as it would inspire even the most reluctant writers/readers. P9 Q9
Amato, Mary. The Naked Mole Rat Letters. Holiday House, New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1927-4 266 p. Gr. 5-7. Twelve year-old Frankie’s dad has a new love interest, and Frankie attempts to end their relationship via e-mail. In the process, Frankie’s values are tested, her grief over her mother’s death is explored, and she learns to accept and forgive. It might be a saccharine story, except for the way it is written – completely through journal and e-mail entries. Amato’s character and plot development is nothing short of amazing, given the format. It’s an easy read and would be comforting to kids who have dealt with parental loss and remarriage. P7 Q8
Cazet, Denys. A Snout for Chocolate. HarperCollins, New York, 2006, $16.89 ISBN: 0-06-051094-3 UNP Gr. 1-3. This early reader is another fun Chicken Pox Story from Grandpa Spanielson. Grandpa is a loveable old cuss whose storytelling urges put him in a bit of danger. This would be a great read-aloud to a kindergarten or first grade classroom, and is a wonderful introduction to dialogue. P6 Q8
Pulver, Robin. Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day. Illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed. her., Holiday House, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1982-7 UNP Gr. 1-3. This is a fun – even somewhat exciting – treatment of a ‘dull’ topic. Through somewhat primitive illustrations (that would be great inspiration for classroom art/bulletin boards) the principles of nouns, verbs, et al. come alive. A good addition to any elementary library, this book will get a lot of use in classroom read-alouds. P6 Q8
C.B. – Book Reviews March 2006
Bath, K. P, The Secret of castle can’t, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2004, 291 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:0-316-10848-0, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q8 This is Barth’s first novel and one of fantasy and historical fiction. His character, Lucy Wickwright jumps off the pages as you follow her through the many adventures and close calls that she has. Orphaned as a young girl Lucy is taken in by the castle and raised as a maid servant to the Princess Pauline. Pauline is just the opposite of Lucy in that she is spoiled and whines about everything. If there is mischief to be had these two girls create it, but it is always Lucy who takes the blame. The story’s plot takes a sudden turn when Lucy hears the members of the castle looking for “the girl.” The girl is Lucy and is the Kings own daughter and heir to the throne. Any reader even the pickiest reader will enjoy this book.
Dhami, Narinder, Bindi Babes, Delacorte Press, New York, 2003, 184 pgs. $14.95, ISBN:0-385-73177-9, Gr. 5 +, P8, Q8 The Bindi Babes are three sisters, Geena, Ambajit, and Jazz, who have lost their mother a year ago. The girls have their father tied around their little fingers and get most anything they want, for it easier to give them what they want than to have to deal with them. All the members of this family have never faced the loss of wife and mother. Dad realizes that things need to change and so enters the girls Auntie from India, who changes everything in the girl’s lives. She puts the girls into whirlwind to find a way to rid themselves of her by finding a husband for this interfering woman. Who else but the gorgeous, Mr. Arora, the girls music teacher will do, and so the plots start. First these perfect girls start to behave badly and when this doesn’t work to sabotage the assembly for the trusties of the school. It is only at the end of the story that the girls realize they have gone too far and that their Auntie was only trying to help them. The culture of India shines with the description of food, clothing and family relationship in this story.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers March 2006 Reviews by N.W.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor . $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-34810-3. Unp. Ages 5-9: As a child and young woman, Knight sketched what her brothers called her brainstorms in a notebook. McCully has imagined these sketches in black and white drawings to accompany the soft, realistic watercolors to illustrate Knight’s childhood inventions, including a metal guard to prevent shuttles from shooting off looms and hurting workers, and her later struggles to perfect a bag-making machine and then obtain a patent after a man steals her design. As in other her books, several of them award-winners, McCully writes about a time when women were not expected be equal to men. During her lifetime (1838-1914) Knight developed over 90 original inventions and obtained 22 patents despite “the belief that women’s brains were inadequate for inventing.” P6Q8
Florian, Douglas. Handsprings . $16.89. Greenwillow, 2006. 0-06-009281-5. 48p. Ages 5-8: Completing the three earlier seasonal celebrations, this 29 poems evoke the freshness and muddiness following the cold and darkness of winter. Appropriately, the slightly crazy abstract paintings frequently concentrate on browns and greens. As usual in Florian’s poetry, some of them are concrete, using shapes of the words to highlight the subject matter as in the vertical organization of lines in “Rain Reign.” The poetry is more traditional than in his animal poetry books with fewer surprises, and the book is smaller in size resulting in less spectacular illustrations. Young people, however, will enjoy the rhythm and flow of the words read aloud. P7Q7
Larios, Julie. Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary. Il. Julie Paschkis. $16.00. Harcourt, 2006. 0-13-205422-7. 32p. Ages 5-10: A purple puppy and a red donkey are only two of the brilliantly hued animals of the 24 two-page spreads with a brief poem, side illustration, and a full-page painting highlighting the creatures’ characteristics. The connection between the colors and the qualities–red temper, orange laugh, yellow heat, etc.–will provoke discussion about the meanings of colors among young listeners, and the poems elicit exciting images. Both author and artist live in Seattle, making this a Northwest connection for children. P8Q8
Best, Cari. Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen . Il. Christine Davenier. $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-36386-2. Unp. Ages 4-7: Avid bicyclists from childhood, Best and Davenier collaborate to show the freedom of being on a bike and a young girl’s entrepreneurship in obtaining money for the parts that become her beloved new “Lightning”–by teaching other children to fix their bikes. Cartoon-like figures star in these watercolors that evoke motion; a bonus is Sally Jean’s stuffed elephant in all the illustrations. The protagonist’s “can do” attitude is inspiring to all who want something but have no money for it. P8Q8
Kitamura, Satoshi. Pablo the Artist . $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-35687-4. Unp. Ages 4-7: The author/ illustrator’s whimsical drawings, popular in Comic Adventures of Boots and Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing , now features an elephant in search of an entry for an exhibition. The variety of animals provided in the story will delight younger readers as will the solution–several different animals’ wandering by the canvas in Pablo’s dream and adding to the painting. Not only was the resulting work from Pablo “a dream come true,” but it also shows the importance of working together. This is a very satisfying read-aloud for many repeats. P9Q9
LaReau, Kara and Scott Magoon. Ugly Fish . $16.00. Harcourt, 2006. 0-13-205082-5. Unp. Ages 3-7: The subject of bullying comes out through the funny cartoon illustrations in this story about a large fish who ate all the smaller fish that came into his tank. His remorse, based on being lonely, is a bit late, however, because the last fish he sees in the tank (and tries to make friends with) is much larger. With the resolution that the bigger the fish, the more successful it is at eating others, may confuse the issue of trying to stop bullying, but the book is humorous. P9Q9
Lee, Milly. Landed . Il. Yangsook Choi. $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-34314-4. Unp. Ages 7-10: Lee draws on her father-in-law’s life when she shows the difficulty that the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act provides for immigrants until the act’s repeal in 1943. In this story, 12-year-old Sun is detailed on Angel Island for several weeks (some children were kept for much longer) until he is interrogated to prove that his father is a merchant in San Francisco. Soft watercolors show some of the experiences that Sun must endure before he is declared “landed,” meaning release from Angel Island. Lacking in melodrama, this story and its historical note provide some background to young readers about our historical prejudice. P7Q9
Ruzzier, Sergio. The Room of Wonders . $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-36343-9. Unp. Ages 4-8: Bowing to public opinion can cause great personal pain, Pius Pelosi learns the hard way. The young pack rat’s beloved collection began with a plain-looking gray pebble that visitors recommend throwing out. It’s the first item that Pius collected for his Room of Wonders. Author/illustrator, who had also had illustrations appear in The New Yorker , trails Pius from his early excitement in collecting through his decision to throw away his pebble before the discouragement that led him to give away the entire collection in the magical room. The architecture in the droll, almost abstract illustrations is reminiscent of Tuscany, Italy, with the tile and stucco essence. Fortunately, Pius finds a pebble and starts all over again. A super read-aloud philosophical tale about following the advice of others. P8Q10
Winter, Jeanette. Mama . $16.00. Harcourt, 2006. 0-13-205495-2. Unp. Ages 3-8: Simple full-page illustrations in this smaller book combine with the two-word text, “mama” repeated throughout by the baby hippo and the word “baby” uttered by the hippo’s mother in the beginning and the unexpected adoptive mother at the end. Winter’s plot is based on the separately of a baby hippo from his mother during the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the baby’s bonding with a 130-year-old male giant tortoise at the end. The acrylic illustrations are clear and colorful, and the message is quite sweet. This is a good introduction for young readers about disasters and the opportunity to find a new parent when the old one disappears. P8Q8
Fine, Anne. The Diary of a Killer Cat . Il. Steve Cox. $15.00. FSG, 1994. 0-374-31779-8. 58p. Ages 6-10: “Okay, okay. So hang me. I killed the bird.” Thus begins this funny, funny chapter book from a cat’s perspective as he does his job of killing a bird and then a mouse before taking them to his horrified mistress, Ellie, only to be scolded. Funniest of all, however, is the final death, that of a neighboring fluffy rabbit, which is extremely difficult to drag through the cat door. The conclusion? The rabbit was already dead, and Tuffy simply dug it up. The return of the rabbit, washed and dried, to the rabbit hutch will always confused the owners, however, who had buried it after the rabbit had a natural death. Black and white drawings only add to the chuckles produced by this book. A reprint, this is well worth purchasing as is the companion volume, Notso Hotso (0-374-35550-9) although somehow dogs are never quite as funny as a cat’s wicked sense of humor. P9Q9
Mills, Claudia . Trading Places . $16.00. FSG, 2006. 0-374-31798-4. 136p. Ages 9-12: This author of many juvenile books now addresses the way in which parents can limit their children’s activities and enjoyment by making assumptions about who they are. Through their father’s depression after becoming unemployed and their mother’s new employment, fifth-grade twins Amy and Todd are left more to their own devices. Through their changes, they find that Amy “the poet” can be assertive in her school projects, and Todd “the engineer” can write poetry. Everyone learns lessons, however, when the children tell their parents that they want their parents to quit fighting, the mother discovers hidden talents in teaching at her craft job, Amy becomes friends with an unpopular classmate, and Todd’s klutzy friend is the biggest success in the class’s business project. Non earth-shattering but pleasant without being didactic. P8Q6
Peters, Julie Anne. Between Mom and Jo . $16.99. Little, 2006. 0-316-01468-0. 232p. Ages 12+: Divorce is difficult for children but maybe harder when the breakup comes with gay parents. Fourteen-year-old Nick has lived with moms Erin and Jo his entire life. Their breakup comes from growing apart when Erin goes back to school to become a lawyer, and Jo stays a blue-collar worker going from one job to another. Other issues arise in the women’s time together that causes changes: alcoholism, cancer, and prejudice against their lifestyle. The biggest problem for Nick is that his biological mother won’t let him see Jo, and Jo has no rights to appeal to see the son she has mothered, perhaps more than his physical mother, for 14 years. Other books by Peters have addressed alternative lifestyles in a more sympathetic way. In this novel, Peters seems to dislike both moms; neither one appears to be an appropriate parents. Nick, however, is quite likable and a survivor. P7Q7
Spiegler, Louise. The Amethyst Road . $16.00. Clarion, 2005. 0-618-48572-4. 328p. Ages 14+: Prejudice is the focus of this combination of reality and magic in a world of hierarchical classes and outcasts. The removal of a baby from an inappropriate home starts the chain of events when 16-year-old Serena, the child’s aunt, attacks the social services representative an runs in fear that she may have killed him. In her escape and quest to reunite her family, she joins reluctantly joins forces with Shem, a boy on a quest of his own. The result is a combination of racial prejudice toward the Yulangs from the Gorgios, similar to that against African-Americans with the white-clad Trident Riders, Serena’s search for her mother among the Yulang tribe, and her work to lose the designation of outcast gained when her older sister became pregnant out of wedlock. The author was inspired by her interest in Gypsy culture and her experiences as a human rights activist in the Pacific Northwest. Although sometimes heavy-handed in its approach (social services are called the Cruelty and the outcasts are called Paria), the book is rich in characterization and adventure. Serena is a delightful, strong character, and her conflicts with Shem are a contrast with typical teenage romance. The crossover between contemporary fiction and fantasy gives this a broad audience. P7Q8
Woodrell, Daniel. Winter’s Bone . $22.95. Little, 2006. 0-316-05755-X. 193p. Ages 14+: Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly’s goal is to join the army and leave her messy world behind. But that’s before her father disappears, and the bail bondsman plans to take house and land. With two younger brothers and a severely disabled mother left to care for, Ree has to find her father and teach her brothers to fend for themselves as well as care for their mother. The powerful images of poverty and violence in the harshness of the Ozarks is dramatically depicted by a master of the language. The character of Ree shows a young woman who has too early taken on great responsibilities and followed through what she determines as her duty despite physical danger. Dark, vivid, melodic–this novel about an American folk hero should become a classic. P6Q10
March Book Reviews by D.C. of LCLD
Andreae, Giles. Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs. Illus. by Russell Ayto. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2005. ISBN 1-469-0713-0, ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-0713-8 $15.45 Ages: Preschool – 1st Grade Q – 6, P – 7 Flinn is a boy with quite an imagination who wears a pirate shirt and loves dinosaurs. It really should be no surprise that when he goes into the closet looking for art supplies he finds a pirate captain who has lost his ship. With his friends he helps the captain get his ship back from the dinosaurs that took it over. The story actually is a bit flat but interesting enough that it should hold readers/listeners attention.
Holub, Josef. The Innocent Soldier. Translated by Michael Hofmann. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005. ISBN 0-439-62771-0, 0-439-62772-9 (alk. paper) $ 16.99 Ages: 9th – 12th Grades Q – 7, P – 4 In 1811 Napoleon created the largest army there had ever been. The farmer he works for as a substitute for the farmer’s son forces Adam into the army. He is too young but this really is over looked. The story is about the hardship the soldiers faced from the weather, the lack of supplies, the miles and miles of travel, and from their own troops. It is an interesting story and would go well with any study of European history during the time of Napoleon.
Neubecker, Robert. Beasty Bath. Illus. Orchard Books, 2005. ISBN 0-439-64000-8 $14.99 Ages: Toddlers & Preschool Q – 4, P – 6 The idea of a child being a number of beasts in the bathtub seems fun but this book is very average instead of reaching that real fun level. An adequate nighttime book but far from a necessary purchase.
Ross, Eileen. Nellie and the Bandit. Illus. by Erin E. Kono. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. ISBN-10 0-374-35508-8, ISBN-13 978-0-374-35508-1 $16.00 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade Q-7, P-7 Nellie is just a little girl so she is told to go home and hide until Desperado Dan is found. But Nellie is worried that Dan is planning to rob the gold mine where her father is so she heads off to find her father. Throughout the story Nellie keeps fooling Desperado Dan, who she ran into not far from town. She is brave and creative in her escape from Dan.
Schubert, Leda. Here Comes Darrell. Illus. by Mary Azarian. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005 ISBN 0-618-41605-6, ISBN-13: 978-0-618-41605-9 $16.00 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade Q-7, P-6 Throughout the year Darrell helps all of his neighbors but leaves little time to take care of his own needs. He plows the roads, chops wood, and builds a pond for hot summer days. He does not fix the roof on his barn, which blows off during a strong autumn wind. He is very worried but is surprised to find his neighbors ready to help him. Obviously this is a story with a moral. The illustrations are bright and appealing but with an old fashioned air about them.
March 2006 Book Reiviews J.C. Cataloger Lincoln County Library District
Robinson, Fay. Faucet fish. Illustrated by Wayne Anderson. (Dutton Children’s Books, c2005). 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 0525471669 $15.99 Ages 4-7. P6Q7 First American ed. Originally published in the United Kingdom under the title A Fish Wish in 2005. Elizabeth, who loved fish, is only allowed to have a single guppy. One day, a trout popped out of the bathroom sink. Oblivious, her parents ignore Elizabeth’s announcements about the trout and the other numerous fish gurgling out of the plumbing–until a baby beluga whale brings things to a watery crisis. A story that hinges on a pair of ineffectual parents, it nonetheless carries a glimpse into the fantastic through a dryly humorous approach. The illustrations of attentuated people and goggly-eyed fish, in muted colors, bring the whole story together. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections.
Bechard, Margaret. Spacer and rat (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) “A Deborah Brodie book.” 183 p. ISBN 1596430583 $16.95 Ages 12-up. P8Q8 (for those who read scifi, anyway) After living on Freedom Station his whole life, space pub apprentice Jack knows how to live in the Black–and resents the Earthies fleeing the problems they created on their ruined planet. Earthie children, abandoned on the station by despairing parents who’ve run out of supplies and credit, use up resources and atmo–just like rats. But the rat he discovers turns Jack’s world upside down. An excellent science fiction adventure, complete with space stations, genetically modified humans, sleight of hand, and humor. Highly recommended for middle school and public libraries. Author Margaret Bechard lives in Tigard, Oregon.
March 2006 Reviews A.J.
Meyer, L.A. Curse of the Blue Tattoo. Harcourt: 2004 $17.00 ISBN 0-15-205115-5 Ages: Grades 7th and up. P-7, Q-9
This book is directed mostly to girls and I doubt any boys would like it. I personally enjoyed it very much. It the second book in the Bloody Jack Adventures series. Unlike in the first book, this one does not take place on the sea. It takes place at the Lawson Peabody school for young girls in Boston, Mass. where Mary “Jacky” Faber is sent to learn how to be a lady.
Meyer, L.A. Under the Jolly Roger. Harcourt: 2005 $17.00 ISBN 0-15-205345-x Ages: Grades 7th and up. P-7, Q-9
This book, if it were a movie, would definitely be rated PG-13. It has lots of violence, blood, gore and a bit of “inappropriate” material (if you take my meaning). But all in all I thought that this one was better than it’s successor in the Bloody Jack Adventures, the Curse of the Blue Tattoo. It continues Jacky’s story from where it was left off in the previous book and she’s heading off back to England where, in London, she gets captured by a press gang and is taken aboard the HMS Wolverine where she spends most of the book on the high seas. I would recommend this book for girls.
Book Reviews for March 2006 B.R, Yaquina View Elementary
Ault, Kelly. Let’s Sign!. Ills. by Leo Landry. Houghton Mifflin Company, c2005. ISBN 0618507744. Pgs 77. $17.00. PreS -2nd (Q8, P5) Well written and informative, this book tells a story and shows how to sign many words. Ault begins with a short narrative to parents and an explanation on how and when to begin signing with children. It goes on to include three stories, Mealtime, Playtime and Bedtime. Each story is consistent with the colors used, so as not to confuse the small child.
O’Hair, Margaret. Star Baby. Ills. by Erin Eitter Kono. Clarion Books, c2005 ISBN0618306684. pgs. 32. $16.00. PreS.. (Q6, P5) This book starts with a mother and baby waking up to the bright sun shine, traveling through the day and finishing up with Dad at home and the moon looking upon baby as he goes to sleep. The words create a steady rhythm which helps make this book a great read-a-loud nighttime story.
Pinkney, Brian. Hush, Little Baby. Greenwillow books, c2005. ISBN 0060559942 Unp. $16.89. PreS-2nd (Q6, P5) Mamma had errands to run, and Papa and big brother is left to entertain baby. To stop sister from crying they will try just about anything to convince baby to smile again. This story uses a classic lullaby to help it along. The art work is fabulous and works well with the story.
DePalma, Mary Newell. A Grand Old Tree. Arthur A. Levine Books, c2005. ISBN 0439623340. unp. $17.00. PreS-2nd (Q7 P6) DePalma describes the life cycle of a tree. Using simple language young children will understand this tree has a beginning, middle and an end that leads to many new beginnings. Beautifully illustrated the art work compliments the written word.
Banks, Kate. The great blue house. Ills. by George Hallensleben. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2005. ISBN 0374327696 unp. $16.00. PreS-4th (Q6, P5)
George Hallensleben’s art work in this book is fabulous; his paintings are very rich looking. Kate Banks tells a story of the seasons that is set in the country. At the beginning of summer the crickets are singing and the children are chasing frogs. When summer is over the house is shut up again and all is quiet. Or is it? As you read what happens throughout the winter, it is easy to imagine the faucet actually dripping water, the mouse nibbling, the stray cat pouncing, when finally spring arrives and the family again returns to the great blue house.
Silverman, Erica. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa. Ills. by Betsy Lewin. Harcourt, Inc., c2005 ISBN 0152021248. unp. $15.00. 1st-3rd (Q7, P7) Written in four chapters, each a separate story, this book tells about young cowgirl Kate and her beloved horse, Cocoa. Young children will see themselves as Kate and Cocoa become friends, share surprises, count cows, and put off going to sleep. The bold-lined illustrations extend the comedy and affectionate friendship these two shares.
Jukes, Mavis. Blackberries in the dark. Ills. by Thomas B. Allen. Alfred A. Knopf,c1985. ISBN 0394875990. unp. $14.95 2nd-4th (Q6, P5) Nine-year-old Austin visits his grandmother after his grandfather’s death. Both characters are uncomfortable with each other at first as they both miss Grandfather. They share that loss and miss the traditions that Austin and Grandfather had. Grandmother and Austin begin new traditions of their own. This story about love, grief, and beginning again in one that will touch reader’s hearts.
Ruelle, Karen Grey. Dear Tooth Fairy. Holiday House, c2006. ISBN0823419290. Pg. 30. $14.95. 1st-3rd (Q 6, P6) Emily’s first tooth is about to fall out and she is excited. She writes every day to let the Tooth Fairy know how loose her tooth is getting, where she lives and what she treasures she would like. This charming story will delight all young children who is getting ready to loose their first tooth and those who have already lost that first one.
Mills, Claudia. Ziggy’s blue-ribbon day. Ills. by R.W. Alley. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2005. ISBN 0374323526. unp., $16.00. PreS-4th (Q6, P6) Everybody is not good at everything, but everybody is good at something. This book demonstrates is a wonderful way how peoples successes in life is not always the same. Ziggy hated track and field, so when his teacher, Mrs. Hanson, announced a track and field day, Ziggy was not going to do well. Mrs. Hanson told her class to do their best, cheer for everybody and have fun, Ziggy knew he could do at least two of those things. Ziggy was a great picture drawer and that is what he did.
Krieb, Mr. We’re off to find the witch’s house. Ills. by R. W. Alley. Dutton Children’s Books, c2005. ISBN 0525470034. unp. $14.99. PreS-3rd (Q6, P6) Children love to be scared by a good book and this book is just the one to do that. Four little friends decked out in their Halloween costumes set out for the “witch’s house”. As they creep down the street they encounter a blinking owl, a skittle-skatting skeleton, a herky-jerky Frankenstein and a misty ghostly ghost. They finally reach the Witch’s House and inside a Halloween party is happening. Turn out the lights, grab a flashlight and read this book to a group of youngsters.
Mahoney, Daniel J.. A really good snowman. Clarion Books, c2005. ISBN 0618475540. unp, $15.00. PreS-3rd (Q 6. P7) A snowman contest, what better way to spend the day than with friends building a snowman, and they might even win the contest. Jack’s little sister, Nancy, loves to follow her big brother around and help, so Jack is relieved when the rules allows only three members to a team. Some older boys harass Nancy and Jack leaves his friends to help her. When Jack’s friends win first prize, Jack still feels good about his decision to go with Nancy. The illustrated animal characters add humor and tenderness to an already sweet story.
Graff, Nancy Price. Taking Wing. Clarion Books, c2005. ISBN 0618535918. 211 pgs. $15.00. 5th-8th (Q5, P5)
Slow paced, especially in the beginning, this book is set in 1942 when Gus, 13, is sent to his grandfathers’ farm in Vermont. His mother is recuperating from tuberculosis and his father is in the Army at flight school. Gus befriends a French-Canadian neighbor, Lavictoire, and faces the community’s and his grandparents prejudice. As his friendship develops he discovers strengths and weaknesses in himself and others and finally realizes his beliefs, actions and his mistakes are his own to correct or accept.
Voigt, Cynthia. Angus and Sadie. HarperCollins, c 2005. ISBN 0060745835, 194 pgs. $17.00 4th-6th (Q6, P5) Set on a farm in Maine, this story deals with personalities that are opposite. Not only the dogs are opposite, so are the brother and sister. There is a definite style to this story about the different personality traits in sibling and learning to respect those differences. This book will be enjoyed by those animal lovers of all ages.
Dudley, David L.. The bicycle man. Clarion Books, c2005. ISBN 0618542337. 249 pgs. $16.00. 4th-6th (Q4, P4) In rural Georgia in 1927 poverty, drudgery, and racism is abundant. As Carissa is talking to her friend Bailey under a tree, she meets Bailey, an elderly stranger who demonstrates kindness, wisdom and patience. The two become friends and Carissa learns when it’s worth fighting back and when it is better to practice self-control.
Benton, Jim. Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist, Frantastic Voyage. Simon & Schuster Books, c2006. ISBN 1416902295. 103 pgs. $14.95. 2nd-4th (Q 6, P7) The fifth book in the series about Franny K. Stein. Franny is back in her lab forging a tiny doomsday divice. Her lab assistant, Igor, swallows it. Franny has to down-size herself with her Khrinkerizer and slips into Igor’s nose and down into his stomach to retrieve it. Series fans will love this funny book.
Cutler, Jane. Rose and Riley Come and Go. Ills. by Thomas F. Yezserski. Farrar Straus Giroux, c2005. ISBN 0374363412. $15.00 K-3rd (Q6, P6) Rose, a vole, and Riley, a groundhog, are good friends. As with all friends they don’t always get along or agree with each other, but there is always a happy ending. As these friends take you along through three different adventures, children will learn to maintain friendships in spite of misunderstandings.
March 2006 Book Reviews K.R. WHS
Funke, Cornelia (Translated from the German by Anthea Bell) Inkspell; The Chicken House: Schoolastic, 2005. 0-439-5540-4 Inkspell is a fantasy novel about characters who can be “read” into other places in their world. One of them, Meggie, who has the ability to read characters into and out of novels, has fallen in love with a boy, Farid, whom her father has read out of a book. The two of them must be read into Inkworld in order to save the “Motley Folk,” her family, and a wizard, Dustfinger. Students who enjoy fantasy will be delighted with the intriguing plot and the very real characters. One student who has read it said, “I wish I had read Inkhart before Inkspell just for some background. Also, there had better be a sequel or I’ll be mad!” Buy? 10! With the entire series, of course.
Harlow, Joan Hiatt. Midnight Rider. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. 0-689-87009-4 Hannah, a 14-year-old girl, is sold by her aunt as an indentured servant for General Gage. She is soon caught up in the politics of the Revolutionary War. She becomes a spy for the Patriots and delivers messages to other cities by horseback. This would make a good alternative novel for Johnny Tremain and is historically correct enough that her adventures could be compared to Paul Reevere. Buy? 9. Those who enjoy historical novels would like it best.
Hughes, Pat. Open Ice 0-385-74675-x Nick is a sophomore in high school whose life and reputation are built on his skill as a hockey player. Unfortunately, after his fourth concussion, both his parents and doctor agree that he cannot play any more. While Nick seeks a new identity, he loses his girl friend and his grades suffer because he cannot concentrate. Teens would enjoy this book because it is a coming of age story and because the characters? dialogue is particularly “real.” Characters use clever sarcastic remarks that add needed humor to the novel. Buy? 8-9
Caletti. Wild Roses. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York , 2005. 978-0-689-86766-8 “Even if others disapprove, follow your heart anyway,” is the main theme of this novel. Cassie Morgan, the daughter of a famous violinist is caught in a frustrating web wherein her father, Dino, strictly forbids her having a relationship with Ian Waters, a young, poor, violinist. Teens would enjoy this book because it has romance, adventure, and even a bit of music theory. It is actually riveting and hard to put down. The author includes extensive descriptive detail, including the thoughts of the characters. There should be a sequel Buy? (-10
Blackwood, Gary . Second Sight. 0-525-46471-1 What could have been an interesting book turns out to be a disappointment because of “voice overs” where the author steps away from the story to tell about why he wrote it. The plot concerns Nicholas and his son, Joseph, who create a mind-reading act that ostensibly became popular during the Civil War. One day, Joseph meets Cassandra, a girl who actually can read minds. The two of them are caught up in trying to foil the plot to assassinate Lincoln. It could have been a much better book for students who might be looking for an alternative to real history. Buy? 5-6 for middle school; too young and cumbersome for high school.
Weatherly, Lee. Missing Abby. David Fickling Books, 2004. Bullies do not need a “big” reason to harass other students. Emma, a victim traumatized by their cruelty has distanced herself from her friend, Abby who has suddenly disappeared. The two girls used to play a fantasy game and Abby has continued with role-playing games such as D&D. Although Emma does not want to be associated with Abby’s Goth friends, she joins the search for her former friend and in the process discovers that she is searching for personal acceptance of herself. This is definitely a middle school, early high school read. I didn’t see the ending coming and was frankly disappointed that Abby had fallen to her death. However, Emma’s other search makes the novel a good read. Buy? 7-8 (for high school)
Stolls, Amy, Palms to the Ground, Farrar Straus Girous: New York , 2005.Grade I have a strong prejudice toward books with idiosyncratic characters so I loved this one. Calman Pulowitz is: an only child, addicted to Pepto-bismol and the psychic hot line, and suffers from insomnia and fainting spells. He has also been in therapy since he was 7. Rizzy, his pen pal (and a girl!), invites him to spend a summer with her weirdly delightful family and he “discovers himself” something psychology had never been able to do for him. Although the novel is written for a 7-9 th grade vocabulary, the story is so well-written that even my adult friends have enjoyed it. For high school it would be called both a “high interest/low vocabulary” novel and a Terrific read. Buy? Oh, yeah.
March 2006 Book Reviews L.R. ToMS
Amesse, Susan. Kissing Brendan Callahan. Roaring Book Press, 2005. ISBN 1-59643-015-X. $15.95. 160 pgs. Ages 10-12. P8,Q8.
Twelve-year-old Sarah is passionate about becoming a writer. When she learns that the local writing contest is being judged by her favorite author. Nothing will stand in her way of entering the contest and being discovered. Things go sour for Sarah when she is forbidden to enter the contest because her mom serves on the committee and her favorite author turns out to be a phoney who can’t even write. Brendan Callahan, the annoying neighbor boy and things get interesting. Sarah learns that Brendan isn’t all that annoying after all and is actually cute and fun. A good story with a strong, sassy, determined main character as well as believable supporting characters. The plot is well developed and keeps the reader engaged. Several of my middle school students found this book a good read and recommended it to others .
DeFelice,Cynthia. The Missing Manatee. Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-374-31257-5. $16.00. 181 pgs. Ages 10-12 P7,Q7.
Things at home are not so great for eleven-year-old Skeet Waters. His mom and dad are separated and on his first day of Spring Break he comes across a dead manatee that appears to have been shot. When Skeet discovers that Dirty Dan, a friend of his fathers and an adult he admires is involved, he must decide how to handle the problem. Believable characters and an interesting plot.
Fitzgerald, Dawn. Getting in the Game. Roaring Book Press. 2005. ISBN 1-59643-044-3. $15.95. 136 pgs. Ages 11-13. P7,Q7.
Joanna Giordano is a humorous, spirited, and very determined 7th grader who wants to play ice hockey, but playing on “an all-boys’ team” presents more problems than she bargained for. As if middle school isn’t tough enough, Joanna also has to deal with her parent’s separation, her father’s anger management issues, and her grandfather’s worsening Alzheimer’s condition. In Dawn Fitzgerald’s first work of fiction she has used her knowledge of sports and understanding of how and what makes middle school students tick to create a readable book that is believable and entertaining. Little swear words scattered throughout will lend to middle school appeal. The rushed second half of the book leaves the reader hanging a bit and wondering about Joanna and her hockey season, but a book students will pick up and read. grandfather’s worsening Alzheimer’s condition. In Dawn Fitzgerald’s first work of fiction she has used her knowledge of sports and understanding of how and what makes middle school students tick to create a readable book that is believable and entertaining. Little swear words scattered throughout will lend to middle school appeal. The rushed second half of the book leaves the reader hanging a bit and wondering about Joanna and her hockey season, but a book students will pick up and read.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by N.W. (part II)
Cooney, Robert P. J. in collaboration with the National Women’s History Project. Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement . American Graphic Press, 2005. $85.00. 0-9770095-1-3. 479p. Ages 13+: Reproductions of photographs, buttons, posters, symbols, announcements, cartoons, advertising, etc. shows the extensive memorabilia surrounding the struggle for women’s rights during 1800-1950 and highlight the text about the work to enfranchise half the U.S. citizens who had few rights until the early twentieth century. This volume, arranged chronologically, tells the story of how people survived slavery, civil war, epidemic, economic depression, and political corruption while maintaining their vision of nonviolent change. Because the 19 th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, receives little note in the history curriculum, few people understand the extensive process to transform society to include women as more equal participants with men. This volume is invaluable in educating people about the passion for liberty and the love of justice that moved through adventure, daring, heroism, defeat, recovery, and ultimate triumph. Despite its hefty price, this book is a must for libraries! P7Q10
Marx, Trish. Jeannette Rankin: First Lady of Congress . McElderry, 2006. $15.95. 0-689-86290-3. Unp. Ages 7-10: When a young woman from Montana visits her brother in Boston, she sees the harsh realities that women and children face in the slums and decides to help them by working for women’s suffrage. Elected to Congress four years before most women in the US could vote, she advocated for peace during World War I, being the only Representative to vote against US participation. Ironically, when she was re-elected 24 years later, she was the only Representative to vote against going into World War II. Simple text and finely detailed illustrations, graphite drawings and oil paintings, show the courage of this woman of great integrity and peace who continued her vocal opposition to war through the US occupation of Vietnam. Good for reading out loud and teaching young people about a century’s history beginning in 1869. P8Q10
McCarthy, Meghan. Aliens Are Coming! The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast . Knopf, 2006. McCarthy, Meghan. Aliens Are Coming! The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast . Knopf, 2006.$16.95. 0-375-83518-0. Unp. Ages 5-8: When Orson Welles adapted the H.G. Wells book for a Halloween broadcast, the result was so realistic that listeners across the United States panicked. The picture-book description of this event combines excerpts from the broadcast in combination with dramatic, brightly colored art depictions of the supposed “monsters from Mars” in a style reminiscent of the pulp magazines and dime-store novels of the day. The fine contrast between the imagined happenings of the story and the black and white illustrations of a family listening in their living room plus other reactions adds to the books quality as do the author’s note and the information about radios. P9Q9
Pericoli, Matteo. The True Story of Stellina . Knopf, 2006. $14.95. 0-375-83273-4. Unp. Ages 4-7: Pastel watercolors and pencil drawings against the clean-looking white background of this slim tall book tell the charming story of the common wild finch, adopted as a baby by the author’s wife. The steps of the story show how Holly carefully took the little finch to work with her and fed her by hand until the bird was able to feed herself and fly around their apartment. Young listeners will enjoy the repetition of the word “Cheep” as the bird comments on the happenings and come to understand the great care needed to take care of infant animals. P9Q9
Richards, Andrea. Girl Director: A How-to Guide for the First-Time, Flat-Broke Film and Video Maker . Ten Speed Press, 2005. $17.95. 1-58008-675-6. 122p. Ages 14+: If you think that females are under-represented in big screen movies other than as actresses, guess again. Spread throughout nuts-and-bolts useful information about making your own film, are brief biographies of 50 directors and information about the films that they have made. With film-making technology so available now, making a movie is much easier than in the 20 th century. This book shows how to make a good movie. Lively, colorful format enhance the ideas and information. And definitely a book that gives information about women directors and producers that’s not readily available in most books on films and videos. P8Q9
Wooten, Sara McIntosh. Frida Kahlo: Her Life in Paintings . Enslow, 2005. 0-7660-2487-3. 128p. Ages 9-12: Throughout the past few decades, the public has become more familiar with this Mexican painter through both the books published about her and the popular 2002 movie. Like the other materials, this book shows Frida’s childhood with her Mexican mother and German father and the physical pain that she endured as a child, first from polio and later from a bus/trolley accident that caused her to be in a body cast for months. Her pain continued throughout her life, during her marriage to Diego Rivera, another famous artist, and came out through her highly unusual paintings. One of the series Latino Biography Library, the book’s text is accessible but not particularly well-written and does not show much understanding of art and its terminology; i.e., the use of the word “primitive” to describe her work has disappeared from art criticism as pejorative. The material is well-documented with footnotes and a brief “Further Reading” section. This is recommended for large collections with an interest in the subject. P5Q5
Richards, Beah E. Keep Climbing, Girls . Il. R. Gregory Christie. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95. 1-4169-0264-3. Unp. Ages 4-8: Poet, actor, and African-American social activist Beah Richards published her collection of poetry, A Black Woman Speaks , in 1951. Taken from that book, this tale of her decision to climb trees despite disapproval emphasizes the theme that climbing is the only way toward women’s equality with men. The strongly-colored gouache folk art illustrations demonstrate the boldness and strength displayed by the young girl who knows that “the path of life goes up and up/not down.” P7Q9
Lionni, Leo. Pezzettino . Knopf, 1973/2003. $15.95. 0-394-83156-X. Unp. Ages 3-6: Pezzettino, meaning “little piece,” is a delightful orange square looking for someone else that he belongs to, because in his world everyone is big and does daring and wonderful things. This whimsical and philosophical book follows Pezzettino as he searches among the other creatures–those who run, swim, climb, fly, etc.–to see if he belongs to them. Small, colorful squares and abstract collages depict his journey that is resolved when he falls and literally goes to pieces, discovering that, like all the others, he is made of little pieces. This reissue from 30 years ago is as contemporary and appealing as when it first came out–a must for little readers. P9Q9 Fiction
Chandler, Pauline. Warrior Girl: A Novel of Joan of Arc . Greenwillow, 2006. $17.89. 0-06-084103-6. 354p. Ages 12+: Mariane, a girl made mute by watching her mother raped and killed, not only faces her own danger from the uncle who wishes to kill her but also fights alongside her cousin, Joan of Arc, for the liberation of France from the English in the mid-fifteenth century. Nothing new about Joan’s story comes from this book, but the use of an observing narrator is a nice twist as is her plight, that of an illegitimate orphan who should inherit a manor house and its surrounding countryside–if she can stay alive. Nice adventure and historical novel. P7Q7
Elliott, Patricia. Murkmere . Little, 2006. $16.99. 0-316-01042-1. 344p. Ages 12+: Aggie’s dull life in the village rapidly changes to one of danger and excitement when she is employed to be a lady’s companion at a nearby manor. Intrigue permeates the plot when Aggie sees her lady’s strange bond with the swans, the fraudulent actions of the powermongering steward, and the supposedly blasphemous books which the mysterious Master hides in the estate’s watchtower. This suspenseful and haunting transport from England turns into a page-turner after a somewhat slow beginning. The author describes the motivation for writing the book when she describes Murkmere Hall in Suffolk: “it…was a vast slab of a house set in lumpy parkland. I imagined a girl wandering beneath the dark oak trees–a girl, half-wild, shut away and bored, who was waiting for her story to begin.” P7Q8
Friedman, D. Dina. Escaping into the Night . Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95. 1-4169-0258-9. 199p. Ages 10-14: As the Nazis systematically kill the Jews in the Polish ghetto, 13-year-old Halina escapes to the underground forest encampments to join other Jews fighting for their lives. Based on historical events, this gripping tale of a girl on her own after her mother’s death is the author’s first book for young readers. P8Q8
Kidd, Ronald. Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial . Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95. 1-4169-0872-3. 259p. Ages 11+: When the author interviewed the woman whose father started the controversy in Dayton, Tennessee that culminated in the trial about teaching evolution in the public schools, he considered an informational book. After she died, he decided to make the information into an historical novel about the events in the same town in 1925. Transforming an eight-year-old girl into a 15-year-old daydreamer with a crush on the teacher on trial, Kidd has created a fascinating look at the self-serving reasons behind the trial and the violence that ensued from the townspeople. With the current conflict surrounding teaching “intelligent design,” this book is fresh and contemporary; with the changes seen in Frances as she finds out about the fraud behind the trial, the book provides a superb coming-of-age novel about changing perspectives regarding religion and truth. P8Q9
Sturtevant, Katherine. A True and Faithful Narrative. Farrar, 2006. $17.00. 0-374-37809-6. 250p. Ages 12+: In this sequel to At the Sign of the Star , 16-year-old Meg Moore dreams about writing a book although, following the values of 1681-2, her father highly disapproves of such action despite his owning a bookstore in London. As in the earlier work, the author brings in famous people of the times and depicts the life and culture of the period. Sadly, the tie-in of Meg’s love relationships detracts from the plot because of its unevenness. Her extreme naivety, not as obvious in the earlier work, also makes for a more boring read. This is for avid readers of the genre who won’t be annoyed by these issues. [Note: Not everyone agrees with me; it received a starred review in Booklist . You might want to read it and decide for yourself!] P5Q6.
April Book Reviews 2006 L.R. ToMS
Ryder, Joanne. A Pair of Polar Bears. Simon and Schuster Books, 2006. ISBN 089-85871-X. $16.95. Grades PK-3. P7, Q8. Twin polar bears find a home in the San Diego Zoo after being discovered orphaned in Alaska. The author takes the reader/lookee on a photo journey of the young cubs beginning days, adjustment, and day to day life at the zoo. The pictures are up close and detailed and will surely capture the interest of all ages. Large print captions for each picture and additional information in smaller print are nice features.
Madison, Alan. Pecorino Plays Ball. Illustrations by AnnaLaura Cantone. Antheneum books, 2006. ISBN 0-689-86522-8. $15.95. Grades K-3. P7, Q8. In Alan Madison’s second Pecorino book he has continued the silliness and Illustrations by Cantone compliment the story and will captivate the reader’s attention. When Pecorino shows up to play little league baseball the all serious coach gives him the last baseball shirt #13, extra large, extra long with letters blazing across the front the read ALONE when he tucks it in. In the outfield Pecorino has time to worry about catching and hitting a ball for the first time. Fun and silly!
Look, Lenore. Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding. Illustrations by Yumi Heo. Antheneum Books, 2006. ISBN 0-689-84458-1. $16.95. Grades PK-3. P6, Q8. Jenny is experiencing some jealousy as her favorite, all-time-wonderful uncle is getting married. As the story progresses Jenny learns her uncle has enough love for her and his new wife. Throughout the story Chinese wedding traditions are introduced.
Posada, Jorge. Play Ball! With Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon. Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN 1-4169-0689-8. $16.95. Grades 2-4. P6, Q6. This story is based on the childhood of New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. With the encouragement of his father and his dedication to the sport of baseball, Jorge took his dream to the highest level. Not my favorite elementary book about baseball and not one I’d recommend someone run out and purchase, but worthy of a place in a collection for baseball fans.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Book of Notes & and Note Passing. Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN 0-689-87446-4. $9.95. Grades 5-8. P7, Q8. When new girl Maxine, starts school after moving from Los Angeles, trouble starts in the form of nasty notes being circulated. Amelia is trying to be nice, but when things go from bad to worse and her best friend doesn’t see Maxine’s evil side, she’s doomed. Middle school issues, problem solving, and friendship make this book yet another interesting read from Marissa Moss. Amelia is truly a believable character and breathes energy and life into this journal formatted book.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Bully Survival Guide. Simon & Schuster, 1998. ISBN 1-4169-0907-9. $9.95. Grades 4-7. P7, Q8. Amelia has just started 5th grade and has learned her best friend is another class and to her surprise is making new friends. This year is proving to be a challenge when the girls in her class call names and make things difficult. In journal form, Amelia’s thoughts, concerns, and ideas come to life in an entertainingly, funny way with doodles and drawings throughout. A very true to age read!
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Notebook. Simon& Schuster, 1995. ISBN 1-4169-0905-2. $9.95. Grades 4-7. P7,Q8. Amelia has moved away from her best friend and is adjusting to a new school, making new friends, and trying to deal with her difficult older sister. To help her cope with all the new changes her mother has given her a journal to record her thoughts. Fun, silly, and amusing, this book will appeal to girls and perhaps encourage them to keep their own journals.
Trueman, Terry. No Right Turn. Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-057492-5. $16.89. Grades 8+. P7, Q8. Sixteen-year-old Jordan’s life hasn’t been the same since his father committed suicide three years ago. Quitting the football team, avoiding activities with friends, and not dealing with his feelings has kept him in a state of depression. When his mother starts dating a neighbor, Jordan is indifferent and unfriendly until he discovers Don’s 1976 vintage corvette. Once he experiences the speed and thrill of driving the car he creates opportunities to sneak the car out for more drives. When a popular girl from school sees him driving the corvette they start talking and eventually start dating. Jordon wants to tell her the car doesn’t belong to him, but he’s afraid she only likes him for the car. Trueman has created yet another book that will interest the reluctant reader or the teen looking for realistic fiction.
Reviewed April, 2006 by D.G.H. LCSD Media
Stone, Tanya Lee. A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. $14.95. 0-385-74702-0. 228p. Grades 9-12. P8 Q7
Written in first person free verse form, this novel develops from three girl’s viewpoints and their sexual interactions with a senior “bad boy”. The story begins with Josie, a freshman (a.k.a. “freshmeat” to the senior), who is enamored that so much attention should be directed towards her that many of her values crumble as she becomes more and more sexually active. The book is not explicit, but has erotic scenes as Josie sorts through her feelings. In the end she does an accounting of her actions, and although she is not proud of everything she did, she is proud she still has her virginity, and decides that others should be forewarned of the bad boy. Knowing that every girl reads “Forever” by Judy Blume, she spreads the word to “check it out again. Need-to-know information has been added at the back”. Nicollette, the second girl, is much more sexually mature and uses her sex for power to hide her insecurities. She chooses to conquer the bad boy and has protected sex in his car. Only later do the social consequences of her actions become clear to Nicollette and she grows closer to her mother as they talk through it. Finally, Aviva, the child of aging hippies, purposefully decides to lose her virginity to the bad boy, but is disappointed afterward. She reflects that she may have learned something from the experience and is still a confident, open character. I think that Stone did a great job of portraying differing points of view about deciding issues involving sexuality that teens will relate too. Her audience is female and the characters are empowered in the end despite their encounters with the bad boy.
April Book Reviews – C.B. NMS/INMS
Gilliland, Judith, Strange birds, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2006, 231 pgs, $17.00, ISBN:0-374-37275-6, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Anna is an 11 year-old girl who must now live with her uncaring aunt, after her parents are lost at sea while on a sailing trip. Her own refuge is the mysterious “Bean Tree” that is outside the tiny sewing room her aunt has restricted her to. It is here that she finds comfort first in the branches and then with magical horses which aid in finding her parents. This fantasy-mystery adventure is sure to appeal to horses lovers in both middle and high school age students.
Hoobler, Dorothy, The sword that cut the burning grass, Philomel, New York, 2005, 211 pgs, $10.99, ISBN:0-399-24272-4, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
This is another mystery adventure featuring the character, Seikei, a 14 year-old boy growing up as a samurai in eighteenth-century Japan. Here he must save the emperor, stop the plot to overthrow the shogun read ancient texts and deal with Japanese legends too. Those who have read the other books in this series will enjoy this one as well.
Meltzer, Milton, Underground man, An Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic, Orlando, 1972, 2006, 261 pgs, $17.00, ISBN:0-15-205518-5, Gr. 5+, P 6, Q 6,
Reissued from the first printing of this book in 1972 students interested in the underground railroad will find this book an interesting read. Josh is young man who while logging discovers a runaway slave in the waters of the Ohio River. He chooses to help him escape and thus begins a life dedicated to helping slaves reach freedom. The book is also very descriptive of the lives the slaves led and the prison that Josh is put into after being tried for helping slaves to escape. This historical book will appeal to teacher of this subject as a read aloud and also to middle school students.
Moses, Shelia, The legend of Buddy Bush, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2004, 216 pgs. $15.95, ISBN:0-689-8539-6, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,
In North Carolina Pattie May is a 12 year-old girl where she and her family earn their living working as cotton pickers and farm hands for the white folks of Rich Square, North Carolina. Buddy, Pattie Mays uncle returns home in a Cadillac and gets a job in the local factory, something no other African-American had ever done in Rich Square in 1947. One night Pattie May and her Uncle Buddy go to town to watch a show at the local theater. While waiting a local white woman walks by and declares that Buddy had tried to assault her and Buddy is thrown into jail. The arrest of Buddy Bush gained the attention of the world and this story while fiction is based on the events of Buddy Bush. History buffs will gain new insight into the prejudice that African-Americans faced in America.
Paver, Michelle, Chronicles of ancient darkness #2 : Spirit walker, Katherine Tegen Books, New York, 2006, 360 pgs, $17.89, ISBN:0-06-072829-9, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,
This is the second book in Chronicles of Darkness series, here Torak, is a young man, 14 years of age, has been adopted by the forest clan after the death of his father. Torak appears to be the only person who is able to cure the new sickness that has appeared in the forests. So this fantasy adventure develops with Torak seeking the magic cure first in the deep forest and then in the ocean to the west. It is through this search that Torak discovers himself and the truth of his true being.
April-May 2006 Reviews A.G.
Jaffe, Michele. Bad Kitty. NY: Harper Collins, 2006. $17.89 268 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 978-0-06-078109-5 P8/Q7 The cover of this book attracts girls and repels most boys: it’s black with a hot pink, sparkly cat. Despite the title and cover, the story has virtually nothing to do with a cat, good or bad. It’s a mystery, and a fairly interesting one. The heroine is a well-to-do Valley Girl from SoCal, and the Valley Speak gets a little overwhelming sprinkled as it is with more sophisticated vocabulary. Like many teen girls, the heroine has down-to-earth friends and shallow enemies who she puts down in colorful terms. Inclusion of email conversations give it an updated feel (which could date it eventually). Could be an enjoyable escape for a teen who likes mysteries and social banter.
Auseon, Andrew. Funny little monkey. NY: Harcourt Books, 2005. $17.00 296 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-15-205334-4 P8/Q8 Arty is really short for his age. His twin brother is really big. They’re very different in more ways than that, from academics to their social lives. This story is about Arty’s revenge for his twin’s bullying, a bittersweet revenge that he ends up rather regretting. Teens will no doubt identify with the characterizations of school life and pubescent fantasies. It’s a quick read, with powerful forward momentum aided by prodigious use of sentence fragments. Really. And a minimum of Valley-speak.
Stine, Catherine. Refugees. NY: Delacourt Press (Random House), 2005. $15.95 277 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-689-86800-6 P6/Q8 The war theme and the cover put me off this book for a while, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. An older teenage girl who was abandoned by her mother, lived for a long time in a group home and is now living with foster parents senses that they don’t really want her, and when her foster mother leaves to doctor in a Palestine refugee camp she runs away to New York City with a friend. The story takes place just before, during and after 9/11/2001 and deals with the World Trade Center bombing and the action in Afghanistan as seen by this runaway and a teenage boy fleeing the Taliban and the American bombing. It is useful for gaining some appreciation for the war footing of the period. There is character development of the girl as well as her foster mother, and a budding love story as well.
Hautman, Peter. Invisible. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $15.95 149 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-689-86800-6 P8/Q8 Doug is an anti-social teenager who feels invisible to the other students. This story, written in first person, is about his struggles, both personal and social. He is obsessed with building a town to go with his model train, made entirely with matchsticks. For most of the story he tells how much he relies on his best and only friend, Andy. As it unfolds, the reader begins to realize that the boy is seriously unhinged, an autistic with survivor’s syndrome. It gives a strong feeling for what might motivate and go on inside the head of a loner who crosses the line.
Rabe, Jean. The Finest Choice. NY: Tom Doherty Assoc/Tor Books, 2005. $24.95 288 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-765-30821-5 P8/Q7 This fantasy book (second in a series) is similar to those by Andre Norton, featuring a youth with a fractured family but royal blood & hidden strengths combined with animals with magical powers. Set in an unidentified Earth-like world of medieval technological advancement, the hero is aided by a magical horse with whom he can speak telepathically. There are truly evil villains aided by evil magical birds (Hitchcock’s movie might have been an inspiration to the author). The names (e.g. “Finest” and “Gallant-Stallion”) are a bit too obvious for an older reader, but probably won’t bother the younger ones. The plot is well crafted, and the characters show some development. It’s not quite up to Norton’s standards, but should appeal to the same readers.
Wood, Maryrose. Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love. NY: Delacourte Press, 2006. $15.95 243 pp. ages 12-15 ISBN 0-385-73276-7 P7/Q5 Maybe it was the contrast with “The Great Gatsby”, which I read at the same time, but this book fell far short of great literature. Felicia is an upper-class 14-year-old student in a private school (“Manhattan Free Children’s School”). Like “Gatsby”, the story is about unrequited love and the methods people devise to get together. Also like Gatsby, it takes place in New York among the upper class. The similarity ends there. The book gushes and uses annoyingly trite phrases (“the x-factor of love”) and is obsessed with teen love, but it actually has more substance than some of these teen novels, and in the end at least the heroine recognizes that obsessive crushes aren’t all they seem. Besides the difference in era and writing style (!), this book’s departure from Gatsby is in the positive outcome and light, upbeat tone.
MacLean, Christine Kole. Illustrated by C.B. Decker. Everybody Makes Mistakes. NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. $15.99 28 pp. ages 4-9 ISBN 0-525-47225-8 P 8/Q7 This little boy, Jackson, has made a mistake. The reader doesn’t know what it is until it’s revealed towards the end (it’s embarrassing, but not all that lethal). A parade of other people’s mistakes ise trotted out by Jackson as hints are laid out about what his mistake involved. The story line was confusing enough to an older girl who reviewed this book that it might behoove an adult reading it aloud to point out to the listener how the story is progressing. Nevertheless, the mistakes he recounts are something a reader could relate to, and the illustrations are appropriately humorous.
Karr, Kathleen. Illustrated by Malene Laugesen. Mama Went to Jail for the Vote. NY: Hyperion Books, 2005. $15.99 30 pp. ages 5-9 ISBN 078680593-5 P8/Q9 The story of the suffragists at the brink of the passing of the 19th amendment is told from the point of view of a young girl whose mother is involved in the protests and is jailed for protesting in front of the White House. It gives, in a brief and pictorial way that will hold a young person’s interest, some background on men’s attitudes of the time and the activities of the suffragists of Washington, D.C. This would make a good read-aloud book for elementary school students during Women in History month, or any time. Students who have read it say that they find it holds their interest and makes its point.
Mozelle, Shirley. Illustrated by Doug Cushman. The Bear Upstairs. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2005. $16.95 27 pp. ages 4-7 ISBN 0-8050-6820-1 P7/Q7 Parents who live in apartments with multiple stories often have to remind their children to respect their neighbors. This story illustrates how the noise of someone living upstairs interferes with someone’s life below them. It also illustrates how the positive attributes of the “upstairs bear”, his ability to cook and his friendliness, win over the downstairs neighbor. This book provides an opening to talk about how one person’s actions can bother—or attract—another person nearby.
Bernasconi, Pablo. Captain Arsenio, Inventions and (Mis) Adventures in Flight. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $16.00 31 pp. Ages 7 up ISBN0-168-50749-3 P9/Q9 This whacky book is a pseudo-history of an inventor along the lines of a DaVinci of 1782. The pages depict experimental designs of flying machines which are improbable (such as the Motocanary which is powered by canaries on leashes) and inevitably fail. Each is set up with measures: for example, one flight is labeled by phases and the time span of each phase vs. the height achieved. His failures are humorous (7: Yes, there’s a tiny problem, but I have it under control. I will land now (10 feet). #8 I need to call a doctor (0 feet).) The illustrations are hilarious, and yet still impart a sense of how to write up an experiment. This should appeal to future engineers and scientists of all ages. The end papers are fabulous.
Rodman, Mary Ann. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. My Best Friend. NY: Penguin Books, 2005. $15.99 29 pp. ages 4 up ISBN 0-670-05989-7 P8/Q8 Anyone who’s been around young girls is aware of their friendships and friend disputes. This young girl wants to be best friends with a girl older than her, 7-year-old Tamika. When they’re alone they play, but when girls Tamika’s age are around she ignores her. This girl tries to change her look so she can win Tamika’s friendship, but eventually learns that there are kids her own age who will make better companions. This points to an important issue with girls especially, one which remains strong throughout their developing years, and this story provides an opening to talk about how to resolve such issues. The illustrations are very attractive, depicting African American families. The typeface is very legible.
Kimmel, Eric A. Illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger. The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska. NY: Holiday House, 2006. $ 16.95 30 pp. ages 6-9 ISBN 0-8234-1618-6 P9/Q8 This retelling of a traditional story of the Tlingit will give a ready compare & contrast example with European fairy tales. The European notion of a girl kissing a frog who becomes a prince is reversed: This girl becomes the wife of a frog and becomes a frog. Such transformation stories where the girl is lost to her parents are common among various tribes, and the main point is the family’s unwillingness to let go of their daughter who has chosen another lifestyle. The title using the word “princess” is probably a publisher’s ploy to pull in fairy-tale fans; it is fortunately not repeated in the text, as tribes have never embraced the concept of “princesses”, although the heroine is the daughter of a rich and powerful hereditary leader. The illustrations, although they make no attempt to follow Tlingit design concepts, are simple and compelling. An afterword comments on stories with which to compare this, e.g. “The Frog Prince” by the brothers Grimm, as well as giving references for other Tlingit legends. Young students have given this book resounding approval.
Book Reviews May 2006 D.C
Blake, Robert J. Carousel Cat. Philomel Books, 2005. $16.99 38 pp. ISBN 0-399-23382-2 Ages: Preschool – 1st Grade Q – 9, P – 8
The Carousel Cat and Dan enjoy their morning ride in the front seat of carriage number three on the carousel until the day the Pavilion O’ Fun is closed. They continue to be breakfast companions until one day when the cat disappears. Dan, the World’s Strongest Tattooed Man and Madam Fortune all look for the cat with no success. There is a surprise ending. The story is entertaining and the illustrations really bring out the feel of the carousel.
Egielski, Richard. Illus. Saint Francis and the Wolf. Laura Geringer Books, 2005. $16.89 39 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-623871-5 or ISBN-10: 0-06-623871-4 Ages: Preschool – 3rd Grade Q – 10, P – 7
This is a very nice retelling of the story of Saint Francis saving the town of Gubbio from an old wolf who was killing and eating everything. By talking with the wolf and then the town an arrangement is made that works for both. Egielski’s illustrations are very well done and appealing.
Hodges, Margaret. Dick Whittington and His Cat. Illus. by Melisande Potter. Holiday House, 2006. $16.95 30 pp. ISBN-10: 0-8234-1987-8, ISBN-13: 978-0-8234-1987-6 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade Q – 8, P – 7
Hodges’ retelling of The History of Sir Rich[ard] Whittington Thrice Lord-Mayor of London is very well done. The notes she includes at the end of the story are interesting and give more information about Whittington, Chapbooks and the Bow Bells. A good addition to any collection.
Meyer, Kai. The Water Mirror, Translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2005. $15.95 250 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-689-87787-2, ISBN-10: 0-689-87787-0 Ages: 6th – 12th Grades + Q – 9, P – 8
There is never a dull moment in this book from the opening gondola ride that Merle and Junipa take to the Mirror Maker’s house to the end with Merle, the Flowing Queen and the flying obsidian lion flying over Pharaoh’s mummy soldiers to a land that is dead. Fortunately this is only book one of the Dark Reflections series. Anyone who likes fantasy will like this book.
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Magic Nation Thing. Delacorte Press, 2005. $15.95 164 pp. ISBN 0-385-73085-3 (trade), ISBN 0-385-90107-0 (GLB) Ages: 5th – 7th grades Q – 7, P – 7
Abby tries to deny that she has any psychic powers but her mother is sure that she does. When her best friend, Paige, learns about her possible powers she wants to set up a detective agency so they can solve mysteries and crimes. Abby does have a hunch about where a missing girl can be found. She does correctly identify who burned down a local business. Now, can she find Paige’s little brother? A fun and light story.
Spurr, Elizabeth. The Peterkins’ Thanksgiving. Illus. by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005. $17.95 30 pp. ISBN: 0-689-84142-6, ISBN-13: 978-0-689-84142-2 Ages: Preschool + Q – 10, P – 8
The Peterkins’ Thanksgiving is the companion book to The Peterkins’ Christmas. These books were ably adapted by Elizabeth Spurr from Lucretia P. Hale’s The Peterkin Papers. Thanksgiving dinner gets stuck in the dumbwaiter and the Peterkins spend the day trying to figure out how to get to their dinner. They get very hungry waiting but don’t want to eat anything else knowing what is available to them once they find a way to retrieve the dinner. One reviewer described Halperin’s art in The Peterkins’ Christmas this way: “Halperin’s distinctive and charming watercolor illustrations, with their Dickensian attention to humorous detail, add just the right touch of whimsy and warmth.” The same can be said about her illustrations in this book.
MAY 2006 BOOK REVIEWS L.R.
Crumpacker, Bunny. ALEXANDER’S PRETENDING DAY. Illus. by Dan Andreasen. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005 ISBN 0-525-46936-2 unp $15.99 PreS-K (P-6, Q-6)
Young children love to pretend and Alexander shares pretending time with his Mom. He asks her what she would do if he was a hungry mouse and Mom replies, “I’d give you a delicious piece of cheese.” Alexander then asks what she would do if he were a lion, train, monster, river, dinosaur and book and of course Mom comes up with the perfect, quiet, gentle reassuring answer. Cute illustrations depict Alexander’s round face and button nose on each thing that he pretends to be while Mom assures him that no matter what, she will always be there loving him.
Pirotta, Saviour. AESOP’S FABLES. Illus. by Richard Johnson. ISBN 0-7534-5919-1. 79p $12.95 Gr. 2-5 (P-5, Q-7)
Morpurgo, Michael. THE McELDERRY BOOK OF AESOP’S FABLES. Illus. by Emma Chichester Clark. ISBN 1-4169-0290-2 96p $19.95 Gr. 2-5 (P-5, Q-6)
Ward, Helen (reteller). UNWITTING WISDOM; ANANTHOLOGY OF AESOP’S FABLES. Chronicle Books, 2004 ISBN 0-8118-4450-1 unp $18.95 Gr. 3 6 (P-5, Q-8)
As a teacher librarian I always tried to make time to introduce the fables of Aesop to children, usually followed by an art activity. While they languish on the shelf unless a teacher’s curriculum demands them, they are still worthwhile stories for children. Short in length, they fit into a busy class schedule and give “food for thought” as an end of the day short story.Recently published editions include the three books listed above. All are worthy additions to any library shelf in need of updating these stories. While many of the individual stories are included in each book, some features should be pointed out.
The Pirotta version contains eight stories and each covers 8 to 10 pages in large print with lots of white space between the lines, but since the genre describes these stories as being short they don’t seem to fit the category as most versions have the tales done in one to two pages. The title and the moral to the story at the end are each placed in a scroll or rolled banner adding to the overall design. The first two pages of the story have a Greek key design at the top and bottom of the pages to enforce the idea that these tales originally came from Greece. This title is unique in that each story begins as if the storyteller, Aesop, is inviting the children to listen and then he gives the inspiration behind each tale.
The Morpurgo version has twenty-one stories with an average of five pages to each tale. The stories are perfect for reading aloud as well as independent reading. The telling in some of the tales has been altered (the boy who cried “wolf!” is eaten along with his sheep), but each is illustrated with wonderful watercolor pictures.
Ward’s version has exquisite illustrations in two-page spreads that begin each of the stories so that the reader can imagine what the story will be about. The text follows with two pages for each tale. The descriptions and vocabulary in some instances make this the perfect book for older children in grades 4-6, but it will be more difficult for them to access specific stories because the table of contents does not use the typical titles. For instance, “The Hare and the Tortoise” is called “Steady and Slow” and “The Lion and the Mouse” is called “Size Isn’t Everything.”
These stories can be used in a number of ways including units on Greece, animals, storytellers, creative writing, and on and on.
May 2006 Book Reviews B.R.
Awdry, W. Rev. Blue Train, Green Train. Ills. by Tommy Stubbs. Random House Inc. c2006. ISBN 037583463X, $8.99. PreS-1st. unp. (Q 7, P7)Thomas, the blue train, and his friend Percy, the green train, work together to deliver mail and goods. Thomas works all day while Percy works all night. Written in simple language this is a charming tale for early readers.
Sadler, Marilyn. Money, Money, Honey Bunny! Ills. by Roger Bollen. Random House Inc., c2006. ISBN 0375833706, $8.99. PreS-1st. unp. (Q7, P7) Saving money is what Honey Bunny likes to do, but spending is what she loves to do. She not only buys things for herself she also buys things for her friends. She buys a pen for the hen and a pear for the mare. The simple rhyming text is easy to read for beginners. Art work on the humorous side will entice the younger children to look and read this book for hours.
Phillips, Sally Kahler. Nonsense! Random House Inc., c2006. ISBN 0375933069, PreS-1st, unp. (Q 5, P5) Do chickens lay cheese? Do rabbits read books? Nonsense! Fun nonsense, yes, but what if it is directed toward you? How would you react if told you are no good, you’re dim or too bold? This book helps the child learn to react to negatives towards him/her self.
Lagonegro, Melissa. Grow, Seeds. Grow! Random House, c2006. ISBN 0736423532 $4.99, PreS-1st. unp. (Q7, P6) Pooh and Piglet want to grow plants in their garden, but they need help. Rabbit, to the rescue. They learn together what they need to know to help their seeds grow into beautiful plants. Children will add 12 words to their vocabulary with this simple easy to read book.
Ryder, Joanne and Melissa Sweet. Won’t You Be My Hugaroo? Harcourt, Inc., c2006. ISBN 0152057781. $16.00. PreS-2nd, unp. (Q6, P7) This is an absolutely marvelous book about hugs. Many types of hugs are described; friendly, sweet, tickle, cheer-up, and many more. The adorable animals are at the amusement park and give and receive lots of hugs.
Sobel, June. Shiver Me Letters, A Pirate ABC. Ills. by Henry Cole. Harcourt, Inc., c2006. $16.00. PreS-2nd. Unp. (Q7, P7) What child can resist a pirate looking for letters? This colorful adventure will take you through the alphabet as the pirates capture letters. Children will love to find the letters before anyone else.
LeSieg, Theo., Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him! Ills. by Scott Nash, Random House, Inc., c2006. $8.99. PreS-1st. unp. (Q4, P4) A young boy is having a party and inviting everyone but Hooper Humperdink. He goes through the alphabet and names his friends, but still not going to invite Hooper. Finally at the end he decides to invite Hooper. For an early reader book this story had too many new words. All the names will slow an early reader down, thus losing interest.
Demarest, Chris L., Hurricane Hunters! Riders on the Storm. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2006. ISBN 0689861680, $17.95. Grades 1-4th. Unp. (Q7 P7) On the tarmac a WC-130 Hercules Air Force plane is ready for flight. Out in the ocean a hurricane is brewing. They fly straight into the hurricane and the crew gathers information that will help predict how big the storm will grow and where it might hit land. The story goes on to explain how people prepare for the arrival of a hurricane. The illustrations, done in pastels, recreate the feelings and forces experienced with a hurricane.
Wheeler, Lisa. Invasion of the Pig Sisters. Ills. by Frank Ansley. Richard Jackson, c2006. ISBN 0689849532. $14.95. Grades 1-3rd. pgs. 48. (Q 6, P5) A chapter book for the early proficient reader. Best friends, Fitch and Chip, head to the park on Saturday, but those plans do not include little sisters.
Stanley, Mandy. Lettice, The Flower Girl. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2006. ISBN 141691157X, $9.95. Grades PreS-2nd. Unp. (Q 6, P6) This is an absolutely adorable story about a sweet bunny who is asked to be the flower girl at her dance teacher’s wedding. Harry, the ring bearer, misplaces the ring and Lettice helps find it and all ends well. The soft colors and sparkles thought the book will entice the fanices of young girls.
Katz, Karen. Mommy Hugs. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2006. ISBN 0689877722 $12.95. Grades Baby-PreS. Unp. (Q6, P6) A counting book based on hugs between a mother and child. What a wonder way to end your baby’s day by reading this book before bedtime. Bright colorful pictures will hold a child’s interest.
Thompson, Lauren. Little Quack’s New Friend. Ills. by Derek Andrerson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, c2006. ISBN 0689868936. $14.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P7) Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle and Little Quack love playing with each other. When a new creature comes to their pond, they are not so sure they want to play. He ribbits and he is green. Little Quack is shy at first but soon learns being different does not mean they cannot be friends. Endearing friendly pictures bring this book to life.
Worth, Bonnie. I Can Name 50 Trees Today! Ills. by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375822771. $8.99. Grades 1st 4th. Pgs. 43. (Q7, P6) Cat and Co. is enjoying some of the world’s trees and teaching the readers how to identify trees. They will learn to identify different species from the shape of their leaves, crowns, seeds, bark, fruit and lobes. This book includes a glossary and index.
May 2006 Reviews by N.W.
Hopkinson, Deborah & James E. Ramsome. Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building. Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-83610-1. Unp. Ages 5-9: During the dimmest time in the Great Depression of the 1930s, a bold venture resulted in the world’s tallest building. No longer the tallest, it remains a beloved landmark, and this story of its rise–in just over a year–blends literature, art, construction, history, and social studies in a glorious picture book told from the point of view of a young boy. The end-papers are an additional treat with photographs taken during its construction. This book is a must because of its use on many levels from facts to dreams. The author, who also wrote Apples to Oregon , lives in Corvallis. P8Q9
Kennedy, Edward M. My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, D.C. Il. David Small. Scholastic, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-65077-1. Unp. Ages 8-12: Splash, Senator Kennedy’s dog, narrates this tour through a day in the Senator’s political life culminating in the passing of a bill that will give children a better education in thousands of schools. The narration is simple and the watercolors by a Caldecott Medalist charming. Kennedy has accomplished what few famous people have succeeded in: an excellent book which will appeal to young readers. P7Q9
Lefkowitz, Arthur S. Bushnell’s Submarine: The Best Kept Secret of the American Revolution . Scholastic, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-74352-4. 136p. Ages 9-13: This small attractively designed book about the story of the creation of the Turtle and its attempt to sink the flagship of the British fleet in New York harbor is carefully researched by a lecturer on the American Revolution. Sadly, lack of editing and poor understanding of the book’s audience has resulted in a dull book with difficult vocabulary and syntax, one which will be used only by the most extraordinary young reader or the most diligent of researchers into the subject. Although the two-page pieces about related subjects that are scattered throughout the book are of interest, they are placed within the chapters, causing a disruption in the reading. It is truly amazing that such a boring book can come from such an interesting topic. P4Q4
Lord, Michelle. Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin . Il. Felicia Hoshino. Lee & Low, 2006. $16.95. 1-58430-248-8. Unp. Ages 6-10: In 1906 the court dancers at the Royal Palace in Cambodia travel to Paris for the Colonial Exhibition where the artist Auguste Rodin sketches them. This charming story follows the career of a simple country girl who changes from an awkward, shy child to a self-possessed elegant performer. Although the illustrations (ink, acrylic, watercolor, and paper collage) are sometimes a bit rudimentary, the lyrical text and poignant reflection of the culture provide an appreciation of the experience. The Foreword and Author’s Note in combination with the good story make this a useful book for social study and history lessons. P7Q7
Havill, Juanita. I Heard It from Alice Zucchini. Il. Christine Davenier. Chronicle, 2006. $15.95. 0-8118-3962-1. 29p. Ages 6-10 (and all adult gardeners!): The gardening seasons of the year are celebrated through 20 whimsical poems enhanced by magical watercolors. From “When I Grow Up” describing the “seeds on the gardener’s bench” planning their future “in the still chill of the winter night” to “Buried,” where the fairy gardener finds “a potato!” the reader/listener will delight in references to fairy tales and other fantastical stories. More than poems, this collection will help young people understand seasons, plants, and relationships. P7Q8
Rand, Ann. Little 1. Il. Paul Rand. Chronicle, 2006. $15.95. 0-8118-5004-8. Unp. Ages 3-6: First published 44 years ago, this charming poem traces the description and rejection of Little 1 as the number tries to build relationships with other numbers and fails until he finds the hoop who turns Little 1 into number 10. Simple images with bold blocks of vibrant color and striking black lines bring the numbers alive. For example, “8 stiff-backed books/on a shelf/gave 8 cross looks” with all the books in different colors while Little 1 has climbed an abstract library ladder. Paul Rand was one of the most influential and groundbreaking graphic designers of the twentieth century, his work a perfect complement to Ann Rand’s clever wordplay. P10Q10
Siebert, Dianne. Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art . Il. Stephen T. Johnson. Chronicle, 2006. $17.95. 0-811-5046-0. Unp. Ages 8-12: A hodge-podge of events, places, structures, and oddities from 20 different states and Washington, D.C. are highlighted, each with a poem, background, and illustration. Selections include Niagara Falls, the vortex in Oregon, the Kentucky Derby, gargoyles in New York City, Florida’s Everglades, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Lucy the Elephant in Margate, New Jersey. The poems, although pleasant, are unremarkable; the illustrations–watercolors, photographs, oils, collages, acrylics, etc.–result in a confused feeling to the book that matches the selected subjects. This is a collection for libraries with an excessive budget. P5Q5
Bryant, Jen. Call me Marianne. Il. David A. Johnson. Eerdmans, 2006. $16.00. 0-8028-
5242-4. Unp. Ages 6-10: Ink and watercolor on paper provide the background for the story of a young boy’s talk with the poet Marianne Moore in the Brooklyn Zoo during the 1940s. It is a very sweet story about an interaction between generations as Moore encourages the boy to write his own poetry. The book ends with a one-page biography of Moore. Although the gentle, soft illustrations are charming, Moore looks like a wizened old white-haired lady, perhaps not accurate for a woman in her 60s. P7Q8
Henderson, Kathy, ret. Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught up in a War: An Epic Tale from Ancient Iraq . Il. Jane Ray. Candlewick, 2006. $16.99. 0-763-62782-8. 77p. Ages 8-12: The oldest written story in the world is that of a boy who gains the power to run and then saves his Sumerian people from destruction. Discovered 150 years ago after the translation of ancient clay tablets, this 5000-year-old tale, never before related in print, shows the violent struggle for power even then with the wise, peaceful message sent by the goddess Inana to stop the king from his attempt to plunder another city. The result is a chapter book relating the details of a powerful and mysterious ancient civilization that has a close relationship with present events, again to plunder a current civilization. Equally as magical are the brilliant watercolor, ink, and collage illustrations, each deserving to be displayed individually. A classic destined to win many awards and readers. P8Q10
Muntean, Michaela. Do Not Open This Book! Il. Pascal Lemaitre. Scholastic, 2006. $16.99. 0-39-69839-1. Unp. Ages 4-8: The warning on the back of the cover begins: “Opening this book may cause acute merriment.” And indeed it will for the young readers (or listeners) who enjoy rebelling against what is demanded of them. Vibrant colors enhance the tale of a pig who rails against the readers who insist on turning the pages, interrupting the pig from writing a book. Although the CIP in the beginning refers to Pig as “he,” there is no gender reference in the book, allowing both boys and girls to identify with the irate creature. A bonus is the storage of words that the Pig tries to use and starts to put together. By the finish of the book, the reader has been treated to the process of writing a book, all the time suffering from “chronic gasps and giggles” with side effects of “sparks of creativity and ignited imaginations.” Truly delightful! P10Q9
Schotter, Roni. The Boy Who Loved Words . Il. Giselle Potter . Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-83601-2. Unp. Ages 4-8: The sounds of words, whether one knows the meaning or not, is a magical thing to children before they are taught to fear them. From the words scattered onto the end-papers in the beginning of the book through the whimsical illustrations, the reader is drawn into the wonderful world of words with the italicized ones explained in the end-papers at the end of the book. In addition, the story and watercolors take the reader in a New York Jewish family. P7Q9
Shulman, Mark. Mom and Dad Are Palindromes: A Dilemma for Words…and Backwards . Il. Adam McCauley. Chronicle, 2006. $15.95. 0-8118-4328-9. Unp. Ages 6-10: The illustrator of some of the Time Warp series and Sideways Stories from Wayside School brings his humorous illustrations to this tale that describes the anguish of Bob, whose teacher points out that he is a palindrome. Young people will delight in the task of finding words and phrases that spell the same thing forward and backward as Bob looks around his home in panic and tries to run away before he discovers that he can turn palindromes into ordinary words by using full names. The irony of his decision? His name is Robert Trebor! Great fun and useful for inspiring creativity. P10Q8
Varon, Sara. Chicken and Cat . Scholastic, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-63406-7. Unp. Ages All: Wordless picture books force “readers” to focus more on the illustrations as they follow the story; that is true of the story of Cat’s visit to Chicken in the city where Cat decides the city needs more color. Ink with Photoshop provide the illustrations that end with multi-colored plants that the two characters use to overcome the dullness of the city’s landscape. A fun, gentle read about two friends who want to make life better for all. P8Q8
Martin, Ann M. The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea . Il. Raina Telgemeier. Scholastic/Graphix, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-80241-5. 187p. Ages 9-13: After the success of Martin’s series that became both a TV series and a movie, the publishers have transformed the stories (this one from 1986) into a graphic novel makeover. Clean black-and-white art with stark black details differentiates the four seventh-graders who start a baby-sitting business: artsy Mary, overprotected Stacy; secretive Claudia, and outspoken Kristy who refuses to give her mother an inch with the possibility of a new stepfather. The four of them cope with feisty toddlers and personal problems and fight with and help one another while modeling right behavior and the ups and downs of friendship without being annoying. There will probably be more of these if this one becomes a success. P9Q8
Arnold, Tedd. Super Fly Guy. Scholastic/Cartwheel, 2006. $5.99. 0-439-63904-2. 30p. Ages 4-7: This delightful beginning chapter book features Fly Guy (yes, a fly!) who accompanies Buzz to school one day where he learns about the curriculum. The humor spreads when Arnold describes Fly Guy’s love for the kitchen and all the disgusting parts of it. The suspense comes when the cook is fired because she lets Fly Guy into the kitchen. Yet there’s a happy ending to the bulging-eyed characters. Great illustrations and creative story. A must especially at the price. P10Q8
Craft, Elizabeth and Fein, Sarah. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up. Little, 2006. $16.99. 0-316-05793-2. 386p. Ages 15+: Four high school seniors–Becca, Kate, Sophie, and Harper–are ready for college. Ready, however, until Harper is rejected from NYU and has no back-up plan. Instead of telling the truth, she explains to her friends that she plans to write the Great American Novel, and two of the other three decide to follow their dreams, one to become an actress in Hollywood and the other to travel throughout Europe. Alternating chapters follow the four girls in this Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants style novel. Stereotypes and easy lives (the “actress” lives with her mother’s friend in an expensive home, Kate has no financial problems in Europe with her parents’ credit card, etc) flaw the plot as does the predictable boy/girl relationships that each find (the first is the jerk and the second Prince Charming to the extreme). Although the novel appears to be part of the packaging set up by a book-writing company, it will be popular, perhaps because of these problems. P8Q5
Edwards, Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton. The Great American Mousical. Il. Tony Walton. HarperCollins, 2006. $16.89. 0-06-057919-6. 147p. Ages 5-10: The famous nanny from Mary Poppins joins her daughter for another charming children’s book with a subject that both know very well–show business. In this spoof of life in the theater, the diva is transported many miles away from the mouses’ theater because of her hunger and ensuing entrapment. The story of how she makes her way back to the theater for opening night in the midst of a snowstorm in New York provides great adventure and fascinating characters who help her along her way. Add to that the members of the crew and cast, and you have a collection of mice to remember. The drawings are by a renowned set and costume designer for the theater and film and past illustrator for the Dumpy the Dump Truck series, earlier books by Edwards and Hamilton. An excellent read-aloud and all-around fun. P8Q8
Funke, Cornelia. Dragon Rider . Trans. Anthea Bell. The Chicken House/Scholastic, 2004. $12.95. 0-439-45695-9. 523p. Ages 9-13: When humans decide to take over the isolated home of a dragon clutch, magical creatures, accompanied by the human boy Ben, embark on their search for a place where dragons lived in peace forever. As in all odysseys, they find villains, help, and other adventures. Although long in number of pages, the time flies for readers as they become part of the adventure, meeting Firedrake, the small silver dragon; Sorrel, the furry grumpy brownie; Twigleg, a spindly little maniken; the duplicitous dwarves; Nettlebrand, the nasty faux golden dragon; and more. Funke has drawn her characters so realistically that they become personal friends–or enemies. Pencil illustrations add to the feeling of realism. The author seems to have regained the excitement and adventure displayed so wonderfully in The Thief Lord . P9Q8
Pratchett, Terry. Johnny and the Dead. Harpercollins, 1993, 2006. $16.89. 0-06-054189-x. 213p. Ages 10-14: In the second of Johnny Maxwell’s adventures, he sees and communicates with the dead in the town cemetery in time to save the historic place from devastation and redevelopment by a company newly come to the town. The book explores the relationship among four 12-year-old friends, the bonds between the living and the dead, and the ability of people to fight corporations. Alternating between humor and intensity, Pratchett has provided another highly accessible and thought-provoking work for young readers. P7Q8
Stanley, Diane. Bella at Midnight. HarperCollins, 2006. $16.89. 0-06-077374-2. 278p. Ages 12-15: The Cinderella story returns, this time with a pretty girl, Isabel, given to a blacksmith’s family after her mother dies in childbirth. Replete with a wicked new stepmother when Isabel becomes a teenager and two nasty stepsisters, there are a few twists: Isabel knew the prince before he searches for her, and she is knighted after he finds her. Isabel stars in the battle to save the prince and her country, but the ending still shows her being subservient to the prince. Nice adventure and pleasant story. P7Q8
Updale, Eleanor. Montmorency and the Assassins . Orchard, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-68343-2. 403p. Ages 14+: Twenty years ago, Updale introduced readers to her Victorian hero, former criminal become gentleman, in Montmorency. The third installment of his adventures takes the readers from London to Italy and then New Jersey to stop Italian anarchists from bombing sites in the two European countries. The cast of characters combines English and Italian nobility with peasants living in extreme poverty as well as an episode with Thomas Edison when Dr. Farcett decides that he wants to erect an X-ray machine. As Updale describes the nineteenth century drawing to a close and people fighting the influenza plague, the excitement of delving into the violent political underworld will engage good readers with devilish schemes and narrow escapes. The horrifying death of a major character and its sickening revelation results in promises of revenge, a position that almost guarantees a sequel. P8Q8
May 2006 Reviews K.R
Kanevsky, Polly, illus., Stephanie Anderson. Sleepy Boy; Atheneum Books for young Readers: New York, 2006. Sleepy Boy is a beautifully illustrated “bedtime storybook” for young children who may have a difficult time getting to sleep after an active day. The boy has spent the day at the zoo and his memories of the activities make him restless; Dad comes to lie beside him helping him to relax. The illustrator has included pictures of a lion cub in the golden-hued soft pictures that represents the boy’s restlessness and his final waking dream as he goes to sleep. A book for every Grandma and for kindergarten teachers if children still have resting/nap time.
Krensky, Stephen. Milo the Really Big Bunny; Simon and Schuster Books for young Readers: New York, 2006. Milo, a monstrously-sized, rabbit doesn’t fit in with the rest of the bunnies until one blustery night the Easter Bunny comes for his help to keep from blowing away in the wind and rain. It’s a rerun of the Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed Reindeer stories and not nearly as clever as Leo the Late Bloomer, even though the theme is the same. The illustrations are better than the story with simple drawings that capture Milo’s frustration at being unable to be like the rest of the bunnies. This is a cute, albeit unexciting tale.
Viorst, Judith. Just in Case; Atheneum books for young readers: New York, 2006. Yellow and orange plaid end papers lead the reader into the life of Charlie who is a little boy that likes to be ready JUST IN CASE. He has plans for any exigency—real or imagined—that might happen to him. However, in the course of the story, a birthday surprise lets him know that sometimes not being ready is even better. Children do worry about the “darnedest things” and this book could provide reassurance to these children and an opportunity to see that not having to be prepared for everything can be a very pleasant surprise.
Spinelli, Eileen; illus. Geraldo Valerio. When You are Happy; Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2006. The illustrations overshadow the lyrical message of “you are safe with me” in this picture book. They have a distinctly South American touch which, combined with the beautiful poetry of the story, clash with the tender message. Personally, for sentences like, “I will sing summery songs/ for you until/ my voice cracks,/ and I will watch you/warmly/ until I become/ the firelight/ dancing in your eyes” I would buy the book anyway, but others might be disappointed. (P.S. Bright end papers.)
Reynolds, Peter H. My Very Big Little World. Antheneum Books For Young Readers: New York, 2006. Welcome to the big and little world of SugarLoaf. In this book we are introduced to her family, her favorite activities, and her perspective on life. About the age of a four-year-old, SugarLoaf has a happy world and one that is inviting to small children like herself. This is another Grandmother or Kindergarten teacher-type book. Fun to read, easy for children to memorize. Happy bright pink end papers are inviting to a story written in large Bookman-style print with simple, pleasant pictures.
Pericoli, Matteo. The True Story of Stellina. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2006. Stellina is a baby finch that falls from her nest to be cared for by Holly, who appears as a woman with a ponytail in New York. The pages are white with simple drawings and gentle colors. The best ones have Stellina in them. The book is a tribute to the little bird who stayed with the author and his wife for 8 years and brought them much joy. Unlike so many stories about death, this book emphasizes the life of the main character and would be entirely appropriate to be read at sad times in a child’s life—and other times as well.
Yolen, Jane and Will Hillenbrand. This Little Piggy and Other Rhymes to Sing and Play. Candlewick Press: Cambridge, 2006. This book comes with a table of contents with such sections as “Upsie, Downsie,” “Bumptey Bumpety,” “Wiggle Wiggle,” “Clap, Clap, Clap,” and “Take a Bow.” It also has a CD with all of the songs and rhymes included on it. Each action rhyme comes with words, simple illustrations, and the piano music for the song. They also have directions for how to involve small children in the verse. For example, “To Play: a great knee-bouncer, this, with its ‘tumble down’ in the middle of the rhyme and not the end.” The verses are illustrated with piggies and other animals surrounded by a border to contain the action. Most of the rhymes are somewhat familiar. This is another Preschool/Kindergarten/First Grade book, perfect for quick breaks and stretches during lessons.
McPahil, David. Big Brown Bear Goes to Town, Harcourt, Inc. Singapore, 2006. This FOUR(!)-chapter book is about a simple incident where Big Bear buys a mailbox for his friend, Rat, who needs a place to keep his car when it rains so it doesn’t fill up with water. Kindly Big Bear also shares his oatmeal with his small companion. The illustrations look similar to Golden Book pictures; and, in fact, the story reminded me of them too. An easy to read story, older (about 1st or second grade) children might like to try reading it to younger brothers and sisters. The theme of kindness is never out of place.
Bunting, Eve. Pop’s Bridge; Harcourt, Inc.: China, 2006. While the narrator learns an important lesson about the equivalency of the contributions that everyone must make to build the Golden Gate Bridge, he also discovers how to share and empathize with others. The fact that the “other” in the story is Asian, serves to remind even young children that every person has a contribution to make. At the end of the story, is a 2-page Note from the Author, telling some of the rest of the story about the building of the Bridge. I have been a fan of Eve Bunting for decades; this book is impressive to me because she is able to include so much story and information in such a small package. Budding engineers (even with Legos) would enjoy this story.
Cruise, Robin. Little Mama Forgets; Melanie Kroupa Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2006. What enthusiastic pictures!!! With a decidedly Hispanic tone to the illustrations, the story of a little girl’s relationship with her grandma who used to live in Mexico is portrayed as one of mutual love while “little mama” (grandma) deals with the dementia caused by growing older. The story is a celebration of color and includes several phrases in Spanish. This book could be an important part of a library for elementary school ESL students.
Bateman, Teresa. Keeper of Soles; Holiday House Books: New York, 2006. My father, the podiatrist, would love this story about Colin, the shoemaker who escapes death for years by making him well-crafted shoes each time Death comes for his soul. He gets his final reprieve when he explains that Death has already taken many “soles” from him; Death, laughing, agrees to stay away until the shoes wear out. I do not know what to make of the illustrations. I suppose they add to the humor, but they are so peculiar to my tastes, that they actually detracted from the warmly funny tale. The book would be good for elementary school students who can understand the joke or for students when they are ready to laugh over a very serious subject.
Konnecke, Ole. Anthony and the Girls; Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2006. Anthony, who can’t get himself noticed by the girls, finally begins crying when they won’t pay attention. He gets a cookie and a chance to play with the girls in the sandbox. The story is written on sentence per page in very large letters. The drawings are pencil sketches with rust, gold, and brown fill-in colors; they add to the story by providing the joke at the end when Luke comes to play with the girls and Anthony. An uncomplicated story that will make students (and adults) laugh.
Grimes, Nikki. Thanks a Million; Greenwillow Books: New York, 2006. Nikki Grimes, a poet, has written a collection of poems about being grateful in many different circumstances. From the girl who write to an author thanking her for a character with whom she could “crawl between the pages and hide for hours” to the trees whose “arms raised in praise/demonstrate the attitude/of gratitude” the pages are filled with rich colors and delicious words. A teacher could read these works a poem a day for April (Poetry Month) or have children make their own illustrations to go with Grimes’ words.
Weeks, Sarah. Overboard! Harcourt, Inc.: New York, 2006. Overboard is a poet’s cheerful description of all the items that go sailing across a room whenever baby bunny grabs them. Lots of onomatopoeia for poetry class. Funny looks on stuffed animals and a mouse’s face. Straightforward language—hopefully not a collection of suggestions for solving a boring afternoon. Teachers could use for poetry lesson: rhyme and onomatopoeia.
Choi, Yangsook. Peach Heaven; Frances Foster Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2006. Yangsook narrates a story of her girlhood when it rained peaches in her community, some distance from the mountain orchards. The rains had been terrible so many of the farmers had lost much of their crop, which they depended upon. Yangsook and her friends collected many of the peaches and carefully returned them to the orchards and tied them carefully to trees when the rain was over. They also helped the farmers collect the fruit that had fallen before it could rot. In an afterward, Choi describes the rest of the story and how peaches are magical fruit; a peach orchard is like heaven. The author doesn’t dwell on the possible consequences of the storm as much as she relates an incident of one small student’s being helpful in the face of a serious disaster. Soft, warm colors emphasize the “heavenliness” of the rescued peaches. Good lead-in to a classroom discussion about what heaven might be like or about the kinds of things people can do to help each other.
Hillenbrand, Jane and Will. What a Treasure! Holiday House: New York, 2006. When Mole gets a new shovel, he begins to dig, hoping to find treasure. What he discovers are treasures for the other creatures—a stick for a bird’s nest, a shell for a snail and a nut for a squirrel—until he finds his own treasure: another mole-friend for himself. This would be useful for a discussion. What are your treasures? If you wanted a treasure where would you look? How would you recognize your treasure? Where can we find friends? Are they treasures? How would you recognize a new friend?
Kimmel, Eric A. Blackbeard’s Last Fight; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York, 2006. Young people who fancy pirates might enjoy reading this book to themselves; if they do, they should be encouraged to read the Author’s Note at the end of the story where Kimmel explains that Governor Spotswood had no legal right to send an armed force into a neighboring colony’s waters to attack Blackbeard who was enjoying a full royal pardon at the time. Kimmel also gives the famous pirate a human, kindly side, when he refused to kill Jeremy Hobbs, a fictional character from whose point of view the story is told.
Shannon, George. Busy in the Garden; Greenwillow Books: New York, 2006. This is a collection of short spring poems, most of which relate to planting a garden and preparing for the harvest later on. For example, “When you’re picking berries,’ the hardest part is not/ the picking, but the eating–/ later on, not on the spot,” concluding with, “Grass:” “Hoe./Sow./ Grow./ Mow./ Mow./Mow./Mow./ Mow./ Oh!/ Snow? Rest/ and watch/ the white yard/ glow.”
Meserve, Adria. No Room for Napoleon: Three friends, a bossy dog, and only one paradise island! Farrar Straus Giroux: New York, 2006. Cleverly drawn endpapers of the picture one might see through a telescope lead the reader to a tale of a domineering dog who discovers that it is no fun being king, if you don’t have friends to play with. Napoleon sees a paradise island where Crab, Bunny, and Bear live. Thinking it would be a great place to be king, he orders his new friends to build him a gigantic new house that uses up all the resources on the islands. Disappointed in Napoleon’s behavior, the first three friends leave to go to another island where they stay until Napoleon returns the first island to its former looks. If there is bullying going on in a classroom, this would be the story to tell to lead into a discussion about the merits and pleasures of having friends compared to the unhappiness that comes with being thoughtless and unkind.
Frazee, Marla. Walk on! A guide for babies of all ages; Harcourt, Inc.: China, 2006. I have a granddaughter who is 18 months old who is NOT INTERESTED in walking. She can stand and willingly takes steps holding on to things, but setting off on her own is not her “thing” right now. This book, which appears to be a lesson for her, is also a metaphor for any grownup who wants to try something new. Absolutely delightful; I’m sending it to Josie this week.
Katz, Bobbi. Once around the Sun; Harcourt, Inc.: New York, 2006. This is a collection of poems for each month of the year that celebrate the important events for children: snow, school starting, and various holidays. The brightly colored pictures that accompany the poems serve to emphasize the joy the author finds in each of her subjects. Another delightful collection of poetry for children. Teachers can easily use this as a jumping-off point for art as well as written poems by students.
May 2006 – Book Reviews – C.B. INMS/NMS
Bondoux, Anne-Laure, The killers tears, translated by Y. Maudet, Delacorte Press, New York, 2003, 162 pgs. $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73293-7, Gr.8+, P 8, Q 9,
High school students will be drawn to this complex story of murder, love and friendship. Centering on the life of young boy Paolo, age 6 or 7, who lives in a remote region of Peru with his parents and who show no caring for Paolo. It is here that the bizarre tale begins with Paolo witnessing the death of his parents; their throats are cut, by a man. Angel Allegros, being sought by the police. Angel spares the life of the child and settles into a life where he raises Paolo and comes to love him. The story is further complicated by a man, Luis Secunda, seeking a quiet place to live and soon become a member of this strange family. It is a trip to the market for livestock that brings the story to its climax, for it is here that Luis is recognized and a chase to locate him takes place. Luis is caught, Paolo is put into foster care and Luis leaves Peru with his true love to travel the world. Paolo returns to his home as an adult marries and names his first child Angela after the man who murder his parents and whom he had come to love.
Horowitz, Anthony, Evil Star, Scholastic Press, New York, 2006, 318 pgs. $17.99, ISBN:0-439-67996-6, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
Horowitz continues his Gatekeeper series with Matt and his guardian Richard traveling to Peru to stop the “Old Ones” from again escaping in to the world to rain darkness on the world. It is here in Peru that Matt finds a street kid, Pedro, one of the other five kids who are needed to keep the evil old ones from destroying the world. Pedro and Max are taken on a trip into cities and the mountains of remote Peru where the magical world of the Incas is also brought to life for the reader of this adventure. Middle and high school age students will be drawn to this sometimes dark series.
Kadohata, Cynthia, Weedflower, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, 260 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0-689-86574-0, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,
Sumiko, 12 years old, and her younger brother Tak Tak are orphans living with their aunt and uncle on a flower farm in California when World War II breaks and their lives are changed forever. Being Japanese-Americans they were feared to be passing secrets to the Japanese in Japan and so were taken a put in to internment camps. Sumiko and her family were one of the family’s that were taken and this story carries the reader into the life of an internment camp. Here in Arizona living on part of Indian reservation Sumiko and her family are both resented and envied by the Indians. They are resented because the US government has placed the Japanese’s here without the tribe’s permission. They are envied for two reasons the first is that the Native Americans live in poverty and the housing provided for the Japanese are better that what the Native American’s have. The second is the Japanese’s ability to change a desert into a farming oasis. This book would be a great read a-loud for the teachers who are looking for a way to introduce the injustice faced by the Japanese during WW II.
Lawlor, Laurie, He will go fearless, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, 210 pgs. ISBN:0-689-86579-1, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Billy at age 15 finds out that his real father is still alive and runs away from home to find his father in Virginia City, Nevada. Billy meets up with two rough men who are bound for a job as mule skinners on a freight wagon train. Here Billy meets the rough and hard life of a mule skinner as he crosses the Great Plains in search of his father. This old west adventure will appeal to students in middle schools.
Namiola, Lensey, Mis match, Delacorte Press, New York, 2006, 217 pgs. $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73183-3, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,
Two students one Japanese, Suzanne Hau, and one Chinese, Andy Suzuki, meet at a mostly white school and are soon seen as the perfect “Asian” couple. While the two’s relationship develops it is also masked by prejudice from Suzzane’s grandmother who faced the brutality of the Japanese during WWII in China and Andy’s father sees the Chinese as backward people as he was treated rudely when he visited China. Suzanne and Andy must face the questions of heritage, bigotry, fitting into the American society and keeping their cultural identity. Middle and high school age students who read this book will also find that the story deals with many issues that are current in today’s adolescent lives, insecurity, love, and jealousy and parent approval.
Roberts, Willo Davis, The one left behind, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, 139 pgs. ISBN:0-689-85075-1, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 7,
Mandy is 11 years-old when her parents take off for a weekend and leave her home alone by mistake, for everyone thinks that she is going to with someone else in the family. Mandy doesn’t care however anyway after all the only one who had really understood her was her twin, Angel, who died last year. That is she didn’t care until things started disappearing from the house, she heard sounds at night and saw the small footprints that appeared in the sand. Mandy soon discovers Zander and his little brother who are hiding from kidnappers and finds herself helping them to evade capture by the would be kidnappers. This book is sure to hold the attention of any reader who picks this book up.
Stone, Jeff, The Snake, Random House, New York, 2006, 193 pgs. $15.95, ISBN:0-375-83075-8, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 7,
The third book in the five ancestor’s series takes part with 12 year-old Seh, the snake, a young monk who has survived the attack and destruction of the monastery that he studied at. Sey must spy and gather information, on the enemy who destroyed the monastery, and report back to his brothers. More of the mystery of who the boys are and where they came from are also discovered as the plot thickens. Middle school students will enjoy this book.
Rubin, Susan Goldman, The cat with the yellow star: coming of age in Terezen, Holiday House, New York, 2006, 39 pgs, $16.95, ISBN: 0-8234-1831-6, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
Terezin concentration camp is where Ela Stein, an 11 year-old Jewish girl, is sent during WWII. Here Ela survives under harsh conditions until she is liberated by the Russians in 1945. One every page of the book photos and actual drawings are included to give the reader a clearer picture of the conditions of this camp. During Ella’s 3 ½ years of confinement she took part in a children’s opera called “Brundibar.” The end of the book shows the reunion of Ella’s friends and other camp survivors. It also shows Ella being brought on stage at the end of performance of “Brundibar.” This truly moving book will appeal to older elementary students and middle and high school age students. Any teacher planning a unit on the holocaust of WWII must also include this book.
Lipsyte, Robert, Heroes of baseball: the men who made it America’s favorite game, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 92 pgs. photos, glossary, index, $19.95, ISBN:0-689-86741-7, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
Starting with the formation of baseball and the earlier players the author has depicted the struggles of players and teams as they were formed. Author Robert Lipsyte has chosen to present a book filled with full page pictures which show players sliding into base or jumping to catch fly balls that will appeal to all Baseball fans. Side bar boxes also give the reader quick facts about the history of the baseball and the players he has chosen to high light.
Weitzman, David, A subway for New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, unp, $17.00, ISBN:0-374-37284-5, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
In 1904 New City was the second largest city in the world and faced the problem of how to navigate their city better. The only conclusion was a subway and New York did just that by ripping up roads and tunneling underneath the city they created on of the most elaborate subways of their time. This book is dedicated to that accomplishment pen and ink drawings that are clearly labeled, numbered and described abound on each page that you turn. This book is definitely for an older elementary student who is looking for a more detailed look into how a subway was built.
May Book Reviews Y.Z. WMS
If You Decide To Go To the Moon by Faith McNulty, Illustrator Steven Kellogg, Scholastic, 2005, unpaged, $17.00, ISBN 0590486595 P – 9 Q – 8 A good, fast paced narration about going to the moon and back. All geared to the understanding of time for young children. Only criticisms are – edges of ‘fold-out’ in center should probably have 1/4″ cut off of each page, surface of moon, upon landing, is referred to as DUST. Later on surface, when planting flag, is referred to as SAND. This might be confusing to youngsters. The illustrations are a really toned down Steven Kellogg. I remember him as filling up the page with anything.
Ham and Pickles: 1st day of school by author and illustrator Nicole Rubel, Harcourt, 2006, unpaged, $16.00, ISBN 0152050396 P – 9 Q – 8
A good pre-school read aloud book. A lot of pre-schoolers’ questions will be answered and some questions will remain. This book might bring forth those questions. Illustrations exaggerated but fun.
Ruby Sings the Blues by Niki Daly, Bloomsbury Publ., 2005, unpaged, $16.95, ISBN 158234995 P9 Q 9
A loud mouthed girl is taught how to use her voice softly, with feeling, and loudly when necessary. But every once in a while, she lets everyone know she is still around. Great colorful end papers. Would make a great read-aloud.
Elephants Can Paint Too! pictures and text by Katya Arnold, Atheneum Books, 2005, unpaged, $16.95, ISBN 0689869851 P – 3 or 4 Q – 6
An art teacher and her husband decide to aid and save the Asian elephant population by teaching the elephants to paint. In order to teach how humans and animals are similarly taught to paint, the book is divided into left and right hand pages. The left hand pages are the human side, the right hand pages are the animal side. An explanation as to ‘why’ they want to save the elephants is given in the very beginning. Proceeds from the sale of this book and the sale of the elephant’s art work goes to the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project (AEACP).
Only Emma by Sally Warner, Viking, 2005, 115 pages, $14.99, ISBN 067005979X, Ages 7+ P7 Q6
The likes and dislikes of being an ‘only’ child. Emma, a 3rd grader, shares a week with her cousin, Anthony, at her house. It affects her school day, her friendship with another ‘only’ girl and the consequences of telling a lie. However, everything comes to a nice end. The illustrations are not always pertinent to what is on the page.
Sloppy Copy Slipup by Dyanne DiSalvo, Holiday House, 2006, 103 pages, $16.95, ISBN 0523419479 P – 7 Q – 7
The story takes place in one day to a 4th grader. He fails to have his writing homework assignment done (his teacher refers to this first attempt as “A Sloppy Copy” thus the title).Umpteen things happen (fire drill, trips to the office, etc.) so the teacher cannot really find out why the student doesn’t have his ‘sloppy copy’. Student finally gets to talk with his teacher, telling her most of his excuses except the real one (he preferred to play after dinner). There are three different entries in this book. Fortunately, they are done in different script: child-like printing for student’s thoughts; bold printing for his talking to everyone; regular printing for the story. Illustrations were good.
OLDER BOOKS –
Dragon’s Hoard by Paul Stewart, Simon & Schuster, 2005, 134 pages, $10.00, ISBN 0689872410, Series, A Knight’s Story P – 5 Q – 5 A freelance knight signs on with a Lord traveling to a distant land with his treasures. They must stop over one night at a spot the Lord dislikes. From then on the story is the good knight slaying the hungry dragon, saving the lovely princess, and riding off into the sunset with all the gold. Good pen, brush and ink illustrations throughout.
How To Be The Funniest Kid by Jay Leno, Simon & Schuster, 2005, 140 pages, $13.00, ISBN 1416906312, P – 4 Q – 5
Book full of jokes, jokes, jokes. Plus hints from Jay Leno 1. start by telling other people’s jokes but with a twist. 2. have more than 1 joke to tell. 3. work through the fear of an audience. 4. make your jokes believable for your circumstances. The book is basically boring. But students seem to have a need for joke books for reports or attention.
Summer 2006 Reviews
The Diary of Pelly D., Adlington, L.J.; Greenwillow Books, 2005. 282 pages. Although the setting of Diary is on a different planet, “Home” sometime in the future, don’t let the science fiction elements deter readers from spending time with this fascinating novel. Toni D, a member of a Demolition crew discovers Pelly’s diary during a dig, and, although Rules and Regulations demand he turn it in, Toni reads it instead. Tony discovers he likes Pelly, the most popular girl in her school. Her crisis in the story comes when she must submit to genetic testing only to discover that she is “Galrezi”, the group at the bottom of the social strata. Obviously based on the events leading to the Jews’ resettlement in ghettos and the Holocaust, the author spends too much time on Pelly’s adventures before the genetic testing and too little on how she is affected by the government’s discriminatory policies. The true tragedy isn’t revealed until the end of the novel, which tends to lessen its impact. However, this would be a very good novel to use in connection with classroom discussions about discrimination and the Holocaust itself. Read: 8 Buy: 7/8
The Fattening Hut, Collins, Pat Lowery; Houghton Mifflin, Boston; 2003.
The Fattening Hut is a “coming of age” turned survival novel when Helen is taken to the traditional “fattening hut” to eat until she gains enough weight to be beautiful for her husband-to-be. The fact that this is an arranged marriage troubles Helen, but her concerns turn into fear as it gradually dawns upon her that female circumcision, a “cutting ceremony” is also involved. Fortunately, she is assisted by her outcast aunt, Margaret, to run away into the night. This novel is written in verse, so it is easy on the eyes; so easy, in fact, that less mature readers are likely to miss the motivation behind Helen’s fear. However, all readers will cheer for Helen’s determination to avoid the “cutting” and will also admire her for the difficult choices she must make. While the book could be used in a discussion about other cultures of the world, Pat Lowery Collins has based her story on a collection of tribal traditions and chosen an imaginary setting. I think I would prefer to use it while discussing such issues as “What does it mean to be a hero?” or themes of integrity and love. This is a must buy, but read it before you place it on your library shelves. There are likely to be questions and wonderful discussions to come out of the reading of The Fattening Hut. Read: 9 Buy: 8/9
Shadowmancer, Taylor, G.P.; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2003.
I wish I could say I liked The Shadowmancer; as a matter of fact, during about half of the book, I really did. However, the elements that impressed me in the beginning were lost before I finished reading the trite ending. For example, when several of the characters (Raphah and Thomas, particularly) used references to the Bible, I thought, “My goodness, the author knows his scriptures,” and then I realized the author had just interfered in my reading the story. Many times I was more aware of his speech than that of his characters. Before long the characters were repeating themselves. What had begun as interesting, became boring. Also, unfortunately, the author creates wonderful characters and then just drops them out of sight—Boggles, Varrigals, and all. Worst of all, the plot deals with a man, a minister, no less, who wants to take God’s place in the universe. Many authors have done this tale better. Nevertheless, there was one seriously redeeming theme in the novel. That was the consequences of Demurral’s use of the power he didn’t understand nor truly control. I liked that Pyratheon showed up as a result of Demurral’s behavior and that Riathamus was able to keep his promise. Curious? Then you’ll have to read the book too. Do not purchase this book. Pick up J.K. Rowling’s novels instead. Read: 5/6 Buy: 1/2
Carlson, Ron, The Speed of Light; HarperTempest, New York, 2003.
Many years ago, I accidentally came across a PBS special titled, The Phantom of the Open Hearth, which was evidently revised and produced as the movie, Christmas Story. I love both tales of that magical time between the innocence of childhood and the first steps toward adulthood. Evidently, Carlson does, too, because he’s created a narrative that could be a stand in for The Wonder Years. If a high school teacher had the time, this novel is the one to read aloud to students as demonstration of the magic narrative pieces can/should contain. The story is about three boys: Wit, who is a genius, Larry, the storyteller, and Rafferty, who is half-blind because he refuses to wear his glasses. They live in a working-class neighborhood full of places to explore, backyards to sleep in, and space to conduct experiments (which often end up as opportunities to blow up things). By the end of summer, the boys have changed; for one thing, girls have become important. Nevertheless, the story continues in the reader’s imagination or nostalgia beyond the conclusion of the plot. WONDERFUL! POWERFUL!
To purchase? This book is not for everyone. More mature students will be affected by the stories than younger ones who might be looking for “action” on every page. Read: 10 Buy: 9 (limited audience)
Bloor, Edward, Story Time; Haracourt, Inc., Texas; 2004.
Bloor’s first YA novel, Tangerine, is one of my favorite read-alouds for my sophomores. He missed by a long shot with Crusader, and this time I think he’s nearly gotten back his writing skill. There’s lots to consider here, and that’s the main problem with it. First of all, Bloor tackles an education curriculum made up entirely of tests—a little satire pointed at current events. Next, he’s got Lemony Snicket’s plot characteristics of a series of unfortunate events that happen to the two main characters. Third, he’s tapped into Rowley’s Harry Potter series by including ghosts, and other weird events. Finally, the reader must deal with characters who range from the incredibly egocentric Austin-Whittaker family to the quiet, even agoraphobic Pogo and June. Nevertheless, it was a quick read for a 424-page fantasy. Good action in the plot and well-enough developed characters that the reader can’t help but care what happens to them. Bloor has bitten off more than he could easily chew, but the book is NOT a failure. This is a “should buy” for 6-9th graders. Read: 8 Buy: 8
Earls, Nick, 48 Shades of Brown; Graphia Boston, 1999.
Although 48 Shades of Brown received Australia’s Children’s Book Council Book of the Year, and although it is a coming of age story that would appeal to boys, and although I have raised four sons of my own, I cannot recommend this novel to anyone. The story had to do with Dan, who goes to live with his eccentric Aunt Jacq while his parents leave Australia for a short-term job assignment. At Jacq’s house is Naomi, a very sexy young woman who makes terrible choices when it comes to men. Dan falls in love with her (of course he hasn’t got a chance) and thus tries to memorize the 48 shades of brown in order to get her attention (impress her?) with his knowledge about birds. Dan doesn’t make very good choices either inasmuch as his school buddy is obsessed with pornography. Okay, so maybe this sounds like a typical novel where a young man has to learn to make choices, accept the consequences, and thus mature. However, with all of the 5-star books that have been written, why choose one that Amazon.com readers give only 3-stars to, even as they write about the so-called “humor” and “stream-of-consciousness” writing style? DO NOT BOTHER READING THIS BOOK. IF KIDS/BOYS NEED TO READ SOMETHING OF THIS GENRE, DIRECT THEM TO HOLDEN CAULFIELD’S STORY, WHICH IS A CLASSIC (AND WHICH, BY THE WAY, I ALSO DISLIKE). Read: 0 Buy: -1
Anne Provoost’s In the Shadow of the Ark;
My prejudices: First, as a member of a conservative Christian religion and one who is well-versed in Biblical scripture and other sacred writings, In the Shadow of the Ark was, at times, very difficult for me to read due to the paradigm with which I am familiar. The personalities and behaviors of some of the characters were difficult to accept. Second, I am always cautious about recommending books that have been translated as it is possible that many of the words come from the translator’s voice.
Those items having been acknowledged, I must say that for students today who have few religious attachments, this would probably be an interesting novel. Provoost has taken the four pages of the Bible record and nearly developed them into a Clan of the Cavebear rendition of mankind’s early history. I loved the strength of the women characters. The heroine, Re Jana finds pure water in a burial cave filled with skeletons in the desert, a symbolic reference to the fate of those who are not “righteous.” Her mother, though very ill, is deserving of the respect afforded her. If there is difficulty with the writing, it is that the author seems obsessed with references to the sexual relationship that Re Jana and “Ham” have. Also, the tragic effects of the destruction unleashed by the Nameless god of Noah, is horrific; these dying people, according to Provoost, are not wicked, violent, corrupt or evil. It turns out that the Noah family, though “saved,” are the truly vile characters. An interesting take on history—but not on the Bible. Read: 4/5 Buy: 4
September 2006 Book Reviews C.S. parent volunteer
Nolen, Jerdine. Plantzilla goes to camp. David Catrow. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. $16.95. 978-0-689-86803-0. Unp. Ages 6-11.
A peculiar take on the “going away to camp” story. In this case, Mortimer Henryson is off to his father’s childhood Camp Wannaleaveee . The story is told in very busy, complicated, and bizarre illustrations accompanied by a series of letters and one undeliverable telegram. This tale is difficult to follow. In a nutshell: Boy doesn’t want to leave pet-plant; boy hates camp because of bully roommate; pet plant escapes caretaker and arrives at camp; plant somehow saves the day (we’re not sure HOW); roommate likes pet plant; boy likes roommate. The various print styles would provide a challenge for young readers. P7 Q5
Segal, John. Carrot soup. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2006. $12.95. 978-0-689-87702-5 Unp. Ages 3-8.
Cute beginning when Rabbit plans his carrot garden. He plows and plants, waters and weeds….and waits. When Rabbit goes to harvest his crop all the carrots are missing. An angry looking rabbit asks Mole if he has seen his carrots. Mole doesn’t see very well, so he sends Rabbit to Dog who sends him to Cat… and so on. Turns out the whole menagerie (and then some) surprise Rabbit with his favorite carrot soup – recipe follows. Maybe young children will find this book entertaining; however, I don’t care for it. The illustrations are not right for this book. Rabbit’s hind legs are bothersome and his mean expression while talking to mole is disturbing. P5 Q4
Schlosser, Eric & Charles Wilson. Chew on this: everything you don’t want to know about fast food. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $16.00. 978-0-618-71031-7. 304 p. Ages 13 and up.
Schlosser and Wilson investigate the history and economics in the rise of processed foods. This is an eye-opening look at the toll fast food is taking on: obesity and health; corporate takeovers of free market business; artificial additives (both for animals and people); marketing to the young; targeting the poor; providing cheap employment without regard to safety and quality for employees and consumers alike. This is an easy read in spite of the disturbing reality. Perhaps this should be required reading in high school! This might even make great read aloud and discussion at the middle school level. Internationally fast food restaurants are big contributors to the “homogenization” of the world. The spread of uniformity and conformity across the globe is creating a “McWorld”. We need to reeducate generations on the “cost” of saving time and money! Schlosser and Wilson take some time to give us hope by citing some examples of the power of consumers, and how some folks are making a difference. Alice Water’s “Edible School Yard” is a powerful illustration. Extensive notes and index. I highly recommend this book for purchase and inclusion for middle and high schools and public libraries. P7 Q9.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by N.W retired librarian
Krull, Kathleen. Isaac Newton. Il. Boris Kulikov. [Giants of Science series] Viking, 2006. $15.99. 0-670-05921-8. 126p. Ages 10-14: Known for her heavily illustrated collective biographies in the Lives of… series, Krull has done a fascinating job of delineating the character (mostly unpleasant) of the man known for dropping an apple and figuring out the scientific explanation of gravity. Curious, preoccupied, and obsessive, Newton spent his time not only on scientific examination but also on an attempt to unlock the secret of turning base metals into gold in an alchemy lab. This compelling portrait, set against seventeenth-century England in a time of plague, the Great Fire of London, and two revolutions, shows the man as a product of his parentage, nurture (or the lack thereof), and the world in which he lived. The author’s anecdotes bring the ruthless, bitter man to life as if we had met him. P7Q9
Langley, Andrew. Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Other Natural Disasters. Kingfisher, 2006. $12.95. 0-7534-5975-2. 64p. Ages 10-14: Part of the publisher’s Kingfisher Knowledge series, this book covers the topics of the title as well as volcanoes, storms, floods, tornadoes, snow, drought, fires, and diseases. Obviously it is just an overview, yet some of the statistics (for example, that 2 million people died in Bangladesh) from the floods of 1970 demonstrate the tremendous capacity of nature to destroy humanity. The book is current with even a mention of Hurricane Katrina, and the websites at the end of each chapter will be useful. Lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs, this book will be extremely popular. Lacking are maps to show the locations of the countries although there are maps that show the tectonic plates and the spreading of airborne particles after a volcanic eruption in the Philippines in 1991. This English import will be a useful part of libraries. P8Q7
Todd, Mark and Esther Pearl Watson. Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics. Houghton, 2006. $12.99. 0-618-56315-6. 112p. Ages 13-18: At first look, the book, created entirely with typing (on a typewriter!) and drawings looks impossibly amateurish. Whatever happened to computers?! But delving into the book creates a different impression. As the authors say, zines are “a world where the weird, absurd, and unique is appreciated.” And for teens with a subversive streak, this book will definitely appeal. After an explanation from the authors about why create zines, they offer practical advice on topics such as brainstorming content, physically creating the zine, and marketing a finished product. The smudged, often difficult-to-read pages is faithful to zines’ low-budget trappings to a fault, but the giddy enthusiasm from a variety of zinesters is infectious, and many YA readers will respond to the subculture’s irrepressible indie spirit. P8Q9
Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! Il. Bonnie Timmons. Putnam, 2006. $15.99. 0-399-24491-3. Unp. Ages 7-10: The author of the popular adult book takes commas to young readers with humorous, colored drawings and 14 sets of statements that can each be taken in two ways. Two pages at the end explain the difference in meaning in each pair. Although adults will probably appreciate this book more than young readers, it may make studying the mystical comma palatable. P5Q7 Poetry
Wheeler, Lisa. Castaway Cats. Il. Ponder Goembel. Richard Jackson/Atheneum, 2006. $16.95. 0-689-86232-6. Unp. Ages 5+: Fifteen felines (seven scrawny kittens and eight assorted adults) wash up on a deserted island near Singapore and become a family in their attempts to survive. The characterizations of the full-grown cats are thoroughly–and delightfully–delineated, and the detailed paintings will give hours of joy as the reader searches for all 15 critters in each of the two-page spreads. Wheeler’s and Goembel’s first collaboration was Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea, and an earlier Wheeler picture book is Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta. Copies of her cover art and more information about her books are available at her website http://www.lisawheelerbooks.com. P9Q8
Berry. Lynne. The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat. Il. Luke LaMarca. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $12.95. 1-4188-0211-2. Unp. Ages 4-8: Two dog-lovers have combined their talents to show the true nature on cats–contrary–in this tale of a witch who gives orders to a cat that refuses to obey them. Heavy on repetition, this story will appeal to young people who may want to join in when the cats says “Purr?” followed by an one-word order that is greeted by “GRRRRR.” Lively black-and-white drawings emphasize the ugliness of the witch and the confusion of situations as Cat watches Witch in her ordinary, and extraordinary, duties. The lyrical text is particularly enjoyed aloud as it scans well: “On a pale gray night with a bright full moon….” A fun read as the dark nights grow longer, and the weather grows colder.
Fox, Mem. A Particular Cow. Il. Terry Denton. Harcourt, 2006. $16.00. 0-15-200250-2. Unp. Ages 3-7: On one particular Saturday, when a particular cow took her particular morning walk, a great deal of particular–and very funny–things happened as the cow was blinded by a pair of bloomers and found herself in many particular–and awkward–adventures. Bright, humorous watercolors with whimsical drawings of the particular cow join with the simple text in a book that children will want to hear again and again. P10Q9
Kimble, Warren. The Cat’s Meow. Walker, 2006. $16.95. 0-8027-8078-4. Unp. Ages 2-6 and adult for the art: A catalog of fat cats, each accompanied by a two-word phrase, highlights the author/illustrator’s skill in folk art. Acrylics and paints on distressed wood show these remarkable creatures lounging and posing for the person who appreciates the subject. This is Kimble’s first picture book for the very young who will enjoy the bold, bright pictures and simple, playful text as they learn concepts. Kimble has sold more than two million prints of his art prints, and his popular cat characters have appeared on everything from notepads to wallpaper. This book is a wonderful way to bring folk art to young readers. P8Q10
Knudsen, Michelle. Library Lion. Il. Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick, 2006. $15.99. 0-763-62262-1. Unp. Ages 4-8: How do you follow rules if there aren’t any for a situation? Ignore what’s happening. And that’s what Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, did when a lion wandered into her library, staying for children’s story hour. When the lion learns that he must be quiet, he becomes a part of the library until he roars because Miss Merriweather has fallen and he wants to help her. Miss Merriweather is a delightfully stereotypical librarian with the ability to modify rules as necessary, and the lion is a true charmer. An interesting part for adults is that the library still has a card catalog–no computers anywhere. Soft pastels provide the background for the gentle, yet expressive, acrylics. The length of the tale allows readers to become involved while they admire the creative perspectives of a lion helping in the library. P10Q10
Kontis, Alethea. Alpha Oops! The Day Z Went First. Il. Bob Kolar. Candlewick, 2006. $15.99. 0-7636-27828-3. Unp. Ages 5+: For lovers of alphabet books and all those with names that begin in the last part of the alphabet, this book delightfully shows the rebellion of the letter Z, tired of always being last, as he demands fair and equal treatment. Bright colors and dark, bold print share in this story of squabbling letters jockeying for their place. From “Z is for zebra” to “A is for apple, accident, accordian” (and alphabet as more and more letters pushed the limit of representative words) readers will chuckle over the letters’ different personalities. And in the end, Z apologizes for being pushy, and A accepts the apology. A true joy for read-aloud, plot, manners, graphics, and detail! P10Q10
Ljungkvist, Laura. Follow the Line. Viking, $16.99. 0-670-06049-6. Unp. Ages 3+: The unbroken line begins on the cover and journeys through illustrations of people, traffic, signs, city buildings, animals, fish, ships, and other items familiar to young children before it finishes on the back cover. Truly a stunning tour de force, this innovative storybook, with its frequent question about “how many” encouraging the reader to count the items prompts observation and creativity. The extensive detail expands the differences among similar items; i.e., the kinds of cars. And most fun is following the black line as it travels across the multi-colored sheets of paper used for the background from pink to teal to black. Check out the images of the book at http://www.followtheline.com. P10Q10
Reynolds, Peter H. So Few of Me. Candlewick, 2006. $14.00. 0-7636-2623-6. Ages 6-10: With the current pressure on young people to work harder, this lively book is a refreshing change. Leo has so much to do that he wishes for more of himself and ends up with supervising ten Leos. His conclusion is that he would be better off with just one Leo who had time to dream. This timely offering from the author of The Dot and Ish is also the illustrator of the Judy Moody series and follows the same style of charming illustrated drawings. As Reynolds discovered when he attended a seminar to learn time management, “[Downtime] is where some of the best of life comes from.” P9Q9
Salley, Coleen. Epossumondas Saves the Day. Il. Janet Stevens. Harcourt, 2006. $16.00. 0-15-205701-3. Unp. Ages 6-10: Using the voice of southern Louisiana, this children’s literature professor and professional storyteller brings her lovable possum back in a tale about sody sallyraytus–baking soda to most of us. Combining her talents with those of an award-winning illustrator, she tells of how the possum saves Baby Gator, Auntie, and Mama after they have been swallowed by the Great, Huge, Ugly Louisiana Snapping Turtle. The setting for this whimsical story in Laurel Valley is an actual place, settled in 1785 and America’s largest surviving sugar plantation. P8Q9
Schories, Pat. Jack and the Night Visitors. Front Street, 2006. $13.95. 1-932425-33-0. Unp. Ages 2-6: Great character, setting, and action–without a word–as dog Jack and boy master receive a late-night visit by aliens who appear to be made out of tin cans but decide to leave when the boy tries to trap one. Charming, simple, and “easy to read” by those young readers who cannot read words yet–and by those who can! P8Q8
Stauffacher, Sue. Bessie Smith and the Night Riders. Il. John Holyfield. Putnam, 2006. $16.99. 0-399-24237-6. Unp. Ages 5+: Although she cannot afford a ticket to see the great blues singer Bessie Smith perform, Emmarene listens outside Bessie’s tent–that it, until she bursts into the show to warn the crowd that the Night Riders have come. Bessie marches right outside and confronts the members of the Ku Klux Klan by giving one of her famous low moans that says, “I may be down and out, but I ain’t gonna take it no more.” Based on a true incident, this is a powerful story of facing down danger and standing up for what’s right. Luminous acrylic paintings set a magical stage for this event with vivid illustrations of emotions throughout the terrifying experience. P7Q9
Shulevitz, Uri. So Sleepy Story. Farrar, 2006. $16.00. 0-374-37031-1. Unp. Ages 3-6: Dark, rich blue watercolors introduce the little boy “in a sleepy sleepy house” with “Sleepy chairs by sleepy table sleepy pictures on sleepy walls.” But when the boy falls asleep, he dreams that his house comes alive with dishes that sway, chairs, that rock, and clocks that call “Cuckoo.” As “softly softly music drifts away,” the watercolors change from the alive warm yellows, oranges, and reds back to the sleepy watercolors of the beginning. A delightful bedtime story by a Caldecott Medalist who has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 1963. P9Q9
The Three Witches. Col. Zora Neale Hurston; adpt. Joyce Carol Thomas; il. Faith Ringgold. HarperCollins, 2006. 0-06-000649-8. Unp. Ages 6-10: Three African-American women icons blend their work in this scary tale of three witches who decide to eat two children after having eaten their parents. Their grandmother is first gone and later taking a nap, failing to hear the children crying to be rescued or the dogs that are tied up and cannot help the children. The story, told to Hurston by “domestic” Hattie Reeves, was first published in Every Tongue Got to Confess, Hurston’s third volume of folklore collection. The vibrant, dark paintings follow the folklore tradition, simply outlined with white and strong colors. Scary can be fun as shown by paintings of the witches teeth lower than their lips and the black-and-white snake that slaps Grandma across with face so that she will wake up. “By that time I left,” concludes the book, a Caribbean-flavored expression meaning “The End.” P10Q10
Walker, Alice. There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me. Il. Stefano Vitale. HarperCollins, 2006. 0-06-027080-6. Unp. All Ages: Glowing colors and folklike art bring the perspective of the outside work involving the reader, not vice versa. The sunrise praises my skin, the ocean swims me, the dog’s leash holds me–these and other concepts invite the reader to see the world from a different point of view while enjoying the beauty of the radiant images that accompany this joyous celebration of the connections and inter-connections between self, nature, and creativity. P9Q9
Holm, Jennifer and Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Beach Babe. Random, 2006. $5.95. 0-375-8231-9. 96p. Ages 5-8: In the third of this series, our intrepid heroine spends her vacation fantasizing (as she always does!) about being a surfer, a mermaid, and an African explorer. But along the way she rejects her baby brother and must find him when he decides to run away. Babymouse has big dreams and an even bigger heart when she settles into understanding the world around her. The broadly-drawn black and white comics highlighted with varying shades of pink are like chocolate: you can’t get enough of them! As Booklist says about the series, “Breathless pacing and clever flights of. . .imagination.” P10Q8
Abrahams, Peter. Behind the Curtain. HarperCollins, 2006. $15.99. 0-06-073704-2. 346p. Ages 12+: With series mysteries so popular for adults now, more authors for young readers are using this genre. In this novel, the second in the series, eighth-grader Ingrid tries to save her grandfather’s farm from being repossessed only to find herself kidnapped only to find herself kidnapped. Determined to find the people who did it, while protecting her brother from being arrested for using steroids, she finds herself in danger again. Good, clean writing and interesting characterization combine with the suspense for a fun read. P8Q8
Avi. Crispin at the Edge of the World. Hyperion, 2006. $16.99. 0-7868-5152-X. 234p. Ages 11-15: It’s been far too long since the first of this series, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, won the Newbery Award. But the wait has been worth it. The story of an orphan and Bear, the enormous red-bearded juggler who cares for him, follows the two after Bear is released from prison and becomes a suspect of the revolutionaries in 1377 England. This time their escape takes them to sea and beyond, once again in great danger and violence. With its excitement and diverse cast of characters, this book is not to be missed.
Cazet. Denys. Minnie and Moo, Wanted Dead or Alive. HarperCollins, 2006. $15.99. 0-06-073010-2. 48p. Ages 4-8: Those who read these reviews regularly know how much I like this beginning chapter book series about two naive cows, always getting into and then out of trouble. This latest is better than many as the two sisters set out to save the farm from financial ruin by asking the bank for money. The confusion between their appearance and actions and those of the dreaded Bazooka Sisters, famous bank robbers, results in more antics, again using the farmer’s tractor and the cows’ ingenuity. As Kirkus Reviews states: “The two funniest, most winsome cows on the early-reading circuit have to be Minnie and Moo. Deceptively sophisticated artwork and lively language make this a joy for new readers to tackle.” P9Q8
Cooper, Susan. Victory. McElderry, 2006. $16.95. 1-4169-1477-3. 196p. Ages 9-13: Two lives from different times converge when 11-year-old Molly Jennings moves from England to the United States and buys an old book about Admiral Lord Nelson. This time-shifting adventure tells the interwoven stories of Sam Robbins, a powder monkey aboard HMS Victory, who is kidnaped at eleven years old by the “press gang” to serve in the Royal Navy. As usual, Cooper brings to life the characters as the reader experiences the rowdy, dangerous world of a 100-gun warship enduring the Napoleonic Wars and the pain suffered when a young girl is up-rooted from her home to move with her newly-married mother to a foreign land. P7Q9
Downer, Ann. The Dragon of Never-Was. Atheneum, 2006. $16.95. 0-689-85571-0. Ages 10-14: In Hatching Magic, 12-year-old Theodora Oglethorpe was caught up in a magical whirlwind of dragons, spells, and wizards. Now, in this sequel, she wants to forget all of it as she travels with her biologist father from their home in the United States to the Scottish island of Scornsay where he has been called to study a scale believed to be from a previously unknown species. Once again, Theodora is caught up in a magical world, and, once again, it is her responsibility to save her friends from black magic. Funny, witty, and richly imagined while filled with eccentric characters and good friends, this book doesn’t need the sequel to be enjoyable and understandable, but readers will want the first one as well. More introspective than the first, the fantasy shows Theodora confronting her own magical heritage as she must decide on a direction for her life. P7Q8
Ferguson, Alane. The Christopher Killer. Sleuth/Viking, 2006. $15.99. 0-670-06008-9. 274p. Ages 13+: The first of a mystery series in a new imprint features 17-year-old Cameryn Mahoney, who becomes an assistant to her father, the county coroner in southwest Colorado because of her extensive forensic knowledge. If you can get beyond this unrealistic approach, the book becomes a fun, sometimes exciting read. Cameryn sees her first autopsy, fighting with the cantankerous medical examiner–and winning. Following her reasoning as she trails the killer of her friend provides a good beginning for the series from this prolific author. A good buy, especially when it comes out in paperback. P8Q8
Fletcher, Susan. Alphabet of Dreams. Atheneum, 2006. $16.95. 0-69-85042-5. 294p. Ages 12+: Once wealthy royalty, Mitra and her 5-year-old brother, Babak, become beggars and thieves in order to survive in the city of Rhagae after their father’s ill-fated plot against the evil tyrant King Phraates. Disguised as a boy, Mitra is forced to sell her brother’s prophetic dreams to make money so they can be reinstated in their former position. Fletcher has told a spellbinding adventure that leads to the experiences of the three Magi heading toward the birth of the new King of Jews, one which continues after they follow the star and find the babe. The color of the caravansaries and the heat of the desert combined with Mitra’s struggle make this a fascinating read. Fletcher’s earlier books include the Dragon Chronicles and Shadow Spinner. P7Q9
Howe, James. Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow. Il. Eric Fortune. ginee seo books/Atheneum, 2006. $15.95. 0-684-04665-2. 136p. Ages 8-12: Harold, the beloved elderly dog who writes about the vampire rabbit, has returned with another manuscript, this time chronicling the visit of a young adult author who writes horror novels. The characters stay the same: bouncy, puppy Howie, who loves to read the novels; cool, suspicious Chester, who fits the cat stereotype; almost adolescent Pete, who still fights with his younger brother and who invited the author to visit them after winning a school contest; and the clueless Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, who never have understood the cute bunny’s problem. It’s been seven years since the last Bunnicula story, far too long. Young readers will enjoy the satire of school contests and the personification of the pets. P9Q8
Klise, Kate. Regarding the Bathrooms; a Privy to the Past. Il. M. Sarah Klise. Harcourt, 2006. $15.00. 0-15-20516403. 144p. Ages 10-13: The students of Geyser Creek Middle School (MO) have returned to solve another mystery, this time the whereabouts of escaped convicts Sally Mander and Dee Eel and the missing Roman artifacts from England. As the six intrepid detectives enroll in summer school, they find themselves interns to different people in the community such as the newspaper editor, the principal, the sheriff, the mayor, and the director of the historical society. As always many puns abound through the emails, letters, articles, calendars, memos, posters, and other types of writing that provide the story. And as you might expect, there’s a certain amount of bathroom humor. P7Q8
Koss, Amy Goldman. Side Effects. Roaring Brook, 2006. $16.95. 1-59643-167-9. 143p. Ages 11+: First-person narration from 15-year-old Izzy chronicles her life from the discovery of her stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma through six sessions of chemo with a paragraph telling of her whereabouts several years later after she becomes cancer-free. The writing seems fairly realistic for a person of her age, complete with over-reactions and selfishness, and the descriptions of her health situation and response to the chemo treatments appears genuine. Koss has made none of her characters likeable, especially the mother who thinks only of herself. The ending is abrupt and unbelievable, perhaps because the author intended to write a book about a character with cancer who doesn’t die at the end. She might have done it a bit more gracefully. Young readers will find the book interesting and maybe not see the flaws that I have. P7Q6
Le Guin, Ursula K. Voices. Harcourt, 2006. $17.00. 0-15-205678-5. 341p. Ages 12+: The winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her lifetime contribution to young adult literature has written a sequel to Gifts, in the Annals of the Western Shore. Seventeen-year-old Memer is instrumental in freeing her war-torn homeland from oppressive captors. In a land reminiscent of the Middle East, a beautiful, peaceful city of traders and scholars had been conquered 17 years before by men of the desert who believe reading and writing to be evil acts, punishable by death. It is the arrival of a poet and his wife with their lion that begins the change. Powerful characterization and magical plot twists create a memorable tale about the viciousness of the ignorant, bent on war and destruction–a lesson for today. P7Q9
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Alice in the Know. Atheneum, 2006. $15.95. 0-689-87092-2. 277p. Ages 12+: For those who have followed the events in this girl’s life since elementary school after her mother died, here is the 20th volume about the girl who has been raised by her father and older brother. Alice is now going to be a junior so she wants a summer job. The reality check of what working means, her copying with a good friend’s serious illness and her brother’s romantic problems lead up to her visit to her dying grandfather. As always, Alice is real, and her problems are those of many girls her age. Obviously, this will be a must for those young readers like Ellie who says, “Please, please, please, I’m begging, never EVER stop writing them!!!!!!!” P8Q7
Ruby, Lois. Shanghai Shadows. Holiday, 2006. $16.95. 0-8234-1960-6. 284p. Ages 12+: This novel about Jewish refugees during World War II takes an unusual twist as a Jewish family struggles to survive in occupied China. Strong characterization show the musician father who wants only to save his beloved violin, the harsh mother who works to keep the family together and connected to the past, the pessimistic older brother who joins the resistance, and the optimistic Ilse who also insists on being a part of the effort to annoy the Japanese occupiers. Ruby’s storytelling is so clear and powerful that one believes it could be true. The narrative shows the difference that each tried to make in an environment almost totally devoid of everyday necessities. P7Q9
Sachar, Louis. Small Steps. Delacorte, 2006. $16.95. 0-385-73314-3. 257p. Ages 12-15: One of the characters in Sachar’s award-winning Holes re-emerges in this coming-of-age story. Armpit wants to turn his life around, and a buddy from Camp Green Lake, X-Ray, comes back into his life and almost ruins it by involving him in a scam to buy tickets to a teen pop concert and then re-sell them. The reader is treated to Armpit’s struggle to do well in school and at his job, his gentleness as he befriends a younger neighbor with cerebral palsy, and his attempt to prove to his parents that he has changed for the better. The humor of Holes is missing, and many of the premises seem false; i.e., the teen pop sensation falling for him and then his willingness to let her go without much pain. Armpit almost seems too good; it’s hard to accept his character. (The publisher may have felt the same way because this book does not have the same publisher as Holes.) But readers of Holes will enjoy this, and it’s worth keeping in the library. P7Q7
Zarr, Sara. Story of a Girl. Little, 2006. $16.99. 0-316-01453-2. 192p. Ages 12+: Deanna has carried the title of “school slut” for almost three years since her father caught her with Tommy, her brother’s supposed friend, in the back of an old Buick. During that time she has not dated, and her father has not spoken directly to her. The last day of her sophomore year has given her some freedom as she sets out to find a job to make money so that she can follow her dream of finding an apartment with her older brother, his wife, and his child. Much to her surprise, however, she finds Tommy works at the same sleazy pizza place where she has found a job. This first-person narrative follows Deanna from desperation at living with her unhappy parents who have become even more upset with sheltering the older brother and his family through an understanding of Tommy and the other people around her. Along the way she loses her best friend–and then gains her back again–when she kisses the friend’s boyfriend, also Deanna’s friend. This is a simple, clear book of relationships and young people trying to find their way to adulthood despite desperate circumstances and obstacles. An excellent book, especially for a first novel. P8Q9
Amelia Bloomer Project List: Feminist Books for Young Readers Nominations: Summer 2006
The Abortion Rights Movement. Ed. Meghan Powers. Greenhaven, 2006. 0-7377-1947-8. 154p. Ages 10-14: Women’s struggle to control their reproductive rights–and their bodies–is shown through a collection of documents covering the history of the women’s rights movement as it pertains to their right to have an abortion. The authors of this collection of 18 speeches, essays, book excerpts, conference transcripts, etc. form a who’s who of experts and feminists in the field, showing the world that we are re-entering with the increasing restrictions in the United States.
Attebury, Nancy Garhan. Gloria Steinem: Champion of Women’s Rights. [Signature Lives Series] Compass Point Books, 2006. 0-7565-1587-4. 111p. Ages 8-13: From Playboy bunny to a founder of Ms. magazine, Steinem has seen much of our word through her feminist eyes. One of a series of biographies of people in modern America, this features its subject through photographs, many of them in color, maps, and drawings with inviting large print, short chapters, timeline, and detailed index.
Ball, Heather. Remarkable Women Writers. [The Women’s Hall of Fame Series] Second Story Press, 2006. $7.95. 1-897187-08-4. 120p. Ages 8-13: Profiles of ten American and English wordsmiths show how each made history, each in her own uniquely creative way. From Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling, each of these women persisted against all odds to realize a dream although not all their dreams may have been feminist. Some, like George Eliot and Jane Austen, had to pretend that they were men in order to get published. Others, like Toni Morrison and Joy Kogawa, were forced to deal with discrimination not only against women but also against their cultures. Even Judy Blume and J.K. Rowling were challenged by schools that tried to ban their books.
Bennett, Holly. The Bonemender. Orca Book Publishers, 2005. $8.95. 1-55143-336-2. 203p. Ages 12-15: Adventure and romance follow Gabrielle, a healer who tries to save her royal father in war and falls in love with the “elf” who helps protect her country, a relationship that might be disastrous for her. Although the young men and women are impossibly handsome and beautiful in this fantasy, the story is compelling and the female characters are no doormats.
Brashich, Audrey. All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype…and Celebrating Real Beauty. Il. Shawn Banner. Walker, 2006. $9.95; 0-8027-7744-9. $16.95; 0-8027-8074-1. 157p. Ages 10-15: From a disillusioned ex-model comes this advice for girls about not getting sucked into the concept of beauty and behavior provided through the media and pop culture. The layout sometimes makes the text hard to read, and the message occasionally is delivered in a superficial manner. Yet the activist-author uses a breezy, funny manner that may appeal to the girls who need to break free from the cult of celebrity. (I’m guessing that she might be preaching only the choir, but we can always have hope!)
Brisson, Pat. Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair. Il. Suzanne Bloom. Boyds Mill, 2006. $15.95. 1-59078-409-9. Unp. Ages 6-8: Despite the beauty of her hair, Melissa wants to be known for more than just that and searches hard until she finds just the right thing to do. Her decision to sacrifice her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer, shows a remarkable way to empower other children.
Carter, Ally. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. Hyperion, 2006. $15.99. 1-4231-003-4. 284p. Ages 12+: Little does anyone know that the Gallagher Academy, an expensive private school in the South, teaches advanced martial arts and the latest in chemical warfare in science with extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. Seen through the eyes of sophomore Cammie Morgan, who has fallen in love with an ordinary boy, the humorous capers in the book who her trying to have a relationship without the faculty knowing what she’s doing and without having the boy know about the school’s curriculum. Funny, quick, and surprisingly non-stereotypic.
Dell, Pamela. Wilma Mankiller: Chief of the Cherokee Nation. [Signature Lives series] Compass Point Books, 2006. 0-7965-1600-5. 111p. Ages 8-13: Born into poverty, Mankiller reached the highest position in tribal politics despite grave health problems and physical accidents. This is the same format (and series) as Attebury’s Gloria Steinem.
Durbin, William. El Lector. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. $15.95. 0-385-74651-2. 195p. Ages 11-14: Thirteen-year-old Bella’s desire to be a lector like her grandfather, reading to the workers at the cigar factory, are first slim because she is not a man and then possibly dashed when the position is eliminated during the Depression, but then Bella hears a radio program. An excellent view of the American-Cuban culture, this novel features a protagonist who fights the narrow role of women during the 1930s and saves her family from financial disaster through her creative approach to her dreams.
Durrant, Lynda. My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier. Clarion Books, 2006. $16.00. 0-618-57498-5. 199p. Ages 12-15: The first time that Jennie Hodgers puts on boys’ clothes, it’s because she has to, but she never wants to take them off again, not during the Civil War and not for the almost 50 years following until her masquerading as a man is discovered. Carefully researched and perceptively told, this novel, based on the life of a real “petticoat soldier”–shows the discrimination against women during the 19th century and how one woman could overcome them–by pretending to be a man. Thoughtful and compelling.
Englar, Mary. Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan Prime Minister and Activist. [Signature Lives series] Compass Point Books, 2006. 0-7565-1578-5. 111p. Ages 8-13: Whether in exile or leading her people, Bhutto is an outspoken advocate of democracy and human rights, becoming the first woman to head an elected government in an Islamic nation after her release from prison. An excellent biography from the Modern World part of this series; see Attebury’s Gloria Steinem for more information.
Fradin, Judith Bloom and Dennis Brindell Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. Clarion, 2006. $21.00 0-618-50436-2. 212p. Ages 10-14: Born into privilege, Jane Addams (1860-1935) pursued a life of humanitarian efforts (women’s suffrage, civil rights, pacifism, etc.) extending the world over, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Both the text and the illustrations (primarily photographs) personalize the life of this amazing woman who opened a settlement house called Hull House to help people in poverty and who helped found the NAACP. She followed her heart no matter how hated she might have been for some of her beliefs.
Haugen, Brenda. Jane Goodall: Legendary Primatologist. [Signature Lives series] 0-7565-1590-4. 111p. Ages 8-13: Before she founded a conservation organization to encourage the improvement of the environment for all living things, Goodall provided research that changed many beliefs about chimpanzees. Part of the Modern World books, this follows the format of Attebury’s Gloria Steinem.
Haynes, Diane. Flight or Fight. [Jane Ray’s Wildlife Rescue Series] Walrus Books, 2005. $6.95. 1-55283-638-5. 284p. Ages 12-15: After rescuing a drowning seabird from an oil spill in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, Jane Ray is so angry that she loses her shyness in front of national television cameras, an act that leads her to the excitement and challenge of rehabilitating rescued creatures and fighting the corporation that caused the spill. The novel is a fun read about how several young people get together to solve a mystery and force the guilty parties to accept responsibility. First in a series about Jane Ray.
Hopping, Lorraine Jean. Bone Detective: The Story of Forensic Anthropologist Diane France. [Women’s Adventures in Science series] Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2005. 0-531-26776-3. 188p. Ages 9-12: A little girl growing up in a Colorado town of about 800 people becomes one of the world’s most noted scientists, traveling to far places to study murders, mass disasters, and fatal accidents of people now and in the past. One of her most famous cases was to determine if Anastasia, the daughter of a Russian czar, was in the grave discovered almost a century after the family was butchered.
Hotchkiss, Ron. The Matchless Six: The Story of Canada’s First Women’s Olympic Team. Tundra Books, 2006. $16.95. 0-88776-738-9. 194p. Ages 11-15: When Canada’s first women’s Olympic team headed to Amsterdam in 1928, these six heroines made history. The author not only shows the hard work that these women endured to become successful but also the discrimination against women in the early modern Olympics because of their perceived “weaknesses.” An inspiring and joyful look at what women have achieved in the 20th century.
Lakin, Patricia. Abigail Adams: First Lady of the American Revolution. Il. Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin. (Ready-to-Read, Level 3) Aladdin, 2006. $3.99. 0-689-87032-9. 48p. Ages 6-8: While men left their families to be politicians during Colonial times, the women ran the country, maintaining businesses and making decisions about education, finances, and land. The wife of U.S.’s second president, John Adams, was one of the strongest of these women; she managed the farm and family while John lived much of his time in France. She was the one who wrote, “I desire you would Remember the Ladies. . . . Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.” Sadly he ignored her, and husbands had the “unlimited power” until 1920.
Moranville, Sharelle Byars. A Higher Geometry. Henry Holt, 2006. $16.95. 0-8050-7470-8. 212p. Ages 11-14: In the 1950s, girls are expected to get married and have children; Anna Conway, a natural math talent, wants to leave her small town for college. Although the relationship between Anna and boyfriend Mike is so gentle and understanding that it’s not to be believed in modern times, the novel is an excellent look at the importance of following dreams.
Nyoka, Gail. Mella and the N’Anga. Sumach Press, 2005. 1-894549-49-X. 159p. Ages 9-13: In the time that Zimbabwe was known as the Land of the People, Mella’s father, the King, lies gravely ill, and she is the only one who can save him. With the land overcome by drought and threatened by the unrest among the warrior tribes of the kingdom, the Great N’Anga, a powerful figure, returns to teach Mella the skills to accomplish her task. A wonderful African fantasy of female bravery and sensitivity in a return to a matriarchal society.
Oppenheim, Joanne. Dear Miss Breed. Scholastic, 2006. $22.99. 0-439-56992-3. 287p. Ages 12+: When the United States incarcerated more than 120,000 Japanese who lived on the West Coast, many of them citizens, during World War II, librarian Clara Breed continued to make a difference in her “children’s” lives as she kept contact with the young Japanese by sending them letters, books, and other gifts to them in their camps. Miss Breed was a quiet feminist who tried to make life better for young people not only through personal contact but also by publishing articles about the injustice of the government’s actions. She showed that “one person can make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of other people” by fighting “injustice through the power of words and small, but constant, acts of kindness.”
Page, Cristina. How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics, and the War on Sex. Basic Books/Perseus, 2006. $24.00. 0-465-05489-7. 236p. Ages 15+: The anti-choice movement is trying to criminalize all forms of birth control for women as shown in the research, including interviews with movement leaders on both sides of the abortion battle. An eye-opener that shows why women cannot get insurance for contraception and prescriptions filled for emergency contraception. Vital for all women of childbearing years because they have never lived in a time when abortion and contraception were illegal.
Parks, Deborah. Nature’s Machines: The Story of Biomechanist Mimi Koelh. [Women’s Adventures in Science Series] Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2005. 0-531-16780-1. 118p. Ages 10-14: Battling resistance from her family and peers in the field, Koehl became one of the foremost scientists in the United States, continuing to do research in the field as she teaches at the University of California at Berkley. The biography is not only a fascinating look at a person who persevered over obstacles such as dyslexia but also a clear description of biomechanics, using the laws of physics to study how living things move around in their environments and how they interact with the water or air that surrounds them.
Patterson, Romaine, with Patrick Hinds. The Whole World Is Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard. Advocate Books, 2006. $24.95. 1-5583-901-0. 289p. Ages 15+: After young gay Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, the author of this book formed a group of “angels” who surrounded the bigoted Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, when he and a small group picketed outside the killer’s trial with such signs as “Matthew in Hell”; this is the autobiography of the young woman who conceived and carried out the idea.
Schroeder, Lucinda Delaney. A Hunt for Justice: The True Story of a Woman Undercover Wildlife Agent. The Lyons Press, 2006. $21.95. 1-59228-882-0. 270p. Ages 15+: When Schroeder infiltrates a camp of clandestine, unscrupulous hunting outfitters that is illegally killing game animals in the heart of Alaska, she enters a man’s world to put her life on the line. The book describes the gender discrimination in her career as well as the way that she traveled to Europe to obtain information from witnesses that won the trial for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sheth, Kathmira. Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet. Hyperion, 2006. $15.99. 0-7868-3857-4. 249p. Ages 12-15: With Jeeta’s family caught up in the traditional eastern Indian activity of arranging marriages for her two older sisters, she wants the love and romance rather than the pattern required by her family. The novel gives a good comparison of Jeeta’s traditional family life and that of her new school friend, Sarina, and Sarina’s educated, liberal parents. It is this relationship plus falling in love with Sarina’s cousin Neel that shows Jeeta she must strike a balance between independence and duty. Another interesting piece to the mix is the domestic violence that Jeeta’s older sister endures in America before Jeeta encourages her to come home to Mumbai, India. This is far less rambling that Sheth’s earlier Blue Jasmine.
Shinn, Sharon. The Dream-Maker’s Magic. Viking, 2006. $16.99. 0-670-06070-4. 261p. Ages 12+: Twelve-year-old Kellen has lived her entire life as a boy because her mother insisted that she was not a girl; during the next four years, she attends school, meets a most unusual male friend, and becomes independent with her job as she finds her identity as a strong, focused female. Shinn shows the gender inequality in this mythical kingdom where the person with the most power, next to the queen, is the Dream-Maker. An interesting look at a world in which a person moves from one gender to another, showing the advantages of being a male.
Skelton, Renee. Forecast Earth: The Story of Climate Scientist Inez Fung. [Women’s Adventure in Science series] Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2005. 0-531-16777-1. 116p. Ages 9-12: Predicting the future of the earth, with its danger from global warming, is the focus of this woman who grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the United States for her education and career. An interesting look at prejudice against girls internationally.
Stauffacher, Sue. Bessie Smith and the Night Riders. Il. John Holyfield. Putnam, 2006. $16.99. 0-399-24237-6. Unp. Ages 5+: Although she cannot afford a ticket to see the great blues singer Bessie Smith perform, Emmarene listens outside Bessie’s tent–that it, until she bursts into the show to warn the crowd that the Night Riders have come. Bessie marches right outside and confronts the members of the Ku Klux Klan by giving one of her famous low moans that says, “I may be down and out, but I ain’t gonna take it no more.” Based on a true incident, this is a powerful story of facing down danger and standing up for what’s right. Luminous acrylic paintings set a magical stage for this event with vivid illustrations of emotions throughout the terrifying experience.
Sullivan, George. Berenice Abbott: Photographer: An Independent Vision. Clarion, 2006. $20.00. 0-618-44026-7. 170p. Ages 12+: From her early years in the bohemian communities of Paris and New York’s Greenwich Village through her time as teacher, writer, inventor, and photographic archivist to her last work in the quiet countryside of Maine, Abbott passed through a variety of photographic styles–portraits, cityscapes, scientific subjects, and scenery–all as a proponent of photographic realism. Her recollections add a fascinating perspective on her experience as a pioneer, both as a woman in a male-dominated profession and as a creative genius during her 93 years as she changed the face of American photography.
Timberlake, Amy. That Girl Lucy Moon. Hyperion, 2006. $15.99. 0-7868-5298-4. 294p. Ages 10-14: Activist Lucy Moon questions her protesting the unfairness in the world around her when she becomes a scapegoat and her parents are separated, but she learns that one person really can make a difference in fighting injustice. An original character in a book that shows true friendship, developing personalities, and the need to constantly revise opinions. Great!
Williams, Susan. Wind Rider. HarperCollins, 2006. $16.99. 0-06-087236-5. 308p. Ages 12+: In a 4000 B.C. society in which males are considered superior to females, teenager Fern gains freedom and help for her tribe when she secretly rescues a young mare and tames her enough to ride. The book very clearly shows the inequalities between the sexes and the ways in which Fern establishes a leadership position by providing food for her family and showing the rest of the tribe how to hunt using horses instead of eating them.
Winthrop, Elizabeth. Counting on Grace. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. $15.95. 0-385-74644-X. 232p. Ages 10-14: Wanting to go to school, 12-year-old Grace and her best friend, Arthur, are forced into working in the mill in 1920 Vermont before a reformer with a camera finds his way into their lives. Although there are several novels about girls who work in the mills, this has the best description of the drudgery and physical harm that they endured. The photographer in the story actually existed, and two of his photographs are reproduced in the book. As always, Winthrop (The Castle in the Attic) know how to spin a story, and Grace is a memorable character.
September 2006 – Book Reviews – C.B.
Budhos, Marina, Ask me no question, Antheneum Books For Young Readers, New York, 2006, 159 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1-4169-0351-8, Gr. 7+, P8, Q9 After the September 11, attack on America the world changed dramatically for all Americans. To secure our safety President Bush formed the Department of Homeland Security. This organization has been clouded in mystery ever since. This book not only gives us brief glances into the workings of this department but also in to the suffering that illegal aliens in the United States face today. The story is told through Nadira, a 14 year-old Muslim girl, here on an expired visa from Bangladesh. Seeking refuge in Canada here family tries to cross the border only to be turned back to the USA where her father is taken into custody and detained. The story that follows is tells the tale of what it is like to be an illegal alien in the U.S. today.
Collins, Suzanne, Gregor and the marks of secret, Scholastic Press, New York, 2006, 343 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0-439-79145-6. Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8 The continuing adventure in this the 4th book of the series the Underland Chronicles, finds Gregor visiting the city beneath New York City where he must help find and defend the mice against the rat army. This book will appeal to young readers who have read the other stories in this series.
Cooney, Caroline, Hit the road, Delacorte Press, New York, 2006, 183 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0-385-72944-8, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 10, 15 year-old Brittany (Briti) is to stay with her 86 year-old grandmother, Nannie, while her parents leave for an Alaskan cruise. As soon as Briti’s family leaves up pulls a van which her grandmother is going to drive. Only thing is her grandmother is too short to reach the pedals or to see over the top of the steering wheel. So Brittany is drawn into her grandmother’s adventure which includes a kidnapping, a college reunion and driving a car illegally. I loved this book, I laughed and cried and could not wait to see how this adventure would end. This book will appeal to both middle and high school students.
Dhami, Narinder, Bangra Babes, Delacorte Press, USA, 2005, 185 pgs, $14.95, ISBN:0-385-73318-6, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7, This the third book in which the Dhillon sisters now are facing the wedding of their Auntie, who came from India three years before to help take of care of her three poor motherless nieces. The three, Jazz, Amber and Geena, now must face life without their interfering Auntie who has filled their lives the culture and traditions of India as they have brought their own spice of life to their aunt. Young readers will laugh at the further antics of these three sisters and the wedding that they want to be perfect for their aunt.
Di Fiori, Larry, Jackie and the shadow snatcher, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006, unp, $15.95, ISBN:0-375-87515-8, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 7, Using black and white pencil drawings that look like they were from the 1920’s the author, Di Fiori, tells the tale of a young boy Jackie who must find his stolen shadow. This graphic novel while aimed at a younger audience will be well received by teachers who are looking for such characters as the all wise Socrates and a style of writing reminiscent of early comic books.
Engdahl, Sylvia, Journey between worlds, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1970, 2006, 230 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:0-399-24532-4, Gr. 6+, P 6, Q 7, This Oregonian author wrote this book originally in 1970 and has revised this book to be more relevant to today’s women in regards to marriage and careers. 18 year-old Melinda Ashley and her father take a trip to the remote colony on Mars leaving behind her boy friend Ross, her Grandmother in Oregon and her plans to be a teacher. Here life on Mars will grip the imagination of young readers who dream of a future in space too.
Gratz, Alan, Samurai shortstop, Dial Books, New York, 2006, 280 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:0-8037-3075-6, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9, I loved this book as it gave me the reader a clearer view of the emergence of Japan into the modern world in 1890. Toyo is a 14 years-old when his Uncle Koji commits Seppuku and plays a part in the ceremony in Tokyo, Japan. Toyo father to is going to commit Seppuku but before doing so he must teach Toyo how to be a Samurai. Toyo comes to understand his uncle’s death and his father more as his progress towards becoming a Samurai. He also applies what he has learned to the game of baseball and to his team as they face the American team in a baseball game.
Haddix, Margaret, Among the free, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, 194 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:0-689-85798-5, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8, This is the final book in the shadow children series and I find myself regretting this but also celebrating it too. The reader finds Luke, an outlawed third child, being sent out to change I.D. badges at a local town. Here he is ordered to shot an old woman who refuses to obey an order from the population police and Luke refuses to shot her. He instead runs away and hides and then finds that all the populace is standing up to the police and finally over throws them. The reader both middle and high school students who have followed this series will love this final book too.
Hart, Lenore, The Treasure of savage island, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2006, 275 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:0-525-47092-1, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9, This story is an adventure story packed full of pirates and buried treasure, friendship and runaway slaves. Set on a small island off the Virginia coast, following the Civil War, 15 year-old Molly Savage helps a runaway slave, Rafe from North Carolina, find freedom. Along the way however they must face brutal pirates, the British Navy, prejudice and the evil owner of the Hog’s Head Tavern, Mrs. Pruitt. They are all seeking the hidden treasure hidden on Savage Island during the revolutionary war. Middle school age students will love this fast paced story.
Hostetter, Joyce, Blue, Calkins Creek Books, 2006, 197 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1-59078-389-1, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8, Ann Fay is 13 years old when her father leaves the small farm in Hickory, North Carolina to fight over seas during World War II. Ann Fay and her family struggle just to make ends meet and to put food on the table. Ann Fay’s little brother, Bobby, is hit by the Polio epidemic and dies from the disease. Ann Fay have nothing left of him as they had to burn all his belongings and drawings to prevent any one from catching the disease. Polio does hit the family again and it is Ann Fay who catches it. The story that follows shows the difficult struggle that Polio victims faced and the scare that family’s faced when cases were reported in their area. While I found the cover to be boring the story inside the cover is one that I hope middle and high school age students will read.
Ibbotson, Eva, The star of Kazan, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2004, 405 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0-525-47347-5, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9, It’s early 20th century Vienna and Annika is being claimed by a mother who abandon her as baby. Annika has been adopted by Ellie and Sigrid who are cook and housemaid to eccentric professors and they have raised her in a loving if somewhat confusing household. She befriends an old lady next door who in turn leaves her trunk full of beautiful jewels, which Annika thinks are paste jewels. This beautiful woman who claims Annika takes her to Germany where with the profits from the profits from the jewels turns her crumbling estate around and Annika is placed in a home for rich girls whom study how to be proper women. It is in truth a horrible place where Annika must escape from. This adventure full of suspense is filled with a troupe of loveable characters who bring this tale to life.
Kochka, The boy who ate stars, translated by Sarah Adams, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2002, 2004, 273 pgs., $12.95, ISBN:1-169-0038-1, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8, Lucy is 12 when her parents move to Paris, France and she meets Matthew a 4 year-old autistic boy in her apartment building. Lucy and her friend Theo befriend Matthew and come to see the world through the eyes of this dynamic young boy. Any teacher planning a health unit on children with special needs this is book that must be real aloud. High school and middle school age students will love this book.
Lisle, Janet, Black duck, Philomel Books/Sleuth, New York, 2006, 252 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0-399-23963-4, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 10, David wants to be a journalist, but is only 14, when he meets grumpy old Ruben Hart who has a secret in his past. David wants to write his story so that it can be published in the local paper. So through a series of interviews the story is reveiled and a friendship grows. It’s 1929, prohibition is in full swing and the boat called Black Duck is running rum into the shores of Newport, Rhode Island. Ruben and his friend Jeddy find a body on the shores and report it to Jeddy’s father, the chief of police. When they return the body is gone and a mystery begins. Using actual newspaper clippings, this fact based story will draw older readers to this mystery adventure story.
Nuzum, K. A., A small white scar, Joanna Colter Books, New York, 2006,180 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0-06-075639-X, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 9, Denni and Will are 15 year-old twins who live on a ranch in Colorado with their father. Will has had to take care of his disabled twin ever since his mother had passed away seven years before. Now 16 Will dreams of a life away from Denni and the ranch. He dreams of going to the rodeo and winning big and getting a job on another ranch. Told through narrative of Will this adventure takes Will to the rodeo at La Junta on his horse, Deep, and with Denni following him. Middle and high school students who are studying relationships or disabled people will enjoy this book.
Ray, Delia, Singing hands, Clarion Books, New York, 2006, 248 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0-618-65762-2, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7, Gussie loves to hum in church during her father’s sermons, after all no one can hear her, for this is a church for the deaf. It’s 1948 and a hearing person is visiting her father’s church, in Birmingham, Alabama, and tells her father. Now she and her sister must attend the hearing church services where the rich kids also go. Gussie is soon skipping Sunday school and going to the library and getting sodas from the local drug store. This humorous story had me in tears laughing at all of Gussie’s adventures. Younger students will be drawn to this story and surprised by the ending.
Ritter, John, Under the baseball moon, Philomel Books, New York, 2006, 283 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0-399-23623-6, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 9, Andy Ramos and his pals are skateboarders who also have a band that they know is going to go all the way to the top. Andy also has friend, a girl, who only caused him grief when in the past. Now Glory is back, after having moved away, and she loves baseball. It is while Andy is playing his trumpet that Glory finds that she plays better. A romance blooms between these two and they make promises to be there for each other. But differences in their schedules and the interference from the mysterious Max makes the Andy choose what is really important to him. This novel will appeal to middle and high school age students who are interested in music and baseball.
Turner, Ann, Hard hit, Scholastic Press, New York, 2006, 167 pgs., 2006, $16.99, ISBN:0-439-29680-3, Gr. 9+, P 7, Q 8, Written in prose this intense story tells the story of Mike who is 16 and has almost perfect life until father finds out that he has pancreatic cancer. All seems to be almost perfect again as Mike’s dad goes into remission then he starts to waste away again. Mike and his family must come to terms with the illness, then the death of his father and how to go on with out him. Older students whose families are going through similar ordeals will be drawn to this book.
Ursu, Anne, The shadow thieves, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, 420 pgs, glossary, $16.95, ISBN:1-4169-0587-1, Gr., P., Q, Charlotte Mielswetszki lives in America with her family when one day her cousin, Zee, from England, shows up on her door step. Charlotte hears her uncle say to her dad “If anything weird starts to happen, get hold of me right away.” Soon the children start to become sick and school closes in attempt to slow the epidemic. Zee knows that it’s his fault that he has brought this sickness with him. Charlotte and Zee together discover that a Greek god Philonecron is attempting to overthrow the Lord of the Dead who resides in the underworld Hades. So the two go to the underworld where they must cross the river Styx, overthrow the shadow army and stop Philonecron so that the world can remain safe. Sure to appeal to middle school students who love stories of Greek gods.
Warner, Sally, Twilight child, Viking, 2006, 223 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:0-670-06076-3, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7, This fantasy adventure takes Eleni, a child born between the shadows of twilight and sunrise and told to have special powers, from the shores of Finland to Ireland. Eleni’s mother dies and her renegade father kidnaps her and takes on a flimsy boat on a trip to Spain. Mystical creatures visit Eleni throughout the story and warn her of things that are going to happen to her. Escaping her father she lands on the shores of Ireland and finds happiness. Those young readers who like fantasy adventure will love this book.
Brown, Calef, Flamingos on the roof , illustrated by Calef Brown, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2006,unp, $16.00, ISBN:0-618-56298-2, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 7, 29 poems are accompanied by full page folk arty illustrations as nonsense rhymes abound on the other pages. These quirky characters that dance across the pages will draw the young poets to the pages of this book.
Fradin, Dennis, With a little luck : surprising stories of amazing discoveries, Dutton Children’s books, New York, 2006, 183 pgs, $17.99, ISBN:0-525-47196-0, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9, If you are a teacher planning a unit on inventions and their discoveries this book is a must to look at. What better way to stimulate a student than to show them the men and women who made these discoveries and how often it was with a just little luck. Discoveries range from ancient mans’ paintings on cave walls to the discovery of penicillin and the planet Pluto. The text and images and photos come together in a work that will capture young scientist imagination as they see the work of the scientists involved.
Reedman, Russell, Freedom walkers: the story of the Montgomery bus boycott, Holiday House, New York, 2006, 114 pgs., index, $18.95, ISBN:0-8234-2031-0, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 9, In 1955 Rosa Parks, would not give up her seat to white man after being order to so. She was arrested, fingerprinted, and booked and then released after paying bail. This act started what today is known as the Montgomery bus boycott. Mr. Russell tells this story of the African Americans fight for equality using not only a clear text but with black and white photos of this time. This book is a must for all libraries who are seeking a clear and accurate portrayal of the struggle that these valiant people went through to win equal rights.
George-Warren, Holly, Honky-Tonk heroes hillbilly angels : the pioneers of country & western music, illustrated by Laura Levine, Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston, 2006, 32 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0-618-19100-0, Gr. 3+, P 6, Q 6, The history of the country western music is shown through the most popular performers of the Grand Ole Opry. Brief biographies and full page illustrations accompany each artist being portrayed as the author tells of the development of country music. Some of the artist featured such are the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline and Gene Autry each of their unique styles and sounds are also discussed.
Gifford, Clive, The Kingfisher soccer encyclopedia, Kingfisher, Boston, 2006, 144 pgs., glossary, index, $19.95, ISBN:0-7534-5928-0, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8, Starting with basic movements and techniques of soccer this book moves into the soccer legends of this sport. Actual action photos and brief biographies accompany each featured soccer player. Formations, tactics and great coaches are featured next. Great teams, soccer dreams and the industry are discussed and shown. The Olympics, The World Cup and European championships are also featured in this small but loaded with facts volume.
Halilbegovich, Nadja, My childhood under fire: a Sarajevo diary, Kids Can Press, Tonawanda, New York, 2006, 120 pgs., $14.95, ISBN:1-55337-797-4, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8, One day the author of this book, who twelve at the time was told there would be no school because there was a war in her country. Nadja tells in her diary and through actual pictures the horror that city of Sarajevo and the citizens endured for three years of this war. Bombings, pain, rape, hunger and death became common events for her country and her life. This tiny book will show the readers, middle school and above, the horror of living through a war.
Havill, Juanita, I heard it from Alice zucchini poems about the garden, illustrated by Christine Davenier, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2006, 29 pgs.,$15.95, ISBN:0-8118-3962-1, Gr. 1+, P 7, Q 7, With direction in poem form on how to plant seeds this book abounds with poems about the garden. Sure to delight younger readers with easy to remember poems and recite and such topics as cucumbers to the pea pod chant. Teachers planning a unit on gardening or on poetry will want to use this book.
Hynes, Margaret, Rocks & fossils, Kingfisher, Boston, 2006, 63 pgs., glossary, index, $12.95, ISBN:0-7534-5974-4, Gr. 5, P 7, Q 7, Clear and sharp photos abound in this book designed for a younger audience as it introduces chapters on topics of world of rocks, fossil remains and the records in rocks. A glossary and index are included for easier access to the topics above. This book will be a good starting point for students to use a reference on rocks and fossils.
Littlesugar, Amy, Willy & Max : a holocaust story, illustrated by William Low, Philomel Books, New York, 2006, unp., $15.99, ISBN:0-399-23483-7, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8, It’s World War II and Professor Solomon and his son Max visit the shop of Willie’s father and here they purchase a painting called the “The Lady.” Max and Willie become friends and are soon playing hide and go seek, sailing boats in the park and eating at each other’s homes. It is also the story of survival for a Jewish family living in Belgium and a friendship that endures though these terrible times. Max and his family leave Belgium and leave the painting behind. The painting is found years later where Willie and his father had hidden it and it is returned by Willie’s family to Max’s family. I know that this book will be used by teachers in my school who are studying this time period in their classes.
Raatma, Lucia, Queen Noor American- born queen of Jordan, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2006, 111 pgs., glossary, index, time line, no price listed, ISBN:0-7565-1595-5, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8, Queen Noor an American woman who became queen of Jordan is a biography of a modern woman who has tried to bring change to her country. Presented with clear color photographs the reader follows this amazing woman’s life from a young girl in America to her life in the country of Jordan. I found the text to be easily read and it held my attention as I read about her amazing life. A time line at the end of the book is accompanied by photos of world events and photos of Queen Noor’s life. This book would be valuable addition to any middle and high school library collection.
Revkin, Andrew, The North Pole was here : puzzles and perils at the top of the world, Kingfisher, Boston, 2006, 128 pgs., index, $15.95, ISBN:0-7534-5993-0, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8, The author of this book works for the New York Times as a reporter and through this manuscript reveals his journey to the North Pole as he traveled with scientists who are studying the Pole. I was amazed to learn all that I did about this region of our planet. Using photos and diagrams the author transports the reader to this frozen region and using newspaper clippings from New York Times helps the reader see more clearly subjects such as global warming and how our environment is changing in the North Pole. This book will capture the interest of students in middle and high school who are interested in the North Pole.
Sandler, Martin, Trapped in Ice! and amazing true whaling adventure, Scholastic No-Fiction, New York, 2006, 168 pgs., glossary, index, $16.99, ISBN:0-439-74363-X, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7, This book tells about the true adventure of 32 whaling ships that were caught in the ice of the North Pole and their heroic survival. 1,219 men, women and children faced the ship wreck and survival in the pages of this book. The life a whaler is also brought to life in this book to as the author gives such details as the food they ate to that of a woman standing in the jaws of whale that was brought on board on ship. Sure to delight those readers looking for a story about the whalers of old.
Wilkinson, Philip, The world of exploration, Kingfisher, Boston, 2006, 63 pg., timeline, glossary, index, $8.95, ISBN:0-7534-6007-6, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7, The explorers of the world are captured in the pages of this book. The adventures of the Vikings, Marco Polo, and Christopher Columbus take the reader around the world as we witness their adventures and their struggle to survive. Young explores themselves will find this is book to be a good starting point for their research into explores of the world.
Kindermans, Martine, You and me, Philomel Books, New York, 2006, unp, $15.99, ISBN:0-399-24471-9, Gr. K+, P 7, Q 7, Two geese are seen walking through the colored pages of coral, pinks, and yellow as they traverse the world telling of their love for one another. Sure to appeal to kindergarten age children as a read aloud book.
Murphy, Margaret, Lucille lost: a true love story, illustrated by Debra Bandelin and Bob Dacey, Viking, China, unp, $16.99, ISBN:0-670-06093-3, Gr. K+, P 7, Q 7, The adventure of Lucille, a Burmese elongated tortoise, who becomes lost after escaping from her pen, is told using illustrations that are colorful and realistic to the reader. Based on a true story Lucille is seen discovering a new world as people rush to rescue her. Tortoise facts are found at the bottom of almost every page adding to the appeal of this book that is sure to charm younger children when read aloud.
Weatherford, Carole, Moses: when Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2006, unp., $15.99, ISBN:078685178-9, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q9, This is the fictionalization of Harriet Tubman’s escape to freedom but is also the spiritual account of this escape too. Using wispy white fonts the conversations that Harriet had with God are portrayed to the reader. It is also the inspiration that keeps Harriet going through all the turmoil that she faces during her escape. Nelson’s pictures portray the struggle that Harriet Tubman had in escaping from slavery. Using mostly dark rich pictures the reader is transported on Harriet’s journey to freedom. Teachers planning a unit on the Underground Railroad will clamor for this book to read aloud to their classes.
Book Reviews for Sept. 2006 A.G. Indian Ed.
Sorrells, Walter. Club Dread: A Mystery. (Book 2 of the Hunted series) NY: Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin), 2006. $10.99 266 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-525-476188-0 P9/Q8 Chastity is a 15-year-old teen with a great musical talent (writing, singing & playing guitar), but she and her mother are running in fear of a very powerful businessman who wants to kill them. They have evidence against him for a long-ago murder. Living in San Francisco for now, with a new fake identity, Chass tries to start up a band but her life gets complicated and dangerous when she witnesses the murder of a pop star. This is a fast-paced, active mystery told in the first person, and ought to appeal to either boys or girls. Although it’s one of a series, the story stands alone. It also features a surprise ending.
Bruchac, Joseph. Geronimo: A Novel. NY: Scholastic Press, 2006. $ 16.99 356 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-439-35360-2 P7/Q9 Told from the point of view of a fictional adopted grandson, this is the story of the removal of the Chiricahua Apaches from their traditional homeland in Arizona to Florida
in the 1880’s. It is sympathetic and explanatory about the transformation of the great leader Geronimo from his traditional lifestyle to an assimilative one that might appease his captors. The author is ultimately respectful. It’s about time that this period in history is told from the Indians’ point of view. Bruchac has put a great deal of research into its writing, and includes aspects which will even surprise other Indians: there is no word for “warrior” in the Apache language. He includes a long bibliography. This is a painless way for a student to learn about late-19th-century American history.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen: A Novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $16.00 288 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-618-68307-0 P9/Q9 This girls’ coming-of-age story departs from its current genre by focusing on a rural 15-year-old girl who has to do the lion’s-share of work on her family’s Wisconsin dairy farm when her father messes up his hip and can’t work. D.J.’s father is a former football coach, and she gets put in the position of helping a competing school’s quarterback get ready for fall. It’s not long before she finds out she’s just as good at football, and maybe she’s also interested in boys. This is a welcome relief from the upper-class-urban books of the genre. D.J. is a solid, admirable character who is breaking out of the mold. Her success in a traditionally boy’s field makes the story unique. Young people who have borrowed this book from the local library have loved it, and I’m recommending it to our football coach’s family.
Mechling, Lauren & Laura Moser. All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th Grade Social Climber. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. $7.99 (paper), 277 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 9-618-66378-9 P8/Q7 This is one more urban-upper-class social climber coming-of-age story. Mimi attends a private school in New York that is unaccountably falling on difficult financial times. As she finds out who are genuine friends and how she can fit in, Mimi also pursues the mystery of where the money’s gone. The end is satisfying, and for students who want to spend some time imagining how it would feel to be able to afford to eat out every night and take vacations a continent away this could be a fun read.
Woods, Brenda. Emako Blue. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. $15.99 124 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-399-24006-3 P8/Q8 Each chapter of this story is told from the point of view of a different young person as they lay out the events leading up to the death of their friend Emako Blue. Standard social grouping and competition is a major part of the story. What makes this one different is its setting in the urban ghetto (south central L.A.), with its cultural mix and normal families that have sons who have been incarcerated. Emako has her promising young life shot down when she gets in the way of a drive-by shooting. The story should appeal both to teen girls who wants to read about other teens, and to teen boys who could relate to the situations presented.
Roberts, Willo Davis. The One Left Behind. NY: Atheneum Books (Simon & Schuster), 2006. $16.95 139 pp. ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-85075-1 P8/Q8 Mandy is an eleven-year-old whose twin sister died the year before. Still grieving, Mandy has yet to find herself. When she gets accidentally left alone in their house for a few days, she gets involved in a mystery. Two boys are being pursued and she reaches out to help. Along the way she faces her grief and begins to resolve some personal issues. This book has action and mystery, but at the same time deals with the important theme of dealing with grief.
Han, Jenny. Shug. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $14.95 248 pp. ages 10-14 ISBN-13 978-1-4169-0942-2 P8/Q8 Shug is the nickname of the protagonist, 12-year-old Annemarie. Set in a small southern town, Shug is trying to make sense of social groups as she begins to discover boys. Her boy-next-door buddy is beginning to look good. In the end, it is the social outcast Jack who she begins to identify with, and who stands up for her in a very embarrassing situation. As a coming-of-age story, this one will appeal to the younger girls. It is not heavy on the urban glitter, but sticks to a setting with which girls from a variety of backgrounds can identify. The cover, which features a glossy cherry popsicle, makes the book stand out and beg to be picked up.
Dorfman, Joaquin. Playing It Cool. NY: Random House, 2006. $15.95 335 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-375-83641-1 P8/Q8 In this guy’s coming-of-age novel, Sebastian works out his feelings about the father he never knew. He’s a “fixer” of teen problems, and when he meets a friend’s birth father and recognizes many of his own traits he begins to wonder who his own father is. A good tale, with plenty of action and twists, this should appeal to a wide variety of teen readers.
Klause, Annette Curtis. Freaks: Alive, On the Inside! NY: Margaret K. McElderberry Books, 2006. $16.95 331 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-689-87037-X P9/Q8 With a title like this, who isn’t going to want to find out what it’s about? Fortunately, the author portrays these 19th century human oddities as personalities as distinct as any other, in their own social group and with the perspective of the social history of their time and place. A young man feels out of place because he is the only one of his family without an exceptional quality (in the world at large’s eyes, he’s “normal”). He goes on the road to find his place in life, and discovers some bad people along the way. A happy ending is supplied. A fun read, and the book gives some social history one wouldn’t otherwise get.
Book Review by B.R. Yaquina View September 2006
Abercrombie, Barbara and Lynne Avril Cravath. The show-and-tell lion. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2006. ISBN 0689864086. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-2nd (Q7, P7) When it is Matthew’s turn for show and tell at school he can’t think of a thing to share. He decides to tell his class he had a lion at home for a pet. His classmates are entranced by his story and he embellishes it each day until it gets out of hand. The class wants to take a field trip to his house to see his lion. Matthew finally tells his mother about his problem. Mom tells Matthew to be truthful to his class. He had an idea. He sits down and writes a story, including pictures, about his lion. When he shares with his class that the lion is only in his head they accept his explanation. Matthew continues to write more adventures for his lion, Larry.
Arnosky, Jim. Grandfather Buffalo. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399241698 Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q9, P8) This is a beautifully written story about growing old, slowing down but still being useful to the family. Grandfather Buffalo is slowing down and falls behind the herd father and farther every day. One day he comes upon a cow buffalo about to give birth to a calf. The calf gets lost in a dust storm when he finds Grandfather Buffalo. They stay together and afterwards they become close buddies. This story shows the struggles both the old and young live through and how they can help each other.
Johnston, Tony. The Whole Green World. Ills. by Elisa Kleven. Farrar Straus Girous, c2006. ISBN 0374384002. $15.00. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P5) From tying her shoes, getting a puppy to tag along, to finding a pokey stick, a little girl gets ready to plant seeds to make the whole world green. At least her part of the whole world. Looking at the illustrations in this book will involve hours of fun for the child.
Anderson, Derek. Blue Burt and Wiggles. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2006. ISBN 1416905936. Unp. $14.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P8) When are a bird and worm friends? In this beautifully written book about friendship it happens. Blue Burt and Wiggles played together all summer and did not want autumn to come, so they tried to tape the leaves back onto the trees, paint the grass green, cut out colorful flowers from construction paper, and even painted a yellow sun and fluffy white clouds. Nothing worked as autumn came anyway and Blue Burt had to fly south. The friends stayed in by writing letters, taking on the phone and thinking of each other often. When summer came they were again together.
George, Lindsay Barrett. In the Garden: Who’s Been Here? Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0060787627. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P7) Mother and Christina and Jeremy have been asked to go to the garden and pick vegetables for dinner. Mom is busy baking. As the children pick the vegetables, they find signs of something else eating their vegetables. This book can lead to a guessing game on what pest leaves a slimy trail, eats corn kernels off the cob, snacking on lettuce leaves, and more. The pictures of the pests are wonderful and show great details.
Montijo, Rhode. Cloud Boy. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 141690199X. Unp. $12.95. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P8) How many times have you looked at the clouds and imagined them looking like something else? Cloud Boy, yes he is a cloud, is lonely in the sky when a beautiful butterfly flies by. He decides to gather up the fluffy white clouds and make a butterfly and send it off for others to enjoy. From there he makes may other things and was never lonely again.
McElmurry, Jill. I’m not a baby! Schwartz & Wade Books, c2006. ISBN 0375836144 Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P5) As an adult how many times do we hear, “I’m not a baby!”? As an infant, crawling out of his bassinet, through high school graduation, his family continues to think of him as a baby. A grown up job, a wife, and until he has a child of his own, his family called him a baby. Children of all ages will relate to this book and laugh.
Yolen, Jane. Baby Bear’s Books. Ills. by Melissa Sweet. Harcourt, Inc. c2006. ISBN 0152052909. Unp. $16.00.m Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P5) Baby Bear wakes up wanting a book read to him. The first book is a wild one and starts his adventure for the day. Next comes snack time, and yes, another honey of a book. He reads picture books to big brother and when nap time comes he cuddles up for a good faraway dreamland book, and through the day it goes. Finally at bedtime he like spaceships and bear trips. In the morning they read again.
Jeffers, Oliver. Lost and Found. Philomel Books, c2006. ISBN 0399245030. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P7) A penguin shows up at your door. What do you do? This boy didn’t know what to do so he asked everyone, lost and found, birds, even his rubber ducky. No one knew what to do. Together the boy and penguin decided to row him back to the South Pole. They rowed for days and nights with lots of time for stories. Finally arriving, the penguin stays, and the boy realizes he had left a wonderful friend behind.
Kroll, Virginia. On the way to Kindergarten. Ills. by Elisabeth Schlossberg. ISBN 039924168X. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-KG. (Q7, P6) When you were newborn you ate, burped and cried. When you were one you pulled yourself up and drank all your juice. As you grow there are different things you do. Finally when you become five you go to kindergarten. Kindergarten students will relate this story with their selves and remember the stages of their growing up.
Newman, Leslea and Valeri Gorbachev. Skunk’s Spring Surprise. Harcourt, c2006. ISBN 0152056831. Unp. $16.00. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q7, P6) It’s spring and skunk awakens. She listens, sniffs and calls but can’t find any of her friends. Where can they be? Surprise, they have been working all winter to produce a talent show for Skunk. This is a beautifully written story about friendship.
Minor, Wendell. Yankee Doodle America. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399240039. Unp. $16.99. Grades 3-6. (Q8, P6) Mr. Minor brings the American Revolution to life with this exceptional book with marvelous illustrations. Using hand carved replicas of Colonial public houses, Mr. Minor depicts many important moments of the revolution. Done in alphabetical order much information is presented. From just enjoying the illustrations to actually needing information this book is a must for the class learning about the American Revolution.
Michelson, Richard. Oh, No, Not Ghosts! Ills. by Adam McCauley. Harcourt, c2006 ISBN 0152051864. Unp. $16.00. Grades 1st-5th. (Q6, P8)Kids love to be scared, so turn out the lights, grab a flashlight and read this one. Dad is sleeping and was promised not to be awakened. The wind is blowing, not ghosts. Werewolves can’t turn kids into wolves. From Giants to demons, witches and more nothing is as scary as DAD! A fun book to read anytime of the year.
Wilson, Karma and Jane Chapman. Bear’s New Friend. Margaret K. McElderry Books, C2006. ISBN 0689859848. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q8, P7) Written in a rhyming verse, this book is very easy to read aloud. On a hot summer day, Bear heads out to play with his friends. As he looks he hears something in the bushes. His friends all try to help him find out what it is. A shy owl hiding in a hole finally comes out and they all go to the swimming hole. A great book to read to children about making new friends.
Siegel, Siena Cherson. To dance, a ballerina’s graphic novel. Ills. by Mark Siegel. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006. ISBN 0689867476. Unp. $17.95 Grades 4th-8th. (Q7, P7) Written in comic book style, this book takes you through a young girl’s life as dancer. Her dreams and aspirations are intermingled with history and backstage drama. Siena was six and her dreams were skipping and leaping. She lived in Puerto Rice but soon moved to Boston and onto New York in search of her dancer’s dream. Girls of all ages who like ballet will enjoy reading this book.
Hample, Stoo. Book of Bad Manners. Candlewick Press, c2006. ISBN 0763629332 Unp. $15.99. Grades 2nd-6th. (Q7, P8) Want to teach children good manners and use reverse physiology; this is the book to use. The rhyming verse will keep you laughing with the antics of these children. The angle-faced girl who thinks it’s funny and smart to fluff out a fart, the blabbermouth boy who lets everyone know who has the biggest nose or the fatso who weights a ton and a half will be enjoyed by all.
Freeman, Martha. Mrs. Wow Never Wanted a Cow. Ills. by Steven Salerno. Randon House, Inc., c2006. ISBN 0375834184. Unp. $8.99. Grades KG-3rd. (Q6, P7) Mrs. Wow did not want a cow, but when one show up on her lawn and would not be shooed away, she decided to give it a try. The mouse and dog tried to teach it to do their chores. The cow was no good at catching mice or chasing away the mailman. She was good for eating grass and giving milk. Mrs. Wow decided she did want a cow so she wouldn’t have to mow the grass anymore and they all loved the ice cream they made out of her milk.
Alborough, Jez. YES. Candlewick Press, c2006. ISBBN 0763631833. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P5) Bobo loves bath time and shouts “Yes” for his bath. When it is bedtime, he doesn’t want to go to sleep and shouts “No”. For the young child this is a very simple book with cute pictures.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Book of Notes & Note Passing. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 0689874464. Unp. $9.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Amelia is now in middle school and her life is changing. A new girl, Maxine, comes to school. She is very stylish, careful about her hair and fingernails, and clothes. She doesn’t like Amelia but decides her new friend should be Amelia’s best friend Carly. A series of mean nasty notes start being passed around. This book is true-to-life in the middle school that some girls experience.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s School Survival Guide. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 141690915X. Unp. $9.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Amelia is giving much advice about surviving is the 6th grade. “Her descriptions of different teacher personalities are enlightening. Girls will love reading her take on prefect students, teachers and studies.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Longest Biggest Most-Fights-Ever Family Reunion. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 0689874472. Unp. $9.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Amelia had never met her dad and Mom did not want to talk about it. Amelia nagged and super nagged until Mom gave in and gave her Dad’s address. As life usually is, Mom’s and Dad’s version of the reasons for divorce were very different. Amelia was invited to go with her dad to his family reunion. She records all her feelings and happenings in her journal.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Are-We-There-Yet Longest Car Trip. Simon & Schuster, C2006. ISBN 1416909060. Unp. $9.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Amelia, her mom and sister Cleo are off on a long road trip. Being in a car with her sister will not be fun, Cleo stinks up the car with nail polish and throwing up because she gets car sick. They stop at several tourist attractions even the Grand Canyon, but the best part is the end of the trip because Amelia’s best friend in the whole world lives there. Amelia keeps a journal of the trip and it is a wonder to read.
Lombard, Jenny. Drita My Homegirl. G.P. Putman’s sons, c2006. ISBN 0399243801 135 Pgs. $15.99. Grades 4th-6th. (Q8, P7) Drita and her family move from Kosovo to New York City. Her mother is very depressed thinking about relatives left behind. Maxi is an African-American fourth grader whose mother died three years ago in a car crash. Both girls while having their separate problems eventually become close friends and help each other.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by S.E. parent volunteer October 2006
Gravelle, Karen and Jennifer. Il.1996,2006 Debbie Palen. The Period Book. Walker and Co. 1996, 2006. $16.95. 0-8027-8072-5. 0-8027-8072-0 (updated hardcover) 126 p. Ages 9-14.
Excellent update of the 1996 version by the same authors. The appropriately drawn illustrations give young developing teens the knowledge of how to go about finding their body parts that have heretofore been undiscovered and kept secret including what happens when a young lady starts her period, what to wear during heavy flows, visiting a gynecologist, and how to avoid peer pressure when the hormones start to flow. It is indeed “everything you don’t’ want to ask (but need to know)” P9 Q9
McElligott, Matther. Backbeard and the Birthday Suit. Il. Matthew Elligot. Walker and Company, 2006. $16.95. 0-8027-8065-2. 29p. Ages 6-8 P10 Q8.
Backbeard is the hairiest loudest, toughest and most unsanitary pirate ever to have lived. All his parrots kept quitting because of his bad habits. On his birthday he decided to go into town and get himself a new suit The town tailor had no pirate clothes and suggested he change his appearance to something the tailor had on hand, making him the most outrageously dressed pirate to have ever lived. His crew doesn’t recognize him when he returns to his helm and has to fight them to get his position secured once again as captain. Clever use of photographs of material are what the illustrator uses for color throughout the picture book. P10 Q9
Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine. Il Marla Frazee. Hyperion Books for Children, 2006. $14.99. 0-7868-3882-5. 136 p. Ages 8-11.
A messy, belligerent 8 year old can’t seem to stay out of trouble at school or at home in her basement apartment where she lives with her artist mother and father who is the manager of the apartment building who has an ongoing war with pigeons. After cutting off her neighbor friend’s hair to get the glue out, she cuts her own hair off to make her friend feel better. Her principal’s constant eye rolling worries Clementine who keeps looking up for ceiling snakes. If this child hadn’t been in the accelerated math class, her antics in and out of the classroom would leave the reader to wonder why this child isn’t medicated but it is because of these antics that the young readers will laugh and giggle throughout the book. Clementine’s redemption comes via a solution to the pigeon problem for her father. The black and white illustrations are simple but effective. P9Q8
Valdez-Rodrigues, Alisa. Haters. Little, Brown and Co. 2006. $16.99. 0-316-01307-9, 0-316-01307-2. 351 P. Ages 14-18.
New York Times bestselling author of The dirty Girls Social Club. Trying to ignore her psychic abilities, Pasquala Archuleta (Paski) has moved from her Taos, New Mexico home to an Orange County, California apartment with her now famous cartoonist father and is having disturbing visions regarding the most popular girl in her school, Jessica. Paski’s passion is mountain biking and finds that she is good at motocross, in direct competition with Jessica. She is drawn to Chris who is not only the most popular guy in school and a motocross champion but is also the ex-boyfriend of Jessica. Paski finds herself in real trouble when Jessica stops at nothing, even murder, to seek revenge. Peer pressure, wealth, date rape, and partying are not in Paski’s best interest and she finds herself involved with it all. In a town “where money is everything and haters rule”, Paski comes to grip with what she is and what she is not. Q10P10
Reviews by J.C., LCLD Cataloger October 2006
Cotton, Cynthia. Abbie in stitches. Pictures by Beth Peck. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2006) 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 0374300046 $16.00 Ages 4-7. P7Q8
Abbie who would rather be reading than learning fancy sewing and embroidery, is working on her first sampler in 1800s America. Based on a true story. Recommended for public and middle school libraries.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Mr. Chickee’s funny money. (Wendy Lamb Books, c2006) 151 p. ISBN 0385327722 $15.95 Ages 8-12. P7Q6
When Mr. Chickee, a blind man in the neighborhood, gives nine-year-old Steven a mysterious bill with the face of James Brown and 15 zeroes, it catapults Steven, his father, his friend Russell, and the giant dog Zoopy into a zany chase against Agent Fondoo of the U.S. Treasury Department. An improbable mystery book for the post-chapter book set.
Friesner, Esther. Temping Fate. (Dutton Children’s Books, c2006) 279 p. ISBN 0525477306 $16.99 Ages 14 –up. P7Q6
Ilana Newhouse, recently returned to the United States after a stint in Africa with her parents, is having trouble finding a summer job (could it be the T-shirt, “Orc, the other green meat” or the attitude?). Then she calls the number of the Divine Relief Temp Agency and gets an interview. Suddenly she finds herself temping for the Three Fates and sharing office space with Arachne, a spider with a human face. A light-hearted chick lit fantasy novel crying out for a sequel. Recommended for public libraries and high school libraries with large fantasy collections.
Klages, Ellen. The green glass sea : a novel. (Viking, 2006) Advance Uncorrected Proofs, pub. date Oct. 2006. ISBN 0670061344 $16.99 336 p. “Ages 10 up.”
After the death of her grandmother, the Army ships eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan off to live with her father in a top-secret Army fort in the wilds of New Mexico. In 1943, confirmed tinkerer Dewey faces teasing from Suze Gordon, a budding artist and misfit, who wants desperately to be friends with the popular girls at the camp. Suze’s mother, a scientist in her own right who understands the difficulties faced by girls with a scientific bent, befriends Dewey. An excellent period piece about the development of the atomic bomb, “the gadget.” Recommended highly for public and middle grade school libraries.
Oppel, Kenneth. Skybreaker. (HarperCollins, c2006) “Eos” ISBN 0060532270 $16.99 Ages 12-up. P8Q7
Former cabin boy Matt Cruse, now a student at the Airship Academy, catches sight of the derelict airship Hyperion and becomes part of an expedition to salvage the fortune left in her by her eccentric (and very rich) inventor/owner. Along with heiress Kate de Vries, a mysterious young gypsy woman, and the captain of the skybreaker Sagarmantha, Matt faces unknown animals, pirates (and government officials?), and the physical stresses of high altitude work. An exciting adventure story—Jules Verne meets Indiana Jones—highly recommended for public, middle and high school libraries. Sequel to Airborn.
Paterson, Katherine. Bread and roses, too. (Clarion Books, 2006) Advance Reader’s Copy, pub. date 9/4/06. ISBN 0618654798 $16.00 288 p. “Ages 10-14.” P7Q7
In 1912, Rosa’s mother and her older sister Anna are out on the streets striking against corrupt mill owners and attacked by police and the vicious Pinkertons, while Rosa’s teacher Miss Finch tells her class that the strikers are nothing but an uneducated, violent mob. Then the children of the strikers are sent to a small community in Vermont, and Rosa fears that she will never see her family again. Historical fiction about a girl caught between the traditions of her Italian immigrant family and the middle class morality force fed through the schools. Illustrates the conflicts between immigrant groups who spoke different languages, ate different foods, yet faced the same poverty and dangers. Unlike other stories about the beginnings of the labor movement, Bread and Roses, Too shows the importance of women supporting one another across the divisions of ethnicity. Katherine Patterson has twice won the Newbery medal for her books Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.
Raven, Margaret Theis. Night boat to freedom. Pictures by E. B. Lewis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2006) “Melanie Kroupa Books.” ISBN 0374312664 $16.00 Ages 4-9 & up. P7Q9
Weaver and dyer Granny Judith asks twelve-year-old Christmas John to row a young slave woman across the Ohio River from Kentucky to the Underground Railroad station in Ohio—to freedom. Over the years, Granny Judith tells Christmas John her stories and dreams, and John rows many more slaves, perhaps as many as three hundred people, to freedom. From each he asks the color of freedom, and Granny Judith dyes the colors to create a quilt of those colors. When only two squares are left, she tells Christmas John that he must prepare to take himself to freedom. Soft watercolor illustrations, often of nighttime scenes, combine with the text to weave an unforgettable story inspired by true accounts collected in 1930s in the WPA’s Slave Narrative Collection. Granny Judith’s admonishment that “What scares the head is best done with the heart” is a call to courage for all of us. Highly recommended for public, elementary, and middle school libraries. Could be also used in high school units on the Civil War.
Tchana, Katrin Hyman. Changing Woman and her sisters : stories of goddesses from around the world. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. (Holiday House, c2006) ISBN 0823619991 18.95 Ages 8-14. P7Q8
A collection of ten stories collected and retold by Katrin Hyman Tchana; including goddesses from around the world, beginning with the Navajo diety Changing Woman, the Celtic horse goddess Macha, the Inuit sea goddess Sedna, the Buddhist Kuan Yin, the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, the Mayan moon goddess Ix Chel, Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu, Inanna of ancient Sumeria, the Hindu diety Durga, and the African creator Mawu who is neither male nor female. Includes an afterword and bibliographic citations (p. 78-79). Unlike most books illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, these goddess pictures were created as collages using handmade paper, fabric, fleece from her own sheep, garden seeds, glue, inks, and acrylic paint. Recommended for school and public libraries.
October Book Reviews D.C., Lincoln County Library District
Arnold, Marsha Diane. Roar of a Snore. Illus. by Pierre Pratt. Dial Books, 2006. $16.99 ISBN 0-8037-2936-7 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P- 9, Q-10
Yes, snoring can be fun. A great book for storytimes. Excellent pictures. The repetition in the text is good. And, I always suspected kittens were the worst snorers.
Haven, Paul. Two Hot Dogs with Everything. Illus. by Tim Jessell. Randon House, $ 15.95 ISBN 0-375-83348-X, 0375-93348-4 (lib. bdg.), 0-375-8334989 (pbk.) 307 pp. Ages 4th – 8th Grades P7, Q 6
Danny Gurkin loves everything about baseball. He has developed a complex variety of superstitious activities to support his team, the Sluggers, including eating two hot dogs with everything on them. However, his team has not had a winning streak in 108 years. After a visit to Boddlebrooks Mansion, home of the bubblegum king and supporter of the Sluggers 108 years ago, Danny thinks he has found a way to keep his team winning. This book is fun to read, even by non-baseball fans.
Weis, Carol. When the Cows Got Loose. Illus. by Ard Hoyt. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $16.95 ISBN-13 978-0-389-85166-7, ISBN 0-689-85166-9 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P8, Q7
This silly story about Ida Mae’s escaped cows is filled with amusing pictures showing cows doing the most amazing things. It does take Ida Mae several days to find all 26 cows.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian
Mannis, Celeste Davidson. Julia Morgan Built a Castle. Il. Miles Hyman. Viking, 2006. $17.99. 0-670-05964-1. Unp. Ages 6-9: Her discovery that a woman designed and constructed William Randolph Hearst’s legendary castle, San Simeon, led the author to research this picture book about the architect who was kept from taking an entrance exam for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France until 1897. Vibrant paintings illuminate Morgan’s long and extraordinary career during which she designed almost 800 buildings. Mannis shows how Morgan followed her dreams from early sand castles through the variety of her creations from a small chapel at a YWCA summer camp to the 60,000+ square feet national monument. P7Q8
Browne, Anthony. Silly Billy. Candlewick, 2006. $15.99. 0-7836-3124-8. Unp. Ages 3-7: Known for his books showing the feelings of children, Browne addresses the anxieties of young children in this story about Billy who worries “about many things.” His parents cannot provide any help, but his grandma tells him he isn’t silly, that she worried as he does when she was a child. Her solution is to provide him with worry dolls which can “do all the worrying for you while you sleep.” The tale gently provides advice for children and adults alike, especially when Billy worries about the worry dolls worrying–so he makes worry dolls for them! The watercolor and colored pencil artwork varies between framed illustrations on brightly-colored backgrounds and pictures that cover the entire pages. As always with Browne, a sensitive story about children’s concerns. An endnote explains the background for the Guatemalan worry dolls. P9Q10
Finchler, Judy & Kevin O’Malley. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind. Il. Kevin O’Malley. Walker, 2006. $17.85. 0-8027-8085-7. Unp. Ages 6-9: Teacher Miss Malarkey returns in this popular series to tackle the problem of her students who hate to read. The principal has promised to dye his hair purple and sleep on the school’s roof if the school reads 1,000 books during the school year. Humorous illustrations from markers and colored pencils bring out the diversity of the students as, one by one, each succumbs to the activity of reading–except for one unnamed male student. And, you guessed it, Miss Malarkey finds a book for him the day before the end of the context. The authors understand young people, their needs, and their speech patterns resulting in another funny, read aloud book. P9Q9
Pin, Isabel. When I Grow Up, I Will Win the Nobel Peace Prize. Trans. Nancy Seitz. Farrar, 2006. $16.00. 0-374-38313-8. Unp. Ages 4-8: The dreams of a young man show the kind of optimism that we would like to foster in young children today: protecting the environment, giving aid to the needy, being brave in difficult situations, creating peace, etc. The irony is that now he has trouble standing up to others or even loving his sister. Twisted illustrations give a rather warped perspective to the examples on each two-page spread that invite examination. But the sad part of the book, which has non-gender-specific text, is that the somewhat unisex character is described on the flyleaf as a boy. This could easily have encouraged all children to follow their dreams; instead only boys are allowed this high aspiration. Fortunately an endnote explains the Nobel Peace Prize. P5Q8
Root, Phyllis. Lucia and the Light. Il. Mary Grandpre. Candlewick, 2006. $16.99. 0-7636-2296-6. Unp. Ages 6-9: Inspired by Nordic lore, this tale follows Lucia as she searches for the sun after it fails to rise one morning, facing–and defeating–the terrible trolls that had captured the source of light and heat. The deep, dark, cold pastels which warm to bright golds after the cat accompanying Lucia bats the rag ball away from the trolls were done by the creator of the Harry Potter book series. Grandpre also worked on the animated film Antz. A wonderful story about bravery and light. P9Q10
Constable, Kate. The Tenth Power. Arthur A. Levine, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-55482-9. 306p. Ages 12+: This Australian author, who has been compared to Ursula K. Le Guin, completes The Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy with Calwyn’s need to regain her magical powers so that she can save her land. By bringing together all the powers of the different parts of her world (helped by the evil Samis), she succeeds in regaining her powers, uniting the people from the different parts of the land, and solving the mystery of the plague and endless winter that has infected all. Although most of the point of view is from Calwyn, the parts from her beloved, Darrow, brings a nice dimension for male readers along with some of the fighting before the unity. Using the concept of a goddess and Calwyn as a leader, however, makes this a rich read for girls, showing the protagonist’s courage and strength of spirit. Action, complex characterization, and fantastical description come together to make this a thoroughly enjoyable book. It can be read as a stand-alone, but readers will also want to seek out the first two in the series, The Singer of All Songs and The Waterless Sea. P7Q9
Levine, Gail Carson. Fairest. HarperCollins, 2006. $16.99. 0-06-073408-4. 326p. Ages 12+: In the Kingdom of Ayortha in which singing and beauty are prized, the ugly Aza has the most beautiful voice, and the most beautiful new Queen Ivi has the voice of a croaking frog. Once again Newbery Honor author Levine produces a spellbinding tale filled with humor, adventure, romance, and song as the evil creature in the mirror tries to force both Aza and Queen Ivi to bend to his will and Aza tries to free herself from the queen’s control. Aza’s mistakes abound as she falls in love with the Prince before she discovers that she, a lowly servant, is actually highborn. Another charming take on a fairy tale. P7Q9
Thomson, Sarah L. The Secret of the Rose. Greenwillow, 2006. $16.99. 0-06-087250-0. 296p. Ages 12+: London, England in Shakespeare’s 1592 is the setting for this novel about 14-year-old Rosalind who is forced to masquerade as a boy and servant to playwright Christopher Marlowe to protect herself and her younger brother after her father is imprisoned and then dies because he is a Catholic. It is a time of religious prejudice and violence with Catholics hiding their faith and Dutch Protestants being persecuted for their beliefs. Safer than being a girl alone in London, Rosalind, or Richard as she calls herself, is still in great danger as her master is involved in sinister plots regarding the government. Thomson, who researched her book in London, knows the time period and the life of the players in the theater. She also provides rich description of the action and characters. For those who enjoy historical novels, this is one that readers don’t want to finish. P7Q8
Wilson, Diane Lee. Firehorse. McElderry, 2006. $16.95. 1-4169-1551-6. 325p. Ages 12+: Although much has been written for young people about the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, little has been done with the Great Boston Fire, either in fiction or nonfiction, that occurred one year later. Wilson has taken the plight of 15-year-old Rachel, a “high-spirited” girl with a rigid father who wants her to be a lady, when she loses her beloved horse and her friends in rural Illinois to move to the city. The author knows her horses and her people. Throw in a bit of romance as Rachel meets a young veterinarian and lots of action as Rachel tries to solve the mystery of the serial arsonist, and the result is a fun read with lots of excitement. The book shows the discrimination against women during this period of time as Rachel tries to fight back so that she can follow her dreams. A new horse book classic! P8Q8
October, 2006 Book Reviews C.S., Parent Volunteer
Quattlebaum , Mary (retold by). Sparks fly high: the legend of Dancing Point. Leonid Gore. Melanie Kroupa Books, 2006. $16.00. 0-374-34452-3 . Upg . Ages 5 and up. Tale based on Virginia folklore. An arrogant Virginia landowner, Colonel Lightfoot, was prone to boasting about his dancing. He loved his dancing more than anything, except his vast stretches of fertile land…… except for one little patch of barren land, called Dancing Point, near the James River. Folks say the devil lives at Dancing Point. Colonel Lightfoot challenges the devil to a dance to win back his land. How can he outsmart the devil? P 8 Q 8
Alsenas , Linas . Mrs. Claus takes a vacation . Scholastic Press, 2006. $16.99. 0-439-77978-2. Unp. All ages. A spunky role reversal! I loved it! Go Mrs. Claus!! Cute illustrations, delightful message. P 8 Q 10
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Gibbons, Gail. Galaxies, Galaxies! Holiday House, 2007 . $16.95. 0-8234-2002-7. 32p. Ages 5-10. Simple definitions of a star, planets, solar system, and the five types of galaxies. The book touches on a bit of ancient Greek beliefs, and creation of the first spyglass, the refracting telescope and the reflecting telescope, radio telescopes and telescopes in space. A beginning book – to help young children put the universe in perspective. P 7 Q 5
Markle , Sandra. Slippery, slimy baby frogs. Walker and Co., 2006. $16.95. 0-8027-8062-8. 31p. All ages. Absolutely fascinating!! This will be a wonderful science book for the elementary classroom, and an enjoyable read for all! Fabulous photography. Includes a piece on raising your own frogs. P9 Q10
Whytock,Cherry . My sauce stuffed ravioli: the life of Angelica Cookson Potts. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. (First published in Great Britain by Piccadilly Press, Ltd, 2004.) Ages 13-15. Younger children could easily read this book, however a few references to “affairs”, “padded posing pouch”, etc. seem inappropriate.
This is a companion book to Whytock’s My cup runneth over and My scrumptious Scottish dumplings. This book does not “stand alone” well. Basically a “large” love-sick young lady, Angel, spends her every waking moment either baking goodies for/ or trying to impress a boy who barely acknowledges her existence! (Okay, she adores the Naked Chef too.) The language fluctuates between sappy baby talk and British verb, nouns and adjectives. Illustrations (by Whytock ) are soooo “junior high”. I only finished this story in the hopes that Angel would wake up to the realization that this boy isn’t worth the time of day. Almost made it too, and then fell short. Contains recipes, though none for ravioli. (Personally, I think this rates a Q1 “book should probably be burned”, however, owing to the fact that there are probably still many “boy-crazy” little girls out there who might enjoy this as a series… P4 Q4
Reinhardt, Dana. Harmless. Wendy Lamb Books, 2007 . $15.99. 978-0-385-74699-1. 228 p. Ages 13-18.
Set in a small town, three best friends relate their individual perspective on a chain of events emanating from a single lie. A good study in cause and effect that will hopefully leave teen readers to ponder decisions and potential consequences. This book kept me reading… and wondering the outcome! P 8 Q 8
November 2006 Reviews
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers November 2006 by S.E. Grandparent Volunteer
Bateson, Catherine. The Boyfriend Rules of Good Behavior Holiday House. N.Y. 2006 181 p. $16.95 0-8234-2026-4 ages 10-13. Millie and her artist mother move to a new town near the coast in Austrailia, both leaving behind their best friends. Millie’s father lives in England and sees her twice a year. Millie’s mother lands a great job in their new location and meets a new man, Tom. Millie’s journal consists of lists and one of those lists is a list of rules of how to behave when you have a megacrush on a guy. When Millie’s mom has to go to England for a symposium for a few days and will be seeing Millie’s father while there, Tom offers to watch Millie and help her with her homework. He is a photographer and they go to his favorite place so he can teach her about photography for a paper she has to do on what she loves about her area. He teaches her how to set up the shot and how to develop the film and how to crop and enlarge the films she took. Millie is the one who keeps Tom’s spirits up while her mom is away and she and Tom develop a bond. She is able to write more about relationships and love and boys by having a role model. An easy read, not too deep but cute. P5Q5
Ensor, Barbara. Cinderella, (as if you didn’t already know the story) Schwartz & Wade books, N.Y. 2006. 112 p. $12.99 0-375-83620-9 (trade) 03793620-3 (lib. Bdg.) Contemporary take on the original with Cinderella writing letters in a journal to her dead mother. The ball takes place and the glass slipper is found and she marries the prince and moves to a smaller more comfy place letting her stepsisters and stepmother to live in the castle with all the animals on the grounds. The illustrations are poorly drawn shadow pictures. Ages 8-11 . P6Q4
Vestergaard, Hope. What Do You Do When a Monster Says BOO? Il. Maggie Smith. Dutton Children’s Books, div Penguin Group N.Y. 2006. 30p. $15.99 0-524-47737-3. A nicely illustrated book dealing with and how to talk and act around monsters A good read-out-loud book. Ages 5-8. P9Q9
Scarry, Richard. Animal Nursery tales. Il. By Richard Scarry. First Random House Edition 2006 (Golden Books 1975) N.Y. 69p. $14.95. 0-375-83791-4. Ages 4-8 A Richard Scarry take on nursery rhymes including Little Red Riding Hood, Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and seven others. P9Q6
Dempster, Al. Santa’s Toy Shop. Il. Walt Disney Studios. First random House Edition 2005. (Disney Enterprises Inc. 1950) 22p. $8.99. Ages 5-8 0-375-83361-7. Christmas Eve has come and Santa has been so busy he hasn’t had time to play with all the toys that he and his elves made during the year. He nurtures his inner child at the last house that he delivers presents. P7 (seasonal) Q7
Thiesing, Lisa. The Scarecrow’s New Clothes. Dutton Chiildren’s books, N.Y. 2006. 32 p. $13.99. 0-525-47750-0 Ages 6-9.”A silly thriller starring Peggy the Pig.” Fourth in the series. (A Dark and Noisy Night, The Aliens Are Coming, The Viper) Peggy Pig wants a fancy outfit for the big party but when she goes into town, no shop has anything that she likes. On her way home she passes a scarecrow out in a field and decides that his clothes would be perfect for her new outfit and she trades clothes with him. That night the scarecrow haunts her, demanding his clothes back and leaves her there in her underwear. Peggy thinks of a way to get the scarecrow’s clothes and on her way to the party, stops and scares the scarecrow out of his clothes. A good scary voice read aloud book.
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Giddy Up Cowgirl Il. Jarrett Krosoczka. Penguin Young Readers Group N.Y. 0-670-06050-x. $15.99. 31 p. A very young lady dresses up as a cowgirl and goes shopping with her mother and is more of a hindrance than a help. Ages 6-8 P8Q5
Wood. Douglas. Nothing To Do. Il. Wendy Anderson Halperin. Dutton Children’s Books. Penguin Group N.Y. 2006 0-525-47656-3 $16.95 29p. A wonderfully illustrated book showing and telling all the interesting and imaginative things that the reader could do when there is nothing to do. Ages 5-9 P9Q9
McGhee, Allison a Very Brave Witch. Il. Harry Bliss. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, N.Y., London, Toronto, Sydney. $12.95. 0-689-86730-9 (isbn-13). 0-689-86730-1(isbn 10) 30p. A young witch describes her favorite holiday, Halloween, and tells how the scariest thing is humans. She hears kids below where she is flying on her broom yelling what she thinks is “trick a tree” and she zooms into the nearest tree to show them how she can trick a tree and ends up meeting a trick-or-treater dressed up as a witch and takes her for a ride on her broom. Cute holiday read-out-loud book. Ages 5-8 P9Q7
Feiffer, Kate. Double Pink. Il. Bruce Ingman. Simon & Schuster books for Young Readers. N.Y., London, Toronto, Sydney. 2005. $15.95 29p. 0-689-87190-0. Madison loves pink. Madison loves pink so much that eventually she turns everything in her room pink, including herself. When her mother comes in to try to find her, everything is the same color and until Madison begins to cry and the tears wash away some of the pink face paint , her mother can’t see her. So she decides she is through with pink…but red is a nice color. Primitive but effective illustrations. Ages 5-8 P8Q7
Book Reviews November 2006 By K.R., English Teacher WHS
Freymann-Weyr, Garret. Stay With Me. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 2006. Leila Abranel is 20 years younger than her two older half-sisters, yet has an excellent relationship with one of them and her aunt. During the course of the story, these two women die, leaving Leila, who has dyslexia, alone to work out her problems with relationships as well as with challenges at school. Because her parents are dealing with their own grief, neither is there to advise her when the sixteen-year old meets Eamon, 31-years old. He won’t have anything to do sexually with the teen, but her growing maturity and dependence on Eamon create a very complex friendship. Leila’s family dynamics being what they are, I can see trouble ahead for this sensitive, but naïve girl. Eamon is respectful, but there are too many stories of young girls being taken advantage of by older men for me to feel comfortable with the way the story turns out. While I have a son who is 8 years younger than his wife, it has taken me a long time to enjoy his wife as much as I would like. The book’s presentation on the pages looks appropriate for younger students, but it is my seniors that I would suggest this book to, if I suggested it at all. P: 7 Q: 8 (for the writing style)
Hoffman. Alice. Incantation. Little, Brown and Company: New York. 2006. This historical-fiction novel is a well-written piece of literature that refers back to Spain in the 1500s where Estrella and her family live. They are caught up in the events of the time when the Jews were being persecuted. Thinking she is “safe” from the effects, Estrella leads a normal life, which includes a best friend who eventually turns on her and turns Estrella’s world upside down. Unfortunately, the book is not grade-appropriately. It would be wonderful for a world-history class; however, the writing style and the way the words are arranged on the page with double-spacing between lines make it appear more appropriate for middle school. On the other hand, the theme (essentially: it could happen to you) is appropriate for any grade. P: 8/9 Q: 8 (would make an excellent read-aloud)
Kathe Koja. Talk. Frances Foster Books: New York. 2005 I am ambivalent about books about gay teenagers. Most of them, like this one, have extremely handsome or beautiful protagonists and friends who fall in love with them. They, on the other hand, cannot/will not reciprocate so the friends end up feeling stupid or even bitter. So far I haven’t found one that realistically portrayed what it is like to be gay in high school. Although this one was well-written and included the conceit of three different voices and a controversial play, I found too many stereotypical secondary characters and even the situations are becoming “old.” When I find a novel about gay romance/friendship that seems realistic, I promise to extol its virtues, but until then, thumbs down for high school. It’s an easy read for less critical middle schoolers, but I am not even comfortable with making it available to them lest it give them the wrong impressions. P: ¾ Q: 7 for the writing
Meyer, Stephenie. New Moon. Little Brown and Company: New York. 2006. If you ever wondered what “true love” feels like to high school teens, this is the book to read. The author spends whole chapters allowing the protagonist, Bella to describe her feelings when her boyfriend (who just happens to be a “vegetarian” sort of vampire) leaves her, hoping that she can live a less dangerous life away from his family (who, in general exhibit self-control, but when Bella gets a paper cut (!) unwrapping a present at their home on her birthday she is attacked by 5 of the six family members). Edward doesn’t want to hurt her, but she begins to lead a life where she wants to hurt herself by making impulsive choices. I dunno how good the story actually is, because I certainly got tired of her “not being able to breathe” and asking Edward to “change” her. Even the werewolves get short shrift at the end. And yet, for the Goths at my school, this would probably be a terrific read. I’ll keep it. P: 8 Q: 8 It’s long and I got tired of Bella’s angst.
Sorrells, Walter. Fake ID: a Mystery. Sleuth Dutton: New York, 2006. Now THIS is a mystery! I highly recommend this novel to middle-schoolers who might be looking for a can’t-put-it-down book. The story concerns Chastity, who has never known her real name and has been running her whole life from something that frightens her mother. Unable to put down roots other places, she is finally comfortable (with everything but her name) when her mother disappears. Chass tries to solve the mystery and with some darn good ingenuity and help from her friends, she does so. This is Book I of a series. P: 8/9 Q: 8/9 for middle school
Book Reviews – November 2006 L.F, NMS/IMNS
Raimondo, Joyce. Express Yourself! Activities and Adventures in Expressionism. Watson-Guptill Publications, 2005. $12.95 ISBN: 0-8230-2506-3 48 p. Gr. 1-7.
Another in the series of “Art Explorers,” Express Yourself! Is a wonderful compendium of discussion topics, art activities, biographical data on artists, and stories about great works of art . This volume examines the work of 6 noted Expressionists, from Van Gogh to Pollock. Great things about the book: some very creative ideas to get kids immersed in the topic, the layout is exciting and engaging,, and there is a nice selection of discussion topics. Not so great things: too large a font and text layout choices makes it difficult to read; paintings are not well represented; some of the photos of the paintings are too dark. Overall, though, it’s a great addition to any elementary or middle school library. P7 Q8
Gifford, Clive. Consise Geography Encyclopedia. Kingfisher., Boston, 2005. $14.95 ISBN0-7534-5845-4 320 p. Gr. 3-8. It would be easy to dismiss this tiny (6” x 9”) volume as too superficial to be useful, but on closer inspection (and it’s not always easy, because the font is often tiny) this minicyclopedia is chockfull of interesting facts, photos, and decent maps of 193 countries. There’s also a helpful world overview map and a very useful table of earth statistics, that are not included in the T of C. Each country page also has the flag and other salient facts listed on the pages. While not in depth enough for older middle schoolers’ report writing, this volume is very handy for quick reference and invaluable for studying for a geography bee. At the price, it’s cheap enough to be affordable to classrooms, as well as libraries. Includes index, T of C, world overview map, Earth statistics summary table. P7 Q8
Myers, Walter Dean. Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride met Courage HarperCollins, New York, 2006. $17.89 ISBN: 0-06-001137-8 152 p. Gr. 5-8. While the focus of this wonderful book is on the 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I, this meticulously researched and eloquently presented text also gives the reader a glimpse into the patriotism and valor of African Americans from the Revolutionary War to the founding of the 369th. Very readable (great font choice!) text, supplemented with engrossing photos help to engage even reluctant nonfiction readers. This book is an important addition to any middle school or public library. P7 Q10
Noyes, Deborah. One Kingdom: Our Lives with Animals. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006. $18.00 ISBN: 0-618-49914-x 144 p. Gr. 7- up. I tried very hard to like this book. After all, it’s on a topic near and dear to my heart (the human-animal bond) and the author has packed the book with a milieu of mythical, scientific, historical, and psychobiological tidbits. For me, though, reading this book was like trying to see the wing pattern on a beautiful butterfly in flight– just impossible to follow and discern any relationships in the text from section to section. It is such ethereal writing that it’s hard to read, even for an adult. To make matters worse, the ‘sidebars’ that direct readers to related topics last for pages, which makes it even more difficult to follow the text. If the book had been done in a larger format, with the sidebars actually being sidebars, maybe the text messages wouldn’t have gotten lost. Negativity aside, there are a lot of thought-provoking insights and an abundance of interesting anecdotes that make this book a decent choice to supplement natural science sections in middle school libraries. P5 Q7
Caravantes. Peggy. Waging Peace: the Story of Jane Addams. Morgan Reynolds, Greensboro, NC, 2004. $24.95 ISBN: 1-931798-40-0 144 p. Gr. 5-8. One of a 24-book series on “World Writers”, this nicely-done tome covers the life, times, and motivations of Jane Addams. Caravantes meticulously sets the stage for Addams’ gradual conversion from a self-absorbed debutante to Nobel-prize-winning,, selfless social worker, founder of Chicago’s Hull House and author of seven books. There’s enough personal detail to engage young readers who want to find something to relate to in biographies, along with a big dose of mid-19th century Americana to lend a sense of perspective to Addams’ experiences, accomplishments, and frustrations. The only thing that I believe would’ve improved this book were more photos, maps, and illustrations. While it’s not exactly one of those books that is going to fly off the shelf with popularity, it’s a wonderful addition to any middle school’s biography section, and a must-have to complete any women’s history selections. Contains: T of C, timeline, glossary of terms, index, and endnotes. P5 Q8
Govenar, Alan. Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five Masters of Traditional Arts. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, 2006. $22.99 ISBN: 076362047-5 86 p. Gr. 5-12. This book pays homage to five of the U.S.’s finest folk artists: a Chinese operatic star, boatbuilder, cornona maker, weaver, and Mardi Gras “Indian.” Text and lush photos tell each artist’s story and the layout, font size, and liberal use of quotes make this an engaging book for young readers and a good book for classroom read-alouds. Though there are some editorial oversights (e.g., in the introduction the author says Nyssa, OR is near the Oregon-Montana border, though there is no such thing) the book is very well done and would make a great addition to any middle school folk art section. Contains: T of C, foreword, bibliography. P6 Q7
Miller, Edward. The Monster Health Book: a guide to eating healthy, being active & feeling great for monsters & kids! Holiday House, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1956-8 40 p. Gr. 1-5. This entertaining book is chock full of helpful information and fun anecdotes and is presented in a manner that would engage even reluctant nonfiction readers. Author Miller has chosen a big green monster to be the readers’ guide through the food pyramid, calorie counting, health concerns, and much more. The graphics are clean and colorful and don’t distract too much from the text. The Monster Health Book would make a great read-aloud for an elementary classroom working on health projects and contains a lot of discussion-provoking ideas. Also includes T of C and list of helpful websites. P6 Q7
Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Lerner Publications, Minneapolis, 2005. $29.27 ISBN: 0-8225-2372-8 112 p. Gr. 5-8. This nicely-done biography is part of A&E’s Biography series, which explains, perhaps, why it is a bit more media-oriented than traditional biographies. Guernsey does a more than adequate job of portraying H.R.C. as a considerate, intelligent, accomplished, and driven woman. Young readers will appreciate the photos and information about Hillary’s school years and be inspired by her dedication to causes and loyalty to loved ones. The text is thoughtfully interspersed with photos and sidebars and is very easy to read. This biography would be a n excellent choice for middle school libraries. Includes T of C, endnotes, bibliography, and index. P6 Q7
Diakite, Penda. I lost my tooth in Africa. Illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite. Scholastic, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-439-66226-5 32 p. Gr. 1-5. The writing in this book is so smooth and succinct, it’s hard to believe it came from someone so young (13); she is truly gifted. Her father’s rich, colorful ceramic tile illustrations capture the mood and supplement the text beautifully and make this book an outstanding choice for a classroom read-aloud. The story is about a young girl’s trip to Mali, African culture, chicken lust, and a folktale about losing teeth that is pretty far removed from what the traditional tooth fairy story. Includes Author & Artist’s Notes, Glossary, a n African recipe to try, and a native lullaby to sing. P7 Q8
McCartney, Paul, Geoff Dunbar & Philip Ardagh. High in the Clouds Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2005. $19.99 ISBN: 0-525-47733-0 # p. Gr. 2-5. This is one of those celebrity author books that has absolutely nothing to sell it but the author. The plot (hero sets off to promised land to set his people free) tired and trite, the illustrations mediocre, and the text nonengaging. While we might expect more from Paul McCartney, it was predictable that Philip Ardagh (of Eddie Dickens trilogy fame) would co-author something so lackluster and obviously aimed at the coffee-table market. It’s really tough to see what Paul might have contributed, as there’s nothing remotely lyrical in the text. As another reviewer put it: “Sorry Paul – you say yes, I say no, you say stop, and I agree.” P5 Q4
Jimmy Buffet and Savannah Jane Buffet. The Jolly Mon. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. Harcourt, Singapore, 2006 (edition with musical CD accompaniment) $17.95 ISBN: 0-15-205786-2 32 p. Gr. K-4. This is a celebrity authored book that truly does shine with the spirit of the author, and the 2006 edition’s accompanying CD is a wonderful addition that makes this an auditory delight as well. A fisherman gifted with a beautiful, hypnotic singing voice, Jolly Mon’s story begins with the discovery of a magic guitar in the waves. He uses his guitar and his voice to make others happy and to fish, but finds he needs help from a n angelic dolphin when he is forced to walk the plank by some thieving pirates. In the end, he becomes the benevolent king of Bananaland. The writing is a bit saccharine at times, as might be expected of something co-authored by an 8-year-old, but it’s a great story, nonetheless and the illustrations are soothing and creative. A good read-aloud, this would be a fun story to use to inspire classroom art activities. P7 Q6
Hurston, Zora Neale. Lies and Other Tall Tales. Illustrated by Christopher Myers HarperCollins, New York, 2005. $16.89 ISBN: 978-0-06-000656-3 40 p. Gr. 1-7. The author has been dead 40+ years, but the writing is fresh and vital and Myer’s collage illustrations make it refreshing and rich. The “lies’ are collections of what the illustrator calls “playing the dozens,” an African-American cultural practice. They are a bit like “yo mamma” insults, but folkloric and funny. While this book would be appreciated at the elementary level, it would be most useful in a middle school setting,, where teachers might use the text as fodder for a creative writing/art exercise. The only complaint I have about the book is that one of the fonts used is difficult to read at times. P7 Q9
Di Fiori, Larry. Jackie and the Shadow Snatcher. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006. $15.95 ISBN: 0-375-87515-8 32 p. Gr. 1-5. This simple tale is a good way to introduce kids to the graphic novel format, even though some words are beyond 3rd grade level. The protagonist, Jackie, has his shadow stolen and finds his shadow is one of many the crooks are using to make a ‘shadow quilt’ that will cloak them during crimes. The black and white illustrations are very thoughtfully laid out and the text is very readable. The author/illustrator chose a historic (1920’s) setting, but that makes the graphics all the more interesting and fun. A great addition to any elementary school library. P9 Q8
French, Vivian. Henny Penny. Illustrated by Sophie Windham. Bloomsbury, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 1-58234-706-9 32 p. Gr. K-3. This fresh treatment of the old tale is very fun and empowering (after all, even a chicken can use their brains to think their way out of a bad situation!) The pastel/pencil illustrations are funny and sumptuous and this is a book worthy of any elementary library’s collection. P7 Q8
DiTerlooney, Tiny. G is for One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book. Simon and Schuster, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-689-85290-9 p. Gr. K-5. This is not like any alphabet/counting book you have ever seen – it’s a bit dark at times, wild with characterizations, and pretty funny, overall Though the vocabulary and plot (there is a bit of one) is a bit advanced for the younger set, this book would make a great classroom read-aloud and might be used with the older classes to inspire creative writing. P6 Q7
Nesbit, E. Jack and the Beanstalk. Illustrated by Matt Tavares Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-7636-2124-7 p. Gr. K-4. Another refreshing treatment of an old tale, this beautifully illustrated book has more descriptive prose than most children’s books. It’s wonderful to read, and the characterizations of Jack and his mother lend depth to an otherwise shallow story. Nice addition to any elementary library. P6 Q7
November 2006 Reviews by J.C. LCLD cataloger
Fleming, Thomas. Everybody’s revolution : a new look at the people who won America’s freedom (Scholastic, c2006): 96 p. : ill. ISBN 0-439-63404-0 $19.99 Ages 10 through 14. Includes index, glossary, and further reading/web sites. P6Q7
A review of the events of the Revolutionary War concentrating on the contributions of immigrants, African Americans, Indians, women, and young people. Divided into six sections, the information in each section is fairly dense, with stories averaging only a few paragraphs. A good beginning point for further research. Recommended for school and public libraries.
Martin, George R. R. The ice dragon. Illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert. (Tom Doherty Associates, c2006): 106 p. : ill. ISBN 0765316315 /9780765316318 $12.95 Ages 10-14. P6Q5
When her family’s peaceful, isolated farm steading is attacked by flaming dragons, Adara rides the ice dragon to save lives. Previously released in 1980, in the collection Dragons of Light, this story is neither a children’s story nor an engaging fantasy for an adult audience. I was disappointed. Purchase if you have collected the author’s other works or have an emphasis on books about dragons (and have extra money lying around).
Pierce, Tamora. Terrier. (Beka Cooper series, book one) (Random House, c2006): 581 p. : map on lining papers. ISBN 978-0-375-81468-6 $18.95 Ages 14-up. P8Q7
In the land of Tortall, generations before Alanna became a knight, Beka Cooper, an ancestor of master thief George Cooper, begins her rookie training with the Provost’s Guard, commonly known as the Provost’s Dogs. Although women serve the kingdom as Guardswomen and knights, the social strictures on women’s activities sometimes make it difficult for girls to choose to enter the more active professions. Beka uses her ability to hear the spirits of the dead to solve the murders of poor workers secretly hired to dig gemstones and the kidnappings of babies and children. Given Pierce’s publishing history, this is sure to be a series of fantasy-based police procedurals. Recommended for middle and high school, as well as public libraries.
November 2, 2006 Book Reviews C.S.
LeFrak, Karen. Jake the Philharmonic dog . Marcin Baranski. Walker and Co., 2006. $16.95. 0-8027-9552-8 . Glossary. Unp. Ages 4 -12. One night during a thunderstorm Richie discovers his dog, Jake, is afraid of thunder. While playing a CD to distract Jake he learns his dog loves music. Richie works as a Philharmonic stagehand and Jake befriends the musicians, and eventually saves the day when the conductor loses his baton. Adorable illustrations complement the story line. Inspired by the real-life mascot of the New York Philharmonic. P8 Q8
Banks, Kate. Max’s words. Boris Kulikov. Frances Foster Books, 2006. $16.00 0-374-39949-2. Unp. Ages 4-10. Benjamin collects stamps, Karl collects coins, Max, the youngest brother, doesn’t have a collection. His brothers won’t share. Then Max decides to collect words! Will Max share? P7 Q8
Rand, Ann. Sparkle and spin: a book about words . Paul Rand. Chronicle Books, 2006. First published in 1957. $15.95. 978-0-8118-5003-2 Unp. Ages 4-10. Interesting, albeit somewhat awkward text is slightly complicated compared to the simplicity of the artwork. I feel is does not flow quite as smoothly as the book jacket leads you to believe. Text might take some explaining to younger children. The artwork is somewhat dated and kind of a disappointment after seeing and feeling the terrific cover. Comes off a bit dated. P4 Q5
Todd, Traci (Text). A is for astronaut: exploring space from A to Z . Sara Gillingham (Book design.). Chronicle Books, 2006. $14.95. 978-0-8118-5462-7. Unp. Ages 4-8, and older children for the sheer entertainment value. Wonderful combination of photos and retro illustrations for all things “spacey”. Easy to understand alphabet book, and Pluto is still a planet ; ) P7 Q7
Miura, Taro. Tools . Chronicle Book, 2006 [First published in Italy in 2005]. $15.95. 978-0-8118-5519-8. Unp. Ages 2-8. Simple, clean graphics presented in a very artistic manner. Each two-page layout features tools of a trade, the following two-page layout states and illustrates the profession who makes use of the tools. Quite an artful book that all ages can enjoy. P8 Q9
Leuck, Laura. Santa Claws . Gris Grimly. Chronicle Books, 2006. $16.95. 978-0-8118-4992-0. Unp. Ages 7-12. This dark spoof on Santa Claus is just twisted enough that it will be very popular with kids. The illustrations match the smooth flowing, it not a bit macabre, prose. “They help make poisonberry pies, crusty cookies topped with flies, and eggnog mixed with spider feet, in case ol’ Claws should want a treat.” P7 Q7
Nickle, John. Alphabet explosion: search and count from Alien to Zebra . Schwartz & Wade, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-83598-9. Unp. All ages. Following a slightly different path from the “I Spy” books, Nickle challenges the reader to find a certain number of items on each page, which begin a letter of the alphabet. It’s complicated and Nickles provides TWO pages of directions….. Objects, actions and colors are counted, if the number of objects begins with the same letter as the object it counts, a two-word item where each word begins with the same letter counts twice, and on and on and on. It definitely challenges the reader to think on multiple planes. I image you could tailor the challenges to be age appropriate. P7 Q8
Lionni, Leo. Alexander and the wind-up mouse . Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. [First published by Random House, 1969] $16.95. 0-394-80914-9. Unp. Ages 3 and up. Now this is a timeless fable and the artwork just does not get any better, (as opposed to Rand ’s Sparkle and Spin above.). Alexander is a lonely little mouse until he befriends Willy, a well-loved wind-up toy mouse. Now Alexander wishes to be a well-loved wind-up mouse also, until he gets a better idea. P10 Q10
Marrin, Albert. Oh, rats! : The story of rats and people . C.B. Mordan. Dutton Children’s Books, 2006. $16.99. 0-525-47762-4. 48p. Ages 10 and up. If ever there was a book that told the reader more than they really wanted to know, this might be it. Actually I think students and adults will find the book totally gross AND engrossing. Lots of historical perspective, interesting facts and surprisingly useful applications of this most prolific rodent population. Text is just slightly confusing in a couple places (pg.7, pg.13.) Marrin provides a bibliography as well as “rats in literature” (Browning’s Pied Piper), “Classics” (Charlotte Web, Wind and the Willows) and more! I recommend this one for middle school research and for fun! For the right readers: P10 Q 9
Fredericks, Mariah. Crunch Time . Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. $15.95. 978-0-689-86938-9. 315p. Ages 13-18. Another “formula” novel. Four high school juniors drop out of a SAT review class before it even gets underway. They decide to meet weekly and create their own study group. The dynamics of the diverse, not a group you might anticipate bonding. Teen relationships, stress and cheating are examined from four different viewpoints. Held my interest and although the setting is a private school in New York City I think teens will still be able to relate. P6 Q6
Lowry, Brigid. Things you either hate or love . Holiday House, 2006 [First published by Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd., Australia , 2005] $16.95. 0-8234-2004-3. 179p. Maybe a Bloomer! Georgia Reeves needs a job. She wants to earn enough money to go to a big concert where, Jakob and his band, Natural Affinity, will perform. Georgia is smitten with Jakob, she has a life-size cardboard cutout of him in her room and she talks to his image. She likes him ~~ he can’t talk back ! When Georgia ’s Aunt gives her a journal with a yellow satin (ugh!) she considers passing it along, until she gets an idea. She starts making lists in the journal: All time favorite t-shirt sayings; Things you can’t see; Silly things the world could do without; Things to do before you die. Georgia gets a job, and inadvertently a friend. This is a great story with a strong female character, realistic problems, and a great sense of humor. Lowry does a great job getting into the psyche of 15-year old Georgia . At times, this book had me laughing out loud. I can’t wait to read more by this author! P8 Q10.
November 2006 Reviews A.G. Indian Ed.
Picture Books for Young Ones
Macdonald, Maryann. Illustration by Anne Wilsdorf. The Costume Copycat. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2006. $10.99 29 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8037-2929-4 P8/Q8 This Halloween story explores sibling rivalry using the example of Halloween costumes. The younger sister, Angela, gets hand-me-downs and never really shines. Situations such as trick-or-treating in the rain will be very familiar to Oregon coast children, and will make them laugh. Angela finally gets her “moment in the sun” when her older sister comes down with chicken pox on Halloween (this won’t be familiar to young readers of today, since immunizations, but will give an opportunity for an adult to explain). The conclusion is satisfying—Angela not only gets recognized but she learns to be compassionate towards her older sister. The simple, colorful illustrations are engaging and amusing. The classic typeface will be easy for a younger child to read. This will make a good read-aloud for primary grades.
Schneider, Christine. Illustrated by Herve Pinel. I’m Bored. (translated from the French) NY: Clarion Books, 2006. $15.00 30 pp. ages 5-8 ISBN 0-618-65760-6 P8/Q8 Every parent has heard the statement “I’m bored”. This young man tries to get his parents to play with him, but they’re too busy. The boring grays of the illustrations get color as the child discovers his old toys can talk and he makes a roaring game of make-believe in his room. While his parents are trying to be scrupulous by banning him from the TV and computer, they apparently forget that “playing” can be messy and may involve their participation. The illustrations, including the endpapers, are inventive and the story is easy to relate to.
Lagonegro, Melissa. Chicken Little: Don’t Be a Chicken. NY: Random House, 2006. $3.99 32 pp. ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7364-2356-7 P8/Q6 The virtue of this “Step 1 Ready to Read” book is its funny illustrations and ease of reading. The story is virtually nonexistent; it’s more an exhortation not to be afraid even if you’re small. Each page is easy to read, and the pictures are amusing, but the story is less than satisfying.
Schories, Pat. Jack and the Night Visitors. Asheville, NC: Front Street, 2006. $13.95 24 pp. ages 2-6 ISBN 1-932425-33-0 P7/Q7 In this wordless book, Jack and his dog are awakened in the night by a strange light coming through the window from their roof. It turns out to be a shipload of small, robot-like aliens who are willing to be friendly. A night of play turns out badly when Jack wants to keep one of the aliens in a jar. The story lends itself to comments on openness to new things as well as the problems in grasping. It’s a cute book that is not at all scary, and should be appealing to pre-readers.
Prose, Francine. Illustrated by Einav Aviram. Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig. NY: Joanna Cotler Books (HarperCollins Pub.), 2005. $16.89 ages 4-9 30 pp. ISBN 0-06-008076-0 P8/Q9 Is fiction a pack of lies? This book about a European man who tells fantastic tales of faraway places illustrates the difference between “lies” and “stories”. In this case, his stories may not accurately reflect the real world, but they are entertaining and people want to hear them. The illustrations are lively in their brightly-colored primitive style. The typeface is decorative but perhaps difficult to read for an early reader. This book would do well for a read-aloud, especially as an introduction to storytelling.
Young Adult Novels
Friesner, Esther. Temping Fate. NY: Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin), 2006. $16.99 279 pp. ages 11-15 ISBN 0-525-47730-6 P8/Q7 This book may be a read-aloud pick for a 6th-grade class studying ancient Greece. Various of the familiar and less-familiar Greek myths are woven into this modern-day story. A teenage girl who enjoys the off-beat gets a summer job with a mysterious employment agency. The job she gets standing in for the Fates gives lots of room for trouble on the job. The difficult situations that arise give an opportunity for the story-teller to explore how the ancient Greek figures might fit into modern American experience, what motivates them, and how they are balanced in the Greek belief system. There’s no advanced adolescent development here, the love interest barely registers, nothing really scary. The ending provides a surprise, but the climax was a little hoaky and disappointing. The character and format does have potential for sequels. The main character’s “attitude”, however, gets a bit old.
Hoffman, Alice. Incantation. NY: Little, Brown & Co., 2006. $16.99 166 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-316-01715-9 P8/Q8 The author of this book also wrote “Practical Magic”, which became a movie. Set in Aragon, Spain of 1500, this novel of historic fiction features a coming-of-age girl who discovers that her family is secretly Jewish. The extreme intolerance of the time and place is vividly brought to life with the story. Estrella tells the story of jealousy and betrayal of her best friend. Given incentives by the government to turn Marranos over to the police, the average people of this small town point fingers of guilt at Catholic church members whose ancestors were Jews forced to convert. The marranos did their best to maintain their ancient traditions in secret, but were reviled as witches, their medical texts and surgical tools destroyed. The horrors of the Spanish Inquisition are brought home here, and the reader will get a much clearer picture of conditions faced by Jews throughout history that will serve as an example of social intolerance. The story was compelling. A middle school student won’t be put off by the violence of the book, but may be intrigued and further study history.
Friend, Natasha. Lush. NY: Scholastic Press, 2006. $16.99 178 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-439-85346-x P8/Q9 Written from the point of view of a 13-year-old girl, this story doubles as a coming-of-age story and a coping-with-an-alcoholic-parent story. Endowed early with an ample bustline, the protagonist deals with junior high bullying and hustling. She discovers that she’s not the only person whose life is a struggle when she acquires a new friend. The alcoholic father illustrates one style of the problem: He’s a successful architect whose wife is an enabler and who drinks into blackouts, one of which is nearly deadly to his preschool son. Those who have had to live with an alcoholic will find familiarity here. The story illustrates struggles, but on the whole is not a downer and was an enjoyable read.
McCall, Josh. The Blackout Gang. NY: Razorbill (Penguin), 2006. $10.99 188 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-59514-050-6 P4/Q2 In this volume of the “Sleuth” books, the reader is assailed with dream-fantasy qualities of the three 12-year-old heroes. They are very rich, very smart (even genius), endowed with loving, smart, well-positioned parents. While some readers may fantasize about having some of these qualities, this story is so top-heavy with glitz that it is unbelievable. The evil villain who blacks out the Northeast’s power and plans to kill his friend and install a cyber-brain really wants only to be loved. No one is hurt by the states-wide blackout in the heat of summer; instead, the populace wants to party and enjoy the day off. Vehicle break-downs are handled by passing celebrities. The villain can’t go through with his evil plan to “terminate” his friend due to an attack of conscience. Then marches in his loving nanny, who chews him out, and he accidentally flips the switch and turns her in to a Super Nanny. Within minutes he apologizes to everyone, they have a group hug, and they spend the night at his house. End of story. It’s as though the Syrupy Censor “corrected” every thought of death (the word “die” or “kill” is never used) and potential to scare the reader. Granted, it’s easy to read and it has a climax and conclusion. Beyond that, I can’t imagine a child so exceedingly sheltered that they’d be happy with the lack of realism that this story offers. The beginning of the story may suck them in, but it will leave them so disappointed (I was) they may not try reading a book again.
Wilson, Diane Lee. Black Storm Comin’. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $16.95 304 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-689-87137-6 P9/Q9 A 12-year-old boy, Colton, tries to get a job with the Pony Express in this unusual “western”. There are no Indians in the story, but race plays a part with the hero as a son of a white man and a free black woman, but who can pass for white. The family is moving west with a wagon train but is beset by the troubles of the trail—no doctors, difficult childbirth, broken wagon wheels, lack of food. A gun accident while in Nevada precipitates it all: the depressive father accidentally shoots the son in the leg, then takes off in apparent remorse, leaving the family to fend for itself. Racism is a theme of the story, but it is also about a boy’s doggedness and the importance of cross-country communication on the eve of the Civil War. The prose is easy, in a colloquial style. Those who like horse stories and action-adventure will appreciate this one. I could hardly put this book down, and despite having to go to work I finished it in less than 24 hours. This book is heartily recommended, and should appeal especially to middle schoolers studying the pre-Civil War era as well as to horse enthusiasts, male or female. It would work well as a read-aloud for middle school, since the audience will be anxious to know how it turns out. It is devoid of love interests, but despite that it should serve a high school audience well, too.
Strickland, Brad. Grimoire: The Curse of the Midions. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2006. $11.99 233 pp. ages 8-15 ISBN 0-8037-3060-8 P7/Q7 This fantasy is fairly captivating. Twelve-year-old Jarvey goes to London with his family for the reading of a relative’s will when he gets caught up in some magic that he seems to have inherited as well. This is book one of a series, and after Jarvey’s exit from the darkly-constructed world he was hurled into after tangling with a magic book there will no doubt be other fantasy worlds with which he’ll have to contend in later volumes of the series.
Bruchac, Joseph. The Return of Skeleton Man. NY: Harper Collins, 2006. $15.99 137 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-06-058091-7 P8/Q7 As a sequel, this story probably isn’t as exciting as the original, but it has plenty of foreshadowing, odd characters, and action, and isn’t terribly long. The heroine, Molly, and her family are Mohawk Indians from New York, and the story is a sort of modern spin-off on an ancient tradition of cannibal-boogey-men featured in legends of a variety of Native cultures. Molly turns out to be level-headed and surprisingly resourceful. The illustrations don’t add much to the story and are a bit stiff. The story should lend itself to a class read-aloud.
Jarvis, Robin. Illustrated by Jeff Petersen. The Whitby Witches. SF: Chronicle Books, 2006 (text first published in Great Britain in 1991). $17.95 296 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-8118-5413-2 P9/Q9 Two young orphan siblings are sent to live with an elderly lady at the English seaside. Eight-year-old Ben’s disability with other families turns into an advantage there as he discovers that his “sight” finds him new friends and can help save—or destroy—the world. This charming story of magic stands alone, but it was a relief to find that the trilogy has already been written. I’m anxious to know the fate of the mythical “fisherfolk” that little Ben and Aunt Alice can see, but which practical Jennet cannot. This story could work as a read-aloud to an elementary-age audience (though a bit long for a class), and should appeal to those who like Harry Potter.
November 2006 B.R. Yaquina View Elementary
Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About Farms. Ills. by Christopher Moroney. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375836845. Unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q8, P7) Kids are always asking where their food comes from. This book will help them understand that the grocery store is not the answer. Grover and Elmo will take us to the farm where vegetables and fruit are grown, cows are milked and how animals contribute to our food supply. The crisp clear pictures add interest to this simply written book. Included in this book are special projects to do with your child.
Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About Dogs. Ills. by Joe Mathieu. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375835148. Unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q8, P7) Grover and Elmo introduce the reader to many breeds of dogs in this delightful book. They explain how to take care of dogs properly. Barkley, the Sesame Street dog, visits to help Grover and Elmo. This book would be great to have if you are contemplating getting a dog for your little child. Included are special projects to do with your child.
Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About the Five Senses. Ills. by Christopher Moroney. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375835164. Unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q8, P7) Grover and Elmo are here to tell children about the five senses and how important they are. Simple explanations combined with crisp pictures and drawings will entice children to read this book. Included are special projects to do with your child.
Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About Things That Go. Ills. by Joe Mathieu. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375835156. Unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q8, P7) Sesame Street stars Grover and Elmo are here to tell children all about things that take us places, bikes, wagons, wheelchairs, strollers and trucks and race cars. Youngsters will love to look at the colorful pictures and learn.
Weber, Belinda. Reptiles. Kingfisher, c2006. ISBN 0753459825. 47 pgs. $9.95. Grades 1st-5th. (Q8, P7) Magnificent and up close photography takes a reader into a personal encounter with these slippery, slithery reptiles. This is an excellent book for a student who will be writing a report on reptiles, plenty of information from habitats to reproduction to their senses. Includes fun and easy projects and an index.
Harris, Caroline. Weather. Kingfisher, c2006. ISBN 0753459833. Pgs. 39. $9.95 Grades 1st-5th. (Q8, P7). Starting with the question “What is weather?” this book has all information any child would like to know about weather. Changing seasons, wind, clouds, stormy days, snow and even a chapter on future weather is included. The photographs are beautiful and three weather projects are included at the end of the book.
Ginzi, Christiane. The Best Book of Whales and Dolphins. Kingfisher, c2001. ISBN 075345369X. 31 Pgs. $12.95 Grades 1st-5th. (Q7, P8) The Best Book of Whales and Dolphins introduces you to the life of these wonderful animals. Starting with the first whales and dolphins to their life in the oceans, the danger they live in, to how they hunt for prey and more, this book is a wonderful for the student who is writing a report on dolphins or whales. Included in the book is a glossary and index.
Ginzi, Christiane. The Best Book of Big Cats. Kingfisher, c2001. ISBN 075345369X Pgs. 31. $12.95. Grades 1st-5th. (Q7, P8) The vivid pictures bring you face to face with these beautiful big cats. Excellent information with easy to read text will make this book popular for those needing to make reports. An illustrated glossary and comprehensive index is included.
Goodrich, Carter. A creature was stirring. One Boy’s Night Before Christmas Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 0689863993. Unp. $16.95 Grades PreS.-4th. (Q6, P7) Carter Goodrich had adapted this story into a child’s point of view. Along with the traditional poem, Goodrich has added a delightful poem of a child’s long night before Christmas. Children of all ages will relate to this book.
Hapka, Cathy. Merry Christmas Curious George. Houghton Mifflin Company, c2006.ISBN 0618692371. Unp. $16.00 Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P8) George can’t wait to help the man with the Yellow hat pick out a Christmas tree. He decided to go off by himself to look. He ends up hiding in a tree that was cut down and taken to a children’s hospital. George decorates the tree and captures the hearts of the nurses and children patients alike. Youngsters will enjoy this hilarious story.
Draper, Judith. My First Horse and Pony Care Book. Kingfisher, c2006. ISBN 0753459892. Pgs. 48. $9.95 Grades 3rd-6th. (Q9, P8) In 1999, Judith Draper was awarded Equestrian Writer of the Year by the British Horse Society. This book with its questions will amaze, amuse and inspire young riders to become better. The clear photos will be enjoyed by any, young or old, who take time to browse through the book. The book has a glossary and index.
Beaumont, Karen. Move Over, Rover! Ills. by Jane Dryer. Harcourt, c2006. ISBN 0152019790. Unp. $16.00. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P6) This is a very touching story about sharing what one had and another does not. BUT beware sometimes sharing with everyone is too much. It was okay when Rover welcomed Squirrel, Raccoon, Blue Jay, Snake, and Cat and Mouse, but when Skunk joined them, it was TOO MUCH!!
Hennessy, B.G. Mr. Ouchy’s First Day. Ills. by Paul Meisel. G. P. Putnamn’s Sons, C2006. ISBN 0399242481. UNP. $15.99 Grades 1st-5th. (Q6, P6) Not only do students look forward to school beginning so do teachers. Mr. Ouchy is starting his first day of teaching. He worries that his children might not like him, will he be able to find the bathroom, even if he will be able to remember all of his students names. His students teach him the difference between a short minute and a long minute when he always thought a minute was the same length.
Anderson, Derek. How the Easter Bunny Saved Christmas. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 0689876343. $15.95. Unp. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P7) When Santa is knocked out cold by a toy train on Christmas Eve what were Mrs. Santa and the Elves to do? Mrs. Santa thought the only other person who could travel the world in one night was Easter Bunny, so she called him. Easter Bunny rushes to the North Pole and with the help of eight reindeer they save Christmas.
Kidslabel, Spot 7 School. Chronicle Books, c2006. ISBN 0811853241. Unp. $12.95. Grades 3rd-8th. (Q7, P8) Look closely at the two photographs, they look the same but there are seven things different. Can you spot them? This book included a riddle on each spread and extra things to look for. Children will sit for hours pouring over this book.
Cabrera, Jane. Ten in a Bed. Holiday House Book, c2006. ISBN 0823420272. Unp.$16.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P6) Ten stuffed animals in bed, all dressed differently. A snorer, a cook, a trumpeter, etc. all falling out of bed when everyone rolls over. Children will love listening to this book, but as a bedtime story, they might just have trouble settling down for the night.
Hughes, Susan. Earth to Audrey. Ills. by Stephane Poulin. Kidspress., c2005. ISBN 1553378431. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P7) A summer friendship can be special. Whenever Ray sees Audrey something unusual is happening. She trains grasshoppers, her pigtails look like antennae’s and Ray decides she is an alien. Audrey helps Ray see the world he lives in differently.
Broach, Elise. Cousin John is coming!. Ills. by Nate Lilly. Dial Books for Young Readers,. C2006. ISBN 0803730136. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P7) Ben and the kitty does not like Cousin John coming to visit. John is a bully when Mom isn’t looking. As Mom chats on about what they can do when John is there, Ben imagines what will really be happening. Just As Ben and the kitty try to escape, Mom tells that John has developed an allergy to cats, and oh what fun they are thinking of now. The cartoon like illustrations bring the text to life.
Krupinski, Loretta. Pirate Treasure. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525475796. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q8, P8) A furious store drives the pirate slip, Daisy, up river and Captain Oliver and his First Mate Rosie decide to settle in the village of Mousam. They become farmers and soon discover growing grain is easy, but making new friends isn’t. A new storm arrives and the villagers and Captain Oliver and First Mate Rosie become good friends by helping each other in their time of need.
Adler, David A. Satchel Paige Don’t Look Back. Ills. by Terry Widener. Harcourt, Inc. c2006. ISBN 0152055851. Unp. $16.00 Grades 3rd-8th. (Q6, P6) Satchel Paige was one of America’s greatest pitchers, but he was African American and wasn’t allowed into the major leagues. He played for the Negro Baseball Leagues from 1923 till 1948 when he signed with the Cleveland Indians. This story would be fantastic for the person who is a baseball lover, or readers who are interested in African American history.
Carlson, Nancy. First Grade Here I Come. Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670061271. Unp, $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Henry is not so sure he enjoyed his first day of first grade, until he returned home to tell Mom all about it. For everything different than Kindergarten, something positive happened. A thoroughly enjoyable book to read to those Kindergarten students at the end of the school year and to the first graders just starting school in the fall.
Berekely, Jon. Chopsticks. Random House, c200-6. ISBN 0375833099. Unp. $16.95. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q6, P6) A mouse named Chopsticks becomes friends with the wooden dragon guarding the doors of a floating restaurant on the faraway island of Hong Kong. Their friendship takes them flying through the world every full moon to wonderful adventures.
Clements, Andrew. Slippers Loves to Run. Ills. by Janie Bynum. Dutton’s Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525476482. Unp. $12.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P8) Slippers loves to run with his family, but one Saturday everyone was too busy to run with him. After running, by himself, around the house, the garden, the swing set and the sandbox, Slippers finds an open place in the fence. Yes, he decided to explore the BIG place out there. Out there in the BIG place people weren’t as friendly as his family, there he was chased away. Slippers finally makes his way home where he remembers why he likes to run.
Choldneki, Gennifer. How to Make Friends with a Giant. Ills. by Amy Walrod. G.P. Putman’s Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399237798. Unp. $16.99. Grades K 2nd. (Q6, P6) Jake is always being teased because he is the shortest kid in the class. When Jacomo, a giant boy, moves in next door, Jake understands Jake’s problems with being different. They become good friends as Jake helps Jacomo through his first day at school.
Wilson, Karma and John Segal. Sleepy head. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2006 ISBN 141691241X. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P5) The ploys children use to not go to sleep are all demonstrated in this enchanting book. One more book, one more hug, one more kiss, Another snuggle, another drink, it goes on until the final kiss and hug is given and baby falls asleep.
Amico, Tom and James Proimos. Raisin and Grape. Ills. by Andy Snair. Dial Books, C2006. ISBN 0803730918. Unp. $12.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q5, P5) This is not a book that will be picked up and up again, once through will be enough. The story is okay as it describes a walk through the park for Grandpa Raisin and young plump Grape. They make a good team, Raisin tells long stories but Grape can only listen short. Raisin walks slowly but Grape is fast. This would be a good book to read during Grandparents week.
Falconer, Ian. Olivia forms a band. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006. ISBN 141692454X. Unp. $17.95 Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P7) Olivia is at it again. This time the family is off to the fireworks, but when Olivia finds out there will be no band she decides to put one together by herself. All by herself. She gathers all she will need, pots, pans, lids, whistles, bells, and more. What a racket she makes. When off to the fireworks display, Olivia decides she doesn’t feel like having a band. Another delightful book with a charming story and marvelous pictures.
Drescher, Henrik. Hubert the Pudge A Vegetarian Tale. Candlewick Press, c2006. ISBN 0763619922. Unp. $16.99 Grades PreS-2nd. (Q4, P3) Hubert is a pudge and pudges don’t ever grow up because they are shipped off to the pudge factory where they are turned into things to eat. Only Hubert escapes and runs wild eating everything is sight and grows to enormous proportions. He finally returns to the farm and forces Farmer Jake to stop picking on pudges. The pictures are gruesome looking and the story is uninspiring, except maybe at the end when Farmer Jake goes to the gym to work out and becomes trim and good looking. There he meets his trainer Heidi, they fall in love and marry. Together they open a Tofu Hut Dogs Company.
Adler, David A., You Can, Toucan, Math. Ills. by Edward Miller. Holiday House, c2006. ISBN 0823419193. $16.95. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q5, P5) Bird math is what this book is all about. Adding, subtracting, multiplying and division word problems are presented in rhyming verse. Young readers might be amused with the lively problems and computer generated illustrations. Solutions and tables are provided.
Wick, Walter. Can You See What I See? Once Upon a Time. Cartwheel Books, c2006. ISBN 0439617774. $13.99. Unp. Grades 1st-5th. (Q8, P8) From the photographer of the I Spy books, this book used fairy tales to product a new book of search and find. Enchanting are the pictures, although some of the items are clearly found others are hidden farther into the picture and it will take some time to find them.
Carmody, Isobelle. Little Fur, The Legend Begins. Random House, c2005. ISBN 0375838546. $12.95. 195 Pgs. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q7, P6) “In the middle of a great, sprawling gray city was a place that no human had ever entered.” and so the adventure begins. Little Fur, half elf half troll, as tall as a three-year old child with wild red hair and slanted green eyes, lives in a wilderness in the middle of a sprawling city. Although no human has ever entered Little Fur’s area sometimes humans talk of getting rid of the wilderness. Little Fur learns of tree burners and is determined to save her home. This eco-fantasy is a wonderful way of teaching children that the environment is worth fighting for.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers December 2006 by S.E. Grandparent Volunteer
Graham, Rosemary. Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude, and other commandments I have broken. Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2005. 0-670-06017-8 $16.99. 281p. Grades 6-12. P7 Q7. Kelsey moves from Boston to Berkeley, California after her mother gets admitted to Boalt Hall, Cal Berkeley’s Law School. Her parents, who are divorced, put her in a snooty private middle school in Berkeley where she is made to sit and eat with the sixth graders because the eighth graders have snubbed her all school year. She pleads and begs her parents to let her enroll in East Bay High, a public school in Berkeley and they allow her to do this. During the summer before high school starts, Kelsey makes friends with her grandmother’s best friend’s granddaughter Amy who is a grunge/goth/retro/vegan. She also gets involved with the most popular guy in East Bay High, CJ, who is a world class skateboarder. She reads his blogs online and realizes that a lot of young ladies are chomping at the bit to get close to him. She and CJ go together for a year and when she decides it would be in her best interest to break it off with him, he writes in his web blog that she is a tramp who can’t get enough sex and that he had to break up with her. Since most of the school reads what is on his blog every day, she is automatically snubbed by her peers. She tries to find solace by becoming a reporter in the school newspaper. She does a story on one of the street couples she meets while walking on Telegraph Avenue and takes their picture and does an article on their homeless plight. The co-editors of the paper were at one time a couple and when she submits her article, she comes under the watch and wrath of the female co-editor. After a lot of tribulation, she gets her article published in the paper, she gets CJ to apologize to her and all is right with the world again. The title is one of the reasons I gave this book the popularity score that I did. It is an easy read and most high schoolers could identify with the characters in this book.
Giles, Gail. What Happened to Cass McBride? Little, Brown and Co. Time Warner Book Group. c2006. 0-316-16638-3. $16.99. Ages 13 and up. P8Q8 This interesting book is told from the perspective of three different characters and starts off with Kyle, an older boy who was off at college and who is now being questioned by the police regarding the disappearance of Cass McBride. The second chapter is told by Cass, who finds herself in a small enclosure that is damp, cramped and earthy smelling making the reader and Cass realize that she is in a coffin buried in the ground. Cass is a shallow popular girl who is running for homecoming queen and is trying to be nice to everyone so that she will win. She is asked out by David, Kyle’s little brother who Cass and her friends think of as a geek, and although she tells him no, she makes it apparent that he should ask again so as not to hurt his feelings and to get his vote when homecoming elections come. She writes a note to her friend who sits in the same desk as Cass next period. In the note she slams David and says things that would hurt the sensitive young man should he read it. After class he sees the note crumpled up under Cass’s desk and reads the awful truth of how she feels about him and he goes home and hangs himself in the front yard of their home. To pay her back for the death of his brother, Kyle buries Cass in a coffin alive. The story of Kyle’s and David’s abuse by their parents comes out during the book but Kyle only sees that his brother killed himself over what Cass’s note said rather than the whole abusive childhood he and his brother endured. He sits on the grave through which he has made an air hole and talks to Cass a lot, explaining what his life was like and what David’s life was like and that he was the one who told his brother to ask out a popular girl to get his mom off David’s back. When Kyle left for college, his mom took out all of her aggressions on David since he was the only child left. It gives Cass and the reader the reason Kyle has done what he has. She is hoping that by talking with her abductor, she will be able to talk him out of leaving her there to die. Ben, the third vantage point, is the detective we meet at the beginning of the book tries talking with Kyle too to try to find out where he may have taken Cass and at the end of the book, without the help of Kyle, finds out where she has been buried. She is found alive but changed forever because of her ordeal. It is a disturbing book but it is a good read and very well could happen.
Halilbegovich, Nadja. My Childhood under Fire a Sarajevo Diary. Kids Can Press Ltd. Canada c2006. 1-55337-797-4. $14.95. 120p. Grades 6-10. P5Q5. Twelve year old Nadja lives in Sarajevo. Her story takes place two years after the Olympics were held in this town and her city became besieged by what she calls the aggressors. For four years her city was mortared and shelled daily by the Yugoslav National Army, closing the city off to water, electricity, medical supplies and food. She lived in a basement by night and their apartment by day although most of her time was spent in the basement due to the constant shelling. This book is her diary and although it isn’t as dramatic and sad as Anne Frank’s diary, it is the most vivid account of the longest siege in modern history. Her words were published while the war was raging and she was the one responsible for letting the world know what was happening to the children of Sarajevo. 1,601 children were killed by mortar fire, snipers and bombing of the town’s hospitals, libraries, churches mosques and synagogues and the places where people would stand in line to get water. 10,615 people in all were killed. She snuck through a tunnel to safety before the war ended and became a spokesperson for the injustices in her country. It is a true accounting of an awful time for the Bosnian people and has the reader wondering what they would be feeling if their country were taken over by “aggressors”
Birdseye, Tom. A Tough Nut to Crack. Holiday House. c2006. 0-8234-1967-3. $16.95. 113p. Grades 5-9. P6Q6. When Cassie Bell’s father gets a call in Oregon from her grandpa’s next door neighbor saying her grandpa is in the hospital, she and her little brother and her dad take off for Kentucky. Cassie has never met her grandpa and her father never speaks of him. When she arrives at her grandpa’s farm, she begins to feel the spirits of her dead mother and grandmother who are leading her to patch things up between her dad and grandpa. She spends a lot of time trying to figure out what came between the two men so very long ago and is surprised at how such a little thing could have separated the two. Her grandpa is a loving and kind man and she and her little brother are immediately drawn to him. He starts to get well but there is a dark storm brewing and the wheat hasn’t been brought in from the fields yet. The family pools together and brings the crop in before the first rain falls, the rift between the two men is settled, and Cassie learns about country life and all that it entails. It is a cute story and an easy read for the younger grades.
Patron, Susan. IL Matt Phelan. The Higher Power of Lucky. Atheneum books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, NY. c2006. 1-4169-0194-9. $16.95. 134p. Grades 6-10. P9Q8. Lucky is a 10 year old girl being brought up by her absent father’s first wife after the death of her mother. She lives in a town called Hard Pan, population 46, in the high eastern desert of California. Lucky spends her days eavesdropping near a hole in the outer wall of the local garage near the dumpsters where all the anonymous groups are held vowing to give it up to the higher power. She has seen how this power affects the people who gather there on a regular basis and wonders what her “higher power” might be. When she finds a note from her guardian’s mom in France, where Bridgette is from, saying that she wishes that Bridgette lived closer and puts all the other signs together, she wrongly realizes that she may be going to a foster care home in Los Angeles if Bridgette goes home to France. She runs away and finds herself confronted with her higher power. It is a wonderful tale about a girl living on food commodities in two trailers out in the middle of nowhere and how she is able to make a life for herself with seemingly nothing.
Cave, Patrick. Sharp North. Atheneum books for Young Readers NY, London, Toronto, Sydney. C2006. ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-1222-4. ISBN-10: 1-4169-1222-3. $16.95. 518p. Grades 13-up. P8Q7. This is a story about a young lady raised in the mountain community of what would be post apocalyptic Scotland. She is constantly watched and knows that her birth mother lives south in what would be known as South England and she takes off to find out what and where she came from. The world has changed in the last 100 years from when the wars of the world wiped out civilization as we know it and global warming has changed the face of the earth forever. Cloning for spare parts has become a commonplace thing among the great families, one of which is the Saint family to which Mira, our young seeker was a member. It is a believable book and is written with enough suspense that the young readers will follow it easily and avidly.
Lupica, Mike. Heat. Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Books for young readers, NY. C2006. 0-399-24301-1. $16.99. 220p. Grades 6-up. P8Q8. A young Cuban American boy in New York is banned from playing ball when the team makes it to the series but he can’t prove his age. His father had died two weeks before and rather than tell social services, which he and his older brother won’t do because they would be put in foster homes, there is no way for Michael, who is one of the most accurate pitcher ever in the game of little league baseball, to prove that he is only 12 years old. His brother had been holding down two jobs to pay the rent and make the bills and gets into trouble when he finds that doing illegal things can pay more bills. The story winds around to where one of the most famous Cuban players, El Grande gives Michael a copy of his true birth certificate and he is able to play ball.
Cushman, Karen. The Loud Silence of Francine Green. Clarion Books, NY. C2006. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-50455-8. ISBN-10: 0-618-50455-9. $16.00 tent. 228p. Grades 6-12 P7Q8. The year is 1949 and Francine is one of those girls who never speaks her mind and tries to blend in with whatever she is around until she takes Sophie as her best friend. Francine was surprised that Sophie was going to her school now since it was a Catholic school and Sophie does speak her mind and has gotten kicked out of more than one school. Francine is sure that going to this school will take some of the wind out of Sophie’s sails but instead had the opposite effect. Sophie’s father is a writer in Hollywood and pretty much lets his daughter have her say. People had to think twice before saying anything that may sound communistic. One of Sophie’s father’s friends kills himself after being blacklisted and when Sophie doesn’t come to school, Francine remembers how she treated Sophie in front of all the kids when Sophie would get into trouble with the nuns. She goes over to Sophie’s house to apologize and finds that Sophie has moved. She thinks of all the ways that she let her best friend down and finally gets motivated to confront the nun who mercilessly intimidated and harassed Sophie the most and then Francine finally speaks out.
Pearsall, Shelley. Crooked River. Random House Children’s Books, Alfred Knopf Books for Young Readers. C 2005. 0-375-82389-1. $15.95. 256p. Grades 8-12. P8Q8. This is a story of a frontier family in 1812 and two young ladies, Laura 17 and Rebecca 13 whose sole purpose in life was to wait, hand and foot, on the four men that also lived in the cabin. Their father and two brothers and a cousin they had taken in when his folks died also lived in this giant room. Their cabin was the biggest one near the settlement. From morning until night they would wash and scrub and mend and cook and if it wasn’t done to their father’s liking, they had to endure his wrath. Their mother had died years earlier so it was to them that the responsibility of the house fell. There was a huge loft that held all their provisions for the winter and up there was also a shackled young Ojibwa man, Amik, the settlement people had nicknamed Indian John that their father had put because there was no jail near the settlement and it was the biggest cabin around that could hold the Indian until the judge came to town. It is the story of hatred and fear and of a lawyer that came in from the east coast to defend his old Ojibwa friend from childhood against the charge of murder. The townsfolk wanted to see the Indian and so there were people who the girls were forced to give entrance to their cabin and one day saw a man, who would later be testifying for the prosecution, take a feather out of the Indian’s headband. When the trial started the girls went to the proceedings and even though they knew that what the witnesses were saying were lies, they couldn’t tell anyone because they were only women and they knew their place. This is also the story of a young Ojibwa man and his own story is told in bold italics during the course of the book. Although the book is fiction, it was taken from a true accounting of something similar that happened around that time in Ohio, the only state to have no reservations or lay home to any tribal nation. The real accounting had a much different ending and I prefer the ending the author gave in this book.
Darrow, Sharon. Trash. Candlewick Press, Mass. C 2006. ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-2624-2. ISBN-10: 0-7636-2624-4. $16.99. 148p. Grades 7-up. P6Q8. Sissy and Boy lived wherever they could. Aunties and uncles and people who knew their father or mother. Raynell was the most persistent of their relatives. Sissy and Boy (their mom didn’t name them) hang out with the “taggers,” a group of kids who paint graffiti on whatever moves or doesn’t move. The poetry is a story of hopelessness and relentless bad luck that follows them to St. Louis and one night finds her with her brother dead and herself in jail, the tragedy that makes Sissy reevaluate where she wants her future to be go.
Hollyer, Belinda. IL Susan Hellard. She’s All That. Kingfisher a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint Mass. C2006. 0-7534-5852-7.$14.95. 128p. Grades 6-12. P8Q9. Cute black and white illustrations in this colorful compilation of poetry about girls. Ogden Nash, Gertrude Stein, Edna St.Vincent Millay, Carl Sandburg are among the many writers selected for this wonderfully whimsical book that covers a wide range of cultures and countries and provide rich fodder for all girls reaching the “difficult” age of “teens.” It is an uplifting and joyful book written for teens whether girls or not.
Cattrall, Kim and Amy Briamonte. IL Marf. Being a girl. Little, Brown and Co. NY. c2006. 0-316-01102-9. $18.99. 128p. Grades 7-12. P8Q7. Kim Cattrall has become a teen idol from her role on Sex and the City. This is her book of advice to young women about friendship, dating, losing weight, makeup, what’s hot and what’s not. It is filled with stories of her youth and how she conquered her fears and angst about being a teenager. She talks about when a teen is pressured into having sex as opposed to wanting to have sex and talks about both. The book is filled with pictures of her as a young girl and the various stages she went through while growing up. Young female readers will check out and popularize this book just by Cattrall’s image on the cover and because of its subject matter.
Winthrop, Elizabeth. IL Bagram Ibatoulline. The First Christmas Stocking. Delacorte Press, a Random House Children’s Books. c2006. 0-385-32804-4. $15.95. Grades3-6. P10Q10. A beautifully illustrated book about a young girl in long ago times who lived with her coal mining father and her mother who knitted the finest stockings around so that all the rich folks would come to their house to commission their stockings and garments to be made for their families. They, however, were poor and had no extra money for candles and they lived in a dark part of town so that all the knitting was done by the slim light near the window. Claire loved sitting at the hem of her mother’s skirts as she went to sleep by the sound of the knitting needles weaving dreams and happiness into each garment her mother knitted. Just before Christmas one year, her mother died, leaving little Claire to do all the knitting and one night one of the meanest of the rich ladies came to her door and commissioned her to knit six socks for her children and she wanted them by Christmas Eve night. Claire wanted the money to get Christmas candles to burn all day and night and enough wood to make her home warm throughout the day and night so she knitted day and night and day and night and by Christmas Eve night she had just enough energy to make it up the hill to the rich ladies house to get paid for the stockings that she made. While walking up the hill, she noticed a small boy barefoot in the snow crouched by the churchyard wall. He said he couldn’t feel his feet. She said she knew what it felt like to be cold so she gave him a sock for each foot and a sock to put on each of his hands and a sock for his head and by the time she was through, she had but one sock left which she took to the disgruntled rich lady up the hill. When she woke up the next day she was greatly rewarded for this very thoughtful gift she had given the little boy on Christmas Eve.
Willey, Margaret. IL Heather M. Solomon. A Clever Beatrice Christmas. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, NY, Toronto, London, Sydney. c2006. 0-689-87017-5. $16.95. Grades K-3. P9Q9. This is a French-Canadian story of a young girl who everybody knows is the most clever girl in the village. When some of the kids are on the pond ice skating they ask her to join them because they have lots of questions to ask her about Pere Noel, the French/Canadian version of our Santa Claus. She tells them of his beautiful White Beard and of his buttons of his coat which are shiny gold and of his cape that has the softest fur and of his bells that he wears and tells the village children that she will bring them samples of his beard and buttons and bells and fur on Christmas Day after he has come to visit. When she should have been sleeping, Clever Beatrice waits until she hears the sound of the reindeer bells and sneaks out to see Pere Noel. This is a wonderful story to read out loud at Christmas time and a good story for a young reader’s first book.
Newman, Marjorie. IL Ken Wilson-Max. Just Like Me. Walker Publishing Co. Distributed by Holtzbrinck Publishers NY. C2006. 0-8027-8080-6. $15.95. Grades K-3. P8Q8. This is a story about a boy, Tom, whose mother is going to have a new baby. He feels left out of things and has to stay at grandma’s house when his mom’s time comes. When the baby comes home, Tom can’t stand not being the center of attention and having everybody oooing and ahhing over the new baby. It takes the mom and dad time to figure out that Tom needs to be included and to feel as loved as the new baby is. It is a good read aloud story and the young readers will identify with the feelings that Tom has when he is “replaced” by a new model.
Cooper, Elisha. Beach. Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Books, NY. C2006. 0-439-68785-3. $16.99. Grades K-3. P9Q9. This author illustrated book is a watercolor book about what the beach looks like before, during, and after the beachgoers adventures on a day at the beach. It shows everything one can do at the beach and it is a good read aloud book.
Milgrim,David. Young MacDonald. Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Books, NY. C2006. 0-525-47570-2. $12.99. Grades K-3. P8Q8. This story could be sung to the tune of “Old MacDonalds Farm” but young MacDonald makes different kinds of animals by making them half one kind of animal and half another kind of animal. The young reader will have fun with the noises these new types of animals make.
Clements, Andrew. IL Mike Reed. A Million Dots. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. NY. C2006. 0-689-85824-8. $16.95. Grades1-6. P9Q10. A clever book by the author of Frindle. It shows what a million dots would look like and tells on each page how many dots so far have been put on the pages and also gives information about how many those dots would represent if they were pencils or miles to the moon or butterfly species or gumballs or how many school cartons of milk it would take to fill a swimming pool. Wonderfully illustrated and fascinating for readers of all ages.
Book Reviews – December 2006 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Blackstone, Margaret and Guest, Elissa Haden, Girl Stuff: A survival guide to growing up Illustrated by Barbara Pollak. Harcourt., New York, 2006. $8.95 ISBN: 0-15-205679-3 181 p. Gr. 6-10. At first glance, it’s a bit difficult to accept a book with so many blatant details about sex. Without it , however, this would be just another title that doesn’t go far enough to answer kids’ questions. Blackstone and Guest shine a million candlepower lamp into the dark corners of adolescence, and while this book might blind some with its forthrightness, it’s a refreshing change from usual saccharine treatment of the subject matter. It’s all accomplished in a highly readable, non-intimidating style and the layout /graphics of the book is superb. There’s a lot of great information in here that is important to get across, including feeling comfortable with sexual feelings, STD’s, body changes and much more. While some librarians might feel the book is too frank, it’s one that is sure to get lots of circulation and, I believe, is appropriate for middle and high school libraries. The book includes 6 pages of helpful resources, including websites, organizations, and recommended reading. Also includes T of C and index. P9 Q9
Savage, Stephen. Kingfisher voyages. Oceans. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2006. $15.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5903-5 54 p. Gr. 3-7. Lusciously photographed, Oceans would be a nice addition to an elementary school library, where it would entice young readers to know more about our marine world. While nicely organized and well presented, the writing is choppy and the book is poorly edited. Includes Glossary, Index. P8 Q6
Johnson, Jinny. Kingfisher voyages. Rainforest. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2006. $15.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5904-3 54 p. Gr. 3-7. Presented in a similar format as the above reviewed book, Rainforest’s wonderful photos and clear organization (tabs, sidebars, etc.) make this an easy reader. In contrast to Oceans, however, this book shines – the writing is well-edited and flows smoothly. The author’s collaboration with rainforest scientist Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is evident, and Dr. Nadkarni’s quotes are lively and inspirational. Includes Glossary, Index. P8 Q8
Freedman, Russell. The Adventures of Marco Polo. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Scholastic, New York, 2006. $17.99 ISBN: 0-439-52394-x 64 p. Gr. 3-7. This beautifully presented book represents meticulous research by both the author and illustrator and it’s no wonder this has received two Starred Reviews. The text is highly engaging, though richly detailed, and the author makes the point repeatedly that it Marco Polo’s veracity has been challenged by many, so the story may or may not factual. Truth be damned, Marco Polo’s travels and the kingdom of Kublai Khan become real in this text and the story should engage even reluctant readers. My only criticism of this book is that the font isn’t easy to read. Includes T of C, Author’s notes, art notes, and index. P7 Q9
Bial, Raymond. Nauvoo; Mormon City on the Mississippi River. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2006. $17.00 ISBN: 0-618-39685-3 47 p. Gr. 5-9. I was particularly excited to be able to review this book. I grew up across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, in Keokuk, Iowa and spent many afternoons touring Nauvoo over the years. I was not disappointed, Bial does a great job of presenting the story of this town and the story is fairly engaging, even if the photos have a stilted, postcard-like feel to them. The struggles of the Mormon settlers here and in their previous settlements are a true testament to their faith and forbearance and this book presents the story in a factual, easy-to-read manner. Includes sources and further reading list. P6 Q8
Clee, Paul. Before Hollywood. Clarion Books, New York, 2005. $22.00. ISBN: 0-618-44533-1 188 p. Gr. 7-12. This is a fascinating account of the origins and history of filmmaking from the 16th century to the 1914 release of the first epic, The Birth of a Nation. Clee weaves a rich tapestry, interspersing the achievements of scientists, creativity of artists, and the sensationalism of the promoters to bring this engaging account alive. Meticulously researched and clearly presented, it’s a great book to have in a school library, as there are so few good books that cover the subject so exhaustively as this one. My only wish for this book was that it had a bit better layout – more photos and sidebars would have helped break up the monotonous-looking text. Includes T of C, Timeline, source Notes, Bibliography, and Index.. P6 Q8
Cunnane, Kelly. For you are a Kenyan Child. Illustrated by Ana Juan. Antheneum, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-689-86194-9 40 p. Gr. Pre-K-7. (While the text may be simple enough for preschoolers, it’s a wonderful book to share with older children, too.) This beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written book shines with spirit and pride, as a young Kalenjin boy explores the delights of living in Kenya and learns important lessons about being responsible and caring. The text is interspersed with Swahili words, which helps make this a fun read-aloud for a classroom. In older classrooms, teachers might use this book to encourage creative writing/journalizing and illustrating. P7 Q9
Gleitzman, Morris. Toad Away. Random House, New York, 2003. $14.95 ISBN: 0-375-82766-8 195 p. Gr. 3-7. The 3rd in the delightfully zany “Toad” series, amphibian protagonist Limpy (accompanied by 2 relatives) hitches a ride from Australia to Brazil aboard some migratory birds. On a quest to discover why his Amazonian cousins supposedly coexist peacefully with humans, Limpy uncovers multiple conflicts with all species. Through the fast-paced story line readers are introduced to many ecological factoids and a lot of humorous, Aussie idioms. Though readers do not need to be familiar with the previous two books in this series, they will undoubtedly want to read them, as Gleitzman writes a really funny adventure. Includes Glossary of Aussie terms. P8 Q8
Hiaasen, Carl. Flush. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN: 0-375-82182-1 263 p. Gr. 6-9. Another funny, intricate, and convoluted story from an author who is a master at writing stories of Florida environmental concerns and radical advocacy. As in all of Hiaasen’s books, the characters are richly developed and engaging; the only thing that keeps the reader from thinking this is a true life account is that the story is so crazy and fun. All that said, the kids I canvassed who have read this book indicate they prefer his earlier book, Hoot, as the story line is fresher and more unpredictable . P7 Q7
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
Reviews by Nel W., Retired Librarian
Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure across America. Il. Robin Preiss Glasser. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $17.95. 0-689-86717-4. 74p. Ages ?: The book’s author credits her granddaughters’ vacation for this book that attempts to visit all 50 states in a road trip. Despite the sometimes charming illustrations from Preiss, however, the book ends up being a cluttered, confusing mix of references to people, places, and things that fails to provide any understanding of what these are. Although young readers may know what the World Trade Center is, names such as Myrna Loy and Peggy Lee will not mean much to a younger audience. As a result, the audience might be solely adult because of the experiences required to understand it. Almost all states are each given only one page (Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Texas, and California each have two); a page for National Parks is squeezed between Montana and Wyoming but isn’t labeled such; and Washington, D.C. has a page without explanation that it isn’t a state. I cannot imagine an audience for the book except for those who read books by Lynne Cheney. P4Q4
Krull, Kathleen. Sigmund Freud. Il. Boris Kulikov. [Giants of Science series] Viking, 2006. $15.99. 0-670-05892-0. 144p. Ages 12+: The author of this series reveals its subject’s foibles, warts and all. Freud is no exception. Arrogant, proud, selfish–this is the man who thought women were a sub-species and that cocaine was a miracle cure for nervous afflictions. Yet his studies have led to the practice of current psychoanalysis and the vocabulary that goes with it. His belief in the power of unconscious motives and desires, that physical symptoms of illness might have psychological causes, has provided today’s appreciation that apparently mental illness might come from chemical imbalances. The book reads like a novel with a very unpleasant protagonist. Included is information about the abuse of the mentally ill in the 19th century. The books in this series should be included in all school and public libraries because of their information and accessibility. P6Q9
Kurlansky, Mark. The Story of Salt. Il. S.D. Schindler. Putnam, 2006. $16.99. 0-399-23998-7. 48p. Ages 6+: A playful mix of witty illustrations, informative sidebars, and illuminating maps show both the scientific and historical ways that salt has shaped the world, developing trading systems leading to power, permitting people to settle in stable communities, and allowing grand dreams such as the Great Wall of China because of taxation. Without salt, people would not have had mummies, preserved food, or gunpowder. The discovery of natural gas and oil came from drilling for salt domes. In short, this book is fascinating and funny: there should be more books like this for other subjects. P7Q10
Walser, David, trans. The Fairy Tales. Il. Jan Pienkowski. Viking, 2006. $19.99. 0-670-06189-1. 186p. Ages 6-10: Having spoken French and German in his home, this English author is well-qualified to translate the four fairy tales in this collection. He has used the gentler version of “Cinderella,” from Charles Perrault and then the grizzlier stories from the Brothers Grimm for the other three: “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Snow White.” What makes this version outstanding, however, are the striking black silhouettes, plentiful and sometimes colored, to complete the feeling of magic and enchantment. The dark lettering with wide spacing makes the text not only accessible but also another art form. Altogether this edition is breathtaking, one which becomes more beautiful the longer one looks at it. P8Q10
Armstrong, Jennifer. Once upon a Banana. Il. David Small. Simon & Schuster, 2006. $16.95. 0-689-84251-0. Unp. Ages 4-7: Rhyming street signs are the only text in this picture book about the disaster that results from a monkey tossing away a banana peel. Bold, cartoon watercolors show the diversity of characters in a large city such as the pompous judge who finds himself on a skateboard and the girl in a ballerina tutu who is walking five dogs. Just following the action is fun, but the bonus is the map on the endpapers with letters indicating the locations of each event. Young–and older–readers can pour over this book for a very long time. P8Q8
Brett, Jan. Hedgie Blasts Off. Putnam, 2006. $16.99. 0-399-24621-5. Unp. Ages 5-8: Those who love Brett’s past books with their elaborate borders may be disappointed by her new style in this book about a hedgehog janitor who wants to be an astronaut. Brightly-colored watercolors show the diversity of animals, primarily the scientist dogs, as they ready Hedgie for his trip into outer space because Rescue Robot has been broken. Even the text is a bit sluggish, not even saved by a foldout showing the explosion as Hedgie gets Big Sparkler to explode, cleaning it of the coins that the tourists have dropped into the crater. P8Q7
Cronin, Doreen and Betsy Lewin. Dooby Dooby Moo. Atheneum, 2006. $16.95. 0-689-85407-3. Unp. Ages 3-7: The creators of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type have returned to their roots of fun and delight after a few slightly less charming books. In this book about Farmer Brown’s creatures, Duck wants to win the trampoline at the county fair talent show, so he trains the cows, the sheep, and the pigs. Read-alouds will never be the same if the reader actually sings the title (plus some extra doobys and moos) to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” A joy with the message that people (and ducks!) should aim for what they want. P9Q9
Geisert, Arthur. Oops. Houghton, 2006. $16.00. 0-618-60904-0. Unp. Ages 5+: Cause and effect with the author/illustrator’s beloved pig drawings are again the feature of this wordless picture book as one of three children spills milk on the table. Who would know that this innocent act would results in the total destruction of the house. Colored drawings detail the series of chain reactions with each one becoming more disastrous. Young and old will be fascinated by the great detail as shown in past Geisert books such as Pigaroons and Lights Out. P8Q8
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. My Buddy, Slug. Knopf, 2006. $15.95. 0-375-83342-0. Unp. Ages 4-8: A bright green and orange cover with a giant slug and an unhappy little boy invite readers to dive into the book to find the story. It’s all about apologizing because the boy is quite nasty to his friend, the slug, because the slug is always there. The acrylic illustrations are delightful, and the message is clear. It’s just that this slug is quick-moving and out-going, not at all like the slugs I know, indicating that perhaps the author doesn’t know his slugs. Still, a good read aloud with a nice, albeit obvious, message. P7Q7
Lloyd, Sam. Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story. Atheneum, 2006. $14.95. 1-4169-2517-1. Unp. Ages 3-7: From the inviting illustration of a fat, angry, cross-eyed cat on the cover (and the beginning endpapers with the cat scratching the wall) to the last illustration in the book with the happy fat cat, cat–and children–lovers will be enchanted by this story of a cat that runs away to freedom and then wants to return. The story may also be a lesson to young people who think that their environment could be improved upon. The change in the backgrounds of the text move the mood along as the bedroom of Emily, Mr. Pusskin’s owner, is white and bright pink, the fun part of hanging with friends is a dark teal, and the cat ends up in black as “The rain fell and an icy wind blew.” Simple text combines with illustrations full of expression. Sometimes the lettering is difficult, making this a book better for reading to children than their reading it themselves. Warm, loving, and understanding. P8Q8
Wiesner, David. Flotsam. Clarion, 2006. $17.00. 0-618-19457-6. Unp. Ages: All: As in Tuesday, the illustrator has created another wordless picture book that will appeal to the beach-going crowd. At the seaside, lenses from a magnifying glass, binoculars, and a microscope introduce the shifting viewpoints as a boy finds an old-fashioned camera. The resulting photographs show portraits of children from around the world, each holding another person’s photo in the picture. The boy takes his picture with the camera and then sends it back to the deep to be moved through the flora and fauna before getting beached where another child finds the camera. Masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create the narrative. As in Chris Van Allsburg’s books, this visual wonder invites the viewer to rethink how and what they see in the world and in the mind’s eye. P9Q9
Winter, Jonah. The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven. Il. Barry Blitt. Schartz & Wade Books (Random House), 2006. 0-375-82602-0. Unp. Ages 6-9: After giving some brief facts about the 19th-century composer (he had five legless pianos and moved to 39 different apartments), the author takes a leap into imagination to find reasons for his moving so many times. Soft watercolors follow the pianos from one apartment to the next to tell the story of the tormented, noisy musical genius as he slowly becomes more and more deaf. The humor in the piece comes from the convoluted manner in which the author imagines how the pianos are hoisted, propelled, and levered out of one flawed apartment to another, sometimes through a neighbor’s dining room. Note: the story covers only six moves! The endpapers are details from a facsimile of a recently rediscovered piano composition written in Beethoven’s own hand; the back of the cover show drawings of ten entrances. P8Q9
Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Rock Star. Random House, 2006. $5.95. 0-375-83232-7. 96p. Ages 7+: I am so hooked on this series with its black, white, and pink cartoons and the impossible protagonist who has high dreams but little follow through. One of its charms is the fantasies that Babymouse has to survive the problem world around her. In this one, she is last flute and doesn’t want her grandparents to see that she can’t do any better. Booklist says, “Breathless pacing and clever flights of imagination.” They are right. P8Q8
D’Lacey, Chris. Icefire. Orchard, 2006. $14.99. 0-439-67245-7. 421p. Ages 13+: Dragons, sibyls, and polar bears flood this sequel to The Fire Within as a college student’s clay dragon Gadqooks helps him uncover the connections among these. Beginning with an ordinary day when David, tenant of a clay artist and her daughter, talks with his professor about a research trip to the Arctic, this novel sets out on a roller-coaster ride into the heart of the legend of dragons and the mysterious ancient secret of the icefire. Although the length might appear somewhat daunting, large print help readers rush through this exciting adventure with likeable characters who are trying to find themselves. The characterization is riveting, especially that of Gwilanna, and horrid crone who is determined to ruin the best efforts to rally the dragons to save their history. No need to read the prequel although this book will send readers to it. P7Q8
Dessen, Sarah. Just Listen. Viking, 2006. $17.99. 0-670-06105-0. 371p. Ages 14+: This is a book that got slow in the middle, but when I finished reading it, I wanted it to keep going on. Go figure! Annabel Green, the girl who has everything and the girl who hates confrontation, loses her best friend at the age of 16 with only an outsider guy who is willing to associate with her. Throughout the entire novel, the author slowly brings out the conflict between Annabel and her best friend, Sophie, with tantalizing glimpses through the forest of the narration. It’s almost a typical situation with Annabel’s being sexually attacked by Sophie’s boyfriend while Sophie thinks that Annabel came onto her guy. Wove through this are the problems of Annabel’s older sister being anorexic, the situation with Annabel not wishing to model but unwilling to tell her mother because she believes she is so fragile, and Annabel’s coping with her new lack of popularity. Some of the solutions might seem pat (the sister recovers from her disorder almost too easily, for example) and the ending not altogether realistic as Annabel seems to develop internal bravery almost too easily. Yet as in all of Dessen’s books (five of them on Best Books for Young Adults lists), the characters are carefully developed through flashbacks, and the plotting makes for very good reading. P8Q8
Ferguson, Alane. The Angel of Death. Viking, 2006. $15.99. 0-670-06055-0. 260p. Ages 14+: The author manages to maintain the momentum of the first in this series, The Christopher Killer, in which 17-year-old Cameryn Mahoney is assistant to her father, the county coroner of Silverton, Colorado. This time, death comes to Cameryn’s English teacher is a strange, ghoulish way: his insides are cooked although he’s not been in a fire. Cameryn’s life is complicated by the imminent appearance of her mother, gone for 14 years, her growing love for a remote classmate who may be a control freak, the attentions of the new 21-year-old deputy sheriff, and a possible estrangement from her best friend. Ferguson does a good job showing the setting with complex characterization and fast-paced plotting. This is a series that shows great promise for the future. P8Q8
Grey, Christopher. Leonardo’s Shadow; Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci’s Servant. Atheneum, 2006. $16.95. 1-4169-0543-X. 394p. Ages 13+: Humor, history, and adventure blend in this narrative by the rascal who is rescued from the streets at the age of seven to become the servant of the famous painter and inventor. The novel covers a year in their lives when Leonardo is creating his flying machine and working on The Last Supper. Through Giacomo’s eyes, the reader sees the life of a servant and the dangerous political atmosphere as artists are at the mercy of important patrons who can turn on them in an instant. This rich, fascinating book will delight good readers and expand their understanding of the end of fifteenth-century Italy. In his first book, Grey uses information from Leonardo’s Notebooks as the basis for his tale. P6Q10
Levithan, David. Wide Awake. Knopf, 2006. $16.95. 0-375-83466-4. 221p. Ages 13+: In a future America–after the Reign of Fear, after the Greater Depression, the War to End All Wars, the Jesus Revolution, and the Prada Riots, Abraham Stein, both gay and Jewish, is elected president. With the Kansas governor determined to erase the 1000 majority votes in his state, both Stein supporters and Stein haters flock to Topeka to protest either the change of votes or those opposed to the change of votes. First-person narrative comes from high school student Duncan who goes to Topeka with his lover, Jimmy, and a bus load of people to take part in the event. Although the relationship between Duncan and Jimmy are beautifully done and the other relationships realistic, the book is focused on its political point to the extent that it sometimes becomes boring. Levithan’s ideas are always fascinating, his writing not always so. This is just one opinion, however; Booklist gave it a starred review. P6Q6
Sage, Angie. Flyte. [Book Two, Septimus Heap] Il. Mark Zug. Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2006. $18.89. 0-06-057735-5. 532p. Ages 11+: A year after Septimus Heap, seventh son of a seventh son, discovered his true family and his magical abilities, he is apprenticed to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand and learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk. But the Darke is all around them as Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Shadow, and Septimus’s oldest brother captures Princess Jenna. Terrors follow Jenna and Septimus both separately and together as they work to save the kingdom and the people–and dragon–within. A fun part is the birth of SpitFyre, a dragon imprinted on Septimus and the boy’s attempts to raise the rapidly growing and contrary creature. This novel stands on its own, but readers will want to read Magyk as well as eagerly waiting for the next in the series. Although the number of pages may seem daunting, the book is smaller than some, with large print and pleasant drawings. Reviews from publications are right on: “A deliciously, spellbinding series,” Kirkus Reviews; “Fun, mystery, and rollicking characters,” VOYA; “Fluent, charismatic storytelling, Booklist; and bestsellers from New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and the American Booksellers Association. P7Q9
Yolen, Jane and Adam Stemple. Trollbridge: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tale. TOR, 2006. $16.95. 0-675-3143-6. 240p. Ages 12+: The disappearance of 12 “dairy princesses” and their photographer from a bridge creates consternation in the tiny Minnesota town. The disappearance of three brothers, members of a sensationally popular rock ‘n’ roll band, only increases the distress. Fortunately, the reader can experience the humor and danger up close and personal through the eyes of musically-gifted Moira and youngest brother Jakob as they encounter the giant trolls who see all 15 of the young people as dinner. Even the advice of the fiddle-playing telepathic fox may not save them from the three trolls and their families. Amusing song lyrics that foretell collaboration between Moira and the Griffson Brothers intersperse the story by fantasy master Yolen and her son. Fast-paced fun as the authors use elements from “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” to give folklore a modern spin in this entertaining tale. P8Q8
B.R. Yaquina View December Reviews 2006
Hatkoff, Craig. Owen & Mzee. Ills. by Peter Greste. Scholastic Press, c2006. ISBN 0439829739. Unp. $16.99. Grades K-5th. (Q8, P7) December rains flooded the Sabaki River in Kenya and washed a pod of hippos down the river near the Indian Ocean. At the end of the month the sea rushed onto the beaches and washed the hippos out into the ocean. One baby hippo was stranded in the sea. The villagers rescued him and took him to Haller Park. There he met an Aldabra tortoise called Mzee. The two became friends with a special bond only friends have. The fantastic photographs in this book capture that amazing friendship.
Osborne, Mary Pope. Pompeii, Lost & Found. Ills. by Bonnie Christensen. Alfred A. Knopf, c2006. ISBN 0375828893 Unp. $16.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q7, P5) August 24, 79 AD; Pompeii was a thriving Roman town on the Mediterranean Sea. It lied just below a huge volcano named Mount Vesuvius. As the volcano blew, the sky was thick with ashes and poisonous gasses filled the air. The town vanished under tons of hot ash. It was over 1,500 years before the town was found again. This book tells how Pompeii was found again and what we have learned about their life from the discoveries. The illustrations done in frescoes portray what life was like in 79 AD.
Schneider, Howie. Wilky the White House Cockroach. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399243887. Unp. $16.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q7, P7) Wilky and his family live at a pizza restaurant. Wilky decides to hide in a delivered pizza and end up at the most famous house in the United States, the White House. This hilarious book captivates the imagination of how a bug might exist and finally come to terms with humans for survival. In the fashion of the media, they make a big production of capturing the little cockroach.
Yoon, Salina. Count My Blessings, 1 through 10. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c 2006. ISBN 0399246606. $9.99. PreS-1st. (Q7, P6) A counting book with clear colorful pictures. This would make a great bedtime story as it counts blessings. One for my house, two for my mother and father, three for my friends, etc.
Breakspeare, Andrew. Stardragon. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525477551. $15.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P8) With dragons being so popular lately, this book will be a hit. Billy finds a lost dragon which tumbles out of the clouds and loses his favorite beautiful dragon stones. Billy helps him find his stones and when Mom and Dad dragon come they grant Billy one wish. Soon Billy is flying through the clouds and building a glorious cloud castle. When both Billy and the dragon become tired it is time for Billy to return home where he wakes up to find himself in his own bed. This is a charming read-aloud story with gorgeous illustrations of wintry landscapes and moonlit nights.
Compestine, Ying Chang. D is for Dragon Dance. Ills. by Yongheeng Xuan. Holiday House, c2006. ISBN 0823418871. $16.95. Unp. Grades K-2nd. (Q5, P6) Learn about Chinese customs with this alphabet book about the Chinese New Year. Colorful illustrations in latex, watercolors and acrylic emphasize the short sentences.
Cepeda, Joe. The Swing. Arthur A. Levine Books, c2006. ISBN 0439142601. $15.99. Unp. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q6, P7) Josey is always embarrassed by her parents. They borrow from their neighbors but never return anything. Where does everything go? As Josey swings, she goes high into the tree, and behold she finds everything they have ever borrowed or lost. Even the dog Leopold is found in the tree. A funny and fantastic story about borrowing and remembering to return what you have borrowed.
Freeman, Don. Corduroy goes to the Beach. Ills. by Lisa McCue. Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670060526. Unp. $11.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, 67) Off to the beach goes Corduroy and his friends. They pick a safe spot close to the lifeguard to lay out their towels and set up their umbrellas. Through the day Corduroy and his friends have loads of fun building sandcastles, collecting seashells and many more beach activities.
deGroat, Diane. No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks!. Harper Collins, c2006. ISBN 0060791144. Unp. $15.99. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q6, P6) Gilbert and his friends are facing the last day of school. Stress and sadness accompany them as they clean out their desks and do other end of school activities. Awards will be presented and Gilbert is wondering if he is best at anything to deserve an award. Of course everyone is best at something and Gilbert receives the “good friend” award. A good book to read at the end of a school year to reassure all students that it is okay to be sad and happy at the end of any school year.
Andreae, Giles. The Chimpanzees of Happytown. Orchard Books, c2006. ISBN 0439837685. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P6) The mayor of Drabsville does not allow the chimpanzees to have any fun. Their buildings are all painted gray, there were no parks to play in even all their clothes were gray. The chimps were all felt very sad until one day Chutney came back to town and planted a seed. It grew into a beautiful tree with lovely flowers. A beautiful book about sadness and how to make yourself and everyone around you happy again.
Gravett, Emily. Wolves. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 1416914919. Unp. $15.95. Grades K-3rd. (Q6, P6) Rabbit goes to the library and checks out a book about wolves. Even before he leaves the building, he has his nose in the book and is reading. He learns many facts about wolves and as he is reading the wolves seem to grow bigger and the rabbit becomes smaller.
Fatio, Louise. The Happy Lion Roars. Ills. by Roger Duvoisin. Alfred A. Knopf., c2006. ISBN 0375838872. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q8, P7) Originally Publisher in 1057, this delightful book is back in print. The happy lion is really unhappy because he is lonely. At the end he finds a lioness, he becomes happy and everyone finds he can roar, really loud.
Caroson, Nancy. Get Up and Go! Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670059811. Unp. $15.99. Grades KG-3rd. (Q6, P5) Turn off the TV and go exercise. How many times do we either hear this or say it. This book gives us good reasons to go have that fun exercising. It is good for the stuff inside your body like your heart, bones, lungs and muscles. Exercise is exciting like hitting a home run or scoring a goal. It can help you make new friends by playing tag at the park or jumping rope at school. Exercise can be relaxing just walk around the neighborhood or go canoeing. The bright colorful pictures help make this book great. An excellent book for starting a health unit.
Loomis, Christine, Hattie Hippo. Ills. by Robert Neubecker. Orchard Books, c2006. ISBN 0439543401. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-Kg. (Q7, P7) Young children will enjoy Hattie and her antics. This book contains four short stories. Hattie in her pink tutu whirls and twirls. She has a tea party and ends up eating the cake drinking all the tea and going to sleep. She stuffs herself into last year’s swim suit and jumps into the pool. Finally she plays hide & seek. The water-color and ink illustrations are humorous.
Bunge, Daniela. The Scarves. Penguin Young Readers Group. c2006. ISBN 0698400453. Unp. $16.99. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q7, P5) What do you do when two people you love decide to not live together anymore? “The Scarves” describes one young girl’s plight in helping her grandparents realize they do love each other and want to live together again.
Morton-Shaw, Christine and Greg Shaw. Wake up, Sleepy Bear! Ills. by John Butler. Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670061751. Unp. $12.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P7) A cuddly brown bear and his baby friends wake up from their sleep to hurry to a party. They are all in their natural homes, a den, squirrels in a tree, bunnies in a tree trunk, birds in a nest and field mince in their nest. They gather food and parade to the forest, where a mother deer and her fawn. They present their new friend with their presents. The soft lifelike illustrations will delight young children.
Dewdney, Anna. Grumpy Gloria. Viking, c2006. ISBN 0670061239. $15.99. Unp. Grades KG-3rd, (Q5, P7) In this story we are reminded that dogs have feelings. Gloria becomes grumpy after her little friend receives a new doll for her birthday and Gloria felt left out. The brother and sister try to cheer up Gloria, but Gloria is having nothing to do with them. Finally in the end the little girl has Gloria join her and her doll and Gloria is smiling again. The big bright colorful pictures are easy to see from afar, which helps make this an okay read aloud book.
Hennessy, B.G. Corduroy Lost and Found. Ills. by Jody Wheeler. Viking, c2006. ISBN 067006100X. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q 6, P5) Corduroy slips out of bed early one morning to look for a birthday present for Lisa. He sees the moon and thinks it is a yellow balloon which would be perfect to give to Lisa. The moon disappears and Corduroy is lost. Lisa finds him but not before he finds a yellow lollipop for her present. Originally created by Don Freeman, this classic character has been around for nearly forty years and is still lovable. The illustrations are done in the exact same scratchboard technique used to create Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy.
O’Connor, Jane. Snow Globe Family. Ills. by S.D. Schindler. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2006. ISBN 0399242422. $16.99. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q4, P4) In a Victorian family home upon the mantle sits a snow globe with a tiny family inside. No one notices the tiny family but the baby. As the story progresses what happens to the big family also happens to the tiny family, they have tea and cake, they play in the snow, and they go to bed. The story is somewhat disjointed at times such as when it is time for baby to go to bed and Mamma goes upstairs to run a bath and next thing you know Mamma is taking baby outside to play in the snow.
Elschner, Geraldine. Pashmina, The Little Christmas Goat. Ills. by Angela Kehlenbeck. Minedition. c2006. ISBN 0698400461. $16.99. Grades 1st-5th. (Q7 P6) When Christmas comes around all Simon and his wife had to feed the children were potatoes and beans. Simon ventures out into the cold hillside to hunt for some kind of meat. He found a little white lamb lying in the snow. But when he got home with it the children pleaded with their parents not to kill the goat. Instead they kept it and in the spring they spun its wool into yarn and used it to make socks and other items. So much yarn they had, they were able to sell items. In turn they bought more sheep and made more items, which they sold. Soon the village had its own little workshop. I found this a wonderful story for Christmas time because it deals with sacrificing something and getting a bigger reward in the end.