Saturday, December 27, 2008


Duel!  Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words by Dennis Brindell Fradin is another one I think the kids will thoroughly enjoy.  The 1804 deadly duel of words between vice president, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.  This famous match is explained in this wonderful children's book.  This is a famous duel but one I am not sure people know much about and one, I think, kids will devour!!  Another great one for boys - it will reel them in and hook them!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman

Ever wonder how Superman came to be??  Did you know that TWO men thought him up??  Did you know they scrimped and saved during the Great Depression to make their idea a reality??  If not - (or even if you did) - you NEED to read this one!  Boys of Steel:  The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ross MacDonald is just super!  I can see it being a hit with boys of ALL ages - ok, girls may enjoy it too - but this is just a "must" for boys especially.  (And those are hard to come by!!)  Loved it and the illustrations are also wonderful - they add that "comic book" feel that adds to the credibility of the story.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

To any and all who read my blog - a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!!
(Back tomorrow with regular programming!!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Making Cents

Making Cents by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson is a great introduction to money. This would be very useful in a unit to teach about currency and what each coin/dollar represents. I was fascinated with how the author shows that a dime, for instance, is worth ten penny nails, two wood screws or a marking pencil. I'd never have thought of a dime that way!! Bob McMahon's illustrations are very fun and add to the interest in this one. What a fun book! Definately worth a look!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Den is a Bed for a Bear

A Den is a Bed for a Bear: A Book about Hibernation by Becky Baines is a National Geographic book that I think kids will enjoy. It is a fun look at bears and where they live with the photgraphy that National Geographic is famous for. I would recommend this one - I think young "animal book" fans will love it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

April Pulley Sayre's Trout are Made of Trees is a fun look at food chains in the forest/streams. Who would have thought that if you trace it all the way back - really Trout are "made of" streams!?!? I love it!! Very neat concept and I think kids will like it too. The illustrations are very fun - Kate Endle did a super job of keeping the book fun and intriguing. Great one on ecology.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mom's Choice Awards

I was so excited when I found this Mom's Choice Award program AND then was EVEN MORE excited when they asked me to be a judge.  I am coming to the end of my judging period this round but I have had SO much fun doing it - we have played a lot of games here to choose our favorites, and I have found some great new books as well.

Winter Trees

If you need a book that has an interesting way of teaching about trees - just by looking at their shape, bark, etc. - then Winter Trees by Carole Gerber might be the one for you. This is really a good look at the "winter shape" of trees. Leslie Evans has done a wonderful job of illustrating this book - I think kids will find it interesting and a fun way to learn. I enjoy tree indentification and this one intrigues me - I guess I hadn't thought of how you can identify trees even in the winter without the leaves!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells

Philip Dray has written a wonderful story of the life of Ida B. Wells - as the subtitle says, "The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist." It is just that - a deeply touching story of a girl in a slave family - given their freedom - yet struggling from then on to keep it. It is a powerful story - Ida was tough and she deserves this recognition. At the end of the book, there is a beautiful timeline of Ida's life - it adds the authenticity and information that readers can use for reports and other projects. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells is a great addition to our Civil Rights units, slavery, etc. Stephen Alcorn's illustrations add such a wonderful touch to this book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fabulous Fishes

This is a fun find!! Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale has striking illustrations and even more fun?? It rhymes. This one will be great for story hour, younger ages, and any little ones interested in fish. It is a catchy, fun book that I know little ones will enjoy. The back pages are more information on each of the fish shown - I love it when authors do that!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wanda Gag: The Girl who Lived to Draw

Deborah Kogan Ray's Wanda Gag: The Girl who Lived to Draw is remarkable. (I suppose it helps to be a BIG fan of Millions of Cats -which I just happen to be!!) The book is just a beauty - the illustrations are magnificent - they truly add a nostaligic touch to the story. I just thoroughly enjoyed this story of Wanda Gag's life. She did not have an easy life, but she did work hard and overcame her circumstances. It was one of those books where you get so caught up in the story that you just want to keep reading to see how her life ends. Marvelous - simply marvelous!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Famous Day in History

Visit my "family blog" to see why this day is famous in history!! :)

Gerbil on the Loose

Just ran across this book and accompanying blog - I think kids would really enjoy this combo. I am ordering the book so I can't give a review on it yet - but soon!!! (If you've read it - let me know!)
Gerbil on the Loose

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Give a Goat

Jan West Schrock, a teacher and worker for Heifer International, has given us a story that will really bless you during this Christmas season. Give a Goat - is a wonderful story of a fifth grade class that decides to make a difference after hearing their teacher read to them the book, Beatrice's Goat. They figure out a clever way to sell "healthy snacks" and raise money to buy a goat through Heifer International - but WOW, they far surpass a goat - they end up purchasing a goat, a flock of chickens, and some ducks!! And that is the beauty of the story AND Heifer International - when you purchase an animal then when that animal has a baby, they give it to a neighbor and the gift goes on and on. This is what we nee do be teaching our kids - and this is such a great reminder during the holidays - giving to others less fortunate than ourselves. The book is wonderful and the illustrations add just the right touch - Aileen Darragh does a great job of adding simplicity and tenderness to the story. Don't miss this one this season - it's a great holiday book!

Andrea at Just One More Book posted a podcast all about Give a Goat recently.

Colleen from Chasing Ray wrote a great piece for Bookslut that mentions Give a Goat.

And, Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books put a post tie in with her other features on Hands for Hope and Heifer International.

Check them all out for more info on this wonderful book!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Doghouse

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE Jan Thomas!!??!  Well - I know I have but I must say it again.  Chloe and I just hooted and howled last night over her latest, The Doghouse.  How can you not LOVE these adorable characters - pig, cow, duck, and mouse!?!?  They are splendid - the books are at the top of my list!  What Chloe loves is that each book kind of builds on a previous one - you will see snippets of What Will Fat Cat Sit On? and A Birthday for Cow tucked in this book.  I use these for story hour and they are instant hits!!  I am telling you - you can check them out, but you will WANT to own them!!!

Under the Night Sky

I must say first of all - if you haven't read Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek - you MUST!!  Go grab a copy and ENJOY!  This is such a sweet, tender story - I just loved it!!  I have never seen the northern lights but this book just makes me want to find them this winter!  And what I loved even more is the tenderness between this hard-working mother and her son - parenting is not easy - but it can have its sweet moments - this is one of them!!  Anna Rich's illustrations are also magnificent - her style is beautiful - it lends a beauty to this book that is amazing!  REALLY, this is a must find -you will be glad you read it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ten Cents A Dance

Christine Fletcher's Ten Cents a Dance was sent to me as a preview copy.  I was not familiar with it before I received it in a box of books.  But the cover is catchy and I am always up for a new author, so I read it.  I have to say - it caught me and kept me going.  I liked the premise - teenage girl living in Chicago in 1941 - trying to support her family after her father dies.  She is working in a pickling plant BUT can make almost TRIPLE the money if she goes to work in a dance hall.  There's the dilemma - does she do what she know she should, listen to her mother and stay at the plant?  OR can she take matters into her own hands and go to the dance hall, make the larger amount of money AND move them out of the rough neighborhood they live in ALL without her mom ever knowing??  Ruby gets in with the wrong crowd, the wrong boys, and even the wrong girl friends.  This book is powerful and shows what can happen when you get mixed up with the wrong crowd, but I wasn't sure I'd want my teen daughter reading this one until she was VERY MATURE.  There is quite a bit of foul language and some sexual situations as well.  The book redeems itself well and shows that Ruby wasn't mature enough to make her own decisions - that she still did need a mother and family to help her, but the content is such that you would only want mature readers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wangari's Trees of Peace

I enjoy Jeannette Winter's books and this one is no exception.  Wangari's Trees of Peace is a great look at the people of Africa and their land.  Wangari is a woman that grew up in Kenya, comes to the U.S. to study, and when she goes back to her dear land, she sees there are no trees and no birds - buildings have been built instead.  So it becomes her mission to replace those trees - she begins in her own backyard and gradually encourages others to do the same.  It really is a great story - one that our kids need to read - we get so wrapped up in our culture sometimes that we forget that the rest of the world has a story too.  Wangari's story will inspire you - she was the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004 - and I love her words, "Right is right, eevn if you're alone." 

Her illustrations only enhance this wonderful story - they are rich in culture as well - marvelous!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A River of Words

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant jumped right out at me in my pile of books - Probably BECAUSE, we have just studied some of his poetry in our writing curriculum. So, for me, this was a very relevant and interesting read. William Carlos Williams has changed the face of poetry and is famous for that achievement but what you often don't know about his life is that he was a doctor by trade, only writing poetry on the side, as his enjoyment in life. I enjoyed the book and LOVED the interesting illustrations by Melissa Sweet. This is an area I think we can all stand to read more about, and so often overlook.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's Moving Day

Pamela Hickman's It's Moving Day is a gem! What a great story of how many animals can live in a burrow at all different times of the year. I thought it was fun to follow the antics in the burrow and the woodland animals that chose to live there. The illustrations, by Geraldo Valerio, are fun and whimsical and add a neat flair to the book. And if kids want to know more about the animals, there are some more facts at the end of the book. Kids will enjoy this one.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Looking Closely Inside the Garden

I always enjoy Frank Serafini's Looking Closely titles. So Looking Closely Inside the Garden was no exception! The photography is amazing and the text is short enough that it goes over very well with young ones too. This book is all based around what we can find in our gardens, and Serafini sets it up so that you see a small circle of the larger picture and have to guess what it could be. Then, on the next page, it reveals itself to the reader. These guessing books are very popular with our younger readers and this one will be no exception!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ballots for Belva

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has written Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency. I have to admit - I knew nothing of the life of Belva Lockwood - but she was quite a woman! Talk about your strong female character!! Back when it wasn't conceivable to do so, Belva received a law degree, ran for president, and just plain fought for equal treatment of women. I like her spunk and it comes through in this great non-fiction read for children. It has a nice timeline in the back of the book that shows the progress of Women's Suffrage in the United States.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Simple Salutations

Need Christmas Cards?? What about birth announcements, thank you cards, bridal shower cards, just note cards?? Really - anything at all - you can get them here! I LOVE their work - it is very classy and original. This online card company is run by two sisters and THEY ARE GOOD!!! Visit Simple Salutations and see what they have to offer.

Oh, and if you use our special offer code - "beckyb" - you get 10% off of your order!!

Nic Bishop Frogs

Nic Bishop's Frogs is simply put, stunning! Whether you like, or don't like, frogs - this book has amazing photography and makes you want more! I thought some of the reading was a bit long for younger readers, but, the pictures alone, will hold the young-ones' attention. This is one I will be showing to all of our non-fiction readers - it is fabulous!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Farmer George Plants a Nation

Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas with paintings by Layne Johnson is a new-to-me non-fiction title. I always knew George Washington was also a farmer, but I didn't realize how innovative he was with farming NOR how much it mirrored his techniques to build a free nation. Very interesting and would be a fun addition for a unit on George Washington. The illustrations are beautiful - they really give it an old-world feel. I would say that it is definately upper elementary - there is a lot of text and would quickly lose little ones.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Sarah C. Campbell has written Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator for all of you non-fiction fans. This is a great one. The photography is MARVELOUS and there is just enough print to keep it fresh but not too many words that it gets too long for little ones. It didn't strike me at first as a book that would "catch" me and lure me in, but once you get started, you will be amazed. VERY fun and I learned all about the world of the Wolfsnail - which previously I did not know even existed!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I am a fan of Rita Murphy, and her latest, Bird, did not disappoint.  In fact, this has to be one of my favorite books she's written.  This would make an excellent book discussion book - it has so many aspects that you could talk about.  It is an intriguing story about Miranda - a tiny girl - carried off by the wind and deposited at Bourne Manor - a haunting old house with only one other occupant- Wysteria Barrows.  Wysteria takes good physical care of Miranda but that is about it - she does not give her physical affection or any sort of emotional care.  It is not until Miranda meets Farley - that she comes to understand what the plight of her life really is - and how she can change that.  Quote from the back cover to get you thinking:
Fear is a strange thing.  It can creep unnoticed into your mind, seize hold of your reason and take root.
Really a lovely story - highly recommend it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This is the Feast

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for a good Thanksgiving-themed book to add to my repertoire, and I have found a new one! Diane Z. Shore has written This is the Feast - a wonderful rhyming "This is the house that Jack Built" take-off. Megan Lloyd is fabulous as the illustrator - really, you MUST look at the pictures in this book - they lend a nice authentic feel to the story. I think this would be a great follow-up/read aloud to a pilgrim unit or a study on Thanksgiving. And not for your younger set - the jacket cover says ages 3-8 but I would read it to the older of that set, rather than the younger.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gone Fishing

Caldecott Honor-winning artist, David McLimans has created a beautiful book - Gone Fishing:  Ocean Life By the Numbers.  This is a book done soley in black, white and turquoise blue - featuring ocean life that is currently endangered or on the brink of being endangered.  Oh, and the other interesting part??  All of the ocean life is illustrated in the form of a number - so, of course, the "Blue-Ringed Octopus" is formed in the shape of the number 8.  This books will catch kids' eyes - AND it has some wonderful pages at the end to learn more information on oceans and ocean life.  It really is striking!

Art Games

Birdcage Press has some incredible games for our Summer Reading Theme next summer. Go check them out!!

Impressionist Go Fish for Art - yep, it plays like you'd think - Go Fish with Impressionist Art as your theme. VERY fun for a wide range of ages.

Art Ditto is for ages 4 and up - another fun memory/matching game. The cards are just beautiful and they are printed in 4 languages - another good one!

The Renaissance Art Game - This one includes a full-color art book and a deck of 30 playing cards. You can play two classic games - Go Fish or Concentration. Again - the art on the cards is amazing.

Gallery Ghost - This is a book - you have to solve the mystery using the magnifying glass and clues inside - all based around the famous masters. This is a fun one - a ghost story, a spot-the-difference game, and an art book - all in one!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Bobbies

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery is another interesting "take" on Hurricane Katrina. This is a new-to-me story. I wasn't aware of this touching story of a friendship between a tailess dog and cat that are stranded together after Hurricane Katrina. It is quite something though - when they are torn apart to be put in separate cages in an animal shelter, you see just how "attached" they are, as they howl all night long. And the ending is a complete surprise that explains so much of the "attachment" these two have built. It is worth reading - a story that kids will enjoy because it is about animals and yet a story where they will learn a bit about the awful hurricane that crippled New Orleans.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

As Good As Anybody

Richard Michelson has written As Good As Anybody:  Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom.  I started this book and was thinking - another civil rights title - don't get me wrong - that is definately a worthy theme, but as a librarian, I have seen a lot of those titles and sometimes I wonder what will set them apart and make me want to purchase another!  So, I started reading - the first part of the book is told from Martin Luther King Jr's perspective - it was good, it got my attention.  THEN, I hit the second part of the book, told from Abraham Joshua Heschel's perspective - a Jew growing up in Europe.  That is when it hit me, WOW - I LOVE this!  I had never heard this aspect of the civil rights movement - and how Abraham and Martin, together, made such an impact and formed a powerful friendship as well.  Raul Colon is fabulous on the illustrations - the texture if beautiful.  Oh, and don't skip the afterward page - what a wonderful wrap-up to a very powerful story.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Astronaut Handbook

Meghan McCarthy's Astronaut Handbook is a BLAST!! (get it?!?!) Yes, it is good. All sorts of fun tidbits about what it takes to be an astronaut told in such a friendly manner. And the pictures?? Yes, those are great too. My favorite part of the book?? The back two pages - "Fascinating Facts", "Bibliography", and "Places to Visit" - I appreciate when authors give us even more to go looking for after we read. I think kids will find this book appealing AND informative - and in non-fiction, that's a plus!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ever heard of Qlubb??  I hadn't either until recently - but I am impressed.  This is a wonderful social organizer website started by a mom that KNOWS a busy schedule.  You have got to go check it out.  You can start groups for church, book clubs, sports groups, literally anything that needs to be organized all in one spot.  Qlubb has the ability to create a main calendar, reminders, send information, keep track of organizational things - all in one central location - I LOVE IT - but then, you know I'm an organization fiend!!  You don't need to know HTML to use this online program - you just fill in your info and go - it is really a great tool.
Qlubb has the following features:
• Super easy registration and Qlubb creation
• Every Qlubb has its own URL
• New members can get on, as long as they have the Qlubb password – no individual user registration
• Group calendaring
• Online sign-up sheets – great for organizing events, delegating tasks
• Online event RSVP, integrated into the calendar

• Automatic email reminders (i.e. notifying members of upcoming events, assigned tasks, to rsvp)

• Photo/file sharing

• Roster management

• Automatic generation of a public website

And more... it really is good - I can see so many uses for this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Off the Menu

I was contacted a bit ago and asked to be on a blog tour for Christine Son's book, Off the Menu.  I love to read new authors so I was thrilled to be a part.  This new book is about three high-achieving women - their lives - and how they deal with the expectations put on them by their families, friends, society, etc.  Each of these women has a career path, and is very successful, but that isn't really the dream of each of their hearts - so through this novel, you get to see how they go about fulfilling those dreams - each in her own different way.  The book does include discussion questions so that makes it nice for book groups. 

This is Christine's first book so you may not be familiar with her.  I'll share with you a bit about her:
Christine Son graduated from the University of Texas and Duke University School of Law. She works as Corporate Counsel for a Fortune 500 company and she lives with her husband. For more fun facts about Christine, and answers to questions such as “What are you?” and “What do you do in your free time?”, click HERE.
I love it, because, on her website, she says the book could even be a bit about her - working for a big law firm and then still following her dream of being an author.  I liked the book - I thought it was compelling enough to keep me turning pages!  I thought some of the language was a bit "rough" - so for those that read my blog and are used to my style of recommended read - I just want to throw that out there.  But it was a fulfilling read - one that is a great start for a new author!

Global Wonders

If you know anything about me - you know I am ALL about cultural awareness. Even long before we adopted our daughter, Chloe, from China, I tried to fill my boys' lives with awareness of other cultures. Being a librarian - we read books that build a sense of "culture" into our lives, I do what I can to stress that America isn't the only culture out there and that, even in America, we all live very differently. We make it a point to learn about where the missionaries our church supports live - we even email them periodically just to get a "feel" for their culture. We have done different reports on countries that we want to learn more about; and our favorite?? We celebrate holidays from other cultures. Since getting Chloe, we celebrate the New Moon Festival every fall AND Chinese New Year. We attend an FCC Chinese New Year event each year that our whole family looks forward to. We are BIG fans of Putumayo CD's - and bringing music from different cultures into our home as well. SO, when I saw an annoucenment for these DVD's on TwitterMoms - I was just thrilled. We need more awareness of how others live - and these DVD's look wonderful for helping us do just that. Global Wonders are a set of DVD's that are put out to encourage kids to celebrate and learn about other cultures. They are quality - they have catchy tunes and characters that keep kids excited and interested. There are 4 DVD's out now - Around the World, Mexico, India, and African-American - with more to be relased soon - China, Italy and America. Make sure and check out their accompanying CD's - what a great series!
I would love, if you read this, for you to leave me a comment telling us all what you do to encourage cultural awareness - let's share the ideas and ALL benefit!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Birthday for Cow!

Can I just tell you how much I LOVE Jan Thomas?!?!?  Her last book, What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, made Chloe and I laugh for hours.  Now, in her latest, A Birthday for Cow!, we were rolling again!  All I can say is you will never look at a turnip the same way after reading this one!!  This is a hoot!!  And, once again, the illustrations are SUPERB!!  Jan DOES NOT disappoint!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Amadi's Snowman

Katia Novet Saint-Lot has written Amadi's Snowman. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful children's book set in Nigeria. Amadi is a little boy that is convinced there is no need to learn to read - especially if he only plans to be a great businessman - an Ibgo man. While purposely missing one of his reading lessons, he finds himself amongst some books and becomes intriqued with one book that has pictures of a strange creature - all in white - with a carrot for a nose! Thus begins his adventure to find out that reading could open up a whole new world for him - yes, even for an Igbo man of Nigeria!! The illustrations by Dimitrea Tokunbo only enhance this touching story - they give it an authentic feel. I think this is a wonderful addition to our shelves - because it shows the importance of learning to read and the lifestyle of another culture.

The publisher says:
Amadi's Snowman is the story of a mischievous young boy in Nigeria who believes that he can become a great businessman in his village without learning to read. But one day, after running away to the market, he spots an older boy at a book stall, reading a story about a strange white creature with a carrot for a nose. Amadi soon realizes that learning to read will open up whole new worlds for him, and introduce him to places and ideas he never knew existed outside his village. The author, Katia Novet Saint-Lot, now lives in India with her family. Her husband's work for UNICEF took them to Nigeria, where she was inspired to write this story. The illustrator, Dimitrea Tokunbo, brings to life the day-to-day experiences of life in Nigeria, where her father grew up.

And the bonus today!?!? If you leave a comment - you will be in the drawing to win a copy of the book signed by both the author and the illustrator from the publisher, Tilbury House! (Sorry, only US and Canada addresses are eligible.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

National Book Award Winners

Finalists have been named for this year's young people's selection of the National Book Award. Two to check out for middle readers: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

What wonderful mouthful!  I love the title of this book - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I thought the book was good - it is a series of letters written to and from the main character, Juliet as she writes a book about World War Two.  The Guernsey Literary Club finds out about Juliet and begins to write her letters - which eventually leads her to even go visit the island of Guernsey to learn even more about the war times.  While there, Juliet's life changes from what she thought was "normal" and becomes something she even loves more!  You learn a lot about Juliet and her romances, the people of Guernsey, and people from her life back home.  I thought it was a good book - maybe slow at times, but overall a good read.

Another good review HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns was, in my opinion, riveting. I enjoyed The Kite Runner, but this one was even more of a page-turner for me. The treatment of women in those countries still makes me cringe. I love it that you follow two story lines - two lives and how they intertwine to create one, very moving story. These are two women from very different life situations, even different generations, that become bonded in a unique way. This was a book that rarely made me laugh, but often made me cry - but sometimes we need that too - to be awakened to how people are treated in other parts of the world. I would HIGHLY recommend this one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I just finished Nancy Werlin's Impossible.  I liked it, didn't have any trouble WANTING to read it, but now that I am trying to tell others what it's about - I am sitting back and saying to myself, "Oh, I really liked that???"  Yes, it's not my typical storyline - but I did enjoy it.  Is it different??  YES, VERY!!  Lucy is trapped in a family curse that has been with these women for generations - it is up to her to try to break this curse after all of these years OR become a mother and go crazy (literally).  It is truly unlike any book I have read before, and I am not usually a fan of fantasy/magic, etc. but this one really grabbed me.  Good read, now I'll sit back and watch which honors it receives.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kane Miller at its Best!!

One of my favorite publishers of all times???? It has to be Kane Miller - They are marvelous at representing multicultural literature and this box is no exception.

New Clothes for New Year's Day by Hyun-Joo Bae is first of all, BEAUTIFUL!! The illustrations are wonderful and give the feel beautifully for this New Year holiday - Korean style. Totally endearing - one that is already on my daughter's shelf!

Who's Hiding by Satoru Onishi. I LOVE this one!! It is very fun and you could use it with younger children. Each 2 pg. spread asks you to find an animal - one who is ..... hiding, crying, etc. VERY FUN!

My Father's Shop by Satomi Ichikawa - this is a fun story. It takes place in this boy's father's shop - all because he has a rooster that everyone wants to see! I love this because you can see how to make rooster sounds in ALL different languages. Very fun!

Here's a fun one! What happens when a rabbit escapes out of his cage and has the WHOLE house to himself?!?! While We Were Out by Ho Baek Lee is just that story - very cute and perfect for toddler storytime as well.

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen is a WONDERFUL tale about a brilliant crocodile that hatches in a nest of ducks!! I am telling you - this one is hilarious AND fun!! Don't miss it!

Singing to the Sun by Vivian French and illustrated by Jackie Morris. This is a gorgeous fairy tale - and I mean gorgeous. It is thought-provoking tale of Thorfinn and his process to choose a bride.

Cat by Mike Dumbleton and illustrated by Craig Smith is simple yet profound! I love this one!! Cat meets up with all sorts of wonderful adventures. My favorite?? See what happens when she meets the sprinkler!

I am telling you - you just can't go wrong with Kane Miller!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lerner Box

Christmas is for me:  A BIG BOX OF BOOKS!!  So, when Lerner sent through some review copies - I was excited - ok, giddy!!  Let me share some of my favorites:

Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Ofra Amit.  There is a reason this one is first - as I'm dabbing at my eyes with a kleenex - this is POWERFUL!!  A wonderful Holocaust picture book - the story is precious - incredible - and one you won't soon forget!  (Oh, and it's based on a true story!)
Class Three at Sea by Julia Jarman and illustrated by Lynne Chapman is a fun romp!  I mean really, what would you expect from a book where a class gets lost at sea, only to be "found" by a group of rowdy pirates?  (Perfect for your "pirate" story hours!)
I Know an Old Teacher by Anne Bowen and illustrated Stephen Gammell - this one is another fun one.  I know, there are SO many "I Know An..."  books out there but this one is fun and deserves to be among them!
Hush Harbor:  Praying in Secret by Freddi Williams Evans and illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks.  I DO SO ENJOY these historical picture books.  It is pure reading for enjoyment while learning something that WILL stick!  This is a book on what African Americans had to go through to even worship together during times of slavery.  Another book based on true events - powerful!
Name that Style:  All About Isms in Art - Bob Raczka.  This caught my eye as I am getting ready for next year's Summer Reading Program (all about Fine Arts).  This is really a useful book - for anyone studying/learning about art and the periods of art - it is concise and yet interesting - a great tool for students and teachers!
Ok - here's one that you MUST admit you needed in school - "Mrs. Riley Bought Five Itchy Aardvarks" and Other Painless Tricks for Memorizing Science Facts by Brian P. Cleary and illustrated by J. P. Sandy.  First off - it's Brian Cleary - need I say more!!?  Ok, since you need more convincing - I mean really, how else can you memorize the six major animal groups??  (Hence, the title!!)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Seven Miles to Freedom

Janet Halfmann's Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story is a powerful slave story. I was not familiar at all with Robert Smalls but now that I've read this book - I am SURE to recommend it to others studying slavery or just interested in reading on the Civil War/Slavery, etc. Duane Smith's illustrations are marvelous - they give you a rugged feel for the times. The powerful picture book tells an amazing story - I would read this to students WAY up even into middle school - it will be long-remembered.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Chloe's Favorites

Since Chloe is my greatest critic - I am featuring her two latest favorites!
Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert and illustrated by Tuesday Mourning is hysterical - in my opinion - in Chloes??  Well - she just LOVES anything princess but this princess is EVEN better - she wears - GLASSES!!  Yes, and the ending is my favorite - after others make fun of her because she can't see AND because she needs glasses - guess who falls in love with her??  You got it - the prince with glasses!  You can't do better than Princess Peepers!
Next Up???  It's Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett and illustrated by Kevan Atteberry.  This book is perfect to enjoy with your little one.  Want or Need an excuse to tickle??  Then here it is!  This tickle monster spends his whole life tickling, and not only is her adorable (hint, hint stuffed animal companies!!) but who wouldn't want to be tickled by him?  He leads you through a tickle adventure.  This is an adventure that will leave you BOTH laughing - don't miss it!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Madeline and the Cats of Rome

Madeline's Back!!!  What a wonderful treat - after the stories began in 1939, this is the newest installment in the series written by Bemelmans' grandson, John Marciano.  Madeline and the Cats of Rome is excellent!  Just like the older Madeline's - she is off an an adventure, complete with rhymes and her new found set of orphans - cats!!  I loved this and I am glad that Marciano is taking over!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Forbidden Daughter

When the publisher asked me to read The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal, I thought - why not - I love something new!?!? But I didn't realize what a wonderful "treat" I was in for. Bantwal is SUPERB - the book kept me riveted from page one! I loved the story, I loved the premise - what more can I say!?!? It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart - having my own daughter from China - and China having much the same practices on this topic as India. It was a refreshing novel, and I always enjoy a novel set in another country. I really can not say enough good about this wonderful, new novel. Here is what the publisher said:
"When a young widow refuses to comply with her in-laws' dictate to abort her unborn child, will her rebellion turn out to be the greatest mistake of her life, or a blessing in disguise? This is the story of one mother’s valiant fight to protect her daughters in a society that often frowns on female children, and the only man who will help her in her battle when the stakes become impossibly high.
THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER is woven around the hot-button social issue of vanishing girl children in contemporary India, where gender-based abortions and female infanticide continue to be practiced in some areas despite laws to ban the practices."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cybils - HERE WE COME!!!

I am honored to be chosen again to be on the Cybils award committee.  Last year I was a finalist judge in the Nonfiction Picture Book Category - THIS year, I get to be on the nominating committee for Nonfiction Picture Books.  THAT means I get to read LOTS of books and send our committee's favorites to the final judges!  SO - I'll let you know at the end here, which was my favorite spot to be in!!  Right now - I am just sitting back and waiting to hear what to start reading - can't wait!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toon Books

I first saw this new series, Toon Books, at PLA - in fact, we even got to hear the mastermind behind the series, Francoise Mouly, speak. I have been "hooked" ever since. I just got a box of them to look over and review and they are WONDERFUL! What a great idea - beginning reading in comic book format - I LOVE IT!! Why in the world has this not been done before!?!?  They are wonderful - the illustrations are fun and the stories are not lame (as beginning readers often are!!).    My favorite?  Jack and the Box - but hey, I'm always a sucker for a good "box" book!!

5 Little Monkeys

Need a new game to play with your little ones???
HERE it is!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Silent Tears

Kay Bratt's Silent Tears is a book I had read about all over adoption web rings - so I thought I had better read it - now, I have finished and all I want to do is start over and begin again. It is the story of Kay's time spent in China because her husband is transferred there for his job. While in China, Kay is allowed to help in a local orphanage. What she sees there is absolutely eye-opening - it confirmed many thoughts I had had as an adoptive mom. And it also answered some questions I had. We see things STILL in Chloe that we wonder how far back they go - after I read this - I can see why she does some of the things she does. The book is powerful - I am going to recommend it to our adoption agency as required reading for adoptive China families. I know you can not take one orphanage and say all are like that, but I do think that many of the things do not change. This is a book that I will keep on my shelf and refer to for years to come. Thank you, Kay, for a powerful, and honest, look at life in an orphanage.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Madam President and Big Plans

Anytime Lane Smith is mentioned with children's books you know you are in for a treat! And these two latest publications are just that - a REAL TREAT - and timely for this presidential season.
Madam President by Lane Smith is hilarious, witty, and such a great introduction to the president's job - kids will love this one.  I love it too that the main character is a girl - a girl wanna-be president - how fun with today's times!
Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith is a funny story about a boy that has "big plans".  He goes through the story telling everyone his "big plans" and we don't know until the end of the book what his "big plans" are.  Or do we!?!?!?  You will need to read it to find out!  This book also touches on the president's job as well - so it would be a great read-aloud at this time of year!

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