Friday, September 30, 2011

catching up

Georgia Heard has put together an astonishing (and slim) collection of poems "found" by a wonderful array of contemporary poets. In THE ARROW FINDS IT MARK, illustrated by Antione Guilloppe, (Roaring Brook, March 2012), Naomi Shihab Nye, Jane Yolen, Lee Bennett Hopkins, George Ella Lyon, and Michael Salinger (among many others) have fashioned poems from magazines, online postings, and even crossword clues. This is a prime example of a mentor text (see Ralph Fletcher's remarkable book of the same title) for classroom use. Imagine asking kids to collect found poems. They will be looking at words with different eyes in no time. Here is one tiny example from the book:

PEP TALK (found on a bottle of OxiClean detergent)
Janet Wong

Keep cool.
See a brighter solution.
Maintain freshness.
Boost your power!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


THE OBSTINATE PEN by Frank W. Dormer (Holt, March 2012) is a smartly funny story of a p en that refuses to write what its owner intends. Instead, it writes "Kiss her!" as a policemen is trying to write a ticket for a pretty woman. It writes insult for someone who thinks too highly of himself. Each time, the pen escapes its owner, but finally ends up in just the right hands. <497>

Robert Sabuda's exquisitely detailed paper engineering is just part of the attraction of CHANUKAH LIGHTS by Michael J. Rosen (Candlewick 2011). Eight scenes describe times of celebration of miracles not unlike that of the original fight for freedom. Here is a book to be shared to celebrate the freedom we enjoy. <498>

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

perfect for the very young

Jerry Pinkney can do no wrong. His latest, TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR (Little Brown 2011) combines the familiar song (and some new verses I must admit I did not know) with spreads of textless "narration" as an adventurous squirrel sails off into the sky. <494>

Count with the count in COUNT DAGMAR by J. Otto Seibold (Chronicle 2011). This is a board book with flaps to lift as readers count along with Count Dagmar from castles to bats to pumpkins, just in time for Halloween. <495>

ANIMAL BATHS by Bob Barner (Chronicle 2011) shows how different animals prepare for the start of every day. Combing hair, showering, cleaning ears: there is much here for parents to share. <496>

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

more pictures than words?

The lovely and talented Liz Bicknell read this book aloud to me at a conference a while back. So, I was thrilled toget the final book in my hands. Here is I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen (Candlewick 2011). A bear searches for his hat. He askes everyone he encounters if they have seen his. After a while, he recalls seeing his pointy red hat on someone else's head and returns to demand his hat back. Nice twist at the end to make for a lovely llttle joke between author and reader. <493>

There is so much to recommend this book. The conversations between bear and the various other animals are done in contrasting colors, making it simple for even the most beginning reader to know who is speaking at the time. The illustrations are deadpan perfect as is the narrative that accompanies the pictures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

read along with your dog

DEAR MRS. LARUE, subtitled LETTERS HOME FROM OBEDIENCE SCHOOL by Mark Teague comes as a package audio and book from Scholastic. With picture books, having the book along with the audio is good since kids will want a chance to study the illustrations as they listen to the book. The audio has 2 tracks. The first track is the story with page turning signals; the second is a straight read-through without the signals. Reader David DeVries delivers a stellar fully voiced performance complete with sound effects. <492>


Isn't it ironic, don't you think? A little too, ironic. Apologies to Alanis Morissette for the theft of lyrics, but they seem all too appropriate as we once more honor Banned Books Week and are, once more, witnessing situations that would deny free speech and freedom of expression. It is here on my own campus this time. Here is the link to the latest in the story:

Here's the thing. I might not like the speech posted by students (and I really hate to see vulgarity in lieu of true expression), but there are two things that bother me more. One is that a professor cut down the speech and then the police took down the entire posting claiming it violated the law. The one bright spot is that there are organizations out there like FIRE who immediately protested the incident.

There are rumors abounding here that there may be social media policies being put into place for students and for faculty. This makes me nervous as well. The word "policies" has the word "police" contained within the letters. My Spidey-senses are already tingling.

I am wearing my #SpeakLoudly button this week and have several on my desk for colleagues who want to join me. We need to continue to #SpeakLoudly, defending even the speech and expression of those whose ideas we find abhorrent. That's what makes #SpeakLoudly more than a slogan. Join me? And join in the Virtual Read Out:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back to school with R.L. Stine

Spent enough time in the car recently to complete two short audiobooks. R.L. Stine's IT'S THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOREVER (MacMillan Audio 2011)is read by Matthew Brown with a wonderful mix of disbelief, horror, and indignation. Artie awakens on the first day of school (a new school for him) to find his cell phone almost dead. When he plugs it in, he nearly electrocutes himself. Breakfast is a horror when his little brother splatters Artie's hair with syrup. On the walk to school, Artie is dowsed by a passing truck. As the accidents mount up, Artie hits the most popular kid in school in the head, enters the wrong classroom, and finds himself in the underbelly of the school with a janitor who might just be growing pod people. How can it get worse? Simple, Artie wakes up the next day and it is Day #1 all over again. Think "Groundhog Day" at the heart, but if you know Stine, then you know there is more to the story. Use this to teach kids about hyperbole! <491>

Saturday, September 24, 2011

odds and ends

The lovely ladies at Candlewick Press (Jenny and Sharon!) sent me a box of F&Gs the other day. Here are just a few of the treats inside. Books are all spring 2012 publications.

THE HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES by Ted Kooser with illustratons by Jon Klasses (Candelwick, March 2012) is a hauntingly evocative picture book about a man who buys a home near the woods. He meticulously mows and weeds the area around the house to keep the trees from encroaching on his lawn which he keeps beautifully manicured. Readers watch as the man grows older, eventually leaving his house behind. GThen, nature takes its due course. <486>

ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN by Annette Simon (Candlewick, March 2012)is a cumulative story of sorts if you look at it the right way. It begins with two robots who begin a game of one-upsmanship. By adding bits and pieces, the robots transform themselves into various creatures, growing more and more bizarre and frightening. This is done with a minimum of words. Pages at the beginning of the book show readers how they, too, can create zombie robot Frankensteins of their own. Reminiscent of Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle, this is a book that will engage young readers. <487>

FASTER! FASTER! by Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick. 2012) opens with a young girl riding her father's back and prodding him to go faster and faster. before long, she has hopped from his back to the backs of animals, each moving faster until close to the end of the book, the animals slow down (turtle, for instance) and we find the girl back on the back of her prostrate and weary Dad. <488>

RANDY RILEY'S REALLY BIG HIT by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick, March 2012) has the erstwhile Randy once again at the plate and once again striking out. Randy's head is full of lots of other stuff and it tends to distract him from the task at hand. When a meteor comes crashing toward Earth, though, Randy Riley just might be able to save the planet if he can make the biggest hot of his life. <489>

NIGHT KNIGHT by Owen Davey (Candlewick, March 2012) is a terrific bedtime story about a young boy with an imaginative way of checking off all those little bedtime duties (brushing teeth, etc.) so that he can get to bed. The humor is, of course, contained in the illustrations and their juxtaposition to what is in the narrative. Dark shades, dominated by black and deep brown, are perfect for this end of the day book. <490>

STEP GENTLY OUT by Helen Frost with photos by Rick Lieder (Candlewick, March 2012) demonstrates again why Helen Frost should be the Poet Laureate (and not just for children) of the United States. Here is a gentle (as in step gently out) poem about the miniature life that exists all around us. How careful we must be if we are to see it in its glory. Budding naturalists (and are not all children budding naturalists) will appreciate the photos that blow up these small creatures and plants so we can see them readily. Frost's perfectly selected words emphasize the love and appreciation she has for the world around us all. <491>

Friday, September 23, 2011


THE UNFORGOTTEN COAT by Frank Cotrell Boyce (Candlewick 2011) with photographs by Carl Hunter and Clare Heney) is a remarkable piece of storytelling. When two boys from Mongolia show up at her school, Julie becomes their "Good Guide." She is fascinated with Chingis and Nergui and their homeland. She is equally curious about their lives outside of school. Boyce captures the wonder of a young girl at things that to her seem exotic and compelling. He also spins out a bit of a mystery about how the boys came to the little town near Liverpool and why they seem so secretive about their life before they moved from Mongolia. The Polaroid photos are a compelling part of this simple narrative, photos that are presented without text or caption because they do not need them. Teachers looking for examples of memoir (fictional in this case) would do well to share some of this slim, powerful book. <485>

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Come One, Come "YAL"

The line up for the 2011 ALAN Workshop in Chicago is incredible. Here is a link to the list of the talented folks who work in YA Literature:

You can still register through NCTE at: The ALAN Workshop is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, November 21 and 22. Click to the registration page. The ALAN Workshop is W15.

Come join us for the best PD ever. Spend two days with authors and educators. And did I mention a box of FREE books?

You go, girl!

PEARL VERSES THE WORLD by Sally Murphy (Candlewick 2011) with illustrations by Heather Potter is a slim novel in verse all about Pearl. We learn quickly that Pearl lives with her mother and her grandmother. We also learn that Granny is now bedridden and dying. In school, Pearl's teacher exhorts the students to write poems and to make sure they have rhythm and lots of rhyme. This is a difficult task for Pearl whose life, in her own words, "there is no rhythm in me/no rhythm in my life." As Pearl grapples with the troubles and joys in her life, they are recorded in her singular voice in this gem of a book. <484>

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I love the Toon series from Candlewick Press. They are easy readers, I know. But they offer readers a rich experience nonetheless. In BENJAMIN BEAR IN FUZZY THINKING (Candlewick 2011) by Phillippe Coudray, readers will meet the lovable Benjamin Bear and his friend rabbit. Each page contains a complete story in 4-6 frames. Funny (Benjamin using his friend the rabbit to dry his dishes) and inventive (when he gets lost, Benjamin uses food to attract ants and then follows their trail out of the maze) and endearing (the scene in the grocery store), this book is sure to please early readers as much as it did this more experienced reader. <483>

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Addie as empath

When I read THE MISFITS by James Howe, I fell in love with Addie Carle. I loved that she was vocal about her beliefs, that she would speak her mind. In ADDIE ON THE INSIDE, a companion to THE MISFITS (Atheneum 2011) readers will see Addie once more. Outspoken? You bet. Vocal? Sure. But Addie has grown and changed. She is still advocating for no name calling. She is still best friends with Bobby and Skeezie, and Joe. But there is more. In this book we see Addie as an empathetic young woman, someone who learns to put herself in another person's shoes and see more than the surface of any individual. This lesson comes at some expense for Addie, as empathy does cost something. James Howe has taken a girl and allowed her to blossom into a woman, someone wholly her own. It was wonderful to witness this in ADDIE ON THE INSIDE. <482>

Monday, September 19, 2011

BOOKS about this and that

KING HUGO'S HUGE EGO by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick 2011) is a wonderful rollicking rhyming romp about a pompous king who demands that his subjects listen to him extolling his own virtues each day. One day, he is cursed so that every time he brags about his own worth, his head grows bigger. The illustrations emphasize the humor of Hugo's situation.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti gives readers a lullaby in NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT (Candlewick 2011). Naamah is Noah's wife. it is she who sings the animals to sleep on the ark at night. It is she who makes sure the human occupants also enjoy refreshing sleep and peaceful dreams. The poetic structure, a ghazal, is an ancient Arabic form, one that perhaps readers will want to try once they have read and re-read this book. <480>

Robie Harris gives young readers another informational book in WHO HAS WHAT? ALL ABOUT GIRLS' BODIES AND BOYS' BODIES (Candlewick 2011). Illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott present boys and girls and moms and dads all heading to the beach. A discussion about how bodies are similar and different comes up. Comparisons are made to how our bodies are similar to those of animals (places where pee and poop comes out, tongues, eyes, etc.) and how we differ. Ditto the similarities and differences between boys and girls, men and woman. <481>

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Every picture tells a story

THE MONSTROUS BOOK OF MONSTERS by "Dr. Thomas Jelly" (Templar Books 2011) is a funny lift the flap movable book about all manner of monsters, imaginary thankfully. They hide in every nook and cranny including inside your tube of toothpaste. This is a book that begs interaction. <476>

Michael Rosen gives readers lyrical haiku about a wide variety of dogs in THE HOUND DOG'S HAIKU AND OTHER POEMS FOR DOG LOVERS with illustrations by Mary Azarian (Caldecott winner) (Candlewick 2011). Here is the title poem:

staccato sniffing
fills your ribs' parentheses
you keep scent's secret

Azarian's woodcut illustrations are marvelous alongside Rosen's masterful poems. <477>

GEORGE FLIES SOUTH by Simon James (Candlewick) is the story of a young bird who is not quite ready to leave his nest and head south for the coming winter season. While his mother is away finding him some worms, a gust of wind carries George and his nest out of the safety of the tree and into some dangerous territory. The pastel illustrations are perfect for this quiet tale of finding courage. <478>

Saturday, September 17, 2011


My head hurts, but in a good way, after reading this incredibly rich biography of physicist FEYNMAN by Ottovani and Myrick (First Second 2011). Richard Feynman was a Novel prize winning physicist who worked in Los Alamos and even was part of the commission that studied the challenger disaster. He was also a brilliant mind, of course, when it came to QED (quantum electrodynamics). He was also a larger than life personality who taught himself how to open just about any safe, who played drums in various bands, and who doubted the importance of his own contributions to science on more than one occasion. Ottavani and Myrick capture this huge spirit and personality somehow on a page without losing any of the details that made Feynman someone unforgettable. Their use of color is spare but still significant to the various threads that made up Feynman's life. High school and college classes in physics would do well to include this as a textbook for students. <475>

GNs rely on illustration for much of the story, of course, and this GN is no exception. Formulae and diagrams populate much of the space in the panels emphasizing to readers the complex nature of the calculations important to Feynman's work. Readers will also meet Bohr, Einstein, and other important scientists of the time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A shadowed past

OUT OF SHADOWS by Jason Wallace (Holiday House 2011) is the story of Robert's first year in a new school in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. The war is over and Mugabe is now the president of the former Rhodesia. Robert is attending a private school for boys in a country still reeling from the war and the racial hatred that, unfortunately, bubbles near the surface still. For the first time, Robert witnesses bullying and violence and brutality at the hands of his classmates. When he sticks up for one of the few black students, he places himself at odds with his classmates. He has been taught by his father that men are equal, but Robert does not know how much stock to put in his father's assertions. This is a disturbing examination of racism and hatred that runs deep and explodes into violence with little provocation. <474>

Pair this one with PAPER COVERS ROCK and LOOKING FOR ALASKA for books that are set in private schools for boys. Pair it with other books set in the aftermath of war for a different ladder.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spoiled Rotten?

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan are perhaps better known as the brains behind Now, they team up for a YA novel, SPOILED (Poppy 2011), that skewers the dim facade that is Hollywood. It all begins when Molly's mother dies from cancer. She has enjoyed her quiet life in Indiana. All that is about to change as Molly learns that her father is the famous (infamous) actgor, Brick Berlin. Presto, Molly is off to California to meet Dad and her new sister, Brooke, an aspiring actress. Fish out of water meets Mean Girls meets a bit of The Devil Wears Prada in a romp of a satire that drops names unashamedly. <473>

While this is, at heart, a satire of all things venal and vain, it is also a story that deals with grief, abandonment, long distance relationships, friendships, gossip, and so much more that is part and parcel of the lives of our students far removed from Hollywood.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

better late than never

Many of you know I am trying to do some weeding of shelves at the office. As I was pulling books, I found this gem that had somehow gotten lost in a double shelving incident. Better late than never, right?

ZITA THE SPACEGIRL by Ben Hatke (First Second 2011) is the first GN in a series that will follow Zita on her journey. When Zita finds a strange looking device inside a meteor one day, she manages to activate a hole of sorts through which she and her friend Joseph travel to another planet, a planet set to be destroyed by an oncoming meteor. Joseph is kidnapped by the Scriptorians who believe him to be the child who has been foretold as the savior of the planet. Zita, with the help of some of the alien life on the new planet, must find a way to rescue Joseph and to return back to Earth. <472>

Tie this one to ASTRONAUT ACADEMY for an interesting text set.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

getting graphic again

BAKE SALE by Sara Varon (First Second 2011) is a delight. I loved Varon's ROBOT DREAMS and am pleased to see another GN for tweens and teens from her capable hands. Cupcake owns a bakery. He serves coffee and lots of homemade pastries, always searching for something new to try. His best friend, Eggplant, hangs out at the bakery; the two are in a band (other band mates include an avocado, donut, and egg. When Cupcake learns that Eggplant knows the famous chef, Turkish Delight, he begins to put aside money to travel with Eggplant to meet his hero. <471>

Pale, soft colors are the perfect choice for this low-keyed and mouth-watering read. Varon includes recipes so that readers can make some of Cupcake's creations. What Varon is able to do with simple lines and spare dialogue shows mastery of this format.

Monday, September 12, 2011

read and learn

MAGIC TRASH by J.H. Shapiro (Charlesbridge 2011) with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the true story of Tyree Guyton, a young man who used art to rescue his neighborhood from drug dealers and eventually from the wrecking balls. Brightly colored illustrations tell of the shy boy whosegrandfather placed a paint brush in his hand one day, a day that changed Tyree's life. <468>

DESERT ELEPHANTS by Helen Cowcher (FSG 2011) features a story about the desert elephants, animals who share the desert with humans from various tribes in Africa. The elephants journey hundreds of miles each year as par5t of their migratory pattern. Cowcher's lustrous paintings accompany a simple but not simplistic text. <469>

ANIMAL FIGHTS by Catherine Ham (Early Light Books 2011) is bound to become a favorite of young readers who will learn how different animals fight and, perhaps even more importantly, WHY they fight. The photographs that are part of this book are clear as well as being incredible. <490>

Sunday, September 11, 2011

stacks and stacks of picture books!

WHO HAS THESE FEET? by Laura Hulbert with illustrations by Erik Brooks (Holt 2011) is a terrific piece of bnonfiction that asks kids to guess which animal has the feet being shown? Not only is the name of the animal then revealed on the next double page spread, there are facts about why the feet are designed in certain ways (i.e., fur on the feet of the polar bear to help it not slip on ice). Nice fold out at the end as well. <464>

RAH RAH RADISHES celebrates all things vegetable.Bright photos and a ringing chant with lovely and cleber rhymes (poblano/serrano for instance) make this book by April Pulley Sayre (Beach Lane 2011) not only fun to read but nutritious as well! <465>

Patricia Intriago's DOT (FSG 2011) now sits alongside PRESS HERE as one of my favorite books of the season. Dots, you will be pleased to know, can be shy, sad, and happy as well as large and small and dark and light. Great concept book that stretches the boundaries. <466>

BANDITS are raccoons in Johanna Wright's (Roaring Brook 2011) story about the thieves that come in the night to purloin a little snack. The bandits are a cute lot, a family of raccoons who mean no real harm. <467>

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a picture worth a thousand words...

My office day on Monday began early as I was delivering College Girl back tot he dorm before finding a parking spot (even at 7:20, not a simple thing). Then, the fire alarm began blaring shortly after I opened up my email. I waited for a few minutes because this false alarm stuff happens all too frequently (like middle school with kids pulling the levers). Finally, I joined the others outside until maintenance came to disarm the sucker. Monday was not shaping up to be a good day.

Next, I had to call an airline because my flight to Chicago had been changed and I no longer had the first class seat I had used air miles to get in MAY. While on hold with an extremely helpful operator, I read some picture books (and I got the original flight back and the first class seat as well; however, it is still the worst.merger.ever!). Enjoy the picture books all about fall and cooler weather. It was a heavenly 55 degrees this morning (it has been 80 something most mornings of late).

First, go here and download the song for TEN LITTLE BEASTIES by Rebecca and Ed Emberley (Roaring Brook, 2011): Then, read the book with the lovely song reverberating. I must admit that I enjoyed the first reading without the music, but the song made the book much richer on the second read! <461>

Hyewon Yum gives us a lovely story of twin sisters in THE TWINS' BLANKET (FSG 2011). As the twins grow older, they outgrow their baby blanket. Mother agrees to make each sister a new blanket with some surprising results. The illustrations are spare and so is the text, but the message conveyed is clear: sisterly love conquers all. <462>

A IS FOR AUTUMN by Robert Maas (Holt 2011) is a gloriously colorful celebration of fall complete with changing leaves, pumpkins, and the chill in the air. Tyhis alphabet book celebrates autumn in all of its colorful wonder (except X is for railroad crossing which somehow seems a tad jarring, but then what else could X represent?) <463>

Friday, September 9, 2011

not instant karma

As this novel in verse opens, 15 year old Maya is flying with her father from her home in Canada to her parents' home in India to scatter her mother's ashes. Maya's mother was Hindi and her father is Sikh: their love was forbidden. And so they settled in Canada, a place where Maya never felt she belonged. The night that Maya and her father arrive in India, Indira Gandhi is assassinated in her garden. The country erupts in violence. Maya's father goes in search of help. In his absence, Maya, fearing her her life and his, cuts of her hair, dons American clothes and heads out in search of her father. It is a journey that will not only separate her from her family but also place her life at risk as Sikhs become targets. <460>

The story, like the shifting sands of the desert, keeps readers on their toes. It takes off in different directions as the journal pages shift from Maya's story to that of Sandeep, a part of the family that takes in Maya after she has become lost in India. Prejudice, religion, intolerance, superstition, and romance combine in this tale of forbidden love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

rock paper scissors--no game

PAPER COVERS ROCK by Jenny Hubbard (Delacorte 2011) is reminiscent of A SEPARATE PEACE, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. It is not derivative, though, it simply recognizes these stories and even acknowledges them in this smart, literate, story of a teen attending a private boarding school. Sixteen year old Alex is our narrator. As the novel opens, Alex witnesses the accidental drowning of one of his friends. Though whether or not this was an accident is a question raised early by Alex and the other student present at the time, Glenn. The novel weaves back and forward in time as Alex writes in a blank journal he keeps hidden in a copy of MOBY DICK (call him Is Male) in the library. Alex is a budding author, a splendid poet. His English teacher, who happened on the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred, encourages Alex to write about his feelings. Glenn, however, warns Alex that he could give away too much of what happened if they are not both careful. <459>

This was the second book I managed to read last week while waiting for various tests and doctor appointments. Being absorbed in Alex's story was so much better than what was going on in the waiting rooms around me!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

hurry up and wait part two

The drive to and from downtown Houston is not far as the crow flies. Mostly that is because the crow flies over the traffic jams that are Houston freeways. Therefore, I had plenty of time to listen to the audio of THE EXQUISITE CORPSE ADVENTURE (Candlewick on Brilliance 2011). The audio was so funny and quirky that I found myself not totally minding the knot of traffic.

Twenty award winning authors and illustrators combine their talents for this story that began online with one author writing a chapter, taking readers to a cliffhanger ending, and then turning the pen over to the next author to continue the story. Kate diCamillo, Lemony Snicket, Tobin Anderson, Katherine Paterson, and Jon Scieszka (to name only a few) create a wacky world with yolky aliens, talking pigs, robots in search of body parts, and twin protagonists who are searching through time for their parents. The audio for this incredible tale is spot on perfection. At turns it is snarky; other times it is deadpan as the narrator conveys horrifically punny egg jokes. What a wonderful way to spend time going nowhere in the car while traveling in a crib through time. <458>

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

hurry up and wait

This past Wednesday I had a day of appointments for some medical tests downtown. I took two book, two audiobooks, and made sure to sync my Kindle app on the iPhone. I began with this book because somehow it seemed appropriate since my first stop was in the blood collection wing.

I had never read any of the series on which this GN is based. I plan to go back and visit the series now based on this book: VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead, adapted by Leigh Dragoon with illustrations by Emma Vieceli (Razorbill 2011). Lissa, a Moroi princess, is in danger. She is being guarded at the beginning of the novel by her friend Rose. However, the two are forced to return to the academy for their own protection. Rose begins training to become a true bodyguard for Lissa who is falling for Christian. Of course, there will be lots of danger and action in the pages of this GN which is one part romance and one part vampire battles and, on the whole, wildly appealing to readers. <457>

Monday, September 5, 2011

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. One of the rewards for being a nerdy student in those childhood days was that the Pittsburgh Pirate office would issue two free tickets to a summer game for those students earning straight As. I remember once taking one of my sisters who came home from the game at Forbes Field (yes, outdoors!) and told my mother that "Yogi Bear got a run around." As for me, I was in love with the athletic grace that was Roberto Clemente. I say all this as prelude to a new book I adore partly because I fell in love with baseball as a child and partly because I fell in love with this story.

JUST AS GOOD by Chris Crowe (Candlewick, January 2012) is the story of Larry Doby. The year is 1947 and Doby has just signed with the Cleveland Indians. He was the first African American to play for the American League (Jackie Robinson played in the National League). Told from the point of view of a young boy, readers learn of Doby's first home run in the 1948 World Series, a series Cleveland went on to win. Doby's stats were impressive and, combined with the talent of Jackie Robinson, the two helped pave the way for other men of color to integrate baseball. Crowe related the story through his young narrator, a perfect choice for this exciting time in baseball. Mike Benny's illustrations are a perfect accompaniement to the text. <456>

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pictures and Text Come Together

RAJ, THE BOOKSTORE TIGER by Kathleen Pelley and illustrated by Paige Keiser (Charlesbridge 2011) introduces readers to Raj, a cat who has a great deal of self confidence. He travels with his owner each day to the bookstore and even joins in story times. Then, one day a new cat arrives, one which makes Raj question his confidence. Can Raj become the bookstore tiger once more? <452>

Gerald McDermott gives readers a tale from India in MONKEY (Harcourt 2011). Monkey wants to cross the river to the mango trees. Crocodile is happy to help him, of course, all the while planning to feast on monkey's heart. Monkey, however, is quite clever. McDermott's trademark illustrations with their bold colors accompany a straightforward text sure to please readers. <453>

HOW TO GET A JOB BY ME THE BOSS by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap is a humorous look at the skills needed to find and obtain a job. Interview tips (do not bring your gerbil to the interview), suggestions for jobs (President, cowboy, teacher) and other important information are shared. <454>

Dalia constructs a tzedakah box where she collects coins and dollars to buy things. In HOW DALIA PUT A BIG YELLOW COMFORTER IN A TINY BLUE BOX by Linda Heller with illustrations by Stacey McQueen (Tricycle Press 2011), readers will learn of this Jewish tradition of giving back to others. Sharing with others is an important theme to explore with young readers. <455>