Thursday, May 31, 2012

Squish Is Back!

Jenni and Matt Holm are back with SQUISH: THE POWER OF THE PARASITE, number 3 in the series of GNs featuring the amoeba named Squish (Random House 2012). It is summer time and Squish is consigned to swimming lessons while his best pals take classes in ballet instead. Squish does not want to learn to swim at all. Thankfully, there is someone else in the class who shares Squish's dislike of swim lessons. Basil is a Hydra and he becomes Squish's ally at swim class. However, there is something not quite right about Basil. Is he really a new friend? Can he be trusted? Fans of the series will be thrilled with this latest offering. Fun and science, who would have thought those two words might be used together? <307>

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

exploring through books

"Books fall open, you fall in," wrote David McCord. Here are books that allow readers to explore time and place and people of all kinds.

WHO'S IN MY FAMILY? by Robie Harris with illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott (Candlewick Press 2012) is subtitled ALL ABOUT FAMILIES. From single parents to grandparents to foster and adoptive parents, the story shows the variety that families come in. <301>

THE FIRST ADVENTURES OF SPIDER by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst with illustrations by Caldecott winner Jerry Pinkney (Little Brown 2012)is part of the easy reading series Passport to Reading. This book contains several tales about spider, always the trickster. Tie this to Eric Kimmel's Anansi stories. <302>

JUST RIGHT FOR CHRISTMAS by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw (Nosy Crow 2012) centers on one piece of fine red fabric purchased to make a cloak for the princess' Christmas present. The scraps from the cloak are left out for trash when along wanders a maid who makes a jacket from the pieces. One by one, different animals discover the shreds of fabric. each manages to make something special, something just right for Christmas. Tie this to Sims Tayback's JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT or SOMETHING FROM NOTHING. <303>

OH NO by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Eric Rohmann (Schwartz and Wade 2012)is set in a jungle where one by one animals have fallen into a pit (hence the OH NO of the title). Other animals come along and try to help the trapped escape to no avail. Finally, along comes a tiger. What will happen to the hapless animals trapped in the hole? <304>

THE MOOGEES MOVE HOUSE by Leslie McGuirk (Candlewick Press)is about the perils and pains of finding a new home. Even when you are a Moogee, this is tough work. Finding the just right home takes patience and perseverance and some help. <305>

MY HANDS SING THE BLUES by Jeanne Walker Harvey with illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon (Marshall Cavendish 2012) is about the childhood of artist Romare Bearden. Told in first person, readers will follow Romare through his childhood into his young adulthood and see the various influences on his art. <306>

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The remarkable Kadir Nelson gives Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech a new vision in his latest picture book, I HAVE A DREAM (Schwartz and Wade 2012). Accompanied by a CD with the recording of the famous speech, Nelson has selected essential passages of the speech for this picture book. Bronzes, browns, and blues glow as pages turn and the words pour forth, still challenging us today to see the dream come true. Tie this one to MARTIN'S BIG WORDS by Doreen Rappaport with illustrations by Bryan Collier. Bder of biographies or a ladder of famous speeches brought to life in picture books, build a ladder for Black History Month. There are so many ways to connect this beautiful text to others. Just be sure to read it aloud to any age. <300>

Monday, May 28, 2012

Animal fare

ALL THE AWAKE ANIMALS ARE ALMOST ASLEEP by Crescent Dragonwagon with illustrations by David McPhail (Little Brown 2012)

Letter by letter
Follow the animals as
They all fall asleep.


BLACK DOG by Levi Pinfold. (templar Books 2012)

Black dog Black dog does not scare
Small who knows how to bring him
To perfect pet size.


HIDE AND SEEK by Il Sung Na (Knopf 2012)

Animals play games
Such as jungle hide and seek
Chameleon is best.


Mario the squirrel
And his pal Isabelle teach
Each other new moves.


OLLE AND MOON: FUHGEDDABOUDIT! by Diane Krendenson (Random House 2012)

Ollie and Moon tour
New York City from one end
To the other end.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

kids will be kids

SICK DAY by David McPhail (Holiday House 2012)

The boy is feeling sick
Stays home. Mother cares for him.
He cares for others.


I LIKE OLD CLOTHES by Mary Ann Hoberman with illustrations by Patrice Barton (Knopf 2012)

She likes old clothing
Wonders who owned them before
And what they were like.


NIGHTTIME NINJA by Barbara DaCosta with illustrations by Ed Young (Little Brown 2012)

He creeps out at night
Prowling through the room with stealth
Nighttime Ninja caught!


WHAT WILL YOU BE, GRANDMA? by Nanette Newman with illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark (templar Books 2012)

What would Grandma be
If she were not a grandma?
Possibilities rock!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

REVENGE OF THE DINOTRUX by Chris Gall (Little Brown 2012) unleashes the power of the ancient hybrid known as dinotrux. Meet Velocitractors, Tryannosaus Trux, and Craneosaurus. What looks like destruction, though, is actually construction. Now the dinotrux feel useful once again. <289>

WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT by Brianna Caplan Sayres with illustrations by Christian Slade (Random House 2012)shows all manner of equipment leaving the job and heading home for the night. Snowplows, two trucks, and tractors have families, too, you know. <290>

Friday, May 25, 2012

family first

ME, MOMMA, AND BIG JOHN by Mara Rockliff with illustrations by William Low (Candlewick Press 2012) is the fictionalized story of Carol Hazel, a stonecutter who worked on the Cathedral of Saint John in New York. Through the yes of a child, we see the slow progress made by the artists who fashioned stone for the church. <287>

AUNTIE YANG'S GREAT SOYBEAN PICNIC by Ginnie Lo with illustrations by Beth Lo (Lee and Low 2012) shows how ancestry fashions lives even when someone moves to a new country. Auntie Yang's picnic became an annual event for many families who enjoyed relishing the familiar tastes of their culture even as they adapted to life in America. <288>

Thursday, May 24, 2012

making the familiar strange

AMELIA BEDELIA'S FIRST VOTE by Herman Parish with illustrations by Lynne Avril (Greenwillow 2012) continues the grand tradition of the classic character but now takes readers to Amelia's childhood. Readers familiar with the character who takes things too literally will quickly see the same behavior in Amelia as a student at an elementary school. Here is a terrific book to introduce kids to the concept of voting and elections. Tie to BAD KITTY FOR PRESIDENT. <284>

Helen Ward's lush illustrations breathes new life into the story of THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE (templar Books 2012). Trees fruit and foliage serve as an excellent counterpart to the cold concrete of the city. Add some other versions of Aesop fables such as Arnold Lobel's Caldecott winning FABLES. <285>

RED KNIT CAP GIRL by Naoko Stoop (Little Brown 2012) lives in an enchanted forest where animals are her friends. She decides one day that she wants to talk to the Moon. But how to reach that far? Tie this one to Kevin Henkes' THE KITTEN AND THE FULL MOON. <286>

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


THE THANKFUL BOOK by Todd Parr (Little Brown 2012)

Be thankful today
This book will remind you why
To do this today.

RABBIT AND ROBOT: THE SLEEPOVER by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press 2012)

Rabbit and robot
Best of friends, they eat pizza
And time together.

LOOK ANOTHER BOOK by Bob Staake (Little Brown 2012)

Can you find them all?
Hundreds of things hidden
On the pages here.

CECIL THE PET GLACIER by Matthea Harvey and Giselle Potter (Schwartz and Wade 2012)

Normal Ruby Small
Does not want a pet glacier
But she has one now.

BOY WONDER by Calef Brown (Atheneum 2011)

Do you wonder why
About all manner of things?
Then this is your book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

things that go bump in the night

THE SCARY PLACES MAP BOOK: SEVEN TERRIFYING TOURS by B.G. Hennessy with illustrations by Erwin Madrid (Candlewick Press 2012) transports readers to the land of mythical monsters, the western terror-tories and other ghostly places. Along the way, readers are asked if they can spot hidden objects as well. Visual acuity is only one skill needed to navigate these tours. <275>

Grouch, Grumpy, and Little Gloom n Doom build THE MONSTERS' MONSTER in Patrick McDonnell's latest book (Little Brown 2012). Their creation, however, is not quite what these nasty little monsters intended. He is kind and generous and he giggles! Can the monsters' monster help tame the little terrors? <276>

BIG MEAN MIKE (Candlewick 2012) loves his car. When he discovers a little bunny in the trunk, he quickly places it on the sidewalk and hauls off. However, the bunnies seem to multiply and appear in his glove box and even under his front seat. Michelle Knudsen shows the softer side of a big mean Mike and the illustrations by Scott Magoon add to the hilarity. <277>

How can you get a little ghost to go to sleep when he is not tired? In BEDTIME FOR BOO by Mickie Matheis with illustrations by Bonnie Lieck, Mother instructs Boo to listen to the sounds of the house at night. The thunder and howling and hissing all lull him to sleep. <278>

Monday, May 21, 2012

revisiting a classic

Seventy-five years ago, BRIGHT ISLAND (Random House 2012) was a Newbery Honor Medal winner. How does it hold up after all these years? Quite well, thank you. Thankful Curtis has grown up on Bright Island, sailing, helping out around the house and farm, and generally enjoying her freedom. Her other has schooled her at the kitchen table. Thankful wants nothing more than to remain on the island. However, her sisters-in-law have other plans. Thankful is to go off to school a private boarding school no less. This fish-out-of-water tale will still resonate with today's readers. Here are mean girls, boys who break your heart, a love of nature, a yearning to be free: many of the pieces of more contemporary novels and culture. Without our assistance, new readers might easily miss this "old" book that will speak to them. <274>

Sunday, May 20, 2012

perfect middle grade reading

Robert Columbo Burnside is most definitely an average kid. When he decides to convert his closet into a science lab, however, his life is about to change drastically. Out of the closet pops a tiny man, an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein: Wonkenstein. How much trouble can this little guy be? Plenty. Before long, Robert's entire neighborhood and school know something is wrong. For fans of Wimpy Kid, this book is bound to be a huge hit. WONKENSTEIN (Henry Holt 2012) is the first in a new series. Look for #2 which combines Chewbaca and Harry Potter! <271>

BAD KITTY FOR PRESIDENT by Nick Bruehl (Roaring Brook 2012) is a perfect primer for the upcoming election. When Old Kitty comes to the end of his second term, it is time to find some candidates to take his place. Enter Bad Kitty and Big Kitty, primaries, ballots, and more. A wonderful glossary provides even more information for young readers. And don't worry: there is plenty of humor in here for more grown up readers, too. <272>

Invisible Inkling is back in DANGEROUS PUMPKINS by Emily Jenkins (Balzer and Bray 2012). As Halloween approaches, Hank Wolowitz' dread builds. His invisible bandapat loves Halloween, particularly the pumpkins which are its main food source. That means there is going to be trouble, and it begins at home when Inkling destroys Harry's sister's intricate pumpkin carvings. Of course, since the bandapat is invisible, all the blame falls squarely on Harry. How can he mange to survive?

Nonfiction hits

A BUTTERFLY'S LIFE by Ellen Lawrence (Bearport 2012) is part of the Animal Diaries Life Cycles series. It begins with an adult butterfly laying eggs and follows the transition to caterpillar to chrysalis and finally butterfly. Each double page spread contains facts about the butterfly in its various forms. Readers are also encouraged to interact with text by measuring objects, creating butterfly gardens, and more. <268>

DOLPHINS IN THE NAVY by Meish Goldish (Bearport 2012) demonstrates how dolphins (and other mammals) are being used to help spot mines in the water and other threats to the Navy ships. The care and handling and training of the dolphins is included as well as a word or two about the controversy of using mammals in this fashion. Nice and well rounded reporting makes this a good introduction for kids. <269>

Many kids will already know the exploits of the subject of the Basketball Heroes series. KEVIN DURANT by Michael Sandler (Bearport 2012) helped his team, the Oklahoma Thunder win the Western Conference Semifinals last year. This short biography follows Kevin from childhood into adolescence and ultimately, the NBA. <270>

Saturday, May 19, 2012

from screen to book and back again

THESE ARE THE AVENGERS by Thomas Macri (Marvel 2012) is an I-Can-Read book about the six superheroes who are lighting up the big screen right now. Simple text describes the abilities of Thor, Hulk, and the others for very young readers. <265>

LA LUNA by Enrico Casarosa (Pixar 2012) is based on Casarosa's short film for Disney Pixar. A young boy heads out to sea with his father and grandfather. He will work side by side with them for the first time. Their task? To clean up the clutter of stars on the moon's surface. <266>

Steve Purcell's BRAVE was also a Pixar film. Here BRAVE: ONE PERFECT DAY (Disney 2012) enjoys a day off by herself where she does not have to be prim and proper and princess-y. <267>

Friday, May 18, 2012

Great Expectations

Zephyr is a girl with a HUGE imagination. She designs all manner of inventions, especially airplanes which she makes out of paper and any materials at hand. In ZEPHYR TAKES FLIGHT by Steve Light (Candlewick Press 2012), Zephyr finds herself sent to her room for her fanciful flights around the living room. In her bedroom, Zephyr discovers a secret door, one that leads her to her dream of making a real plane and flying loop-de-loops. Zeophyr also comes to the rescue of a grounded pig just in time to return to her house for breakfast. Fanciful flight. <263>

KING ARTHUR'S VERY GREAT GRANDSON by Kenneth Kraegel (Candelwick Press 2012)tries to emulate his great-great-great-great-great grandfather, King Arthur, but the dragon is not really up to a fight. So, Hnery (for that is his name) is sent to find the Cyclops to see if he might be interested in a challenge. On and on through various foes, Henry finally finds someone worthy of being his opponent and his friend. <264>

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Animal friends

ONE SPOTTED GIRAFFE by Petr Horacek is subtitled A POP UP COUNTING BOOK (Candlewick Press 2012). As readers lift the flap on the right side of the double page spread, up pops an animal in the shape of the number. On the facing left hand piece of the double page spread are the appropriate number of animals. Thus, a panda is transformed into a pop up number 8 while 8 pandas cavort. Nice, simple concept book with the bonus of the pop up. <261>

PIP AND POSY: THE SCARY MONSTER (Nosy Crow 2012) introduces readers to Pip and his friend Posy. It is a dreary day, and Posy decides to do some baking. Before long, she sees a monster staring into her window. But, it is only Pip, of course. The two enjoy a lovely time each pretending to be a scary monster. <262>

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Daniel Pinkwater gives readers the babysitter of their dreams in MRS. NOODLEKUGEL (Candlewick). Nick and Maxine live in a high-rise apartment complex. Maxine has discovered that if she looks out the window just right, she can spot a tiny house in a beautiful back yard behind the apartments. However, she and Nick have some trouble locating the house. They head off to find the house and make a wonderful new friend in Mrs. Noodlekugel. Pinkwater's sense of humor is sure to please beginning readers who will demand more visits to Mrs. Noodlekugel. <260>

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick reviews of recent picture books

BEAR IN LOVE by Daniel Pinkwater with illustrations by Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick 2012) is a charming story of a bear who discovers a carrot left for him near his den. He is pleased with the gift but wonders who has left it. As days pass, more gifts are left for bear by his unknown friend. Bear soon joins in the acts of giving until he meets his unseen admirer. <258>

BEARS IN BEDS by Shirley Parenteau with illustrations by David Walker (Candlewick 2012) has a very different feel than the preceding bear book. Here we have some rambunctious bears getting ready for bed. Will they ever settle down to sleep? Wait! What was that noise? <259>