Saturday, August 31, 2013


FALLOUT by Todd Strasser. Candlewick, September 2013.

Strasser opens his newest offering for teens with this question by asking (and answering) a what if question: what if Russia had dropped the bomb in the 60s? When Scott's father builds a bomb shelter, the rest of the neighbors think he is crazy. No one is going to drop the bomb; there is too much for both countries to lose after all. But the unthinkable happens and Scott, along with his parents and younger brother head into the shelter. Frantic neighbors begin to crowd in hoping to gain access. The shelter is built for 4 and only supplied with a minimum of food for the time they must stay inside to be safe from the fallout. But now there are 6. How will they all survive? Strasser maintains the suspense by switching back and forth between events in Scott's life before the attack and then scenes in the shelter itself. Kids today never experienced the duck and cover drills, never sat and saw the threats played out on television. To them, this is history, a history they should know.

Friday, August 30, 2013

If You Find Me

IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch. St. Martins Griffin, 2013.

Carey and Jenessa have only known the rusted camper as home for almost as long as either of them can recall. Carey knows that they ran away from their father a long time ago. Mom wanted to keep them off the grid for their own protection, and so they live in the woods without electricity or running water. Somehow they manage. But now Mom has been gone for an awfully long time, and the food is running short. Carey worries about Jenessa who rarely speaks, How will they survive?

Suddenly, there is a man approaching the camper accompanied by a woman from social services. Carey and Jenessa are to be handed over to Carey's father who has been searching for them ever since Carey's mother abducted her when she was little. Now, they have a father (one Carey is not sure she can trust) and a stepmother and stepsister, too. There will be many changes hurtling toward Carey as the truth is slowly revealed. Great pacing, realistic characters and emotions will draw readers in and hold them to the final page.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


ZEBRA FOREST by Adina Rishe Gewirtz. Candlewick Press, 2013.

Annie and her brother Rew live with their grandmother. Their mother left them years ago. They have been told that their father is dead. Gran has her good days when she cooks pancakes and tells stories to Rew and annie. But more and more, those good days as=re few and far between. When the social worker comes by, it is Annie who steers her back to the car with assurances that all is well (even when it is not). And then one night, a man enters the house, a man Annie knows to be her father, not dead, but in prison for a long time. He has escaped and plans to hold the family hostage until he can make his way further to freedom. The truths that Annie now has to face are almost unbearable, How can she come to terms with this man, long believed dead, whom Annie has made into some sort of hero? What of the mother who did not want her own children? How can Annie handle these harsh realities?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


THE SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST by Jasper Fforde. Harcourt, September 2013.

This sequel to THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER is sure to be met with enthusiasm as the story returns to Kazam, the home of some of the world's few remaining magicians. Jennifer Strange is still doing her best to book work and keep the whole operation going. But times are still tough for magic in the land where King Snood reigns. The rival house of magic challenges the magicians of Kazam: winner will take over the control of all magic in the kingdom. Jennifer believes they can win easily, but she is not prepared for the underhandedness of Blix, now Blix the All Powerful. Humor (very tongue in cheek most of the time) abounds, and readers will learn a bit more about magic and what has happened to it in the past. Fforde's characters are idiosyncratic and richly detailed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

EXTREMITIES by David Lubar. Tor, 2013.

David Lubar can tell a story, and tell it FAST. These brief stories are sure to raise some gooseflesh for readers who have in the past enjoyed his collections of WEENIE tales. In this volume, for older readers, Lubar delights readers with tales of beautiful young women who feed on the fears of their boyfriends, criminals who have their comeuppance from someone with blood magic, and teens who dare to stay in a haunted house to earn some quick money. Blood, guts, shape shifters, ghosts, and more live between the covers of this riveting collection of stories. Tie this to SHORT CIRCUITS edited by Don Gallo.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Corner of White

A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty. Scholastic 2013.

Madeline and her mother have run away from Madeleine's father and now live in an attic in England. Madeleine spends her days with two friends being homeschooled by a variety of people. She longs her the life she has left, one of privilege. One day, as she is walking home, she spies a tiny corner of white, a piece of paper sticking out of a parking meter. Curious, she pulls the paper loose and reads the note.

Meanwhile, in another world, Elliott is searching for his father who disappeared the same night Elliott's
uncle was killed by a Purple. One day he spies a corner of white sticking out of an old TV that has become part of a sculpture made by one of his friends. He pulls the page loose and reads the note.

And now Elliott and Madeleine are connected though they live in two different worlds. How their stories will come together is the adventure that forms the heart of this remarkable book. Tied firmly to the realities of family and friends, the fantasy element of marauding colors and the Butterfly Child seem as real as anything else in tis story of love and acceptance and redemption and trust and betrayal.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

chicks and cats

CHICK-O-SAURUS REX by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

A little chicken allows those bigger than he is to prevent him from doing all that he would like to do. And then he makes a discovery that changes how he views himself. It is amazing that this change will also affect how others see him, too.

A YEAR WITH MARMALADE by Alison Reynolds with illustrations by Heath McKenzie. Little Simon, 2013.

Ella and Maddy are best friends. When Maddy has to move away for a while, she asks Ella to keep her cat, Marmalade. Neither Marmalade nor Ella is happy at first. Gradually, they become less wary and more close. This story of how friendships develop is perfect for reading aloud.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Judy Moody and Friends

JUDY MOODY AND FRIENDS by Megan McDonald with illustrations by Erwin Madrid. Candlewick Press, 2014.



Megan McDonald's new series will be a blessing for those younger kids whose older siblings read her novels already. Here are easy reading chapter books featuring some of Judy's friends from the neighborhood. Rocky Zang is working hard on magic tricks (with Judy's help, of course). Jessica wants a pig more than anything else for her birthday. The stories are straightforward, incredibly realistic, and just plain fun.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Potpourri of picture books

TWENTY-SIX PIRATES: AN ALPHABET BOOK by Dave Horowitz. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013.

A companion to the 26 Princesses alphabet book, here we meet pirates like Ulysseys, Ike, Paul and others who have their own special interest (one that happens to rhyme with their names). It might be interesting to have kids compare the two books andthen make one of their own that combines the girls and the boys into one story.

HA HA! by Jeff Mack. Chronicle Books, 2013.

Few words tell the story of a frog captured by kids at a pond. Variations of AH HA and AAHH (and one little twist toward the end) perfectly align with the illustrations to tell a story of unplanned adventure.

I AM THE WORLD by Charles R. Smith, Jr. Atheneum, 2013.

Smith's incredible photographs accompany the spare text that shows our wonderful diversity. A class study of the works of Smith (along with some others who elect to use photography as their artistic medium) would accomplish much in terms of visual literacy.

WHAT FLOATS IN A MOAT? by Lynne Berry with illustrations by Matthew Cordell. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

A humorous story provides readers with some insight into how things float (or sink as the case may be) as Archie the goat (Archimedes) and Skinny the Chicken take a barrel and attempt to make it to the drawbridge landing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Make Believe

SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH by Kate Messner. Chronicle, 2013.

Sea Monster is trying hard to be a good friend to the newest member of his class. But the new fish seems pretty self-confident all by himself. He is critical of everyone and everything. Can Sea Monster really make this fish his friend? Bright illustrations (with loads of humor in the pictures--check out the books the school librarian recommends for instance) lighten the serious issue at the core of this book: dealing with bullies of all kinds, even fishy ones.

LINUS THE VEGERTAIRAN T.REX by Robert Neubecker. Beach Lane, 2013.

Everyone fears the mighty T.Rex, but all Linus wants are some yummy vegetables.

YETI, TURN OUT THE LIGHT! by Bruce Long and Chris Edmundson with illustrations by Wednesday Kirwan. Chronicle, 2013.

Strange shadows and shapes in the dark keep Yeti nervous. One by one, though, he comes to realize that there is no danger, particularly with his friends always nearby.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Animal Fare Redux

CITY CAT by Kate Banks with illustrations by Lauren Castillo. FSG, November 2013.

City cat travels
All over the world. Showing
Readers all the sights.

THE CROCODILE AND THE SCORPION by Rebecca and Ed Emberley. Roaring Brook, September 2013.

New rwist on old tale
Has moral: Promises are
Often meaningless.

DAISY GETS LOST by Chris Raschka. Schwartz and Wade, 2013.

Daisy the dog
Lost and frightened and confused.
Will someone find her?

DREAM DOG by Lou Berger and David Catrow. Schwartz and Wade, 2013.

His parents say NO
So Harry imagines one
Til his dreams come true.

EAT LIKE A BEAR by April Pully Sayre with illustrations by Steve Jenkins. Holt, September 2013.

What does a bear eat?
Follow his adventures as
He seeks it all out.

HERMAN AND ROSIE by Gus Gordon. Roaring Brook, October 2013.

Can they ever meet
When the city comes between
With all of its noise?

I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, MY LOVE by Nancy Tillman. Feiwel and Friends, September 2013.

Parents reassure
Their little ones that love will
Find them no matter,

LENA'S SLEEP SHEEP by Anita Lobel. Knopf 2013.

Sometimes sheep do not
Help Lena sleep. Instead they
Keep her wide awake.

HELLO, MY NAME IS RUBY by Philip Stead. Roaring Brook, September 2013.

Ruby is trying
To find out were she belongs.
Making friends on way.

I SEE KITTY by Yasmine Surivec, Roaring Brook, September 2013.

Chloe loves kitties
And sees them everywhere now.
Will he get her own?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oddly charming

ODD DUCK by Cecil Castelucci and Sara Varon. First Second, 2013.

Chapter book meets graphic novel format in this perfect teaming of author and artist. Theodora is perfectly content being a perfectly normal duck, well except for her daily swim with a teacup balanced on her head, her affinity for salsa to go with her duck nuggets, and her preference for riding a bike into town and back to run her errands. And then, HE moves in. Chad is messy; he builds weird sculptures in the yard, and he sings off key. How can these two find anything in common? The answer is charming and warmly humorous as is the misunderstanding that threatens their friendship. Here is a book that blurs lines nicely, bringing GN to early readers in the form of a chapter book. For kids ready to move on from BabyMouse and Lunch Lady, this might be the perfect next rung on the reading ladder.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Doll Bones

DOLL BONES by Holly Black. Audio by BOT/Listening Library. Narrated by Nick Podehl. .

Even though I am not serving on an audio committee, I still enjoy listening to audio on my commutes. Nick Podehl's narration of DOLL BONES achieves just the right level of creepiness as the tale of a doll that is more than simply a be china doll. As Zach and Poppy, and Alice undertake their quest, their friendship is teetering on the brink of extinction. Perhaps this journey will pull them back together to the friends they once were. The story is a mystery adventure combined with elements of a ghost story and perhaps even a touch of peculiar possession. This would be a terrific read aloud (or you could play a chapter a day as well). It is certainly one that deserves a booktalk early in the school year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE by Jerry Pinkney. Little Brown, 2013.

What can you say except that Pinkney manages to tell the story of the tortoise and the hare with spare words and his signature illustrations? Must have. Must share.

MOUSTACHE UP: A PLAYFUL GAME OF OPPOSITES by Kimbwerly Ainsworth with illustrations by Daniel Roode. Little Simon. 2013.

A board book allows readers to insert different moustaches and eyebrows to create happy faces, frowny faces, and much more. Tie this to Tom Angleberger's Fake Mustache.

THE ODD ONE OUT: A Spotting book by Britta Teckentrup. Big Picture Press, 2013.

Visual discrimination is needed to spot the bird with the worm, the bat still asleep, or the flamingo kicking up one leg. Where's Waldo for the younger crowd.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

unusual forms and formats in NF

Here is some nonfiction that presents itself in different format (one is a moveable lift-the-flap book for example, a fictional narrative with lots of spelling in it, too) and forms. Kids of all ages need to see that NF is a complex and layered genre, pone not easily defined (hence, we define it by what it is NOT).

BEATRICE SPELLS SOME LULUS AND LEARNS TO WRITE A LETTER by Cari Best with illustrations by Giselle Potter. FSG, 2013. Spelling is "spelling Bea's" favorite sport.

WALK THIS WORLD by Lotta Nieminen. Candlewick Press, 2013. Lift the flaps and see what is going on in different cities around the world.

FROG SONG by Brenda Guiberson with illustrations by Gennady Spirin. Holt, 2013. Learn about various species of frogs, their habitats, and their songs.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Let it snow

s it any wonder why in the dog days of August my thoughts turn to cooler weather. Here are some stories to cool you off and maybe gets kids excited about the seasons to come.

PIP AND POSY: THE SNOWY DAY by Axel Scheffler. Nosy Crow, 2013. Join series characters Pip and Posy as they work through an argument about their snow sculpture.

WHEN CHARLEY MET GRAMPA by Amy Hest with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick Press. Charley and Grampa both have to battle snow fall when Charley goes to the train station to meet Grampa.

BIG SNOW by Jonathan Bean. FSG, 2013. David is excited about the prospect of a BIG snow. Mom tries to distract him.

WHEN IT SNOWS by Richard Collingridge. Feiwel and Friends, 2013. Anything can happen when it snows, even magic.

OONE-DOG SLEIGH by Mary Casanova with illustrations by Ard Hoyt. FSG, 2013. Rhtmic rhming text and a sleigh pulled by a ariety of animals.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Holiday fare

Christmas in August, Hanukkah as well. Get some early book shopping done with these books that celebrate holidays.

MY PEN PAL, SANTA by Melissa Stanton with illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell. Random House, 2013. A girl and Satan maintain a year long correspondence between Christmases.

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Jane Cabrera. Holiday House, 2013. Four magic mice, 8 elves baking, and other new characters are part of this version of the traditional Christmas classic.

HANUKKAH BEAR by Eric Kimmel with illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka. Holiday House, 2013. Bubba Brayna is a little nearsighted. When Bear enters her home, she mistakes him for the Rabbi and prepares a plentiful Hanukkah meal for him.

THE SMALLEST GIFT OF CHRISTMAS by Peter Reynolds. Candlewick Press, 2013. Sometimes the smallest package can hold the greatest treasure.

HANUKKAH IN ALASKA by Barbara Brown with illustrations by Stacey Schuett. Holt, October 2013. Northern Lights, a menorah, and an obstinate moose team up to make for a memorable Hanukkah.

SANTA CLAUS AND THE THREE BEARS by Maria Modugno with illustrations by Jane and Brooke Dyer. Harper, 2013. This version of Goldilocks will be perfect for holiday reading aloud.

THE CHRISTMAS WISH by Lori Evert with illustrations (photographs) by Per Breieagen. Random House, 2013. Anja's desire to help oput Santa involves an arduous journey accompanied by many Arctic animals.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nonfiction All Over the Map

As nonfiction of all types and forms and formats continues to grow, it willbecome harder and harder to pigeonhole it. My response to this dilemma is GOOD! Lines between and among genre, categories, forms, formats, etc. are more than blurred; some of them are nonexistent as these books demonstrate.


TOILET: HOW IT WORKS by David Macaulay. Macmillan, September 2013.

THE TIGER CUBS AND THE CHIMP: THE TRUE STORY OF HOW ANJANA THE CHIMP HELPED RAISE THREE BABY TIGERS by Bhagavan Antle with Thea Feldman with photos by Barry Bland. Holt, November 2013.

PAPA IS A POET: A STORY ABOUT ROBERT FROST by Natalie Bober with illustrations by Rebecca Gibbon. Holt, October 2013.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rhyme Time

Here are a handful (plus 1) of books that use poetry and rhyme in different ways. Taking piles of books like this into the classroom, reading some aloud, permitting browsing (book pass) for others, scattering them around the room, handing them to groups to read and booktalk or share in some way, using them as mentor texts for writing: books like these can fit into many different situations. And, unlike the cold dead ways that poems are presented within textbooks, perhaps using books such as these will breathe new life into poetry. Maybe kids will not sigh when the word is mentioned. Notice also that these topics for rhyme and poetry range from construction machines to animals to parodies of some familiar texts. Poetry can reach a wide audience.

SENOR PANCHO HAD A RANCHO by Rene Colato Lainez with illustrations by Elwood Smith. Holiday House, 2013.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER by Hope Vestergaard with illustrations by David Slonim. Candlewick Press, 2013.

DREAM ANIMALS by Emily Winfield Martin. Random HUSE< @)!#>

DOG-GONE SCHOOL BY Amy Schmidt with illustrations (photos) by Ron Schmidt. Random House, 2013.

KING OF THE ZOO by Erica S. Perl with illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic. Orchard, 2013.

DAVID MCPHAIL MY MOTHER GOOSE by David McPhil. Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Nonfiction reduz

THINGS THAT FLOAT AND THINGS THAT DON'T by David Adler with illustrations by Anna Raff. Holiday House, 2013.


Science books this time. Nutrition (a la Jack and the Beanstalk) and density (using common objects and a tub of water) are two important concepts. Here are picture books that boil those concepts down to their essences. Thiink of using these as guides for students who will write (in science class) about other concepts using the format of an informational picture book or by blending fiction and nonfiction (telling time with Cinderella, staying safe in nature via Red Riding Hood?)/ The possibilities are endless and limited only to the imaginations of the kids.