Monday, September 30, 2013

unlikely situations

THE KNITWITS MAKE A MOVE by Aigail Tabby with illustrations by Lee Wildish. Little Simon, 2013.

The Knitwits have a new house and want to prepare for a housewarming. Combining the silly play on literal versus gifurative language, there is much hilarity as the Knitwits ready their new home for guests.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING DONUT by aLISON McGhee with illustrations by Isabel Roxas. Penguin, 2013.

How dies everyone know that the "sheriff" who was sent to bring home a dozen donuts is actually responsible for the "loos" of one of the 12?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pushing the Envelope

ANN AND NN ARE ANAGRAMS by Mark Shuman and Adam McCauley. Chronicle, 2013.

More than 100 anagrams present readers with puzzles to solve as they enjoy the story of Robert (or Bert) tries to solve all the problems posed by his rather unusual family.

LITTLE READ WRITING by Joan Holub with illustrations by Melissa Sweet. Chronicle, 2013.

Join Little Red as she and the other pencils head to school. Her teacher, Ms. 2, wants all of her students to learn about the craft of writing a story. As Little Red begins her story, there are many twists and turns along the path. This book combines writerly advice with a lovely variant of the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

School Rules!

AMELIA BEDELIA'S FIRST LIBRARY CARD by Herman Parish with illustrations by Lynne Avril. Greenwillow, 2013.

Amelia is excited to visit the school library and get her first ever library card. But when she goes to check out her book, things take a turn for the worse.

ONE WORD PEARL by Nicole Groeneweg with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell. Mackinac Island Press, 2013.

Pearl has a treasure chest full of words. But one day, in her bedroom, the words get loose and form a word tornado. Pearl escapes with only a handful of words. How will she survive?

SPLAT AND THE COOL SCHOOL TRIP by Rob Scotton. Harper, 2013.

Splat is so excited about seeing the penguins at the zoo on the class field trip. But when his friend Seymour stows away and frightens the elephant, the penguin exhibit is closed to visitors. Splat is disconsolate, but Seymour has a plan.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bear, Cat, Fox

BIG BEAR'S BIG BOAT by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion, 2013.

Big Bear needs a larger boat now that he has grown. He takes advice from too many as he is building his boat, and is not happy with the results.

CATTY JANE WHO LOVED TO DANCE by Valeri Gorbachev. Boyds Mills Press, 2013.

Catty Jane loves ballet and is eager to practice. Her friends love to dance, but Catty Jane tells them they are not really dancing the right way. When she is left alone to practice, though, she comes to understand that there is room for all manner of dancing.

FOX FORGETS by Suzanne Bloom. Boyds Mills Press, 2013.

Fox forgets to tell Bear that Goose will be right back. Bear wonders about where Goose is and wants to go look for her.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Board books to share

ALPHA BLOCK by Christopher Mitchell with illustrations by Peskimo. Abrams Appleseed, 2013.

This sturdy alphabet book features die cuts for all the letters that allow the reader to catch a glimpse of the illustrations for each letter. Perfect for sharing with kids and for reinforcing skills of prediction.

BOSS BABY by Marla Frazee. Little Simon, 2013.

I loved this as a picture book, and here it is in board book form for sharing with even younger audiences. The Boss Baby learns how to get the attention of his parents.

I LOVE YOU, GOOD NIGHT by Jon Buller and Susan Schade with illustrations by Bernadette Pons. Little Simon, 2013.

Gently rhyming text assures a young mouse of his mother's constant love.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013



Using the nursery rhyme of "The Three Blind Mice," Lewis presents examples of various elements of literature. From the simple things such as plot, setting, and character to the more complex concepts of allegory, allusion, and archetype, the basic rhyme serves to set the example for the definition and explanation. English teachers will definitely want to have this book on hand as the new school year begins. Share bits and pieces of the book throughout the year, use in a book study, make it a part of a book club for the English department: there are a myriad of ways this book will be valuable. Best of all, enjoy the reading yourself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grin and bear it

BEAR SONG by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle Books, 2013.

Papa Bear heads off in search of his young cub. Along the way he causes some disruption of the quiet city life he encounters. Will father and son ever be reunited? Will the end rest upon the strength of a song?

Monday, September 23, 2013


LITTLE PEAR TREE by Jenny Bowers. Big Picture Press, 2013.

Lift the flaps in this board book and discover all about nature and weather and seasons. Older readers could use this as a model for creating their own book about facts.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Facts and Figures

LIFETIME: THE AMAZING NUMBERS IN ANIMAL LIVES by Lola M. Schaefer with illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books, 2013.

How many holes can a woodpecker drill in a lifetime? How many fleeces can a sheep produce? How about the number of eggs that can be laid by an alligator in her lifetime? These are among the answers in this book that combines animal facts with counting.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Golden Books

THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS by Tish Rabe with illustrations by Jon Matheu. Golden Books, 2013.

Twas the day before
Christmas and Cat in the Hat
Helps rescue Christmas.

ROBOTS, ROBOTS EVERYWHERE by Sue Fleiss with illustrations by Bob Staake. Golden Books, 2013.

Robots everywhere
Here and here and over there
Robots everywhere.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Unusual critters

DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK by Adam Lehrhaupt with illustrations by Matthew Forsythe. Simon and Schuster 2013.

Ignore the warnings
At your own peril. Turning
Pages are deadly.

BUGS IN MY HAIR by David Shannon. Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2013.

Lice? What can you do?
Will they take over the house?
Can you defeat them?

TROUPER by Meg Kearney with illustrations by E. B. Lewis. Scholastic, 2013.

Three-legged Trouper
Longs for a home and fam'ly.
He needs an owner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


THE BIRTHDAY QUEEN by Audrey and Don Wood. Scholastic 2013.

Birthdays are special
And the queen wants to be sure
Everything's perfect.

THE BLESSING CUP by Patricia Polacco. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

Blessing traditions
Are important to fam'ly
Down generation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Animal Fare

CINDERELEPHANT by Emma Dodd. Levine, Scholastic, 2013.

Cinderella meets
Animal kingdom and more
In this variant.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY I'M MAD? by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Mark Teague. Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2013.

Do dinos pout and
Throw tantrums? Or do they just
Say I am sorry?

HIDING PHIL by Eric Barclay. Scholastic, 2013.

Phil is hard to hide
Because he's an elephant.
Kids want to keep him.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Plethora of Picture Books and Blaikus

CLICK CLACK BOO: A TRICKY TREAT by Doreen Cronin with illustrations by Betsy Lewin. Atheneum, 2013.

It's Halloween time
And the party's in the barn.
Who wins best costume?

MUNCH by Matthew Van Fleet. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

How do animals
Eat and enjoy food? Here's some
Movable ideas.

PLANES FLY! by George Ella Lyon with illustrations by Mick Wiggins. Atheneum, 2013.

Take a plane ride and
Enjoy all the sights and sounds
Liftoff to touchdown.

HOW BIG WOULD YOUR PUMPKIN GROW? by Wendell Minor. Penguin, 2013.

Would it be huge or
Gigantic? Jumbo?
Immense? Stupendous?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Parodies and retellings

THE GHASTLY DANDIES DO THE CLASSICS by Ben Gibson. Razorbill 2013.

Being succinct is sometimes difficult when it comes to the classics. In this slim volume, retellings of classics such as Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Frankenstein, and The Great Gatsby (to name a few) are handled in about 2 double page spreads with large illustrations and minimal text. What better way to encounter a classic initially than in this foreshortened version?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

LITERALLY DISTURBING: TALES TO KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT by Ben Winters with illustrations by Adam Watkins. Price Stern Sloan 2013.

Here is a collection of wonderfully, shivery poems to read to kids who love scary stories. Black cats, vampires, ghosts: all the usual suspects are here in rhyme, each poem taking up just one page with an accompanying black and white illustration. Use to teach tone, mood, rhyme, scan, etc.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love letter for Teachers

THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPET by Tom Angleberger. Amulet, 2013.

THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPET is part of a series of books. If you do not know this series, please remedy that immediately. Start with the first book, THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA and work your way up to this latest entry. Angleberger has written about his usual cast of eccentric characters in a form and format that belies the reading and lexile levels assigned to the book (of course. The books are in the 700 band; the levels hover in the 4.5 range for the series). In this book, Dwight and his friends decide to push back against the new curriculum in their school, FUNtime, a program designed to increase scores on the state and national tests. The program features a singing calculator, a dancing thesaurus, and idiotic songs and mnemonic devices. Angleberger skewers the nonsense taking place in schools across the nation right now. Moreover, he shows how kids are aware of all the stupidity being done in the name of test scores: removal of electives, the arts, etc. Kids love this series. One of the chief reasons is that the characters resonate as REAL. Moreover, many of them are the marginalized kids, the ones who are pushed out for one reason or another. Angleberger gives them one another for support and encouragement though there is still some conflict among them. These kids exist in our classrooms, and now they have a voice in this series.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anna, inside and out

ANNA HIBISCUS by Atinuke with illustrations by Lauren Tobia. Kane Miller, 2010.

Anna LIVES IN Africa with a wide assortment of family: aunts, cousins, parents, grandparents. In this collection of 4 separate yet related stories, Anna learns about the importance of family, about customs, about economics, and much more. What is lovely about this collection (and the other books about Anna Hibiscus) is that, while race is present, it is not what drives the story. Anna is mixed race but that is not what drives the story. What drives the story is strictly a human connection, the one readers will feel as they step into Anna's family and home and follow her in her day-to-day adventures.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan. Knopf 2013.

Craig and Harry are going for the world record for longest kiss. Their friends are helping them, filming, providing water and protection and support. Some family members are there for support; others are noticeably absent. Before long, the news of the Craig and Harry's efforts spreads drawing approval from some and jeers from others. This kiss is set against the backdrop of the lives of other young men who are coming out, coming to terms, and moving on. Levithan combines the stories effortlessly, moving back and forth among the various strands of stories, always focusing on the essential element of acceptance: acceptance of self, acceptance of the other. Lyrical, magical, real: this book is one to be savored a bit at a time, prolonged to ensure appreciation of the incredible voice Levithan brings to the novel.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reality Check

REALITY BOY by A.S. King. Little Brown, 2013.

Gerald was on a reality TV show when he was barely more than a toddler. It was one of those nanny knows best programs, and Gerald was the star, famous for taking dumps in places other than the bathroom. When the cameras were turned on, Gerald was the center of attention briefly, but once the cameras and audience were gone, Gerald had to deal with his family problems without any help. A mother who ignores what is happening, a father who substitutes work for family, one sister who has fled the house and the country. Now it is just Gerald and his sister, Tasha, who is the cause of so much of Gerald's fame and pain. King has created characters that will make readers look beyond the surface, beyond the veneer, to see the person, the real person who lies beneath. She does this with her usual blend of harsh reality and perhaps a touch or two of magic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pete the Cat rocks the bus

PETE THE CAT: THE WHEELS ON THE BUS. Based on the creation of James Dean. Harper.

Pete the Cat now drives the school bus. Join Pete and his passengers as they rollick through the familiar rhyme with a few changes for fun. The wheels and doors and wipers are all there, but the addition of some other passengers makes for a rocking good time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Various and Sundry

THE BIG STORM: A VERY SOGGY COUNTING BOOK by Nancy Tafuri. Little Simon, 2013.

One by one various animals take cover from a storm. Once their numbers are up to ten, they make a suprising discovery, one that sends them scurrying away.

DIGGER AND TOM by Sebastian Braun. Harper, 2013.

Digger loves his work at the construction site. His friend Tom the dump truck is always there to offer encouragement.

THIS LITTLE PIGGY by Tim Harrington. Balzer and Bray, 2013.

Forget the boring old rhyme; these piggies are ready for some real action.

OLIVIA TAKES BALLET adapted from the screenplay by Cordelia Evans with illustrations by Patrick Spaziante. Simon Spotlight, 2013.

Olivia goes to the ballet and is immediately smitten by the pas de deux. Who can she get ot be her partner?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Cruisers return

THE CRUISERS: OH, SNAP! by Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 2013.

The Cruisers are once again in trouble, trouble not quite of their own making. It seems their newspaper, and not the one officially sanctioned by their school, has been recognized for its journalistic endeavors. This has, o course, dismayed the editor and staff of the official paper of the school. Now a war of words ensues. All of those involved will discover something important about the power of the press.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sink or Swim

WHATEVER AFTER: SINK OR SWIM by Sarah Mlynowski. Scholastic Press, 2013.

The Little Mermaid is the fairy tale into which Abby and her brother Jonah travel when they enter their magic mirror. Abby knows the original story by Hans Christian Anderson and knows it will not end well for the mermaid. Surely, she and her bother can set things right?

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Twilight of Humanity?

THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey. Putnam, 2013.

Printz Honor Medalist (for THE MNSTRUMOLOGIST), Yancey turns his eyes from the past to the future and to the skies. An alien culture has attacked Earth. The first four waves of the attack have left few of the population alive. Those unfortunate few have learned one important lesson: trust no one. Cassie has lost her parents, and now her little brother has been taken away by the military for his protection. She is unsure how safe he will be and vows to get him back. As she journeys toward the place she believes the children to be held, she encounters a sniper and later a savior. Evan rescues her, but Cassie cannot fully trust Evan. He could very well be the same sniper who tried to take her life. Meanwhile, back at the Army base, some of the children are learning new skills, skills that are intended to help them battle against the "others." But can even their leaders be trusted? Yancey has penned a chilling account of what war and suspicion can do to the survivors. Detailed, engrossing, surprising: Yancey will draw readers and take them on a wild ride.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stunning Combination

FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE by Jack Gantos. FSG, 2013.

This sequel to the Newbery winning, DEAD END IN NORVELT will not disappoint. Once again, Gantos has managed to find the funny as he and Miss Volker take the craziest road trip imaginable in hot pursuit of the person who murdered all of the elderly female residents of Norvelt save one. But who exactly IS the murderer? Spizz, the prime suspect fled Norvelt but has recently been spotted at the scene of yet another murder. ut there are some who think Miss Volker herself could be the culprit. Gantos effortlessly combines a mystery, quite a bit of history, some philosophizing, lots of humor and knock out scenes that will make readers (like me) always wanting more.


THE CART THAT CARRIED MARTIN by Eve Bunting with illustrations by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2013.

Spare language and illustrations that zoom in and out at various points in the narrative combine to make this a picture book that will evoke many emotions and responses. A plain cart and two mules carry the body of slain Civil Right leader Martin Luther King, Jr. from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College. Simple and plain: the way Martin wanted it. And yet the vast reaction of those assembled makes it clear that though the cart and mules were simple, the man they carried was great.

Here is an inside look at the remarkable art work.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I am in love with Anna

SPLASH, ANNA HIBISCUS! by Atinuke with illustrations by Lauren Tobia. Kane Miller, 2013.

Anna wants someone to come and splash in the waves with her. Her parents and even her grandparents are too busy. Friends are more interested in playing games or texting on their phones. Finally, Anna simply jumps in the ocean herself. Her squeals of delight draw the attention of others. Soon, she has plenty of company. Thanks to my good friend, Ed Spicer, for introducing me to the world of Anna Hibiscus. Thanks, also, to Kane Miller for sending me a package of Anna Hibiscus books.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stuck on you

STICKY, STICKY STUCK by Michael Gutch with illustrations by Steve Bjorkman. Harper, 2013.

Annie's family never seems to have time for her. They are all glued to their gadgets, only taking time to tell her she is making a mess. One day, Annie and her family literally become stuck to one another when she tries to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich without using a knife. Can they get out of this sticky situation?