Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picture Books about Reading

This week two books have come in about dogs who love reading. Before I knew it a selection of books had congregated on a display wall- all of which are about loving reading and books.
Dog Loves Books
by Louise Yates
Dog loves books so much he has decided to open a bookstore so that he can share them! But when the only people who visit want directions or tea, he gets downhearted. So Dog begins to read, traveling to different places and having exciting adventures, until someone arrives looking for a book. A sweet story about sharing one's love of books with airy illustrations and a drawing style reminiscent of Peter Sis.

How Rocket Learned to Read
by Tad Hills
Schwartz & Wade Books
While napping one day, Rocket the dog is interrupted by a little yellow bird intent on teaching him to read. But Rocket has more important things to do, like playing, chasing, and running. That is until Rocket realizes that if he learns to read, he can read stories! A quiet book for the kindergarten crowd.
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't)
by Barbara Bottner
illustrated by Michael Emberly
Librarian Miss Brooks is so excited about books she dresses up for every story-time. But no book can get our narrator excited. Finally, it's book week, and everyone must find a book to share with the class. But everything is too flowery, sweet, nice, good, or normal for our narrator until her mother mentions warts. And just what book is gross enough to win over our narrator? You'll just have to read to find out.

Lola at the Library
by Anna McQuinn & Rosalind Beardshaw
Every Tuesday Lola and her mommy go to library. Lola returns her old books, checks out new ones, and takes part in a story time or activity as well. This simple story is accompinied by loose and colorful illustrations that will have young children excited to return to the library. A simplified board book version is also available for the youngest of book lovers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Two September Teen Books

Clockwork Angel
By Cassandra Clare
September 2010
When her aunt dies, Tessa journeys from New York to Victorian London to live with her brother. Arriving in a strange city she is sweep up by so-called friends of her brother and locked away. Forced to use a magic she didn't know she had and desperate for any outside contact, Tessa is relieved when she's rescued. But instead of answers, Tessa finds herself tumbling into the plots of warlocks, Nephilim (half human, half angel), vampires, and some conniving humans. Desperately searching for her brother while coping with her own power, Tessa finds her entire world-view challenged in this dark and dangerous adventure.

Steampunk with just the right amount of love interest and an ending that will leave you begging for more.

Zombies vs. Unicorns
Edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
September 2010
When I saw the authors who’d written for this book, I just had to check it out. With hysterical introductions from Holly and Justine, I soon found myself reading every story and keeping score. From ridiculous stories with rainbow-farting unicorns to life-and-undeath situations,
Zombies vs. Unicorns is a funnily serious and seriously funny book perfect for lovers of the recent spate of zombie and vampire spoofs as well as avid fantasy readers.

The cover illustration under the partial dust-jacket, done by Josh Cochran, is fantastically fun with great details and an eye-popping palette.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Holly Hobbie's Horse Book

Everything but the Horse: A Childhood Memory
written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Little, Brown & Company, October 2010
Based on her own experience as a child, Hobbie writes about the dream of many children: owning a horse. Young Holly has a stable, pasture, and hay, everything she needs for a horse. She even hangs her drawings of horses around the house, telling her parents that a horse is her greatest wish. But when young Holly goes out to the barn on her birthday, what will she find?

This is a sweet story of longing, but also of acceptance when owning a horse doesn't become a reality. Unlike the disappointment many children face when they don't receive their expected horse, young Holly is delighted when she receives a bicycle for her birthday instead. The watercolor illustrations are classic Hobbie and make this book a wonderful gift for young horse lovers.

The Taking Tree: A Parody for Grown-ups

Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree was one of my mom's favorites. The classic story of a selfless tree who gives her very life to help a boy, aiding him from childhood through adulthood. Some people dislike this story, viewing the boy as someone who takes advantage of the tree. Well, for them, and as a laugh for the rest of us, is The Taking Tree: a Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins.

Despite the fact that the tree is the kid's best friend, the kid has no qualms taking it's branches and acorns to hurt people with or carving "McCain Palin" into it's trunk. The kid is a total jerk, forcing the oak tree to grow apples and other such ridiculous things. But the tree will have it's revenge in the end....

A riotous picture book for grown-ups that needs to be on your coffee table.

Simon & Schuster, Fall 2010

Fall Picture Books from Candlewick

by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil
Candlewick, August 2010
Brontorina wants to be a ballerina but she has difficulty fitting in the dance studio and finding a partner, not to mention that all the dance slippers are too small! But Brontorina knows she can be a ballerina anyway. With some creative thinking and two good friends, an entire dance studio learns that dinosuars can dance elegantly despite their ungainly size. This is a sweet story perfect for dinosaur lovers and ballerinas alike.Interrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein
Candlewick, August 2010
Little Chicken loves bedtime stories-
"Yes I do!"
But she always interrupts her Papa, changing the ending-
"Of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding and-"
Until her Papa tells her to-
"Write my own story! But then he falls asleep and-"
And Little Chicken learns what it's like to have a story interrupted. A fun story with bright illustrations, this book is perfect for parents and children to read aloud together with the child reading the part of-
"Interrupting Chicken!"

Middle Grade

A Series of Unfortunate Events
By Lemony Snicket
The Baudelaire children have an unfortunate future when their parents die. In fact, one horrible thing after another happens, and, of course, adults are no help of all. It’s up to the three siblings to evade Count Olaf, a master of disguise intent on stealing their fortune, despite the bewildering misfortunes that beset them. Luckily, Klaus has knowledge obtained from reading, Violet is an inventor, and the baby Sunny, well, she has some sharp teeth. Grade 2 & up. A Wrinkle in Time
By Madeleine L’Engle
One of my all-time favorite books. Meg’s father has been missing for years, gone on some top-secret scientific project for the government. One fall night a strange visitor, Mrs. What, and her friends Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, appear to take Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her new friend Calvin on an adventure to save Meg’s father. This is no ordinary journey, requiring travel in time and space to reach their destination. And getting there is only the beginning. This classic science-fiction story is just as wonderful today as in 1963– there’s a reason the protagonist of When You Reach Me, this year’s Newbery Winner, carries a copy around with her. Ages 8 & up.

Peter & the Starcatchers
By Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Have you ever wondered how Peter Pan came to fly? Or exactly why he and Captain Hook are mortal enemies? The orphan Peter and brave Molly have to use their wits (and a band of porpoises) to outsmart thieving pirates intent on stealing the magical starstuff. Barry & Pearson will take you on a thrilling adventure with pirates, secret societies, fierce natives, sea battles, traps, and a pinch of magic, revealing the exciting adventures behind the boy who never grew-up. 3rd grade & up.

The Brixton Brothers: The Case of Mistaken Identity
By Mac Barnett
In the spirit of the Hardy Boys, the Brixton Brothers is a rip-roaring adventure. Steve Brixton is not a detective, but when the league of librarians (the most secret agents of the US government) catch him checking out a book on needlework, they target him as an enemy agent. With the help of his Bailey Brothers detective books, Steve is off to catch the true crook! This adventure will have you reading under the covers with a flashlight. Ages 8 & up.

Teen Blurbs

All of these books have shown up on school summer reading lists this year but they're just as good for packing as a beach read...

Maximum Ride: the Angel Experiment
By James Patterson
If you want a gripping book you’ll be unable to put down, look no further. Max’s life is a game of cat and mouse– and she’s a mouse, caught in a twisted experiment in which she is hunted by other kids. But Max is no ordinary girl, she has wings and the kids chasing her? Well, they’re half wolf. Get ready for a thrilling ride. 12 & up.

By Terry Prachett
A giant wave destroys islands, ships, and entire communities, leaving two survivors stranded on an island: the island boy Mau and Daphne, a rich princess from the other side of the globe. Together they must overcome language and culture barriers, uniting a rag-tag group of survivors and unveiling the secret past of the island. This book explores colonialism, religion, belief systems, and cultural differences in an exciting fictional story of survival. Ages 13 & up.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
By Mark Haddon
A book that everyone should read and every school should teach. Curious Incident is narrated by Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year old with Autism. When Christopher discovers the neighbor’s poodle Wellington stabbed with a pitchfork, he resolves to solve the murder. Using mathematics to understand the world around him, Christopher takes a remarkable journey - in many senses of the word. Though a quick read, Christopher’s voice will stay with you even if your copy of the book is immediately passed on. 7th grade & up.

By Marjane Satrapi
A memoir in graphic novel form, Satrapi tells of her experiences growing up in Iran. From parents talking politics and torture at the dinner table to friends at school, Persepolis chronicles the daily life of a child trying to understand difficult political circumstances while still trying to be a kid. Emotional and political, yet spotted with moments of humor, Satrapi’s coming of age story is fascinating. Her simple black and white illustrations capture everything from drama to ordinary details and subtle expressions. Age 15 & up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Children Make Terrible Pets

Children Make Terrible Pets
written & illustrated by Peter Brown
Little, Brown & Company, September 2010

Every child goes through a phase in which a pet is necessary in order to live a normal life. Besides, everyone else has a pet.... Children Make Terrible Pets puts a new twist on this classic situation when Lucy the Bear brings home a human child. Her mother (like any sane mother) is not pleased. The pet, named Squeaker, is going to mess up the furniture and cause trouble- he needs to be left in his natural habit. This is a sweet and silly book that will have kids giggling, and just maybe abandoning their desire for totally unsuitable pets.

Surprisingly, this is the second of two books about wild animals having children as pets that I'm excited about. For the other, see my post about Lulu and the Brontosaurus.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Middle Reader Princess Stories

I've been writing up some blurbs for work and thought I'd share them, if just to remind you of older books that are worth grabbing. And not only are they magnificent (and make super kids' book club selections) but they're in paperback!
Just Ella

by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Out of the reams of Cinderella stories, my very favorite is Just Ella.
Ella, as Prince Charming’s betrothed, is living at the castle, being educated as befits a princess. But being a servant allowed her more freedom than the role of princess and Ella soon finds herself confined in the dungeons. Though Ella now looks like a princess, she remains a strong, independent young woman. She decides to escape once and for all, determined to create her own place in the world, one free of the constraints of others. 3rd grade plus.
Dealing with Dragons
By Patricia C. Wrede
There are much more interesting things than needlepoint, genealogy, and etiquette, like magic, cooking, and fencing. But Princess Cimorene’s parents have forbidden her to do anything interesting and have decided to marry her off to a boring prince. So Cimorene does the only sensible thing, taking the advice of a frog, she runs away to live with dragons. This book is full of adventure and humor and is a wonderful read-aloud for children 5 & up.

Monday, July 5, 2010

On the Blue Comet

Rosemary Wells is known for her Max and Ruby picture books. However, come September she'll also be known as a middle grade author when Candlewick is releases On the Blue Comet.

Oscar Ogilvie lives with his father in Illinois. They lead a happy existence, working together on the model railroad set-up that overwhelms the basement. But the year is 1929 and when the stock market crashes and the Depression hits, Oscar's father is forced to sell the house and trains to travel to California to find work, leaving Oscar with his strict aunt and his younger cousin. Oscar manages to find some happiness when he visits his old trains at their new set-up in the bank. But when Oscar witnesses a robbery at the bank, the shock catapults him onto real versions of his beloved trains, and the beginning of his travels through time.

The historical backdrops of the novel may pass over the heads of some younger readers, but in the hands of the right teacher, the book could be used to examine an American child's life from the depression to WW II. And Wells has done her research. From period brand names to the mention of historical figures, On the Blue Comet is peppered with references to bygone times. Because of this, and the full-color illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), I think On the Blue Comet is a wonderful book for grandparents to gift their grandchildren. Hopefully, we will see it sparking inter-generational dialogue, bringing to light additional tales that need to be told.