Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cat with Seven Names - an audiobook review


(My review of The Cat with Seven Names, as it appeared in the April, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.)


Johnson, Tony. The Cat with Seven Names. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded
Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490602479. digital
download.

PreS-Gr 2— A plump, seemingly stray cat wanders occasionally into the home of an older librarian. She names her visitor Stuart Little. At an elderly neighbor's home, he receives the moniker Kitty-boy, while a lonely Mexican man names him Placido for his "singing" voice. A homeless vet calls him Dove, for the peace he brings. Only the cat is lacking his own voice in this heartwarming story of a busy neighborhood, full of unconnected adults. Each character has his or her own first-person narrator, each distinctly different. The Hispanic man peppers his speech with Spanish words, as he first meets "Placido" on a day when it rains gatos y perros. Humorous wordplay abounds throughout, in which the cat is the common fixture in the lives of seven adults and a young girl. When the cat has a near accident, the full cast calls out seven different names, as each rushes to save the feline that has befriended them all; and through the cat, they befriend each other. The Cat with Seven Names will be sold with and without its corresponding picture book. Consider purchasing the set. Absent illustrations, the steady stream of elderly and adult voices may not be enough to hold a child's attention.


Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The QwikPick Papers: Poop Fountain - a review

Angleberger, Tom. 2014. The QwikPick Papers: Poop Fountain! New York: Abrams.

(Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher)

A bi-racial, Jehovah's Witness girl; a poor boy from the trailer park; a nerdy Jewish boyall victims of school bullying.

Sounds like a perfect trio of protagonists for a serious book of realistic fiction, doesn't it? But it's notnot really. These are the founding members of Tom Angleberger's hilarious new creation, the QwikPick Adventure Society, which makes its debut in a new series, The QwikPick Papers.

So, what do this Jehovah's Witness, Jew, and very poor kid have in common? At first, only that each has nothing to do on Christmas Day.  Marilla and Dave don't celebrate Christmas and don't enjoy spending time at home.  Lyle's parents have to work at the QwikPick convenience store all day. But don't feel sorry for them.  It's the perfect day for a secret mission to visit the Poop Fountain, an antiquated aeration device at the town's waste water treatment plant.

Written as an illustrated "report" by the QwikPick Adventure Society, this novel of only 135 pages, Poop Fountain! is stomach-churning disgusting at times, and hilariously funny at others.  That's why kids will love it, but it's not why you should.

You should love it because Angleberger has proved again (as in the Origami Yoda series) that he can tackle sensitive subjects with charm and  a good deal of humor.

     Everybody else was talking about the Super Bowl coming up that weekend, but we all agreed that it was stupid and football was stupid and the Redskins' mascot was stupid.
     Unfortunately, Jeremy heard me saying something and hollered down the table, "Hey, if we wanted any of your crap, I'd beat it out of you."
     "Shove it, Jeremy," said Dave, which was the nicest thing anyone had ever said in my honor.
     When it was time to go, Marilla said, "Hey, if you want, I'll save this seat for you tomorrow."
     That was when, without them even knowing it, Marilla and Dave became my best friends.

Other reasons for you to love Poop Fountain!, "shout-outs" to
  • The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
  • Fred Astaire
  • The Princess Bride (the movie)
  • the BBC
Coming to a bookshelf near you in May, 2014.  Can't wait 'til May?  It's on NetGalley now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Library Week


It's National Library Week! 

I encourage you not only to celebrate and patronize your library, but also to consider become an advocate for libraries and librarians.   Below are some of the ways you can help your favorite library.

Take an interest in any of the following:
  • @yourlibrary, The Campaign for America's Libraries, whose goal is "to promote the value of libraries and librarians."
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services, whose mission is "to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. ... IMLS supports the full range of libraries, including public, academic, research, special and tribal, and the full range of museums including art, history, science and technology, children’s museums, historical societies, tribal museums, planetariums, botanic gardens and zoos." 
  • Your child's school library. Ask questions about your child's library. Is it staffed by a professional librarian? What is its annual book budget? How often do students have an opportunity to visit the library? Let school administrators know that the school library is important to you and your child.
  • Your school's library. Are you a teacher? Your school's media specialist can work with you to ensure that your students have the resources and skills they need for important projects. Make it a point to meet with your school's librarian or media specialist on a regular basis.
  • Your professional organizations.  Are you a librarian? The American Library Association or your state's library association are your "voice" to the general public. Support them and they will support you.
Don't just take my word for it.  Listen to Judy Blume.