Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Shape Song Swingalong

Some fun with shapes today!
Stevesongs. 2011. The Shape Song Swingalong. Ill. by David Sim. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books.
(with included DVD)

With the new year approaching, my thoughts turn to storytime series. I know that there are proponents of storytimes without themes, as well as those with themes. Personally, I often offer the themed variety, and I have great fun with the theme of "shapes." 

This new book from Barefoot will definitely be a new addition to my "shapes" session.  I never pass up an opportunity to dance in storytime. (I once developed an entire chicken-themed storytime just to accompany a "Chicken Dance" lesson. Next time they're invited to a wedding, they'll be prepared!)

So what's the big draw in The Shape Song Swingalong? Besides the brightly-colored, multicultural illustrations?  Why, it's the dance, of course!  A "YMCA" styled dance, featuring lines, triangles, circles and squares.

Pair this one with a few great shape-centered books, Hap Palmer's song, "Triangle, Circle or Square" song, and the opportunity to create pictures from pre-cut shapes.  Words, dance, music and art together - the home run of storytime!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wish I’d read that

Today is Nonfiction Monday, and while I’m not ready to contribute today (still gathering my thoughts on Titanic Sinks! - should fact and fiction be blended so expertly?), you can enjoy today’s roundup at Jean Little Library.  I’ll be hosting Nonfiction Monday on January 23rd.

And now that the year’s end is fast approaching, it’s time to think about all the books we didn’t have time to read this year.  Bread is on my mind.  I didn’t get around to reading Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder or Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, though it’s on hold for me at my branch, so I may still squeeze this one in.  Are there any books on your “wish I’d read that” list?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Favorite Juvenile Fiction 2011

There were so many great books this year, but without a doubt,
my favorite Juvenile Fiction book of 2011 is:

 by Catherynne M. Valente ( Feiwel and Friends)
 (my reviews are linked to book titles)

"Tell me the rules," said September firmly. Her mother had taught her chess when she was quite small, and she felt that if she could remember which way knights ought to go, she could certainly remember Fairy rules.
"First, no iron of any kind is allowed. Customs is quite strict on this point. Any bullets, knives, maces, or jacks you might have on your person will be confiscated and smelted. Second, the practice of alchemy is forbidden to all except young ladies born on Tuesdays --"
"I was born on a Tuesday!"
"It is certainly possible that I knew that," the Green Wind said with a wink. "Third, aviary locomotion is permitted only by means of Leopard or licensed Ragwort Stalk. If you find yourself not in possession of one of these, kindly confine yourself to the ground. Fourth, all traffic travels widdershins. Fifth, rubbish takeaway occurs on second Fridays. Sixth, all changelings are required to wear identifying footwear. Seventh, and most important, you may in no fashion cross the borders of the Worsted Wood, or you will either perish most painfully or be forced to sit through a very tedious tea service with several spinster hamadryads. These laws are sacrosanct, except for visiting dignitaries and spriggans. Do you understand?
 This is a rich, complex, and thoughtful story, yet it reads as a delightful and enchanting romp through a bizarre Fairyland, where we may be frightened, but not terrified, and joyously giddy, but on guard nonetheless. Don't wait for an invitation from the Green Wind. Read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making today.

... and barely missing out as my favorite are all of the following:

 Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (Clarion)

Wonderstruck by Brian Zelznick (Scholastic)

Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger (Amulet)

As usual, a very mixed bag.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Favorite Nonfiction 2011 *

At this time of year, I usually have plenty of nonfiction titles to choose from for my "best of" lists.  This year, however, my nonfiction list comes with an asterisk.

 * I'm looking forward to serving as a 2nd round judge in the 2011 Cybils Non-Fiction Picture Books category, and while I've read many of the nominated books, I haven't read them all, and won't receive the "shortlist" until next month. My personal reading list to date did not mirror the Cybils nominees and there is a possibility that I may have missed a great nonfiction title.  When the shortlist comes out, I will certainly give each book careful consideration.

That being said, to date, my favorite 2011 nonfiction titles (linked to their reviews) are:

Additionally (in no particular order)

 Adult Nonfiction

I read/listened to only three major works of adult nonfiction this year.  Here are the two that I loved!  They cannot be more different.

(I did not review Bossypants, but will mention here that it is smart, insightful and hilarious - much like Tina Fey herself.  Contrary to what one might think, there is no political agenda in Bossypants. Despite her Saturday Night Live parodies, Fey speaks well of Sarah Palin. There is, however, much adult language which may be off-putting to some.  The audiobook is read by Ms. Fey herself and contains audio clips from SNL, and numerous asides to the listener of the audiobook.  It is clear that many passages were added specifically for the audiobook version.  Very funny!)
Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Practically Paradise.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Planet Middle School - a review

Grimes, Nikki. 2011. Planet Middle School. New York: Bloomsbury.

Ever since I heard Nikki Grimes read "Breathless" in New Orleans at the 8th Annual Poetry Blast, I've been waiting to read Planet Middle School, the book inspired by the poem.

Want to see Nikki Grimes reading "Breathless?"  Click here to watch the video at Poetry for ChildrenNote: "Breathless" is the 4th video down from the top.

I finally received a review copy from a colleague and was pleased that the book did not disappoint!  Was is disappointing, however, is the fact that in the midst of moving between library branches, I've misplaced my book. 

So, in short, without benefit of quotes or notes, this brief review will have to suffice.

In Planet Middle School, Nikki Grimes proves that she has the gift of distilling the entire range of adolescent emotions into an easy reading novel in verse.  With a brevity of words that belies the depth of content, Nikki Grimes takes us into the heart and mind of 12-year-old Joylin Johnson as she navigates middle school, changing friendships, uncomfortable family dynamics and her first crush.

This is a short and quickly read book that contains enough intensity to satisfy older readers.  A perfect choice for poetry fans, reluctant readers, and young teens who may find themselves in similar situations. And yes -  also for the reader who waited too long to choose a book for her book report - a perfect opportunity to help out a student, spark an interest in poetry, and introduce a reader to Nikki Grimes.

Read reviews from Kirkus, Hornbook, SLJ, and Booklist on Bloomsbury's website.

Another review @
Abby the Librarian

A Teacher's Guide is available here.

ARC supplied by a colleague.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best Historical Fiction 2011

Best Historical Fiction 2011

McCaughrean, Geraldine. 2011. The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen. New York: Harper. 

Yes, we had Dead End in Norvelt, Okay for Now, Wonderstruck and other greats this year (those will receive their due, I’m sure!), but for the sheer joy of being plunged into another era and loving every minute of it, Geraldine McCaughrean’s, The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen has my vote for Best Historical Fiction of the year. It’s also one of the funniest books I’ve read this year.

"Yesterday I was a butler, Miss Cecelia.  Today I seem to be the Prime Minister of England, ... Sometimes life has a way of asking us to take a step up."
And step up they do!  To the direst, funniest, most improbable situations that might be found on a dilapidated paddle steamer plying the 1890 Numchuck River, calling on such colorful ports as Salvation, Patience, Plenty, Woodpile, Blowville, and Boats-a-Cummin. The Glorious Adventure of the Sunshine Queen is not for the reluctant reader; the reader who struggles with contextual clues.  Rather, it is for the reader who glories in wordplay, colorful language, and magnificent adventures.  Ms. McCaughrean does not stop to ensure that the reader has "gotten," the joke (and there are many!), she keeps on moving, toward greater exploits downriver.  Get ready to be swept away from Salvation to Golden Bend on an exuberant trip with the Bright Lights! Highly recommended.
(Click to read my full review

Other reviews 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dead End in Norvelt - a review

Gantos, Jack. 2011. Dead End in Norvelt. New York: Macmillan.

I don't know how much of Dead End in Norvelt, featuring the fictionalized Jack Gantos, is true and how much is not, but I'll venture that the author Jack Gantos had a secure (albeit austere) childhood with two well-meaning, working-class parents, a tendency for nosebleeds, and a few very quirky neighbors. 

Bomb shelters, WWII surplus equipment, a dying town, the Hell's Angels, a local newspaper, the sharp-tongued elderly neighbor, Miss Volker, and of course, Jack Gantos and his family are the foils for a very funny, yet affecting book of life in rural, post-war America.

The story begins as young Jack is grounded for the summer due to an unfortunate incident involving a loaded firearm and the drive-in theater. Things get progressively worse as Jack, following his father's orders, mows down the cornfield to make room for a bomb-shelter, which in actuality is merely cover for a private airstrip. The usually kindly and practical Mrs. Gantos quickly takes charge of her two wayward men,

"Well, mister," she informed me with no trace of sympathy in her voice, "I'm going to march your father into this room and make him cut you down to size. And when he finishes with you I'll make him wish he had already built that bomb shelter because he might be living in it."   ...  It took two days for Dad to march into my room and cut me down to size.  He knew he had gotten me in trouble with Mom and so he quickly wrangled a construction job in West Virginia for a couple days of paid work.  He thought Mom might cool down, but he could have been away for two years and she would still have been just as angry.  It was as if she could preserve her anger and store it in a glass jar next to the hot horseradish and yellow beans and corn chowchow she kept in the dank basement pantry.  And when she needed some anger she could just go into the basement and open a jar and get worked up all over again.
 Throughout the long, hot summer, Jack's only respite from digging the bomb shelter and reading in his room are the frequent calls from the elderly Miss Volker, the town medical examiner and writer of obituaries for the local paper.  Her arthritic hands prevent her from typing and Mrs. Gantos, ever solicitous of neighbor's needs, sends Jack to help. In doing so, Jack learns much more than the history of his town, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Realistic fiction with a humorous and historical twist, Dead End in Norvelt is one of the year's best novels. 

Best for grades 6 and up.

It's interesting that many of the best books in recent memory, including Dead End in Norvelt, prominently feature a wise, older or elderly non-relatives (Moon Over ManifestOkay for Now, Wendy Mass' Birthday series, I'm sure there are more).  Unfortunately, although these books are realistic fiction, there are far too few of these older, helpful, non-relatives in reality.  If you are in a position to be one, please do!

There is an abundance of resources available for Dead End in Norvelt.  Enjoy!
  • An audio excerpt is available here.
  • Read an excerpt here.
  • Teacher's Guide here.

Other reviews @

Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme - a review

Moses, Will. 2011. Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme. New York: Philomel.

Most children in America will grow up learning the rhyme or the song about Mary and her little lamb, but few will give it any serious thought. We may similarly prattle about Old King Cole, Wee Willie Winkie, or Jack Sprat, but we don't expect to know anything more about them than their propensities for pipe smoking and music, late night excursions in inappropriate clothing and a distaste for high-fat diets.

 Luckily for children, however, we can know a little more about Mary and her little lamb.  Will Moses' detailed folkart paintings (many double-spreads), are a perfect accompaniment to the true story of Mary Sawyer of Sterling, Massachusetts, circa 1810.  The pastoral images of 19th century Sterling and the simple features of the one-room schoolhouse are beautifully rendered in colorful oils. The story is somewhat lengthy, but Moses employs artistic license to add story enriching details that create a fast-paced, enjoyable read-aloud story.  Delightful in words and pictures!

Earlier this year on the KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month blog, I highlighted Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was a fascinating woman.  Not only did she almost single-handedly create the national Thanksgiving Holiday, she was also a writer, editor and a poet.  I noted that she penned the ditty, "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which I learned from the back matter in Thank You, Sarah. However, there is apparently more to the story.  According to the afterword in Mary and Her Little Lamb, John Roulstone wrote the first stanza of the now-famous poem in the 1810s.  Sarah Hale published the poem in 1930, apparently adding three more stanzas.   Later, musician Lowell Mason, set the rhyme to music, adding the repetitive lines that we all sing today. Regardless of its evolutionary process, it's amazing that a  4-line ditty about a girl and her lamb could  so enchant the schoolhouse visitor John Roulstone, the accomplished writer Sarah Hale, and the famous musician, Lowell Mason. How much more simple life must have been in the early 1800s!  There is no end to the things one can learn from picture books.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Geo Librarian.

Note: If you're a regular Nonfiction Monday contributor, you'll want to make note of the roundup schedule's new location.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday news

I’m blogging at ALSC today about one of my favorite storytime props.
Please join me for “It’s a Wonderful World."
By Stefan Kühn (Own work) [GFDL
CC-BY-SA-3.0 (,
 CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (
or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
In other Thursday news, time is running out to nominate works for consideration for the 2012 ALSC Notables lists for books and DVDs. December 15th is the deadline, so click on over if you’re interested.

If you’re a book blogger, you might want to check out this recent article from the LA Times. At least one publisher thinks we’re not doing enough.  Mr. Morrow forgets, perhaps, that book bloggers do not work for publishers.  In most cases, book blogging is a labor of love - done in our spare time because we enjoy sharing books.  If I don’t review a book that a publisher provided for me, it may be that I’ve been busy, or that I didn’t like it, and I’m being kind. Why waste my time (and yours) writing a review of a bad book?  Many publishers are happy to send out advance copies of their books for review.  If they’re not,  I just wait for the book to arrive at the library.  Either way works for me.  I’ll keep blogging.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Books that will change your world view

My posts have been few in the last week or so.  We are in the midst of renovations and the house is in chaos.  Without cabinets or counter tops, I have been without water in the kitchen since last Friday.  Even now, with the new cabinets in place, I am still without water, waiting for the counter top installers and plumber to install my new sink and dishwasher.  It’s a hassle.  I’ve been complaining.  I’m washing dishes in the bathroom.   Why am I sharing this?  Because as I make my “best of” lists for 2011, I am reminded of the two books that I read this year that will remain with me throughout my life.  Both concern water.

So here they are, my 2011 choices for

"Books that will Change your World View”

(One children’s book and one adult book)

Park, Linda Sue. 2010. A Long Walk to Water. New York: Clarion. 

Fishman, Charles, 2011. The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. New York: Free Press. 

The book titles are linked to my earlier reviews.  I sincerely hope that if you haven’t read either of these books, you will consider it.  A Long Walk to Water, in particular, is a book that will stay in your mind for years to come - both haunting and hopeful.  Both will change the way you think of water forever.  Shame on me for complaining about my sink. 

It’s Nonfiction Monday again.  Today’s round-up is at Gathering Books.  Please stop by.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Frog and Friends

Favorite Easy Reader for 2011

 Bunting, Eve. 2011. Frog and Friends. Ill. by Josée Masse. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.

I don't like too many easy readers.  This one's great!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Picture Book Roundup - Best of 2011

Here they are - my favorite fiction picture books of 2011!
(an eclectic mix, to be sure)

If I have reviewed the book, the title is linked to the review.  
My top three choices
(I couldn't pick just one!)

  • Ray, Mary Lyn and Marla Frazee. 2011. Stars. New York: Beach Lane.

  • Henkes, Kevin. 2011. Little White Rabbit. New York: Greenwillow.   

  • Lyon, George Ella. 2011. All the Water in the World. New York: Atheneum.

  • Also making my list of favorites (in no particular order) are:

  • DeKockere, Geert. 2011. Willy. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 

  • Milgrim, David. 2011. Eddie Gets Ready for School. New York: Cartwheel (Scholastic). 

  • Gibbs, Edward. 2011. I Spy with my Little Eye. Somerville, MA: Templar. (Candlewick)

  • Crum, Shutta. 2011. Mine! Ill. by Patrice Barton. New York: Knopf.  

  • Shea, Susan A. 2011. Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? Maplewood, NJ: Blue Apple.  

  • Becker, Bonny. 2011. The Sniffles for Bear. Ill. by Kady MacDonald Denton. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

  •  Are any of these your favorites?
    My other lists will be coming soon. Stay tuned ...

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever - a review

    Kinney, Jeff. 2011 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. New York: Abrams.

    The wait is over.  Cabin Fever has finally arrived!

    I've seen a lot of movies where a kid my age finds out he's got magical powers and then gets invited to go away to some special school.  Well, if I've got an invitation coming, now would be the PERFECT time to get it.
    A big snowstorm has Mrs. Heffley and the boys snowed in.  Greg is fearful that the police will be coming for him at any minute (it wasn't really vandalism - it just looks that way), Manny's reprogrammed the parental controls so that no one can watch any programs except his favorites, the basement's flooded and Rodrick moves into Greg's room, Greg has to care for Manny since Mom's glasses are broken (oops!),  Dad's stuck in a hotel (cue the bubble bath, robe, slippers, and cable TV), and the power's out.  Just a typical month in Greg Heffley's diary. Amidst the laughter, Jeff Kinney coaxes out a spirit of community, of giving, of Christmas, and family togetherness - whether Greg Heffley likes it or not.

    Another great addition to the Wimpy Kid series!

    One of the reasons I find the Wimpy Kid books so funny is that for all intents and purposes, I am Greg Heffley's mom (although my eyesight's better).  I see myself in her character and I laugh and I'm thankful that my children are turning out OK in spite of me. ;)  Hoping you have something to be thankful for, too.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    And thanks to Abrams books for my review copy.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    1st and 10: Top Ten Lists of Everything in Football - a review

    Gramling, Gary, Christina M. Tapper, and Paul Ulane. 2011. Sports Illustrated Kids 1st and 10: Top Ten Lists of Everything in Football. New York: Time.

    Here are thirty-six "top ten" lists of some of football's great achievers (touchdown leaders), achievements (Super Bowls), and curiosities (wackiest weather, nicknames, quotes, etc.)

    Do you know the top ten undrafted players? The top ten biggest players? Comeback games? Famous quotes?  Craziest hairstyles? (yes, Troy Polamalu is #1)  You'll know them all after reading 1st and 10.

    The large size (over 11" square), makes this the perfect browsing book for football season.  Books of this sort often have a relatively short shelf life, as players retire and records are broken; so if you've got a copy of this book in your library, put it out on display and start it moving!

    I'm not a football fan, but I'm a pretty good judge of what kids will check out of the library. Football fans are sure to find something to interest them in this 95-page volume filled with photos.

    In light of the recent football scandals at two universities,  it should be mentioned that 1st and 10 features only professional teams.

    Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Books Together.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Just a Second: A different way to look at time - a review

    Jenkins, Steve. 2011. Just a Second: A different way to look at time. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

    What can happen in a second?
    Earth advances 18 1/2 miles (30 kilometers) in its orbit around the sun.
    What can happen in a day?
    People use the equivalent of 200 billion sheets of letter-size paper.
    In a year?
    A termite queen will lay almost 3,000,000 eggs.
    With his trademark illustrative style, customary accuracy, and imaginative perspective, Steve Jenkins shows us the concept of time through a variety of aspects.  From the briefest second in which a cheetah can sprint 100 feet, to the unfathomable span of 2,000,000,000 years that it would take a spacecraft to traverse our galaxy, Jenkins offers illustrated facts, charts and graphs that are sure to interest kids of all ages. Facts are presented in white text on colorful pages, accompanied by cut paper illustrations.For teachers, it is a cross-curricular treasure trove. Highly recommended.

    Included are books for additional reading and a note about the use of credible estimations for certain facts (e.g., the number of babies born each day).

    Other reviews @:

    This week's STEM Friday roundup is at Dig This Well.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    13 Gifts - a review

    Mass, Wendy. 2011. 13 Gifts. New York: Scholastic.

     Earlier in the year, I listened to 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. (Review here).  At the time, I didn't realize that it was the first in a series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't plan to read any follow up titles.  So I passed on Finally, and planned to give away my ARC of 13 Gifts. Instead, I opened it to read a few pages (it is a Wendy Mass book, after all), found the following passage, and was hooked:

         Since the telegram arrived, Mom's been really distracted. She's even stopped asking if I've finished my homework or made any new friends (usually her two favorite topics). Whenever I try to strike up a conversation, she mumbles something and wanders out of the room. This morning I found her keys in the freezer next to the ice cream sandwiches.
         Her normal approach to mothering has always been to smother and overprotect. While I was still in my crib she taught me that talking to strangers would cause my tongue to turn green. (I believed this until I was eight.) I've never been allowed to sleep over at anyone's house, and my cell phone has a GPS tracker in it that links up to her computer. Mom promised me she'd only activate the tracker if I went missing, but when I stopped to buy gum after school last month, she texted me to get a quart of milk.  Coincidence?  I think not.

    In a strange turn of events, Tara's overprotective mother and her dad (the devoted husband), have decided to leave Tara with relatives in Willow Falls while they travel to Madagascar, where Mrs. Brennan will be studying the mating habits of lemurs.  Tara barely knows her relatives, and is bewildered by her mother's ironclad decision; but she soon finds out that this may be the least bewildering thing she encounters during her strange summer in Willow Falls.

    Due to the loss of her iPod and cash,Tara becomes beholden to a mysterious, old woman named Angelina (who features prominently in the two earlier books).  Angelina operates a curiosity shop, which curiously, cannot be seen by all of Willow Falls' inhabitants. Angelina tasks Tara with finding thirteen items before her 13th birthday, and Tara, normally a loner, is forced to seek the help of the strangely cooperative kids of Willow Falls.

    In Willow Falls, everything happens for a reason, and most reasons are unapparent.  In her search for the items on Angelina's quirky list, Tara finds much more than duck canes, frayed shawls, and misprinted books!  But all the mysteries of Willow Falls and its families, are not revealed in 13 Gifts.  Clearly, there are more to come.

    A melding of realistic fiction and fantasy, 13 Gifts is a humorous coming-of-age story, but it's part of a much broader picture of a magical small town that, in conjunction with its oldest resident, Angelina, promotes harmony and healing - but not without a price. A fun and unconventional book.

    A word of advice: it's best to read these books in order. Normally, it's fairly easy to pick up a series in midstream, but I often found myself wishing that I had read Finally, the second book in the birthday series. Things would have been a bit clearer (or at least as clear as they can be in the magical town of Willow Falls).

    If you're a Wendy Mass fan and want to keep up with the latest book (and movie!) news, check out her blog, Wendy's Blog.  Did you know that Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is now a movie?  I didn't!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Picture book roundup - Dynamic Duos

    Here are two great new picture books with dynamic author/illustrator pairings.  Enjoy!

    • Ray, Mary Lyn and Marla Frazee. 2011. Stars. New York: Beach Lane.
    Stars combines childlike simplicity with the grace of a poet. As children face the wide expanse of the universe, they are not afraid.  Instead, they exhibit a sense of quiet, contemplative wonder.

    The illustrations, “rendered in graphite, gouache, and gel pen,” are both whimsical and philosophical. When shown outdoors, children are the focal point of the illustrations - sitting pensively in the seat of swing, blowing dandelion seeds to the wind, holding a basket aloft to a star-studded sky; yet they are small and insignificant amidst the vastness of the world.
    It may help to have on pajamas.
    Then you look up. Almost always you will find one. And another, and another, and another.
    And if sometimes you can’t see them, they’re still there.
    (The font was hand-lettered by Marla Frazee.)

    One of the year’s best picture books. A stellar collaboration! 

    Read a graphic excerpt here.

    (And keep this one in mind for next year’s collaborative summer reading theme, Dream Big.)

    • Becker, Bonny. 2011. The Sniffles for Bear.  Ill. by Kady MacDonald Denton. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    Rarely do follow-up picture books measure up to the success of the original, but The Sniffles for Bear, the fourth in this wonderfully charming series, is nearly as delightful as the original!  It is by far the best of the Bear and Mouse sequels.

    Bear is sick, and the ever-cheerful, ever-helpful, bright-eyed Mouse is trying his best to comfort the ailing bear, who is decidedly unwilling to be comforted.

    “This is impossible, intolerable – “Bear started to roar.
    But he was too weak.  “Look!” Bear wheezed.  “Look how my paw is trembling. You must help me to my bed.”
    And indeed, Mouse was most helpful.
    (picture Mouse, trudging backwards up the banister, pulling on the finger of Bear who is dramatically and theatrically feigning an inability to mount the stairs on his own)

    Bear is at his funniest when his mood is at its darkest.  But of course, when Mouse becomes ill, his sour mood will turn to one of concern.  They are, after all, the best of friends.

    This may be a well-used plot, but Becker and Denton play it to perfection.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World - a review

    Wood, Douglas. 2011. Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World. Ill. by Barry Moser. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    It was the winter of 1941.  The valiant battleship HMS Duke of York struggled against the screaming winds and forty-foot waves of a mighty December gale.  On board, Winston S. Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain, calmly chomped his ever-present cigar as he strolled the pitching decks.  He was going to meet the president of the United States.  He was going to spend Christmas at the White House.  He would not be stopped by a mere storm.  He would not be stopped by a hurricane.
    The focus of Wood's book is this single visit by Churchill to the White House following the early December attack on Pearl Harbor.  Although some background and biographical information is included to set the scene for young readers, Franklin and Winston is, in essence, a chronicle of the historic December 1941 visit.  Transportation (Churchill was too impatient to travel by land from his arrival point in Chesapeake Bay and was flown to Washington, D.C.), activities (Churchill explored the White House gardens in one-piece overalls),  press conferences, dining arrangements and meetings are fully detailed to give the reader a flavor of the era, and an understanding of the relationship between the two men and of their role in world politics.

    Most importantly, the reader gains the insight that although these were powerful men deciding a course of action in dire circumstances, they were not larger than life, but full of life. They were friends, and they were very human - with the quirks and frailties one might find in any human being.  Roosevelt and Churchill overcame personal obstacles, and with a common cause and a fast friendship, they formed the bonds and the strategy needed to defeat the Axis powers in WWII.

    Yet still, while the fate of the world was at stake, the two men took time to celebrate the Christmas holiday, giving heartfelt speeches at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.  The included speeches are excerpted and edited by the author with great care to portray both the gravity of the world's situation and the context in which Roosevelt and Churchill were deciding its fate,

    "I spend this anniversary and festival far from my country, far from my family, yet I cannot truthfully say that I feel far from home. . . . We may cast aside, for this night at least, the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children and evening of happiness in a world of storm. . . . Let the children have their night of fun and laughter.  Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. . . . In God's mercy, a happy Christmas to you all."
    Moser's full-page watercolor illustrations face pages of black text on a white background. Moser's paintings are rich in the simpler, more somber colors of the era - dark suits, night skies, a bathroom featuring white tiles, towels and fixtures, simply colored maps, military aircraft. But while the colors and details are evocative of a past time, the faces of Churchill and Roosevelt express life - mirth, joy, and gravity, all within the framework of the timeworn faces of real men, men of a different age who were respected for their actions - discolored teeth, bulbous nose, wrinkles, glasses and all.

    Smaller illustrations appear with the text on many pages, and add visual details to the story - a view of the Foundry Methodist Church, the radio on which Roosevelt listened to Churchill's address to Congress, an adorned napkin from dinner with Mrs. Roosevelt.

    Contains an Afterword (listing accomplishments of the Christmas 1941 meetings), Author's Note, and Bibliography.

    Chronological and factual, Franklin and Winston: A Christmas that Changed the World, is moving as well.  Highly recommended.

    You can preview the book at the author's website.

    Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup may be found at Charlotte's Library.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Fashion Kitty's got a lot (more) to say

    Harper, Charise Mericle. 2011. Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. (Ball of Yellow String). New York: Disney Hyperion.

    Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. (Ball of Yellow String) marks a change in the successful Fashion Kitty series. Still aimed squarely at the reluctant reader, with simple vocabulary and a fast-moving story, the newest book is a foray into the illustrated chapter book format.

    Fashion Kitty's latest adventure unfolds in twenty-six short (2 -3 page) chapters, with abundant illustrations and panel cartoons in several colors.  Now firmly entrenched in her role as a masked superhero, Kiki Kittie is learning a few of the unpleasantries that come with being a superhero. Hardest of all is keeping her identity secret, and mean Leon Lambaster III is about to start trouble in Chapter 6 with

    The Six Words That Started it All
    "I am gonna catch Fashion Kitty."
    Throw in some marshmallows, some t-shirts, a secret club (Catch Fashion Kitty Club, or CFKC), and a slippery invention called "evaporating knot string," and you've got everything you need for a fashion-based superhero adventure!

    The book's small size matches the earlier GN editions, however, with text and panels competing for the same space, both suffer in the size department. Harper's humorous illustrations deserve a larger venue, and a larger font size might be easier on the struggling reader.

    If Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. signals the end of Fashion Kitty in graphic novel format, it could be a zero sum game - readers eager for more Fashion Kitty may be pleased with the new illustrated novel format, but fans of the graphic novel series may be disappointed. If this is indeed the future for Fashion Kitty, all readers may benefit from a larger size.

    Glossy pages with Creative Ideas for Crafty Kitties (including marshmallow sculpture building) follow the story.

    Look for Fashion Kitty's little sister, Lana Kitty, starring in her own picture book, The Best Birthday Ever.

    Check out Charise Mericle Harper's website.  There's a Fashion Kitty page.

    For the record, I received this free review copy of Fashion Kitty along with a valuable and enticing gift - one that I could smell even before I opened the package - a bag of marshmallows and a box of stick pretzels (for building my own marshmallow statue, I presume)!  A very clever promotion that would double as a fun book discussion activity!

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, etc. - a review

    Trick or Treat! 
    Which is it?  Well, Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums is a treat of a book that's full of tricks!
     Read on ...

    Stewart, Trenton Lee. 2011. The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums. New York: Little Brown.

    A message from Mr. Benedict:

    ... I urge you to put on your thinking cap (or if you are already wearing your thinking cap, to adjust it so that it sits most comfortably on your head), for with the aid - indeed, the considerable contribution -- of the Society members themselves, as well as a few of my associates, I have compiled the manual you now hold in your hands: a compressed and highly portable collection of mental challenges.  May you find them rewarding!

    Puzzles, enigmas, and conundrums! A perfect companion book for the remarkable children who share in the adventures of The Mysterious Benedict Society.  It's a wonder that Trenton Lee Stewart didn't think of this earlier!

    This new book of puzzles and riddles of all varieties, offers something for MBS fans as well as those who are unfamiliar with the books.  The book includes  quotes from the novels and character studies of each one of the members, as well as a Table of Contents, Hints, and Useful Resources. Great fun!  But a warning - it's not easy!  I found myself checking the hints more than once. I didn't attempt all of the trials (there are many), but all appear to require an answer to complete the final challenge.  There are hours of entertainment contained in this little volume, illustrated by Diana Sudyka, and printed on glossy paper.

    If you haven't read any of The Mysterious Benedict Society books, check out this link to my review of the very first book in the series, and be sure to check out The Mysterious Benedict website.

    A new book, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (a prequel), is due out in April.  Read an excerpt here, or read the excerpt contained in the final pages of The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums.

    Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Jean Little Library.  Check it out.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Paying it forward - The Liebster Award

    I has an award!
     (If you're not familiar with the "I has a ..." craze, you're not spending enough time with teenagers)

    Surprise, surprise!  Yesterday, I was given The Liebster Award by Nicki of Dog Ear. The Liebster Award was designed to call attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers - under-appreciated blogs, you might say.

    If you are fortunate enough to be recognized by one of your fellow bloggers with The Liebster Award, your "obligations" are simple:

    • Acknowledge your award by linking back to the blog that chose you.
    • Pay it forward by highlighting your own 5 favorite under-appreciated blogs.
    • Leave each of them a comment advising them of the award.
    • Display your award proudly.
    (or something like that anyway)

    So, which blogs do I feel are under-appreciated?

    • NC Teacher Stuff - I truly enjoy Jeff's thoughtful postings with an educational focus.  If I were a teacher, I wouldn't miss a day of his blog! 
    • The Fourth Musketeer - With a heavy emphasis on historical fiction and more YA than I typically read, Margo's blog helps me fill in my gaps, keeping me up-to-date. Interesting and well-written,  Margo of The Fourth Musketeer is also my co-collaborator on ...
    • KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month - Yes, I am a member of this blog but I don't feel badly in pointing it out. It is a labor of love, highlighting children's books that focus on women's history.  We're on hiatus now, but will gear up later this year to offer thirty days of stellar postings by authors and bloggers in celebration of Women's History Month 2012. 
    • Pink Me - depending on what stats you're counting, Pink Me may cross the 200 threshold, but it's a blog worth pointing out. She's also on my judging panel for Cybils, Nonfiction Picture Books. Pink Me's always keeping it real - and I appreciate that. 
    and finally,
    • Thanks back to Dog Ear, whose author is a voracious reader and reviewer, offering me a place to go when I find myself without a YA recommendation - especially something dystopian, romantic, or angsty - my readers advisory shortcomings. (I can't help it if I'm a nonfiction fan!)

    So there you  have it!  The Liebster Award.  Enjoy.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    The 39 Clues: Vespers Rising - a review

    Riordan, Rick and Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, Jude Watson. The 39 Clues: Vespers Rising. (Book #11) 2011. Read by David Pittu. Scholastic Audio.  (6 hrs 18 min)

    Can a book be both a prequel and a sequel?  Yes, if it's Vespers Rising.

    In four separate books (hence the four authors), Vespers Rising offers a view to the past and the origins of the Cahill Family secret in Gideon Cahill (early 1500s) , a look at the activities of Madeleine Cahill and the formation of the family's secretive fifth branch, a glimpse of young Grace Cahill, patriarch of the modern Cahill Family, and finally, back to Dan and Amy Cahill, their cat Saladdin, and au pair, Nellie.  Dan and Amy have completed the clue hunt and are safely back in Boston, but their adventures are far from over!

    David Pittu continues as the narrator for the series, and as usual, does a stellar job in portraying a wide variety of characters with varying accents.  His voice will be as connected with The 39 Clues brand as Jim Dale's is to Harry Potter.
    Listen to a sample here.

    This book will answer many of the questions readers may have about the origin of the clue hunt, but its main purpose is to set the stage for the new series, Cahills vs. Vespers.  The first book in the series is The Medusa Plot, and is available now. Read an excerpt here.

    Fans of the series will be thrilled with the new offerings.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Geronimo Stilton: Dinosaurs in Action

    It's Nonfiction Monday.  So why am I featuring Geronimo Stilton, the "famouse" editor of "The Rodent's Gazette?"  Well, I just finished another great online ALSC course. Each participant was given the task of creating "club" based on a children's book series.  I chose the perennially popular Geronimo Stilton series. In researching ideas to use in my club, I discovered that the Scholastic Geronimo Stilton books are not the only Geronimo Stilton books.  There is a separate series published in graphic novel format by Papercutz.

    Unlike the original Geronimo Stilton series, the Papercutz titles (I haven't read them all) are a blend of fact, fantasy and adventure, à la Magic Tree House. Following is a review of the 7th book in the series.

    Stilton, Geronimo. 2011. Dinosaurs in Action. New York: Papercutz.

    In the course of a slim, 50-page volume (equal in size to a typical beginning reader book), the reader is entertained by the adventures of Geronimo and his gang as they try to foil the plans of the dastardly Pirate Cats, while they are simultaneously educated in the classification and habits of dinosaurs in the Cretaceous Period. 
    Both within the context of the dialogue,
    Moldy Mozzarella! That's not a cloud.

    It's a quezacoatlus!

    It's enormous!

    And looking for prey ...It's heading for us!


    Look! It's going away.

    Thank goodness ... I wouldn't have wanted to end up in its belly!

    We were lucky! The quezacoatlus is the biggest flying animal that ever lived.
    and in integrated panels that contain encyclopedia-style facts, the reader learns about each dinosaur featured in the story, as well as information on flowers, plants and prehistory in general. In keeping with the style of the original Geronimo Stilton series, the fonts in the dialogue bubbles are often varied in size, style or color.

    Here's a page from the first book in the series (note the fact panel, bottom right):
     The Discovery of America ©Papercutz
    The bottom line?  Geronimo Stilton definitely attracts reluctant readers.  The graphic novel format may attract even the most reluctant of reluctant readers.  Additionally, they're a source of facts that can be used to invoke interest in a topic (science, history, etc.), or a tool for teaching kids the ability to discern fact from fiction. 

    Is it fact?  Is it fiction? Neither.  It's faction, and it's fun!

    Reading Guides and Games for the several Geronimo Stilton graphic novels are available here.

    You can find all eight titles in the graphic novel series, reading guides, previews and more on Papercutz' Geronimo Stilton pages.

    For all things Geronimo Stilton related (TV, books, graphic novels), the official Geronimo Stilton website is here.

    Today's Nonfiction Monday is at Apples with Many Seeds.  Stop by.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Waiting for the Magic

    MacLachlan, Patricia. 2011. Waiting for the Magic. New York: Atheneum.

    Fifth-grader, William's, father doesn't like dogs. When Papa deserts the family, going off "to write," one summer morning, Mama loads William and 4-year-old Elinor into the car and heads for the local animal shelter.
    "What kind of dog are we getting? I asked.
    "Whatever they have," said Mama.
    "Can we get a cat?" asked Elinor from the back.
    "Yes," said Mama.
    For a moment I thought about asking for a horse, but I didn't think Mama's mood about animals would last that long.
    At the shelter, Mama makes another impulsive decision,

    "We'll take them all," Mama said crisply,

    the protective Bryn, high-energy Bitty, peaceful Grace, friendly Neo and Lulu, the very patient cat. It is Elinor who first understands the nature of their new pets.  She waves her toy magic wand above them, and they sit patiently, orderly, and they talk - but only Elinor can hear them, because the only
    ones who know magic are:
    The young
    The old
    The brave
    The honest
    The joyful

    What will it take for the rest of the family, including Papa, to "know the magic?" It will take love and bravery and honesty and time.

    Waiting for the Magic is a short (143 pages) chapter book peppered with simple and attractive penciled sketches by Amy June Bates, perfect for young readers, ages 9-12.  It has some similarities with Kate Feiffer's delightful book, The Problem with the Puddles. Both feature endearing, talking dogs as fully developed characters.

    Though Waiting for the Magic is told in William's voice, the dogs often interrupt,

    He misses his father.

    Yes, he does.

    Can you move over, Bitty?

    The cat's there.

    The cat's name is Lula, Bitty.  Lula.

    Okay, Lula.
    I know you like her. You ask her to move over.
    Printed in italics and placed in the center of the page, readers will have no trouble distinguishing the canine dialogue, and will enjoy the dogs' sometimes silly and sometimes profound commentary.

    Newbery winner Patricia MacLachlan's gentle treatment of a difficult topic is laced with humor, magic, and a happy ending.  An enjoyable read.

    Read an excerpt here.

    © Amy June Bates
    This cover image is taken from Amy June Bates' website,
    where it is just so precious, that it deserves a visit.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Beware the black bubblegum - a cautionary Halloween story

    Many years ago, my town hired a professional storyteller to share spooky stories at the Halloween bonfire on the beach. She was magnificent, and my children still talk about her stories.  One in particular stuck in their minds, a story of  a piece of black bubblegum, a cautionary tale about a child who chances a piece of Halloween candy before it is checked by an adult, with alarming, if not terrifying, repercussions. 

    In looking for stories to share with kids this year, I thought back to the black bubblegum story.  Knowing that storytellers do not necessarily share or write down their stories, I thought I would scour the web for any version I could find.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the original author of this oft-adapted story, formally known as "The Affair at 7 Rue de M — " was none other than John Steinbeck! 

    Steinbeck tells of the terrifying "affair," in the classic style of Edgar Allen Poe's short mysteries,

         My child manfully tried to disengage the gum from his jaws. "It won't let me go," he sputtered.
         "Open up," I said and then inserting my fingers in his mouth I seized hold of the large lump of gum and after a struggle in which my fingers slipped again and again, managed to drag it forth and to deposit the ugly blob on my desk on top of a pile of white manuscript paper.
         For a moment it seemed to shudder there on the paper then with an easy slowness it began to undulate, to swell and recede with the exact motion of being chewed while my son and I regarded it with popping eyes.
         For a long time we watched it while I drove through my mind for some kind of explanation.  Either I was dreaming or some principle as yet unknown had taken its seat in the pulsing bubble gum on the desk.  I am not unintelligent.  While I considered the indecent thing, a hundred little thoughts and glimmerings of understanding raced through my brain.  At last I asked, "How long has it been chewing you?"
         "Since last night," he replied.
    If you're looking for an unusual spooky story to share with older children this year, if you're a teacher looking for a fun way to illustrate writing styles, if you're a teacher focusing on Edgar Allen Poe or John Steinbeck, pull out this short story and have some frightful fun!

    "The Affair at 7 Rue de M — " originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar (1955).  I found it in The Portable Steinbeck, Revised and Enlarged Edition (1971, Viking).

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water - a review

    Fishman, Charles, 2011. The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. New York: Free Press.
    I began reading this book in the same way that I read most books for review, carefully bookmarking various quotes, facts, and passages.  The sheer number of passages that I marked was astounding.  Here are just a few:
    ...every day, as a nation, just to flush our toilets, Americans use 5,700,000,000 gallons of water -- 5.7 billion gallons of clean drinking water down the toilet. ... more water than all the homes in the United Kingdom and Canada use each day for all their needs.

    ...not one of India's major cities provides twenty-four-hour-a-day water.

    ... People routinely make do without electricity; we improvise around having no working refrigerator, or microwave, or traffic lights.  But without routine water service, it is hard to imagine civilization proceeding. ... ... you can't call Dasani if your house catches on fire.

    ... In the fall of 2007, metropolitan Atlanta came within eighty-one days of running out of water.

    ... in January 2010, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, went without water for an entire week after a fourteen-day freezing spell fractured the city's water mains.

    ... Americans spent $21 billion on bottled water in 2009. ... As a nation, we spend $46 billion for a year's water, always on, whenever we need it. ... We spend about $29 billion a year maintaining our entire water system in the Unites States -- the drinking water treatment plants, the pump stations, the pipes in the ground, the wastewater treatment plants. ... So as a nation, we spend very nearly as much on water delivered in small crushable plastic bottles as we do on sustaining the entire water system of the country.

    ... Australia's water has disappeared, with stunning speed and almost unbelievable thoroughness.  In the last ten years, the rainfall that fills Australia's rivers, its reservoirs, and its aquifers has simply not come.  Australians refer to the last decade as the "Big Dry."

    ... That we couldn't detect the "dirt" ten years ago doesn't mean it wasn't there ... The tricky part is that the opposite is also true: The fact that we can detect the substances, their very presence in the water, doesn't mean they are harmful, or even significant.  Just because we suddenly realize there's stuff in the water we didn't was there before doesn't mean we have to take it out.  We actually don't know.  That is, we don't know how clean the water needs to be.

    ... how do you weigh a single farmer, and the food he raises that can feed 100,000 people in the city, against the water needs of those very same 100,000 people? And perhaps hardest of all, who decides?

    The Big Thirst is not just a book of mind-blowing statistics.  It is a thoughtful consideration of the world's water situation, an insightful look at our relationship to water, and a thought-provoking conclusion about how our water woes could be solved. 

    Fishman's view is a global one. He examines water woes in Australia where in the midst of drought they argue over the acceptability of using recycled wastewater, in Southern California, where recycled wastewater is routinely used but still cannot fill the gap in supply, in Las Vegas where water conservation has been spectacularly successful, in India where lack of a regular water supply has restricted the productive possibilities of an entire generation, and in Galveston where they know all too well the consequences of life without potable water.

    We do not have a water shortage. 
    Every drop of water that's here has seen the inside of a cloud, and the inside of a volcano, the inside of a maple leaf, and the inside of a dinosaur kidney, probably many times.
    What we have is a profound quandary about what to do with the water we have.  The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water is a well-researched  book that places a weighty and sometimes philosophical problem into a context that is easily understood and entertaining to read. Its ten chapters can each have merit of their own, but together they pose a global question and propose a global shift in perspective. Read The Big Thirst and you will not ever look at water the same way again. Fascinating!

    Extensive Notes and and exhaustive Index are testament to the deep thought that went into the making of The Big Thirst.

    Interviews and reviews of The Big Thirst are on the book's website.

    Nonfiction Monday is at Simply Science today. Nonfiction Monday is the weekly gathering of children's literature bloggers.  Once in a while, however, I do take time out for a great adult book.  This is one of those times.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Let's Look at Dinosaurs - a review for STEM Friday

    STEM Friday is here today!
    (Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.)
    Please add your link below and thanks for stopping by!

    Barry, Frances. 2011. Let’s Look at Dinosaurs: A Flip-the-Flap Book. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

    This book may skew a bit younger than your average STEM Friday contribution (ages 3-7), but it caught my eye for several reasons. First, I thought it needed rescuing. A thick (and very appealing) cover with substantial pages containing large foldouts and flaps, necessitates a wide and somewhat fluid spine. Due to the slack in the spine, or perhaps a difficult trip through the delivery process, mine already had a slight tear in the spine upon arrival. Since it’s such a nice book, I rescued it, and added it to my storytime collection, rather than putting it on the shelf.

    It’s a worthy addition to the storytime collection, whether it needs rescuing or not. Many books about dinosaurs for the very young fall into one of two categories – too difficult or unrealistic. Let’s Look at Dinosaurs (567.9) strikes a perfect balance. The attractive collage art is both realistic and inviting. A wide book, its double-spread illustrations help convey the size of dinosaurs, though sadly, they are not in proportion to one another except on the front and end papers. Flaps are used for varying purposes: a 3D effect for the flying Pterodactylus, a neck extension for the huge Diplodocus, a pronounced frill for Triceratops. Each of the twelve dinosaurs represented has a foldout or pop-out component.
    The artwork, however, is not the only draw for this book. Each dinosaur is listed by its name in large font, followed by a question,
    I wonder why Anklyosaurus has a club at the end of his tail.

     The facing page contains a simple, large font answer,

    It is made of solid bone; he uses it against attackers.

    and strategically placed additional details in a smaller font, presumably for older readers,

    Many dinosaurs had spikes and horns for protection against predators.

    The final two spreads contain a very simple and concise explanation of fossils, and a cut out of dinosaur bones as seen in a museum.

    Artwork and age-appropriate language and presentation make this a stellar introduction to dinosaurs.

    Oh, one more thing – you’d better know your dinosaur pronunciations before reading this one aloud. You won’t find them here.
    STEM Friday is looking for hosts for upcoming Fridays.  If you'd like to host, check out the STEM Friday site.
    If you have difficulty using Inlinkz, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll add your post later.

    Beneath the Waves - a review

    As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...