Friday, August 31, 2012

Do you love your librarian?

From the @ your library site site:

Nominations for the 2012 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Awards are open through September 12.
10 librarians each will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.
Recognize the accomplishments of your exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarian.

Surely you know a deserving public, school, or academic librarian! 
Nominate her/him today! 

Lord knows we don’t do it for the money! It’s all about the love. ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

You're Getting a Baby Brother! (Sister!) - a review

There are many, many books about new siblings, and while many are very funny or entertaining, the ones that I usually recommend to parents are the ones that make it abundantly clear that new babies don't do much - best to keep expectations low. Two of my favorites are My Baby and Me (Knopf, 2008) and this year's One Special Day (Disney/Hyperion).

Today I received two interesting additions to the "new sibling" collection.  I say, "interesting" because 1. they are board books (although it seems that everything is becoming a board book these days!) and  2. they're not particularly well-suited for a public library.  That being said, I'm glad I have them available, and I hope they last.

Higginson, Sheila Sweeny. 2012. You're Getting a Baby Sister! New York: Little Simon.
Higginson, Sheila Sweeny. 2012. You're Getting a Baby Brother! New York: Little Simon.

These board books will appeal directly to the preschooler who is accustomed to his position as the star of the family show, and unsure about what role the future sibling may play.

It's very exciting.  Your family will grow!
But before you start cheering, there are a few things you should know.

Your brother will poop.
He will spit.
He will cry.
And you'd better watch out -- or he'll pee in your eye!
The negative behaviors, of course, are only a small portion of the book, and kids will enjoy the humorous accompanying illustrations. The reigning preschooler is reminded that babies need understanding and protection,

And if he grows up, watching all that you do, surely he'll be amazing --
for he'll be just like you!
The final two pages are designed for personalization, offering space for baby's name and a photo of the new siblings. (I hope the library's copies are returned without writing, but I have my doubts!) The brother and sister versions have variations in text and illustrations, however, the message remains the same.  You will both be loved; you have a new and special role in your family.

Short and rhyming with a multicultural cast of families, these are great introductions to a new family cast member.

Click to see a graphic excerpt from You're Getting a Baby Sister!
Click to see a graphic excerpt from You're Getting a Baby Brother!

The Nonfiction Monday is at Simply Science today.

My choice of books today is not nonfiction in the strictest sense of the word,
but factual enough for the preschool set.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eighth Grade is Making me Sick - a review

I've been reading a slew of serious books lately for the mock Newbery group, Newbery Blueberry Mockery Pie, so I took a slight detour between The Lions of Little Rock and Wonder, to read the latest in the "Stuff" series.

Holm, Jennifer L. 2012. Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff: Eighth Grade is Making me Sick. New York: Random House. (Ill. by Elicia Castaldi)

Using an updated version of the wonderful format that served the Klise Sisters so well in the Regarding the ... and 43 Old Cemetery Road series,

Jennifer Holm has crafted a winning series consisting of a collection of correspondence and realia.  While the aformentioned series rely heavily upon letters, newsletters, newspaper clippings and such - all rendered in black and white sketches, the Stuff series is illustrated by Elicia Castaldi and is a wonderfully fun and colorful combination of collages created from sketches, artfully chosen backgrounds, Post-it notes, screen shots, cell phone messages, scribbled notes, a brother's cartoons - virtually anything that might convey information to or about Ginny Davis, 8th grader at Woodland Central Middle School.

Changes are coming to Ginny's financially struggling family.  The biggest change? Mom's pregnant.  Didn't notice the positive pregnancy test stick in the garbage? No worries, just check the IM window running next to spider solitaire,

OMG mi mom is pregnant! I though she was just getting fat!
OMG! OMG! She's a grannymom!
What's a grannymom?
an old mom!
She iz pretty old. She's 39!
Do u think shez having twins? Or 3lets? I love all those shows with multiples!
omg.  I hope not.
In addition to mom's pregnancy, Ginny has to worry about making the cheer squad and earning some new privileges, specifically, permission to bike to school and join an online movie fan group, "Vampire Vixens Den." Hopefully, persistent stomach trouble and a troubling family financial situation won't keep her from completing

Ginny's big To-Do List
  1. Try out for cheer
  2. Convince Mom to let me bike to school
  3. Fall in love
  4. Work on art (sketch every day)
  5. Save money
  6. Look good in family Christmas photo
  7. Join  Vampire Vixens Den
  8. Teach Grampa Joe how to email
  9. Have a cool Halloween costumer for once
  10. Ignore horoscopes!

There are so many reasons to like this book. It tackles the very real problem of declining middle-class income. It embraces modern culture. It's fun. It's funny. It's artistic. Ginny is a likable young girl.  Kids (especially girls) will love it.  Do I sound like a Jennifer Holm fan?  I am.

Want to see more of Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick
Watch a "behind the scenes" video on the author's webpage.

Another review @ Kirkus Reviews

If you're a teacher who shies away from assigning any form of illustrated novel, here's an idea for you - with the current focus on cross-curricular instruction, pair up with the art teacher, if you're lucky enough to still have one! Let students tell their own stories in this appealing mix of text, art, and reality.

Note: This post had been edited to correct an incorrect attribution that I realized after posting.  My apologies, LT

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau - a review

Markel, Michelle. 2012. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. Ill. by Amanda Hall. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Review copies provided by LibraryThing and publisher.

I can't imagine many tasks more difficult than painting illustrations for a biography of a famous painter.  In a book for adults, the artist's actual work speaks for itself, but in a picture book for children, the art must not only speak for its creator, but it must help to tell a story.  For The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, illustrator Amanda Hall eschewed her usual medium in favor of watercolor and acrylics, seeking to more closely mimic Rousseau's style in order to help tell his story.  More than mere imitations, however, she uses Rousseau's style and perspective as the medium to illustrate the time and place in which he lived, his joyous spirit, his famous contemporaries, his wonder at the natural world, and most of all, his complete commitment to his craft - regardless of how it is received by others.  Her illustrations are the perfect complement to Michelle Markel's prose, delivered in a present tense fashion that immediately engages the reader. In language that will speak clearly to children, Markel clearly conveys the transformative power of art,

By now Henri is used to the nasty critics.  He knows his shapes are simpler and flatter than everyone else's, but he thinks that makes them lovely.  He spends all he earns on art supplies, and pays for his bread and coal with landscapes and portraits.  In the afternoon he takes off his frayed smock and gives music lessons.  His home is a shabby little studio, where one pot of stew must last the whole week.  But every morning he wakes up and smiles at his pictures.
Poverty and rejection have never sound so appealing.  Henri Rousseau's life story is an inspiration. A toll collector who did not take up painting until his forties, Rousseau was untrained and largely unrecognized while living, but he was unfazed.  He later became "the first "naïve" artist to be recognized as a great master," and his works now hang in museums around the world.

Author's and Illustrator's Notes complete this stunning picture book biography for older readers.

Enjoy the book's trailer and "Spring," one of Rousseau's famous jungle paintings.

Painted by:Henri Julien Rousseau

Other reviews @

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at the Jean Little Library.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Who's Looking at You? a review

Frattini, Stéphane. 2012. Who's Looking at You? New York: Sterling.

Eighteen 8"x8" pages feature eighteen different eyes peering out at the reader.  Each eye is on a flap nearly as big as the page with a narrow, brightly colored frame surrounding it.  Open the flap to see "who's looking at you," and learn a few facts, focused, not surprisingly, on the eye.
How did this hungry snail find the leaf? Snails can't see very well - they mostly depend on touch and smell to find their way.  But most snails do have eyes, right at the ends of two bendable tentacles called eyestalks.
The snail is actually one of the easier eyeballs to recognize.  Very young children won't find many easy guesses as it's surprisingly difficult to determine some animals from a single eye, but slightly older kids will have fun with Who's Looking at You?  Even the adults at the library were enjoying this one!  Some of the featured eyeballs are those of the gorilla, wolf, cuttlefish, chameleon, and blue-spotted grouper.  The butterfly is a bit of stretch - the photo features the "fake" eye that some butterflies sport on their wings to fool predators.  The inside back cover contains eight additional eyes for guessing, with small flaps hiding nothing more than the animal's name.

The photography is beautiful and the guessing is fun!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Picture Book Roundup - August edition

It's been a while since I've done a picture book roundup. Here are three - one funny, one fun, one sweet.  Enjoy!

  • The funny one
See a preview at the publisher's site
Vere, Ed. 2012. Bedtime for Monsters. New York: Henry Holt.

Do you ever WONDER if somewhere, not too far away, there might be ... MONSTERS?
This book may be reminiscent of  "Going on a Bear Hunt," but you won't be going anywhere; a monster may be coming to hunt you!

And as he crosses the gloopy, schloopy swamp
do you think he's imagining just HOW GOOD
you'll taste all covered in ketchup?
Bright and fresh and silly!  I love it.

  • The fun one
Baker, Keith. 2012. 1-2-3 Peas. New York: Beach Lane.

A follow-up to the popular LMNO Peas, I like this one even better. The digitally rendered and definitely adorable peas count their way to 100 in rhyming fashion.

Eleven to nineteen - skip, skip, skip!
Twenty peas cutting - snip, snip, snip!
While it can be read quickly for fun, it's worth savoring to find and enjoy each delightfully quirky pea (can you find the one singing in the shower?) and note the great details.  How do peas travel when in a rush?  In a Spea-dy Bus, of course.

More peas, please!

  • The sweet one
Kraegel, Kenneth. 2012. King Arthur's Very Great Grandson. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

I want swordplay! A struggle! A battle to the uttermost, and if you will not have ado with me, tell me who will!

So says brave and diminutive Henry, who sets off for adventure astride his trusty donkey, Knuckles. He encounters a Dragon, a Cyclops, a Griffin, and a Leviathan. They are no match for him at swordplay, but at chess? Perhaps.  Simple pen and watercolor illustrations are a bright and cheery mix of naive and cartoon styles of painting; pairing perfectly with this story of five utterly guileless characters destined to become friends. Enchanting!

I just noticed that each of these was illustrated by the author, or authored by the illustrator.  Whichever way you slice it, great talent.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

At the Boardwalk - a review

I could not let the summer get away without featuring this one!

A preview available at the publisher's site
Fineman, Kelly Ramsdell. 2012. At the Boardwalk. Illustrated by Mónica Armiño. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales.

With a rhyming, smooth-flowing pattern in which the 2nd and 6th lines repeat, Fineman catches the very essence of summer boardwalk activity along the Eastern seaboard.

At the boardwalk
day or night
Treats for every appetite
Popcorn - taffy - fudge, delight
At the boardwalk
day or night
Food, rides, arcades, and fireworks; in rain and fog and sun - she captures it all - right down to the oompah music of the carousel and the stands selling hermit crabs.  Each 6-line verse appears on a two-page spread in which Spanish illustrator, Mónica Armiño, uses pencils and mixed media on textured paper to create a light-hearted, multicultural tableau of the best the boardwalk has to offer.   The final image is that of a lone worker sweeping the sand from an empty boardwalk that stretches away into the distance toward a darkened Ferris wheel.  To the East, the ocean is calm.  The sky is darkening and a full moon is high in the sky.

Oh, would that summer would never end!

I love this one!

In checking, I find that, of course, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is from New Jersey. I'd be willing to bet that she's been to my stretch of paradise.  (I'd love to know how an artist from Madrid got it so right.)

We'd like to keep it a secret, but this is the real Jersey Shore.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Election! a review

Gutman, Dan. 2012. Election! A Kid's Guide to Picking our President. New York: Open Road Media.
Advance copy provided by NetGalley. Available in paperback on August 21.

Just in time for the fall election, perennial kids' favorite, Dan Gutman, offers up some answers to questions about our wonderful, but often wacky process of choosing our nation's leader.  In question and answer format, Gutman begins with a history of the office of President of the United States (This official title was chosen over the other suggested titles,"His Highness," "His Elective Majesty," "His Supremacy," or "His Mightiness.")

He continues with questions about early campaigns, candidates, Constitutional issues, the electoral process, voting and inauguration.

Why does the president get a twenty-one gun salute?
The number twenty-one represents the year 1776, when America declared its independence.  Add it up: one plus seven plus seven plus six equals twenty-one.
More than a book of trivia, though, Gutman delves into our modern method of campaigning, noting many of the "dirty tricks" used in politics - "Politics can get ugly at times."

How do citizens know what to believe?
... Always remember that the candidate is trying to show himself in the best possible way.  You cannot make a fair evaluation just by watching TV commercials.
(Amen to that, Mr. Gutman.)

The book concludes with sources for additional information, election vocabulary, and an informative listing of all the nation's presidents. 

This is a timely book, uniquely suited to its middle-grade audience, though many teens and adults could benefit from the information as well!

My only criticism (and it is a minor one) is that there are frequent references to "lever pulling" in the voting booth.  I've been voting for many years and I've voted in three different states, but I couldn't tell you the last time that I saw an old-fashioned voting machine with a lever - maybe in 6th grade social studies when one was brought in as a visual teaching aid? Anyone out there still use the levers?  Just wondering  ...  And lest anyone wishes to complain about Gutman's persistent use of the male pronoun throughout the book, he addresses this issue in the forward, 

No offense is intended to females, one of whom will surely be elected president of the United States sometime soon.
I hope he's right; and I wish every voter would read this 162-page book as a refresher course in her civic duty. (excuse the feminine pronoun - no offense intended)

Nonfiction Monday is here today! Add your link below.
Thanks so much for joining in today's roundup.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Fun

If you want to know why this old brown sheet is so special to me, please hop over the ALSC blog.  I've penned "Ode to an Old Brown Sheet" for Poetry Friday. I don't usually participate in Poetry Friday, but I was feeling inspired this week.  Today's host is On the Way to Somewhere.

In other news, don't forget SYNC's continuing offer of two free YA audiobook downloads each week during the summer.  This week's offerings (available until 8/8/12) are:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone By Laini Taylor
Read by Khristine Hvam
Published by Hachette Audio


A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens
Read by Simon Prebble
Published by Blackstone Audio

A Tale of Two Cities has long been one of my favorite classics.

Have a great weekend!  I hope to see you @ the ALSC blog today.

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 ...