Friday, October 26, 2018

All About Bats - a review

All About Bats
by Caryn Jenner
DK Publishers, 2017

This time of year, teachers and librarians are often frustrated by the fact that many of the good Halloween books have already been checked out of the library.  If you need another book to complete your Halloween story time, All About Bats is a good addition.  The photos are big, uncluttered images of real bats, and the text is simple enough for three-year-olds.  Here is the text from a double-spread "chapter:"

Bat Wings

There are many kids of bats.  They all have webbed wings and furry bodies.
You can have fun and do a bit of learning in Halloween story time, too!

See more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math book reviews at the STEM Friday blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor - a review

There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

A smartly dressed bellhop, old-fashioned phones, and the slicked back hair, pince-nez, and bow-tie of Mr. Snore set up the retro atmosphere of this book on the first pages.  Mr. Snore’s immediate need is also quickly apparent,

“Welcome to the Sharemore Hotel,” said the bellhop.
“You must be Mr. Snore. Let me show you to your room.”

“The sooner the better,” said Mr. Snore.
“I am very” —YAWN—“sleepy.”

But, alas, Mr. Snore is destined to have a long night before he finally finds a place to rest his head—and his hysterically large nose!  On each floor, Mr. Snore finds himself  paired with an unsuitable roommate, prompting continued calls to the ever-cheerful bellhop.

The generous 10x11 size of this book is the perfect showcase for this delightful high-rise hotel and its unusual occupants.  Over-the-top illustrations are a perfect complement for often understated, but droll dialogue,

“How do you feel about bees?” asked the bellhop.
“The same way I feel about spiders,” said Mr. Snore. 
“Please skip the sixth floor.”

The expressions of creatures and humans are priceless, popping in bright acrylics and ink.  Even with the spoiler in its title, There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor will still surprise you!  

My copy of There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Paul and His Ukulele - a review

As a ukulele-playing librarian, I would be remiss if I didn't have a post about this new release from Ripple Grove Press.
(Spoiler alert, I couldn't resist)

Paul and His Ukulele
By Robert Broder
Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

With charming watercolor illustrations by Jenn Kocsmiersky, Paul and His Ukulele follows Paul, a gentle and lanky fox, from childhood to adulthood, from mountains to cities— accompanied all the way by his music and his ukulele,

"Pick. Pluck. Strum."
At its essence, Paul and His Ukulele is a love story.  Paul is in love with his music, and, with the help of

"a happy bit of happenstance,"

the singer, Clementine, in whom he finds someone to share his love in their new store, Mi & Uke.


Enjoy the trailer. 😊

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fire prevention books, songs and activities

I'm a little late with this post, Fire Prevention Week was last week, but perhaps you'll bookmark this for next year.  I  was asked to provide a storytime on fire safety for a preschool class of 3-year-olds.  Here's what I went with:

These nonfiction titles are suitable for young listeners:

If you're reading with slightly older kids and want to add a bit of bilingualism, you can't go wrong with:

  • "Hot or Not" game - I can't remember where I got this idea, but you can make it whatever you'd like—felt board, magnet board, group activity, etc.  It has the added bonus of having a rhyming name.  I never miss a chance to point out something fun while learning, so we say it all together and note that it rhymes, "Hot or Not."
  • "Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck" action song - just check online and you'll find a version that suits you. This is a good chance to get those wiggles out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Lost Soul, Be at Peace - a review

Lost Soul, Be at Peace
by Maggie Thrash
Candlewick Press, 2018

Librarians are always trying to ensure that all people are able to find people like themselves in books—people with disabilities, people of color, people from all nations and religions—it’s not only important that we see ourselves in books, but it’s important that others see people like us so that they may learn that while we may be different, we also have much in common. But I’ve often wondered…what about those who are depressed? Do they want to see themselves in books too, or does it painfully reinforce the depression from which it is so often difficult to emerge? I asked a dear family member who suffers from depression. She told me that it all depends on how the story is told. I think Maggie Thrash has told her story well in the graphic memoir, Lost Soul, Be at Peace.

 Eleventh grader, Maggie is depressed,
“It’s like, you're falling into a deep cave on a moonless night, and there’s no escape, and suddenly you realize: it’s not a cave, it’s your soul.” 
 Maggie is failing school, her brother has left home for college, her father is an introverted, workaholic judge, and her mother is a socialite with whom she has little in common. She’s fairly certain that she’s a lesbian, but contrary to what she thought, coming out at school didn’t make things any better or worse. She finds comfort in her cat, Tommi. When Tommi goes missing, Maggie’s search for her turns up something else entirely.

Maggie tells her story in graphic novel format with the emphasis on dialogue. Back story information is handwritten in memoir style, or provided in illustrations of newspapers, computer screens, notes, or other drawn realia. The panel style varies and includes full spreads, three-per page, classic comic book style, and gutterless panels. My review copy is in black and white, but judging from the cover, the colors in the finished book will be dark and rich. Even without color, emotion is clearly visible in Maggie’s large eyes and expressive face. That she is ill-at-ease in most situations is painfully obvious throughout most of the book, but yet, her position as person in charge of her dance group offers a hint that Maggie has an inner spirit that is only awaiting an opportunity to soar. She is not a girl without hope; she is only a girl searching for her opportunities. She will find them.

Look for this book in October.  My copy was provided by LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

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 ...