Friday, October 31, 2008
Bella gets the bright idea of having a Halloween party. She invites everyone in town. Everyone, except Boris, that is! When Boris gets wind of this, he decides to throw his own fete, and invites everyone except, you've guessed it, Bella.
Well, it turns out that none of the creatures in town want to go to either Boris or Bella's shin-digs. Folks don't want to get bitten by Bella's dust bunnies, and they don't want to be admonished by Boris for scuffing up the floors. Everyone is heading off to Harry Beastie's bash.
Both Boris and Bella decide to go to Harry's and give him the what for. Instead, Boris and Bella grudgingly have a good time at the party. After realizing that they are perfectly sized dancing partners, they start to get over their differences.
Beautifully illustrated by Gris Grimly (in his spooky way), Carolyn Crimi's Boris and Bella is simply put my favourite Halloween title. I return to it again and again for read alouds at school and at home as well. My best birthday gift was some Grimly art (the last illustration in the book), which my husband then framed with a homemade sculpy Tim Burton-esque black frame. Truth be told, I'm somewhat of a Bella, and he's a bit Boris.
So, it is with a bit of a heavy heart that I take this last favourite book post to announce the ending of this here blog. It's been a good run, but I have decided to focus my energy over at "Welcome to my Tweendom". If you would like to follow what I am reading in the realm of picture books and teenlit, friend me over at Goodreads.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
While this was happening, a jack-o-lantern finds life once more and convinces a ne'er-do-well clown that he can help the children. A denture flying fight ensues and then the real trippy nature of the book takes over. The park in essence comes alive, and evil meets its match.
Not technically a Halloween story, this wordless ode to steam punk will have teen readers delighting over the imagery within. Super creepy to this clown-fearin' librarian, fans of Gris Grimly and Burton should approve.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It's bedtime and Little Baby Mummy is not ready to go to sleep. He wants Big Mama Mummy to play a game of hide and shriek with him. While Mama is doing the dishes, Baby streaks out the door and into the graveyard. After waiting, and waiting for Mama, Baby gets bit worried. Furthermore, he starts to hear some noises. What is that clanking, and wooing?
"Mama Mummy, is that you?" calls Baby.
Each time it's another creature telling Baby to get back to bed. Bones, Glob, and Drac all tell him to get back home. Baby's not scared...yet. When he really is scared and needs Mama, wouldn't you know it, she shows up.
With wonderful rhyming text, Where's My Mummy is sure to become a bedtime favourite. John Manders has created the cutest mummies you ever did see. My own daughters have made this their new request when it's time to tuck in.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Michael Rex has written a super fun send up of the beloved Goodnight Moon and just in time for Halloween. Instead of bunnies and mittens and mush, readers will delight with a little werewolf, martians and goo. The setting is a tomb of the creepiest sort, and each page offers lots of details to look at. Slimy floors, skeletons, Frankenstein shoes, and big red spiders are sure to delight.
A not too scary Halloween read with lots of appeal!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Georgie is a shy little ghost. So shy that instead of the kind of haunting that you may imagine a ghost would get up to, he simply sticks by his friends Herman the cat and Miss Oliver the owl.
Things changed the year that there is a big Halloween celebration on the village green, and Mr. Whittaker (the owner of the house with the attic that Georgie haunted) is to give out a prize for the best costume. Georgie doesn't want to go to the celebration at first, but after he is encouraged by his friends he changes his mind. He is delighted with what he sees in the square, and the children who can see him are so that call out his name, and before Mr. Whittaker can get a glimpse of him, Georgie flies back to the house where he has his haunting routine and is so comfortable.
This is a Halloween story of the gentlest sort. Written in 1958 by Robert Bright, Georgie's Halloween is truly all ages. The black and white colour scheme with simply splashes of orange is so indicative of the time, and a welcome change to the riot of colours in so many of today's books.
A walk down memory lane!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I was saddened while visiting Cecil Castellucci's blog to read that the MINX line of graphic novels is no longer.
This makes me sad for a number of reasons.
Just take a look at the "About" tab on the Minx Web Page. I quote ..."MINX graphic novels contain smart, original stories about real girls in the real world. From risk takers to troublemakers, these protagonists don't just play by their own rules, they make them up as they go along resulting in unexpected adventures."
These are books that don't really fit the mould. Different doesn't equal unmarketable. Different doesn't equal unsuccessful.
I encourage you to pick up some MINX titles while you still can. I am a big fan of Plain Janes, Clubbing, and Good as Lily. Jen Hubert has a great review of Emiko Superstar over at Reading Rants.
If you care for the opinion of others on this, go here, here, and here.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Joey Enrico is a neighbourhood boy. He and his pals hang around the Greenwich Village area. Their main social activities center around The Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, the pushcarts along Bleecker and Sheridan Square. Joey's dad is off fighting in World War II, and Joey is missing him fiercely. He tries to help out in his father's framing shop and stay out of trouble.
But trouble seems to find Joey. Especially when he is hanging out with his friend Pete "the Squeak" Ryan. One day, Joey and Pete decide to go into Our Lady of Pompeii to see the new statue of Saint John. After seeing the new statue, the boys go to see the old one, the one that Joey was baptized under. When the toe of the old Saint John breaks off under Joey's fingertips, Joey panics. The ever mischievous Pete, however, convinces Joey that Saint John's toe should be treated like a rabbit's foot. Joey should keep it for good luck. After all, couldn't Joey use some luck?
So, Joey puts the toe in his pocket and hits the streets. Does his luck change? Maybe a little bit, but Joey is wracked with guilt about his theft.
Valenti Angelo's The Bells of Bleecker Street is a wonderful example of children's literature from the 1940s. Well written chapters are almost stories within the story. Joey and his pals are all squeaky clean family boys who help out around the neighbourhood and generally do the right thing. Joey's Italian family's heritage is examined through everyday activities, and it's interesting to note the differences put forth concerning Pete's Irish family. This is sweet storytelling that would make a great read aloud.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
"Here's a question for you: Why don't more babies work?"
Really. Why don't they?
Our unnamed protagonist who is busily dragging her HUGE backpack filled with work, is trying to figure this out. There are lots of jobs...there are lots of babies...could it be that babies are simply lazy? Babies certainly look lazy. They are wheeled everywhere in their fancy strollers, they eat snacks and roll around. It seems like the hardest work they do is trying to walk!
Illustrator G. Brian Karas' babies are hilarious as they stick out their tongues, suck their thumbs and cavort in the park. This may not be the picture book for everyone, but older kids who appreciate sarcasm will certainly eat it up! I think my readers who loved A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and Chowder will love Susan Orlean's Lazy Little Loafers.
Friday, September 12, 2008
But the book that stole my heart is none other than Chalk and Cheese, by Tim Warnes.
Chalk and Cheese are as different as, well, chalk and cheese! Cheese has come over to NYC from the British country side to visit his buddy Chalk, and he can't wait to see the sights. Readers are treated to a two page spread of postcard exchanges where the personalities of Chalk and Cheese are laid out. Cheese is ready to see skyscrapers, King Kong, and is hoping for a Stuart Little sighting! Chalk is certainly ready to play tour guide.
From riding the subway and befriending a cockroach (named Cutey Pops!), to seeing the Empire State Building, Chalk and Cheese are in it together. Even a little disagreement can't stop them from being friends.
The illustrations are made up of sequential panels complete with speech bubbles, and the art made me do a bit of a happy dance, because after opening up this book at the back of the presentation room, I just knew that I had to include it on my list of books that I will be presenting at LREI's Annual Family Book Night. This year our theme is graphic novels (sequential art etc), and this is simply perfect for the younger spectrum of our list. We have some FANTASTIC authors/illustrators coming to present, and I am so pleased to place Chalk and Cheese on the list for our attendees!
Do yourselves a favour and pick this one up in late October. I know that I will be getting multiple copies!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Hillary wasn't first. Nor was Ferraro. Have you heard of Belva Lockwood? I had not either before reading this fabulous picture book biography.
Belva once read that a person could move mountains if he or she only had faith. Belva believed this wholeheartedly, and lived her life accordingly. Belva was born in Niagara County, New York in the year 1830. She was the daughter of a farmer, and by the time she was a 39 she had already been married, had a child, been widowed, become a teacher and gotten involved in the suffrage movement. She decided that she wanted to attend law school. In 1869, however, not many law schools wanted to admit women, and the few that did certainly did not want to grant degrees to the women who attended. If you've figured anything out about Belva by now, you know that she found a way to get her deserved degree, and to have it signed by President Ulysses S. Grant to boot!
What could be next for Belva?
After becoming the first woman to graduate from the National University Law School, she became the first woman to practice law in the federal courts. She was the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She rode her tricycle around Washington D.C. oblivious to the stares from those around her. And then in 1884, Belva became the first woman to officially run for president.
Before the ratification of the vote, Belva ran for president! And she got votes. Votes from men. 4711 to be exact. She got more votes than that, but they were thrown out, since the men doing the counting could not believe that anyone would actually vote for a woman.
I found this story not only timely, but incredibly inspiring as well. An author's note, glossary and timeline are included, which make this ripe for classroom use. Do today's kids know that the vote was taken away from women in 1787 (1807 in the case of NJ)? Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has done a great job of writing a readable storyline filled with, but not laden down by, facts surrounding suffrage and the political process. Courtney A. Martin's illustrations reflect the time period, though I do wish that the cat accompanying Belva everywhere was explained! This is a book that deserves a prominent place in classroom and library alike!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
"The Onlies are the luckiest girls in all of the world in my opinion, because they are not on a budget. The Onlies have Heelys and beach cruisers and get to go to ballet camp..." p. 4 arc
Imagine how thrilled Abigail Iris is when one of her only friends, Genevieve, decides to take her on her family vacation for spring break. She is a bit worried that her parents might say no. Genevieve, who has lawyer parents, simply tells Abigail Iris to make her best case.
And that's exactly how Abigail Iris ends up riding in Genevieve's dad's SUV (aka the gas hog)all the way to San Francisco. All the way to a fancy hotel "sweet" with room service. Abigail Iris will have to miss her own family's annual camping trip, but all of these things that families with an Only get to do will be worth it, right?
In the spirit of Amber Brown and Clementine, Lisa Glatt an Suzanne Greenberg have created a fun and feisty character. Wanting what friends have is familiar to many a reader, and 3rd grader Abigail Iris has the perfect blend of pluck and wonder.
This is an illustrated novel and the drawings by Joy Allen add flavor to the story. There is, however, one illustration that doesn't fit the text. Abigail Iris is talking about making a phone call on an old fashioned dial phone. Unfortunately, the phone in the illustration has very obvious push buttons! If you work with kids you will know that this will not go unnoticed! Since this is the arc version, perhaps it will be changed in the final product.
That aside, this is a breezy read that will have younger realistic fiction fans passing it from hand to hand.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
So what's a girl to do? Blog about it, of course. But in a private password protected blog that nobody would have access to, right? Well, nobody would have had access if her mom hadn't invited Angel and her dad over for dinner.
What will happen when Libby's private blog is suddenly very public? All those thoughts about Seth? Her moaning about her best friend Keisha? Will Libby ever be able to get over the humiliation?
Shana Norris has written a breezy read incorporating blog posts and regular text. The ultimate fear in high school is humiliation, and poor Libby gets more than her fair share. High school, crushes, family structure, and friendship are overarching themes in this title. Perfect for fans of Myracle's earlier work(ttyl etc) and those girls looking for a clean teen read
Monday, August 11, 2008
The interesting thing is that only American teens are coming back from the dead, and not all dead kids return.
Tommy Williams (living impaired, or differently biotic if you will) has managed to catch Phoebe's eye. She knows it's kind of cliche...the goth girl falling for the dead boy, but she cannot help herself. She's drawn to him.
Not all of the kids in Phoebe's school feel the same way about the dead. Kids like Pete and TC from the football team don't think that the dead should mix with the living, and they plan on making sure that everyone who fraternizes with the zombies will pay.
Daniel Waters has written a wry romance slash football story slash high school story that pushes our idea of normal. From the inevitable commercialization of zombie paraphernalia, to the idea of Phoebe and Tommy's relationship becoming physical, readers will find themselves grappling with the reality of their own actions. Think about it. What would you do if your little brother or sister came back from the dead? Would you open your arms or run?
The storyline itself has the perfect blend of reality and sci/fi to crossover audiences, and the ending packs a punch. I think that guys and girls will like this book equally, and they will have a good time reading it!
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Elizabeth Emerson Hancock was growing up in Kentucky where her daddy was a Baptist Preacher. She herself was a deeply religious child who felt the call. In fact, during a block yard sale, Elizabeth and her sister Meg saw the other kids setting up lemonade stands and took matters into their own hands. They set up their own stand..."Baptisms: 25 Cents"!
Hancock weaves humour into this story of growing up religious. She reminds us what it is to look at our parents with awe and then inevitably become disappointed in their choices.
Readers move from the pulpit to Vacation Bible School, to mother-daughter retreats and back. We see the hypocrisy and the love in the church environment. The story is told anecdotally focusing primarily on Hancock's relationship with her father, sister and mother in turn.
When I first picked this book up, I thought it might have a bit more of a Jesusland feel to it, but I was wrong. We simply follow Elizabeth (Em) and her family along the way. It is a description rather than an analysis. It is enjoyable, and gives a good look into the ways of the South and the way that her own family had a journey to faith both within the church and within the home.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
From the moment I saw this cover, I was mesmerized.
Two children trudge up a hill and plant some seeds. The girl plants watermelon, and the boy seemingly plants top hats.
As they sleep beside the garden, something magical happens. The top hat seeds thrust up a twisted vine that is topped with gorgeous orange flowers. Out from an orange flower climbs a polar bear wearing a top hat.
From that top hat wondrous things emerge for the children with which to play. Monkeys with fuzzy arms and legs. Lion shaped bubbles. Breezes filled with sea creatures.
After the adventure, the children are put back to bed, the wonders go back into the hat, and though the vine stays, the bear and his hat do not.
Was it a dream?
Wordless, wonderful an absolutely beautiful, Wonder Bear was apparently inspired by a gummi bear. Tao Nyeu is certainly a gifted artist with a real sense of story. Under the dust jacket are pre-printed covers featuring our monkey friends and wonder bear himself (herself?). I am not a student of design, but I do know when folks get it right. Wonder Bear begs readers to go back time and time again to discover new wonders.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
How can Grace convince her folks that she can handle a dog?
She comes up with a great solution with the help of friends Mimi, Max and Sammy. Grace and Mimi build a cardboard dog, and start taking care of it like they would take care of a live dog. But trouble can even find a dog made out of cardboard.
Charise Mericle Harper continues the Grace series effortlessly. The familiar characters are there, but they each grow from book to book. The backdrop of school and family, and the quest for a pet will be familiar to many a reader. The vignette style and drawings will keep even reluctant readers moving along, and Grace is just as lovable as ever!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
It's 1969 Atlanta, and Bliss Inthemorningdew (yes that is her name) has just been dropped off by her hippie parents at her grandmother's place. Her folks have just left the commune and are heading to Canada, and Bliss' world is about to change.
Her grandmother is a true Southern lady, and quickly enrolls Bliss in the tony Crestview private school. Bliss is excited about actually going to a real school, but she is keeping her friend from the commune Flying V's warning about mean girls in the back of her mind. (Flying V has a gift of sight, and Bliss has a bit of it herself).
Bliss is thrown for a loop when her peer mentor Sarah Lynn ditches her. Luckily Thelma has decided to take Bliss under her wing and she and friends Jolene and Deedee school Bliss in the ways of not only Crestview, but life in Atlanta off the commune.
Unfortunately, when Flying V's warning seems to come into play, and Bliss witnesses some cruelty between classmates, Bliss ends up befriending Sandy. Sandy who the other kids make fun of because she's clumsy, she smells, and well, she's Sandy.
But Bliss feels good about being friends with Sandy. At first. They talk about conformity, power and the Manson Family murder trial. But Sandy is really needy, and it's draining spending time with her. Bliss would rather be with Thelma, Deedee and Jolene, not to mention super cute Mitchell.
What will happen when Sandy gets mixed up in a quest for power that involves the supernatural? Can Bliss disentangle herself from this girl who is set on revenge?
Lauren Myracle has written a thrilling page turner reminiscent of Nixon and Duncan. It's perfectly paced and will keep readers wanting more. Chapters are interspersed with journal pages which are border line terrifying when one thinks about the implications of animal torture and the dark arts.
Bliss is not only a scary thriller. The setting of late 1960s Atlanta allows for some frank discussions of race and the nature of racism. From the token black student at Crestview, to the Klan daddies, to teachers feeling free to use the "N" word in their classrooms, Bliss will have readers chewing on some big ideas as well.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
*Whew!* I'm back from my whirlwind trip to Anaheim for ALA's Annual Conference. I left almost before it started since my main thrust was my presentation at the Diversity Leadership Institute, which you can read about over at the ALSC blog! A truly inspiring and informative event!
After the Institute was over, I headed out with my colleague Lana for dinner and we ended up in Downtown Disney. It was quite a sight! We ended up having some pretty delicious tapas before calling it a night.
Next up was the ISS sponsored Independent School Libraries tour. We were fortunate enough to visit two incredibly different and amazing libraries. The first was at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. A beautiful facility with a reading room featuring beanbag chairs that our middle school kids would die for! Librarian Sarah Knetzer-Davis gave us a fabulous tour, and went above and beyond by delivering some of our ISS members back to conference so that they could make their sessions! Thank you Sarah!
Next up was the Crossroads School in Santa Monica. This felt a bit like home to me as Crossroads is a progressive school, and I have the feeling that many of the students there are quite similar to the ones I have! We visited the Middle and High School library, and it is an amazing site. Most of (if not all of) Crossroads is made up of buildings that used to be used for industrial purposes. The librarians there were great and it sounds like the library is a super active place during the school year, with the students really feeling at home there!
The afternoon was taken up with an ALSC 101 session. Even though I have been a librarian for YEARS (about 12 now), I have been active more with YALSA. Now I am looking to dive into ALSC, so I figured that I would head on over and meet some folks! We had a rousing get to know you fest, and I came away with a better sense of the organization (as well as an author contact for next year! Woot!)
Finding dinner on Friday night was a bit more difficult. Many places had an hour wait. Wandering home I happened upon Gandhi Palace, where I had some really, REALLY good Indian food. So if you are still at Conference and like Indian food, you really should head on over for some dinner!
Then a 4:10 a.m. wake up call this morning, and here I am back in NYC. I'm a bit sad that I didn't get a chance to head onto the exhibit floor, but I am happy to be home!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Well, like so many of you, I am off to sunny California! I am very excited about this conference because not only am I attending, but I will also be presenting and blogging.
I will be representing my school at the Pre-conference on Diversity. I will be exploring the ways that the library can support school wide diversity efforts, and even spear head some of those efforts!
I will be blogging this for ALSC as well. So if you do not have a chance to come to the pre-conference, head on over to the ALSC blog to read all about it.
I am looking forward to going on some school tours while in Anaheim as well. I love seeing how other folks set things up!
Monday, June 23, 2008
The thing is, Charlie doesn't like her fairy. She doesn't think it's doos at all to have a parking fairy. People always want her to ride with them in their cars. The school bully will even go as far as kidnapping Charlie for a spot (and his fairy makes the job quite easy!).
So Charlie has decided to get rid of her fairy. There are several theories making the rounds about how to do so, but Charlie has decided that she will starve her fairy. No more riding in cars equals no more parking equals no more fairy. But walking everywhere is complicating Charlie's life. She is constantly late and getting demerits at her uber strict sports school, and frankly, she's a bit tired of getting into trouble.
After months of walking, Charlie is surprised to find herself talking to Fiorenze. After all, Fiorenze is kind of the envy of many of the girls. Even Charlie's beloved Steffi is not immune to Fio's fairy. But, Fio's parents are fairy experts, and Fio tells Charlie that her mom knows secrets about getting rid of fairies. Can Charlie possibly get rid of her own poxy parking fairy, with the help of someone who has been a sworn enemy?
Justine Larbalestier has written the world of New Avalon where having a fairy is as normal as anything. Swimming in the text is an interesting narrative about pop culture, celebrity worship and the very idea of luck itself. Charlie is hilarious, and her friends are just as dear. This is a sure hit with fans of Larbalestier's work, and will have readers everywhere pondering just what kind of fairy they could actually live with. (Personally, as someone living in NYC, the parking fairy would suit me just fine!)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Suzanne is a self confessed summer junkie. From her parents renting a bungalow at the Jersey shore, to weekends on the Vineyard with friends, summer held magical moments. Brown uses this book to help those who may not be summer converts to fill their days, no matter the city or country location.
Filled with stunning photographs, readers need not study cover to cover. The format allows for and encourages jumping around. From the initial list of "50 fun things to do this summer" (which includes 8. send a message in a bottle, and 50. spike a watermelon with vodka p. 17) to the instructions on cleaning fish, this is a book that should accompany folks to the beach-house, cottage, cabin, lake house, and kitchen table.
Recipes, instructions for games, hosting, arts and crafts, tire swings, picnics, identifying clouds, car games, skipping stones....the list goes on and on. Yes, this is a family friendly book, but with recipes for cocktails, and instructions for repairing screens, there is a decidedly adult bent.
I really love this book. From the way that it looks to the eclectic content within, it's sure to make a match for plenty of readers. I know that it will be a hostess gift of mine this summer!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I decided to answer over here.
Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you, post the rules somewhere in your blog, answer the questions, and tag people in your post. Don’t forget to let the tagees know they were tagged, so leave a comment on their blog! And remember to let your tagger know that your entry is posted.
1. Who’s your favorite all-time author, and why?
I would have to say Robertson Davies. The Deptford Trilogy had a hand in shaping my adult tastes, when I read the books in High School. A big thanks to the English Department at A.N. Myer for putting it on the list!
2.Who was your first favorite author, and why?
I was obsessed with poetry when I was young, so I think it would be a tie between Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee. I actually still have "The Puddle" by Lee committed to memory.
3. Who’s the most recent edition to your list of favorite authors, and why?
Scott Westerfeld. I started with So Yesterday, whipped through the Uglies quartet, and dove into Peeps, and The Last Days. His books are smart, perfectly paced, and oddly important.
4. If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, what would pop out of your mouth?
M.T. Anderson, Scott Westerfeld, Hemingway, Merilyn Simonds, Adam Rex, Oliver Jeffers, Jeanne Birdsall, and Jimmy Gownley. Ecclectic, non?
Onto the tagging!
3 Evil Cousins
Friday, June 06, 2008
I fully admit that I am very picky when it comes to picture books. I have certain favorites that I revisit over and over, and I am very happy when a new book tickles my fancy.
Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life has indeed tickled my fancy. From the wonky illustrations, to the suggestions themselves, this book will have readers smiling. Some of the suggestions are "Begin each day by making funny faces in the mirror" and "Splash in puddles whenever possible". My little ones are already trying to decide on some special occasions to invent.
Short, sweet and simply lovely.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
New York City Society (with the capital "S") is still reeling with shock over the disappearance and presumed death of Elizabeth Holland. On the cusp of being married to Henry Schoonmaker, she plunged into the river and was not seen again. Only Elizabeth's sister Diana, and Penelope Hayes know the truth, and neither one is talking.
Penelope is busy working her way into the sights of Henry's stepmother Isabelle in the hopes of finally making a match with Henry. Diana, on the other side of things, is desperately trying to avoid all of the matches her mother is trying to make for her in order to mend the family fortune. Diana is still a bit of a wild one and she cannot forget her night with Henry in the greenhouse, and though she suspects what Penelope is up to , she is certain that Henry's feelings for her mirror her own.
Nobody counts on Lina, the Holland's former maid, making her way into Society. But Lina has information, and in turn of the century New York, gossip is currency. Especially if it is about moneyed families taking a fall.
Lush descriptions, fascinating characters, and gossip to rival today's mongers all make for a compulsively readable and enjoyable ride. I am already waiting for the next book from Anna Godbersen, and I am sure those who read Rumors (especially the second last paragraph) will feel the same way!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Marcus, aka w1n5t0n, is your run of the mill techno head who is just trying to get around school security to go and meet his friends for a Harajuku Fun Madness when the world changes. He gets out of school with his buddy Daryl, fooling the school's gait recognition system, and goes to meet up with Van and Jolu. They are just in the area they need to be to find a clue, when the ground starts to move. It's California...they are used to earthquakes, but this seems a bit different. And then the clouds appear. And the sirens and announcements. Marcus and his friends head to the closest BART station with the rest of the pack. People are pushing and shoving and Marcus even steps on someone who he meant to help. The friends quickly realize that they need to get back above ground. Upon surfacing, they realize that Daryl is hurt. He is bleeding from his side like someone stabbed him!
Marcus does the only thing that he can think of. He jumps into traffic and tries to flag down a firetruck or cop to help his friend. He is not prepared for the vehicle that does stop. The unmarked armored truck that holds people in black with guns. Guns that are now pointed at Marcus. Before he knows it, there is a sack over his head, and his wrists are tied, and he is in that black truck. Next comes a bigger truck, and an interrogation.
Marcus knows his rights. He asks repeatedly for a lawyer and he balks at the idea of being suspected of terrorism. The woman asking the questions wants him to unlock his phone, and explain all of the techno-gadgets he has on his person. Marcus refuses. The sack goes back on his head, and he is traveling once more.
What happens when your own government takes you prisoner? When nobody knows where you are? How much does it take before you break from the humiliation?
Marcus does get back on the streets, with a warning that he will be watched. And when he does get home and realizes that his laptop is bugged, he believes it. But Marcus cannot give up the idea that the US is supposed to be a free country, and he cannot believe how much security takes over his city, his classroom, and his life in general. People are tracked wherever they go. Even worse, most folks think that the security is a good thing...that it's keeping them safe. Marcus vows revenge, and the only way he can get it, is by using technology in a way that the Department of Homeland Security can't track.
Wow. This is a thriller if I have ever read one! The action is non-stop, and even the explanations of technology were interesting enough to keep the pace. Cory Doctorow has developed Marcus into such a likable character that readers do not feel talked down to while the technological angles are explained. Marcus knows that most folks aren't ARG-ing and don't know how to disable caller-id, and could care less about sophisticated math. But somehow, while reading Little Brother, I cared.
Fast paced, fun and frightening, Little Brother is perfect for the reader who needs a strong start. Blurbed by Neil Gaiman, and Scott Westerfeld, and Brian K. Vaughan, Doctorow has some heavy hitting fans. Shopped out to readers, this title was loved equally by 17 and 37 year olds!
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Told in verse, Rappaport chronicles the building of the Statue of Liberty from idea to completion from a number of points of view. From the salons of Glatigny France in 1865, to the workrooms in Paris in 1876, to the foundation pit of the statue in 1884. From the newsrooms of New York City in 1885, to Bedloe's Island and the big reveal in 1886, Rappaport brings readers in. Professors, sculptors, assistants, engineers, poets, construction workers, journalists, and children all played their part.
The illustrations by Matt Tavares are simply breathtaking and seem to hearken back to the time period in question. Rappaport makes her own connection by setting the first poem in New York City today from her point of view, and then goes on at the end to add quotes from people who saw the statue for the first time. Also provided are a list of Statue of Liberty dimensions, and a timeline of important events, as well as a list of selected sources for further reading.
This is another title that perfectly compliments our New York City curriculum as well as our immigration curriculum. It's also simply fascinating for a casual reader.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Lulu starts to wander the house. She counts some letters on the spines of the books in the living room. She measures her avocado plant. And then her hound Bingo gives her the look that lets her know it's time to go outside.
Lulu and Bingo are soon saving ants, braving shark infested puddles, building walls, and balancing along toppled trees. Lulu doesn't even let a chance run in with her big brother ruin her fun.
Ladybug Girl, by David Soman and Jacky Davis is simply magical. From the movement in the illustrations to the authenticity of Lulu's day, this book is pitch perfect. My 5 year old saw herself over and over again in the story (from the avocado measuring to the wandering in the yard), and sat silently staring at the pictures. With just enough story, readers get a glimpse into a day in the life of a girl on her own. The endpapers show Lulu in a series of different outfits, and I can imagine some stories coming along about deep sea divers and witches!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
*Sigh* How long have I been waiting for this?
The Penderwicks are back! It's a couple of months since their summer vacation upstate, and the girls and their dad are back on Gardam Street. We flash back to the time that Mrs. Penderwick was still alive, and gave her sister a blue envelope. Rosalind was the only one to hear what was in that envelope, and she conveniently forgot all about it. Everything comes flooding back after Aunt Claire presents said envelope to Mr. Penderwick on a visit. The girls knew that something was up because Aunt Claire comes with gifts...and a plan for a blind date for her brother.
Who is ready for Mr. Penderwick to start dating again, even if it is the late Mrs. Penderwick's idea? Certainly not Rosalind. And certainly not Mr. Penderwick. Enter an emergency MOPS meeting, resulting in the save Daddy plan.
Ensuing are disasterous dates, swapped homework, Aztec plays, the demise of Mick Hart, and a little Tommy love!
I am an unabashed fan of The Penderwicks, and I am delighted with the second installment. The relative innocence of the plot is refreshing, and the storytelling is such a pleasure to experience. Each girl is a personality, and the additions of the characters of Iantha and Ben are welcome. I simply cannot wait to read these books to my daughters.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
How happy am I to find a picture book that melds perfectly with a curriculum piece?! Woot, indeed.
Stormy is a hardworking railroad man. But he has one problem. He cannot find a hat to suit his needs. The derby that he has been wearing, goes flying off his head every time that he leans out the window! So Stormy decides to ask his friends for some suggestions. After all, there are hats for policemen, sailors and coat miners...why not for railroad men?
First on the list comes the suggestion from cowboy Tex. A cowboy hat is what Stormy needs! The bonnet strings will keep it from flying off. But Stetson's are tall, wide and white. These all cause problems for poor Stormy.
Next comes the suggestion from Nate the pressman. He thinks a folded newspaper hat is exactly what Stormy needs. But, a paper hat and sparks? You can imagine the results.
On to fireman Mike's suggestion of his fire hat. This seems like the perfect solution. Too heavy to blow off, easy to clean, fireproof! All of these attributes equal hot and heavy, which ends up with Stormy with a headache.
Between all of the suggestions, Stormy's wife Ida has been trying without success to get a word in edgewise. She is, after all, a seamstress who has some great ideas about how to get Stormy the hat he needs. Will Stormy finally listen.
This true story of the invention of the railroad worker hat by Stormy and Ida Kromer. With reference to American tall tales, and a little feminism thrown for good measure, Stormy's Hat is a delightful read aloud with a little something for everyone!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Well! Happy Blogoversary to me! I know I've hit maximum overload when I plum forget that I've been at this here blog for the past 3 years. 234 posts later, Booktopia is still going strong!
So thanks to those of you who read this. Thanks to those who comment. And big thanks to those of you recommending titles.
Friday, March 28, 2008
It's the summer of 1963, and all is not well. Medgar Evans has just been shot, four little girls have been firebombed while at Sunday School, and who knows what else is going on that is not making the news.
Addie Ann Pickett lives in Kuckachoo Mississippi with her mama, her Uncle Bump (on account of his muscles), and her brother Elias. Her biggest concerns of the summer are working with her Uncle at Old Man Adams' place, trying to convince her best friend Delilah that jumping double dutch isn't baby stuff, and worrying about
7th grade next year with Mrs. Jacks over at Country Colored (West Thunder Creek Junior High School, if you please!)
Things start changing when Old Man Adams up and dies. No one is more surprised than Addie Ann when she, her Uncle and Elmira the cook, are summoned up to the house for the reading of the will. Mr. Adams left a little something for each of them. Elmira gets his dutch oven, Addie Ann gets the television (that she used to secretly watch sometimes), and Uncle Bump gets a beautiful gold pocket watch. Everyone there is most interested in what will become of the house and grounds. After all, Old Man Adams has the best garden around.
Imagine the looks on the sheriff's and mayor's faces when the lawyer announces that the garden is to be a shared community garden for whites and colored folks alike! But when most people in power are racist from their toes on up, this seems like a piece of Old Man Adams will that won't be honoured.
Then something even worse happens. One day when Addie Ann's brother brings her to the general store, two bully white boys take her cat from her. All because she raised her eyes, and doesn't know her place. One boy is about to drop kick poor Flapjack when Elias comes to the rescue, lobs a honeypot at the boy's head, knocks him out and breaks his leg. Elias takes off swimming for his life in the Bayou. Addie Ann knows the sheriff and his hounds, along with the Klan will be after Elias.
What follows is Addie Ann's struggle to get through. Her struggle to come to grips with what has happened to her family. And her realization that now is her time. The reverend always said that she would know when her time to the movement would come. When the hounds come for her Uncle, she knows it's her time, and Addie Ann rises to the occasion.
Brilliantly written, A Thousand Never Evers should have a place in every public and school library. Addie Ann and her family come alive off the page, as does the town of Kuckachoo itself. Equally heartbreaking and inspiring, Shana Burg has taken her own family's calling to the civil rights movement and made it into a work of art.
This is one of the rare times that I put a recommendation here and at Welcome to My Tweendom. I do think that this book really does span from tween to young adult. The issues that arise can be discussed in various manners, and the summer of 1963 is one that we all need to know and think about!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Catherine has never really met anyone like Skye Butterfield. Daughter of the Senator, Skye has been on television since she was a little girl. And when she decides to befriend Catherine while attending Esther Percy School for Girls, Catherine finds herself charmed and flattered.
Catherine has maintained her friends from Waverly, of course. After getting caught in bed with her boyfriend John Paul, Catherine's father thought a school for girls would keep Catherine out of trouble, and concentrating on her studies and her horse riding. But John Paul still comes to her meets, and the first people that Skye wants to meet are Catherine's Waverly friends.
What comes with the mix of her Waverly friends with Skye Butterfield is cocaine from South America,unsupervised trips away from school, and the slow destruction of marriages, friendships and love.
Nina de Gramont has captured the insular world of privileged youth perfectly. Set against the back drop of 1984, a school year in the reckless abandon of these teens reads truthful. Catherine, Drew, Susannah and Skye all know that no matter what, their parent's means will help them out of any situation - be it bringing drugs into the country, or sleeping with a teacher. John Paul's scholarship status does leave him more vulnerable than the rest, and it's amazing to read how little thought his friends give to his circumstance.
This compelling story will be a good companion to John Green's Looking for Alaska, and E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I first caught a glimpse of this arc at ALA in Philadelphia. I found the cover intriguing, so I tossed it into one of my bags. Then, while attending the last Random House preview, Madapple was on the list of books being discussed. After hearing the editors speak about it, I knew I had to move it to the top of my "To Read" pile. I read it a couple of weeks ago, and have been wondering how to go about blogging this title. There is so much going on here, and yet it all works!
Aslaug has been living with her mother in Hartswell Maine in virtual isolation. Their household consists of the two of them, and they spend their days gathering local plants, and studying ancient texts, languages and lore. Whenever Aslaug has asked about her father, she is told she has none. And her mother's temper has taught her not to ask about much of anything else.
When Aslaug's mother dies, Aslaug herself is accused. After all, her neighbour sees her dragging the body to the yard to bury it. But what else is Aslaug to do? She has no real sense of how the world outside of her home works.
Once her name is cleared, she travels into the next town to look for a building where her mother once brought her. They had simply sat in the car and looked at the place, but Aslaug knows that her mother would never do something without reason. She finds the building, and is soon talking to Susan, Sara and Rune. Her family.
Aslaug is soon intertwined in a family saga filled with twists, turns and untruths. She has survived so much already, can she survive this?
Christina Meldrum has written a devastating, gut-wrenching, compelling and thoughtful story. The amount of research that must have been put into the sections on herbology and botany alone confound me. There are deep discussions of religion and faith, along with language and science. The characters are all broken but fierce, and I found myself loving and hating them in equal measure. Readers need to buy into the story, but once there, will not be able to put this book down. I have not come across a book as astounding as Madapple in a very long time.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Julia Gillian is accomplished at many things including the art of papier mache mask making, spreading her gum across her top teeth, and knowing exactly what her dog Bigfoot is thinking. She is still trying to master the claw machine at her Minneapolis neighbourhood hardware store. She has been trying for 3 years to get the meerkat perched inside. Julia Gillian is also good at the Art of Knowing. For example, in the morning, she's knows exactly when her mother will butter her toast, and what plate she will put her toast on.
But this summer, her Art of Knowing is letting her in on the fact that things change. Her parents haven't been taking her for picnics, or really spending any time with her at all. They are busy taking double load grad school courses. And they keep sending her out for walks in the 9 block area she is allowed in her neighbourhood. That's not exactly fun. She still has her green book to finish and she is just certain that it is going to have a sad ending. She tries talking to her babysitter and neighbour Enzo about everything, but Enzo is a woman of few words. Thank goodness Julia Gillian can put on her raccoon mask when she needs a bit more courage to head out the door.
Alison McGhee has written a sweet "moment in time" story about Julia Gillian's summer. She is growing up, and fighting parts of it. Black and white illustrations by Drazen Kozjan perfectly compliment the story. Julia Gillian is a great read for fans of Ivy and Bean, Clementine, and those who have outgrown Amber Brown.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Kazu Kibuishi put together the Flight anthology to great creative success. In 2005, he applied his sharp creative eye and hand to Daisy Kutter: the Last Train, a steam punk tale of the "future" Old West filled with robots, cattle wrastlin' varmints and the best, take-no-prisoners comic book heroine this side of Babymouse. Daisy wants to leave her locomotive-robbing days behind her, but when a mysterious stranger shows up with an offer she can't refuse, she and her old partner (and now local sheriff) are off to beat the unbeatable mechanical security guard in charge of a fast-moving money train.
This is really Ameri-Manga at its finest, with atmospheric black and white art and furious, exciting action sequences that fly at you a mile second. Most appealing of all is Daisy herself, a no-nonsense, somewhat foul-mouthed, gun-toting gal with a twinkle in her eye and a soft spot in her heart for just the right guy. She's the right lady to pull in female readers suspicious of the graphic format or surprise a male reader by making him forget he's cheering for a member of the opposite sex.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Ahhhh...summer when you're a teenager. I don't care if you lived in city or in country, chances are you were wandering the streets with a group of your friends getting into various amounts of trouble. You were free of adult constraints answering your parent's question of "Where are you going?" with the simple word "Out!"
This is the summer scene for sisters Claire and Natalie. Claire is soon heading off to university. She's ready to dump her boyfriend for an unknown future full of promise, and she cannot really wait to go off on her own. Natalie, on the other hand, is a bit anxious. She's never been without Claire, and cannot imagine going from sharing a room to seeing Claire occasionally. But Natalie is spending her summer like she always does. She's hanging out at the Ding-Dong where Audrey works with the rest of her friends. She's playing hideous games of "Would you rather..." with them, waiting for everyone to show. You know...how gross can it get? The rest of the night is spent pool hopping when the owners aren't around.
And then everything changes.
After the accident, Natalie doesn't know what to do. Is it wrong to go to work while your sister lays comotose in the hospital? Is it wrong to kiss a boy when your parents are so distraught that they can't even talk to you? Would you rather see your sister die, or be hooked to machines for the rest of her "life"?
Written in sparse prose, Marthe Jocelyn brings the reader into a family tragedy, and introduces some amazing teenage characters. Natalie's feelings are so raw, and her life with her friends is incredibly realistic. They are smart, and sharp, and genuinely care for one another. While this is a sad story, readers will find themselves hoping that Natalie can find her way and hoping that her family can keep it together. Would You is a perfect choice for the teens who have recently enjoyed Before I Die, by Jenny Downham
Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I do know Marthe Jocelyn, but rest assured, this book would not appear on my blog if I didn't think it was great!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Dave Miller is stuck in his dead end job at the Last Stop convenience store. Really stuck. Ever since he applied for the job and the owner turned him into his own personal vampire wage slave. The only bright spot in his nights is when the goth girls leave the local juice bar and come into the store to pick up snacks. Dave is particularly taken with the beautiful Rosa, but feels destined to be "just friends". Especially since there are other gorgeous vamps like Wes around, who are ready to make girls like Rosa who think they want to be vamps into their vampire brides.
Vegetarian (re blood bank drinker) Dave challenges Wes not to use his powers over Rosa, and to try to win her the old fashioned way. Will the good guy win?
The amazing team of Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria and Warren Pleece have created a fabulous vampire story that takes away some of the romance and makes readers see that life as the undead isn't as glamorous as it seems. Eternity is, after all, just that. The panels on page 139 brilliantly portray this.
Now as a former goth girl, I am a little particular about the portrayal of that segment of our population. I think that Life Sucks hits it spot on. From the clothing and style of the goth kids, to the reactions of those outside of the circle, it all felt right. The illustrations themselves are rich and defined, and the reader seems somewhat unaware of the fact that everything is taking place at night.
Do yourself a favor and pick it up. A great and different take on the vampire story.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
It's 19th Century England, and the Professor's daughter Lillian has gone and fallen in love with the handsome mummy of Imhotep IV. Not exactly the best match, hmm? After Imhotep gets loopy from taking tea and smashes up the tea room, police come calling. Lillian doses the tea she offers to the police, thinking that she will be able to get Imhotep out of her father's suit, and put away before any more trouble ensues. Alas, she ends up killing the officers, and what follows rivals many an action film.
From long lost fathers, to kidnapping, to noble sacrifices for love, Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert have put together a graphic novel that zips along. The far-fetched story did not grab me as much as the GORgeous illustrations. From the sepia tones of early panels to the bright red coats of the palace guards, The Professor's Daughter is a visual stunner.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Kiriel is one of the demons of Hell who guards over the minions reflecting their souls back to them. It's a gig he's done since the Rebellion. But he's tired. The Boss doesn't notice him, the Creator doesn't notice him, and frankly, he's sick and tired of the misery.
Time for a vacation.
The vacation's name is Shaun. Shaun is a typical, run-of-the-mill teen who is about to get run down by a cement mixer. Kiriel steps in seconds before the event, and while Shaun is no more, Kiriel is happy to start another existence.
Kiriel chose Shaun specifically because he has some autonomy, but doesn't have to truly take care of himself. Kiriel is soon experiencing a teenage boy lifestyle, and while his style is a bit different from Shaun's, he is doing quite well!
The beauty of this title for me is the fact that author A.M. Jenkins explores some pretty heavy territory, including not only the nature of life itself, but our place in it and our appreciation of it. While the viewpoint is a Christian one, the story and message are definitely universal in scope. The fact that Jenkins can get the voice of a teenage boy so well is part of what makes this such an authentic story. While readers wait and see how long Kiriel can get away with hijacking Shaun, we simply enjoy Kiriel's quest to get noticed and to live this life he has taken to its fullest.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
So, here we are at the end of the year once more. How did my A-Z read go, you ask? A-hem. I had the best intentions, really I did. But I have learned that my reading cannot be disciplined like that outside of committee work!
There are a couple of goals for 2008 in regard to this here blog!
1) I want to actually blog more of the books I read. There were some gems like No Flying in the House (an A-Z too, btw) that never made it online. For shame!
2) Do some historical blogging. Especially of picture books. There are so many great old folktales that I use in my curriculum that I would love to share with others!
3) Make it a point to post either here or at Tweendom three times a week. I still want to remain focused on recommendations, but with all those books read that never made it here....it should be possible.
4) Click away in order to find new(ish) blogs that I like. Just found the 3 Evil Cousins today!
5) Get/stay active in the Kidlitosphere. What a great conference this year! Most likely I won't be able to make it out West for '08, so I want to be involved however possible!
This March will be my 3 year blogoversary! Who knew it would be this much fun?
A collection of my ramblings about the many books I am reading! All the titles that appear here are recommendations...there is too much negativity out in the blogosphere already!
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Thanks so much.
- Welcome to my Tweendom
- Reading Rants!
- Proper Noun Book Journal
- Jen Robinson's Book Page
- Guys Lit Wire
- Boys Blogging Books
- Read a Great Teen Book
- Five Star Reading
- Wizard's Wireless
- A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy
- 3 Evil Cousins
- Seven Impossible Things
- Big A, little a
- Book Buds
- Ms. Yingling Reads
- Just One More Book
- Worth the Trip
- Library Stew
- Book Slut
What I am Reading / What I Have Read
- Good Neighbors
- Faery Rebels Spell Hunter
- The Blueberry Girl
- The King's Taster
- Yes Day
- Herbert's Wormhole
- The Cabinet of Wonders
- Breaking Up
- Hershey Herself
- Tasting the Sky
- Only a Theory
- Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls
- Ballots for Belva
- Minders of Make Believe
- Something to Blog About
- The Pull of the Ocean
- The Underneath
- Zombie Blondes
- Paper Towns
- Jellicoe Road
- Trespassers Will Be Baptized
- Skeleton Hiccups
- Twilight Zone Graphic Novel
- Stealing Heaven
- Ghost Medicine
- Octavian Nothing Traitor to the Nation
- Minders of Make Believe
- Something to Blog About
- Zombie Blondes
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- ► 2007 (89)
- ► 2006 (80)