29 December 2009

Rattletrap Car

Rattletrap Car
by Phyllis Root and Jill Barton
children's fiction, ages 3-6.

Boy, howdy! This is a humdinger of a book. Papa takes the children to the beach on a hot day, but it isn't that simple getting there. What starts off as realistic gets more and more fantastic as the day goes on. If you haven't heard a good tall tale in a while, here is a whopper of a book for you!
It is a fun, summery book. I suppose I could call it historical fiction since it looks like it is set in about 1920-1930, but it is more of an Americana tall tale.
It might be amusing to have children or teens act out this book on stage along with some other car books or other Depression era books, etc. It might be paired with "The Relatives Came".

Outside over There

Outside over There
Maurice Sendak

Caldecott Honor Book
Children's Fiction, ages 2-6.

This is a fine children's book that is lyrical and fantastic. The heroine saves her sister from goblins through the use of music in a plot that seems so familiar, yet has Sendak's unique take. It was hard to read aloud, however. The sentences are not formed in the usual way, so some practice was needed to get the rhythm and sound right. Where is the subject and verb? Certainly the author takes prose liberties with language.
I can imagine that plenty of children have acted out the plot of this book after having it read to them or reading it themselves - especially if there is a toddler in the household. Children certainly could make up more stories set in the world of "Outside Over There".
The artwork is splendid. I think I would enjoy having prints of this book hanging on my office or home walls.
I could imagine someone basing a ballet on this book.
Although the publisher does not market this book this way, Sendak has said that he considers this to be number 3 in his finest trilogy. I would assume that eventually they would be published together in some kind of collected works.
1. Where the Wild Things Are
2. In the Night Kitchen
3. Outside over There

I'm Not Scared

I'm Not Scared: My First Reader
Kirsten Hall and Joan Holub
Children's Fiction, ages 3-6
Two boys camp out in the back yard. Each says he is not scared (but they are). This is a simple, short book for beginning readers.

Up, Up, Down

Up, Up, Down
Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
Children's fiction, ages 3-6.
Anna climbs up on furniture. Anna climbs up on everything. Anna climbs a tree and her parents try to get her down. Anna is disobedient and doesn't get punished for it, but this is a funny book and parents may forgive Anna because she makes them laugh. Read this book for the humorous band-aid application at the end.

For more about Band-aids, see "Doctor Dan the Bandage Man" by Helen Gaspard and Corrine Malvern, published by Little Golden Books about 40 or 50 years ago.

All Around Me I See

All Around Me I See
Laya Steinberg and Cris Arbo
Children's fiction, ages 3-6.

This is a book of colorful sentences and pictures about nature. Really, the pictures drive the story more than the words which are just kind of there stating nature metaphors. This is a pleasant picture book, but forgettable. I liked the font that uses the "circle with a line" type of letter "a".

Another Kind of Cowboy

Another Kind of Cowboy
Susan Juby
Young Adult fiction.

This was on a list of books nominated for a YA award. I saw from the description that the main character is gay. I wasn't sure how graphic this would be, but it is tastefully done and rather innocent as he is age 14-17 in the book and the only sexual references are to one kiss and one handholding.
Alex has always loved horses, but there is no way his Dad will understand that he really wants to perform dressage. As if a kid doesn't have enough troubles just being a teen, Alex also is deciding who to tell about his being homosexual. His rich friend, Cleo, has her own troubles. Are these teens going to be alright one way or another?

28 December 2009

Pumpkin Smasher - now obtained

Pumpkin Smasher by Anita Benarde
children's fiction, ages 6-9
In my previous blog I lamented that this book was hard to come by. I finally received it through interlibrary loan in time for Christmas. This is, as the critics reported, a pretty good book. The children, that may seem to be troublemakers, come up with a great idea to thwart the mysterious stranger who has been smashing the pumpkins in Cranbury (somewhere in New England). The illustrations are simple yet effective utilizing only black and white and orange in a style that was retro even when this book was new in the 1970's. I see that this book was checked out by Mark and Julie S. back in 1997 from the Bryden School Library, Beachwood, Ohio and was purchased on May 30, 1973. I hope that Mark and Julie enjoyed this book. I did.

18 December 2009

My Little Pony A Very Minty Christmas Jr. Cine-Manga

My Little Pony A Very Minty Christmas Jr. Cine-Manga
Ages 3-8 - pretty much just for little girls.

This is based on the straight to video Very Minty Christmas video. The pictures are bright. The words are large and easy to read. There are lots of exclamation points!
(For example, on the back cover "It's Christmas in PONYVILLE"!).
This is a simple My Little Pony book that assumes that the reader is already familiar with the My Little Pony brand.
Minty breaks something so decides to appeal to Santa Claus in the North Pole to help her make it right. She adventures North in a hot air balloon to see Santa. I don't want to ruin the ending, but I think you can guess that there is a happy ending because this is a My Little Pony book and it is a Christmas book.

17 December 2009

Not a Stick

Not a Stick
Antoinette Portis
Ages 2-5.

This is a simple yet delightful book that shows the stick figure main character pig pretending that a stick is all kinds of things - a sword, a hobby horse, and more. Kids don't need all kinds of toys - just give them sticks!
In case you hadn't heard, the stick made it into the Toy Hall of Fame as a classic toy. I don't know if the author wrote this book inspired by the press surrounding this event or if it happened to come out at about the same time. All hail the STICK!
This book was on a reading list that the park system handed out.
The cover says that this is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, but maybe they meant that the author won for a different book.
I see that the author also has a book called "Not a Box". I am assuming that the plot is similar.

Here is what the Museum of Play has to say about sticks:



The stick may be the world’s oldest toy. Animals play with sticks, and we use them to play fetch with our dogs. Children find sticks an endless source of make-believe fun. Sticks can turn into swords, magic wands, majorette batons, fishing poles, and light sabers. When children pretend with sticks, they cultivate their creativity and develop their imagination. They explore as they search outdoors for just the right one. Children build with sticks, bat balls with them, and walk with them. They are the original building blocks for creative play. Sticks also promote free play—the freedom to invent and discover. They encourage playing outside instead of inside. Sticks are all around us; they are natural and free. And playing with sticks isn’t just for children and animals. Adult artists, crafters, decorators, and architects all make use of sticks in sculptures, wreaths, furniture, and building design. Few adults or children can resist simple play with sticks—from drawing in the sand on the beach, to building a campfire and then toasting marshmallows. Sticks are not only possibly the oldest toy, they’re possibly the best!

16 December 2009

Big Chuck

Big Chuck
Chuck Schodowski with Tom Feran
Adult Biography.

For those in the greater Cleveland viewing area who spent most Friday nights waiting up for the Channel 8 late night movie and skits, this book is a treat. Other people will not read this book, so it has a limited appeal. Certainly, Cleveland area bookstores and libraries should stock this book. It would also make a good gift book for someone you know that watched the show.
Chuck recounts his hard working days as a technician at Channel 8 and his long career as Big Chuck, movie host. The book is full of reminiscing about Cleveland, Cleveland sports, Cleveland television, and the television industry. There are a lot of things the average Big Chuck and Lil John viewer would not know, like how his friends tried to talk him into moving to Los Angeles for a big time movie career, or how there was a short-lived Detroit version of the Big Chuck and Lil John show. He also recounts of all kinds of practical jokes played on him and by him. If you want ideas on how to pull a prank, see Chuck for instructions.

If your copy of this book has butter stains on it, someone was probably reading it accompanied by a tub of popcorn.



Pet Peeve of the Day

Pet Peeve of the Day:
Library patrons who sit there making sucking/slurping sounds with their teeth while reading the newspaper. Do you need a toothpick? gum? (I am not offering because I don't have either one right now, but I wish I did).

15 December 2009

In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen
Maurice Sendak
ages 3-5
Caldecott Honor Book

This must be the one that certain parents protested over the naked body of the boy. This is a silly book in which a boy named Mickey imagines a lovely land of cake dough and milk. The bakers all look alike and resemble W. C. Fields or Oliver Hardy - jovial men. Maurice Sendak said he considered this book and another to be a trilogy that started with "Where the Wild Things Are". Sometimes this book and "Wild Things" are published together in one binding.

Mittens (I Can Read! My First Shared Reading)

Mittens (I Can Read! My First Shared Reading)
by Lola M. Schaefer and Susan Kathleen Hartung
back cover says "ideal for sharing with emergent readers", so ages 4-6

This is a pleasant and simple book about a little kitten in its new home. There are probably a number of stripy gray kittens out there named Mittens after this cute kitty.

I also recommend "Pussy Willow", by beloved author Margaret Wise Brown, a Little Golden Book that is out of print. Sadly, it is probably out of print because the word pussy is in the title. "Pussy Willow" is still available from Amazon and through interlibrary loan.


14 December 2009

How Embarrassing, Amelia!

I see that Booklist and Aviation History magazine have the SAME PICTURE of Amelia Earhart on their covers! Whoops.

12 December 2009

Keep Climbing Girls

Keep Climbing Girls
Beah E. Richards and R. Gregory Christie
labelled as children's fiction ages 4-8 BUT I DISAGREE.

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a poem and make it into a children's book. This has been done a number of times with success. This time it was NOT successful. This may be a beloved poem from 1951, but the problem with making it into a children's book is that it uses a lot of words that children don't know.
My objections:

First of all, it starts with a really long introduction written for adults. That was my first hint that this might not be a good book for children.

Second of all, it uses these words: profound, confident, ambition, contrition, supposition, consternation, diplomacy, and disdain. My audience was confused. If we had just looked at the pictures and not read the text we probably would have been fine.

Third of all (this is when the person assisting me stopped reading it to the children) an adult threatens to kill a child. We thought we read this wrong and should change the wording, but no. The woman does threaten to kill a child.

If a college professor, or liberated teenager wants to have this book on their shelf, they should feel free, but it really isn't for children.

Apparently School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist all failed to notice these three points when they gave it rave reviews, focusing instead on the positive feminist and civil rights message.

09 December 2009

Secret of the Three Treasures

Secret of the Three Treasures
Janni Lee Simner
Children's Fiction, ages 7-10.

The main character, Tierney West, takes her place in the echelon of perky heroines. She is always ready for adventure, like Laura Ingalls, the Baudelaire children, Lucky (from Higher Power of Lucky), or Nancy Drew. Another way to look at it is that she has ADHD, but let's be kind and say she is an adventurer.
Tierney wants to be like her father - a writer and adventurer, but she is stuck at home with her mother. What is a girl to do? Look for adventure! This is a quick and easy read with lots of action.
I think I saw this on a list of books to give your grandchildren if you are into genealogy and history. Tierney finds out about her ancestors' past while she is adventuring.

Katy and the Big Snow

Katy and the Big Snow
Virginia Lee Burton.

This is an oldie but goodie (1943). I experienced this one as a book-on-tape plus book kit. I had it in my car and listened to it three times this week!
The unidentified narrator was very enthusiastic as Katy, the tractor that was a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter. If you remember "Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel" but not "Katy", then be sure to read the Katy book. It is a real treat. It is easy to see the similarity between Mary Anne and Katy and these two books. Mary Anne and Katy are two great heroines. If you can, introduce these books to your local Bob the Builder and Handy Manny fans.
Now is the right time to read this book as the snows start in Ohio.

On the Road

On the Road
Susan Stegall
Children's Fiction, ages 18 months - 3 years.
This is a very simple, colorful book for the young. It has large, easy to see text and lots of activity. See the fire engines, backhoes, city buses, race cars, motorcycles, bicycles, dump trucks, mopeds, and more! The license plates indicate that this is an English book. Use this book to practice prepositions as you follow the road "under, through, over", etc.
It isn't quite as busy as a Richard Scarry book, but it should rate as a good book for kids who can't get enough of moving vehicles.
Beep, beep!
The only thing I wonder is why this is not a board book. I am concerned that the pages will rip if the audience member tries to grab the book. The copy I checked out of the library was NOT ripped. I hope it stays that way.

03 December 2009

Princess and the Pea

Princess and the Pea
Janet Stevens
cassette tape plus book
Children's fiction, ages 3-5.
This is the classic tale. The words and plot were totally lame and unexciting. It is almost as if she didn't bother to put any effort into the words.
The illustrations were great. Her tigers (the main characters are tigers) and mice and pandas and frogs would be well received in an Oz book or Graham Base book. She should stick to illustrating.

Hello, Tree!

Hello, Tree!
by Joanne Ryder and Michael Hays
children's fiction, or maybe poetry/prose, ages 3-5

The joy of a tree! This book celebrates all the ways we can enjoy trees - leaves, bark, climbing, fruit, shade, and more. It shows children enjoying trees.
I thought this was a fine book, but if I were the editor I would have had a tree identification guide in the back showing the leaves and fruit of the trees that were mentioned. Maple, oak, willow, pine, gingko, and sassafras were mentioned and there is a buckeye on the back cover but it is not labelled.
Teachers can add these to the book and use this in class. It would be a good choice for supplementary reading for science class.
This was on a reading list from our local park system.

Castle Waiting

Castle Waiting
Linda Medley
Ages 10 +, YA, or adult. Fantasy graphic novel.

The author takes some old tales, weaves them together, adds her own creative touch, and blends short stories together into a book. There is a dash of Sleeping Beauty, a teaspoon of this, a cup of that. At first I thought that it was going to be just one main story, but then I realized there were a lot of tangents. This pen and ink book makes for a fast, fulfilling read. I look forward to more fantasy tales from Medley.

02 December 2009

Elmo and Zoe Fly a Kite

Elmo and Zoe Fly a Kite: Sesame Street: Tokyopop Jr. : Cine-Manga

The publishers took a plot from Sesame Street, still shots and dialog and put it in a hardback book. Zoe and Elmo make kites with help from Gabi.

I had to wonder about the Gabi character because I forgot that by now she would be grown up on the show.


This says that on the show she was born in 1989 so she would now be 20. How time flies.


Munro Leaf and Ludwig Belemans
children's fiction, ages 3-5.

Noodle, the dachshund, wants to change. He is tired of being a long and low dog that can't reach things. He asks other animals what they think the ideal shape for an animal is.

This simple book is a classic. I think I read it as a child. It was originally published in 1937 and is still enjoyable today.

Put this on the shelf with other wiener dog books that I have mentioned in my blog.

Autistic Planet

Autistic Planet
Jennifer Elder and Marc Thomas
Children's fiction, ages 3-10

I don't know what to make of this book. It seems to make fun of autistic children's behaviors, but maybe the author just meant to show what some autistic children do. I see from the back that it is written by a mother of a child diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder.
It is rather insightful how it shows autistic behavior, but I decided not to read it to my child audience because I don't know enough about autism to answer their questions and they might think that by showing children behaving oddly that the author is endorsing obsessive compulsive behaviors.
I would say that this is a book for parents, counselors, and teachers to read, but not for a child to read by him or herself. If someone wants to get into a discussion this might be a launching point, but it doesn't work well as a stand alone book.

30 November 2009

God Gave Us Love

God Gave Us Love
Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant
Children's Fiction. Bible lesson. Ages 3-7.
Books in this series are:
God Gave Us You

God Gave Us Two
God Gave Us Christmas

God Gave Us Heaven
God Gave Us Love

Some titles in this series have David Hohn instead of Laura J. Bryant as the illustrator, but the style is the same throughout.

A polar bear cub, Little Cub, and her Grampa are spending time together outside. Grampa gently explains to her that God wants us to be kind and loving in the same way that God is kind and loving to us. Even when Little Cub and her brother and sister are not behaving, God still loves them and so do Mama, Papa, and Grampa.

The pictures show some opportunities for Little Cub to be loving or NOT loving: when otters annoy her; when she is tempted to hit her little brother and sister with snowballs; and when the little siblings are getting in her hair. They also show Grampa, Mama, and Papa being nurturing throughout the story.

This would be a good book for a grandparent to read to a grandchild during a quiet time. It might be a book to buy for Valentine's day and read any day of the year to remind us all of God's love.


This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

28 November 2009

Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps

Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps
Leigh McLeroy
Adult nonfiction. Bible study/devotional.

I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about from the title. The author started by describing the things left to her in a box by her grandfather then said God treasures certain things as well. She uses this as the launching point for this Bible study or devotional book that is arranged in 13 chapters. Each chapter mentions an object from a Bible story and an object from the author's life that reminds her of that story. The chapters are all quite short, so if the reader is between Bible studies or doesn't want a yearlong devotional book, this is a book that would take two weeks to read as a daily quiet time book. It might be appropriate as a vacation book since it is compact enough to fit in a backpack or suitcase. There is a discussion guide in the back, so it can be used in a group setting or for individual study. Men or women can read the book, but the examples from everyday life in today's world tend to be more female-centered. If a pastor decided to use this book to preach a 13 week set of sermons it would probably be well received. He could include in the bulletin a picture of an object from each chapter. Say, a picture of an olive branch for the Noah's ark chapter, a picture of Joseph's coat of many colors for the Joseph-in-the-well chapter.
Miss McLeroy creates parallels between the Bible and her life, making it a cozy, personal book, but one that encourages the readers to also contemplate how their lives and Bible stories can be compared. I would say: read this book, then pass it along to a friend or family member who could benefit from 13 days of Bible contemplation.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

God Gave Us Christmas

God Gave Us Christmas
Lisa Tawn Bergren and David Hohn
Children's Fiction, Bible Lessons
ages 3-7

Books in this series are:
God Gave Us You
God Gave Us Two
God Gave Us Christmas
God Gave Us Heaven
God Gave Us Love

I see that amazon.com has the author listed as Lisa Tawn for one of these books and Lisa Tawn Bergen for the others, so if you can't find a listing, maybe this is why. I also see that some books in this series have David Hohn as the illustrator and some have Laura J. Bryant. One of them must have started the series and the other replaced the first illustrator. I noticed this because of the words on the cover, but the style and polar bear characters are the same throughout the series.

Little Cub and Mama are polar bears living way up north with Papa and the twin cubs. Little Cub wonders what Christmas is. She thinks it has something to do with presents and Santa Claus. Mama takes her cub on a long tour of the wintry landscape, showing her how all creation declares God's majesty. She explains that God sent Jesus to be the light of the world on that first Christmas day. Jesus is a present for all the world, even grumpy bears. The affection and tenderness of the mother/daughter relationship as Mama gently instructs her child comes through on each page.

I love otters, so as a special bonus I enjoyed the second-banana otters who cavorted in the background throughout the book but didn't say a word.

This book could be used at home or in church to remind children about the true meaning of Christmas.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

24 November 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak
Children's fantasy fiction ages 3-5

I had to read this since it has been something like 20 years since I last cracked open this book. I may go see the movie if I ever have time.
ROWWWR! Did I scare you?
Max is sent to his room and imagines all kinds of monsters that he can command and who love to romp (unlike his mother).
The back flap says it is part one of a trilogy with
2. In the Night Kitchen and
3. Outside Over There.
I think I vaguely remember #2 but not #3. They were published in 1963, 1970, and 1981, respectively. This probably explains why my memory is so poor. I guess I need to get on the library's hold list for #2 and #3. There was a wait for #1 since the movie is now out.

They are short enough, I don't see why, if this is a trilogy, they aren't published as 3 books in 1. I am a bit befuddled by the jacket author saying this is a trilogy. I remember we had a boxed set and it did not include these together. Looking in my library's catalog, I do not see that they are linked together.

I found this commentary:
<Sendak considers Where The Wild Things Are to be the first in a trilogy of books, which also includes In The Night Kitchen (1970) and Outside Over There (1981). Sendak’s trilogy is not a traditional one. The stories stand alone, the characters are unrelated, and the style of illustration differs markedly from one book to the next. Instead, Sendak feels the books are a trilogy because they deal with the same theme: the emotional and psychological life of children seen through a child’s eyes. >

Okay. I guess if the author says so...

P. S. I didn't see any nakedness in this one. It must have been "In the Night Kitchen" that sent the censors into a tizzy.

Disney's Home on the Range

Disney's Home on the Range
narrated by David Jeremiah
audio book (Disney calls it a read-along title)
children 5-8

I have not seen this movie, but the audio book was very entertaining. Can the cows and the other barnyard animals save their farm from foreclosure? It is told in the style of a western tall tale. You almost expect Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan to swagger on in. Sound effects and voices from the stars of the movie make this a hit for the whole family or a single person that is headed to Grandma's house in the family car. Chuckle along and the car ride will seem shorter. It comes with a 24-page book so you can read along if you are not the driver.

Thanks a Million

Thanks a Million
Nikki Grimes and Cozbi A. Cabrera

Children's poetry, ages 7 - adult.

I was looking for a poem to read for Thanksgiving and found the right one at the end of this book - "A Round of Thanks". It is not particularly religious and not particularly serious. It is just right for the modern family composed of people with differing religious viewpoints who want some kind of grace., but nothing King James-like. There is an appropriate picture of an African American family sitting around the table giving thanks.

If you are looking for other Thanksgiving poems, see if your library has the current issue or back issues of Ideals magazine. Many times I have recommended Ideals to people who want something they can read aloud at a family or religious gathering as a grace, devotion, or benediction.

A teaching and activity guide for Nikki Grimes' book can be found here.

Let's call him Lau-wiliwili-humuhumu-nukunuku-nukunuku-āpua'a-'oi'oi

Let's call him Lau-wiliwili-humuhumu-nukunuku-nukunuku-āpua'a-'oi'oi
Tim Myers and Daryl Arakaki
children's fiction ages 3-8

I listened to this audio CD in the car. It would take a brave soul to try to pronounce the words in this book!
I think they wrote this just so Hawai'ians can boast about their language. One side of the fish family wants to name the baby after their traditional names. The other side of the family insists on their way. The names get longer and longer and funnier and funnier. Can they work out a compromise?

If you are headed to Hawai'i or just like studying culture, this is a good audio book to get you started on listening to the Hawai'ian language and along the way you can find out about the ocean wildlife.

18 November 2009

Vote for Me All about Civics

Vote for Me All about Civics
Kristen Hall and Bev Luedecke

Children's Fiction ages 5-7

This falls in the category of fiction-but-meant-to-teach-something like nonfiction.

The critters of Beastieville return in this educational book. One runs for class president. The beasts make promises. Who will win. Democracy simplified.

This series has a lot going for it:
1. the illustrations are rather nice in a Hallmark/American Greetings kind of way
2. vocabulary words in the back
3. discussion questions in the back
4. simple and well written topics
5. a map
6. dramatis personae
7. sturdy reinforced binding

Now that I think of it, these are exactly the things I look for in a book, whether a children's book or adult's book.
This is a well matched team of author and illustrator and I wish them many happy years together (so does Scholastic).
Buy this series for your elementary school library or public library.

My Little Pony: Friends Are Never Far Away!

My Little Pony: Friends Are Never Far Away! Jr. Cine-Manga by Tokyopop

Children's Fiction

Ages 3-6

Cute. Friendly. Girly. Insubstantial. I just read this and can't remember much about it. The Pegasus ponies are shy and the landbound ponies want to be friends. Can their worlds come together? Giggle. Wee! Yes! We all know that it has to have a happy ending.
For its target audience (5 year old girls) this is exactly what they want. This book was not meant for the rest of us.

In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden
Barbara Joosse and Elizabeth Sayles
children's fiction ages 3-7

This is another book recommended by our local park district. It is a joyful, imaginative book about three girls who are pretending as they get ready for bed. Animals! Stars! Oceans!

Hopefully this isn't too stimulating of a book for a bedtime story. If you want to do some lucid dreaming you might read this book for ideas on what to think about when drifting off.

This would be a good one to take on a camping trip if you can fit it in with your other stuff and keep it dry!

My memory was playing tricks on me and I got this title confused with "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, but it does not deserve this mistreatment. Sorry Barbara and Elizabeth.

Gogo's Pay Day

Gogo's Pay Day
Anne Rockwell
Children's Fiction ages 5-8.

This is an unusual topic for a children's book - banking and how budgeting and loans work.

It is made more palatable by featuring a naive clown who spends all his paycheck money without thinking about paying the rent, paying for food, etc. We owned this book when I was a kid and I remember it being kind of odd. I see that the copyright is 1978.

I do remember the day that I thought I had enough money for a fancy pencil, then the store clerk added tax and I didn't have enough money. I was probably about 7 years old. That was confusing, and if a little kid can learn about budgeting and banking at age 7 by reading a book about a clown then Anne Rockwell has accomplished her goal. I wonder if there is another children's book that talks about sales tax?

I see from the back flap description that this book is a sequel to "Gogo's Car Breaks Down". I didn't know about that book, and unfortunately my library doesn't own it, so I guess I won't find out more about Gogo. The library probably owned it back in 1978. I really don't know whether to recommend this book or not. If mommy or daddy work in a bank it would make sense to read this book. Other kids may not find it to be interesting.
P. S. I see this one listed in our catalog:
"Tara pays up"! by Kirsten Larsen and Paige Billin-Frye.
Gr. 1-3. Tara finally saves $8 to buy a kit at the crafts store only to find that the cashier wants another 80 cents. Explaining the concept of paying taxes for city services, Tara's older sister shells out the change and makes a deal: Tara must pay her 10 cents every time she uses a city service. Soon those dimes mount up, as Tara learns that she uses tax-paid services every time she goes to school, turns on the faucet, reads a library book, or even walks on the sidewalk. Nicely paced, the story imparts information without becoming bogged down in a civics lesson. Small sidebars on many pages provide additional facts, but most readers will stick with the narrative, which shows that tax dollars go toward many services that children use. This paperback will be a good addition to community-service units in the primary grades. CarolynPhelan.

From BookList, August 1, 2006, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Christmas Sweater

Christmas Sweater: a Novel
Glenn Beck
Adult fiction novella

At 284 pages and 5.5 x 7.5 inches, this little book can be read in one day to help someone get into the spirit of Christmas. What if someone gave you a present that you really didn't like, but that was all they had? What if that person died and you never had a chance to say how sorry you were that you were ungracious and inconsiderate? We all have regrets like this. For author Glenn Beck this story is too real. It is based on an event that happened in his childhood with the death of his mother, although he changed some details.

This book joins others in the tradition of other Christmas novellas like "The Christmas Shoes" by

Fairy Houses

Fairy Houses
Tracy Kane
Children's fiction ages 4-7

Kristen doesn't know whether to believe in fairies or not, but she tries setting up a house for them in case they are real. This is a lovely, imaginative book that can easily inspire a family to use their imaginations outdoors to make fairy houses. Along the way children and adults will rediscover the beauty of leaves, sticks, acorns, pine needles, etc.

This was on a list of books recommended by our local park district. This book should be on the bookcase of nature and fantasy lovers. Homeschoolers, scouts, 4-H troops, etc. can use this book to get ideas about nature study. I especially liked that there are suggestions for how to change a fairy house with the seasons and what animals might come to live in a fairy house (a toad, a chipmunk, etc). You can even adapt a fairy house for oceanside, desert, tundra, and more.

The Library (by Sarah Stewart)

The Library
Sarah Stewart and David Small
ages 3-6 or purchase for an adult book lover

Why haven't I read this book before? It tells the true story of book lover Elizabeth Brown who LOVES books. What should she do with all these books? Create a library! It is inspirational. It is very well illustrated. It is beloved by librarians.

For years I have seen a poster on the wall of my library featuring a scene from this book, but did not catch on that there was a great book waiting to be discovered.
I recommend obtaining a copy of this cover image as a poster, or finding a t-shirt with this image. I wonder if they market such a t-shirt?
The words are okay, but the pictures are great in this book.

12 November 2009

Hands off my comics!

Dayton Daily News, 4 October 1948, page 15

Booksale, 1980's style

photo courtesy of Dayton Metro Library

The author of this book sale book appears to be Len Deighton.

10 November 2009

Foam Bookmarks

Note to children's librarians, camp counselors, Sunday School teachers, art teachers, etc.:

Foam does NOT make for good bookmarks, especially if you glue layers of foam onto more foam. A good bookmark is only as thick as a piece of paper or cloth. Foam is too thick. It may warp the pages of a book or break the binding. They also don't stay in books very well.

Use foam for door hangers, sun visors, and Christmas ornaments, but if you want to do a bookmark craft please use thick or thin paper. Glitter is okay. Stickers are okay. Photo paper is okay. You can coat the bookmark with contact paper if you want, but please don't use foam.

Please don't give me any plastic canvas bookmarks, either. Too thick. Make a Kleenex box instead.

Thin needlepoint-on-cloth bookmarks are welcome.

Thank you for your consideration.

http://www.orientaltrading.com/ Please don't order bookmark craft kits from Oriental Trading Company!

09 November 2009

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3

Bill Martin, Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert.

Children's fiction, ages 2-6.

"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" is a beloved children's favorite and this sequel delivers. Numbers, not letters, climb the tree this time and there is a surprising hero that saves the day. Older children will understand the ending. Parents, teachers, or librarians may have to explain the ending to the youngest listeners. This book is a good one for acquainting children with numbers used in order counting up and counting down.
I see that my library also has a video version of this with narration. This book is paired with other books about numbers.

03 November 2009

Sheer Abandon

Sheer Abandon
Penny Vincenzi
Adult Fiction

Three 18 year old English girls are having a gap year. One of them gets pregnant, gives birth while flying home from Thailand, and abandons the baby at the airport. Sixteen years pass. A lovely young girl wonders about her mother. We, as the reading audience, are left in suspense as to the identify of the mother. The book follows the lives of the three successful, glamorous, rich 34 year old women and the 16 year old girl.

The author does a great job keeping the reader guessing until revealing the identity of the mother 2/3 of the way through the book. Even then, there is a major twist toward the end and we don't know how all the threads are going to tie together in the end. The suspense and glitter reminds me of V. C. Andrews, but with none of the creepiness of and Andrews book. I understand why this author is so popular in the U. K. and would recommend her to our U. S. audience.

I don't know why a book that is more than 600 pages is listed as summer reading. This would be too bulky to take to the beach, but it would be good reading for back at the house in the air conditioning.

Going Home: Brides of Webster County Number 1

Going Home: Brides of Webster County Number 1
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Adult Christian Fiction

A yodelling, joke-telling young lady runs away from her restrictive Amish home hoping to make it big as an entertainer. Years later her husband dies and she comes home to rural Webster County, Missouri. Can she be sober enough for the community? Will they lighten up?

This is a clean, gentle read appropriate for a conservative audience, especially teen girls and elderly ladies. If patrons have already read Grace Livingston Hill, Beverly Lewis, and Jan Karon you might recommend this author. It was a tad bland and predictable, but safe and pleasant. I thought that a few questions were unresolved in the end, so that was disappointing.

Here is a hint: Why is the series called "Brides of Webster County"? Do you think that she might get married in the end?

I might read another book by this author, but not in this series and not right away.


Many Ohio libraries have levies on the ballots today. If you would like to know if your area has a levy on today's election calendar see:


02 November 2009


Dav Pilkey
children's fiction ages 4-8.

School Library Journal says "This may be the funniest Halloween story ever written".

Oscar (Oscar Myer that is) is a dachshund. The other dogs laugh at how low and long he is. His mother is no help, calling him her little Vienna sausage and her frankfurter. Will he find his own special niche in life like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Nestor the Long Eared Donkey?

If you have been grossed out by Dav Pilkey's other works, like Captain Underpants, don't worry about this one. The Hallo-weiner is just plain funny with no poop jokes. It is not scary at all. Re-reading this book, I see that it is one that you can have children try to find the cats or the jack-o-lantern on each page.

This is a good story to read aloud at Halloween. I read this a few years ago accompanied by Ginger, the dachshund, who was a hit at storytime. For dachshund lovers, try also Pretzel by H. A. and Margret Rey of Curious George fame.


29 October 2009

Maya & Miguel Teacher's Pet: Telenovel

Maya & Miguel Teacher's Pet: Telenovel
C. Tobin, Rick Demonico, and Heather Barber
Children's fiction, ages 6 - 9

Thumb's down for a not-very-creative title. I see that the Spanish language version title is La Mascota de la Clase, which is still not creative, but a little better.

I don't know why the cover says "totally told in pictures". There are words used here. They took an episode and made it into a book. It isn't the best episode or the worst episode. Pretty much, if the student likes watching Maya and Miguel they will like this. If not, then he or she should probably read something else. Some Spanish words are scattered throughout the book and not explained, but if the reader doesn't understand the words, there is no loss of plot comprehension.
This book is appropriate in libraries to encourage reading, but is no great literary feat and not particularly memorable.
Plot: Paco the parrot is lonely, so Maya takes him to school. Not a good move, but it has a happy ending.

28 October 2009

Pumpkin Smasher

The pumpkin smasher
Anita Benarde

Information from Novelist K-8 database
Summary:When all the pumpkins are mysteriously smashed on three consecutive Halloweens, the townspeople of Cranbury almost decide to cancel the holiday.
Publication Information:Walker 1972. 32p. Subject Headings:Halloween
Reviews:Unremarkable but suitably spooky grey-black and orange pictures accompany the story of Halloween in Cranbury, where "the whole town gets into the spirit of shivery fun." When annual visits from a mysterious pumpkin smasher threaten to disrupt the festivities, the "terrible Turner twins" foil the culprit (a witch, the twins discover) and drive her away by painting a large rock to resemble a pumpkin. Though this is no smashing success as a Halloween hair-raiser, it will help satisfy that inevitable seasonal demand. (Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1972)
ISBNs Associated With This Work:9780802761095 (Hardcover)
Credits:Hennepin County Public Library Baker & Taylor Copyright 2005, VNU Business Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Added to Novelist: 20010101 TID: 107238

Someone asked me if I could find this book. I was amazed to find that a book that was published for something like $7 as a hardback and $2 as a paperback was out of print and going for more than $59. I would expect this from a book from the 1920s or 1950s, but this one is from 1972. I guess I am older than I think when books from my childhood are now collectibles/antiques! Someone should start a letter writing campaign to get this book republished as a cheap paperback.

I have not read this book myself, but now I am curious about it. (Well, maybe I read it back in third grade or something. I don't remember).

Available after November 9 from Cleveland Public Library if the patron returns it on time. I think I will request this, so if you want this through interlibrary loan you will have to wait until I return it to CPL.

Long out of print and apparently desireable since the price starts with $59.00 at Amazon. The Kirkus Review gave it a bad review, but others on Amazon loved it and so did the patron who asked me to get it for him.

Digger, Digger

Digger, Digger
David Bedford & Christina Miesen
Board Book ages 18 months - 5 years

This simple, colorful, nonfiction book shows which equipment is appropriate for certain construction jobs.
This is an Australian book so they use words like "lorry" and "headlamps". The equipment is not particularly anthropomorphic, but the vehicles do have eyes and smiles.
In the front cover I see that one of the National Library of Australia cataloguing-in-publication entries is "polarity-juvenile literature". I had to think about this one for a while. There are some "use this machine not that machine" discussions in the book, so they must mean that there are some opposites, but I would not say that this is a book about opposites.

For those who love Bob the Builder, Handy Manny, John Deere, etc. this is another one for your library.