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.

Sesame Street: Which Witch Is Which?

Sesame Street: Which Witch Is Which?
Michaela Muntean and Tom Brannon
Board Book ages 18 months - 5 years

Zoe and her monster friends all decide to be witches for Halloween. Can you guess which monster is which? Even though they are dressed as witches, this is not at all scary. Familiar characters and a simple plot make this a quick and easy Halloween read.

One problem: There is more than one book by this title and if you search a site like Amazon you might get the wrong book.

26 October 2009

Howard the Duck

I find it hard to believe that my library system has a waiting list for Howard the Duck, a 24 year old box office bomb. I find it even harder to believe that I WANT to get on hold for this movie.

Winner of the 1986 worst movie of the year

(Although, for you Ohio readers out there, Howard the Duck is set in Cleveland).

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?


Carmela LaVigna Coyle, Mike Gordon, and Carl Gordon

Fiction, ages 3-6

A girl wonders what is girly and sophisticated and what is not. Who is the girl and who does she want to be? Really this reflects - who does the reader want to be?

This is lighthearted and although it brings up the topic of feminism/traditional roles it does not preach. It just shows choices.

I see that this was popular enough that it has some sequels including:

Do Princesses Count?

Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?

Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?

Hey, Little Ant

Hey, Little Ant


Phillip and Hannah Hoose & Debbie Tilley

(Hannah was age 9 when she cowrote this book).

Fiction, ages 3-7.

What a quandary! Should the boy squish the ant or not? The ant begs for his life. There is a song in the back that presents the whole book as a duet song.

This book is simple and profound. What will the child decide?

This could be a conversation starter for a college philosophy class or simply read as a slightly humorous story.
In my case, this was on a list of books for nature appreciation (or is that nature destruction)?

Take a City Nature Walk

Take a City Nature Walk

Jane Kirkland
Nonfiction, ages 8 and up
parent/child, student/teacher, pupil/park ranger, etc. with a child as young as 3 or so.

Part of the Take a Walk Series
This was on a list that the library and park system distributed on enjoying nature and enjoying reading about nature. We take our city animals and plants for granted. Think about the raccoons, crickets, crows, robins, dandelions, redbuds, & trees-of-heaven. If you lived in Hawaii or Iceland or Russia you would have completely different plants and animals to observe.
Even in a dingy, crowded, urban scene or in a pretty city park we can hear birds and see insects flying around. Even if you live in a condo or apartment there are hawks or seagulls or pigeons to observe. Even if it is winter you may have a ladybug, housefly or houseplant to see.
This is the kind of book we should read at least twice a year to remind us of what we take for granted.
I see that these are others in the series:
Take a Backyard Bird Walk
Take a Tree Walk
Take a Walk with Butterflies and Dragonflies
Take a Beach Walk
Since there are a number of ideas for projects, I can see that scouts, homeschoolers, and more would benefit from this book and series.
This book one an award from USA Book News, and is recommended by the National Gardening Association and the National Science Teachers Association.

23 October 2009

Bob Books

A set of Bob Books (set 2, books 1-12) (titles vary)


Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R. Maslen

ages 3-6

I had heard about this series of books designed to use just a few short words in each book to encourage beginning readers, but didn't get around to reading them until now.

All the words are only one, two, three, or four letters long. There is a list of which words each book uses. The illustrations are simple line drawings. The letter "a" used is the kind that is a circle with a line. All of these make them ideal for classroom or home use. I wouldn't buy them for home use, since the child would quickly outgrow them, but they are good buys for school and public libraries.

My library had it set up so patrons check out the entire 12 book set all at once. I was done with a few of them before others and would have prefered to check in volumes 1-4, but had to wait and keep track of which ones I had already read then turn them in all at once. Fortunately the color coded covers helped jog my memory about where I was in the series.

My Little Pony Dancing in the Clouds

My Little Pony Dancing in the Clouds Jr. Cine-manga Tokyopop.

Ages 3-6.

This story is visually stunning, but the plot is rather stilted. I think they took an episode and made it into a book, but the editing is not so good. There is really not much to say about this book. Although I did not appreciate it, my 5 year old audience still enjoyed it, and I guess that is what counts. She even was quoting a line from the book later. If you find yourself reading this one aloud you must read many short sentences with lots of ! endings.

some excerpts:

No problem!

I caught it!

Sky Wishes saves the day!

Actually this makes it pretty easy to read to an audience.
Conclusion: Not a literary classic, but it will probably be checked out many times.

20 October 2009

Disney Buys Marvel II Hulk Smash!

This was reprinted in the Sinclair Community College student newspaper.

14 October 2009

Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!

Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!
by Bob Harris.
Adult Nonfiction.
This is a very clever title. In case you are wondering, Trebekistan is that country that you end up in when you go off on a trivia tangent.
I started reading this months ago. It is a book that is worth reading, but I kept putting it aside. The good news is that since this is a book about trivia, you can read one chapter, then wait a while until you read the next one with no problem about remembering the characters, timeline, etc.
Bob won at Jeopardy! Then there were some Tournaments of Champions, other game show appearances, and game show conventions. Who knew his career in Jeopardy! would take so much of his life? He also is a standup comic and television writer (one of the writers for CSI).
He tells about his obsession with winning and how he has notebook after notebook full of trivia.
A clever devise he uses is showing how his mind goes off into tangents by changing the font size to be smaller and smaller.
Although he now is living the glamorous life in Los Angeles, he is from the same part of Ohio that I am, so I could relate to his locations mentioned whenever he talked about coming home.
While I was reading this, another member of my household picked it up and ended up reading the whole thing. This is a book that can be read by men, women, teens, adults, elderly, etc. with the same broad appeal of Jeopardy! Even though it is about trivia, he doesn't use too scholarly of vocabulary, he does employ humor, and, as I mentioned, each chapter is somewhat self contained, so you and your grandma can both read this book.
One complaint: every once in a while he gives us a trivia clue, then doesn't tell us what the answer is (or, since this is Jeopardy!, he doesn't tell us what the question is). If I were as dedicated as he is, I would have stopped each time to look these up.
BONUS: He even includes a bibliography of recommended books, so if you happen to find yourself in the Jeopardy! contestant waiting pool you will know how to cram.

Cookie Monster Goes to the Library

I don't remember this one from my childhood. Then again, I didn't know I would grow up to be a librarian! I have not had many muppets as patrons...

12 October 2009

McKettrick's Pride by Linda Lael Miller

McKettrick's Pride by Linda Lael Miller
DONE. Adult Romance Fiction.
Somewhere I read a good review of this Harlequin Romance. I hadn't read any Harlequins for a while and I recognized that this was a bestselling author so I took it home.
It turns out that this is number seven in a number of trilogies and although it has some good points, it was not riveting and I will not bother to read the rest of the series. I am mildly curious about the other characters featured in books 1-6, but not enough to pick up another of her books.
There is a new woman in town and the local cowboy millionaire widower takes a shine to her. They get together. There was little character development and I don't think I can name very many things they had in common. Why were they attracted to each other? They were both single and lonely. Did they share religious beliefs? Did they share a profession? Would they pass an eharmony compatible personality test? The author doesn't bother with any of this. She just figures that she will throw in a sex scene now and then and add some other text.

Next time I want a romance series, I will try to track down the old series "Welcome to Tyler" by varying authors (circa 1992). Read these instead. Here is a partial list.

Whirlwind by Nancy Martin

Bright Hopes by Pat Warren

Blazing Star by Suzanne Ellison

Monkeywrench by Nancy Martin

Crossroads by Marissa Carroll

Arrowpoint by Suzanne Ellison

Milky Way by Muriel Jensen

P. S. Library of Congress Subject Headings don't work so well for tagging.
"Books-Reviews" versus "book reviews"
Authorlastname, Authorfirstname separated by commas means two separate labels.
"Miller, Linda Lael" gets tagged as "Miller" and "Linda Lael"

Improving my blog

I will be adding tags (a.k.a. labels) to my blogs from now on so that I can more easily find my reviews. Apparently the search box only works if I use tags. Now what is the Library of Congress Subject Heading for Blog?


Answer: blogs, with an "s"

I will also start having just one book review per post so I can find them by title more easily.

01 October 2009

New Ohio Read poster

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and I share a favorite book - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
I don't remember if I voted for Cordray or not, but I vote for L. Frank Baum!
To see more Ohio politicians reading books point your browser to: