29 December 2009
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
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: 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.
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.
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
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 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
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
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
Chuck Schodowski with Tom Feran
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:
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
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)
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
12 December 2009
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.