February 2008 Reviews
February 2008 Reviews DGH
Gormley, Beatrice, Salome, Alfred A. Knopf, 2007, 978-0-375-83908-5, P7 Q7
An historical fiction that is referred to in the Bible, this is the story of Salome whose dance of the seven veils allows her to ask for anything she wants in the kingdom. To the horror of many (including herself), she demands the head of John the Baptist at her mother’s prompting.
It is an interesting tale, one that has been done before on the screen and in books. This one however, paints a different hue on Salome and the events in which she is cast. The Dance of the Seven Veils was done in a fairly neutral way with a mild sexual undertone. We watch Salome grow as various character tests come her way, and although she fails them at the beginning, she grows as the book develops. I won’t be ordering this for our libraries but I will place it in one school and see what the circulation does.
Hill, Kirkpatrick, Do Not Pass Go, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007, 978-1-4169-1400-6, $15.99, P7 Q7
This was a story of a teen boy whose family was disrupted by his father being taken to jail. We are able to view the consequences of this event and how it affected relationships within the family, with friends at school, and how it impacted self-image. In all three arenas, some pretty surprising and uplifting incidents occur!
The author struck upon a topic that many young readers experience first hand. Because prison life is treated mildly, and the father makes some friends while honestly rehabilitating himself, a reader can empathize with the protagonist and the struggles he faced. This is not a “scared straight” type of book, but one that was designed to let kids know that it is not their fault when a parent is arrested.
I was a bit let down with the author’s character development as most seemed fairly two-dimensional. The plotline was fairly predictable as well and as I finished I realized that the content and language would actually be fine for readers as young as the fourth-grade. I am choosing not to purchase additional copies for our elementary and middle schools. There are better books out there.
Oregon Coast Preview Center for Young Readers
February 2008 SE Grandparent Volunteer
Fletcher, Christine. Tallulah. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, NY, 2006. ISBN-10: 1582346623, 13:9781582346625. $16.95, 304P. Ages 14-18. An excellent book telling the story of a young girl who thinks her life would be better out on the road with someone she just met and has no idea what that person is all about. She learns that there are more important things than just survival and learns a lot about herself in the process. I liked this book and the experiences the young lady goes through to find out what is really important in life. Q9P8.
Jocelyn, Marthe. How It Happened in Peach Hill. Wendy Lamb Books an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, NY, 2007. ISBN 9780375837012, 9780375937019. $15.99, 232P. Ages 12-18. This is a cute story of a young girl whose mother is somewhat of a drifting grifter and has her daughter help her deceive people by pretending she is a severely mentally undeveloped idiot. They move from town to town and when the girl decides she would like to be normal, she makes her mother perform a miracle that takes the affectation away by some hocus pocus. Q8P8
Easton, Kelly. White Magic, Spells to Hold You. Wendy Lamb Books an imprint of Random House Children’s Books NY. 2007. ISBN 9780375837692, 9780375937699. $15.99. 193P. Ages 13-16. This is a story of three young girls in Santa Monica, California, who form a witches coven to try to get what each one wants in life. Q8P8
Boelts, Maribeth, Il Noah Z. Jones. Those Shoes. Candlewick Press MA. 2007. ISBN 9780763624996. $15.99. Ages 6-10. This is a wonderfully written story of a young man who wants the newest shoes but his mother can’t afford them. He finds a pair at the last thrift store he and his mother go to but they are way too small and he takes them anyway. He ends up giving his friend (also poor) the shoes because his friend’s mother can’t afford those shoes either and since he can’t wear them, he feels that his friend would love them. It is a great book on the value of friendship and the pressure of peers to try to get what others have. Q9P9
Landry, Leo, Space Boy. Houghton Mifflin Co. Ma. 2007. ISBN 9780618605682. $16.00. Ages 5-6. This is a cute story of a boy at bedtime who can’t stand the noise of his household and takes an imaginary trip to the moon to have a picnic. When he returns the house he finds he missed and it is finally quiet and he says he is able to go to bed. Q7P7
Opie, Iona, Il.Rosemary Wells. Mother Goose’s Little Treasures. Candlewick Press, Ma. ISBN 9780763636555 $17.99. 55P Ages 5-7. This is a collection of obscure Mother Goose rhymes, including “In and out the windows” and “Mother may I” and is very well illustrated. Q8P8
Applegate, Katherine, Il. Jan Ormerod, The Buffalo Storm Clarion Books NY. 2007. ISBN 9780618535972, 0618535977. $16.00. Ages 5-8. This wonderfully illustrated and well written story is of a young lady whose family joins a wagon train bound for Oregon, leaving her beloved grandmother behind. She learns how to face her fears during the long trip and has the comfort of the quilt her grandmother made for her. I loved this book. Q9P9
A collection of Bedtime stories from around the world, Il. Jane Dyer.The Random House Book of Bedtime Stories. Random House, NY. $21.99. 137P. Ages 5-8. This is a great compilation of stories and folk tales from around the world including “The Gingerbread Boy” and Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and other nighttime, bedtime stories. I love the illustrations and the choice of tales is great. Q8P8
Grimm, Il.Arthur Rackhas, Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecot and others, Tales From the Brother’s Grim, compiled by Coopers Edens. Starsnap Studio, Raincoast Books BC. 2007. ISBN 9780811854597, 0811854590. $19.95. Ages 5-8. A great compilation of stories by the Grimm Bros including Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, The Changeling, The Frog Prince, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, the Elves and the Shoemaker and other favorites. Q8P8
Book Reviews By L.R., for Siletz Library Feb. 2008
Young Adult Books
Lenhard, Elizabeth. Chicks with Sticks (It’s a Purl Thing) and Chicks with Sticks (Knit Two Together). Dutton Children’s Books, 2005 and 2006. 241 pgs., 262 pgs. Ages 13-18. ISBN 0525476229, 0525477640, $15.99 & $16.99. P4Q5
I reviewed the third book of this series about four high school friends who share a passion for knitting in December, and then read the 1st and 2nd books in the series. The series has definitely grown on me, and even the covers don’t seem so off-putting anymore! These are rather light books about teen girls going through their high school years. Parent problems, first boyfriends, divorce, learning disabilities, class consciousness---there are lots of themes here for teens to identify with. The theme running through the three books, besides knitting, seems to be supporting one’s friends and celebrating differences. There are lots of references to popular slang, culture and electronic interaction., so at least for a couple of years, these books should seem fresh to teen readers.
Kimmel, Eric. A Picture for Marc. Il. Matthew Trueman. Random House, Inc., 2007. 102 pgs. Ages 9-12. ISBN 9780375832536 $11.99. P4 Q8
This chapter book tells about the early life of the Russian painter, Marc Chagall, and how he got interested in art. He grew up in a poor family and did not even know that people could draw or paint or what an “artist” was. He got a lucky break when his father’s herring factory boss recognized talent and encouraged the parents to let him study with a local painter. The illustrations of the boy and his drawings are reminiscent of Chagall’s work, and there is an author’s note at the end telling a little more about the painter’s life, but it would have been nice to have even some line drawings of some of his work for children to see. Maybe copyright issues prevent that. Let’s hope the book spurs young readers to look him up!
Harris, Jay M. The Moon is La Luna. Il. Matthew Cordell. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007. unpgd. Ages 3-7. ISBN 9780618646456 $15.00. P5 Q8
The author is a dentist by day, but a promising author by night. He writes silly rhymes explaining the meaning of Spanish words. This would be a great story time book, as he even manages to work in the pronunciation of lots of the words, which would be helpful to the non-Spanish reader. Matthew Cordell’s simple illustrations will provide giggles galore. For the older reader, there is a pronunciation guide in the back, as well as a glossary. With reinforced binding, this is a winner for school and public libraries.
Various authors. Sleepytime Tales: A Little Golden Book Collection, Random House, Inc., 2006, 213 pgs. Ages 2-6. ISBN 0375838481 $10.95, P3 Q4
This hefty collection of “Little Golden Books” would make a great birthday gift---even for a sentimental adult, but would not be a well-loved library book. The size and weight of this tome would be daunting to pull out at bed time and most parents are going to choose two or three smaller books to check out over this one. There are nine books in this volume, but it bothered me that the author’s names are not listed on the cover page of each. To find the author’s name, the reader would have to go back to the contents page. But it does have a pretty gold page edging, a sturdy binding and a cheap price.
Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping. Clarion Books, 2007, 33 pgs. Ages 3-6. ISBN 9780618821617 $16.00, P5 Q5
This rather frenetic story of a mother monkey who takes her five children school shopping will get lots of laughs from the children as the poor mother keeps losing track of her children and having to add and subtract them as they wander off and new monkeys show up. It is unclear if the author is also the illustrator, but whoever did it thought that lots of wavering lines would increase the action in the book. The effect just made this reader slightly seasick. Cute story and a reinforced binding, but I wish the pictures were better.
Stevens, April. Waking Up Wendell. Il. Tad Hills, Random House, Inc., 2007, unpdg Ages 4-8. ISBN 9780375836213 $15.99, P9 Q8
This lively story starts with a bird tweeting at the first house on Fish Street, which results in a pig named Mr. Krudwig waking up and letting his dog out. The dog barks, which wakes up the next neighbor, and so it goes down the street. The illustrations are bright and engaging and the prose is full of loud sound effects just right for shouting out loud. “Wack-slam,” “screeeeeech! gleeeeeep!” “wigata-wigata” are just a few. This book is a little more expensive, but the binding looks sturdy and would be a good purchase.
Campbell, Bebe Moore. Stompin’ at the Savoy. Il. Richard Yarde, Philomel Books, 2006, unpgd. Ages 10-13. ISBN 0399241973 $16.99, P5 Q7
Mindy is a scared little girl about to give her first jazz dance recital. She falls asleep in tears and dreams of dancing at “The Savoy” with couples doing the Lindy Hop to the sounds of Benny Goodman. She has such a good time in her dream that she wakes up ready to shake a rug without fear. It’s an energetic story and the watercolor artwork matches the mood.
De Varennes, Monique. The Jewel Box Ballerinas. Il. Ana Juan, Random House Children’s Books, 2007, unpgd. Ages 4-8. ISBN 9780375836053 $16.99, P5 Q5
Following the classic plot of the rich, selfish person who doesn’t have any friends until she does something unselfish, this is the story of Bibi Branchflower, who is so rich, she has two of everything, except, of course, friends. Her love and care for two “jewel box ballerinas” eventually turn them into real little girls that she can call friends. The illustrations were a bit reminiscient of 1950’s picture books, but not unattractive. Enjoyable enough reading, but probably not something you would check out more than once!
Joyce, William. A Day With Wilbur Robinson. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2006, unpgd. Ages “4—reasonably ancient,” ISBN 9780060890988 $16.99, P9 Q9
Children will grab any book with dinosaurs on the cover and this one has that and more! It is the fantastical story of a young boy who goes to visit his friend’s house and finds he has wacky relatives who invent things, play amazing games and have dinosaurs, bugs and frogs for playmates. The illustrations are sort of retro---they remind the reader of Buck Rogers, but they are very attractive and engaging. This would be a good buy for a library.
Child, Lauren. Say Cheese! Penguin Young Reader’s Group, 2007, unpgd. Ages 4-7. ISBN 9780803730953 $16.99, P4 Q 5
I don’t personally like the cartoony illustrations of the little girl and her brother who try to stay clean all day for school photos, but can understand that some readers might like them. The characters are engaging and really exhibit the mind-set and behavior of young children. The final solution to their picture problem is totally something a five and six year old might do. So it will bring smiles, if you can get past the cartoons!
Modarressi, Mitra. Stay Awake, Sally. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007, unpgd. Ages 3-5. ISBN 9780399245459 $16.99, P4 Q4
I didn’t really get the premise of this story. It seems to be parents using reverse psychology to get a young child to go to bed. They pretend that they want to stay up and have all kinds of fun, dancing and playing and baking. But the child had wanted to go to bed from the outset, so it doesn’t really make sense. She begs them to go to bed and they insist that she stay awake. While sort of humorous, it might just confuse a young child and the illustrations are just average. I wouldn’t buy it for a library.
Stem, J. David & Weiss, David N. Eloise in Hollywood. Il. Ted Enik. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007, unpgd. Ages “all,” ISBN9780689842894 $17.95, P2 Q5
This book may actually be more attractive to adults than children. The “Eloise” books were originally written in the 1950’s by Kay Thompson, a movie star of the time. In the 50’s, it would have been understandable, but today, Hollywood stars do not talk or dress like the characters in the book. People do not take a first class train from New York to California. That said, the illustrations are fun, with lots of little details to look at, and pretty pastel pinks and blues. It would make a good gift book for an adult who is nostalgic for old Hollywood.
First Thursday Book Review Center
February Reviews—J.C. Cataloger
Deedy, Carmen Agra. Illustrated by Michael Austin. Martina, the beautiful cockroach : a Cuban folktale. Peachtree, c2007. [32 p.] ISBN 978-1-56145-399-3/1-56145-399-4 $16.95 Ages 4-7. P7Q8
When Martina, the beautiful cockroach is getting ready to get married, her grandmother teaches her the Coffee Test which shows how each of her suitors will treat her after marriage. Beautiful illustrations, a charming story, but never questions that Martina should be married. Recommended for school and public library collections needing additional Latin American stories.
Ommen, Sylvia van. The surprise. Front Street/Lemniscaat, , c2003. [26 p.] ISBN 978-1-932425-85-7/1-932425-85-3 $16.95 Ages 3-5, adult. P7Q8
A charming, wordless story about a sheep who dyes its own wool, has it spun into yarn, and knits a very special sweater for a friend. Rich colors make this book especially appealing. I found myself a bit taken aback by the cigarette smoking poodle, though. Recommended for public libraries.
Williams, Karen Lynn, and Khadra Mohammed. Illustrated by Doug Chayka. Four feet, two sandals. Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, c2007. [32 p.] ISBN 978-0-8028-5296-0 $17.00 Ages 4-7. P7Q7
Two Afghani girls in a Pakistani refugee camp share a pair of sandals, becoming inseparable friends, until one girl’s family is assigned a new home in America. A good introduction to the plight of refugees. Recommended for school and public library collections.
Zalben, Jane Breskin. Light. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. [32 p.] ISBN 978-0-525-47827-0 $17.99 Ages 3-7. P8Q7
This retelling of a legend from the Kabbalah tells of divine light too powerful to be contained in a jar, and when the jar breaks, sparks fly everywhere. People were created to find the sparks and bring them together. The author’s note states that this is the third book in a trilogy of picture books about peace. Somewhat didactic, but beautifully illustrated. Recommended for elementary and public library collections.
Bang-Campbell, Monika. Illustrated by Molly Bang. Little Rat makes music. Harcourt, c2007. [48 p.] ISBN 978-0-15-205305-5 $15.00 “Ages 6-9.” P8Q8
In the newest installment in the series, Little Rat wants to make beautiful music on her violin, but is frustrated when instead the sounds she makes are seagull SQUAWKS. She avoids practicing until her music teacher helps her find a tutor and assigns them a duet to be performed at the Community Hall concert. The simple text combines perfectly with Molly Bangs’ emotionally expressive watercolor and chalk illustrations. Highly recommended for beginning chapter book collections in school and public libraries.
Park, Linda Sue. Keeping score. Clarion Books, due out 3/17/2008. [208 p.] ISBN 978-0-618-92799-9 $16.00 “Ages: 9-12; Grades 4-7.” P7Q8 Review from uncorrected proof.
In Brooklyn, it’s either the Dodgers or the Yankees…and the Dodgers have yet to win the World Series. Maggie’s father is a Yankees fan. Maggie, her brother, and her mother are Dodgers fans. Since Maggie—a girl—isn’t allowed to play baseball, she learns to score the games and shares them in letters to a young firefighter drafted into the war in Korea. A snapshot of American history that evokes the 1950s. Recommended for school and library collections that need more baseball stories.
Pringle, Laurence. Illustrated by Eujin Kim Neilan. Imagine a dragon. Boyds Mills Press, 2008. 1 v. (unpaged) ISBN 978-1-56397-328-4 $16.95 Ages 6-9. P8Q7
Introducing dragons, from fossilized dinosaur bones to Chinese dragons. From Egyptian sun-eating serpents, and northern European wyrms to actual Komodo dragons. Sweeping brush strokes and rich colors bring vitality to the matter-of-fact text. Recommended for school and public library collections.
Young adult fiction
De Lint, Charles. Little (grrl) lost. Viking, c2007. 271 p. ISBN 978-0-670-06144-0 $17.99. Ages 14-up. P8Q8
Fourteen-year-old T.J. is having a difficult time adjusting to a new home, a new school, a new city, and when she meets Elizabeth—a runaway teenager just 6 inches tall, with a prickly attitude to match her punked-out fashion sense–T.J. finds herself keeping secrets from her family while helping Elizabeth find a safe place in the world. De Lint excels in pulling together diverse threads of fantasy worlds and weaving them together into a new story. This one combines Mary Norton’s Borrowers, John Peterson’s Littles, various bits of fairy lore, and a brief glimpse of Rosetti’s Goblin Market to create a gritty story of two girls learning to trust their instincts and find kindred spirits. Highly recommended for high school and public library collections.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Princess Ben. Houghton Mifflin Company Books for Children, pub. date 5/05/08. 344 p. ISBN 978-0-618-95971-6 $16.00 “Ages 12 up.” P8Q7
When her parents—the Crown Prince and Princess of the kingdom—and the king are assassinated, Princess Ben finds herself being rigorously trained by her aunt Sophia, the Queen. Ben, plump and rebellious, faces being married off to the next available “specimen of imbecilic manhood”, until she discovers a hidden room where she learns the art of magic. The question is whether she can learn to control herself long enough to take on the duties of ruling her kingdom. A pleasant fantasy with an appealing heroine, but I found the author’s attempts at archaic language somewhat distracting. Still, a good story. Recommended for high school and public library collections.
Thompson, Kate. The new policeman. Greenwillow, 2007, c2005. “First U.S. ed.” 442 p. ISBN 978-0-06-117427-8/0-06-117427-0 $16.99 Ages 12-up. P8Q8
When J.J.’s mother says that what she really wants for her birthday is more time, he decides to find some for her. His search to buy her some time leads him into the fairy world of the Tuatha de Daanan, and to the discovery of what really happened to the priest his grandfather was accused of killing. Includes bibliography, glossary, and simple musical notation for several tunes mentioned in the text. A wonderful fantasy, this story weaves together fairies, Irish music, the frenetic touch of modern life, and the ever-increasing need for more time. Highly recommended for high school and public library collections.
Book Reviews B.R. Yaquina View
Whybrow, Ian and Adian Reynolds. Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School. Random House, c 2006. ISBN 0375841806. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P7)
The first day of school is a very special event in any child’s life. This story portrays the anxiety of meeting the teacher and Mom and Dad leaving them for the whole day. Harry loves his dinosaurs and takes them to school. There he meets another boy who doesn’t want to talk. They come together and help each other’s difficulty of their first day of school.
Castle, Kate. My First Ballet Book. Kingfisher, c2006. ISBN 0753460262 48 pgs. $9.95. Grades K-3. (Q9, P7)
This is a wonderfully written book with an abundance of excellent photos to illustrate directions and instructions. This book covers all aspects of learning ballet from explaining what ballet is to what to wear, from warming up to different dance steps. It also includes famous ballets, what happens behind the scenes and what happens at the performance. The book includes a glossary and an index. A magnificent book that will appeal to both boys and girls interested in learning ballet.
Bond, Rebecca. The Great Doughnut Parade. Houghton Mifflin Co. c2007. ISBN 0618777059. Unp. $17.00 Grades PreS-2nd. (Q4, P6)
Billy ties a string to a doughnut and then to his belt. As he goes through the town he attracts attention from everyone and everything he passes. The hen, the cat, the dog, and farther down the street, a cast of a play, a group of joggers, even fantasy figures join the parade. The lively watercolor illustrations fill the pages with wonderful images for children to admire. At first reading I found the writing hard to read aloud, with subsequent readings it became easier but still not flowing easily. At the beginning the rhyming was every four lines and later in the book it became every two lines. Somewhat confusing.
Valerie Wilding. Real Princesses an inside look at Royal Life. Walker Publishing Co., c2007. ISBN 0802796753. $16.95. 64 Pgs. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q9, P8)
Every little girls dream is to become a princess. This book gives a quick look about many aspects of being a princess. What is a princess? Where do they live? Clothing and education, wedding dresses and feasts are discussed. Fantastic photos and some drawn illustrations bring to life the well written text. This book will attract the attention of not only young girls but adults alike who would like to learn about the life of princesses.
Stainton, Sue. I Love Cats. Ills. by Anne Mortimer. Harper & Collins, c2007.
ISBN 0060851546. Unp. $15.99 PreS-1st. (Q9, P9)
Big Cats, little cats, happy cats, angry cats, all kinds of cats are portrayed in this delightful book celebrating cats. The illustrations are life like with many of the cats seemingly to be photographs. Simple and to the point, children will love to spend hours devouring the pictures in this book. The rhythm of the words helps make this an easy read aloud.
Puttock, Simon. Earth to Stella. Ills. by Philip Hopman. Clarion Books, c2006.
ISBN 0618585354. Unp. $16.00. PreS-2nd. (Q8, P9)
This is a delightful story about a Father and daughter’s relationship. They have a bedtime routine which works for them. Stella’s imagination takes her to outer space while keeping a close tie to earth with her communications with her father. “Earth to Stella” Father keeps contact with Stella.
Gran, Julia. Big Bug Surprise. Scholastic Press, c2007. ISBN 0439676096. Unp.
$16.00. Grades K-3rd. (Q7, P8)
Bugs, bugs, bugs abound in this book. Prunella loves bugs and had a hard time deciding which to take to show and tell at school. While trying to tell everyone about bugs their response is always “Not now, Prunella”. When it is show and tell a queen bee flies into the classroom and all her worker bees fly after her. Prunella handles the situation and everyone cheers her. This is an amazing book that will capture the attention of children.
The final page gives informational facts about the different bugs in the book.
Reviewed By J. D., Yaquina View
Bloom, Suzanne. Un Amigo De versa. Boyds Mill Press, c2005. ISBN 1590784898.
Unp. $15.95. PreS-K. (Q6, P8)
Beautiful illustrations. Spanish translation Pensar en hambre, pensando? Thinking question. Nice story very basic. Good for smaller kids.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers February 2008 Reviews by N.W.
Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House, 2008. $16.99. 978-0-375-83965-8. unp. Ages 5-9: Born in 1910, Art Tatum suffered from severely limited vision which only worsened during time. Yet he taught himself to play the piano, becoming a famous jazz pianist who performed across the United States and recorded 14 albums. The first-person narrative, supposedly by Tatum, is enhanced by the soft watercolors with black outlines that simulate a sense of poor sight. The matter-of-fact narrative shows the struggles that African-Americans endured during the early twentieth century to make a living and achieve their dreams. And through Tatum’s four senses, the reader experiences the world in which he lived. P7Q8
Wassenhove, Sue Van. The Seldom-Ever-Shady Glades: Poems and Quilts. Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2008. $17.95. 978-1-59078-352-8. unp. Ages 8-12: Creatures of the Everglades, primarily birds, are the focus of the seventeen poems with background artwork quilted by the author. The poetry is colorful—as are the subjects—and clear. Unfortunately, she follows a traditional view of gender: for example, the “Professor” is depicted as male and the snowy-white egret is compared to girls’ lacy frills. Someone who works with young readers can point this out to them. P7Q7
Plourde, Lynn. Science Fair Day. Il. Thor Wickstrom. Dutton, 2008. $16.99. 978-0-525-47878-2. unp. Ages 6-9: Mrs. Shepherd’s silly students are again the focus of this funny, imaginative book in the fifth of the series. This time Ima Kindanozee (get it?!) pokes her nose into all the science projects, wreaking havoc as she flits from one hapless student to another. Despite the disasters, the teacher manages to help the students repair the damage without squelching Ima’s curiosity. A bonus for the book is the creativity shown in the projects that the diverse students develop and the way that everyone’s skills are highlighted—even that of Ima. A very fun book with clever illustrations and students that all can identify with. P9Q9
Santore, Charles. The Silk Princess. Random House, 2007. $17.99. 978-0-375-83664-0. unp. Ages 7-11: The discovery of silk, in Chinese legend, came when a princess sees a cocoon fall into the Empress’s teacup and tries to determine the length of the unraveling thread by walking away from her mother. Carefully crafted paintings willed with gnarly trees, Oriental figures and structures, and a wonderfully fearsome dragon depict the princess’s adventures as she is provided the solution to weaving the thread into beautiful cloth by an old man who cares for her and takes her safely home. According to the legend, the secret of silken thread remained a secret for another 3000 years. This would be a delightful companion to Deborah Noyes’ Red Butterfly, the story of how a princess smuggled the secret out of China. P8Q8
Holm, Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm. Puppy Love: Babymouse. Random House, 2007. $7.50. 978-0-375-83990-0. 93p. Ages 5-8: My favorite unrealistic but lovable character who spends a great deal of time in a fantasy land has returned, this time to persuade her parents to get her a dog. After losing a goldfish, hamster, turtle, ferret, salamander, venus fly trap, hermit crab, sea monkey, and ants, she finds a dog on the doorstep and even becomes more responsible—until the owner shows up and takes the dog. Holm skillfully weaves in pieces from Lassie, Charlotte’s Web, Snoopy, and Clifford in a story that will speak to all young readers who beg their parents for pets and the parents who suffer through the experience. P9Q9
Hoeye, Michael. Time to Smell the Roses. Putnam, 2007. $15.99. 978-0-399-24490-2. 273p. Ages 8-11: The third Hermux Tantamoq Adventure once again combines excitement, mystery, and love as the elegant mouse watchmaker/detective teams with his fiancé, Linka Perflinger, and his pet ladybug, Terfle, to find the identity of a body washed up on the beach and the reason that the roses at Thorny End are dying. A missing heir, a homeless teenager, a nasty beauty tycoon, and an evil scientists are only a few of the mice and squirrels that “people” this witty tongue-in-cheek romp. P9Q8
Schwabach, Karen. The Hope Chest. Random House, 2008. $16.99. 978-0-375-84095-1. 274p. Ages 10-13: The story of fight in Tennessee to win women’s voting rights for the United States is the culmination of this adventure about Violet, 11, who searches for her older sister, Chloe, beginning in New York City and traveling with a child hobo on the railroad cars to Washington, D.C. Although the setting is historical, Violet’s struggle to be independent as she opposes her parents rings true today. Other pieces of the book are the racial prejudice that Violent finds when she becomes friends with an African-American 8-year-old, Myrtle, who isn’t allowed to travel or stay with her and the persecution of a man whose only law violation was to oppose World War I three years before the book begins. An excellent discussion of the government’s refusal to give minorities rights in the early twentieth century as well as a fun read with believable characters. P7Q7
Book Reviews Feb. 2008 by M.D. NHS ASPIRE
Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia. Illustrated Adjoa J. Burrows. Destiny’s Gift. Lee and Low Books Inc. New York.2004. $16.95. 25 pgs.1-58430-156-2. Grades 2-5 P6/Q6
The illustrations are different as the combine 3-D collage of paper and sketching. Sometimes the pictures become a little distracting as they are not very detailed like Mrs. Wade’s hands have no fingers. The story of a little African American girl who enjoys words and visiting the local bookstore. She even helps Mrs. Wade on Saturdays. Mrs. Wade was upset because business wasn’t good and she thought she might have to close the store. The words were stale and not enjoyable to read. This book might be a good addition to a collection of books about African Americans by African Americans.
Wheeler, Lisa. Illustrated by Gregory Christie. Jazz Baby. Harcourt Children’s Books. New York. 2007. $16.00. 40pgs. 978-0-15-202522-9. Grades 1-3 P6/Q6
The illustrations a re a cartoon style/abstract sketches. The words dance on the page to depict jazz music. The words are in sing song jazzy poetry format. This book would be a fun way to introduce jazz music but it may be a little immature. The baby is the main character and they say things like “laughin’ – limbo baby says, “Go man go!” The characters are African American and may add to a diversity section of a library.
Cumberbatch, Judy. Illustrated by Ken Wilson-max. Can you hear the sea? Bloomsburg Children’s books. New York. 2006. $15.95. 25pgs. 1-58234-703-4. Grades preK-2 P7/Q8.
This is a story of a West African family and a little girl who is listening intently for the sound of the ocean from a shell her Grandfather gave her. The little visits her church, the market and farm. The drawings are simple, bright and colorful but elementary is style. The words dance on the page when the little girl finally closes her eyes and hears the ocean in the shell.
Daly Niki. Happy Birthday Jamela! Farr, Straus and Giroux. New York. 2006. $16.00. 25pgs. 0-374-32842-0. Grades 2-4. P8/Q8
The book includes beautiful party pink end pages with a glossary of X Hosa phrases in the back. This is a story of a little African American girl Jamela and the celebration of her Birthday. The illustrations are captivating bright and simple but intriguing. They went shopping for a party dress and then she needed new shoes. She found some sparkly princess shoes but they wouldn’t do- She needed shoes she could also wear to school. She decorated her shoes with sparkles and paint so they would be Birthday special. She was in trouble but a local artist saw them and her help to make shoes for sale at the market.
Slade, Suzanne. Illustrated by Natascha Alex Blanks. Sojourner Truth Preacher for Freedom. Picture window Books. Minnesota. 2008. 978-1-4048-3726-3. Grades 3-5. P7/Q8.
This is a young reader’s biography. The start of the book has an actual photograph of Sojourner and gives a brief explanation of how Sojourner fought to free slaves and worked to win equal rights for women. She was born “Isabella” at birth but choose a new name that fit her better, Sojourner meaning “someone who travels.” The Illustrations are bright, colorful and beautiful. She was sold many tries to different owners. She grew up speaking Dutch because her owners were Danish- When she was sold to an English speaking shop keeper she had learned English quickly. The book has a time line, did you know section, glossary, to learn more, index and other titles in the biography section.
McCully, Emily Arnold. The escape of Oney judge- Martha Washington’s slave finds freedom. Farrar Straus Giroux. New York. 2007. $16.00. 40pgs. 978-0-374-32225-0. Grades 4-6. P7/Q8
There is an Authors note and sources section in the back of the book. The illustrations are simple water color pictures with faded detail. Oney was the daughter of a white servant so she was a light-skinned slave and Mrs. Washington asked her to work in the mansion house at Mount Vernon. Oney wanted to learn to read but she wasn't aloud to learn. Oney went to Pennsylvania when George was elected President and wanted to know how slaves got to be free. Oney became a great seamstress but had little hope of Mrs.Washington freeing her, she was even thinking of sending her to miss Eliza. Oney got a ship and ran away from the Washington but was hounded to return to the Washington but she never did. this book is very true to history but has many paragraphs.
Feinstein, Stephen. African-American heros Mae Jemison. Enslow Publishers, Inc. New Jersey. 2008. 24 page 978-007660-2762-6.
Grade 3-5 P 6/Q7
This book is part of series and on the back cover other heros and visited with their ISBN numbers. The start of the book has a section words to know, contents, chapters, and time line, learn more section and index. The book contains real photos of Mae who was the first African-American women in space. It talked about the science projects she enjoyed doing when she was in sixth grade. The book also has photos of other views and people to help tell what Mae was interested in. This may make it confusing to young readers as they are not pictures of Mae but other young white girl.
they could have used photos of African-American girls so the book has more of a positive connection with African-American children.
Grant, Karima. Illustrated by Janet Montecalvo. Sofie and the City. Boyds Mills Press. Pennsylvania. 2006. $15.95 40 pgs. 1-59078-273-9. Grade 1-4 p /Q
The drawings are colorful, bright pictures that look like they are done in chalk. Sofie is a little girl from Senegal.
She is practicing her English but feels all alive in they new city while her parents work hard day and night. There are some words that are hard to understand "chum" and the first paragraph is confusing almost in a poem format. She finally meets another little girl who is coloring on the sidewalk with bright colored chalk ans thinks she would be missed if she went back to Senegal.
Stiegemeyer, Julie. Illustrated by Carol Baicker-Mckee. Merry Christmas, Cheeps! BLoomsbury Childrens Books. New York. 2007 $9.95 9781-59990-064-3. 8pgs. Grade prek-k. P7/Q7
This is a cardboard book for young children the illustrations are photos of real objects such as chicks made out of fabric and other craft supplies. The front cover has a recipe for Christmas cheeps Christmas treats-cookies. Each page leads to the next page as the children's get ready for Christmas morning. Rhyming words make up the very simple story but the words don't tell a clear story mainly they have a play on the way words sound.
Gray, Nigel. Illustrated by Bob Graham. My dog, my cat, my mama, and me! Candlewick press. 2008. $8.99 978-0-7636-3639-5. 10 pgs. grade pre-K P7/Q7
This is a lift the flap book with sturdy card board pages. The flaps may not stand up well in a library setting without reinforcement. the pictures are cute and very simple to go along with the short rhyming phrases that tell a story of animals and moms getting fatter and having babies. Young children will like to re-read this so they can tell what is the matter and hiding behind the flaps. The book feels a little too simplistic.
Jeffers, Susan. The Nutcracker. Harper Collins publishers, New York. 2007. $17.98. 978-0-06-074387-1. 30 pgs gradde PK-12 P8/Q8
The end papers are beautiful and there is an Authors note at the back of the book which tells why she wrote another Nutcracker book. This one is different is for a younger audience with simple words and is more true in its illustration to a ballet. The pictures draw in the reader and help to tell the tale. The book is very simple it may bore older readers who have been a part of a Nutcracker ballet.
Durant, Alan. Illustrated by Vanessa Cabban. Dear Mermaids. Candlewick press. Massachusetts. 2007. $12.99 20 pgs. 978-0-7636-3442-1. grade 2-6 P9/Q9
this book would appeal to little girls as it has real letters that can be taken out of the 'Mermaid Purse" or envelope and read. Holly, who is on vacation finds the purse and corresponds with the mermaid princess through letters. There is a coloring book, a game, picture frame and a silver seahorse charm included in the envelopes. the items may be torn or lost in a library but girls are going to like reading this over and over again. The illustrations are colorful, beautiful and very imaginative. The story "words" could have a softer flow to them to match the captivating pictures.
Dewdney, Anna. Llama Llama mad at mama. Viking. New York. 2007. $15.99. 978-0-670-06240-9. 25 pgs. PK- 1st P5/Q7
The drawings on the front cover don't draw in the reader but when I opened the book I enjoyed the end papers they were bright and colorful. The words have a nice rhyming beat and will be fun for children to read. There are highlighted letters and words on the pages which don't seem to have a reason. The illustrations are a little less then desirable and seem to be paintings. Its about a baby Llama that has to go shopping with his mama. The baby gets mad and makes a total mess and throws things out of the cart and is not disciplined at all just helped by his mom to clan up the mess. He still gets to leave the store with his New shoes. I don't like the moral of the story as some children will see they still get what they want after the pitch a fit.
Daddo, Andrew.Illustrations by Emma Quay. Goodnight,Me. Bloomsbury Children's Books. New York. 2005.$11.95. 978-1-59990-153-4. 20 pgs. Grade Pre-k-1 P6/Q7
It's a book to help a restless baby get to sleep. The words are simple and talk about different body parts getting ready for sleep. The characters are orangutans especially in the beginning when she is tucking the baby into bed. He says "Enough wriggling, bottom. It's time to be still" with a picture of his bottom I think this will make must children laugh and get more excited, rather than sleepy. Some of the words seem choppy but beautiful drawings of the monkey baby.
Hall, Barbara. The Noah Confessions. Delacorte Press. New York. 2007. $15.99. 978-0-385-73328-1.
215 pgs. Grade 9-12th P8/Q8
The book has a family tree chart at the beginning of the book with a section for Mom's side and one for Dad's side. Lynnie is a sixteen year old girl who is being raised by her father because her mom was killed in a car wreck. She wanted a car for her sixteen birthday but no luck just a really big letter her mother wrote when she was a teenager. It was a letter written to Noah - the name her mother called her father when they were in high school. Her mother didn't want her dad to fall in love with her because she had a big terrible secret. She had witnessed her father killing a teenage girl in the woods when she was young. Her mother even helped her dad dispose of the body. It is a story of how Lynnie comes to grips with her families past and who she is now. The story was engaging and a quick read. Teens will enjoy the suspense and how things are resolved in the end.
Mackler, Carolyn. Guyaholic ... a story of finding, flitring, forgetting, and the boy who changes everything. Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2007. $16.99. 978-0-7636-2537-5. 176 pgs. Grade 9-12. P8/Q8
V is a girl addicted to meaningless relationships. Her mom left her with her grandma and moved to another country with a boyfriend. She and Sam are in a relationship her senior year but she hurts him when she hooks up with a guy at a party. Her mom promises to come to her graduation but doesn't show. She decides to drive cross country to Texas where her mom is living with a different guy. When she gets there her mom says she is at the beach getting herself together because the guy dumped her. V learns that she will never have the support of her mother and that Sam is the one who is best for her. She takes a different route and doesn't wait for her mom and heads to California for Sam. She has lots of changing to do but now she knows why she doesn't want to be like her mom. Most teen girls are going to enjoy this tale of a girl finding out who she is and why she needs to change. There is a lot of sexual content with her hook up behavior but she resolves her issues in the end.
Latus, Janine. A Sister's Story of Love, Murder and Liberation... If I am Missing or Dead. Simon & Schuster. New York. 2007. $25.00. 978-0-7432-9653-3. 308 pgs. Grade 10th and above P8/ Q8
This was a hard book to read because it was a true story of two sisters and the verbal, emotional and physical abuse they received from their husband and boyfriend. It was amazing how one sister ended up missing and dead and how she new it was going to happen. The other sister finally grabbed the courage to leave her spouse and be her own self. It was sometimes confusing on the time line - with flashbacks and story lines into her sisters life.
FEBRUARY 2008 BOOK REVIEWS L.R.
Catalanotto, Peter. IVAN THE TERRIER. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 1-4169-1247-9 unp $16.99 Pres-K
As a well-known story begins (Three Billy Goats Gruff,
Little Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Boy, etc.)
Ivan runs across the page causing the characters to run away and prompting the narrator to stop and reprimand the pup. This causes the narrator to move on to another tale and every time Ivan creates chaos. Very small children may delight in the antics of Ivan, but the premise is too short, silly and/or weak to sustain interest in anyone over the age of four. The artwork should, however, ensure a browsing audience. (P-5, Q-5)
Tang, Greg. MATH FABLES TOO. Illus. by Taia Morley. Scholastic Press, 2007 ISBN 0-439-78351-8 unp $16.99 K-3
Tang has created another math book for classroom shelves using rhymes to teach a little science and
simple arithmetic. The bright, vivid colors used in the
illustrations will attract children and teachers can use the title as a follow-up to a counting lesson. (P-5, Q-8)
Wilson, Karma. BEAR FEELS SICK. Illus. by Jane Chapman. Margaaret K McElderry Books, 2007 ISBN 0-689-85985-6 unp $16.99 PreS-2
Bear is back in another satisfying story in rhyming
verse. He is sick with a bad cold and all his friends
try to make him feel better as they care for him and try to cheer him up by singing lullabies, drawing pictures and making him tea. But no matter what they do “he still feels sick.”
Every small child who has suffered from a cold will
relate to bear and feel empathy for him. Of course when bear begins to feel well enough to play again the role reverses and he takes care of his friends who are now under the weather with the sniffles. The illustrations greatly add to the presentation and teachers will use this with health units, during the winter when colds are rampant and when needing books on the ways friends can help one another. (P-8, Q-8)
Elliott, David. ONE LITTLE CHICKEN, A COUNTING BOOK. Illus. by Ethan Long. Holiday House, 2007 ISBN 0-8234-1983-5 unp
This counting book for young children uses chickens
dancing different dances while counting up to ten.
The only quibble is the author’s use of the term “bump and grind” that might leave a negative connotation with
some adult readers. With the popular “Dancing With the Stars” show currently on, this title might have some
success in a display of books about dancing. (P-6, Q-6)
Auch, Mary Jane and Herm. BEAUTY AND THE BEAKS, A TURKEY’S CAUTIONARY TALE. Holiday House, 2007 ISBN 0-8234-1990-8 unp $16.95 K-3
This is a great Thanksgiving story and children will
smile over the antics of these chickens as they try to
help Lance escape becoming the star of the Thanksgiving dinner. Beauty is running her beauty parlor, The Chic Hen, and is doing touch-ups, pedicures, and trims when the turkey arrives and smugly lets the girls know that he has been invited to a special feast. When they say they don’t know anything about it he guesses that they just haven’t been invited. Later when Beauty peeks through the window of the house and sees a cookbook opened to how to roast a turkey, she knows she and the girls must come to the rescue and poor Lance is in for a complete makeover. Improving his complexion, changing his wardrobe, and tweezing his tail feathers will have kids laughing with glee. Does the disguise work? Will Lance survive intact minus the tail feathers? The illustrations are a ten. The author has created and dressed chicken mannequins with polymer clay being
used for the eyes, beaks and shoes. The author’s husband built the sets for each page which were then
photographed and scanned into a computer. The pictures definitely capture the hilarity of the problem and they don’t come much better than this. Teachers with older students can create an “ex” spelling list with all the words that the author begins with “eggs” – they include eggsercise, eggsploring, eggstensive, eggsit, eggsclusive, eggspire, eggstreme, and eggsposed and they could also plan an author study around the chicken titles from this prolific writer. (P-9, Q-9)
*Hobbie, Holly. LET IT SNOW. Little, Brown and Company, 2007 ISBN 0-316-16686-7 unp $16.99 PreS-3
This is a wonderful Toot and Puddle holiday story. It is exactly the book to use with young children when talking about how to find the best present for a best friend. With a little thought, a little listening and some creative ideas, these two friends do find the perfect gift for each other. Watercolor illustrations bring the characters to life and four small round paper ornaments are included that could help to decorate a library Christmas tree. (P-10, Q-10)
Vere, Ed. THE GETAWAY. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007 ISBN 1-4169-4789-2 unp $16.99 Gr. 1-2
I’m not liking this one although children might. This mouse is a thief and is stealing cheese. He asks the kid reading the story to help him. He is “in a fix” and wants the kid reading to be on the lookout for the elephant cop. All they need to do is whistle if they see him. The mouse finally decides that the kid (reader) can’t whistle so good maybe because the cop shows up finally and nabs the thief. Then the thief says, “Maybe crime just isn’t your racket!” Well, okayyyyy. There is just something not right about asking the reader to be an accomplice to this robbery even if it is only a hunk of cheese. My prudery is showing (it’s JUST A STORY!!!), but kids will no doubt have fun with it. The illustrations are so-so. Maybe there is a lesson here about what to do if someone calls, “Hey Kid!” and wants you to do something bad. I don’t know. (P-7, Q-5)
Alsenas, Linas. PEANUT. Scholastic Press, 2007 ISBN 0-439-77980-4 unp $16.99 PreS
This simple story finds Mildred, a little old lady,
lonely and sitting on a park bench until she notices a stray puppy and takes it home. It’s really a baby elephant which might explain why it will only eat peanuts. When she takes it for a walk in the park she notices that Peanut doesn’t look like the other dogs and doesn’t do the same things the other dogs do. No matter, she still loves her Peanut. One day a man from the circus sees her and claims the lost baby elephant. When she visits the circus she sees that her little Peanut is happy so that makes her feel better, but now she is lonely again. That is until she finds another stray – a kitten that she decides to bring home that is really a camel. Poor Mildred, she needs a good pair of glasses and/or an animal reference book. Very young kids may laugh at the joke, but this will have limited use in an elementary school. (P-5, Q-5)
Hillman, Ben. HOW BIG IS IT? A BIG BOOK ALL ABOUT BIGNESS. Scholastic, 2007 ISBN 0-439-91808-1 47p $14.99 Gr. 3-6
This is an interesting way to teach about the size of things in the natural world. The author takes several things found on our planet and in space (past and present) and places them in context with other things we are familiar with. For example, redwood trees are placed in Brooklyn, New York so that the reader can visualize what they would look like next to the buildings. A giant squid is placed in front of a house to show what 55 feet really looks like in relation to the length of the house. Subway cars are run up the side of the great pyramid at Giza to show how many it would take to reach the top. A standing polar bear is placed on a basketball court to show how easy it would be for it to do a slam dunk. This will draw the interest of an older crowd that use to pour over the “I Spy” titles. As well as a visual delight, children will also learn interesting facts about each of the 22 big things that the author highlights. (P-10, Q-8)
McCourt, Lisa. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, STINKY FACE. Illus. by Cyd Moore. Scholastic Inc., 2007 ISBN 0-439-77977-4 unp $15.99 K-3
I don’t know any of the other stories about Sticky Face, but this Halloween story has him concerned about what will happen during trick-or-treating that evening. Mama reassures him after each question. The lay-out and design of the book is the problem here. Mama’s dialog is done in type that is easily readable, but when Stinky Fact talks the script that is used is more difficult. There is a two-page spread at the beginning using the more difficult type-face and the reader must move to the next page to continue the sentence. It’s not easy to follow. Also, on one page the book needs to be turned sideways to read. The illustrations are busy and will require closer observation so it may be best used as a one-on-one title – an adult sharing it with a child. (P-7, Q-5)
February Book Reviews
K.C., NHS Student
Rallison, Janette. It’s a Mall World After All. Walker Publishing, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 080278853x 230 p. Gr. 7-12 Charlotte is a high school student who works at the mall, and while at the mall she learns a lot. She learns not to trust skinny people who work at the Cinnabon (“if they don’t eat it, how good can it be?”) and that Bryant, Charlotte’s best friend’s boyfriend, is cheating on her. The problem is that Brianna (the best friend) doesn’t believe her. Bryant, with the help of his super-handsome best friend, Colton, turns the tables so now Charlotte looks like the bad person! The Charlotte starts falling for Colton and it really gets complicated. It’s very funny, well-written, with an awesome main character. P9 Q10
February Book Reviews
B.R.J., NHS Student
Bush, Jenna. Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope. HarperCollins, New York, 2007. $18.99 ISBN: 9780061379086 290 p. Gr. 9-12 This is the story of a girl, 17, who HIV and is a mother. She was abused as a girl, but was infected from birth with HIV. The book starts out with Ana as a young girl. She recollects memories about her mother. It progresses quickly through her childhood, only stopping lightly to explain that both her mother and father have died. She is subjected to abuse, both physical and sexual. She finally escapes the abuse to go live with a friend, but she cannot be legally adopted. She ten goes to juvenile hall, because that is where they put orphans. She has kept her HIV infection a secret. She finally tells a boy that she has HIV, and he also has it. He leaves juvenile detention and moves to a place for HIV positive people and promises that he will try to move her to the HIV positive home, too. They are very good friends, and it gradually becomes something more. He is the one who fathers her child. They end up breaking up after the girl is born, and Ana gradually falls in love with someone else. The book ends here, and then the author tells a bit more to give you a sense of closure, but the book still has a very abrupt ending. All in all, though, I absolutely love this book because it’s funny and serious at the same time. It’s easy to read and very believable. P9 Q10
Petrucha, Stefan. Teen, Inc. Walker & Company, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 0802796508 244 p. Gr. 8-12 This book is about Jaiden Beale, who was orphaned and was adopted by the company responsible for his parents’ death. It is a very interesting book because he has very few social skills because he did not go to school (he had private tutors) until high school. It all starts off with a presentation about date-able girls, because the company is concerned that he doesn’t have a girlfriend. When the girl he likes is his biology partner and wants to meet at his house, he agrees, but then has to scramble to find a house because he lives in a remodeled office suite. When he gets the company house, he is up in “his” room with her, when lawyers burst in, trying to make everything legal. This book is absolutely hilarious, serious and funny at the same time. It’s easy to read and very believable. P8 Q9
Harshman, Marc, and Barbara Garrison. Only one neighborhood. Illustrations by Barbara Garrison. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 9780525474685 $15.99 Ages 2-5. P7Q7
Cheerful ‘collograph’ (a combination of ‘collage’ and ‘graphic’—graphic designs applied to cardboard, covered in gesso, and then acrylic wash) illustrations show the connections between the one and the many through the shops in a single neighborhood. The attempt to broaden the analysis to a single world, with everyone wanting only peace is not as successful. Recommended for preschool and early elementary collections.
Johnson, D. B. Four legs bad, two legs good! Houghton Mifflin, c2007. 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 9780618809097 / 0618809090 $16.00 Ages 4-7, high school. P7Q8
In a simplified—though twisted—adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm, the duck’s antics lead the haughty, lazy pig to rejoin the rest of the farm animals in a democratic society. The mixed media illustrations continue Johnson’s distinctive style of illustration, previously seen in such books as Henry Climbs a Mountain, and Henry Goes to Fitchburg. Recommended for preschool collections and especially recommended for high school classes studying Animal Farm.
Carson, Mary Kay. Emi and the rhino scientist. With photographs by Tom Uhlman. (Scientists in the field series.) Houghton Mifflin, c2007. Includes glossary, bibliographic references, and index. 57 p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780618646395 / 0618646396 $18.00
Ages 12 up. P8Q9
An introduction to Terri Roth, an endangered species breeding expert, and her work with Sumatran rhinos in captivity. Includes overviews of the current status of rhino populations. Copiously illustrated with photographs of Emi, only the second captive Sumatran rhino to give birth in captivity. Highly recommended for public and school library collections. A worthy addition to the Scientist in the field series.
February 2008 Reviews-A.G. Indian Ed
Terrill, Beth. Illus. by Greg Newbold. The Barnyard Night Before Christmas. NY: Random House, 2007. $14.99 32 pp. ages 3-8 ISBN 978-0-375-83682-4 P7/Q7
The “Night Before Christmas” is a perennial favorite for new adaptations. This one features barnyard animals who help Santa when his reindeer can’t fly the sleigh, and in the process have to get over their in-fighting and learn to cooperate. Not as imaginative or funny as “Santa Cows”, nor as intimately familiar with country living, but the illustrations are good and the poem’s adaptation serves.
Elya, Susan Middleton & Banks, Merry. Illus. by Joe Cepeda. N is for Navidad. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007. $14.95 36 pp. ages 3-10 ISBN 0-8118-5205-9 P7/Q7
This alphabet book uses Spanish words for each letter of the alphabet(A is for angel, B is for bunuelos, etc.), each with a special relevance to Latino celebrations of Christmas. The rest of the text is in English, so it is a nice way to teach both differing customs as well as Spanish vocabulary. The illustrations are lively and convey the social conviviality of the season. This would be a good addition to any elementary school holiday book collection.
Anderson, Hans Christian; retold by Amy Ehrlich. Illustrated by Susan Jeffers. The Snow Queen. NY: Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin), 1982, 2006. $16.99 40 pp. ages 8-11 ISBN 0-525-47694-6 P8/Q5
This book is fabulous for its illustrations. Unfortunately the text doesn’t match up. This rendition of Anderson’s classic fairy tale does not read well, and the large number of words per page and the vocabulary mean that it is most likely going to either be read out loud to the child or else the child will just look at the pictures and wonder about the often-unfamiliar story. They should have gotten Richard Kennedy to write the text.
Early Chapter Books
Delacroix, Alice. Illus. by Cynthia Fisher. How to Survive a Totally Boring Summer. NY: Holiday House, 2007. $16.95 98 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-8234-2024-8 P7/Q7
This easy-to-read chapter book is about a third grader who has just moved to a new small town. Summer seems like it will be boring, so he and his friends hatch a plan to start a chess club, in between the library reading club and swimming lessons. In the process they get to know the “birdman”, an old curmudgeon who starts to play chess with them. Their project expands until it’s a real community effort. Not all kids will identify completely with these characters, but it’s an enjoyable story and has a pleasant tone.
McCombie, Karen. Illus. by Lydia Monks. Indie Kidd: Being Grown-Up is Cool (Not!). NY: Yearling Book (Random House), 2005 (in US 2007—orig. published in UK). $5.99 160 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 978-0-440-42199-3 P7/Q6
Ten-year-old Indie wants to grow up fast, and experiments with her family’s lodger’s makeup & shoes. When she accidentally removes part of her eyebrow with what she thought was face cream, Indie begins to discover that there’s a bit more to it. Caitlin the lodger has problems with being adult, and by the end of the story Indie has learned that problems that kids have are not much different than problems of adults. The book is an early chapter book, with large print and illustrations on every page. It will probably appeal mostly to girls. While a few words of vocabulary are English rather than American, most kids will do well with it.
For Older Students
Myers, Anna. Wart. NY: Walker & Co., 2007. $16.95 215 pp. ages 9-12. ISBN 0-8027-8977-3 P7/Q7
This story takes an ordinary situation—an eighth-grade boy who can’t accept his father’s girlfriend as a new stepmother—and takes it into fantasy. A new girlfriend appears to be a witch, and that old one begins to look good. For preteens it will be fun to imagine—what if your casually-said label turns out to be true? What if she really could change you into a frog, and then starts calling you “Wart”? Through the story we see Stewart grow through some typical social adjustment phases (obsessing about popularity, first feelings towards girls) that will appeal to readers. The vocabulary is simple and while the number of pages makes it appear lengthy, it is actually a quick read. Not exactly life-changing great literature, but recommended for students who want a light read with just a touch of romance.
Nelson, Blake. Prom Anonymous. NY: Viking (Penguin), 2006. $16.99 262 pp. ages 12-16 ISBN 0-670-05945-5 P7/Q5
This book might appeal to those who want to explore, bit by bit, the various preparations for Prom and the social nightmares that surround it. Junior Chloe has been talked into going to Prom, but can’t find a date. As her friends find her a blind date, she sets about trying to conform to the Prom traditions. Having just gone through this last year with my own daughter, I can see how much of the book covers those details that are pretty universal with the traditional upper-classmen dance, but without the frisson of looking forward to one’s own prom I think the book falls a little flat. It is most likely to be read, I think, by middle school and early high school students, as its themes are a bit tamer than juniors & seniors are likely to consider.
Patton, Stacey. That Mean Old Yesterday. NY: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster), 2007. $24. 320 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-7432-9310-X P8/Q9
This is a dramatically written autobiography of a girl who is adopted at the age of 5 by middle class black parents. While her life should have been improved, instead it became a living nightmare of verbal, physical and sexual abuse until she finally ran away at the age of 12. Patton alternates the horrifying stories of her adopted mother’s brutality with analysis of black American cultural values in child rearing as they were affected by the history of slavery. She doesn’t excuse the behavior, but does couch it in a context that may make those who are embedded in that culture begin to see its origins and perhaps make different decisions about how to handle child rearing that emphasizes “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Patton remained a good student throughout her struggles, and is clearly very intelligent, and so brings a sense of hope and resiliency to her difficult past. It should be required reading for social workers, and will be very enlightening to both sheltered middle class kids and those who are themselves engaged in similar struggles. It is explicit enough about the abuse to make it more appropriate for high school, but if a student is experiencing similar abuse it would be a helpful book at any age.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. The Off Season. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. $16.00 277 pp. ages 11-18 P8/Q8
This sequel to “Dairy Queen” continues the life of eleventh-grader D.J. Schwenk as she plays boys’ football. Everyday social situations are tough enough in her life, but then her oldest brother gets injured playing college football. D.J.’s life turns upside down, and much of the book is about her dealing with her family’s dependence on her and her unexpected strengths, as well as dealing with her boyfriend’s disappointing attitude toward her. The author clearly understands country living, and has good insight into the lives of jocks of all stripes. It’s a very enjoyable book that should appeal to both boys and girls.
Donaldson, Julia, The Giants and the Joneses, (Greg Swearingen)
(Henry Holt & Co. ), (2005), ($14.95), ISBN: 1844405508, (215 Pages)
The book will appeal to ages 8-10.P7/Q8
The story line is familiar to the Jack and the Beanstalk. There are giants and humans in, each speaking their own language. The book has translations for human and giant languages. A giant captures the “Iggly Plop” (human) children. Each chapter is full of suspense. Will the children escape or will they be held captive and tortured by the Giant Children? The chapters are short and easy to read (with the exception of having to interpret the giant’s language). I think it will appeal to the younger, beginner readers, about 3rd grade.