Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Picturebooks

I haven't spent much time in the past, in this blog, talking about picturebooks. I'm a novel reader and that's what I love most. Necessarily, however, I read a lot of picturebooks too and I'm coming to understand the beauty, simplicity, and power of picturebooks more and more. So now you get to read picturebook reviews too. Lucky you!

Orange Pear Apple Bear (Simon & Schuster, 5/07), by Emily Gravett
Orange Pear Apple Bear is a delightfully artistic book designed for children, but fun for adults. It opens as an object book, an orange on the first page, a pear on the next, then apple, then bear. But what comes next makes the book surprising and fun to examine. Next, we have an orange bear. Later, the bear juggles, changing the order of the simple words, apple, bear, orange, pear. So, it's a deceptively simple and clever picture book that will serve a variety of functions in early literacy. On the basic level, there is the vocabulary. Next there is the playing around with the meanings of words, nouns, adjectives, etc. Finally, there is word order and how it changes the meaning of a sentence. Best of all are the beautiful and simple watercolor illustrations.

A Dog Needs A Bone! (Blue Sky Press, 8/07) by Audrey Wood
What is your dog thinking about all day long? Bones! Toy bones, treat bones, squeaky bones. The dog in this story promises to do all kinds of funny, crazy things, if only his mistress will give him a bone! How about a carrot? No? Will this dog ever get a bone? This doggy sees bones everywhere! How many bones can you find in the illustrations? This newest offering from the classic Audrey Wood is full of her humor in both rhyming text and illustrations and is perfect for younger children.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cutie New Picturebooks

I read a lot of picturebooks now, so here are a couple I really liked recently.

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy (Candlewick, 6/07), by Scott Menchin.
Sweet Pea is feeling sad today, so she sets out to find what makes other people happy. Taking a bath makes her dog happy. Counting tree rings makes the old man in the park happy. Shoes make the centipede happy. All of these things remind Sweet Pea that there are lots and lots of things that make her happy - especially taking a bath with the dog! What makes you happy?

Big Bad Wolves at School (Simon & Schuster, 6/07), by Stephen Krensky
Did you ever wonder how the Big Bad Wolf learned so many sneaky tricks? He went to Big Bad Wolf Academy, of course! But Rufus the wolf doesn't like going to school and learning how to blow down houses and dress up like a granny. He would rather roll in the grass and run around and howl. The other wolves call Rufus old-fashioned, but when a group of hunters comes to the forest, only Rufus knows what to do! This is a really funny book with great illustrations!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Here is a book review from my archives. I put this in the hands of those boys who play RuneQuest on my computers all day at the library. I must confess, after reading the book, I really wanted to start playing those role-playing games.

Epic (Viking, 4/07), by Conor Kostick.

Long ago, the people of Earth were sent to the planet New Earth to escape the violence and destruction that mankind had wrought. In order to rule New Earth in peace, no violence of any kind would be tolerated – no yelling, hitting, or kicking, no matter how just the cause. Knowing that it would be necessary to ease tension and aggression somehow, the forefathers created a computer game, Epic, where the citizens of New Earth could fight in the arena and settle disputes. Generations later, Epic seems more real than life away from the screen. Children go to school to learn Epic strategies, the only way to earn money is through Epic, and the law is upheld through arena battles. Central Allocations, the government, has an unfair advantage in the game and rules with an iron fist. Erik and his friends spend all of their time playing Epic, like everyone else they know. One day, after dying in Epic, Erik decides to shake things up. He creates a new avatar with a skill set that seems impractical and no one has used before. Surprising things begin happening in the game when the new avatar, Cindella, begins to play. Her unusual skills seem to make the game more vivid and exciting than it ever was before; even fun again. As Cindella plays her way through the levels of the game, Erik and his friends discover a way to take down the entire corrupt system of their government and change the way the game is played, and the way their lives are lived, forever. The first-time novelist is the creator of the world’s first live fantasy role-playing game and brings his expertise in this field to create a compelling alternate universe. The story effectively explores the dangers of living purely in a fantasy world that are timely considering the growing popularity of games like Epic for children and adults. With both well-rounded characters and plot, this novel is a welcome addition to the science fiction shelf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Into the Wild

I just finished reading Into the Wild . What a creative, fun, and well-written book! Just looking at the other author raves all over the cover got me excited about it and the premise is just awesome. This is the most innovative twist on fairy tales I've seen in a long time.

Into the Wild (Razorbill, 7/07), by Sarah Beth Durst.

Julie is a modern girl who doesn't quite fit in at school. Mainly this is because her modern school world and her world at home are so very different. See, Julie's mom is Rapunzel and their personal lives are overrun with all sorts of fairy tale characters. Puss n Boots is Julie's adopted brother. Snow's Seven come over for dinner all the time and they're so sexist! Cindy is the worst driver ever and she always wants to pick Julie up at school.

To make matters worse, THE WILD lives under Julie's bed and she is its keeper. The Wild is a magical force that is manifest in a thick, enchanted forest, now shrunk down to a pile of hungry vines living under Julie's bed. If The Wild gets ahold of Julie's shoe, it turns it into something else. Same with anything else it grabs. Julie is responsible for keeping The Wild locked up and never talking about it to anyone.

One night, someone makes a special wish at Granny's Wishing Well Motel and The Wild becomes powerful once again. Almost instantly, there is a huge, primeaval forest growing in the middle of town, sucking in anything that gets near it. All of the fairy tale characters are forced to back to their stories, re-enacting them over and over, in their own kind of prison. Only Julie understands enough about the world and the ways of The Wild to rescue her family and put The Wild back in its place. Julie doesn't belong to a story - yet - so she can manipulate what happens, as long as she plays by The Wild's rules.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wecome Back, Me

Ever since I started my new children's librarian job, I've been busy reading tons and tons of stuff, but not posting about it at all! I've missed the blog and now it's time to get back online. I will try to post all the stuff I've been working on and keep up with what I'm currently reading.

This is also going to be come a pretty exclusively kid lit blog from now on. Hope you enjoy it!

On my bookshelf right now, I have:
Greetings from Planet Earth - Barbara Kerley
Book Crush - Nancy Pearl
In Search of Mockingbird - Loretta Ellsworth
In the Shadow of the Ark - Anne Provoost
Into the Wild - Sarah Durst
Me and the Pumpkin Queen - Marlane Kennedy
The Perfect Nest - Catherine Friend
Samurai Shortstop - Alan Gratz
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs - Betty G. Birney

And a review:
The Princess and the Peabodys (HarperCollins, 9/07), by Betty G. Birney
Casey and her grandma love to go yard sale shopping, so when they discover a cheap, mysterious, old box that won’t open, they are sure that there something good inside. When they finally get the box open at home, a princess pops out! Turns out that the royal wizard was supposed to make the box appear and disappear, but he wasn’t very talented and not only did the box disappear for good, but it took the princess with it! Now the princess is stuck living in modern California with the Peabody family until the wizard can learn the right spell. While Gran, Dad, and little Shane seem entranced by the princess, Casey is the one who will have to show her how to get along in junior high! Princess Eglantine bosses people around, speaks a medieval sort of English, and doesn’t have a clue how modern inventions work. Casey is sure that this is going to make her a laughingstock! This very funny premise makes a great fish out of water tale and explores diversity in a new way. I like that the story is told from the point of view of the tomboy who is being imposed upon by the princess, making this is not your typical pink, sparkly princess story.