Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hunger Games embroidery

Stunning! Here's a work of art by a Hunger Games fan... an embroidered version of the clock arena. Check out craftster.org for more pictures.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews, part 12

It's Bedtime Dear Dragon
by Margaret Hillert, illustrated by David Schimmel
Norwood House Press
January 2012

What this book lacks in narrative sparkle, it makes up for in attractive formatting. Utilitarian short sentences show a strong basal reader influence. If not for the addition of the friendly green dragon, this could easily substitute for nearly any Dick and Jane adventure. Kids do flock to this series, however! Looking for something with a little more humor and pizzazz? Try the Dragon series by Dav Pilkey.

I borrowed this book from the library.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!
by Mo Willems
Disney Press
April 2012

Hahahahaha! This latest installment of the Pigeon saga has our hero completely indignant that SOME birds seem to get everything they want -- just by asking! Imagine everyone's surprise when Duckling reveals the real reason for his request: so that he could give the cookie (with nuts) to Pigeon. Trademark bold lines, expressive characters and a zany sense of humor will satisfy any fan of this series.
I borrowed this book from the library.

Dini Dinosaur
by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Daniel Rood
HarperCollins Children's Book
March 2012

This book was so cute! This story combines bathtime with dinosaurs to very great effect. My only quibble (and it's a minor one) is that I wasn't sure if the main character's name should be pronounced "Deeney" or "Dine-E" The story seems to scan just as well either way - just pick a pronunciation and stick with it all the way through. Dini Dinosaur gets dirty and needs to take a bath before bedtime. After jumping in the tub fully clothed, he gradually takes off one layer after another. With a repeating rhyming refrain, "Dirty Dini Dinosaur splashed in the tub. He tried to wash... with a scrub-a-dub-dub!" this is sure to be a hit at storytime. It's up to Mama Dinosaur to finally set things to rights, giving him a thorough scrubbing before settling down for bed. Rood's crisp digital illustrations are large and easy to see from a distance - another reason why this makes such a great storytime selection.

I borrowed this book from the library.

All for Me and None for All
by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 2012

Greedy Gruntly pig wants to hog everything for himself. During a treasure hunt with friends, his attempts to outwit and beat them to the treasure all backfire, and he thinks he's left with nothing... until his friends show him that they saved a bag of treats just for him. Munsinger's watercolor illustrations seem a little reminiscent of David McPhail. This story was just a wee bit didactic for my tastes.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Glitch

What else can I say, except: Sounds. Awesome.


Glitch
by Heather Anastasiu
St. Martin's Press
August 2012

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Forever review

Forever
by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic
July 2011

First line: "I can be so, so quiet."

I can't believe I haven't written a review for this book yet. It's one of those books that is so... wow, terrific, over-the-top wonderful. I don't feel like anything I can say will do it justice! It's one of those rare books that I'm not afraid of overhyping, because it's better than any description I can summon.



And I know others have said it before, but it's true, so I'll join in the chorus, and say that this book was poetic, lyrical, magical and completely amazing.


Obviously, readers should go back and read the first two of The Wolves of Mercy Falls books if they haven't yet. Shiver and Linger establish memorable characters and magical, yet somehow believable scenarios for an active werewolf population in Minnesota. I loved that the werewolves are not controlled by the moon - rather, their shapechanging abilities hinge on the temperature. The finale of the trilogy hinges on the relationships between rock-steady Grace and Sam, and the more electric and unstable Isabel and Cole. Mad werewolf Shelby stirs up trouble by randomly attacking people and Isabel's blustering father forces the issue when he organizes a chopper hunt to shoot down the wolves outside Mercy Falls.


Grace and Sam have a really strong connection, and even if I was a little surprised at how much Sam was ready and willing to marry Grace right away, I did appreciate that Grace finally confronts her parents for essentially abandoning her to raise herself. They forbid her to see Sam, and predictably, once she's eighteen, she pretty much moves out. The story wraps up most major plot points, but what I wouldn't give for another chapter or two to hash out a few of the finer details!


Normally, I'd recommend a slew of other werewolf books (and there are plenty out there, believe me) but this time around, I'd say what makes this book really distinctive is the beautiful language, so I'll recommend some equally lyrical paranormal/fantasy/horror YA titles instead.

Compare to:

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor


I purchased this book.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews, part 11

Good Night, Laila Tov
by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Jui Ishida
Random House Children's Books
March 2012

Here's another Jewish family picture book from Laurel Snyder. This is as sweet and gentle as her other books have been snarky and funny. A mom and dad plant trees everywhere they go and their two kids fall asleep - a lot! The tables are turned when the children tuck their parents in when they return home. Cozy illustrations show the family bathed in yellow light. This could be nice as a bedtime story or for Tu Bishvat.

I borrowed this book from the library.

An Awesome Book
by Dallas Clayton
HarperCollins
March 2012

This book may be a little more for grown-ups than for kids? It's kind of along the same lines as Oh, the Places You'll Go by Seuss, crossed with the silly sensibility of Todd Parr.  Things get off to a strong start, "There are places in the world where people do not dream... of rocket-powered unicorns." Busy sketches full of detail have a hipster vibe to them. The artwork reminded me a little of Hallmark Shoebox greetings, too. This is a reprint of a 2008 release.

I borrowed this book from the library.

That's Not Funny!
by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
Andersen Press, USA
September 2010

Willis treats us to a silly story of a naughty hyena, who LOVES to laugh at all the animals when he puts a banana peel on their path to step on. The joke is on him when after a long series of mishaps, Hyena lands in "a huge, steaming heap of Elephant's POO!" Colorful illustrations really bring the African plains to life. Pair this with Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears or any of Eric Kimmel's Anansi books for a fun storytime.

I borrowed this book from the library.

National Geographic Kids Just Joking: 300 Hilarious Jokes, Tricky Tongue Twisters, and Ridiculous Riddles
edited by Robin Terry
National Geographic Society
March 2012

Kids jokes are just too funny. You'll be holding your belly, and rolling your eyes as you groan over these delightfully corny jokes.

Jokes like:
"Q: What rock group has four men who don't sing? 
A: Mount Rushmore."

Knock knocks like these:
"Knock, knock"
"Who's there?"
"T. Rex."
"T. Rex who?"
"There's a T. Rex at your door, and you want to know his name?"

And unique tongue-twisters such as:
"Girl gargoyle, guy gargoyle."

will all be very well received by kids with a sense of humor.

Brilliant color photos of all manner of wild animals and an appealing layout make this a perfect choice for reluctant readers. I highly recommend this book!

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on The Spy Princess

Let's face it. I have a weakness for kick-ass princesses. And for spies! This book looks like it's going to rock!


The Spy Princess
by Sherwood Smith
Viking Juvenile
August 2012

When twelve-year-old Lady Lilah decides to disguise herself and sneak out of the palace one night, she has more of an adventure than she expected--for she learns very quickly that the country is on the edge of revolution. When she sneaks back in, she learns something even more surprising: her older brother Peitar is one of the forces behind it all. The revolution happens before all of his plans are in place, and brings unexpected chaos and violence. Lilah and her friends, leaving their old lives behind, are determined to help however they can. But what can four kids do? Become spies, of course!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Picture book mini-reviews, part 10

Biscuit Plays Ball
by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories
HarperCollins
March 2012

I think I just took 15 points of cute damage, from this ridiculously adorable puppy. The story is fairly slight; Biscuit rambunctiously punctures a kickball, forcing the kids to switch to a whiffle ball game instead. Cuuuuuute.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Secret Agent Splat
by Rob Scotton
HarperCollins
March 2012

Splat wants to solve the mystery of why his ducks' bills are going missing. The story didn't make a lot of sense - many of the characters just pop in with very little introduction, but then again, I haven't really followed the series. I loved Splat's rambling notes on his "cunning plan" to catch the culprit. There's a fun "top secret" duck code on the end pages that I think kids will dig.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Night, Knight
by Owen Davey
Templar
January 2012

Absolutely charming. A colander-helmeted little boy has an imaginative bedtime, transforming ordinary bedtime rituals into "a great adventure." A bath becomes a a swim past wildlife in the moat, brushing teeth becomes a dodge past alligators. The book is illustrated with a limited palette of orange, brown and blue, giving it a mildly retro feel.

I purchased this book.

Dad Does it All
by Paul Orshaski, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Treasure Bay
December 2011

Ugh. That's nearly all I have to say about this one. Here's a dad who is so out of it, he puts Papa Berenstain to shame. The bumbling dad of this story manages to make a complete mess of things when mom is sick with a cold. "My dad stayed home the other day. My mom was sick. Her throat was gray." After a day of total incompetence, "He hung some shirts out on the line. They blew away - and some were mine! Then as we chased them in the yard, Dad said, 'I never worked so hard.' It's the kid who finally saves the day - by ordering pizza so they can eat after Dad's burned the roast. Appended with phonics activities for parents to do with their children.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Conspiracy of Kings review

A Conspiracy of Kings
by Megan Whalen Turner
Greenwillow Books
March 2010

A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth installment in the popular Queen's Thief series. I have to say, particularly with the popularity of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books, The Thief is an easy sell for me. Once I mention that it's set in a fantasy world that is loosely based on Ancient Greece, it's usually game-over and the kid I'm recommending it to will check it out that very day. The only thing that I've ever found frustrating about this series is the four or five year wait in-between volumes!

In a lot of ways, A Conspiracy of Kings feels like the anti-thesis of The Thief. Where The Thief is about Eugenides, a clever and determined spy who has used his finely-honed abilities to scrabble out of of poverty and into the queen's favor, this story features Sophos, a young noble and heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Sounis who is thrown into poverty and slavery as he makes his escape from assassins who attempt to slaughter his family for political gain. There's quite a bit of travel in this book, which is another feature I usually enjoy in fantasy. Sophos gradually makes his way across the continent (having been assumed lost or dead) gathering intelligence that will stop the kingdom of Mede (loosely based on the Turkish Empire?) from making their play for control over their neighbors.

I was a little surprised that Gen is such a minor character in this book. Reportedly, Turner is working on a fifth book in the series, but details about the next book are hazy. If her current pattern holds up, I'd put my money on another book coming out in 2015.


I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee

Here's the third book in the Origami Yoda series. The first two were so funny - I know I'm going to enjoy this one. I love that they made Chewbacca into a fortune-teller origami! Also, rhymes with "fortune cookie" so it makes an odd kind of sense.


The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee
by Tom Angelberger
Amulet Books
August 2012

With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their own—no Origami Yoda to give advice and help them navigate the treacherous waters of middle school. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from Dwight—a paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It’s a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that’s just as good as Yoda’s—even if, in the hands of the girls, it seems too preoccupied with romance. In the meantime, Dwight is fitting in a little too well at Tippett. Has the unimaginable happened? Has Dwight become normal? It’s up to his old friends at McQuarrie to remind their kooky friend that it’s in his weirdness that his greatness lies.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

That New Book Smell



You'll hear plenty of folks wax poetic about "that old book smell." Here's a perfume meant to simulate that "new book smell" (probably not as famous as "new car smell" but to die-hard booklovers, probably more valuable.) 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Picture books mini-reviews, part 9

Dixie and the Class Treat
by Grace Gilman, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
HarperCollins
March 2012

Dixie the dog gets into one mishap after another. Emma and her mom are making cookies to share for snack at school, when uh-oh! An over-rambunctious Dixie knocks over the table, ruining everything. They whip up a fresh batch, unsuspectingly adding cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon. Cue the sad trombone - Wah-wah-wah-waaaaaah! But Dixie (and Emma's mom) save the day when they arrive at school and Dixie manages to knock over another table of cookies, saving the students from a too spicy snack. Emma's super-mom presents the kids with a third batch of cookies (cooked the right way this time, of course.) Colorful watercolors give a great sense of motion as Dixie wiggles and waggles across every page.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze
by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
September 2011

Here is a great picture book for sharing in the fall. I love the digital and watercolor illustrations by Hillenbrand. Bear is certain that his sneezing is the cause of falling leaves and geese flying south, while Autumn Wind knows that Big Bear had nothing to do with it. In a way, this is a bit of take on that old Aesop's fable, The North Wind and the Sun - where they battle it out to see who's stronger (it is neither, of course.) I don't know what made me think of it... the mopsical foolishness of the bear in this story, I suppose.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Little Bea
by Daniel Roode
Greenwillow Books
March 2011
A busy bee named "Bea" buzzes around, looking like a unscrewed lightbulb with her tiny striped body and bulbous yellow head. Gardening, visiting with friends, playing in the rain, and an array of other little mini-adventures in a bucolic outdoor setting wear her out until she, "Bzz. Bzz. Zzzzzzzz," goes to sleep. No matter how many times I look at this, bobble-headed Bea looks like a lightbulb to me! All of the digitally created art looks slick and bright. 

I borrowed this book from the library.

Mac and Cheese and the Perfect Plan
by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Jane Manning
HarperCollins
March 2012

In this silly rhyming beginning reader, two alleycats argue over whether they should go to the beach or not. (Mac is in favor, Cheese is against.) When they miss the bus, they have to settle for the pool. Colorful watercolor illustrations depicting an overstuffed junkyard which is home to the two cats is probably my favorite part of this odd couple series.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waiting on Spark

As soon as I finished reading Glow, I was desperate to read the next one in the series. Not much longer to wait now!


Spark
by Amy Kathleen Ryan
St. Martin's Griffin
July 2012

Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancĂ©? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her?

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Read in June



This month I read the following books:

1 Goddess Interrupted - Aimee Carter
2 A Hero for WondLA - Tony DiTerlizzi
3 The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook
4 Dust Girl - Sarah Zettel

Picture credit: Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honore Fragonard

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