Monday, February 27, 2012

Up Dog by Hazel Hutchins

How many ways can you use the word up?  That is what I thought of as I read this book.  "Open up" the door, "dig up" the bone, get all muddy and "mess up" the house, etc.  Young children will love the mess the dog makes and may even understand why the pup is put in the pen ("pen up") as a punishment while the owner has to "clean up."  The illustrations by Fanny are colorful and adorable and will keep children entertained.  While this is a board for toddlers I can see pre-schoolers and even kindergartners enjoying reading this book.  Once they know how to read the word UP the charming illustrations will help them decipher the other words and understand  the different uses for the words.  I can also see this book used with ELL's.  A great addition to a baby's growing library.  Read as an ebook arc couretsy of Annick Press via Netgalley.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Time Voyage by Steve Brezenoff

Time Voyage
Books about the Titanic have always been popular in my school libraries.  And as 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic a new crop of books are being published.  Steve Brezenoff, author of Brooklyn Burning for YA's and The Field Trip Mysteries series for elementary schoolers has penned a new series for elementary set.  Entitled Return to Titanic, Time Voyage is the first book in this series and thanks to Capstone via Netgalley I was able to read an arc of this first title.

Tucker and his best friend Maya are spending spring break helping Tucker's mom sort through items from the Titanic for a museum exhibit.  While handling a boarding pass for passage on the ship they are transported back in time to the day before the voyage begins.  Befriending a boy their age named Liam, set to sail on the doomed ship, they attempt to prevent him and his family from embarking.

Brezenoff has written a page turning adventure that is sure to appeal to youngsters.  The chapters are short with cliffhanging endings.  Each chapter begins with a map showing where the kids are (2012 or 1912) and some other illustrations.  Readers will also enjoy the back matter and will be begging for the next 3 books as soon as they are done with this one.  Recommended for those interested in the Titanic, fans of time travel and adventure stories grades 2 (strong readers) and up.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl is a fictionized account of Beryl Markham's childhood growing up in British East Africa. She was raised by a native tribe as much as by her father, learned to hunt and fight with the young boys who will grow up to be warriors, trained horses, avoided formal education, was attacked by a lion, and was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from England to North America.
Journal entries and news articles preface each chapter giving us a glimpse into the adult Beryl and her flight. The majority of the book however is about her childhood and what an amazing childhood it was.  Written beautifully, Michaela MacColl's words help us visualize what this part of Africa looked liked as British settlement began in the early 1900's. The boarding school scenes are quite funny. While her relationship with her father was strained at times it was obvious that they loved each other. Beryl Markham is an example of strong female who grew up with a dream and succeeded in making that dream a reality.  Recommended  highly for those who enjoy historical fiction, books about Africa or someone looking for a strong female character. 
Read as an ebook courtesy of Chronicle Books.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Sasha lives in the USSR with his father in a communal apartment with 47 other people.  He has dreamed of becoming a Young Soviet Pioneer all his short life and serving Stalin whom he worships.  Then one night his father is arrested and slowly everything Sasha knows, loves and believes in begins to crumble. 

Written to be accessible to young readers this is a look into the Cold War that just might send readers looking for more.  Heavily illustrated and printed in a format that reluctant readers will be also be drawn to.
As an adult I can only wonder how anyone survived this time period.  Eugene Yelchin won a 2012 Newbery Honor for BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE and I am glad he did otherwise I am not sure I would have read this book.  Recommended for middle graders that enjoy historical fiction.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins

Hank lives in Brooklyn with his sister, parents and new invisible friend, Inkling. No one else knows about Inkling although Hank often mentions he has an invisible friend! Struggling with a school bully and a best friend moving away Inkling has arrived just in time to help Hank get through fourth grade. While I don't think the adults helped Hank deal with the bully readers will learn why some kids become bullies and will perhaps wish for their own imaginary friend.

This humorous book will appeal to a wide audience. The Invisible Inkling would be a good introduction of the fantasy genre for young readers or for fans of Jordon Sonneblick's Dodger books and the Stink books by Megan McDonald. Reluctant readers will enjoy it and the illustrations by Harry Bliss. Recommended for 2-5 grades.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Harper Collins via Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jennifer Lawrence : Star of The Hunger Games by Katherine Krohn

From a young age Jennifer Lawrence knew she wanted to act.  With determination, supportive parents and talent she is now on the brim of becoming world famous as Katniss in the soon to be released movie THE HUNGER GAMES based on the book by Suzanne Collins. 

In this biography Katherine Krohn gives us a glimpse into Jennifer's life.  What stood out to me was the way Jennifer prepared for auditions.  For instance instead of dressing up and being made up she showed up to the Katniss audition a wreck from a long flight and no sleep!  The book is infused with photographs that readers will pour over.  The writing is accessible to reluctant readers and fans of THE HUNGER GAMES will clamour for it.  Every library should have this book as it is going to be a bestseller (I don't predict that often).  It's on my wish list for my library!

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley.

A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer

As a fan of Marily Singer, especially MIRROR MIRROR : A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE I am not surprised to find that I loved A FULL MOON IS RISING.  So much so that not only did I read the book a few times I also listened to Marilyn Singer read her poems aloud.  What a treat.  The illustrations by Julie Cairns are bright and colorful and meld well with the poetry.  After finishing the book I felt like I had traveled the world.  Recommended for libraries needing to spruce up their poetry sections and for readers interested in the moon and/or for multil-cultural collections. A gem of a book.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lee & Low books via Netgalley. A FULL MOON IS RISING is now available.

Penderwicks on Gardham Street by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks are a family of four daughters, a loving father and a very caring aunt.  In this sequel to THE PENDERWICKS:A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy, Jeanne Birdsall once again writes a charming piece of contemporary fiction.  In this book, Mr. Penderwick begins dating and the girls do all they can to ruin his chances of finding someone new to love.  There is a new neighbor with a young son, sisters swapping homework, romance and more in this charming book recommended for middle graders.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

It is 145 years after the fourth World War in New Beiijing. Cinder is a cyborg and a mechanic well known for fixing androids, netscreens, hovercars and more. Her stepmom and one of her stepsisters are relentlessly mean to her while the other stepsister is her friend. By chance she meets the prince when he needs his android repaired. Sadly, the emperor is dying as are thousands of other people as a plague unyet curable sweeps across the nation.

Science fiction is not usually a genre that I am drawn to. However, once I started Cinder I could not put it down. It was hard not to visualize Iko and the other androids looking like R2D2 from Star Wars. The feelings developing between Kai and Cinder did not feel rushed. I love the fact that Cinder couldn't blush.

Cinder will take her place along side other strong and intelligent female characters such as Katniss, Katna and Kat. While part of me would have liked the story tied up and over with I will patiently wait for book two in The Lunar Chronicles and most likely books three and four. Marissa Meyer style of writing is appealing and quick paced. Loved it!

Cinder is a YA book I would recommend it for even the younger end. Science fiction fans would enjoy it as well as those that enjoy (very fractured) fairy tales. There is enough romance to appeal to girls that enjoy romance but are willing to try something different.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via Netgalley. Cinder is now available from your favorite bookseller.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Sneezy Wheezy Day by Sharon Cramer

At first glance THE SNEEZY WHEEZY DAY looks like a book written for pre-schoolers.  After reading it though it's apparent that it's aimed at an older audience.  The vocabulary is sophisticated with great words such as deduced, admirably and peered.  The illustrations are charming and bright and colorful and children will enjoy the hidden surprises.  THE SNEEZY WHEEZY DAY begs to be read aloud to get the full benefit of the rhymes.  The humor in the story will also be noticed more by older children and I admit to laughing aloud at some of the suggested remedies especially Grizzly Old Bear telling Boy cougar to shave his own body!  Not just a story about being sick, this is also a story of love between siblings.  Recommended for kindergarteners and up and for sharing in a group or with your child/children.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of B&F Publishing via Netgalley.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

A few years ago I introduced Scaredy Squirrel to the students in my school library. The book became an instant hit and as each new Scaredy Squirrel adventure unfolded I could barely keep up with the demand. Fast forward three years and I am in a "new" school library. Open Road offered me the opportunity to read the original Scaredy Squirrel as an ebook. Within a few days I purchased and added two copies to my school library collection. Once again, Scaredy Squirrel checks out as fast as it is returned. Whether it is the adorable illustrations or the story that delights, students are drawn to it. From first grade to sixth it is one of my most popular and most requested books. Needless to say the other Scaredy Squirrel books are now on my wish list.

Thank you Open Road via Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to be reacquainted with Melanie Watts's wonderful book via ebook and therefore sharing it with my students. Recommended for a home library whether in print or digitally and for every elementary school library.