Entries tagged with “Fiction”.
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Thu 9 May 2013
Neither of my children were ever fans of nighttime strolls.
My oldest threw herself over the edge of her crib once when she was abut 18 months old. She landed with a thud and a wail, so we were well aware of what had happened.
My youngest would occasionally come downstairs in the middle of the night when she was three or four, but she’d always stand right next to my face until I woke up with a start.
But lots of other kids love to explore at night. Like the main character in Nighttime Ninja (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012) written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young.
But this child doesn’t think he’s exploring. He thinks he’s being a ninja. And the lovely paper collage illustrations show him as a ninja, so it’s not until relatively late in the book that you discover who he really is and what he’s really after.
In fact, today’s guest reviewer, was thoroughly surprised by how things played out.
Take it away, Patrick.
Today’s reviewer: Patrick
I like: Skiing, playing soccer, playing on my iPod.
This book was about: A little boy who wanted to be a ninja — and he was trying to get down to the kitchen to get some hot chocolate. (Editor’s note: When I read the book, I thought the boy was trying to get ice-cream, but I can see how it could be hot chocolate, too. That’s one of the pleasures of picture books — how many ways they can be interpreted.)
The best part was when: The picture just showed his eyes
I smiled when: When you know it’s a boy and not a real ninja. I thought it was a real ninja the first time.
I was surprised when: His mom said, “How about a back-to-bed mission?”
I was worried when: The lights flooded on.
This book taught me: You can’t get up in the middle of the night.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Exciting.” “Interesting.” “Confusing.” (Because I was sure it was a real ninja.)
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “He crept down the twisting moonlit hallway, and knelt in the dark shadows, listening.”
Other kids should read this book because: You don’t really know what’s going to happen at the end of the story at the beginning. There’s a lot going on and a lot of surprises.
Thank you, Patrick!
Patrick says he doesn’t usually sneak around at night. But one time he went to get a cookie. But it wasn’t a very successful mission. Half of the cookie fell into the dog kennel.
Nighttime Ninja is Barbara DaCosta’s debut picture book. And, it’s done really well.
It was an ALA Notable selection, a Publishers Weekly “Best Children’s Illustrated Book of 2012″, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, was a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2012, a Horn Book “Book of the Week”, and a finalist for James Patterson’s “Read Kiddo Read” contest.
If you’d like to learn more about Barbara, you can visit her blog.
If you’d like to learn more about Ed, who is a Caldecott Award medalist, you can visit his website or read this wonderful interview on the blog Seven Impossible Things.
Mon 6 May 2013
Ishan Mehra is a boy with crazy ideas.
He’s also a boy who wants a dog.
Really, really badly.
But Ishan’s mother is scared of dogs — even the nice one next door — so she says “no” every time he asks.
The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule (Albert Whitman, 2012) written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Carl Pearce tells how Ishan’s single-minded determination wins over his parents despite his crazy ideas and their sometimes disastrous results.
Meet today’s guest reviewer, Jordan, who is here to tell us more. Jordan doesn’t own a dog, but he does have an older brother. And a fish.
Our reviewer: Jordan
Things I like to do: Play football with my brother. And, I like to go to my grandma and grandpa’s house.
This book was about: A boy named Ishan who wanted a dog. His mom didn’t let him get a dog. There was a dog next door named Oggie. Mr. Jackson, the person who owned Oggie, fainted and went to the hospital, and the boy wanted to help keep the dog for a while. When he got the dog, he helped his mom make friends with it. Then, he asked his mom if he could get his own dog, and she said, “Yes.”
The best part was when: When he got the dog.
I smiled when: He was taking blankets off his brother, Sunil.
I was surprised when: When he was a good cook. He made potato-stuffed bread.
I was worried when: When he was making a project in the art room. I didn’t know where he was.
This book taught me: Not to force your parents to get you a dog.
Two words that best describe this book are: “Dog.” “Rules.”
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “Where do you get such crazy ideas?”
My favorite picture in this book is: When his dad’s glasses were under the bed.
Other kids should read this book because: If you didn’t have a dog, you could find out what it’s like to have one.
Thank you, Jordan!
Kashmira Sheth has written many other books for kids who are preschoolers all the way up to teenagers. Aria recently reviewed one of Kashmira’s picture books – My Dadima Wears a Sari.
You can learn more about Kashmira and her many books by visiting her website. You also can read this interview with Kashmira on Debbi Michiko Florence’s blog.
If you’d like to learn more about Carl Pearce, you can visit his website. You also can read this interview with Carl.
Thu 25 Apr 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
Sometimes, you can’t argue with a kid with a dream.
Sometimes, you just have to smile and let them do what they want to do, whether it’s wear their frilly princess dress and fairy wings to school, pretend they’re a super-hero for weeks on end or drink their milk from a bowl on the floor — just like a kitty.
Parents the world over know that sometimes, if nothing harmful could happen, the best thing you can do is just roll with it.
That’s sort of what happens in Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
This picture book tells the tale of Pauline and John-John, a brother-sister team with a mission — to have an outdoor lemonade stand in the middle of their cold, snowy winter.
Mom and Dad try their best to be logical.
“Nobody will be on the street.”
“Can’t you see it’s freezing?”
But Pauline and John-John will not be dissuaded.
Money is pooled.
Provisions are purchased.
And a lemonade stand is opened.
What happens next?
Let’s ask today’s guest reviewer.
Today’s reviewer: Dharma.
I like: Pizza, math, biking, and video games like Aion.
This book was about: Two kids counting money.
The best part was when: They were making lemonade and limeade. It was exhausting. You just know it.
I laughed when: The girl kissed the man for buying her a limeade.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Crazy.” “Easy.” “Silly.”
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “You kids are crazy.”
You should read this book because: If you are a kindergartener or in first grade even, it will help you learn to count money, maybe.
To learn more about Emily Jenkins, you can visit her website or read this interview on the blog Writing and Ruminating.
To learn more about G. Brian Karas, you can visit his website or read this interview that was in Publishers Weekly.
Sun 21 Apr 2013
No matter how you slice it, Marley Rose, the new lead singer for the New Directions at William McKinley High, has had a year of ups and downs.
- She auditioned for and was named to the defending national champion glee club.
- She was designated “the new Rachel” by most other club members.
- She found friends, which was something she apparently didn’t have in her previous school.
- She won the lead in the school’s production of “Grease.”
- She had not one, but two, boys pursuing her romantically.
- She spent much of the early part of this season hiding her family’s poverty.
- She also tried to keep her friends from finding out that her mother was the very large school lunch lady.
- She turned into a female Finn Hudson, unable to definitively decide who she wanted to date — Jake Puckerman or Ryder Lynn.
- She was so eager to be accepted that she developed an eating disorder. (Here I’d just like to add that eating disorders are much more complicated and insidious than Glee has even begun to show. For a real idea, read Brave Girl Eating, a memoir by Harriet Brown.)
- She eventually collapsed on stage at sectionals, disqualifying the New Directions.
That’s a lot for a sophomore to handle.
And some would argue Marley has handled it by doing … not much of anything. She’s tentative. Unsure. Passive. So she sits back and waits for things to happen instead of pushing forward and making things happen. After watching the first few episodes this year, my own teenage daughter said, “She needs to grow a spine.”
But you know me. I think reading the right book can help resolve many problems in life, including the lack of a spine. So if I were a Glee librarian, I’d hand Marley, who’s played by Melissa Benoist, a copy of Fat Angie (Candlewick Press, 2013) by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo.
Because its main character, Angie, seems to have more downs than Marley.
Yet Angie has something Marley does not. An iron resolve that helps her fight her demons and move forward. That movement might not always be productive, but it’s never timid. Let’s review.
Angie is struggling mightily. Her older sister, who was adored by all, enlisted in the military after high school and is now missing in Iraq — captured by enemy soldiers. And her family is handling the stress differently. Angie’s father has moved out. Her mother has immersed herself in work and only talks to Angie to criticize her. Her older brother is running with a rough crowd and is in-and-out of trouble with the school and the police.
And Angie? She gained 29 pounds and had a very public suicide attempt when news reports indicated her sister’s body might have been found. The reports were wrong, but Angie’s response cemented her reputation as a freak and made her the target for two kids at her school. Oh, and she’s discovered that she just might have romantic feelings for a girl named, of all things, KC Romance.
Frankly, Angie is just hanging on by a thread.
But her commitment to her sister helps her stand up for herself when Stacy Ann bullies her. It helps her answer when KC talks to her. It drives her to try out for the varsity basketball team even though she’s an out-of-shape, overweight freshman. It drives her, as she puts it, to “follow through.”
The sad thing about this story is that Angie doesn’t have much of a support system for her attempts to make things better. Her relationship with her mom and her brother is strained. Her therapist twists everything she says into a new, unflattering diagnosis. And while KC admires Angie, she has some demons of her own that prevent her from being a constant ally.
So some of Angie’s decisions go awry. Others work out better than she could have planned. And along the way, she develops a cautious friendship with the boy across the street and gets some words of advice from her basketball coach.
But mostly, she finds she can rely on herself — which is helpful when the next news reports about her sister turn out to be true.
Marley has more support than Angie.
Her mother adores her. The glee club accepts her. Her eating disorder hasn’t been mentioned recently. Now, Marley just needs to accept herself, trust her decisions and deal with their results. This book could help her grow that spine and stand up for herself when she needs to.
Which would make my inner librarian very proud indeed.
Want more GLEE-ful reads?
Here are the books I’ve recommended to other Glee characters:
Sun 14 Apr 2013
Each Kindness (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012) is a picture book by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis about how seemingly small actions can have large consequences.
A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.
Here’s what Jacqueline had to say about why she wrote the book: ”At some point in our lives, we are all unkind. At some point, we are all treated unkindly. I wanted to understand this more. I think too often we believe we’ll have a second chance at kindness – and sometimes we don’t. I do believe, as Chloe’s teacher, Ms. Albert, says, that everything we do goes out, like a ripple into the world. I wrote this because I believe in kindness.”
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center awarded Each Kindness the 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.
Let’s hear what today’s guest reviewer has to say:
Our reviewer: Emma
Things I like to do: Run, especially on my two-wheel scooter. I like to swim at the lake. I like to read.
This book was about: Maya was different, and the other kids didn’t like her. Chloe was sad that she didn’t smile back at Maya.
The best part was when: Chloe was at the water and wishing she was kind to Maya.
I smiled when: Maya was jumping with her jump rope.
I was surprised when: Maya played by herself.
I was worried when: Chloe didn’t be Maya’s friend.
This book taught me: To be kind to the new kids. Or everybody.
My favorite picture in this book is: The jumping rope pictures with Maya and the picture of Maya joining the class.
Thank you, Emma!
If you’d like to learn more about Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis, you can:
- Visit Jacqueline’s website. There’s tons of cool stuff, including answers to lots of questions she gets from kids doing homework assignments!
- Visit E.B.’s website. He calls himself an “artistrator” because he illustrates books and creates fine art. He’s also a teacher.
- Watch this video interview with Jacqueline.
- Watch this video interview with E.B.
Tue 9 Apr 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
Zach loves his grandma and grandpa.
He especially loves spending time at the amusement park with them.
But while Zach’s grandpa adores riding a roller-coaster called The Whipper, Zach is scared of it and prefers riding the Big Wheel with his grandma.
After Zach’s grandma dies, Zach’s grandpa just isn’t happy. Zach hopes if they go to the amusement park, he’ll see his grandpa smile again. But Zach still doesn’t want to ride the roller-coaster.
Will he face his biggest fear? Will it make a difference?
The Roller Coaster Kid (Viking, 2012) is written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by Roger Roth. It’s a story of family and love and facing your biggest fear.
Let’s welcome today’s guest reviewer, who is going to tell us more about it.
Today’s reviewer: Josepha
I like: Swimming, reading and being creative.
This book was about: A kid who had to face his worst fear. And his grandpa told him to be brave and face his fear. And the boy’s grandpa was known as the “Roller-Coaster Kid” when he was young because he road The Whipper 100 times, so the boy wanted to ride the roller-coaster too, but he was scared.
The best part was when: The boy faced his fear.
I was surprised when: He yelled at his grandpa, and said what he really said, “I miss grandma.”
My favorite word or phrase in the book is: “When the time is right, you will face your fears.”
My favorite picture in the book is: The picture that shows all of Oceanside Park.
Three words that describe this book: The Roller Coaster Kid.
Kids should read this book because: They will learn they should face their worst fear. Don’t be scared, just be brave. You might not be that scared once you’re on it. You can’t judge a thing on how it looks. You have to try it before you judge it.
Thanks, Josepha! (By the way, Josepha says she likes roller-coasters because, “They go super fast and are fun to ride.”)
Author Mary Ann Rodman won the 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for her picture book My Best Friend (Viking, 2005). Here’s an interview she did shortly thereafter. Mary Ann also blogs at Teaching Authors.
Illustrator Roger Roth’s earlier book The Sign Painter’s Dream was featured on “Reading Rainbow.” You can see Roger’s website or check out this interview with lots of examples of his fabulous art.
And, finally, if you’d like to see a kid review of another roller-coaster book, check out Leo talking about Roller Coaster.
Wed 3 Apr 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
What’s better than a nice, cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day?
Unless it’s a nice, cold glass of lemonade AND an engrossing page-turner of a book.
Because spring is just starting to peek its head around the corner, it’s the perfect time to read The Lemonade War (Sandpiper, 2009) by Jacqueline Davies — either for pure enjoyment or to plan your money-making venture for the summer.
To get the full scoop on this book, which is the first in a series, let’s hear from today’s guest reviewer.
Today’s reviewer: Claudia
I like: Macaroni and owls and soccer.
This book was about: Jessie and Evan are brother and sister. They both love to sell lemonade on hot, beautiful summer break days! One day, Jessie and Evan both get in a fight. They decide that whoever gets $100 from lemonade earnings in the last six days of summer break wins. The winner gets to take the loser’s money! They both work really hard to get $100 in less than a week. Who will win? The pressure is on both Evan and Jessie. You have to read the book to find out who wins.
The best part was: I gave this book five stars because of its adventure and enthusiasm. You can get pictures in your head from the descriptive words, and you can relate to it. I have a brother, and I can relate. But we never had anything as intense as the competition in this story. It is also so enjoyable because of the brother-sister rivalry. I couldn’t put this book down, it was so great! This book is great to read as a group or book club. I definitely recommend it. I hope you enjoy it.
Three words that describe this book are: “Exciting.” “Surprising.” “Competitive.”
You should read this book because: You can relate, and it is exciting to see who wins.
Thank you, Claudia!
You can find out more about Jacqueline Davis and her many other books by visiting her website or reading this interview.
Fri 29 Mar 2013
The other day, a box arrived at my house.
And these shoes were inside.
(They’re John Fluevog shoes, for those of you who care. Spring edition “Michaels.” Just released.)
I tried them on, and my feet smiled.
And as I walked around with my happy feet, I couldn’t help but think of a popular children’s book and a great video of the author and illustrator sharing it with children together.
The book is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (HarperCollins, 2010) written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.
And it’s just the niftiest look ever at colors and shoes and rolling with the ups and downs of life.
It’s the sort of book that’s so perfect, you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And even though you didn’t, you’re glad that someone else did.
You can read the text as a story, sing it as a song or just chime in on certain parts, like: “Goodness, no!”
Kids love it. Adults love it. I bet you will too.
And if you want to get the sense for how it’s supposed to be read, watch this video of it being performed live by Eric and James.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
You’ll be smiling and humming for a good, long while.
No matter what color your shoes are.
(If you’d like to see more of Pete the Cat, you certainly can. There are several other titles in the series, including Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.)
Fri 22 Mar 2013
In this its fourth season, Glee has added a bunch of new characters.
And, despite my role has a self-appointed librarian for William McKinley High School, I’ve held off on recommending books for them for two reasons.
1. I wanted to get to know them so I could make the right suggestions.
2. I wasn’t sure I liked them that much.
After all, I was pretty happy with the cast of characters that made Glee successful:
Kurt. Rachel. Finn. Tina. Artie. Mercedes.
With some of my favorites having limited screen time this year, I wasn’t set to welcome Marley, Jake, Kitty and Ryder to the fold.
And, frankly, some of the new characters’ personalities bugged me.
Take Kitty, who’s portrayed by Becca Tobin. So far, she’s just been mean.
And, other than confessing her love for The Spice Girls, she hasn’t shared any frailties or sympathetic traits that might help viewers understand why she’s so difficult.
How has Kitty been heinous? Let us count the ways.
She convinced rail-thin Marley that she was fat and told her that boys wouldn’t like her and she wouldn’t be successful as the New Directions’ new Rachel unless she lost weight. She even secretly took in Marley’s costumes for Grease so Marley would think she was gaining weight even as Marley starved herself and made herself throw up.
Then, when Marley collapsed onstage at a show choir competition and all the other Glee clubbers blamed her for costing them the title, Kitty said nothing. Meanwhile, she acted like she was Marley’s best friend while saying terrible things about her behind her back.
I’m not sure there’s a book in the world that could help someone like this.
But, if I were a Glee librarian, I’d suggest Kitty read Poison (Hyperion, 2013) by Bridget Zinn. Why?
Because it’s a beautiful, funny story of a 16-year-old girl named Kyra who also throws poison darts. But unlike Kitty’s verbal jabs, Kyra’s darts are real. And she throws them for a noble purpose.
Kyra is a highly trained potioner. Someone who specializes in chemical concoctions. Some are relatively harmless. They clean clothes or alter someone’s appearance temporarily. Others are dangerous. Like powders that put people to sleep, force them to tell the truth or kill them instantly. Besides being trained in how to make potions, Kyra is a an attack expert. She can scale the side of a house, take down a pack of goblins with her bare hands and use an array of wicked weapons with pinpoint precision.
In short, she’s got skills and tools Kitty probably wishes she had.
But Kyra uses them to protect her kingdom. And her loyalty to the safety of everyone in the kingdom is so great, she’s willing to turn those tools on her best friend, the princess, when Kyra becomes convinced that she will lead the kingdom’s downfall.
Is she right? That remains to be seen.
But when Kyra throws a deadly dart at the princess, the unthinkable happens. For the first time ever, she misses. That makes her a wanted woman. The whole kingdom is set to hunt her down while she’s searching for the now-hidden princess. (Besides being Kyra’s best friend, the princess is also her cousin. Did I mention that?)
Kyra could give up. She’s met a handsome stranger on her travels and a pack of gypsies who have offered to protect her. She could start a new, calmer life. But that would mean allowing her kingdom to fall to ruin. And Kyra would never let that happen. So — cold, homeless and hungry — she perseveres.
She’s battling several foes. The most notable are: The toughest villain in the kingdom who wants to turn her talents to evil, a witch who wants to enslave her, a former boyfriend who’s almost as good a potioner as she is, and a few inner demons of her own. And then, there’s her quest to find the princess and save the kingdom.
Kitty could learn something from all of this.
She too has formidable weapons. Intelligence. A sharp tongue. The ability to manipulate people and get what she wants. An exalted position as a Cheerio. Beauty. She could use those tools for good to help New Directions succeed. If she were willing to do that — and even maybe sacrifice herself and her goals a little — she’d be a much better, happier person.
Maybe Kitty has good qualities that are buried deep inside her and just need the right situation to draw them out. She did briefly defend Unique from a pack of angry girls before returning to her usual self.
This book might be just the thing to encourage her to find something she believes in and fight for it.
As a Glee librarian, I’d be happy to put it in her hands.
Want more GLEE-ful reads?
Here are the books I’ve recommended to other Glee characters:
Tue 19 Mar 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
I’ve written about Chloe and The Lion (Disney Hyperion, 2012) before.
This picture book by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex had a considerable buzz going after it was released. In fact, I mentioned it in a previous blog post as an example of a picture book that broke new ground.
Because while the book starts off as the story of Chloe, a girl who saves her coins so she can ride the carousel and then gets lost in the forest, it quickly turns into an argument between the book’s author, Mac Barnett, and its illustrator, Adam Rex, about the path the story should take.
Barnett says Chloe should encounter a lion in the forest.
Rex draws a dragon. (“I just thought it would be cooler.”)
An argument ensues. (“I don’t really care what YOU think. I’m the author of this book. You’re the illustrator. That means I’m in charge of what happens, and you draw whatever I tell you.”)
Rex argues back, so Barnett orders the lion to eat Rex, and then even attempts to draw the book’s pictures himself. But that’s a disaster.
So after a firm talking-to from Chloe, Barnett apologizes to Rex, Rex finishes the artwork and they all go off to ride the carousel.
The book is hilarious, and it shows how the best results are achieved when people work together — and don’t have lions eat their friends.
But what does a kid think of it? Let’s ask today’s guest reviewer.
Today’s reviewer: Wannathet
I like: Biking and hiking. My favorite food is chicken.
This book was about: Mostly the lion. But a girl named Chloe got dizzy and then got lost in the forest and saw a dragon. But it was supposed to be a lion.
The best part was when: He drew the dragon instead of the lion.
I was worried when: He drew the lion scary.
I was surprised when: The lion ate the illustrator.
I laughed when: The lion spit out a nickel.
Other kids should read this book because: They could learn a lot about different creatures.
Three words that describe this book are: “Illustrator.” “Author.” “Chloe.”
My favorite picture in the book was: The dragon.
My favorite word or phrase in the book was: “Clearly, the knight was an idiot.”
Thank you, Wannathet. (By the way, sorry Mac, but Wannathet agrees with Adam that a dragon would have been way cooler.)
Now, I am not a picture book veteran like Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (who, as you’ve probably figured out, get along grandly in real life). But, I will say that my experience as a picture book writer working with an illustrator has been wonderful.
Seeing the pictures come back from Anne Wilsdorf for Sophie’s Squash (Aug. 6, 2013, Schwartz & Wade) has been incredible. She took my story to new heights and added in beautiful details on every page that I’m still discovering.
My favorite addition of hers might be a cat that is never mentioned in the story, but who is on nearly every page like a silent chorus, helping the action along. And the endpapers. Don’t even get me started on the endpapers. But if Anne had turned Bernice from a squash to a rutabaga or an artichoke, I might have felt differently.
Anyway, if you haven’t seen it before, you simply must watch this wonderful video showing Barnett and Rex taking their fictional author-illustrator squabble to new heights.
What author/illustrator combinations are your favorites? Tell me in the comments below.