Friday, February 27, 2009

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated Harry Bliss

Louise the chicken dreamed of adventure on her family farm. One day, she left the farmhouse where she lived and found adventure!

In four short chapters, DiCamillo recounts Louise's adventures on a ship, in a circus and at a far away land. With each return, the other chickens inquire where Louise has been, and she doesn't indulge until her final adventure when she relives her experiences with the other chickens.

What I Thought:
This is a wonderful story, so full of imagination! I love how the adventures how split up into short chapters, giving the readers the sense of conclusion to each adventure before the next one begins. I also loved how Louise finally shares her adventure with the other chickens in farmyard, sparking the sense of adventure with each of them.

The illustrations are wonderful, great attention to detail was taken and the illustrations are very fun to explore.

Overall, this book is very highly recommended, this book is a sure winner!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated Harry Bliss.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #1: Attack of the Growing Eyeballs by Lin Oliver, illustrations by Stephen Gilpin

The day Daniel's eyeball growled is a day that he will never forget. It was the day he shrunk to the size of his fourth toe.

One moment he was normal sized, just hanging around, living the life of a normal guy--being bothered (and pestering) his sisters, trying to understand his crazy family. The next second, BAM! He was inches tall, then he sneezed and returned to his normal self.

If that wasn't weird enough, his Granny Nanny totally understands his dilemma. She even shocks Daniel with the news that he has a twin brother, Pedro, who is tiny.

As Daniel tries to figure out what makes him shrink and get to know his newly-found brother, he is frustrated at his sisters upcoming pre-pre-pre-pre prom party. Together they plot to ruin the party with a cockroach.

Will they succeed? Will Daniel figure out what makes him shrink?

What I Thought:
This is such a fun book. I think tween guys will be clamoring for this new series, and I'll be right there with them! It is a great premise with adventure and even annoying sisters!

The dialogue is very friendly, Daniel is telling the story to his audience and the words chosen in this book reflect that. He talking straight to ten year old boys. Plus, fun illustrations!

Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #1: Attack of the Growing Eyeballs by Lin Oliver, illustrations by Stephen Gilpin

The second book in this series (Who Shrunk Daniel Funk?) has been released: Escape of the Mini Mummy. Look for a review as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. (And read it, of course!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Tales from Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

In this much anticipated book by J.K. Rowling, five "fairy tales" from the wizarding world are presented to readers.

While Rowling wrote the book, she actually made part of the storyline to be that the stories are actually "translated from ancient runes by Hermione Granger," "commentary by Albus Dumbldedore," with "Introduction, Notes, and Illustrations by J.K. Rowling."

So, each of these stories have a different "moral" and meaning that kids who grew up in the wizarding world grew up listening to, just as the stories that we all know by heart, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.

The stories, which range from stories about not cheating death, being nice to others, to about love.

What I Thought:
This is a very interesting book. I am a fan of the Harry Potter series and was excited to read this book. I very much enjoyed reading the actual tales, though the commentary by Dumbledore proved to be challenging and felt like I was reading an academic journal for a research paper. (Which I am sure that fits in to Rowling's overall vision of the book, but I wasn't in the mood for that at the time.)

Anyway, this book is a must read for Harry Potter fans.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Tales from Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young

Wabi Sabi the cat wants to know the meaning of his name. She asks her master and several of the animals near her home, but no one tells her. Everyone gives her an excuse of "it's hard to explain" or "you'll never understand." A bird directs Wabi Sabi to visit Kosho for the answer he desires.

So Wabi Sabi sets out on her journey and Kosho explains to her what her name truly means.

What I Thought:
This book is simply amazing. The illustrations in the book are will simply take your breathe away. Young makes the story simply come to life and makes the concept of Wabi Sabi real. They are peaceful and interesting, spectacular. I also love how the book laid out vertically, and not the normal horizontal layout.

Check out this blog where Ed Young is interviewed and explains further about the illustrations, as well as the story about how Young submitted his work only for it to be misplaced and him having to redo the work. (It's an interesting story, definitely check it out.)

Another great thing about this book is that each page includes two haiku poems that accents the storyline. One haiku is in English, while another one is written in Japanese symbols. The symbols are translated at the end of the book both in Japanese and English. There is also a wonderful explanations of the haiku poem and the concept of Wabi Sabi.

This picture book could be used in so many ways. I plan to use it this summer with school aged children at the library as we practice writing haiku poems and Japanese symbols. And I can't wait to see how the kiddos like it!

A wonderful book, very highly recommended!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

(Caldecott Honor Sticker should be on cover soon!)

One summer, James went to visit Eamon's and his grandparents at the beach. They were going to attend a nature day camp, and Eamon's grandpa is so excited to teach them about penguins and take them to the Natural History Museum, and teach them about Antarctica.

Things don't quite work out as planned however, but the best week ever is definitely had.

What I Thought:
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. And if I have anything to say about it, I will own it very soon.

Seriously, this book is just pure joy. I love picture books where the text tells one story while the pictures tell the complete opposite, and this is one of those books. The text tells one story from the narrator's standpoint, and the illustrations with the balloon text tells another story from the boys standpoint. Which is simply hilarious.

When you read this book, make sure that you inspect each inch of the book, the end papers have some great illustrations that supplement the story.

This book is the recipient of a 2009 Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award for Picture Book, and numerous Best Book of the Year Award from several prominent book review publications.

Very highly recommended, I promise you'll love it.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Thanks to my friend Jennifer R. who sent me this AWESOME Valentine's Card starring Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie.

It was Jennifer who introduced me to Mo Willems by ordering Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus for the LRC a few years ago when we worked together. Now I clamor for anything he publishes!

Thanks Jennifer! You are awesome!

Movie Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this movie to DVD for some time now. I really wanted to see it in the theaters but never actually go to the theater to see it.

Nick and Norah meet at a club one night as Nick's band is playing. Nick is suffering from a broken heart after being dumped from his girlfriend, Tris. Norah is there enjoying the scene and "babysitting" her best friend Caroline. When Norah needs to prove she has a boyfriend to schoolmate Tris, she asks Nick to pretend to be hers for five minutes, not realizing he is Tris's ex!

The two begin an all night adventure of searching for a favorite band, Where's Fluffy, Caroline and discovering new friendships and experiences along the way. Oh, and a single piece of gum.

What I Thought:
I enjoyed the book and was anxious to see how the movie compared. I was very pleased! The movie differed a great deal from the book, but it kept the general idea. Which usually I get upset about, but rather enjoyed in this case. It provided enough of a difference to keep the premise fresh and new, yet kept the integrity of the overall story.

Watching this movie made me want to schedule a trip to NYC immediately. The music is great, which was no surprise when considering the premise of the movie.

I absolutely adore Michael Cera, and thought Kat Dennings did a great job, along with the rest of the cast.

Overall, highly recommended! This is a movie I would definitely watch again!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, paintings by Kadir Nelson

Coretta Scott and her siblings walked five miles to school while a bus with white children blew by. As she grew and matured, she dreamed of freedom. She met Martin Luther King, Jr. and married. Together, they both worked and toiled for the rights of African Americans, but doing so in a peaceful manner reminiscent of Gandhi's teachings.

From organizing a bus boycott to a March on Washington with a quarter million people, Coretta Scott certainly left her mark, and did while singing.

What I Thought:
This book should be an award winner about this time next year. The poem is simply stunning and certainly a tribute to Coretta Scott's life.

But the paintings are simply stunning. Kadir Nelson did a magnificent job bringing Coretta Scott to life. I encourage you to find a copy of this book and simply study it, both the words and the artwork. (The cover itself is breathtaking.) You certainly will not be disappointed.

The book also includes an author's note about the life of Coretta Scott King and her tireless work for civil rights.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Book Day!

I haven't a new book day post in a while, because I had not purchased any new books for myself lately. Well, except for books for class, but I don't count those.

Anyway, I have recently acquired some new books and wanted to share!

A few weeks ago hubs and I discovered McKays in Nashville and I finally got to complete my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants collection. Yay! I adore these books and am so excited to own all four.

My in-laws gave me a gift card for Books-a-Million for Christmas, and I finally spent it. I purchased 3 Willows by Ann Brashares and Deadline by Chris Crutcher. 3 Willows is the new sisterhood following the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Since you already know that I love those books, I have been eagerly waiting the release of this book.

Deadline is a book that just looks so interesting. I've seen it come in and out of the library, but haven't checked it out. So, I decided to just buy it! I can't wait to tear into this one either.

You may have read in my review of the next book I received that I was hoping to score a copy signed. Well, my husband got me a signed book for Valentine's Day! Isn't he the best! He called my favorite independent bookstore, and they had some copies available! YAY!

Sigh. I love Mo, and I love my husband WAY MORE! Thanks hubs for the best Valentine's gift ever!!

So, there you have it...the latest editions to my personal library.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

(Note the pretty Newbery Medal!)

A toddler crawls out his house in the middle of the night, unaware that someone is murdering the rest of his family. When the man with the knife goes to find the baby, he is baffled as to where he may be. The baby has toddled from the house into a nearby graveyard where the residents vote to raise the child after receiving permission from the child's parents, also ghosts at this point, but would not be residents at this particular graveyard which houses souls from much earlier times. The child is named Nobody "Bod" Owens, and will spend his childhood in the graveyard learning the ways of the ghosts as well as the ways of the living.

Each chapter tells a different adventure of Bod's childhood and his experience in the graveyard. He befriends most of the ghosts residing there and they teach him how to Fade, Dreamwalk and other skills that help him survive. He goes to school, and even makes friends with a young girl, and sneaks into old crypts.

As he grows older, Bod becomes curious of the world outside of the graveyard, and he is often put in harms way. Bod is protected in the graveyard, but is exposed outside the gates. Thankfully his guardian and friends save him every time...but Bod must save himself and his one of his friends in one exciting adventure where he meets the man who once tried to killed him and killed his family.

Check out this link for Amazon's book trailer (like a video) promoting the book.

What I Thought:
A wonderful story! So very imaginative and I am simply amazed at the skill of storytelling that Gaiman has as he tells the story of Bod and the ghosts in the graveyard.

While this book is not one that I would have normally picked up, and since we are being honest here, it was kind of hard for me to 'get in to,' I can say that it is an EXCELLENT book that is just plain good. The ending was great and I hope Gaiman has a sequel up his sleeve. It is so well-written, the story is captivating and the characters are believable. Even the ghosts!

(I do want to mention that while the family is murdered, Gaiman does an outstanding job informing the reader of the situation without it being overly graphic and disturbing. That's just my opinion and while I think it is a great book for older kids, especially those clamoring for a great ghost story.)

This book is the 2009 Newbery Award Medal Winner, meaning that the American Library Association picked this book book to be the best book written for children in 2009. It has also received many other accolades such as ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Horn Book Fanfare, & New York Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing." And believe me, it is well worth all the attention. This book deserves it.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out here: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This book has many different covers, which I found interesting. I liked a couple of these better than the US book and thought you would enjoy looking at them. I love how each cover depicts a different aspect of the story. Which one is your favorite?? (Don't forget the one on top of this post!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

It all started with the "Foul Deed." Tyler has never had a spectacular life, his home life was not very happy, he was picked on at school, a pathetic dating record. He was only trying to be noticed.

And noticed he was.

After a summer of community service and meetings with his probation officer, and an embarrassing accident at his dad's boss's house (involving the hottest girl in school-Bethany) he starts back to school.

His dad makes him sign up for incredibly difficult classes, and the school principal is watching him like a hawk, just waiting for him to mess up. A bright side is that Bethany is starting to spend a little time with him. Things were starting to look just a little bit brighter.

But things begin to go downhill again when Tyler is accused of posting some inappropriate pictures. He is questioned by the police, and everyone believes he did it.

Will Tyler prove his innocence, stand up for himself and turn his life around?

What I Thought:
Wow. This is a book that I was talking about days after I finished. I found it to be gripping, interesting, and maybe a little sad. Tyler is too young to have faced the many obstacles he has faced; but this is reality for many young men in our world.

I was very impressed with Anderson's portrayal of the male voice. I am very interested to hear what a male thinks of this book and if Anderson nailed how guys think.

Overall, this book is highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

In January 1988 a small defenseless kitten was dropped in the bookdrop at the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. Outside, it was bitterly cold, and while one may think that this act was inhumane, it saved the life of this small kitten.

This kitten was later named "Dewey Readmore Books" and lived at the Spencer Public Library. This book chronicles his life as a library cat and how he changed the lives of many people and had a hand in revitalizing a small farming town, in his own little way.

What I Thought:
This isn't a book I typically read, but as this book came in and out of the library and I stared into the face of this adorable cat I just couldn't resist. Plus, I love to read books about other libraries.

I found this memoir to be a delightful read. It was heartwarming to see how Dewey changed the face of that library and made a personal connection with just about every patron that entered the doors. He had a sense to see those who were sad and spent extra time with that person to brighten their day. He was just plain amazing!

It was especially touching to read about how the author made a special connection with Dewey (and vice versa) as she went through life's ups and downs.

If you are an animal fan (especially cats) or a library fan...this is a book for you.

What to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.

I also recently learned that this book is set to be a movie. According to the January/February edition of American Libraries, the American Library Association's bi-monthly publication, New line Cinema has purchased the film rights and it is rumored that Meryl Streep will be playing Vicki Myron's role. Very cool!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Real Princess: A Mathemagical Tale written by Brenda Williams, illustrated by Sophie Fatus

Long ago a king and queen had three sons who needed to find real princesses to marry,especially the oldest son whose wife will one day be queen. Each son set off to find the princess of their dreams, but to no avail.

Over time, girls show up at the family's castle to escape poor weather conditions and one by one a son is found smitten by the visitor. But the sons could not tell if the girls were real princess or not.

But the queen can! (Mothers always know best!) The queen quickly goes and adds additional mattresses to the visitors bed, along with several small golden peas.

Will a true princess show up for the oldest son?

What I Thought:
This book is a delightful retelling of the Princess in the Pea using lots of numbers! A fun addition to this book is "Test Your Counting Skills!" page in the back of the book where readers are asked to answer questions while referring to pages in the book. The answers can be found on the book's website.

The illustrations are colorful and fun. This is a fun book that most kids will enjoy, number lovers will especially love this story.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Real Princess: A Mathemagical Tale written by Brenda Williams, illustrated by Sophie Fatus.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, pictures by Beth Krommes

(Caldecott Medal Sticker should be added to image soon!)

A sweet rhyme about the happenings in a house in the night. Readers follow a little girl as she acquires the key to the house and sees a light in the house. She continues to her bedroom and sees a book and goes on a magnificent journey and back home again.

The black and white with golden illustrations are done on scratchboard and include incredible detail.

What I Thought:
What a beautiful book! This book is the winner of the 2009 Caldecott Medal, an award given by the American Library Association for the best illustrated book of the year. This book is very much deserving of this honor.

It is hard to comprehend how much work it takes to put together a picture book filled with scratchboard illustrations. Check out this video where the Today Show interviews Krommes about her book, along with Neil Gaiman. It is quite interesting to learn, even how briefly, how the illustrations are created.

The text is inspired by a nursery rhyme about the "keys to the kingdom" from The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, first published in 1955.

Overall, a beautiful book...highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, pictures by Beth Krommes.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

Scieszka recounts parts of childhood in this memoir. In each short chapter a story is revealed, such as games he and his five brothers made up and played and antics he pulled while in Catholic school. He also describes what life is like with so many brothers, like hand me downs, sharing a room, and babysitting younger siblings.

What I Thought:
I laughed out loud in this book. It is a wonderful book that kids will eat up. Adults will love it too as they look back on their own childhood with fondness.

This is a book that should not be's just golden. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Prince

(Newbery Honor Medal should be added soon to image!)

This is a story of an unlikely friendship, a story of unconditional love, a story of family, a story of hate, a story past and present times.

It all started with a calico cat looking for a home. She found one in an unlikely place--under an old house with Ranger, a hound dog who remains chained to the deck by his mean-spirited owner. When the cat has two kittens, both Ranger and the cat feel unbelievable love for these two new lives.

At the same time, hatred abounds. Ranger's owner, Gar Face, is hunting an alligator that lives in one of the nearby rivers. This Alligator King has lived for a thousand years, and has seen much. He has seen Grandmother, a serpent who has also lived for a thousand years, spending most of those trapped in a clay jar.

In this wonderful story, each of these characters will intertwine between situations and time in this story of love, bravery and acceptance.

What I Thought:
Um, wow.

This book is well deserved of the 2009 Newbery Honor it was bestowed.

I'll admit it, at first I found it difficult to get into this book. But as Appelt tells this story, she sucks you in and one can simply not this this book down. The magnificence of the storytelling in this book is simply pure genius. Appelt takes you back in time one thousand years and back to the present seamlessly, I have read few- if any -better.

The characters are lovable and instantly you will love them, or love to not like them! You feel their hurt, their disappointment, and you sympathize with their situation...even if you find yourself wishing you wouldn't.

The illustrations are superb. However, there were a few in there that startled me when I turned the page! (Though all in good fun!)

This book would be a great read aloud, and sincerely hope this will become a timeless and beloved book in the world of children's literature.

Winner of a 2009 Newbery Honor, and a National Book Award Finalist.

Extremely Recommended! Run, go read it!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Prince.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven

Do you need help with the ladies? Well, you are in luck-this is the book for you! When Alec Greven was eight years old, he wrote a book that instructed males on how to deal with girls.

His advice ranges from information about crushes-"To get a girl to like you, talk to her and get to know her." Also, once a girl does start to talk to you Alec gives advice about What to Say to Girls--"Be friendly. Be calm and don't be nervous. Don't say anything mean. Ask her a question and you are off!"

With Alec's advice and encouragement, boys of all ages will find the courage they need.

What I Thought:
What a great book! I love the advice Alec gives his readers, it is so neat to see how a second grader sees how one should treat girls. There is a certain sense of innocence that I wish could be bottled up and saved.

I also loved how Alec gave tips for scoring points with mom--"Your mom likes you to always be clean, and she's a girl."

The illustrations are cute and overall, a very sweet book.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven.