Sunday, June 14, 2009

Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman

Museum Trip, by Barbara Lehman
During a class trip to the museum, a boy wanders away from his class and stumbles upon a little door. Inside is a display of drawings of mazes. The boy imagines himself (is he imagining?) inside the mazes. This wordless book is simply perfect. The Boy and I enjoyed tracing the path through each maze, and we both were delighted and surprised by the ending.
Target ages: 3-8 years

The Red Book, by Barbara Lehman
You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum, by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
Flotsam, by David Wiesner

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What Do You Do With A Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?, by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

The Boy loves this book. I think he asked me to reread it at least three times today. Jenkins creates fantastic collage images of animals and their various parts. The question and answer format appeals to kids, and the additional notes at the end of the book provide great details and fun facts about the featured creatures.
Target ages: 5-10 years

Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, by Steve Jenkins
Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures On Earth, by Nicola Davies

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bravo Mr. William Shakespeare! by Marcia Williams

Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare! by Marcia Williams
The Girl is named after one of Shakespeare's characters. As a consequence, she is obsessed with Shakespeare. The sweet pea actually dragged the Riverside Shakespeare off the shelf a month ago and tried to read Romeo and Juliet. This book is a much better starter. We were so excited when we spotted it. The plays are told in a comic strip format, with no more than 8 pages given to each play. The main action of each scene is told in simple language beneath a corresponding panel. The characters speech bubbles spout actual text (in short snippets) from the selected play. All around the border of the ongoing comic are little characters (audience members) making comments. The plays are very well summarized and easy to follow. Our only disappointment was with the plays selected: Richard III? Really? I was thrilled to learn that this was Williams' second book of Shakespeare's plays and that Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest are included in the first collection.
Target ages: 10-13 years

Tales from Shakespeare, by Marcia Williams
William Shakespeare and the Globe, by Aliki

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Little Audrey by Ruth White

Little Audrey by Ruth White
Oh my, I loved this book. At 11, Audrey is the oldest of four sisters, living in a coal camp in 1948. The author shares Audrey's honest feelings as she deals with extreme poverty, an alcoholic father and a grief-stricken mother. Despite her struggles, Audrey has a hopeful spirit that shines through, even in her darkest moments. This book, based upon the author's own childhood, is a fascinating view of life in a company town, and an inspiring tribute to human resilience.
Target age: 10-14 years.

At Home in the Heart of Appalachia, by John O'Brien (2001) (Adult)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's Inside? by Giles Laroche

What's Inside? Fascinating Structures Around the World by Giles Laroche
I read this picture book to both kids together. Each page has a block of text that tells a little bit about a different structure from a different place/time in the world. The book invites you to turn the page to see "What's Inside?" The text accompanying the inside view gives information about the animals, people or artwork housed by the structure. This book is fantastic and has broad appeal. The Boy pored over the collage illustrations on each page, examining every detail. The Girl enjoyed reading the sidebars that provided more detailed information about each building. Some of the structures are the usual favorites found in other picture books about architecture (The Guggenheim Museum and The Sydney Opera House) but most of the buildings are less well known: Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, Sakyamuni Pagoda.
Target ages: 5-12 years.

Amazing Buildings, by Philip Wilkinson
Building America, by Janice Weaver

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Olive's Ocean, by Kevin Henkes

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
This book perfectly captures the awkward, uncertain feelings of middle school. Martha deals with the death of a classmate, a new crush, and frustration with her role in her family. The characterization is honest, and the resolutions of various plot points are simple and realistic.
Target age: 10-14.

The Bridge to Terebitha, by Katherine Paterson
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
This is a collection of free verse poems arranged in journal style, chronicling a boy's journey from reluctant to enthusiatic poet.
The kids and I read this in a single read aloud session. We could not put it down! We laughed, we cried and we could not wait to read more poetry!
Target age: 8-12 years.

Hate That Cat, by Sharon Creech
A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let's Go, Pegasus! by Jean Marzollo

Let's Go Pegasus! by Jean Marzollo
This is a retelling of the Greek Myth, with a distinctly modern feel to it. It is big fun! At the bottom of each page there is a band of owls making comments about the story: a little Greek Chorus. The kids loved the owls' silly comments. They were also inspired by Marzollo's gallery of Medusa illustrations on the endpapers.
Target ages: 4-8 years.

Pandora's Box, by Jean Marzollo
Once upon a starry night : a book of constellations, by Jacqueline Mitton

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Pea Blossom, retold and illustrated by Amy Lowry Poole

The Pea Blossom, retold and illustrated by Amy Lowry Poole
This retelling of a Hans Christian Anderson tale, sets the story in China. The author studied scroll-making in Beijing for four years, and her watercolor on rice paper illustrations are lovely. They are the perfect soft accompaniment to this sweet story about a little pea with big dreams. The Girl loved this book: "What if something as tiny as a pea plant could make a sick girl healthy? Isn't that wonderful?"
Target ages: 4-8 years

How the Rooster Got His Crown, by Amy Lowry Poole
The Ant and the Grasshopper, by Amy Lowry Poole
The Apple Pip Princess, by Jane Ray

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
We picked this book up because The Girl hates Stuart Little. To be fair to Stuart Little, she hates all mice in children's fiction. We don't know why this is so, but it is. "Why, Mommy? Why mice? I just don't get it and I don't want to read about mice that talk and do people stuff." As you can may know, this automatically disqualifies some pretty terrific fiction.
It turns out that Moxy does not hate Stuart Little as much as my daughter does. But Moxy does have a procrastination problem. This hilariously funny book is a must read for procrastinators. The author uses chapter titles and chapter length to great comic effect. It is a very fun (and speedy) read aloud for you and your 3rd or 4th grader.
Target Age: 7-12 years

Moxy Maxwell does not love writing thank-you notes, by Peggy Gifford
Sophie Hartley on Strike, by Stephanie Greene
Honest Ashley, by Virginia L. Kroll

Monday, May 11, 2009

Step Fourth, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman

Step Fourth, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman
The Girl and I took turns reading this book to one another. We both enjoyed it. Mallory reminds me of what Junie B. Jones might be like in fourth grade: a little calmer, but still letting her enthusiasm get in the way of clear thinking and good decision-making. Mallory's emotions are very real and fully expressed. The conflicts she has with her friends are also believable. Selected passages from the friends' e-mail exchanges place the narrative firmly in the present day.
Target age: 8-10 years.

Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker
This is the 10th in a series of books about Mallory McDonald.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How It All Got Started

I am a library sciences student, taking a children's literature course. Our final project requires us to spend time reading with children and writing about the experience. I have a nine year old daughter (The Girl) and a five year old son (The Boy). So what better way to spend a summer class than taking my kids to the library?

This weekend, we hit one of the larger local libraries and came home with a giant canvas bag full of books. We will share our favorites here.