Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker has lived a drifter's life until the summer her father sends her to live with his friends in Manifest, Kansas. Filled with questions about her father and his connections to the town, Abilene begins an investigation that leads her to layers of secrets from the past. The narratives runs in parallel stories about Manifest in 1918 and in 1936. This is the best kind of historical fiction: filled with details and events that offer a window into the past, but driven by a strong narrative and engaging characters. The reader discovers the truth about Abilene's father along with her, and by the end of the book, I was as reluctant to finish the story as Abilene was to leave her new home.
Target age: 10-13 years

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekly Read Aloud : Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart

Under the Snow, by Melissa Stewart
This gorgeously illustrated non-fiction selection is the perfect read aloud for this time of year. The book gives us a peek at different animals as they weather the winter: some active, some hibernating and others just slowing down. The text is detailed enough to be interesting, but still not overwhelming for young listeners. The illustrations are detailed and beautiful.
Target age: prek-2nd grade

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, by Jean Craighead George
Animals in Winter, by Henrietta Bancroft

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Read Aloud: Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Mouse Count, by Ellen Stoll Walsh
We are reading about mice in January and February, and Walsh's little collage mice are some of my favorites. Walsh's collage illustrations are similar to Leo Lionni's, but a bit brighter and bolder. Lionni's books are philosophical and targeted to a slightly older crowd, while Walsh's books are all about the preschool set. As the title suggests, Mouse Count is a counting book. A snake finds some sleeping mice and proceeds to drop them one by one into a jar for safekeeping. I could feel my little listeners shiver when I read the snake's just-creepy-enough delight at finding the mice: "little, warm and tasty." As this is a book for young ones, the mice trick the snake, and handily "uncount themselves" and escape before anyone is harmed. Kids love to count along and make predictions about what will happen next in this pint-size thriller.
Target age: prek

Walsh's other crowd-pleasers include
Mouse Paint and the new (2010) Balancing Act