Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good Enough to Eat by Brock Cole

A poor nameless beggar girl is offered as a bride to the fierce Ogre who comes to ravage her town. She tricks the townspeople into giving her gold and jewels as a dowry, plus a sword that she uses to defend herself from the Ogre, who is determined to eat her alive. She triumphs over the monstrous giant and renames herself "Good Enough to Eat." This rollicking story has the feel of a tale from the Brothers Grimm, complete with some very grisly details. Cole's humorous illustrations temper the gore,and the plucky heroine rides off into the sunset, far better off than she was before.
Grades 3-5

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tracks of a Panda by Nick Dowson

A tiny baby panda is born in the wild in China. As he and his mother need food and safety, they travel around in search of a good home. There is a narrative line to this nonfiction story, plus a panda fact on each double page spread. Chinese style paintings match the text beautifully. An index is inculded.

Dog and Bear :Two Friends Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Dog,a daschund, and Bear,a stuffed toy, are best friends. Dog helps Bear to be brave, Bear gives up something he is enjoying to play with Bear, and finally, they have a humorous discussion about changing Dog's name. Bright childlike illustrations accompany the text. This is a warm, funny treatment of friendship.
PreK-grade 1

There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems

This is one of a series of beginning readers about Elephant and Piggie. Elephant has a bird on his head, then two, then a nest with three chicks. Piggie suggests an easy solution for this problem. Simple illustrations that use balloons to show the dialogue accompany an equally simple text. Winner of the Geisel Award.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood, by Jerry Pinkney

Failing her mother's admonition not to tarry, Little Red Riding Hood's encounter with a wolf is almost fatal for her and her grandmother. Only a passing woodcutter saves them. The classic tale is lushly illustrated with watercolors featuring woodland animals in a snowy forest. The illustrator's trademark use of red accents finds perfect application in the title outfit.

Jabberwocky; The Classic Poem from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, reimagined by Christopher Myers

Electric illustrations and font update the timeless nonsense poem with a contemporary, urban, basketball setting. In the author's note, the author and illustrator details his research into the poem providing an authoritative reason for the basketball setting. Apparently Carroll scribbled a note in the margins of his journal about "ollamalitzli" an ancient game of balls and hoops.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, retold by Carmen Agra Deedy

Carmen, a beautiful green cockroach is ready to "give her leg in marriage" and her Cuban grandmother gives her some good advice. She should spill coffee on the shoes of her suitor; his reaction will give her clues to what sort of husband he will be. The tactic reveals the true character of the rooster, the pig, and the hungry lizard who come to court her. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout and the author's storytelling style make the book a delightful choice for read aloud.

Grades 2-5

Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals, by Ashley Bryan

Three familiar African-American spirituals are exuberantly presented with brightly colored cut paper collage illustrations. Music for the spirituals follows the text.

all ages

Way Down Deep, by Ruth White

In the Appalachian town of Way Down Deep, twelve-year old Ruby lives in a boarding house called The Roost with Miss Arbutus who took in the red-headed girl as a toddler when she appeared one day on the Courthouse steps. The small town is loaded with personality and personalities from a goat named Jethro to Mr. and Mrs. Doctor and Granny Butler who lives in a house Way Up That-a-Way. The mystery of Ruby's family and how she came to Way Down Deep begins to unravel when a family moves into town from Yonder Mountain. This is a warm-hearted, funny story about the mysteries of family with a bit of magical realism.

Grades 4-6

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Booth’s Daughter by Raymond Wemmlinger

Booth’s Daughter is a work of historical fiction which accurately follows the career and travels of Edwin Booth and his family fifteen years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. Told as a first person narrative by Edwina Booth, Edwin’s daughter, the story documents her experiences as she faces the stigma of her uncle’s crime and gains independence from her demanding and controlling father. Raymond Wemmlinger, the curator and librarian at The Hampden-Booth Theatre Library, includes a bibliography of resources used to create an accurate timeline for his fictional account of Edwina’s life. This is an excellent presentation of an alternate perspective to the assassination of Lincoln as well as the post-Civil War life style of the theater and artist crowd.

Grades 8-11

A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer, pictures by John Butler

This is a fictionalized account of the friendship between the young hippo, Owen, orphaned by the Christmas tsunami, and the old tortoise, Mzee. The story of these unlikely friends has inspired non-fiction books for older readers, but this story is meant for younger readers and focuses on the friendship that develops between the two animals. The illustrations are soft and comforting and the text is simple and repetitive. The non-fiction accounts of this story are much better at telling the story and explaining how this friendship came to be, but this book would be a good introduction for younger children with the non-fiction texts used to add supporting facts. Or it can be used on its own in a discussion about friendship.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Enter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney

Mary is the daughter of a Scottish lord who is hanged as a traitor to King Duncan. She is placed as a maid to Lady MacBeth. Events unfold as in the play MACBETH by Shakespeare, but from this outside perspective -- a young girl whose honest and faithful father is now remembered as a traitor. MacBeth's hungry greed for the throne Duncan holds is finely drawn. His wife's decent into madness and its effects on young Mary are part of the problem she must solve to save herself. Lots of quotes from the play lead off the chapters. Well-done literature spin-off by the author of so many teen novels -- surely her readers will pick up this fine book and maybe learn something about the great Shakespeare play MACBETH in the bargain.

Grades 7-10

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee

Clementine is back in this fun intermediate story about the school talent show. Clementine can't find her talent. She plans a variety of hilarious acts, finally settling on one which uses her baby brother. That plan is stopped by her father. Clementine goes to dress rehearsal without an act and becomes a great assistant director when her teacher has to leave.

Almost as much fun as the original Clementine.
The audio version was a notable children's recording nominee. Grade 3-7.