Review of A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall

March 31st, 2015

fine_dessert_largeA Fine Dessert

Four Centuries,
Four Families,
One Delicious Treat

by Emily Jenkins
illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

This book has a quiet cover that doesn’t reach out and grab you, but if you open it up and start reading, it’s wonderful on so many levels.

The subtitle tells you what’s going on. This book looks at families from 1710, 1810, 1910, and 2010 – all preparing and enjoying the same dessert, Blackberry Fool. All the kids who help get to lick the bowl at the end.

The dessert is the same in each century. But how it is prepared is quite different. How do they get the blackberries? Pick or purchase? And where do they get the cream?

Whipping the cream changes completely each hundred years – first, a bundle of twigs, taking fifteen minutes, next a wire whisk, taking ten minutes, then cast-iron rotary beaters, taking five minutes, and finally an electric mixer, taking two minutes.

How they chill the dessert changes each century as well, as does the food they eat for supper before the fine dessert is served.

Another contrast is that it isn’t until 2010 that a man and his son do the food preparation. In 1810, a slave girl and her mother do the work. But the daughter still gets to lick the bowl.

And at the end of each section, we’ve got the refrain: “What a fine dessert!”

This book is gently written, with wonderful detailed pictures. It is as irresistible as the fine dessert! The recipe for Blackberry Fool is at the end of the book.

Yes, I purchased blackberries and whipping cream when I went to the store this week, and last night I treated myself to Blackberry Fool! And yes, my hands turned purple when I pushed the fruit through the sieve. It would have been fun to do with a kid — but this way I get to lick the bowl myself. Indeed, it is a fine dessert. (In fact, after posting this review, I’m going to have to have a little more.)

emilyjenkins.com
sophieblackall.com
randomhousekids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Sonderling Sunday – Das Buch der Tausend Tage, Day 33

March 29th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday – that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

Today I’m back to the book I love so much in English, Shannon Hale‘s Book of a Thousand Days, Das Buch der Tausend Tage.

Buch_Tausend_Tage

Last time I looked at this book, I left off ready to begin Tag 33.

This is a random sentence, early on, that I think could be handy to know:
“Or was it right to let her sleep?”
= Oder war es richtig, sie schlafen zu lassen?

Here’s another good sentence:
“You’re an antelope who bounds through life.”
= Ihr seid eine Antilope, die durchs Leben hüpft.

“feverish hot” = lichterloh

And who knows but when you might need to say this?
“Your ankles are skinnier than a jackrabbit’s ribs.”
= Eure Knöchel magerer sind als die Rippen eines Hasen.

“trying to hold in the laugh made me snort like a camel”
= das unterdrückte Lachen brach sich in einem kamelartigen Schnauben Bahn

I like the way this sounds:
“didn’t want to wake the guards”
=die Wachen nicht wecken wollte

“How my side ached!”
= Ich hatte solches Seitenstechen!

“laughing with” = herumzualbern (Google: “fool around”)

“my skin tingling” = einem Prickeln auf der Haut

There’s a special word for tears of laughter:
“I’d wiped the tears from my face”
= ich mir die Lachtränen abgewischt hatte
(“I from myself the laugh-tears wiped had.”)

“wild dog” = Wildhund (Nothing surprising there, but always fun to say.)

“crazy” = wahnwitzig

I always like the long words:
“sword practice” = Schwertkampftraining

“swimming while dry” = trockenen Körpers schwimmen

“shy” = schüchtern

“ease suffering” = lindern Leiden

“resting my head on my hands” = stützte den Kopf in die Hände

“squinting” = mit zusammengekniffenen Augen

“something furry that mewed”
= etwas Flauschiges Maunzendes

“riverbed clay” = Lehm im Flussbett

And this one rhymes:
“heartache” = Herzschmerz

That’s it for Day 33. May you never know Herzschmerz and may the only tears you know be Lachtränen.

Review of Prairie Fire, by E. K. Johnston

March 28th, 2015

prairie_fire_largePrairie Fire

by E. K. Johnston

Carolrhoda LAB, Minneapolis, March 2015. 297 pages.
Starred Review

After finishing Prairie Fire, my love for The Story of Owen has only grown. I didn’t read the books quickly — they are thoughtful, intriguing, world-building stories rather than page-turners. In fact, I may have lingered longer for not wanting it to end.

The sequel caps the Story of Owen. It’s essentially one story, told in two parts, so you will want to read the first book before this one.

Again, summing up is easy: Modern-day Canada. With dragons.

In this book, Owen and his girlfriend Sadie, and his bard Siobhan (who tells the story) all enlist in the Oil Watch. The Oil Watch is their world’s version of an international military force defending oil fields and people against dragons. Work in the Oil Watch is mandatory for dragon slayers, but Siobhan also signs on, as part of Owen’s crew.

Every dragon slayer has a dedicated support crew. This book tells about their team in the new challenges of the military. And new types of dragons they must fight. Here’s the explanation of Owen’s team:

Every support squad had eight firefighters; a pair of engineers — one sapper and one smith — two medics, one of whom could double as a cook if you were on patrol; and in Owen’s case alone, one bard. All of them were older than Owen and I were. The Combat Engineer, Courtney Speed, was twenty-four and had a master’s in engineering from the Royal Military College. This was unusual, as most people in the Oil Watch, including our smith, Aarons, had at most only an undergraduate degree. The firefighters had all completed a two year college program, and the medics had bachelor degrees in addition to their year-long medic training course. Davis, the medic who was also the cook, planned to go to medical school when his tour was up. In those first days I despaired of ever learning their names, let alone coming up with ways to write them into Owen’s songs. I was more than a little bit intimidated, and I didn’t even have to be in charge. Owen was supposed to be in command and would eventually be given the highest rank It was really important that everyone got along.

That’s the style — lots of details, but so intriguing. And we see more ways their world is dramatically different from the one we live in — because of dragon. There’s a huge tunnel through the Rocky Mountains, for example. And totem poles are to keep giant dragons from landing.

I love the way Siobhan sees everyone as represented by an instrument. Or perhaps I should say hears everyone as represented by an instrument. When she meets a drill sergeant at basic training, for example, she says, “He was every inch cornet: compact but lacking the hard edge of a trumpet.” Later, she refers to him as the cornet-sergeant.

I also love the way Siobhan’s friendship with Owen grows and deepens. And yet never gets romantic. They have a fantastic working relationship. And when is that ever portrayed in books without romance? Owen’s girlfriend is also Siobhan’s friend, though she gets assigned to a different part of the world. And Siobhan meets some men who are interested in her. And she’s not portrayed as gay, but she doesn’t fall in love in this book. And somehow I find that wonderfully refreshing — a book where the characters become adults and pursue their callings and build lasting friendships — without making the whole point of it to be falling in love.

I should warn readers that the ending is a tear-jerker. This is not something that will leave you smiling — but it will leave you thinking, and will linger in your heart for a long time to come.

ekjohnston.ca
carolrhodalab.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Princess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover, by Josh Schneider

March 27th, 2015

princess_sparkle_heart_largePrincess Sparkle-Heart Gets a Makeover

by Josh Schneider

Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I’m not sure if girls looking for a princess book will be delighted or appalled with this one, but I’m hoping delighted. When Amelia is given a doll named Princess Sparkle-Heart, they instantly become best friends. So much so, that her dog is jealous. And when he gets the chance, he rips Princess Sparkle-Heart to pieces.

However, Amelia’s mother promises that she can put Princess Sparkle-heart back together, good as new. During the process, we get hints of what is going to happen. Amelia asks for extra stuffing, as muscles, for protection. She has a hard time picking just two buttons for eyes. She wants Princess Sparkle-Heart to have some good teeth.

But the biggest giveaway, I didn’t even notice on my first time through the book.

All that was left was to find Princess Sparkle-Heart some new clothes. Amelia gathered up all the magazines in the house and looked for just the right outfit.

We see Amelia looking at a spread-out array of magazines titled Fancy, with someone posing in a fancy outfit on the cover. What I didn’t notice the first time is that right in the middle of the magazines, Amelia is looking at an issue called Kapow featuring a superhero.

The final result? Let’s just say this is not what comes to my mind when I hear the name “Princess Sparkle-Heart.” And that dog will not be messing with her again. Though the end page shows a happy scene with Amelia playing with the dog, with the new improved Princess Sparkle-Heart by her side.

There’s a message of empowerment here. Now, it does beg the question: Does empowerment have to be ugly? But anyway, the story is a lot of fun. And believe me, my describing Princess Sparkle-Heart’s makeover will not diminish the thrill of discovery when she first appears in her full madeover glory.

hmhbooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of All Is Well, by Louise L. Hay and Mona Lisa Schulz

March 26th, 2015

all_is_well_largeAll Is Well

Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition

by Louise L. Hay and Mona Lisa Schulz, MD, PhD

Hay House, Carlsbad, California, 2013. 249 pages.
Starred Review

I always feel a little skeptical about Louise Hay’s claims that different ailments in the body come from attitudes within us. And then I have an ailment come to my attention, and her description of the attitude behind it is spot on. Seems like it can’t hurt to pay attention — and I do find that the affirmations are good for my spirit. It’s not a stretch to think they might be good for my body, too.

This book is co-authored with a medical doctor and scientist. She writes Chapter 1, “Integrating Healing Methods,” and includes some things I’d wondered about, speaking of Louise’s book You Can Heal Your Life:

Time after time, the book made sense, but I could never figure out where Louise got her affirmation system. What motivated her, nearly 35 years ago, to start her “clinical observation study” on the association between human thoughts and health? How could someone with no scientific background or medical training observe client after client, see a consistent correlation between certain thought patterns and their associated health problems, and then write a book that so accurately addresses our health concerns? Her prescriptions worked but I didn’t know why or how. It simply drove me crazy.

So, as necessity — or aggravation — is the mother of invention, I decided to delve into the science behind her affirmation system, mapping out the emotional aspects of illness in the brain and body. And the correlations I found helped me create a treatment system that has guided me through more than 25 years of intuitive consultations and an equal number of years as a physician and scientist.

Here’s the approach they take in this book:

When Louise and I began our discussions about how to create the most useful book for you, we decided to structure it so you could look up the part of your body that is experiencing illness and work from there — just like in You Can Heal Your Life. However, you must remember that people are not simply individual organs bound together, so the illness in one part of your body will generally affect the health of another part. And emotions about feeling safe and secure in your family (first emotional center) also play into emotions about self-esteem (third emotional center). To fully heal, you must look at your life as a whole while giving extra attention to the organ or illness that’s causing you the most trouble. Feel free to flip directly to the part of the book discussing your personal problem area, but remember that you may also find important information about other imbalances in your life by reading through the entire book. Having a complete picture of your strengths and weaknesses can help you create a long-term plan for a healthy life in all your emotional centers.

As you work your way through the book, I’ll help you tap into your body’s intuition surrounding the organs in each emotional center so you can understand the messages your body is sending. But remember, only you can decide what your body is really telling you. This book is a general guide that matches what is commonly seen and what the science mostly supports.

After you have determined what your body is telling you, Louise and I will walk you through healing techniques that address the numerous reasons why we get sick. While we won’t give specific medical advice in this book because good medical advice is unique to each individual, we will provide case studies that give you an idea of some of the basic types of medical interventions to consider. More important, we will lay out affirmations that you can repeat to yourself multiple times throughout your day and behavioral suggestions that you can immediately incorporate into your own life. These tools will help you change your thoughts and habits to create health.

Now, when I read You Can Heal Your Life, what made it seem plausible to me was when I was diagnosed with a gynecological problem with a “non-healing wound” shortly after my husband left me. Coincidence? Or is there something in what Louise Hay says? I also realized that the affirmations she prescribed for that did soothe my spirit.

In this case, I was reading along happily, not feeling it was applying much to me — when I had a scan done to check on my previous vertebral artery dissection. In the same area of my neck but opposite side, they found tissue growth that shouldn’t be there.

Long story short, I did eventually have a biopsy done and learned that it is “Reactive Lymphoid Hyperplasia” — an overgrowth of lymphoid tissue, possibly from infection somewhere else in my body. The important point being that this is Benign and Not Cancer.

However, it was interesting that this was in the same part of my neck as the injury that caused my stroke three years earlier. And a few days after the initial finding, I happened to read the chapter in this book titled “Something to Talk About: The Fifth Emotional Center: Mouth, Neck, and Thyroid.”

Now, the first sentence made me think it didn’t apply to me: “The health of the fifth emotional center indicates how well you communicate in your life.” Communication? I’m good at that.

However, listen to what the authors say particularly about neck problems:

Problems of the neck are often found in people who — even if they have flawless communication skills on a regular basis — become inflexible and frustrated when they are unable to control the outcome of a situation.

Later, they go into more detail in a section particularly about neck problems.

Neck pain, arthritis, and stiffness often come to those people who have amazing communication skills — both listening and speaking. Trying to see both sides of almost any story, they often become ill when their ability to clearly communicate things doesn’t work as they expect it to. When an argument can’t be settled by talking or when something in their lives goes wrong and they can’t control it, they often become aggravated and stubborn, sticking to their opinion and refusing to consider other viewpoints. The frustration that leads to the breakdown in communication often creates illness in the neck….

Once your neck is healthier, some fundamental changes must occur to maintain equilibrium while moving forward. Learning to accept your emotional limitations in the middle of a discussion is one key to improving your neck problems. You do have an amazing skill for intuitively listening, understanding, and making logical arguments. However, you must accept where your intellectual power to reason and communicate ends. When you encounter conflicts that you can’t resolve, don’t push your opinion stubbornly, adding to the frustration of the situation. Instead remind yourself that there are multiple answers to every problem. Realize that your role is only one part of the solution. Finding balance between what you can control and what you can’t and knowing when it is time to walk away from conflict will lead to better health in the fifth emotional center.

Oh my goodness, these things apply to me. In fact, I was hoping they didn’t. But when I told my sister some of what I’d been reading, ready to say I thought they might possibly apply to me — she immediately laughed out loud in recognition!

Yes, this stubbornness is related to my marriage and divorce. I just could not believe that my ex-husband leaving me and leaving his faith was a good thing. I hoped against hope I could pray him back. He showed no evidence of being happy (while I still had contact with him), which just reinforced my view that praying him back would be totally for his good.

Well, I thought by now I’d let him go. I’ve even started dating. However, the fact that these words struck such a chord makes me think the authors are onto something. And again, the affirmations they prescribe for this do feel healing and soothing. I actually adapted the main ones slightly to something that deeply resonates for me: “I love my family and friends enough to let them make their own mistakes and choose their own paths.”

Now, my neck problem affirmations probably won’t strike most of you as hard as they did me. But take a look and see if your own medical problems are held up to a mirror in this book. I try not to go diagnosing, but I do have a few friends with medical problems and what Louise Hay has to say about them is… interesting to say the least. (And since I have a problem with trying to convince other people to do what I think is best for them — I will stop right there!)

So let me close this review by saying I think you’ll find it’s worth a look. And it certainly can’t hurt. What is your body telling you?

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, by Bob Shea

March 24th, 2015

ballet_cat_largeBallet Cat

The Totally Secret Secret

by Bob Shea

Disney Hyperion, May 2015. 56 pages.
Starred Review

Big thanks to Travis Jonker for pointing out to me the genius that is this book. I had just gotten an Advance Reader Copy at ALA Midwinter Meeting, but I might have overlooked it since it is so thin.

This is a delightful choice for beginning readers. Cartoon illustrations with the dialog in speech bubbles keep the focus on the interaction between characters. And this is friendship drama as it really happens, folks!

As the book begins, Ballet Cat asks her friend Sparkles the Pony to pick what they should play today. At first things sound good – Crafts, checkers, a lemonade stand. But then Ballet Cat thinks of objections to each one. They shouldn’t leap with scissors; their kicks might knock over the checkerboard; and the lemonade will splash when they spin.

Sparkles’ body language is eloquent – and it’s lovely to see how Ballet Cat completely misses it. (But the reader will see it loud and clear.)

Sparkles says, “What if, maybe, we don’t spin today?”

Ballet Cat’s answer is, “HA! Don’t spin? Good one, Sparkles.”

Here’s the scene where they decide what to play:

Ballet Cat: Now, let’s see. What goes well with leaping, kicking, and spinning? Think, cat, think!

Sparkles the Pony (in very tiny print, with drooping eyes): We could play ballet.

Ballet Cat: Ballet? There is an idea! Leaping, yes. Kicking, yes, yes. Spinning, yes, yes, YES!

Great idea, Sparkles. How did you ever think of it?

Sparkles: We play ballet every day, Ballet Cat.

Ballet Cat: Oh, right.

After some play, which Ballet Cat enters into exuberantly, she figures out that something’s wrong with Sparkles. It turns out that Sparkles has a totally secret secret. He is afraid that if he tells the secret, Ballet Cat will not be his friend.

Well, the reader is not surprised by the secret, so I don’t think it’s a spoiler to give it away. Sometimes Sparkles doesn’t want to play ballet.

Can their friendship survive this disaster? Well it helps that Ballet Cat has a secret secret of her own.

This is a wonderful addition to books for beginning readers. I stand in awe of cartoonists like Bob Shea who can express so much emotion in such seemingly simple pen scratches.

Absolutely brilliant. And the best news is that it’s the start of a new series. I plan to booktalk this book with the younger elementary grades, because I can’t imagine a better way to entice kids to reading.

bobshea.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Story of Owen, by E. K. Johnston

March 23rd, 2015

story_of_owen_largeThe Story of Owen

Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

by E. K. Johnston

Carolrhoda LAB, Minneapolis, 2014. 302 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Morris Award Finalist

It’s easy to explain what this book is about: Modern-day Canada with dragons and dragon slayers!

The carrying out of that idea is much more intricate than you might think. There are insights about politics, publicity, environment, ethics, calling, and community. And, of course, plenty of danger and drama.

Here’s how the book begins:

Before the Thorskards came to Trondheim, we didn’t have a permanent dragon slayer. When a dragon attacked, you had to petition town hall (assuming it wasn’t on fire), and they would send to Toronto (assuming the phone lines weren’t on fire), and Queen’s Park would send out one of the government dragon slayers (assuming nothing in Toronto was on fire). By the time the dragon slayer arrived, anything not already lit on fire in the original attack would be, and whether the dragon was eventually slayed or not, we’d be stuck with reconstruction. Again.

Needless to say, when it was announced that Lottie Thorskard was moving to town permanently, it was like freaking Mardi Gras.

Lottie Thorskard is a famous dragon slayer who was recently seriously injured in the line of duty, so let out of her corporate contract. But with her to Trondheim comes her brother Aodhan, another dragon slayer, and his son Owen, who is being trained in the family business.

Siobhan meets Owen when they are both late to class on his first day at the high school. She is the one telling the story. She is a musician, and the Thorskards ask her to become Owen’s bard, to tell his story for the public. In this alternate world where dragons exist, bards were once very important for dragon slayers, but now the practice is more rare.

I don’t need to tell too much more about the story. Dragons in modern-day Canada. Siobhan posts her songs about Owen on YouTube. I will say that E. K. Johnston does a magnificent job of world-building, showing us why and how dragons make the world totally different.

When I first read the book, I was a little annoyed that there was no romance between Owen and Siobhan. After reading the second book, Prairie Fire I’m actually happy about that. Because between the two books, I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a good portrayal of a close and sustaining male-female friendship. I’ll say more in my review of Prairie Fire.

Also, with no romance, there are no sexy situations in this book. Just intriguing situations that get you thinking about the ethical and political implications while enjoying a good yarn.

Now, there is an interesting addition, which I liked: When Siobhan is first invited to the Thorskards’ house, she’s excited to meet the most famous married couple in Canada — Lottie Thorskard and her wife, Hannah. That relationship, both called “Aunt” by Owen, is portrayed as a loving and warm one, and Hannah especially, not a dragon slayer, but a smith, takes Siobhan under her wing when dragons come to town.

My love for this book only got bigger when I read the sequel. I’ll be coming back to these two books. The Story of Owen, as told by Siobhan, sticks with you.

ekjohnston.ca
carolrhodalab.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/story_of_owen.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, given to me at ALA Midwinter Meeting by the publisher.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Dithering and Smell-Songs

March 22nd, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

Sonderlinge 1

This week, we’re back to James Kennedy‘s Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, The Order of Odd-Fish

Last time, we left off on page 226 in the English version, Seite 285 in the German edition. The very next paragraph begins with a lovely sentence for translation. Why isn’t this in every phrasebook, anyway?

“Sir Oliver showed them around his observatory, packed with telescopes, star charts, and whirring machines.”
= Sir Oliver führte sie durch sein Observatorium, das vollgestopft war mit Teleskopen, Sternenkarten und surrenden Apparaturen.

(I like “packed” = full-ge-stuffed, I mean vollgestopft.)

“first-rate dithering”
= erstklassig sinnlose Arbeiten (“first-class senseless work”)

(Why am I not surprised that German doesn’t have a word for “dithering”?)

Another good sentence to know:
“I keep all the equipment broken, so I can fiddle with it for hours.”
= Ich sorge zum Beispiel dafür, dass die Instrumente alle kaputt sind, damit ich stundenlang daran herumdilettieren kann.

Oh, here’s a word for dither:
“dither” = tändeln

“exploring” = herumzustreifen

“crawlspaces” = Kriechräume

“peephole” = Guckloch

I like the way this uses English:
“matching pajamas” = Partnerlook-Pyjamas

“sly look” = schelmische Miene

“homemade” = selbst gebaute (“self-built”)

“rubber tubes” = Gummischläuchen

“a wild, looping jig” = eine wilde, hüpfende Gigue

Don’t you think you’ll need to say this if you’re ever in Germany?
“huffing and snorting with gusto” = voller Genuss keuchte und schnaubte

“attempts” = entpuppten

“smell-songs” = Duftliedern

“scales” = Tonleiter (“tone-ladders”)

“clumping up the stairs” = die Treppe hinaufstampfte

“embarrassing and strange” = peinlich und seltsam

And I will finish that section with:
“the picture of happiness” = die Verkörperung von Glückseligkeit

Review of Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, by Maira Kalman

March 19th, 2015

ah_ha_to_zig_zag_largeAh-hA to Zig-Zag

31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

by Maira Kalman

Cooper Hewitt, Skira Rizzoli, 2014. 54 pages.
Starred Review

Maira Kalman is pretty much the definition of quirky. On the title page, under the subtitle it says, “Maira Kalman went to the museum. She chose objects from the collection and made this book for you. Completely for you.”

First, it’s very loosely an alphabet book. Each letter has a picture of something from the museum and some writing about it. Something like this (with the picture from the front):

E.

(Except for your dog)

This is the cutest dog on Earth. with the cutest Eyebrows on Earth.

“I really am Extremely cute.”

Or:

F.

The hat on this woman From France is Fluffy and Frothy and Fantastic and Funny.

Or:

V.

It is Very Very Very Very (Very) nice to snuggle.

Or:

Y.

Dance. Run. Smell flowers. Jump for joY. Laugh. CrY. Be mean. Be kind. Eat toast. Be cozy. And be forever Young.

After Z for Zig-Zag, we have:

Oops!

We left out

O.

Oh well. We all make mistakes. Yesterday I wore two different socks. No big deal.

Then there is a double-page spread at the back with photos of all the objects portrayed and notes about what they are. The dog for E is “Figure of a poodle, England, 1820-40; Glazed earthenware.” The lady for F is from “Postcard, A Travers la Normandie; Coiffes et Costumes anciens, about 1909; Printed card with hand coloring.” V refers to “Salt and pepper shakers, Town and Country, 1946; Glazed earthenware, cork.” Y deals with “Square, Boy and Girl, 1947; Printed silk.” And O features “Pair of stockings, France, 1850-1900; Knitted silk.”

Then at the end, Maira Kalman tells the story of Nellie and Sally Hewitt.

They loved to sing and dance.
They were just a little bit wild.
A little bit.
They had sharp eyes. The kind of eyes that really LOOK at things.
One day they decided to collect the things they loved, and create a museum.
And they really did it.
Which is a lesson to be learned.
If you have a good idea — DO IT.

This book gives me a good idea: I should go to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

I have another good idea: I should tell you to check out this book!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Completely Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker

March 18th, 2015

completely_clementine_largeCompletely Clementine

by Sara Pennypacker
pictures by Marla Frazee

Disney Hyperion Books, New York, March 2015. 178 pages.
Starred Review

The only thing awful about a new Clementine book coming out is that it looks suspiciously like the final book in the series. I do not want to say good-by to Clementine any more than she wants to say good-by to her teacher, Mr. D’Matz.

Yes, Clementine is finishing up her third grade year. I like the way Marla Frazee has even drawn her on the cover looking older. Though I read the book in an advance reader’s copy, and will definitely have to check out the final version in order to appreciate Marla Frazee’s always brilliant finished art.

The big drama of this book is that Clementine is not speaking to her father. He ate meat loaf, and Clementine has become a passionate vegetarian. She won’t speak to her father, but she will draw him pictures of sad animals in terror of being eaten.

Some big things happen in this book that were anticipated in earlier books. Margaret’s mother is getting married. Clementine’s friend Joe has grown. School is letting out for the summer. And Clementine’s mother is about to have her baby.

When I first heard about a new baby coming, I wanted it to have a food name. My name is a fruit, which I used to hate but now I like. I call my brother vegetable names to make it fair, which he used to hate but now he likes too. So I thought our new brother or sister should have a food name too, so he or she wouldn’t feel left out.

My dad said yes, because he’d always wanted a kid named Noodle. “It’s so good,” he pleaded, “for either a boy or a girl!” But my mother said Absolutely not!

Then I tried a compromise, which means nobody wins, but nobody loses, either. “How about a thing-name then? Let’s give the baby a name that’s also a thing, at least.”

My father loved this idea too. My mother rolled her eyes at all his suggestions: Lug Nut, Pencil, Q-tip, and Noodle again. But she didn’t hate the thing-name idea. “Dawn,” she said, “that’s a lovely name. Or maybe Colt, if it’s a boy.”

“So do you want to hear them?” I asked.

“Maybe later. We still have two weeks. I have a feeling the perfect name will show up by then.”

And it’s not really a spoiler to say that indeed it does.

This is a grand completion to a wonderful series especially right for second and third graders. (But which adults also can’t help but love. So if you’re looking for a wonderful read-aloud, look no further.)

sarapennypacker.com
marlafrazee.com
DisneyBooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/completely_clementine.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?