Archive for September, 2014

Review of Two Speckled Eggs, by Jennifer K. Mann

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

two_speckled_eggs_largeTwo Speckled Eggs

by Jennifer K. Mann

Candlewick Press, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Ginger’s birthday party is coming up, and she wants to invite everyone in the class except Lyla Browning. Lyla Browning is weird. She even brought a tarantula in a pickle jar for Show-and-Tell. But Ginger’s mother says it’s all the girls or none of the girls, so Lyla gets an invitation, too.

At the birthday party, we see, in subtle ways, Lyla behaving more nicely than any of the other girls. And she brings Ginger a present she made herself – a tiny bird’s nest with two speckled, malted-milk eggs.

And so we see the blossoming of a friendship, one which we can see will continue at school.

This book is lovely in the way it shows that sometimes weird can also be quirky; unusual can also be creative; and not-like-everyone-else can also be thoughtful and interesting.

And the message is never stated outright. But you can see it in the blossoming of this friendship between two girls, and every reader can see that Lyla Browning may be weird, but she’s going to make a very good friend.

candlewick.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/two_speckled_eggs.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 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.

Review of The Scraps Book, by Lois Ehlert

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

scraps_book_largeThe Scraps Book

Notes from a Colorful Life

by Lois Ehlert

Beach Lane Books, New York, 2014. 72 pages.
Starred Review

Lois Ehlert makes wonderful picture book art, including the classic which I bought for my oldest son and quickly became a favorite in our family, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

This book tells a bit about how art found Lois Ehlert since childhood and led to her satisfying career. I say “a bit” because this is a picture book. There’s a little bit of text on each page, but mostly the book is made up of images.

There are pictures of the author as a child with her parents. There is a picture of the folding table her father set up for her to do art. There is a picture of the pinking shears her mother used on fabric, which Lois still uses. And on almost every page, there are elements of art that went into her many different books. She shows her method of collage and has a word of encouragement for budding artists: “If you feel that way too, I hope you’ll find a spot to work, and begin.”

The text is simple, with just a sentence or two of the main thread on each page, with the rest made up of many little notes about the art. The style reminds me of that in Feathers for Lunch, since you can read it on a couple different levels – reading the overarching main text, or getting delightfully absorbed in the details.

This book is fascinating for someone like me who has no desire to be an artist, in that it looks behind the scenes at the creation of some brilliant picture books. How much more inspiring I think it will be for kids who are interested in doing art.

KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/scraps_book.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 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.

Review of Extraordinary, by Nancy Werlin

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

extraordinary_largeExtraordinary

by Nancy Werlin

Speak (Penguin), 2010. 393 pages.
Starred Review

After reading Nancy Werlin’s Impossible on the plane on the way to Portland, Oregon, I went to two different Powell’s locations looking for the sequels. And had them finished before I got home.

Extraordinary isn’t exactly a sequel to Impossible, but it’s got a similar element of Faery and our world interacting with one another. And the third book, Unthinkable, has threads from each of the previous two books. So you don’t have to read the first and second books in order, but it’s good to have read them before you read the third book.

In a short section called “Conversation with the Faerie Queen, 1,” which appears before “Chapter 1,” we learn that a faerie girl is being sent into the human realm.

“You are anxious. Naturally. It is a great deal of responsibility. But remember, your way has been prepared. The Tolliver woman will believe you to be her own human daughter, miraculously restored to her. Grief, depression, and loneliness have caused her to lose herself, so she will gratefully accept your guidance in all things, young though you are. Managing her will be easy for you; you will give her certain human medications to keep her under your influence, and you will use her money for all your needs in the human realm.”

“I understand. And the Rothschild girl?”

“The girl is of course your main focus. You will observe her at school. I need not tell you again that everything — everything — depends on her.”

“The stakes are high.”

“Frighteningly high, at this point. It is useless to deny it.”

Chapter One begins with the sentence: “Phoebe Gutle Rothschild met Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade, during the second week of the new school year, in homeroom.” From the conversation with the Faerie Queen, we know something’s up, that something’s at stake, but we don’t know what. Mallory is being talked about by everyone for how peculiar she is.

However, Phoebe decides to be Mallory’s friend. Mallory meets again with the Faerie Queen:

“But child, what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. You are absolutely sure the Rothschild girl is the right one? And yet you say she is not ready?”

“Yes, she is the right one, and yes, she is not ready. That other human girl that we were watching, the one called Colette – she had not achieved what we thought she had. The Rothschild girl was fighting back. While she is not very self-assured, she has personal strength of will. Your Majesty, I now understand that when we observe human activity from outside, we can be mistaken when we try to interpret what it means.”

Mallory goes from saying she can finish in a few days to a few weeks, and then to a few years. We pick up the story four years later – “four good, solid years of best-friendship later.” One day, Mallory tells Phoebe that her half-brother is coming to live with her and her mother. Phoebe doesn’t believe it at first. Mallory has never mentioned a brother before.

Mallory’s brother Ryland is older and incredibly handsome. And he is very interested in Phoebe. And it doesn’t take long before Phoebe is obsessed with him. But why do they have to keep it secret from Mallory? And what is Mallory trying to tell her?

We’re eventually going to learn what the Faerie world wants with Phoebe Rothschild and what the high stakes are. And we also get a look at friendship and self-esteem and character – all with magical undertones that stretch into our world. And the story of a generations-long bargain made with the Fae.

This is a worthy successor to Impossible

nancywerlin.com
penguin.com/teens

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/extraordinary.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 a book I purchased at Powell’s.

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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Hidden, by Loïc Dauvillier

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

hidden_largeHidden

A Child’s Story of the Holocaust

written by Loïc Dauvillier
illustrated by Marc Lizano
color by Greg Salsedo
translated by Alexis Siegel

First Second Books, New York, 2014. Originally published in French in 2012. 76 pages.
Starred Review

Hidden is a graphic novelization of a grandmother telling her granddaughter about her experiences during the Holocaust. The graphic novel form makes this a gentle way to introduce the Holocaust to children.

I’m going to tell the ending in my review, so you know where the story goes and can judge if your child is ready for it. The pictures in the graphic novel format add to the power. And the frame of the grandmother telling the story lets you know right away that she will survive.

Dounia lived in Paris during the occupation by the Germans. At first, when her family is forced to wear the yellow stars, her father tells her they have all become sheriffs. She wears the star proudly, but quickly learns the truth when she is ostracized in school and told to sit at the back of the classroom.

Eventually, when the Nazis come for her family, Dounia is hidden under the false floor of a wardrobe. Their downstairs neighbors take her in after her parents have been taken away. But eventually, she must leave Paris. However, a woman sees Dounia and starts shouting for the police, so the father runs, and the mother must go with Dounia into hiding on a farm in the countryside.

Dounia, who now is called Simone, does make it through the war, because of the help of the people who hide her. After the war, they find her mother, looking gaunt and skeletal. They never do find her father.

And this is the story the grandmother tells her granddaughter in the night. The next day we learn that her son – the granddaughter’s father – has never heard the story. But he’s proud and happy that his daughter knows. And they end with a group hug.

It’s hard not to be moved by this story. It’s told from the perspective of a little girl who didn’t know what was going on. There’s not a lot of commentary, but the reader can easily see that the situation is not fair.

There’s one interruption in the story, flashing back to the grandmother and granddaughter, after people are first mean to Dounia at school.

Your daddy was a liar!
No, of course not!
Then why did he tell you you were a sheriff?
My daddy didn’t want to hurt me. He made up that story to protect me.
Okay, but then, why were they mean to you at school? They really didn’t like Jews?
I don’t know . . . I don’t think so. I think they didn’t know what to do. We were just children.
And the teacher? She was a grown-up!
Sometimes we do things without thinking, too.
Well, she was wrong.
Yes, I think you’re right.

I like that simple evaluation of the situation. There’s a lot more that can be said, but this sums it up nicely.

A powerful book.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Review of Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature, by Sarah C. Campbell

Monday, September 15th, 2014

mysterious_patterns_largeMysterious Patterns

Finding Fractals in Nature

by Sarah C. Campbell
photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell

Boyds Mills Press, 2014. 32 pages.

I love it when an author takes a fairly complicated mathematical concept and makes it picture-book simple. And in this case, she makes it look easy. (I’ve taught math. Trust me; it’s not easy to explain things simply.)

This book explains fractals and how they appear in nature – with plenty of photographs illustrating the concepts every step of the way.

Every fractal shape has smaller parts that look like the whole shape. Fractals are everywhere in nature, and can form in many different ways. A tree is a fractal. It starts with one shape that changes in the same way over, and over, and over again.

This tree [There’s a diagram below this paragraph.] starts with a stem, which splits into two branches, which each split into more branches, until the smallest branches split into twigs.

Many smaller parts of the tree – large branches with smaller branches and twigs – look like the whole tree, with its trunk and branches and smaller branches.

I already knew about fractals. I’ve seen mathematical formulas for them. I’ve even begun knitting a Sierpinski Triangle Scarf. However, after reading this book, I’m noticing fractals around me far more than ever before.

I think the same thing will probably happen with kids who read this book – and this book that includes no numbers higher than five may even inspire some child to find out more about the beautiful mathematics behind it.

sarahccampbell.com
boydsmillspress.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/help.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 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.

Sonderling Sunday – You Need a Schnauch!

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

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.

This week, I’m going to dive back into Der Lorax, von Dr. Seuss! Last time, we left off when the Einstler had just seen die Bäume! Die Trüffelabäume!

Lorax

And here’s where we can see how Dr. Seuss’s use of made-up words actually makes a rhyming translation easier:

“And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots
frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits
as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits.”

= Im Schatten der Bäume sah ich Braunfelliwullis.
Die hüpften in ihren Braunfellipullis
auf puscheligen Braunfellifüßen
und naschten von den Trüffelanüssen.

(“In the shadow of the trees saw I Brown-felli-wullis.
They hopped in their Brown-felli-pullovers
on puscheligen [?] Brown-felli-feet
and nibbled on the Truffula nuts.”)

As suspected, kräusligen is also made-up, from sich kräuseln, “to ripple.”

“From the rippulous pond
came the comfortable sound
of the Humming-Fish humming
while splashing around.”

= Vom kräusligen Teich
stieg ein wohliger Klang,
wo der Summerfisch summte
und planschte und sang.

Oh, alas! The first two lines of this are lovely, but the next two lines? Well, it’s a noble effort, but the German lines don’t have the same rhythm as the original.

“But those trees! Those trees!
Those Truffula Trees!

All my life I’d been searching
for trees such as these.”

Doch die Bäume! Diese Bäume!
Die Trüffelabäume!
Mein ganzes Leben lang wünschte ich mir
Bäume wie diese,
nun standen sie hier.

Really, it’s a challenge to translate rhymes like these:

“The touch of their tufts
was much softer than silk.
And they had the sweet smell
of fresh butterfly milk.”

= Der Tuff dieser Bäume,
zu meinem Entzücken,
glänzte so seidig
wie Schmetterlingsrücken.

(“The tufts of these trees
to my delight,
shone so silky
as butterfly backs.”)

(Notice they didn’t even attempt butterfly milk!)

And it just feels like we’re losing something:

“In no time at all, I had built a small shop.
Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop.
And with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed,
I took the soft tuft. And I knitted a Thneed!”

= Am Mittag war alles schon ausgepackt,
ein Laden gebaut und ein Baum abgehackt.
Und schneller als schnell, den geschickt war ich auch:
Aus dem kuschligen Tuff strickte ich einen Schnauch.

(“By noon was everything already unpacked,
a shop built and a tree hacked down.
And faster than fast, skillful was I also:
From the cuddly tuft knitted I a Schnauch.”)

I like this page:

“The instant I’d finished, I heard a ga-Zump!
I looked.
I saw something pop out of the stump
of the tree I’d chopped down. It was sort of a man.
Describe him?… That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.”

= Und grad war ich fertig, da machte es plumpf!
ich schaute
und sah, etwas sprang aus dem Stumpf —
aus dem Baum, den ich fällte. Es war so ein Mann.
Ihn beschreiben? Ich weiß nicht, ob ich das kann.

The schimpfte und schnauzte line here makes up for a lot:

“He was shortish. And oldish.
And brownish. And mossy.
And he spoke with a voice
that was sharpish and bossy.”

= Er war kurz, braun und ältlich
und oben bemoost.
Er schimpfte und schnauzte
und machte auf Boss.

(“He was short, brown, and elderly
and over be-mossed.
He grumbled and snarled
and acted the boss.”)

They don’t do badly with this classic line:

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

= Ich sprech’ für die Bäume, den die können’s ja nicht.

(“I speak for the trees, for they cannot.”)

And I do like the Thneed description:

“I’m being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed.
A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It’s a shirt. It’s a sock. It’s a glove. It’s a hat.
But it has other uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!”

= Ich mache mich nützlich. Dieses Ding is ein Schnauch.
Und ein Schnauch ist etwas, was jedermann braucht.
Man nimmt ihn als Pulli, als Socke, als Kragen.
Ein Schnauch ist sehr praktisch, sozusagen.
Er geht auch als Teppich und Nackenstütze,
als Vorhang, als Kissen oder Fahrradsitzmütze.

(“I’m making myself useful. This thing is a Schnauch.
And a Schnauch is something, that all people need.
One takes it as a pullover, as a sock, as a collar.
A Thneed is very practical, so to speak.
It goes also as a carpet and neck-rest,
as a curtain, as a cushion or bicycle-seat-cap.”)

And I’ll finish off with some words with far too much truth:

“I laughed at the Lorax, “You poor stupid guy!
You never can tell what some people will buy.”

= Ich lachte: Du Dummkopf, jetzt hör auf zu schnaufen!
Man weiß eben nie, was die Leute so kaufen.

That’s it for this week! In general, the translator, Nadia Budde, did come up with lines that still roll off the tongue.

Review of The Song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde

Friday, September 12th, 2014

song_of_the_quarkbeast_largeThe Song of the Quarkbeast

by Jasper Fforde

Harcourt, Boston, 2013. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2011. 289 pages.

I love Jasper Fforde’s books. His writing is always quirky, and in this book it’s also quarky. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

The story follows after The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange is still managing the Kazam Agency, but magic in the Ununited Kingdoms is on the rise and the agency is doing better. That is, until Lady Mawgon accidentally gets turned into stone. Then their rival, the Blix Agency, challenges them to a bridge-raising magical duel, and their very agency is on the line. And Blix isn’t afraid to play dirty – having the wizards of Kazam arrested or otherwise incapacitated.

The details are what make Jasper Fforde’s books so much fun. Here are some choice bits:

Since the Kingdom of Snodd granted licenses not by age but by who was mature enough to be put in charge of half a ton of speeding metal, no male under twenty-six or wizard ever possessed a driver’s license. Because of this I was compelled to add taxi service to my long list of jobs.

Or about magical licenses:

I didn’t say anything more, but we all knew the consequences of operating without a license were extremely unpleasant. The relationship between the populace and Mystical Arts practitioners had always been one of suspicion, not helped by a regrettable episode in the nineteenth century when a wayward sorcerer who called himself Blix the Thoroughly Barbarous thought he could use his powers to achieve world domination. He was eventually defeated, but the damage to magic’s reputation had been deep and far-reaching. Bureaucracy now dominated the industry with a sea of paperwork and licensing requirements. Reinventing sorcery as a useful and safe commodity akin to electricity had taken two centuries and wasn’t finished yet. Once lost, trust is a difficult thing to regain.

Or a bit of history thrown in, explaining a magical job:

The point of the Fourth Troll War had been pretty much the same as the first three: to push the trolls back into the far north and teach them a lesson “once and for all.” To this end, the nations of the Ununited Kingdoms had put aside their differences, sending 147 landships on a frontal assault to “soften up” the trolls before the infantry invaded the following week. The landships had breached the first Troll Wall at Stirling and arrived at the second Troll Wall eighteen hours later. They reportedly opened the Troll Gates, and then – nothing. All the radios went dead. Faced with uncertainty and the possible loss of the landships, the generals decided to instigate the ever popular Let’s Panic plan and ordered the infantry to attack.

Of the quarter million men and women in action during the twenty-six-minute war that followed, only nine were not lost or eaten. Colonel Bloch-Draine was one of them, saved by an unavoidable dentist appointment that had him away from his landship at the crucial moment of advance. He retired soon after to devote his time to killing and mounting rare creatures before they went extinct. He had recently started collecting trees and saw no reason why this activity shouldn’t be exactly the same as collecting stuffed animals: lots of swapping and putting them in alphabetical groups. Clearly, moving trees around his estate was not something he could do on his own, and that was the reason Kazam had been employed.

Or the information about Quarkbeasts:

“They don’t so much breed as replicate,” I explained. “They divide into two entirely equal and mirror-opposite Quarkbeasts. But as soon as they do, they have to be separated and sent a long way from each other – opposite sides of the globe, usually. If a paired positive and negative Quarkbeast meet, they are both annihilated in a flash of pure energy. It was said that Cambrianopolis was half destroyed when a confluence of paired Quarkbeasts came together and exploded with the force of ten thousand tons of Marzex-4. Luckily, Cambrianopolis is such a ruin, no one has really noticed.”

And there’s more!

The Once Magnificent Boo stared at me intently. “Are you ready to be confused?”

“It’s how I spend most of my days at Zambini Towers.”

“Then here it is: Quarkbeasts breed by creating an exact mirror copy of themselves – and since the Mighty Shandar created only one Quarkbeast, every Quarkbeast is a copy of every other Quarkbeast, only opposite.”

“I was blown backwards yesterday,” I said. “Is that the same thing?”

“No, and if I were you, I would stay that way. It will save your life.”

“Right. But wait a minute.” I looked at the picture of Q26, the one that paired to produce mine. “If Q27 is the mirror of Q26 and Q28 is the mirror of Q27, then why don’t Q26 and Q28 look the same? Aren’t alternate generations identical?”

“No. It’s more complicated than that. They create identical copies of themselves in six different flavors: Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, and Bottom. All are opposite and equal, but all uniquely different and alike at the same time.”

“I don’t understand any of this.”

“I have problems with it still, after twenty years,” confessed Boo. “The complexities of the Quarkbeast are fundamentally unknowable. But here’s the point: There can only ever be thirty-six completely unique yet identical Quarkbeasts. If they divide in such a way that all the combinations are fulfilled, they will come together and merge into a single quota of fully quorumed Quarkbeasts.”

“What will happen then?”

“Something wonderful. All the great unanswered questions of the world will be answered. Who are we? What are we here for? Where will we end up? And most important of all: Can mankind actually get any stupider? The Quarkbeast is more than an animal; it’s an oracle. It assists in mankind’s elusive search for meaning, truth, and fulfillment.”

That should give you the flavor. If you’re ready for some clever but silly fun, I highly recommend this and all of Jasper Fforde’s other books.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Parents of Toddlers, Beware of This Book!

Friday, September 12th, 2014

cars_trucks_largeCars and Trucks and Things That Go

by Richard Scarry

A Golden Book, New York, 1974. 69 pages.
Starred Review

Today I was reminded of my son’s favorite book when he was a toddler: Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Tim is now 20 years old, but when he was a year old, we checked out the book from the library and spent the entire two weeks (or three weeks? I don’t remember) reading it over and over.

If you aren’t familiar with this book, it’s basically a story of a pig family going on a picnic. Each extra-large spread shows a different stage of their journey, and they pass every kind of vehicle imaginable along the way. There is a simple storyline about the family’s trip, but the busy pictures are all labeled, and Goldbug shows up on every page, and there are many other things to spot.

The book does, however, take a long time to read. You can try to skip all the extra pointing and only read the story about the pigs, but your child may or may not cooperate with that. So it was with some relief that I turned the book in, when we went back to the library. I was perhaps a bit furtive in the action, and I’m sure I buried the book under others, but I checked out several new books to distract him.

It wasn’t until the next morning that he asked to read Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I don’t remember what words he used — he still wasn’t very verbal (Though he could say “Car.”) But I knew what he was looking for and said, “Oh Timmy, we took that book back to the library. It’s all gone.”

My son did not take kindly to that news. He went to the back door (the one we used to go to our car), and began a full-fledged temper tantrum, complete with banging his head against the sliding glass door. If I was so horrible as to take the book to the library, then we must go to the library RIGHT NOW!

Well, I survived and managed to not give in to the terrorist. But his dad was on a band trip and was coming back that very day. He liked to bring our sons gifts when he was on a trip. So I called him up and told him that if he had a chance to go to a bookstore (I knew he was staying near a Big Box Borders — they were still new), well, I knew just the book that Timmy would love.

Timmy_Cars_Trucks

Okay, so what made me think of that old story today?

It so happens that my younger sister Marcy (Much younger — she’d never heard this story) has a sweet toddler daughter. Tim and I got to stay at their house in Oregon on our vacation last month, and we both completely fell for her.

This morning, Marcy posted the following on Facebook:

Yeah… when our daughter has a meltdown because “Caws and Tucks” has been returned to the library… we all knew how that was going to end, right?

Her copy arrives Saturday.

I asked Marcy if she was indeed referring to Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and explained that I’d had the exact same thing happen 19 years ago. She clarified further:

Yep, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go! Returned it yesterday, I’m surprised she made it this long before requesting it. She was super tired though, so the meltdown was NOT surprising, though it was impressively powerful. (After telling her several times we took it to the library, “all gone,” and her continuing to ask, “Caws n Tucks?” I tried to pick her up. THAT led to the “Noooooo!!! No, NOOOOOOO!!!” with her head thrown back and everything.)

Fortunately for us, she’s too young to see a connection between a tantrum and a book arriving THREE DAYS from now.

Dang it, this means I’m going to have to keep reading it. Frog and Toad it isn’t. Oh well. At least she’s ridiculously adorable when she reads it.

Now, as far as I can remember, this is the only book either of my sons ever threw a tantrum about returning to the library. And now my niece has thrown a tantrum about the very same book!

So, consider yourself warned! If you check this book out for your child, you may find returning it a challenge.

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go: Discriminating toddlers demand nothing less.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/cars_trucks.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, purchased by my husband at a Borders in Illinois in 1995.

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.

Review of the Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

great_greene_heist_largeThe Great Greene Heist

Saving the School, One Con at a Time

by Varian Johnson

Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2014. 226 pages.
Starred Review

This is a Heist Novel set in middle school, and it’s tightly plotted and brilliantly executed. On top of that we’ve got a diverse cast of characters, nicely reflecting middle school students today. In the tradition of heist stories, the caper is pulled off by a team working together.

The heist in this case is to steal the student council election. But don’t worry – it’s ethical because the principal has accepted a bribe to make Keith Sinclair win. Keith would have the power to cut funding for all the student clubs he doesn’t like – and he doesn’t like any that Jackson Greene is involved in.

The book starts, expertly, in the middle of the action. Jackson Greene already has a history of schemes and cons. After getting caught on “The Kelsey Job,” otherwise known as “The Mid-Day PDA,” he is not allowed to carry a cell phone, and has promised to reform. And his friend, Gaby, hates him. Because Jackson was caught in the principal’s office, kissing another girl.

Gaby de la Cruz is the one running against Keith Sinclair, and she’s the one who should win. However, as it becomes clear that Keith is going to use shady means to win, Jackson reluctantly agrees to bring his formidable talents to bear on making sure Gaby gets elected.

The characters in this novel are varied and realistic middle school students. The election is taking place the same day as the end of year formal, so there’s added tension as to who’s attending the formal with whom. I love the way Jackson is brilliant in planning a job – yet as clueless as any thirteen-year-old boy about girls. The action keeps moving, so you never want to put down the book.

varianjohnson.com
scholastic.com

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

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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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

most_magnificent_thing_largeThe Most Magnificent Thing

by Ashley Spires

Kids Can Press, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I love this book. A tribute to the power of failure.

A girl has a wonderful idea. She’s going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She enlists the help of her dog best friend and assistant. She takes a big pile of what looks like junk and sets to work.

But when it’s finished:

They are shocked to discover that the thing isn’t magnificent.
Or good. It isn’t even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all WRONG.
The girl tosses it aside and gives it another go.

This happens over and over. The thing isn’t right. She keeps trying again, adapting her design. It never turns out magnificent.

Finally, getting angrier and angrier, she crunches her finger.

The pain starts in her finger.
It rushes up to her brain…
…and she EXPLODES!
It is not her finest moment.

However, her friend the dog convinces her to take a walk and cool down. And when she returns, she sees her failures in a whole new light. She sees parts of different contraptions that are actually quite right. (And in the background, we see bystanders appreciating her efforts as well.)

The new perspective gives her the energy and excitement to try once more. The final result is not perfect, but it’s truly magnificent.

I love the fine print on the page opposite the title: “The artwork in this book was rendered digitally with lots of practice, two hissy fits and one all-out tantrum.”

This book is a beautiful tribute to persistence, hard work – and failure.

kidscanpress.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/most_magnificent_thing.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 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.