Archive for September, 2016

Review of Monster Trouble, by Lane Fredrickson and Michael Robertson

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

monster_trouble_largeMonster Trouble

by Lane Fredrickson
illustrations by Michael Robertson

Sterling Children’s Books, New York, 2015. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Winifred Schnitzel has monster trouble. It’s not that she’s afraid of them.

They try to scare her –

But all of their monsterly mayhem was moot –
because Winifred Schnitzel thought monsters were cute.

It’s true. The monsters who show up in Winifred’s house in this book are cute indeed.

But scary or not, these monsters make lots of noise. She can’t sleep at night, so she falls asleep during the day. Winifred must do something!

Winifred buys a book called Monsters Beware! and tries various tricks to stop the monsters, but none works. Finally, quite by accident, when a monster shows up while she’s dreaming, Winifred learns that the one thing that will frighten monsters away with horror is: Kissing!

I cringed a bit when I opened up this book and saw that it was written in rhyme. But the pictures are so much colorful fun and the secret tip given out is so useful to small children afraid of monsters, I was willing to read on and discovered that the rhyme is actually well done and adds to the fun.

She was dreaming of puppies when a monster went HISS.
She reached out and gave it a big, sleepy KISS.

The monster yelled, “Yuck!” All the others were heaving.
One gagged. And a big monster shouted, “I’m leaving!”

Winifred knew that despite their uniqueness,
she’d discovered that monsters have one silly weakness.

What’s more, I sent my little nieces several picture books I judged for the Cybils last year. This one was Arianna’s strong favorite. So this silly book has the approval of a genuine toddler.

rhymeweaver.com
sterlingpublishing.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/monster_trouble.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 copy sent to me by the publisher for Cybils judging.

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 What in the World? Numbers in Nature, by Nancy Raines Day and Kurt Cyrus

Friday, September 9th, 2016

what_in_the_world_largeWhat in the World?

Numbers in Nature

by Nancy Raines Day
illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, New York, 2015. 32 pages.

This is a simple picture book introducing a little bit of counting and a little bit of science to young readers.

Each number is introduced by a question, “What in the world comes . . .” and gentle pictures by the seaside illustrate each set.

Here’s an example from the middle:

What in the world comes four by four?

Petals of poppies, hooves – and more.

What in the world comes five by five?

The arms of sea stars, all alive.

There are only two lines per double-page spread, and plenty of open space in each painting, so this is for young readers who can handle the gentle pace. It would make a nice bedtime book, since the book finishes up with “sets too big to count.” The final two spreads show us a darkening sky with the words

Stars in the sky –

a vast amount!

You can hear from these examples that the rhyming isn’t stellar, but it’s doesn’t quite cross the line into bad. One other quibble I have is that on the sets of ten page with “Fingers and toes that wiggle and bend,” the picture of the boy does show his fingers and toes (in the water), but his arms are crossed with one thumb hidden – so you can’t use the picture to count ten fingers and ten toes.

However the simple idea – a counting book based on nature – is a lovely one. This is a gentle book that naturally leads into counting with children things in the world around them. A great way to practice counting and a great way to open their eyes to nature.

NancyRainesDay.com
KurtCyrus.com
KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

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

What did you think of this book?

Review of School’s First Day of School, by Adam Rex, pictures by Christian Robinson

Monday, September 5th, 2016

schools_first_day_of_school_largeSchool’s First Day of School

by Adam Rex
pictures by Christian Robinson

A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but here is a new twist on the First Day of School theme.

On the title page, you see construction workers and the school being built. Our story begins:

That summer, they dug up the big field, and poured the foundation, and set brick on top of brick until they’d built a school.

At first, the school doesn’t know what’s in store for it.

Most days a man named Janitor came to mop the school, and buff his floors, and wash his windows. “This is nice,” the school said to Janitor. “Just the two of us.”

“Won’t be just us for long,” said Janitor. “Soon the teachers will come, and then you’ll be filled with children.”

The school creaked. “Children?”
“All kinds of children. They’ll come to play games and to learn.”
“Oh,” said the school, “will you be here?”
“You’ll see me after the school day is over,” said Janitor. “Don’t worry – you’ll like the children.”
But the school thought that Janitor was probably wrong about that.

When the children come, there are more of them than the school could possibly have imagined. The school’s feelings are hurt, though, when some kids cry and don’t want to come in. And others say they hate school.

Later he squirted the puffy-haired kid in the face, then felt bad about it afterward.

(Now kids who get squirted by a drinking fountain may think about what they’ve said about their school!)

The school listens in on classroom lessons and is embarrassed when its fire alarm goes off. During lunch, a boy tells a funny joke, and another boy laughs so hard that milk comes out of his nose.

“Now I’m covered with nose milk,” thought the school. He had to admit that it was a pretty funny joke, though. Even the girl with freckles liked it.

This book is a perfect match for Christian Robinson’s childlike illustrations. It’s easy to talk about what anxieties a school might have as compared with anxieties a child might have.

I will go so far as to say that this lovely book is destined to be a classic for kids anticipating going to school. Maybe the school is anticipating their arrival, too!

adamrex.com
mackids.com

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

What did you think of this book?

Review of Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler

Monday, September 5th, 2016

dont_throw_it_to_mo_largeDon’t Throw It to Mo!

by David A. Adler
illustrated by Sam Ricks

Penguin Young Readers, 2015. 32 pages.
2016 Geisel Award Winner

The publisher labels this book “Level 2” for the “Progressing Reader.” It uses simple sentences and lots of pictures – but tells a story with a plot and a twist.

Mo loves football, but he’s the smallest and youngest player on his team. He doesn’t play often. Then Coach Steve carries out a plan to get the other team undervaluing Mo. He puts Mo in and tells him to go deep – but tells the team, “Don’t throw it to Mo!”

After a few plays like this, the other team’s not worried about Mo – setting him up to catch a long pass and win the game.

That summary, of course, doesn’t do the book justice. The author uses the simple sentences of an early reader as an asset, building the suspense and making the result believable. I told you what happened. Readers will see and understand what’s happening. And when they read the words themselves, they’ll get a big pay-off when Mo wins the game.

Mo’s not the only winner from this book.

davidaadler.com
samricks.com

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

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Momo – Meeting Beppo

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Momo1

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, or, in this case, the English translation of a German children’s book.

Today I’m going back to Momo, by Michael Ende, the first book I purchased in Germany — and the first chance I got, too.

Last time I looked at Momo, I left off at the start of the Viertes Kapitel (Chapter Four). Since German is the original language, I’ll begin with the German version.

Chapter 4 is called Ein schweigsamer Alter und ein zungenfertiger Junger, but only “Two Special Friends” in English. A more direct translation is “A silent old man and a tongue-ready young man.” (Google translates zungenfertiger as “glib.”)

Here’s the first sentence, a good one to know:
Wenn jemand auch sehr viele Freunde hat, so gibt es darunter doch immer einige wenige, die einem ganz besonders nahestehen und die einem die allerliebsten sind.
= “Even when people have a great many friends, there are always one or two whom they love best of all.”

teilten = “shared”

Beppo Straßenkehrer = “Beppo Roadsweeper”

Ziegelsteinen, Wellblechstücken und Dachpappe
= “bricks, corrugated iron, and tar paper”

gebückt = “bent-backed”

ein kurzer weißer Haarschopf = “a single tuft of white hair”

This is funny how much more the translator put in:
eine kleine Brille
= “a diminutive pair of steel-rimmed spectacles”

nicht ganz richtig im Kopf
= “not quite right in the head”

Ungenauigkeit = “carelessness”

alten, quietschenden Fahrrad = “squeaky old bicycle”

stetig = “steadily”

Besenstrich = “stroke of the broom”

Und man strengt sich noch mehr an
= “And you try even harder”

man kriegt es mit der Angst
= “you panic”

außer Puste = “out of breath” (“out-puffed”)

Wisdom from Beppo:
Man muß nur an den nächsten Schritt denken, an den nächsten Atemzug, an den nächsten Besenstrich.
= “You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom.”

Schritt für Schritt = “bit by bit”

wiedererkannt = “recognized” (“again-known”)

mit schrägem Kopf = “with his head to one side”

And the last sentence about Beppo:
Aber Momo hatte ihn lieb und bewahrte alle seine Worte in ihrem Herzen.
= “But Momo loved him and treasured every word he uttered.”

And I’ll stop there tonight. I think the most interesting word tonight was zungenfertiger. May your tongue be ready!

Review of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by James Martin, S. J.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

jesuit_guide_largeThe Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

A Spirituality for Real Life

by James Martin, S.J.

HarperOne (HarperCollins), 2010. 420 pages.
Starred Review

A big thank you to my friend Charles for recommending this book!

The title sums up the book well. This book takes a close look at how Jesuits approach life – and it applies to almost everything.

Charles recommended it as a good book for helping make decisions and figuring out your life path. I agree with him that it’s good for those things.

It’s a long book, and it took me a long time to read it, but it’s packed with good thoughts. The Jesuit perspective is a new one for me, yet from the same view of wanting to bring God into our lives. There are many good ideas and godly advice here.

James Martin begins the book by talking about Ignatian spirituality.

Ignatian spirituality considers everything an important element of your life. That includes religious services, sacred Scriptures, prayer, and charitable works, to be sure, but it also includes friends, family, work, relationships, sex, suffering, and joy, as well as nature, music, and pop culture. . . .

In Ignatian spirituality there is nothing that you have to put in a box and hide. Nothing has to be feared. Nothing has to be hidden away. Everything can be opened up before God.

That’s why this book is called The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. It’s not a guide to understanding everything about everything (thus the Almost). Rather, it’s a guide to discovering how God can be found in every dimension of your life. How God can be found in everything. And everyone, too.

Here are the kinds of questions that are proper to Ignatian spirituality, which we’ll discuss in the coming chapters:

How do I know what I’m supposed to do in life?

How do I know who I’m supposed to be?

How do I make good decisions?

How can I live a simple life?

How can I be a good friend?

How can I face suffering?

How can I be happy?

How can I find God?

How do I pray?

How do I love?

All these things are proper to Ignatian spirituality because all these things are proper to the human person.

That summarizes well the kind of things this book looks at – things about life and guidance and decisions and direction, things about love and friendship and a relationship with God. Father Martin’s style is personal and friendly, like a brother sharing his walk and his insights. He maybe rambles a little bit, but that adds to the non-threatening, friendly style.

The author interweaves his insights and advice with many, many stories – from his own life and from the lives of friends and mentors and people he has counseled. He also includes some Jesuit jokes! These are not abstract ideas, but time-tested wisdom – as the subtitle says, this is spirituality for real life.

James Martin ends the book with a prayer of total surrender, of offering all we are and have to God.

Why am I ending this book with such a “hard” prayer? To remind you that the spiritual life is a constant journey. For me, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that prayer and mean it completely. That is, I still want to hold on to all those things. And I’m not sure that I can say yet that all I need is God’s love and grace. I’m still too human for that. But as Ignatius said, it’s enough to have the desire for the desire. It’s enough to want that freedom. God will take care of the rest.

So together you and I are still on the way to being contemplatives in action, to finding God in all things, to seeing God incarnate in the world, and to seeking freedom and detachment.

The way of Ignatius has been traveled by millions of people searching for God in their daily lives. And for that way – easy at times, difficult at others, but always moving us closer to God – we can thank our friend, St. Ignatius Loyola.

jamesmartin.hc.com
harperone.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/jesuit_guide.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.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

bone_gap_largeBone Gap

by Laura Ruby

Balzer + Bray, 2015. 345 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Printz Award Winner

I read this book because it won the Printz, and probably would have given up otherwise. This book contains magical realism, which isn’t really my thing. I like fantasy that makes logical sense. I know that sounds silly, but I like there to be logical rules to the magic and a reason for the magic to exist. This is much more free-form, with gaps.

However, the writing is beautiful. I came to care deeply about Finn and the people around him.

Here’s how the book begins:

The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name. When he was little, they called him Spaceman. Sidetrack. Moonface. You. As he got older, they called him Pretty Boy. Loner. Brother. Dude.

But whatever they called him, they called him fondly. Despite his odd expressions, his strange distraction, and that annoying way he had of creeping up on a person, they knew him as well as they knew anyone. As well as they knew themselves. They knew him like they knew that Old Charlie Valentine preferred his chickens to his great-grandchildren, and sometimes let them roost in the house. (The chickens, not the children.) The way they knew that the Cordero family had a ghost that liked to rifle through the fridge at night. The way they knew that Priscilla Willis, the beekeeper’s homely daughter, had a sting worse than any bee. The way they knew that Bone Gap had gaps just wide enough for people to slip through, or slip away, leaving only their stories behind.

Weeks before the story starts, Roza slipped away. Finn is the only one who was there. He knows a man took her away, and Finn didn’t stop him.

Finn was confused. He thought she wanted to go with the man — until it was too late. Until he saw her hands slapping at fogged glass and the gleaming black SUV was swallowed up by the gathering dark.

And then he wasn’t able to describe the man. Finn told how he moved, what he was like. But that isn’t enough. Everyone is angry with him, and no one really believes Roza didn’t just decide to leave as mysteriously as she arrived.

Finn’s brother Sean, especially, thinks that he’s been left again. He doesn’t believe Sean that Roza wouldn’t do that, that Roza is in trouble. If there was a man, why can’t Finn describe him?

The chapters about Finn and Sean are interspersed with chapters about Roza in her strange surreal captivity. The man keeping her can speak flawless Polish and can effortlessly change where he’s keeping her.

Finn has a lot to learn about himself, about Bone Gap, before he can find Roza. And Roza has an important part in her own rescue. There are shades of the story of Persephone here and plenty of atmospheric paranormal elements.

I should mention that I like the way very realistic elements were woven into this mythic story. Finn has a good reason for his troubles describing the man who took Rosa, and Sean has good reasons for not trusting people. I like the way magic and reality are beautifully woven together in this lovely book.

lauraruby.com
epicreads.com

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

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Hollow Boy audiobook, by Jonathan Stroud

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

hollow_boy_audio_largeThe Hollow Boy

Lockwood & Co., Book Three

by Jonathan Stroud
read by Emily Bevan

Listening Library, 2015. 12 hours on 10 compact discs.
Starred Review

Today I finished listening to the audiobook of Lockwood & Co. Book Three — and ordered the hardback edition of Lockwood & Co. Book Four! I love this timing. If I remember right, they did the same thing last year — brought out the audiobook of the last volume a few months before the next volume was coming out in print. Listening to the audiobook version is the perfect way to prepare for the next book coming out!

It’s a series, and you do need to read the books in order, so I shouldn’t say too much about later volumes — but rereading Book Three gives me an excuse to rave about the series again.

My only complaint about the audiobook versions is that so far each volume has had a different reader. But it had been a year since I listened to Volume Two, and I liked the reader of Volume Three a lot. I don’t know a lot about British accents, but I did gather that she gave Lucy a working-class accent, which is appropriate. And Holly Munroe even sounded annoyingly perfect.

I’m struck again by how brilliant the writing is. All the emotions and relationships are done by showing rather than telling — and so realistic. We never find out exactly what age they are, but they’re kids, young teens — and Lucy clearly is attracted to her friend Anthony Lockwood and loves working with him and values their team. And then this perfectly together young woman gets hired while she’s out of town having a disappointing trip back with her family. And Lockwood and George like the way Holly is so perfect and together and annoyingly feminine.

And oh my goodness, I relate to Lucy maybe a little too much.

And that part isn’t even the focus of the story, which is about an outbreak of ghosts in Chelsea. George, ever the brilliant researcher, figures out that DEPRAC forces are looking in the wrong place, and Lockwood & Co. tackle a frighteningly powerful entity.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s power of communicating with Visitors is getting stronger all the time. But it’s unprecedented, and she doesn’t think the normal rules should apply. However, just because she can communicate with ghosts doesn’t necessarily mean she should.

I am so excited that the next volume comes out September 13!

listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/hollow_boy_audio.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 audiobook 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?