Archive for November, 2018

Review of Sophie’s Squash Go to School, by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Sophie’s Squash Go to School

by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review

I so love Sophie of Sophie’s Squash! Sophie is a girl who adopted a squash as her best friend, Bernice. At the end of the first book, Sophie was delighted by the “birth” of Bernice’s children, Bonnie and Baxter.

The start of this book doesn’t explain all that. It shows Sophie walking into a classroom, hugging her two squash, with happy faces drawn on them. It’s not clear if the classroom is preschool or Kindergarten, though I suspect preschool. Sophie’s parents tell her she’s going to have lots of fun and make lots of friends.

But Sophie didn’t.
The chairs were uncomfortable.
The milk tasted funny.
And no one appreciated her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter.

“Are those toys?” asked Liam.
“Do they bounce?” asked Roshmi.
“Can we EAT them?” asked Noreen.

“No!” said Sophie.
“No, no, no! I grew them in my garden. They’re my FRIENDS.”

As the book goes on, Sophie resists making human friends. They just don’t get it. But one boy named Steven is persistently interested and kind.

I like the way in the illustrations, Bonnie and Baxter slowly begin becoming spotty.

Still, Sophie knew Bonnie and Baxter wouldn’t last forever.

She starts thinking about doing things with actual people.

At the end of the book, after Bonnie and Baxter have been bedded down in the earth for the winter, an idea from Steven prompts Sophie to help show the whole class how to grow plant-friends.

I like the scene at the end:

But before too long, tiny shoots appeared.

Sophie and Steven did a new-plant dance and invited everyone to join in.

“See?” Sophie told Steven. “Sometimes growing a friend just takes time.”

This book doesn’t have the “instant classic” feel of the first. But Sophie still has the same firm (not to say stubborn) personality, deciding for herself who her friends will be. And it feels true to the character that she would grow up to be this way. In fact, she still reminds me of my young niece – who doesn’t necessarily make friends easily and believes she knows how things should be, but is ever so lovable because of (not in spite of) her quirks.

patzietlowmiller.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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Review of The New York Times Book of Physics and Astronomy, edited by Cornelia Dean

Friday, November 30th, 2018

The New York Times Book of Physics and Astronomy

More Than 100 Years of Covering the Expanding Universe

edited by Cornelia Dean
foreword by Neil Degrasse Tyson

Sterling, 2013. 557 pages.

This book takes an excessively long time to read, but it’s so interesting. I began by alternating reading from it and reading from The New York Times Book of Mathematics. That took way too long — so I read the math book first, then worked on this one.

This book is made up of actual articles about advances in Physics and Astronomy, taken from the pages of The New York Times. I read an article per day most days — for a very long time.

My one strong recommendation is that for each article, you look at the end of the article to find out the date it was written, so you know if you’re reading about current developments in physics or old news. I was surprised how early some things were discovered.

Because this is from the pages of the newspaper, all the articles are written with a general audience in mind, and so are basically understandable. It gives a nice overview of the progress of physics in the last century or so.

Chapter titles give you an idea of the scope of this book (each chapter is a collection of many articles): “The Nature of Matter,” “The Practical Atom,” and “The Fate of the Universe.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson says of the journalists who wrote these articles, “And I also came to see their telling of this timeless and epic adventure of cosmic discovery as a kind of time-capsule-in-the-making — a chronicle of our species’ search for how the universe works and what our place within it might be.”

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

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Review of I Will Not Eat You, by Adam Lehrhaupt and Scott Magoon

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

I Will Not Eat You

by Adam Lehrhaupt & Scott Magoon

A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Despite the title and look, this is not, actually, a Jon Klassen book. It is a whole lot of fun!

As the book opens we see a big dark cave with two red eyes peering out.

Theodore lived in a cave.
It was a quiet cave,
and that’s the way he liked it.

One morning, a bird flew up to the cave.
It tweeted and squawked at Theodore.

Theodore thought,
Does it want me to eat it?

But Theodore wasn’t hungry.

“Go away, silly bird,”
he whispered.
“I will not eat you.”

The bird flew away.

The same pattern repeats with slight variations as the day progresses with a wolf and a tiger.

That evening, a boy wearing a suit of armor gallops up to the cave and roars.

Seriously? thought Theodore.
I should eat it.

Theodore was getting hungry.

The boy doesn’t back down, and Theodore emerges from the cave. We finally see that he’s an enormous red dragon. He chases the boy!

Things could get pretty grim, but in a surprise for everyone, the two end up sharing a laugh and becoming friends.

I’m not sure it’s a healthy situation for the boy, but by the end of the book, they play together regularly.

I can always eat him later,
thought Theodore.

This book would be a hit with preschoolers. There aren’t a lot of words on each page. I think the hint of danger could be thrilling. There are certainly plenty of things to talk about after the story is done. Would you play with Theodore?

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/i_will_not_eat_you.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 Goodnight, Numbers, by Danica McKellar

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Goodnight, Numbers

by Danica McKellar
illustrated by Alicia Padrón

Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Yes! This is the very best sort of counting book – with multiple things to count on each page.

For example, on the page for Four, the text says,

4
FOUR
Goodnight, four paws.
Goodnight, kitty cat.
Goodnight, four froggies
on the bathroom mat.

In the picture we do see four paws on the kitty cat, but also four stripes on its tail. We see four froggies on the bathroom mat, and we also see four rubber duckies in the room.

There are four shampoo bottles on the side of the tub, four toy turtles, four rolled-up towels, four stripes on the towel the dad is holding, four dots on the stool, and four bubbles in a framed picture (with framed spaces for ten things – this is consistent on each page).

Mind you, the rhyming text is simply nice, not stellar. But it’s not glaringly bad, either, which is an accomplishment with rhyming text!

The pictures are soft and sweet – and so many things to count! Another example on the Five page is the Mom has a necklace with five daisies, and each daisy has five petals.

The back of the book has a note to the parent/grandparent/caregiver reading the book. It points out the educational value, in case they missed it, and gives more ideas for bringing numbers into children’s lives.

This book would pair well with the bedtimemath.org website and app. They recommend doing math problems with your child at bedtime, as well as bedtime stories. This book is both!

This is a great way to talk about numbers and counting in a cozy and friendly way. It’s never too early to show your children that math is all around them.

McKellarMath.com
randomhousekids.com

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

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Review of The Not So Quiet Library, by Zachariah Ohora

Monday, November 26th, 2018

The Not So Quiet Library

by Zachariah Ohora

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This book definitely leans toward the silly side, but it features a library, so what’s not to like?

Every Saturday, Oskar and Theodore got up bright and early.

Not to watch cartoons, or play outside with their friends. It was the day they went . . .

. . . to the library with Dad!

Once they get to the library, they go to the children’s department while Dad goes upstairs to “the nap department.”

[No, no, no! Don’t leave young children unattended at the library unless you’d leave them unattended in a mall. Of course, this book bears out that something bad may happen to them. . . .]

In the children’s department, a five-headed monster attacks! When it finds out that books aren’t for eating, it decides it will eat Oskar and Theodore.

Fortunately, the librarian saves the day with a story time. “Luckily, monsters like story time as much as they like donuts.”

[Please note that this is a lovely sentiment and I applaud that kind-hearted librarian, but I feel compelled to warn you that at our library, if you leave your children unattended, the chances are good that we will let a monster eat them. Sorry, but that’s how it is….]

There are lots of delightful details in this book. My favorite is the picture of Dad tying a pile of books to the top of their car to go to the library. The inside of the car is full of books, too. They leave the library the same way.

It’s all just so silly – but such a nice celebration of libraries.

zohora.com
penguin.com/youngreaders

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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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Review of The Name of God Is Mercy, by Pope Francis

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

The Name of God Is Mercy

A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli

by Pope Francis

translated from the Italian by Oonagh Stransky

Random House, 2016. 151 pages.
Starred Review

This short book is a meditation on the mercy of God. As such, it will uplift you and inspire you and bless you.

Perhaps it will make you more merciful, as you meditate on God’s mercy.

Perhaps it will enable you to realize that God is not angry with you. As I learned here that St. Augustine once said, “It is easier for God to hold back anger than mercy.”

God forgives everyone, he offers new possibilities to everyone, he showers his mercy on everyone who asks for it. We are the ones who do not know how to forgive.

If you would find it helpful to think about God’s mercy and forgiveness, I recommend this book.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/name_of_god_is_mercy.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 Hannah and Sugar, by Kate Berube

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

Hannah and Sugar

by Kate Berube

Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2016.
Starred Review

It seems like the texts of picture books are getting shorter and shorter. But that doesn’t have to mean the stories are left out. This book is an example of minimal text, with no unnecessary words, but a full story with a beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning words are repeated, and we understand that this is the routine, the way things are:

Every day after school, Hannah’s papa picked her up at the bus stop.

And every day after school, Sugar was at the bus stop waiting for Violet P.

Every day after school, Mrs. P. asked Hannah if she wanted to pet Sugar. [We see all the other children happily crowded around Sugar.]

And every day after school, Hannah said, “No, thank you.” [Even with the simplest of illustrations, we can see that Hannah is holding her papa’s hand and feeling hesitant about Sugar.]

Then one day, Sugar isn’t there. Sugar’s been missing since the night before. The whole neighborhood searches for Sugar, and variation in the illustrations shows how they look everywhere.

Now, it’s predictable what happens next. However, I like that before it happens, Hannah is sitting on her stoop watching the stars come out and has a reflective moment.

She listened to the sound of the trains in the distance and she wondered how it would feel to be lost in the dark. She decided that it would be scary and that if she were lost she would be sad and probably hungry.

So when Hannah does find Sugar in the bushes, with her leash tangled in the branches, we believe that Hannah will get up the courage to do something.

I like the description of their encounter:

Hannah closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Then she gently reached out her trembling hand.

Sugar sniffed Hannah’s hand and rubbed her face along it.

The untangling of the leash is implied in the pictures, but what we do see is a happy Hannah and a dog who’s very glad to see her.

And it’s all wrapped up into a nice tidy bow with the new routine where Hannah gets off at the bus stop and Sugar is waiting for Violet P. and for Hannah, too.

This picture book works on many levels. Yes, it would be good for kids who are timid around dogs, but it also works as a simple story for any child with plenty of room for talking about feelings. The illustrations are simple, but convey worlds of emotion even so. (How do these brilliant artists do it, anyway?)

abramsyoungreaders.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.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Hello World, by Jonathan Litton

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

Hello World

A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities

by Jonathan Litton
illustrated by L’Atelier Cartographik

360 Degrees, Wilton, CT, 2016. 16 pages.

Wow! I’m not sure how long this book will hold up in the library, but it would be a wonderful book to own. Mainly, this book consists of how to say Hello in many, many languages all over the world.

The method used is large maps of the continents, with speech bubbles showing how to say “Hello” in different languages, pinpointed by location. The words are printed on flaps. When you lift the flap, you get a phonetic pronunciation and the number of speakers of that language in that country. Other language facts are listed throughout the book.

The pages are made of sturdy cardboard, so it’s made to take some tough usage – but, well, lift-the-flap books in the library are generally doomed to suffer from overenthusiastic usage. Once enough flaps are ripped off, this book won’t be as useful. (Reserve it quickly, while our library’s copies are still new!) But this would be a book worth owning and poring over.

I can imagine a child who enjoys highly detailed illustrations getting a lot of joy out of this book – at least as much joy as finding Waldo! And if you could then take that child to where some other languages are spoken, they would have an excited appreciation of being able to say Hello.

This is a lovely idea, and it’s carried out beautifully. May the flaps endure through many, many check-outs!

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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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Review of An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things, by Wee Society

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things

by Wee Society

Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House), 2016. 38 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t normally review board books. I don’t normally even read board books. But I requested this one when I saw it on the list of books the library had ordered (Wowbrary), not realizing it was a board book.

And it is awesome.

What’s so awesome about it? The arbitrariness of the selection of things listed – and the excellent graphic design representation of those things. The pleasing, bright colors. The question at the end (Awesome or not awesome?).

On the front you see a few small pictures that will come later, and they’re marked fig. 1 through fig. 5. That gives you the idea. The pictures have the look of infographics.

Here are the first several awesome things from this book. The book consists of an infographic of each thing, with the name of the thing printed on the page as well.

HELICOPTERS
ARGYLE
LAVA
MASKING TAPE
FOOL’S GOLD
NESTS
CAMOUFLAGE
CINNAMON
SCIENCE

The final page reads, “Awesome or not awesome?” and shows eight more things.

The graphic design is awesome. I especially like the pages for DANDELIONS and CONFETTI.

This book reminds me very much of 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, by Barbara Ann Kipfer, except it’s for toddlers and their awesome parents.

weesociety.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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Review of When Strangers Meet, by Kio Stark

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

When Strangers Meet

How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You

by Kio Stark

TED Books, Simon & Schuster, 2016. 107 pages.

This is a short little book, based on this TED Talk, “Why You Should Talk to Strangers.”

She didn’t actually convince me. I’m an introvert; I’m not going to do her exercises.

However, she said things that were fun to think about. Connection is good for us. I was happy I read this before I went to ALA Midwinter Meeting and planned to ask strangers to vote for me to be on the 2019 Newbery committee. Those encounters were all very positive. I do think it helped to think about the dynamics of talking to strangers first.

For that matter, my job at the library involves talking with strangers — and helping them — every single day. So to think a little more deeply about what’s going on when that happens was good.

From the Introduction:

In these pages we’ll explore why talking to strangers is good for you. We’ll investigate how it’s possible for people to open themselves to even the briefest conversations with strangers and the fascinating dynamics of how they do it. What does it take to say a simple hello to a stranger you pass on the street? How might that interaction continue? What are the places in which you are more likely to interact with people you don’t know? How do you get out of a conversation? These sound like easy questions. As you’ll see, they are not….

This is a book about talking, and it’s also a book about seeing, listening, and being alert to the world. I want to show you how lyrical and profound our most momentary connections can be, to broaden your understanding and deepen your perception of people who are strangers to you. I want you to see the invisible mechanics and meanings of street interactions. I want to give you a new way to be in love with the world.

This book is fun reading, and a great option for those who prefer books to video (like me).

TED.com
SimonandSchuster.com

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