Archive for June, 2013

Review of Abe Lincoln’s Dream, by Lane Smith

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Abe Lincoln’s Dream

by Lane Smith

Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2012. 32 pages.

I like this book. The idea is simple. The execution is complex. The impact will stick with you.

There’s talk of a ghost in the White House. Over the years, different White House dogs won’t go into a certain room. Then one day, a little girl wandering from her tour sees the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. He’s still sad and worried about the union. She leads him to the door.

“Oh no, I never leave the Executive Mansion,” he protested.
“You should,” she said. “A lot has changed since 1865. . .
including the name of the Executive Mansion. We just call it the White House now.”

The ghost did the flying.
The girl answered the questions.
“Are the states united?” he asked. “Did that work out?”
“Yes, that worked out fine.”

“And equality for all?” he asked.
“That’s working out too,” she said.
“It’s getting better all the time.”

And on it goes. It’s a simple story, and the concepts are simplified to something children can easily understand. Lane Smith throws in some corny jokes attributed to Lincoln and some White House trivia. He also includes that marvelous Lane Smith art work, recognizable as his own, but not exactly like anything he’s done before.

One of the things that made me like this book was that it reminded me that when I was in elementary school or junior high, I used to daydream about having Louisa May Alcott come to visit and showing her all that had changed for women since her time. Since Jo wanted to run and play with the boys, I thought she would be so excited to see me wearing pants, and I’d think about all I could show her. This book is like that. Despite all our remaining troubles, I do think Abraham Lincoln would be reassured if a little girl could take him on a tour of what America is today and what Americans have done.

And what a fun way to reflect on that!

lanesmithbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Official 48-Hour Book Challenge 2013 Edition

Friday, June 7th, 2013

It’s time! Time for the official 48-Hour Book Challenge of 2013!

Last week, I did a practice run. Although I got 20 hours in, I didn’t get nearly as much blogging accomplished as I hoped. For that matter, I never get as much done as I hope. A weekend is simply not that long! However, it’s fun to do what I can!

Tomorrow I have to work, but I do plan to read during my lunch break and listen to an audiobook in the car. And then when I get home, I’m going to immerse myself in reading. I started at 7:00 pm on Friday, so that means after 7:00 pm on Sunday, I can get to my mundane details like grocery shopping and ironing.

Now, I’m hoping to do some good blogging, as well. I currently have a stack of 10 books (one of which I just finished after starting the Challenge) to write reviews for. Now, I also have 48 reviews written but not posted. So I very much want to get several of those posted. And I’m currently especially obsessed with posting the reviews I wrote in 2012. There are 8 of those left. So if the books seem older, that is why! I still have some reviews to post that I wrote when I was on the Cybils panel judging middle grade science fiction and fantasy.

They did ask to post a picture of the books I plan to read. Now, I know full well I won’t make much headway on this stack, especially if I do much blogging. But here is my stack:

On top is Heart’s Blood, by Juliet Marillier, which I’m about half done with.

Does anyone remember my Reading Plan? I’m still following that, sort of — just inserting lots and lots of interruptions. But Heart’s Blood was the “older library book” in the plan.

Next up is rereading a book. I was having trouble deciding what to reread when an Amazon package came today! Hooray! Perfect timing! One of the books in the package was Wednesdays in the Tower, by Jessica Day George. So that means the perfect book to reread is Tuesdays at the Castle. And that takes care of the next book in order, a book I own.

After those three, the rest of the books are books that Capitol Choices is considering, which I would very much like to have read before our meeting next Friday. We’ll see how I do.

Now, if this were all I’m reading, that would be one thing. But I have a system of piles of Nonfiction, which I read a chapter at a time. It is currently completely out of control:

But I just finished a Nonfiction book I’d been working on for months, Surviving Survival, by Laurence Gonzales. So I do, eventually, finish them.

I also intend to spend a little of the time unpacking boxes of books. I know that’s not in the official rules, so I will keep track of exactly how much time I spend (not more than one box per hour, and they only take about five minutes each). I think my recent move makes it a special case. I will only do boxes of books this weekend. These shelves in my bedroom are almost the only ones left to fill:

But that’s enough pictures of clutter and chaos! The fun one to post is the one of where I will spend significant time reading, at least during daylight hours.

There you have it! Happy Reading!

Review of The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette

by Bianca Turetsky

Poppy (Little, Brown and Company), 2012. 266 pages.

This book is simply fun. Not heavy, not overly philosophical, but with a bit of adventure and definite fun.

In an earlier book, The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic, which I haven’t read, Louise Lambert, lover of vintage clothing, tried on a dress worn on the Titanic — and traveled back to experience the voyage from the perspective of the girl who wore the dress. In this book we know by the title that she’s going to travel to the court of Marie Antoinette.

The set-up works for the book. Louise’s seventh grade French class is going to travel to Paris this summer (okay, maybe that’s a little unbelievable), but when her father’s laid off from her job, her parents tell her they can’t afford to send her. In history class, they’re talking about the French Revolution — not that I really think that’s in seventh-grade curriculum, but it’s told convincingly and Louise isn’t paying as much attention as the reader does (because of that title), so it doesn’t seem like a convenient information dump, but just enough for the reader to know what’s going on.

When she goes to another Traveling Fashionista show, she tries on a dress that takes her to Paris. She sees Marie Antoinette as a girl her own age. The events in the book take place well before the French Revolution, but the author does a good job of humanizing Marie Antoinette while making Louise think about her own life at the same time. And all the groundwork is laid for further adventures, as well as her finding out there are other time travelers out there.

Louise’s passion for vintage fashions and knowledge of historic designers makes her character all the more genuine. I read this in Advance Reader Copy form, so I didn’t see the full color art, but even the black-and-white artwork of clothes worn and palaces visited adds flavor to the book.

This has a little bit of magic, a good dose of history, and some information about vintage fashions, all thrown into a mix as much fun as playing dress-up.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/time_traveling_fashionista.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 an ALA conference.

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 Zorro Gets an Outfit, by Carter Goodrich

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Zorro Gets an Outfit

by Carter Goodrich

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. 42 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book about feelings that tells a fabulous story at the same time. The pictures make the book. We’ve got Zorro, a dog with a pattern on his face that looks like a mask, and the other dog who lives in that house, his friend Mister Bud. Humans in the household are expressed as body parts and disembodied voices.

Bud and Zorro are ready and eager for their daily walk, but something delays them. Their owner has an outfit for Zorro. It’s a hood and cape.

A whole double-page spread is given to the words: “Zorro was embarrassed.” Zorro is sitting in the hallway, definitely not looking happy.

As he reluctantly goes on a walk, other dogs and even the neighboring cat all laugh at him.

Zorro is moping when everything changes. A new dog comes to the park.

He was fast!

He did amazing tricks!

And he had an outfit . . .

. . . Just like Zorro.

The three dogs play together, and we can easily see that Zorro’s entire outlook has changed.

On the way home Zorro tried to cheer up Mister Bud about coming in third.

“Maybe it’s because you don’t have an outfit!”

Actually, Mister Bud didn’t really mind about coming in third.

He could tell Zorro was happy now.

It’s a simple story, but the pictures are completely delightful. It’s about feelings every child can relate to, and gives them a way to talk about them.

A story that will leave you smiling.

KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/zorro_gets_an_outfit.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 Lulu Walks the Dogs, by Judith Viorst

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Lulu Walks the Dogs

by Judith Viorst
illustrated by Lane Smith

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. 145 pages.

Another book about the irrepressible Lulu! She’s back, and although she no longer throws temper tantrums, “she’s still a girl who wants what she wants when she wants it.” In this book, she wants something that requires a lot of money, so she decides to start a dog-walking business. How hard could it be?

Actually, Lulu takes a whole chapter to decide her job. Here’s how it goes:

Well, maybe you already know and maybe you don’t. Because maybe Lulu first decided her jobs — or job — should be baking cookies, or spying, or reading to old people, and then those jobs did not turn out too well. And maybe instead of writing a chapter about how those jobs did not turn out too well, I’m moving right along to Chapter Four.

This book begs to be read aloud, especially with all the authorial asides, but it’s too long for storytime. It would make a fabulous bedtime book. The chapters are short, and it’s also a perfect beginning chapter book, with wonderful illustrations to entertain you as you go.

Lulu’s nemesis is Fleischman, the goody-goody boy down the block. So when walking the dogs doesn’t turn out to be as easy as Lulu thought, she above all doesn’t want to accept help from Fleischman, but that is her only recourse.

This book is about friendship and annoyingly perfect people and accepting help and lots of silliness about dogs who are sensitive about their names or only speak German, and it is a whole lot of fun.

lanesmithbooks.com
KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Book and Blogging Blitz Results

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

This past weekend, I held a personal Book and Blogging Blitz, as warm-up for next week’s 48-Hour Book Challenge.

One thing I’m learning from these weekend blitzes is how much shorter a weekend is than I think it is. No, I didn’t get caught up on posting reviews. I didn’t make a dent on my stack of picture books to review. I did, however, make a little progress. And I did have fun.

One thing that ate some time was totally worth it. I posted the first time for a long time on Sonderjourneys, after I caught the local egret on camera.

Altogether, I spent 20 hours on books and blogging. That was made up of 5 hours and 50 minutes blogging, 8 hours reading, 2 hours 30 minutes listening to an audiobook, 10 minutes networking, 1 hour and 5 minutes unpacking book boxes, and 2 hours 25 minutes posting reviews.

I read a total of 518 pages, finishing 3 books. I posted 4 reviews, wrote 2 new reviews, and posted 3 other posts, including Sonderjourneys and Sonderling Sunday. I also unpacked 7 boxes of books.

So, no, it didn’t nearly finish the task I’d set myself. But again, I made progress, and I had fun.

Going forward, I’m going to keep trying to post at least one review most days, and eventually I’ll get caught up. I’m planning to be choosier about which books I review, and use Goodreads for the ones I’m a little bit less excited about. But it’s hard to set a book aside!

I do plan to dive into the 48-Hour Book Challenge next weekend. Yes, I’m working on Saturday and have church on Sunday, but I may be able to move some chores outside the 48-hour window and give some time to books. It’s worth a try!

Anyway, I feel like I’m back in the saddle again. By adding some unpacking into my process, I learned that unpacking one box of books only takes about 5 minutes, so I can add that easily into my daily routine. And I don’t have to stop blogging while I’m unpacking. It will be done some day!

Read on!

Review of Wild Horse Scientists, by Kay Frydenborg

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Wild Horse Scientists

by Kay Frydenborg

Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2012. 80 pages.

With lots of beautiful pictures, this book talks about scientists who manage herds of wild horses, particularly on Assateague Island in Virginia and Maryland, but also out west, in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.

It’s interesting that the problem the scientists are trying to solve actually sprang from their protected status. Without predators any longer, the numbers of horses in the herd became too large. So the scientists spent years developing a contraceptive vaccine. Then they shoot the horses yearly with a dart to prevent pregnancy. It turned out, though, that when mares gave birth to fewer foals, the mares lived much longer.

The book talks about the process of developing the vaccine and then delivering it via dart rifle. Along the way, it talks about the history of wild horses and interesting facts about them. It follows scientists who have given their lives to studying the horses, as well as the status of the horses today.

And did I mention the photos? There are color photos on every spread. The design of the book is lovely, at times with the color of the page changed to complement the photos on that spread. Because of the local interest in nearby Assateague, we chose this book as part of our Summer Reading Program featured books this year in Fairfax County.

hmhbooks.com
assateaguewildhorses.org

I’m posting this review tonight in honor of Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at Jean Little Library.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/wild_horse_scientists.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 – Teenage Ichthala

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

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

Yes, after my move over a month ago, I have discovered the box that contained my German books. So here again for your amusement, we’ll be looking at Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy‘s The Order of Odd-Fish (translated by Wolfgang Thon — I need to remember to give the translator credit!).

We left off on page 166 of the English edition, Seite 210 in the German. Jo was learning about the show Teenage Ichthala.

I must again insert my reassurance that you do not have to have read the books in question to enjoy Sonderling Sunday. In fact, it might be fun to imagine exactly how the author can work these phrases into his book. I won’t give anything away, but I hope these tantalizing glimpses will intrigue my readers.

I’ll start with a handy phrase to know:
“queasy terror” = angewiderten Entsetzens (Google translates this “disgusted horror.” That works.)

“ludicrous weaponry” = lächerliche Waffen

“words tumbling out” = Worte überschlugen

“bad jokes” = schlechte Witze

“dumb wisecracks” = dummen Sprüchen

“unfunny scripts” = unkomischen Drehbüchern

“incontrovertibly unhilarious” = unbestreitbar unkomisch

“grand ambitions” = ungeheurem Ehrgeiz

“ghost story” = Geistergeschichte

“bedsheet” = Laken

“twisted into frantic little knots” = kleinen Knoten zu verkrampfen

I never get tired of this word:
“burbling sound” = das Geplapper

In German, they don’t group these sounds together:
“A fanfare of bells, drums, and organ blared” = Glocken schlugen, eine Trommel knallte und eine Orgel dröhnte los (Google: “Bells struck, a drum banged, and an organ boomed off”)

“angrily shushed” = ärgerlich anzischten, ja ruhig zu sein

This is such fun to say:
“collapsed” = verpuffte

“actress” = Schauspielerin (“show-player”)

“diseased lizard” = kranke Echse

“The day finally caught up with Jo.”
= Schlie?lich forderte der anstrengende Tag seinen Tribut von Jo.
(Translated back: “Finally called the strenuous day its tribute from Jo.”)

“tinny music” = blechernen Musik

“clicking whir” = klickenden Surren

And that’s the end of Chapter 13. Nothing too exciting in this section, but some handy phrases to know. At least it is not unbestreitbar unkomisch.

This week, may you avoid any kranke Echse and all dummen Sprüchen and unkomischen Drehbüchern, proceeding on your way with any ungeheurem Ehrgeiz intact.

Review of The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry, by Kathryn and Ross Petras

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry

Timeless Poems by Snooki, John Boehner, Kanye West and Other Well-Versed Celebrities

by Kathryn & Ross Petras

Workman Publishing, 2012. 256 pages.

Okay, this book is very cynical, very silly, and very, very funny. Small doses are advised, mind you. But as a book to dip into, the whole idea is hilarious.

Here’s the idea. Kathryn & Ross Petras are the editors of the 365 Stupidest Things calendar, so they are well-versed in the stupid things political figures and other celebrities say. They took some segments of speeches too long for the 365 Stupidest Things Calendar, formatted them as poetry, and gave commentary, treating the “poems” as serious works of art.

The result
is
hilarious.

In the Introduction, they start things off like a good scholarly introduction, giving trends:

To help introduce you, the reader, to these fresh new voices, we’ve arranged the anthology by poetic schools. You will be introduced to the poems of the strangely evocative Derrièristes and those of the declining but still impactful Dictator School, among many others. We discuss the more salient tenets of each school, allowing the reader a chance to truly understand the underpinnings of the poems and, perhaps more important, the ethos from which they spring. It is this shared aesthetic and philosophical outlook that draws together and indeed weds such seemingly disparate individuals as actor Tom Cruise, mobster Big Joey Massino, and pop star Miley Cyrus (all members of the Didactic School).

We also discern a fascinating kinship between these modern “versifiers” and their poetic ancestors. We see in Ann Coulter of the Compassionate School a faint whiff of her great predecessor, the shy and gentle recluse Emily Dickinson. We see in Rush Limbaugh, the writer of “Rushbo’s Howl,” another Allen Ginsberg. And, of course, in Rahm Emanuel we see another (Mametesque) Shakespeare.

The astute reader may note that some poets are acolytes of more than one school. Many critics have pondered the reason for this. Upon close analysis, we, the editors, feel this occurs because such large talent cannot be confined within the narrow strictures of one basic philosophy. So we happily find the poet Donald Trump represented not only (unsurprisingly) in the Inflated Ego School, but also (perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not) in the Religious School.

Now, I must warn the reader that a large proportion of the poems found in this volume are just plain crude. But that does make the notion of them as poetry funny, I must admit. It does make it unpalatable to sit down and read this book through in one sitting.

But many, many of these poems are simply silly. As an example, here’s one by Miguel Head (b. 1978) with the caption: “Many critics question the inclusion of Miguel Head in the ‘I’m Rich’ School, as Head is not truly of the wealthy but instead close to them as press secretary to Britain’s Princes William and Harry. So let us create a subset of the “I’m Rich” school specifically for Head — the ‘He’s Rich’ School.”

A Royal Pain

The Prince of Wales
does not employ
and never has employed
an aide to squeeze his toothpaste for him.

This is a myth
without any basis
in factual accuracy.

And here’s one by Jerry Coleman (b. 1924), in the Modern Metaphysical Poets, with the commentary, “Sportscaster Jerry Coleman tackles the core question of ‘beingness’ by provocatively veering into cutting-edge developments of quantum-mechanical entanglement.”

Lines on the Platonic Concept of Being

He just made another play
that I’ve never seen anyone else make before,
and I’ve seen him make it
more often
than anyone else ever has.

Truly silly.
Truly funny.
Reading this book will make you laugh.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/really_important_modern_poetry.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 an ALA conference.

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 Earthling! by Mark Fearing

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Earthling!

by Mark Fearing

Chronicle Books, San Francisco. 245 pages.

Earthling! is a children’s graphic novel that’s a lot of fun. Bud and his father move to a new home next to his father’s new job at the Von Lunar Telescope Lab. The next morning, Bud gets on the wrong bus — and ends up on a bus to Cosmos Academy, the best in the galaxy. Fortunately, a friendly alien helps him out right at the start, and warns him not to tell anyone he’s an earthling. Earthlings are feared and hated.

So Bud has all the challenges of fitting in at a new school where he is truly an alien from another planet. But at the same time, he must figure out how to get home. He has to learn how to play ZeroBall, make friends and be a team player — in a very different environment. He must avoid suspension and expulsion — because it would be suspension for eternity in molecular binding gel or being expelled into deep space to die.

The art in this book is excellent, and naturally the aliens are easy to tell apart. (Though come to think of it, the bullies look a lot alike. Is that species prejudice?) The story is fun, with Earthlings clearly seen through a distorted lens. The plot is engaging — Bud just wants to get home, but there are many paths he must take to try to get there. The pages are bright, colorful, and action-packed. This is one book that will be easy to put into kids’ hands.

markfearing.com
chroniclekids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

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