Archive for February, 2014

Review of Old Mikamba Had a Farm, by Rachel Isadora

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Old Mikamba Had a Farm

by Rachel Isadora

Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2013. 36 pages.

Old Mikamba indeed has a farm – a game farm on the plains of Africa. The format is the same as singing about Old MacDonald’s farm, but the animals are quite different.

There’s a baboon, with an Ooh-ha-ha. There’s an elephant, with a Baraaa-baraaa. There’s a dassie, with a trill-trill. There’s a warthog, with a Snort-snort. And finally, there’s a lion, with a Roar-roar. Altogether, fourteen African animals are featured with lovely mostly collage illustrations.

A page at the back tells a paragraph more about each of the animals.

This is a lovely twist on a familiar song that is sure to be a hit at Storytime. If fourteen verses gets long, you can always skip some pages, but be sure to always finish off with the lion! And you thought you knew what farm animals were!

penguin.com/youngreaders

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/old_mikamba_had_a_farm.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 – Day 31 of a Thousand Days

Sunday, February 9th, 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.

Tonight I’m going back to Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale, Das Buch der Tausend Tage.

Last time I looked at this book, I was on Day 31, which is page 26 in the English version, and Seite 37 auf Deutsch.

I think of Sonderling Sunday as a silly phrase book. Imagine coming across these in a phrase book. You know they’re useful phrases, since they’ve actually gotten used in a book!

It begins:
“A few minutes ago, we heard a voice.”
= Vor wenigen Minuten hörten wir eine Stimme.

“hiding her face in my neck” = barg das Gesicht an meinem Hals

“I gasped.” = Ich rang um luft. (“I struggled for breath.”)

“the flap” = die Klappe

“I fetched a wooden spoon and lodged it against the flap to hold it open.”
= Ich klemmte einen Holzlöffel in die Klappe, damit sie offen blieb.

“started to pace and fret and rub her head”
= tigerte umher, rang die Hände und raufte sich die Haare

“Say you are me.” = Behaupte, du wärst ich.

“shook like a rabbit” = bebte wie ein Kaninchen

“her voice was hard and full of the knowledge that she’s gentry”
= war ihre Stimme barsch im vollen Bewusstsein dessen, dass sie hier die Adlige ist

“a sin most gruesome” = eine schlimme Sünde

“stuttered hideously” = stammelte fürchterlich

“my words mimicking my scattered heartbeat”
= meine Worte kamen im Rhythmus meines stockenden Herzschlags
(“my words came in the rhythm of my faltering heartbeats”)

“tip of his boot” = Schuhspitze

“war chief” = Kriegshäuptling

“loads of food” = massenweise Lebensmittel

“salted mutton” = gepökelten Hammel

“I’m relieved.” = Das tröstet mich.

“Feeling as though I had swallowed a great lump of knotted rope”
= Ich fühlte mich, als hätte ich ein großes Stück verknotetes Tau verschluckt

“clank shut” = scheppernd zufiel

That’s it for that day! And for this day. Das tröstet mich to get back to Sonderling Sunday! This week, we’re finishing up judging for the Cybils. Don’t forget to check the announcements on Friday! But it’s fun to squeeze in another frivolous post, even as I’m madly reading!

Review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

by Holly Black

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013. 422 pages.
Starred Review

I’m not a fan of vampire novels. In fact, I liked Twilight specifically because it didn’t read like a vampire novel. However, I am a fan of Holly Black. So when she wrote a vampire novel, I had to at least try it.

Tana wakes up after a big party lying in a bathtub. When she goes out to see where everyone else is, she finds them all dead.

One of the windows was open, she noticed, curtain fluttering. The party must have gotten too warm, everyone sweating in the small house and yearning for the cool breeze just outside. Then, once the window was open, it would have been easy to forget to close it. There was still the garlic, after all, still the holy water on the lintels. Things like this happened in Europe, in places like Belgium, where the streets teemed with vampires and the shops didn’t open until after dark. Not here. Not in Tana’s town, where there hadn’t been a single attack in more than five years.

And yet it had happened. A window had been left open to the night, and a vampire had crawled through.

But Tana learns that not everyone is dead after all. Aidan, her ex-boyfriend, has been bitten, but is alive, and tied to a bed. And there’s a vampire boy chained beside the bed.

When Tana was six, vampires were Muppets, endlessly counting, or cartoon villains in black cloaks with red polyester linings. Kids would dress up like vampires on Halloween, wearing plastic teeth that fitted badly over their own and smearing their faces with sweet syrup to make mock rivulets of cherry-bright blood.

That all changed with Caspar Morales. There had been plenty of books and films romanticizing vampires over the last century. It was only a matter of time before a vampire started romanticizing himself.

Crazy, romantic Caspar decided that unlike decades of ancient, hidebound vampires, he wouldn’t kill his victims. He would seduce them, drink a little blood, and then move on, from city to city. By the time the old vampires caught up with him and ripped him to pieces, he’d already infected hundreds of people. And those new vampires, with no idea how to prevent the spread, infected thousands.

In America, they ended up shutting the vampires up in Coldtowns. Anyone infected was supposed to go to a Coldtown. If an infected person could keep from drinking human blood for eighty-eight days, the infection would flush out of their system. But few could do that. Tana’s mother couldn’t.

Tana ends up setting free Aidan and the vampire. But as they escape out the window, one of the vampires from the slaughter gets his teeth on her leg, so she may be infected, too.

Tana knows they need to get to Coldtown. The trouble is, no one who goes into Coldtown is allowed to come out, infected or uninfected. There’s only one way out, and that’s with a token you get for turning in a vampire. For some reason their vampire companion, Gavriel, wants to go into Coldtown. He says he has a friend he needs to kill. So Tana gets a token for bringing him with her. If she can keep from turning into a vampire, she’ll be able to go home when it’s all over.

This book is scary and compelling. The world is frighteningly believable. Vampires in Coldtown livestream their parties, and Tana meets some teens who have always wanted to go to Coldtown and become vampires. The life is glamorized, and the reader isn’t surprised when it doesn’t turn out as they hoped.

Along the way, Tana makes friends and allies and gets involved with Gavriel, who has some dark secrets. But worst of all, her little sister decides to come find her.

If you like vampire novels, you’ll love this one. If you don’t like vampire novels, like me, you just may find yourself loving it anyway. You certainly will have a hard time putting it down unfinished.

blackholly.com
lb-teens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/coldest_girl_in_coldtown.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 and had signed by the author.

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 Paris, My Sweet, by Amy Thomas

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Paris, My Sweet

A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

by Amy Thomas

Sourcebooks, 2012. 280 pages.
Starred Review

In 2008, Amy Thomas had a wonderful week’s vacation in Paris. Little did she know that would lead to bigger things.

That trip was the first time I was in Paris during the summer, and it was absolutely amazing. I loved that it was light out until after 10:00 p.m., giving me several extra hours to roam back-alley streets and sit by the Seine. I was excited to discover new neighborhoods like Bercy and Canal Saint-Martin and new “bistronomy” restaurants like Le Verre Volé and Le Comptoir du Relais. I got sucked into the semi-annual sales, les soldes, and hooked on Vélib’s, the public bike-sharing system.

And then there were all the chocolatiers.

By that time, I was just as obsessed with sweets as I was Paris. I had a column in Metro newspaper called “Sweet Freak” and a blog by the same name. I knew every bakery, dessert bar, gelateria, tea salon, and chocolatier in New York City. When I traveled, I built my itinerary around a town’s must-visit sweet spots.

So naturally during that week in Paris, I researched the city’s best chocolatiers, mapped out a circuit, and then Vélib’ed between eight of them. It was exhilarating and exhausting, not to mention decadent. It was a chocoholic’s dream ride. I wrote about my Tour du Chocolat for the New York Times, and it went on to become a top-ten travel story for the year. As I was secretly plotting a way to spend more time eating chocolate in Paris, the in-house recruiter of the ad agency where I worked casually walked into my office one day and asked if I wanted to move to Paris. I was getting transferred to write copy for the iconic fashion label Louis Vuitton. It all happened so suddenly, and seemed so magical, that I had to ask: was Paris my destiny or sheer force of will?

I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while. Here’s what happened when I did.

Now, I love Paris. And I still remember exactly the taste of the caramels we bought at a chocolate shop there. So I was predisposed to love this book, and I did.

Amy Thomas took a sweet-lovers approach to Paris and to writing this book. Each chapter focuses on a different delicious concoction that can be found in Paris. She ends up each chapter telling where you can get them in Paris, but also where you can get something similar in New York City. She uses her knowledge of sweets in New York City to good effect, and then discovers the places in Paris.

Readers of this book now have a fabulous excuse to go back to Paris. I’ve got to try some of these! One thing’s for sure. The next time I go to Paris or New York City, I’m going to bring this book — or at least the addresses from it.

godiloveparis.blogspot.com
sourcebooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/paris_my_sweet.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, which I got at an ALA conference and had signed by the author.

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 When Charley Met Grampa, by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

When Charley Met Grampa

by Amy Hest
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Candlewick Press, 2013. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Even though I’m not a dog person, this story of a boy and his puppy completely charmed me. Of course, I’ve been a fan of Helen Oxenbury’s pictures since my own son was small and we were all captivated by Tom and Pippo. The dog pictured here is so expressive and endearing, it’s hard to imagine anyone not falling in love.

The story is simple. Grampa is coming to visit Henry. Henry writes to tell Grampa about his new dog Charley. Grampa writes back that he’s never been friends with a dog before.

Then Henry and Charley go through the falling snow to the train station to meet Grampa. I love lines like this: “Charley’s tail was up in the air, which is code for I know the way to the station.

They have to wait for the train, so Henry tells Charley about Grampa. The train finally comes and they meet Grampa, who asks Charley if he’s friendly or fierce. On the way home, Grampa’s green cap blows off his head, and Charley runs after it, getting lost in the snow. There’s a page with both Henry and Grampa calling for Charley. “And then he was there. With Grampa’s green cap.”

The book ends as cozily as possible:

That night Charley jumped on the bed with Grampa. He looked in Grampa’s eyes and Grampa looked back, which is code for
I love you,
I love you,
I love you.

They both fell asleep.
And Grampa snored wild.

Simply a cozy, warm, beautiful book about a boy, his dog, and his Grampa.

candlewick.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/when_charley_met_grampa.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 Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, by Alexander McCall Smith

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon Books, New York, 2013. 242 pages.
Starred Review

It’s probably silly for me to continue to review these books, since they are most fun read in order, as you get to know the characters over time. And those who have read this far, like me, will certainly want to continue, so all I really need to tell you is that another book is out.

I like it when the books include satisfying puzzles for Mma Ramotswe to solve, and this one does. As well, Mma Makutsi is expecting a baby! But Phuti’s troublesome aunt is determined to come stay with them and keep people away after the baby is born. And, Surprise! Charlie, of all people, is quite taken with the baby.

Mostly, I enjoy these books because of the pleasant time it gives me with wonderful people. As another title proclaimed, reading these books is being in the company of cheerful ladies.

I always like to include a quotation that shows Mma Ramotswe’s practical, peaceful, and matter-of-fact approach to life. Here’s one that made me smile:

In her experience, those who took the husbands or wives of others could rewrite history – not always, but often – and the marriage they had broken up would be portrayed as being in much worse condition than it really was.

pantheonbooks.com
alexandermccallsmith.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/minor_adjustment_beauty_salon.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!

Review of Words with Wings, by Nikki Grimes

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Words with Wings

by Nikki Grimes

WordSong (Highlights), Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2013. 84 pages.
Starred Review
2014 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Words with Wings is a novel in verse about a girl who’s a daydreamer.

Here’s the poem that shares its title with the book:

Words with Wings

Some words
sit still on the page
holding a story steady.
Those words
never get me into trouble.
But other words have wings
that wake my daydreams.
They fly in,
silent as sunrise,
tickle my imagination,
and carry my thoughts away.
I can’t help
but buckle up
for the ride!

Some of the poems tell about Gabby’s life. Others tell about her daydreams. The daydream poems, imaginative and fun, usually start with the word that sets off the daydream. For example:

Waterfall

Say “waterfall,”
and the dreary winter rain
outside my classroom window
turns to liquid thunder,
pounding into a clear pool
miles below,
and I can’t wait
to dive in.

At the start of the book, Gabby’s parents split up and she has to move with her mother across town, and attend a new school. Once again, she’s known as the daydreamer. She has to deal with the other students teasing her and a new teacher trying to get her to pay attention and trying not to disappoint her mother. She has some nice victories in the book, and I love how she learns to value her own imagination.

nikkigrimes.com
wordsongpoetry.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/words_with_wings.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 Reading Copy signed by the author, which I was given at an author lunch hosted by Highlights, at ALA Annual 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 The Nazi Hunters, by Neal Bascomb

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

The Nazi Hunters

How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi

by Neal Bascomb

Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2013. 242 pages.
Starred Review
2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Winner

Here’s a work of nonfiction that reads like a thriller. I didn’t realize until I read the note about the author at the back that this book was based on the author’s book for adults, Hunting Eichmann. It doesn’t read like an abridgement.

Because of the nature of the material, this is a book for teens and preteens, rather than children. But anyone who enjoys a good spy novel will enjoy this true-life tale.

The book sets the stage with what happened in World War II. It looks at the particular, focusing on the story of a young man, Zeev Sapir, in Hungary. Zeev later testified at Eichmann’s trial. The book explains the four phases of Eichmann’s plan: Isolate the Jews, secure Jewish wealth, move the Jews to ghettos, and finally, transport them to camps. His job was to get them to the camps, and he didn’t claim responsibility for what happened to them there.

The first chapter briefly explains Eichmann’s rise to power and his escape from Germany at the end of the war. The rest of the book focuses on how he was discovered in Argentina by Israeli Secret Service, and the elaborate plan they needed to be able to abduct him, bring him to Israel, and put him on trial.

I was struck by the sheer number of those involved who had lost family members in the Holocaust. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the details as mentioned in this book brought it home to me.

I like the way the book explains the importance of the trial of Adolf Eichmann:

The Eichmann trial was almost more important in the field of education than in that of justice. David Ben-Gurion achieved his ambition: The trial educated the Israeli public, particularly the young, about the true nature of the Holocaust. And, after sixteen years of silence, it allowed survivors to openly share their experiences.

In the rest of the world, the intense media coverage and the wave of Eichmann biographies and fantastic accounts of his capture rooted the Holocaust in the collective cultural consciousness. The Shoah, as it was also known, was not to be forgotten, and an outpouring of survivor memoirs, scholarly works, plays, novels, documentaries, paintings, museum exhibits, and films followed in the wake of the trial and still continues today. This consciousness, in Israel and throughout the world, is the enduring legacy of the operation to capture Adolf Eichmann.

The book is full of photographs all along the way, including pictures of important documents, such as the captain’s logbook for the El Al flight out of Argentina and Eichmann’s Red Cross passport. This reminds the reader, all the way through, that these exciting events actually took place.

Buy from Amazon.com

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