Wednesday, December 29, 2010


By Jennifer Donnelly. New York: Delacorte Press, 2010.

Boy, oh boy, what an amazing book! First, let's talk plot. It's present day. Andi Alpers is 17 years-old, living in Brooklyn, and she is deeply grieving the loss of her younger brother, Truman. She has a lot of anger towards her father for never being around, her mother for being basically catatonic and unable to cope with life without her son. Andi has so much anger and grief, and it consumes her everyday life. She isn't able to talk about her feelings with anyone, and anti-depressants are barely keeping her functional. Due to her inability to cope, she is falling behind on her classes and is very close to getting expelled from St. Anselm's, the private school she attends. Her father intervenes, and takes Andi to Paris with him for a work trip with the goal of working on her thesis so she can graduate. While in Paris, Andi discovers a diary hidden in a guitar case that was written by a young girl, Alexandrine, who lived during the French Revolution. It's this discovery that changes Andi's life.

This book grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go! I was captivated by the story, the characters, and the setting. The writing is so strong, you can almost jump into the pages. One of the things I really liked was the two distinctive voices Donnelly gave to Andi and Alex. Andi's pain and grief is so heartbreaking, and you feel her mourning and sadness so fiercely. I also really loved the music element to this novel. Andi is a gifted musician, and music is her way of dealing with her feelings. On Jennifer Donnelly's website, she has a playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book. I also loved the setting and mixture of present time and the past. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read a fabulous story. Also, if you're not a fan of historical fiction, please, give this book a try. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly

Written by Carolyn Parkhurst. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2010.

Oh, the joys of siblings! Anyone who has a younger brother or sister will relate to this spot-on book. Henry is five years old, and his little sister, Elliebelly, is two. They are playing at having their very own cooking show, "Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly." On the menu today is raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon (I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty awesome to me). As they "record" their show, Elliebelly keeps interjecting "suggestions" - like wearing a pirate hat instead of a chef hat, adding pizza to the list of ingredients, and including her doll in the show. Henry yells to his mom, who is presumably in the other room, off camera, and she gives him very helpful, "mom" advice, such as "work it out, you two" (that must be in the mom manual, because I've heard that expression before from my own mom). The show continues on, as Henry patiently works with his sister, and soon the pretend food is ready. Thankfully, Mom made some real waffles, because they are both hungry.

This book is delightful! The interactions between Henry and Elliebelly are very accurate, and I found myself chuckling at Henry's expressions and Elliebelly's joyful insistance on doing things a certain way. As the oldest of three, I found myself looking back on how my sister and I used to play together when we were little, and I could totally relate (although we never played a cooking show, thank goodness). The characters are perfectly illustrated to display their personalities. Elliebelly is so exuberant with her butterfly wings, big smile, and curly hair, while Henry has a look of resignation, as his show gets very off-track. The dialogue is also very clever, with Henry's text in black, and Elliebelly's in red. This is a perfect package of sibling togetherness and playing pretend. Check it out, and I promise you'll laugh in recognition!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grumpy Badger's Christmas

Written by Paul Bright. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2009.

It's almost Christmas, and all the animals in the forest are busy getting ready for this special day. They are decorating the tree, wrapping presents, and making treats. It's a joyful time. Everyone is happy...except Grumpy Badger. Christmas is such "piffle." All Grumpy Badger wants to do is sleep through the winter, and not be disturbed. If anyone does bother him before spring, he'll be "very, very grumpy!" Before he goes to bed, Grumpy Badger checks the pantry and makes sure he has plenty of food for the spring. He is just closing his eyes, when someone knocks on the door. Mole is trying to get the lights up on the tree, but he needs to borrow Badger's ladder. "Piffle and double piffle!" replies Badger as he bangs the door shut on poor Mole. Badger is continually disturbed by other animals as he is trying to sleep, and he gets grumpier and grumpier, until finally he shouts "PIFFLE...and triple piffle on top of that! Why can't everyone just leave me alone?" He finally falls asleep, but has a horrible dream that Mole is about to fall from the top of the Christmas tree. Badger jumps out of bed and rescues Mole just in time. He apologizes for being grumpy, and throws a wonderful Christmas party for all his forest friends with all the yummy cakes, pies, and other goodies he was saving for spring. And of course, he promises next year if you don't come to his party, he'll be "very grumpy indeed!"

I LOVE this book! My library has so many Christmas books for kids, but this one just stood out for me. I can relate to Grumpy Badger, because everyone gets a little grumpy sometimes (especially during the holidays), but it's important to remember to be kind to your friends. The illustrations are adorable, full of detail, and they have a softness to them that just makes you feel cozy when you're reading this story. I love Badger's expressions of "piffle" - it makes for an entertaining read-aloud, and the reader can really get their "grump" on! But, I really hope everyone has a grump-free, merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

By Anna Dewdney. New York: Viking, 2010.

Christmas is always a stressful time of the year. There's so much hustle and bustle, as people try to prepare for this holiday. There are presents to buy, food to prepare, decorations to set up. It's alot of work! It doesn't help matters that retailers start their Christmas displays a month ahead of time. This is no exception for poor Llama Llama. All the planning and prepping, and waiting for Christmas Day. As Llama Llama helps his mom bake cookies, decorate, and shop, he is wondering how many more days until Christmas. Is it time for presents yet? All this waiting, waiting, waiting. It's more than Llama Llama can take, and he has a "Llama, Llama, HOLIDRAMA!" But Mama knows just the thing to say. She and Llama Llama take a rest and reflect on what this time of year means. It's not about the presents; it's about family and being together with the ones you love.

This is another winner in the Llama Llama series, and just a perfect story for Christmas! I relate to Llama Llama and his feelings. It's so hard to be patient, especially when everyday seems to be filled with Christmas preparations. Mama's advice to slow down and reflect on family is a good reminder of what Christmas is about. A great book to share with your children!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


By Audrey Couloumbis. New York: Random House, 2010.

For as long as 10-year old Jake can remember, it's just been him and his mom. His father died when he was a baby. Right before Christmas, while Jake and his mom are at the grocery store, his mom falls and breaks her leg. There's no one available to take care of him, except for his grandfather, who he hasn't seen since he was a baby. Granddad also brings his dog Max with him, who isn't overly affectionate, and kind of scares Jake. While his mom has surgery and heals in the hospital, Jake and his Granddad awkwardly navigate seeing each other again. As they get to know each other, neighbors and friends show Jake that even though his mom is not home, this might not be a horrible Christmas after all.

This is a cute, sweet story. It's very short, and perfect for the holidays, and not just because it takes place right before Christmas. This book deals with family, which I absolutely loved. What makes a family? What does family mean to you? Family isn't just about blood relatives; it's about friends and neighbors that are an important part of your life, and who truly care about you. A truly heartwarming story, Jake is a winner!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters

By Natalie Standiford. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.

The Sullivans are a wealthy, privileged family that live in Baltimore. On Christmas Day, the family is informed by their supremely rich grandmother, who they call Almighty, that someone in the family has deeply offended her. She is going to cut the entire family out of her will, unless she receives a confession from the offender by New Year's Day. The family determines it must be one of "the girls" who offended Almighty, and the Sullivan sisters (Norrie, Jane, and Sassy) each write up a confession to deliver to Almighty in the hopes of saving their family from poverty. Who offended Almighty? Will Almighty forgive them and restore the family's fortunes to them? You'll have to read this book to find out!

When I read the premise of this story, I wasn't impressed. I didn't think I'd want to read about poor, little rich girls who might lose their fortune. I mean, there are worse things in the world than this! But, I was intrigued with the idea of confessing to your crime, so I gave it a chance. I have to admit, the writing is really smart. The book is divided into sections, with each sister "confessing" her story. Norrie, Jane, and Sassy "could" be vapid, snooty girls, but instead, they are "real" - I believe a wide spectrum of readers can relate to the Sullivan sisters. There isn't a focus on material wealth in this story; rather, on each sister and their overall character. Yes, the sisters are rich, and yes, they go to a private Catholic school, but they also deal with issues and feelings that all teens go through, and that's what makes them relatable. Overall, this was a fun, quick read!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clever Jack Takes the Cake

Written by Candace Fleming. Illustrated by G.Brian Karas. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2010.

Jack is invited to the Princess's tenth birthday party. But, there's a problem. Jack is poor, and doesn't have money to buy her a gift. He decides he will make her a cake. He trades his ax and quilt for some flour and sugar, gets some eggs and milk from the hen and cow, gathers some walnuts, dips some candles, and picks the biggest, juiciest strawberry in the land. The cake turns out beautiful, and now Jack has to get it the castle. Easy peasy, right? Not so much. Poor Jack endures some trouble along the way - blackbirds, a troll, and a bear - and his beautiful cake doesn't quite survive the trip. What will the princess say when Jack finally arrives at the castle for her birthday without the cake? You will have to read this to find out!

This is a wonderful book! It uses aspects from different rhymes and tales (like 4 and 20 blackbirds and the troll guarding the bridge) to make a great adventure story. The illustrations are fabulous, and enhance the story. Observant children will notice what is going on in the endpapers. This is a fun read-aloud, and you will be eager to find out whether Jack and his poor cake survive the trip to the castle. Who knew birthday parties could be so stressful? :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

13 Treasures

Written by Michelle Harrison. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.

Thirteen-year old Tanya has always been able to see fairies - she is "blessed" with the second sight. These aren't the fairies you're thinking of from princess tales; rather, these fairies like to torment Tanya. And she can't tell anyone she sees them, because they would think she is crazy. Fed up with the distruction and havoc that she thinks Tanya has caused, her mother sends Tanya away to live with her grandmother. Tanya's grandmother has never been especially warm and fuzzy towards her grand-daughter; she is mostly cold and reserved. While at her grandmother's house, Tanya discovers a mystery of the past involving a missing girl and the dark, creepy woods near the house. While trying to solve this mystery, Tanya discovers things about herself, her grandmother, and the fairy realm.

I don't normally gravitate towards fantasy stories, but this was a great story! It hooked me in from the beginning, and I was eager to find out what the mystery was. The fairy element plays a strong role in this story, and if you are hesitant to pick up this book because of that, don't be! There is a nice balance between the fantasy and mystery elements of this story, and the storytelling is quite engaging. It's not too scary, but just right to get you into the Halloween spirit. Now, for pity's sake, don't go into the woods!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Cow Loves Cookies

Written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Marcellus Hall. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010.

The farm has a lot of animals living there. Each animal eats a different kind of food, and they love it! Horse loves hay, chickens love feed, pigs love slop, etc. For some reason, though, cow loves cookies! He "would never eat that stuff. You couldn't pay the cow enough!" And who can blame him? Cookies are yummy! But what could the reason be? You'll be delighted to find out towards the end of the story.

This book is really fun to read aloud. In fact, I need to plan a farm themed storytime soon so that I can share it with the kids at my library. The rhyming text and repetition of lines ensures children will be shouting the lines back at you! The illustrations convey the cuteness of this story (my favorite is cow gently lapping at the plate of cookies through the open window, while mom's back is turned). The animals all have expressions of joy, demonstrating their love of food. Be prepared to want some cookies (or is that just me?) during this reading!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dirtball Pete

Written and illustrated by Eileen Brennan. New York: Random House, 2010.

Dirtball Pete is dirty and stinky. And that's a fact. His mother said so and his Aunt Marion agreed, along with his sister Amanda and her friend Janine. Normally it would be fine for Dirtball Pete to be so, well, dirty, but today is The Fifty States and Why They're Great! day at school, and Pete is representing the state of Pennsylvania and he has a speech to recite. His mother, armed with a loofah and brush, is determined to get her son clean so that everyone can see what a special and wonderful boy he is under all the filth. But, Dirtball Pete doesn't stay clean for long en route to his school. What will happen when it's his turn to recite his speech? Will he make his mom proud even if he's a dirtball?

This story is absolutely charming! I loved the illustrations, especially the facial expressions. They are done in cartoon style, and kids will pore over all the dirty things attached to poor Pete. Dirtball Pete is just a happy boy, in spite of all his dirtiness. I think that's part of what makes him so lovable. This is a great story about accepting who you are, and being proud of yourself, despite the occasional dirt spot. It's not about what you look like on the outside, but who you are on the inside. Now, kids, go get dirty!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interrupting Chicken

Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2010.

Interrupting someone while they are talking is a bad habit, and we are all guilty of it. In the case of this story, Chicken likes to interrupt stories. It's bedtime for little red chicken, but she can't go to sleep without a story. Papa says he'll read her a story "and of course you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?" She assuredly says "Oh no, Papa. I'll be good." So Papa begins the tale of Hansel and Gretel and just as the story gets going, little red chicken pops into the story (literally), in an attempt to save the characters. But, she ends up ending the story abruptly and spoiling the story. Papa tries Little Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little, and even though Chicken promises she will be good, she still interrupts the story. She's not even tired, but Papa is all out of stories. So Chicken reads to her Papa, but is soon interrupted by a loud "zzzzzzz."

This is a fun story! The title immediately caught my eye, as well as the cover illustration. You see Papa and Chicken behind a big picture book; Chicken looks rather fiesty, jumping up, while Papa looks like he's had enough. Chicken says "This book is called Interrupting Chicken, right, Papa?" and he replies, "Yes. Now, please don't interrupt the story!" Right away, you are prepared for what is going to happen in this book. I love this touch! The illustrations are wonderful; towards the end, papa has an expression of complete exasperation and chicken is looking like she knows best, which is why she interrupts. This is a perfect bedtime story that will elicit chuckles from adults and children. Now kids, try not to interrupt while your grown up is reading. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

That's Not Funny!

Written by Jeanne Willis. Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. Minneapolis: Andersen Press USA, 2010.

It all started with a banana peel. I'm sure you've heard (or seen) that practical joke. Some poor, unsuspecting soul steps on the peel and - whoops!- down he or she goes! That's how this story begins. Hyena, an animal known in books for being a prankster, decides "just for a joke" to put a banana peel in Giraffe's path. Giraffe, of course, has no idea, and slips on it, skids into a tree - "KER-RANG!" - and says "That's not funny!" And so begins an unfortunate series of events involving many animals. Giraffe's collision into the tree causes a coconut to fall which lands "BINK!" on top of Hippo's head. Hippo stepped on Snake, who bit Ostrich, who kicked Rhino, etc. Each time, the animal exclaims "That's not funny!" But Hyena just "laughed and laughed." Eventually, Hyena gets his just desserts; when waiting to see what misfortune will befall Elephant, he steps into a big, hot pile of Elephant's poo! Of course, the joke is now on him, and he doesn't think it's that funny, but of course, the other animals laugh and laugh.

This is a terrific book demonstrating the consequences of practical jokes and laughing at someone's expense. Kids will really enjoy acting out the animal sounds, as well as the repetition of "that's not funny!" The illustrations are fun and full of color, and they represent the action going on in the story. The expressions on the animal's faces articulate what is happening to them, and children will easily be able to follow along with the chain of events. A very cute book that will make you laugh, and perhaps think twice about what's funny.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hugless Douglas

Written and illustrated by David Melling. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2010.

Let’s face it - hugs are one of the best things in the entire world! There is nothing as comforting and affectionate as putting your arms around someone else and giving them a big ole’ squeeze. One spring morning in a cave, a young bear named Douglas woke up from his winter’s nap and said, “I need a hug.” So he got up, changed out of his pajamas, brushed his fur, and went out in search of a hug. Big hugs are the best, so Douglas tried picking up a big rock, but it didn’t feel right and was much too heavy. Tall hugs are also the best, but hugging a tree just wasn’t working for him. Comfy hugs are also the best, but jumping into a leafy bush that starts wiggling and trembling and finally runs away (it was filled with sheep), isn’t good. Douglas finally gets some help from rabbit, who takes him to another cave where another sleepy someone was waking up. Douglas peeped inside, and ran quick as can be towards his Mommy, who of course gives the best hugs ever!

This story is so funny and heartfelt – you’ll be rooting for Douglas to find a hug. The illustrations convey the humor and seriousness of searching for the perfect hug. The end of the story includes a two-page spread with rabbit and the poor sheep demonstrating different types of hugs (sandwich hug, tummy hug, and my favorite, the unrequited hug). This book will make you giggle and most importantly, want to give your special someone a big hug!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who Said Coo?

Written by Deborah Ruddell. Illustrated by Robin Luebs. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2010.

Oh, can I relate to poor Lulu! Lulu is a pig who is getting ready for bed. Her room is "cozy and quiet, just the way she liked it" and as she is settling into sleep, she is awoken by a loud noise..."Cooooooo." She asks "who said coo? Pigeon? Was it you?" But Pigeon doesn't answer, so Lulu goes back to bed. And so begins a long, sleepless night for Lulu. Each time she goes back to bed, she is awoken by other noises like "Whoooo." But Owl doesn't fess up to making the noise either. Eventually, Lulu forgives the birds for making the noise, and they all go inside for a good night's rest.

This book is delightful to read aloud, primarily because of the rhyming and the repetition of the storyline. Children will have fun following along as you read, and be able to shout out the lines. You can relate to this tale, especially if you have difficulty falling asleep when it's noisy (like me). The ending is adorable, and children will have fun guessing what animal could be making the noise now, since both Owl and Pigeon are fast asleep. The illustrations are softly colored, and match the gentleness of this bedtime tale. This is a really cute story, and I'm sure your little ones will ask for repeat readings!

Plethora of Picture Books

It's the most wonderful time of the year...time to spend money! In a library's case, it's time to spend out the rest of our book budget. We have got a TON (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but they DO weigh alot when stacked together) of new picture books at the DCL! Not only that, we've got new non-fiction books for kids as well as chapter books. Stop on in and check them out - you won't be disappointed!

With all the new picture books we've received, I have alot of books to choose from to review. So, I am determined to give it the college try and highlight some of the great reads I think you'll enjoy. Picture books are wonderful for all ages, so borrow a bag full, curl up on the couch, and share some great reads with your family. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

By Tom Angleberger. New York: Amulet Books, 2010.

Who do you ask when you need advice about something? I bet you're going to say your parents, families, or friends. You wouldn't think of asking a finger puppet, would you? I didn't think so. But what if the finger puppet was an origami Yoda? We all remember Yoda, the wise sage from the Star Wars movies. He gives GREAT advice, that it would be silly not to follow it. That's what a bunch of sixth-grade friends discover in this fun book.

Dwight is a goofball. He's kinda weird, and always says things that are unpredictable and strange. One day he shows up to school with an origami finger puppet of Yoda. All of a sudden, Yoda is dispensing advice and predicting the future to most of the kids in the sixth grade. And, the advice works! Well, Tommy needs to find out how origami Yoda can be right about so many things, when his owner, Dwight, is just completely clueless. This book is a case file, and Tommy interviews several of his sixth-grade friends to discover their experiences with origami Yoda.

This book is very funny and goofy, and would be perfect for kids who love the Wimpy Kid books. Along the page margins are really fun doodles that complement the text perfectly. There's even directions at the end for making your very own origami Yoda. Read this book you must.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gracias / Thanks

By Pat Mora. Illustrations by John Parra. New York: Lee & Low Books Inc., 2009.

Sometimes it's the little things in life that you are most thankful for. This lovely, bilingual book demonstrates that feeling in a beautiful way. Starting in the morning, a young boy wakes up thankful for the sun. Throughout his busy day, he's thankful for all the things in nature that help make his day joyful. The story ends with the boy going to bed, thankful for the cricket serenading him to sleep. This book provides a way for families to have a nice conversation about the big and little things in life that give you pleasure, and make you stop and say "thanks!" This book is a joy to read!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Written and illustrated by Keith Baker. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2010.

Peas are not my preferred vegetable of choice. I’ve never liked them, even as a child. But, I always give peas a chance. And the peas in this book are my favorite! They are different than the average pea – “we are peas – alphabet peas! We work and play in the ABCs.” These peas have fun jobs and hobbies, and they want you to learn all about them, while also brushing up on your ABC skills. They are acrobats, campers, explorers, listeners, and they are unique! You will have fun learning all the different words that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The illustrations are really cute, and the pastel colors lend a soft, cozy feel to each page. Children will have fun exploring the pages and seeing the peas in action. If you are looking for a great alphabet book, or just a cute read, check this out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


By Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mike Cavallaro. New York & London: First Second, 2010.

Aliera Carstairs is an awesome fencer. She rules the sport, but in high school, she is a nobody. She doesn't belong to any of the cliques, and doesn't have any friends. She spends the majority of her time at fencing practice, and spends her Saturdays at her Aunt Hannah's house doing role-playing games with her cousin Caroline. That all changes one day when new student Avery Castle begins to pay attention to Aliera. They become lab partners in Biology, and all of a sudden, Aliera is a boy, no less! When Avery asks her out, Aliera is excited and also completely freaked out. She's never been on a date before! On top of that, her mother had just gotten her a new fencing foil with a mysterious jewel attached to its hilt and she had to bring it along on their date, because she will be coming straight from fencing practice. All of a sudden, mysterious and strange creatures try to steal the foil. What is going on? Will Aliera be able to keep her foil safe and will her date be completely ruined?

I flew through this book! I was completely engrossed by Aliera, and I loved the aspect of fencing as a plot focus. I will admit, there are some parts that are a little choppy, but the overall story prevails, so be patient. The ending is very abrupt, but I checked Jane Yolen's website, and there is a sequel planned, so hopefully everything will be answered! The graphics are awesome - the black and grey drawings are so expressive, and when the colored panels emerge, they are so vibrant and just pop off the page. Anyone who wants an interesting, fast read, should check this out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Richard Egielski. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Tally ho, we’re off to the jungle in this story! Grab your binoculars, hiking boots, and canteen! Uncle Nigel is Peter’s favorite uncle, and one day, he invites Peter on an expedition to Africa. He’s trying to find the Zimbobo Mountain Gorilla, the wildest of beasts. On their way through the jungle, Peter encounters many obstacles, but Uncle Nigel is quick to reassure him that he can overcome them – “all it takes is a bit of gumption.” In case you didn’t know, gumption means courage. I love the message in this book that all things are possible, especially when you have the support of your family. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and they convey another element to the story. While Uncle Nigel plows ahead, Peter gets some help from the many wild animals they are in search of in the jungle. The reader sees what’s going on, but Uncle Nigel is none the wiser! Another charming element to this story is the “old-fashioned” expressions from Uncle Nigel – “I say!” or “Nonsense, my boy!” They make this story a wonderful read-aloud, and in case you’re wondering if they ever find the elusive Zimbobo Mountain Gorilla, well, you’re just going to have to read this book to find out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Twimericks: The Book of Tongue-Twisting Limericks

Written and illustrated by Lou Brooks. New York: Workman Publishing, 2009.

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? In honor of that, I thought it would be fun to go through the poetry section at my library, and pick out some gems to share with you. Poetry is great for reluctant readers - they are fun to read aloud, are generally short, and most of them rhyme!

My first choice is a winner. This book combines two of my favorite types of poetry - tongue twisters and limericks! A limerick is a short, five-line poem and they are supposed to make you laugh. A tongue twister is a bunch of similar sounding words, and when you try to read them together, you stumble on your tongue. This book contains a warning at the beginning: “The surgeon general has determined that rapid reading of this book aloud to others may lead to your tongue being twisted into a perfect over-and-underhand Bavarian pretzel knot – probably forever.” You want to read it now, don’t you? Pick up this book of silly poems, and just try not to twist up your tongue when you read them aloud! I guarantee lots of laughter!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Written by Brandon Mull and illustrated by Brandon Dorman. Salt Lake City, UT: Shadow Mountain, 2009.

This picture book takes the idea of an imaginary friend and mixes it up: what if your imaginary friend turns into your enemy? That's what happens to Chad. Chad and his imaginary friend Pingo, who looks like a gremlin, grew up having fun adventures. One day, after being teased by kids about Pingo, Chad decides he doesn't want to have an imaginary friend anymore - "it's time to stop pretending that you're real." Well, Pingo just won't go away, and he decides if they can't be friends, enemies is it! Pingo makes it his mission to torment Chad in any way he can think of. As Chad grows up, Pingo continually plays tricks on him, but he grows weary of being ignored. Years later, Chad is an old man living alone at a rest home. Guess who's there with him? Chad gives up, and confesses he's missed Pingo, and the two of them continue their adventures.

I was immediately drawn to Pingo, who with his polka-dot shorts and striped scarf, is absolutely charming. His facial expressions expertly demonstrate his mischievous streak, and you just can't help falling in love with him. The illustrations are hilarious, and kids will enjoy picking out the details of Pingo and Chad's adventures. This book will have you looking at imaginary friends in a new light!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Heart and the Bottle

By Oliver Jeffers. New York: Philomel Books, 2010.

This is a unique and beautiful picture book about how a young child deals with her grief after her father dies. In the beginning of the story, a little girl "whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world" loved exploring new things and sharing adventures and discoveries with her father. She did this every day "until the day she found an empty chair." In her grief and despair, the girl decides to protect her heart by putting it in a bottle and hanging it around her neck. As she gets older, she no longer takes delight in the little things in life, because she is so consumed with her emotions. That all changes one day when she comes across a little girl, who is very much like how she used to be as a child, who shows her the way to free her heart.

The illustrations are beautifully painted, full of rich colors that reflect the changing mood of the story. Admittedly, adults will probably appreciate this book more than children, as they can understand the emotions behind protecting one's heart from further pain. But, I think this is still appropriate for children, especially those who experienced a loss, because it provides a beautiful way to realize that "bottling up" your feelings isn't the best way to explore and gain understanding of them. Absolutely stunning.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Season

By Sarah MacLean. New York: Orchard Books, 2009.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a sucker for anything that's a period piece. I'm a huge fan of Masterpiece Theater, especially when they are doing a Jane Austen adaptation (but I don't discriminate, I'll watch anything that show produces). The Regency period is one of the favorite settings for a story or a movie. It probably has a little something to do with the costumes, manners, and way of speech. Everything seems so elegant, and the men are more brooding and dashing than any other time period. Like I said, I love me a period piece movie. Imagine my delight when I saw this book at the library. I snatched it up quick as can be, and then hunkered down on my couch ready to be transported back in time. As with all my favorite BBC dramas, this book did not disappoint!

The story centers on seventeen year old Lady Alexandra Stafford. Much to her mother's delight and Alex's dismay, it's time for her to be unveiled to society during her "season" - in the hopes of catching a respectable marriage. But Alex, along with her two best friends Ella and Vivi, would rather spend time reading and pursuing other intellectual avenues than endless dress fittings, dances and parties. Enter her childhood friend (and extremely good looking), Gavin, the newly minted Earl of Blackmoor. His father recently died from an accident, but Gavin has his doubts. As the season progresses, Alex begins to see Gavin in a new light (when DID he become so dashing?) and discovers some startling information that may help him uncover the mystery of his father's death. But she'll need the help of Ella and Vivi to get out of this scrape. And along the way, will she finally succumb to love?

I loved the character of Alex! She is head-strong, intellectual, and not afraid to speak her mind. Her quibs with her older brothers and Gavin are quite funny and offer the book light-heartedness and make for a fun read. Her friendship with Ella and Vivi reminds me of my own dear friendships, and I immediately connected with them. You will swoon over Gavin and cheer the ladies on as the season progresses. Anyone who enjoys Regency romance sprinkled with a little mystery and adventure will love this book!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gotta Keep Reading

Yes, you gotta keep reading. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a librarian and I love to read; kids are saying it too! Check out this awesome video made by students at Ocoee Middle School in Florida. The song is set to the tune of "I've Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. This is so much fun, and I guarantee you'll be singing along. Maybe, you'll even be motivated to come pick out some books at the library. I'm just saying. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

By Jonah Winter and illustrated by Red Nose Studio. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2010.

I know what you're thinking. Why would I want to read a picture book about garbage? Garbage is disgusting. Yes, that is so very true. But, this book isn't gross, and best of all, it's smell-free (unlike a real garbage can)! This book is so charming and funny, I promise you'll think new, positive thoughts about garbage (well, in the context of picture books, anyway).

This book is based on a true story. In 1987, in the town of Islip, New York, which is located on Long Island, they had a lot of garbage - around 3 tons - that had no where to go. So, it was decided to load all the garbage onto a barge and ship it out to dumping grounds in the South. But, surprise, surprise, no one wanted to take all this garbage. So the garbage barge traveled six months looking for a place to dump and dispose of its garbage, getting stinkier and smellier by the minute.

This picture book is wonderful for reading aloud. The humor and New York City expressions - "I know dis guy" and "Fuhgeddaboudit!" - will have you giggling right along. But what makes this book pop are the illustrations. They are photographs of sets made up of actual objects probably found in the trash, as well as wonderfully expressive polymer clay models of people. You will love looking at all the details of the garbage barge as well as the characters. This book is perfect for Earth Day, as it humorously relays the moral of the story - "DON'T MAKE SO MUCH GARBAGE!!!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ramona & Beezus Movie

The Ramona books were my absolute favorite when I was younger! To this day, I have such fond memories when I re-read them, as they remind me alot of my sister and I. That's a testament to how great a writer Beverly Cleary is; her books are timeless. I am excited about this movie - it looks great. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Missing the Boat

By Justin Shady, Wayne Chinsang, Dwellephant

I picked up this graphic novel because of the cover (and let's face it, that's one of the main draws of a book, and publishers know it). It did not disappoint! This is one of the funniest graphic novels I've read in a while. It may have to do with the unusual tale. It tells the fictional story of the Churamane, a species that lived long ago and are now extinct. It focuses on a husband and wife, George and Gladys, who find out they've won a free 40-day and 40-night cruise trip on Noah's Ark. As many of you are aware from the Bible story, while the animals are on board, the entire earth will be under water. The plan is when the flood is over, the animals will have to repopulate the planet with their species. The only problem is, George and Gladys like to nap...A LOT! One of the characteristics of the Churamane is they are very lazy. So, George and Gladys sleep through the date they were supposed to be on board the "cruise ship." They eventually get to the ark, but are locked out! And Noah won't let them get on! Needless to say, that is the story of how the Churamane became extinct.

This story is hysterical, I absolutely loved it! George and Gladys are perfectly suited to each other in their laziness and love of napping. Noah is a hoot, as well! The humor and silliness is matched in the illustrations. This graphic novel is perfect for children and adults. Prepare yourself for lots of laughter!


By Lauren Myracle

I had the pleasure of hearing Lauren Myracle speak at last year's New York Library Association Annual Conference. She is a great speaker and so in tune with kids. Shamefully, I had never read any of her books. I finally did, and wow! - she definitely knows kids and tweens!

This is the first book in a trilogy. It is a year in the life of Winnie, who has just turned eleven. Turning eleven is really cool, but Winnie notices that her other friends are changing, while she seems to be staying the same. Her best friend, Amanda, seems embarrassed to play the games they used to, and would rather hang out with stuck-up Gail Grayson and talk about boys and make-up. As she and Amanda grow apart, Winnie struggles with the changes in their friendship, and in the process learns about herself and others. The year is full of ups and downs, and Winnie reflects on them with honesty and enthusiasm.

I listened to the audiobook version, and I was immediately transported back in time when I was eleven years old. NOT that I want to return to that particular period of my life, but I was amazed how the writing was so true to the pre-teen experience. There are embarrassing moments, feelings of insecurity, and not knowing where you truly fit it. I felt the exact same things Winnie did, and it connected me in a such a positive and powerful way to this book. I highly recommend this book to young girls. I think they will feel an immediate kinship to Winnie, just like I did. I can't wait to read the next two books, Twelve and Thirteen, which continue Winnie's journey through the tween years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Espressologist

By Kristina Springer


What's your coffee drink of choice? Iced Vanilla Latte? You're sweet and loyal - a good friend. Pumpkin Spice Latte? You're fun and sassy. And according to Jane Turner, she can determine your personality based on the coffee drink you order. It's called Espressology. Jane Turner is a 17 year-old barista at Wired Joe's coffee shop. She keeps a notebook of coffee drinks ordered and the type of person behind the drink. She's so good at it, she can predict the type of drink before the person even orders it, like Small Nonfat Latte for Melissa, an obnoxious girl who made Jane's life miserable in school.

One day, she decides to hook up a couple of her customers based on their drink orders and compatibility. It works so well, she decides to hook up Em, her best friend, and Cam, her friend from school. Her boss, Derek, finds out about "Espressology" and her notebook, and decides it would a great promotion for the store. So Jane becomes a dating guru at the coffee shop, and it is a huge success. Profits are through the roof, and people are genuinely happy with their dates. So why is she getting upset that Cam is dating Em, especially when she matched them up herself? This is a light, fun read. It's perfect if you're looking for a cute romance and a fast read. Beware: you will crave coffee while reading this. That being said, excuse me, I must jot off to Starbucks. There's a White Chocolate Mocha with my name on it! I wonder what Jane would say about me....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Belated Resolutions

Since I haven't posted in such a long time, you're probably wondering if I stopped reading books. That would never happen! I have been reading lots of books, but I have been so busy with work, that my blogging has gone to the bottom of my "to do" list. I gave myself a New Year's goal of posting at least once a week, which I think is manageable. If you're wondering what I've read lately, check out my Goodreads page. I put a widget on the right hand side.

Also, you may have noticed (or not, since not many people follow this blog), my "facelift" to this site. I made some changes in the hopes of making this look a little prettier and easy to follow. Another change is including teen books in my reviews. I read alot of YA fiction, and I thought it would be a good addition here.

I hope you like the changes and look for a new posting soon (like later tonight)!