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!