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!