Friday, March 16, 2012

Why We Broke Up

Written by Daniel Handler.  Illustrations by Maira Kalman.  New York:  Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

If you couldn't tell by the title, this is the story of a breakup.  It tells the story of Min Green, a teenager who is trying to recover from her first heartbreak.  The story is told through a long letter Min is writing to her ex-boyfriend Ed Slaterton listing the reasons why they broke up.  She is also on the way to Ed's house to deliver a box filled with mementos of their relationship.  Each book chapter (and section of the letter) focuses on a particular item in the box and how that item played a part in their relationship and subsequent break up.  Min loves old films and movie stars and Italian coffee shops.  Ed is the popular jock at school who secretly is really good at math.  Despite their differences, they are attracted to each other and begin a relationship.  Each item in the box chronicles their relationship, from the beer bottle tops at the party where they met, to a comb from the hotel where they stayed.  At the end of the story, Min will literally dump these items on Ed's doorstep, as a girlfriend is dumped.

I enjoyed the format of this book.  The letter writing style gives the reader an intimate look into Min and Ed's relationship, and also Min's thoughts and feelings.  The inclusion of the items really involved me in the story, because I wanted to find out what went wrong.  When I did find out, all I can say is, I was one angry girl.  I really felt for Min and her infatuation, and her heartbreak as she discovers her first love is not meant to be.  This book was a Honor Book for the 2012 Printz Award, and well deserving.  Check this one out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crafty Chloe

Written by Kelly DiPucchio.  Illustrations by Heather Ross.  New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012.

Chloe doesn't enjoy sports, video games, or ballet.  What she does enjoy are crafts!  She loves creating things and she's really good at sewing.  While out shopping for a present for her best friend Emma, Chloe comes across the perfect doll for her.  The problem is London, Chloe's unkind classmate, has also purchased the same doll for Emma.  So what can Chloe do?  She decides to make something for Emma.  But what?  The doll was the perfect gift.  After much thinking, Chloe gets some ideas, and works late into the night making something special for her best friend, but she worries whether Emma will like it.  The next day as she is walking to Emma's house, Chloe sees London trip and fall, spilling the doll into the mud.  London's dog decides to play tug of war with the doll's clothes, and it rips.  Chloe shares the present she made for Emma - a beautiful purple dress for her new doll - with London, and the girls enjoy the rest of the party.  Oh, and Emma absolutely loves Chloe's homemade present - a bed for her new doll.

Any child who loves making things will enjoy this book.  It's such a sweet story of being true to yourself and sharing your talents with others.  I adore the illustrations.  They are colorful, and full of expressive details.  One of my favorites is of Chloe's mother, bleary-eyed, looking for coffee filters to make coffee, only to discover Chloe is wearing them on her head, because she used all of them to make a hat.  Children will surely find some craft ideas of their own in this book.  And, if they want to learn how to make the crafts in this book, visit for details.  Share this book with your crafty kids today!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Brother

By Matthew Cordell.  New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2012.

Let's face it: when you're an only child, you get lots of attention from mom and dad.  What happens when a little brother or sister comes along?  You don't get the undivided attention you are used to.  That's Davy the sheep's story.  He had mom and dad all to himself for four years.  Then, his brother Petey arrived.  Suddenly, things aren't the way they used to be.  And, to make matters worse, Davy gets 11 more brothers: Mike, Stu, Mickey, Carl, Pip, Ralph, Tate, Lenny, Gil, Ned, and Bob.  And what do younger siblings do?  They love to copy you!  Isn't being a big brother the best?  After a while, his brothers stop copying his every movement, and Davy misses the attention and being all alone.  One day, though, Davy lets out a big yawn, and hears a yawn from the other room.  Then, he sings a song and hears another voice singing the same song.  Is it another brother?  No, a sister!

This book is great to share with big brothers or sisters who are learning to cope with having a new sibling.  It's also downright funny!  The illustrations are very detailed yet simple enough for a child to point out details.  I love, love, love the facial expressions of the sheep.  And the suffering Davy endures as his brothers copy his every movement reminded me of growing up as the oldest child with my sister wanting to do everything I did.  This is a wonderful story to share with your kids.  Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

One Cool Friend

By Toni Buzzeo.  Illustrations by David Small.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.

Young Elliot is a very proper, well-mannered boy.  He wears a suit complete with bow tie.  He says "please" and "thank you."  One day while at the zoo with his father, he visits the penguin exhibit.  He is very taken with these animals, so he asks his father if he may have one.  Thinking Elliot means a stuffed animal, his father agrees and gives him some money.  Elliot takes a small penguin and puts it in his backpack.  He names it Magellan (after the explorer), and sets up his room to take care of him.  He even goes to the library to do research on Magellan.  All is going well, and his father doesn't suspect a thing, until Elliot draws a bath for Magellan, and his father decides to take a soak at the same time!  Thankfully, his father knows a thing or two about unusual pets, since he has Captain Cook.  You'll have to read this story to find out who Captain Cook is.

This is a wonderful, hilarious story about finding the right pet.  David Small's pen and ink illustrations show great details in facial expressions and give the story such depth.  One of my favorite details is the little girl running out of the Hands-on Tide Pool Exhibit with a crab attached to her finger.  Small details such as that make this a great story for sharing with children.  Early on, visual clues will help children guess what animal Elliot's father loves.  This is one cool story.  Check it out today!