June 30, 2009
Insects: Biggest! Littlest! (AR 4 .5 )
by Sandra Markle
(Boyds Mills Press)
If you have a young reader whose buggy about bugs, this is the book of the year.
Simon Pollard’s photography brings insects to life from familiar butterflies and praying mantis to exotic stalk-eyed flies and spiny-legged Weta. The text covers the advantages of being either small or large as well as insect basics, such as 3-segmented bodies and 6 legs.
My son is now ten and he’s been a bug-nut from the moment he hatched so he knew the basic facts but some of the individual insects were new to him.
This is a good book for sharing since we all want to oh and ah with a buddy when we find something new and amazing. Not a bug-nut yourself? Neither am I, but I could still appreciate the vibrant Raja Brooke Birdwing Butterfly (page 6) and the delicately veined wings of the dragonfly (page 14).
June 24, 2009
The Adoration of Jenna Fox (AR 3.8 )
by Mary E. Pearson
Check out this young adult novel for a story straight from today’s headlines.
Jenna doesn’t know who she is. She’s been told that these people are her parents and her grandmother, but she doesn’t remember them. Her father tells her that she’s been in a coma for a year and that it will take time for her memories to return.
To help this process along, her mother gives her a series of video disks, each documenting the notable events that happened in one year of Jenna’s life. In spite of her grandmother’s encouragement to skip to the last disk, Jenna watches them in order, observing a series of birthday parties, vacations and dance recitals. It seems bizarre that she once pirouetted across the stage when her feet now feel so awkward.
When Jenna’s memories start to return, she remembers things she shouldn’t, things that happened when she was an infant and even before her birth. What is going on? And why will no one talk about her accident?
I don’t want to give anything away but there is a romance, friendship and some amazing discoveries as Jenna finds her way back into the world. Themes include medical research, medical ethics, modern healthcare, religion and just what makes us us.
June 19, 2009
Zoo Flakes ABC
by Will C. Howell
I was looking for kid’s books on kirigami (paper cutting) and origami (paper folding) when I found this one. It doesn’t come up when you search for kirigami but it looks like kirigami to me.
Each page in this alphabet book is devoted to a different letter and a different cut out. “O is for Octopus.” “X is for Fox.” I know, I know, Fox doesn’t start with X but if you let that get to you, you’ll miss the fun of this awesome collection of paper cuttings. The images are varied from the simplicity of Newt to the significantly more complicated Fish.
Howell ends the book with a two-page description of how to fold the paper, draw the animal and cut out your own zoo flake. Following his instructions, I made my own octopus — not nearly as good as his but his probably wasn’t a first attempt either.
This would be great rainy day fun for an older child or a child who has been sidelined by an injury.
June 14, 2009
The Weird Club: The Search for the Jersey Devil
by Randy Fairbanks
This is a novel with quite a few pictures. A lot of the pictures show monsters, ghosts and other things that most people have never seen. There are also many photographs of various found items and weird places to illustrate the book.
This is about a kid, named Mark, who makes a club called “The Weird Club” to hunt for weird things. At first, the club consists of him and no body else. He is eventually joined by another Mark and a girl named Stella. They look for ghosts at school and get in trouble every time.
Mark and his grandfather look for the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens behind his grandfather’s home. Eventually Mark’s grandfather gets lost and the police start a search. Mark decides to go on his own search and runs into his grandfather’s neighbor and his grandsons and another neighbor. The police are of the ones who find Grandpa and then also find the second search party. Grandpa goes to the hospital and there tells Mark about seeing the Jersey Devil.
Anybody who is interested in paranormal activity (ie ghosts and other monsters) would like this book. It is good for kids 8 and up.
I also am interested in paranormal findings and like to go places and look for things like they look for in the book. I’ve never found anything on one of my hunts but I have seen things I can’t explain.
Why not start your own search.
–Guest Reviewer (10 years old), son of SueBE
June 9, 2009
Moonlight Madness (AR 4 .5)
by John R. Erickson
This is one of the books in the Hank the Cowdog Series. It is a funny tale that happens when Hank and Slim are driving down the road in a pickup and they see stray dogs barking up a tree. Slim sends Hank to drive them off “his ranch.” In the tree they find a baby raccoon that Slim names Eddie. Eddie ends up tricking Hank twice in a row although the first time Hank swears it will never happen again although in other books he gets tricked quite a bit.
Eddie is by far my favorite character because he’s clever, sleeps only in the daytime and can’t fall asleep at night (Hi, Mom!). He’s mischievous and whenever he’s around Hank gets tricked and gets in trouble for all the damage that Eddie does.
This is a good book whether you are a cat or dog lover. There’s also a cat in here and he gets Hank in trouble often too. Dog lovers will love Hank and his slow but sweet buddy Drover.
I listened to this as an audio book. That’s a great choice for sound effects and songs that don’t come across the same in a print book.
As Eddie would say, “Hey, listen. I’ve got a deal for you.” Pick up this audio book to keep your mind busy while you’re doing chores.
–Reviewed by Son of SueBE (10 years old)
June 4, 2009
Olivia Forms a Band ( AR 2. 4 )
by Ian Falconer
There’s no doubt about it. Olivia is a girl who likes things just so — she knows which two red socks go together although she has a drawer full and she is absolutely certain that only one kind of bands is fireworks approved. When Mom and Dan plan to take the family to see fireworks, Olivia spends the day putting together a one-girl band, but once she performs for her family she’s ready to go to the fireworks without all her gear. Mom doesn’t seem to mind, she just wants Olivia to put it away.
An excellent choice for any child, boy or girl, with a well-developed imagination. In this book alone, Olivia cycles through several fantasy situations in each of which she is the star.
As always, Ian Falconer’s pigs are wonderfully expressive, making the most of their facial expressions. A great choice for shared reading time.
June 2, 2009
Gorilla! Gorilla! (AR 2 . 3 )
by Jean Willis
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
When Baby Mouse goes missing, his mother crosses mountains and searches through the rainforest, determined to find her baby. She’s beginning to wonder if she’s lost him forever when out jumps a massive gorilla.
“Help! Help! He’ll cath me!
He’ll squash me and scratch me,
He’ll mince me and mash me. . . ”
And off she runs to China and the U.S. and Australia. The gorilla chases her all the way to Antarctica. There the exhausted mother surrenders to her fate, wishing only one thing — to see her baby once more. Then the gorilla opens his huge hands . . .
. . . and inside is cupped Baby Mouse.
This is a great book about prejudice and snap decisions. Use it as a starting place for a discussion on fear and the foolish behavior it leads to.
Expect to read this book several times — your young reader will love the surprise ending but will love even more being in on the secret and ahead of the grown up mouse!