October 28, 2009
Little Hoot (AR 1. 8 )
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrated by Jen Corace
Like many kids, the biggest problem in Little Hoot’s life is bedtime.
No matter how tired he is, no matter how much he wants to go to bed, Little Hoot’s parents make him stay up late like a good owl should. They force him to ponder, they make him stare and then there’s all that playing. It is more than enough to exhaust any young owl.
I wouldn’t say that this is a good bed time book — you can expect a lot of objections to Little Owl’s behavior as your own would-be-night-owl hoots and hollers about wanting to stay up late. But this book is fun and funny, both because of the role reversal between parent and child but also because of Corace’s simple but wonderfully expressive ink and watercolor illustration’s.
Pick this one up to share with the young reader in your life and be ready to laugh out loud.
October 17, 2009
Hello, Bumblebee Bat
by Darrin Lunde
Don’t let the title fool you. There is really and truly an animal called a bumblebee bat. The size of a bumble bee and the weight of a dime, this rare animal flits across the skies of western Thailand.
Published for ages 4 to 8, this book is definitely short and simple enough for the younger end of this range but there is enough information to hold the attention of bat loving 8-year-olds too.
Delivered in a Question and Answer format, readers learn about the bat’s small size, how it finds food, what it must stay safe from and where it lives.
Patricia Wynne’s watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations are just a touch cartoony. Don’t panic — the effect is just enough to give our little bat friend personality but doesn’t detract from the accuracy of the illustrations.
Thanks to my grand-dad, who took me into the mines to see bats up close, I’ve been fascinated by them for years and years. I would have latched onto this book in a heart beat.
October 14, 2009
Alibi Junior High*
by Greg Logsted
13-year-old Cody Saron knows five languages and has two black belts. He can identify a variety of weapons and knows how to fade into the background. None of this prepares him for his greatest challenge —
Cody has grown up alongside his father, a CIA agent who travels the globe. When things get too hot, Cody is sent to live with his aunt and have a normal life. But how normal is it if the only person you can be yourself with is your new neighbor, an ex-Ranger, wounded in Afghanistan?
Logsted has nailed the stresses that make up junior high. Bullies in the form of both classmates and teachers, insane schedules, fashion faux pas and more.
What made the book for me was that Cody may be trained as well as his CIA father but he is still a real 13-year-old. Sure, he can kick butt, but when he doesn’t know where his father is, he worries, he’s tongue-tied when talking to the girl he likes, and he has no idea how he is going to work around the rules made up by a seemingly deranged adult world. The adults are not the heroes, everyone makes mistakes. In short, this book may be Jr. James Bond but it is very real.
Whether your kids call 7th and 8th grade junior high or middle school, hand them a copy of Alibi Junior High.
*I checked this book out from the library.
October 9, 2009
The Elevator Man by Stanley Trachtenberg*
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Nathan wants to be an elevator man – operating the controls, opening the sliding door and holding the elevator for someone special. When his apartment building modernizes, they replace the elevator with one that is shiny and new and full of confusing buttons. Everything that Nathan loved, including the elevator man, is missing.
Not to worry. The elevator man has moved on to his dream job, leaving the shiny new buttons for an up-and-coming new elevator operator – Nathan.
This book an old-time feel that is hard to describe but the heavy black lines and bright colors of Paul Cox’s illustrations add to this feel.
An excellent choice for quiet reading and story time where old dreamer and young dreamers alike can share the story’s magic. Trachtenberg captures perfectly the feeling many children have that the adults are, yet again, missing what is truly important and fun in the world around them.
*And, yes, this book was an advanced copy provided to reviewers by the publisher.
October 8, 2009
Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal
by Jeanie Franz Ransom
We’ve all been in a class just like this. Mrs. McNeal had nineteen students which meant that she had nineteen tattletales. Name calling. Noise making. Poking. Anything and everything means a trip up to the teacher’s desk to tattle on someone. Mrs. McNeal can’t even sip her cup of slop in peace. Finally she and the students have a little talk in which she explains (again) when it is ok to tell on someone and when it is not. Lucky for her, the students are paying attention and put it into action that very day.
Yes, the book teaches a lesson but it does it in a humorous way that even kids can appreciate.
I bought this book myself.* It is my second copy because I gave my first copy to a teacher in my son’s school. She had the tattling-est class full of kids on the planet and I thought it might help bring home the point. It did and she was much relieved.
An excellent gift book for teachers as well as something to read to the kids at home when it has been one of those days when they keep calling for Mo-o-om.
*The FCC now worries that book bloggers may be misleading people if we do not divulge when we review a free ARC (Advanced Readers Copy). Could I only be giving positive reviews as a result of gift books? Hardly, but I will try to remember to tell you where the books come from.
October 2, 2009
Spy Cat (AR 4 .6 )
by Peg Kehret
This story starts out when the Kendrills get a new neighbor. The neighbor’s name is the Sunburgs. Not long after they move in, Alex Kendrills’ best friend’s house is robbed. Then the Sunburgs get robbed too and so do the Kendrills.
The burglars even try to take Pete, Alex’s cat, when he sneaks into the van to help himself to someone’s hamburger and fries. When Alex’s little brother tries to save the cat, he gets taken instead and has to save himself.
My favorite part was when Pete decides to fight his way out of the van instead of leaving with the burglars, injuring the crooks in the process. Don’t mess with cats!
This book is best for people who like animals, especially cats. It is also good for kids who like spies and other mysteries. It is a funny book with lots of action, but it isn’t too scary.
–Guest Reviewer (10 years old), son of SueBE
October 1, 2009
The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt by Megan McDonald
If you’ve got a young reader on your hands who plans to be a pirate for Halloween, pick up a copy of this fun mystery for a special treat.
This is another laugh aloud funny adventure for siblings Judy Moody and Stink. This time they are hunting for the clues that will allow them to win the grand prize in the Pirate Island Treasure Hunt. The competition is tough and Judy and Stink soon notice that they keep running into another sibling pair — Tall Boy and Smart Girl.
Who will solve the mystery first? Maybe a special youngster in your life. All of the clues are there and both boys and girls will enjoy pitting their detecting skills against the kids in the book and maybe even an adult reader. McDonald sets up a good mystery, sharing all of the necessary clues with the reader. But there are also red herrings and Judy and Stink make mistakes that may mislead the unwary.
Do you dare take the challenge?