March 23, 2011
by Leslie Bulion
Uncharted Waters by Leslie Bulion was a great book that will take readers to a sea-side cabin in Rhode Island. It is about a boy named Jonah who is a great swimmer but only swims in pools and is terrified of any other water.
He has good reason though. One time on vacation in Florida while swimming in the ocean Jonah was stung by a Portuguese Man-O-War.
Summer is supposed to be fun but Jonah has a school assignment, a job to repay a debt and there’s also the ocean and swim team.
My favorite part was when he finally had to swim in order to save his friend.
I would recommend this book to readers ages 9 years and older who enjoy swimming, boating, or just water period! Even if you don’t like that, you should still give this great book a try. This book has a lot of action and suspense and you’ll be hooked!
–guest post by Son of SueBE (age 12)
March 16, 2011
The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan
by Jane Yolen
Do you know the story of Jamie Barrie? Maybe not, but you’ve probably heard of J. M. Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan.
In this picture book biography, author Jane Yolen tells about Barrie’s childhood, both the fact and the fiction, his time in school and also his friendship with the Davies family, which in many ways was a second childhood.
With so much information to fit into a picture book, Yolen uses the play Peter Pan as her focus. Relative events from Barrie’s childhood are highlighted as are lines from the play that reflect on these events.
Just as Jamie grew from a boy to the man who wrote about a boy, Yolen tells of the growth of the story of Peter Pan from play to novel and also various additions that have been tried out only to be discarded.
Children will readily identify with Barrie who, even as a grown man, was quite small (only about 5 feet tall) and preferred life in his imagination to the tedium of being a grown up. Yes, Barrie truly was Pan.
Share this page turner with the child in your life and be sure to have a copy of Peter Pan on hand so that the adventure can continue.
March 9, 2011
Animals: Black and White
by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Can you guess what I am?
Throughout these two books, an animal introduces itself, offering up a variety of information. The corresponding image provides some clues too. In Black and White, this first image is generally a close up, too close for a clear view of the animal in question, offering a look at its flank or its wing. In Camouflage, the animal’s coloration enables it to hide within the larger illustration.
Turn the page and, on the next spread, you see the animal clearly, are told the name, and get yet still more information.
Of the two, Black and White seemed to be geared toward a younger audience. Translation: I was able to figure out all but one of the animals before I turned the page. The publisher recommends this book for ages 3 to 6 and I agree, especially the younger end.
Camouflage? No such luck, in part because there is simply a larger pool of camouflaged animals from which to choose. Again, the publisher recommends this title for children ages 3 to 6. This time, I think the book might lean toward the older end of that range.
At the end of each book, two pages of additional information are given on the animals found within that volume. And don’t expect them all to be frogs and pandas. The author gets specific, Adelie penguin vs a simple penguin, but all are interesting and accessible.
These books would be ideal for kids who love animals. They could also prompt discussions on coloration as well as similarities. Why did you think it was X animal instead of Z animal? What do you think about the clues now that you know what it is?
Expect a lot of discussion and some fun sharing time whenever these books come out.
March 2, 2011
by Catherine Stier
Kiley is determined to make her club the best one of all — so cool that not only her fellow fifth-graders, but the older sixth-graders as well, will want to join. But before she can get things rolling, she needs a purpose.
What she really wants is to get to know one particular boy a bit better. Does he like her as much as she likes him? She’ll invite him to be in the club but she’ll invite her friends Josh and Anne too.
Then she comes up with the best idea ever — to create a Tell-All Club. To join, everyone has to answer 50 questions including the one she really wants TJ to answer. Who do you like as more than just a friend?
But secrets are powerful things especially when you start telling one person what another person thinks.
I can’t tell much more about the plot of the book without giving it all away, but Stier knows her fifth graders. The girls may be thinking about boys but the boys are totally focused on basketball — playing it better or how to avoid it altogether. They know what’s cool and what’s not but when things get serious, sometimes uncool (according to the boy’s) emotions still surface.
The problems these kids face are real without being edgy. Bullying, popularity, being attractive, and more play a part.
The narrative rotates between characters with Kiley, Anne, TJ and Josh all getting their say. It is especially intriguing to get the varying points of view on the same situation when not everyone sees what happened in exactly the same way.
At only 125 pages, this is a quick read and a good choice for young readers who are competent but not confident in their ability to tackle longer books. Pick it up for your fourth grader today!