December 27, 2011

Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:59 am by suebe2

Now and Ben:
The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
by Gene Barretta
Henry Holt
AR 5.1

Most of us know that Benjamin Franklin was both a statesman and an inventor.  But the range of this man’s inventions is truly amazing.

From my very own bifocals to diver’s flippers, Franklin invented gadgets and gizmos galore.  But he also studied many things including the currents, the importance of citrus in preventing scurvy, daylight savings.  Yes, Daylight savings time.  It may not have been adopted until WWI, but it was recommended by Franklin as a way to save money by using fewer candles and also a way to give farmers more work time in the evenings.

Because the book covers so much, it doesn’t cover any of it in depth but the rapid pace will grab young reader’s attention.  As soon as I finished reading this, my son (yes, too old for picture books) picked it up and read it cover to cover.

This book would serve as a great introduction to Franklin but it is also a great stepping off point for discussions on motivation and the many rolls that a single human being can take on in the course of their life.


December 20, 2011

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:16 am by suebe2

My Name Is Not Easy
by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Marshall Cavendish
AR 5.2

“Take care of your brothers.”

Our main character takes this charge seriously but there is only so much that he can do when the priest decides to take his brother away.  Luke, Bunna and Isaac have been sent from their village to Sacred Heart School.  They know that Inupiaq  rules don’t apply here, but what are the rules in their new home?

When they are told Isaac is too young to go to school there, they are concerned but powerless to stop as the priest in charge puts the crying child in the car and drives him away.  Where is he?  All they can find out is that he’s been left with a good Catholic family.

And so starts Luke’s education outside his home village.  He learns about the Indians (Athapascan’s) he has been taught are his people’s natural enemies, the Catholic church and even the few white students at Sacred Heart.  He learns to survive, to trust, and how to stand up for himself in a world that devalues his way of life.

Edwardson tells the story of native students who were taken from their homes in the fifties and sixties.  They had to hunt to feed themselves, were beaten for speaking their own languages and were even experimented on by the U.S. military.  Like Isaac, many children were taken from their families.  I went to high school with one of these children although I didn’t realize what her adoption meant at the time.

It will probably be easier to get a boy into this book than a girl but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.  This is a story about the universal kinship of mankind, human rights and folly.

I’m taking my copy back to the library tonight and this is going on my wish list.


December 13, 2011

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 5:17 am by suebe2

Goyangi Means Cat
by Christine McDonnell,
illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
AR 2.5

When Soo Min comes to a new family in the U.S. things are tough.  She speaks no English and her new family knows only four Korean words:

  • mok-da = eat
  • chim-dae = bed
  • bahp = rice
  • jip = house

Her new Apah (father) and Omah (mother) are good to her but the one that Soo Min truly connects with is Goyangi (cat).  After all, you don’t need language to know that rubbing and purrs mean love.

Then one day, Goyangi follows Apah out of the apartment.  Soo Min wonders if she will ever see her new friend again.

This is a touching story that honestly shows the confusion and difficulty of being adopted into a new culture with a different language.  But it just as clearly shows the love this family has for their new daughter and the pet who makes her happy.

Johnson and Fancher’s illustrations are a combination of acrylic and oil paints and patterned papers.  They intentionally selected paper designs that reflect the Eastern world where Soo Min began and her life as well as the Western world she later learned to call home — all because of one very special cat.

This book would be an excellent family read for anyone bringing a child from another culture into their home and is sure to spark discussions about belonging and love and family.


December 6, 2011

Crunch by Leslie Connor

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 7:57 pm by suebe2

by Leslie Connor
Katherine Tegen Books
AR 3.3

Every summer, Dewey’s Mom goes on the road with Dad, a short haul trucker, for their anniversary.  But this year is special.  Since Dewey’s sister is 18, they decide that the kids can spend a few days on their own.

But when the U.S. runs out of gasoline a few days turns into much, much longer.  The governments tells people to remain calm but gives no idea when the shortage, or crunch as brother Vince calls it, will end.

Until then, the kids are on their own.

Dewey has plenty to keep him busy.  After all, Dad left him in charge of the Marris Bike Barn, the family’s small repair shop.  But with everyone needing bikes to get from here to there, the Marris operation is a big deal.  Dewey accepts ever customer who pushes their bike into the barn even as he and Vince struggle to stay caught up.

Dewey doesn’t even think anything of it when things start to disappear.  His brother is just a touch spacey but then something really expensive goes missing and the dogs keep trying to get into the barn when its locked up for the night.

Now Dewey has dozens of bikes to fix and a thief to catch.  His only hope is that the thief isn’t someone too close to home.

This book caught my attention because my son came home from social studies class talking about a movie that showed what would happen in the US when we run out of oil.  Crunch didn’t cover the true “end times” because this was just a temporary situation but it will definitely give young readers something to think about.

Just be prepared to defend your various fuel and recycle choices because your young reader will come off this book ready to crusade.


December 1, 2011

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:00 pm by suebe2

Press Here
by Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books

It seems too simple to be true.   A picture book illustrated completely with dots.  Yellow dots.  Red dots.  Dots the size of a quarter.  Dots the size of the page itself.

But that’s what French author/illustrator Hervé Tullet gives us in Press Here, a fun fully interactive picture book that sucks readers in as they follow the instructions on each page, pressing dots, rubbing dots and clapping out loud.

I was seriously skeptical — could this book be as amazing as everyone said — but then I got it from the library and found myself sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce and poking dots on a picture book, turning pages to see what all this dot pushing, book tilting and hand clapping had brought about.

Surely not everyone would react like this?  Just to see,  I passed the book on to my 12 year-old son.  Soon he was peaking from beneath shaggy bangs to make sure no one was watching as he poked the book, tilted the book and shook the book.

A fun silly read that will have the preschooler in your life dragging this book from adult to adult,  asking for another read.  And, if the adult has any sense of fun, they’ll enjoy it too.

Not sure?  Check out the trailer below.



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