Staff Picks for Children
Recommended books for kids. Comment on a review by clicking on its title. You can also write your thoughts about any book on our Facebook Wall.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
What happens when Lemony Snicket teams up with Jon Klassen to create The Dark? Pure awesomeness!
Laszlo, a small boy clad in pale blue pajamas, lives in an old, rickety house. But, he isn’t alone. The dark is with him, and it terrifies Laszlo. At night, Laszlo arms himself with a flashlight and a nightlight to ward off the dark. Each morning, Laszlo carefully creeps to the basement door and greets the dark in hopes that the dark will NEVER visit him. Then the dark does the unthinkable, it consumes Laszlo’s entire home and eerily beckons Laszlo to the basement. What will the dark share with Laszlo? Will Laszlo ever overcome his fear of the dark?
Klassen’s illustrations create a visual world for Snicket’s suspenseful text. Laszlo’s house looks as creaky as Snicket describes. When the dark engulfs Laszlo’s house, Klassen cuts through the darkness with Laszlo’s flashlight only leaving part of the space illuminated.
The CCBC awarded The Dark the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award for the best text in a picture book. Lemony Snicket visited Madison to receive his award and gave a memorable acceptance speech as he sang about the importance of words while playing an accordion. Check out the video here.
The Dark is recommended for preschool through 2nd grade.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Book 4 of the 13th Reality Series
In the last book Tick and Jane disrupted the realities when Jane used her blade of shattered hope to try and destroy a reality but broke the other realities. They fixed one problem but made another one. In this story we find Tick, Mr. Chu and Mistress Jane lost in the Nonex, a no-man’s land of no escape. The three enemies try to set aside their difference and plan to work together to escape the Nonex. When they finally get out, they find something mysterious has happened in the 13th Reality. Their return has caused a rip in the seam of the realities and the fourth dimension in the form of a void of mist and thunder has invaded reality and is attempting to destroy all the known worlds.
Tick is able to rejoin his friends, The Realiants, but only for a brief time before he is captured by Mr. Chu. Now Tick is told he will be sacrificed in order for Mr. Chu to have absolute power over the realities and the void. The Realiants gather their forces, but the battle is too huge, with Mr. Chu’s forces on one side, and the void and it’s monsters on the other. Will Tick be able to save the Realiants and stop the destruction of the world?
In this story friends and enemies are forced to work together to keep the realities from being destroyed. Atticus Higginbottom, Tick, has faced many threats and stopped them all. But this last challenge is far more evil. They must save the world and stop the destruction the 4th Dimension is causing. As a solution Mistress Jane and Tick must go into the center of the void to stop it.
What happens in the conclusion of the story will leave readers satisfied. It is not your usual happy ever after ending, but it is a good solution to the end of a series. What becomes of Tick when he meets the void and uses the powers of the Karma is surprising. This book was a great end to the series. The story leads the read to the conclusion that it ended while letting it seem to continue with Tick at the helm.
I would recommend this book to readers in 4th through 6th grade who enjoy reading a good science fiction adventure story about space and time.
Friday, April 11, 2014
In Marianne Berkes' latest book, a daisy seed named Daisylocks is not happy with where is planted. She asks the wind to help her find a more suitable home. Throughout the book, the wind takes Daisylocks to numerous habitats, such as desert, wetlands, and rain forests. Always, Daisylocks says its not just right. At the end Wind takes Daisylocks back to where she was originally planted, because that was the just right place. Don't miss looking at the right hand bottom corner of each page, which shows a daisy growing from a tiny seed into a beautiful flower. At the back of the book are educational sections which can be used by teachers in connection with the story. For preschool and older.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
This is a fab(ulous) and funny book about John, Paul, George and Ringo—four lads from Liverpool, England who together, achieved worldwide fame and admiration as the Beatles, rock music band extraordinaire. Adept storytelling by co-authors Krull and Brewer, and spot-on caricatures and designs by Stacy Innerst capture the magic of the Beatles’ fresh, lively early career: the band’s origins and originality; and the creativity, long lean look, mop top hair, unique style, wit and fun that inspired a frenzy of fanhood-- “Beatlemania!”
The book is full of stories of how the bandmates’ sense of fun and humor charmed audiences all over in concert with musical hits like “Love Me Do,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand," (which John jokingly called “I Want to Hold Your Nose”). Other funny stories describe some of the ways fans reacted to the Beatles, and how the band reacted to the fans, and to fame. The Beatles were often interviewed by reporters, who tried to fill the public’s hunger for news of the “Fab Four.” Several questions and the bandmates’ witty responses are also featured. Some examples:
Question: “How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered…
Question: “What do you call your hairstyle?”
The Beatles’ musical genius, wit and style has entertained, inspired and influenced people all over the world for more than 50 years. Music and/or biography fans young and old will enjoy this romp with the group at their beginnings, when the four had fun together doing what they loved.
Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Notes from a Colorful Life (2014)
Friday, April 4, 2014
This fascinating autobiography looks at the artwork of Wisconsin author/illustrator Lois Ehlert. It starts with Lois' thought that maybe she could someday create a book after reading all the books at the library. Her mom and dad had multiple scraps of fabric lace, wood, and various art supplies which allowed her to create at an early age. She explains where she got ideas for several of her books (a squirrel actually was in her house!). She explains how with collage, her preferred method of design, she can use whatever is around her to illustrate her books. Lois has illustrated 35 picture books in her career, and received a Caldecott Honor for Color Zoo.
My personal favorite? Definitely Top Cat! Recommended for fans of Ehlert, and also for teachers doing an author study.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
In the morning, Tippy's room is a mess! Tippy has no idea, however, how it got that way. When she goes to sleep, she tells her mother she doesn't know how her room gets so messy overnight...but the reader learns how! Tippy is a sleepwalker who walks out on a dock, through a garden, on lily pads, and several other places, picking up all sorts of items and animals along her way. Once again in the morning, her room is a disaster, but Tippy doesn't remember anything! This fun graphic novel from the Toon Book series is great for emergent readers, and even older readers looking for a fun, fast read. The book reminds me of Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, but for an older audience.
Monday, March 31, 2014
At thirteen, Tula wonders "how many slaves / Mama will buy with the money / she gains by marrying me to / the highest bidder." Loosely based on the early life of the Cuban novelist and human rights advocate Gertrudis Gmez de Avellaneda (1814-73) who was nicknamed Tula, this novel in verse follows her through a dangerous open rebellion against 19th century slavery in Cuba and a personal fight to resist an arranged marriage. During this time in Cuban history, the most open rebels were poets like Gmez de Avellaneda. This award winning novel is recommended for grade 6 and up and would pair well with books like Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan.
Remembering the Ladies (2014)
Friday, March 28, 2014
Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies is the children's illustrated version of Cokie Robert's adult book Founding Mothers: the Women who Shaped Our Nation. The book begins with a timeline showing America's history from 1765 with the Stamp Act to 1815 and the end of the War of 1812. There are ten two-page spreads about women who were influential during these years. Some were well known, such as Martha Washington and Dolley Madison, but others I knew nothing about, such as Esther DeBerdt Reed, a woman who raised over $300,000 for the American troops, or Mercy Otis Warren, a woman who wrote plays, poems, and letters about the Revolution. There are other sections with brief mentions of brave women such as Deborah Sampson, who fought alongside the men, and Lydia Darragh, who hid messages to General Washington in her son's buttons. There are links at the end of the book for students who wish to learn more about each of these founding mothers.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Jasper is a rabbit, and he LOVES carrots from Crakenhopper Field. He eats the Crakenhopper Field carrots on the way to school, while at ball practice and during his walks home at night. That is until the carrots began to follow Jasper. From malevolent shuffling to flashes of orange out of the corner of his eye, the carrots that Jasper had once loved had become creepy! Even Jasper’s parents couldn’t soothe his suspensions that the carrots here after him. Then, one day, Jasper had a brilliant idea to outsmart the creepy carrots...but you will need to read the book to discover Jasper’s grand plan and whether or not the carrots are truly creepy!
Peter Brown’s illustrations add drama of the story. The color palette consists of subtle gradations of black, white and gray along with touches of orange, which becomes reminiscent of film noir. Each illustration is framed in black adding to the cinematic aesthetic.
Creepy Carrots is a highly entertaining (and creepy) read! Recommended for ages 4 and up.
The 13th Reality
Monday, March 24, 2014
This third installment finds our two main forces of good vs. evil in combat again. Tick and the Realitants are in combat against the evil Mistress Jane and her “Blade of Shattered Hope”. Back from the destruction of Chu’s factory and Mistress Jane’s accident, Tick has been recuperating. He now has some time to learn how to use and control his unusual amount of Chi-karda within him. But soon his life changes when he and his best friends, Paul, Sofia, and Master George are summoned to a meeting in Tick’s basement by Mistress Jane.
Mistress Jane is up to her evil ways. She has unlocked one of the universe’s deadliest powers: Dark Matter. With this power she plans on destroying all the realitants, 1-12, one by one, until the Thirteen becomes the new Reality Prime, her ultimate idea of Utopia. And she insists that Tick and his friends witness it. Thus Tick begins another journey back to the 13th reality to stop her plans. If he cannot stop her and shut down the “Blade of Shattered Hope’ no one knows what will happen to reality as they know it. Will all of the realities still exist in the end? It will be up to Tick and his friends to come to the rescue before something drastic happens to not only the 5th reality, but the entire universe as they know it.
This book will keep you on the edge of your seat. There is no lack of mystery or adventure among these 4 teenagers who are charged with saving the 13 realities. The book ends with a cliff hanger.
I would recommend this story and series to boys and girls ages 9 through 12 or grades 6 -9 who like Science Fiction.
Friday, March 21, 2014
This fascinating book by Eric Carle and friends features the favorite animals of famous award-winning authors/illustrators such as Nick Bruel, Lucy Cousins, Jon Klassen, Rosemary Wells, even Mo Willems. Some illustrators, such as Susan Jeffers, took the assignment more seriously than others. Nick Bruel's favorite animal description is hijacked by his famous character, Bad Kitty. At the end of the book are short biographies of each of the author/illustrators, followed by a description of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. All royalties from the book will be donated to the museum. Highly recommended for all ages.
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