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.
My Journal About ADHD and Me (2013)
Friday, April 26, 2013
In this title published by Magination Press (an imprint of the American Psychological Association), Jetty is new to 4th grade and discovering that 4th grade is not at all what she was expecting. The book is in a diary format, as Jetty’s 4th grade teacher expects her to keep a diary. She has too much homework, is easily distracted, and is very quick to anger and to becoming upset. Jetty’s parent take her to a doctor where she is diagnosed with ADHD. At first, Jetty denies the diagnosis. She couldn’t possibly have ADHD. She doesn’t run around all the time or get in fights, but then recognizes other symptoms in herself. Jetty is a realistic character and readers will like reading about her journey. There are four pages of notes for parents and children with ADHD at the back of the book.
For more books about ADHD, go to this link.
Monday, April 22, 2013
The third and last book of the Kane Chronicles.
This third and final book of the Kane Chronicles is the best of the three. The saga concludes as Carter and Sadie Kane once again try to save the world from the forces of Chaos. The giant Chaos snake Apophis and his rebel magician allies are on the rise. Luckily, Carter and Sadie Kane are back, ready to fight Apophis and restore Ma'at, the order of the universe. There are some sub plots that Carter and Amy must face in their quest. Carter needs to help Zia and Ra; and Amy needs to help Walt and at the same time deal with her emotions about Anubis, the god of funerals and death.
The title implies the basis for the book’s content. The Serpent refers to the Chaos snake Apophis. Amy and Carter must capture the snake’s shadow in order to free the world. The story moves along quickly and is action-packed. The gods and heroes (or magicians) must work together to save the world in just a few days. There is plenty of humor, a little romance, and some crazy outfits in this action-packed fantasy. Again the story is narrated by both Amy and Carter taking turns in recording the events.
If you have read any of the Kane Chronicles you will warm up to this final book and enjoy reading about Amy and Dan’s determination to fight the forces of evil. They cannot do it without the help of the Egyptian gods and their friends.
I would recommend this fantasy fiction story about mythology for children in grades 4 – 8.
A Counting Lullaby (2012)
Friday, April 19, 2013
Around the Neighborhood: a Counting Lullaby is an adaptation of "Over in the Meadow", the classic folk song that was first written down in 1870. A mother and her baby baby set off for a walk around the neighborhood, and see numerous animals that a child might normally see in their neighborhood, such as cats, crows, bees, or ladybugs. The illustrations were produced digitally, and are easy to recognize, with bright colors galore.
My only concern about the book is that the words don't always fit the traditional melody very easily. If you're planning to share this book in storytime, or sing it to a group, be sure to practice ahead of time so as to make the words fit the music, which is included at the back of the book for anyone who doesn't know the song.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate it, the Fox Cities Book Festival, nature, too, with a sweet and simple poem by versatile author Marion Dane Bauer. Its lines provide the text for this beautiful picture book, with intimate portraits of various wild baby animals and animal families by renowned nature photographer Stan Tekiela (one of the featured authors at this year’s Fox Cities Book Festival). Tekiela captures on camera many young critters, from slow turtle hatchlings to a frisky cougar kitten; from a soft rabbit kit to prickly porcupettes; from little possums hitching a ride on mother's back, to a black bear cuddling with a cub. His adorable photos, matched with Bauer’s verse, showcase not only basic differences among animals, but also the common bond of mother and young. For this reason, I am issuing a CUTE OVERLOAD ALERT for this book. Curious readers and nature lovers will enjoy the back-of-the-book facts about the animals featured in the photos, including the names for the young, as well as the track shape and pattern of each species. The book received the Mom’s Choice Award.
Recommended for ages 3-6.
A Counting Book (2013)
Monday, April 15, 2013
Emphasizing the human connection, this beautifully illustrated picture book takes readers through a counting journey to meet some of the world’s most amazing primates. With minimal text and almost exclusively white backgrounds, each animal is shown from the shoulders up as if posing for a portrait.
From happy to sad and mischievous to dignified, each animal’s expression reveals a little bit of its personality. A final page shows the diversity of the human family, and the observant reader will soon be flipping back and forth through the pages trying to match the humans’ expressions with those of the primates’.
The boldness of the illustrations and the simplicity of the text make this suitable for anyone learning to count, while the science connection and the detail of each portrait make this a book older readers will also enjoy.
Friday, April 12, 2013
The cover to Mousterpiece announces that this is "a mouse-sized guide to modern art". The book stars Janson, a mouse who lives in a museum and loved to explore. When she finds the wing of Modern Art, she begins to practice drawing self-portraits in the styles of the artists she sees on the walls. Rousseau, Picasso, Seurat, even Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol inspire Janson to paint more. When the Modern wing closes for renovation, Janson begins to leave her work behind for others to find, and it turns into an exhibition for her work. At the end, Janson discovers her own style, "unlike anyone else's", with a beautiful mousterpiece at the end. Notes at the end of the book introduce the artists that Janson has referenced.
This book received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, and is highly recommended for children in preschool through 3rd grade.
A Childhood in China (2012)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Little White Duck: a Childhood in China is a superb memoir of the 1970s youth of Na Liu as she grew up in China, and is illustrated by Liu’s husband, Andres Vera Martinez. An example of the great stories told in the book is the first chapter, where Da Qin (Liu’s nickname as a child) is four years old and learns that the grandfather she hardly knows has passed away. This grandfather was Chairman Mao, and Da Qin doesn’t understand why she is upset, but cries uncontrollably anyway. The illustrations are simply exquisite and capture the emotions of the stories well. This book received multiple starred reviews, and was one of School Library Journal's best books of 2012. Highly recommended for students in grades 4 and up, as well as for teens and adults.
How One Town Stood Up to Slavery (2013)
Friday, April 5, 2013
This superb factual tale of John Price is fascinating. John Price escaped from slavery in January 1856. After crossing the frozen Ohio River, he was in Ohio, was slavery was not allowed. He wasn't completely safe though, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 allowed slave owners to capture their runaway slaves anywhere in the United States, even in states where slavery was against the law, like Ohio. Canada was Price's destination; slavery was completely outlawed there. Price stopped for the winter in Oberlin, Ohio.
According to the book, "Oberlin College professors and the town's ministers claimed there was a 'higher law' than the Fugitive Slave Act. This was the law of right and wrong, by which everyone deserved to be free." John Price decided to settle in Oberlin.
When slave hunter Anderson Jennings, who had been hired to find Price, located him in Oberlin, Jennings forced Price to go with him. A man walking by heard Price shout out, and ran to get help from the people of Oberlin, who came out en masse to save John Price from Jennings. A group of men who would come to be known as "the Rescuers" took Price back and hid him until he vanished. Thirty seven of the Rescuers were charged with defying the Fugitive Slave Law, were found guilty, and stayed in jail for three months. After the Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865, slavery was ended in the United States.
The illustrations do a wonderful job of describing the text through art. A photograph of the Rescuers is found at the back of the book.
Recommended for students in 3rd through 6th grade.
Monday, April 1, 2013
In a letter to her English teacher Lizzy Mortimer tells her story about how she discovered that she was a Death Catcher, formally known as “The Hands of Fate”, like her grandmother. She has this gift to see the future death of people that are close to her. She finds out that she is related to Morgan le Faye and the sisters of Avalon. She uncovers the Arthurian origins of her destiny and is charged with saving the last descendant of King Arthur from an untimely death that would endanger the world. This last descendant of King Arthur is her secret crush, Drake Westfall, a student at her school and a very close neighbor.
There are many funny situations involving Bizzy, her grandmother and some narrow escapes by Lizzy and her friends, especially Jodi and Drake. The story has a creative mix of Arthurian legend, romance, and fantasy. The plots include a planned robbery, a vision of Jodi dying and Lizzy’s attempts to save Drake. The characters are likeable and realistic, particularly Lizzy and her grandmother.
This first book in a series should appeal to a wide range of fantasy lovers. The book is geared towards students in grades 5 – 8.
Friday, March 29, 2013
This book published by Free Spirit in 2012, but new to the Appleton Public Library, introduces Zach, a young boy who finds himself angry with his younger brother, and pushing him down. His mother gently encourages Zach to apologize, and teaches him a four-square tool to help him figure out what to say. In the first square, Zach thinks about what he did that hurt his brother. Second, he thinks about how his brother thought. Third, he thought about what he could do in the future, and fourth, he decided how he could make it up to his brother. A note to parents at the end gives tips on how to model apologies, and guide children through their own apologies.
A second book, Zach Gets Frustrated, was published simultaneously, and teaches the frustration triangle method for helping children cope.
These books are for parents and caregivers to share with children who are struggling with their emotions, and are recommended for Kindergarten and older.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
“Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth…and one of every four will be a beetle.” So begins the Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins, a treasure trove of fascinating facts about beetles the world over, including information about body structure, life cycles, communication, defenses, and other beetle behaviors. Most interesting are the adaptations of particular beetles, such as the forest fire beetle, whose heat-sensing spots on its body can detect a fire from more than 20 miles away, and the leaf beetle, which produces a sticky substance that will glue shut the jaws of any ant who attempts to eat it. Author/artist Jenkins uses great analogies to help readers understand the breadth and variety of the beetle world. In describing the Australian tiger beetle, the fastest runner in the insect world, Jenkins states, “If a human could run as fast-for her size—as a tiger beetle, she’d be moving as fast as a jet airplane.” While there’s no glossary alphabetical index, there is a list of all the beetles featured in the book, each with its scientific name and the place in the world where it can be found.
In this book, as in his many others, Jenkins uses his artistry and masterful use of cut and torn textured paper to enhance the natural beauty of the creatures; his meticulous, colorful, beautiful collage illustrations, on plain white background for excellent contrast, are wonderful examples of art in science and science in art. Although Jenkins stays true to the colors of the different species of beetles represented, observant readers and viewers will notice the rich patterns and details of the paper used in the artist’s creations. The illustrations are accompanied by captions in a casual handwritten-style font that lends a scrapbook-like quality to the book. A few or many factual tidbits can be enjoyed at each sitting, inviting re-readings, as well as closer studies of the accompanying artwork. The striking cover features two halves of a larger-than-life rose chafer beetle specimen, its legs forming a frame for the title and author text. While many of the illustrations are larger than the actual beetles, for easy study, Jenkins provides silhouettes throughout the book that show the actual size of the beetles featured on the two-page spreads. Other illustrations show certain beetles at actual size, whether small as a dot, or larger than a human hand.
And speaking of actual size, another great Steve Jenkins book is Actual Size. Published in 2004, it features different animals, or parts of them, shown in their true size, illustrated with Jenkins’ signature cut and torn paper collage. Note: although Actual Size is available in E-book format through Wisconsin’s Digital Library, the print format is best for the actual “actual size” experience. This is another great example of the many books authored and/or illustrated by Steve Jenkins, who uses his incredible talents to help others explore the wonders of natural science. The author/artist's birthday is March 31st; celebrate by checking out his work!
You can catch a glimpse of Steve Jenkins’ creative process in “Meet-the-Author” movies and slideshows from Teaching books.net, a resource database available through the APL website, and Infosoup online catalog.
The Beetle Book is recommended for ages 4 and up.
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