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, July 3, 2013
In Robot Dreams, Dog wants a friend, so he orders a robot which comes in a box, which Dog then assembles. The two visit the library, eat popcorn, check out travel books, and visit the beach where they frolic in the water. Robot rusts through and is immobile. Dog is sadly forced to leave Robot behind. He find many new friends, but no one like Robot. Robot experiences all the seasons and discovers himself being sold for scrap. Dog purchases another boxed robot for a friend (which he stops from going into the water at the beach), and a raccoon discover Robot's head at the scrapyard which he re-purposes into a radio-friend. This wordless graphic novel reads quickly and the reader can easily tell the emotions of the characters.
This book received starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. It found its way onto Kirkus' Best Books list. Graphic novels are fun for reluctant readers and proficient readers alike, and this book receives high praise from me.
How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball (2013)
Friday, June 28, 2013
In 1891 James Naismith invented basketball. But why would anyone invent a new sport? Because the rowdy class of teenage boys they were teaching couldn't handle indoor football, indoor soccer, or indoor lacrosse. Naismith wanted a game where tackling would not be allowed. He started out with a soccer ball and two peach baskets and taught his students the game. There were lots of fouls, and only one basket, and nobody wanted the game to end. When the students went home they taught the game to their families and friends, and women started playing too.
In 1936 basketball became an Olympic sport. John Coy wrote an insightful author's note with additional information about James Naismith. A bibliography is included. The end papers are made of the original typed rules of basketball. The book received a starred review from Horn Book Magazine and is highly recommended.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Book 1 of the Healing Wars series
This story takes place in a world at war and where certain children have the ability to heal people by taking their pain and transferring it into a pynvium, a metal container used to store the pain. Nya and her sister, Tali, are orphans and they each have this gift of healing. But Nya’s skill is different from Tali’s, in that it is flawed. She cannot shift the pain into the pynvium, she can only shift it into another person. Known as Takers, the girls can extract pain from the injured. Since Tali can push that pain into pynvium she becomes an apprentice for the Healer’s League, but Nya, who can only transfer pain to herself or others, must survive on her own. She’s hunted by those eager to exploit her ability for their own purpose. They are determined to make her a weapon, a killer, even a symbol for the war that’s brewing. Thus Nya must learn to keep her skill a secret.
The story has one main plot but many conflicts that will affect the outcome for Nya and Tali. All Nya wants is to protect her family and regain her people’s freedom, but the more she’s drawn into the plans of others, the more she realizes how important to everyone’s victory she really is. She realizes how much she’ll have to sacrifice just to survive.
After a ferry accident cripples the city, Nya discovers that the league is kidnapping apprentices (including Tali) and overloading them with pain. When a young soldier discovers Nya’s secret and begs her to save his dying father she is forced to choose between protecting herself and acknowledging her ability to save others and perhaps her entire city. Nya wrestles with guilt as she makes choices to save Tali and the others. She is faced with the dilemma as to who will live or die because of her power. Her closest friends and allies are Aylin, a former employee of the Duke, and Danello, the boy whose father she saves.
Fantasy fans and those who just love a good story will enjoy this fast-paced novel and will eagerly await book two.
I would recommend this book for grades 5 through 10.
A World War I Story (2013)
Friday, June 21, 2013
"Knit Your Bit" was a slogan of the American Red Cross during World War I when the Red Cross decided there would not be enough warm clothes for the soldiers over the cold winter in Europe. Men, women, and children began knitting for soldiers. There really was a "knit-in" at Central Park in New York City on July 30, 1918, which is the setting for this fabulous historical fiction.
When Mikey's dad leaves to go overseas for the war Mikey wants to go too, because he's brave. His dad points out that he needs to be brave to stay home too. Mikey and his friends are dared to enter the knitting bee and they take the dare. Mikey learns to make socks, sort of. He finally makes one perfect sock, but can't make a perfect sock to match, and finds just the right thing to do with his one perfect sock.
The illustrations remind me of Lois Lenski's work and there are five photographs on the end papers of knitting and sheep. Hopkinson also includes a fascinating author's note.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Father’s Day may be over, but dads are still awesome. Check out these fun picture books about (and for) fathers.
My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein
Have you ever had a special day with dad? A wonderful time that just the two of you shared? In this story, every Saturday Mimi and her father have amazing adventures. They make special silly pancakes, ride bikes and play checkers. But then Mimi’s father has to start working on Saturdays and suddenly Dadurday becomes BADurday! What will Mimi do to make it Dadurday again?
In this book, a young girl learns to ride a bicycle under the watchful eye of her father. She learns about training wheels, about falling down and getting up and, finally, about the thrill of success.
The dad in this book is really, “really good at playing horsey.” He is so good, in fact, that horse rustlers decide they want to steal him. It is up to two enterprising youngsters to track down their horsey, help him elude the thieves and still be home in time for sunset….also known as dinner.
This is the story of a little lion cub named Kito who wants to be just like his father when he grows up. When his papa roars, the savannah is silent, but when Kito roars, the hyena still chuckles. When papa waves his tail, the flies are swept away, but when Kito waves his tail the flies buzz closer and closer. Kito isn’t worried, though, because he knows that, “Someday [he] will be King, just like [his] papa.”
The perfect read for busy new dads, this book shows how babies are the perfect weights and playtime for baby can become workout time for daddy.
This board book shows pictures of dads and their little ones. Sweet enough to warm the heart, sturdy enough to survive little hands, this is a perfect book for baby’s and father’s to read together.
So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop? (2012)
Friday, June 14, 2013
In the first installment of the French graphic novel series, Dance Class, best friends Julie, Lucie, and Alia take dance classes at a local studio. They are preparing for their performance of Sleeping Beauty, and dealing with Carla, the girl who thinks that she should be the star of the show. The girls all get a crush on K.T. the hip-hop instructor, and wonder how he'll factor into the ballet. The girls are realistic characters and the witty dialogue and fast pacing will keep readers engaged with the story. The fifth Dance Class graphic novel will be published July 2013.
Six Daring Doggy Adventures (2012)
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Martha, the talking dog created by Susan Meddaugh, has now been turned into a comic book character! In the first episode, Download Dog, Martha struggles to understand email until she falls asleep. When she wakes up she starts tapping on keys and gets sucked into the laptop! Martha travels throughout the desktop, the trash files, the photos, and into the email. Can Martha make it back into the real world? At the end of the book are instructions on how to create your own comic book, story squares for inspiration, and tracing images for drawing practice, as well as a listing of all the TV tie-in Martha Speaks publications.
Friday, June 7, 2013
This Early Reader series (Guided Reading Level E) packs multiple elements into one seemingly simple book. In Five Little Monkeys and Five Little Penguins we are first greeted by a photo of the illustrator, then pictures of the Five Little Monkeys verse, with pictures of a child demonstrating the actions to the verse in the lower corners of the pages. Following is a page prompting parent and child to find rhyming words. Then, everything changes to the Five Little Penguins. It's the same, but different, a great way to encourage creativity in a child. A page of notes at the end is available for parents so they can use the book to the fullest extent with their child.
Monday, June 3, 2013
A very engaging and scary fantasy mystery that takes the heroine on a whirlwind trip into another world called Scotopia. If you liked Coraline or Alice in Wonderland you will certainly enjoy this fantasy.
The story starts with the family, Sarah, 12; her brother, Billy; and her parents travelling to her late Grandma Winnie’s house to clean and fix it up in order to sell it. Here Sarah discovers a house full of locked rooms, many dark and dangerous secrets, and an unfinished letter her grandmother wrote: Strange things are happening behind the bookcase. . . . Behind the bookcase is a doorway into Scotopia, the land where shadows come from. Sarah meets a talking cat named Balthazat; Jeb, a boy with half a face; a walking hand called Lefty; sentinels whose eyes and mouths are stitched shut and carry heads for lanterns: and a giant bat with a boy’s head named BB by Sarah.
Balthazat convinces Sarah to take him back to her world, and she does under the impression that he is saving her from some evil king of Scotopia. Jeb claims that Baltazat is lying about everything. With Jeb’s help Sarah works to undo the mess she has caused by letting this evil cat into her world. She also finds a locked door in the basement that her grandmother claimed lead to Penumbra, where the souls of the dead are sleeping. This door is a portal for the sleeping, which is the reason Baltazat wanted into Sarah’s world.
Will Sarah be able to stop the cat from getting into Penumbra to capture the sleeping souls? Will she be able to return Billy’s missing half back to his face? Will Sarah’s world soon be overtaken by darkness? Will Sara get enough courage to save all of her friends in Scotopia, as well as the people in her world?
This is a must read book for children in grades 4 through 7 who enjoy fantasy and alternate worlds full of adventure and fantasy characters.
I would recommend this book for ages 9 through 12.
The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (2013)
Friday, May 31, 2013
This outstanding non-fiction picture book for older readers tells the story of African American artist Horace Pippin. A quote from the book: "Pictures just come to my mind...and I tell my heart to go ahead," is touching when you think of a child who did not have real art supplies of his own until he won a contest. During World War I Horace was wounded in the right shoulder, and was unable to draw the way he had loved to so much.
But one day, Horace got an idea. What if he used his left hand to guide his right arm? It took three years and 100 layers of paint, but Horace finished his first adult painting. No one bought his paintings until they came to the attention of N.C. Wyeth, and then they began to appear all over the United States.
Horace's story is inspirational. The quotations sprinkled throughout the story are placed just right and the illustrations, created by watercolor, gouache, and collage, are right for this portrait of Horace. This book received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly, and is highly recommended.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
These opposites, and other concepts, are delightfully explored in this wordless picture book by artist Lizi Boyd. The front cover depicts a boy, dog at his side, peering out the window of a cheery house, while birds and other creatures fly and frolic in the yard. On the title page, the boy is at the open door, inviting the reader/viewer into his peaceful, happy world of dreams, plans, projects and play. Inside, he contentedly makes preparations for spring planting, while out the windows, two snowmen are in view. Each subsequent page shows a scene from a room inside the house, or outside in the yard, where the boy and his pets engage in a variety of activities as season follows season: exploring puddles, picnicking, gardening, raking leaves, and sledding outdoors; to drawing, reading, crafting, playing with puppets indoors, all while die-cut windows give a glimpse of life on the opposite side. Observant viewers may notice how the boy’s indoor activities relate to his experiences outdoors, and vice versa. There are many details for kids to pour over, inviting them to make up their own stories and predict events based on what they see; or identify seasons and shapes, play counting and seek-and-find games, with the objects on the pages. Kids will return again and again, discovering new things with each sitting.
Recommended for ages 3-6.
Send a Question or Comment to Appleton Public Library.