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Showing posts from November, 2009

Books Worth Giving

Everyone knows that books make great gifts, just like everyone knows that there is the right book for the right person out there somewhere. Over the last few months I have been accumulating a small pile of books that are not your typical picture or chapter book but definitely perfect for gift giving. I hope you find something special for all of your bibliophiles as I spend the next month reviewing books you will be happy to give or receive.

The Cat on the Mat is Flat by Andy Griffiths, pictures by Terry Denton, 166 pp RL 1

Before I say anything about the paperback edition of The Cat on the Mat is Flat, I need to thank Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton and, most of all, the geniuses at Square Fish an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, for this unique book. I have been waiting for a book like this for years now, and here it is! What kind of book is it? It is an easy-to-read, first grade level book that LOOKS like an higher level chapter book as opposed to the raft of large format beginning reader books that kids reading at this level are relegated to. As a book seller I have noticed that new readers, especially those who have older siblings, want to read a book that looks like what the big kids are reading. Until now, there was almost nothing that fit this bill. The Andy Shane series by Jennifer Richard Jacobsen, illustrations by Abby Carter, is the only representative (I have come across thus far) of a first grade reading level book that looks like a Magic Tree House or Junie B Jones book in presentation.�…

A Birthday For Bear by Bonny Becker, pictures by Kady McDonald Denton, 56 pp RL 1

Author Bonny Becker and illustrator Katy MacDonald Denton introduced us to grumpy a Bear and a persistent Mouse in A Visitor for Bear, a picture book published in 2008 and winner of many awards, including the prestigious E.B. White Award given by the Association of Booksellers for Children. Bear and Mouse are back, proving that picture books can often make great reading primers as well. A Birthday for Bear is part of the excellent new beginning to read series, Candlewick Sparks, which includes the wonderful foxes, Zelda & Ivy, as well as my cat and dog favorites, Houndsley and Catina.

InA Visitor for Bear, the stage is set for the give and take that plays out again in A Birthday for Bear. Bear is a solitary sort who does not want company. Mouse is cold and hungry and only wants a spot of tea. Popping up in the most surprising places, Mouse manages to wear Bear down, agreeing to leave as soon as he has had one cup. When Mouse keeps his promise, Bear finds himself unwilling to le…

Fly Guy series written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, RL 1

Tedd Arnold is the author and illustrator of two of my favorite bedtime books to read out loud, No More Water in the Tub and No More Jumping on the Bed. His plausible but ultimately fanciful stories (I know that I definitely thought there was a chance I could crash through to the downstairs when I jumped on my bed as a kid) colorful illustrations and great character names (Patty Fuzzle who was doing a puzzle) have made these books a staple in my house and at the bookstore when I do story time. Add to these the hilarious (maybe a bit more so for parent than kids)Parts, More Partsand Even More Parts in which an uninformed child thinks that belly button fluff is his stuffing coming out and boogers are his brain leaking out through his nose - really, these books are more funny than gross, I swear - and so on, and you have very respectable contribution to the world of picture books. To top it off, Arnold has a very unique illustration style that gives depth to his sometimes cartoonish c…

Emerging Reader Week

I am happy to report that I have found a week's worth of beginning reader books that I really love and want to share with you. This seems to be the most under represented genre of kid's books when it comes to quality writing and illustration, but I think that all the books I reviewed meet my high standards and then some. Not all the books are new, I am new to them and I am sure that many of you out there are fans already.
I'll start the week on Sunday with a look at reading levels, the professionals who determine them and how you can figure them out on your own and move on to a review of a new book/series for the next five days.
Sorry to those of you who's readers are beyond this stage and to the rest of you, I hope there is something this week that will spark a love of reading for your new readers that will last a lifetime.

Bed & Biscuit Series by Joan Carris, illustrated by Noah Z Jones, 119 pp, RL 3

If you have read enough of my reviews, you know that I am always on the lookout for great books written at the 3rd grade reading level, since there seems to be a definite gap on the shelves in that general area. I am very happy to report that another great series has hit the shelves! The Bed & Biscuit books by Joan Carris, charmingly illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, are kind of a cross between James Herriot's stories of the country veterinarian and Dick King-Smith's wonderful stories with anthropomorphized animals as characters and often narrators. Grandpa Bender, a retired veterinarian, runs the Bed & Biscuit, an animal sitting service, at his farm. His own menagerie consists of Gabby, the mynah bird with the sharp tongue, Ernest, a mini-pig with a good heart and an even better head on his shoulders, and Milly, a persnickety tabby cat who, even though she is a year old, is the baby of the family and thinks she deserves to be treated accordingly.
When Welcome to the …

Three (more) Frogs Worth Knowing...

I know, the two amphibians REALLY worth knowing are Arnold Lobel's brilliant creations, Frog and Toad. However, I think there is enough room in the world of children's literature for a few more frogs on the shelf...

A Froggy Fable , John Lechner's first pictue book, tells the story of a frog who is frustrated by the changes going on all around him. Without giving the whole story away, I can say that, in the end, he discovers that some changes aren't so bad after all. Simply told and elegantly voiced, A Froggy Fable works on many levels without being didactic once. I have never been a fan of children's books that claim to teach a lesson, celebrity authored picture books and The Berenstain Bears being at the top of my list, but John Lechner's book, just like Arnold Lobel's, can be used to "teach a lesson" - if you want it to. And, if you don't want it to, it's a great read out loud and one you will never tire of sharing.












John Lechner is a…

New York Times Book Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009

I usually feel like I exist and read in an alternate world of children's books when I scan the pages of the intermittent children's section of the New York Times Book Review. However, this year, I am pleased to say that I have heard of all but two of the ten titles on the list of Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009, read five at story time and even reviewed one! I am familiar with all but one of the winning illustrators, Komako Sakai, and have reviewed books by most of the others, including Lucy Cousins, Marla Frazee, Emily Gravett, and Shuan Tan. Anoitnette Portis, a relatively new author/illustrator on the scene, is the creator of two of my favorite story time books I am remiss in never mentioning before now:NOT A BOX and NOT A STICK. Rush out and read these to your 5 and unders immediately!!!

For a chance to read the rest of the section, in which many of the winning books are reviewed, as well as books for older children and teens, click here. Also, be sure to ch…