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Showing posts from June, 2012

Wumbers by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated Tom Lichtenheld

The dedication to WUMBERS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal with illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld reads:
We dedic8 this book 2 William Steig, the cre8tor ofC D B! (cer10ly the inspiration for this book) and so many other cla6.
I am thrilled that Rosenthal and Lichtenheld (the duo who brought us the fantastic Duck! Rabbit! and Yes Day! as well as It's Not Fair and the OK Book) have given a nod to Steig and brought his books back into the spotlight with their book, WUMBERS (words + numbers.) And, with the language of texting has becoming so prevalent, this book will be an easy-breezy read. For the intended audience of this book, parents and little kids, WUMBERS will be the riddle-ish word play that is was meant to be.

I think you get the idea of WUMBERS without me giving too much more away. Buy this book. Have fun reading it with your kids. Then come up with some wumbers of your own!
Source: Review Copy from Publisher


William Steig's  inspirational, very fun books  and still in print!

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs, 290 pp, Rl 5

Spy School is the newest novel from Stuart Gibbs. His second novel, Belly Up, about mysterious animal deaths at a zoo caught my eye both for its original plot idea and for the potential humor the jacket flap promised. Although I have yet to read  Belly Up, I can tell you that Spy School is funny, action packed and an intelligent book about intelligence and is so good that I plan to read all of Mr Gibbs' books asap.
Spy School begins with a heavily redacted document from the Office of the CIA International Investigations regarding Operation Creeping Badger and a twelve-year old named Benjamin Ripley and ends with one. In between, from January 16 to February 10, we get the fantastic story of Ben Ripley and his life as a spy in training at the CIA Academy of Espionage in Washington DC. But, before he is inducted into the Academy, he discovers a man in a tuxedo sitting on his living room couch when he gets home from school. The man introduces himself as Alexander Hale and, aside from h…

Clink, manufactured by Kelly DiPucchio and Matthew Myers and BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino

I love a good robot book, especially when it is brilliantly illustrated. And, while these stories and their illustrations are pretty different, both picture books are wonderfully written, brilliantly illustrated and very much worth reading. And reading. And reading.



clink by Kelly DiPucchio is the story of an old robot ("even his dust had rust," "even his creaks made squeaks,") wasting away inside the Robot Shoppe as he waits to go home with someone who needs him. DiPucchio takes what could have been a  story we've heard before and adds some charming, unique elements that makes this a book you won't mind reading over and over again and a book your kids will remember long into adulthood. Working with these details, Matthew Myers brings the little robot that makes (mostly burnt) toast and plays music to life and makes him utterly endearing, if, like me, robots are your thing... Myers has a rich, painterly style of illustration that gives clink a retro feel tha…

House Held Up By Trees, written by Ted Kooser with illustrations by Jon Klassen

House Held Up By Trees is the second picture book by former National Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. Kooser's first picture book, Bag in the Wind, is a wonderful story in and of itself, but carries with is a subtle message about the value and importance of reusing our resources. Bag in the Wind is illustrated by Barry Root in mostly quiet, somber colors that reflect the tone of the story as well as the rural setting. Kooser lives in Garland, Nebraska and, as he says on the title page of House Held Up By Trees, "Not far from here, I have seen a house held up by the hands of trees. This is its story." For House Held Up By Trees, the fantastic Jon Klassen draws from his familiar earth toned palette to illustrate this book in a similarly quiet but powerful way. After you read House Held Up By Trees, go back and read it again, this time just looking at the illustrations, and notice how Klassen tells the story of the house visually, presenting it from diffe…

The Whispering House, by Rebecca Wade, 260 pp, RL 4

I snapped up Rebecca Wade's The Whispering House and devoured it for two very pertinent reasons. First, as a bookseller, I have noticed over the last year or so that ghost stories have become very popular with readers of middle grade fiction. Also, I loved ghost stories when I was a kid. The two that left the greatest impression on me were Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp and the Newbery Honor winner The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. These days, Mary Downing Hahn has a corner on supernatural stories for kids who have outgrown Goosebumps but are too young for young adult books. This means that Wade's The Whispering House is a very welcome addition to the shelves. One thing I loved about ghost stories as a kid were the ones that kept you guessing as to whether there was a genuine haunting going on or a series of coincidences, accidents and sneaky, creepy characters making lit look like a ghost was afoot. That way, when I was done reading I could look around my room, pee…

Homer, by Elisha Cooper

Homer, written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper, is a book that gets right to the heart what it means to have a dog in your life. As Dan Ferrara said so succinctly in his review of Magic Thinks Big, which could almost be a companion to Homer,  "Cooper's watercolors, like his sentences, are simple and quiet and essentially perfect."
 "Homer sits on the porch. What does he want to do today?" is how Homer begins.  Homer has a lot of options. Chase around the yard with the other dogs (no thanks.) Explore the field? (Thank you, but no.) Walk to the beach and play in the sand? (No, you go.) As everyone leaves and the house empties for the day, Homer maintains his perch on the porch. Then, everyone returns, sharing the adventures and bounty of their day. As the sun sets and Homer makes his way back in the house, Dad asks, "Do you need anything?" Homer answers, "No, I have everything I want," and, four wordless pages later he finishes his sentence w…

The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks, 344 pp, RL 4

Catherine Jinks' newest book, The Paradise Trap,  is a surprise for two big reasons - the continual presence of adults in the story and the fact that the villain at the heart of the story is a character from Greek mythology. The Paradise Trap also stands out among the recent crop of fantasy novels for being set squarely in the United States. Even the fantasy world that is created, the Paradise Trap of the title, is an echo (albeit a malevolent one) of life as we know it here. But, I am getting ahead of the story.
Holly Bradshaw is a single mom hoping to give her son Marcus a summer vacation that will get him out of the house and off those video games that he seems to be playing constantly saying, "I guarantee Diamond Beach will be more fun than any computer game. It will be our best holiday ever." She buys a creaky old trailer and books a space at Diamond Beach, the place where she spent many happy summer vacations as a child. A thorough cleaning of the trailer does noth…

How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers by Andrea Menotti with illustrations by Yancey Labat

How Many Jelly Beans? is the Sneaky Chef of picture books, but instead of hiding vegetables in kid friendly foods, Andrea Menotti and illustrator Yancey Labat (illustrator of the superb Worst Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure Series of choose-your-own adventure books by David Borgenicht) have hidden math facts inside of a brilliantly colored, candy coated story about two siblings trying to out do each other. This husband and wife duo have created the candy version of a picture book with their oversized, brightly colored book that also has a giant fold-out poster at the end that has one million jelly beans on it. Amazing!
Menotti's story is a simple one. Siblings Emma and Aiden are offered jelly beans. "How many jelly beans would you like, Emma?" is the gun that goes off at the start of the race. Emma asks for ten jelly beans. Aiden asks for twenty. Murphy the dog takes a quiet interest in the battle as it escalates.
Very quickly the siblings are looking at 500 jelly beans…

The Dunderheads Behind Bars by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by David Roberts, 48 pp, RL 2

I am so thrilled to see The Dunderheads Behind Bars, the sequel to the superlative The Dunderheads, both by Paul Fleischman with incredible artwork by David Roberts who also illustrated the wonderful picture book, Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty. Both books are just short enough (and filled with great full page illustrations) to be read out loud as picture books but long enough to give emerging readers a taste of success - and great literature - when read alone. Despite their name, the Dunderheads of the title are anything but blundering. What they are  is a diverse group of kids (with individual talents) who are disliked by some power wielding adults, particularly their teacher, Miss Breakbone, cousin to Roald Dahl's most despicable character ever (and that's saying a lot, that man was a misanthropist for sure) Miss Agatha Trunchbull. While Miss Breakbone doesn't have a chokey, she does have a brother, Chief of Police Breakbone who seems to dislike kids, or the Dun…

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by David Roberts, 56 pp, RL 2

The Dunderheads is now in paperback! And Book 2, The Dunderheads Behind Bars is out now.


The Dunderheads is a is a school story that brings us a group of friends with nicknames that suit their individual talents -Pencil, Spider, Hollywood, Wheels, Clips, Junkyard, Google-Eyes, Nails, Einstein and Spitball - who go up against a teacher worthy of any Roald Dahl baddie, Miss Breakbone. This is the newest book from the versatile master of the miniature, Paul Fleischman, author of Seedfolks and the Newbery winning Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices as well as one of my all-time favorite picture books, Weslandia, illstrated by the superb Kevin Hawkes. From a bookseller's perspective, this book is hard to classify. Is The Dunderheadsa long picture book, an oversized graphic novel or a really fantastic chapter book for emerging readers? Either way, however you read it,The Dunderheadsis completely entertaining and perfectly packaged. British children's illustrator David Robertsc(il…

HIPPOPPOSITES by Janik Coat

HIPPOPPOSITES by Janik Coat is yet another fantastic book from Abrams Appleseed, the new imprint from Abrams Books dedicated to instilling a love of books in babies and toddlers by publishing books that will "foster the development of its young readers and engage them and their adults in artful, beautifully conceived books." I love this philosophy and I adore every book that they have put out thus far, from the visually dazzling Pantone Colors book that takes learning your colors to a whole new level, to Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda and the fantastically fun Get Dressed by Seymour Chwast. I don't have any readers in the house who require board books anymore, but I own these books and will pull them out and read them from time to time because they are all creatively out of the ordinary, beautifully put together and fun to read. The next time I need a baby shower gift or birthday gift for a toddler, these are the books I am giving.

As the parent of three kids, I have to…