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Showing posts from 2013

The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith, 160 pp, RL 4

My mother taught fourth and fifth grade for almost 20 years before she retired. When she was a kid in school she struggled and was never a strong student or a big reader. Because of this, she brought a depth of understanding and passion to her teaching that endeared her to her students and made her a fantastic teacher. She also read a lot of kid's books during her years as a teacher and The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith was one of her favorites that she has enthusiastically recommended to her grandkids. You probably know Kimmel Smith's book Chocolate Fever, his first, and now a classic, that almost all kids seem to read in second grade, about a boy with a love for chocolate that leads him into some sticky situations. In The War with Grandpa, the battle begins when Peter's grandpa moves in with his family, unceremoniously booting him from his beloved bedroom. While this hurts Peter, what hurts him even more is that his parents never asked him how he felt about the…

Escape from Silverstreet Farm by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Katharine McEwen, 65 pp, RL 2

Silver Street Farm is a new series of chapter books from Nicola Davies, zoologist and prolific author, and is illustrated by Katherine McEwen. In the first book in the series, Welcome to Silver Street Farm, meet Meera, Gemma and Karl who bond over their love of farm animals and having a farm of their own when they meet at the toy corner in kindergarten. On the last day of elementary school the trio of friends transform a an old, unused train station and out buildings into an urban farm in the middle of the city of Lonchester. Despite the land owner who wants to raze it and turn it into a parking structure, the activism of the three friends garners community support and wins out in the end. Flora MacDonald, a young farmer from Scotland who aids the children in the transformation the train station into a farm, agrees to run it, never forgetting that the Silver Street Farm is their dream. The signal box becomes a chicken coop, two poodle puppies bought by Karl's aunt turn out to be p…

The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry, 241 pp, RL: 4

Jason Fry is the author of Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra, a fantastic new book and a rare addition to the underrepresented (in my opinion) genre of science fiction middle grade novels - with brilliant cover art by Tom Lintern. Besides being kind of uncommon in kid's books, science fiction is a a little bit outside of my comfort zone when it comes to reading. But, Treasure Planet is one of my favorite Disney movies and I did review Treasure IslandandSilver: Return to Treasure Island last year, so I decided to give Jupiter Pirates:Hunt for the Hydra, which has a touch of the traditional swashbuckler to it, a try. My decision was cemented when I learned that Jason Fry is author of over twenty books, many of which are part of the canon of Star Wars books, AND that several of Fry's books are part of a genre my sons and I love that could be called "non-fiction fiction." Fry's books like Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual GuideThe Secret Life of Droids and Le…

Here Where the Sunbeams are Green by Helen Phillips, 291 pp, RL 5

Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green  is now in paperback!



Here Where the Sunbeams are Green is author Helen Phillips' stand-out debut novel. And, while this is not strictly a work of fantasy, this book is filled with magic. There are so many out of the ordinary things about this wonderful novel that I almost don't know where to start, but I think that sisters Madeline and Ruby (Mad and Roo) are a good place to begin. I have read a lot of books since I started this blog, and I one trend that I noticed is the predominant presence of a boy and a girl as the main characters, as if authors want to cover all the bases and make sure their book appeals to the widest audience. And I completely understand this - if I wrote a book I would do everything I could to make sure it is read. In light of that, I always admire a book immensely when the author has the courage to write main characters who are the same gender, especially two girls. Everyone knows that girls will read "boy" boo…

Cheese Belongs to You, written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

CHEESE BELONGS TO YOU! is the newest collaboration from Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz. Their first picture book, A Place to Call Home,  is about a brave band of (hamster) brothers looking for a new home. This duo clearly loves rodents as rats, referred to in one review as the most "unnerving yet gleefully entertaining" rats since Ratatouille, are the main characters of this new book. And, as Schwarz says, "they have something to teach you: Rat Law," and, Rat Law has "basically one rule: Cheese belongs to you."

Of course, there Rat Law also has exceptions...



Things escalate and bigger, stronger, hairier, dirtier rats emerge to claim the cheese. Of Rat Law, Schwarz says "You'll get the hang of it. But who gets the cheese? Buy book, find out!"

Just in case you were worried, community and civility does win out in the end. Schwarz's soft, pencil drawings and the photo of a wedge of Swiss cheese are balanced and bolstered by the bold face typ…

Amy's Three Best Thing by Philippa Pearce, illustrated by Helen Craig

Amy's Three Best Things is by Philippa Pearce, the author of the classic British children's novel, Tom's Midnight Garden, first published in 1957. Pearce, who wrote Amy's Three Best Things in 2003, died in 2006. Illustrator Helen Craig is best known for illustrating the original Angelina Ballerina series of books written by Katherine Holabird. Pearce and Craig teamed up on the chapter book, A Finder's MagicAmy's Three Best Things is a sweetly subtle book about a child finding ways to cope with missing her family while staying over at Grandma's house, perfectly illustrated in Craig's cozy style.

Amy's Three Best Things begins, "One day Amy said, 'I'd like to go and see Grandma soon. I'd like to go all by myself, and I'd like to stay the night." Her mother questions her because Amy has never been away from home by herself before. Amy replies. "Of course I'm sure. In fact, I'll stay two nights. No, I'll stay …