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Showing posts from February, 2014

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, 229 pp, RL 3

Before I officially review The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, an author who writes and illustrates for all levels short of YA, I'd like to take a paragraph to talk about the rare and marvelous perspective he brings to all his books. One review of The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes describes and praises the book in this way, "Billy Miller's second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way." This description could actually describe all of Henkes's books, from his picture books to his beginning readers featuring Penny, to his chapter and middle grade books. Henkes has a brilliant way with the "quietly spectacular" and the "wonderfully ordinary" that is difficult to capture in a review and unique in the world of kid's books. The stories he tells may seem quiet and small, but the characters he creates are vividly memorable and emotionally resonant. What makes Henkes's books endearing and enduring is his se…

Literary Celebrity Guest Review : By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, reviewed by Annie Barrows, 304 pp, RL 4

I have tried not to insert my voice into these very special guest reviews, but, four reviews into this project and I have noticed a theme that makes me very excited. Tom Angleberger, Jonathan Auxier and Lesley L.L. Blume have all championed books in ways that buck the critics or challenge readers to take a new look, open their minds or push the envelope of traditional ideas when choosing a book. Annie Barrows continues this theme with a review that takes an honest look at one in a series of a classic work of children's literature while also offering some great insight into what makes a readable kid's book. Thanks to my guest reviewers! Enjoy!


By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Because I am a horribly contrary person (just ask my editors), I am not reviewing a book I loved as a child. I’m reviewing a book I didn’t love: By the Shores of Silver Lake, the fourth book in the classic and magnificent Little House series—fourth by my reckoning anyway; I don’t count F…

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, 120 pp, RL 3

The ivy+beanseries of chapter books written by Annie Barrowsand illustrated by Sophie Blackalldebuted in 2006 and has been going strong since then, with book 10 in the series published in the fall of 2013! I have been meaning to review this series since I started this blog in 2008 and have been meaning to review this series since then, especially since, like Megan McDonald'sJudy Moody series, these books are a great bridge between chapter books (like Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones) and middle grade novels. In 2010 I reviewed Annie's other book for kids, The Magic Half. I adore this book and think of and recommend often and am absolutely thrilled to hear that there will be a sequel coming soon! Annie also cowrote with her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, the very popular work of epistolary fiction for adults, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which is a constant favorite with book groups.
So, who are Ivy and Bean and what is so great about them? Ivy and Bean are two seve…