Showing posts from March, 2010

Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrations by Kelly Murphy 288 pp RL4

MASTERPIECE is now in PAPERBACK!!! This is such a fabulous book, and a great read-out-loud for the 5 and under crowd who are ready for a more complex story that is still gentle and only a little suspenseful...

In the great tradition of EL Konigsburg's masterpiece of children's literature, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, with a little Cricket in Times Square thrown in, comes Elise Broach's fantastic new mystery, Masterpiece, with superb illustrations by the wonderful Kelly Murphy, doing double duty as the illustrator of the text and the artist behind the creations of Marvin, the beetle with a true artistic gift.
Masterpiece involves drawings by the great German artist Albrecht Durer, art theft, forgery, the FBI and beetles, not necessarily in that order. Marvin is a beetle living the good life in the walls of the Pompaday aprtment in New York City. He has loving and attentive parents, a large extended family and William Pompaday, an unruly baby who dro…

Savvy by Ingrid Law, 342 pp RL 5

Before I write my review of Savvy by Ingrid Law I need to thank my faithful reader, Jeremy and his daughter Ivy for keeping this book from slipping under my radar more than once. Savvy,The Penderwicks and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (which I promise to pick up again and review very soon...) are Ivy's three favorite books and I have to say, she has excellent taste! Thanks for introducing me to what is now one my my favorite new books Jeremy and Ivy!

Savvy came out in May of 2008 and won a Newbery Honor in 2009. One of the corporate book buyers at Barnes & Noble must have thought it would be big (which it is) because we got a huge stack for our summer reading table. The cover, by the amazingly gifted and busy children's book illustrator Brandon Dorman is so dazzlingly beautiful that it was impossible not to pick up and read the flap. Unsurprisingly, it was voted Favorite Book Jacket of 2008 by Publishers Weekly Magazine. Yet, when I read the flap…

April is National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry month and I am stirring up a pot of poems steaming hot poems, one for every day.
But this pot is so big and I can't fill it alone so if any one at home could add to this stew, I could really use you.
Please send me POEMS! If you have personal favorites by other poets, if you have written your own poems, if you want to send me a video clip of you and/or your children reading a poem - poetry appropriate for children only, please - DO NOT HESITATE TO SHARE! I am going to post a poem-a-day for the whole month of April and reviews of books of poetry for children. There will also be posts on "Why Poetry Matters," "How to Read a Poem," "Picture Book Poetry," excellent links and lots more!

Shadow Thieves by Ann Ursu, Reading Level 4

Anne Ursu'sCronus Chroniclesseries, the first book of which is The Shadow Thieves, manages to be playful and menacing at the same time, a bit like Eric Fortune's cover illustration which I loved so much I had to share in its text-free form. Published early in 2006, less than a year after The Lightning Thief hit the shelves, The Shadow Thieves is a different animal all together. And really, why even compare the books? The Greek gods and goddesses are a bit like vampires when it comes to literary representation these days - there are as many different ways to make them modern or keep them classical as there are fish in the ocean. I do feel compelled to point out this one major difference between the two books, though. Where as The Lightning Thief is a fast paced, action packed book right out of the gate - I felt like I was watching a movie as I read it - The Shadow Thieves takes it's thoughtful, descriptive, character building time, waiting 100 pages before even mentioni…


I got on this crazy kick today and decided to do a special week of posts on books pertaining to GREEK MYTHOLOGY.  
I reviewed Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief back in 2008, all the while intending to read (what I refer to while on the bookfloor as) the "girl version of Percy Jackson, but better!"  I finally read The Shadow Thieves, the first book in Anne Ursu's The Cronos Chronicles and was wowed.  My review of The Shadow Thieves will post on Monday.

I have always tried to interest kids in books on Greek mythology, and Rick Riordan's series of books is the perfect starting point in most cases, especially for readers who are suspicious of books that look too much like reference books.  On Wednesday, I will post a listing of reference books on Greek Mythology as well as some adapted versions of Homer's Odyssey.  On Friday I will post a collection of fiction for kids, besides Riordan and Ursu's, that utilizes Greek Mythology as a theme.  
I do have to note, t…

MEET ME AT THE CORNER: Virtual Field Trips for Kids

Meet Me at the Corner is a fabulous website for kids that offers virtual field trips. Started by Donna Guthrie, author of over 20 books for children with an MFA in Children's and Young Adult Writing from Vermont College, the site is sort of an educational (let me emphasize this - EDUCATIONAL - there are no clips of cats sneezing or people dancing in front of their mirrors here) YouTube for kids ages 7 - 13. There are currently over 60 kid friendly videos on the website and they cover a wide range of topics and each one comes with a list of recommended books and a Learning Corner with related questions and activities relating to the topic of each show. I first discovered the MEET ME AT THE CORNER in October of 2008 when I was writing my review of Michael Buckley's excellent series, The Sisters Grimm. I found a video narrated by Emma, who is a fan of the series. The field trip begins outside the building where Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, the publisher of the series,…

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows, 211 pp, RL 4

Of course I noticedAnnie Barrows's book The Magic Half the minute the paperback hit the shelves almost a year ago. The cover art is by one of my favorites, Alexandra Boiger, who illustrated two books that made it to my Best Picture Books of 2008, The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins and While Mama Had a Quick LittleChat by Amy Reichert. Boiger has also recently updated the cover art for Betty MacDonald's superb Mrs Piggle-Wiggle series, taking over for the briliant and influential children's book illustratorHilary Knight. On top of the great cover, Barrows name caught my attention as well. Not only is she the author of the super new chapter book series for emerging readers, Ivy + Bean, but, along with her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, she is the co-author of the bestselling book group favorite for adults, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society!

And, yes, all that great background experience does lead up to a really great book! Like Jeanne Birdsall's wonderf…

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, 141 pp, RL 4

Ok, I am just going to do this now and get it out of the way: YES - there are passing similarities between Tom Angleberger's amazing new book, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid that go well beyond their shared publisher, the excellent Amulet Books. Both are set in middle school, both are first person narratives, both contain kids who exist on the fringes (and far, outer fringes) of popularity and both contain a healthy dose of illustrations done by the young characters in the books. However, the whole story arc of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda involves introspection, observation, self-examination and, in more than one instance, forgiveness and the story wraps up in one book that has a very satisfying ending. I guarantee you that, even if Angleberger can't wrangle a few more books out of his well formed characters, The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda will find itself hugely popular among young readers and have a very long shel…

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga, 80 pages, RL 3

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga has to be the most amazing choose-your-own adventure story I have ever seen! As a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure Books, cheesy as they were, for their novelty. As a bookseller, I was thrilled to see them reprinted and back on the shelves a couple of years ago. These books are great enticements for reluctant readers. And, even better, they are now making early reader versions of this series. Meanwhile brilliantly combines the "pick a path" concept with some innovative comic book technology to make up a story that has 3,856 possible endings, secret codes and hidden pages!
It's best to let Meanwhile speak for it's self - you really have to rush out to the nearest bookstore or library and experience it first hand - but I can tell you a little bit about it. The story begins simply enough. Jimmy is at the ice cream shop trying to choose between chocolate or vanilla.....

The hooks on the tabs at the edge of the pages tell you where …