Showing posts from August, 2010

The Sally Series written and illustrated by Stephen Huneck

Sally's Great Balloon Adventure  is the last in a series of books about a curious black Labrador retriever written and illustrated  by  Stephen Huneck . If you know nothing else about Stephen Huneck before you read a  Sally  book, by the time you reach the last page you will know that he had a deep love and understanding of dogs. If you are not a dog person, don't stop reading just yet. As many people who have had the pleasure of caring for dogs and toddlers (and young children) at the same time will tell you, there are a lot of similarities between the two. Kids get this and that is why they love these books and Sally. Dogs (and kids) follow their noses, whether it leads them into trouble or not. They don't really have a firm grasp on right and wrong, good and bad, peace and destruction and sometimes they get into trouble and need a little help. And, ultimately, I think it is much more interesting to a child to read a book with an unintentionally misbehaving dog as the pr

Even Bad Dog's Go to Heaven: More from the Dog Chapel, written and illustrated by Stephen Huneck

Wood carver, painter, print maker and carpenter,  Stephen Huneck   was a talented artist, his inspiration and passion coming from the dogs in his life. For those of you who don't have or have never had a dog to love, this review may be of little interest to you, but if you have ever been lucky enough to love a dog, keep reading. Huneck shared this love of dogs with children through his series of picture books featuring Sally , the black Labrador retriever. He shared his passion with adults through his creation of   Dog Mountain ,  a park in Vermont dedicated to dogs and their owners that is also the home of the Dog Chapel. As the sign out front says, "Welcome All Creeds, All Breeds, No Dogmas Allowed." Huneck built the chapel by hand and decorated most of the interior with his carvings and artwork. The remaining wall space is dedicated to notes and pictures left by dog owners. As Huneck writes in the introduction to   Even Bad Dogs Go to Heave

Fablehaven, written by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman,351 pp, RL 4

Since Brandon Mull's first Fablehaven book hit the shelves in 2006, the series has been a steady seller. Paired with the busiest illustrator on the block, Brandom Dorman , the books are hard to take your eyes off of - if fantasy is your thing. And it is my thing. I have been meaning to read this book since it first came out and had the pleasure of giving it my full attention over the course of a four hour plane ride. Fablehaven falls squarely, and nicely, into the realm of the fairy story and Brandon Mull definitely brings some new ideas to this mythical world that are both entertaining and intriguing. Sent to stay with reclusive grandparents they barely know, fourteen year old Kendra and her eleven year old brother Seth are understandably apprehensive. Things only seem to get worse when they reach the estate and find a long list of rules and an absent Grandmother Ruth on top of it all. Even so, the beauty of the grounds and the gorgeous butterflies that flock to it

Amelia's Notebook written and illustrated by Marissa Moss, RL 4

First, there was Harriet the Spy and her marbled composition book. Next came the amazing Amelia, creation of Marissa Moss . Long before wimpy Greg Heffley's mom thrust a diary upon him, and ages before graphic novels for kids became popular, Marissa Moss created the illustrated diary of Amelia, who is nine in the first title in the series, Amelia's Notebook , and who is writing and drawing as a way to deal the fact that she is moving to a new state, far away from her best friend Nadia. Amelia also records the annoying habits and attributes of her big sister Cleo, of the jelly role nose. Of course, as a journal keeper, Amelia notices (and records) all sorts of interesting details. With Amelia being nine at the start of the series, (which has seen three different publishers since it first hit the shelves in 1995 - some of you with older girls may remember Amelia's sojourn with the American Girls Company ) and the first book being 15 years old now, the content is ve

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. La Fevers, illustrated by YokoTanaka, 344 pp, RL 5

Based on my enthusiasm for R.L. La Fevers' series Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist , I should have known how over the moon I would be about her marvelous creation, eleven year old Theodosia Throckmorton, heroine of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos , book one in the series. Besides being set in 1906, the tail end of one of my favorite historical periods, the Victorian Era, as well as the setting for another magnificent heroine, Enola Holmes , younger (and superior) sister to Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, La Fevers dedicates her first book to, "clever girls everywhere who get tired of feeling like no one's listening." Oddly enough, this happened to be the last page of the book that I read after finishing and mulling over the story. La Fevers is very true her dedication throughout the novel: Theodosia is a clever girl to whom no one listens. But, what made me love this book all the more is the way that La Fevers is able to take this all too common situation and bri

The Pharoah's Secret written and illustrated by Marissa Moss, 308 pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE

As you would expect from an author with a background of richly detailed fictional journals ( Amelia's Notebook and Max Disaster ), many of which are historical journals , Marissa Moss' first novel is filled with both. Set in Egypt, The Pharoah's Secret is narrated by fourteen year old Talibah and is both a mystery and adventure that unwinds like the Nile. Talibah's mother died five years earlier and, in his grief, her father, an historian specializing in ancient Egyptian literature, has left her to take care of her brother Adom, now ten. When conferences coincide with the kids' spring break, he finally takes them on that trip to Egypt he and his wife had always planned. Small but strange things begin to happen almost the moment Talibah sets foot in Egypt. In front of their hotel, an old woman presses a cold stone object into her had, but Talibah is so taken with the woman's golden snake bracelet that she does not even notice at first. Through a seri