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Showing posts from December, 2018

Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney, 272 pp, RL 4

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Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney Review Copy from Knopf Books for Young Readers
Seven things about this book ------------------------------------------------- Instead of keeping a diary, Annie makes lists.Annie is sure her family had to move from Brooklyn upstate to the small town of Clover Gap. Annie thinks she caused this move by (accidentally) telling her principal she didn't live in her school district.Annie has an incredible memory but decides to hide it from the kids at her new school.Annie makes a new friend, Zora, but Zora's old friend, Amelia, is jealous.Annie's old friend, Millie, has stopped writing to her.Annie discovers a secret about her parents.
Annie's Life in Lists is truly a novel composed (almost entirely) of lists, written by fifth-grader, Annie. And it is totally engaging, fresh and a delight to read. I hung on to Mahoney's book for months, hoping I would get around to reviewing it, finally handing it over to the first of two fourth grad…

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, illustrated by Janet Burroway

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The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, illustrated by Janet Burroway Original Copy from my childhood Review Copyof the Board Book Edition from Houghton Mifflin Originally published in 1972 and newly available in a large trim size board book, The Giant Jam Sandwich is a picture book from my childhood that I never forgot. This is probably because, not only is this a book about food, it's a book about GIANT food. That said, Lord's story is a masterpiece of rhyme and creative cleverness that clearly has staying power almost fifty years after making its debut.  The Giant Jam Sandwich begins, "One hot summer in Itching Down, Four million wasps flew into town." The frustrated villagers come together at a town meeting to find a solution, with the baker suggesting they trap them inside a giant jam sandwich, since that is what wasps love to eat. 

Besides the giant food, I love (as a child and adult) the coming together and collaboration of the villagers of Itching Down and the…

The Brambly Hedge Complete Collection by Jill Barklem, 248 pp, RL 4

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The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem Review Copy from HarperCollins This slipcased collection puts all eight Brambly Hedge books, the first four of which were published in 1980, into one beautiful book for the first time. Originally published in a charmingly small (6 inch x 7 inch) trim size, this larger format serves Barklem's intensely detailed illustrations even better. While the works of naturalist Beatrix Potter will come to mind when you first glimpse Barklem's work, or maybe Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, the world Barklem created is truly her own. In the introduction, Barklem, who passed away in 2017, writes, "Brambly Hedge is my ideal world. The way the mice live is  completely natural, which is how I think life ought to be. They appreciate and use everything that grows around them. Theirs is a loving and caring society, but the mice are not just serious and worthy. They have FUN! Life is a series of picnics and gatherings, parties and outings…

A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander, 192 pp, RL 3

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A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander, illustrated by Kelly Murphy Purchased from Barnes & Noble Rosa Díaz is the daughter of Athena Díaz, the renowned librarian appeasement specialist in a world where the presence of restless ghosts is the norm. It is Athena's job to calm the ghosts and show them proper respect, in the process finding them appropriate places to reside. Growing up the daughter of appeasement specialists in a world of ghosts, observant, smart Rosa has skills and talents of her own. And she also knows the costs of trying to banish ghosts instead of appease them, having lost her father when he attempted - and failed - at that very thing. And maybe that's why Athena decided to move to Ingot, the only town around without poltergeists, specters, and spirits. However, the properly unhaunted town of Ingot doesn't stay that way for long.  At the town's very inaccurate Renaissance Festival, Rosa and her new friend Jasper Chevalier, squire to Sir Morie…

PLAY ALL DAY with Mudpuppy Puzzles & Games

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When my kids were little, we traveled to Chicago once a year to visit their great-grandmother, and I always filled their backpacks with new games, puzzles, activity books and toys to keep them engaged on the five hour flight. During those years, I also worked as a bookseller at a store where Mudpuppy products were in plentiful supply. Not only can I vouch for the quality and creativity of Mudpuppy products personally, I can now speak to them professionally! I took all the puzzles and games reviewed here into my library and let the (sometimes grubby) little hands of my students all over them! Two recesses a day, about twenty to thirty kids each recess, and these toys have stood up to the wear and tear of kids! Also, my students absolutely love every puzzle and game and are completely engaged with every one.
Mini Memory Match: Transportation. With twenty-four pieces and twelve matching pairs, this game is great for little kids. The pieces, which are marvelously illustrated, are thick and…