Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Recent Reads that I liked:

Rock Star Superstar by blake Nelson
For those interested in music, being in a band and the recording industry, this is a great read. For those who like great teen novels, this is a great read. Pete's life is all about music, and high school, and music, and his girlfriend Margaret, and music, and his Dad, and music. Get the picture?

The Books of Fell by M.E. Kerr
Due to a mysterious accident, John Fell ends up at a prestigious boarding school on the East Coast. Due to a word with a certain amount of letters, he ends up in a club at this school. Due to more strange coincedences, John Fell ends up like his private investigator Dad, trying to solve a mystery.

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Cole is an angry, smug and defiant bully. When he beats up a classmate to the point of brain damage, Cole finds himself awaiting a jail sentence. Instead, Garvey, a Tlingit Indian parole officer comes into his life and recommends another way called Circle Justice. The victim, the offender and other community members come together to decide on the most healing solution for everyone. Cole's fate is in their hands and even though he doesn't really care about Circle Justice, he realizes that it might be a way to stay out of jail. So, they banish him to a remote Alaskan Island for a year where he is attacked by a mysterious and legendary white bear. Does he survive? Read it and see!

Monday, March 28, 2005

I just submitted a review to SLJ for the book Ten Thousand Charms by Leander Watts. I didn't like this book at all, and there are many reasons I have to justify this statement. Reason #1: The plot was not believable. It is sort of a cross between a fairy tale and historical fiction, although there are no markers to place the story in the context of history. It is about the king of a fictional country near Germany, who is overthrown because he is more interested in strange phenomena such as meteorites and why crows gather in huge numbers. He takes his three daughters to the new world, where they settle in "York State." There the middle daughter Thea catches the notice of a thing living in the woods. It has a name: Scalander, but it is never defined as a being. Then there is a young boy named Roddy who is the apprentice at a ropeworks. He is connected to the royal family when he meets them by chance and it is discovered that he can understand the language of the aforementioned crows that have gathered. Confused yet? Well hang on, because Scalander (the thing) has a mother - Mother Fecula. And my coincidence, Mother Fecula is the housekeeper and cook for those working at the ropeworks. Mother Fecula and Scalander need a woman of royal blood to be Scalander's queen (but exactly what he reigns over is never mentioned), and he chooses Thea. And then Mother Fecula puts a curse on the king who falls ill of a fever, and Thea has no choice but to agree to marry Scalander so the curse can be lifted. So Thea goes to the woods and Fecula lifts the curse. But before Thea and Scalander can marry, King Ivars and Roddy find them and destroy Scalander by holding a torch in his midsection (which I guess must have been vapory or something.) But hold on, there is another plot line. While Roddy, the king and Thea are all galavanting off in the woods, the master of the ropeworks comes to the kings house and steals all of his silver from the two remaining daughters. And then later Mother Fecula (while distraught at the demise of her son) convinces the master to give the money back. That makes sense, right? And all of this in 225 pages!

Reason #2: Every page is filled with similes and metaphors. One one page there are 2 similes that describe Roddy's bed. Is this really necessary?

Reason #3: I probably should stop there. Those are reason's enough.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I am probably the last person to know about this, but I found a really neat blog today through YALSA-BK. It is at: http://yaarc.blogspot.com/ and it is for YA Librarians who have ARCS and are willing to share! If you browse through and see something you are dying to read, you just leave a comment with your name and address, and the ARC will be sent to you! Of course, you can't keep them, but it is a great way to read stuff before it comes out...especially those hard to get ARCs. Check it out!

Friday, March 18, 2005

How cool that Kelly DiPucchio checked out your review! I love Bed Hogs , it's been such a hit at storytime. Also, I have flagged Liberty's Journey as a title to booktalk at the elementary schools in May. How cool!

I fell in love with some new picture books...

Ish by Peter Reynolds
Were you ever told that you weren't good at something and then never wanted to do it again? Well, that's what happens to Ramon when his brother can't decipher one of his drawings. Thanks to his sister, Ramon finds his way back to drawing.

Little Owl by Piers Harper
You can't go wrong with this sweet and fuzzy touch & feel book!

Old Coyote by Nancy Wood
This is a more serious story about an old coyote who is near the end of his life. He reflects on his life, his howling, his friends, his mate, his children and grandchildren, and his den. He asks Sister Moon to guide him on his journey to a new world. The illustrations are gentle and rough at the same time. It's a beautiful book!

Cactus Soup by Eric A. Kimmel
This is a retelling of the old Stone Soup tale. Instead of a stone, a cactus needle is used to start the soup. Then they add chiles and tomatoes and beans and garlic and salt and Mmmmmm...it's lunchtime--see you!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hey, Kelly DiPucchio just sent me a lovely email thanking me for the review of What's The Magic Word ... which means 2 things, 1 she is nice and cool and you should really buy the book now for your library and as a gift for any young children you know and 2 PEOPLE read our blog! besides us I mean!
And also here is a plug for her website which is funny (esp the bio) and fun and colorful.
http://www.kellydipucchio.com

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fish by L.S. Matthews is a captivating read. The story is timeless with its unnamed characters, unnamed setting, unnamed war and a mysterious Fish. A boy and his parents, who seem to be employed by a group similar to "Doctors Without Borders," are attempting to escape the war torn country that they have been living in for years. They hire a guide, known as Guide, and start trekking on foot to the border of a nearby country. Just before they start their journey, the young boy finds a beautiful fish in a puddle that has formed in a recent rainstorm. The fish is an omen of some kind and the travelers decide to bring the magical creature with them. For a while, the fish is carried in a cooking pot tied to the boy's back. Later it is moved to a water bottle. Everyone is surprised that the fish fits into the water bottle.

Even more suprising about this book is the difference between the boy's mother and father and the stereotypical mothers and fathers we see, read about, hear about. His mother is definitely the stronger of the two parents and she proves herself in many ways throughout the story with her quick thinking and inhuman strength. The father, though his heart is almost always in the right place, is constantly bumbling up situations. The boy recognizes these things in his parents, but they do not make him love either one more or less. I believe that it is uncommon for a child to recognize weaknesses in parents at such a young age. However, in the turbulent times this family lives through, their strengths and weaknesses are more exposed and palpable because they are facing real danger and issues of survival at every moment of their journey. One thing is for sure, this is a family that loves and cares about each other, despite anyone's faults.

To find out the fate of the Fish, you've got to read the book!

Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig

The first chapter of this book is so sad and crushing that I almost didn't go on. Jenny Traig is a woman who had undiagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at a time (the early 80's) when the disease was hardly known about. And to top it off, Traig also had a form of the disorder called scrupulosity which is OCD with a religious bent. Raised Jewish, she was severe to cruel on herself in observing the Orthodox form of Judiasm. She took the whole separating meat and dairy to another level by having separate toothbrushes and toilets for meat and dairy. She starved herself, washed herself until her skin cracked and bled, and subjected herself to a whole host of rules that one without OCD would look at as crazy.

And while this first chapter made me feel so bad for the author, she goes on in her memoir to relate other parts of her childhood and adolescence that were humorous. She belonged to a family of crafters, and her sister actually painted a plate (saucer, to be exact) that said, "Suck it." Crafty yet crass. I loved it, and incidentally, was inspired. Her OCD did a lot to make her miserable, but she never once plays the "poor me" card, and her struggles to her are matter-of-fact, and just another obstacle in the trials of growing up. The memoir was sad, yes, but funny, warm, and totally worth the anguish of the beginning.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What's the Magic Word by Kelly DiPucchio
Join Little Bird on a windy adventure through the barnyard. Newly hatched this fluffy little fellow is swept up by a gush of wind and plunked down in front of a stall. Little Bird wants in but he doesn't know the magic word ... which according to the cow in the stall is "moo moo". When the wind sweeps him up again and drops him in front of a hive Little Bird tries using "moo moo" but the bees will have none of it ... and Little Bird is carried off in the wind again. The saga continues with Little Bird trying to get in to a pig sty, a doghouse, and an owl's nest. Little Bird finally makes it home to the joy of his mama who lets him know the true magic word. This rhythmical story would be perfect for storytime. (Spring, farm, wind, animal sounds or no theme at all!) And the rhymes "work" which is always a plus! The illustrations by Marsha Winborn are so cute and evoke the humor of the story without being cartoony. I love the picture on the first page of the just hatched Little Bird. DiPucchio is also the author of Liberty's Journey which is an excellent book in my opinion.

Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin and illustrated by Fumi Kosaka
Simple line drawings filled in with pastel-like/vibrant colors complement the simple rhyming text which chronicles all the winter attire a young person needs to go out in the snow. "Under my coat my sweater's blue. My sweater's red. I'm wearing two." Sound like winter 2005??? Once all the pants and boots and hats and mittens are on our little protagonist needs to be extra careful once outside: "And when I walk I must not fall because I can't get up at all."
Another storytime keeper. (clothes or winter).

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Amber, Jazz and Geena have it all. The newest styles, mobile phones, all the coolest music. Their Dad gives them whatever they want, whenever they want it. They are the epitome of cool in Bindi Babes by Narinder Dharmi. The girls are good at everything; they get good grades, they have good friends and things are just about perfect. But hidden under that perfect image is a lot of sadness. The girls' Mother passed away about a year ago and ever since then their Dad barely talks with them, they NEVER talk about their Mother and they avoid their grief as much as they can. That all changes when their Auntie comes from India to help take care of them. She holds Amber, Jazz and Geena accountable for their behavior, refuses to order take-out food, insists on a curfew and becomes the Mother that they are missing. Do the girls resent their Auntie's behavior? Yes! Read Bindi Babes to see what lengths the girls will go to to get their Aunt back to Indai!