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I was actually searching for a fantasy book, but stumbled upon a good old-fashioned ghost story instead.
Little, Kimberly Griffiths. 2014. The Time of the Fireflies. New York: Scholastic.
Larissa Renaud doesn't live in a regular house. As she tells it,
"My parents moved us into the Bayou Bridge Antique Store—a fact I do not brag about. It's embarrassing to admit I share the same space as musty, mothball-smelly furniture, dusty books, and teacups that dead people once drank from."
Sometimes she wishes they had never come back here from Baton Rouge, but her family has a long history in the bayou town, much of it is tragic.
When Larissa receives a mysterious call on a broken antique phone, she's got a real mystery on her hands.
"Trust the fireflies,"
the ghostly girl tells her, setting Larissa on a strange and eerie path of discovery. Can Larissa right the wrongs of the past to save her family's future?
Though it highlights rural poverty, bullying, and new sibling issues, The Time of the Fireflies
is at heart, a ghost story with a remarkably likable and resourceful protagonist.
To avoid giving away too much, I'll merely mention that readers may see some similarities to Rebecca Stead's Newbery Medal-winning, When You Reach Me
. The spunky Larissa and author Kimberly Griffiths Little will draw you into the rich world of the Louisiana bayou until you too, are carried away by the fireflies.
(My copy of the book was provided by the publisher as an Advance Reader Copy.)
If you're a librarian or book blogger, the Cybils
are looking for judges. Check it out here.
I've done it in the past. It's hard work, but a great opportunity and some fun as well!
Have a great day!
Torday, Piers. 2014. The Last Wild. Penguin Audio. Narrated by Oliver Hembrough.
Like Eva Nine, in the WondLa series, Kester Jaynes finds that he can communicate with creatures of the wild - an ability that is particularly intriguing in a dystopian world where all animals are presumed dead - killed by the incurable red-eye virus. Kester finds himself the leader of his own "wild," the ragtag remnants of the animal world. Flora and fauna are pitted against commercial efficiency and industrialism in this first book of a planned trilogy.
The plot is occasionally predictable, but slow patches are often brightened by the humorous antics of The General (a likable but militaristic cockroach) and a befuddled white pigeon who speaks nonsense that is also somehow prophetic.
The author and narrator hail from the UK, so the reader or listener should be prepared for numerous British words that are uncommon here in the US (wellies, trainers, boot, windscreen, plaits, etc.).
My review of The Last Wild for Audiofile Magazine appears here.
I'd like to say that I'm going on vacation, but it's really more of a migration—the annual road trip to deliver my two Jersey girls safely to their respective universities in North Carolina and Florida.
I know that I should have 8 days worth of reviews ready to post while I'm gone, but I don't work that far ahead. So, enjoy the end of your summer, and I'll see you next week!
As always, my thanks for your continued interest.
Below is my review from the August, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.
GRIMES, Nikki. Words with Wings. 1 CD. 41 min. Recorded
Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490609676. Playaway, digital
Gr 3–5— Gabriella is a dreamer, more like the father she visits than the mother she lives with every day. Since her parents separated, Gabby and her mother have moved, and she has enrolled in a new school. Always the class daydreamer, she's prepared for the teasing that she knows will come. Mention the word "butterfly," and her thoughts may soar out the classroom window on the imagined wings of a beautiful creature. Other words create thoughts that are more pensive. Sometimes it's easier to retreat into her imagination than to face her circumstances. Gabby's expectations for her new school are low, but her teacher and a quiet boy in the back of the room offer some hope in her new surroundings. With encouragement, perhaps a pen and paper can anchor the "words with wings" that set Gabby's mind adrift. Mutiyat Ade-Salu is perfectly cast for this story in verse, told in the first person in the present tense story. Her voice is youthful and likable, and as Gabriella's thoughts soar, plummet, and wander, so too does the voice of Ade-Salu. A perfect book for poets, dreamers, and reluctant readers.
Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Napoli, Donna Jo. 2014. Storm. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Storm, told in first person, present tense prose, presents the story of the biblical flood through the eyes of 16-year-old Sebah, an unlikely stowaway aboard Noah's massive ark.
The story unfolds in chapters that correspond with the biblical timeline - 40 days of rain, 150 days for the waters to recede, 10 months until the mountains become visible, 40 days until the release of a bird, etc.
(All can be found in the 7th and 8th chapters of Genesis.)
After chronicling Sebah's three week struggle to survive the deluge with her companion Aban, the chapter titled, "Day 22," ends,
It's another creature. Like the first, but larger. And obviously male. He perches in a round hole high in the side of the ship. There is a line of such holes. And I passed another line below as I climbed.
A whole ship of these creatures.
I think of letting go, disappearing into the sea. I let loose one hand and look down. The sea is far below. I feel the energy seep from me. It would be so easy to just give up.
The creature behind me nudges my dangling hand.
I reach for the male's hand, and I am half pulled, half shoved up through the hole and into the ship.
Ms. Napoli clearly put an enormous amount of thought into the logistics of preparing for a massive exodus of animals with little or no possibility of resupply for more than a year. She details the grueling work of the voyage. While Sebah struggles to remain hidden and survive in the enclosure of the bonobos
, Noah and his family have a huge responsibility to the ark's inhabitants. The animals must be secure from each other, their enclosures must be cleaned, they must be fed, they must have fresh water. Their survival is imperative. The family collects rainwater, they dry and ration supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables for the ark's herbivores, they fish to obtain fresh food for the carnivores. The family's nerves grow frayed under the stress. They begin to argue and turn against one another. The hidden Sebah sees much,
"Respect!" Noah claps his hands above his head, and dust flies through the dim light. "And haven't you learned arguing gets us nowhere?" He takes his ax back from Ham. "The bottom deck stinks. I have to breathe shallow to stand going down there. Everyone has to help Japheth and me clean it out. Today! Let our wives feed and water the animals of this deck and the top —while we shovel waste. Noah goes up the ladder with Japheth at his heels.
How you will perceive this book will depend greatly upon how you perceive the biblical story of the great flood. Arguments could be made for classification as historical fiction, alternative history, survival fiction, dystopian fiction, or fantasy. However you choose to view the book, it cannot be denied that it is a thought-provoking look at the nature of humans and animals, of loss and love, of despair and hope.
An Author's Note, Timeline from Genesis Verses, and Bibliography are included. Visit the author's website http://www.donnajonapoli.com/ya.html#STORM
to read an excerpt.
(I'm not a Russell Crowe fan, but now I think that I might want to watch the movie, Noah
, just to see another perspective.)(My copy of the book was provided by the publisher, and was an Advance Reader Copy)
First there was Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again (a companion book to the movie, Dolphin Tale) that detailed the rescue and rehabilitation of the baby dolphin, Winter. Now there is Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship.
Yates, David, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff.
2014. Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Anyone who has seen the movie, Dolphin Tale, knows the story of Winter, the rescued dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tail. Now, in the book Hope for Winter (and in the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2 movie), people will learn of Hope, another bottlenose dolphin rescued in circumstances remarkably similar to those of Winter's, and destined to bring them together.
In simple language, this paperback picture book tells the story of Hope's rescue and new life at the aquarium,
When the cast and crew finished filming Dolphin Tale, they threw a party at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They were happily celebrating, when they received an urgent call —a baby dolphin was on her way to the aquarium. She was very sick and might not survive the trip. A group of veterinarians, dolphin trainers, and volunteers left the party and started getting prepared. When the baby dolphin arrived, it was clear that every minute counted.
Back matter includes several pages of information on Clearwater Marine Aquarium
, two pages of "Amazing similarities between Winter and Hope," and "Dolphin Facts."
Fans of the original movie, animal enthusiasts, and teachers should love this one. (Publication date: August 26, 2014)
You can see all of my book reviews (even the ones that haven't made it to the blog) on my LibraryThing account.
Telgemeier, Raina. 2014. Sisters. New York: Scholastic.(Advance Reader Copy)Sisters
is the companion graphic novel to the award-winning Smile
. In Sisters
, Raina, her mother, younger sister Amara, and little brother Will are on a road trip to Colorado. Past experiences and grievances, both large and small are unwelcome baggage on this family road trip. Raina and Amara feud for much of the trip, until one event brings the family together.
Prior events are relayed as flashbacks and appear on yellow-tinted pages.
I have sisters and I have daughters. I can attest to the fact that Raina Telgemeier tells it like it is. It's not the good times that make a family strong, but rather, how it deals with the bad times... and if everything turns out well, the bad times make the best stories.Publishers Weekly has a 7-page preview of Sisters on their blog.
On a shelf near you, August 26, 2014.
I received my copy of Sisters
at Book Expo America. Raina was kind enough to pose for a photo as she signed it. One lucky reader from my book club will be taking it home to preview on Wednesday!
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Lendler, Ian. 2014. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)
A hilarious, graphic novel version of "Macbeth" as performed and attended by the denizens of The Stratford Zoo after the keeper has left for the evening.
Join them in their seats (avoid the skunk!), grab a snack of rotting carrion from the vendors, and enjoy the play! Panels featuring frequent audience commentary are done in darkened tones to denote the dim lighting of audience seating. The play's action onstage is presented in bold color.
Intermission occurs when the zookeeper makes an unexpected late-night sweep of the zoo's grounds.
If you're a humor or comic book fan, Lendler and illustrator, Zack Giallongo, present this Shakespeare classic "as you like it" - brief, humorous, and to the point. Teachers and parents, this is a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for the young people in your life.
(Alternatively, read it yourself and then head out to see some Shakespeare in the park this summer! I'll be seeing Shakespeare by the Sea.)
Due on shelves in September. This is the first in a series. Look for "Romeo and Juliet" next.
Below is my review of This Is Not My Hat
, as it appears in the July 2014, edition of School Library Journal
This book offers a wonderful opportunity for cross-curricular instruction - adding music knowledge and appreciation to language arts. Think of it as "Peter and the Wolf lite" for young listeners!Listen to an excerpt from This is Not My Hat on Audible's website.
KLASSEN, JON. This Is Not My Hat. 1 CD w/tr book. 34 min.
Scholastic Audio. 2014. $29.95. ISBN
PreS-Gr 3— Opening with "This hat is not mine. I just stole it," a small fish takes the listener into his confidence as he makes his getaway toward a place where he thinks that no one will ever find him. This unapologetic thief, his annoyed (and very large) victim, and a stool pigeon crab tell this wryly humorous and cautionary fish story. The outcome contains enough ambiguity that sensitive listeners can believe that the robber has more options than becoming a fish dinner. Irish narrator John Keating does a great job with a title that relies heavily on sight gags. Appropriately, his impudent robber is not particularly likable. Nevertheless, the listener empathizes with the brash little chap. A string ensemble, in a manner similar to Peter and the Wolf, accompanies the narration. A cello represents the larger fish, who never speaks, while a violin characterizes the smaller fish. The music ebbs and flows to match the story. Two versions are included on the CD. A gentle marimba riff signals page turns on the first version. The accompanying hardcover book is a "must" to truly enjoy this Caldecott Medal winner. Humor fans will love it.
Copyright © 2014Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
"Finish this sentence: I'm a librarian. I ..."
|Mrs. Joan Fertig, Hungarian-born librarian at the Westinghouse plant|
Collins, Marjory, 1912-1985, photographer
Consider these rather simplistic statements that people might make about various degreed professions:
- I'm a doctor. I care for people's health.
- I'm an educator. I teach people new skills.
- I'm a lawyer. I assist people with important legal matters.
- I'm an accountant. I advise and assist people in the management of financial matters.
Now, finish this sentence: I'm a librarian. I ...
...and therein lies a problem. Although we are regulated in many states and hold master's degrees in our field, many (most?) people have no idea what librarians do. Even we
can't distill it into a single sentence! As a whole, I feel that we're doing a poor job of promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of our profession in today's high tech era.
Here are some conversations I've had recently:
- The other day I had some uncomfortable dental work (no one asks dentists what they do all day!). My face was numb, my jaw hurt, and I was complaining about going to work. "Don't worry about it," said my mother-in-law, "just find a nice corner where you can sit and read all day." (I wish!)
- At a previous dental appointment, I was speaking with the hygienist and the conversation turned to various state regulations. When I mentioned that NJ librarians must have state-issued certificates, she said, "Whatever for? Why would a librarian need to be regulated?" (Among other reasons, because we are degreed professionals entrusted with the privacy and confidentiality of our patrons, the lifelong education of people of all ages, the proctoring of college level examinations, and the proffering of important and often sensitive information.)
- Out with friends the other night, the topic of my job came up in conversation; someone said, "Oh, right ... Dewey Decimal System and all that." (It's the "all that" that takes up my time)
So - if you're not
a librarian, what do you
think we do all day? If you are
a librarian, can you finish my sentence for me so I'm ready the next time. Please?Note:Want to know what the American Library Association has agreed that all librarians should know? The list is here, known by its official title of "ALA's Core Compentences of Librarianship."
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign points out many reasons why it's important to have diversity in books. One of the reasons is that people like/want/need to see themselves reflected in the books that they read. Another is that people like/want/need to see the world through the eyes of people other than themselves. Whatever your reason for seeking diversity in books, I hope you find it in Lowriders in Space.
Camper, Cathy. 2014. Lowriders in Space
. New York: Chronicle.
Illustrated by Raul the Third.(Advance Reader Copy)
Quirky and unique, Lowriders in Space
is a graphic, sci-fi novel that extols the virtues of working hard, working together for a common goal, and striving for success despite the odds of achieving it. It's also funny and stylish, and peppered with Mexican-American slang as it shines a rare spotlight on "lowrider" culture.
The cast of characters includes an impala, an octopus, and a mosquito:
- "Lupe Impala was the finest mechanic south of Vacaville. She could rescue a dropped gasket, notch a belt, or electrocharge a sparkplug, swish a swashplate or wrangle a manifold with a twist of her wrench a flick of her wrist."
- El Chavo "Flapjack Octopus wielded the wettest washcloth North of the Salton Sea. When he polished a car, he spun over the paint job like an eight-pointed ninja star flying through the night."
- "Elirio was the best detail artist around. People were a little afraid of Elirio Malaria."
They're best friends. They work together. They can count on each other. But can they build a lowrider to win the Universal Car Competition? They can when they accidentally use rocket parts and get a truly cosmic makeover!
Besides its truly unique and fun characters, I like that Lowriders in Space
features adults. The general rule is that books for kids will be about kids. That's fine as a general rule, but a quality children's book about adults is a breath of fresh air. When I was a very young kid, my
favorite things to read were Archie and Veronica comic books and Nancy Drew mysteries. They had cars and boyfriends and nary a parent in sight (unless you count Nancy's father, who was more like an early version of an ATM than a parent).
has that, too. My favorite panels?
El Chavo (the octopus) sitting in his new bucket seat (a bucket!). "¡Que suave!"
Elario rescuing the group from a black hole with ... Wite Out!
What else do I like about Lowriders in Space
? The subtitle is "Book 1." I sure had fun reviewing this one. I look forward to seeing more of this unconventional trio.
Back matter includes a dictionary of the Mexican-American slang and scientific terms used throughout the book (it is
a sci-fi novel, after all).Note: My advance copy was in black and white, with only a small sampling in color. See full color pages on the book's FB page. [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Low-Riders-in-Space/487615068027769?sk=photos_stream] Though I'm a Jersey Girl now, I lived for many years in Southern California. If you've never been stopped at a red light next to one of these bouncing babies, you're really missing something! Want to see some lowrider action? Check out this YouTube video, "60 Seconds of Low Riders."
Duffy, Chris, ed. 2014. Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Above the Dreamless Dead is an illustrated anthology of poetry by English soldier-poets, who served in WWI. They are known collectively as the "Trench Poets."
Poems by famous writers such as Wilfred Owen and Rudyard Kipling are illustrated by equally talented comic artists, including Hannah Berry and George Pratt. The comic-style renderings (most spanning many pages), offer complementary interpretations of these century-old poems. The benefit of hindsight and perspective give the artists a broader angle in which to work. The result is a very personal, haunting, and moving look at The Great War.
|This is the "case" for Above the Dreamless Dead. |
This, and many other interior photos at 00:01 First Second.
Look for Above the Dreamless Dead
in September, 2014. Thanks to First Second
, who provided this review copy at my request.
|French soldiers of the 87th Regiment, 6th Division, |
at Côte 304, (Hill 304), northwest of Verdun, 1916.
Public Domain image.
Note: Although this is not an anthology for children, it should be of interest to teens and teachers. It could be particularly useful in meeting Common Core State Standards by combining art, poetry, history, and nonfiction.
Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Captain Underpants fans can rejoice. The "Eleventh Epic Novel" is coming this summer with everything kids expect - time travel, fiendish villains, a plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, and of course - Flip-O-Rama, "the world-famous cheesy animation."
In Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, readers will be brought up to speed on past adventures, as George and Harold re-live (and change) a previous adventure involving the Turbo Toilet 2000. Super Diaper Baby will make a cameo appearance in a comic by George and Harold, and readers will be introduced to Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold. There's even a 3-panel Flip-O-Rama.
It's ridiculous, preposterous, and downright silly - kids will love it.
On shelves August 26, 2014.
What's next? Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot.
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Krull, Kathleen. 2014. What's New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos. New York: Scholastic. Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.What's New? The Zoo?
is an illustrated overview of zoos that combines history with hard science and social science. Kathleen Krull outlines the history of zoos, and offers insight into what compels us to keep animals, what we've learned from them, and what has changed in zoos since the founding of the first known zoo,
4,400 Years Ago, The Sumerian City of Ur, in Present-Day Iraq
The king of beasts lunges and roars. The King of Ur roars right back, feeling like the ruler of all nature. How delicious to wield his power over dangerous animals! It's the world's first known zoo, and all we're sure about (from clay tablets in libraries) is that is has lions.
From this beginning, Krull highlights transitional moments in zoos throughout the ages and across the globe. Just a few examples include:
- Ancient Egypt and Rome where zoos were created to impress
- Ancient China where the zoo was a contemplative and sacred place
- Sweden where the science of zoology was established in 1735
- The U.S. National Zoo where the concept of zoos protecting threatened species was introduced
- South Africa's Kruger National Park where the protection of rhinos was so successful that rhinos were delivered to other zoos
- Germany, 1907, where the "cageless zoo" concept is introduced
(Did you know that Aristotle wrote the first encyclopedia of animals?)
On most pages, humorous, watercolor illustrations nestle around paragraphs of simple font against white space. Several pages, however (including one depiction of fifteen buffalo waiting for a train at Grand Central Station, 1907), are double-spreads with many amusing details.
The very talented Kathleen Krull never disappoints! If you like your science accessible and entertaining, this is the book for you.A SLJ interview with Kathleen Krull on the history of zoos.
Watson, Jude. 2014. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)
After my book club meets tomorrow, my Loot will be long gone. Here's a quick preview before it's snatched up.
It begins with a foreboding prophecy regarding stolen semiprecious moonstones:
You will be caught tonight and made to pay.
Death by water, before the moon is set.
Before the passage of thirteen years, the two birthed together will die together.
Two of the prophecies have already come true. Two thieves are dead.
Now, 12-year-old March, son of a thief, must figure out the mystery with no other assets than a getaway bag, some cryptic clues, and remembered advice from his deceased father,
Never trust a guy who says, "Trust me."
Never give your real name to a cop.
Never let someone steal your getaway car.
If you think nothing can go wrong, you'd better think again.
March, his twin sister, and fellow foster home escapees, Izzy and Darius, will match wits with jewel thieves, fences, cops, and millionaires in a desperate search for answers and the mysterious moonstones. This is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller with plenty of plot twists and intrigue—a globe-trotting trek with its roots in the underbelly of New York City.
Due on a shelf near you June 24, 2014.
For grades 3-7
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A 2% Effort is not Sufficient for a 100% Life
Why children should participate in summer reading programs at the library
In public schools throughout the country, a student is taught to read in Grades K-3. Beginning in Grade 4, there is a fundamental switch. A student is no longer learning to read, but instead is reading to learn.
A school year in my state of New Jersey consists of 180 days. Kindergarten through Grade 3 is 4 years of schooling, or 720 days (assuming 100% attendance). The approximate average life span is 78 years or 28,470 days. Roughly stated, those 720 days amount to only 2% of a child's lifetime. Think about that. Only two percent of a lifetime is allotted to impart the fundamental reading skills which positively or negatively impact the remaining 98% of a life!
A student who cannot read or read well upon entering Grade 4 will be at a distinct disadvantage, possibly for the rest of her life. (see related articles below)
Public libraries around the country stand ready and able to help children attain reading success. In New Jersey, as in many states, librarians are licensed professionals with a Master of Library (or Information) Science degree. We are trained to assess the needs of those in our community and provide opportunities for early and lifetime learning. During the year we typically offer story time programs which promote early literacy skills, as well as book clubs, computer classes, and a host of other educational fare. In the summer, youth services librarians turn our attention to preventing the "summer slide," the loss of reading skills that occurs during the summer break from school. We do everything short of standing on our heads to encourage kids to read, and have fun doing it!
Summer reading clubs at the public library are fun, they're free, and they pay lifetime benefits.
Thanks to school superintendent Peter Morris, for helping me to frame this conversation.
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Today is a perfect day to highlight Mary Cronk Farrell's latest book which chronicles the actions of Army and Navy nurses serving in the Phillipines during WWII. Although amazingly, none of the nurses perished during their harrowing years on the forward battle lines and in prison camps, their service to their country and the fighting men was nothing short of heroic.
Farrell, Mary Cronk. 2014. Pure Grit: How American WWII Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams.
Pure Grit is a narrative nonfiction account, told with compelling human details. Photographs, quotes, correspondence, newspaper accounts, maps and military records were combined to create a gripping story that breathes new life into a little-known story that is fading from our collective memory. Farrell was very fortunate to have interviewed the last surviving nurse of the seventy-nine who were taken as POWs by the Japanese.
Containing a Foreward, Introduction, Glossary, List of Nurses, Select Timeline, Endnotes, Bibliography, Web Sites for More Information, Acknowledgments, Image Credits and an exhaustive Index, Pure Grit could easily be considered a scholarly treatise on the topic — but Farrell has chosen to present her topic in a manner that simply cannot be ignored: a gripping story with personal and human details that will appeal to anyone over age 12 with even a passing interest in history. Highly recommended.
Links of interest:
As you enjoy today's kick-off to the summer season, perhaps celebrating with friends or family or enjoying a well-deserved day off from work, consider participating in the National Moment of Remembrance.
From the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs:
...in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579 ...
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
While I'm away getting great new books to review, you can find me blogging for ALSC today.
Have a great weekend!
Rosenstock, Barb. 2014. The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek. Ill. by Terry Widener
(Advance Reader Copy)
If you know only one baseball statistic, you likely know its one "unbreakable" record - Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. According to the Author's Note, its probability for occurrence is once every 746 to 18,519 years. It was the most talked about news story of 1941, even edging out news of the war raging in Europe.
Oil-painted illustrations evoke the bygone era; references to new immigrants and mention of the war in Europe place the story in the context of history. However, The Streak is essentially a story of baseball, one man, and his favorite bat, Betsy Ann.
When DiMaggio was up, he strolled to home plate. He didn't pull at his cap, scuff his feet, or make Betsy Ann dance behind his head. He rubbed dirt on his hands, tapped the plate just once, and set his wide-legged stance. For a minute, Joe stood perfectly still, then he and Betsy Ann went to work.
The book includes: Author's Note, Statistics, Source Notes, Bibliography, Acknowledgments
Baseball, it's my favorite season of the year. Enjoy The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero
, and be sure to take in a baseball game this summer. You may witness history in the making. You never know.
Other reviews at
If you're looking for another great picture book about Joe DiMaggio, the 1941 baseball season, or "the streak," be sure to check out The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the Record-Setting Summer of '41
.This YouTube link will let you see Joe DiMaggio's famous swing and hear Les Brown's popular song of the day, "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio."
It's not that I haven't been reading lately...
I've just been writing book reviews that have to be appear in traditional print before I can post them here. I also was busy traveling, attending my state library conference and Book Expo America.
Here are some great things that will be coming up soon:
- For kids that can't wait for The Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Book #9 due out in November), The Wimpy Kid School Planner will be out in June. If this can't keep your student using an organizer, probably nothing will.
- Loot by Jude Watson will also be available in June. I'm reading it right now, and I can tell that it's going to be very popular. Advance reviews have been great.
- SYNC's free downloads continue all summer. If you're an audio book fan, you really should take advantage of this. A classic book is paired with a similarly-themed modern book. Both can be downloaded for free, forever, for you. You can't beat it.
Now through June 11,
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)
Beginning June 12,
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)
by Kirby LarsonJosephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
by Patricia Hruby PowellThe Song of the Quarkbeast
by Jasper FfordeThe Last Wild
by Piers TordayThe Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
by Sheila Turnage
And coming in September,
Hyman, Zachary. 2014. The Bambino and Me
. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra. Read by Jason Alexander.(Advance Listener Copy)
Huge baseball fan, Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame), reads this fictional memoir of 10-yr-old Yankee fan,George Henry Alexander, in The Bambino and Me
. The story simply begs
to be read by Jason Alexander who certainly needs no accent coaching to create this believable boy from the Bronx in the summer of 1927.
Babe Ruth has been sold to the Yankees and George is his biggest fan. When he gets a ticket to a Yankees/Red Sox game for his birthday, he couldn't be more excited! But then comes the error - his Uncle Alvin has given him a Red Sox jersey to wear to the game! His mother insists that he wear it. Enemy colors! What could be worse?
The audio version is filled with the wonderful sounds of baseball and summer - jazz music, the chatter of kids on the street, the crack of a bat, the roar of a crowd. If this audio book were a baseball game, it would be a perfect one.
Recommended for ages 6-9, and unabashed lovers of America's Pastime.
This is "hands-down" the best audio book that I've listened to since Three Times Lucky
"And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces."From Field of Dreams, 1989. Directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson, based upon the book Shoeless Joe (1982) by W. P. Kinsella
Note: Although it looks wonderful, I can't offer comment on the printed version of The Bambino and Me. I picked up the CD at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia, and asked if I could have the accompanying book. I was told that I could only have the CD, which I tossed in my bag where it sat unnoticed and unremembered until this week when I had a lull between audio book reviewing assignments. I'm so glad I remembered it!
I don't feature many early chapter books here, but I had the opportunity to review this one for the June, 2014, issue of School Library Journal. An excerpt of my review is below.
McDonald, Megan. 2014. Stink and the Shark Sleepover. 2 CDs. Brilliance Audio.
Read by Barbara Rosenblat. About 1 hour on CD or mp3 download.
Stink's family and several of his friends have won a sleepover at the local aquarium. Everything is going swimmingly until the aquarium guide tells the story of "Bloody Mary," the undead vampire squid locked behind the door marked "Do Not Enter." Between worrying about Bloody Mary and the fact that his best friend Sophie's hermit crab is missing, Stink may never fall asleep!Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Interspersed throughout are facts on sharks and other aquatic creatures, and a brief history of the "Bloody Mary" ghost story featured in the book.
The first few books in the Stink series were narrated by Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson). Barbara Rosenblat is the current narrator. Listen to an excerpt here
.Read a sample here.
There are now seventeen books in the Stink series, and he even has his own website, Stink Moody
. Both are testament to the popularity of the fictional Judy Moody's little brother.
I don't have a Nonfiction Monday post today, but you can check out all of today's offerings at the Nonfiction Monday
blog, always a great resource for the latest in children's nonfiction.
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Just in time for Independence Day, Doubleday Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids) has released two new titles by Caldecott Medalist, Peter Spier. He has taken the words of two of our nation's greatest symbols, the Constitution and "The Star-Spangled Banner," and created two sprightly illustrated, perusable picture books,
We the People: The Constitution of the United States and The Star-Spangled Banner.
In We the People
, it is the preamble to the Constitution that creates the story. Short phrases ("We the people of the United States") appear on each double-spread page, accompanied by many small pen and watercolor vignettes relating to the phrase. On many pages, such as "promote the general Welfare," the small paintings contrast our past and future. One set of images shows a man with a three-cornered hat delivering the post on horseback. The facing image is that of a U.S. mail truck stopping at a line of rural mailboxes.We the People
has a copy of the original document as its endpapers, and contains a brief history of the Constitution and its entire text in the back matter. Names and images of the Constitution's signers are also featured.
The Star-Spangled Banner features large, often double-spread paintings for each line in our national anthem. The illustrations depict the 1814 Battle of Baltimore which inspired the lyrics. The first two verses comprise the illustrated story, while the remaining two verses, along with the sheet music are included in the back matter. Also included is an image of the original hand-written poem, a receipt for the 30' x 40' flag that flew over Fort McHenry (made and sold by Mary Young Pickersgill for the sum $405.90), a photograph of the battered Fort McHenry flag when it arrived at the Smithsonian Museum in 1907, and of course, historical information regarding the flag and battle. The endpapers feature "A Collection of Flags of the American Revolution and Those of the United States of America, Its Government, and Its Armed Forces."
At 48 pages each, and a sizeable 12.5" x 9", these books offer young readers plenty of opportunity to peruse their many small characters and details. Both books should have a place in every school.