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1. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 18

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a few more than usual, as I was traveling late last week, and then had a big burst of catch-up links on Monday and Tuesday. Lots of links this week about diversity and about libraries. 

Book Lists and Awards

RT @tashrow James Patterson wins the 2014 Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Award. http://buff.ly/1l1S0Yk #kidlit

Make 'Em Laugh: Gut-Busting Picture Books That'll Have 'Em Rolling in the Aisles | @FuseEight for @NYPL http://ow.ly/vUt6f #kidlit

Booklist for Easter from @cjfriess | Favourite picture book bunnies http://ow.ly/vPivI #kidlit

Chapter Books for the New Chapter Book Reader | @ReadingWithBean http://ow.ly/vPhZO

20 Books for Tween Boys Reading Up » Children's Book Reviews by @StorySnoops http://ow.ly/vPjw7 #kidlit

So You Want To Read Middle Grade: #Nonfiction for Middle Grade by Sarah Albee @greenbeanblog http://ow.ly/vPfr1 #kidlit

15 Adorable Children's Books For Your Little Architect from @buzzfeed via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/vPsvr #booklist

A fine list: 22 Great Non-fiction Books for Boys (& Girls) from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/vPgjr #nonfiction #kidlit

The top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2013, from @GuardianBooks + @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/vN1Bm #censorship

Great Books About Eggs and Chicks | @sljournal #booklist http://ow.ly/vMQAl #kidlit

Diversity + Gender

We Need Bigger Megaphones for #Diversity in #KidLit | "Why aren't more people" speaking up? @catagator @bookriot http://ow.ly/vPeKy

Becoming More Diverse – A #Library Journey by Crystal Brunelle @librarygrl2 @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vVOsw #diversity

Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's go, urges @MitaliPerkins http://ow.ly/vUtir #yalit #diversity

Diversity in young adult literature: Where's the 'Mexican Katniss'? ask #yalit authors @cnn http://ow.ly/vMQMW via @PWKidsBookshelf

Stacked: TeenGirls Reading: What Are They Seeing (or Not Seeing)? asks @catagator http://ow.ly/vUsRL #yalit

Men: let us know about female characters you admire | @GuardianBooks campaign #LetBooksBeBooks http://ow.ly/vPgUg

Boys Read Girls (Let Books Be Books) @bookzone http://ow.ly/vPgIy via @charlotteslib #kidlit #gender

RT @ElisabethElling "Are Teen Girls Seeing Themselves Reflected in What They Read?" #yalitclass http://feedly.com/e/YKzivZyN

Sigh: "Being male still seems to present an advantage when it comes to recognition, prestige, and awards" in #kidlit http://ow.ly/vMRKY

eBooks / Online Reading

It’s an #Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vVO9q via @tashrow

RT @tashrow Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say – Washington Post http://buff.ly/1qkngTN #reading

Author @MitaliPerkins is proposing once a week Device-Free Day. Are you in? http://ow.ly/vN1m3

Events (inc. National Poetry Month)

TBD2014BannerSupport @readergirlz Teen Literature Day & "Rock the Drop", @CynLeitichSmith @melissacwalker http://ow.ly/vUsyl

5 Great Poetry Collections for Kids #NationalPoetryMonth@jenndon @5M4B http://ow.ly/vVNQZ

10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About #Poetry by @smozer at @KirbyLarson blog http://ow.ly/vPjjb

Forgiving Buckner by John Hodgen, #poetry @missrumphius | "Can baseball be the true harbinger of spring?" http://ow.ly/vPiKz #redsox

NationalPoetryMonthPoetry Challenge for Kids {Week 3} from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/vPiro #NationalPoetryMonth

Kidlitosphere

This post made me happy + sad| Children’s Literature Online at a Glance: A Look Back at Friends Long Gone @fuseeight http://ow.ly/vN1Um

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Lovely! The Top 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Stop Reading Children’s & Young Adult Literature by @EsMteach @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vPhG5

Growing Up As an Only Child, Fictional Characters Were My Siblings | @BookishHQ http://ow.ly/vMS12 via @PWKidsBookshelf

Dare to Disturb the Universe: Madeleine L’Engle on Creativity, Censorship, Writing + Duty of #kidlit | @brainpicker http://ow.ly/vMRsK

Schools and Libraries

This is interesting | (Much of) Parental Involvement (at school) is Overrated @NYTimes Opinionator http://ow.ly/vPqwg

Shanahan on #Literacy: How Much In-Class Reading? (On reading aloud and silently in the classroom) http://ow.ly/vPhhi

How VA Middle School Librarian + Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15k Meals for Students in South Sudan | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vUhW5

Thanks to NBA Star LeBron James, Akron Public Schools Has One of the Largest E-Libraries in Country | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vUh45

12 ways to Save Money at Your Public #Library from @AboutKidsBooks - Borrow Kids Books eBooks Audiobooks DVDs http://ow.ly/vRqJ3

Betsy @FuseEight has set up a very cool #Literary Salon @NYPL on Podcasting Children’s Books w/ @KatieDavisBurps + more http://ow.ly/vRq7K

RT: AboutKidsBooks: 6 picture books about libraries and librarians and 1 article about how to save money at your public library. http://abt.cm/1hHgTtt

What you should do to help libraries in crisis (instead of holding a spontaneous book drive) — @lizb http://ow.ly/vN2ar

Think libraries are dying? Think again @cnn shares #library photos and reports on their enduring popularity http://ow.ly/vPb68

Reasons why you should be taking your child to the #library from @HuffPost + @tashrow http://ow.ly/vN1ru

In Arizona, After Girl Scouts’ #Library Project Set on Fire, Public Support Pours In | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vMQqc

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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2. We Were Liars: E. Lockhart

Book: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages: 240
Age Range: 12 and up

We Were Liars, e. lockhart's upcoming young adult novel, is fabulous. I couldn't put it down, particularly the last third. On finishing it, I had to go back and immediately re-read large chunks of the book. This is something I never do. Yes, it is that good.

Really, if you are an e. lockhart fan, or a fan of suspenseful young adult fiction of any stripe, that should be enough. You should stop reading here. Because this is NOT a book that you want spoiled. You want to go into it knowing as little about it as possible.

The protagonist isn't wholly likable. She's wealthy, beautiful and spoiled (with heavy parallels to the Kennedy family). She doesn't even know the names of the people who work for her extended family every summer. But it doesn't matter. She is compelling anyway - I promise.

The primary setting, a private island near Martha's Vineyard, isn't one that will resonate with most readers' personal experience. But that doesn't matter, either. Lockhart draws the island so clearly, and the characters so sharply (for good and ill) that you feel like you're there with them. 

In terms of mature content, there is some kissing, and some drinking, and some talk of (but no action regarding) sex. But this is a powerful book, and I would not give it to kids under 12. 

And honestly, that's all I have to say. Pre-order it, read it when it's available, and try not to read any detailed reviews in the meantime. Highly recommended for teen and adult readers, male or female. I won't stop thinking about We Were Liars for a while. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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3. Pottytime for Chickies, Bedtime for Chickies

Books: Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies
Author: Janee Trasler
Pages: 24 each
Age Range: 2-4 (padded board books)

Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies, both by Janee Trasler, are part of a new series of padded board books focused on issues of interest to toddlers and early preschoolers (upcoming titles discuss the arrival of a new chick, and the development of table manners). Both books feature three little round chicks, apparently parented by three farm animals (Pig, Cow, and Sheep). The parent figures all look male to me, though this isn't completely, which makes for a nice, subtle message about varied types of families. 

In Pottytime for Chickies, the chicks are, as you might suspect, learning how to use the toilet. They have their own ideas about what the potty is for, however, and when left to their own devices they do things like swim in the potty (ick!), and use the toilet paper like a trapeze. Each time, one of the parents returns, passes out hugs or kisses, and tries to get them onto the right track. So, for example, we have:

"Pottytime, Chickies.
Just two things.

First wipe your tail feathers,
then wash your wings.

Goodbye, Sheep.
Shut the door.
We know what the potty's for."

Followed by jumping off the back of the potty onto a pile of towels, followed by hugs and gentle redirection from Sheep. And in the space of a few short pages, the chicks figure out what to do. So, no, not the most realistic potty training book that parents can add to their arsenals. But it is pretty fun! My already potty-trained daughter pealed with laughter over the chicks in the potty. 

Bedtime for Chickies tackles another common issue - the ways that kids will delay going to bed. Even as the adults are settling into their own beds, the chick are thirsty, have to go potty, and need a story, to the increasing chagrin of the three tired adults. Eventually, each chick ends up falling asleep in the lap of a similarly sleeping grown up animal (a more realistic ending than the first book). 

One thing I liked about Bedtime for Chickies was the way the author teased kids, by making them think that a rhyme was coming when it wasn't. Like this:

It's bedtime for chickies.
It's bedtime for sheep.
It's bedtime for pig and cow.
Let's all go to ..."

My four-year-old immediately chimed in with "sleep." But in face, on the next page the text is:

"cheep, cheep, cheep.
We can't sleep.
We have to go potty."

The disruption in the text mirrors that disruption in the actual bedtime process. Nice.

Trasler's illustrations aren't realistic, of course, but the three round chicks are cute and kid-friendly, and the adult animals are quirky (and wear clothes). The adults come across as more nurturing in the potty book, vs. just exhausted in the bedtime book (both of which seem appropriate to me). The colors are soothing - not to bright, and the energy of the chicks is apparent on nearly every page. 

I think this is a nice addition to the ranks of toddler-focused board books. These take a very light tone, and focus more on the universal humor of things kids do than on "teaching" a certain behavior. And I do love that the adult caregivers are apparently male and of different species than the kids. Not only does this make the book more visually interesting, it quietly tosses stereotypes aside (an usual thing in the board book world). Recommended new baby gifts or first through third birthdays. I look forward to seeing the other books in this fun new series.  

Publisher: Harper (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copies from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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4. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 11

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Book Lists

Stacked: Revisiting YA Verse Novels: A 2014 Guide to the Format http://ow.ly/vwXku #yalit

Always good choices | Waterstones Children’s Book Prizes 2014 | @tashrow http://ow.ly/vwXAV #kidlit

A roundup of Rapunzel retellings from @alibrarymama http://ow.ly/vCtot #kidlit

Diversity

Color Your Bookshelf: 39 Diverse Board Books to Give a Baby or Toddler from @SproutsBkshelf http://ow.ly/vx18R #kidlit

On not stereotyping | Joseph Bruchac responds to "You Don't Look Indian" @CynLeitichSmith http://ow.ly/vwV9z

Entertainment Weekly — Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White — thoughts on @ew article from @lizb http://ow.ly/vzC4X #diversity

Events (National Poetry Month)

Poetry writing for kids: 14 Ideas from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/vzBCc #NationalPoetryMonth

For #NationalPoetryMonth, Five Teen Poet Ambassadors Will Present their Works Across the Country | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vzD4h

Growing Bookworms

Nursery Rhymes: Not Just for Babies! (Activities for older and younger kids)| @ReadingRockets via @librareanne http://ow.ly/vwMHP

How Can a Child Learn to Write in 30 Minutes? (after lots of groundwork) by @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/vwZ7a #literacy

Relevant for many! The Lesson I Learned From My Daughter About Reading Choice by @littlemamab @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vwWR2

Great advice from @SunlitPages Raising Readers: Teaching Children to Read With Expression http://ow.ly/vzCnu #literacy

Miscellaneous

Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3) — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/vCuGS#kidlit

Very cool! See a time-lapse video of LEGO Fenway Park being built | BetaBoston http://ow.ly/vwAqG via @tonkazona #RedSox

MagicAndMLK3My photo w/ Magic Johnson + Martin Luther King III at We Day CA, in blog post by my friend Jonathan White http://ow.ly/vwB90 #WeDay

OK, this is very fun! From @escapeadulthood | Dude Transforms Deck Into Pirate Ship http://ow.ly/vzACo

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

The 9 Most Mischievous Literary Pranksters, Ranked | @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow http://ow.ly/vx0wm

Perspective, people. Thoughts from a mother + author on why she can't respond to everyone's emails from @haleshannon http://ow.ly/vwUtU

Yes (most anyway). Should celebrities stop writing children's books? | The Observer @Guardian http://ow.ly/vzKex via @PWKidsBookshelf

LA Times - 'Fault in Our Stars' writer John Green has a good read on teens, tech by @Gwenda via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/vzK3U

How I learned to stop worrying and love the @Kindle @DailyDot via @tashrow http://ow.ly/vx0Th

Schools and Libraries

Nice! New Jersey Librarians Get $116,000 in Makerspace Grants - @ShiftTheDigital http://ow.ly/vzCV6

SummerReadingKids-1Infographic about positive impact of library #SummerReading programs as reported by parents http://ow.ly/i/5a9ww @SantaClaraLib @alscblog

Nice infographic about the positive impact that library #SummerReading programs have on kids http://ow.ly/i/5a9qN @SantaClaraLib @alscblog

Parenting

Food for thought | I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical | @BunmiLaditan @HuffPost http://ow.ly/vwYp1 via @FreeRangeKids

Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It | Peter Gray at Psychology Today http://ow.ly/vwWcx

What Parents Should Know About Kids’ Social Networking from @StratfordSchool http://ow.ly/vwXwZ

Programs and Research

News: @Scholastic Launches Classroom and School-wide Registration for Students to Join the #SummerReadingChallenge http://ow.ly/vwJ8h

Join the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge - @CoffeeandCrayon http://ow.ly/vzBqR #STEM

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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5. Moldylocks and the Three Beards: Noah Z. Jones

Book: Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Book 1: Moldylocks and the Three Beards
Author: Noah Z. Jones
Pages: 80 (illustrated early reader)
Age Range: 5-7

Moldylocks and the Three Beards (yes, Beards) is the first book in a new heavily illustrated early chapter book series by Noah Z. Jones called Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe. Princess Pink has seven older brothers, and her parents were so happy to have a girl that they named her "Princess." Their last name is "Pink." She is the exact opposite of her name:

"Princess Pink does not like fairies. She does not like princesses. And she REALLY does not like the color pink.

Princess Pink does like dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, monster trucks, and cheesy pizza." 

When her refrigerator turns into a portal to another world one late night, Princess finds herself in the Land of Fake-Believe. Her hair turns pink, but her new friend Moldylocks thinks that it looks cool. Hungry, she sets out with Moldylocks to visit the home of three Beards she knows, in the hope of sneaking some chili. A mix of expected and unexpected events follow, culminating in a daring rescue. And at the end, when Princess is back in her own bed, there's a suggestion that it just might have all been true. 

This series is designed to appeal to first and second grades, with a grade 2 reading level. But I have to say that my just-turned four-year-old adores Moldylocks and the Three Beards as a read-aloud. When she realized that it was a satire on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she didn't quite get it, but she pealed with laughter anyway. She liked trying to predict what would happen next. 

But really, I do think this this is going to be a very nice series for new first and second grade readers. It's funny, and just a little gross. (Eating chili that a spider has been bathing in? Yuck! Green, moldy hair? Yuck!) It riffs on standard fairy tale tropes (there's a Mother Moose, for example, with a Tunacorn), and has entertaining illustrations. It's a nice introduction for kids to the concept of fractured fairy tales, and the way that they confound expectations. 

Princess is about as non-stereotypical as she she could be, with medium brown skin, ragged shorts, and multi-colored socks. And I have to say, she looks pretty cool with the pink hair. She runs away from the Beards at first, but goes back bravely when her new friend needs her. In short, she's a delightful heroine for the modern primary schooler. And really, despite being about a girl named Princess Pink, the story is certainly boy-friendly, too. 

Moldylocks and the Three Bears is something of an early reader/graphic novel hybrid. Much of the story is told through colorful, comic-like pictures and text call-outs. But there's traditional narrative on every page, too. Princess's words are shown in pink, while Moldylocks' are green. The girls are wide-eyed with expressive features. The Beards are a little odd, but funny. The spiders are surprisingly cute. And Moldylocks' green-tinged apron, well, that's a bit gross, but funny, too. The vocabulary is quite straightforward, and should be accessible to second graders. There are plenty of clues in the pictures as to what is going on anyway. 

In short, I think that The Land of Fake-Believe series is going to be a nice addition to the ranks of early chapter books. I've even checked online already to see when the next book will be out (not until August, alas). School and public libraries will definitely want to give Moldylocks and the Three Beards a look. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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6. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 9

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (picture book through middle grade) and two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. I also have a post documenting some recent literacy moments with Baby Bookworm. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read two middle grade, three young adult, and five adult titles (one a short story). You'll notice that most of these were read on Kindle or MP3. This is because I've been on a bit of an exercise kick, and the only time I've had for reading has been while on the exercise bike (reading my Kindle) or while walking (listening to my MP3 player). 

  • Marcia Wells (ill. Marcos Calo): Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile. HMH Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade. Completed March 29, 2014. Review to come.
  • Richard Capwell: Witches Bureau of Investigation, Book 1. Amazon Digital Services. Middle Grade. Completed April 6, 2014, on Kindle. I just downloaded the second book in this series, and will talk more about both books after I read that one. 
  • Shannon Hale: Dangerous. Bloomsbury. Young Adult. Completed March 28, 2014, on Kindle.
  • E. Lockhart: We Were Liars. Delacorte. Young Adult. Completed March 30, 2014, digital ARC on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Jennifer Brown: Torn Away. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Young Adult. Completed April 4, 2014, digital ARC on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Maeve Binchy: Whitethorn Woods. Anchor. Adult Fiction. Completed March 30, 2014, on MP3.
  • Maeve Binchy: A Week in Summer. Random House. Adult Fiction (short story). Completed March 30, 2014, on MP3.
  • Ben Winters: The Last Policeman. Quirk Books. Adult Mystery. Completed April 2, 2014, on Kindle.
  • Richard A. Thompson: Lowertown. Forty Press. Adult Mystery. Completed April 8, 2014, on Kindle.
  • Laura Lippman: After I'm Gone. William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed April 9, 2014, on MP3.

I'm currently reading Hate List by Jennifer Brown on Kindle and Missing You by Harlan Coben on MP3. Baby Bookworm is still enjoying all things Mo Willems. At lunch today, out of nowhere, she suggested a new Willems book: Don't Let the Pigeon Climb a Tree. She was acting it out and everything ("No, Pigeon, you'll fall."). She also still loves Little Critter, Fancy Nancy, and Curious George books. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested to see more. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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7. A Few Recent Baby Bookworm Literacy Moments

My Baby Bookworm is not such a baby anymore. She turned four this weekend (with much celebration, and many cupcakes). So far, our efforts to ensure that she loves books seem to be paying off. Here are a few recent tidbits. 

We were very nearly late for her birthday party (which we held out at her gymnastics place), because she wanted me to read her "just one more" Little Critter book. We incidentally let each child select a book as a party favor. The Fancy Nancy books were the most popular.

She had to stop in the middle of opening presents to ask Daddy to read her the newly unwrapped Mo Willems book (The Pigeon Needs a Bath). Yes, I did get that on video. When things do not go her way, she says: "Hmmpf." She does not seem to realize that she picked this up from the Pigeon. But we do. 

She has started using words like "mischievous" when describing the behavior of her dolls . She doesn't always use big words correctly, but she is clearly trying. 

As for me, I find it rewarding (if occasionally inconvenient) that she requests to have books read aloud at all hours of the day. We've also learned that when she becomes particularly insistent about us reading to her around dinnertime, it means that she is extra-tired. She wants to get her books in before she falls asleep. Because that's what bookworms, whether babies or not, do. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

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8. Ten Eggs in a Nest: Marilyn Sadler

Book: Ten Eggs in a Nest (Bright and Early Books for Beginning Readers)
Author: Marily Sadler
Illustrator: Michael Fleming
Pages: 48
Age Range: 3-7

Ten Eggs in a Nest is an early reader from the Bright and Early Books collection. In my house, we've found it to be quite educational (and fun) for a pre-reader, too. The premise of the story is that Gwen the chicken and Red Rooster are going to be parents. Out of supersition ("It's bad luck to count your eggs before they hatch.") Gwen won't tell Red how many eggs there are. As the eggs hatch, in increasing size batches (starting with one), Red rushes off to the worm store. Each time, before he gets back, there are more chicks, with a total of ten. 

This book works as an early reader. The words and sentence structure are simple (though not boring), and there is plenty of repetition. It also works as a counting and simple addition book. Like this:

"ONE plus TWO makes THREE baby chicks!" said Gwen.
ONE! TWO! THREE!"

And, laterL

"ONE plus TWO plus THREE plus FOUR makes TEN baby chicks!" clucked Gwen.

As a read-aloud, it's enjoyable, though I did find myself skimming by the fourth or fifth read. I think for new readers the repetition will provide scaffolding, and work well. The capitalizing of the text of the numbers helps to highlight those, too. 

I think what made my daughter ask to read it again (and again) was a combination of the fun of doing the counting, and the charm of Red Rooster. He's so proud when his babies are born - it's really adorable. Like this:

"Red strutted into Worm World.
He held his head high.
He puffed his chest out.
Pinky Pig was behind the counter."

There's also repeated humor when Red is surprised and says that you could have knocked him over with a feather. That, together with the "don't count your chicks before they are hatched" gives parents a chance to introduce the idea of sayings.

Michael Fleming's illustrations are boldly colored and inviting, with thick outlines and a spare use of texture. The birds are not representational, but they are all cute, especially the strutting red. My daughter noticed that the sign in Worm World is written with worm shapes, and she was quite charmed by this detail. 

all in all, Ten Eggs in a Nest is an early reader done well. It's definitely worth a look, and worth adding to school and public libraries.I look forward to trying it again when my daughter is actually ready to read. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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9. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 4

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are many links to posts on National Poetry Month, so I've given them a separate category. 

Book Lists

A Tuesday Ten: Girls will be Boys (speculative fiction where girls dress as boys) | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/vmlGA #kidlit

A nice list | Books That My Children and I Treasured When They Were Tiny by @carriegelson @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/voN72

Stacked: Get Genrefied: Realistic Teens on the Big Screen (no, it's not all @realjohngreen ) http://ow.ly/vjBvP #yalit

A Censored History of Ladies in YA Fiction by @catagator @bookriot http://ow.ly/vbsnE #yalit

Read Aloud Chapter Books for 3rd Graders - @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/veMcQ #kidlit

Don't miss this week's round-up of Middle Grade Sci Fi and Fantasy from around the blogs @charlotteslib http://ow.ly/vbqkA #kidlit

At Stacked: Girls Across Borders: Reviews from the Outstanding Books for the College Bound List http://ow.ly/v8Nvv #yalit

Diversity

Diversity in Publishers Weekly’s 2013 Young Adult Bestsellers | @diversityinya @malindalo http://ow.ly/vbsjg #yalit via @catagator

Events

IbbyHappy International Children's Book Day! @rosemondcates has the scoop! http://ow.ly/vmks5

Planning to attend BEA? See: Thoughts on BookExpo America and BookCon from @SheilaRuth http://ow.ly/v8KUF

Growing Bookworms

12 (Almost) Effortless Preschool #Literacy Activities from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/voMTo

Not in my house! Are We Rushing Kids Out of Picture Books? | asks ShelfTalker http://ow.ly/vjAQz via @PWKidsBookshelf

How to get British kids reading - Essay at http://FT.com via @librareanne http://ow.ly/vjD3j #literacy

I do look forward to these books! Sunlit Pages: Reading Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary to kids http://ow.ly/vfeaH

A parent's experience in growing an initially reluctant reader by @janetgurtler @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vbqCZ

Something I'll keep an eye on | LEGO StoryStarter: Creative New Language & Literacy Tool http://ow.ly/v8NL1 via @TrevorHCairney

Miscellaneous

Forget about the NSA for a minute: The internet of things could kill the little white lie @gigaom via @cmirabile http://ow.ly/vbpGt

National Poetry Month

NationalPoetryMonthThe Book Chook: Ten Top Tips to Engage Kids with Poetry for #NationalPoetryMonth http://ow.ly/voMKp @BookChook

Tanita Davis will be blogging "Some Kind of Poem A Day" for #NationalPoetryMonth http://ow.ly/vjBJo

Liz Scanlon is doing a Haiku a day for April. Here's Haiku 1: http://ow.ly/vjBFb #NationalPoetryMonty

Sherry at @semicolonblog is launching #NationalPoetryMonth with a post about Anaphora poems http://ow.ly/vjBML

March into spring with #NationalPoetryMonth by Angela Verges at the family that reads together http://ow.ly/vjBWw

On Beyond Haiku: New Forms for #NationalPoetryMonth@fuseeight http://ow.ly/vmlem

.@KellyFineman is reviewing #poetry books for #NationalPoetryMonth | FIREFLY JULY by Paul B. Janeczko http://ow.ly/vmkBA

The first entry in her Our Wonderful World #poetry series from @MaryLeeHahn on Giza Pyramids http://ow.ly/vjBXQ #NationalPoetryMonth

Day 2 of @MaryLeeHahn #NationalPoetryMonth celebration of Our Wonderful World features Stonehenge http://ow.ly/vmkVi

The #nationalpoetrymonth Our Wonderful World celebration from @MaryLeeHahn visits The Colosseum http://ow.ly/voNhK

At The Miss Rumphius Effect, first of Science Poetry Pairings for #NationalPoetryMonth - Darwin and the Galapagos http://ow.ly/vjCI4

Today's Science #Poetry Pairings at @missrumphius = Frogs and Toads http://ow.ly/vmlsV #NationalPoetryMonth

Continuing Science #Poetry Pairings for#nationalpoetrymonth, @missrumphius looks at the Nature of Science http://ow.ly/voNu6

First of Thirty Days of Student Poetry from @JoneMac53 at Check It Out http://ow.ly/vjCGk #NationalPoetryMonth

For the launch of #NationalPoetryMonth, @KirbyLarson has @JoneMac53 talking about #poetry http://ow.ly/vjBRe

At GottaBook, @gregpincus first post for 30 Poets/Day 1 - Jack Prelutsky and Alice Schertle http://ow.ly/vjCEi #NationalPoetryMonth

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Thoughts on Newbery from @medinger | sparked by Patrick Ness’s point on "Crappy Books About Important Things" http://ow.ly/vbs0G

I could relate to this post by @snarkywench on Unplugging from John Green & Rob Thomas. I want the story, not process http://ow.ly/vbrSh

Schools and Libraries

Berkeley Eighth Graders Raise Over $78K on Kickstarter, Build a School Library | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vjDeH

Shanahan on #Literacy: To Play or Not to Play (in K and Pre), That is the Question http://ow.ly/vfdO1

Teacher-tested strategies for encouraging boys to read, from @ReadingWithBean http://ow.ly/veAED #literacy

Interesting ideas! Social Media and Libraries: The Case of the Overdue Library Book | @molly_wetta http://ow.ly/vbqdO

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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10. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill: Megan Frazer Blakemore

Book: The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill
Author: Megan Frazer Blakemore
Pages: 320
Age Range: 8-12

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill is a historical mystery novel set in a small Vermont town in 1953. Hazel Kaplansky lives with her parents in a home adjacent to the graveyard that they manage. She's prickly and smart, and doesn't fit in very well, despite having grown up in Maple Hill. At a time when everyone is nervous about Russian spies and possible nuclear attacks, Hazel is suspicious of the new gravedigger, a man with the too-banal-to-be-true name of Mr. Jones. Hazel soon enlists lonely new kid Samuel Butler in her investigation. But she soon learns that Samuel has secrets, too, which everyone seems to know about except Hazel. Hazel and Samuel's developing friendship is set against a backdrop that includes a McCarthy investigation of the men in the local factory, and corresponding swirl of local rumor and innuendo.

I think that Blakemore does a nice job integrating the historical time period with Hazel's story. She introduces lots of details, but keeps all of them tied closely to Hazel's perspective. For instance, she captures Hazel's mortification when she sneezes during an air raid drill. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill covers everything from the scars that remain from the depression and influenza epidemic to how people treated unwed mothers during and after World War II to the fear and gossip triggered by McCarthyism. And she slips in little tidbits, too, like the fact that Alaska isn't a state yet. 

There is a bit of an old-fashioned feel to The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill, as you would expect from a book so decisively set in the 50s. Bike riding, microfiche searches at the library, only mothers expected to show up at school events, etc. I think that the presence of a graveyard, together with active spying, will still keep kids interested, but there's always that risk with historical fiction that it will appeal more to adults than it does to the kids. There's a pretty clear sub-text in some of the scenes, where the adults, particularly Hazel's parents, talk over her head. I suppose that kids who understand this will have the chance to feel superior. Certainly I would expect young readers to be surprised at how different the world was 60 years ago. 

Anyway, I quite liked Hazel, despite (or perhaps because of) that fact that she isn't completely likable at all. She makes mistakes, she runs away with her assumptions, and she is flat out wrong about most things. But she's smart and loves books and doesn't really try to fit in - she is utterly herself. When a popular girl invites Hazel, unexpectedly, to a birthday party, she attends only so that she can conduct her investigation. She attempts to turn a mausoleum into a fallout shelter. She does remind me a bit of Harriet the Spy, writing things down in a little notebook, though the lives of the two girls are quite different. 

Here's a snippet, to give you a feel for Hazel:

"What was in that box?

Hazel sat up in the tree chewing her lip. Something was not on the up-and-up. Last year she had read every single one of the Nancy Drew mysteries, and just like Nancy always did, she had a hunch, but you didn't need to be a young sleuth like Hazel and Nancy to know that when a person locked something up, he was hiding something. And just like that, Hazel had her first real mystery." (Chapter 2)

and:

"It should come as no surprise that Hazel loved the library. She loved everything about it, even the smell, like paper, and paste, and sometimes, when Richard Begos was there, a little bit like pipe smoke." (Chapter 6)

Despite the presence of some mean-spirited, gossipmongers in the town, there are several wonderful adult role models for Hazel, including a service station owner and a librarian. I also liked the fact that the conflict that Hazel has with a couple of mean girls is not resolved to any great degree. This comes across as realistic, and Hazel never feels like she needs their approval anyway. 

A hint of a mystery is left open at the end of The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. It's not a cliffhanger, just something to keep the reader guessing. Kids who enjoy mysteries or realistic historical fiction (like Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now) will definitely want to check this one out. I enjoyed it as an adult, and I think that I would have loved it when I was ten (having been something of a geek like Hazel). Although this is Hazel's story, the engaging cover should help it to appeal to boys, too. Recommended! 

Publisher: Bloomsbury (@BWKids)
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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11. Shel Silverstein Books for National Poetry Month

I remember one of my nieces having a huge Shel Silverstein phase a few years back. They were the first books that she was excited to share with us, and I appreciated them for that. My grandmother also developed a strong enjoyment of Silverstein's poems late in her life. I still have her copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. That is the beauty of Silverstein's work - his poems are timeless and appeal to people of all ages. 

This year, Harper Collins has released 40th and 50th anniversary editions of a number of Silverstein's books, including a special edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends that contains 12 extra poems. You might consider any of these for your National Poetry Month commemoration. Though I don't think there are very significant differences from earlier editions, these new editions are very crisp and shiny. I'm happy to have them for my daughter (with thanks to HarperCollins). 

1. Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies: 50th anniversary edition. These are particularly quirky, featuring short, illustrated pieces like this:

Long-Necked Preposterous

This is Arnold,
A Long-Necked Preposterous,
Looking around for a female
Long-Necked Preposterous.
But there aren't any

2. Where the Sidewalk Ends: 40th anniversary edition with 12 extra poems. This book contains lots of classic, kid-friendly Silverstein, including the Boa Constrictor song. I remember listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary's version of this when I was young (on a record player). The 12 extra poems were not in the original edition, but were apparently added as part of the 30th anniversary edition, and included here. And of course this:

"... Yes, we''ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends."

3. Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back: 50th anniversary edition. This one is an illustrated story (told in chapters), and not a collection of poems. Though Silverstein does certainly play with language. Here's the start:

"And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about a very strange lion--in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met. Now, where shall I start this lion tail? I mean this lion tale. I suppose I should begin at the moment when I first met this lion." 

4. A Giraffe and a Half: 50th anniversary edition. This is an illustrated, cumulative nonsense-filled story, suited to younger listeners. Here's a snippet from mid-way through:

"If he put on a shoe
and then stepped in some glue...

you would have a giraffe and a half
with a rat in his hat
looking cute in a suit
with a rose on his nose
and a bee on his knee
and some glue on his shoe."

5. The Giving Tree: 50th anniversary edition. While this story of continuing self-sacrifice is not my personal favorite, there are certainly people who like it. 

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). These books were received from HarperCollins. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

 

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12. A GIft for Mama: Linda Ravin Lodding and Alison Jay

Book: A Git for Mama
Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Alison Jay
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 to 8

When A Gift for Mama arrived, my daughter took one look at the cover and said: "We have another book about that boy." She wasn't strictly correct, but she did recognize that the boy on the cover of this book looks a lot like the boy from The Cloud Spinner, by Michael Catchpool. Both books are illustrated by Alison Jay, and she has a very distinctive illustration style. This works well, because of the tone of the two stories is similar.

In A Gift for Mama, a young boy in old-time Vienna buys a gorgeous yellow rose as a gift for his mother's birthday. Oskar thinks that the flower is "the perfect present" until an artist offers to trade a paint brush for the flower. Oskar decides that if he paints a picture for his Mama, that will be "the perfect present." But then a conductor needs the paintbrush as a temporary baton, and offers Oskar something else in return. And so on. Oskar's mood fluctuates as these trade keep occurring, some without his consent at all, but his innate optimism keeps him thinking that each thing is "the perfect present." 

An author's note at the end of the book gives brief historical context to the Viennese figures that Oskar has encountered, including the Empress Sisi and the artist Gustav Klimt. Understanding who these figures are transforms Oskar's story into a tour of Vienna in 1894. This information isn't really necessary to appreciate the book, but it does add another layer. 

In truth, my almost four year old was a bit baffled by this book, asking "Why does everyone keep taking the boy's things?". But this didn't stop her from wanting to read it again. Oskar is an appealing character, with his up and down moods, and his clear love for his mother. There's a scene in which Oskar experiences a particular disappointment, and my daughter could absolutely relate to his hunched posture (exactly the same way she hunches over sometimes when things don't go her way). 

Lodding's text is full of exclamations and drama, and uses relatively advanced vocabulary. Like this:

"With a tug on the reins, the carriage lurched to a roll.
"Mama's book!" cried Oskar. "It's ruined."

But as Oskar looked up, there was the Empress herself!
She held out a box. "Candied violets," she said kindly. "To say sorry for your book.""

Oskar bower. "Thank you Your Highness!"
The dainty, delicious sweets were the perfect gift for Mama!"

Here Oskar's words as he declares the book ruined, as well as "the perfect gift for Mama" are in slightly larger text, encouraging the adult reader to emphasize those sections. I like books that give cues like this for read-aloud. 

But what I love are Jay's sepia-toned illustrations. They have faint jigsaw lines across each image, like one would see on a very old painting. The people are a bit rounded, wide in their waists, and the use of perspective emphasizes Oskar's powerlessness as the large (and famous) adults manipulate him. 

A Gift for Mama is going on our "keep" shelf. Next to The Cloud Spinner, of course. The conbination of story and pictures leaves readers with a warm feeling. And the fact that there is a bit of historical knowledge hidden in the book adds a special bonus. Recommended for ages four and up for home or library use. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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13. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 28

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Authors and Illustrators

2 of our faves | Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Featuring Kady MacDonald Denton and Rosemary Wells http://ow.ly/v8NkW

This is cool! Pippi Longstocking Author Astrid Lindgren Gets a Spot on Sweden’s 20 Krona Note @GalleyCat via @tashrow http://ow.ly/v8Lal

Happy Birthday, Kate DiCamillo! from @kidlitwhm http://ow.ly/uXeXd #kidlit

Barbro Lindgren Wins 2014 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award http://ow.ly/uXBLh #kidlit via @PWKidsBookshelf

Book Lists

Recommended Superhero Comics for Kids by @delightchildbks http://ow.ly/v5jez #kidlit

10 Counting Books set in the Garden from @growingbbb http://ow.ly/v5jjD #kidlit

Stacked: Crossing the Line: Adult-Teen Relationships in YA Fiction and Beyond by @catagator http://ow.ly/uXfr5 #yalit

10 Books With Female Leads and No (or Little) Romance, recommended by @Book_Nut http://ow.ly/uUPCa #kidlit #yalit

Nice #booklist from @ReadingRockets about Being Brave http://ow.ly/uR8QU via @ChoiceLiteracy

List NSTA: Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2014 http://ow.ly/uQ3Ak via @FuseEight #commoncore

Diversity + Gender

A thorough and excellent response from @LaurelSnyder to someone who objected to seeing gay parents in Penny Dreadful http://ow.ly/v5iBw

Emerson's Museum of Amazing Women, Part 3, by @MaryAnnScheuer (featuring @jenniholm and Alex Morgan) http://ow.ly/v5kHC

Check out yesterday's KQED Roundtable: People of Color Underrepresented in Children's Books. http://ow.ly/uXeJp via @bkshelvesofdoom

10 Diverse YA Historicals About Girls In honor of Women's History Month http://ow.ly/uUQ81 @diversityinya via @catagator

10 Diverse Poetry Books for Kids from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/uUOlj #kidlit

Stacked: Wrapping Up the "About the Girls" series http://ow.ly/uUPJo #yalit

Events

A #Poetry Challenge for Kids for April (Poetry Month) from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/v8Mbd #kidlit

2014 3030 logo1GottaBook: Announcing the 2014 Redux-Edition of 30 Poets/30 Days! from @gregpincus http://ow.ly/v8KCi

Press Release Fun: Voting Now Open for the 7th Annual Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards! — @fuseeight @CBCBook http://ow.ly/uXflh

Growing Bookworms

Zoobean Debuts A Recommendation Service For Children’s Apps And Books | @TechCrunch http://ow.ly/v5qn2 via @PWKidsBookshelf

“That was intense!”: Getting Boys Excited About Books by @erniec + @mhorateach @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/v8MC2 

"Never underestimate the power of a book, espec (in)... the hands of the child that needs to hear what it has to say" http://ow.ly/uUP0J

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

A new phenomenon: The $300/hr Book Group Facilitator | @medinger http://ow.ly/v5kZH

Top-selling children's and YA books for 2013 - Divergent trilogy led the pack (combined) http://ow.ly/v5jYH via @100scopenotes #kidlit

"No story stole my heart like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" Natalie Lloyd @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/uXfcp #kidlit

How Sweet It Is: The 50th Anniversary of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' http://ow.ly/uXBSU @PWKidsBookshelf #kidlit

Programs and Research

iPad Use and Babies: A Pediatrician throws a wrench in the works and @fuseeight has some good quesitons http://ow.ly/v8MYI

Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success - includes #RedSox #literacy analogy http://ow.ly/v5dqF via @librareanne

Interesting ... People Who Use E-Readers Dive Far Deeper Into Books | @TheUnderwire via @tashrow http://ow.ly/uQ2dY

Schools and Libraries

Great News! Santa Clara City Council approves plan to get Northside Library back on track! http://ow.ly/uZujI @SantaClaraLib

Helping Young Readers Become Independent, a @ChoiceLiteracy post by Katie DiCesare http://ow.ly/uR8Lk

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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14. Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!: Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson

Book: Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania
Author: Cynthia Lord
Illustrator: Derek Anderson
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson's lovable Hot Rod Hamster is back for a new adventure in Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!. When Hamster and his friend Dog attend the Monster Truck Rally and carnival, the speed-loving Hamster wants to try everything. His goal is figure out which is the BEST attraction. The one that turns out to be the winner is a surprise for everyone, especially Dog. 

As with the other books in the series, the beauty of this book lies in Hamster's enthusiasm. On the very first page spread, when Dog says that they have a bit of time, and asks Hamster what he wants to do, Hamster cries: "RIDES!". The big letters, the bold font, and the image of Hamster leaping up from the ground, arms in the air, all combine to show young readers how Hamster feels. When Hamster has a choice of boats on one ride, we already KNOW that he's going to want the pirate boat. And if the bumper cars include a race car option, well... He's like an excited preschooler, but round and furry. 

Dog, meanwhile is the perfect sensible counterpart, and the character that parents will relate to. He weaves coming off of the teacups, and keeps track of how much time is left. He heads into the stadium early, to make sure they get good seats, and then laments when he thinks that his friend is missing the show. The mice make an appearance also, and, as in the other books, play a silent but pivotal helper role. 

Cynthia Lord's bouncy, rhyming text makes for a fun read-aloud:

"Truck day, treat day, cotton-candy sweet day.
Fun day, fair day, music in the air day."

and

"Sports car, race car, fun in outer space car.
Cop car, mail car, make the siren wail car.
Which would you choose?"

Interspersed between the rhymes are bursts of punchy dialog, with Hamster's words dramatized by color and fonts. Derek Anderson's illustrations are colorful and chaotic, and capture the feel of a fair perfectly. The actual monster truck scenes are vibrant enough to almost make this adult reader a tiny bit motion sick. 

My daughter and I both greeted the arrival of this book like an old friend had come to visit. Monster Truck Mania did not disappoint. A must-read for Hamster fans, and a sure winner with carnival and/or car-loving kids. I hope that we'll see Hamster back in the future for many more adventures. Vroom! Vroom!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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15. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 25

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (board book through young adult) and two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. I had a particularly hectic couple of weeks at work, and wasn't able to post as much as I might have liked. But I have some Baby Bookworm tidbits at the end of this post. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one early reader, one middle grade book, and two adult titles:

  • Noah Z. Jones: Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe #1: Moldylocks and the Three Beards. Scholastic. Early Reader. Completed March 17, 2014 (and read it many more times to my daughter, who adores this book). Review to come. 
  • Megan Frazer Blakemore: The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. Bloomsbury. Middle Grade. Completed March 18, 2014 (ARC). Review to come. 
  • Maeve Binchy: A Week in Winter. Knopf. Adult Fiction. Completed March 19, 2014, on MP3. Simply delightful. 
  • Brigid Schulte: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Sarah Crichton Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 23, 2014, on Kindle. I enjoyed parts of this book, and found a few useful take-aways. But I also found parts of it repetitive. There was a bit more about what the author thinks that the government and corporate America should be doing about the issue of overwhlemed parents than I was personally interested in. I was more looking for strategies for myself. But it was worth the time overall. 

I must admit that I stopped reading Insignia by S. J. Kincaid about halfway through. I had been enjoying it, but then I couldn't get on board with a major plot development, and found that I didn't want to finish. Fortunately it was a library book, rather than one that I had purchased. Right now I'm reading Dangerous by Shannon Hale on my Kindle and Eddie Red Undercover by Marcia Wells by in print. Not having quite gotten over my Maeve Binchy phase yet, I'm listening to her Whitethorn Woods

I've been reading on my Kindle while I ride my exercise boke, and listening to audiobooks while I go for walks, which means that most of the books I'm reading now are either digital or audiobooks. I'm so tired by the time I get to my bedtime reading that I haven't been making very good process with my print books, and they are stacking up a bit. I need a 48-hour book challenge, I guess. 

Baby Bookworm has started talking about how much she LOVES books, because we read her so many of them, and that's what she is used to. Not sure if she is trying to butter me up ahead of her upcoming fourth birthday, but it's nice to hear in any case. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year. She is currently obsessed with the first book in a new series by Noah Z. Jones about Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Moldylocks and the Three Beards. She also loves A Gift for Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding and Alison Jay, a much more traditional tale.

At the library, she's still picking out TV tie-in books like Olivia, Arthur, and Charlie and Lola, though she doesn't actually watch the associated television shows. She can spot a Max and Ruby book by Rosemary Wells from across the room, and always brings home at least one of those, too. Any Fancy Nancy book that she hasn't already read is a surefire pick, too. We sat for over an hour in the library on Saturday, just reading whatever she picked up off of the shelves. Then we brought those books all home (and more). 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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16. The Mark of the Dragonfly: Jaleigh Johnson

Book: The Mark of the Dragonfly
Author: Jaleigh Johnson
Pages: 400
Age Range: 10 and up

I quite enjoyed The Mark of the Dragonfly a brand-new middle grade/middle school fantasy novel by Jaleigh Johnson. The Mark of the Dragonfly is set on another world, one that bears a resemblance to ours, but also includes non-human races and humans with unusual gifts. Piper lives on her own in the bleak Scrap Town 16, eking out a living as a scrapper and a machinist. Scrappers salvage items from other worlds that arrive in certain areas via meteor storms (an example is a book: "Embossed on the front cover was a picture of a girl and small dog. Next to her stood a grinning scarecrow, a lion, and man who looked like he was made entirely of metal.") 

Piper has a gift for machinery, and is good at refurbishing some of the recovered items. But she longs for more. Her life changes forever when she finds a mysterious, fragile girl in the scrap fields. Piper ends up on a quest to help Anna find her home, though the two girls are pursued by a powerful and dangerous man.  

The adult quibbler in me questions how Piper's world can be similar to ours in many ways, despite being on an apparently separate planet. But this wasn't enough to dampen my appreciation for the book. I liked Johnson's inclusion of other intelligent races, coexisting with humans in the world. 

But the real reason that I enjoyed the book is that the characters in The Mark of the Dragonfly are quite strong. Piper is angry about her father's death, and determined to make a better life for herself. She struggles plausibly with doing the right thing. Anna is a bit more of an enigma, by design, but she is fascinating, too. She has only fragmented memories of her life, but she is drawn to books, and can spout various arcane bits of knowledge. There are some nice supporting characters, too, including a potential love interest for Piper (all quite PG, still suitable for upper elementary and middle school kids).

The plotting in The Mark of the Dragonfly moves along quickly, with several dangerous encounters that will keep readers turning the pages. The ongoing puzzle regarding who Anna is, and why she is being pursued, lends a more over-arcing suspense. 

The Mark of the Dragonfly wraps the initial story up nicely. No cliffhangers here. But given the depth of the world that Johnson has created, I do hope that there are future installments. Recommended for fans of middle grade fantasy with strong characters and unusual worlds. This one is going to stick in my memory, I'm sure. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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17. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 21

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Book Lists and Awards

2014 Indies Choice, E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards Finalists Announced | via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/uNU2V #kidlit

10 New Picture Books that Will Challenge, Amuse and Teach, recommended by @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/uNT9e #kidlit

The 2014 Carnegie Medal shortlist has been released http://ow.ly/uLPFn #kidlit @bkshelvesofdoom

2014 Shortlist for The Hans Christian Andersen Award | @tashrow http://ow.ly/uLPhn #kidlit

Guest Post @abbylibrarian | Kelly Jensen @catagator for 2016 Printz http://ow.ly/uJc9B #yalit

Common Core

A Crash Course On #CommonCore @NPR http://ow.ly/uNUAy via @PWKidsBookshelf #literacy

Diversity

A Response to “Where Are The People of Color in Children’s Books” from @StaceyLoscalzo http://ow.ly/uGtNm #kidlit

“The Boundaries of Imagination”; or, the All-White World of Children’s Books, 2014 @PhilNel http://ow.ly/uGscv #kidlit

Gender (including Women's History Month)

The Independent on Sunday will no longer be reviewing books that are "marketed to exclude either sex http://ow.ly/uGsYh @bkshelvesofdoom

Campaign to end gender-specific children's books gathers high-profile support | @GuardianBooks http://ow.ly/uJaUj @PWKidsBookshelf

Is it really true that "Gender specific books demean all children" asks @chasingray | Some counterexamples http://ow.ly/uNTq7 #kidlit

Responses to reactions to Independent on Sunday decision not to feature books aimed at boys OR girls http://ow.ly/uQ4Et @playbythebook

Stacked: Challenging the Expectation of #YAlit Characters as "Role Models" for Girls: Guest Post by @SarahOckler http://ow.ly/uQ3dS

Girls in #yalit have a right to be angry sometimes | Guest Post at Stacked by @EScottWrites http://ow.ly/uNTFL

Hey, Girlfriend — @lizb shares her picks for #yalit where positive girl friendships are front and center http://ow.ly/uJclU

Girls (in #kidlit + #yalit ) Kicking A** With Their Brains: Guest Post by @aquafortis at Stacked http://ow.ly/uJcxK

Women's History: Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, by @TanyaLeeStone @MaryAnnScheuer http://ow.ly/uNSXy

Growing Bookworms

Michaels Read | A dad is happy to have his son "not follow directions" as long as reading in bed is the result http://ow.ly/uGsud

Lovely! To My Dear Little Duckie Quotes From Children's Books for When Things Are Not Going Your Way @BooksBabiesBows http://ow.ly/uJcNG

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Maine publisher makes way for Robert McCloskey artwork in posters / note cards . Article mentions @FuseEight http://ow.ly/uNUY7

Young people aren’t buying e-readers. Only 5% expect to by one next year | @NYDailyNews via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/uJb4f

Promo Friday @gail_gauthier asks: Would You Buy A Book A Blogger Recommended? http://ow.ly/uGvE1 Well, yes, all the time for me

Programs, Events and Research

Celebrating the 3rd year of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program @lochwouters library. So great! http://ow.ly/uNSaK

An Estimated Million—from Italy to North Carolina—Participated in World Read Aloud Day | @sljournal http://ow.ly/uJa7t @roccoa

I can see this | @PBSKIDS Survey Says School Readiness More Important to Parents than Letters + Numbers @sljournal http://ow.ly/uNWfP

Levels of key brain chemicals predict children's reading ability, @medical_xpress via @tashrow http://ow.ly/uGwqx

Schools and Libraries

Malorie Blackman: asks: Why are libraries mandatory in prisons but not schools? The Telegraph http://ow.ly/uGwdw via @tashrow

Miami library cuts are forcing tough decisions + huge cuts in purchases of children’s books i http://ow.ly/uNUo0 via @PWKidsBookshelf

This is nice to see | St. Paul to Create 15 New School Library Positions (more than double current amt) http://ow.ly/uJada @sljournal

Five Compliments for Reading Teachers by @JustinStygles @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/uLQ12 #literacy

"Our aim should be to foster a love of reading" vs. focusing on tests, says @amyrass @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/uGwT6

New Report: Pew Internet Releases a Typology of U.S. Public Library Engagement | LJ @INFOdocket http://ow.ly/uJan2

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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18. Kissing in Italian: Lauren Henderson

Book: Kissing in Italian
Author: Lauren Henderson
Pages: 272
Age Range: 12 and up

Kissing in Italian is the sequel and conclusion to Lauren Henderson's Flirting in Italian. Both books feature a British girl named Violet Routledge who is doing a summer study program at a villa in Italy. Violet was actually drawn to the program after seeing a painting of a girl who looked remarkably like herself, and was from a castle located close to the villa. In the first book, Violet learned that she did indeed bear a strong family resemblance to the family from the castle, leading her to suspect that she might be the illegitimate daughter of the principe. This is a problem, because Violet is strongly attracted to the principe's son Luca.

Kissing in Italian follows Violet's continuing efforts to uncover the secrets of her heritage, while also attempting to resist the dashingly attractive Luca. There is also relationship drama in the lives of the other three girls in the program, one of whom becomes involved with an older, married man. (I found this icky, but so did Violet - the relationship never comes across as acceptable). 

In truth, the mystery is pretty tame in this installment. Violet's parents are alive (though divorced and not physically with her in Italy). It's just a matter of her getting them to explain to her why she looks nothing like them, but does freakishly resemble some family in Italy. The real suspense lies in whether things will resolve in such a way that Violet and Luca can ever be together. There are other potential love interests for both Violet and Luca, too (since they are trying hard to stay away from one another, just in case). Here's Violet trying to become interested in another boy:

"Why does it feel so special when someone uses your name? Didn't some ancient society have a custom that you had a secret name that only the people you really trusted knew, because using it gave people power over you?

If that's true, and not just something I read i a novel, I really understand it now. There's something so nice about a boy saying your name. As if he likes you for yourself, what's inside as well as outside. Not just your boobs and face, but your brain, too.

Deliberately, I make myself smile back at him." (Page 36)

Despite being a bit less suspenseful than Henderson's other books (she also wrote the Kiss Me, Kill Me series), Kissing in Italian is still an enjoyable young adult romance. Settings include Siena, Florence, and Venice. There are villas, dance clubs, and late night swims with hot Italian boys. There's a hint of class-consciousness, and there are universal questions about whether one owes loyalty or protection to one's friends.

I like the multi-cultural mix of the book. Violet and Kelly's English background comes through, in contrast to Paige and Kendra's US-inspired tendencies. These are all set against the Italian backdrop, full of just enough Italian words to lend a multi-cultural feel, without making the book inaccessible. Like this:

"That's Italy for you. If you kissed passionately in public in London, people would judge you as attention-seekers and deliberately ignore you: In Italy, they practically applaud." (Page 223)

I also quite liked the way that Violet started to discover herself as an artist throughout the novel. Like this:

"I've discovered over the past few weeks that drawing or painting is the only thing in the world that can completely absorb me. It distracts me from any outside worries. When the art studio door closes, when I'm inside with paint or pastels or charcoal and a subject to focus on, I'm vacuum-sealed. The world beyond disappears. 

I feel beyond lucky to have discovered this." (Page 67)

Violet goes on to muse about whether her friends have something like this. I think that this section will make readers thing about what makes the rest of the world disappear for them, too. And that's something that teens probably should be thinking about. 

Kissing in Italian is clearly not intended to stand alone. If you haven't read Flirting in Italian, you should certainly read that first. If you have read Flirting in Italian, I'm sure that, like me, you'll want to find out how things turn out for Violet and Luca. And on that front, Kissing in Italian does not disappoint. I recommend this quick, two-book series for anyone who enjoys YA romance with an international flair. 

Publisher: Delacorte Press (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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19. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 7

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. This week we are heavy on events, and lighter than usual on book lists. Major events in the children's book blogging world this week included: the start of Women's History Month, World Read Aloud Day (March 5th), and Read Across America Day (March 2, Dr. Seuss's birthday).

Book Lists and Awards

55 Science Picture Books for Kids from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/ucCso #nonfiction #booklist

Winners of the 2014 Blue Peter Book Awards,#kidlit voted on by UK schoolkids http://ow.ly/ujTKJvia @tashrow

2014 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Winners from @tashrow at Waking Brain Cells http://ow.ly/ucBUc #kidlit

Middle Grade Science Fiction recommendations (old and new) from Stephanie Whelan @greenbeanblog http://ow.ly/ueoji #kidlit

Diversity and Gender

Must-read from @catagator at Stacked on Why Talking About Girl Reading Matters http://ow.ly/ucxdX #kidlit #yalit

Interesting thoughts from @haleshannon On neutral characters and relating to the specific http://ow.ly/ucu4W #yalit #diversity

This is very cool! Initiative on Fighting Gender Stereotypes in Kids' Publishing http://ow.ly/ukaB5  #LetBooksBeBooks @PWKidsBookshelf

Events: Women's History Month

The #Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month blog is back in action for 2014 http://ow.ly/ucwJc @kidlitwhm

Very nice! Great Kid Books: Celebrating Women's History Month: a challenge for the month of March http://ow.ly/ucyUR @MaryAnnScheuer

Celebrating the life & work of Jane Goodall with kindergartners (ages 4-8) by @MaryAnnScheuer http://ow.ly/ujU5K #kidlit

Events: World Read Aloud Day

On National Grammar Day, World Read Aloud Day, and the grammar benefits of reading to kids from @BooksBabiesBows http://ow.ly/uhmb7

World Read Aloud Day (And Why I Do It) from @NoVALibraryMom http://ow.ly/uhlAh #literacy @litworldsays

Read Aloud. Change the World | @pamallyn on World Read Aloud Day @HuffingtonPost http://ow.ly/uerS2 #literacy

Thoughts on tomorrow's World Read Aloud Day from @frankisibberson http://ow.ly/ueoxV @litworldsays #literacy

Very nice! A Year of Reading is Celebrating @NerdyBookClub with a Donation to LitWorld! http://ow.ly/ucyfc @MaryLeeHahn @frankisibberson

Coming Soon: World Read Aloud Day, on March 5th. Read @BookChook thoughts! http://ow.ly/ucyEk @litworldsays

Events: Read Across America Day

Oh, the Quotations You’ll Forget! @PhilNel sets the record straigt on things Dr. Seuss didn't say http://ow.ly/ucyvf

A bit late, but a nice list of resources for Read Across American Day / Seuss Day yesterday at Wendie's Wanderings: http://ow.ly/ucyoa

Growing Bookworms

RT @tashrow Getting the right books into every young child’s hands | Dallas Morning News http://buff.ly/OzdFgt #kidlit #reading

Many of you will be able to relate to this: On the joys of Good Old-Fashioned Books by @growingbbb http://ow.ly/ujV63

Quick #literacy ideas for Snow Days at Family Bookshelf http://ow.ly/ucBRj @readingtub

On encouraging new readers to check in less frequently, and have more confidence @ReadingWithBean http://ow.ly/ucxJA

True! Kids Are Never Too Old to Be Read to by Parents | Joe Paradise @HuffPostEducation http://ow.ly/u6ny5 via @tashrow

Kidlitosphere

Via @tashrow good news for bloggers. Most of the many Getty Images will soon be Free to Use | http://ow.ly/ujTuu

An introduction to @sljournal Battle of the Kids’ Books by @medinger @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/u6mQO #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Get Pinterest list of "What (children's) books taught me...", shared by @rosemondcates http://ow.ly/ujUhq #kidlit

Lovely post on The Warmth of a Shared Experience (crying while reading aloud) by Cynthia Lord | @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/ueoZb

Thoughts from @LizB On Liking (and not liking) Characters and why we should ask ourselves why we do (or don't) http://ow.ly/ucCbJ

Great stuff! A strong defense of Reading children's books as an adult from Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/ucwZ7

Schools and Libraries

Shanahan on #Literacy: Don’t Give the #CommonCore State Standards a Close Reading and Other Culinary Tips http://ow.ly/u6mF6

For those interested in good elementary school #nonfiction, @frankisibberson is having A @mstewartscience Week http://ow.ly/ucCzh

Is Homework Beneficial? Four Steps to Improvement from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/uhLZX

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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20. Alliance: The Paladin Prophecy Book 2: Mark Frost

Book: Alliance (The Paladin Prophecy, Book 2)
Author: Mark Frost
Pages: 352
Age Range: 12 and up

Alliance is the sequel to Mark Frost's The Paladin Prophecy. (This review may contain spoilers for the first book.) Alliance picks up a few months after the events of the first book, and again features Will, the genetically enhanced center of a group of five students at a special private school. Will is recovering from the physical and emotional traumas of the fall. As summer approaches, he again tries to understand how he fits in to a battle between good and evil. An encounter with someone who helped the teens in the first book sends them on a quest deep below ground, to find a special key. The plot involves physical confrontations, as well as historical investigations into the past, and personal quests to understand each student's special abilities. 

It took me a long time to get through this book. To be fair, I was reading it during a busy time. But every time I would try to read it at night, I would fall asleep after just a couple of pages. I kept going because I was interested in the characters, but I eventually had to find time to finish it during the day. I felt that if the pacing had been a bit tighter, Alliance would have worked better for me. There was one section in particular, where the kids are planning a detailed campaign to gain access to a guarded location, that really dragged for me. I also felt like some of the characterization was a bit over-telegraphed, particularly Nick not being very bright and Ajay being absurdedly geeky.

But there are still things that I like about the book. As in The Paladin Prophecy, I love the way Will is guided by sayings that he learned from his absent father. Like:

"#24: YOU CAN'T CHANGE ANYTHING IF YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND"

and 

"IF YOU DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO NOTICE YOU, ACT LIKE YOU BELONG THERE AND LOOK BUSY."

An appendix lists all 100 pieces of apt advice. 

There are also cool settings, including a castle-like building, and hidden tunnels and caves. There are neat gadgets. The kids have interesting abilities, and their interactions are reasonably realistic. They use their brains, and work to solve complex puzzles from sparse clues. Kids who enjoy adventures with a supernatural bent (like Rick Riordan's books, for instance) will most likely enjoy this one, too. 

I could on principle do without Will being the love interest of both of the two girls in the group. But in truth, neither of the other two boys would work in that context. As far as content goes on the love interest side, there's a very small amount of kissing - nothing objectionable for younger kids.

Bottom line: Alliance didn't really work for me, but I'd definitely still purchase it if I were shopping for a middle school or high school library. And I won't be surprised if the series ends up in the movie theaters one day. There will certainly be at least one more book, as this one ends on a cliffhanger. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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21. All the Mo Willems Books

MoWillemsBooksMy daughter decided last night that before falling asleep, she wanted to read "all the Mo Willems books." She headed over to the bookshelf (well, one of many bookshelves, but this is the one where most of Mo's books live in our house), and started pulling them down. It took her a couple of trips, fully laden, to get them over to the bed. And then she commanded: "Read!"

We ended up reading three Elephant & Piggie books and two Pigeon books. We didn't get to the three Knuffle Bunny books last night, but they were in the stack, and are much-loved, too. We also have a couple of stand alone titles (That is NOT a Good Idea and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs), but these don't register for her so much as having been written by Mo. What she LOVES is looking for the Pigeon on the inside back cover of the Elephant & Piggie books. She has a stuffed Pigeon, too. She sees these books as a whole universe of fun.  

The other night she was getting cranky around bedtime, as she is wont to do. She protested: "I'm NOT tired." Then, before I could anything she added "And I am NOT the Pigeon." This is because usually when she claims to not be tired we say: "OK, Pigeon." Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late hits the nail on the head better than any other book I can think of.  

I guess all of this is a long-winded way for me to say that if you have a preschooler or early elementary schooler in your house, and you have somehow not discovered the works of Mo Willems, you simply MUST remedy this. Your local library should have plenty of Mo's books, and that's a great place to start. Scholastic also has packages sometimes in the Reading Club, giving you access to less expensive paperback versions. But whatever you do, get your hands on some of these fabulous books.

I think the key to the success of all of Willems' various series and standalones lies in his keen understanding of universal child (and parent) behaviors. My daughter nods her head when Elephant and Piggie are crying over Piggie's broken toy, and says: "She's crying because of her toy. He's crying because of her." She just gets the interactions and expressions of the characters instinctively. She clutches her own beloved blanket a little when Trixie loses Knuffle Bunny. She giggles when the Pigeon says "I never get to do ANYTHING" because she knows that she has said something similar mere moments before. 

Of course it helps that the books are fun, too! What say you, readers? Do your kids ask for "all of the Mo Willems books", too? 

____

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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22. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 12

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult), as well as post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, and one about why I think she loves Mo Willems' books so much. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one middle grade book, three young adult books, and one adult title:

I'm currently reading Insignia by S. J. Kincaid on my Kindle and The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer in print. I am very much enjoying my current audiobook, A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. It is the perfect antidote to stress, and I wish it would never end. 

We're also still reading to Baby Bookworm these days, of course. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested. We also read the first two chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh last night. 

She turns four in a few weeks, and I can tell you that we're really seeing the impact of all the books that we've read. She can spell a few words now (her name, Mom, Dad, no, moo, Mo, so), and she'll notice those words if she sees them ("Why does that sign say 'No'?). She's asking how to spell things like "I love you" when she makes us cards. She enjoys the Reading Raven app. I can't remember who recommended that one, but thank you! We are careful not to push her, but she's like a little sponge these days, soaking up new words all around her. My goal is just to keep it fun!

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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23. Peek-a-Zoo!: Nina Laden

Book: Peek-a-Zoo!
Author: Nina Laden
Pages: 22 (Board Book)
Age Range: 2-5

Nina Laden's Peek-a-Who? was one of my daughter's favorite books when she was about two. We've given it many times as a gift since then. So I was naturally interested when the new sequel, Peek-a-Zoo! landed on my doorstep. Like the first book, Peek-a-Zoo! is a board book featuring cut-outs that gives clues, and invites young children to guess what's coming next. In this example, all of the mysteries involve animals one might find at the zoo. The selections are driven by maintaining a motif of words that rhyme with "zoo." So we have "Peek a MEW!", showing a tiger cub playing with a ball, and "Peek a BAMBOO!", with a panda bear chewing on some bamboo. 

Because of the narrower focus, I found the answers much more difficult to guess from the tiny hint shown in the cutout than in the first book. "Peek a COCKATOO!" was particularly challenging, with its display of a fan of green feathers. But level of difficulty isn't really a problem with a book like this, because the child is going to read it dozens or hundreds of times, and he or she will have a chance to learn what all of the pictures mean. Like the first book, an embedded mirror at the end gives the child a chance to participate in the story. 

In truth, I don't know whether or not Peek-a-Zoo! will have the same appeal for toddlers that Peek-a-Who? does. I don't have a toddler nearby to test it out on. To me, the examples seem a bit more contrived (as necessitated by the book's tighter focus). But the illustrations are eye-catching without being too busy. And books about animals are always popular with the pre-preschool set. So I will  add Peek-a-Zoo! to my go-to gift list for new babies, as a companion book to Peek-a-Who? And if any of you have tried out both books with your toddlers, I would love to hear about their reactions. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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24. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: March 14

CTwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Tons of links around gender this week, as you would expect right in the middle of Women's History Month. 

Book Lists and Awards

Start your voting engines! Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards voting will open March 25: http://bit.ly/1gf3ZPr ! @cbcbook #CCBA14

5 Comic Strip Anthologies for Kids recommended by @delightchildbks http://ow.ly/uz6pn #kidlit

2014 is The Year of the Whale, declares @100scopenotes + he has books to prove it http://ow.ly/uz6AE #kidlit

Suggestions for a dinosaur-themed storytime from @lochwouters http://ow.ly/uz6Gv #kidlit #commoncore

Booklist: A Tuesday Ten: Citizens of Fairyland | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/uvWuA #kidlit #sff

Read Aloud Chapter Books for 4 and 5 (and 6) Year Olds @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/uqQTc #kidlit

Kid-tested list | The Top Ten Favorite Picture Books So Far in @SagesHoots class | @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/uoxS5 #kidlit

Stacked's latest Get Genrefied zooms in on Fairy Tale Re-tellings (there are MANY) http://ow.ly/ujWtW #yalit

Congratulations to @medinger ! Africa is My Home is a 2014 Children’s Africana Book Award Winner http://ow.ly/umFMw #kidlit

The 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalists have been announced. See list at @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/umF6c #yalit

NAACP Outstanding Literary Work Awards via @tashrow + @FuseEight http://ow.ly/ujWHh #kidlit #yalit

Diversity and Gender

Is your default character white and male? asks @haleshannon | I, too, have noticed this with my child's toys (male) http://ow.ly/uqPqB

Stacked: I love "unlikable," I write "unlikable," and I am "unlikable" @tehawesomersace on "Unlikable" Girls http://ow.ly/uz6wt #yalit

Guest Post @cynleitichsmith : Ellen Oh on The Ongoing Problem with Sexism http://ow.ly/uvVpb

Stacked: @CherylRainfield , A Hero for Girls: Guest Post by Jennifer Brown http://ow.ly/uvWBk #yalit

Stacked: Positive Girl Friendships in YA: Guest Post by Jessica Spotswood http://ow.ly/utOpx #yalit

Stacked: The Unlikable Female Protagonist: A Field Guide to Identification in the Wild -- Guest Post by Sarah McCarry http://ow.ly/uqTt5

One example of why we should care about the Campaign: Let Books Be Books via @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/umxd4 #LetBooksBeBooks

Gender-specific children’s books are easier to sell, insists children's book publisher| Independent http://ow.ly/uudlA @PWKidsBookshelf

Parents push to end gender division of boys' and girls' books | @GuardianBooks via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/uuddj #letbooksbebooks

Food for thought! Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chávez on 'Bossy,' the Other B-word - @WSJ http://ow.ly/uoyuS

Further thoughts on the “She’s Being Bossy” @WSJ piece from @StaceyLoscalzo http://ow.ly/uqS5F

Events

Laurel Snyder on the joy for authors in participating in World Read Aloud Day http://ow.ly/ujWnk @LaurelSnyder #kidlit

An invitation! @LizB is Revisiting Harriet The Spy, and she's looking for company http://ow.ly/uz6k3 #kidlit

#Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month: Two Eminent Victorians: Emily Carr and Lillian Gilbreth (an ind engineer!) http://ow.ly/uvVK5

Yesterday was International Women's Day. @MaryAnnScheuer is celebrating women who have won a Nobel Prize (ages 10-14) http://ow.ly/uoxPE

Great Kid Books: Time for Kids: Online resources to celebrate Women's History Month (ages 7-10) @MaryAnnScheuer http://ow.ly/utNyF

On the #cybils blog: @Cybils Judges and Authors on Women's History at Stacked http://ow.ly/uriGg @aquafortis

Growing Bookworms

Igniting a Passion for Reading: A Retro Review to Reignite the Flame by @leaderandreader @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/uz68d #literacy

Share the Love (of books), Grasshopper by Michael Guevara | @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/utNVH #literacy

"Reading and discussing these books with my kids has to be the best single thing I can do to encourage reading." http://ow.ly/uqRJQ

Useful! Suggestions to encourage unique, out-of-the-box readers by @NancyTandon @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/ujVGp #literacy

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Makes sense to me! What Most Successful People Do Before Bed: READ | @tashrow @businessinsider http://ow.ly/uvUQw

Study finds: "people who read regularly tend to be more satisfied with life in general" says @tashrow http://ow.ly/utNry

It's not only adults who need comfort reading | Alison Flood @GuardianBooks http://ow.ly/umFg9 via @tashrow #kidlit

Schools and Libraries

Philip Pullman: 'every school should have a good library' | @TheBookseller http://ow.ly/ukaVF via @PWKidsBookshelf

A Pre-Kindergarten Teacher's Perspective on Reading Aloud at @BooksBabiesBows for @ReadAloud_org Read Aloud month http://ow.ly/utOFg

On Taking Vacation Time to Read Aloud at her kids' school, by @BooksBabiesBows http://ow.ly/uoy5F

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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25. The Geography of You and Me: Jennifer E. Smith

Book: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 352
Age Range: 12 and up

I loved Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and also enjoyed This Is What Happy Looks Like. Like those two books, The Geography of You and Me is a young adult romance, heavy on character development and light on sappiness. Which is how I like them. Two teens meet in an elevator during a power outage in New York (they've seen each other before, but never spoken). Despite coming from very different backgrounds, they discover a connection over the course of a long, electricity-free evening. Geography is against them, however, as Lucy's family moves almost immediately to Scotland, while Owen ends up driving west with his father. Can such a tenuous connection, nurtured mainly by "Wish you were here" postcards, turn into something real? 

I thought that this book was very well done. The socioeconomic differences between Lucy and Owen are there, and cause occasional awkwardness, but are incidental to their sense of connection. Lucy feels isolated from her largely absent parents, while Owen misses his recently deceased mother. Both teens are isolated from other kids, even as they attend school. Lucy is a self-professed "geeky bookworm", constantly on the lookout for a good place to read. Owen is quietly brilliant on the science and math side, but is also computer shy, and not very keen on books or email. They joke about the idea of Herman Melville's Bartleby, a character who responds to everything with "I would prefer not to." Owen eventually names a pet turtle Bartleby.

Although there's a hint of intellectualism to The Geography of You and Me, it's far from over the top. While Lucy's family is clearly well off (leaving their New York apartment vacant for months, in case they want to go back for a visit), Owen is from a blue collar background. His father spends most of the book looking for work, and the two even end up briefly sleeping in their car. I think that Lucy and Owen could hold their own with John Green's characters, but they are less consciously witty. 

As for the romance, it felt real to me. Both Owen and Lucy meet other people (the book wouldn't be interesting if it was too easy), but they can't let go of that sense of connection with each other. There's a nice section with short chapters that show them thinking about each other, in parallel, despite being 5000 miles apart. Here are a couple of snippets:

"She wondered if there was a word for loneliness that wasn't quite so general. Because that wasn't it, exactly; it wasn't that she was feeling lonesome or empty or forlorn. It was more particular than that, like the blanket on the root this morning: Here in the kitchen, there was an Owen-shaped indent." (Chapter 5)

"But he couldn't find the words. And so instead, they just stood there, regarding each other silently, the room suddenly as quiet as the elevator had been, as comfortable as the kitchen floor, as remote as the roof. Because that's what happened when you were with someone like that: the world shrank to just the right size. It molded itself to fit only the two of you, and nothing more." (Chapter 8)

Given that the two main characters actually spend most of the book geographically separated, its good that The Geography of You and Me is about more than just the relationship between the two protagonists. Lucy reconnects a bit with her parents, and experiences the travel that she's always longed for. A scene in which she finally visits a city that she has longed to see gave me immense satisfaction as a reader. Owen and his father, meanwhile, are figuring out what their life means without Owen's mother, and what they mean to one another. Parents on both sides are more attuned to what's going on in their teens' lives than said teens realize. It's refreshing to have a book take a good look at parent/teen relationships, without melodrama, rather than focusing on friendships with other kids. 

I highly recommend The Geography of You and Me to fans of Jennifer E. Smith's previous novels, and to anyone who enjoys young adult romance (with nothing more PG than a few kisses) and realistic fiction. Because half of the book is told from Owen's perspective, I actually could imagine boys liking this book, though one might have trouble getting them to pick up a book with kissing on the cover. But for teenage girls and adult women, The Geography of You and Me should be an excellent fit. 

Publisher: Poppy (@LBKids)
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Source of Book: Advanced digital review copy from the publisher

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© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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