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Results 26 - 50 of 77,328
26. Ideas for planning Small Group Instruction

Small group instruction is a powerful way to reach and teach more students in your classroom!

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27. The Scourge

The Scourge. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2016. Scholastic. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Few things were worth the risk to my life, but the juicy vinefruit was one of them. Even more so today because I was long past hungry. If I didn't eat something soon, my life was in danger anyway.

Premise/plot: Ani and Weevil are best, best friends who will face much DANGER together in Jennifer Nielsen's newest fantasy book, The Scourge. It has been hundreds of years since the plague--the scourge--has devastated their country. The scourge has left its mark on their history. And the fear of it has never completely gone away. Now, it seems, almost out of nowhere, the scourge is back. Those who test positive for the scourge are sent to an isolated island--a former prison--to live out the rest of their lives. Ani and Weevil end up there. (It's complicated to try to summarize). And they will spend most of their time a) trying to survive b) distinguishing between lies and truth c) trying to change the way things are.

My thoughts: If you love Shannon Hale's fantasy novels, you MUST read The Scourge. I greatly enjoyed this one. And I think it has a similar feel to some of Hale's novels. This one is, however, different from Nielsen's other series. It is perhaps slightly less action-packed than her previous books. And it is written from a female perspective.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Scourge as of 9/22/2016 10:44:00 AM
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28. Celebrating Roal Dahl

2016 is the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl. The publisher of his books, Penguin Random House, has set up a special blog tour to celebrate the occasion.  

When I was in fourth grade, we read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I had always been a reader but something about this book made me really fall in love with it. I loved it so much that I  wrote a letter to Mr. Dahl telling him how much I enjoyed the book and probably other fourth grade things like about what I liked to do, that I loved to read, and all that kid letter writing stuff.

I didn't realize that Roald Dahl had passed away just a year before and I'm not sure my teacher did either. She sent my letter along to the publisher. Several weeks later I received a package at school that was full of Roald Dahl goodies-bookmarks, posters, a mobile (I think for James and the Giant Peach but I don't remember!) and other book swag. The publisher wrote me back and said they were sorry to let me know that Roald Dahl had recently passed away but they were so happy that I loved his books and they wanted to share some special things with me since I was a reader and a fan.

I was always an incredibly shy kid. I felt more comfortable with books and didn't like to talk much at school. I didn't have a lot of friends and never really felt like I fit in in elementary school.

Yet when that package of book swag arrived, I was suddenly the most popular girl in my class. Reading was cool. Everyone wanted to share in the excitement in hearing back from the publisher. We had read the book as a class and everyone was excited to see what I got. Since I took the initiative to write the letter to the author and share my love of the book, I was the hero of the class.

My popularity didn't last forever and I was OK with that. I didn't want it to. But I always remember the feeling that Roald Dahl and his US publisher gave shy fourth grader me. I felt like my love of books mattered. That I wasn't odd for loving to read and visiting the library every day I could. That it was cool to be a fan of an author and to write to the author and tell them how much you liked their books. The day I opened that box of swag all about Roald Dahl, I felt like being a reader was my super power.

I think that moment may have been one to put me on the path to librarianship, even if I didn't realize it at the time. Now I get to share the wonderfulness of Roald Dahl's books with numerous readers and help them discover their own reading super powers. His books are some of my forever go-to choices for reading aloud. There have been many fantastic audiobooks produced of his titles as well that I suggest for family listening. His books are classics and reach across generations and I believe they will continue to do so. He never spoke down to children and I think that's something children of any year and time period want-to be respected and to be heard. I know when I received that package in fourth grade, I felt as though I had been heard.

Thank you Roald Dahl for all of your wonderful contributions to children's literature and for making me feel

0 Comments on Celebrating Roal Dahl as of 9/18/2016 3:08:00 PM
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29. Review of the Day: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

TheyAllSawCatThey All Saw a Cat
By Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books
$16.99
ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0
Ages 4-7
On shelves now

It’s funny. Unless you’re a teacher or librarian, a grown adult that does not work or live with children will come into very little contact with picture books. Then, one day, they produce a few kids and BLAMMO! They are shot into a world they haven’t visited since they were young themselves. They grab frantically at the classics, discover that a lot of them don’t work with very very young children (since when did Horton Hatches the Egg have so many words?!?), and then occasionally turn to the experts for help. And why? Parents’ reasons are not united on this front. Some read to their kids to instill a love of reading. Others to build little brains. Others to simply fill the long hours of the day. Occasionally a parent will also use a book to teach some kind of a lesson. If the parent is unlucky they will get stuck with a book sticky with didacticism (an unpleasant book that sucks all the joy out of the reading experience). But if they are lucky (or they are in the hands of a capable professional) they might find just the right book, teaching just the right lesson. Here’s an example: Let’s say you wanted to teach a kid empathy or how our perceptions change depending on our own experiences and who we are. How do you show that in 32 pages? Well, you could pick up some cloying, toxic dribble that overuses words like “hugs” and “friendship”. Nine times out of ten, that’s what’s going to happen. Or, if you are a clever parent, you pick up a book like They All Saw a Cat. It looks at first glance like it’s just about a cat. Delve a little deeper and you’ll find it about science and art and perception and empathy. And it does it all with very simple sentences, repetition, and a lot of white backgrounds. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

theyallsaw1“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .” In that walking it is seen. It is seen by a child, a dog, and a fox. It is seen by a fish, a mouse, and a bee. It is seen by a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and a bat. And what’s important is that this “seeing” changes with every creature. For mice and dogs, the cat is perceived through the lens of their own interactions with it. For worms and bats the cat is only visible through the ways in which it moves through space (vibrations through the ground and the ways in which echolocation shape it). By the end we see a hodgepodge cat, a mix of how each animal sees it. Then the cat comes to the water, viewing its own reflection, “and imagine what it saw?”

The book this actually reminded me of the most was that old Rudyard Kipling story “The Cat Who Walked By Himself”. Unlike that tale we never really get this book from the cat’s perspective. Indeed, the cat is often only visible when others see him. The similarity to Kipling comes with the language. That very first sentence, for example: “The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .” And as in the original art for that story, the cat here is often pictured from the back. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not a book written by one person and illustrated by another can ever be as strong as a book that is written and illustrated by the same artist. They All Saw a Cat makes a fairly strong argument that artist who are also authors are the better way to go. Wenzel’s sentences are so perfectly layered here. If anything, they match the personality of a cat. There aren’t many words, true. But the measured tone is at once soothing and scintillating. I liked how the book broke up the animals. The first three are potential predators. The second three are potential theyallsaw2prey. The final six are strict observers. It also ends perfectly with the best possible sentence. Not all picture books, no matter how beautiful they look, are capable of sticking their landings. This one does.

In this book the publication page (where they tend to describe the artist’s process) gets a little slaphappy. It reads (and I am quoting this precisely), “The illustrations in this book were rendered in almost everything imaginable, including colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook.” The other day I was listening to a podcast where one of the speakers speculated that including this kind of information in a book changes the adult reader’s perspective. Would I think less of this book if I found out it was done in digital ink? Possibly, though I should note that I was blown away by the art long before I ever turned to see how it was made. And while digital art is great and has its place, I’d like to see the program that replicates what Wenzel’s done here.

theyallsaw3The sheer beauty of the book is what strikes you first when you read it. Consider the two-page spread where on the left-hand side you see the cat through snake vision, and on the right-hand side you see the cat through skunk vision. The snake’s view is a vibrant shock of color, all yellows and reds and blues. The skunk’s in contrast, looks like the soft grainy sepia-tones of an old film. Maybe Casablanca. Put together, side-by-side, the same cat is its own opposite. But if Wenzel were constantly wowing you with eye-popping images that wouldn’t really support the narrative flow. That’s why the pacing of the book is key. Wenzel starts the book out very slowly, with lots of white backgrounds and views akin to what we see as people. The child, dog, and fox all see the cat similarly (though I loved the oversized bell around its neck, indicating the fox and dog’s superior sense of hearing through a visual medium). The fish is the first moment you start to separate from human visuals. The cat’s large, yellow eyes are 80% of the two pages. But it is the mouse’s Basquiat-esque view of the cat that steals the show. The red background, and the cat all teeth and claws, and terrifying eyes is a far cry from the cuddly creature at the start of the story. It’s also the moment when the child readers come to realize that perception is personal.

An interesting criticism of this book is linked precisely to the more science-y aspects of the text. One of the commenters on a blog post I wrote, that included this book, said that, “I desperately wanted some nice science-y back matter to tell us how and why different animals see the cat the way they do. Sure, we can go OH, this animal must be colorblind! This animal ‘sees’ by sonar! But c’mon, throw us an edu-bone here. It felt like such a missed opportunity.” This is an interesting note. We’ve grown used to useful backmatter in this post-Core Curriculum world of ours. Would this book have been stronger if it had contained a science element to it? Yes and no. It would have been a real boon to teachers, you betcha, and probably to perceptive parents who could have turned it into a lesson for young readers. If I had to guess I’d say the reason it wasn’t done may have had something to do with the fact that Wenzel is mixing his fact and fiction here pretty closely. Each animal is “seeing” as it would in the wild, but that is not to say that the art is by any means scientific. The cartoonish quality to the animals (no better exemplified than in the mouse’s bulbous eyes) doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. I would have very much liked notes on the accuracy of the art, but I can understand the fear of asking the reader to take the work too seriously. I don’t necessarily agree, but I understand it.

theyallsaw4How do you discuss this book with kids? Well, you might read it to them, start to finish, and then ask them which picture shows what the cat really looks like. When they select (some will go with the human view but I’ve no doubt a couple will prefer the dog or bird p.o.v.s) you then tell them that actually all the pictures in this book are true. And if you really want to blow their little minds, you tell them that there’s a good chance that the way you see the world isn’t the same way the person next to you does. Everyone, everywhere sees the world different from his or her neighbor. Is it any wonder we have problems? The solution is to try and see things from another person’s view. Now, if the kids think you’re speaking literally or figuratively, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve planted the seed. Or, rather, the book has.

Let us do away with the notion of “cat people” vs. “dog people”. This book is for “people”. End of sentence. And if I got a little crazy in my first paragraph here, filling you in on my view of world peace via picture books, you’ll understand when you read this book. That tired old phrase to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” makes no sense to a kid. But travel a page through another animal’s eyes? There’s never been a better fictional picture book that allows you to do this. If we all see something as simple as a cat this differently, what else might we not see the same? It’s a treat to eye, ear, and mind, but don’t forget. We’re all going to see this book through our own lenses. What will your kids see when they look at it? Only one way to find out.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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5 Comments on Review of the Day: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, last added: 9/21/2016
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30. Writing in the Great Outdoors

The director at one school told me, "My main priorities are these: 1) being outdoors, and 2) reading and writing." My kind of place!

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31. Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel. Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. 2014. Toon. 54 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This all happened a long time ago, in your grandmother's time, or in her grandfather's. A long time ago. Back then, we all lived on the edge of the great forest.

Premise/plot: The book is an illustrated retelling of the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. It isn't a picture book necessarily. Nor is it a graphic novel. Every two pages of text is followed by two pages of illustration. The illustrations are black and white and are by Lorenzo Mattotti.

My thoughts: Hansel and Gretel isn't one of my favorite fairy tales to begin with, so my expectations were not very high. I wasn't disappointed perhaps because my expectations were realistic. I was surprised by how much I liked the illustrations. They are dark but expressive. This retelling by Gaiman isn't new and unique and full of extra-special clever twists and turns. It is traditional for the most part.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World by James Sturm, 40 pp, RL 2


Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World by James Sturm is my new favorite book. I fell in love with TOON Books when I discovered them in 2008, just around the time my youngest was learning to read. Having been through this process with my two older children, I was not looking forward to the tired old leveled readers that we were left to slog through after classics like Frog & Toad, Little Bear and Poppleton. Françoise Mouly and her quest to bring engaging, marvelously illustrated graphic novels into the world of beginning readers has meant that there are now over 50 fantastic books to take your new reader from sight words to chapter books. 

















If you have read even a few beginning readers, you know that unlikely friends and the complexities of friendship are the staple of this genre. With Ape and Armadillo, Sturm has created the only duo who could even remotely rival Frog and Toad. And an armadillo! How many armadillo characters are there in kid's books to begin with? Happily, the title page shows Ape juggling, a curled up Armadillo among the balls in the air. Sturm's illustrations are superb - crisp and colorful and filled with motion and emotion.


Armadillo is a little guy with big ideas. Ape, his opposite, is more thoughtful and compassionate. When Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World begins, we find Ape taking issue with Armadillo's plan for world domination. While Armadillo does things fly away on the royal Pegasus, Ape has to distract a spitting serpent, fight an army of robots and escape through the sewer tunnels of the castle. Armadillo counters, saying that he is the one who thought up this plan and having ideas is not so easy. When Ape tries to come up with a plan (that involves kids, an ice cream shop, juggling Armadillo and hiding in tubs of ice cream) Armadillo shoots him down. But, like all good friends, the two manage to find common ground, coming up with a phenomenal plan for world domination that involves special suits, magic wands, creating a zoo filled only with really cool animals like griffins, dinosaurs and giant bugs and ending with ice cream. Because, as Ape points out, he likes a lot of the people in the world and doesn't want to rule it or blow it up.





The best part of Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World? Sturm includes bonus comic strips that run at the bottom of every page, giving readers a glimpse into the personalities of the main characters. Ape and Armadillo embody the creative imagination of kids, a creativity that is not bound by logic or physical limitations.

Read my reviews of the 
Adventures in Cartooning Series here










0 Comments on Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World by James Sturm, 40 pp, RL 2 as of 9/23/2016 4:37:00 AM
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33. Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol



Vera Brosgol, Russian born author of the superb graphic novel Anya's Ghost, has written and illustrated her first picture book and it is brilliant! Leave Me Alone! reads like an Eastern European folk tale with a surprise center. As the jacket flap reads, it is an "epic tale about one grandmother, a giant sack of yarn, and her quest to finish her knitting." A knitter herself, Brosgol created these 25 tiny sweaters as give-aways to promote Leave Me Alone!


Leave Me Alone! begins, "Once there was an old woman. She lived in a small village in a small house . . . with a very big family." Winter is coming and this grandmother needs to get her knitting done but no one will let her. At the end of her rope, the old woman gives the house a cleaning from top to bottom, packs up her things in a large sack and leaves the house shouting, "Leave me alone!"



It turns out that, every where she goes, her balls of yarn are an endless source of fascination to all creatures around her. From bears to mountain goats, she just can't get a break. She climbs up a mountain at night, going so high that, when she reaches the top she keeps climbing - right onto the moon. A page turn takes Leave Me Alone! from folk tale to sci-fi mash-up. It turns out little green moon-men are fascinated by balls of yarn, too. 

Finally, a wormhole provides the quietude needed to get that knitting done. The old woman was, "absolutely, completely utterly alone. It was PERFECT." When thirty little sweaters are finally knit, she tidies up, sweeping "the void until it was a nice, matte black." She has a cup of tea from her samovar and walks back through the wormhole where "everything was right where she'd left it." The juxtaposition of the story and the illustrations, with their Eastern European feel and the outer space elements is marvelous! I can't wait to see what Vera Brosgol does next - in picture books and graphic novels! Actually, I just happen to know (because I read it in an interview she did with Bustle) that Be Prepared, Brosgol's middle grade graphic novel memoir about a summer she spent at a Russian Orthodox camp in upstate New York, will be released in the Spring of 2018! 



Brosgol also created these adorable paintings of the children from Leave Me Alone! to promote the book!




Also by Vera Brosgol:
Anya's Ghost



Source: Purchased


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34. What's a Banana? and What's an Apple? by Marylin Singer, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli




Marilyn Singer, author of many wonderful picture books and books of poetry for children, and Greg Pizzoli, superb illustrator and author of picture books and non-fiction picture books, have teamed up for two books that are perfect for toddlers and emerging readers. What's a Banana? and What's an Apple? combine Singer's silly, sing-song-y rhymes with Pizzoli's playfully silly illustrations for two very fun books.


Singer begins What's a Banana? like a playground chant, "You can grip it and unzip it. You can mash it with a spoon. You can trace it. Outer-space it - make believe that its' the moon." Pizzoli's illustrations show a boy, a girl, a dog and a cat, doing all these things with a banana, which is sometimes actual size and more often oversized, adding to the silliness. What's a Banana? wraps up with a reminder not to forget that it's a fruit.
What's an Apple? follows a similar path, although focuses a bit more on this versatile ingredient, reminding readers in words and pictures that you can juice it, peel it, bake it and, "caramel it." What's an Apple?, which also features a different boy and girl and the same cat and dog, ends with the kids in space suits on the moon, about to enjoy and apple "any place."
The trim size of What's a Banana? and What's an Apple? are small and square, a bit bigger than a board book. Perfect for little hands, but definitely for readers who know how to handle a book. I hope that Singer and Pizzoli have more foods to explore...




Books by Marilyn Singer:






   


     






Source: Review Copies

0 Comments on What's a Banana? and What's an Apple? by Marylin Singer, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli as of 9/22/2016 5:12:00 AM
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35. Discovering and Developing Student Writer Identity

For writers to grow, they must develop writer identities. How do we help them do that?

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36. Press Release Fun: Meanwhile, Back in NYC . . .

So I’m no longer in New York City anymore as you might have noticed but that doesn’t meant there aren’t some fantastic events going on there.  Free events.  Free events at my old stomping grounds, NYPL.  It’s all in conjunction with Banned Books Week and the guests are a bit on the famous side.  Gene Luen Yang.  Katherine Paterson.  Rita Williams-Garcia.  STRANGER THINGS!!!  *ahem*  In any case, behold below.  I give you one heckuva fantastic week.


 

Banned Books Week annually celebrates the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information, Banned Books Week brings together librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas. The Library is hosting a series of events September 25-October 1 celebrating the freedom to read with some of your favorite children’s authors!

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Reading Without Walls: Author Event with Gene Luen Yang (and special guest Walkaround Grover!)

Join the New York Public Library in partnership with Sesame Workshop (the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street!) on Sunday September 25 from 10:30 AM-12 PM (doors open at 10:15 AM), as we welcome the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, joined by his furry friend, Sesame Street’s Walkaround Grover, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Sesame Street classic storybook,The Monster at the End of this Book. Yang will read aloud this time-honored tale (first published in 1971 by Little Golden Books) and will discuss his ‘Reading Without Walls’ initiative, which encourages readers to explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.

This ticketed event is free and open to the public. Registration required.

Tough Topics in Middle Grade: Author Panel 

Presented in partnership with iLoveMG please welcome the following guests* to the library Wednesday September 28 from 6-8 PM:

  • Paul Griffin: When Friendship Followed Me Home
  • James Howe: The Misfits series
  • Kathleen Lane: The Best Worst Thing
  • Nora Raleigh Baskin: Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story
  • Rita Williams-Garcia: Gaither Sisters series (One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven, Gone Crazy in Alabama)

With special Guest Moderator author Phil Bildner.

*Author Panel subject to change due to author availability 

This ticketed event is free and open to the public. Registration recommended.

Stranger Things in Middle Grade Author Panel (at Brooklyn Public Library) 

Presented in partnership with iLoveMG please welcome the following guests* to the library Thursday September 29 from 6-8 PM

  • Tracy Baptiste: The Jumbies
  • Kelly Barnhill: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
  • Max Brallier The Last Kids on Earth series
  • G.D. Falksen: The Transatlantic Conspiracy
  • Chris Gabenstein: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics
  • Doogie Homer: Kid Legend series (Kid Presidents, Kid Athletes, and Kid Artists)

With Moderator Christopher Lassen from the Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library.

*Author Panel subject to change due to author availability 

This ticketed event is free and open to the public. For more information visit: https://goo.gl/iLW2ND

The Great Gilly Hopkins: Author Event with Katherine Paterson 

Join the New York Public Library Saturday October 1 from 2-3 PM as we welcome Katherine Paterson and her sons, David and John, to discuss Ms. Paterson’s enduring young adult classic THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS and new feature film version of THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS debuting in theaters and On Demand October 7.

This ticketed event is free and open to the public. Registration recommended.

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37. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd. (Flavia de Luce #8) 2016. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The winter rain slashes at my face like icy razor blades, but I don't care. I dig my chin deep into the collar of my mackintosh, put my head down, and push on against the buffeting of the furious wind.

Premise/plot: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd is the EIGHTH novel in the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley. If you're not hooked to the series by now, chances are my review won't persuade you to pick this one up. Do you have to read the books in order? Yes and no. I'd say that it's always best to read the first book first. But perhaps after that if you've missed one or two then it would still be okay to pick up this newest one and treat yourself.

So, what is it about? Flavia de Luce is home from Canada--it's almost Christmas--and things are not the same at home. Her father is sick and in the hospital. Which means almost everyone is acting differently. And every day there is the question: will the hospital allow visitors today?!?! For too many days in a row the answer has been NO. One thing that is the same? There is a mystery to be solved. While doing an errand for Cynthia, I believe, she comes across a dead body--Mr. Sambridge, a local woodcarver.

My thoughts: The mystery in this one is very interesting in my opinion. While I've enjoyed the past few books in the series okay, I think this one is my favorite by far. It is COMPELLING and EMOTIONAL. And oh the ending....it revealed how much I do CARE about the characters and it made me want to yell at the author.
There are times when even family can be of no use: when talking to your own blood fails to have meaning.
As anybody with two older sisters can tell you, a closed door is like a red rag to a bull. It cannot go unchallenged.
Playing the clown is not an easy task. Clowns, I have come to believe, are placed upon the earth solely to fill the needs of others, while running perilously close to "Empty" themselves.
You can learn from a glance at anyone's library, not what they are, but what they wish to be.
Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not so simple as it sounds. What it means, in fact, is being charitable--which, as the vicar is fond of pointing out, is the most difficult of the graces to master. Faith and hope are a piece of cake but charity is a Pandora's box: the monster in the cistern which, when the lid is opened, comes swarming out to seize you by the throat.
The world can be an interesting place to a girl who keeps her ears open.
Authors are known to have fiendishly clever minds, and the authors of children's books are more fiendishly clever than most.
Some sleeps are washed with gold, and some with silver. Mine was molten lead. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Famous Illustrators’ Depictions of Knitting Ranked in Order of Competency

Two years ago I wrote a piece called The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting in which I raged unto the heavens against picture books where the artists put little work into bothering to figure out if knitting needles should be held up or down.  Well, it’s time for me to apologize to those illustrators.  If depicting knitting needles with the ends to the sky is irresistible to you, you’re in good company.  Seems that every picture book illustrator of the past put you on the wrong path early.

Today, we rank the great illustrators history and see how precisely they’ve chosen to portray knitters.  As a refresher, here is how you hold knitting needles:

kidsknit-237x300

The method of holding them with the ends up is not unheard of, but it is rare. For example, I tried to find a Google Image of that particular style for the piece and failed utterly.

From Worst to Best: Knitting in Children’s Literature

Dr. Seuss

seussknit

To be fair, I know very little about the fibers of Truffula Trees.  It is possible that one has to . . . um . . .  Okay, I’m not entirely certain what the Onceler’s family is doing here.  They appear to be stabbing the fibers in a downward manner with their needles, miraculously producing thneeds.  This exact image isn’t exactly from the book (I think it’s wallpaper) but it’s an accurate depiction of what Seuss drew.  Whatever floats your boats, guys.  Just don’t call it knitting.

P.D. Eastman

eastmanknit

Et tu, Eastman?  I was merrily reading Robert the Rose Horse when I saw this image.  I may have to give Eastman points for the inherent humor of it, though.  Knitting without digits.  Think about it for a moment.

Garth Williams

garthwilliamsknit

I’m with you, kitten.  Shocked SHOCKED that the great Garth Williams failed to get this right.

Tove Jansson

jannsonknit

No word on whether or not Moominmamma . . . oh, wait.

jannsonknitDarn it.  No pun intended.

Edward Gorey

goreyknitWait!  This just in!  I believe this is an image from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  If so, then this cat isn’t knitting but tatting.  And if she is tatting then it’s possible the needles go up, right?  So let’s just find an image of someone tatting.

emma2--Emma Everson uses a shuttle made in the late 1880s to tat a method of tying lace patterns by hand.

So much for that.

Clement Hurd

hurdknit

I think we may have a winner.  Yes, it looks like it.  Granted, she’s put the knitting down on her lap to whisper “Hush” to the bunny in the bed, but I think it very likely that the needles were held correctly before then.  Shall we give it to him?

Okay.  Enough with the deceased.  Let’s see how some of our contemporary masters fare in this game.

Patricia Polacco

patriciapolaccoknit

Didn’t see that one coming.

Jerry Pinkney

pinkneyknit

YES!!  And Pinkney for the win!  The cat’s needles are down, I REPEAT!  The cat’s needles are down!

Paul O. Zelinsky

zelinskyknit

Considering how much work Paul put into getting the spinning wheel right in Rumpelstiltskin, it’s little wonder he’d get the knitting right in Swamp Angel.

Sophie Blackall

sophieblackallknit

Cheating a bit here.  This is from one of Sophie’s Missed Connections pieces and not from a children’s book, but it at least proves that if knitting ever does come up in one of her books, she’ll know what to do about it.

Jan Brett

brettknit

I suspect I would have had a small heart attack if it turned out that Ms. Brett didn’t know knitting.  She has, after all, portrayed some of the greatest illustrations of stitching ever seen in a picture book.

Notable missing illustrators aren’t listed here simply because I couldn’t figure out if they ever depicted knitting in their books.  Hence the lack of John Steptoe, Maurice Sendak, Trina Schart Hyman, Grace Lin, Tomie de Paola, Yuyi Morales, and others.  If you’ve inside knowledge on the matter, have at it.  Other contemporary illustrators like Lauren Castillo or Jon Klassen can be found on the previous piece about knitting books in 2014.

Have a favorite I didn’t include?  Let me know!

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39. Newbery / Caldecott 2017: Fall Prediction Edition

Mmmm.  It’s that time again.  The summer is beginning to cool its jets and with fall on the horizon I need to present the third in my yearly four-part prediction series.  What was that fantastic quote Travis Jonker came up with the other day?  Ah, yes.

“Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” – Lao Tzu

And like Travis, we’re just going to run roughshod over that one.  As ever, I will remind you that my ability to predict these things is a bit on the shoddy side.  You might be better off reading the Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott lists of Goodreads.  That said, I can give you something those lists can’t: Scintillating commentary!!  Unless you’re reading Heavy Medal or Calling Caldecott (both of which have just started up again).  Then you’ll get commentary from a variety of different voices.  Anyway . . .

Let’s do this thing.

2017 Caldecott Predictions

Ideas Are All Around by Philip Stead

IdeasAllAroundI think I’m going to stick with this one.  Here’s what usually happens when I mention this book on a prediction list.  I say I don’t find it very kid-friendly and then someone responds that they know several kids who love it.  They just happen to be older kids.  One forgets that not all picture books are aimed at three-year-olds.  Stead’s book pushes the boundaries.  It may, in fact, be one of those very rare picture books written for a middle grade audience.  With that in mind, a consideration of the text and image together takes on a different light entirely.

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, ill. Francis Vallejo

jazzday1

Not fish, nor fowl.  Is it nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, poetry, or a picture book?  The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards placed it squarely in the picture book category (those judges must have been awfully smart, don’t you think, huh huh, don’t you think, huh?) though like Ideas Are All Around it’s for older readers.  A bit of a trend here, eh?  Maybe.  After all, the last few nonfiction Caldecott winners (Finding Winnie, Locomotive, etc.) were on the older side as well.

Miracle Man by John Hendrix

MiracleMan

Chant it with me! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!  Now last time I did a prediction edition I mentioned the whole question about whether or not a Jesus book could win a Caldecott anymore (since, y’know, the first 1938 winner was Animals of the Bible).  Now I’ve found out that I’ll get to talk with The Horn Book Podcast soon about religion and children’s literature in the 21st century.  That should help me straighten out my thoughts on the matter.  In the meantime, I’m keeping this one in the mix.  As I mentioned before, it’s the wildest of my Wild Cards, but I think it may have an outside chance.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Radiant Child

Speaking of the Horn Book Podcast, there was an interesting discussion the other day with Jules Danielson of the 7-Imp blog about whether or not publishers should include information about how the art was made on the publication page of a picture book.  Roger Sutton was asking if knowledge of how a book is made adjusts your interpretation of the art.  I mentioned this to a friend and they pointed out that in 2016 we’re seeing a crazy amount of eclectic and interesting art in our contenders.  From the found wood of Yuyi Morales’s Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas to the Moroccan influence and mixed media of Evan Turk’s The Storyteller (we’ll get to that) to the found wood (again) of this book, it has never been a better time to get creative with your medium.  And anyway, this book just blew me away.  Technically a bio won the Caldecott last year, but there’s no rule saying it can’t happen repeatedly.  And how awesome would it be for a Steptoe to win the Caldecott again?  Javaka completely deserves it with this book.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

snowwhite

Okay!  So graphic novels have been winning Newberys left, right, and center lately, right?  Which is to say, Newbery Honors.  On the Caldecott side, This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki essentially blew our minds when it won a Caldecott Honor two years ago (and it was YA!).  This 1930s reinterpretation of the Snow White story is far younger than Tamaki’s book, and done in an elegant black and white style.  It is, in its own way, very sexy but still child appropriate (I’ll have to review it sometime to figure out how that’s even possible).  Phelan’s never won any Caldecotts that I can tell, but he’s also become more and more accomplished as the years have gone by.  This book would be a risk for the committee, but it would also be a wonderful way of praising Phelan’s evident expertise.

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Storyteller1

Sometimes a Caldecott winner says something about the times in which we live.  Turk’s book talks about the roles stories have in our lives.  It folds a story within a story within a story and then backs out again without tripping up once.  Visually it’s a stunner, with smart writing to match, but more importantly it’s speaking to the times in which we live.  We are desperate for stories these days.  This book speaks not just to that need but the solution.  Aw, heck.  It may even have a chance at a Newbery.  Look at the art when you get a chance, though.  It’s truly beautiful.

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, ill. Yuyi Morales

 ThunderBoy

This book was already mentioned on Heavy Medal’s Ten Picture Books That Can Win the 2017 Newbery Medal.  On the Caldecott side of the equation it’s already received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor.  It’s one of those books where the art slowly grabs you.  There are circles within circles, connections upon connections.  A long discussion of the book yields treasures.  You will see things you missed many times before.

 They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

TheyAllSawCat

Someone told me recently that this book is scientifically accurate.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, the premise is that a single cat is viewed in a multitude of different ways by different animals.  I haven’t looked into the veracity of this claim yet, but if true then it’s just another feather in the cap of a remarkable title.  Word on the street says that Chronicle paid a pretty penny for the manuscript.  From everything I can see, it was worth it in the end.


2017 Newbery Predictions

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

cloud-and-wallfish

You know, you guys should really listen to that Horn Book Podcast sometime.  It was Roger Sutton who mentioned this book and piqued my interest in it.  I already had a copy at home since it came with rather peculiar swag.  With the book came two little cut out stencils.  One of a cloud.  One of a whale.  Aside from pitying the poor intern that spent at least a day cutting these out, it did interest me.  Good cover.  Good title.  And Nesbet?  That was the author behind that Cabinet of Earths series, right?  Well I’ve been reading it and on some level it reminded me of The War That Saved My Life.  Not the setting so much as just the pure enjoyment I’ve received while reading it.  Roger said something similar himself.  Nesbet has taken 1989 East Germany and just riddled it with interesting details and great writing.  Y’all have to check this out.

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

FreedomOverMe

It’s been (checks calendar) six days since this book was released.  Have you read it yet?  Have you, have you?  Because I’d really like to talk to somebody about it.  I think 2016 is going to be The Year of Difficult Writing for me.  So many authors are taking risks, doing things no one’s done before, and creating art in the process.  Mr. Bryan is no exception.  I’ve never seen anything quite like what he’s done here.  Naming this book as even an honor would be a powerful statement.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

InquisitorsTale

I actually did a double take when I reread my Summer Prediction Edition and found, to my shock and horror, that I had not included this book on the list.  I must have read it right after I posted.  In fact, I know I did since three or four readers named it as a top pick.  Whole lotta religion in this one.  And blood and guts too (this is Mr. Gidwitz we’re talking about) but talk about risks!  He’s basically taking Christianity and Judaism and discussing them in a context almost never seen in middle grade historical fiction (fantasy? fiction?).  Gutsy.  Blood and gutsy.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax

Ah, Pax.  Let out of the gate early in 2016 with a huge marketing push to match.  It worked in terms of sales, of course.  This book has already become a New York Times bestseller (no mean feat for a book that isn’t part of a series written by a man whose name rhymes with My Own Pen).  It was the earliest book to garner Newbery buzz as well.  Indeed, there’s a reason Heavy Medal chose it as one of the first books of the year to discuss.  Love it or hate it, there is a LOT to chew on in this novel.  It could either sweep the awards or not even get an Honor nod.  Though, if I were a betting woman, I’d say it’s a clear cut Newbery Honor book.

Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West by Candace Fleming

presentingbuffalo

The Newbery is not awarded for difficulty.  If it were, Fleming would be a shoo-in.  Instead, she’s written a middle grade nonfiction biography of a figure forgotten by most kids today.  A biography hasn’t won a Newbery since 1988 (Lincoln, a Photobiography, in case you’re curious).  So the chances of Fleming winning for this book are slim, but I’m a fan of the underdog. The writing is extraordinary, the topic impossible, and the take clever.  We’ll see if the committee agrees.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

RaymieNightingale

Like Pax, this is one of those shoo-ins for discussion.  Also like Pax it came out early in the year.  Will the committee be burned out by the time they actually get around to discussing it?  Considering how much there is to discuss about the book, not likely.  If it wins the Award proper that will be DiCamillo’s third Newbery Award (not counting Honors).  Something to chew on.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

WhenGreen1

Mmm.  Poetry.  Slightly less rare than middle grade biography winners.  After all, verse novels have won.  Monologues done in rhyme have won.  Even straight up books of poetry have, technically, won.  One thing I have learned about this book is that not everybody shares my love of it.  Like humor, the worth of poetry can prove subjective.  Still and all, there’s a groundswell of support for it out there.  One of the loveliest books of the year, by far.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

WolfHollow

Also known as the book I had to flip to the back of because it became too tense for me not to know how it ended.  They keep comparing it to To Kill a Mockingbird in the ad copy, which I feel is a bit unfair.  Any book compared to Harper Lee’s classic is going to end up with a raw deal.  It’s an interesting take on prejudices and has, by far, the most evil bully in a book I have EVER read.  I wouldn’t call it enjoyable in the same way as the Nesbet book, but it was deeply compelling and beautifully written.

AND NOW . . . THE BOOK THAT IS GOING TO BE SUPER FUN FOR THE NEWBERY COMMITTEE AS THEY TRY TO FIGURE OUT IF IT’S EVEN UP FOR CONTENTION OR NOT . . .

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko, narrative and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito & Michiko Tsuboi

areyouecho

Haven’t heard of it?  I bet not.  I have not yet begun to sing its praises on this blog, having just read it, but this is without a doubt one of the most amazing books of the year.

Now this should be an open and shut case of a book that simply can’t be a Newbery contender.  See how I mentioned that there was a translator or two involved in this book?  Right.  Books eligible for the Newbery must have originally been published in the United States.  Case closed, right?  Maybe not.  This book is about the life of a celebrated Japanese poet for children who was rediscovered not long ago, and became famous thanks in large part to one of her poems circulating after the tsunami of 2011.  It pulls no punches and reproduces original translations of her poems throughout the text.

So the book itself was originally published in the States, right?  But the poetry spotted throughout the book comes from a Japanese anthology of Kaneko’s works.  What this means is that even if the poetry has never been translated in this way before, technically the poems have been translated overseas before and therefore the book is not a Newbery contender.  I think.  If true this is a pity since I truly believe that anyone who reads this book will be utterly blown away by what they find inside.  In any case, the author of the poetry is dead and I believe that may be an impediment to its Newbery qualifications as well.  Ah well.  Check it out when you get a chance.  It’s really quite remarkable.

Okay, folks!  Lemme have it!  What did I miss?

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40. Welcome to SOL Tuesday

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOL bloggers. Inspiring words that are… Continue reading

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41. The Cranky Ballerina by Elise Gravel


The Cranky Ballerina by Elise Gravel is a picture book for both kids AND parents. I am not a helicopter parent by any stretch of the imagination and my kids are not over-scheduled. That said, I have signed them up for various classes and worried that they weren't getting the most out of them as they whined about having to go or, even worse (and predictably) complained about having to practice. Then I worried that I was forcing them to do something that I thought was important but would never be important to them. Then I worried that they would reach adulthood without realizing their creative or athletic potential (why did my mother let me quit piano lessons? And guitar lessons??) and maybe miss out on a scholarship or two. For me, reading The Cranky Ballerina was a huge catharsis. Maybe I am reading too much into Gravel's delightfully charming book, maybe I am just carrying a ton of parental guilt around with me. Either way, The Cranky Ballerina is a fantastic read, whoever you are, whatever lessons you took and whatever lessons your parents let you quit or you let your kids quit...

It's Saturday and Ada wakes up cranky. She hates everything, from her too-tight leotard to her itchy tutu to the car ride. Ada hates ballet.  She hates to practice and her pirouettes are nearly catastrophic. Fourth position sends her swirling into the hall where she head butts a guy dressed in "some kind of pajamas" who asks, "Do you think you could do that again for my class?"



Turns out that guy in weird pajamas is a karate instructor and Ada has all the right moves for his class! "Front kick! Swoosh! Side Punch! Roundhouse kick! Swat!" Ada learns something new and feels something new - a smile spreads across her face as she feels, for the first time, successful at something. The penultimate page of The Cranky Ballerina shows Ada, in her tutu, practicing with the class. The final page turn show a classmate in his ghee thinking, "I hate karate."

Genius! Brilliant! I am in love with Elise Gravel's books and can't wait to see what she does next! 

Source: Review Copy


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42. BLIP! by Barnaby Richards, 40 pp, RL 1.5


BLIP! by Barnaby Richards is a fantastic new TOON Book at the essential Level 1. Featuring a robot, I was drawn to BLIP! immediately. The story begins on the endpapers as we a spaceship floating through the galaxy. "Blip," goes the ship. Until it goes, "Tchok!" when it hits a mountain on a planet.




The robot climbs out of his his ship and begins to explore, always saying, "Blip," sometimes as statement, an exclamation or even a question. Richards's planet is a strange one, filled with curious details that you will want to spend time with. The robot goes over land and under water, meeting all kinds of creatures, even a human.



Finally, the robot returns to the ship only to find another robot working on another ship! The two exchange "blips" and "bleeps" and head off, back into space.

Blip! is a fantastic introduction to the sequential art of the graphic novel and it is also (as are all the books TOON publishes) a superb example of what founder François Mouly started out to do in 2008 - created beginning readers with engaging illustrations and stories that are anything but boring.

Source: Review Copy

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43. Book Review: The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Title: The Taming of the Drew
Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published: 2016
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Headed out to play Kate in a summer stock theatre's production of The Taming of the Shrew, Cass runs afoul of her very own Petruchio . . . who of course turns out to be playing Petruchio in the show. Drew is a persnickety know-it-all who's just begging for a setdown - and Cass is more than up for the challenge.

First Impressions: A cute but slight retelling of Taming of the Shrew. The ending came way too fast and I didn't quite believe it.

Later On: The more I think about this book, the more I'm coming down on the "meh" side. While Drew was pretty obnoxious at times, some of the pranks Cass played could have been genuinely dangerous, such as the one that irritated his extreme allergies. (As someone with allergy-related asthma, I got really worried that he was going to wind up in the hospital.) If I were a guy who'd been having a really awful summer and found out that one girl was behind my inability to sleep because of phantom noises, my clothes all being dyed pink, and other annoyances, I wouldn't be kissing her at the end.

At least some of that emotion is probably my feelings about the source material, which with its themes of emotional and physical abuse, is one of the Shakespeare plays that make modern audiences very uncomfortable. There's some attempt to examine the complexities of putting on the play in a time of wildly different gender roles, but Strohm mostly abandons that in order to uncomplicatedly replicate the original with a gender reversal.

Still, the summer stock theater tropes (wacko director, varying stereotypes of actors) are pretty funny and Cass does have an encounter with fame that forces her to rethink who and what is worth being attracted to. If you can switch off your brain and your nitpick engine (not my strength, obviously), you could probably enjoy this novel.

More: Kirkus

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44. First Impressions: Where You'll Find Me, March Book 1, The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

Title: Where You'll Find Me
Author: Natasha Friend
Published: 2016
Source: NetGalley
Summary: After her mother's suicide attempt, Anna winds up living with her father and her brand-new stepmother. She's determined to hate it (among other things, her father left her mother to be with her stepmother) but she soon finds that things aren't uniformly awful in her father's house.
First Impressions: Gaaaaaaaaah this was honest and tough. I liked the stepmother, Marnie, a whole lot more than I expected to.

Title: March Book 1
Author: John Lewis, Nate Powell, Andrew Aydin
Published: 2013
Source: Public Library
Summary: The civil rights leader and congressman's early life and first forays into peaceful demonstration, presented in graphic novel format.
First Impressions: Interesting to see the intra-movement divisions of the mid-century civil rights movement as well as the intensive training they went through in order to hold to their credo of non-violence.

Title: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Author: Melissa Keil, comic sections by Mike Lawrence
Published: 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Summary: A dot on the map in Australia is supposed to be the last holdout of humanity when the apocoalypse hits on New Year's Day, or so says a sketchy TV psychic. Alba watches with her friends as hippies and doomsday believers flood to their tiny town. At the same time, she tries not to brood about the end of high school and the beginning of her adult life, and the changes and separations that will inevitably go with it.
First Impressions: Awww, this was sweet. It felt realistic especially set on the end-of-the-world backdrop because it did feel like her world was ending.

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45. Dog Loves Books

Dog Loves Books. Louise Yates. 2010. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dog loved books. He loved the smell of them, and he loved the feel of them. He loved everything about them...

Premise/plot: Dog loves books so much that he decides to open a bookstore. Initially disappointed that no one comes to his store, he begins to lose himself in the books he reads. He forgets that he's alone. The story ends with his first real customer. Dog knows just what books to recommend because if there's one thing he loves as much as reading, it is sharing what he reads with others.

My thoughts: I really liked this one. Dog is a character I can relate to easily. I also love to read. Books have always helped me to forget that I was alone. And sharing books? Probably one of the best things ever.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Five Grammar Lessons With Sneaky Double-Duty Goals 

Check out these quick, easy grammar lessons that will clean up and power up your students' writing.

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47. Family Dialogue Journals

Can a Family Dialogue Journal help build stronger home-school connections through written conversation?

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48. Dog Loves Drawing

Dog Loves Drawing. Louise Yates. 2012. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dog loved books. He loved books so much that he opened his own bookshop.

Premise/plot: Dog receives a package from his Aunt Dora. It is a blank sketch book. Dog knows just what to do: he grabs his drawing supplies and draws a door. Not wanting to be alone, he draws some friends: a stick man and a duck. His drawings soon start drawing too. Soon they are joined by an owl and a crab. It is Owl's idea to go on an outing--and it is with the outing that the ADVENTURE begins. (They start out on a train...) Soon Dog's sketchbook is FULL.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one very much. I thought it was fun, playful, creative, charming. I really enjoyed all the drawing adventures. It is, of course, a bit like Harold and the Purple Crayon. I really enjoyed the characterization and the action. For example, "While the duck was arguing with the others about who should drive, the stickman drew himself a driver's hat, scribbled some steam, and...they were off!" I love seeing Dog and Duck argue! The expressions on the crab and owl are pretty priceless as well.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. The Borrowers

The Borrowers. Mary Norton. Illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. 1952/2006. HMH. 192 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Mrs. May who first told me about them.

Premise/plot: Ever wondered why there's never a safety pin when you need one? Readers meet a family of Borrowers who live under the kitchen floor in an older house. Pod is the 'borrower' of the family. He knows the routines of the 'human beans' and can go out and about without being seen, most of the time. He doesn't mind being seen by the matriarch of the family at night. (She thinks she's hallucinating because she's had a couple too many drinks.) His wife, Homily, is quite satisfied to stay safely in her house behind dozens of locked gates and such. (She gives him plenty of instruction on what to borrow, however.) The couple's daughter is Arrietty, and, she is the book's heroine by my reckoning. She meets a boy that has come to stay--recuperate--for a couple of months. They become very, very good friends. She reads to him. He brings her and her parents STUFF for their home. (He 'borrows' freely from the house, most notably from a doll house that everyone seems to have forgotten about.)

Readers learn about the dangers of being a Borrower and 'the good old days' when the house was FULL of families. Arrietty fears that her family is the last living in the house.

My thoughts: This one is super fun. It is also quite suspenseful at the end!!!! I definitely recommend this one!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Emily's Runaway Imagination

Emily's Runaway Imagination. Beverly Cleary. 1961. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The things that happened to Emily Bartlett that year!

Premise/plot: Emily Bartlett is the heroine of Beverly Cleary's Emily's Runaway Imagination. Emily has many adventures or misadventures, many of which center around the formation of the first public library in her town. I would categorize the book as historical fiction. Reference is made to a world war, and, I think it may even be the first world war. One of the adventures involves Emily's grandpa getting a car. And having a car is a novelty in their town. Most people either walk, ride horses, drive a horse and wagon.

My thoughts: I really LOVE this one. If I read this one growing up, I only read it once. It's even possible this is one we didn't own. It took me so long to get to it as an adult because the local library doesn't have a copy of it. I bought this battered copy of it at my local charity shop for a quarter.

Favorite quotes:
"There are still books left to choose from," answered Mama.
And there were! Just think of it, real library books right here in Pitchfork, Oregon. The Dutch Twins, the Tale of Jemima Puddleduck--what a tiny book that was! Emily had not known they made such little books. The Curly-Haired Hen, English Fairy Tales. But no Black Beauty. Oh, well, perhaps another time. Emily chose English Fairy Tales because it was the thickest, and Mama wrote her name on a little card that she removed from a pocket in the book. Emily now had a library book to read. (117)
"Ma'am, is it all right if I get some books for my family?" he asked.
Mama smiled at the boy. "I don't believe I have seen you in Pitchfork before. Do you live in the country?"
"No, ma'am. I live in Greenvale," he answered. "We read about the library in the Pitchfork Report and I walked down the railroad track to see if we could get some books too."
"Why, that's at least four miles," said Mama, "and four miles back again."
The boy looked at the floor. "Yes ma'am."
"Of course you may take books for your family," said Mama. This boy wanted to read. That was enough for her. It made no difference where he lived. (118)


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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