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Book Reviews from the Children's Department Staff of the Park Ridge Public Library
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1. Moonsilver (The Unicorn’s Secret, #1), by Kathleen Duey

Moonsilver (The Unicorn’s Secret, #1)In Moonsilver, the first book of the series The Unicorn’s Secret, we meet Heart Avamir, a young girl who was abandoned at birth and raised by Simon Pratt, a demanding and unloving guardian. Despite this, Heart grows to be a kind, gentle, and hard working girl. When she meets an abandoned and starving white mare in the fields one day, she is instantly devoted and fights to keep the mare. Heart wakes up extra early to gather food for the horse, and enlists the help of the village healer and her only friend to help her nurse the horse back to health. When the mare begins to regain strength, Heart discovers that she is going to have a foal. But the foal turns out to be no ordinary horse, and in order to protect them both Heart must set out on a great adventure.

This beginning chapter book makes a great fantasy introduction, and is also recommended to young horse lovers. This would also make a good read aloud for children not yet ready to read chapters on their own.

Posted by: Parry


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2. My Bus by Byron Barton

My BusOne of my toddler’s favorite books right now is My Bus by Byron Barton. My son has taken quite a liking to Joe, the bus driver, and his dogs. In this story, the reader meets Joe and learns about his job picking up dogs and cats and driving them to their destinations. Joe has a busy day making lots of stops and dropping animals off at the boat, train, and plane. Besides for the bus, little vehicle lovers can see the animals sail, ride and fly away. The simple illustrations and minimal text appeal to the youngest readers. For slightly older readers, it is a nice introduction to addition and subtraction.

Posted by: Liz


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3. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

A Lion in ParisIn the Children’s area we have a special section of picture books called K-3rd. This section contains books that would be great read alouds for children in Kindergarten through grade 3; especially in a large group like a classroom. Occasionally, we also have picture books that are more suitable for older children due to themes, complex language, or that do not work well as read alouds for a large group. Because there are not many books like this in the picture book collection, we do not have a designated area for them and they are shelved alphabetically with all of the other picture books. These books are often high quality literary works that deserve attention, but do not always find an audience because most people only look for picture books for young children. We recently acquired a book like this called A Lion in Paris that I hope does not get overlooked. This oversized picture book that reads vertically like a calendar rather than horizontally tells the story of a lion who is bored with life in the grasslands so he sets off to find “a job, love, and a future” in Paris. Through short sentences and expressive mixed media illustrations, Alemagna manages to paint a picture of a very despondent lion, a beautiful, yet aloof city and how to find your place in the world wherever you may be. The lion visits several famous Parisian landmarks including the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa smile at him, Monmontre where he helps an older woman down the many steps and the River Seine to look at his reflection. The lion goes from being stranger in Paris to loving the city so much that he decides to stay there permanently and becomes the famous lion statue at the Place Denfer-Rochereau. This book would be perfect to share with a child interested in Paris or planning a trip there, a child struggling to fit in, or anyone looking for something a little different in terms of format or storyline.

Posted by: Kelly


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4. Road Trip by Gary Paulsen & Jim Paulsen

Road TripNothing says “Summer” like a good old fashioned family road trip! Now take that family road trip, throw in a reformed juvenile delinquent, a feisty waitress, an ornery auto mechanic, and an introspective border collie, put them on a big yellow school bus, and send them off to rescue a puppy. What do you get? You get Road Trip, a fun summer read by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen!

Road Trip is the first collaborative effort by prolific author Gary Paulsen and his sculptor son Jim. Similar to a game of Exquisite Corpse, the father-son duo took turns writing chapters and sending them back and forth to one another. As they did, the story and characters grew in ways neither could have expected. Despite what might sound like a disjointed writing method, the Paulsens manage to maintain a cohesive feel to this short novel. Quirky characters abound throughout this madcap story of a father and son struggling to understand one another. Road Trip is a perfect quick read for vacationing 5th graders and up. Perhaps it will even inspire an impromptu road trip or two along the way.

Posted by: Staci


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5. The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Rump: The True Story of RumpelstiltskinWhat would you do if your name decided your destiny? Some might be thrilled with the potential of a powerful name. On the other hand, being named after a cow’s rear end would make me feel rather blue. That is the case for Rump who lives in The Kingdom where names mean everything. Rump is constantly picked on due to his name. Rump knows in his heart that his mother gave him a wonderful name, but she died before she was able to communicate it fully.

On his twelfth birthday, Rump discovers an old spinning wheel in his woodpile. The wheel belonged to his mother and he desperately wants to keep the item since it was once hers. Rump tries spinning the wheel against his Gran’s wishes and learns there is a magical outcome. In this land magic can be dangerous and Rump quickly gets himself into a heap of trouble. Rump has to find a way to make things right while he also attempts to learn his whole name.

Many children know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but Shurtliff has created a marvelous story that will keep readers engaged as they learn Rump’s side of the classic fairy tale. What really makes this story magical is how the author is able to get readers to root for a normally disliked character.

Posted by: Katie


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6. Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall

Dog vs. CatOn the very day that Mr. Button goes to the animal shelter to pick out a dog, Mrs. Button goes to a pet store to buy a cat. The two pets will have to share a room in their new home. At first it seems they will get along well; Dog lives on one side of the room and Cat lives on the other side. But dogs and cats are not the same and they quickly discover that they have very different interests, habits and living styles. It’s not very long at all before they begin to go out of their way to make life miserable for each other. They even resort to trying to get one another one in trouble with Mr. and Mrs. Button. Finally, Dog and Cat decide to build a wall to totally separate their room.

Now life has become nice and quiet for Dog and Cat – and boring. They realize that they miss each other. Just as they are finding new ways to get along they hear a strange howling outside their door. OH NO! Could it be that Mr. and Mrs. Button have brought home yet another pet? Sure enough, Dog and Cat have to share their room some with someone new. This just will not do and they come up with a perfect solution. Dogs and cats most definitely can get along!

Posted by: Wendy


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7. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

The Glass SentenceWe all know that different countries have different customs that make it an adjustment to travel across borders, and that there’s a famous saying trying to explain how disconcerting it can be to adjust to those different customs: “the past is a foreign country.” But what if each foreign country was in the past? Or more specifically, what if by traveling across borders, you could travel to different times?

In The Glass Sentence, the Great Disruption happened in 1799–the world’s countries came unstuck in time and each settled in a different era. Boston remained in the 18th (and then 19th) centuries, but Canada and northern Europe reverted to the Ice Age, the Italy and western Europe returned to the middle ages, and the western part of America and Mexico has settled in a mixture of many ages, including the distant past and parts of the future!

Sophia lives in Boston with her uncle Shadrack, a famous cartologer–he maps not only the way to get to different countries and eras, but can map sights, smells, and even memories from certain places. Soon after Shadrack shows Sophia his secret map room, filled with maps that seem almost magic, he is kidnapped by thugs working for a terrifying creature who will do anything to find the one map that Shadrack says he doesn’t have. Sophia teams up with a boy escaped from a traveling show to track down Shadrack’s captors, and as she travels into the Baldlands, finds herself farther from Boston–both physically and mentally–than she could have ever imagined.

This book is wholly original and utterly amazing. The imagery and descriptive language is such that I could perfectly see every landscape, every character, every object, no matter how fantastical. The book stood alone perfectly well, but I was thrilled to discover later that it is the first book in a series! I look forward to the continuing adventures of Sophia and Shadrack, and I can’t wait to see what countries and eras they visit next.

Posted by: Sarah


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8. The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

The Lion and the BirdAs lion is working in his garden on autumn day he notices a little injured bird and decides to help the little creature. For the duration of autumn and all through winter, the lion cares for the bird. He tends to the bird’s injury and shares his home, food and even his hat throughout the cold winter months. As spring returns, so does the birds flock. The lion sadly, but stoically, bids his new friend farewell and spends the rest of the spring, summer and early autumn quietly tending to his home and garden alone. The autumn winds bring colder weather and the faintest hope that perhaps the bird will return to spend time with the lion and, much to the lion’s delight, the bird does return to his friend.

This gentle story of friendship and kindness is impeccably composed by author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc. Minimal text provides for numerous opportunities to engage little ones with questions about emotions, seasons, and predictions of what is to come. Dubuc’s soft, endearing illustrations not only compliment the text, but also further the story seamlessly. Additionally, the clever use of blank pages quietly denotes the passage of time and accentuates the spot on pacing of the story. One particularly outstanding instance of storytelling occurs when the lion is hoping for a return visit from his feathered friend. An initially crestfallen lion is followed by two blank pages. Then a single music note then appears to fly into the page, signifying the bird’s homecoming, and is followed by a wordless two page spread illustrating the reunion. It is pure happiness!

This charming and gentle book would be a lovely bedtime story to share with young children ages two and up.

Posted by: Staci


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9. Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Kelly shares Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth, a fascinating, picture book-length history of both Puerto Rico, and the parrots that live there.


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10. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

The Five Lives of Our Cat ZookYou probably have deduced from the title that this book has a pet with questionable health and are ready to move on to the next review because you don’t like sad stories about animals…but please don’t! This is a certainly a story that features a very sick cat, but also manages to be a feel good story, a slice of Oakland, CA urban life, a sweeping fairy tale, a love story, and realistic tale about a 10-year-old girl navigating her world.

Oona Armstrong is that 10 year-old girl and her life is a complicated one. Her father passed away after a long battle with cancer, her 5 year-old brother Freddy just recently started talking and eating again after the loss of their father, and her cat, Zook (short for Zucchini) is very old and very sick, and her mother has a new boyfriend named Dylan, but Oona refers to him only has “The Villian.”

Oona copes by telling whoppers; so many whoppers that she has a color coding system for all of the different types of whoppers she tells. The best whoppers are the stories she creates for Freddy. Fairy tales that are crafted from memories their father told her that help explain the world to a 5 year-old, including the four lives prior to the one that their cat Zook is currently living.

Oona’s whoppers get her into some trouble, but they also make her and Freddy’s life much more bearable and the beauty of this book is watching how those whoppers eventually help her family move on from very tough times. We have to experience some sorrow to find joy and this book is a perfect example of that.

Posted by: Kelly


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11. A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say: Finding the Words to Fit Any Situation By Patti Kelley Criswell

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say: Finding the Words to Fit Any SituationKnowing what to say in any given situation can be tough. You may be in a difficult situation and need to speak with care so as to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. You may be dealing with a bully and you need to stand up for yourself. You may need to respectfully negotiate a compromise with a friend or parent. And sometimes you hurt someone and need to apologize. A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say covers all types of situations and offers real-life examples of healthy ways to express what you mean effectively and with respect for yourself and others. This is a great book for girls to explore on their own or with their parents or friends. It would make a great starting point for discussion or a guide to role playing between daughters and their parents, so as to practice handling different situations. The information in this book is well organized and the design is colorful and appealing. It is part of the American Girl series, which many girls may already be familiar with. The book was made for girls, but it is sound advice for boys as well!

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say was first recommended to me by the organization A Mighty Girl – check out their website or follow them on Facebook for great book, toy, and movie recommendations for girls, as well as interesting information about women throughout history.

Posted by: Parry


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12. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

The Invisible BoyEveryone knows a child or has been the child that doesn’t get noticed in school for one reason or another. This book perfectly illustrates the world of a child who feels invisible. The teacher is so busy dealing with the boy with the “volume control” or the girl who complains and whines too much that she too doesn’t really notice Brian. He doesn’t get chosen for teams at recess and doesn’t get invited to parties, and sadly the other kids don’t stop to notice that their actions may be hurtful to Brian. No one seems to notice all the good things about Brian – that he is a wonderful artist – that he has a great imagination – that he can write exciting stories . . . Then one morning a new boy arrives in class, and Brian shows him a little kindness when the kids tease the new boy about the strange food he is eating for lunch. When the new boy Justin finds Brian’s note telling him that he thought his lunch looked good, Justin thanks him, and the two become fast friends. AND once Justin takes a chance on Brian, other friends follow, and pretty soon Brian doesn’t feel so invisible. Thanks to Miss Judy for pointing out this beautiful story to me. It is a must read!

Posted by: Mary


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13. A Pet for Fly Guy by Ted Arnold

A Pet for Fly GuyWith the summer reading club in full swing, I have books about pets and animals on my mind. The latest Fly Guy book was the perfect summer find. We have always enjoyed the other easy readers from this series in our house. And now, Fly Guy is making his picture book debut. In this latest story, Fly Guy is disappointed to discover that almost everyone has a pet except him. His owner and best buddy, Buzz, take him to the pet store to find a suitable pet. Unfortunately, none of the animals are quite right. Especially the frog that tries to eat him! It turns out that his buddy Buzz makes the perfect pet. Buzz accepts the offer to be his pet as long as Fly Guy doesn’t feed him. This is a cute story with a fun ending, and even has a nice introduction to the basics of pet care thrown in.

Posted by: Liz


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14. Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not ReadingCharlie Joe Jackson is in middle school and he has never read an entire book cover to cover. In fact he does everything he can to avoid reading. Luckily, Charlie Joe’s friend Timmy has been a huge help to his non-reading habits. For the past two years, Charlie Joe buys Timmy an ice cream sandwich and in exchange Timmy explains what happens in the books they are required to read for school. This agreement is perfect for Charlie Joe, until Timmy decides he is no longer happy with their arrangement. To make matters worse, he has a huge position paper due at the end of the school year that involves a lot of research. A lot of research means reading a lot of books. Charlie Joe comes up with a creative scheme to keep his perfect record of non-reading. However, he knows this scheme could get him into a big trouble while also pushing away the girl he has had a crush on since kindergarten.

Tommy Greenwald has written a humorous story about a child who simply does not enjoy reading. I am someone who loves to read so this title immediately caught my attention. Charlie Joe is a likeable character who will appeal to many children. Throughout the book Greenwald includes twenty-five of Charlie Joe’s non-reading tips, though at times Charlie Joe doesn’t follow his own instructions. Comical illustrations are woven throughout the book to further enhance the story’s appeal. This book would be a great choice for any middle school child who is a reluctant reader. If you enjoy this book, you can read more about Charlie Joe’s antics in Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit and Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation.

Posted by: Katie


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15. Common Core Review: Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly JourneyChildren and adults alike are fascinated by butterflies. Their beautiful delicate wings attract attention where ever they fly, and their seemingly magical metamorphosis has inspired countless stories. Handle with Care tells the story of El Bosque Nuevo, a butterfly farm in Costa Rica, where a variety of butterflies are raised and then sold to various museums around the world. The benefits of this arrangement are twofold: 1. people everywhere can have the opportunity to observe and learn from butterflies from distant parts of the world and 2. the profits from the sales of the butterflies go to help preserve the rain forest surrounding the farm.

Author Loree Griffin Burns meticulously researched this topic and even spent time living in Costa Rica and working at El Bosque Nuevo. Her hands on research and genuine passion for the subject matter are evident throughout this book. Burns chooses her words carefully so as to make the material accessible to a younger audience while still being interesting and informative enough for older, more independent learners. In addition, Ellen Harasimowicz’s vibrant and gorgeous photographs bring the reader into the butterfly farm and allow for a stunningly up close view of the butterflies as they make their remarkable transformations. However, this book is more than just an informational text about butterflies. It is about the journey these amazing creatures take in an effort to inform, enlighten, and educate people around the world about butterflies while also raising money and awareness to save the rainforests. Handle with Care takes the familiar (butterflies) and connects it to the exotic (Costa Rican rainforests) and, in doing so, readers can make a connection to the very real plight that is the deforestation of the rainforests.

Common Core Connections
Because Handle with Care has so many layers, it lends itself to a variety of educational opportunities. Younger students will benefit from a pairing with any number of traditional butterfly stories such as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Lois Ehlert’s Waiting for Wings. In addition to studying the life cycle of a butterfly, older students can also go on to explore the environmental issues raised by the book. Students could be encouraged to communicate with the butterfly farmers at El Bosque Nuevo and perhaps even raise awareness and funds for the butterfly farm in their own communities. Field trips to butterfly gardens are a natural extension for any age as well.

For more information on the work of El Bosque Nuevo and more ideas on how to share this information with students, visit the following websites:
El Bosque Nuevo
Loree Griffin Burns’ Handle with Care page

Posted by: Staci


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16. Chip Wants a Dog by William Wegman

Chip Wants a DogChip wants a dog – it’s all he thinks and dreams about. He would just love to teach a dog tricks such as to roll over, fetch and sit. A dog would be his best friend.

The problem is Chip’s parents do not want a dog. They think dogs are too much hard work and his Mother is really more of a cat person. Chip doesn’t understand why he can’t have a dog. All the other kids have dogs.

One night Chip has a dream that he is a dog. When he wakes up in the morning he realizes something about himself that has to do with his intense desire to have a dog.

What a funny easy reader! The William Wegman photographs are classic!

Posted by: Wendy


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17. The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

The Islands of ChaldeaThe books of Diana Wynne Jones were a constant throughout my childhood and teen years. Of the nearly 100 books by her listed in our library system’s catalog, there isn’t a single one that I haven’t read at least once, if not repeatedly.

After Jones passed away in 2011, I naturally thought that I would never again read a new book by her. But first there was the posthumously published Earwig and the Witch, a short, snappy book about an orphan and her curious adoptive ‘family.’ It was definitely appealing, but it had that abrupt, unpolished quality that posthumously published books often have. I would recommend it to a reader, but it didn’t capture my imagination the way so many of Jones’ books had. Yet again, I thought that was that.

Fully three years after her death, though, a full-length novel by Jones has appeared–it was discovered amongst her papers, and polished and completed by Jones’ sister, Ursula Jones, already an author in her own right. This was the final (?) Diana Wynne Jones novel that I had been waiting for–it has a story that sucks a reader in almost instantly, characters who are defined simply but indelibly, and a setting so well-described that one can see it.

Aileen is an apprentice Wise-Woman, cared for by her Aunt Beck, the Wise Woman of Skarr, one of the group of sovereign islands known collectively as the Islands of Chaldea. Aileen has only just attempted her first initiation when she and her aunt–and a prince, and a castle servant–are sent off on a whirlwind quest that requires them to visit every island.

As is typical for Jones, our heroine has more reserves than she believes (but is never a wet blanket about her insecurities), there are wonderful animal companions, and adult authority figures are often Very Cranky.

I hope that it is taken as a compliment when I say that I cannot tell at all where Ursula Jones’ contributions come in–the book hangs together perfectly as a whole, with no disjointed transitions or developments that ring false. I highly recommend the book, both on its own merits, and as a satisfying send-off to Diana Wynne Jones’ magical oeuvre.

Posted by: Sarah


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18. Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares a book that ties in with Paws to Read, our summer reading club: Mice Mischief: Math Facts in Action, by Caroline Stills.


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19. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

mister tiger goes wildMr. Tiger is completely and utterly bored. He lives in the city where his animal friends are proper all the time. But Mr. Tiger doesn’t want to be proper, he wants to be wild! Mr. Tiger starts to act differently and his friends think his behavior is unacceptable. He runs to the wilderness where he can finally be himself. The only problem is that he misses his friends and his home. When Mr. Tiger returns to the city he is happy to find that things have changed quite a bit.

Posted by: Katie


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20. Angus and Sadie by Cynthia Voigt

angus and sadieSummer Reading is here and we are excited for our “Paws to Read” program! In light of our animal-themed Summer Reading Club, I could not resist reviewing this sweet book about two dogs finding their way in their world. This gentle read will appeal to most dog lovers. Angus and Sadie are two Border collie littermates that are acquired to become farm dogs. The story told with dialogue between the two dogs as well as some from their owners, Missus and Mister. The dogs have very simple interactions when they are puppies and their interactions become increasingly complex as the book goes on. Readers will enjoy hearing the dogs’ point of view and Mister tries to train them to come, stay, and herd the sheep on the farm.

The most endearing part of the book is the development of Angus and Sadie’s distinct personalities. As with any siblings, they develop into very different individuals. Angus’s boundless energy and happy-go-lucky attitude contrast with Sadie’s sweet, quieter disposition throughout the story. While housed in our older fiction section, this story would be a delightful and completely appropriate read for younger children reading slightly above grade level.

If you like this book, do not miss Voigt’s Young Fredle, a companion novel which takes place on the same farm and features a young mouse’s journey to get back to his family after getting ill and being separated from them.

Posted by: Kelly


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21. A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

Book of SleepHave you ever wondered how animals sleep? For many little ones, it will be a surprise to find out that some animals sleep standing up, and some animals sleep in the daytime, and some animals sleep alone and some sleep in a group, and some even sleep with one eye open. Even though this book doesn’t have many words, it doesn’t need them to move the story along. I think this book would be a perfect story to read at bedtime with its peaceful illustrations and simple message, but it also lends itself to fun conversation too. Sleep tight!

Posted by: Mary


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22. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Dear ZooThis oldie but goodie is one of my favorites, and it is the perfect read for our summer reading club. A child is looking for a pet and writes to the zoo to get one. The zoo has quite a hard time finding the correct pet and sends an elephant, a giraffe, a lion, a snake, and a monkey. Of course, none of the animals are just right and must be sent back. The zoo finally finds the perfect pet and sends a dog. Little ones will have fun discovering what is under each flap and making animal sounds along the way.

Posted by: Liz


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23. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

Year of Billy MillerBilly Miller is about to begin 2nd grade and he is worried. He’s worried that he won’t be smart enough; especially after hearing his dad read the letter from his new teacher saying how 2nd grade will be a “wonderful, exciting challenge.” It’s the word “challenge” that worries Billy.

Billy gets off to what he worries might be a rocky start with his teacher, Ms. Silver, who is wearing red chopsticks in her hair on the 1st day of school. He feels his joke of making “devil’s horns” with red crayons could have been misunderstood and that Ms. Silver might have thought he was making fun of her. After thinking about how he can make things right with her, he comes up with an idea to give her a special gift to show her that he really is a nice boy.

Papa, an artist, is also a stay-at-home Dad who takes care of Billy and his younger sister. Billy struggles with how to tell Papa that he wants to start calling him Dad, instead of calling him by the childish name of Papa. The conversation goes great and Dad takes the name change like a champ! Billy is also somewhat responsible for helping his Father with a much needed breakthrough in his art work.

His sister, Sal, may not be his favorite person, but Billy hopes she will help him with his master plan of staying awake all night. Their parents are away overnight and Billy patiently waits for their babysitter to go to sleep before he quietly creeps into his sister’s room. He wakes her up to be his “stay up all night” partner and entertains her to keep them both awake. They make it to about midnight before drifting to sleep.

Toward the end of the school year, the 2nd graders are going to put on a show about Families and each student will recite or read an original poem that they have written for a special person. Billy struggles with who to write about, but finally chooses his Mother. He discovers that writing a poem isn’t exactly easy. Armed with some advice from his teacher, he spends some wonderful moments with his Mother discovering some things about her that are “poem worthy.” Billy Miller’s poem entitled “Quiet Mom” couldn’t be sweeter and more heartfelt.

This book is divided into four separate episodes that are each devoted to a significant person in Billy’s life – Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother. There are many humorous and heartwarming moments that are delightful to read about from the viewpoint of Billy, who is a very sensitive and thoughtful 7-year- old boy. It would be a great read aloud, especially to someone about to enter 2nd grade.

Posted by: Wendy


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24. Where’s Mommy? by Beverly Donofrio

Where's Mommy?Maria (a girl) and Mouse Mouse (a mouse) live in the same house. Maria and Mouse Mouse are playmates, but they must keep their friendship a secret from their families. Maria’s family would not be pleased to discover there were mice living in the house, and Mouse Mouse’s family would be frightened if they knew they had been discovered. One day, as the two friends are each preparing for bed in their respective parts of the house, each calls for their mother, and each discovers that their mother is missing! Simultaneously, Maria and Mouse Mouse search throughout their house, eventually running into each other and a very surprising resolution to the mystery!

This simple story is brought to life with detailed illustrations by Barbara McClintock. In each spread, we see both households side by side, so readers can compare and contrast details of each home. The mouse house has a “borrower” element – an upright flashlight serves as a floor lamp, a seed packet is wall art, and a thimble is a teacup. This is a cozy, sweet story with illustrations that kids and parents will pore over for their charming detail. The story ends with a question that will prompt children to tell their own stories. Where’s Mommy? is the sequel to Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary.

Posted by: Parry


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25. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Most Magnificent thingThomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Ashley Spires’ new book The Most Magnificent Thing is the picture book embodiment of that quote. Spires’ little heroine has a vision. She has a plan. She is going to make the most magnificent thing. However, when the result of her handiwork does not live up to her expectations, she is forced to try again and again and again but it never turns out quite right. Eventually, her frustration gets the better of her and she is ready to give up, until her assistant/best friend/pug convinces her to take a little walk and cool down. Upon their return, she feels refreshed and calm and suddenly she knows exactly how to build the most magnificent thing.

Frustration is a part of life. We all experience it from time to time, but it can be so difficult for our younger counterparts who are just learning how to cope with their emotions. The Most Magnificent Thing shows one way to deal with those feelings without being overly didactic. Spires’ digital artwork is composed of simple, charming line drawings for the background with richly colored and expressive characters providing the action in the foreground. The little girl and her adorable pug are sure to please readers of all ages. This book would be a great read aloud for bedtime or any time for kids ages 4-7. Older kids in particular will get a kick out of the revenge the little pug dog takes on one failed invention.

Want more? Check out the book trailer from Kids Can Press.

Posted by: Staci


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