in all blogs
Viewing Blog: What You Want to Read, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 736
Book Reviews from the Children's Department Staff of the Park Ridge Public Library
Statistics for What You Want to Read
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 2
In case you missed my review of The Year of the Book, I’m back with a review of its sequel, The Year of the Baby. In the first book, Anna discovered the joys (and tribulations) of authentic friendships. In The Year of the Baby, Anna gains new responsibility when her Chinese-American family adopts a baby girl from China. Anna loves her little sister Kaylee, and knows her role as big sister is important. So she feels helpless when the doctor announces that Kaylee isn’t gaining enough weight.
Everyone in the family is worried about Kaylee, and it seems they’ve tried everything to get her to eat, with no results. But Kaylee does finally begin to improve when Anna and her best friends decide to use Kaylee in their science fair project – knowing that Kaylee loves the songs Anna sings to her, the girls use the scientific method to study whether Kaylee will eat more when she’s being sung to. As it turns out, she will! She especially likes the Chinese songs that Anna, Camille, and Laura learned in Chinese language school, and the girls suspect that maybe it’s because they are songs that Kaylee heard before she was adopted by Anna’s family. Once Kaylee begins to eat more, it seems like everything comes together – she says her first words, and even attempts to sing her first song!
Author Andrea Cheng is remarkably good at capturing friendships, family dynamics, and the inner life of a sensitive child finding her place in these realms. As in the first book, The Year of the Baby is dotted with sweet illustrations by Patrice Barton. There’s also a guide to pronouncing some of the Chinese words that come up in the book, and a recipe for making steamed red bean bao zi (stuffed buns). This book, like the last, truly warmed my heart. I would recommend it to readers in 3rd grade and up looking for realistic fiction. The third book, The Year of the Fortune Cookies, will be coming in Spring 2014!
Posted by: Parry
With all the snow and cold weather, it is nice to dream of going somewhere warm. Penguin on Vacation provides just that escape. Penguin is tired of all the regular winter activities and wants to go someplace tropical. He heads north and finally makes it to the beach. At first the beach isn’t quite what he expected. But with the help of a friendly crab, he discovers just how much fun the beach can be. Unfortunately, his vacation must come to an end but on his way home he discovers that crab is a stowaway on his raft. They have a delightful time, and penguins shows him all the fun that can be had in the snow. Eventually, crab’s vacation comes to an end. But crab leaves behind a shell as a reminder of the beach and a promise to return. This is another sweet story about friendship.
Posted by: Liz
I have to get one last winter book in before the season ends; not that I am trying to prolong the magic that has been the winter of 2014, but there are so many great stories for children about winter that I am always a little sad to see it go. This winter, Megan McDonald and G. Brian Karas teamed up to release the second book in the Ant and Honey Bee Series, A Pair of Friends in Winter. In this early chapter book, Ant wanders out one last time before hibernating for the winter to see his friend Honey Bee. Truthfully, Ant does not want to be alone and misses his friend. He arrives just in time because Honey Bee is in a sour mood and in need of cheering up. The two get into a better mood by creating a giant sandwich and eventually snuggle in together to hibernate through the winter.
This is a perfect pick for an emerging reader looking for a story with a hearty plot and manageable text. Unlike many early readers, the story is engaging for both children and parents. The illustrations enhance the text and add details for parents to enjoy, like a funny newspaper heading on Honey Bee’s newspaper that reads “Killer Bee Attack.” G. Brian Karas is a prolific children’s book illustrator as the creator of the illustrations for books such as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming and Big Bad Bunny by Franny Billingsley. His style varies slightly, but always includes intriguing details that leave readers pouring over pages long after they have finished reading the text. If you can stomach one last book about winter this year, I would pick up this title! Or, maybe, save it for next season.
Posted by: Kelly
Toulouse, a new kid in school, is from Canada, and though Woodrow doesn’t like it that his classmates say that he is odd, weird, and little, he does have to admit that Toulouse pretty strange (he wears a three-piece suit and bowler hat to school! He sings like a bird!) and REALLY short (“kindergartener short”). But when Woodrow thinks about it, he realizes that he doesn’t mind at all. After all, Woodrow himself is pretty odd himself–he loves ‘duck’ tape, fly fishing, and is prone to stammering. Woodrow doesn’t see anything wrong with his own behavior, and he thinks that Toulouse is pretty cool. The question is: what will Woodrow do about Garrett and Hubcap, the two class bullies who have switched their attention from him to a new sitting duck, Toulouse? And what IS it about Toulouse?–there’s something about him that Woodrow just can’t figure out.
Jennings has written a deceptively slight book that tells a great story, with what I hate to call a ‘lesson’ about bullying, because that makes this book seem prescriptive. It’s not ‘a story about bullying’, so much as it is a story about what it means to be a friend, and who doesn’t like reading about friends? This book is a delightful read for anyone who enjoys school stories.
Posted by: Sarah
This month, Kelly shares a great new book, Locomotive, by Brian Floca. We swear we made the video before it won all the awards!
There is now a blue folder at the CS desk with information and forms to hand out to students interested in participating in the poster contest. It is on the back desk next to the Gold Sheet. Thanks.
Mary (on Behalf of KD)
Sir Isaac Newton gave us 3 of the most important laws of physics which have shaped our understanding of how our world works. Author Mark Weakland and illustrator Gervasio have now given a whole new generation of students an accessible way to understand Newton’s concepts using zombies. Yes, I said: “zombies.” We’ve all heard the apple falling on Newton’s head story and many of us can easily recall the phrase, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” but recall does not equal comprehension. Put together a graphic novel with zombies illustrating the principals of gravity, force, and motion, however, and the preverbal light bulbs will be clicking on above even your most struggling students’ heads.
Scientific concepts often benefit from the accompaniment of visual examples, and graphic novels provide wonderful vehicles by which to accomplish this union. Zombies and Forces and Motion uses humorous illustrations and popular culture to make Newtons’ laws accessible and relatable to students. In addition, one of the goals of the new Common Core State Standards is to build visual literacy skills. By the time students are in junior high, the CCSS require the inclusion of graphic novels in the range of text types, so not only does this book align with the standards for informational texts, but it also provides a great opportunity to begin developing the scaffolding for future visual literacy skills.
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
Posted by: Staci
Siena is not your typical 13-year-old. In fact, her differences are part of the reason that her family is moving from Brooklyn, New York, to a small coastal town in Maine. The other reason is that her three-year-old brother, Lucca, has not spoken in over a year. While Siena and Lucca’s parents are not sure what makes it so hard for Siena to make friends and Lucca to talk, they are hoping the new environment will help them both. Siena is eager to try to start over, but when the family arrives in Maine, the very thing that makes her odd kicks into overdrive. Sometimes, Siena can see the past. Generally, it only happens while she is dreaming, but increasingly she was getting glimpses of the past while awake in things like buildings that are no longer standing in New York or people in out of date clothing. The home the family purchased is right out of one of Siena’s dreams. She is familiar with the layout and can feel what has happened in this house before the family lived there. However, Siena decides this familiarity could be positive and decides to make a go of it in Maine even making some friends before school starts. Lucca loves the beach and the play group his mother found, but he still is not talking. When Siena finds a pen that belonged to one of the previous owners, the story of what happened in the house is reveled, complete with a young girl who also struggles with mutism and Siena begins to wonder if the family’s move really was the best thing for Lucca after all.
This title has historical elements as Siena becomes involved in the lives of the family that lived in the house prior to her family, including a brother entrenched in the World War II battle fields. It also blends modern day realism and supernatural elements in a thoughtful and suspenseful manner. Children who enjoy descriptive text, supernatural stories and historical fiction will enjoy this title.
Posted by: Kelly
“I have a best friend. / That best friend is me!” So begins Nancy Carlson’s classic picture book, I Like Me! Everyone can relate to the charmingly illustrated little pig who describes simply and sweetly how she takes care of herself and keeps herself happy, even when she is alone. “When I get up in the morning I say, “Hi, good-looking! / I like my curly tail, my round tummy, and my tiny little feet.” Being okay with your self can be a hard thing for people of all ages to achieve, but this book makes it seem irresistible! If you’re looking for a book to promote self-acceptance and the worth of each individual, this warm little book makes a great read aloud, one-on-one or with a classroom.
Posted by: Parry
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’m on the lookout for books about love. Love Monster was the perfect find. Monster is looking for someone to love. But in a world that is filled with cute, fluffy things it’s a bit difficult for a googly-eyed monster to find. He looks high and low and just when he gives up another monster drives up. The bright, adorable illustrations add to the fun and make Monster hard not to love.
Posted by: Liz
When it comes to wordless picture books, I have to admit that I am not a huge fan, but this book is definitely the exception. This story has a sweet little pig-tailed girl who follows a simple line into all kinds of fun! The line wiggles and bends and becomes whatever the girl can imagine. It becomes a slide and a ball and even a bubble. It becomes a monkey and an audience and a monster trying to get the little girl’s cookie! No need to worry though, because the line just becomes a big old bear to scare the monster away. This wonderful book is so full of imagination and fun and will get your imagination going too!
Posted by: Mary
Poor Goat! Everything was going so well in his life until that show-off Unicorn showed up. Now Unicorn keeps one-upping Goat left and right. I mean, who is going to pay attention to Goat’s sweet new magic trick when Unicorn is turning things into gold? What Goat doesn’t realize, however, is that Unicorn actually thinks Goat is the awesome one with his goat cheese and cloven hooves. Eventually, the ultra-cool duo comes to find that they are both pretty great, and together they make quite a team.
Bob Shea (Dinosaur vs. Bedtime) hits a home run with this hilariously fun and fanciful picture book. It is not often that a picture book gets me to laugh out loud, but Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great did just that. After I finished reading it, I then proceeded to pass it around to everyone within earshot and made them all read it as well. Shea’s witty text and adorably quirky illustrations come together to make storybook magic in this grass-is-always-greener bromance. This is one book that might just have the parents shouting, “Let’s read it again!” to their kids.
Posted by: Staci
Oh, how the ground rumbles and the flowers shake and the leaves tremble when bear stomps through the forest announcing that he has a great big jar of delicious honey that is ALL his. The enormous pot of honey is in bear’s paws and he has no intentions of sharing a single drop – after all he is the scariest bear in the forest.
Mouse, the Rabbit Brothers and Mole all love honey and they set off on a mission to get some. They tip-toe through the forest, zip to the right and left, dodge thorns, whizz through brambles and pole-vault over the puddle while sneaking up on the bear. Bear doesn’t hear them until Mole splashes in the water and he growls, “What’s going on here?” The little animals are not afraid of the big, scary bear at all!
The delightful surprise ending is sure to bring smiles – along with the words “read it again!”
I loved reading this book! The large illustrations are adorable and the language is rich. Be warned: you may just crave a sticky dribble of honey after enjoying this book!
Posted by: Wendy
Comparisons to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events are unavoidable with The Templeton Twins titles, a new series by Ellis Weiner, but there are not many children who will complain about the similarities. Like Snicket’s books, these titles feature an intrusive narrator who adds levity, humor and the occasional educational lesson for the readers. As well as providing important background information and hilarious definitions of vocabulary words featured in the books, the narrator poses nonsensical “Questions for Review” at the end of each chapter that are one of best reasons to read these books.
In addition to the intrusive narrator, the Templeton Twins also contend with a delightfully evil villain like the Baudelaire children do in the Series of Unfortunate Events. The Templeton Twins face Dean D. Dean, a scorned former student of their father’s and master of disguise, who attempts to steal credit for their father’s many fabulous inventions. In book 2, Professor Templeton is working at the Thespian Academy of the Performing Arts and Science (TAPAS) to develop new spotlight technology. The invention is nearly complete when Dean D. Dean swoops in to take credit by wooing the school’s Dean and former stage actress, Gwendolyn Splendide. It is up to the twins (and their ridiculous dog) to prove the spotlight is 100 percent their father’s invention.
The story is enhanced by illustrations that are similar in style to an architect’s blue prints, cryptic puzzles, and many hilarious footnotes by the narrator. While not an entirely new concept, this book will have many fans among elementary-school aged readers and it deserves every one of those fans.
Posted by: Kelly
Leon Leyson was just a young boy of ten when Hitler came to power. By the end of World War II, however, he had experienced more hardship than many men five times his age. The Boy on the Wooden Box is his account of his life and survival during those tragic times. Despite facing years of starvation and exhaustion and being surrounded by death and despair in the ghetto of Krakow and then a Nazi work camp, Leyson survived the Holocaust. Both luck and perseverance played a huge role in Leyson’s survival, but it was his relationship with a Nazi, Oskar Schindler, which helped him the most. As the youngest member of Schindler’s list, Leon Leyson was saved numerous times from situations that would almost certainly have lead to his death. Leon Leyson has been telling his story to audiences all over the world for years now, and The Boy on the Wooden Box finally puts that amazing story down on paper for millions to experience. It is a powerful and moving account of survival in the most dreadful of situations and the discovery hope in the most unlikely of places.
Non-fiction has been given a new life with the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, particularly narrative non-fiction. The standards require that students be exposed to more informational books over the course of their education and, as a result, there is a great need for engaging non-fiction texts. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a definite standout in the narrative non-fiction category. This book would provide a great opportunity to work on the Common Core State Standards that focus on point of view and reading multiple sources on the same subject. There are plenty of high quality and engaging informational texts about the Holocaust with which The Boy on the Wooden Box can be utilized. Some possible titles to consider would be Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto by Mendel Grossman and Frank Dabba Smith, Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rapaport, and Hana’s Suitcase: A True Story by Karen Levine.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.9 Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person).
Posted by: Staci
A few hundred years ago, “everybody” knew that winter was the best time for reading scary stories. We think of Halloween as perfect for a ghost story, but back then they thought that CHRISTMAS was the best time for it! We’ve passed Christmas, and the days are getting a LITTLE longer, but I still think it’s dark and gloomy enough–and certainly COLD enough–for a good scare.
Constable and Toop is the name over the door of an undertaker’s shop in 19th century London, but the undertakers are not the point of this story. The undertaker’s son, Sam, is: he can see and talk to ghosts, and because of this, he has become aware of a big problem. Certain ghosts in London have been disappearing, leaving their old haunting places infected with a terrible Black Rot. Mr. Lapsewood, a timid clerk from the Ghost Bureau, has begun investigating the problem (though he doesn’t know it), asking the help of a young ghost named Tanner, who, in search of someone with Sam’s abilities, finds himself working with Sam’s uncle Jack, who is not someone you’d want to meet in a dark alley. And we haven’t even mentioned Clara Tiltman, who has begun to notice the strange behavior of her drapes, or the terrifying actions of an exorcist priest.
Though the description makes the plot sound overly complex, let me reassure you: any reader will be caught up in this compelling story, both by the gripping action of the chase to save London’s ghosts, and by Sam’s almost philosophical, contemplative inner thoughts. And because there ARE so many (well-integrated) characters, any reader can be sure to find one to root for and relate to.
It cannot be denied that the book is frightening–and even sometimes gruesome–so it is probably best read by those of 10 years and up. Those who do read it, though, will be amply rewarded with a wonderful story, perfect for a cold, dark day.
Posted by: Sarah
This month, Kelly tells us about one of her new favorites, Where My Wellies Take Me, by Clare and Michael Morpurgo. (And: Oops! We accidentally referred to World War II when mentioning Morpurgo’s wonderful book War Horse–we know full well that it takes place during World War I!)
Yeti can’t sleep! He’s so tired, and he’s done all the things a yeti should do before bed, but he just can’t fall asleep. There are too many shadows in his room, so he has to keep turning on the lights. Each new click of the lamp illuminates different harmless woodland creatures like bunnies and birds who also can’t sleep and have come to snuggle with Yeti. Soon it becomes too crowded in the little bed with all his visitors, and the critters head home to their own beds where, finally, they can all fall asleep…even Yeti.
Greg Long and Chris Edmundson’s well-paced, fun, and energetic rhyming text is an ideal match for Wednesday Kirwan’s bright illustrations. Yeti is not depicted as a cute and cuddly creature. He is peculiar and even borders on scary looking himself, but that only makes the book more successful by showing that even supposedly scary creatures like Yeti struggle with fears. When the sweet woodland creatures come to see Yeti he welcomes the animals into his bed, thus further illustrating the idea that first impressions are often incorrect. Like the shadows, Yeti is not the scary monster that he appears to be on the outside; he is actually quite gentle and vulnerable. This silly book would be good to read to toddlers and preschoolers struggling with a fear of the dark, but is a fun read even for kids who have no issues going to bed.
Posted by: Staci
As the holidays approach, this is a question that parents will start hearing quite often. In this new title, Teddy, a young bear, is extremely excited about Christmas and can hardly wait for it to arrive. He asks over and over again if Christmas is here yet. Big Bear begins to lose his patience but finds ways to help pass the time. Wrapping presents, baking a cake, and finding the right tree, keeps Teddy busy and the big day finally arrives. The illustrations add to the story and show both Teddy’s excitement and Big Bear’s frustration. Chapman is one of my favorite illustrators, and I can never resist a story with one of her bears in it. This is a story that both parents and children can relate to at this busy time of year.
Posted by: Liz
This month, Sarah describes the wonderful book Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What Dinosaurs Really Looked Like? by Catherine Thimmesh.
All too soon we will be celebrating 2014. Many of us will stay up to midnight on December 31st to be among the first to welcome in the New Year. There are a variety of traditions or customs that people enjoy which include eating lucky foods, making resolutions, watching parades or fireworks and spending time with loved ones.
New Year’s Day offers simple text and colorful pictures to highlight some of the common traditions as well as a brief history of New Year’s Day. Interesting little “Did You Know” facts accompany each chapter – such as, did you know the largest New Year’s Day fireworks display had more than 60,000 fireworks?
This book is fun for a younger reader or for an adult to read to a young child.
10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Happy New Year one and all!
Posted by: Wendy
Now that the cold weather is here, it’s a good time to warm up with a tasty bowl of soup and snuggle up with a book. This title allows the reader to accomplish both of those things. It is soup day, and the little girl in this story and her mother go shopping for the vegetables. Back at home, they go through the steps of preparing the soup including washing and chopping the vegetables and cooking it all together. While it cooks, they have plenty of time to play and clean up. Then it is time for a yummy dinner. The author incorporates counting, shapes, colors, and an introduction to different types of pasta into the story. A recipe for snowy day vegetable soup is included. While I didn’t expect this title to be a favorite with my children, it is one that we have enjoyed over and over again. The story even inspired us to cook some soup together at home.
Posted by: Liz
Oh my! How did I miss this little treasure when it first was published?
Mooch, the cat, wants to give his best friend, Earl, a special gift. The problem is that Earl has everything! What do you get someone who has everything? Mooch thinks and thinks and finally decides he will give Earl the gift of NOTHING. The next problem is where does one find NOTHING? It’s not to be watched on tv, it’s not to be found outside, it’s not for sale at the store.
Mooch sits on his pillow and thinks and thinks until he has an inspiring idea about how to give the gift of NOTHING to his friend. He ends up showing Earl exactly how special his friendship is.
This sweet and simple story about NOTHING gave me a lot of something – a big smile all day long!
Posted by: Wendy
Fourth grade has brought changes for Anna Wang. Her best friend Laura has made new friends, leaving Anna behind. And Anna must attend Chinese school, where she doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t understand anything the teacher is saying. It’s a good thing Anna has books. Anna loves to read, and finds friendship in the characters in books. Friends like Meg, from A Wrinkle in Time; or Sam, from My Side of the Mountain. So when Laura experiences family troubles and reaches out to Anna in need of a friend, it’s tempting for Anna to retreat into her beloved book worlds. But Anna ultimately realizes that, while friendships can be complicated, they really do make life better.
The Year of the Book is a tender story. The book depicts both a loving family and a supportive community of neighbors. Kids will relate to the social challenges that Anna encounters, which are portrayed realistically and with a light touch. Kids will also enjoy all the book references – I was tempted to revisit some old favorites, and also to read some new ones! (But before I start in on the Anna Wang reading list, I’m going to read the sequel to this book, called The Year of the Baby.) Readers will also learn some Chinese words and characters along with Anna. Like peng you (pronounced like pung you), which means “friend.”
Posted by: Parry
View Next 25 Posts
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words; and in some cases, a word is worth a thousand pictures. In this book, that word is MOO! This is the story of a curious cow who decides to take the farmer’s car for a joy ride one day. The cow soon discovers that the world can be a true adventure (Moooooooooooooooooooooooo!), and the world can also be full of hazards (moOO!). The crazy ride ends in a crash right on top of the policeman’s car – well you can imagine the explanation necessary to get the cow out of this mess (Moo moo! Moo moo-moo, moo! Moo moo, moo, moooooo! Mooooooooooooo moo. Moo moo? Moo. Moo-moo-moo-moo-moo! Moo moo, moo moo. Moo, moo, moo, MOOO!) Udderly clever and fun!
Posted by: Mary