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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Sibling Stories, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 20 of 20
1. A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout, 319pp, RL 4


A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shawn K. Stout is set in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1939 at the start of summer. I love a great historical fiction novel and Stout delivers a story that is filled with interesting people, places and events with an omniscient narrator and direct addresses to the reader sprinkled judiciously throughout. While the climax of  A Tiny Piece of Sky wasn't quite as dramatic as I had anticipated, it didn't make it any less memorable or enjoyable.

Frankie Baum is the youngest of three sisters with an impressive scab collection that she is hoping to expand over the long, hot summer months. Joan, the second sister, is headed out to Aunt Dottie's farm for the summer and Elizabeth, the oldest, always has her nose in a book. It's up to Frankie to tend to their pony and former rodeo star, Dixie, and hook her up to the cart and take her out for a spin. But, before Frankie can even settle into missing her sister, Mr. Baum has a surprise for the family that will keep them all very busy. He has bought a long vacant, alpine-style (just like Bavaria, where Hermann's parents were from) restaurant on the "edge of Jonathan Street -the three blocks in Hagerstown that are an historically African American neighborhood and the site of the first African American churches, city homes, and businesses in Washington County," as Stout writes in her Author's Note.

Mr. Baum is a hardworking optimist with big ideas for Baum's Restaurant and Tavern, which is heralded as an "Eating Place of  Wide Renown" on the fancy color menus he has printed up. Despite this, there are bumps along the way. The manager Mr. Baum has hired, Mr. Stannum, is harsh with the mostly African American kitchen staff and angered by Mr. Baum's refusal to put a second, segregated bathroom in the kitchen. He is even more upset when he learns that Mr. Baum plans a practice-run-pre-opening party for the whole staff and their families on July Fourth. Add to this the fact that Mr. Sullen Waterford Price, Esquire, is about to end his term as the President of the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce and has plans to segue into the role of Mayor of Hagerstown. Price has run the Chamber of Commerce with a menacing, prejudicial hand that includes after hours visits to new businesses in town to dig up personal information about owners.

When Mr. Baum, who drives a 1937 Studebaker Dictator, doesn't bend to Price's strong arming, Price begins spreading rumors that Baum is a Nazi sympathizer and possibly even a German spy. This is fueled even further by a flyer, written in German, that Mr. Stannum steals from Mr. Baum's office and hands over to Price. Frankie, working in the kitchen, overhears just enough of these dark rumblings to begin to worry and doubt. She starts poking around at home and tailing Mr. Stannum, all the while being bullied by Leroy Price, who parrots his father's words. The night of the pre-opening family party, things come to a head - and fall apart - as waitresses call in sick, the band backs out, family friends don't show up - and Frankie runs away, sort of. She ends up in the town square where the Fourth of July festivities are underway and there she sees the "sick" waitresses, the band that bailed on Baum's playing and fliers telling the townspeople to boycott "German Businesses!" And it's there that Mr. Baum, looking for Frankie, collapses.

A Tiny Piece of Sky feels like it loses a bit of momentum at this point, but ends on a positive note, especially when you read the Author's Note and learn that Stout's grandparents and their restaurant in Hagerstown were the models for the Baum family. In fact, the press kit includes letter of support written to Stout's grandfather, copied almost verbatim in this book. I think I was hoping to see all the pieces of this story fit together with more assertion and deeper meaning than what Stout delivered. In spite of Frankie's mother's nervousness (and despite the fact that she worked in a restaurant since she dropped out of school in sixth grade to help support her family) Baum's reopens. Mr. Stannum, thanks to a secret nudge from Frankie, tries to right his wrong. And a family secret (a secret family) is revealed. All these add up and, as I said, make for a sweet ending. But my heartstrings weren't tugged and there wasn't quite the catharsis - or the downfall of Price - that I craved. Frankie Baum is a wonderful character, but I would have liked to see her develop more over the course of the story, especially after she takes a misguided outing with Dixie and ends up in the African American part of town. The episodes in A Tiny Piece of Sky remind me of the material in the press kit - more like snapshots, or vignettes, loosely tied together. As such, they are lovely and make for a very enjoyable read.

Source: Review Copy



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2. Sam's Sandwich 25th Anniversay Edition by David Pelham



I can't believe that Sam's Sandwich is 25 years old! This book was a huge hit in our house when my daughter was little some 20 years ago, and even more so after her first little brother arrived. Sam's Sandwich is a perfectly paper engineered story of sibling pranks and creepy crawly revenge that is wonderfully rhyming and superbly illustrated.


Sam's Sandwich begins with the sneaky Sam inviting his sister, Samantha, to join him in raiding the pantry to make a super sandwich. What Samantha doesn't know is that her brother is adding some extra ingredients in the form of garden pests. Pelham's rhyming story cleverly leaves the name of the bug off the page, letting the reader guess, based on the rhyme, or lift the flap to see what is hiding. Sam's Sandwich ends with Sam telling Samantha that he is stuffed and she can eat the sandwich all by herself...



Don't worry, though, Samantha has her revenge in Sam's Snack!


Other Sam Books that followed:






Source: Review Copy


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3. Summer at Forsaken Lake, by Michael D. Biel, illustrated by Maggie Kneen, 329 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - SUMMER AT FORSAKEN LAKE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> I love reading a really good summer vacation story during the summer months because it almost makes me feel like I am getting a summer vacation again. In

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4. Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 237 pp, RL: 4

I am embarrassed to admit that I had The Crossover by Kwame Alexander sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year before it won the Newbery Award this year. I read the blurb about basketball phenom Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan and couldn't get excited, even though I LOVE verse novels and am continually amazed by them. It's just that I have zero interest in sports and sports stories.

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5. Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders

Olive Marshmallow is the newest book from Katie Saunders, and part of the debut line of books from a brand new publisher,  little bee books. It may seem like there are shelves full of new baby, big sibling picture books, but during my years as a bookseller, books of this genre that I wanted to read to my own growing family or recommend to customers were few and far between. I would definitely

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6. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, 217 pp, RL 4

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm is a magnificent semi-autobiographical graphic  novel that can stand next to the works of Raina Telgemeier and Newbery Honor winner, Cece Bell, author of El Deafo. Based on book sales and the check out rate of these titles in my school library, girls and boys are hungry for graphic novels like Smile, Drama and Sisters that tell the stories

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7. Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4

Jake and Lily is the newest book from Newbery Winner (Maniac McGee) and Newbery Honor Winner (Wringer) Jerry Spinelli, author of one of my favorite books for teens, Stargirl, which I really need to review here. With Jake and Lily, Spinelli brings us the story of the titular twins and the summer of their twelfth birthday when they go through changes deeper and more meaningful than puberty.

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8. Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett with illustrations by Ann James, 60 pp, RL 1.5

While Betsy Bird calls Sonya Hartnett and Ann James' Sadie and Ratz weird and like nothing else on the shelf, she also says that "it happens to be pretty much the best book for kids published in America in the year 2012." This children's librarian and book reviewer reads (and has read) lots of kids books and she said this about Sadie and Ratz a mere four months into the year. While this is

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9. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, 262pp RL 4

On the off chance that there are still a few readers out there who have not heard of this fantastic book, the first in a wonderful series, I am reposting my review from a few years ago with an updated list of similar titles kids will love. When I started this blog in 2008 the first books I reviewed were favorites of mine and books that I recommend over and over while at work at the

7 Comments on The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, 262pp RL 4, last added: 9/1/2012
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10. Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

Penny and Her Song is now in paperback!! I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As

0 Comments on Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5 as of 9/26/2012 3:59:00 AM
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11. Nurse Clementine by Simon James

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - NURSE CLEMENTINE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Simon James has been a favorite of mine (and my kids) for almost 20 years now, since my daughter was given his classic and most widely known book, Dear Mr

2 Comments on Nurse Clementine by Simon James, last added: 2/11/2013
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12. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - ONE CRAZY SUMMER -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garica, as you can see by crowd of awards (Coretta Scott King Award, Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Medal, Newbery Honor

0 Comments on One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, 218 pp, RL 4 as of 5/20/2013 3:51:00 AM
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13. P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams Garcia, 274 pp, RL 4

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - P S BE ELEVEN -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> With her new book, P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia picks up where  her multiple-award winning One Crazy Summer, began and ended - with the Gaither sisters,

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14. Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, 336 pp, RL 4

Jake and Lily is now in paperback! Jake and Lily is the newest book from Newbery Winner (Maniac McGee) and Newbery Honor Winner (Wringer) Jerry Spinelli, author of one of my favorite books for teens, Stargirl, which I really need to review here. With Jake and Lily, Spinelli brings us the story of the titular twins and the summer of their twelfth birthday when they go through changes deeper

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15. Once Upon a Baby Brother written by Sarah Sullivan and illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Once Upon a Baby Brother is the other sibling book that I discovered when setting up a display at work for Sibling Stories that I think is fabulous. Tricia Tusa has long been a favorite illustrator of mine and her whimsical, imaginative style is perfectly suited to this book by Sarah Sullivan who, in Lizzie, has created a character who is every bit as imaginative, whimsical and creative as Tusa

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16. What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Last month, Barnes & Noble had an optional display in the Children's Section featuring books about siblings. Since we had never done a display of picture books about siblings that I could remember in my sixteen years of working at the bookstore, I decided it was a must. I was especially pleased to find two of my newest favorites about the time before the new sibling arrives, There's Going to

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17. Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, written and illustrated by Grace Lin, 43 pp, RL 1.5

Grace Lin, the multitalented artist and author of books like the beautiful Newbery Honor winning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the excellent The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat, both about Pacy Lin, a creative girl whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, and how she balances her family's traditions with her life at school. Lin is also the illustrator for, and often the author and

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18. Utterly Me, Clarice Bean, written and illustrated by Lauren Child, 192 pp, RL 3

Many years ago I discovered Lauren Child's wonderful picture book I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, a very funny and clever book about a picky eater and her older sibling charged with feeding her dinner. Charlie and Lola, stars of this book and many others, went on to become television stars as well. Lauren Child has quite a way with kid-speak and presenting the world from a kid's perspective

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19. Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As I mentioned recently in The Changing Face of

0 Comments on Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5 as of 3/29/2012 12:12:00 AM
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20. Magical Mix-Ups #1: Hamster Magic, written by Lynne Jonell and illustrated by Brandon Dorman, 103 pp, RL 2

I know that I am a broken record when I start talking about the lack of creative, interesting stories being told in the chapter book format, but it really is a quantity versus quality situation when you scan the shelves. However, this has been a bountiful and exciting spring! First, the awesome Mega Mash-Ups, a DIY chapter book series from Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson debuted, then

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