JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans. Join now (it's free).
Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: friendship, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,025
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts tagged with the words: friendship in the JacketFlap blog reader. What is a tag? Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find posts on JacketFlap.com as well as provide an easy way for you to "remember" and classify posts for later recall. Try adding a tag yourself by clicking "Add a tag" below a post's header. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
I’m sometimes called the Bread-Bike-Book Woman by people who recognise me in the community but don’t know me by name; I go everywhere by bike and my basket is nearly always full of either baguettes and or books.
Shop assistants will ask what I’ve borrowed from the library, or let me know when the fresh bread is cheap at the end of the day. It’s a sobriquet I’m quite at ease with
Tom McLaughlin‘s The Cloudspotter is actually called Franklin, but because of his passion for watching the sky and imagining what he can see high above him, everyone calls him after his hobby.
To some, the Cloudspotter might appear isolated; Indeed, he doesn’t have many friends.
But what he does have is bags and bags of imagination. He can look at the sky and imagine stories galore in which he’s a hero, and adventurer or an explorer. Simply put, he’s very happy with his head in the clouds.
One day, however, Scruffy Dog arrives on the scene. The Cloudspotter doesn’t want to share his adventures and poor Scruffy is sent packing. But could it be that Scruffy wasn’t trying to take anything away from Franklin? Perhaps he was trying to offer him something? Something kind and full of heart, to make adventures and exploring, on earth or in the sky, even more enjoyable?
Tom McLaughlin’s quiet and thoughtful story is a lovely celebration of the power of imagination to provide comfort and joy, as well as solace. The Cloudspotter also acknowledges that it’s quite OK to be a bit different, to daydream. It shows how when friendship comes knocking it’s about doubling – rather than halving – fun and games through sharing.
All in all a delightful book to encourage us all to be open to spotting more adventures in the world around us.
After sharing The Cloudspotter with my girls, I prepared somewhere comfortable to do a bit of our own cloud spotting…
…we lounged around and saw lots of scenes like this…
…then we went over to the paint station…
…and started covering large sheets of paper with various shades of blue, mixing in PVA as we went. The large sheets of paper were strips of wallpaper lining. The PVA (glue) was mixed in so that we could start sticking “clouds” onto our skies as soon as the paper was covered:
We used a mixture of cotton wool and toy stuffing for the clouds, exploring the different ways these materials stretch and becoming wispy.
Whilst our sky scenes dried, it turned out that cleaning up after painting was almost as much fun as creating our art!
A few hours later, our skies were ready to go above beds, enabling hours of relaxing cloud spotting. Here’s what the kids can now see as they lie with their heads on their pillows:
What can you see in our clouds?
Music to spot clouds by could include:
Blue Clouds by Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower
Baby Cloud by Caspar Babypants
Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
Other activities which could be great fun to try out alongside reading The Cloudspotter include:
Lost in the Sun. Lisa Graff. 2015. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
It's funny how the simplest thing, like riding your bike to the park the way you've done nearly every summer afternoon since you ditched your training wheels, can suddenly become so complicated. If you let it.
Lost in the Sun reminded me of Speak in some ways. Trent Zimmerman is a disturbed sixth grader who has trouble dealing with something traumatic that happened in his past. He uses art--a journal--to express his feelings, for art comes easier than words. His art is disturbing, violent. Trent feels undeserving. He doesn't deserve friends, so he thinks. He doesn't deserve to be happy. Which, for Trent, means that he shouldn't be playing sports. He feels he owes it to the past--to what happened--to be miserable and to feel the pain of that moment every moment after. Trent also has some major anger issues with his Dad.
Lost in the Sun is a good read, a serious one. My favorite thing about Lost in the Sun was the friendship between Trent and Fallon Little, 'the girl with the scar.' Fallon and Trent are so good for one another. The movie club was such a cute element of this one. As was his watering plants for the teacher that he hated oh-so-much at the start of this one.
I thought Lost in the Sun was well written. It's a compelling read that felt realistic. I think if you like sports--baseball especially--then this one will have any more appeal. (I'm not a sports fan, but, I enjoyed it anyway).
The Great Good Summer. Liz Garton Scanlon. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
God is alive and well in Loomer, Texas, so I don't know why Mama had to go all the way to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida to find him, or to find herself, either.
The Great Good Summer reminded me, in a way, of Because of Winn Dixie. Ivy Green is almost as lovable a heroine as Opal herself. Her narrative voice is certainly strong throughout. Ivy's narration made the novel work well for me.
So Ivy's story, on the surface, is simple: her mom has recently left them (her and her dad) without a word as to where she's going and if she'll ever be back. Ivy and her Dad struggle with their new reality. Some things remain the same: Ivy's babysitting, weekly attendance at church; but some things are VERY different: her mom being gone, her never-subsiding-ache of wanting her mom back, her new friendship with a boy, Paul Dobbs, who most decidedly does NOT believe in God.
One of the book's greatest strengths is in the writing itself:
But the thing is, ideas are my talent. My only talent, really. My voice isn't right for singing, I freeze up in the spelling bee, and I can't shoot a basket to save my life. If I stop coming up with ideas, I'm not gonna have anything left to do or talk about. (5)
Personally, I think if you're an only child, you should automatically be issued a dog when you're born, as a consolation prize, but my mama and daddy disagree. (6)
"Daddy, what are we gonna say when people ask us about Mama?" I stir my bowl of milk. Daddy's right. I'm dawdling. "The truth, baby. They're church folks. Church folks understand other church folks." (23)
Paul isn't a redhead like his mama and sister, and he isn't exactly distinguished-looking either, but he is nice to look at. For a boy that I'm always getting a little mad at, I mean. (44)
I do find it interesting that faith in God is such a big part of this book. Not every character even believes in God. As I mentioned, Paul doesn't. And he challenges Ivy in several scenes, for better or worse. Why do you believe in a God you can't even see? Why do you think there is a God in the first place? How do you know he's real? Why aren't you more skeptical? But there are a handful of characters that do believe in God that do define themselves by their faith in God. And Ivy herself as emotional as she is, as angry as she becomes, does still believe in God.
Does the book get Christianity right? That's hard to say in a way. If your impression of Christianity is that it is a do religion: a do this, this, this, and that religion--a religion defined by things you do and things you don't do--I'm not sure there is enough gospel, enough grace, in The Great Good Summer to change that impression. If you (rightly) hold that Christianity is a done religion: what Christ has done for us, on our behalf, the price he paid to redeem us, to deliver us, then there aren't any passages that scream out heresy either. Though this passage makes me sad:
I hope you can forgive me sometime, Ivy. In the meantime I have to work on forgiving myself. And then it's up to God. That's the really awful thing about this whole mess--I was just trying to get closer to God, which makes it even bigger shame that I messed up as badly as I did." (183)
There were so many things I wanted to say to them both. Like it isn't about trying: trying to be better, or trying to do more. It's about trusting in what God has already done. It's about trusting that Jesus is enough. That God could not love you more than he already does. That he could not love you less either. That he really and truly has paid it all.
I didn't quite love, love, love this one. But it certainly was worth reading.
The first time I saw this title, I have to say I laughed out loud. I lifted my gaze from the catalog, and surveyed the library to see most middle schoolers faces glued to their phones. Needless to say, the title struck me even before I got my hands on the book. While it was on my desk, it drummed up lots of interest from the kids and the adults alike.
Katie Friedman is an expert multitasker. She's the kind of tech user who would have ALL THE TABS open. As we begin she is texting her friend Hannah, posting a pic of her dog, receiving some texts from Becca, and sending texts to bff Charlie Joe Jackson. This is all before breakfast. During breakfast she gets some texts from Nareem, Eliza, Hannah, and Becca. Then on the bus ride to school Katie is texting with Charlie Joe, and her mom. Whew! Exhausted yet?
The thing is, it's pretty easy to send a text to the wrong person. Especially if you are texting multiple people at the same time. Lots of times, it's kind of funny to send the wrong text to the wrong person. But sometimes it's really not. Especially when you're texting about something personal. Something like not liking your boyfriend so much anymore...and sending it to your boyfriend.
Hitting send changes everything for Katie. Not only has she gone and really hurt Nareem's feelings, but she begins to realized how far into their phones her friends are. She thinks about the fact that it just seems easier to text people instead of actually talk to them.
Inspired by her musical heroine, Jane Plantero, Katie sets out on a quest. A quest to live without her phone for a while. And Jane says if Katie can convince 10 of her friends to give up their phones for a week, she will come and play a show for them. The twist is that Katie is not allowed to dangle to carrot of the concert.
How hard will it be to convince a bunch of middle schoolers to give up their phones?
Tommy Greenwald has tackled the topic of kids and phones without making it seem like a "topic". Gweenwald nails the voice as usual, and if I didn't know better, I'd say he was a teacher. Charlie Joe pops up throughout the book to lend his sarcastic wit with segments like, "Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Why Texting Is Awesome". Where Greenwald shines is in writing the relationships. They are messy and fickle and constantly shifting ... totally like in middle school. Katie isn't all good, just as Charlie Joe isn't all snark. This is a book that should just show up on library tables, and in living rooms all over the place. I think this would make a fantastic book club book, and the kind of classroom read that will get kids talking.
Add a Comment
So, it’s Pride Day, or whatever you call the day where really major cities hold their Pride celebrations, being the last weekend of June and thus commemeorating the Stonewall Riots. It’s also the day after the Supreme Court of the USA announced it’s a constiutional right for all people regardless of gender and sexuality to get married if they choose, and states can’t deny this. YAY!! In celebration, here’s a book I read for Faye’s LGBT Readathon and really enjoyed!
Title:Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published: February 2012 by Simon and Schuster
Length: 368 pages
Source: borrowed from friend
Summary : Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Review: 1987. Two very different boys meet and form a friendship. Together they have fun, navigate their teenage years and, learn things about the universe and themselves.
I've had this on my to read list for ages, because it's on many people's lists of brilliant gay teen novels, and it's been hard to find (I don't think it has a UK publisher). Yay for friends who bother buying things off the internet instead!
This is one of those quietly brilliant books. I'm not always into discovering who you are type stories, but I liked this one.
My favourite thing was watching the friendship between Aristotle and Dante grow. It's organic, full of setbacks, but ultimately endures. It's a beautifully close friendship and love, and it just makes you smile for them, because it's the kind that makes you think they're soulmates, and makes it natural for things to progress at the end, but it would be OK even if it didn't because some kinds of bond are so profound they don't need anything else but if there is then that's fine too.
Close second is all the family relationships going on, from the easiness with Dante's father (who is a generally awesome person) to the awkwardness surrounding Aristotle's imprisoned brother.
Then there's the development of Aristotle and Dante, Dante knowong what he wants, Aristotle figuring it out. They learn a lot, they go through a lot with and without each other.
Also, the final feeling the book left me with. It's not loud happiness, like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, another gay story I got through quickly and loved. In Aristotle and Dante, it's more a quiet kind of contentment, that everything's been resolved, that the future will all work out.
This is all becsuse of the writing (OK, all books are what they are because of writing, but here I want to make a point of it). It's narrated by Aristotle, and we see Dante directly from his letters. We get all of Aristotle's thoughts and questions and emotions and view of the world and it all comes together into a story that feels real and full.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a tender, gentle story about many forms of love.
There are many reasons that kids choose to brag but one doesn’t always understand why. In Lee Ann Mancini’s moralistic picture book, What a Bragger!, young readers are introduced to a character, Melissa Blowfish, who brags in order to cover up that she is poor.
I don't review many early chapter books, but I requested this one from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. because it's published by Candlewick Press (always a plus), and Eliza Wheeler's cover illustration sealed the deal.
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb. Candlewick Press, 2015. Illustrations by Eliza Wheeler.
Here's why I like Cody and the Fountain of Happiness:
Cody's an average kid - Mom works in a shoe store, Dad's a truck driver, she argues with her older brother Wyatt, though it's clear that they love each other.
Cody is positive and decisive.
Her new found friend, Spencer, is an African-American boy with a super hip grandma. (The percentage of African American characters in early chapter books is rather slim, so this is a plus.)
Cody's mom and dad are positive role models.
Eliza Wheeler's illustrations are simple, soft, and expressive.
Spoiler alert! Mom gets a promotion at the shoe store.
Here's an excerpt. Cody is waking her brother on their first day of summer vacation and refuses to be daunted by his grumpy mood.
"Want to go to the dog park and pick what dog we'd get if only we were allowed to get a dog?" Wyatt put his hands over his eyes. "No?" said Cody. "How about we look for rocks and have a rock stand and use the money to buy a skateboard?" Wyatt slowly got to his feet. He was very tall and skinny. If he were a building, he'd be a skyscraper, but a droopy one. "Silencio," he said. He toppled back into bed and pulled the covers over his head. "You are causing me pain. A big fat pain in my cerebral cortex." "Do you want some tea?" "No, Brain Pain. I want you to disappear. Preferably forever." "I can't," said Cody. "I promised Mom to take care of you. I never break a promise."
Give Cody a try. Though you may wonder about her peculiar fondness for ants, I think you'll like her, her family, and her friends!
Right away, I can sense a book is special by noticing my students' reactions. Whenever I've asked my 5th graders who've read Circus Mirandus how they like it, they start smiling and there's a twinkle in their eyes. OK, it sounds corny when I write it down, but you can feel the magic, the friendship, the hope they find in this book.
Ever since he was a little boy, Micah has heard stories from his grandfather about the magical Circus Mirandus and the Lightbender who promised him a miracle. Now that Grandfather Ephraim is ill, Micah knows that he must do everything he can to find the Lightbender. But how can he find the circus, especially with his strict aunt keeping her eye on him?
"Circus Mirandus is not a story just about adventure," Corina wanted me to know, "it's about a friendship. You see, they're very unlikely friends at first but they become so loyal to each other." When Jenny Mendoza first hears about this quest, she is skeptical -- after all, Jenny is a logical, careful thinker. But Micah and Jenny do find the circus, the Lightbender and all the magic they were looking for.
"Reading this book inspired me because the ultimate goal is not what you think it is -- it isn't just to keep his grandfather alive. There are layers, ways that Micah learns he can make a difference, how magic makes a difference." -- Corina, 5th grade
Corina sparkled as she talked about how much she enjoyed Circus Mirandus. I can imagine her being transported to the circus in her imagination, soaring with Micah over the fence, holding onto the giant gorilla balloon (yes, you'll really have to read it to understand that).
I also like how Tasha Sackler, at Waking Brain Cells, describes the friendship at the heart of this story:
"It feels very organic and the two of them are not natural friends who see the world the same way. Instead it is much more like making a real friend where it is the willingness to be friends that makes a huge difference and a decision to stop arguing when you don’t agree. It is these parts of the book that are so realistic, where the relationships shine, that make the book as strong as it is."
Get a feel for the magic in Circus Mirandus by reading chapter four in the preview below:
For more, check out these very interesting interviews with Cassie Beasley:
Oddrey Joins the Team Written & Illustrated by Dave Whamond Owlkids Books 8/15/2014 978-1-77147-061-2 32 pages Age 4—8
“When Oddfrey decides to join her school’s soccer team, she brings a new and unexpected approach to teamwork! On the day of the big game against the Quagville Crushers, nothing is going right—until Oddfrey comes up with a slightly unusual idea. Never afraid to be herself, Oddfrey devises a plan that gives her teammates the strength to be themselves, too. When they all use their individual talents to work together as a team, the results are extremely satisfying—and highly exuberant!”[book jacket]
Review Oddfrey Joins the Team is the third Oddfrey book (Oddfrey, Oddfrey and the New Kid). According to the publisher, Oddfrey “marches to thebeat of her own drum.” With a daisy sprouting from the top of her head, Oddfrey certainly looks odd. I like Oddfrey for a few reasons. First, she likes sports, although her idea of “sports” is sometimes odd. Oddfrey prefers to combine different sport to make a new game. For example, she kicks a basketball into the hoop, rather than shooting it, and bounces a football off her personal sized trampoline, rather than throw the ball to her helmeted dog. Oddfrey’s dog—spotted with big, beautiful, and excited eyes—sticks by her side, always ready to join in her fun. Which brings me to the second and third reasons I like Oddfrey: she does her own thing and she has a pooch for a pal.
I also like Oddfrey because she thinks outside of the soccer sidelines. I only know the basics of soccer: run back and forth after a ball and kick the ball into opponent’s net, which happens less often than one would think. Maybelline—new kid from book 2—asks Oddfrey to join the school’s soccer team—the Picadilla Bees. Maybelline is the star of the team, mainly because she hogs the ball, leaving the other kids to run back and forth. Oddfrey approaches soccer as she does other sports: in her own way. The players are confused and the coach is dismayed, as Oddfrey combines soccer with ballet. Between sending her shoe flying on an attempted kick, balancing on top of the ball, and cart wheeling down the field, Oddfrey does score a goal—GOOOAL!!!—by butt-bumping the ball into the net. Yes, Oddfrey is her own little gal.
The next game is the BIG GAME against the Quagville Crushers. The Bees practice hard. Milton karate-chops the ball down the field (Maybelline: “Just kick it!”). Earl head-bumps the ball (Maybelline: “Use your head, Earl!”). Maybelline gives everyone advice—where is the coach?—even to her friend Oddfrey. Following rules is not in Oddfrey’s skill-set. Poor Maybelline-the-Star, she cannot get it together in the BIG GAME. The Bees are falling fast to the Crushers. Oddfrey puts on her thinking cap and realizes the team name “Bees” must mean something—and it does. Oddfrey uses this to get her team buzzing. What is “Plan Bee,” you ask. Well, you know I can’t say, but read Oddfrey’s new story, Oddfrey Joins the Team, to find out. You’ll do a lot of laughing as you find the answer and read—and see—the exciting conclusion.
The illustrations are action-packed, with details running from spread-to-spread. But you don’t need to like soccer to enjoy Oddfrey Joins the Team. Oddfrey’s pals are interesting in their own right, and the story has less to do with soccer and more to do with ingenuity, friendship, teamwork, and . . . well, if I said the last feature, you might figure out the ending. Both girls and boys will enjoy Oddfrey and her stories. Older kids will also find much to love and enjoy about Oddfrey. Humor runs in both the illustrations and the text, making Oddfrey Joins the Team fast-paced, deliciously funny, and a great story hour book. Oddfrey’s individuality, imagination, and ingenuity are great traits for a character, real or human. Having read Oddfrey Joins the Team a few times, I am ready to skip to the library, Oddfrey-style, and read the first two books in Oddfrey’s, I mean Mr. Whamond’s quirky series.
There are never enough graphic novels for kids. This is a simple truth. When I look to our circulation at school, out of the top 50 circulating titles during the school year 44 were graphic novels. 88%! So I was pretty delighted when my colleague Karyn told me there was a graphic novel for kids I needed to check out. I finally got my hands on the arc and sat down to give it a go.
DJ is just an average kid in the middle of an above average family. The one thing he was really good at was being a good friend to Gina, but Gina moved away 3 years ago.
DJ is sitting on the roof of his club house when he sees something crash out of the sky. Imagine his surprise when a blond boy in silver undies climbs out of the newly formed crater in the earth. This kid has a lot of energy and even more questions since his "memory is a busted book" and he's not quite sure where he's from or what he's doing on earth. DJ takes Hilo in without much of a plan, and quickly finds himself with his hands full.
DJ is surprised when Gina ends up back in town, and notices that she's changed quite a bit in the 3 years she's been out of Berke County which makes DJ notice that he hasn't really changed. At all.
As Hilo's past is revealed to him in his dreams bit by bit, it soon becomes apparent that danger is on the way. And now maybe DJ will realize he's not so ordinary after all.
This outstanding graphic novel needs to be purchased in multiples. Winick has created lovable, funny and real characters that readers will laugh with and cheer for. The movement in the art is reminiscent of both Watterson and Gownley and I defy anyone to read Hilo without feeling moments of joy. While reviewers have pegged this as a 9-12 title, I'm saying all ages. I know we will have kids from 6 to 14 eager to check this one out.
Imagine the 20th century has just begun and a new and very grand London department store is about to open. Whatever your heart desires, you can get it wrapped up in ribbons and bows at Sinclairs.
The department store is about to become the talk of the town for all its finery, opulence and grandeur but then thieves strike, lifting items from a special jewellery exhibition in the store’s grand exhibition hall. Amongst the stolen items the most marvellous clockwork bird encrusted with gems, an exquisite miracle of hidden engineering which produces a different song every time it is wound up.
Will this scandal overshadow the opening of Sinclairs? Who could have carried out this most audacious of crimes? Suspicion falls on Sophie, a young girl with a slightly mysterious background of her own, who works in the millinery department. Having once lived a rather grander life, Sophie has recently fallen on hard times and now has to work for a living. This change in circumstances means she isn’t trusted by her colleagues and it doesn’t help that she was seen admiring the clockwork bird just before it went missing.
A pageturner of a historical middle-grade detective story with a sparkle of glamour and glitz mixed up with dodgy street gangs and suspiciously finely tailored gentlemen, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine is great fun to read. Developing friendships, bullying, kindness and compassion are all part of the mix, alongside code cracking, hidden passageways and serious crime. Woodfine’s period drama is a perfectly paced, exciting read and when readers turn the final page, they’ll be delighted to see that further adventures in crime-solving await Sophie and her friends in a second novel due in 2016.
If you’ve a child who’s enjoyed the historical novels of Jacqueline Wilson, or the detectives in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co books this might just be the ideal book to suggest to them next. Last week M and J were on holiday and I read The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow to them as their bedtime read. It went down tremendously well, and resulted in these… our own priceless clockwork sparrows:
Jewels, gold, pearls and an exciting historical mystery, with a clever and thoughtful heroine? We’re all delighted that there’s to be a second in the series next year.
The Amazing Stardust Friends #2 Be A Star. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Be A Star is the second book in the Amazing Stardust Friends series by Heather Alexander. In the first book, readers meet Marlo, and her new circus friends Allie, Bella, and Carly. These three new friends help Marlo find out her own strengths thereby enabling her to join the show herself. In the second book, readers get a chance to know Allie better. This is her book.
Allie is ambitious, young and ambitious. So when she learns that a camera crew from Hollywood will be filming a performance of their circus, she loses touch with reality for a bit! She just KNOWS that once they see her, they'll be so wowed, so amazed, that they will want to make her a big, BIG star. She's on her way to being famous. Surely, thinking out what her new name--her Hollywood name--should be is more important than her schoolwork. Allie makes a few bad decisions in this one, but, her friends and family eventually show her that where she is right now is where she belongs.
The Egypt Game. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 1967/2009. Simon & Schuster. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Not long ago in a large university town in California, on a street called Orchard Avenue, a strange old man ran a dusty shabby store. Above the dirty show windows a faded peeling sign said: A-Z Antiques Curios Used Merchandise.
Part of me wishes I'd read The Egypt Game years ago. I loved, loved, LOVED it. Though part of me still loves the fact that there are still WOW books waiting for me to 'discover' them. I do love being swept away by a great book.
The Egypt Game celebrates friendship and imagination. The Egypt Game was invented by Melanie Ross and April Hall. Soon after they meet--very soon--they discover they are kindred spirits. Both have big imaginations, love storytelling, and have a fascination with Ancient Egypt. The Egypt Game is played in an abandoned lot near their neighborhood. They sneak in through a gap in the fence, I believe. Melanie's younger brother--much younger brother, Marshall--is part of the fun as well. He's four, and, he almost always, always brings his octopus, Security. By the end of the book, there are SIX "Egyptians" playing the Egypt game...
I do love the storytelling and imaginative play. How creative they all are in coming up with ideas for what to act out or play next. But I also love how they build a world and fill it with stuff, with costumes as well. But I also love the mystery element to the novel.
I would definitely recommend this one. I came to love all the characters. And there was a scene that just got to me--it reminded me so much of To Kill A Mockingbird. Anyway, I loved this one, and you may too. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you think of it!
Kind little Mouse has made a birthday cake for his friend Little Bird. He sets off to deliver the cake, but meets other friends who ask for a piece. Pham sets up readers to expect that Mouse will gather the expected ingredients along the way: eggs, milk, honey. But with each page turn, Mouse's friends offer something completely unexpected in return.
Piece by piece, Mouse trades away the cake until he has none left, arriving at Little Bird’s house only with an odd assortment of things... As they walk back to Mouse’s house to make another cake, they find each friend surrounded by trouble. Once again, Pham expertly manages page turns to surprise readers with the solutions that Little Bird cleverly suggests.
I adore the retro feel of Pham's artwork and the story is so much fun to read aloud. Little kids will love the patterned surprises, and older kids will have fun with the clever twists and enjoy the message about teamwork and creative thinking. I hope this web sampler from HarperCollins lets you glimpse part of this story--make sure to turn the pages to see how the story starts off:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
Many of my students turn to books to sink into someone's world, to understand someone else's struggles and gain perspectives on their own lives. Fish in a Tree has been a favorite at Emerson all spring precisely because of this. Lynda Mullaly Hunt draws readers into Ally's world and helps them understand how hard school is for her. My students keep recommending this to one another, especially to friends who like stories that really reach your heart.
Ally Nickerson knows how to survive a day at school, but each day is an ordeal. In 6th grade and at her seventh school, Ally does everything she can to cover up the fact that reading and writing are nearly impossible for her. "I wonder what it would be like to be able to relax at school and not have to worry every second of every minute." Her teachers and her principal say that it's up to her, but Ally knows that it isn't. She just feels broken -- except when she's drawing in her Sketchbook of Impossible Things.
When Ally's teacher goes out on maternity leave, a new young teacher takes her place. For the first time, a teacher really sees Ally for who she is, for what her real strengths are as well as her profound struggles. He helps diagnose her dyslexia and starts giving her extra reading support after school. At the same time, Ally starts developing friendships with two other kids who also don't fit the typical mold. These friendships and her new reading skills help Ally believe in herself and her own gifts.
My students would absolutely agree with this starred review from Booklist:
"Filled with a delightful range of quirky characters and told with tons of heart, the story also explores themes of family, friendship, and courage in its many forms. And while a girl with dyslexia may be the center of the book, it has something to offer for a wide-ranging audience, making this an excellent class read-aloud. A hopeful and meaningful choice for those who struggle academically, this is as unique as its heroine."
Share this book trailer with kids to give them a feel for the story, and then head over to the Mr. Schu's blog Watch.Connect.Read for Lynda's wonderful essay about how she approaches her writing, starting with character and what she sees in her head.
When the literacy coaches at Berkeley Unified School District asked me to recommend a book that lends itself to talking about multiple perspectives, I recommended Fish in a Tree. They loved how you could pause to think about the story from the principal's point of view, Ally's mother's, or her brother Travis's perspective. Teachers will want to check out this educator's guide for more ideas.
The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
Every evening for the past couple of weeks I’ve had an appointment in the Kingdom of Silk.
The Kingdom of Silk is a small patch of ground on the outskirts of a small Australian town. It’s remarkable for the wealth of love and creativity, the depth of compassion and brightness of sincerity you can find there. It’s a place full of peals of laughter, although visiting it is also known to squeeze gentle tears from your heart.
This magical location may sound vaguely familiar to you: It’s the setting of a series of short novels by Glenda Millard, the first of which I reviewed earlier this year. It’s not often I return to the same book on my blog (indeed re-reading more generally is something I rarely do, knowing that time is always too short and the worlds to be explored between the pages of a book are ever expanding) but back in February when I first entreated you to find a copy of The Naming of Tishkin Silk, I had only shared one of the series with my children, and I was curious to witness how they would take to the honest, unpatronising, sometimes heartbreaking exploration of emotionally complex issues that continues across the entire series of Kingdom of Silk books. After all, fostering, dementia, refugees and world peace are not your everyday, run-of-the-mill themes for books for children.
These books (illustrated by Caroline Magerl and Stephen Michael King) have been our end-of-day bedtime delight for about a month now. I’ve been reading them to both M (10) and J (7) at the same time. We’re almost finished The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk, and September, when the last book in the series (Nell’s Festival of Crisp Winter Glories) is due to be published, now seems unbearably far away.
I’m sharing all this with you because these evening visits to the Kingdom of Silk have been so quietly beautiful as a shared family reading experience that I’d love for you to be able to experience them too. Sharing the stories of the Silk family and how they face up to the challenges family life throws at them and seeing how they respond generously and kindly to problems faced by people they love has brought so many “tender moments” to our own family. It’s brought magic into our lives as the stories have made us see creative, enchanted opportunities where we didn’t see any before. This magic is pin perfectly described in Plum Puddings and Paper Moons, the 5th book in the series:
‘We’re all born with magic in us,’ she said. ‘A child’s magic is so powerful it sometimes rubs off on grown-up people. When that happens, they rediscover their own leftover magic and all kinds of remarkable things happen. Their limpy legs grow stronger and they don’t need as many naps. The words of long-forgotten songs and stories come back into their heads. Sometimes they compose completely new tunes and whistle them on red buses in the mornings when they’re going to the library to borrow books about interesting topics like magic puddings or very hungry caterpillars. And on cold, dark, dismal days they see fired-breathing dragons and knights in shining armour, where once they saw only clouds. People like this laugh loudly and often, and they smile more, because they’ve discovered the marvellous secret that leftover magic is a cure for gloominess and loneliness[.]”
The Silk Family have a wonderful institution: The OCCASION Breakfast. Each Saturday morning, a member of the family prepares a themed breakfast over which everyone lingers. This weekend M and J insisted on our first OCCASION Breakfast, which they themed around the colours of orange, yellow and red, honouring the Silk children Amber, Scarlet and Saffron.
Breakfast isn’t the only time food brings people together causing outbreaks of smiles and laughter. Cakes feature in every volume of the Kingdom of Silk. There’s a lovely passage (also in Plum Puddings and Paper Moons) about how the gift of a cake can quietly speak volumes. Ever so keen to try out the recipe for Amber’s Armenian Love Cake which Millard supplies, we’ve been baking them, gobbling them and giving them to friends.
Amber’s Armenian Love Cakes – wonderfully nutmeg-y light cakes with a biscuity base
Whilst I love cakes, if I had to choose between them and books, I’d have to forgo the sweet treats. And why? This short passage, from the sixth book in the series, The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk, nails it:
On the bottom tier was a small cut-glass dish of sugar-coated aniseed rings, a plate of pink jelly cakes and a tattered copy of Anne of Green Gables.
It was Nell’s book. She’d had it since she was a young girl and had learnt a lot about being a better person by reading it, even though it was a mostly made-up story. From the moment her daughters were born, Nell read to them. it didn’t matter that they didn’t understand the words. books are many things: lullabies for the wary, ointment for the wounded, armour for the fearful and nests for those in need of a home.”
The Kingdom of Silk books are music to entrance and transport you, balm for bruised souls, practical tools for fostering empathy, and the most comforting, comfortable refuge at the ends of busy days. Lots of books come to life in our home but having seen how my daughters have taken these stories deep into their hearts and lives, their play and conversation, I wouldn’t be surprised if in forty years time it is these ones which my children remember most happily when asked to think of their favourite books of all time.
When I reviewed The Last Present by Wendy Mass, I wrote the following:
The Last Present is the final book in the Willow Falls (or "birthday") series, realistic fiction with just the right amount of magic, courtesy of Angelina, the mysterious old woman with the duck-shaped birthmark. Angelina is seemingly the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls, the town where nothing happens by coincidence and everything happens for a reason. Readers of the series will delight in revisiting their favorite characters - Leo, Amanda, Tara, Rory, David and all rest, as their stories intertwine and the story of Angelina is finally revealed. ... I'm sad to see it come to an end. It's been great fun!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was sorry to see the Willow Falls series come to an end. In the forward to Graceful (Scholastic, 2015), Wendy Mass writes that her readers let her know "IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS" that they were not ready for the series to end. Graceful (due out tomorrow) is a gift to her readers.
I think fans of the series will be happy with Graceful, in which Grace fills in (somewhat unwittingly) for the mysterious Angelina as the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls. This is a series about friendship and family and the cosmic connectedness of all things. It can best be described as magical realism, and it is a series that should be read sequentially. Mass does her best to catch the reader up with previous occurrences, but the series is so intricately plotted that it is difficult to skip a book or read them out of order.
Willow Falls has been a great place to visit, but I think Ms. Mass is ready to move on now. All of our questions have been answered and all loose ends are tied. It's been fun! Enjoy!
Gone Away Lake. Elizabeth Enright. 1957. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Enright's Gone-Away Lake. I am so glad to be participating in the Newbery Through the Decades reading project. I've been motivated to read many books that I probably never would have read.
Gone-Away Lake tells the summertime adventure of two cousins: Portia and Julian. Early on in the summer these two stumble upon a muddy, dried-up lake. They discover a "ghost town" of sorts--the remnants of a lake resort community. To their great surprise, they discover that it is not as abandoned as it first appeared. Two people still live there. A brother and sister. (They live in separate houses.) Her name is Mrs. Cheever. His name is Mr. Payton. The four become friends--good friends. There are thousands of stories to be shared. Much to explore. Much to do.
I enjoyed this one very much. It's not an action-packed story (though it does have an intense scene or two--at least relatively speaking). It's definitely driven by the interesting characters. (Something I can definitely appreciate!)
Have you read Gone-Away Lake? What did you think? How do you think it compares to Thimble Summer?
As one strolls about this wondrous planet, one encounters a variety of individuals who may astound, influence, enrich, or even, deplete you. Not everyone we meet ends up a friend. Life is often an ongoing cycle of trials and consequences. How we survive and interpret the progression of life builds character and shapes us as […]
Coming May 26th, from Running Press Kids: Butterfly Park
by Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Elly MacKay
Running Press Kids is teaming up with select blogs to promote a very special picture book artist, Elly MacKay. Elly MacKay creates paper worlds inside a miniature lightbox theater, and turns those worlds into picture books. The images in her upcoming picture book, BUTTERFLY PARK, are nothing short of breathtaking. Let others know about Elly MacKay and her tour @Twitter: #ButterflyTrail
“Once there was a girl who loved butterflies. And when she moved to a new town, she felt lucky to find a place nearby called Butterfly Park! But when she opened the gate, there were no butterflies to be found.
“The girl tried to catch some butterflies and asked neighborhood children to help bring them to Butterfly Park. But to their disappointment, the butterflies didn’t stay. As the entire town got involved, they finally realized what they needed to do. Together, the girl and her community planted flowers in Butterfly Park, and in time, the butterflies came.” [publisher]
Running Press Kids has put together a special illustration tour, each Tuesday, leading up to the late May release date of Butterfly Park. Why an illustration tour, and not a “normal” book tour? MacKay used her acclaimed paper-cut artwork, giving each spread a 3-dimensional look. While knocking on neighbors’ doors, looking for help, the kids look like they could dance right off the page. Paper-cut art must be a tedious labor of love. The result is a magnificent picture book, with a final 4-page spread worthy of framing. The book jacket is also a poster of flowers that entice butterflies. To WIN YOUR OWN COPY of Butterfly Park, all it takes is a comment. Winner announced on Monday, May 11th.
Well, this is an image reveal, so here it is, the left half of spread number ten:
It took them up and down through the town. Curiosity grew. Windows and doors began to open.
“Centered on the park’s elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay’s lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers…. Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit.” ~~Kirkus Reviews
“MacKay’s artwork recreates the feel and pleasure of Edwardian-era illustration, and lovers of picture book fantasy will embrace it.” ~~Publishers Weekly
Butterfly Park Written and Illustrated by Elly MacKay Published by Running Press Kids 978-0-7624-5339-9 May 26, 2015 38 pages Age 3 +
2014 Blue Spruce™ Award Nominee – Ontario Library Association 2013 Best Bets Top 10 Picture Books – Ontario Library Association 2013 Best Books List (preschool—early elementary) – Atlanta Parent Magazine
2014 Best Books of the Year (children—teens) – Amazon Canada
About Elly MacKay Elly MacKay is the author and illustrator of If You Hold a Seed and Shadow Chasers. She attends Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and now her artwork is sold around the world, including her Etsy.com shop, Theater Clouds.
Out in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?
It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.
Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?
Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.
Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.
Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.
Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.
Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.
We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.
Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.
Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…
Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:
Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:
Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.
Written by Kaila Eunhye Seo Illustrated by Kaila Eunhye Seo Peter Pauper Press 5/01/20`15 978-1-4413-1731-5 40 pages Age 4—8 X X “Fred’s world is filled with fantastical friends that make his days so much fun he hardly notices that no one else can see them. But one day Fred goes off to school, and things start to change. As Fred grows up, his childhood friends slowly fade away and seem to disappear, taking some of life’s sparkle with them. But a chance meeting with a special young girl reminds Fred—and readers young and old alike—that magic and wonder never really disappear . . . they live forever in our hearts.” [book jacket]
Review Fred’s imaginary friends have the people in his small town thinking he is different—a polite way of saying the boy is odd. Fred has the ability to see and hear things other people cannot. Fred also believes in things the other townsfolk either cannot, or simply will not, believe. Despite the townsfolk’s’ inability to see, hear, or care about Fred’s creatures, the creatures cared about the townsfolk.
“Sometimes they acted like the wind and moved branches out of the way for people. And sometimes they acted like shade and kept people cool on hot summer days”
What is Fred seeing and hearing that make the others consider the young boy an oddity? Fred sees creatures . . . imaginary creatures . . . imaginary friends. He never cares about making other friends—he already has the best friends a young boy could hope to have.
When the day arrives for Fred to begin school, he makes new friends . . . real, alive friends. His imaginary friends wait, no longer part of Fred’s day. One day becomes two, then three, and each school year blends into the next. One-by-one the creatures Fred adored disappear, losing their color, and fading into the background. By the time he reaches adulthood, all the imaginary creatures are lost from Fred’s memory.
The real world takes too much of Fred’s attention and time. Fred’s days run together as he does the same things day after day. This monotony leaves Fred feeling empty, friendless, and all alone, even in the park where he played so joyfully with . . . with . . . he doesn’t remember with whom he played with, or even what his playmates look liked. Where did his childhood friends go?
FRED will have you wondering when your imaginary friends left you. When these old friends leave, they take with them a very precious commodity: your imagination. Can you imagine doing anything other than your daily routine? Not just a dream vacation, but something that will cheer you up, daily make you implausibly happy, and has the synapses on the right-side of your brain sizzling with ideas, as they jump from neuron to neuron. Neither can Fred, poor guy. Then he gets lucky. A small child comes to the park while Fred sits reading—always a delightful detail in a children’s book. The young girl, with a pocket full of lollipops, asks Fred if he and his friends would like a lollipop. His friends anxiously watch Fred, who says,
Someone can see his friends. They are all still with him. A synapse POPS! Another SIZZLES! Fred’s heart no longer feels weighed down, and instead, he feels free. Fred’s imaginary friends—and his imagination—return. Adult Fred finally realizes he . . . wait, I cannot tell you what Fred realized. Fred would like to tell you himself. This is his story. FRED surprised me, in a very wonderful way. Imagination, and the magical journeys it can create, is not the sole domain of childhood, but we tell ourselves there is no time for such “silliness,” yet without retaining our child-like selves, we lose much of our creativity.
I love Ms. Seo’s direct lines in the pen and ink illustrations. Each spread overflows with artistic detail and the color remains only with the story and its characters. I think Ms. Seo’s attention to detail and using color to focus readers’ eyes on the story shows she cares about making a terrific sensory experience for children. The monsters are hilarious and kid-friendly. Not one creature will cause nightmares, as none is even a wee-bit scary. They walk among the unsuspecting—and unbelieving—in town without any commotion. I do wonder how the non-believers (who possess little to no imagination), would think if they saw what Fred could see. The story and all the eye-catching illustrations are a definite sign that this debut author/illustrator has not lost her childhood imagination, inspiration, or her imaginary friends.