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1. The Diwali Gift by Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta Book Review & Activities

I’d like to thank authors Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta for sharing their book The Diwali Gift with me.

dewali

In the Diwali Gift , three curious monkeys, Suno, Dekho, and Jaano get together for a playdate when a mysterious box from their grandmother appears.

What could be inside ?

Sparklers ? Bracelets ? Small lights known as divas?

No none of the above.

Inside is something very special to use on the night of Diwali. A special something which grants the owner their wishes to come true.  To find out what the special something is, you’ll have to read the book.

This book is a simple and lovely story that invites us to share in the Hindu festival of Diwali. The Diwali Gift is fun, entertaining, and wonderfully educational. One truly feels the spirit, anticipation and festive feeling of the holiday.

From Wikipedia:

“Diwali also known as Deepavali and the “festival of lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.”

The illustrations by Anna Koan are fun and captivating.  There is a glossary in the back of the book as well as an explanation of Diwali and how one celebrates it.

dewali2

I advise reading the glossary before hand so you can clarify the story when reading it to children.  I greatly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

Book Review – The Diwali Gift by Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta & a Giveaway
The Diwali Gifts is a contemporary and fun book and is also a great tool for explaining Diwali to young readers. The Diwali Gift does a wonderful job of holding reader’s attention and making Diwali fun!
dewali1
About the Authors and 3 Curious Monkeys:3 Curious Monkeys is a California based start-up that was started by Indian moms Shuchi Mehta and Shweta Chopra. 3 Curious Monkeys creates  interactive digital toys and books for kids and this company was born out of need and passion to bring the sights, sounds and vitality of multicultural and multi-hued India to children all over the world with fun characters that encourage them to see, hear and learn more!

Somethings To Do:

Kim Vij  from The Educator’s Spin on it has some really wonderful Diwali Activities.

Have a look at how the Activity Village celebrated Diwali.

3 Curious Monkey’s has a wonderful Dress Up Party app on iTunes

Playing dress up is always fun. But its even more fun dressing up your favorite monkey in traditional Indian fabrics and accessories while learning to compliment in eight different languages. (for ages 4-8). Download the App HERE.

dewali3

Need more gift ideas? Books are always a great choice! NOW AVAILABLE!

The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook by Donna Ashton.

The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook

 

The post The Diwali Gift by Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta Book Review & Activities appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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2. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel - a review

Davis, Kathryn Gibbs. 2014. Mr. Ferris and his Wheel. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford.

Though written in a fully illustrated, engaging and narrative nonfiction style, Mr. Ferris and his Wheel is nevertheless, a well-sourced and researched picture book for older readers.

The story of the 1863, Chicago World's Fair debut of the world's first Ferris wheel (or Monster Wheel, as Mr. Ferris originally named it),  is told in a flowing and entertaining style,
     George arrived in Chicago and made his case to the construction chief of the fair.
     The chief stared at George's drawings.  No one had ever created a fair attraction that huge and complicated.  The chief told George that his structure was "so flimsy it would collapse."
     George had heard enough.  He rolled up his drawings and said, "You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer."
     George knew something the chief did not.  His invention would be delicate-looking and strong.  It would be both stronger and lighter than the Eiffel Tower because it would be built with an amazing new metal—steel.
and

it contains sidebars that impart more technical information that might otherwise interrupt the flow of the story,
George was a steel expert, and his structure would be made of a steel alloy.  Alloys combine a super-strong mix of a hard metal with two or more chemical elements.
George Ferris' determination is a story in itself, but it is the engineering genius of his wheel that steals the show.  A "must-have" for any school or public library.

Some facts about the original "Ferris" wheel:
  • 834' in circumference
  • 265' above the ground
  • 3,000 electric lightbulbs (this itself was a marvel in 1893!)
  • forty velvet seats per car
Ferris wheel at the Chicago World's Fair c1893.
 Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division[/caption]

STEM Friday

It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
See all of today's STEM-related posts at the STEM Friday blog.


Site Meter Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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3. ARC REVIEW: The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2) by Sherry Thomas

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4. BOOK REVIEW + Chapter 1 : Echo (The Soul Seekers #2) by Alyson Noel

"A rush of romance will sweep you away in this hauntingly mystical read. I'm already as addicted to Daire and Dace as I was to Ever and Damen!" –Justine magazine She inherited a magical destiny—and a mission to stop a powerful family of dark sorcerers. She never expected to fall in love with one of them. There’s still so much Daire Santos has to learn about being the last Soul Seeker….and about herself.  As her magical training becomes more intense, so does her relationship with...

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5. BOOK REVIEW: Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1) by Yelena Black

Series: Dance of ShadowsHardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; First Edition edition (February 12, 2013)Language: English Vanessa knew that dance was in her blood, but she had no idea the world of elite ballet was center stage for the darkest of secrets—until her sister mysteriously disappeared from the world-renowned New York Ballet Academy. Three years later, Vanessa follows in Margaret's footsteps, lands the role most girls at NYBA would kill for . . . and gets...

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6. A Resource Discovery: NAMING THE WORLD!


How fitting that today, the 522nd anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World, I share with you my recently-discovered resource, thanks to my writer Bridget Conway of Camden, Maine – NAMING THE WORLD (and other EXERCISES for the CREATIVE WRITER), edited by Bret Anthony Johnston (Random House, 2007).

Johnston writes in his introduction that “much of the writer’s work must be – can only be – accomplished by doggedly venturing into territories unknown, by risking failure with every word.  His purpose in gathering writing exercises from well-respected authors was “to create an environment in which each writer feels invited and prepared to take such risks.”

Like all discoveries, this collection of focused and insightful writing exercises widened my eyes, raised my eyebrows and had my brain whirling in record time.

Indeed, Betsy Lerner, author of another favorite resource of mine – THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: AN EDITOR’S ADVICE TO WRITERS (Riverhead, 2000) describes NAMING THE WORLD as “the equivalent of a master class in writing by some of the best writers/teachers around.”

What I especially like about NAMING THE WORLD is Johnston’s organization:  8 sections, 7 of which focus on a key element of fiction.  Each section begins with relevant perceptive quotes by well-known writers, then offers an overview of the particular element. Chosen authors’ understandable, doable exercises follow, exercises designed to “demystify the common and complex mechanisms by which the specific element operates.”  

Getting Started exercises and Daily Warm-ups bookend the sections which focus on:

       ·       Character

·         Point of view and tone

·         Plot and narrative

·         Dialogue and voice

·         Descriptive language and setting

·         Revision

I loved reading how some of my favorite authors, including Joyce Carol Oates, Elizabeth Strout, Elizabeth McCracken and Richard Bausch hone their craft.

I also loved discovering authors heretofore unknown to me.
Be sure to check back on Wednesday for Paul Lisicky’s exercise on the rhythm of language.
(His award-winning book THE BURNING HOUSE is currently on reserve at my Chicago Public Library.)


I’m happy to report my Newberry Library Picture Book Writing Workshop students this semester are also enjoying the exercises, completing one per week.

Explorers such as Columbus looked to the stars to help find their way.  With that thought in mind, I hereby declare NAMING THE STARS stellar, as in *-worthy.  The collection of exercises is certain to help writers discover their stories and how best to tell them.

In celebration of Signor Columbus’ 1492 New World landing, Happy Discovering!
 
Esther Hershenhorn

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7. Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2014: Oct part 1


Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author, Netgalley or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

Jax Morrow is a dangerously handsome, spectacularly wealthy entrepreneur whose world is turned upside down when Pandora Garret walks into a dark, smoky bar one night—a stunning combination of sex and innocence. He knows she’s trouble at first sight, but Jax can’t let her leave…unless she’s leaving with him.
 
Pandora has had enough. Kept under lock and key by her powerful, controlling father, she aches for freedom. When she briefly escapes and meets Jax she knows he is just what she has been looking for: forbidden, unforgettable passion. After one night in Jax’s arms, Pandora knows she can never go back to living under one man’s domination. Determined to control her own life she tries to resist Jax, but a dangerous desire rises between them—one that threatens to destroy them. But both Pandora and Jax discover that they just can’t be pulled away… in The Billion Dollar Bachelor.

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

I truly enjoyed this story and the pairing of Pandora with Jax was well done. You really feel for Pandora who has been raised in a rather uncaring environment. The same goes for Jax who comes from a family with lots of secrets to hide.

The romance was believable and the character development and plot were well done.

I really did despise Pandora's father and felt that the ending of this novel was great. I would definitely read more by this author.

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8. A bookish microcosm of Russia

My family often wonders about my propensity to jump from one seemingly unrelated topic to another, often within seconds.  What they usually don't realize is that in my mind, the topics are connected; I've merely forgotten to fill them in on the links.

With that in mind, I offer you three new books on Russia that in my mind, are dramatically different and yet completely complementary.  A young adult nonfiction book, a young adult fantasy, and a children's picture book a microcosm of Russia in history, magic and dance.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Candace Fleming's, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Imperial Russia (Random House Audio, 2014).  My review and an audio excerpt are linked here.

You can read my review or any number of stellar reviews, but I will sum up  by saying that whether you listen to the audio book or read the print copy, The Family Romanov is a fully immersive experience into the final years of tsarist Russia - the time, the place, and  the tragically doomed family.

I was happily mulling over this excellent book when I immediately received an opportunity to  review Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire (Brilliance Audio, 2014).  I had received a galley copy of Egg & Spoon in the spring.  I thought it looked intriguing, but hadn't had time to read it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a folklore fantasy that takes place - of all places - in tsarist Russia.  I couldn't believe my good fortune.  The book was enhanced by my recent reading of The Family Romanov.  With the history of modern tsarist Russia fresh in my mind, the location and historical setting was vivid, leaving me more time to ponder the story's underpinning of Russian folklore, of which I was mostly ignorant.  I knew little of the witch, Baba Yaga and her peculiar house that walks on chicken legs, and I knew nothing of the magical Russian firebird.

My reviews are linked here and here.  Again, you can read my review or any other, but I will sum up by saying that Egg & Spoon is grand and magical - a metaphoric epic for readers from twelve to adult.

I was so happy to have read these excellent books in tandem and was recommending them at every turn, when I happened to hear an interview with Misty Copeland on the radio speaking about her experience dancing in the Russian ballet, The Firebird. What a coincidence, I thought - the firebird flies again in my milieu. A greater coincidence ocurred at work when I received my new copy of Misty Copeland's, Firebird. (Putnam, 2014)  Reading Egg & Spoon gave me an historical context for The Firebird ballet, and Misty Copeland tied it all together - a modern and immediate manifestation of history's struggles and stories - all rising like the mystical firebird.

So there you have it, my serendipitous encounter with Russian history, folklore and culture.  As our two countries struggle with our relationship, may we always remember that there is more to a country than its leaders and politicians.  There is always us, the common people. And as Egg & Spoon and Firebird will show you, there is always hope.



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9. The Map Trap - a review

Move over, Frindle. A new classic has arrived!

Below is my review of The Map Trap by Andrew Clements, as it appeared in the October, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.

CLEMENTS, Andrew. The Map Trap. 2 CDs. 2:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781442357013. digital download.

Gr 3-6 -- Alton Ziegler is crazy about maps. He particularly loves the way they can visually display any manner of information in a variety of ways. Surreptitiously, he collects data and creates humorous maps detailing such trivia as the popularity of lunchroom tables (depicted as a topographical map of the cafeteria) or a weather map of a teacher's clothes. Striped tie today? Look out -- the probability of a pop quiz is high. He never meant for anyone to see his collection, but when it's "mapnapped," there's no telling where the road might lead. Keith Nobbs is perfectly cast as the narrator. He creates a pensive Alton that fits the mood of the story. Clements's (In Harm's Way) use of subjective third-person narration is interesting in that the listener is privy to the inner concerns not only of Alton but of his teacher Miss Wheeling as well. Rarely is a teacher's perspective presented with such honesty and clarity in a middle grade novel. Though Nobbs's voice sometimes cracks when portraying female characters, his delivery, nonetheless, is still pleasing and believable. The Map Trap is a thoughtful, holistic look at the middle school environment that will have wide appeal. 

Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.


The publisher's website contains an audio and a printed excerpt from The Map Trap, as well as a video with author, Andrew Clements.

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10. Book Review: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

cover50965-mediumTitle: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

Author: Atia Abawi

Date: Penguin; 2014

main character: Fatima

 

synopsis: Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.

I have to admit that the beginning of the book felt very much to me like it was written by an outsider looking in; someone who was taking the American notion of romantic love to another country. Abawi was simply pulling my American sensibility into Afghanistan. The story felt soft and sweet, didn’t I know how this was going to end? Then, Fatima over hears her father talking to her mother about war time atrocities that he committed. This was not going to be an easy read! I had not idea how it was going to end, but I certainly wanted to know!

Abawi writes a story of contemporary Afghanstan, a country caught in crossroads and cross hairs. Abawi writes chapters in alternating voices, disallowing us from conceptualizing a single story for this perplexing country. Abawi develops complex characters that we despise for their actions, yet we know the conflicted rationale that leads them to behave a certain way.

I don’t know the various cultures in Afghanistan, don’t know the rituals of daily life or the nuances of religion and politics. I cannot review the accuracies in that regard. What I do appreciate is that we’re told a story that incorporates multiple perspectives so that readers will not expect those who live in the country to think, behave or live in one certain way. Not many writers would be able to trust their characters to tell this story, but Abawi did. Readers will develop their own judgments about compelling situations, They will approach the book with ideas about social justice, marriage, love and parental rights, yet as Fatima comes of age, the reader will certainly mature along with her. This book is a tough read; I think an important read for teens in our global society. It brings to life the fact that there are no easy answers.

Atia Abawi works as a journalist with CNN. She was stationed in Afghanistan for over 5 years, leaving that position for one in Jerusalem. Abawi was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was one year old. She is still based in the Mideast and The Secret Sky is her first book.

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: Atia Abawi, book review, Middle Eastern YA Literature, new author of color

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11. I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand

Sourcebooks, 2014. 
When you stumble on a great comedy novel for teens, it should be one you have in the library because really, there isn't that much out there.  And this is a GEM!

Henry is admittedly a geek, but he's a superstar geek.  His story is on the big screen, he has a beautiful girl by his side and he survived Strongwoods Survival Camp.  This is how it happened....

Henry's dad, after seeing a video on Youtube featuring Max (think screaming sergeant from any war movie you've ever seen) telling him he could make a man out of your son, tries to convince his son it would be a GREAT experience.  Henry's not so much into it, until his nerdy friend Randy says he WANTS to go...it'll be great!  So after spending the next 48 hours in gaming mode (to keep his reserves up) off they go.

Strongwoods Survival Camp looks as mean as Max does.  Five boys meet for the first time and are
1. stripped away of all electronic devices
2. given barely edible and non-recognizable food to eat
3. given an outhouse, which may or may not contain a creature in the hole

It's going to be the longest two weeks of Henry's life.  But even among those loooong days, some good things happen.  He meets a girl in the woods.  He actually shoots his arrow and makes a target, and he survives sleeping outside for the first time in his 16 years. 

But then Mr. Grand shows up, and he wants to balance his fiscal statement from a sketchy deal made with the co-owner of Strongwoods Survival.  Henry's game (as well as Randy's, Erik's, Jackie's and Stu's) just got real.  Henry can no longer think like Katniss Everdeen, but needs to start thinking like a true hero - perhaps like Splat-Tastic, his favorite video game hero?

I'll admit, when reading this book, kids would give me the weirdest stares but I could NOT help but laugh all the way through this book!  Strand captures the character of Henry so well, all the way from his video gaming fingers to his attempts at nerd bravery.  And then you get to the Wilderness survival tips at the end of each chapter.  Example: "In case of an avalanche, don't despair.  You're doomed, but c'mon, how many people get to say they died in an avalanche?!?  That's wicked cool."  One of many tips you'll chuckle about along with the fishing expedition, catching wild game for food, and building shelters with whatever you can find in a forest.  This book should be given to any reader, but has special appeal for guy readers and best of all?  PERFECT for junior high to high school! 

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12. Sing Along Construction Song

Sing Along Construction Song - Cover

We really enjoyed this tale about various construction vehicles and the job they do.  Each vehicle describes their function and then happily sings a song set to the tune of “London Bridge” about their work.  At the end they all sing together about how they work as a team to get the job done.  Great message for young children about having a positive attitude and teamwork.  You can purchase this ebook for $2.99 at Amazon or get it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited which is a new subscription service by Amazon to read up to ten books at a time for a monthly fee of $9.99.  They are currently offering free 30-day trials if you want to check it out.  As always all of our children’s books are available in the Kindle Unlimited program as well.

**We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**


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13. Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2014: Sept part 3


Disclaimer: I received no compensation from Netgalley, the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

"The year I turned sixteen, the media featured reports of a worldwide phenomenon – the emergence of Interspecies Telepaths, or ISTs." 

When Christa Wilder mind-bonds with Magnus, a wolf pup, on a camping trip in Sakima National Park, her life changes forever. As the bond between Christa and Magnus grows stronger, other ISTs befriend them, including teenage Romy and her mountain lion, and Karl, a famous wildlife artist, and his golden eagle.

But not everyone is happy that ISTs exist or that wolves have been successfully reintroduced to Sakima, especially when wolves begin killing livestock on nearby ranches. Suddenly, with the first wolf hunting season about to open just beyond the park's boundaries, Magnus's pack is placed in jeopardy.

Even inside the park there is danger because a lunatic is slaughtering animals while staying one step ahead of the authorities. Next on the hit list: a wolf.

And, unbeknown to Christa, her brother, Josh, who went missing on his fifth birthday, has reappeared, but what sort of man is he? Why is he keeping his identity a secret?

Soon Christa is forced to commit to a new life full of challenges, friendships, learning, love and loss. With her psychic grandmother and her best friend, Ava, Christa will explore her spiritual beliefs, discovering a deep connection with nature and Spirit. But, most importantly, Christa will discover the sheer joy of the Mind Bond.

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 1/DNF stars

Here's why:

I want to start off by mentioning the things that attracted me to this book. I'm a big fan of mental abilities, especially telepathy. The concept of an interspecies bond caught my eye. The fact that the bond wasn't with aliens but with animals here on earth was also a perk.

The descriptions of the surroundings, people and animals were top-notch and gave me a good grasp on what things/places/animals/people looked like which made it very distinct in my mind's eye.

The characters, except those who were supposed to be shallow, were well-rounded with both good and bad points being exposed as I read along.

However, these three things were not enough to keep me hooked. I got 40% of the way through and stopped reading. The main reason is the pacing was so slow. I don't always have to have things move at lightning speed but when it drags on and on, I tend to get bored or annoyed.

The second thing that kept knocking my interest away was deep/detailed discussions about spiritually. Again, information about other cultures, beliefs, spirituality and other topics related to a person's heritage don't bother me. But when it overloads my mind and/or bogs the story down for me, I lose interest.

Would I recommend this book? I'm on the fence, so I will leave it up to you to decide.

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14. Dangerous Book Review

Title: Dangerous Author: Shannon Hale Publisher: Bloomsbury Publication Date: March 4, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1599901688 416 pp. ARC provided by publisher I hadn't read any Shannon Hale novels before (although I did enjoy the Austenland movie), but I knew she was a writer who used humor and girl power in her work. And Dangerous did not disappoint. In fact, I freaking loved Dangerous. The

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15. Wonderful Weirdos of Literature 2014 – Installment #19

All too soon, we've come to the last post for our Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. If you're new here, clicking on the link in that first sentence will bring you right up to speed. If you're not new here, you can click the link, too, for nostalgia or for a refresher...or not. But whether you're New or Not New, if you click, don't forget to come back to this post to see what's up for today.




The first three posts in this year's Picture Book and Poetry Palooza sub-theme have had the following Variations on the Overall Weirdo Theme:


And now, let's revel in one last variation for this 2014 series:


Animals Are People, Too (And Vice Versa)


Pretty self-explanatory, this one.

Also, if you'll recall from the Weirdly True post, we promised one anomaly would be included in this otherwise all-picture-book-and-poetry presentation: a novel. And today's post has that novel. (We're big on keeping our promises here at Bugs and Bunnies.) Here we go:






Stuart Little
Written by E.B. White
Pictures by Garth Williams
Ages 8 - 12
Summary graciously provided by Chez Wheedleton's own Lovely Girl:

When the Little family welcomed their second son, Stuart, it was obvious from the start that he was a little...different. He wasn't much bigger than a mouse. In fact, he looked like a mouse in every way. Let no one say that the Littles weren't open-minded about things, though. From doll's clothes to a bed made out of a cigarette box to a tiny mallet to turn the faucet handle, the Littles made every effort to accommodate their unusual child.

Stuart could walk and talk almost immediately, and being the adventurous type, he got into quite a bit of mischief in his hometown of New York City. After befriending a pretty sparrow named Margalo, though, Stuart decides that he'll need to go out into the big wide world to find her after she migrates away. But it's dangerous being a mouse in a human's world... This city mouse will need to keep his wits about him as he ventures into the countryside on his own!



I'm a Manatee
By John Lithgow
Illustrated by Ard Hoyt
Ages Preschool - 3
Another Lovely Girl-provided summary:

One little boy is so sick of his humanity that in his dreams, he becomes a manatee! He and the other manatees spend their time enjoying their watery world and peacefully chowing down on their favorite foods. Good things don't last forever, though...

*An extra bit of fun: Also included with this book is a CD and musical score of the story, with lyrics by John Lithgow and music by Bill Elliott.



Have you ever seen a Moose taking a bath?
Story by Jamie McClaine
Art by April Goodman Willy
Ages 4 and up
Yet another Lovely-Girl-provided summary:

Maybe you have seen a moose taking a bath before, but never quite like this!

This particular moose isn't satisfied with just splashing around to get clean. Bath-time is a very serious event – one that requires goggles, a noseplug, a scrubby-dub brush, Mr. Moose Bubbles, and of course his ducky Bill Webber. Be sure to stand back as he gets ready to get in the water, or you might end up soaking wet, too!



No Moon, No Milk!
By Chris Babcock
Illustrated by Mark Teague
Ages 3 and up

Martha is sick of cowing around in a pasture. And when farmer Rob asks her what she would like to cow around in, her answer has him stumped: "The Mooooon."

Rob doesn't see how he can get Martha to the moon, but he has to do something to meet her demand. No moon, no milk!

So he tries a few things. He takes her surfing. He takes her to see an honest-to-goodness crater right here on Earth. He even takes her to Radio City Music Hall to see the famous Rockettes. But Martha is unmoved by all of it. The only thing she wants to do is cow around on the moon.

Finally, Rob suggests one last thing to try. But will it be enough to meet Martha's out-of-this-world demand?

* * *


As this is the last Friday in September, so this is the last post in the Fifth Annual Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series. But never fear, we'll be back next year with a whole new bunch of wonderfully weird books to explore.

Until then, we'll leave you with this:


"The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it."

                                        – Hunter S. Thompson 


 

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16. Review – Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

I am a huge Oliver Jeffers fan but have to admit his last few picture books haven’t hit the mark. That of course excludes the absolutely brilliant The Day The Crayons Quit he did with Drew Daywalt last year which was simply outstanding. Oliver Jeffers illustrations have always been outstanding but it was his stories that seemed […]

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17. Panic Book Review

Title: Panic Author: Lauren Oliver Publisher: HaperCollins Publication Date: March 4, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0062014559 416 pp. ARC provided by publisher Panic by Lauren Oliver is a YA contemporary about a group of teens in a high-stakes game of dares. They live in a crappy town and the money that seniors are forced to pony up throughout the school year goes to the winner of Panic. Because,

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18. Book Review: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Book: Nothing Special
Author: Geoff Herbach
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Things look pretty sweet for Felton Reinstein. He's big and strong and has football coaches from schools all over the country panting after him. He has a beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a brother who idolizes him. But he has a secret, and here it is.

He's a mess.

He hates the scouts and the attention, even while he loves football (well, any kind of athletics). His girlfriend has mysteriously stopped talking to him, as has (less mysteriously) his best friend, and his little brother is just off the rails completely. He's paralyzed by fear, of the future, of the past, and of the present. He just wants to run away from it all.

But it's Andrew who runs away, and it will take a quixotic road trip with the best friend who's not anymore to find the grandfather and cousin he's never known before Felton can start to understand why.

God, how I love Felton Reinstein. Yes, he's fictional, yes, he's seventeen, and yes, he's a complete goober and a mess. That last is why I love him. Geoff Herbach has a particular gift for getting you into Felton's brain, with all its self-involvement and uncertainty, without turning you off completely. He structures this book as a long letter to Aleah and Felton opens a vein all over the page, because it's not something he would do from the outside. There's so much going on inside his head, but he's still developing the emotional tools to express them to others.

I really appreciated the through-line of his father's suicide. In the first book, Felton started coming to terms with who his father was, what he did, and what that means for himself as he lurches toward adulthood. In this book, it keeps messing him up, it keeps messing his family up, but in new ways. Or rather, in ways that are only uncovered in this book. I appreciated that because a parent's death, particularly  a parent's suicide, isn't something that you get over in 275 pages. It's a long, evolving process and one that may never end.

Lucky for me, there's one more Felton Reinstein book for me to enjoy.

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19. Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2014 – Installment #17

Today marks the second of four posts this month in the Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series.




Wondering what this is all about? Click on the link up there in that first sentence, and you'll be caught up nicely. Then come back here to continue the festivities.

* * *

Back now? Great! Let's get to it, shall we?

You'll recall (if you've been here before) or you now know (if you're new but clicked that link up there) that for our Fifth Anniversary of the Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, we've focused our weird-detecting magnifying glass on picture books and poetry anthologies.

Last week's post had all picture books, with the Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme of Weirdly True.

Well, fans of verse, rejoice! Because today is the day we're:


Waxing Poetic 


That's right! Today is all about the rhymes. The weirder and the funnier, the better – and one collection is even set to music:




A Light in the Attic
Poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein
Ages 6 - 8

Readers of this collection of Shel Silverstein's poems and drawings will have lots to ponder, lots to smile about, and lots to laugh through.

With poems about stars needing a polish, and a bee who may want to consider a career in tattoo artistry, and a camel wearing a quite unusual piece of clothing, kids will have lots to giggle over.

With poems about a bridge that will only take you halfway there, and a difference in perspective between two friends: a tree and a rose, and someone who shoots an arrow into the sky, kids will have plenty to think about.

And with illustrations like the boy with the hot dog for a pet, and the anteater (or rather, aunt-eater), and the polar bear in the refrigerator, kids will have that little bit of extra fun to go with the poems they're enjoying.

It is a collection not to be missed.



The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders
Rhymes by Jack Pretutsky
Pictures by Petra Mathers
Ages 4 - 8

Here is a beautifully illustrated collection of children's verse by Jack Prelutsky. Readers will chortle through poems about a disastrous shopping trip, and a partying group of farm animals in Tuscaloosa, and pigs and frogs performing onstage for a swooning audience of chickens and ducks. They'll smile through rhymes about a gardener's unconventional crops, and a little brown toad's chronicle of his carefree life, and a description of a smiley, giggly baby. They'll take time to let their eyes and hearts exploew the rich, full-page illustrations. 

An afternoon spent with the verse and pictures in this book is an afternoon well-spent.



A Bad Case of the Giggles: Kids' Favorite Funny Poems
Selected by Bruce Lansky
Illustrated by Stephen Carpenter
Ages 6 - 12

This is a collection of funny poems written for kids, and chosen for inclusion by editor Bruce Lansky – with the help of a panel of 800 elementary school kids!

Readers will laugh over poems about the joy (or not) of having a baby sibling, the indignities of being a boy who must wear hand-me-downs...from his family full of sisters, a girl with questionable hygiene habits, the olfactory downside of living in a shoe, the classic about the old man from Peru, and many, many more.

Written by an ecclectic mix of poets both well-known (like Judith Viorst) and well-known-but-kind-of-not (like Anonymous), the poems in this collection are the laugh-out-loud type that kids just love to read, and read, and read. Often out loud. Expect guffaws.



Frog Trouble and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs
Songs and Illustrations by Sandra Boynton
For Ages One to Older Than Dirt

Fans of Ms Boynton's previous musical collaborations (Philadelphia Chickens, Blue Moo, Dog Train, Rhinoceros Tap, and GRUNT Pigorian Chant) will revel in this newest venture. Frog Trouble is a CD and songbook full of country songs written by Ms Boynton, produced by Ms Boynton and Michael Ford, and sung by some of the biggest names in country music today.

Listeners will enjoy reading along in Part One as they enjoy songs with lines like, "It's a beautiful thing – When Pigs Fly," and "I really don't like it when you Copycat," and "...I don't need shoes 'cause I've got alligator feet," and of course, "I've got two words to say: Frog Trouble."

Part Two is a Sing and Play Along complete with melodies and lyrics for each song from Part One. Part Three introduces readers to the performers, and there's even a cut-and-fold activity sheet at the end to make a puppet. (But we won't tell you what the puppet is. You'll have to guess...)


* * *

And that's that for this time. Be sure to come back next Friday, September 19th, for Installment #18. It should be a monstrously good time.

Until then, we'll leave you with this:


"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."

                                              – Charles Mingus


  

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20. Book Review-Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Title: Adaptation
 Author: Malinda Lo
Series:   Adaptation #1
Published:  April 3 2014 by Hodder
Length: 432 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Malinda Lo has also written Huntress, Ash (review here), and Inheritance.
Summary: Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same.
On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened.
For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?

Review: It all starts when  Reese Holloway is waiting for a plane back from debating and  birds fall out of the sky. Stranded, she and the debate team decide to head home in a rented car, and things change even more. With no idea of the events after a crash, nor the later happenings or procedures, Reese finds some anwers that will change her life, and humanity, forever.
Huntress, I didn't enjoy especially, but Ash was one of my favourite books due to the writing style and the new take on an old story. Adaptation leaves the fantasy route and goes down the scifi men-in-black route, and it does this really well.
I love the characters. Amber's probably my favourite, because she's adorable and funny and I fell in love with her. I also liked that you had to constantly question her and her loyalties. David- CHINESE MC HECK YEAH (I get excited by chinese main characters) was also really adorable and smart. Reese isn't one of my favourite characters, she seemed a bit ordinary compared to a cast full of scientists and government agents and conspiracy theory website runners and things which I want to say but that's kind of spoilery, but I did like the fact that she constantly questioned things. Oh, and love to Reese's mum. See the lawyering badass love for her daughter and reaction to her coming out as bisexual. 
Nowhere in this book is a good place to stop reading-most certainly not the end.. Every point in Adaptation was either too intriguing or too exciting or too adorable to let you even think about putting it down, and I've had the must-never-stop-reading-this-feeling for very few books before.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a book I recommend to everyone, especially mystery, scifi, thriller, romance fans.

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21. Book Review: My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

Book: My Year of Epic Rock
Author: Andrea Pyros
Published: September 2, 2014
Source: review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Nina can't wait for the start of seventh grade, even if her best friend hasn't called her back at all since getting back from her summer trip. She's sure that things will be just like they always have, Nina-and-Brianna ready to take on the world.

But on the first day of seventh grade, Brianna seems more interesting in hanging out with sophisticated Shelley than even talking to Nina. It doesn't take long for Nina to be exiled to the "allergy table" in the cafeteria, where all the weird kids with food allergies (of which Nina is one) sit every day.

There's a lot more to all those weird kids than just their allergies. When they discover that Nina can play drums, they decide to form a band to play at the school talent show. In spite of her misgivings about participating in an event that Brianna and Shelley have decreed "totally lame," Nina is getting a little excited about it. Maybe there's more to her than being half of Nina-and-Brianna. Maybe she's a rock star.

It's a tale as old as time. Hit middle school and people change. Friendships change. You change. Probably why this storyline ("Oh god, my best friend just dumped me WHAT NOW!?") is such a staple of middle-school literature. Where this story shines is in the details (the allergies that draw them all together, the fact that Nina is drummer and not a guitarist or a singer) and the realism of the interpersonal relationships.

One of my favorite things was how Nina made male friends who were simply friends. Tiernan and Shane are her buddies, not extra rival love interests. Tiernan, in fact, is the friend who lays down the law to her late in the book. ("We aren't here to be playing backup for you, Nina. We're supposed be your real friends, not second choice ones.") As someone who's has male and female friends all my life, even in middle school, I appreciated this a lot.

A sweet, upbeat story that will strike a chord with middle school readers.

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22. I'm My Own Dog - I love it!

Stein, David Ezra. 2014. I'm My Own Dog. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.


I've got a few deadlines to meet so this will be short, but I couldn't let another day go by without shouting out to the virtual world, "I love this book!"

Funny, inventive, clever and touching, this book will work its way into your heart even as it has you laughing out loud.

This is no ordinary dog.  No one owns him, no sir!

Every morning when I look
in the mirror, I lick my own
face because I am so happy
to see me.
I say, "GOOD DOG.
I AM A GOOD DOG."
You'll think so, too!

Don't just take my word for it.  See more great reviews at

From the end papers,
The illustrations' line work was created using pen as well as a kids' marker hacked to dispense India Ink; it was then photocopied onto watercolor paper.  The painting was done in liquid watercolor, with a hint of crayon on the dog's muzzle.
Ingeniously childish - a perfect presentation of a delightfully independent dog with a soft spot as big as his heart.

Click here to see an inside spread from I'm My Own Dog.

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23. Bookish Ways (for the Young-ish Set) to Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, me hearties! International Talk Like a Pirate Day be soon upon us. Aye, very soon. Tomorrow, in fact.

If this oh-so-fun little-known holiday, celebrated annually on September 19th, has taken ye by surprise this year, never fear. We scalawags here at Bugs and Bunnies have some fun and bookish ways for teachers an' kids ta celebrate the day.




Since pirates are some of our favorite people, we've reviewed a fair number of fantastic piratical books. Below are summaries of all of 'em to date. If we've done a full review, clicking the titles will take ye to the full review posts for each one:



The Mousehunter 
Written and illustrated by Alex Milway
Ages 10 - 12

Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.

In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.

When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.




Fish
By Gregory Mone

Ages 8 and up

Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when Shamrock dies. Without their horse, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.

His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. When Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins, he's robbed before he can make the delivery. He tracks down the thief amongst a bunch of pirates, aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish sneaks aboard and joins the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem, and some of the crew are not as loyal as they'd have their captain believe.

As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.




How I Became a Pirate
Written by Melinda Long
Illustrated by David Shannon

Ages 4 - 8

Jeremy Jacob was just a boy building a sandcastle on the beach - until the day the pirates came. The pirates were in need of a digger to help bury their treasure. And the captain couldn't help but notice that "He's a digger, he is, and a good one to boot!" The crew heartily agreed, "A good one to boot!" And that is how Jeremy Jacob became a pirate.



Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Alan Snow

Ages 9 - 12

Young Arthur is a resident of Ratbridge. Or, rather, a resident under Ratbridge. He's not sure why he lives below ground, except that his inventor grandfather says that they must. They share this underground world with curious creatures: boxtrolls, cabbageheads, rabbit women, and the rather fearsome trotting badgers.

One day, Arthur gets caught above-ground on one of his nightly forays to the surface world to gather food. The rather nasty Snatcher, his grandfather's old nemesis, has stolen the machine Arthur's grandfather built for him to be able to fly about, and he doesn't know how to get back home.

But Arthur is not without friends. He is helped by the kindly retired lawyer Willbury Nibble, and the underlings who live with him: the boxtrolls Fish, Egg, and Shoe, and the shy cabbagehead Titus. Then there's the pirates-turned-laundry-workers, talking rats and crows, and oh! we can't forget The Man in the Iron Socks. They are all determined to get Arthur back home safely.

Arthur and his friends soon discover that something stinks in Ratbridge, and it isn't just the cheese: Someone has begun hunting Wild English Cheeses again - an outlawed sport. And mysterious goings-on are afoot at the old Cheese Hall. And all the entrances to the underground world have been sealed up. And the boxtrolls and cabbageheads are all disappearing. And the underlings' tunnels are starting to flood. Grandfather is worried, and they all know Snatcher is the root of this mystery. Somehow. Whatever will they do?




Another Whole Nother Story
As told by (The Incomparable) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Ages 8 and up 


Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in another adventure - with all-new names, of course. Now that they've got the LVR working (the supposedly secret, yet relentlessly sought-after time machine introduced in A Whole Nother Story), the family is all set to travel back in time to just before their beloved wife and mother Olivia Cheeseman meets her unfortunate end at the hands of those seeking to "acquire" the LVR.

But all does not go according to plan. First, they wind up not in the relatively recent past, as they'd planned, but way back in 1668. Worse, their crash landing has damaged the LVR, and unless they can find the proper parts to repair it, the family has no way to return to their own time in the 21st century. As if that weren't trouble enough, the family finds themselves facing suspicion of witchcraft, battling pirates, and navigating a haunted castle. Add to that their tangle with a dangerous nemesis from their present whom they believed they'd seen the last of, and things don't look good.

Despite these odds, the likeable Cheesemans are not without friends, meeting several helpful souls along the way. But is it enough to help them get out of the distant past, and into the nearer past, so they can save their beloved Olivia Cheeseman, and get back to their own time?



* * *


Well, land lubbers, that's all we got, and we ain't got no more. But keep a weather eye on the Bugs and Bunnies horizon – we've got our eyes on more'n a few other fantastic pirate-y books we'd love ta be postin' about in future.

But for now, mateys, we hope you enjoy what we've presented here today, and have a most fabulous International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th.

 

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24. If - a review

If... A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith.


If you're familiar with If the World Were a Village (also from Kids Can Press), then you'll understand the context in which If introduces large concepts. Take "Your Life," for example.

On a two-page spread, a large Sicilian-style pizza is depicted on a table surrounded by several happy children and one salivating dog,

If your whole life could be shown as a jumbo pizza, divided into 12 slices ...
4 slices would be the time you spend in school or at work
1 slice would be spent shopping, caring for others and doing things around home
4 slices would be the time you spend getting ready to sleep and sleeping,

etc., until all twelve slices have been accounted for.

Other concepts featured are:

  •  "Inventions Through Time" - depicted on a 36" measuring tape
  •  "Our Galaxy" - presented on a dinner plate
  •  "Water" - represented by 100 water glasses
  •  and 12 others 

In each case, care is taken to equate the concept to something with which children will be familiar.   This is a great way to place an intangible concept into a simple object that a child can hold within her hand.

Suggested for grades 3 - 6.  See an interior preview of If at the publisher's website. 

Today is STEM Friday.  You can see other posts at the STEM Friday blog.

STEM Friday

It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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25. Wonderful Weirdos of Literature 2014 – Installment #18

If you've been following along with our Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, we're glad you're back for more. And if you're visiting for the first time, well, we're glad you're here.




If you need a refresher on what this series is all about, clicking on that link up there at the beginning of the post will catch you up quite nicely. Then come on back here to keep the weirdness rolling.

So far in the Picture Book and Poetry Palooza that is this year's sub-theme within the Overall Weirdo Theme, we've frolicked through the following weekly Variations on the Overall Weirdo Themes:


And today, we bring you Installment #18:

Supernatural

Specifically, monsters. Not the dark, blood-curdling, super-scary kind. (We don't do a lot of dark here on Bugs and Bunnies.) Just the quirky ones:



The Monster Trap
Story and pictures by Dean Morrissey
Written by Dean Morrissey and Stephen Krensky
Ages 5 - 10

Paddy has come to stay with his grandfather for a few days. It's his first time there on his own, and Pop's place seems darker than Paddy remembers. That night, they listen to Monster Radio Theater, and when bedtime comes, Paddy is sure he hears the monster from the radio stories. Pop's solution? A monster trap, complete with "sure-fire, high-grade monster bait."

The next morning, the small trap is empty. Pop thinks that means there aren't any monsters. But Paddy thinks they were just too smart for the trap. So Pop and Paddy get to work building a bigger, smarter trap.

And if it works? Well, that could be a whole new problem.




I Need My Monster
Written by Amanda Noll
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Ages 5 - 8

When Ethan heads to bed one night, instead of his usual monster under the bed, he finds a note: "Gone fishing. Back in a week. – Gabe" 

Ethan can't sleep without his monster under his bed. And he can't go without sleep for a whole week. So he does the only thing he can think of – interview for a replacement.

But can any of the other monsters measure up to Gabe?

* An added treat: We found this video from SAG Foundation's StoryLineOnline.net, with actress Rita Moreno reading I Need My Monster, including animated illustrations from the book presented as she reads. A bit over 11 minutes, total, and very, very fun!



Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo
Written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer
Ages 3 - 8

Professor Wormbog's beastie collection is incomplete. Though he has found a beastie for nearly every letter of the alphabet, from the Askinforit to the Yalapappas, there is one last beastie that still eludes him: the one for Z, the Zipperump-a-Zoo.

So the professor sets off, determined to catch one and complete his collection. He digs a pit. He fishes the sea. He tries to lure it out of the air. He climbs a craggy peak. He drops into caves. Each time, he finds something. But each time, it is not the Zipperump-a-Zoo. Finally, the disappointed professor gives up and heads home, empty-handed.

But sometimes? The very thing a person searches for the hardest tends to turn up in the most unexpected of places...




The Mysterious Tadpole
Written and illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Ages 5 - 8

Every year, Uncle McAllister – who lives in Scotland – sends Louis a birthday present for his nature collection. And when this year's gift arrives, Louis proclaims it "the best one yet," and takes it to school the next day. His teacher proclaims it a tadpole, and Louis names it Alphonse.

By summer, Alphonse still looks nothing like a frog, and has outgrown his jar, the kitchen sink, the bathtub, and even the apartment. Louis decides what Alphonse really needs is a swimming pool – which they don't have, and can't afford to build. Though nobody wants to, it looks like the only option is to take Alphonse to the zoo. But that night, Louis remembers the middle school pool, which sits unused all summer. He happily sneaks Alphonse in, and it works...until the swim team shows up for its first practice, and the coach says Alphonse has to be gone by the next day.

Louis is out of options and in despair when he runs into his friend, Miss Seevers, the librarian, on his way home. He tells her his problem, and then takes her to meet Alphonse. And then, Miss Seevers comes up with a plan to help. A plan so far-fetched, it just might work.

* * *

See? Not scary at all. Be sure to come back next Friday, September 26th, for Installment #19 of the Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, when animals and people show there's more to them than meets the eye.

Until then, we'll leave you with this:


"The possibilities that are suggested in quantum physics tell us that everything that we're looking at may not be in fact there, so the underlying nature of being is weird."

                                    – William Shatner


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