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1. #758 – Ninja Baby by David Zeltser & Diane Goode

Ninja Baby Written by David Zeltser Illustrated by Diane Goode .                  .          .Chronicle Books   11/01/2015 .                        . 978-1-4521-3542-7 .                        . 32 …

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2. Completely Clementine - an audiobook review

Below is my review of Completely Clementine, as it appeared in the October 1, 2015, edition of School Library Journal.

PENNYPACKER, Sara. Completely Clementine. 2 CDs. 2 hrs. Recorded Books. 2015. $25.75. ISBN 9781490625225. digital download.

Gr 2–4—Clementine faces a host of rising fourth-grader issues as the school year ends. She’s feuding with her father over his refusal to become a vegetarian like the rest of the family, she can’t bring herself to say goodbye to her third-grade teacher, and the family’s new baby is due soon and they haven’t even chosen a name yet. Picking the baby’s name should be easy, but her other problems are more serious. She’s avoided her teacher and given her dad the silent treatment for so long that she begins to regret it—but it’s so hard to stop! Clementine and her friends sometimes exhibit the concerns of adults (school friends worry about future wedding plans), but Clementine’s steadfast good nature and silliness are endearing and relatable. Jessica Almasy narrates, bringing infectious enthusiasm to Clementine’s usually upbeat and slightly sassy personality. Other character voices are clearly defined, with Clementine’s parents sounding especially authentic. VERDICT Fans of the series and kids ready to move up from Junie B. Jones will enjoy. [“This last title in the popular and laugh-out-loud chapter book series is a must-have for library collections": SLJ 2/1/15 review of the Disney-Hyperion book.]

 Copyright © 2015 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.


The review was edited slightly and did not include the following:
Jessica Almasy narrates all of the Clementine books. A New Yorker herself, she sounds more Southern Californian than befits Clementine’s Boston environs, but she brings infectious enthusiasm to Clementine’s usually upbeat and slightly sassy personality. 

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3. Picture Book Roundup - June 2015 edition

Enjoy a slide show version of this month's picture book roundup - a sampling of my new favorites!
 If the slide show doesn't work for you, I've listed the books below with links to my reviews on LibraryThing.


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4. Waiting for the Magic

MacLachlan, Patricia. 2011. Waiting for the Magic. New York: Atheneum.

Fifth-grader, William's, father doesn't like dogs. When Papa deserts the family, going off "to write," one summer morning, Mama loads William and 4-year-old Elinor into the car and heads for the local animal shelter.
"What kind of dog are we getting? I asked.
"Whatever they have," said Mama.
"Can we get a cat?" asked Elinor from the back.
"Yes," said Mama.
For a moment I thought about asking for a horse, but I didn't think Mama's mood about animals would last that long.
At the shelter, Mama makes another impulsive decision,

"We'll take them all," Mama said crisply,

the protective Bryn, high-energy Bitty, peaceful Grace, friendly Neo and Lulu, the very patient cat. It is Elinor who first understands the nature of their new pets.  She waves her toy magic wand above them, and they sit patiently, orderly, and they talk - but only Elinor can hear them, because the only
ones who know magic are:
The young
The old
The brave
The honest
The joyful

What will it take for the rest of the family, including Papa, to "know the magic?" It will take love and bravery and honesty and time.

Waiting for the Magic is a short (143 pages) chapter book peppered with simple and attractive penciled sketches by Amy June Bates, perfect for young readers, ages 9-12.  It has some similarities with Kate Feiffer's delightful book, The Problem with the Puddles. Both feature endearing, talking dogs as fully developed characters.

Though Waiting for the Magic is told in William's voice, the dogs often interrupt,

He misses his father.

Yes, he does.

Can you move over, Bitty?

The cat's there.

The cat's name is Lula, Bitty.  Lula.

Okay, Lula.
I know you like her. You ask her to move over.
Printed in italics and placed in the center of the page, readers will have no trouble distinguishing the canine dialogue, and will enjoy the dogs' sometimes silly and sometimes profound commentary.

Newbery winner Patricia MacLachlan's gentle treatment of a difficult topic is laced with humor, magic, and a happy ending.  An enjoyable read.

Read an excerpt here.

© Amy June Bates
This cover image is taken from Amy June Bates' website<

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5. Leave Room for Pecan Pie

I’ve been marveling at Jacqueline Woodson’s finely wrought fiction for years, so it seems fitting that I feature her in this fourth of four posts on outstanding African-American authors or illustrators. Her latest picture book, Pecan Pie Baby (Putnam, 2010), is another treat. Mama’s little Gia isn’t wild about having a new baby in her family. In fact, all the fuss about that “ding-dang baby” is just plain annoying. When Mama says the baby’s wanting some pecan pie, Gia says, “Well, … I love pecan pie. And you love pecan pie. So that baby’s just being a copycat!” Sophie Blackall’s ink and watercolor illustrations clearly portray the child’s worried, sometimes exasperated expression.  At Thanksgiving, engulfed in the family’s incessant talk of “baby this and baby that,” Gia explodes: “I’m so sick of that DING-DANG BABY!” Sent to her room, a teary little Gia sits on her bed feeling “real, real, real alone.” The illustrator’s perspective of looking down on Gia from a distance captures her forlornness. Later, Mama comes upstairs and tells Gia how she’ll miss those special days shared by just the two of them — just the message she needed to hear. The night ends with cuddles and a plate of pecan pie for all three. Growing families will find this a sweet, reassuring book to share with children ages 4 to 7.

More Timeless and Touching Picture Books …

Coming on Home Soon. illus. by E.B. Lewis. Putnam, 2004. Ages 6-9. Set during World War II, Ada Ruth’s mom has left to seek work. She’d heard “they’re hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war.” Her grandmother tries to comfort Ada Ruth, but it’s just not the same. Lewis’s lovely watercolor paintings capture the changing emotions of the girl as she waits. One full-page illustration shows her sitting in an old-fashioned hardback chair, gazing out the window at the snow and trying to recall her mother’s smell: “like sugar some days.” A little black stray kitten arrives and gives Ada Ruth some comfort. The pet stays nearby as she and her grandmother listen to news on the radio. Ada Ruth prays for the soldiers who won’t return anytime soon. And she thinks proudly of her mama, washing the trains up in Chicago. At last, Mama’s long-awaited letter arrives with much-needed money and with the words Ada Ruth has craved: she’s coming on home soon.

The Other Side. illus. by E.B. Lewis.Putnam, 2001. Ages 6-9. In this sensitive story, there’s a split-rail fence that separates a rural black community from the white. Young Clover lives in a yellow house on one side of the fence; a new girl, Annie, lives on the other. Clover watches red-headed Annie sit on the fence and sta

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