Monday, January 31, 2011

Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea


Old Bear and His Cub
by Olivier Dunrea
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Old Bear loves Little Cub with all his heart. He makes sure that Little Cub eats all his porridge, takes a nap during their snowy walk, and wraps his red scarf tightly around his ears. Little Cub doesn't want to be told what to do, but he always listens to Old Bear because he knows that Old Bear loves him so. But when Old Bear catches a cold, it's Little Cub who knows just what to do to make Old Bear feel better. This winning story shows just how much Old Bears and Little Cubs love one another- with all their hearts.

My Quick Thoughts
The perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold day!
Old Bear and Little Cub love each other very much but sometimes they do not see eye to eye. Little Cub does not always want to eat his porridge or wear a scarf. Little Cub is growing up and testing the already established rules but does the things because he knows that Old Bear wants what is best for him. The oft repeated "Old Bear loved his Little Cub with all his heart. Little Cub loved Old Bear with all his heart." is sweet and reassuring. You often see books that deal with parents caring for their children but in this instance Little Cub takes care of Old Bear when he catches a cold. Little Cub fills him up with blackberry tea and a warm bed to sleep in.
The pictures are simple and Dunrea uses the black background to great effect. I love the perpetual grumpy look on Old Bear's face and the flushed checks they get when walking in the cold.
This book is perfect for cold nights- like the one Texas is supposed to get tomorrow. Pick up your Little Cub and read!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Trailer: Meet the Countess from The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens



ABOUT THIS BOOK (from publisher)

Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Until now.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.
The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

The Jumbee
YA

Book Jacket Summary
When Esti Legard starts theater school on Cariba, she's determined to step out of the shadow of her late father, a famous Shakespearean actor. But on an island rife with superstition, Esti can't escape the darkness. In the black of the theater, an alluring phantom voice known only as Alan becomes her brilliant drama tutor, while in the light of day Esti struggles to resist her magnetic attraction to Rafe, the local bad boy. Toppled sets, frightening rumors of jumbee ghosts, and brewing tropical storms culminate in a tantalizingly spooky finale where romance sizzles and truths are unmasked.

Laced with eerie mystery and the lush scenery of the West Indies, this modern Phantom is perfect for readers who like their love stories served with spine-tingling suspense.

My Thoughts
A retake of Phantom of the Opera set in the Caribbean? Sign me up! I do enjoy a good retake but it does have to hold up on it's own. That is how I feel about about fan fiction but that is a discussion for another day.
The Jumbee is an interesting look at a modern Phantom of the Opera situation. Esti is a girl who has recently lost her father and had to relocate to the Caribbean due to several economic and personal reasons. Esti is tired of living under her famous father's shadow and wants to be known as a fine actress in her own right. She tries out for Juliet in the new production of Romeo and Juliet (side note: I wanted to say new production of Il Muto *grin*) and only gets understudy.

This story goes more into the psychological ramifications that the phantom or jumbee, in this case, would have over an impressionable teenager. Esti just lost her father and her mother is withdrawing and self medicating with alcohol. The only person she feels truly understands her is Alan but he manipulative and distant. Enter Rafe, who is everything Esti could want physically but she still longs for Alan's understanding of acting and the pull she feels for him. As a love triangle, it is not quite as annoying as most but I did feel that Esti was stringing Rafe along when she knew she wanted Alan.

I did love the Shakespearean quotes that Keyes laced throughout the novel. It almost made up for the love triangle bit. I love Shakespearean plays and have seen almost all the plays and yet they kept pulling quotes I was unfamiliar with and it made the story feel much more tragic and melancholy. Esti could not put her grief and longing into her own words but found refuge in the bards.

I would recommend this book to those who love Phantom but I also say read it for it's own merit. It is a good book and I enjoyed the suspense and the romantic feel the Shakespearean quotes gave it. Also, for all those who love acting. Esti is a great narrator for those who have or have had been bitten by the acting bug.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Cowboys and Cowgirls

Looking for the perfect story time for the cowboys and cowgirls in your library? Look no further than these rip-roaring fun books! 

The Stock Show is going on right now and many story times are revolving around cowboys, cowgirls, and horses. These are some of my favorites! Cowboy Camp is especially cute for those who are not from Texas and are a bit confused when we try and tell you that we don't ride our horses to school.
I had to go to horse camp in New Jersey!
Enjoy!

Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman

Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer

Little Britches and the Rattlers by Eric A. Kimmel

Cowgirl Rosie and her Five Baby Bison by Stephen Gulbis

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bedtime Bunnies by Wendy Watson


Bedtime Bunnies
by Wendy Watson
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
It's always somebody's bedtime, somewhere in the world. In this book it's bedtime for five little rabbits. They come in from outdoors, have a snack, brush their teeth, take a bath, put on nightclothes, and listen to a story before being tucked in for the night. Outside, we see snowflakes falling. In the bunnies' home, all is warmth and coziness and playfulness and love. Four words per spread narrate the evening routine, and delightfully soft and spirited illustrations take readers into the bunnies' world. Young children who have this book as a bedtime companion are lucky indeed, especially if their own getting-ready-for-bed rituals are as familiar and tender as those of the five bunnies.

My Quick Thoughts
You better skip, scamper, scurry, and hop to your library and check out Bedtime Bunnies! With only four action words per page it is a easy read but it is also quite relaxing for a bedtime story. The five bunnies are scampering around in their brightly colored scarves and hats when their parent yell out "bedtime bunnies". They go through their bedtime routine of brushing teeth, bath time, and story time. This simple book is really sweet and a great addition to your bedtime routine.
For some reason this book made me really nostalgic for my old picture books. I think it was the illustrations and the simple design. My favorite page is the bath time scene where four little bunny heads stick out of the bubbles. There is just something so amusing about it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Must Look Into: Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Kenny & the Dragon
by Tony DiTerlizzi

Summary from amazon.com

What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history -- the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon -- without losing a friend in the fray.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn


Silent in the Grave
by Deanna Raybourn
Historical Fiction
Adult

Book Jacket Summary
These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.
Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.
Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

My Thoughts
It has been a while since I just sat down and read an adult historical fiction without having to write a paper on it. I thought it was a very nice change because I was forcing my way through some YA and thought all the teens whiny and unexciting. Enter Lady Julia Grey, her eccentric family, and the moody Nicholas Brisbane. I really liked Julia because she grew as a character throughout the book and although she changed her outward appearance this did not immediately change her inward self. It took more to make her realize just how she was not living to her full potential. Her family, the March's, includes ten children and many crazy relatives! I really liked the varying degrees of craziness her family rained down on her.

Another good point to the book is that the mystery is set to boil on the back burner for a year and causes all sorts of trouble for our Lady Julia later on. The story also focuses on how Lady Julia runs her household and the Victorian sensibilities that went along with those duties. I think that was actually my favorite part of the book. Many historical mysteries seemed to be set in the Victorian era for the pretty dresses and lack of technology but Raybourn actually explores all the aspects of Victorian life. I do like the fluffy romance as much as anyone else but this is not one of them. I find myself thinking about how Lady Julia runs her household and all the various mourning rituals she had to endure.  

Now as much as I praise this book, this book would not be for everyone. There are many adult themes that Lady Julia runs into, not necessarily sex scenes but more of shocking revelations about those she thought she knew. I would go into this book knowing that there many be some uncomfortableness and things to make you think.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For Horse Crazy Girls Only by Christina Wilsdon




For Horse Crazy Girls Only
by Christina Wilsdon
ill. by Alecia Underhill

Book Jacket Summary
Is your first and second favorite animal a horse? Is your bedroom covered with horse posters on your walls and horse models on your shelves? Would you rather muck out a stall than clean your room? Then you are absolutely, undeniably horse crazy, and this is the only comprehensive book about everything a horse-crazy girl needs to know about horses. You’ll learn everything from the different breeds of horses, to how a horse’s body works, to the quirky little things that make the horse the BEST animal ever. There are even ideas for horse-themed parties, and suggestions for the best horse movies to watch with your friends. And that’s just the beginning.

My Quick Thoughts
I would have scooped this up in a second when I was a tween (of course we were pre-teens then) and would have read it cover to cover many times. I was in love with horses and went to horse camp every year. I did collected model horses but I had very few Breyer horses, which brings us back to the book... For Horse Crazy Girls Only. This book is full of horse facts, quizzes, and lists of horse books and movies. I wish this book could have had colored pictures instead of black and white line drawings. It somewhat detracts from the accurate portrayal of the different types of horses. However, this is a fun book to include in any tween horse enthusiasts shelf, plus the cover is pink and purple (my favorite colors)!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Little Green Goose by Adele Sansone


The Little Green Goose
by Adele Sansone
ill. by Anke Faust
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Mr. Goose longs for a baby of his own, but the egg he finds to sit on hatches into a most unusual chick!

My Thoughts
The Little Green Goose was first published in Switzerland as Das Grune Kuken and the English translation has none of the usual translation problems. I blame my lack of liking Cornelia Funke's books on the translation. However, the story is smooth and does not suffer! In fact, I absolutely love this book! I keep passing it along to all my co-workers and each one of them go "awww" after reading it. This is a book that is full of love and in a way reminds me of Are You My Mother?, which was a favorite of mine as a child.
The first half of the book focuses on Mr. Goose and his quest to find an egg of his own. He really wants a baby goose to raise but can not find an egg. When the farm dog finds a berried egg, he gives it to Mr. Goose to hatch. Instead of a feathery goose, the egg hatches a green scaly dinsaur. Mr. Goose raises his new baby but when the "green goose" realizes he is not really a goose he goes searching for his "real" daddy. He soon realizes that no one loves him like Mr. Goose and he is his real daddy all along. So sweet!
Faust used line drawings with digital collage to great effect! I love how Mr. Goose's feathers are actual feathers! In a creative scene with hens knitting, the yarn is a spiraled yarn ball and the scarf shows the pattern. This effect makes the pictures pop and it took me a while to realize just what was making me enjoy this book so much. The books works really well as a whole, with story and pictures coming together to create a wonderful full of love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Must Look Into: Powerless by Matthew Cody

Powerless
by Matthew Cody

Summary from amazon.com

Superheroes soar in this promising debut—and they’re kids!
Twelve-year-old Daniel, the new kid in town, soon learns the truth about his nice—but odd—new friends: one can fly, another can turn invisible, yet another controls electricity. Incredible. The superkids use their powers to secretly do good in the town, but they’re haunted by the fact that the moment they turn thirteen, their abilities will disappear—along with any memory that they ever had them. Is a memory-stealing supervillain sapping their powers?

The answers lie in a long-ago meteor strike, a World War II–era comic book (Fantastic Futures, starring the first superhero, Johnny Noble), the green-flamed Witch Fire, a hidden Shroud cave, and—possibly, unbelievably—“powerless” regular-kid Daniel himself.

Superhero kids meet comic book mystery in this action-filled debut about the true meaning of a hero.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SMILE: a graphic novel memoir by Raina Telgemeier



I thought I reviewed this eons ago but I looked and looked and could not find it!  Gee darn, looks like I will have to reread it and review it in a week or two. In the mean time- enjoy the trailer!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi


The Search for WondLa
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Middle Zone

Book Jacket Summary
When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee above ground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, "WondLa."
Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's wish for a place to belong.

My Thoughts
Okay, I will try and keep gushing to a minimum in this review. I am a huge fan of the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and The Search for WondLa explores many of the same themes. Eva is looking for "home" and this search proves that home is not a place but being with the people you love.
I really like that DiTerlizzi explored the SciFi elements of children's literature instead of the fantasy. I think I have had a fantasy overload and have been focusing on historical fiction (I read all four of the Cat Royal series in about two weeks) but a look into a SciFi world is quite refreshing.

The world is fun to explore and seeing it through Eva's eyes makes it all the more mysterious and strange. Her sheltered life in an underground bunker called Sanctuary with only a robot named Muthr (Multi-Utility Task Help Robot) for company has not prepared her for a new planet with aliens galore. Eva is a character that evolves and learns from her first mistakes in the new world and her interactions with the new creatures she encounters. There are several species of aliens that she interacts with and each is more fantastic than the next. That brings me to the beautiful art work that accompanies this story. Each chapter has a page and a half drawing that shows a scene from the chapter. I already was familiar with DiTerlizzi's art from the Spiderwick Chronicle's but this 496 page book really showed off his artistic accomplishments.

I highly recommend this book to all ages but I think children ages 9-12 will get a kick out of the alien world and Eva's struggles. I think this would also be a great book to read aloud to children, maybe a chapter a night? I think one of my fondest memories is listening to my Mom read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud. It is a fun way to connect with children and after this book you could continue with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. If you have not read it yet, please go out and find a copy. It is very different from the Judy Garland movie!

I am so glad I got this for Christmas! Thanks Amy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein


Interrupting Chicken
by David Ezra Stein
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story —and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is HANSEL AND GRETEL or LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD or even CHICKEN LITTLE, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly thing. Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting?

My Thoughts
Comedic picture books are my favorite but they do not always work on all reading levels. Many are funny for adults or they are funny for children but Interrupting Chicken is a great mixture that incorporates humor that adults and children will enjoy. The kids will laugh every time Little Chicken interrupts a story while adults will chuckle as they recognize their rambunctious child and Papa's deep sighs. I really enjoyed the close father/daughter relationship portrayed in the book. My father often read to me and it is nice to see a father reading bedtime stories to his daughter, no matter how many times she interrupts. You know this is a reoccurring thing and he is still patient enough to read to her every night. Although, it is a little hard to tell if he is fostering creativity in Little Chicken by having make her own story or if it is just a way to get himself to bed.
Interrupting Chicken is full of warm tones, with dark reds, greens, and and oranges. Stein uses watercolor, crayon, china marker, pen, and tea. I am not sure how you use tea but there you go. Research time!
This is a great story for all ages and great for a story time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's in the Egg, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman


What's in the Egg, Little Pip?
by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
A new egg has just arrived, and Little Pip's parents are so excited! They tell Pip that this new change will soon make their family "just right"--but Little Pip isn't so sure. She thinks their family is already just right, and a boring old egg certainly can't make it any better! It seems to Pip that all anyone cares about is that EGG. Pip soon learns to help as much as she can, and through the long, harsh winter, she and Papa guard the egg, keeping it warm. But she still can't figure what all the fuss is about...until the day when CRACK! the egg breaks open and Pip joyfully meets her baby brother Sam for the very first time!

My Quick Thoughts
Even though March of the Penguins came out in 2005 they are still extremely popular in our picture book area. Children love the waddling birds and Little Pip is a welcome addition to any penguin lovers collection. Not only does this book fit in with the penguin lovers but it deals with the change in family dynamics when a new baby is on the way. Little Pip is sad and confused about the attention a little egg gets, especially when it is so boring. Little Pip is not impressed but qhen the egg hatches she is excited to be a big sister.
The art style is very pretty and the illustrations are rendered in acrylic with blues, yellows, and purples as the majority of the backgrounds. 
This is a cute book that parents can read to their parents when they are expecting a new baby but it is also a good stoy. It does not have to stay in that niche group of being a new big sister or brother group. 
You can read more about Little Pip in Where is Home, Little Pip and Don't Be Afraid, Little Pip

Friday, January 7, 2011

Is is January 25th yet?

The False Princess by Elis O'Neal

Amazon.com Summary:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers


Book Info
The Heart and the Bottle
by Oliver Jeffers
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play.
But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play.
Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance reminiscent of The Giving Tree that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.

My Quick Thoughts
In the realm of picture books there are two worlds- books made for kids and books made for adults. Some can combine them and make it work but The Heart and the Bottle is a picture book for adults. The symbolism of hiding your heart in a bottle so it will not be broken is one that an adult would understand and may be to complex for most children. This is more of perspective on how our childhood shapes us as adults and not a future look for children. I really liked the symbolism and this complex story but it is not really for children. It has been compared to The Giving Tree and I can see that. The Giving Tree is a book that we read to children but we understand it more as we grow up. Children have a harder time grasping the complicated theories behind death and how to deal with grief. I would suggest a less complex book for grieving children and save this one for when they are older. I would recommend The Heart and the Bottle to teens and adults who have lost a loved one but understand that the lessons they teach are important, especially the love and imagination that was shared.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

The Diamond of Drury Lane
(A Cat Royal Adventure)
by Julia Golding
Middle Zone

Summary from Julia Goldings Website
Cat Royal, orphan, adventurer and ward of the Theatre Royal, lives among the most gifted actors and musicians of the age. She rubs shoulders with the highest in society, and plays in the gutter of Covent Garden with the lowest. We are pleased to present to you her story, a tale of one hidden diamond, two bare-knuckle boxers, and three dread enemies...

With a New Musical INTERLUDE
by Mr Pedro Hawkins, late of Africa.
To which will be added a farce, called

The Mogul’s Tale
In which a hot air balloon will land on stage.
Boxes 5s. Pit 3s. First Gallery 2s. Upper Gallery 1st
Places for the boxes to be had from Mr. Smith at the stage-door of the Theatre.
No Persons to be admitted behind the Scenes without permission, nor any Money to be returned after the Curtain is drawn up.
Vivat REX.

My Thoughts
I think the Cat Royal series is a new favorite of mine and one of the best books I read in 2010! Cat is an orphan girl who grew up in the Theatre Royal and does odd jobs for everyone who works there. She is also red-headed and any reader knows this means she has a temper and stubborn as a mule but we love her for it. Cat is one of those characters who can not stay out of trouble but is a loyal friend that will stick by you no matter what. I really like the true sense of danger that Julia Golding gives through out the book and the suspense builds up to a perfect finale. I can also say that the side characters feel like actual people and not just cardboard cut outs. Pedro, for one, has many desires and is not a perfect character. Cat counts him as a friend but knows she can not trust him with everything because he is desperate for money and might sell out secrets.

Julia Golding makes the time period come alive with the hustle and bustle of not only the back stage theatre but the back streets of London. The street gangs and fights that Cat engages in feel time appropriate and many manners of the time are introduced. The dialogue is also fun- the characters speak in different sets of speech, even among the lower class there are different levels of dialect. The book is set up as a play would be, with acts, scenes, list of players, and a glossary for unfamiliar terms.

I would recommend this book to any one who likes Historical Fiction because this is a perfect example of how it should be done.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Own Battle of the Nutcrackers


A few years ago I was caught by Ovation Channel's Battle of the Nutcrackers. I was thrown for a loop when I first viewed Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker because it was so different from the Baryshnikov version I had grown up watching. Bourne's seemed so weird to me then that I had to view it again this year after finding it at the library. The bright pink cover is the first sign that this is not your traditional Nutcracker ballet, however it is very entertaining. The ballet starts out in a very Dickensian orphanage and Clara is given a nutcracker but it looks more like Howdy-Doody! Clara is practically thrown out of her own fairy-tale by the evil Sugar-Plum Fairy and tries to get her prince back. I really enjoy this version but I will always be loyal to the Baryshnikov version. It is filled with magic and beauty!

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