Saturday, February 12, 2011
(1815 | 268 p)
"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."
It has been Emma Woodhouse's distinct privilege to live twenty years with all the high society that her modest village home can provide. From the outset we learn that Miss Woodhouse has no faults other than her sincere conviction that she is, in fact, without a fault. Coddled her entire life by a doting and hypochondriacal father and an ever loving but soft governess -- Miss Woodhouse has little knowledge of anything other than her own perfection. The only exception to this is the critical eye of Mr. Knightley, a family friend whose remonstrations are an ongoing irritation in our heroine's otherwise peaceful existence.
Being a woman of some leisure, Miss Woodhouse decides to pass her time by orchestrating the romantic lives of her friends. Unfortunately for her friends, Miss Woodhouse proves to be a pitiful matchmaker. She is so unaccustomed to failing at any endeavor that she stubbornly tries again and again before eventually seeing the error of her ways.
Jane Austen's works appeal to different people for many different reasons. I find myself attracted to her depictions of daily life in England during the early 19th century. The characters in her story live such simple lives compared to the hustle and bustle of the modern world, but still they resonate with me. I'm also forever amused by the sarcasm of Jane Austen. While the surface of her stories may be all innocence, the undercurrents are thick with sardonic wit. Without being preachy Jane Austen pokes fun at the social norms of her day, many of which left women no actual control over their own lives.
If you've not tried Jane Austen yet, please do. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. It's certainly not necessary but it's heaps more fun if you read her books with an English accent.
About the Book: In order to save their island schoolhouse, families on Bethsaida Island decide to take in foster children. Tess couldn't be more excited-she's hoping her new foster brother will be like Anne of Green Gables and love the island and her family and want to go out on the fishing boat with her. But when Aaron arrives the only thing he has in common with Anne is red hair. Aaron doesn't like the island, he knows nothing about fishing boats, and most days he just wants to be left alone.
But Tess knows a lot about wishing and maybe with more wishing things will turn out the way Tess had hoped.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I was a big fan of Cynthia Lord's debut novel, Rules, so I had high hopes for Touch Blue. While I don't think it's as good as Rules, I still really enjoyed it and I think Ms. Lord is a fantastic storyteller.
I felt like Ms. Lord had looked into my childhood and wrote this book. I was never as superstitious as Tess, but I did my fair share of wishing and coming up with my own ways to figure out if something would work out the way I wanted. Tess's hopes for her foster brother are exactly what I had hoped for as a child. It wasn't until I was older that my family actually started doing foster care, but we talked about it frequently and her hopes of how her new family would be echoed mine own at that age.
Tess has a great voice and she's a humorous and wise narrator. I listended to this one on audio and there are times I think middle grade books can be hard to listen to because the narrator sounds too old for the character. But Erin Moon does a great job bringing Tess to life and her voice is perfect.
At first I felt like things would be a little too perfect and while the story wraps up a little too nicely than I think might be realistic, it's still a great story of family, hope, and growing up.
by Amanda Brooks
by Carl Hiassen, 2004, 355 p.
First off, if you are a lover of fantasy fiction, go read Nix's excellent Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen (if you haven't already). Then you'll be safe picking up this collection, the first story of which is a novella-sized follow-up to the Abhorsen trilogy (the ending of which you DO NOT WANT to spoil). Ignore the cheesy cover art and enjoy!
When I picked this up, it was purely to extend my Abhorsen fix, which the first tale successfully does (almost too much so, as now I want to read still more about the Perimeter and the mysterious kingdom across the Wall, and there doesn't appear to be much else out there...yet?). But I'd no idea what to expect from the rest of the book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "other stories" here are all "across the wall" in one way or another in that they each have a fantasy element, whether just a hint or a steeping, and are a fascinating hodge-podge of pieces the author has published in journals and genre collections over the years. Among them, there are two original takes on secondary characters (the Lady of the Lake and Nimue) from Arthurian legend, a modern-day retelling of "Hansel and Gretel", a story written to call attention to the effects of war on children, a supernatural alternate history western, a tale sprung from the author's obsession with lightning, a "science fantasy" piece about a greedy man who thinks he's bought an island, and, of all things, a "choose your own adventure" spoof that had me flipping pages back and forth, snickering, to make sure I'd read every possible option (and even the impossible ones). Nix provides an introduction to each piece, describing its origins in his imagination and why and where it was first published.
If you're just looking for more of the Old Kingdom, you may be sad that it's represented in only one selection here. But if you'd like more time with and insight into Nix's crazy creative brain, then I don't think you'll be disappointed for long.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I could give you the whole plot line but you’d think I was mad. The drawings are deceptively simple and the text minimal. Instead, his story grows on you like any good fable, long after you’ve turned the last page. We are all complicated creatures often moved into cathartic change by volatile events in life. Our gentle, poet giant is no exception. 2010, 144 pages.
The weary companions sit tight as Yûko finally reveals some big secrets regarding the one responsible for their individual and shared plights, but she can't tell them why without breaking the rules of interference (in the workings of fate, the universe, what have you). And soon they are moving on to the next world, still gathering memory feathers, but with the new purpose of chasing after one of their own who has gone on before them, as the battle between fate and free will begins in earnest.
Everyone's emotions are stretched tight and in confusion and I just want to reach in and give them all hugs. I love the dramatic turn events have taken and can't wait to see how the personal and group dynamics change with their altered circumstances.
Brother and sister Fuma and Kotori are surprised and happy when they find out their childhood friend Kamui, whom they haven't seen in six years, has transferred to their high school. But when Kotori goes to greet him, he coldly tells her to stay away from him and never speak to him again. Then, on the way home from school, Fuma finds Kamui gravely injured, but just as surly, in the abandoned lot where the boy's house once stood. What's going on? And who are all these seers and magic-users with their eyes on Kamui? Prophecy, destiny, and free will look like they're going to clash in the days ahead, and the fate of the earth itself could hang in the balance.
I'm finding that reading CLAMP's manga is a little like when I was reading Marvel comics, where continuity across titles is important and characters clearly occupy the same universe(s) while their individual stories stand on their own. That consistency in the background and world-building is comforting and makes each new title feel like a familiar old friend from the first page--which is helpful when the present story looks like it's going to be a dark one. X/1999's first volume predates Tsubasa's and XxxHolic's by over a decade, but even with the older style and story content, I'm looking forward to recognizing its influence elsewhere, as well as seeing where it goes in its own right.
When unhappy spirit-magnet Watanuki's legs carry him into beautiful Yûko's wish-granting shop, the young man just wants to turn right back around and leave. But his legs, and apparently fate, have other ideas and before he knows it, he's made a wish...and agreed to pay its price. Now he's got to work for Yûko until his efforts are equal to the cost of his wish. In the meantime, he has to cook, clean, and help this weird woman who invades everyone's personal space--physical and psychological--as she runs her shop and goes about her own mysterious business.
In just this first volume, the creators set up a rich, complex tale and intriguing characters, even without the title's crossover elements with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. What's the story with Watanuki's mentioned but as yet unseen home life? And does Yûko have a personal agenda, in addition to helping her regular clients? Strange and mystical artifacts from who knows how many worlds spill over every surface in her tapestry-draped, fragrant smoke-filled shop, and the reader feels, even if she hasn't read other CLAMP titles, that each item has a story.
Coolness. More, please. :)
High school girl Kagome gets dragged down a well at her family's Shinto shrine and is transported back in time to ancient Japan. There she learns she's the reincarnation of a powerful priestess, frees a temperamental dog-eared boy pinned to a tree by an arrow (originally shot by the same priestess), and witnesses the shattering of a dangerously powerful magical jewel. Kagome teams up with the dog boy (a half-demon named InuYasha with a chip on his shoulder) and a handful of friends they meet along the way in order to recover all the scattered fragments of the Shikon jewel before they fall into the hands of evil-doers.
In this volume, InuYasha trains to master his demon sword Tetsusaiga's new powers as Naraku, creeptastic nemesis to all, schemes to get the jewel shards from good-hearted wolf-demon Koga's legs.
InuYasha is a sprawling historical fantasy with a little of everything, from silly slapstick to tragic drama. Twelve books from the end, and I'm not bored yet. Some volumes are more integral to the story and character progression than others, but they all have a role in the larger tale and manage not to feel like filler. Takahashi's artwork is cartoonish and her character designs are somewhat limited (switch out the hair and you might get another character), but her style quickly becomes part of the story's flavor and the characters' unique personalities make it impossible to mix them up. I look forward to seeing how this classic motley crew fulfills its quest to save the world.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
So, I threw out a challenge to our book competition in February to read romances which means…drumroll please…I have to read some romances. First up, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Meg travels to Wynette, Texas for her best friends wedding to the own’s perfect son. Being there only a few hours she sees what no one else is willing to see-Lucy shouldn’t be marrying Ted. When Lucy finally agrees she leaves Ted at the altar and flees town. Meg, who is penniless and jobless is forced to stay behind and face the wrath of a small town who feels like it is all her fault the marriage of the century never happened. Ted doesn’t make her life any easier but will the mutual animosity grow into something more?
What I like about Susan Elizabeth Phillips is she makes me laugh. Usually, the situations are far out of the realm of possibility for most readers-movie stars, models and football players. But, with each of her characters their humanity and flaws ring through with such familiarity and often bring hilarious results. The language is faithful to the romance genre without being completely over the top. The heroines are fiery, feisty and through the story learn that sometimes the best thing you can do is just lay it all on the line. Sometimes, that is just the kind of book you need to read. 2011, 385 pages.
In the small town of Meryton, Hertfordshire, people begin to panic as dreadfuls begin to arrive. The only hope for the town is the Bennet Family. Oscar Bennet begins to training is five daugthers to fight the dreadfuls. The town considers this very unlady-like behavior and thinks they are strange. Elizabeth Bennet, one of the main characters is transformed from a naive young girl into a slayer of the undead. On her journey she gains the affection of two men: Master Hawkswork, a strong warrior and Dr. Keckilpenny, a scientist.
I decided to read this book, because zombies seem to be becoming a popular theme for books, so I wanted to see if they were any good. I found that this book exceeded my expectations and I would suggest other people to read it. There is romance, action, and comedy provided in this book and some really good illustrations.
Andy has trouble fitting in-in high school, in his jeans and he sure as heck isn’t making a good impression on the girl of his dreams being the second fattest kid around. When he finds himself unexpectedly on the football team his dreams of popularity-and the girl-seem closer than ever.
Another addition into the fat lit club for teens but what I took away from this book was the true to life emotions Andy goes through being a fat kid in an unforgiving world. He’s funny even as he’s shoveling in food because it’s the only thing that will make his brain turn off. He’s desperate for something to change and his internal struggle to make this happen is the core of the novel. The emotions run the gamut which makes the books pace and tone uneven. While this bothered me while reading, upon reflection I decided it added a realism to the story that otherwise might be missing. 2009, 311 pages.
The sub title to this amazing story is " the Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman."
Capturing the same cold, soggy, dismal tone as Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
Nuala O'Faolain revisits her childhood growing up in a poverty stricken family of 9 children in the 1940's. Her father was mostly absent, her mother an alcoholic, Nuala was left to fend for herself in a culture and era where women were abused and ignored, their life goal only to be married and thus not be alone in such a hostile environment. The institutions that could have saved her, in fact perpetrated much of the abuse; the Catholic church, the Irish School System, and even the government that was torn between the North and South.
The author finds her escape in literature at an early age and uses it throughout her life to keep her fed emotionally, spiritually and physically. Yet it is her deep connection to literary works that I found the biggest barrier in reading her story.
Authors she loved, many of whom she knew personally, monumental epics, poetry, even her deep abide for classical music kept me at arms length. It was like name dropping only I didn't know the names or their importance to the world. As a producer for the BBC she traveled the world, but I knew little of the places she visited that moved and inspired her. I felt myself skimming over the paragraphs filled with too much detail of things I didn't understand.
The style of her writing was also at times difficult to read. Long meandering paragraphs, followed by one or two word sentences made it difficult to capture the flow of her beautiful Irish lilt. I wanted to scream at times with frustration..."translate please!"
Yet there was something about her woeful tale, her insight gained through such a personal journey, the inherent beauty of her words that kept me going. People write their memoirs for many different reasons, but there is usually a cathartic effect that takes place as they struggle to understand their own life. For Nuala O'Faolain her journey led her to forgiveness and love. In the last few chapters she fully comprehends how her "accidental memoir" needed to be told. She was not alone in the world.
Difficult at times, but definitely worth the effort. Excellent discussion book!!!!
She deserves a Rock, Chalk, Jay (but not the Hawk...sorry Nuala. It just didn't make my final cut).
If "getting organized" makes your News Years resolution list every year, this might be a book worth checking out.
Douglas C Merrill, former chief information office of Google puts together a useful, contemporary guide for organizing our lives with all of today's useful (and sometimes overwhelming) technology. Naturally it stands to reason that someone with Mr Merrills qualifications would be an expert in all the technological gadgets at our disposal to keep us on track, on time, on course. He unashamedly admits to using Google as the prime example because during the time he spent with that company the employees were "expected to eat their own dog food." Yet he continues using many of their programs today because they fit his particular needs in keeping organized. Best of all he gives many different options for achieving your own specific organizational goals.
I am not a "techie." Never will be on the cutting edge of anything, much less technology. But this books offers insight and direction in the constant search for organization. Filing has been replaced by filtering, and the way we filter all the information that is now at our finger tips is the key to using it properly and most effectively.
In addition, he has a fresh and engaging approach to the genre of "self help" books. He uses a very conversational and at times "cheeky" tone in his writing that I loved. He "encodes" basic concepts he describes at the end of each chapter. Best of all the book is full of wonderful quotes to illustrate points - all taken from popular song lyrics......who knew Coldplay could be so relevant!
So this year I might actually get closer to my New Years Resolution! I'll give the books a Rock, Chalk, Jay!!!
Ahhh...romance. This is a genre that is not ashamed of an implausible premise. Take for instance, the idea of seven misunderstood siblings unfairly labelled by society as the seven deadly sins. As a defense mechanism, each sibling agrees to embrace a sin, a plan which works well until their father, disgusted with their behavior, decides to cut them off unless they reform.
Meet Siusan Sinclair, also known as Sloth. Afraid of being found out after a tryst with the Duke of Exeter, she runs away to be a teacher at a girl's school in Bath. Siusan soon finds that teaching agrees with her, but her position comes with the peril of keeping secrets from everyone at the school, and most especially from one of her student's handsome guardian.
This is an entertaining story sure to appeal to historical romance fans with a good suspension of disbelief. Fans may want to pick up the two previous novels in this series which are already in print.
Jenny already reviewed this, but I haven't read her review yet. So I will dive in on my own...
A Regency historical, What Happens in London brings together ex-soldier Sir Harry Valentine and his new nosy neighbor, Lady Olivia Bevelstoke. Sir Harry is a reluctant "intelligencer" (as Diana Gabaldon would say) so Olivia can't help wondering what the notorious man is up to in his study every day. What on earth is so absorbing about those piles of documents? Surely the man is up to something. And what about the bizarre hat he sometimes wears?
When Sir Harry catches Lady Olivia in the act of spying on him, he's justifiably annoyed. The two have a "cute meet" at a Regency party, and the sparks start to fly. What follows is an intricate dance of outrage, suspicion and intrigue. This is a romance, after all, so of course the couple reluctantly fall in love with each other despite their better judgment.
Malicious forces put the couple through heart-pounding danger. Can the new lovers survive brutish kidnappers, or worse: the disapproval of the ton?
While the plot was mostly predictable, Julia Quinn adds enough quirkiness and whimsy to her characters to make them likeable. Ms. Quinn also gently pokes fun at the Regency taste for outrageously bad Gothic novels. All in all, I found the story to be light, funny and entertaining. I would definitely pick up another of her historical romances when I am looking for romance, humor and a dash of adventure.
My only caveat: I don't think Ms Quinn ever explained the hat. Did anyone else figure out what that was all about?
Linnet Berry Thrynne is a beauty whose sudden loss of reputation leaves her without marital prospects. Before she can mourn her new status, she is packed off to Wales with instructions to woo Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant and a veritable beast. Piers is happy with his bachelor doctor status and in no mood to change it. Until Linnet's arrival turns his world upside down.
Eloisa James is one of my favorites for historical romance. She mixes smart, unconventional characters with witty dialogue and sharp historical details. That being said- this book is clearly a Ode to Fox's House. (see the author's note if you don't believe me!) Since I share this TV crush, I'm willing to forgive James for borrowing a few character traits. If you're looking for a fun romance, give this one a try.
Here's a bit about the story: Andy is fat. A sophomore in high school, he weighs 307 pounds. His mother is a caterer-hello, easy access to fabulous food. His parents are getting divorced, his dad had an affair, his sister might be developing an eating disorder of her own and he's not the most popular kid in school. Then something happens that changes Andy's prospects, and then something else happens that nearly ruins them, and then he decides for himself if he even wants what's been offered and in the end...well, there's a girl at the end. Read this book!
About the Book: Kerry is a sophomore who feels invisible. When the most popular girls in school recruit Kerry to join their group, she'd ecstatic-she finally feels like she belongs. But the popular crowd aren't exactly what they appear to be-and staying popular may take more than Kerry is ready for.
Sarah Teenlibrarian says: It's hard to really review this book because saying too much will give away the spoilers-and it's a fairly short book, you don't want any spoilers or it ruins the whole thing.
About the Book: Alice Amorous is the daughter of the Queen of Romance, so she knows a lot about romance, even if she's never really had a boyfriend. Everyone is waiting for the Queen's next novel, but the Queen is actually away in a hospital dealing with a mental illness, a secret that Alice is trying to keep from the public. When Heartstrings publisher's writes that the latest book is due-or else, Alice knows she has to deliver something.
While at a book signing for her mother, Alice meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid. He tells Alice he has the ultimate love story to tell and that he needs her to write it. Could this be the story she's been looking for? And is Errol really the god of love or is Alice going crazy?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was drawn to this book because of the Cupid storyline. It reminded me a bit of the TV Show Cupid, which I watched in high school and loved.
While there is a plot with Cupid, this is more about Alice growing more confidant and learning she doesn't have to hide her mother's illness. A good portion of the book is about Alice's mother and her bipolar disorder and Alice learning how to live with it and realizing she can't always fix everything. I think this issue was handled well and it might appeal to readers who typically shy away from issue-driven novels since it's woven in with other plots.
I did feel that there was too much happening at times in the plot and that prevented things from really flowing. There were pieces that I felt just didn't fit or weren't as developed. I wanted more with Alice and her possible new love interest, Tony. I also wanted more with Errol and about Cupid's story since the parts that were there I really enjoyed. I did enjoy some of minor characters like Mrs. Bobot and Archibald-they were well done and fun to read.
Overall, it was an OK read. I think it would be a good pick for readers who might want romance, but don't like the typical gushy romance or readers who want a contemporary issue novel that's a bit lighter than the usual fare.
Sophia Giambelli and Tyler MacMillan have just been named heirs in the newly merged Giambelli-MacMillian wineries. Their inheritance hinges on their ability to lead the company successfully into the future while holding on to the tradition valued by both families. This task becomes complicated as corporate sabotage and murder threaten everything the families hold dear.
Nora Roberts is usually a sure bet for romance fans, and she doesn't disappoint in The Villa. This is a complicated tale of friendship, family and fighting together for what matters. The love stories weave through several generations as do the lies and deception. The Villa is the perfect story to enjoy with a glass of wine.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
If that romance is a RITA award winner (list available at http://www.rwa.org/cs/2010_RITA_GH_winners) you will get another bonus point.
What a great reason to read a romance! Need another reason? Only 14% of romance readers nationwide get their books from the public library. The reasons why are numerous but we can do our best to raise our numbers by knowing the genre and supporting the readers of the genre.
About the Book: A memoir about teenage Craig, his first love, faith and art.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Blankets is a book I would give someone who says that graphic novels are easy reads. At almost 600 pages, Blankets takes some time to read. Sure, it's a graphic novel, so it reads faster than a 600 page novel, but there are lots of details in the artwork that the reader wants to savor while reading.
Most of the story is about Craig's first love with a girl he meets at a winter church camp, but there are flashbacks to his childhood. Craig is struggling with his art and figuring out what to do after graduation. At camp he meets Raina and the two begin exchanging letters. Craig visits Raina and they spend two weeks together, falling in love, exploring the excitement and nervousness of first love and dealing with the impending end of childhood.
I was easily pulled into the story and read it in one sitting. Thompson's writing style is conversational and the story transports you back to when you were on the cusp of becoming an adult. I felt the ending was lacking a bit-I wanted a bit more resolution, but since this is a memoir, I'm willing to forgive that. Maybe the author hasn't come to any more resolutions or grand realizations so couldn't write about them.
A fantastic graphic novel!
About the Book: Lucy Wiltshire has her dream job running a non-profit home for girls who have aged out of the foster care system but still need help getting on their feet. But her investors have been pulling out and the city wants to take over her building and build a parking lot.
Alex Sinclair is a former football player who is now running for congress. He has money, but his money, good looks and charm aren’t enough to buy him a seat in congress. So his campaign manager suggests a plan-he get engaged. After a paparazzi snapped a photo of Alex and Lucy talking at a benefit, the tabloids seem to think they’re a real couple.
Alex has money, Lucy needs money. So they decide to fake a relationship and engagement to help Alex’s campaign and save Lucy’s girls home. But will their fake relationship turn into a real one?
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I read Jenny's blog regularly and I'm always impressed with how her books read the same way she writes her blog (and the same way she is in real in life!) Her books reflect her sense of humor and are full of laughs and pop culture references.
Save the Date is a cute romantic comedy and even though it's fairly predictable, it's still fun to read. Lucy is a SF/Fantasy nerd and she has a group of friends that meet monthly called "The Hobbits." Small details like this made Lucy an endearing character, although at times she was a bit frustrating with her lack of self-confidence. Alex is a charming, sweet and funny gentlemen and their relationship has a nice push and pull to it.
This is Christian fiction, so it does get a bit preachy. But overall it's a fun light read.
About the Book: A creative counting book with goats
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a fun counting book! The author encourages to reader to count the goats on the various pages. The goats are engaged in a variety of activities, like flying airplanes and throwing snowballs. This is a bit more complex than your typical counting book because the author never gives a clue as to how many goats are supposed to be counted or mentions any numbers. There are also parts where readers are supposed to find specific goats in specific activities. But it's fun to count the goats on each page. The illustrations are hilarious and colorful. Who knew counting goats could be so much fun?
About the Book: A young child's thoughts on birds.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This isn't a book that relies on an overarching plot, but instead is told in small vignettes and various thoughts on birds from the young child that narrates the book. There are observations about the size and color of various birds she sees, as well as wondering where birds go in the winter when all the food is gone. The illustrations are pretty and compliment the text very well. I love the pages about how when a large group of birds fly away from a tree it looks like the tree yelled "surprise!" A cute book and a great starter for a conversation on the world outside for a young child.
by Roy Thomas, writer; Sal Buscema...[et al], artist; Sam Grainger...[et al], inker; Sam Rosen...[et al], letterer.
What does it mean when a superhero android comes running into your building yelling, "Three cows shot me down! Help me!"? One thing is for sure, the Avengers are going to be involved. In this collection of comics, the Avengers learn that an interstellar war between the Kree and the Skrulls, two alien races that loathe humanity. The main battleground for this war just happens to be Earth. It's up to the Avengers to stop these two vastly superior races from destroying the Earth and everything around it.
This title is a 2011-2012 Gateway Award Nominee. It's the unlikely story of 18 yr old Christopher, a smart, cute guy who lives more in his head than out in the world. Christopher gets a job the summer before college and it's an unusual one. He'll be cleaning the local morgue. On his first day, he stumbles upon a mystery. The dead man, whom the coroner has called "a suicide" has five bullet holes in his chest and there's a bunch of money in the coroner's drawer. Christopher sets out to find out what really happened. It's one of those stories that you could like if you suspend your "Yeah, right!" tendencies and I bet parents won't like the fact that 18 yr old Christopher is hanging out with an older woman, and popping open cans of beer with his friends with no real negative consequences. But, the mystery itself is a pretty good one. I usually figure out who done it way before the writer tells us but it took me longer this time. That's a good thing. Not my favorite cover and I don't think it's going to appeal to that many Gateway readers but what do I know? So far I haven't gotten a single Gateway prediction correct-and I'm pretty good at predicting the Mark Twains.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
About the Book: A new version of the folk song about a frog and his courting of various animals.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I originally picked this book up to see if it could work for my storytelling class (we have a unit on folk songs). It's a cute version of the story, but it really needs the pictures to help tell the story.
Poor Froggie keeps asking animal after animal to marry him, and they keep rejecting him. But Froggie doesn't give up and it's when he meets a lovely Frog that he knows he's found his true love.
A fun retelling with adorable illustrations.
About the Book: Lily and Salma are best friends who do everything together. But every day at lunch, Lily eats PB&J and Salma eats pita and hummus. The girls each think the other's sandwich looks strange and the day they tell each other to stop eating yucky sandwiches is the day things get out of hand. Can sandwiches bring the friends back together?
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I had seen this book reviewed in many places when it first came out last year, so when I saw it on the children's new shelf, I decided to read it.
As far as celebrity/politician authored picture books go, this one is actually pretty decent. It's a fairly simplistic story, but it's a cute one and I can see it easily being used in classrooms to inspire a pint-size International Potluck. The watercolor illustrations add to the sweetness of the book and muted color palet makes it feel like a nice gentle read.
It's a cute story and a sweet reminder of friendship.
About the Book: Silly Tilly is a goofy goose whose crazy antics are frustrating the other farm animals. But if Tilly isn't silly anymore, who will make them laugh?
Sarah Teenlibrarian says: Oh, Tilly, you're just too cute! This book is told in rhyme and the illustrations add to Tilly's humor. I'm sure this one will have kids laughing as they read about Tilly taking a bath in apple juice and wearing a pancake for hat. It's a perfect Amelia Bedelia sort of book for young readers. I expect this one to do well in the Building Block Award voting and I think young readers will fall in love with Tilly and her antics.
1. Please tag each of your posts with your id name. This is how I track your posts. One of the committee members has to go through and tag each post without a name tag.
2. Please turn in your monthly stats at the end of each month. (You can find this form in the Rules) Only 10 people turned in their stats for January. This meant hunting down the information for each person and then logging it in the form. I'm not above bribery for this! Chocolate is on its way if that is what you require.
3. Don't forget to include the page numbers in your reviews.
Keep in mind even if you don't read the most you can gather extra participation points pretty quickly by doing a review in Coolcat or reading award winners.
Thanks much and happy reading!
Most books read:
Jenny E. 44
Sarah B.T. 15
Pam H 11
Most pages read:
Jenny E. 10,247
Pam H. 3961
Sarah B.T. 3787
Jenny E. 44
Sarah B.T. 17
Nancee D.S. 14
Random Drawing Winner:
As a group, we read a total of 150 titles and 45,883 pages. Congratulations to everyone for a great first month!
Odette is a very lifelike robot (or karakuri) who wants to know what it's like to be human, and her indulgent creator and guardian, Professor Yoshizawa, lets her find out.
Odette may be a little odd, but she's just as human as those around her (and more so than some). In this volume, she gets frustrated with her adopted brother Chris (formerly Chris Number Seven and a robot suicide bomber sent to kill Yoshizawa) because his understanding of human emotions is not as advanced as hers. But just because he doesn't know what to do with them doesn't mean he doesn't feel them. And now that his avaricious, unscrupulous creator has returned and set his sights on co-opting Odette's technology, the little family's happiness will face a much greater threat than sibling communication problems.
This series is sweet, smart, funny, and touching. The author doesn't hit the reader over the head with her messages, instead letting the artwork and subtle relationships show, rather than tell, how Odette is growing and how those around her are, too. The characters clearly care about each other--and the reader cares about them.
The preview says the next volume is the last one?! Noooo!
Alice and Blood come to verbal (and automatic weapon) blows at Vivaldi's ball. Can they work out their issues before somebody ends up dead? And why is Peter acting so weird (that is, serious)?
Secrets and suppressed memories are the focus of this volume. Also, the dangers of accidental binge drinking (or just of drinking with Ace).
Monday, February 7, 2011
I can't decide how I feel about the Crank series. I think it's great that that the books show how bad drugs can be and how they can destroy the lives of abusers and their families. I also like the setup of "Fallout" because it allows us to see what has happened to Kristina while getting the fresh perspectives of the new characters. On the other hand, there's too much teen angst for me in this one, and I don't particularly like the format (which is the same for all three books). I think the author writes in verse to to make her books stand out and draw in kids who shy away from dense pages of text, but it was distracting for me at the parts where it reads more like regular prose but just has weird spacing and line breaks. But despite the distractions and angsty drama, the series held my interest throughout.
About the Book: Sharon Robinson recalls a childhood memory of her father, Jackie Robinson and the day they went ice skating.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I really enjoyed this book! Sharon Robinson's writing style is beautiful. She never talks down to the reader. She's written a book that has a message without it ever feeling too preachy. Instead, it comes across as her telling a childhood tale. The image of Jackie Robinson stepping out onto the frozen ice, even though he's afraid because he can't swim is also a great metaphor for him stepping into the world of baseball and breaking the color barrier. But this metaphor is worked so well into the story that it never comes off as a lesson.
The artwork is amazing, of course, since the book is illustrated by Kadir Nelson (aka my children's literature boyfriend). His artwork always amazes me! Each page looks so lifelike and it's obvious he takes great care with his subjects. He used Robinson family photos to help create the illustrations in this book, which I think adds to the lifelike feel.
One of my favorite Show-Me Readers Award Nominees I've read!
About the Book: Desert Rose just bought the biggest hog and she plans to win at the state fair. But this is a highfalutin hog and getting to the fair isn't going to be easy.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Finally a Show-Me Readers Award Nominee that I liked!!
The text in Desert Rose is very cute and it feels as though it should be read with a big Southern accent and yee-haw. Poor Rose is only trying to use a shortcut to get her hog to the state fair, but the hog won't take a drink, the coyote won't bite the hog, the snake won't scare the coyote, and so on. This is a circular story and Rose keeps trying to find someone or something to help get her hog to the fair. Readers will enjoy seeing how Rose gets everything to work and the funny "moral" at the end is too cute. The artwork is bright and engaging. It might be a bit long for storytime, but if you have older readers who can sit through longer books, this is worth giving a try.
About the Book: A little girl and her father find a way to combat her fear of the dark.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is my least favorite nominee on the Show-Me Readers list and honestly, I'm not really sure why I didn't like it.
I thought the story was a bit boring and not that well written which is maybe why I wasn't a big fan. Amanda is afraid of the dark and her dad helps her put glow in the dark stars on her ceiling. Then he tells her that she can look at the North Star when he's away.
We're never really told why Amanda's father is away or that he's in the Army, but we see that in pictures. I think I felt like the whole book never really seemed to flow-it just went from one story idea to another and didn't fully come together.
About the Book: Two young girls meet along the Oregon Trail.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is another typical Show-Me Readers nominee. The writing is OK, the illustrations are so-so, but there's an easy lesson that can be tied into the book so it's on the list.
I will say that it is one of the better books on the Show-Me Readers list, but I think the audience for this one is a bit limited. I think 2nd-3rd grade girls who love frontier tales and Little House on the Prairie are going to be the ones who like this book.
About the Book: Little chicken won't go to bed without her bedtime story, but she keeps inerrupting.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a cute little story, but I had a couple of problems with it. Interrupting Chicken was a Caldecott Honor Book this year so I think I was expecting some amazing artwork. And while the illustrations are good, they didn't really stand out to me and say "yes, this is a Caldecott Honor!" I did like the varying illustrations to alternate between little chicken and her father and the storybooks they're reading. And the author/illusrator does a good job of expressing emotions in Papa chicken's eyes showing how tiring little red chicken is. I think anyone who has had exprience with precocious preschoolers will appreciate that minor detail. I liked the artwork, I just think I was expecting a bit more.
My other problem with the book is probably me just getting on my librarian soapbox. I'm not even sure if the average reader would notice. But when Papa chicken tells a story, little red chicken likes to interupt (hence the name of the book) and tell her own ending to the story. It's pretty funny and cute, yet Papa chicken seems to be very bothered by this. At one point he tells little chicken "don't get so involved." NO! Isn't that what we want kids to do? Get involved with the story and get them excited about books and stories? I mean, one of the goals of ECRR is narrative skills which is all about kids re-tell stories as well as tell their own stories. So maybe I read too much into it, but that part really bugged me. And OK, maybe it can bring on a discussion with kids about how they can write their own stories. But really, Papa chicken needs to head to a library storytime or something!
It's a cute, funny, quirky book and I think parents will have fun reading it with their kids and I know the kids will laugh and think it's hilarious and love it. Maybe I just need to let go of the librarian mindset sometimes when it comes to reading.
About the Book: A pouty fish won't share a smile, but another fish helps him see that pouting isn't his destiny.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: The Pout-Pout Fish won the Building Block Award this year which is why I picked it up. Overall the book was pretty meh for me. It's an OK story and I see the kid appeal and it can work great as a read aloud. But it's not one that I enjoyed as an adult. The sparkly fish that helps Mr. Fish change his mind comes out of nowhere. Maybe I would have liked it better if Mr. Fish had learned a lesson and that's what made him happy-like it feels good to laugh and he doesn't need to be so pouty or something like that, instead of a sparkly random girly fish making him change his mind.