Archive for November, 2008

FRIDAY MY RADIO FLYER FLEW written and illustrated by Zachary Pullen

friday-my-radio-flyerA small boy with a big imagination makes an adventure out of a find in the attic.  His father’s old red wagon, a Radio Flyer, inspires him to take off into the air. With a combination of hands-on tinkering, persistence, and a dream, he finally succeeds.  With spare text—the longest pages barely seven words long—a large format, and extreme close-ups, the author-illustrator paints, with earth tones and an touch of nostalgia, a boy’s low key but determined endeavor.

Picture book, Recommended 

Amelia L. Carling- Pelham PL





November 26, 2008 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

SMALL FRY written by Jamie Adoff, illustrated by Mike Reed

small-fryBeing too little is often no fun when it comes to height and age. This is a collection of poems about wishing to be taller, wishing to be older, and outsmarting others by being small. Other than this general theme, there’s no connection from one poem to the next, and the point of view shifts are sudden, making for somewhat choppy reading.

The illustrator chose to introduce with each poem a new set of characters. This too, along with the fact that each scene fully covers the page or spread, makes for a disconnected visual narrative. The reader might wish some relief in white space to separate the poems and in the repetition of a character now and then.  In the illustrations one often can’t tell whether the small child is too short among peers or too young among older children.  The children portrayed seem to range widely from about 4 to 12 years old.  Sometimes the visual interpretation is too literal and the reader is left wanting a freer and wilder take. 

Picture book- Recommended

Amelia Lau Carling/Pelham





November 26, 2008 at 5:24 pm Leave a comment

HATE THAT CAT by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins)

hate-that-catCreech does little to expand upon the story about Jack that she started in LOVE THAT DOG.  Instead, we learn something about poetic devices (onomatopoeia, alliteration, simile, metaphor…) and are exposed to some poems by William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Tennyson, Valerie Worth etc.  Still, readers (and teachers) who enjoyed the first book will want to read this one, and some of Jack’s thoughts and questions and poems about his deaf mother are touchingly compelling; “Something I am wondering;/if you cannot hear/what happen when you read/purr purr purr…  None of this seems as original as it did in LOVE THAT DOG, but that’s how it is with a sequel, isn’t it?



Miriam Lang Budin/Chappaqua

November 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment


spellboundFrom the moment Athene laid eyes on her baby brother Zach, enmity against him arose in her heart. She was devilishly clever in making his life miserable without arousing suspicion in her feckless parents. Conditions to permanently rid herself of Zach occurred on the family vacation at Freshwater Farms. Athene met speckled creatures called Gloams that lived in the fields. They told her to avoid a large hollow tree because it was magically controlled by underworld Low Gloams that would imprison for life any animal that fell into its grasp. With little effort, Athene got Zach to fall into that trap. The rest of the book recounts her adventures in trying to rescue her brother and to free the rest of the captives. Athene uses her intelligence to help rather than harm in this spell bound world. Through planning, cunning, and cooperating with the Gloams, Athene masters an alternate universe that transforms her.  

J-Fic, Fantasy 

Recommended by Lillian Hecker- Pelham

November 19, 2008 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment


sammy_keyes1In her latest adventure, Sammy Keyes has to sneak in and out of the Senior Highrise building because she is illegally living there with her grandmother. On one of her forays an unknown man sees her as he rushes down the fire escape. He collapses in pain and tells Sammy to get rid of the wads of money he has on him. Sammy first tries to get him medicine, but all he wants is for her to dump the cash. Sammy tosses the bundles of twenties into the bushes and then gets her grandmother to help. But it’s too late and the man dies. Later, Sammy goes back into the bushes and retrieves the money. At first it’s thrilling for her to be able to spend money freely. But the money comes with problems. Suspicious men are out there and are very eager to find the lost bills. They snoop around Sammy and her grandmother. After spending $1,000, Sammy is horrified to suspect that the money she found might be counterfeit. There are plenty of laughs when Sammy helps her obese neighbor get on her feet from some very compromising positions. In the course of this fast-paced narrative, Sammy dons old lady disguises, discovers her mother’s cheating ways, and helps her best friend get over a caddish boyfriend. Sammy is a wonderful high-spirited girl with boundless energy and love for life. The available easy cash temporarily compromises her true values. But she learns from her mistakes and values her family and friends more than ever.   


J Fiction Recommended

Lillian Hecker- Pelham

November 17, 2008 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment


ellie_mcdoodleThe entire story is encompassed in the title. Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School. Ellie is moving, albeit kicking and screaming, to a new house and a new school. She is forced to leave her comfortable home, school, and good friends – none of which makes a deep impression on the reader. The style of the book is like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but without Heffley’s humor and originality.  Each page of the book has penciled drawings that reflect Ellie’s feelings and progress in adjusting to her new surroundings. The drawings are more lively and exciting than the not very original story line.  No one will be too surprised to find that at the end of the book Ellie begins to like her new room and makes new friends.

J-Fiction, Not recommended

Lillian Hecker- Pelham

November 12, 2008 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

THE HOUDINI BOX by Brian Selznick

houdiniboxHoudini, the greatest magician of all time, could escape from ropes, chains, cabinets, and coffins. He could escape from a straitjacket while dangling upside down over a river. He could escape locked up in a trunk and thrown into the river. Ten-year-old Victor wanted to be a magician, too. He locked himself into his grandmother’s trunk, but had to be rescued by his mother. During bath time, he tried to hold his breath underwater for five thousand seconds, but could not do it. When he accidentally meets his hero, Houdini promises to send Victor his secrets. When the envelope finally arrives, Victor rushes off to Houdini’s house. After looking at Victor’s letter, Mrs. Houdini gives him a box because, alas, Houdini has died on that fateful Halloween day. Victor notices that the box has the letters EW under it. Victor is so disgusted by the thought that the box belonged to someone other than Houdini, that he tosses it to the back of his closet. Much later he discovers that EW stands for Erich Weiss, Houdini’s real name. Selznick, the Caldecott medal winner for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, includes fabulous black and white pencil drawings to this tender tale. There are also copies of Houdini ads, a diagram for an easy magic trick, a factual biography, and an annotated bibliography. This is a well-written fictional biography of the world’s greatest escape artist as seen through the eyes of a devoted fan.

JF  Recommended by Lillian Hecker- Pelham                  

November 5, 2008 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

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