Archive for January, 2009


one-small-stepWho knew that NASA ran a parallel space program using chimpanzees instead of humans in the early sixties?  I sure didn’t, and that is only one of the arcana about the Apollo program Kerr draws upon in constructing this fascinating, fast-moving, funny, exciting and—ultimately—touching novel about a thirteen-year-old boy who actually is the first person to set a boot on the moon.

Scott’s father is an Air Force fighter pilot and he clandestinely teaches Scott to fly a plane long before the boy is eligible for a pilot’s license.  When the jet they are flying has a disastrous encounter with a flock of snow geese, Scott’s father is knocked unconscious and Scott must take the controls of an immensely complicated, expensive training jet and land it safely.  NASA is hugely impressed with him—especially since one of the chimpanzees they were planning to send to the moon before the Apollo 11 mission has become anti-social and they need a replacement—fast.  A replacement small enough to fit into the place of a chimpanzee and smart enough to learn everything he needs to know in the space of a few months.  That would be Scott.

From the minutia of astronaut training to chimpanzee training to Air Force and NASA protocol, Kerr has really done his research.  Any kid who has dreamed of flying or being part of the space program will relish every detail.  The rest of us, who like a good story about how a kid can use his wits to outsmart the adults will love knowing how Scott manages to take the place of one of the chimps who is supposed to take that first moonwalk and how he brings proof of his exploits home to Earth and impresses the heck out of the girl next door.

Truly outstanding.

Highly Recommended, Starred, could be YA or J (there’s a fair amount of poop and piss talk, but no sex)

Miriam Lang Budin-CHA


January 15, 2009 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

THOMAS & FRIENDS TRAINS, CRANES & TROUBLESOME TRUCKS based on The Railway Series by The Reverend W Awdry and illustrated by Tomny Stubb

thomasSmall Thomas, Medium-sized James, and Big Gordon must each pull different size loads. But, the trucks behind them have different ideas. They don’t want to work; they are all looking for fun, fun, fun. So, coal, milk, and freight go splat. Luckily, each train gets righted again by helpful cranes. These simple stories have a built-in audience of young readers. They would not hold up for multiple story times, but they are always requested by fans of Thomas & Friends.

Early reader

Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

January 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

MERCY WATSON THINKS LIKE A PIG written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

mercy1Mr. and Mrs. Watson live in a house together with their pig Mercy. Surprisingly, Mercy likes everything humans enjoy, including lemonade, albeit slurping from a bowl. Unfortunately, the neighbors who are sisters, Baby and Eugenia Lincoln, are not thrilled about living next door to a pig. “But this does not stop us from having a gracious life,” said Eugenia. Oh, really!

The sisters plant petunias around their house. Guess who admires the flowers? Right – Mercy. Mercy eats the flowers until all the petunias are gone! Mr. and Mrs. Watson see the neighbors chasing Mercy and they happily conclude that it must be a game of tag. And so it goes. Even when the Lincolns tell the Watsons that Mercy has devoured the flowers, Mrs. Watson imagines that this means Mercy is hungry, so she makes hot buttered toast for her. The Lincolns plot their revenge by calling the Animal Control Office to pick up Mercy. Needless to say, in spite of everything, Mercy and the gang end up eating hot buttered toast together. Yum! The simple chapters and the animated illustrations make this a winning choice for beginning readers.

J Fiction

Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

January 7, 2009 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

THREE CUPS OF TEA : ONE MAN’S JOURNEY TO CHANGE THE WORLD… ONE CHILD AT A TIME by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin and adapted by Sarah Thompson

teaThis title is an excellent adaptation of the adult version. In 1993, Greg Mortenson tries to climb K2, the second highest mountain in the world.  Weak and disoriented during his dissent, he takes a wrong turn and ends up in the village of Korphe, where the chief of the village and his family save his life.  Greg observes what education is like for children; doing lessons with sticks in the dirt in freezing temperatures, a lack of books and supplies, teachers who come a few days a week, and often never receive their pay.  He promises to return and build a school.  But inhabitants of these small tribal villages have heard that before. 

Greg’s journey is amazing.  He needs to raise funds to build the school, and faces multiple obstacles thereafter.  His remarkable mission continues to grow after one school is built, and through his organization, the CAI, many more are built throughout Pakistan.  A major part of this effort is to educate the girls, and help them become strong women and leaders. Greg’s mission to fight terror and guns with education for children and a chance for real opportunity is inspiring, courageous, full of suspense, and is a most noble effort.

Included in the young reader’s edition, is a who’s who, (very helpful), a glossary, a timeline, and an interview with Greg’s 12 year old daughter.  These help the reader to understand why Pakistan, Afghanistan and to some extent India are plagued by instability.  Greg’s true story provides a strong context for recent past historical events and a solid primer to follow future events.

Age:  5th-8th Grades, Nonfiction

Highly Recommended.  Anne Beier-Hendrick Hudson Free Library


January 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

MY FRIEND THE MONSTER written and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

monster-friendLouis, a young fox and his family have moved to a new home.  During his first night in his new room, he discovers a monster living under his bed, who is more afraid of monsters than Louis.  Soon the big, one-eyed green, fur-ball becomes part of the family.  Together they conquer their fears; monsters at bed time, making new friends and shyness.  The watercolor illustrations and endpapers are soft and appealing.  The concepts and metaphors in this story are appropriately conveyed, and are not didactic. A good storytime book, or one-on-one read.

Picture Book

Recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

January 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

SPLASH! A LITTLE BOOK ABOUT BOUNCING BACK written and illustrated by Maria Van Lieshout

splashA doleful seal, Splash is having a bad day when everything seems to be going wrong.  Splash tells the sun not to bother to rise, feels sorry for himself, and cries, “Why Me?”  When he realizes he actually causes the sun not to rise, he can’t believe what an impact a negative attitude does.  He pushes and bounces it father back into the sky where it belongs.  As he does the sun shines brighter, and Splash returns to his happy, joyous self.  This simple story is a tender metaphor and speaks to all ages about coping with life’s up’s and down’s, and the blues. The charcoal, pen and watercolor illustrations are simple and beautiful.  This book could easily be a storytime winner, or a one-on-one favorite. 

Picture Book

Highly recommended- Anne Beier- Hendrick Hudson Free Library

January 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm Leave a comment


waterholeMorris Alligator is best friends with Billy Turtle. However, even the best of friends fight. It happened when Morris’s mother wears a new swimsuit with fruit in its fabric. Billy whispers to Morris that his mother looks like a fruit salad. After they make up, Morris stays quiet but he does notice the Billy’s mom is wearing something that makes her look like a rose garden. Each of the four chapters features either Morris or one of his pals in some sort of sit com that makes them glad to have each other. The illustrations of the nattily clad animal youngsters add appeal. This is a good choice for new chapter readers.

Easy Reader

Recommended- Lillian Hecker (PEL)

January 5, 2009 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts