Archive for March, 2009

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead

when-you-reach-meMiranda has been best friends with Sal since they were toddlers. One day, as they walk home from school, a strange kid comes out of nowhere and punches Sal in the stomach and face. That is the day when Sal and Miranda’s friendship ends. Sal slams his door and he no longer has time for Miranda. Miranda needs new friends and discovers qualities in her classmates that she has previously overlooked. On her lonely walk home from school, she has time to observe the rough-looking kids hanging around and a homeless man she calls, ‘Laughing Man’ who sleeps under a mailbox. A Wrinkle In Time is Miranda’s favorite book and the notion of time travel that L’Engle explored becomes an important part of this book’s plot. Miranda receives tiny folded-up notes predicting what will happen as well as notes describing events that have already occurred. Who is sending her these notes? How does that person even know about things that happened only to Miranda and her seventh grade friends? These questions are tied to clues; a missing key, a shoe, and a note saying, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own”. What does that note mean? Miranda is the observer and also the one who is being observed. The book’s ending remains mysterious even after all the clues are explained. The vagaries of friendship, the mother/daughter relationship, and kids trying to find their place in a classroom are thoughtfully explored. In this tender coming-of–age novel, readers see characters whose strengths, weaknesses, and concern for each other are realistically portrayed while the extra-sensory notion of time travel hangs over all. Stead has written a wonderful paean that updates concepts begun in A Wrinkle in Time.                                         

J-Fiction

Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

March 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

WISHWORKS, INC. by Stephanie Tolan

wishworksBe very sure about what you wish for. Max thought the only thing he really wanted was a dog. His imaginary dog King was a pro that could chase and catch the bad guys and save the world. Max’s real world was far from ideal. His parents were recently divorced. School was had bullies who grabbed his lunch and make his life miserable. A dog, a dog like King would solve these problems and fix those bullies. In his imaginary Adventure Time, Max’s finds a new place; a store with all kinds of toys in the window called Wishworks, Inc. Inside, the proprietor tells him to make a wish that is guaranteed to come true. Max wishes for a real dog. And then Goldie enters his life. She is nothing like King. Goldie is ugly, smelly, untrained, and hyperactive. Max learns how to deal with a dog that is less than ideal and makes a friend in the process. This is a fast-paced chapter book that will appeal to children who like to daydream and who love animals.

J-Fic  Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)

March 27, 2009 at 5:23 pm Leave a comment

FLIP, FLAP, FLY! By Phyllis Root and illustrated by David Walker

flip-flapA succession of baby animals and their mamas cavort to a lively rhyming text that also works as a guessing game. First the mama bird helps the baby bird “flip flap fly”, the mama fish helps the baby fish “splish splash swim”, etc. One animal leads to the next as the baby cries “Look I see…” A turn of the page reveals the next rhyming animal allowing children to guess the answer. The final pair is a mama and child who is lovingly and joyfully lifted in the air, exclaiming: “Look, babies everywhere!”

Although the book is a little small (8×9 inches), the lovely rhymes and sounds make this perfect for reading aloud. Babies will respond to the sounds and rhythms while toddlers can guess the next animal.

JP Recommended- Diane McCrink (Yonkers Will)

March 27, 2009 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

MY NEW BEST FRIEND by Julie Bowe

new-best-friendSequel to My Last Best Friend (2007) in which fourth grader Ida, whose best friend moved away becomes friends with the new girl, Stacey. Now the girls discover an old mermaid night-light which they decide has the power to grant wishes. Forming a secret mermaid club and exchanging secret notes, the two girls come to believe they can control events (a Math quiz is postponed). Suspecting that Stacey has been lying about her family (living with a “rich aunt” when in fact her parents are divorced), Ida is drawn in to a more serious situation when Stacey convinces Ida to lie to her own mother so Stacey can spend the weekend. Her mother wisely advises “sometimes you have to stand up to a friend if you want to stand up for her”, and Ida risks losing Stacey’s friendship when she refuses to go along with the lies. At the same time, Ida begins to recognize that bossy, mean Jenna may not be so awful after all (Dad is out of work, Mom resents having to work two jobs) and reaches out to her.

Well-developed characters, good depiction of fourth grade friendships, rivalries and concerns. Ida’s difficulties supporting her friend and having to stand up to her when she is wrong are nicely drawn and her tentative friendship with Jenna is realistic and satisfying.

J–Fic Recommended- Diane McCrink (Yonkers Will)

March 27, 2009 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

MOLE’S IN LOVE by David Bedford and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

moleMole emerges from his hole in spring, looking for someone to love. Unfortunately, due to his poor vision the first object of his affection (shiny, luscious black fur) turns out to be a horse that blows Mole a kiss that knocks him off his feet. His next love is a pretty pink nose that belongs to a pig who rubs Mole’s nose and send him sprawling in the mud. The gorgeous big feet of his next love belong to a goose whose feathers make Mole sneeze. Ready to concede defeat, Mole hears a tiny voice: “You have not looked hard enough!” Someone gives him a present—“perfectly sparkly eyeglasses”—through which he sees Mini, and realizes he isn’t looking for love any more because “love has already found him.”

Mole is an endearing character in his quest for true love, and the illustrations portray both his charm and the humor of his unsuccessful attempts to find his soul mate. Readers may not be surprised by the ending, but it is satisfying and joyful. Little hearts floating around the dialogue (“He was in love!”) add to the fun. A sweet, silly romance.

JP Recommended- Diane McCrink (Yonkers Will)

March 27, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

ROAWR! by Barbara Joose, illustrated by Jan Jutte.

roawrPappa is away and Liam is snuggled in bed when he hears “the forest CRACK and SNAP!…DANGER!” He knows a hungry bear is out there and he must protect his mother and himself. He journeys into the forest to “do what boy so clever, brave and true” does and returns triumphant and ready for bed. The cadenced text, with every word carefully chosen, makes this perfect for reading aloud. The illustrations are reminiscent of Ungerer and Sendak, yet entirely original and fresh. A great addition to books that help children deal with fears. This one actually might help and more important, children will enjoy the journey! Picture Book. Judith Rovenger (WLS)

March 19, 2009 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

BLUEBERRY GIRL by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

blueberrygirlA kind of new age prayer for a child waiting to be born is aimed more at mother than child. Many of the wishes, concepts and referents are over the heads of children. The dedication suggests it was written for his friend and songwriter Tori Amos who had just learned she was to have a baby girl. That said, its lyrical language and fantasy illustrations could well engage children—especially if mom refrains from over explaining and just lets the sounds and images wash over the child. Nice for parenting collections, too. A lovely book. Picture Book.  Judith Rovenger (WLS)

March 19, 2009 at 11:32 pm 1 comment

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