Posts tagged ‘Highly Recommended’

The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Knopf Books For Young Readers, 2010)

While finishing sixth grade, Bindi faces a lot of change in her life creating a multitude of confusing emotions.  Her parents are separating, causing her mother and Bindi to move from their comfy house to a small apartment above The Dancing Pancake, where her mother will begin work.  The success of this new venture is financially important to Bindi’s aunt, uncle and mother.  At the same time, Bindi and her two closest friends seem to be drifting apart.  Told in verse, this outstanding story offers the message that if one focuses too much on the door that is closing, one may miss the wonderful opportunities of the door that is opening.  While helping out in the restaurant, Bindi’s learns a lot about the larger world from interacting and observing customers and employees. She develops a close friendship with a classmate, Albert, whose parents divorced a few years ago, and he helps her discover a lot about herself.  The writing is tight and vivid.  Some line art drawings are included, perfectly complimenting text that “shows and doesn’t tell.”    Ages  9-12

J-Recommended * —Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)


September 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010)

The quiet and shy, eight year old Emily Wiggins becomes an orphan, after her mother is accidentally killed in a carriage crash with her employer, the very wealthy Miss Nash.  Her evil Uncle Victor is next of kin, and wants custody.  The unscrupulous Catchem Child-Catching Services is looking for her too.  Her lovely Aunt Hilda sends word for Emily to come and live with her on her farm in Redbud.  She is only related by marriage, but wants to share what little she has with her niece.  Her neighbors and guideposts, Mrs. Ready, Mrs. Aim and Mrs. Fire pack Emily up with her turtle, Rufus, and send them off to Redbud.  A several day journey by train and stagecoach ensues and is filled with obstacles.  Fortunately, she befriends Jackson, another orphan with the street-smarts and the confidence Emily lacks, who is also on the run from Catchem.  Half way through her trip Emily learns she is the one who will inherit Miss Nash’s fortune.  Most chapters end in cliffhangers and tension rises rapidly to the conclusion. This 1850’s, west coast adventure takes many wild twists and turns.  Will Emily and Jackson reach Redbud before Uncle Victor?  Can Emily develop the courage she needs in the face of danger?  How will the kind-hearted, Aunt Hilda convince the authorities that she should have custody of Emily instead of Uncle Victor?  Line art illustrations enhance the suspenseful text.

A great page-turner.  Ages 9-12

J R* — Anne Beier  (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

July 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment


TATEFeisty, 11 year old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate lives in rural Texas in 1899.  Unlike other girls her age, she has no interest in tackling the womanly pursuits of sewing, cooking, lace-making and knitting. In fact, her efforts inevitably end with disastrous results. Instead, Callie would rather explore the flora and fauna of the family’s 600 acres with her grandfather, an amateur naturalist. Together, they collect specimens and record their observations in a notebook given to Callie by her beloved older brother, Harry.

The theme of each chapter is represented by a quote from Darwin’s The Origin of Species, a book that plays a large role in this story. Callie’s interest in this “controversial” book is noted by her grandfather, who, to her delight, gives her a copy to study. Her grandfather also educates her in the scientific method and tells her about women who have become famous scientists. Boosted by her grandfather’s encouragement, Callie may yet be able to withstand her family’s expectations to enter society, find a suitable beau, marry and have children. Maybe she will have the fortitude to fight for her dream of going to university to study science instead.

Many entertaining episodes leave the reader chuckling:

  • Callie’s animal loving younger brother Travis, who gets too attached to the turkeys meant for Thanksgiving dinner
  • 3 of Callie’s brothers falling in love with her best friend, Lula
  • Callie’s annoyance at Harry’s courtship of a vain, insipid bore

This is a great cross-over novel, especially for those girls who don’t fit into their family’s or society’s expectations.

 J-Fiction Highly Recommended, Marci Dressler- Ossining

October 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

WILD GIRL by Patricia Reilly Giff (Random House, 2009)

wild girlThis wonderfully written book conveys the story of Lidie, a girl who leaves Brazil for the United States to reunite with her father and brother after a five-year separation.  Told in the first person, the reader will empathize with Lidie as she tries to find her place in the family, who remembers and treats her like the seven-year-old girl she was when they left.  Giff integrates the third person view of a new horse bought by Lidie’s father, and through each other, they heal.  Giff deftly demonstrates the difficulties of fitting in at school.  Particularly painful is the part where Lidie wets her pants on the first day because the teacher doesn’t understand that she has to go to the bathroom.  While this is a story of immigration, the story will translate to children who feel like they don’t fit in.  This book, with its imagery and poignancy, is simply a pleasure to read.

J-Fiction highly recommended.  Rebecca Eller (Larchmont Public Library)

August 26, 2009 at 1:20 am 1 comment

OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR: A CELEBRATION OF ROSA, BARACK AND THE PIORNEERS OF CHANGE written by Michelle Cook. Foreword by Marian Wright Edelman, illustrated by 13 distinguished artists. (Bloomsbury)

soar“Rosa sat so Martin could march.  Martin marched so Barack could run.  Barack ran so our children can soar!”  An inspiring celebration of African American history and the power of individual lives to make a difference—this beautifully illustrated book puts the pieces together into a single story that is thrilling.  Westchester artist Eric Velasquez did the spread on Obama, capturing the excitement and the promise of his campaign.

Nonfiction/Picture Book, highly recommended- Judith (WLS)

July 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

OK GO written and illustrated by Carin Berger (Greenwillow Books)

OK“Go,” launches the reader into inventive collages.  The number of cars and people multiply with each turn of the page.  The inevitable comes.  A big “Uh Oh!” looms in an ominous sky, smog-filled, and   hangs from heavy clouds in a double page spread.  Transportation stops and is re-thought.  People “GO” again as new, greener modes of transportation emerge and are illustrated in a spread that folds out with many clever suggestions; “Take a bus, Gus,”, “Ride a bike, Ike and Mike,”, “Don’t Pollute, Man-in-a-suit,”, “Save the Planet, Janet.”  This simple and creative picture book will surely inspire very young readers about recycling concepts and the importance of “going green.”  The outstanding artwork, almost a cousin to the “I Spy” series, is made of found materials; newspapers, magazines, buttons, tickets stubs, old letters and other found objects.  The author includes suggestions to help recycle at home, at school, and in the community.  Also provided are other interesting books and web sites.  An excellent choice to convey environmental issues for pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners.

Picture Book Ages 2-5, Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 30, 2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

1000 TIMES NO written and illustrated by Tom Warburton (Laura Geringer Books, An imprint of HarperCollins)

1000 timesIn this humorous tale, Noah manages to communicate “no” to his mother 47 times, (not including the endpages) in different languages and formats.  He spells it out on his dinner plate with peas, text messages, and transforms into a robot who says “Negative.”  This cute and simple story evokes the frustration of a parent when they are up against the unfailing determination of a child who doesn’t want to do something.  The outcome will provide a good belly laugh for all, and the opportunity to experience the down side of negativity.  Warburton uses the page space creatively.  Cartoon like illustrations are combined with a variety of fonts that capture the range of this toddler’s feelings. The book provides an interactive experience that will no doubt delight and engage children and adults.

Picture Book Ages 3-6, highly recommended- Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

June 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

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