Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stella, Unleashed by Linda Ashman

Ashman, Linda. Stella, Unleashed: Notes from the Doghouse. Illus. Paul Meisel. New York: Sterling, 2008.

Have you ever wondered what your canine companion thinks about during the day? What she would say if she could talk? In her own words, Stella relates her thoughts and opinions. She’s eloquent, articulate, and at times a little naughty.

What I thought: How I admire Stella’s eloquence and poetic language! Ashman delights readers with 29 poems from Stella’s point-of-view. My favorites are “The Drama Queen” and “Tea Time.” I also enjoyed “Someone for Each of Us” which reminds me of Pongo’s search for the perfect mate (for himself and Roger) in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Meisel’s illustrations perfectly fit Ashman’s poems.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Belle by Cameron Dokey

Dokey, Cameron. Belle. New York: Simon Pulse, 2008.

Belle thinks her name is a misnomer. Belle means beauty and she’s certainly not, especially when compared to her gorgeous sisters Celeste and April. Belle withdraws from society. Content to be a recluse, she finds solace in her wood carving. Her talent with a knife leads to adventure in the heart of the forest. There resides a Beast who wants to be freed.

What I thought: The changes Dokey made to the original fairy tale are inspired. A beauty who doesn’t think she is. Belle’s reclusive nature is quite intriguing. I also love that Dokey gave her a talent. Belle is not the typical fairy tale heroine. She has a depth of thought and feeling that is absent from the original tale.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? by Jane Yolen

Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? Illus. Mark Teague. New York: Scholastic, 2003.

Just how does a dinosaur learn to read? Yolen explores this question with delightful speculation and ultimately teaches you what you should and shouldn’t do while reading.

What I thought: I love Yolen’s Dinosaur series, but as a librarian, I am especially fond of this title. Yolen’s lyrical prose is wonderful. The book is almost a song. Teague’s illustrations are deliciously realistic. These are not cartoon dinosaurs, but real dinosaurs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

Weyn, Suzanne. The Night Dance. New York: Simon Pulse, 2005.

Rowena is the youngest of twelve sisters. Since her mother’s disappearance when she was just a baby, her father Sir Ethan has confined his daughters to their manor house grounds.

One day, Rowena finds a crack in the garden wall. Her adventures beyond the wall lead to her true love, night dances with her sisters, the rescuing of her mother, and the restoration of happiness to her entire family.

Bedivere has been charged by his late King Arthur to return Excalibur to the lady of the lake. His quest leads him to Rowena.

What I thought: A lovely retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales (The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Slippers that Were Danced to Pieces). I love how Weyn blends the fairy tale with Arthurian legends to give the reader a wholly unique tale.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff

Numeroff, Laura. If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. Illus. Felicia Bond. New York: Laura Geringer, 2008.

Remember Cat from Pig’s party? (If You Give a Pig a Party, 2005) Well, he’s got his own story now. Cat has a fondness for cupcakes that leads to all sorts of adventures. He goes to the beach, the gym, the museum, the park, and the lake. There’s even a merry-go-round in the story.

What I thought: What a great summer read from Numeroff! Cat is quite an active feline. Kids will love reading about Cat’s escapades and recreating them. Summer is the perfect time to visit the beach, the park, the gym, the lake, and the museum. Bond’s illustrations are wonderful as usual. Cat’s friend Mouse is even in a few of them though I missed him the first time around.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey

Dokey, Cameron. Beauty Sleep. New York: Simon Pulse, 2002.

Cursed when she’s but a few months old to die when she turns sixteen. The lovely Aurore enjoys a happy of restricted childhood. She and her father’s hair Oswald have a love hate relationship. When she turns sixteen, strange things start to happen—plagues, if you will. For the sake of her family and kingdom, Aurore leaves and enters the forest—a magical, cursed place that she’s been warned against. Can Aurore escape the curse and return to rule as queens?

What I thought: This story was masterful in its narrative. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll get lost (literally) in the story. I liked that this was a first-person account and Aurore was determined to set her story straight. She wants the reader to remember more than the fairy tale.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If You Give a Pig a Party by Laura Numeroff

Numeroff, Laura. If You Give a Pig a Party. Illus. Felicia Bond. New York: Laura Geringer, 2005.

Pig, of If You Give a Pig a Pancake fame, is back. This time around she’s having a party and wants all her friends to be there. Bumper cars, pillow fights, and balloons makes fun for all!

What I thought: Another wonderful circular story from Numeroff. I was delighted to meet all if Pig’s friend. Some I knew (Mouse and Moose) and some I didn’t (Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Fox, and Snake). Numeroff’s newest book is about Cat (If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, 2009). I hope to see stories about the others soon. Shall we speculate on titles?

If You Give a Dog a Donut
If You Give a Rabbit a Radish
If You Give a Fox a Fig
If You Give a Snake a Smoothie

Please leave your title ideas in the comments.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Displays

I've had the privilege to put together two book displays for Tellico Plains Public Library. One display (Past Newbery Award Winners & Honor Books) is for juveniles. The other display (Fairy Tales Retold) is for young adults. The Fairy Tale display took some work. I made the props by wrapping books from the sale table in colored paper. I made the summary scrolls using Word. I printed them on colored cardstock and taped craft sticks (Popsicle sticks) to the back.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie

Viguie, Debbie. Scarlet Moon. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.

A wolf attacked Ruth as a child. Scared, she remains fearfully of the woods whenever she visits her grandmother Giselle. Necessity demands that Ruth take up her father’s trade of blacksmithing. The lady blacksmith meets and falls in love with William, the Duke. William’s family was cursed long ago. Every full moon, he must assume the shape of a wolf. Ruth must reconcile her fear of wolves and her love of William to save him.

What I thought: I liked this story because it redeems the wolf. I’ve always felt that he gets a bad rap in so many fairy tales. This retelling explores other options. He is not a remorseless killer. He is a man cursed who cannot overcome his animal instincts. I also liked the time period—the Crusades.