Friday, September 25, 2009


Bauer, Joan. Backwater. New York: Puffin, 1999.

Ivy Breedlove doesn’t want to be a lawyer. She knows from genealogical research that not every Breedlove has been a lawyer. She wants to be a historian. To complete the Breedlove family history, Ivy seeks her reclusive Aunt Josephine. Her search for Josephine is also Ivy’s searching for her own identity. Her trek to Aunt Jo’s Backwater defines who Ivy is.

What I thought: As a family history buff, I loved all the quirky historical facts Ivy threw out during the narrative. Here dedication to researching and writing her family history brought home the adage to know yourself, you first have to know those who came before you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Good Day

Henkes, Kevin. A Good Day. New York: Greenwillow, 2007.

A bird, a dog, a fox, and a squirrel are all having a bad day for various reasons. Their circumstances change and the day turns out to be good after all.

What I Thought: This story is lovely in its simplicity. The illustrations are just what I expect from Henkes. I enjoyed the surprise at the end. (That's all I'm saying here about that. Go read the book.)

Story Time Idea: The brevity of text makes this book perfect for a preschool story time. Henkes' birthday is in November. Why not have a birthday celebration and read several of his books?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Might Be a Librarian If...

...when you hear someone is ill, injured, etc., your mind immediately wanders to books. Will they (the injured or ill party) have enough books to keep them occupied during their recovery? What will interest them? Should I sent books posthaste?

My mom had a minor accident at work today. She won't be able to work for several days. I'm six hours away, but that doesn't stop me plotting ways and means to get books into her hands. I think perhaps my brother-in-law would make a good delivery boy. To the library, man!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two for the Zoo

Smith, Danna. Two for the Zoo: A Counting Book. Illus. Valeria Petrone. New York: Clarion, 2009.

One day, a boy takes his grandpa to the zoo. They see many animals engaged in their various habits.

What I thought: What a delightful book! The rhyming is subtle, but really draws the reader into the story. The illustrations are lovely--so bright and colorful. I want to read more by this author.

Story Time Idea: On July 1, the 1st zoo in the US opened. This book would be perfect to use in a story time celebrating that anniversary.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Bauer, Joan. Sticks. New York: Speak, 1996.

Mickey Vernon has a goal—to be a pool champ like his dad. The Junior Nine-Ball Championship is coming up soon and Mickey’s training hard to beat his competition. Buck Pender is older, intimidating and a good pool player. With the help of his dad’s best friend, Mickey trains to be the best. In a pre-championship game against Buck, Mickey injures his hand. Can he play in the championship? Will all his hard work pay off?

What I thought: I’m delighted with this first “boy book” from Joan Bauer. I read Stand Tall some months back. Unlike it, Sticks features a first person protagonist like Bauer’s young adult “girl books.” I grew up watching my parents play so I can appreciate Mickey’s fascination with the game. Sticks is a great book about pool, friends, and proving yourself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Freckleface Strawberry

Moore, Julianne. Freckleface Stawberry. Illus. LeUyen Pham. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007.

A charming little girl tries valiantly to get rid of her freckles. She tries to bleach them away. She tries to disguise them with markers. Finally, she goes into hiding. Meeting a baby who thinks freckles are hilarious helps Freckleface Strawberry accept her freckles. In accepting them, she discovers that she does have friends. Her freckles don't make her different.

What I Thought: I keep reading books about unique little girls. Freckleface Strawberry brings to mind Pennypacker's Clementine, Cleary's Ramona, Lindgren's Pippi, and even Montgomery's Anne. Freckleface Strawberry has an endearing quality. As my best friend is a freckled red-head, I can sympathize with this little girl's efforts to rid herself of her freckles.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Might Be a [Children's] Librarian If...

...chatting with patrons leads to impromptu booktalks and the like.

Case in point...

Me: I read lots of picture books.

Little Boy: Why?

Me: Because I'm the children's librarian. I want to know what children like to read/hear so I can plan story time.

Little Boy: Can you do story time now?

Me: [slight pause] Of course.

And I proceed to read him two of the books I was shelving (Good-Night, Owl! by Pat Hutchins and The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning). The little boy was four-years-old. He enjoyed the first book, but lost interest in the second (it was a bit long). I love being a children's librarian. There's no routine, only spontaneity.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diary of a Worm

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Worm. Illus. Harry Bliss. New York: Joanna Colter, 2003.

Have you ever wondered what worms do all day besides crawl around in the dirt? Here's the answer, In Diary of a Worm, we discover that worms aren't that different from us. They have families, friends, and go to work and school.

What I thought: An ingenious book that will appeal to a variety of readers (boys especially). I like Cronin's idea behind the book--what would a worm write about in his diary. The result is the hilarious book I read. Such a book would be a possibility for any creature. Dare I hope that there will be more Diary of books from Cronin? Bliss' illustrations added to the story. I was glad to see the different illustrations. A book of nothing but two page spreads wouldn't have expressed Worm so well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book of a Thousand Days

Hale, Shannon. Book of a Thousand Days. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007.

Dashti’s elation at being Lady Saren’s new maid soon fades when she finds herself locked in a tower with said lady. Saren refuses to marry Lord Khasar because she loves Khan Tegus. Her disobedience merits exile in the tower for seven years. Dashti records their days in a journal. She has much to contend with—Lady Saren’s melancholy and rats that eat their precious food supplies. Khan Tegus visits them at the tower. Saren makes Dashti pretend to be her. Dashti is much taken with the khan.

After several disasters—Lord Khasar’s torture, the disappearance of their cat who kept the rats at bay, and the end of their food supplies—the girls emerge from the tower after 932 days. They find Saren’s home and family destroyed. They journey to Khan Tegus’ land. What will they find there?

What I thought: This was a riveting read. I couldn’t put it down. I like the diary format. After I finished reading the book, I turned to the original fairy tale “Maid Maleen” in my trusty Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The more fairy tale retellings that I read, the more I prefer them to the original tales. In “Maid Maleen,” the lady’s maid didn’t have a name and wasn’t important to the narrative. I suppose Hale recognized that a lady’s maid would be indispensible to a lady of quality. Just as some choose to tell the story of the stepsisters or the evil queen, Hale chose to tell the story of the unnamed maid. I find her novel to be vibrant, lush, and teeming with cultural detail. I love the Asian setting Hale gave the story.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Wells, Rosemary. Yoko. New York: Hyperion, 1998.

Yoko is Japanese. The kids in her class make fun of the sushi she brings for lunch. Through an ingenious plot by her teacher, the kids have to try various foods before making judgments. Yoko doesn't get teased anymore and makes a new friend.

What I thought: I love the message of this book--don't judge people just because they're different. I like that acceptance in the book is conditional. I think this is the way kids work. They have have to know that [blank] isn't weird before they accept it. This book reminded me of Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Might be a [Children's] Librarian if... find yourself saving all sorts of strange things because they could be used for story time crafts. Examples of said strange things are toilet paper rolls, plastic applesauce containers, and cereal boxes.

Yes, I save these things. I have a bag designated for just such items. When it's full, it will go to the craft room.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The One and Only Marigold

Heide, Florence, Parry. The One and Only Marigold. Illus. Jill McElmurry. New York: Schwartz, 2009.

Marigold is a very particular little monkey. She likes what she likes (her old coat, herself) with no qualms. Marigold is also thoughtful. She makes lists and plots how to annoy her friend Maxine.

What I thought: A delightful story with lovely illustrations. The author captures the hilarity and audacity of one little monkey. Marigold's adventures could be any girl's adventures--from her love affair with her favorite coat to her uneasy friendship with Maxine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Might Be A Librarian If... have to bring an extra tote bag with you to work so you can cart all the books you check out home.

Yes, I'm definitely a librarian. I can't help but gather up a stack of books for me during the day. Shelving goes something like this: one book back on the shelve, one book pulled to take home with me. (One for the shelf, one fir me!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Klause, Annette Curtis. The Silver Kiss. New York: Laurel-Leaf, 1990.

Before Bella and Edward there was Zoe and Simon. Simon is a centuries old vampire who seeks to avenge his mother’s death. Zoe is just a girl, a girl with a dying mother. As Simon has already lost his mother, he can comfort Zoe as she faces the loss of hers. Likewise, she can help him find, trap, and kill his mother’s murderer.

What I thought: I admire the sensitivity and sensuality of Klause’s first novel. The Silver Kiss has depth and is blessed with brevity. The novel is short compared to Twilight, but I find it a much more engrossing read. I like Twilight, but I think Meyer could have said more with less. Fans of Twilight need to read The Silver Kiss and Hahn’s Look for Me By Moonlight to grasp the scope of vampire fiction.