Monday, November 30, 2009

Panda and Polar Bear by Matthew Baek

Baek, Matthew J. Panda and Polar Bear. New York: Dial, 2009

Panda lives where its sunny and warm. Polar bear lives where it’s cold and snowy. The difference in their climates prevents them from meeting. But one day, Polar bear gets curious. He leaves his snowy world and makes a new friend.

What I thought: What a neat idea. I’d never thought about zoo animals wanting to visit one another. I love Baek’s illustrations. They are soft colored and just right for the story.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bridget Fidget and the Most Perfect Pet by Joe Berger

Berger, Joe. Bridget Fidget and the Most Perfect Pet. New York: Dial, 2008.

Bridget Fidget wants a pet more than anything. She wants a particular kind of pet—a unicorn. She will name it Thunderhooves. When a large box is delivered, Bridget is ecstatic. Surely it is her unicorn. The large box contains a multitude of packing peanuts and a small box. Bridget adjusts her idea of the perfect pet to a mouse. But is a mouse really in the box?

What I thought: Absolutely delightful. I couldn’t resist reading a book in which the main character shares my name. Bridget is just want a little girl ought to be—impetuous and mischievous (without realizing she’s either). Berger’s illustrations remind me of pictures books from years ago. The colors are simple and the lines bold. Very pleasing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Garcia, Kami and Margaret Stohl. Beautiful Creatures. New York: Little, Brown and Company, December 2009. ARC Provided by Baker & Taylor.

Ethan Wate is counting the days until he can leave Gatlin, SC. Since his mom’s death, small town life has been unbearable. So people won’t think he’s odd, he hides his love of reading under his bed.

Lena Duchannes is counting the days until her sixteenth birthday. The numbers are on her hand. As the niece of the local recluse, Lena doesn’t exactly fit in around Gatlin.

Against the odds and their friends’ and families’ wishes, Ethan and Lena become friends. The strength of their friendship causes Lena to reveal the importance of her sixteenth birthday. Lena is caster (think witch, but don’t say it. It’s such a cliché.) Her family was cursed during the Civil War. On her birthday, Lean will be claimed by either good (Light) or evil (Dark). She has no choice. She fears becoming dark.

Lena and Ethan begin a quest to break the curse. They become more than friends. As Lena’s powers develop, the town ostracizes her. Can they break the curse in time? Will Lena be Light or Dark?

What I thought: I couldn’t put this book down. The plot is unique. It’s a lengthy book (600 plus pages), but every word was chosen with care. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. The Southern setting (and hence atmosphere) is inspired. For some reason, (I would hazard all our superstitions), paranormal stuff works better in the South. I liked that Ethan was the narrator. The authors captured him perfectly. His voice as brought out by their writing style reminded me of Tyler in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted. I won’t give away the ending, but I’m hoping for a sequel. In summary, a fantastic book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kiki’s Blankie by Janie Bynum

Bynum, Janie. Kiki’s Blankie. New York: Sterling, 2009

Kiki and her blankie are inseparable. They go everywhere together and have great adventures. When Kiki looses her blankie, she risks life and limb to retrieve it.

What I Thought: What a cute book. The subject will be near and dear to many hearts. I especially liked the part where Kiki’s blanket got a bath. Little ones are loath to give up there blankets to the washing machine. Seeing that Kiki does without qualm may make it easier for them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Further Adventures of Ociee Nash by Milam McGraw Propst

Propst, Milam McGraw. The Further Adventures of Ociee Nash. Memphis, TN: Belle Bridge Books, September 2009. (ARC provided by Publisher) Book 3 in The Adventures of Ociee Nash series

Ociee is enjoying her visit in Abbeville, MS when her father surprises her. She won’t be returning to Asheville, NC. The whole Nash family (Papa, Ben, and Ociee) will be moving to Memphis, TN to be closer to brother Fred and his new wife. Anything that involves Ociee is never uneventful. The title of this book is quite correct—Ociee has many adventures. She saves the day on the way to Memphis. She endears herself to a reclusive neighbor lady.

What I thought: I continue to be delighted with the character of Ociee Nash. She is wonderfully spunky and adventurous. In many ways, she reminds me of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi. Ociee is the South’s answer to a classic juvenile heroine. I especially like the fact that the author bases Ociee’s adventures on her real relatives. That gives the book something extra—historical flavor and truth. I eagerly await the next installment in her adventures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trollbridge by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

Yolen, Jane and Adam Stemple. Trollbridge: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tale. New York: Starscape, 2006.

Moira doesn’t want to be a Dairy Princess. She’d much rather play her harp. But her mother thinks being one of the twelve dairy princesses will increase her notoriety. Moira grits her teeth and bears the photo shoots and appearances until the day the princesses have a photo session on the Trollholm Bridge. The troll king kidnaps the girls. They will be wives for his sons. Only Moira escapes being drugged into a deep sleep. With the help of a mysterious fox, she hopes to free the other girls and return home.

Meanwhile, the Griffson Brothers (Galen, Erik, and Jakob) are on vacation from their life as teen pop singers. They find themselves in troll world as well. Not as wives, but as dinner. Jakob escapes his captors to join Moira in her plan to rescue the other girls and now his brothers. Will they succeed?

What I thought: I like the use of familiar fairy tales (Three Billy Goats Gruff and Twelve Dancing Princesses). However, Yolen and Stemple make their own original fairy tale with this book. For some reason, the Griffson Brother reminded me of the Jonas Brother. Moira and Jakob are likeable, creative characters. As always, the songs are great.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Me and You by Janet Holmes

Holmes, Janet A. Me and You. Illus. Judith Russell. New York: NorthSouth, 2008

Rabbit likes a lot about being himself. He likes that he can hop, build sand castles, and blow up balloons. But most of all, he likes that he can be with his friend Mouse.

What I thought: Short, sweet text. I love the juxtaposition of activities (e.g., “romp in the sun” or “rest in the shade”). The illustrations are soft (colored) and whimsical.

Story Time Idea: Use for a friendship theme.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moon Rise by Marilee Brothers

Brothers, Marilee. Moon Rise. Memphis, TN: Bell Bridge Books, July 2009. (ARC provide by Publisher) Book 2 in the Unbidden Magic series.

When we last saw Allie, she’s triumphed over the evil Trimarks, keeping the moonstone safe and preventing further harm to friends and family.

It’s now Halloween night. The Trimarks are keeping a low profile. But Allie is still recovering from her last encounter with them. She has nightmares and her powers have deserted her. She needs a miracle, but what she gets is Beck Bradford, the gorgeous half demon boy who can heal her. (By the way, Junior went to Mexico and Allie hasn’t heard from him yet.)

As Allie regains her powers, she discovers the untapped capabilities of the moonstone. No wonder the Trimarks want it. Will these newly discovered facets be enough to thwart another attempt to steal the moonstone?

What I thought: Brothers drops you right into the action. Allie, despite her paranormal powers, is a typical angsty teenager. I liked the mysteries this book revealed. (Who was Allie’s maternal grandmother? Did she have powers?) These will keep readers wanting more. I can’t wait to read book 3. I want to know what happens with Beck. He definitely has the Edward Appeal. (Question—Are demons more dangerous than vampires?) I was a bit perplexed by Junior’s extended trip to Mexico and the introduction of Beck into the story. Allie (unintentionally) seems to be boy-hopping.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pay the Piper by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

Yolen, Jane and Adam Stemple. Pay the Piper: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tale. New York: Starscape, 2005.

When Callie sees the lead singer of Brass Rat making rats dance, she knows she’s stumbled onto more than the eccentricities of the music world. She’s found the Pied Piper of Hamelin. That’s right—the guy who steals children.

The pied pier is actually an exiled Faerie prince who must pay a debt every seven year to remain immortal. This year, he doesn’t have the silver and gold, so it must be souls.

When the neighborhood children, including her younger brother Nick, disappear, it’s up to Callie to rescue the children and break the curse on the faerie prince.

What I thought: This book was a slow start for me. I found the narrative a bit disjointed (two story lines—Callie’s and the Piper’s). But I’ll chalk that up to my unfamiliarity with the original Pied Piper story. Once I got into the story, I loved it. Callie is a true heroine. Love the songs (poems?) in the book. They’re so lyrical that just reading them makes me her music in my head.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beatrix Potter by Jeanette Winter

Winter, Jeanette. Beatrix Potter. New York: Frances Foster, 2003.

In this short biography of the woman who wrote Peter Rabbit, Jeanette Winter draws from Potter’s own letter and journals to construct the tales (as it were) of the author.

What I thought: Utterly charming and quite perfect for a Beatrix Potter’s many small fans. I liked that Winter did not try to mimic Potter’s illustration style. Her illustrations suit the biography perfectly.

Story Time Idea: Beatrix Potter program- read this biography along with some of Potter’s tales.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Moonstone by Marilee Brothers

Brothers, Marilee. Moonstone. Memphis, TN: Bell Bridge Books, 2008. (ARC provide by Publisher)

Allie has enough problems dealing with her mom (and her imagined illness) and trying to survive high school. She didn’t want or need paranormal powers. But she’s got them along with a hippie of a spirit guide and a necklace that evil people covet. With unlikely help from Junior Martinez (reformed gang member) Allie tries to protect herself, the necklace, and her friend and family.

What I thought: This was a quick, enjoyable read. Fans of Twilight should definitely check out the Unbidden Magic series. Allie and Junior are the reverse of Bella and Edward. Allie has the powers and Junior is perfectly normal. I liked the fast pace of the narrative and that the book was plot driven.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Dragon in the Sock Drawer by Kate Klimo

Klimo, Kate. The Dragon in the Sock Drawer. New York: Random House, 2008.

Jesse gets more that he bargained for when he finds a thunder egg on the mountain. Usually, thunder eggs contain beautiful crystals. But Jesse’s thunder egg is different. For one thing, it talks. It also refuses (three saw blades sacrifice themselves) to be cut open. What Jesse’s really found is a dragon egg. When it hatches, he and his cousin Daisy do their best to care their new friend Emmy (short for Emerald) and protect her from the evil St. George.

What I thought: A fantastic story with great character. The magic is just part of the story. The fantasy is not so fantastic that it’s unbelievable. I like that the book has both male and female protagonists. I think this broadens the appeal. The Dragon in the Sock Drawer reminds me of Janet Taylor Lisle’s The Gold Dust Letters (first in her Investigators of the Unknown series). I eagerly await the next installment in the Dragon Keepers series.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel

Lobel, Anita. Hello, Day! New York: Green Willow, 2008.

How do animals greet a new day? Anita Lobel shows us in this charming book.

What I thought: I love the brevity of the text. Also, the illustrations have a wonderful Impressionistic quality.

Story Time Ideas: Use for Baby Sit & Sign (sings for the animals) or a farm theme for preschoolers.