Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gruffen by Chris D'Lacey

For those of you acquainted with Chris D'Lacey's Last Dragon Chronicles (The Fire Within, Icefire, Fire Star, The Fire Eternal, Dark Fire), Gruffen will be an absolute delight. Herein, we have Gruffen's story. You remember him--the guard dragon? Prior to David's introduction to the Pennykettle household, we discover why Liz created Gruffen and why he has his quirks.

What I thought: A quick read that will introduce younger readers to the Pennykettles and their dragons. The illustrations add charm to the story. A treat for fans of D'Lacey's other series as well.

(Illus. Adam Stower. New York: Orchard, 2009)

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Want a Dog by Helen Bansch

More than anything, Lisa wants a dog. She lets her parents know numerous times. Their answer is always the same--their apartment is too small for a dog. Lisa is not one to give up. After some thought, she advertises and gets a dog friend named Rollo.

What I thought: Lisa is quite a creative girl. I never would have thought of borrowing a dog. The illustrations are great, especially the different dog breeds.

(New York: NorthSouth, 2009)

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Unwilling Witch Goes to Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram

(Book 1 in Rumplewick's Diary series)

Haggy Aggy makes a terrible witch much t the shame of her familiar Rumplewick. She refuses to dress in black, ride on a broomstick, or frighten children. Instead, she prefers to wear pink, drive her (pink) car, and take up normal girl hobbies like shopping and ballet. The problem is this: if Haggy Aggy doesn't act like a witch Rumplewick will find himself boiled in oil and back in the lowest grade at familiar school. Can Rumplewick convince Haggy Aggy to act like a witch and save his skin?

What I thought: A hilarious, quick read muck like Kinney's diary of a Wimpy Kid books or Bruel's Bad Kitty chapter books. Rumplewick as narrator is very fitting. Who better to describe a witch than her familiar? Perhaps you recall Salem's popularity on the TV show and cartoon series Sabrina? Rumplewick's distress at Haggy Aggy's un-witch-like behavior is sincere and thus all the more funny. The illustrations are great. They add to the story (like when Rumplewick imagines himself ballet dancing , we see him complete with tutu).

(Illus. Sarah Warburton. New York: Little, Brown, & Company, 2009, c2007)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parrish

Amelia Bedelia is a familiar face and name to many young readers. In this new book, we get to meet the young Amelia Bedelia. We can see that she's doesn't change much (in looks or actions) when she grows up.

What I thought: delightful! I read the Amelia Bedelia books when I was in elementary school. I'd forgotten how much fun she was. While some might think her odd, I find her logic very logical. She takes people at their word. Can't wait to see the next book in this young Amelia series.

(Illus. Lynne Avril. New York: Greenwillow, 2009)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Penguin and the Cupcake by Ashley Spires

One day, Penguin gets tired of eating fish so he goes in search of cupcakes. He finds new friends as well as a new diet.

What I thought: A fun book! The story is great. I like the intrusive characters (Walrus & Polar Bear) and the editorial notes that address environmental problems. The illustrations suit the story. I was glad to see the use of purple (Walrus) in the story.

(Vancouver, CA: Simply Read Books, 2008)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess Rose and her eleven sisters are cursed. Her mother made a bargain with King Understone to conceive. On her death, her daughters take her place. Every third night (no exceptions!), Rose and her sisters must dance until dawn with the king's sons in his underground kingdom. Dancing while ill almost kills the girls. Their father is desperate to help them. HE enlists the help of eligible princes. They fail--they can't discover where the girls go every night. Enter Galen, a mere under-gardener and a former soldier. His affection for Rose spurs him to learn where the princesses go and attempt to break the curse they're under.

What I thought: This was a fantastic retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (or "The Slippers that were Danced to Pieces"). Where the original is simple and even mundane, George's retelling is vivid and complex. she uses her imagination well to flesh out the original. I couldn't put this book down. I liked that all the sisters had flower names. FYI, here they are: Rose, Lily, Jonquil, Lilac, Poppy, Hyacinth, Violet, Iris, Daisy, Orchid, Pansy, and Petunia. Also, if you like the original fairy tale you might also want to read The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn. Read my review here.

(New York: Bloomsbury, 2009)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Everafter War by Michael Buckley

(Book 7 in the Sisters Grimm series)

After a two year long magic-induced sleep, Henry and Veronica Grimm are finally united with their daughters Sabrina and Daphne. Henry is less than pleased to find himself back in Ferryport Landing with his estranged family. He doesn't have long to be affronted. War between the Everafters looms. Those loyal to the dreaded Scarlet Hand are eager to fight and promise to take no prisoners. The Grimm family seeks refuge with Prince Charming in his rebel camp. The rebels have little success against the Scarlet Hand. Their camp hides a spy. The war rages on and leads the Sisters Grimm closer and closer to the mastermind behind the Scarlet Hand.

What I thought: Another rousing installment in a great series. Lots of surprises. An evil cliffhanger. (A word to the wise: don't be so trusting!) Everybody from Uncle Jake to Puck is dealing with problems in this book. Can't wait to read the final book (The Inside Story) set to be published in May 2010.

(New York: Amulet, 2009)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Princess Pig by Eileen Spinelli

When the wind blows a princess sash her way, Pig thinks she's a princess. She become prissy and not at all like a pig. However, she soon realizes that she'd rather be a pg than a princess.

What I thought: A cute book with lovely illustrations. The subject of the book (being yourself) is an important one. Pig has a great personality. I wouldn't mind seeing more books about her.

Story time idea: Use for a preschool pig themed story time.

(Illus. Tim Bowers. New York: Knopf, 2009)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sky Sweeper by Phillis Gershator

As a young boy, Takeboki seeks and finds a job. He becomes the flower keeper at the temple. Despite the urgings of his friends and family to find a better job, Takeboki keeps on keeping (and sweeping) the flowers. He knows his own importance. AS an old man, he becomes the sky sweeper.

What I thought: A lovely story with beautiful illustrations. Meade really captured the Japanese setting with her collages. The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Bridges and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo would be a good book to pair with Sky Sweeper.

(Illus. Holly Meade. New York: Melanie Kroupa, 2007)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pieces: A Year in Poems by Anna Grossnickle Hines

With beautiful poems and quilts, the author takes us through the four seasons.

What I thought: The poems are lyrical, thoughtful, and at times, surprising. The quilts are intricate, fantastic, and just right for the poems. My favorite poems are "In March," "Misplaced," "To Each His Own," "Pageantry," and "Silhouettes."

See also Winter Lights: A Season in Poems and Quilts (2005) where Hines celebrates winter and all its holidays. My favorite poem in that collection is "Fireplace."

(New York: Greenwillow, 2001)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Heave Ho! by Heinz Janisch

In twelve sentences, a dog, a cat and three mice work together to open the refrigerator. What a feast they have!

What I thought: This book is hilarious. I love how the author structures his sentences ("In the first sentence" and so on). The structure is humorous, but it also makes readers aware of the sentences in the book. The illustrationd suit the story perfectly.

(Illus. Carola Holland. New York: NorthSouth, 2005)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Giveaway @ A Patchwork of Books

Amanda of A Patchwork of Books is sponsoring a great holiday giveaway. Deadline for entering is Monday, December 7 at 11:59 EST. Check it out! The winner gets 7, count them 7, books. Thanks to Amanda for sponsoring this giveaway.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Camel's Lament illustrated by Charles Santore

Santore's delightful illustrations grace Charles Edward Carryl's classic nonsensical poem.

What I thought: The poem is great, but the illustrations make this book. They are bright, colorful, and realistic. This would be a great read aloud for story time.

(New York: Random House, 2004)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Larabee by Kevin Luthardt

Larabee is the mail man's dog. He loves to help deliver the mail. Larabee would love to get some mail of his own, but dogs don't get mail. One day, Larabee's friend Lacey sends him a letter and makes him one happy puppy.

What I thought: A lovely book. Mail is one of my favorite things. I'm glad Larabee received some. The illustrations are bright and colorful. They are almost reminiscent of a cartoon.

(Atlanta: Peachtree, 2004)