Friday, December 31, 2010

Forget Me Not by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Willa Havisham's summers are never uneventful and this one is no different. She plans a wedding on her own. Willa and her boyfriend Joey must say goodbye for a whole month (drat baseball camp!). And her best friend Tina is spending more and more time with Ruby, Willa's number one frenemy.

What I thought: Watching Willa grow up is a pleasure. I've liked Willa ever since I first met her in The Wedding Planner's Daughter. Willa continues to love reading and is great at thinking on her feet. She may not be the most enduring character, but I know there's an audience just for her. You've seen them--the bookish girls who perhaps aren't always as quiet as the stereotype dictates. I loved Willa's reading list for the summer. I was glad to see the inclusion of several verse novels. I look forward to reading more about Willa's adventures. In fact, I can't wait after that cliffhanger ending.

(Scholastic, 2009)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading Resolutions 2011

It's that time of year again. With only one more day left in 2010, it is definitely time to think ahead to the coming year and What Will Bridget Be Reading?

It's been a big year for me and the blog. I've finally found the perfect position. I'm the Youth Services Librarian for a Regional Library in North Carolina that serves four libraries. I love my work.

As for the blog, it celebrated its second anniversary in September. I've finally written a review policy and an "About Me" page (which now that I think about it, needs updated!). I've had three Reading Projects this year, Ramona, Harry Potter, and Beatrix Potter. The Potters aren't quite finished yet.

And now for my reading resolutions. I personally want to read more YA historical fiction and more middle grade fiction. To that end, I've decided to participate in 4 Reading Challenges in 2011. I have yet to participate in one and am excited about them.

Bridget's 2011 Reading Challenges:
2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge: I plan to concentrate on children's and YA books that I've seen the movies for, but haven't read the book. At the moment, I'm only committing to the challenge minimum of 5, but I'll probably read more.

Full Steampunk Ahead Challenge: This will be the most time consuming as the minimum reading level is 10 books. I've read some steampunk and enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to exploring the genre more fully.

Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: I love mysteries, but I don't seem to read a lot of Middle Grade or YA titles in the genre. This challenge is the perfect way to correct that oversight. I'm concentrating on the categories of Best Juvenile and Best Young Adult. I may read the winners or the nominees. I don't plan on reading anything published before 2000. I'm only committing to the Patrolman Level (1-3 books)

YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2011: I came to the realization earlier this year that most of the historical fiction I read is middle grade. This challenge seemed like the perfect way to rectify the lapse. I'm committing to the Inquisitive Level (1-3 books), but I'll likely read more.

Note: All challenges begin January 1, 2011 and end December 31, 2011.

None of the challenges require book lists, but I'm a planner. In the next few weeks, I'll have individual posts for each of the challenges with my tentative reading lists.

In addition to these 4 challenges, I will also be participating in the newly formed SurLaLune Book Club. The reading selections for the first three months of 2011 are already available. I'm looking forward to reading them.
January: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
February: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer
March: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

2011 is going to be a busy and bookish year. Happy New Year to all readers! Happy Reading in the New Year!

The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse by Beatrix Potter

First published 1918
59 pages, 28 color illustrations

An unexpected visit to town confirms for country mouse Timmy Willie that the country is the place to be. Likewise, a planned sojourn in the country in the country proves to Johnny Town-Mouse that town is the only place to be.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 243-244):
Johnny Town-Mouse's history is scant. It is, of course, Beatrix Potter's version of Aesop's "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse." This latest offering by Beatrix was well received by both reviewers and the public.

My thoughts: A nice version of a familiar story. Beatrix's charming illustrations make all the difference. I agree with the reviews Linder mentioned--I much prefer Timmy Willie to Johnny Town-Mouse. He's such an appealing character. Likely because he's chubby and cuddly.

Favorite Illustrations: Timmy Willie at home (32), Timmy Willie in garden (35), Timmy Willie outside his burrow (44), Timmy Willie & Johnny Town-Mouse with wheat (55), Timmy Willie waving goodbye to Johnny Town-Mouse

I'm having a hard time thinking of any that I haven't already suggested for the other books. How about a field trip? One to the country and one to the city. Decide like our characters which one you like better. Read City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems.

Favorite Words: clattering, exclamation, insignificant, rumbling, middling

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse. I'll be skipping Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes until I can locate a copy. Next week, I'll be exploring The Tale of Little Pig Robinson. Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn

Lola loves the books she checks out at the library with her dad. Along with a love of stories, Lola also has a lovely imagination. When they read about a princess, Lola is princess for a day. Lola can be anything she reads about. With her imagination, the adventure in the story never ends.

What I thought: An absolutely delightful story. Lola is an adorable character. What librarian wouldn't like a kid who receives so much enjoyment from books? I love her pretending. The only book I recognized was the last one (Where the Wild Things Are). I also like the illustrations--colorful yet soft. I can't wait to read the other Lola book: Lola at the Library.

Story Time Themes: Imagination, Libraries, Books

(Illus. Rosalind Beardshaw. Charlesbridge, 2010)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bears! Bears! Bears! by Bob Barner

In this deceptively simple book, we are introduced to eight different bears of the world. We discover where they live, what they eat, and much more.

What I thought: I loved it. The text is simple enough for preschoolers to comprehend. The illustrations are great. I love Barner's paper collage style. The bold colors are visually appealing. My favorite illustration is the sloth bears two-page spread. I met several different bears I didn't know. I especially like the spectacled bear. This would be a fun book to use for story time.

Story Time Themes: Bears, Babies

(Chronicle, 2010)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

Christmas is coming, Llama Llama is sure, but when? The shopping, the making, the baking, the wrapping--it's almost too much for one little llama llama to bear. Until, that is, Mama Llama reminds young Llama Llama what Christmas is really about.

What I thought: A charming book. It's the first Llama Llama book that I've read and I really liked it. The illustrations are first rate--bright and colorful. Young readers/listeners will empathize with Llama Llama's lack of patience. I love how Dewdney reinforces what Christmas is about. This will pair well with Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas.

Story Time Theme: Christmas

(Viking, 2010)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

One morning, Douglas wakes up in need of a hug. As he searches, he hugs the most unusual things--a boulder, a tree, a bush, some sheep, an owl, and a rabbit. But none of them are quite right. They were missing the key ingredient--love!

What I thought: What a great book! I loved the story and the illustrations. They're colorful and appealing. The sheep and the rabbit are my favorite characters besides Douglas. This will be a story time favorite. I really like the illustrated hug index at the end of the book. Kids will like practicing the different kinds of hugs. My favorite is "Unrequited Hug."

Story Time Themes: Bears, Hugs, Valentine's Day

(Tiger Tales, 2010)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter

First Published 1917
37 pages, 15 color illustrations

Move over, Mother Goose! Here are some delightfully original rhymes from one of the most beloved children's authors, Beatrix Potter.

The Rhymes: Appley Dapply, Cottontail, Mr. Prickle Pin, Old Woman in Shoe, Diggory Diggory Delvet, Gravy, Guinea Pig

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 225-239):
When F. Warne and Company first published Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter was eager to publish a book of nursery rhymes. Much planning and preparation went on in the next few years. The original Appley Dapply was to be in a larger format than Peter Rabbit and friends. Beatrix Potter's original 1905 manuscript contained 30 rhymes, 21 of which Norman Warne approved. As you know, Norman Warne died in 1905. His death devastated Beatrix. Appley Dapply fell to the wayside once again. It wasn't until 1917 that Beatrix Potter's thoughts turned again to nursery rhymes. Not feeling up to undertaking a whole new book, she offered her publishers Appley Dapply on a Miss Moppet size. The 1917 Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes contains only 7 of the original 30 rhymes.

My thoughts: A charming book. I love the new rhymes. I can tell that the illustrations were executed earlier in Beatrix Potter's career. They're soft and colorful, very reminiscent of Peter Rabbit. My favorite Rhymes are Mr. Pricklepin, the woman in the shoe, and Diggory Diggory Delvet.

Favorite Illustrations: Little black rabbit (21), Mr. Pricklepin (23), Old Woman in Shoe (24), Diggory Diggory Delvet (29), Guinea Pig Brushing Hair (33), Rabbits in snow (frontispiece)

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes. I wish you all a very happy Christmas! I'll be back next week to discuss The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roslyn Rutabaga & the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie Louise Gay

One morning, Roslyn Rutabaga decides to dig the biggest hole on earth. She's hoping to make it to the South Pole and meet a few penguins. Delayed by an affronted worm, a grouchy mole, and a territorial Rosalyn doesn't quite make it to the Pole by lunch. However, she's not discouraged.

What I thought: A cute book. I like Roslyn's determination and her dad's support of her imaginative efforts. This book encourages creative play. I would pair it with Henke's My Garden for an imaginative story time. The illustrations are nice. I like the collage effect. My favorite is of Roslyn and her dad having lunch in her hole.

Story Time Theme: Imagination

(Groundwood Books, 2010)

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm the Best by Lucy Cousins

Dog knows he's the best. He can run faster than Mole. He can dig better holes than Goose. He's bigger than Ladybug. And he can swim better than Donkey. But...

Mole can dig holes better than Dog. Goose can swim faster than Dog. Donkey's bigger than Dog. And Ladybug can fly higher than Dog. Nevertheless, Dog is the best at being their best friend and he has fluffy ears. Ergo, he's obviously the best.

What I thought: Ego much, Dog? I liked the book. It shows that everyone is special in their own way. The bold, bright illustrations and the simple story are perfect for the smallest children.

Story Time Theme: Friendship

(Candlewick, 2010)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Scare a Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin

How exactly do you scare a bear? You're about to find out. But what if your bear is un-scare-able? Well, we'll talk about that, too.

What I thought: Another hit from Wargin. I loved her last book Moose on the Loose and I'm not disappointed with this new one. The situations that the kids and bear find themselves in are laughable. This format Wargin uses is just as effective as Numeroff's circular stories (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Moose a Muffin, etc.) The illustrations are lovely--soft colors and so well drawn. I can't wait to see what Wargin comes up with next.

Story Time Theme: Bears

(Illus. John Bendall-Brunello. Sleeping Bear Press, 2010)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tale of Pigling Bland by Beatrix Potter

First published 1913
84 pages, 16 color illustrations, 37 black & white illustrations

Sent to market with his brother Alexander, Pigling Bland doesn't find it an easy trip. First, his brother is send home due to lack of papers. Secondly, he gets lost. And finally, Pigling Bland gets stolen. He finds his luck isn't so bad when he meets his captor's other prisoner, a pretty black girl pig named Pig-wig.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 213-217):
Beatrix Potter raised pigs on Hilltop Farm and The Tale of Pigling Bland grew out of her adventures with her own pigs. It is interesting to note that both Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit appear in the illustrations (see p. 23 and p. 84). Again, Beatrix Potter only published one book in 1913. She had some difficulty in finishing Pigling Bland. First, she was ill and then there were preparations for her marriage. (Beatrix Potter married William Heelis on October 14, 1913.) Pigling Bland has much the same structure as Mr. Tod although the story seems shorter (at least, to this reader!).

My thoughts: Oh, I liked this one. Despite the length, it reads easily and quickly. I can definitely see this appealing to children. There's a lovely illustration of chickens in the story. I wonder why Beatrix Potter never wrote a chicken story?

Favorite Illustrations: Beatrix Potter & Alexander (23, B&W), Pigling Bland in the chicken coop (41, color), Pigling Bland meets Pig-wig (56, color), Pig-wig (61, color), Pig-wig dancing (71, color), Pigling Bland and Pig-wig running (81, color), Pigling Bland & Pig-wig dancing for rabbits (84, B&W)

Activity: The Tale of Pigling Bland is such an adventure story. I think it would translate well into a board game. Players could be the other pigs, even Beatrix Potter and the policeman. What fun there is to be had in designing it.

I hope you've enjoyed my exploration of The Tale of Pigling Bland. I'll be back next week to discuss Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Great Monster Hunt by Norbert Landa

When Duck hears a noise coming from underneath her bed, she's sure it can't be good. She asks Pig for help. Pig asks Bear for help and Bear asks Wolf for help. Then, Wolf asks Owl for help. Each time the story (of Duck's noise under the bed) is repeated, it gets longer and louder. Owl is sure they're dealing with a monster. And off they go on a monster hunt...only to find a mouse!

What I thought: What a funny book. The friends exaggerate and even the reader doesn't know what's under the bed. Reminds me of a game we used to play when we were kids: pass it on. This formation of friends reminds me of Pooh and company in Milne's book when they're hunting heffalumps and woozles. I love the illustrations. Soft colors and the animals look realistic with a hint of well drawn cartoon. I'll definitely be using this book for my next monster story time.

Story Time Theme: Monsters

(Illus. Tim Warnes. Good Books, 2010)

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker

That lovable pair, Bear and Mouse, return in this nighttime tale. Bear is a particular sleeper--everything has to be just so and very quiet. When Mouse comes to spend the night, Bear finds his bedtime peace disturbed. Only after having a monster hunt can he sleep. Mouse sleeps quite contentedly...after he puts on earmuffs. Bear snores, you see.

What I Thought: Bear and Mouse as characters just keep improving. This story is great. I love how Bear is the "fraidy cat" and not Mouse. Becker doesn't follow the normal stereotypes. Denton's illustrations are as beautiful and detailed as ever. look for the apple core and Bear's hat collection. My favorite illustration is (scared) Bear wrapped up in his blanket after he wakes Mouse up.

Story Time Themes: Bears, Mice, Bedtime, Friendship

(Illus. Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick, 2010)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

One day, elephant finds something he doesn't know and neither do his friends. The thingamabob isn't good for much until it starts raining. Do you know what elephant's thingamabob is?

What I thought: What a great idea for a book. I can just hear my story time kids shouting "umbrella" at poor elephant. The illustrations are great. I've liked Na's style since I read A Book of Sleep. I think kids will really like identifying all of elephant's animals friends.

Story Time Themes: Rain/Umbrellas (Pair with Prelutsky's Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and The Umbrella Queen by Bridges.)

(Knopf, 2010)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter

First published 1912
84 pages, 16 color illustrations, 41 small black & white illustrations

This is the tale of two villains--Mr. Tod (the fox) and Tommy Brock (the badger). Interestingly, our two villains don't care for each other. Thankfully, their animosity results in the restoration of Benjamin and Flopsy Bunny's offspring.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 210-212):
The Tale of Mr. Tod was one that Beatrix Potter had thought up some time before the actual publication. It's length is longer than any of her other books to date. The color illustrations are few. (This I have found from reading Linda Lear's biography is due to her failing eyesight and stiff hands.) The tale is the fourth that features the beloved Peter Rabbit and company. The story is dedicated to a cousin's son, newly born. The illustration style resembles that of The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan (i.e., more black and white than color illustrations).

My thoughts: Too long by far! The few color illustrations are less charming than her previous work. I can see with my own eyes that Miss Potter was aging and her chosen profession wasn't aging with her. The black and white illustrations are uncommonly good despite their small size.

Favorite Illustrations: Tommy Brock & Old Benjamin Bouncer (17, color), Peter & Benjamin conversing (27, B&W), Peter & Benjamin dashing into the tunnel (44, B&W), Rabbits at diner (84, B&W)

Activity: Tommy Brock Tag/Chase

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Mr. Tod. Next week, I'll be talking about The Tale of Pigling Bland. Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Working in her mother's garden, a little girl can't help but imagine a garden of her own. What a garden she plans! Seashells, chocolate rabbits. color changing flowers...

What I thought: I loved this book. Over the past year or so, I've read quite a few picture books about imagination, but I think this is my favorite. The illustrations are classic Henkes. My favorite is the chocolate rabbits. I can't wait to use this book for story time.

Story Time Themes: Gardens/Flowers, Imagination

(Greenwillow, 2010)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Spill the Beans! by Ian Schoenherr

Bear has a secret and he tells all his friends. Everyone except you. What could this secret be? Why wouldn't he tell you? Could it be...a surprise for you?

What I thought: How nice to see all the animals from Read It, Don't Eat It! again. This book is a delight from the illustrations to the surprise. The colors are just right and Schoenherr once again makes good use of white space. I love the use of synonyms and cliches. This would be a good book for teaching elementary students about those concepts. I refuse to give the surprise away. You'll just have to wonder.

Story Time Theme: Birthday

(Greenwillow, 2010)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Other by Karen Kincy

Gwen lives in a world where vampires, werewolves, water sprites, dryads, pookas, centaurs, and many more "Others" live openly among humans. Tolerated, but not accepted, Gwen keeps the fact that she's a pooka to herself. Even her human boyfriend doesn't know. This isn't the only dilemma Gwen faces. When Others are murdered, Gwen finds herself embroiled in a mystery. With the help of her new Other friend, Tavian, Gwen sets out to find the killer before he/she finds her.

What I thought: This book has a most interesting premise. I liked all the different types of "Others" that people the book. It's a nice change from the standard vampires and werewolves. I liked the fact that Gwen is pooka. It reminds me fondly of the Jimmy Stewart movie Harvey. Gwen's struggle with having a human boyfriend reminded me a little of Vivian in Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate. Ultimately, they both find it won't work.

Tavian is a most interesting character. As is his relationship with Gwen. (I learned about fox spirits in the Japanese History class I took in college. It's kind of nice to have them turn up here.) The mystery was well done. I didn't have a clue until it was all revealed. On the whole I enjoyed Other.

However, I don't feel this would be a honest review unless I mention a couple of things I object to personally. Kincy's portrayal of Christians in the book seemed a bit skewed. While I acknowledge that such fanatics do exist, there is another side of Christianity that's not touched on at all. I also found the language some of the characters used to be a bit excessive.

I don't mention these objections to deter you from reading Other. Despite my objections, I did like the book and find it a promising start to a new paranormal series.

For information on Other and the sequels, visit Karen Kincy's website.

(Flux, 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes by Beatrix Potter

First published 1911
59 pages, 28 color illustrations

Storing up nuts for the winter is more than Timmy Tiptoes the squirrel bargained for. Luckily, he makes a good friend in Chippy Hackee the chipmunk.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 208-209):
1911 marked the 2nd year Beatrix Potter only published one little book. The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes was the 17th of her tales. Ergo, her fame continued to grow and even crossed the ocean to America. Some believe Timmy Tiptoes was written for American fans as it's inhabited with American animals- grey squirrels, chipmunks, and bears.

My thoughts: Timmy Tiptoes didn't really do much for me. As far as squirrel stories go, I much prefer Squirrel Nutkin. I did like the wives in the story. They added some humor. And as always, the illustrations were charming.

Favorite Illustrations: Timmy (cover), Timmy on a limb (8), Timmy & Goody putting nuts in the tree (16), Goody looking got Timmy (31), Goody & Mrs. Chippy (38), Timmy Kissing Goody (44), Timmy & Goody under the umbrella (47), The bear (52), Goody with babies (57)

-Squirrel Chase/Tag
-Nut Relay

Favorite Words: prudent, quantities, commotion, anxious

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. Next week, I'll be discussing The Tale of Mr. Tod. Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shadows of the Redwood by Gillian Summers

Keelie Heartwood finds her skills as a tree shepherd sorely tested when she journeys to California's Redwood Forest with her grandmother. The Redwoods' tree shepherd has disappeared and it's up to Keelie to solve the mystery. The Redwood Forest is unlike any Keelie has ever encountered. Something dark lingers there. Can Keelie find the forest's tree shepherd before it's too late?

What I thought: A solid book that will please current fans and garner more. The mystery and darkness will intrigue readers and keep them guessing. I read and enjoyed The Tree Shepherd's Daughter, but haven't read the other two books, Into the Wildewood and The Dread Forest. This didn't affect my enjoyment of The Shadows of the Redwood. In fact, reading this book peaked my interest to go back and read the two books I missed. This series shares many of the elements readers enjoy in paranormal romances like Twilight and Shiver, but with a slightly different twist.

For more information of both trilogies, visit Gillian Summers' website.

[Scions of the Shadow Trilogy Book 1--A continuation of the Faire Folk Trilogy]
(Flux, 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.)