Friday, December 30, 2011

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Revenants Trilogy #1

After the death of their parents, Katie and her older sister Georgia move to Paris to live with their grandparents. Each girl has her own way of dealing with the grief. Georgia loses herself in the city's night life. Katie stays in until her grandparents force her to go out. Reading at a sidewalk cafe, Katie catches her first glimpse of Vincent, the guy who will change her life. Vincent is more than good looking. He has quite a past. Do he and Katie have a future together?

What I thought: Thank you, Amy Plum, for writing something more than the usual in the teen paranormal genre. Die for Me gets my vote. The reveal (i.e., what Vincent is) was obscured by Katie's obsession with the angel statue. I was sure this was going to be another fallen angel book. I was so wrong and glad to be it. The Paris setting was interesting. Die for Me is the 3rd book I've noticed with the City of Light as the setting. Anna and the French Kiss and Revolution being the first two. The climax was great. I can't wait to read the next book, Until I Die, which is due to be published in May 2012. In my humble opinion, Die for Me is teen paranormal writing at its best.

(Harper Teen, 2011)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clementine & the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker

The family meeting sign is up in Clementine's apartment. Clementine is sure she's done something wrong. That's usually what family meetings are about--what Clementine has done wrong. Until the meeting, Clementine is on her best behavior.

What I thought: Delightful as usual. I can't believe this is the 5th book in the Clementine series. I love how the topic of the family meeting and the missing rat fit together. This one would pair well with Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary.

(Illus. Marla Frazee. Disney Hyperion, 2011)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Red Sled by Lita Judge

Forest animals abduct an unattended sled for nighttime adventures.

What I thought: I loved it! Almost wordless, but the illustrations tell the story perfectly. My favorite illustrations are the bear seeing the sled, bear and rabbit sledding, the child wondering, everyone sledding (last page). It was hard to pick my favorites. Red Sled would pair well with Jingle Jingle by Nicola Smee. I can't wait to use this book in my red themes story time in February.

Story Time Themes: Winter, Sleds, Forest Animals, Red

(Atheneum, 2011)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making a Friend by Alison McGhee

From the dust jacket: To make a friend you need eyes and a nose and a mouth. Don't forget the arms! And the hat! Now you have a friend. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Friends stay friends forever.

What I thought: Such a sweet story. It would pair well with the song "Frosty the Snowman." I really like Alison's books. They always transcend into something more for adult readers. Making a Friend is a beautiful book about friendship that goes beyond snowmen. It could be talking about any friends but especially those who move away. The illustrations are gorgeous. I love the expansive white space. My favorites are hugging the snowman, the boy's picture of the snowman, and hugging the snowman again.

(Illus. Marc Rosenthal. Atheneum, 2011)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea

Pyn, the small daughter of a mountain man, longs for a Christmas tree. She asks her papa every day. When he ignores her request, she decides to get tree for herself. The snow drifts are bigger than she is. Will Pyn get her tree for Christmas?

What I thought: A sweet story with charming illustrations. Pyn is persistent and I like that about her. Dunrea makes good use of white space. The illustrations for A Christmas Tree for Pyn are very like his in Old Bear and His Cub. My favorite illustrations are Pyn and Papa out in the snow, giving thanks, and the tree all decorated.

(Philomel, 2011)

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Puppies Do Best by Laura Numeroff

Summary from the dust jacket: Children and families delight in all the playful antics and enthusiastic affection of puppies: They chase their tails and catch Frisbees; they wake you up in the morning and keep you warm at night. But what do they do best? The answer is perfectly clear in this irresistible celebration of puppies.

What I thought: I'm a dog lover/owner and I totally agree with all statements in this book. Puppies are great. What Puppies Do Best will be a wonderful addition to my dog themed story time. The illustrations are lovely. I wouldn't expect anything less from Lynn Munsinger. My favorite illustrations are sitting, giving paw, belly rub, and making friends.

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Love

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Chronicle, 2011)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems

An Elephant & Piggie Book

Piggie is so excited. it's Pig Day...that day set aside to celebrate pigs. Gerald gets quite upset. He's an elephant not a pig. But Piggie soon shows him that anyone can celebrate Pig Day.

What I thought: I've never read an Elephant & Piggie Book that I didn't like. This one was especially good. Gerald gets so sad. My favorite part and illustration was the reveal. (Read the book and you'll know what I'm talking about. I won't give it away!)

(Hyperion, 2011)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time for a Bath by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Baths are one of those easy-peasy things. A tub, some water, and don't forget the soap! However, if you're an animal, your bath may not include water. Time for a Bath explores the bathing habits of 15 different animals.

What I thought: Another winner from Jenkins & Page! The topics of this series (eating, sleeping, and bathing) will delight even the youngest children. The illustrations are great. My favorites are Japanese Macaques, spoonbill, and the deer. I can see myself using this book when I do a bath time story time and sharing facts with my preschool story time kids.

(Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Time to sleep by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

You know about sleeping, right? Lights out, eyes shut, in bed? Well, not if you're an animal. Time to Sleep explores the sleeping habits of 17 animals.

What I thought: Great as usual. Books by Jenkins & Page are always so interesting and informative. I love the more information section. Time to Sleep would work well for a bedtime or pajama story time for older kids. I really like the illustrations. I'm becoming quite fond of torn & cut paper collage. My favorite illustrations are hedgehog, koala, and gorillas.

(Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

While exploring his great-grandpa's garden, a young boy relates his grandpa's life story.

What I thought: A lovely story with great illustrations. Grandpa Green makes me wish my grandparents had left behind such a garden. This book will be excellent to share with preschoolers. My favorite illustrations are the Wizard of Oz and the elephant.

Story Time Theme: Grandparents

(Roaring Brook Press, 2011)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Splish, Splash, Splat! by Rob Scotton

Things Splat doesn't like:
~Spike (who breaks his toys and eats all the candy fish)
~Water (Baths are horrible! How will he survive swimming lessons?)

Splat's dislikes come together in the swimming pool. It turns out that Splat does like Spike and swimming.

What I thought: Cute! I haven't read any of the other Splat books, but I will be. He's a great character. This would actually pair well with Rock 'n' Roll Mole as both Mole and Splat dislike or fear something. The illustrations are bright and colorful. I find them very appealing. My favorites are dreaming, lined up for swimming lessons, Spike and Splat in the pool, and Spike's gift.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Swimming, Fears

(Harper, 2011)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Mole by Carolyn Crimi

Mole likes to rock...but only by himself or with an audience of one. Mole's dilemma is stage fright. Can he overcome his fear and save the day at Pig's talent show?

What I thought: I can't wait to use Rock 'n' Roll Mole is story time. The story sings, if you'll forgive the pun. I like that Mole has a common fear and he overcome it. (I never liked public speaking!) The illustrations are great. I'm a huge fan of Lynn Munsinger. My favorite illustrations are Mole waking up, imitating Mick Badger, and at the end of the show (last page).

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Music, Fears

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Dial, 2011)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat has brand-new white shoes. Walking down the street, they change colors as he steps into various things. But that doesn't upset Pete. He just keeps on walking and singing.

What I thought: I liked it. The story (AKA song) flows well and the illustrations are great. Pete is especially cute. I can see so many uses for Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes in story time. I also love how Pete doesn't get upset. I think Pete might be a hippie.

Story Time Themes: Music, Colors (White, Red, Blue, Brown), Emotions (Pete doesn't get upset!)

The sequel Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes will be a great addition to my kindergarten/school story time. I'd pair it with If You Take a Mouse to School and Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

(Illus. James Dean. Harper, 2008)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep

Summary from Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!

What I thought: This is a collection that will likely appeal to a wide audience. I loved the editor's explanation of steampunk romance in the introduction. As with all collections, there were some stories I liked and others I didn't. My favorites are "Wild Magic" by Ann Aguire, "Deadwood" by Michael Scott, "The Airship Gemini" by Jaclyn Dolamore, and "Tick, Tick, Boom" by Kiersten White.

(RP Teens, 2011)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

Fins Are Forever picks up right where Forgive My Fins ended. Lily is still doing the human thing. In fact, she'll be doing it forever. She loves Quince and therefore doesn't plan to bond with anyone else. In a little less than three weeks, Lily will be 18. As an unbonded royal, she will renounce her title and future as queen. Now her focus is on the future--her human future to be specific--graduating, making good on the SAT, and getting accepted to college. Her bratty cousin Dosinia arrives and throws a wrench into the works. Before Lily knows what's happening, Doe is making eyes at Lily's former crush Brody. Tellin, a prince from a neighboring kingdom also comes for a visit. Lily thought she had her life figured out. Now, she's not so sure.

What I thought: What I liked most about Forgive My Fins doesn't really have any place in this book. Quince and Lily are in love. Ergo, the tension is gone. Fins Are Forever was still an enjoyable book. Lily's interactions with Doe are particularly great. (I love my sister now, but boy was she a pill when we were growing up!) Again with the cliffhanger ending. The third Fins book will be out next summer according to Tera's blog. A title is in the works, but not definite.

(Katherine Tegen, 2011)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Twelve years ago, Ansel and Gretchen lost their sister in the woods. Recently kicked out by their stepmother, the two head across the country bound for the beach. Their car breaks down in Live Oak, South Carolina. Ansel becomes a handyman for local candy maker Sophia Kelly who is also an outcast. Gretchen befriends Samuel, another local outcast but for different reasons. Gretchen discovers that the "witch" that took her sister wasn't a witch but a werewolf. With Samuel's help, Gretchen overcomes her fear and solves the mystery of the missing girls in Live Oak.

What I thought: Okay, so now I understand the term "companion novel." While Sweetly is a retelling of "Hansel and Gretel," it also adds in the Fenris mythology from Sisters Red. I think I like Sweetly better than Sisters Red. Samuel and Gretchen's relationship is nice. The development from unlikely allies to friends to something more was excellent. Fathomless, a retelling of "The Little Mermaid," is scheduled to be published in 2012.

(Little, Brown, and Company, 2011)

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Woods by Paul Hoppe

Missing his favorite stuffed toy, a little boy must go into the woods to find his bunny. He isn't afraid until...

What I thought: I loved The Woods. It has minimal text and great illustrations. I'd pair it with Where the Wild Things Are and Ferocious Wild Beasts for a fun story time. My favorite illustrations are everyone (sans monster) walking along and sharing the bunny.

Story Time Themes: Monsters, Beasts

(Chronicle, 2011)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker

Poor Bear has a cold. He believes he's on death's doorstep. Luckily for him, Dr. Mouse is on call. Mouse refuses to let Bear sink into depression on top of his cold.

What I thought: I loved it! Bear and Mouse continue to delight me. In this adventure, the contrast between the friends' outlooks is magnified. Bear making a will put me in mind of Amy from Little Women. The illustrations are great as usual. My favorites are Bear when Mouse comes in, Mouse helping Bear to bed, and Mouse sick in bed.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Illness (pair with Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson)

(Illus. Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick, 2011)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker

Remember Bear? He hated visitors until Mouse came along? Well, now he hates birthdays, but I think we can count on Mouse to change that.

What I thought: Hilarious! Bear and Mouse are such great characters. Bear's repeated insistence that he hates birthdays will draw giggles from all children. The illustrations are lovely as always. I think Kady is becoming one of my favorite illustrators. She used such soft color and the detail, oh my! My favorite illustrations are Bear sweeping Mouse out and party time (pp.48-50).

Story Time Themes: Birthdays, Friendship

(Illus. Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick, 2009)

Friday, November 11, 2011

You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

Lucy of Children Make Terrible Pets is back. This time her goal is not a pet but a friend. She is certain she can find one friend in the forest. As you can imagine, many of the animals aren't excited about being forced to be friends with Lucy. Lucy tries. She really does, but to no avail.

What I thought: It's nice to see Lucy again. I thought her first book was hilarious. (A side note, I tried to use Children Make Terrible Pets in preschool story time, and it didn't go over well. I think the book needs a slightly older audience.) Lucy's quest for a friend is funny and sweet. I like the illustrations. I'm still a big fan of Brown's color scheme. My favorite illustrations are Lucy on the ostrich, the flamingo, and Lucy and the flamingo.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Animals (Pair with The Little, Little Girl with the Big, Big Voice by Kristen Balouch)

(Little, Brown, & Company, 2011)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell

Soo Min doesn't know many English words. She teaches her new parents some Korean word. Her favorite word is goyangi or cat.

What I thought: A beautiful story with equally beautiful illustrations. The story is sweet. I love the illustrations. The Asian papers used in them were just right.

Story Time Themes: Pets, Friendship

(Illus. Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher. Viking, 2011)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Zoozical by Judy Sierra

Animals at the Springfield Zoo don't like winter. You might say they were depressed. But one day, an unlikely pair of friends liven things up with a little music. Soon the whole zoo is planning a musical...I mean a zoozical.

What I thought: Fun, fun. I can't wait to use Zoozical during a musical story time. The animals have picked the songs for me. The illustrations are great. My favorites are the sad animals, the happy animals (x 3), and the end.

Story Time Themes: Zoos, Music

(Illus. Marc Brown. Knopf, 2011.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

(An Elephant & Piggie Book)

Gerald's elation at procuring some ice cream is short-lived as he debates the merits of sharing it with Piggie. Before he realizes it, his ice cream has melted! What's an elephant to do?

What I thought: A perfect book for summer in the Elephant & Piggie series. These two characters are quickly becoming one of my favorite sets of literary friends.

Story Time Themes: Friends, Ice Cream, Summer

(Hyperion, 2011)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fox & Hen Together by Beatrice Rodriguez

Fox and Hen are married and expecting a baby. Their only problem is an empty fridge. Hen leaves the egg with Fox and goes off with Crab to catch (as in fish) some food. Fishing turns out to be more involved than Hen imagined. Will she ever make it back to Fox and their baby?

What I thought: Rodriguez really understands the concept of wordless picture books. Her illustrations are perfect for adding your own narration. She shows the action so clearly. My favorite illustration is Fox and Hen having dinner with their baby and Crab at the end of the story. Read my review of Fox and Hen's first adventure in The Chicken Thief.

(Enchanted Lion, 2011)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

This participatory book really gets the reader involved in the action and the illustrations. It all begins with a simple command--press here!

What I thought: A fun book, Press Here may top my love of Mr. Brown Can Moo. I had such a wonderful time reading this book to myself. In a word, it's magic. However, I don't see how you could use this book in story time. It may be more suited to one-on-one sharing.

(Chronicle, 2011)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Little, Little Girl with the Big, Big Voice by Kristen Balouch

A small girl with a humongous voice scares away all the animals she meets until she meets lion. He is as loud as she is. Together they enjoy the day.

What I thought: A lovely story with simple text. Children will enjoy guessing what animal comes next. I like the illustrations--so colorful and no lines. My favorite illustrations are the elephant, blowing bubbles, and the girl and lion laughing together.

Story Time Themes: Animals, Loud Noises (pair with The Loud Book)

(Little Simon, 2011)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

Thirteen words do a story make. How do you get from a bird to a mezzo-soprano? Open the covers of 13 Words!

What I thought: Loved it! The story is funny and interesting. The illustrations are bright and colorful. I love the concept of the story. My favorite spelling exercise back in grade school was to use all our spelling words in a story. This book could definitely inspire writers young and old. I love that some of the words are unusual and complex (e.g., despondent, haberdashery).

(Illus. Maira Kalman. Harper, 2010)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

Marie-Claire is almost sixteen. A time that is usually special becomes traumatic when she and her siblings Luc and Josee are diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to a sanatorium. In the 1940s, the cure for TB is rest and lots of it. Marie-Claire balks at the forced rest. She worries about her brother and sister and misses her life before TB. But to her surprise, she finds a life at the sanatorium--good friends and even love.

What I thought: I'm a sucker for historical fiction. The setting (Manitoba, Canada) is unusual and the disease is something I'm familiar with. My grandma's young sister died of TB in the early 1930s. When I headed off to college, I had to be tested for TB (something to do with living in a dorm). I felt Marie-Claire's every emotion in this book. Her anger, hopelessness, hope, and determination. All in all, a good book.

I read Queen of Hearts for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

(FSG, 2011)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy #2

Evie's longing for a normal life is short-lived. With Lend in college, she finds high school, homework, and an after school job rather boring. Coincidentally, her old boss Raquel chooses that moment to ask Evie to work for IPCA again. Despite Lend and his dad's reservations, boredom wins out and Evie returns to IPCA. Since she's not a fan of faeries, she gets Jack--raised in the faerie realms, he knows how to manipulate the paths and transport Evie on her assignments. Jack is mischievous and seems to get Evie into sticky situations. As usual, the faeries are causing problems. Evie finds herself in the middle of the feud.

What I thought: I liked Supernaturally. It's a good sequel to Paranormalcy. I can understand Evie's boredom. Her romance with Lend is still there but less so. Perhaps the long distance thing is true for any relationship. The mystery was good. I didn't suspect a thing. The revelation about Evie's past was interesting. I'm looking forward to reading the last book, Endlessly, that's due out in 2012.

(Harper Teen, 2011)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Raised by Wolves #2

Being a human alpha to a pack of young werewolves isn't easy. Other packs still aren't happy about what happened. Shay in particular has a grudge. When one of his wolves shows up in Bryn's territory beaten bloody, Bryn and her pack get more than they bargained for. Lucas is on the run not from his pack, but from a group of psychic wolf haters. Just when Bryn thinks they have a chance, circumstances change. Is she strong enough?

What I thought: Okay, so the above is not the best summary, but I didn't want to give anything away. I liked this sequel to Raised by Wolves. Bryn is definitely coming into her own. The romance/connection between Bryn and Chase takes a backseat to the pack dilemmas, but that doesn't make the book any less interesting. Dev is still providing the comic relief. The mystery element was well done. Like Bryn, I had no clue until it was all over. The lack of Callum in this book was a little sad. The last three chapters were particularly fantastic. I can't wait to read the next book (due out next year and currently untitled).

(Egmont, 2011)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blackout by John Rocco

The city is a busy place until the lights go out. Without electricity, people are forced to remember and embrace simpler forms of entertainment like stargazing and playing board games.

What I thought: I love the illustrations. So dark and shadowy. The touch of blue is inspired. The comic book layout (panels) works well. The brevity of the text lets readers (and listeners) absorb the illustrations.

Story Time Idea: Pair with Nightlights by Susan Gal and Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham.

(Disney Hyperion, 2011)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Noodle & Lou by Liz Garton Scanlon

Noodle wakes up in a mood. Nothing suits him. Luckily, his good friend Lou is there to cheer him up.

What I thought: A great book about friendship. I like how Lou doesn't get discouraged by Noodle's gloominess. The illustrations are good. I like the bold lines. My favorite illustrations are Noodle & Lou hugging and Noodle and Lou flying (last page).

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Moods

(Beach Lane Books, 2011)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid

Petunia wants a pet. Not just any old pet but a skunk. Undeterred by her parents' claim that skunks stink, Petunia heads to the forest to fins herself a skunk.

What I thought: Love it! Petunia has such character and attitude. I think A Pet for Petunia will fast become a story time favorite. The illustrations are wonderful. I like Schmid's use of purple. My favorite illustrations are Petunia finding the skunk and the porcupine (such a horrified expression!). I can't wait for the next Petunia book. A Pet for Petunia would pair well with Bridget Fidget and the Most Perfect Pet and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.

Story Time Theme: Pets

(Harper, 2011)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pig Kahuna by Jennifer Sattler

Looking for treasure on the beach, brothers Fergus and Dink find more than treasure. They find a new friend, Dave the surfboard, and a new hobby, surfing.

What I thought: A cute book. I love the brothers' imagination. This will be a nice addition to my beach story time. The illustrations are great--so colorful and soft lines. My favorites are Dink with the shark tooth shell, Dave, and the brothers surfing.

Story Time Themes: Beach, Brothers/Siblings, Imagination

(Bloomsbury, 2011)

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

300 years ago, Talia was warned about spindles and their danger, but apparently not often enough. She pricked her finger and, well, you know the rest.

Present day, Jack's on a tour of Europe. It's parent ordered so as you would imagine not very fun. In search of adventure, Jack stumbles upon Talia's long forgotten kingdom.

He kisses her. She wakes up. But all is not well. 300 years passed in the real world, not a fairy tale. Jack isn't Talia's true love. He didn't even know her, so why did she wake up? Was Jack's kiss a legitimate breaking of the spell?

What I thought: Fun! I like that Flinn takes the "fairy" out of the fairy tale. 100 years is nothing to Sleeping Beauty. Not so to Talia and her kingdom. The alternating points-of-view are great. I like seeing both main characters' thoughts. Alex Flinn didn't disappoint me. I liked A Kiss in Time as much as Beastly and Cloaked.

(Harper Teen, 2009)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ZooBorns: Zoo Babies from around the World by Andrew Bleiman & Chris Eastland

Summary from Book Jacket: Here come the ZooBorns! Every day baby animals are born in zoos around the world. They're fuzzy and cuddly and chubby and curious. And they can't wait to meet you!

What I thought: Simple text and gorgeous photos introduce young readers and listeners to baby zoo animals. I can't wait to use this in my zoo story time. My favorite photos are pygmy hippo and wombat.

Story Time Themes: Zoo, Baby Animals

(Beach Lane Books, 2010)

Monday, October 3, 2011

ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World's Zoos & Aquariums by Andrew Bleiman & Chris Eastland

I believe the subtitle says it all!

What I thought: Too cute. I love that the animals included are either threatened or endangered. The information included made me want to know more. The photos are wonderful. My favorites are pygmy hippos. wombat, pygmy rabbits, and Bengal Tigers.

(Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Friday, September 30, 2011

No Sleep for the Sheep! by Karen Beaumont

Sheep just wants to sleep, but the other animals keep interrupting him!

What I thought: I'm going to have fun with this book at story time. Let me count the ways: 1) Farm Animals; 2) Animal Noises; 3) Repetition; and 4) Who's in the picture? (you can see the animals in the shadows before they enter the barn.) A great story with lively illustrations--so colorful. My favorite illustration is sheep finally sleeping.

Story Time Themes: Farm Animals, Sleeping/Bedtime, Sheep

(Illus. Jackie Urbanovic. Harcourt, 2011)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Haven by Kristi Cook

Violet has went through life ignoring the premonitions she has. No one ever believes her and she's often labeled a freak. Imagine her surprise when she ends up at Winterhaven School, a boarding school for teens who have psychic gifts. Violet's confusion continues as she finds herself drawn to Aidan. You know the type--can't look away, can't think straight, or speak in their presence. Aidan's psychic abilities are unusual. There's something more there than over development of the mind. As Violet and Aidan grow closer, she discovers secrets about both him and her own self. Can they survive the revelation of secrets?

What I thought: This book gets my vote. I've said it before. I like paranormal, but it has to be different. Haven is certainly different. I won't give anything away here, but wow! I didn't see it coming. Bottom line: an unusual take on the teen paranormal genre and well written. I don't think I need to say more.

Book 2 in the Winterhaven series, Mirage, is scheduled to be published in June 2012.

(Simon Pulse, 2011)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee

(The Agency #2)

Mary Quinn's latest assignment for the Agency taxes her skills more than her first assignment did. Instead of a lady's companion, Mary must pass herself off as a pre-adolescent boy to investigate a mysterious death at a clock tower. Mary has only three obstacles: the danger around every corner, the compelling need to help her fellow workers, and the sudden and unexpected appearance of James Easton (You'll remember him from Mary's first adventure.) Can Mary avoid undue danger, quell her charitable urges, avoid another entanglement with James, and solve the mystery?

What I Thought: Very pleased am I to read the second book in the Agency series. Mary's new adventure is filled with excitement, suspense, and just a touch of romance. My only complaint: I would have liked more interaction between Mary and James. The historical details are top notch. My favorite adult mystery series (outside of the classic Sherlock Holmes) is Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries. I'm growing quite fond of the Victorian Era. I look forward to the next book in the Agency series, The Traitor and the Tunnel which is due to be published in February 2012.

I read The Body at the Tower for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

Read my review of A Spy in the House (The Agency #1).

(Candlewick, 2010)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ferret Fun by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Summary from Book Jacket: Two ferrets try to dodge a cat who thinks they’re rats…and a snack.

What I thought: Fun indeed! I loved it. This is definitely the first ferret book I've read. I think it's needed though as ferrets are becoming more and more popular as pets. The illustration style (almost like a comic book) is great and suits the story perfectly. My favorite illustrations are Fudge and Einstein dancing and Marvel chasing the ferrets (last page). I originally thought this would make a good addition to my pets story time, but I've changed my mind. I think Ferret Fun will be best used with older children (elementary age).

(Illus. Paul Ratz de Tagyos. Marshall Cavendish, 2011)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner

Waiting is the name of the game for Norris, a very wise bear. The plorringe will fall. He just has to be patient. But what about Tulip and Violet? Can a very wise bear also be a good sharer?

What I thought: I like it. The story has a good moral without being preachy. Bear books are my favorites. I think Norris would be good friends with Bonny Becker's Bear (of Bear and Mouse fame). The illustrations are lovely. The colors are soft and Rayner makes excellent use of white space. My favorite illustrations are the plorringe hitting Norris on the head, Norris sharing, and friends (last page).

Story Time Themes: Bears, Sharing, Forest Animals

(Dial, 2011)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

A square is a square or is it? Four equal sides, simple, comprehensible. How many adventures can a square have? More than you can possibly imagine!

What I thought: Michael Hall won my heart with his My Heart is Like a Zoo. His second book is equally lovely--so imaginative. The colors are bold and appealing. It would pair well with Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker.

Story Time Themes: Shapes, Art, Imagination

Project Idea: Give children their own paper squares and let them create.

(Greenwillow, 2011)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator by Mo Willems

Amanda's best friend is Alligator. Don't worry--he's of the stuffed variety. Amanda likes to read. Alligator doesn't like to wait. He also gets bored easily. Prepare yourself for 6 and 1/2 hilarious stories.

What I thought: If I wasn't already a fan of Mo this book would have clinched it. The adventures Amanda and Alligator have are wonderful. My favorite story is "A Surprising Solution." Mo's illustrations are great--simple, bold lines, good use of white space, and colors that are just right. Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator would pair well with I Love You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Clark , A Girl and Her Gator, A Boy and His Bunny, and A Bear and His Boy all by Sean Bryan.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Toys

(Balzer & Bray, 2011)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer

Today, Monster is going to work with his dad. He does everything his dad does from attending meetings to exercising after work.

What I thought: A cute book! The monsters aren't scary at all. Going to work with dad (or mom) will definitely appeal to children. It's nice to have a picture book about the topic. The monsters add fun to a familiar concept. My favorite illustration is the meeting.

Story Time Theme: Monsters

(Frances Lincoln, 2010)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Mouse & the Big Cupcake by Thomas Taylor

Little Mouse can't believe his luck when he finds a scrumptious looking cupcake. There's only one problem. The cupcake is so big that he can't carry it back to his house. Friends drop by in an attempt to help and taste the delicious cupcake. Soon the cupcake is small enough for Little Mouse to carry.

What I thought: A charming book. The story reminds me a little of Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming in that baked goods disappear piece by piece. The illustrations are lovely. Soft colors and such good use of white space. My favorite is mole and the cupcake. I think this book would pair well with Bonny Becker's Bear and Mouse books.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Mice, Cupcakes

(Illus. Jill Barton. Boxer, 2010)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie by Herman Parish

Fall has arrived. it's time to rake leaves and bake apple pies. With her usual spirit, Amelia Bedelia tackles baking and her pie saves the day.

What I thought: The adventures of young Amelia Bedelia continue to enchant me. Her literal interpretation of everything makes the story just humorous enough. I can't wait to see what she gets into next.

Story Time Themes: Apples, Fall, Baking

(Illus. Lynne Avril. Greenwillow, 2010)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker

Life as a square cat isn't easy. Eula tips over, can't wear skirts, and mouse holes are beyond her. Eula becomes so dissatisfied with her life that she looses her purr. Her round cat friends Patsy and Maude step in to cheer Eula up and show her that life as a square cat can be quite enjoyable.

What I thought: I really liked this story. The concept is great, the text is simple, and the illustrations are appealing. Square Cat has the makings of a perfect story time book. It teaches a great lessons about friendship and looking on the bright side. I loved the cats' old-fashioned names. I can't pick a favorite illustration. I liked them all.

Story Time Themes: Cats, Friendship

(Aladdin, 2011)

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

What this story needs is more bears. At least that's what the kids tell the author. Soon swayed by their demands, he adds bears and more bears until his story is quite crowded with them. It's so crowded, in fact, that the bears start a riot. After that the author is adamant. No more bears in this story! (But chickens are a different matter.)

What I thought: A fun book! This will be a story time favorite. I love books that invite the children to participate. The illustrations are great--colorful and funny. My favorites are Lucky Eddie and the bears leaving.

Story Time Themes: Bears, Interruptions (Pair with Interrupting Chicken.)

(Illus. Troy Cummings. Sourcebooks, 2010)

Friday, September 2, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

This week, I turned the book Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd into a flannel board story. It worked well with my pets story time. I used an illustration from the book as a pattern for Dog. I made the spots with a 1 inch circle shape from Microsoft Word. I look forward to using this when I do a series of color story times in the spring. I may go back and make the other items (paint can, ice cream cone, etc.)

My love of puff (or dimensional) paint has a downside. Though it's dry, it still goes tack and sticks to things like my story time folder. I'm thinking of storing the different pieces with wax paper layers in between.

Everything But the Horse by Holly Hobbie

Young Holly Hobbie adapts well to farm life. She enjoys the animals and even her chores. One day after seeing the neighbors riding, Holly decides she wants a horse. Her parents say no, but that doesn't keep Holly preparing. After all, her birthday is coming soon.

What I thought: A charming book that brings out the child in us all. Hobbie's narrative is just right. I can see the story appealing to children because she addresses them as children but with respect. Her preparations for the horse are hilarious. The illustrations are lovely--such soft colors and so detailed. My favorite illustration is Holly surprised at seeing her birthday present.

Story Time Themes: Farm, Horses, Birthdays

(Little, Brown, & Company, 2010)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye by Nancy Springer

(Enola Holmes #6...the last and final...sigh!)

It's been almost a year since Enola's mother disappeared. It's been almost a year since Enola ran away, fleeing her uncomprehending brothers Mycroft and Sherlock and threats of boarding school.

Enola's mother is still missing. In fact, Enola hasn't heard from her in several months. Enola enjoys her life of freedom, but alluding her astute brother Sherlock is proving more and more difficult.

Finally, circumstances (a mysterious note from her mother and a missing lady) force Enola and Sherlock to work together. Are two heads really better than one?

What I thought: Another winner! Springer continues her well written series about an intelligent, independent-minded young woman. The only thing that disappoints me about this book is that it is to be the last of the series. What will I read now? I'm glad that Sherlock is finally appearing in a favorable light. His last words to Enola (the last paragraph of the book) are a great quote.

The Enola Holmes Series:
The Case of the Missing Marquess
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye

(Philomel, 2010)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wayfarer by R.J. Anderson

Linden must be a hero(ine). Her people, the faeries in the oak, are dying. Magic is scarce. Her quest is to save her people lands her with an unusual ally, a human teenager named Timothy. Together they discover not the saving of the faeries but another threat. The faeries outside the oak serve an evil empress and drain humans of their creative gifts. Can Linden and Timothy find help for the oak faeries before the empress seeks to destroy them?

What I thought: I liked Wayfarer, but not as much as Spell Hunter. Set 15 years after the end of Spell Hunter, Wayfarer features Knife's (now known as Peri) daughter Linden as protagonist. Despite all efforts to sustain, strengthen, or save the oak, it and its inhabitants are dying. Charged by both her previous and current queens, Linden is the only hope the faeries have left.

This book introduces some great new ideas--other faeries, male faeries (Hello, Rob!). I like that Anderson doesn't stick to the same story--faery girl and human boy. Linden and Timothy are really just friends. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book, Arrow (It was released in the UK on January 6. Not sure when it will be released in the US or what the US title will be.) Wayfarer, as it takes place so long after the close of Spell Hunter, reads more like a standalone novel than a sequel.

(Harper Teen, 2010)

Friday, August 26, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Five Frogs

I made this to accompany the song "Five Frogs" from the album Anna Moo Crackers. I'm using it for my pajama story times in September. I took the theme (Frogs, Snakes, Turtles, Gators, & Crocs) from Rob Reid's book Family Storytime. I used coloring sheets I found online for patterns.

I'm really beginning to love making felt stories for the flannel board. I'm also working on a version of Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd and I plan to turn If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff into a flannel board story for my October Laura Numeroff Party (to celebrate the release of her latest book, If You Give a Dog a Donut.)

The Loud Book! by Deborah Underwood

How many kinds of loud are there? More that you can think of, but here are a few to get you started--surprise loud, applause loud, fireworks loud, and crickets loud.

What I thought: I didn't think Underwood and Liwska could top The Quiet Book, but I was wrong. The Loud Book! is great. Children love making noise and that means they'll love this book, too. The text is simple and the illustrations are beautiful. My favorite kinds of loud from the book are home run loud, thunderstorm loud, and fireworks loud. My favorite kinds of loud that the book didn't mention are story time loud (Yes, story time can be VERY loud!) and visiting home loud. My favorite illustrations are applause loud, Aunt Tillie's Banjo Band loud, and fireworks loud.

Story Time Themes: Opposites, Time

(Illus. Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich

Mister Bud has a great life. He has everything he needs and keeps to a schedule. Until, that is, the day when his owner brings home another dog, Zorro. Mister Bud and Zorro do not get along. They don't share well and they both are pretty grumpy. Will they ever get along?

What I thought: Now here's a story I can relate to. Dogs always act this way when you add another dog to the house and Carter has captured it perfectly from the dog's point-of-view. I like the illustrations--realistic with good lines. My favorites are Mister bud fierce about his schedule, say hello to Zorro (a stranger), nap time (both dogs), and Mister Bud and Zorro on the bed.

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Pets, Friendship

(Simon & Schuster, 2011)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hide & Squeak by Heather Vogel Frederick

It's time for bed, but the mouse baby isn't done playing yet. With Daddy finding and baby mouse hiding, they have quite an adventure before bedtime.

What I thought: Cute! The repetitive text will appeal to children. The story is sweet and I love the illustrations. They're so colorful and filled with action (as is the story). Daddy Mouse's glasses are great. My favorite illustrations are mouse baby in the tub and daddy tucking baby in (My mom used to tuck us in and say "snug as a bug in a rug"). I look forward to using Hide & Squeak at story time.

Story Time Themes: Mice, Bedtime

(Illus. C. F. Payne. Simon & Schuster, 2011)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Time to Eat by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Time to Eat explores the eating habits of some unusual animals from the panda to the blue whale. We find out what, how, and when they eat.

What I thought: I'm becoming quite a fan of Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. When I see their names in a review, the book goes on my order list. Time to Eat is the perfect blend of facts and pictures. It is simple enough to appeal to preschoolers but informative enough so that elementary and middle school students could use it for research. I love the illustrations. I has no idea that cut and torn paper collage could be so intricate. My favorite illustrations are the panda, chipmunk, and aye aye.

(Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

[Sherlock Holmes, The Legend Begins Book1]

Before he was the most famous detective in all of England and perhaps the world Sherlock Holmes was just a teenager. A loner who doesn't fit in well at his school, Sherlock looks forward to the summer holidays. But his father is off in India, his mother isn't well, and his older brother Mycroft is too busy to look after him. Ergo, Sherlock is unceremoniously sent to summer with his uncle in the country.

His uncle and aunt don't notice him. The housekeeper is inhospitable to say the least. Sherlock's summer isn't looking good until several things happen. He meets Matt Arnatt, he acquires a tutor, and two men die mysteriously. New friends and a mystery serve to enliven an otherwise dull summer holiday.

What I thought: I liked Death Cloud. Nothing can ever surpass the original short stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but this is a promising start to a new series. I liked that the young Sherlock Lane has created didn't spring from the womb with a highly developed analytical mind. At fourteen, he's an average boy. With the help of his brother, his tutor, and new friends, Sherlock begins to develop those skills that serve him so well in his later years. I look forward to reading the next book Rebel Fire, due out in the fall. The afterward was most informative about Lane's motivation and where he sees this series going. Interestingly, this series is authorized and endorsed by Doyle's estate.

On a side note, my two favorite derivative Sherlock Holmes' series are Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes series and Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series.

(FSG, 2010)

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

The year is 1791. Jane Austen is fifteen years old. Her cousin and best friend Jenny Cooper is sixteen years old. Jane scribbles away even then. Jenny is embroiled in her own romance that may one day inspire one of Jane's novels.

What I thought: An enjoyable book. Jenny makes a compelling narrator. Her opinions and thoughts show how different life was two centuries ago. Mostly I've heard how close she was to her sister Cassandra. This book shows another side to Jane--a younger, playful, more temperamental side. Harrison's knowledge of Austen's writing (both published and unpublished) is vastly evident. The historical detail is top notch. May thanks for the author's note that clarifies what was true and what was altered.

I read I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

(Delacorte, 2010)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Mist by Angela McAllister

Little Mist is a snow leopard. He's just a cub so his mother introduces him to the wonderful world they live in. She also tells Little Mist what he will be like when he grows up.

What I thought: A lovely book. The story is sweet and the illustrations are wonderful. My favorites are Little mist playing in the snow, Little Mist looking at his reflection, the red panda, and the moon bear. This story will appeal to parents who often introduce their children to the world in the same way Little Mist's mother does for him.

Story Time Themes: Baby Animals, Mothers, Other Countries, Exotic Animals (This book features snow leopards, red pandas, gray wolves. moon bears, yaks, musk deer, and blue sheep.)

(Illus. Sarah Fox Davies. Knopf, 2009)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dream Big Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi

Poppy may be just a pig, but she has big dreams. From ballet to modeling, she tries it all. But she's not good at any of it. With supportive family and friend, Poppy doesn't give up. She just looks for something else. Could ice skating be her thing?

What I thought: A beautiful book with a great message. Poppy is an endearing character. I like her determination and spunk. The support she receives from her family and best friend Emma is great. I was pleased when Poppy finally found her niche. The illustrations are lovely--bright and colorful with good use of white space. My favorites are Poppy dancing, Poppy singing, Poppy being a model, and Poppy asking to fly.

Story Time Themes: Pigs, Dreams/Aspirations

(Illus. Tim Bowers. Sourcebooks, 2011)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Johnny Marco is a shoe repair guy. Nobody special. He'll tell you he's not a hero. But when a princess gives him a quest, how can he resist? Johnny's world goes from humdrum to fantastical in a flash. He encounters things he thought only exited in fairy tales. The quest isn't as easy as he imagined, but Johnny's more heroic than he gives himself credit for.

What I thought: I liked this one. Cloaked seems to confirm for me trend in fairy tale retellings. It began back in 1942 when Eudora Welty published her novella The Robber Bridegroom. Welty borrowed from a total of seven fairy tales. Then there's Polly Shulman's The Grimm Legacy and Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm. Cloaked is a fast paced adventure. Johnny makes the perfect hero because he thinks he's not one. Meg is a wonderful friend and sidekick. I love how Flinn blends the different tales together. I will definitely be reading the originals. I also like the Florida setting. It grounded the story and helped tie the different tales together. Johnny as narrator adds guy appeal to the book. I always find it refreshing to get a male perspective (see also Flinn's Beastly and Donna Jo Napoli's Beast). This is Flinn's third fairy tale novel. Beastly is now a movie. I haven't read A Kiss in Time but plan to soon.

(Harper Teen, 2011)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

The Contest: Candymaking

The Contestants:
Logan, the Candymaker's son- He can taste and correct any candy, but can he make his own?
Miles, allergic to the most unusual things- Will his candy win?
Daisy, strong for a girl with a horse for a best friend- Can she concoct a winning candy?
Philip, rich man's son- What's he scribbling in that notebook, recipes or something more sinister?

Will these four kids be friends or will the contest drive them apart?

What I thought: Okay, after reading this book, I'm seriously craving something sweet. The format of The Candymakers is intriguing. You only get one character's point-of-view at a time. This adds to the mystery. I thought I had the story figured out and then I'd get the next character's perspective. Though I haven't read Dahl's Charlie and Chocolate Factory (Gasp! Yes, I know my admission is quite shocking. ), I have seen the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The Candymakers puts me in mind of that magical film. I enjoyed this book. It just might be my favorite of Wendy's thus far.

(Little, Brown, & Company, 2010)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Queen of France by Tim Wadham

Rose likes to play dress up. Today, she's the Queen of France. When she's the Queen, she pretends not to know herself or her parents. When she's Rose, she doesn't know the queen.

What I thought: A lovely book that showcases the wonder that is imaginative play. I like how Rose's parents don't discourage her (very similar to Roslyn Rutabaga & the Biggest Hole on Earth). The illustrations are beautiful--soft colored and very girly. My favorite illustrations are Rose as the Queen (prancing) and Rose feeling scary. I wouldn't mind seeing more books about Rose and her dress up.

Story Time Theme: Imagination

(Illus. Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick, 2011)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka

A boy sees a little black crow. He questions what the crow might wonder about.

What I thought: The premise of Little Black Crow is certainly a novel one. The questioning format will appeal to my story time crowd. I can just imagine the answers they'd give. I love the illustrations. I never knew how much I liked watercolor until I looked at this book. My favorite illustrations are the crow family and the boy with the crow.

Story Time Themes: Birds, Fall, Imagination

(Atheneum, 2010)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Nadia who won the ARC of The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer. Nadia, I hope you enjoy reading the story and trying out the recipes as much as I did.

Ponyella by Laura Numeroff & Nate Evans

You know the story. Stepsisters mistreat pretty girl. Fairy godmother gets her to the ball. Pretty girl meets a handsome prince and loses a shoe. Prince finds girl and they live happily ever after. Now imagine the girl is a pony...

What I thought: Love it! Such a fun version of Cinderella that's sure to please both princess fans and horse aficionados. I love all the horsey details. The illustrations are lovely. I wouldn't expect anything less from Ms. Munsinger. My favorite is Ponyella and Princess Penelope.

Story Time Themes: Princesses, Horses, Cinderella

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Disney Hyperion, 2011. )

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

When we first met Grace she was just a girl with an obsession with the wolves who lived in the woods outside her house. When we first met Sam he was a guy and a wolf. When Grace and Sam met, the rest, as they say, is history.

But it isn't. Along the way, we've added Isabel and Cole to our story and Grace is now a wolf. Sam's agenda is to save the wolves from the planned hunt that will wipe them all out. Meanwhile, Cole's working hard to find a cure at the risk of his own health. Can he find a cure? Will Sam, Grace, Cole, and Isabel save the wolves in time?

What I thought: Well, it's always nice to see a series end--that is, to have an conclusion. I LOVED Shiver when I first read it. I had a more lukewarm reaction to Linger. I must admit that I found Forever lacking. It came across as lackluster. The great Sam and Grace romance wasn't there and even Isabel and Cole's blossoming love-hate relationship couldn't make up for it. Fans of the series will like the book. Me, I prefer to pretend that Shiver was the only book. The story didn't feel done. I wanted to know more about Cole and Isabel.

(Scholastic, July 2011. ARC provided by publisher)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unraveled by Gena Showalter

Aden still has voices in his head though there are only three now. Oh yeah, he's also the new vampire king. Yes, I know he's a mortal, but that's what you get when you kill Vlad.

Mary Ann still has a calming effect on supernatural beings and activities. You might even call her draining.

Victoria is still a princess, but she can't quite deal with Aden being forced to date other vampire girls before he chooses a queen.

Riley is still a protector. At the moment, he's protecting his king (Aden), his princess (Victoria), and his girl friend (Mary Ann). But no one can protect these four from a date with the witches and possible death.

What I thought: Yeah, I liked this one. More complicated than the first book by far. If you can imagine, the situations Aden, Victoria, Riley, and Mary Ann face now are even more serious than in Intertwined. I loved seeing the relationships develop more. Definite guy appeal in this series with two male main characters. What a cliffhanger of an ending! All four of our characters have new problems. I'm saving the date, August 30. The third book Twisted will be published then.

(Harlequin Teen, 2010)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara is an Angel Blood. As such, she has a purpose in life. Her purpose comes slowly through dreams--a forest fire, a boy, a license plate. With the last clue in hand, Clara, her mom, and brother move from California to Wyoming. She meets her purpose--Christian. Her life becomes about realizing her purpose while appearing like a normal teenager. An Angel Blood friend Angela and a mortal friend's (Wendy) pesky twin brother Tucker complicate things for Clara. Suddenly her purpose isn't as clear or as easy as it should be. Who will she save when the time comes?

What I thought: Interesting mythology. Quite an expansion on Fallen and Hush, Hush. The idea of a purpose is interesting and adds momentum to the story. I couldn't put this book down especially as Clara and Tucker's interactions started. A quick search of the Internet has made me very happy. There will be a sequel to Unearthly!

(Harper Teen, 2011)

Friday, July 22, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Pigs/Clean & Dirty Pigs

I originally made these to use for my United Kingdom story time this summer. The kids recited the traditional nursery rhyme "This Little Piggie."

I've seen several good felt pigs on previous #FlannelFridays. I wanted to get the most use out of my pigs, so I used brown craft paint and a foam brush to dirty up one side. Apparently, I was a bit too zealous in my application because the paint bled through to the other side. I'll be making another set of pigs to use as the clean ones.

These pigs can be used for the following story time themes: nursery rhymes, pigs, farm animals, opposites (clean and dirty).

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Two girls, one plot...

After being freed from the curse that made her dance every night away, Poppy is ready for a normal life. As normal a life as one that doesn't include dancing. Her life is anything but normal during her stay in Breton. Balls abound and Poppy continually refuses to dance. Instead, she plays cards. The arrival of Prince Christian of the Danelaw causes quite a stir among the ladies. Poppy enjoys Christian's company. Her enjoyment is thwarted by a plot that threatens both the prince and other men in Breton.

Eleanora, daughter of an earl, is now a housemaid. She's clumsy to a fault. Everything she touches is ruined. Eleanora sees no way out of her new life until the day she meets her godmother. The woman promises Eleanora beautiful dresses, balls to attend, and a prince to marry. But is there more to the bargain than that?

What I thought: I was not disappointed in this sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. I love how Jessica incorporated the Cinderella story into Poppy's. This book was suspenseful until the end. Roger was a great character--a levelheaded man of action. I think Poppy's brother-in-law Galen will like him. I love the descriptions of the dresses. The knitting was nice, but is it too much to ask for a crocheting heroine? I hope this series will continue. I really like the princesses. We know that Lilac and Orchid are in Spania and Hyacinth is in Analousia. Might their stories be next? The mythology behind the Corley was interesting. The ending (the last chapter, to be exact) was great.

Other Books by Jessica Day George:
Dragon Slippers
Dragon Flight
Dragon Spear
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Princess of the Midnight Ball

(Bloomsbury, 2010)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Roger is a means to an end. Amy's mom needs her car in Connecticut. Amy's not driving. Not after what happened. To get the car from California to Connecticut, Amy's mom arranges for the son of a family friend to drive her car and Amy cross country. The perfectly planned four day road trip turns into a journey of detours as Amy deals with her grief and Roger makes peace with his ex-girlfriend.

What I thought: This was a good book with a great story. I loved the journal pages that were interspersed throughout the book. They added such interest to the story. Roger and Amy's relationship was hard to figure out. First, he played the role of family friend/big brother; then, a friend; and finally, an interested guy. Well, I guess that's the progression that most relationships take. I enjoyed how Amy's story (why her grief and guilt were so bad) was revealed little by little. It really kept me reading. On a side note, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour fits perfectly into the 2011 Collaborative Summer Library Program's Teen Theme: You Are Here. In fact, I used this book in the "Take a Road Trip" section of my Read Across the US book list for teens.

(Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash just happens to wander around bookstores.

Lily just happens to not have a boyfriend.

Lily's brother just happens to think she needs one, a boyfriend that is.

Ergo, the red notebook hidden in the Strand and the adventure of Dash and Lily's young lifetime.

What I thought: This book was incredibly sweet and romantic. The red notebook and the dares are great ideas. I like that Lily comes from a conservative, even "perfect" family while Dash's family is more broken. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was a fun read. I haven't read the other books by this duo, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but I have seen the movie and I liked it. May I suggest that Dash & Lily's Book of Dares be turned into a movie?

(Knopf, 2010)

Friday, July 15, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Pandas

Here they felt pandas! I'll be using them for my China & Japan story time during Summer Reading. I'll be using a "Five Little Pandas" rhyme that I found in the PUBYAC archives and I might also make up my own.

I used Veronica Vasylenko's illustrations of Cynthia Platt's Panda-Monium! for patterns. I used a copier to enlarge the illustrations.

I used hot glue to attach the black felt to the white. Hot glue is effective, but rather messy (the strings!) What do you use for your felt pieces?

Puff paint (silver and black) worked very well for the eyes, noses, and mouths.

I plan to use this set again when I do Bears story time. They might also come in handy for an endangered animals story time.

Giveaway: The Secret Ingredient (ARC) by Laura Schaefer

Today, I reviewed a lovely middle grade novel, The Secret Ingredient by Laura Schaefer. It's the sequel to her first book The Teashop Girls. I really liked the book. It's a nice sequel, but you can read it as a stand alone novel. Now that I've enjoyed the book, I thought I'd share the love by giving away my ARC.

The contest is open to US residents only. The giveaway ends Thursday, July 28 at 11:59pm. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced Friday, July 29. To enter, fill out the form below.

The Secret Ingedient by Laura Schaefer

Now that her grandmother's tea shop (The Steeping Leaf) is safe, Annie turns her mind to other important matters. She's entering a scone baking contest and she's determined to win. This is also the summer The Teashop Girls face the hardship pf growing apart. They each have individual interests. Annie's is baking. Zoe's is campaigning for an improvement in school food. Genna's is body image (to the point of self harm). Does being individuals mean they can't be friends?

What I thought: I continue to be charmed by Laura's characters. I loved The Teashop Girls ad the sequel is wonderful. The Secret Ingredient can be read as a stand alone novel. It's been a couple of years since I read the first book. but I wasn't lost in the plot. The incorporation of blogging and recipes is wonderful. I may just try one of Annie's scone recipes. This book touches on serious issues without coming across as weighty. I find it quite true to life. When may I expect the next book?

(Simon & Schuster, June 2011. ARC provided by publisher.)

Chuckling Ducklings & Baby Animal Friends by Aaron Zenz

You know all about ducklings, kittens, and puppies, but what about all the other animals? What do you call a baby platypus, llama, or swan? You're in luck! Chuckling Ducklings & Baby Animal Friends will educate you on what ordinary and extraordinary animal babies are called.

What I thought: A great idea for a book. I learned so much from reading this book. Baby animal names are something I've never really given much thought to. Animal group names, yes, (Murder of crows, anyone?) but baby animals, no. The illustrations are so cute. There's no other word for them. I mean cute in the most complimentary sense of the word. The colors are lovely bright pastels. I can't begin to name favorite illustrations (all of them!), but I love the last page that has a head shot of each animal and both the adult and baby names for them. This book is a great way to introduce the youngest children to the concept of baby animal names.

I first heard about Aaron Zenz through his interview with Jennifer Bertman on her blog. I couldn't wait to order Chuckling Ducklings after seeing the illustrations. Aaron ran a contest on his blog and I won an original illustration of a puppy (a Boston Terrier to be exact). Click here and scroll down until you see my name to see the illustration I won. I can't wait to see what he'll be doing next. I have added Baby Animals to my Fall story time line up.

Story Time Themes: Baby Animals

(Walker & Co, 2011)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Red Wagon by Renata Liwska

Lucy loves her new red wagon. She can't wait to play with it, but playing will have to wait because Lucy's mom sends her and her wagon on an errand. To market they go! On the way, Lucy and her friends have some highly imaginative adventures with the red wagon. It becomes a sailboat, a covered wagon, a circus caboose, a train, a rocket ship, and a truck. When your imagination is in the wight place, even chores can be fun!

What I thought: Such a great book. Most kids have owned red wagons at one time or another. I received one for Christmas when I was four-years-old. Lucy's adventures bring back fond memories for me. I love the simplicity of the story and how well it pairs with the imaginative illustrations. The illustrations are soft (almost on lines) and yet vibrant. My favorite illustrations are the first page (Lucy and her wagon) and the wagon as a covered wagon. Liwska is a truly gifted author and illustrator.

Story Time Themes: Toys (use Raffi's "Bumping Up and Down" song), Imagination

(Philomel, 2011)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forever ARC Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Laurie of FrugalWahms. She won the ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I'll be mailing it out today.

Thanks to all who entered and especially to my new followers.

Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley

After reading the story "Puss in Boots," Dog decides he could do with some fancy footwear, too. However, each type of show he tries is only good for one activity. What's a dog to do?

What I thought: A fun story. Dog is a lovable character. I love that his quest for boots was inspired by a story. The illustrations are bright and colorful. They suit the playful, fast-paced story well. My favorite illustration is Dog swimming with rubber boots on. He looks so mad! Dog in Boots had a great ending. I hope there will be another book about Dog.

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Shoes

(Illus. Roberta Angaramo. Holiday House, 2011)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Jellybeans & the Big Camp Kickoff by Laura Numeroff & Nate Evans

It's summer and the Jellybeans (Bitsy, Emily, Anna, & Nicole) are off to camp. The only problem is that the camp doesn't have any activities that interest Nicole. Starting their own soccer team is how the Jellybeans solve Nicole's problem. Will they win in a game against a rival camp?

What I thought: A perfect book for spring and summer. And I've finally caught on...The first book was Emily's, the second was Anna's, and the third is Nicole's. I can't wait to see Bitsy's book. The Jellybeans & the Big Camp Kickoff would pair well with Numeroff's If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. I love how the girls solve their own problems. They are proactive. The illustrations are lovely as always. My favorites are around the campfire and the hug after winning the game.

(Illus. Lynn Munsinger. Abrams, 2011)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Forever ARC Giveaway

That's right! I have an extra ARC of Forver by Maggie Stiefvater to giveaway. Contest open to US residents only. Contest ends Saturday, July 9 at 11:59pm. Winner will be selected randomly and contacted via email. My review of Forver will be coming soon. To entry, simply fill out the form below.

Giveaway Closed...Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Little Red Chicken has a problem. She gets excited and interrupts the bedtime stories her papa reads to her. She just has to warn the characters . Will she ever stop interrupting and go to sleep?

What I thought: What a great book! I love Little Red Chicken. She's spunky and quite right. Why shouldn't she warn the characters. (Interesting idea: what if the stories didn't end after Little Red Chicken warned the book characters?) The illustrations are very nice. (Well, you know this book did receive a Caldecott Honor.) I love the saturated colors and lack of visible lines. My favorite illustration is when Little Red Chicken sees her papa has fallen asleep. I liked this book so much that I've compiled a list of other interrupting books with the help of the great PUBYAC subscribers. I'm looking forward to adding this story time to my fall schedule.

Story Time Themes: Interruptions, Chickens, Bedtime

(Candlewick, 2010)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter

You want to be a writer? This is the book for you. Two skilled (and published) authors cover every topic from getting started, revision, and writer's block. It's all there.

What I thought: Wow! What a great book for young writers. I would have loved to have had a book like this when I was younger. I've read quite a few writing books (both for children and adults) and Spilling Ink is one of the better ones. A side note: as an adult, I still prefer the children's writing books. I loved the book's organization and how the different topics were covered in short essays. Spilling Ink is fun and upbeat. Not dull and monotonous like some writing books can be.

My favorite sections: Naming Your Characters (I've went through more baby name books that I can remember.), How to Write Dialogue (Truly eye-opening advice), and The Writing Habit (I need to make my own writing more of a habit!)

Page 217 has a great writing exercise. The Spilling Secrets Appendix (Ellen interviews Anne and vice versa) was so interesting. Before reading this book I wasn't at all familiar with these two authors. Their books are now at the top of my "To Read" list. Overall, Spilling Ink is an excellent book. I'm adding it to my other favorites: Writing Magic and Pizza, Pigs, & Poetry.

(Illus. Matt Phelan. Roaring Brook Press, 2010)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson

Cooking is Evie's way of dealing with her parents' divorce. Her dad is a foodie--he has his own show. Cooking allows Evie to remain close to him while dealing with his departure from her everyday life and all the subsequent changes his absence created. Cooking lessons lead to more than Evie could have hoped for--new friends, new pets, and even a reconciliation with her dad.

What I thought: I liked Eggs Over Evie. The book deals with tough issues but manages to remain lighthearted. Evie is a likable character. Her interactions with Mrs. Hamilton and Corey were great. The cooking was nice. I can't resist a food book. Eggs Over Evie will appeal to tween girls. My favorite recipe was Evie's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans & Coconut.

(Christy Ottaviano Books, 2010)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Foster McFee has a dream. One day, she's going to be a star, host of her own cooking show. But right now the only star in sight is the one on her apron. Foster and her mom are on the run from the disaster that was her mom's boyfriend. They land in Culpepper, West Virginia, a small town just right for big dreams. Foster's baking skills are soon famous. She's made friend. Is all too good to be true?

What I thought: Well, I've read every novel Joan Bauer has ever written and her latest didn't disappoint me. I think Close to Famous will garner a Newbery Honor or maybe a mention on ALSC's Children's Notable Book List. Foster has a great voice. She's a well rounded character complete with flaws, fears, and talents. I think Close to Famous might join Backwater, Squashed, and Hope Was Here on my list of Bauer favorites. The only thing that could make this book better would be recipes. After reading it, I wanted to bake. A cupcake cookbook is on my "to buy" list.

Here are a few other food books I've read and reviewed: The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler, It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder, and Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson.

My reviews of Joan Bauer's other books:
Stand Tall

(Viking, 2010)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stork by Wendy Delsol

For Katia (Kat) LeBlanc, moving from L.A. to Minnesota is quite an adjustment. Being inducted into the Stork Society isn't her idea of fun. Katia's not sure she's ready for Minnesota, let alone finding homes for new souls. Add to this a charismatic guy named Jack who doesn't seem to like Katia very much.

What I thought: A thoroughly interesting book. The Stork Society is unique. The incorporation of Hans Christian Andersen' s "Snow Queen" and other Norse mythology is great. I want to know more about it now. Stork is a great book. I love Kat's relationship with Jack. I can't wait to read the sequel, Frost, due out in September.

(Candlewick, 2010)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

The Time: 1935
The Place: Key West

Eleven-year-old Turtle is spending the summer in Key West with her aunt and a multitude of boy cousins. Turtle gets to know the locals and joins her cousins on their neighborhood rounds. They even find a pirate treasure map before the summer is over.

What I thought: I enjoyed Turtle in Paradise. The 1930s is a time I like (probably because of The Waltons and my grandma who grew up during the depression). Turtle is an interesting character and a good narrator. Her toughness makes her quite reliable. The supporting characters are great. The Key West Culture was so interesting to read about. Cut ups and the other food mentioned made me hungry with a capital "H." When the book ended, I wanted more. That's always a good sign. Will we be reading more about Turtle in the future?

(Random House, 2010)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Around the World in 100 Days by Gary Blackwood

You know the story. You've likely seen the movie. You might have read the book. Yes, you've heard about Phileas Fogg and his quick 80 day trip around the world. A few years later (1891 to be exact), Fogg's seventeen-year-old son Harry has made a wager much like his father did. Drive his automobile (steam powered, of course) around the world in 100 days. What's a stake? £6,000 and Harry's freedom to be a tinker. His traveling companions: his friend Johnny, slow with people, but fast with machines; Charles, son of one of the betters; and Elizabeth, a newspaper reporter. Will they make it around the world in 100 days? Only time will tell.

What I thought: A fun, action packed book. A hint of steampunk that can't go wrong. The characters were great. I liked the interjection of Charles' journal entries and Elizabeth's dispatches. This book will appeal to both guys and girls who crave adventure filled books. Fans of Oppel's Airborn series will like Around the World in 100 Days.

(Dutton, 2010)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow by Jessica Day George

Unwanted and unnamed, the girl simply known as Lass leads a quiet life until the white reindeer come. After rescuing one, she finds that she can understand and communicate with animals. Her gift is important when the ice bear comes calling. She's asked to spend one year in his palace. She says yes, but when her curiosity gets the better of her, she finds herself on a quest to win back her prince. It's a quest that could end in death.

What I thought: Yet another wonderful retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I really enjoyed the chapters that established our heroine's early years. Her stay with the ice bean and her quest definitely give a nod to the original tale. I loved what her brother and his story added to the book. Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow was action packed and hard to put down. I think Jessica Day George is fast becoming my favorite fairy tale reteller.

(Bloomsbury, 2008)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

You know I normally write my own summary, but I like the one from the dust jacket and want to include it, too.

From the dust jacket:

Five adventurous sisters...
Four dark creatures...
Three magical gifts...
Two forbidden lovers...
One enchanted frog...

Cross the threshold into the Wildwood, and enter a land of magic, daring, betrayal...and true love.

My summary:

Jena, the second oldest of five sisters, has established herself as protector while their father is away for the winter. Jena musty guard her sisters with only her faithful friend Gogu the frog in this work and the other realm. Every full moon, the sisters travel through a hidden portal to the Wildwood, where the Queen of the fairies holds dancing. The sisters enjoy their secret excursions until darkness comes. The night people are visiting the Queen's court. One oft heir party has caught the eye of Jena's sister Tati. Meanwhile, their cousin Cezar is slowly usurping their father's place and he means to raze the forest. Is Jena strong enough?

What I thought: I really liked this retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. (I've also read Princess of the Midnight Ball and The Night Dance.) I like how the girls aren't cursed. They simply have fun at the Full Moon Dances. Cezar definitely gets the award for the most unlikeable villain. Even before he went crazy over the power/control, he wasn't a nice person. Jena and Gogu were my favorite characters. I just knew Gogu was more than a frog. I don't read fairy tales for nothing, after all! I didn't however guess who he was. Nice nod to the Frog Prince. I look forward to reading more books by Juliet Marillier.

(Knopf, 2007)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

If you thought you knew the story of Hansel and Gretel, you were wrong! The story doesn't begin with bread crumbs or end with the oven. Here is the true, unabridged story of the two children, complete with an intrusive narrator to guide through this new tale.

What I thought: Wow! Gidwitz has done something that I don't think I've ever seen done with fairy tale retellings (unless you count Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom). I went back and skimmed the original tales that Gidwitz wove together so skillfully. They go together perfectly. I think A Tale Dark and Grimm will revolutionize fairy tale retellings as we know them. Gidwitz wasn't joking about the dark and grimm part. This story is truly gruesome in parts. I almost stopped reading, but the narrator egged me on. I don't think I've ever met such an intrusive narrator, but it worked (sort of like The Princess Bride movie). I can't wait to see what Gidwitz writes next.

(Dutton, 2010)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Larklight by Philip Reeve

Art and Myrtle expect tomorrow to be like any other day at Larklight, their house in outer space. A visitor soon relieves them of their expectations. With their dad captured by huge spiders, Art and Myrtle are own their own. Rescued by pirates, they still aren't quite sure why they were attacked and and why they are now being pursued by the spiders.

What I thought: Larklight is a fun book. I don't think I would have picked this book up on my own. My search for steampunk books led to its discovery. Art and Myrtle's adventures are great--fast-paced and exciting. The steampunk elements are very evident in this story. Larklight strikes me as a Victorian Star Wars. I look forward to reading the other books in the series: Starcross and Mothstorm.

I read Larklight for the Full Steampunk Ahead Challenge.

(Illus. David Wyatt, Bloomsbury, 2006)

Friday, June 10, 2011

#FlannelFriday: Hot Air Balloons

These hot air balloons will be my constant companions during the Summer Reading Program. I plan to use them to create interest in the upcoming story times and remind the children where we've already traveled to. I'm still working on my "Where We've Been, Where We're Going" Hot Air Balloon Flannel Board Story. It's going to be pretty simple--mention the countries and the things we'll do while we're there. We're starting the summer off in North Carolina and the United States. From there we're going around the world.

Week 2: Mexico

Week 3: The UK--England, Scotland, Ireland

Week 4: France & Italy

Week 5: Africa

Week 6: India

Week 7: China & Japan

Week 8: Australia

This same idea could be adapted to suit any countries. Instead of hot air balloons, you could use airplanes, boats, even cars.

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

Little White Rabbit likes to imagine things. Just look at those trees. What would it be like to be tall?

What I thought: A great book. Little White Rabbit will pair perfectly with My Garden for a fantastic imagination story time. I love the story and the illustrations. My favorites are green rabbit, tall rabbit, rock rabbit, and butterfly rabbit.

Story Time Themes: Rabbits, Imagination, Mothers

(Greenwillow, 2011)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily is a mermaid in a human world. Her goal--find her true love and bond with him before her 18th birthday. Every princess has to have a prince. Lily has two dilemmas. She's painfully shy around her crush Brody Bennett. Add to that her annoying neighbor Quince who always seems to thwart her plans to get closer to Brody. Can Lily meet her deadline? Will she find her true love?

What I thought: Okay, wow! I enjoyed this book so much that I read it a total of three times in a week. Mermaid books are quite popular (Lasky's Daughters of the Sea: Hannah and L. K. Madigan's The Mermaid's Mirror), but Childs' Forgive My Fins is the best I've read yet. The magic is in the palpable tension between Lily and Quince. They bicker nonstop, but occasionally you get a hint of something more. I freely admit to being a reader of romance novels. Lily and Quince's relationship is what most of those authors covet. The mermaid mythology was interesting without being overdone. I particularly liked the messenger gulls and the flash freezing. The epilogue was a cliffhanger, but even without it I would still be eager to read more about Lily and Quince. I hope I haven't given anything away in my review. I sincerely tried not to. The second book, Fins Are Forever, is due out on June 28.

(Katherine Tegen, 2010)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

From Back Cover Blurb:

Seven kids.
One class.
One amazing teacher.
And the school year that changes their lives.

What I thought: Because of Mr. Terupt is something special. I wish I would have known about it earlier because I think it deserves recognition as a notable book. The seven narrators Buyea creates are wholly unique. Their thought, actions, and perceptions of their teacher blend to create the controlled chaos that is a classroom. My favorite narrators were Anna and Jessica. The shortness of the sections makes the book a quick read. The format will likely appeal to reluctant readers. Mr. Terupt is a great teacher. I can see that Buyea is such a teacher. I'm lucky to have had a few special teachers in my life. I loved that the narrators are a mix, 3 boys and 4 girls. This will make for a wider appeal. I wouldn't call this a boy book or a girl book. I call it a great book. Jessica and her books were wonderful. Beacuse of Mr. Terupt was a beautiful, inspiring book. I highly recommend it to everyone--kids, teachers, parents, librarians.

(Delacorte, 2010)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maude March on the Run! by Audrey Couloumbis

Maude's re-entrance into regular life is short lived when she's recognized as a wanted criminal and arrested. Sallie couldn't be more thrilled to be back on the trail with her sister and their friend Marion Hardley. Their journey isn't easy. It's all filled with adventure. Will Maude ever be just Maude or will the infamy of "Mad Maude" follow her forever?

What I thought: Another great installment in Maude and Sallie's adventures. Trouble seems to follow them. I continue to enjoy Sallie's frank narration of events. I hope this isn't the end of their escapades. Maude and Marion's relationship is still uneasy. Maybe another book will clear it up.

I read Maude March on the Run! for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

(Random House, 2007)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

"I mean really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It's so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn't have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons" (5).

Famous last words, Anna, my dear.

Her SOAP (School of American in Paris) may not be up to Hogwarts magical standards, but it does have cute, charismatic boys (Etienne St. Clair), location (Eiffel Tower, anyone?), great food, and cinemas on every corner.

What she first thought to be exile soon becomes fun. Anna and St. Clair bond over Paris, food, and movies. Like the good friends they are, they help each other through some rough times. I have one question for you: Can friends be too friendly?

What I thought: I purchased this book for my library because 1) people in the blogosphere were raving about it and 2) I thought it would appeal to Sarah Dessen fans (having never read her, I can't be sure). What I do know--I liked, maybe even loved, this book. I read it twice before I gave it back to the library. Anna's relationship with Etienne/St. Clair (read the book and you'll understand the slash mark!) is perfect--friendship, angst, and a hint of romance. Anna and the French Kiss is a promising book from new YA author Stephanie Perkins. And did I mention she lives near me in the North Carolina mountains? Too great having a sensational author that close. I can't wait to read her other books: Lola and the Boy Next Door (September 2011) and Ilsa and the Happily Ever After (Fall 2012).

(Dutton, 2010)