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)