Friday, March 30, 2012

Around the World by Matt Phelan

Summary from Dust Jacket: As the nineteenth century wound down, a public inspired by the novel Around the World in Eighty Days clamored for intrepid adventure. The challenge of circumnavigating the globe as no one ever had before--a feat assuring fame if not fortune--attracted the fearless in droves. Three hardy spirits stayed the course: In 1884, former miner Thomas Stevens made the journey on a bicycle, the kind with a big front wheel. In 1889, pioneer reporter Nellie Bly embarked on a global race against time that assumed the heights of spectacle, ushering in the age of the American celebrity. And in 1895, retired sea captain Joshua Slocum quietly set sail on a thirty-six-foot sloop, braving pirates and treacherous seas to become the first person to sail around the world alone. With cinematic pacing and deft, expressive art, acclaimed graphic novelist Matt Phelan weaves a trio of epic journeys into a single bold tale of three visionaries who set their sights on nothing short of the world.

What I thought: This is the type of graphic novel that I like. It reads easily and quickly...almost like a comic book. The stories themselves are very interesting. I know about Nellie Bly, but I'd never heard of Thomas Stevens and Joshua Slocum. Their adventures were page turning. The author's note was informative. I've often found myself wondering about people I know or read about. You see one side of them. What goes on when they're not at work? After reading Around the World, Phelan's other graphic novel, The Storm in the Barn, is now on my to read list.

(Candlewick, 2011)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Hazel thought she and Jack would be best friends for life. But one day, Jack changed. He was cold toward Hazel and she didn't understand why. It couldn't be as simple as Jack outgrowing her, could it? Of course not. When Hazel discovers the real reason behind Jack's attitude change she knows only she can rescue him.

What I thought: Next to Inkheart, Breadcrumbs is probably the most beautifully written book I've read in awhile. Hazel is a wonderful narrator. Her word choice is unique and expressive. I like that the title is a bit misleading. Knowing just the title and that the book is fairy tale inspired, I assumed it was a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. I'm glad I was wrong.

(Illus. Erin McGuire. Walden Pond Press, 2011)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Petunia Goes Wild by Paul Schmid

The first time we met Petunia she wanted a skunk for a pet. Now she's decided being human is too much. She's rather be a pet herself like a tiger. If only she can convince her parents...

What I thought: Petunia's such a fun, spunky character. There's no telling what she'll be up to next. Her desire to be an animal is typical. My young cousin pretended to be a dog for months on end. It's just something kids like to do. Petunia Goes Wild will be an excellent addition to my imagination story time.

(Harper, 2012)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn

Lola of Lola Loves Stories and Lola at the Library is back! She has a brand new baby brother named Leo. She shares her love of reading with him no matter what he's doing. For any situation be it diaper changing or bedtime, Lola always shares her best books with Leo.

What I thought: Too cute! I love that Lola wants to share her love of books, stories, and reading with her baby brother. The best part is that she does. The illustrations are nicely done. My favorites are the bookshelves and the bears.

(Illus. Rosalind Beardshaw. Charlesbridge, 2012)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moonlight by Helen V. Griffith

Waiting for the moon takes too long so Rabbit returns to his burrow. While he sleeps, the moon comes out and shines on everything--even Rabbit in his burrow.

What I thought: A lovely story with gorgeous illustrations. I can't wait to use Moonlight for story time during the summer reading program. My favorite illustrations are stars and comets, raccoons, and Rabbit dancing.

Story Time Themes: night, moon

(Illus. Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow, 2012)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

Little Owl explores the night which is his day. He sees many other nocturnal creatures at work and at play.

What I thought: A nice book--good story and illustrations. I like the bold colors the author/illustrator uses. (I do want to know how she made the illustrations...I'm guessing with a computer.) My favorites are the fireflies dancing, moths, and Little Owl asleep. I can't decide whether to use this book for owls story time or nocturnal animals story time this summer.

Themes: Owls, Night, Nocturnal Animals

(Viking, 2011)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under by Marianne Berkes

Meet Aussie animals you know like the kangaroo and some you've probably never heard of such as the brogla in this beautifully illustrated and highly informative tribute to Australia's animals.

What I thought: This book works on so many levels. First, it's a concept picture book about counting. Second, it educates readers about Australian animals. Thirdly, the hidden animals will intrigue the children. I didn't notice them until the book told me to look again. The illustrations are gorgeous. I'm fast becoming a fan of cut paper collage. I can hardly pick favorites, but I really like the lorikeets and the bilbys. The additional information at the end of the book is fabulous. Where was this book last summer when I was reading and teaching about Australia during the summer reading program? The activity guide was especially helpful. I loved the interview with the illustrator. It was nice to get an inside look at her technique. Maybe I'll try cut paper collage one day in a program with my library kids.

(Illus. Jill Dubin. Dawn Publications, 2011)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

In Regency England, Agnes Wilkins is much more excited about the novels by A Lady and practicing the ten languages she knows than her upcoming debut. That is until she attends the mummy unwrapping hosted by her neighbor and suitor Lord Showalter. The item Agnes finds turns out to be a message from a French spy. She is quickly thrust into the midst of a plot that might be the death of her. With the help of Caedmon Stowe, an intern at the British Museum, Agnes works to uncover the spy before he finds her.

What I thought: There's so much to like about Wrapped--the Regency setting, a headstrong intelligent heroine, a budding romance, and a mystery. I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. My favorite parts include Agnes's quoting from the novels by A Lady and all the interesting situations Agnes and Caedmon find themselves in. Wrapped fits in perfectly with the Agency novels by Y.S. Lee and the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer. The ending was great, but I won't give it away here. A quick perusal of Bradbury's website shows that there will be a sequel...hooray!

(Atheneum, 2011)

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

13 year old Reveka lives in Sylvania where the 12 daughters of Prince Vasile suffer from an unusual (and silly, if you ask Reveka) curse. Every morning they are tired and their slippers have holes in them. Reveka, the herbalist's apprentice, wishes to break the curse so she may use the reward to buy herself a place in a convent. Breaking the curse takes all of her ingenuity. In time, she finds that the curse is more serious than she first thought. It requires a sacrifice that none of the 12 daughters are willing to make. Can Reveka take their place?

What I thought: Fantastic! As you know, I've read just about every retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses that I can lay my hands on and The Princess Curse is the first one that has a main character who is not one of the princesses. Reveka is a great character. She's spunky and knows what she wants. The meshing of "Beauty and the Beast" with "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" was perfect. I liked the revelation of Reveka's character when we discover that she's more selfless than selfish. The ending was just right, but I found myself hoping that there will be another book. A quick check of the FAQ section of Merrie Haskell's website revealed that there might be a sequel, but not anytime soon.

(Harper, 2011)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

The colors of her birth were red, white, and black. Her mama named her Snow in Summer but called her Summer. Seven years later, her mama's dead and her papa's withdrawn into his grief. This goes on for several years until Papa brings home Stepmama. She calls Summer Snow. For a time, Papa is more animated than he's been since Mama's death until he starts aging rapidly. Summer can't help but mistrust Stepmama and her craft. Can she escape before it's too late?

What I thought: The aspect I enjoyed most about this retelling of Snow White is the Appalachian setting and all the details thereof. Stepmama is downright creepy. Of the supporting characters, Cousin Nancy is my favorite. It was interesting to watch Summer grow up from 7 to 13 and beyond. There's a sense of foreboding that comes when Stepmama enters the story and continues throughout making it eerie and spooky. I liked getting the other points-of-view (namely Cousin Nancy and Stepmama). The dramatic irony gave me extra incentive to carry on.

(Philomel, 2011)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dave & Violet by Sarah Adams

Violet's best friend is a dragon named Dave. His scales change color with his moods. Dave's shyness leads to red scales, hot temperatures, and fire! Will he ever make any new friends?

What I thought: This was a nice story. Dragons in picture books seem to be on the rise. Dave & Violet would pair well with Me & My Dragon. I love that Dave's shyness leads to the fire. It makes me think dragons have been misunderstood. The illustrations are great. I love all the color. My favorites are the cover, the frontispiece (Dave vacuuming while Violet reads), and the last page (Dave & Violet hugging).

(Frances Lincoln, 2011)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Little Bitty Bakery by Leslie Muir

After baking all day, the pastry chef is too tired to make herself a birthday cake. After the bakery lights go out and she retires upstairs, the mice come out. The mice decide to make the chef a birthday cake because she always leaves them some cheesecake.

What I thought: I liked this one. With the mice, it had a Cinderella feel to it. I don't think there enough baking picture books out there. The illustrations with their bold black lines are great. My favorite is the birthday party.

Story Time Themes: Baking, Birthdays, elephants, mice (both gray)

(Illus. Betsy Lewin. Disney Hyperion, 2011)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bandits by Johanna Wright

This story follows a raccoon family during a night (i.e., their day). They sneak and snatch until the sun rises.

What I thought: A great raccoon book! I can't wait to use it for story time during this year's summer reading program. The illustrations are lovely. I really like the textured look of the paint,. The colors are perfect for the time of day and night. My favorites are cubs brushing their teeth, picnic, waiting for dawn, and in bed.

Story Time Themes: Raccoons, Nocturnal Animals

(Neal Porter, 2011)