Monday, January 31, 2011

Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire! by Jane O'Connor

Fancy Nancy has a new interest--poetry. She's studying it in school and compiling an anthology. She learns that many things are poetic including nursery rhymes and song lyrics. Nancy's foray into poetry leads to an experience with writer's block. She just can't find a subject for her poem. Or can she?

What I thought: With her normal enthusiasm, Fancy Nancy introduces her devoted fans to the art of poetry. I think this book is inspired. It introduces even younger readers to poetry. I like that Fancy Nancy not only reads but writes poetry. Her anthology collection is a great idea. As is her teacher's poet-tree. This book will pair well with all the great poetry books out there. Karma Wilson's What's the Weather Inside? is a great collection. Older readers will like Creech's Love That Dog and Hate that Cat, Woodson's Locomotion, and Spires' The Mouse of Amherst.

(Illus. Robin Preiss Glasser. Harper, 2010)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

You know where we left off. Nora safe. Bad guy dead. Killer (against his will) turned guardian angel Patch ever protecting Nora.

The guardian angel gig isn't what it should be. No fraternizing with the assignments. Yes, we can see how this would be a problem as Patch and Nora share a strong attraction.

This isn't the only problem. There's the new guy Scott Parnell. Evil or just really weird? Time will tell.

And the Black Hand? What is it? What does it have to do with Nora and her father's death.

Oh, and hate much? Marcie Millar is full of it these days.

Vee remains the one constant on Nora's life through all these upheavals like any best friend would, but she's developed an interest in Patch's friend and fellow angel Rixon that keeps her more that occupied.

What I thought: Finally! A sequel I didn't have an "eh" reaction to. Could be that I haven't read Hush, Hush in a while. Nora and Patch's relationship is as angsty as ever. Gotta love it! Somehow Patch seemed less appealing in this book. Could be the mystery is gone. Or that he was a little absent from the story. Unlike the first book which left the ending open to a sequel, but didn't demand one, Crescendo ends with an awful cliffhanger. Fans will groan and feverishly check and note the publication date of the next book, Tempest (which is scheduled to be published this fall, in case you were wondering). The mystery in Crescendo was as good as Hush, Hush. I had no clue about any of it. I'm still a fan of the books' mythology (fallen angels, etc.) A solid sequel.

(Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tale of Ginger & Pickles by Beatrix Potter

First published 1909
57 pages, 13 color illustrations, 20 black & white illustrations

Ginger and Pickles run the village shop. However, the over extension of credit necessitates that the give up their shop. Their customers are less than pleased.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder (197-204):
The Tale of Ginger and Pickles began as a present to Harold Warne's daughter Louie. A great many of Beatrix's beloved characters frequent the shop. They include Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle. Ginger and Pickles, like The Pie & the Patty-pan and The Roly-Poly Pudding was originally published in a larger format. Beatrix expanded her original manuscript to introduce John Taylor, a resident of Sawrey, as a dormouse in the book. According to Linder, many prefer the original manuscript to the published one as the subplot of John Dormouse makes the story as a whole unbalanced.

Miniature Letters (Linder 84):
Ginger & Pickles to Lucinda Doll
Lucinda Doll to Ginger & Pickles
Ginger & Pickles to Lucinda Doll

My thoughts: While Ginger & Pickles is not a favorite of mine as a story, the color illustrations are particularly well done. I liked seeing the characters from all of the other books appear in the shop. I thought Peter Rabbit looked rather sickly when he visits the shop.

Favorite Illustrations: Customers outside the shop (18, color), The Dormouse House (47, color)

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. This concludes my Beatrix Potter Reading Project. I'll be back with you shortly with a wrap-up discussion of the project. Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Werewolves raised her. After Bryn's parents' vicious death by a Rabid when she was only four, the Alpha Callum adopted and marked her. Bryn has no reason to distrust Callum until the day she finds a newly turned teen werewolf in his basement. Chase's comment haunts Bryn..."I was bit." The further discovery that Callum didn't kill the Rabid who destroyed her parents drives Bryn to bond herself to Chase. She turns her back on the pack and they her. With the help of a few devoted friends, Bryn sets out to find and kill the Rabid because the Werewolf Senate won't.

What I thought: This book is something different. I like different when it comes to paranormal. I couldn't put this book down. Bryn is a compelling narrator and heroine. Raised by Wolves is an unusual take on the usual werewolf story. Watching Bryn negotiate both the human and werewolf worlds was great. Her understanding of a world she's not truly a part of is excellent.

All the characters were interesting. (Ms. Barnes, can I tempt you into writing Callum's story. I'm sure there's one there. After all, he is a thousand or so years old.) Dev offers the comic relief. I look forward to seeing Bryn and Chase's relationship develop. This book was more about Bryn coming into her own than a romance. Maybe that's why it's so great. Melissa Marr (I really need to read her books!) gave Raised by Wolves a solid endorsement. I can't help but agree with her thought my knowledge of werewolf books is limited to Blood & Chocolate, Shiver, and Linger. I think Raised by Wolves is my favorite werewolf book at the moment.

(Egmont, 2010)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi's not having the best year. Still dealing with her brother's accidental death, she's going through the motions. Music is the only bright spot in her dreary, medicated life. The threat of failing spurs her absentee genius of a father to action. He takes Andi with him to Paris during winter break. His only demand--write a good (meaning "A" quality) outline for her senior thesis. With a French mother, Paris is like a second home to Andi. The discovery of a diary hidden in a guitar pulls Andi out of her own problems and into the life of a girl who lived centuries ago during the Revolution. Andi's life becomes intertwined with Alexandrine's. Andi not only learns first hand about those red days but finds a way out of her own issues.

What I thought: Donnelly certainly doesn't write anything light and fluffy. Revolution is as heavy hitting and riveting as A Northern Light was. The juxtaposition of modern day Paris with Revolution era Paris is inspired. I think Donnelly may have hit upon a way to get teens to read historical fiction. (I've heard that it's not normally their favorite genre.) Both Andi and Alex were complling characters. My knowledge of the French Revolution doesn't extend much beyond Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (which I hated when forced to read it in high school). I've always been interested in history and must admit that Donnelly has piqued my interest in this era.

(Delacorte, 2010)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Discontent with life after his father disappears, Jacob Reckless is all too ready to accept that another world exists on the other side of the mirror--the world that made fairy tales popular. In that world, Jacob creates a new life for himself. Life isn't perfect, but it's bearable. That is, until the day his brother Will follows him through the mirror and gets cursed. Can Jacob save his brother before it's too late?

What I Thought: Wow! This book was hard to put down. Perhaps not as beautifully written as Inkheart, nevertheless, Reckless is just as riveting. I love the idea of Mirror World. Fans of Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series and Polly Shulman's The Grimm Legacy will enjoy Reckless. The sprinkling of fairy tale legend and lore was fascinating. I really need to follow through on my resolution to read all of Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Jacob is a compelling hero. He has all the traits that appeal to female readers (me included)--loner, misunderstood, brooding, and can handle himself in a fight. The age of all the characters (20s) guarantees Reckless will have a wide readership.

The supporting characters are great. I particularly like Jacob's sidekick, Fox. I look forward to watching their relationship develop in future books.

Would Reckless be considered high or low fantasy? Normally, I can't read high fantasy. I recently tried to read Robin McKinley's Pegasus and just couldn't. If Reckless is high fantasy, I think I can read it because of all the fairy tale stuff. The book has a very 10th Kingdom feel to it.

A promising start to a new series. I'm so glad to see something other than the paranormal that abounds these days. Don't get me wrong, I read and enjoy just like the next reader, but Reckless is something different. Is it a coincidence that Jacob and Will share their first names with the Grimm Brothers?

(Little Brown & Co, 2010)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter

First published 1922
33 pages, 16 color illustrations

This second collection of rhymes from the creator of Peter Rabbit contains eight rhymes and charming illustrations.

The Rhymes: Cecily Parsley, Goosey Goosey Gander, This Pig, Pussy Cat, Three Blind Mice, Bow Wow Wow, The Garden, & Ninny Nanny Netticoat

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 251-253):
Like Appley Dapply, the rhymes in Cecily Parsley began long before the official publication. After Appley Dapply's popularity, Warne wanted a sequel. Due to Beatrix Potter's failing eyes, Cecily Parsley was a patched together affair using mostly old drawings.

My Thoughts: I wasn't as impressed with Cecily Parsley as I was with Appley Dapply. The rhymes are less original. I've heard most of them elsewhere (e.g., Three Blind Mice). My favorite rhyme was "The Garden."

Favorite Illustrations: Three Blind Mice (25), guinea pigs' garden (29 & 31)

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes. Next week, I'll explore The Tale of Ginger & Pickles and that will complete my Beatrix Potter Reading Project. Until next time, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems

In their newest book, Gerald and Piggie discover that they are, in fact, in a book. They find this interesting, even downright funny when they realize that they can make the reader say words. However, Gerald is a little upset when he discovers that the book will soon end. There's only on thing to do--"Will you please read us again?"

What I thought: My fondness for Elephant and Piggie continues to grow. This book warms my librarian heart. The illustrations are great as always. Gerald & Piggie are as entertaining as ever. I predict hours of fun for the readers of We Are in a Book!

(Hyperion, 2010)

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Tribute to L. K. Madigan

A year ago I didn't know her name.

Then she won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award for her novel Flash Burnout. I admit that I haven't read the novel yet, but in the meantime, I do recognize her name.

Meanwhile, this talented lady was working on another novel. In October 2010, her second YA novel, The Mermaid's Mirror, was published. I have read this one (owing to a certain fascination with mermaids which I'm sure many, the author included, will understand). My review will post at sometime in the near future. I liked The Mermaid's Mirror and would like to read more books by Madigan.

Life has a curious way of interrupting us. Early last week, this talented author announced on her blog that she has cancer. Her story of how she's reached this point in her life brought tears to my eyes. You can read her words here.

I hope you all will join with me in supporting and praying for L. K. Madigan during this difficult. An easy way to support her is to read her novels. I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

When Lucy Bear finds a boy in the forest, she begs her mom to let her keep him. Lucy's mother agrees, but warns, "children make terrible pets." Mom turns out to be too right. Children aren't good pets. Elephants, however, are a different story.

What I thought: Hilarious! Kids will love that animals are humans and humans are animals in this story. It's an innovative look at pet care. Perfect for families considering new pets or for those who just want to laugh. The illustrations are lovely. I like the muted yet vibrant color scheme. My favorite is Lucy & the elephant.

Story Time Theme: Pets

(Little, Brown & Co, 2010)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Read to Tiger by S. J. Fore

Reading isn't easy when you have a tiger behind your couch that wants to play. After admonishing him several times, the tiger gets interested in the story. Thus, the little boy can read to himself and the tiger.

What I thought: This fun book will definitely appeal to many. I love that the child takes on a parental role while the tiger is cast as the misbehaving child. I loved the illustrations. Great use of white space. My favorites are the tiger as the engineer and the karate tiger.

Story Time Themes: Books, Libraries

(Illus. R. W. Alley. Viking, 2010)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chick 'n' Pug by Jennifer Sattler

Chick has read about Wonder Pug many times. He much prefers Wonder Pug's life to his own. One day, he finds a real Wonder Pug. The two embark on an uneasy friendship. Wonder Pug isn't so wondrous, but he does have a wonderful sidekick in Chick.

What I thought: A fun book about an unlikely friendship. I liked the illustrations. They are quite colorful and appealing. Chick and Pug are two very distinct characters. The simplicity of the text makes Chick 'n' Pug perfect for story time.

Story Time Theme: Friendship

(Bloomsbury, 2010)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming

All over the world, tiny baby animals are sleepy, oh so sleepy. One by one, they go to sleep.

What I thought: Cute book. I like all the animals. The repetitive text is perfect for the youngest listeners. The illustrations are great--so colorful. Fleming's lines are distinct and yet not. My favorite illustrations are the otter, lion, and possum. This book is perfect for sharing with your own baby.

(Henry Holt, 2010)

Friday, January 7, 2011

YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

Over the past year, I reached the sad conclusion that I read far more Middle Grade Historical Fiction that I do YA. Stephanie at Books Are a Girl's Best Friend came to my rescue with her YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

Participation Level: Inquisitive (1-3 books by December 31, 2011)

You know, I'll probably read more than that, but I can adjust as I progress. My reading list is subject to change.

Bridget's YA Historical Fiction Challenge Reading List:
1. Pirates by Celia Rees
2. Mable Riley by Marthe Jocelyn
3. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
4. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Ivy by Julie Hearn
6. The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn
7. Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
8. A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
9. Wildwing by Emily Whitman
10. The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis

Well, these are my selections thus far. Any other titles I should add?

Edgar Awards Reading Challenge 2011

I love mysteries and am pleased to announce that I'll be participating in the Egdar Awards Reading Challenge hosted by iubookgirl at Reader for Life.

Participation Level: Patrolman (1-3 books by December 31, 2011)

I'll likely read more than 3 books, but we'll see. I'll be concentrating on the Edgar Award Winners & Nominees in the categories of Best Juvenile and Best Young Adult. My reading list is tentative and subject to change.

Bridget's Edgars Award Challenge Reading List:
1. Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Best Juvenile Edgar Winner 2010)
2. Sammy Keyes & the Art of Deception by Wendelin Van Draanen (Best Juvenile Edgar Nominee 2004)
3. Dovey Coe by Frences O'Roark Dowell (Best Juvenile Edgar Winner 2001)
4. The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil (Best Juvenile Edgar Nominee 2010)
5. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (Best Juvenile Edgar Winner 2005)
6. Silverfin by Charlie Higson (Best Young Adult Edgar Nominee 2006)
7. The Morgue & Me by John C. Ford (Best Young Adult Edgar Nominee 2002)
8. Silent to the Bone by E. L. Konigsburg (Best Young Adult Edgar Nominee 2001)

These are my current picks. What do you think?

Full Steampunk Ahead Challenge 2011

This year, I've signed up for the Full Steampunk Ahead Challenge hosted by Isalys and Vanessa at Book Soulmates. I've always wanted to read more in the genre and an excited about this opportunity.

The minimum participation level is 10 books by December 31, 2011.

My reading list incomplete at the moment and, of course, subject to change.

Bridget's Full Steampunk Ahead Reading List:
1. Larklight by Philip Reeve
2. Airman by Eoin Colfer
3. Steampunk Prime edited by Mike Ashley
4. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
5. The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
6. Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

I still have 4 more slots to fill. Any suggestions?

2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge

This year I'm participating in the 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge hosted by Christina at Reading Extensively. I plan to read Middle Grade and YA books that I've seen the movie version.

Participation Level: Reading Level 1 (5 books by December 31, 2011)

I'll probably read more than that, but you never know. Also, my reading list is subject to change.

Bridget's Page to Screen Reading List:
1. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
2. The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
3. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
4. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
5. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

What do you think of choices? I think it's a good mix: 3 classics and 2 recently published books.

Toads & Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Diribani receives a gift from a goddess. When she speaks, flowers and jewel flow from her mouth. Her stepsister Tana also receives a gift. When she speaks, toads and snakes come forth. Appearances are deceiving. Diribani's gift isn't as blessed as it seems just as Tana's gift isn't as cursed as it appears. Separated by their gifts, the sisters each have different paths to follow. But where will they lead--blessings or curses?

What I thought: You know me. I can't resist a fairy tale retelling (and lucky for me, they seem to be quite popular). I liked Toads & Diamonds. The setting (pre-colonial India) was unique and added many interesting details to the story. The Grimm Brothers have always been my go-to fairy tale guys, but I couldn't place this story. It seemed familiar (this I later realized was from reading The Fairy's Mistake by Gail Carson Levine) and I read the Grimm Version ("Mother Holle"). What struck me most was the sisters' relationship. l like how Tomlinson gave the sisters a friendly, sisterly relationship instead of the usual stepsister one. I found myself drawn more to Tana than Diribani. Perhaps because she struggled more. I'll definitely be adding Tomlinson's other books to my "to read" list.

(Henry Holt, 2010)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Tale of Little Pig Robinson by Beatrix Potter

First published 1930
123 pages, 8 chapters, 7 color illustrations, 26 black & white illustrations

When Susan the cat sees a pig on a ship, we find out how he got there and what happens after the ship sets sail.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 256-258):
The Tale of Little Pig Robinson was conceived early by Beatrix Potter. A letter to her father in 1883 is the earliest beginning. The first manuscript was written in the 1890s. F. Warne & Company didn't publish Little Pig Robinson until 1930. The tale is quite a departure from her other little books. This one has chapters--8 of them to be exact. Beatrix Potter certainly made the last of her tales different.

My thoughts: Little Pig Robinson is certainly something. While I enjoyed the story, it's not quite a favorite. I much prefer Peter Rabbit and the like. The lack of color illustrations foreshadows Beatrix Potter's growing infirmity--her hands and eyes are no longer capable of such detailed, delicate work.

Favorite Illustrations: Little Pig Robinson in the market place (57, color), the wool shop (77, color), the cat on the ship (101, B&W)

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Little Pig Robinson. My Beatrix Potter Reading Project is almost at an end. I have finally located a copy of Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes (1922) and will be discussing that title next week. I'm still trying to locate a copy of Ginger and Pickles (1909).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

Rocket was happy just being a dog until the day he met a little yellow bird who called herself a teacher. The bird sets out to teach Rocket how to read. She lures him in with a story left unfinished. Rocket wants to know the ending. On day, maybe, he can read it for himself.

What I thought: A sweet story with an adorable title character. Children hearing this story will be empowered to learn how to read foe themselves. There's more to the story than that. Rockets doesn't just learn how to read. He makes a new friend. The illustrations are bright and colorful. My favorite is Rocket spelling words during the winter.

Story Time Theme: Friendship

(Schwartz, 2010)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves books, but he hates waiting. When he open a bookstore, waiting for customers to visit isn't for him. Instead, he loses himself in the store's books. When Dog reads, he isn't alone. He has dinosaurs, kangaroos, and aliens for company. Finally, Dog's bookstore has a customer. He knows just the books to offer.

What I thought: I like dogs and books. A dog who enjoys books is a great idea for a book. Dog (as drawn) is an endearing character. He doesn't seem to be any particular breed, but a mixed up mutt appeals all the more. The illustrations are soft hued and appealing. My favorites are Dog with the dinosaurs and then the kangaroos. Perfect for preschoolers, Dog Loves Books will pair well with Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn.

Story Time Themes: Libraries, Books, Imagination.

(Knopf, 2010)