Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't Worry, Douglas! by David Melling

Douglas from Hugless Douglas is back. His dad gives him a hat and Douglas is off before properly hearing his dad's instructions--"take care of it." Douglas' exuberance for his new hat soon leaves him with nothing but a tangle of yarn. What will he tell his dad?

What I thought: Douglas is such a lovable character. As are the sheep. This new predicament of his will appeal to preschoolers. The illustrations are great. My favorites are Douglas showing off his new hat, Rabbit with umbrella (love the carrots!), and sheep with umbrellas. Don't Worry, Douglas! will be a great addition to my hats story time.

(Tiger Tales, 2011)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

In a colorless town, Annabelle finds what she thinks is an ordinary box of yarn. But it's not. No matter how many sweaters she knits, Annabelle still has yarn.

What I thought: I really liked Extra Yarn. But I do have to stop and ask a question. Why is it that there are no picture books about crochet? As a crocheter and a children's librarian, I'm wondering. The story is magical and I really like the illustrations. The sweaters brighten everything up. My favorites are sweaters on animals and Annabelle in the tree. I'm not sure where this book would fit into a story time theme. It would be a great book to start off a National Craft Month (March) program for elementary age kids or tweens.

(Illus. Jon Klassen. Balzer + Bray, 2012)

Friday, February 24, 2012

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Teeth

I couldn't let February slip by without giving a shout out for National Children's Dental Health Month. I'm lucky enough to have a sister who is a dental hygienist. She always wants me to do a teeth story time in February.

As you can see from the picture above, my teeth magnets are crocheted. Now that I've discovered the joys of felt, I know how easy these would be to make out of felt.

I couldn't find any rhymes so I wrote my own. I asked my sister for advice as to what's good and bad for teeth. Expect groans when you use "This little tooth doesn't like..." and a chorus of "But I like..."

Five Little Teeth
5 little teeth in my mouth
Bit into a peppermint & then there were 4
4 little teeth in my mouth
Got stuck in a caramel apple & then there were 3
3 little teeth in my mouth
Went wobble, wobble, wobble & then there were 2
2 little teeth in my mouth
Lost one on the playground & then there was 1
1 little tooth in my mouth
So lonely, it fell out & then there were NONE!

This Little Tooth
This little tooth likes apples
This little tooth likes broccoli
This little tooth likes cheese
This little tooth likes nuts
This little tooth likes carrots

This Little Tooth
This little tooth doesn’t like cotton candy
This little tooth doesn’t like suckers
This little tooth doesn’t like soda
This little tooth doesn’t like chips
This little tooth doesn’t like caramels

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Bear has lost his hat. He asks a succession of other forest animals if they've seen it. They all say no. It isn't until a deer asks what Bear's hat looks like that Bear realizes he has seen his hat.

What I thought: I love the story's dialogue setup. It almost reads like a play. The surprise won't shock kids, but I'm not sure about sharing I Want My Hat Back with my preschoolers yet. Overall, it's humorous and fun. The illustrations are spot on. My favorites are Bear running, Bear and Rabbit, and I love my hat.

(Candlewick, 2011)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick

Marley's summer isn't looking too good. Stuck with her dad while her mom goes on a road trip, Marley finds herself with no computer, absentee best friends, and a babysitting job she didn't know about and definitely doesn't want. The one bright spot in her summer is Jack, the boy next door.

What I thought: This is such an accurate portrayal of (young) teen life. The things Marley is going through (losing her childhood best friends and dealing with her parent's separation and possible divorce) are circumstances I think many readers will relate to, Marley's growth as a character was great. She goes from depending on and defining herself by her friend to standing on her own two feet.

(Clarion, 2011)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher

Isla's dad has heart problems, but that doesn't stop him from chasing after the swans he loves. Following a flock, he collapses. He's hospitalized and facing surgery. Isla makes a friend in Harry, a boy with leukemia. She also notices a lone swan on the lake outside the hospital. The swan follows Isla when she runs but won't fly. Isla's concern for her dad and the swan become intermingled as she struggles to fix them both.

What I thought: Flyaway was interesting and unlike anything I've ever read. Isla is a great character and the situations she goes through and the emotions she experiences are so real. Her relationship with Harry was wonderful and the ending of the book was awesome--a book about hope that ends with hope. This might appeal to those Lurlene McDaniel fans. I haven't read her, but Flyaway seems to fit the bill.

(Chicken House, 2011)

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Month of Sundays by Ruth White

The year is 1957. The place is Black River, VA. Her mother leaves fourteen year old April Garnet Rose with her father's relatives while she goes to Florida to find work. Garnet joins her aunt June Bill on her search for God. They attend a different church every Sunday and experience many unusual things. On her Aunt June's search for God, Garnet begins to discover herself. An unforgettable summer turns into a life changing experience.

What I thought: I really liked this book. The regional flavor is just right. The characters were all likable and believable. I wonder what inspired Ruth White to write A Month of Sundays. Maybe there will be more books about Garnet.

(FSG, 2011)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede

Frontier Magic Book 2

At 18, Eff has finally gotten over the idea that she's unlucky because she's a thirteenth child. Her magic still isn't quite right. Despite that hindrance, she accompanies a professor from the college on a survey of plants and animals beyond the Great Barrier. The discovery of stone animals--not statues but petrified--is interesting and yet unexplainable. On the trip, Eff comes into her magic more by practice. But will it be strong enough to protect her from the dangers that are across the Great Barrier?

What I thought: Another magnificent installment in the Frontier Magic series. Eff's adventures and struggles with her magic are riveting. I couldn't put the book down. I can't imagine what will happen next, but I hope another book is coming soon.

(Scholastic, 2011)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede

Frontier Magic Book 1

Everyone outside her immediate family considers Eff bad luck. She's a thirteenth child. Unmercifully teased, Eff's life changes for the better when she's five and her family moved out West.

In Mill City, no one knows she's unlucky. No one teases her. But Eff always worries that she's cursed and may hurt someone if her magic goes awry. She and her twin brother Lan (a seventh son of a seventh son) grow up happily. They learn magic at school and hear about fantastic creatures that are across the Great Barrier.

When Eff is eighteen, the settlements are threatened by a new magical creature. Can Eff overcome the idea that she's bad luck and help save the settlements?

What I thought: How did I go so long without reading this book? Patricia C. Wrede is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I re-read her Enchanted Forest Chronicles series at least once a year. Thirteenth Child was fantastic. The world Wrede creates is magical yet believable. I like her alternate use of history to set the book in the 19th century West. It is also amazing that the book takes Eff from 5 to 18 years old (That's 13 years and I don't think it's a coincidence). Eff with her belief that she's cursed is a very likable character. I couldn't even wait a day before reading the 2nd book in the series, Across the Great Barrier.

(Scholastic, 2009)

Friday, February 10, 2012

#FlannelFriday: Hey Diddle Diddle

This week, I made a felt set to use with the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle." I will be using it at the Stuffed Animal Sleepovers I'm having at all four of my branch libraries.

I used a combination of clipart (Microsoft Office) and coloring sheets for the patterns. I had to scrap a cat and a moon along the way. The outlining didn't work on my first cat. For the first moon, I tried yellow with silver paint. It might have looked okay if the yellow had been paler.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races are not like any other horse race. The riders race not horses but water horses. The races are dangerous. The water horses are cannibalistic and more than one person has died over the years. Sean Kendrick, now 19, saw his father die in the races. He has a strange affinity for the water horses and has won the Scorpio Races four years in a row. He rides to win the race and his water horse.

Puck Connolly enters the races out of desperation. Her oldest brother is leaving the island and their house is almost in foreclosure. Winning the races will be the saving of the Connollys. However, Puck opts to ride a normal horse and that could be very dangerous.

As the races draw near, Sean and Puck's paths cross and intertwine. Who will live, who will die, and who will win are the questions everyone wants to know the answers to.

What I thought: I liked everything about The Scorpio Races--the characters, the setting, the water horses mythology. Maggie continues her multiple points-of-view with exceptional results. Too often, readers don't get to know both main characters so intimately. This was a very different story from Shiver. The romance between Sean and Puck doesn't come out until the end. Both were compelling characters who held my interest. I wonder if this well be a stand alone novel or the start of a new series?

(Scholastic, 2011)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

Mattie Breen, always the new girl, is painfully shy due to an unfortunate incident with another classmate at her former school. This time, however, she is among family. Her Uncle Potluck is the custodian at her new school. Mattie begins to record her uncle's custodial wisdom and makes plans for the new school year. Mattie must learn to trust herself and others before she can move beyond the incident that's at the root of her shyness.

What I thought: This book started a bit slow but I soon found myself caught up in Mattie's life. I can relate to Mattie and I think many children will be able to as well. Shyness and teasing are too common. Uncle Potluck was a great character. Hound Dog True reminds me slightly of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak but for a much younger audience. The book ends with hope and I wanted to read more about Mattie--surely a sign of a good book.

(Harcourt, 2011)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck

Helena, the eldest of four mouse siblings, makes a decision that changes their lives forever. When their human family travels to England to go husband hunting for their oldest daughter, the mouse family goes, too. Helena, Louise, Beatrice, and Lamont find much to amuse them on their voyage.

What I thought: I liked this one. Mice seem to be quite a trend lately in middle grade novels. I've read quite a few books by Richard Peck and apart from the humor this seems to be quite a departure for him. The way the mice's lives mirror their human counterparts is interesting. Helena was my favorite character perhaps because I'm also the oldest.

(Illus. Kelly Murphy. Dial, 2011)

Friday, February 3, 2012

#FlannelFriday: Five Little Strawberries

This week in preschool story time, I read books about the color red. As I was planning the story time, I needed something to come either before or after The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. I thought strawberries would be easy to make. I went to Flannel Friday's Pinterest page (which I's so easy to find what you're looking for!) and found Mel's Strawberries. I was so glad she included patterns. I decided to just make one size/shape strawberry and use gold puff paint to make the seeds. I accidentally dropped something on two of them before the paint was dry. I was able to salvage them. I told the kids those were really ripe when they were picked!

I used the same rhyme that Mel did, but instead of having a bear eat all the strawberries, I used the names of children at the story times.

Frost by Wendy Delsol

Kat is a member of the Stork Society, and her boyfriend Jack has the uncanny ability to manipulate the weather. When we first met them in Stork, they discovered their abilities and each other while averting catastrophe. Kat & Jack's new adventure relies heavily on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" (which reminds me of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon").

What I thought: A good solid installment in the series. The adventure/journey Kat goes on (I won't reveal anything here) is filled with revelation and danger. I can't imagine where the next book will take Kat and Jack. Book 3 in the series, Flock, is due out in October of this year.
(Candlewick, 2011)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

Summary from Dust Jacket: People may drift apart, but love can hold them together. Sometimes we find that love through magic. Sometimes that magic is all around us. This story is about all three of these things. But it's also a story about how four dogs and one cat help one boy and his sister save their family.

What I thought: This was a gem of a book. A book about magic--Waiting for the Magic was pure magic. The situation William & Elinor find themselves in is not a pleasant one. Their father leaves perhaps never to return. their subsequent adoption of 4 dogs (Bryn, Bitty, Grace, & Neo) and 1 cat (Lula) brings some comfort and a bit of magic to their lives. The author's portrayal of William was particularly poignant. As the oldest, he feels his father's absence more and doesn't know how to act. Though about a serious subject, I found this book lighthearted and fun. Animal lovers will adore this story especially when they discover what the magic is. The illustrations are lovely. They remind me of Garth Williams and Louis Darling. I especially liked seeing the dogs and cat.

(Illus. Amy June Bates. Atheneum, 2011)