Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Storm Is Coming!

a picture book by Heather Tekavec, illustrated by Margaret Spengler
"Storm is Coming! We better get the animals safely to the barn!"
When Dog hears the old farmer bellowing, he quickly rounds up the farm animals. The sheep race for the barn behind him. On the way, they bleat a warning to Duck. In turn, Duck quacks a warning to the cows.

In a panic, the animals huddle together in the barn, and wait anxiously for the arrival of the ominous and mysterious Storm.

Who could this frightening creature be?

Duck acts as a lookout. "No Storm! No storm!" he reports.

Soon, the wind picks up, thunder rolls, and the zig zag flash of lightning bolts fill the sky. The animals cheer in relief, for nature is working in their favor. The clouds are growling to scare Storm away, and the sky is flashing to blind him. But when all is calm again - the animals wait... and listen. The barn door opens. Could this be the dreaded Storm?

Storm is Coming! is an entertaining story that will make readers of all ages hold their breath and giggle. The silliness of the animals shows that thunderstorms don't have to be scary. In fact, they can be fun!

Heather Tekavec's ultimately reassuring tale glows from the soft, yet dynamic, illustrations by Margaret Spengler.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Here in the Bonny Glen: First Carnival of Children's Literature

I participated in my first blog carnival this week.

Thank you, Here in the Bonny Glen, for letting me set up a tent in your Carnival of Children's Literature!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever

a picture book by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthental

Every kid dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Some imagine themselves as astronauts, others as ballerinas, and there are those who cannot seem to choose.
But not Mavis. Her plans were set.
When she grew up she wanted to be a fairy godmother.
"Because," she said, "I want to make wishes come true."
But how would Mavis make her wish come true? There's a lot of work to being a fairy godmother. To practice, Mavis begins by "popping up out of nowhere," and even makes her very own magic wand. But when Mavis tries to cast her spells, she finds her results to be... not so magical. "This is very tricky," she soon realizes. Can she make someone's wish come true?

The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever is an enchanting story that glitters with humor and personality. It's for anyone who's ever wished a wish - or dreamed of making one come true.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oliver's Must-Do List

a picture book by Susan Taylor Brown, illustrated by Mary Sullivan
"Will you play with me today?"
That's the question on Oliver's mind. His desired playmate? His mother. But when she checks her Must-Do list, she discovers there are far too many chores to get done, and no time to play.

Oliver tries to entertain himself, but his games aren't nearly as much fun without someone to share them with. How can one tell knock-knock jokes, without someone to say, "Who's there?"

Oliver comes up with a clever solution. It leads to a most remarkable day that promises to be the first of many like it.

Oliver's Must-Do List gently reminds us of what is truly important. The illustrations by Mary Sullivan have hilarious details that will make readers of all ages laugh out loud.

I immediately fell in love with Oliver. He's a sweet, imaginative, creative character that will reach out and touch the hearts of all who meet him. Kids will feel his frustration, and time-pressed parents (and older siblings!) will relate to his mother's guilt. In our busy world, there seems to be less and less time for simple pleasures like playing. Fortunately, this sweet picture book shows us that it's well worthwhile to re-prioritize our Must-Do lists.

It's important to spend time with the children in your life, and engaging yourselves in this charming story is a wonderful way to do it. And it won't hurt to set aside a teeny place on the fridge. Don't be surprised if your young reader puts up her own Must-Do list after reading this book. ;-)

(Teachers can invite Oliver to visit their schools and classrooms. Drop in on Oliver's LiveJournal to find out how.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

June 29, 1999

a picture book by David Wiesner

When her science project produces some inexplicable results, Holly Evans has some reservations. Is it possible that the seedlings she sent aloft to the ionsphere transformed into the massive mutant vegetables falling from the sky?

"Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo. Lima beans loom over Levittown. Artichokes advance on Anchorage... Argula covers Ashtabula."

As the list of produce grows longer, Holly realizes that not all of these veggies were part of her experiment. If these giant specimens aren't from her research... then whose are they? And what became of hers?

David Wiesner's June 29, 1999 is a visually entertaining story that will spark the imaginations of all who read it. The whimsical and inventive illustrations (e.g., the gourds selling as homes in North Carolina, the Mt. Rushmore-like potato carvings of Presidents Reagan, Bush, Nixon, and Carter, and the people of the Big Apple renaming themselves the "Big Rutabega") are sure to make readers laugh.

June 29, 1999 is a timeless treasure that should be enjoyed by generations of families to come.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cabbages and Kings

a picture book by Elizabeth Seabrook, paintings by Jamie Wyeth

On the first day of spring in Farmer John's garden, a young asparagus stalk (who calls himself Albert) pokes thorugh the ground. He notices his new neighbor, a cabbage named Herman.

Neither is sure what to make of the other, yet despite their doubts and differences, they become fast-growing friends. Together, the endure the fears of being picked (by the farmer's wife) and eaten (by the mischievious rabbit that stalks the garden). But most of all, they enjoy the pleasure of each other's company.

Cabbages and Kings is a fresh, charming story about a friendship happening when least expected. The beautiful paintings by Jamie Wyeth bring this delightful story to its full bloom.

This picture book teaches about friendship. It educates, too, on how vegetables grow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo

a novel by Greg Leitich Smith

Elias, Honoria, and Shohei are best friends facing the threshold of their teenage years at The Preshtigo School of Chicago.

Elias (reluctant science fair participant) finds himself fighting against the accusations of Mr. Eden (the chemistry teacher who idolizes Elias's older brother) of not properly conducting his experiment (the one he copied from his brother).

Honoria realizes that telling a best friend you like him, is a lot harder than it seems. Harder, even, than to convince a piranha to prefer fruit over meat.

Shohei deals with an interesting, yet universal, situation with his adopted parents, who have decided that he needs to become "one" with the culture of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo is a hilarious and entertaining read, filled with wit, wisdom, and even a bit of science. I greatly enjoyed reading this book. There were many parts where I laughed out loud.

My personal favorite scenario, out of the three main characters, was Shohei's. I found his little brother - who adapts to the introduction of the Japanese culture easily, and more willingly, than Shohei - to be a hoot!

This book is sure to bring a smile to your face, as well as introduce you to a different culture, and scientific procedures, while taking you into the challenging world of young teenagers.

The Birthday Moon

a picture book by Lois Duncan, illustrated by Susan Davis

What could be a better gift than the moon?

A full moon can be a balloon, or a coin to purchase comet tails, or the sun. It can even be a ball, to "hurl at the stars or... bounce off a wall."

If one's birthday lands on a half moon, it can be used for a hammock, a bowl, or a bow, "so the arrows you shoot will all shimmer and glow."

The Birthday Moon, by Lois Duncan, and illustrated by Susan Davis, uses bright, rhyming text, and beautiful, glistening pictures to show wonders the imagination holds.

When I was little, my mum would read The Birthday Moon to me every year on my birthday. It is one of my fondest and most cherished childhood memories. I'm sure that this story will have that same effect on anyone who reads it. Whether your birthday is tomorrow, or months away, this gorgeous picture book glows with every read.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Silver Path

a picture book by Christine Harris, illustrated by Helen Ong

Niko and Penny are pen pals on opposite ends of the world. Just like their locations, their lifestyles are very different. Penny lives in a nice, peaceful world, with a big garden to play in with her dog, Scruff. Niko lives in a world destroyed by war. Forced to flee from their village, Niko and his mother live in a hotel that houses refugees.

In his letter to Penny, Niko writes of his hopes that one day he and his family will be free to return to their village, and be happy again. He describes the view from the balcony of the hotel at night. "When the night comes, the moon builds a silver path over the sea, going all the way from where I am to where you are, Penny. I close my eyes and imagine I am running... to meet you."

The Silver Path, by Christine Harris, is a moving story that speaks of an unidentified setting and conflict, the innocent people (children especially) who are its victims, and the everlasting hope for a better and happier life. The story is told beautifully, not only by the words, but by the stirring illustrations by Helen Ong. This is a story that will make young readers aware of the hardships of war. It will help them relate, on their level, conflicts and tragedies like those going on in the world today.

Under the Moon

a picture book by Dyan Sheldon, illustrated by Gary Blythe

While digging in her backyard, Jenny finds an arrowhead poking through the soil. She spends the rest of the day trying to imagine life before cars and cities. But no matter how hard she tries, she isn't able to picture the world when "the land was as large and open as the sky."

Then Jenny falls asleep, while camping in her tent, and wakes up in the very place she had tried so hard to imagine. There, she meets the Native Americans that made/own the arrowhead. They tell her about the world when it was "just the people, the animals, and the land itself," and she comes to know that the beautiful place she discovered was once very real.

Under The Moon, written by Dyan Sheldon, with beautiful and breathtaking paintings by Gary Blythe, is a story that will open the eyes of readers of all ages to the wonder and marvel of what America once was.

Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat

a picture book by Carol Purdy, illustrated by Petra Mathers.

Mrs. Merriwether was very ordinary. "Every day of the week was exactly like the other." Well... except Tuesdays. Tuesdays were dreaded by the neighborhood, especially Mr. Crump, because on Tuesdays, Mrs. Merriwether gave piano lessons to the children of Peach Tree Lane.

First came Morton, who "mangled Mozart" and "butchered Bach and Brahms." Then Florence Danube, whose "one-two-threes kept coming out as three-two-ones." Rhonda was next; she had energy, fire... but, sadly, no talent. Always last to arrive was Mr. Crump, who went only to complain about the noise.

One day, a cat appeared, and Mrs. Merriwether named him Beethoven. With a swish of his tail, the music was instantly glorious, and "Peach Tree Lane was never ordinary again."

Mrs. Merriwether's Musical Cat, by Carol Purdy, and illustrated by Petra Mathers, is an endearing story about believing in yourself. When I first read this book, I was taking piano lessons, and I could relate to the students (pre-Beethoven, that is) :-p

This is a fun book, with illustrations to set the mood that will bring a smile to your face.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Gentleman and the Kitchen Maid

a picture book by Diane Stanley, pictures by Dennis Nolan
In the city there was a great art museum.
There, two paintings, "Portrait of a Young Gentleman" and "The Kitchen Maid," hung across from each other.

Over the years, the two (the gentleman and the kitchen maid) fell in love. Unfortunately, they were trapped in their different worlds, in separate canvases, on opposite walls.

Other portraits in the room criticized their romance. "I can't imagine what he sees in her," a Grand Duchess sniffs.

One day, Rusty, a young art student, realizes the couple's longing for each other. By the end of the book, she finds a way to bring the lovers together at last.

The Gentleman and the Kitchen Maid proves that picture books can be very romantic! This love story shows young readers that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and that true love knows no boundaries.

Louisa and I love this book. The romance is so sweet - and the artist, Dennis Nolan, did an amazing job bringing a museum to life.

Louisa and I agree that the book's ending is one of our all time favorites.