Thursday, October 01, 2020

Monster Anxiety! Bad Kitty Scaredy Cat by Nick Bruel

Back in her first summer, when Bad Kitty was a kitten, she was audacious... brave...courageous... dauntless, even... fearless.. and kittenishly loopy, and muddled (but never mind those lapses). She was one tough kitty, a take-on-the-world kitty. Until... HALLOWEEN. It began with the doorbell

Ding Dong! Out of the darkness and into her doorway appeared the most horrible and frightening creatures Kitty had ever seen! TRICK OR TREAT! She saw... an Awful Alien, a Bizarre Bigfoot and a Creepy Clown....
On and on they came out of the night--ectoplasms, Frankensteins, even Uncle Murray borrowing candy, a parade of horrors, right down to a yeti and a zombie, made even more horrible by their relentlessly abnormal alphabetical order Bad Kitty freaked out! Gone was the carefree, casual, ever plucky Kitty!
She was a very, very scared, SCARED, SCARED little kitty.
Is the Bold and Brazen Bad Kitty gone forever? Or will Bad Kitty rally to Clobber the Clown, Flatten the Frankenstein, Maul the Mummy, and Whack the Werewolf? What do you think? Uncle Murray the Moocher hasn't got a chance in Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty Scaredy-Cat (Roaring Brook, 2019). Halloween hath no horrors compared to a Reconstituted Bad Kitty in which author-illustrator Bruel returns to the alliterative, alphabetizing wordplay wizardry born back in 2013 in his first best-selling picture book, Bad Kitty, There are many lovely and lovable kitty cats in literature, but only one Bad Kitty! Says Kirkus Reviews, "An origin story―-and alphabet practice and vocabulary stretcher―-for Bad Kitty's fans."

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

History Beneath Our Feet: Forgotton Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery by Lois Miner Huey

The backhoe's teeth bit into the pavement, shattering the silence of the early morning with a loud roar. Workers were using the backhoe to dig a trench and lay a sewer pipe.

A round object rolled down the pile of debris and laid at the boots of a workman. He picked it up. Suddenly he found himself staring into the eye sockets and cupping the hinges of a jaw.

"Find anything interesting?" town historian Kevin Franklin yelled over the noise.

"A SKULL!" the worker shouted back.

Finding a human skull where one is not expected can be a big deal. After police experts determined that the skull was over 100 years old, local archaeologists in upper New York got interested. And when archaeologist Erin Klein's analysis showed the skull to be African-American, the scientists knew they might have found a rare upstate New York slave cemetery. Old records showed that the land was once part of the Schuyler family farm, and the carefully constructed coffins of the bodies buried there must have been made for the slaves of the family who farmed that land.

Many students are unaware that not all slaves were owned by Southern cotton plantation owners, and the discovery of these bodies, five infants, two children under ten, and six adults, all living before 1790, could provide rare insight into the lives of slaves on a northern American farm. Analysis showed that the bodies were buried over a period of years, in possibly three rows and in handmade coffins with handmade nails, made on the spot. They were wrapped in cloth shrouds and interred respectfully, all facing east in the custom of both African and Christian practice. Again, in accord with Christian practice, there were no grave goods found with the bodies.

Back in the lab, further bioarchaeological studies showed "attachment lesions," skeletal evidence of large muscle attachments suggesting hard work with the arms and shoulders and hands typical of farm laborers. The teeth of some showed evidence that they smoked clay pipes of the type found in British graves of the same period. Other bone tests showed that, with short-term exceptions, they had mostly enjoyed an adequate diet. DNA tests showed that that most were of West African ancestry, although two were born in Madagascar, an island on Africa's east coast. And finally some of the skulls provided molds for facial reconstruction, which allows readers to see the scientifically-determined facsimiles of some of the slaves, to look into the very individual faces of those interred on the Schuyler farm centuries ago.

For young readers who are intrigued by history and the related sciences that explore history, Lois Miner Huey's Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery (Millbrook Press) is an absorbing introduction to archaeology which indeed makes the past come alive, taking young readers right into the field, "into the trenches" with professional scientists who explore the physical history of which we are all a part. With many full-color photographs and old documents, inset fact boxes, and supplementary information about slave life introduced within the body of the book, as well as an appendix that includes glossary, index. sources, and bibliography, this short book makes for both a scholarly and deeply engrossing look at bioarchaeology for those middle and high school readers who may find the subject fascinating. Says Booklist, "... a vivid description of both the eighteenth-century slave experience and the field of archaeology."

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Hen's Eye View! Minerva Louise on Halloween by Janet Morgan Stoeke

Minerva Louise loved it in the fall when the pumpkins came to visit.

Minerva Louis is a hen, and so she sees things from a particularly poultry-ish point of view.

The visiting pumpkins are carved Jack-O'-Lanterns on the porch. The cheerful farmers are really kids in their Halloween costumes--dressed a a pirate, a pink and pretty kitty cat, a little busy bee, a witch, and a cowboy. And the rock gardens that the "farmers" are planting look suspiciously like fake tombstones in the front yard.

Then Minerva notices a skeletal "farmer" with a scythe...
But he looks too skinny to dig!

And the little farmers are so thirsty that they are sticking their heads way down in a big wooden tub of water and coming up with apples.

Look! Now all the wet sheets from the clothesline is running around the yard flapping! Even the pumpkins are all hot and bothered!
What's gotten you guys so fired up!

And now why are all the farmers ringing the doorbell, yelling "TRICK OR TREAT?"
Wait! They're getting corn!

Corn is something a hen can really get behind (or in front of) as Minerva grabs a muffin cup and gets herself some candy corn, in Janet Morgan Stoeke's humorous look at a hen's-eye view of Halloween, Minerva Louise on Halloween (Dutton Books).  This cheery book gives younger children a jolly introduction to the customs of Halloween and beginning readers a story they can read, while older readers will get a giggle or two out of Minerva's dumb-cluck interpretation of Halloween ways. Other stories about this holiday-loving hen are Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve and Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs.

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Monday, September 28, 2020

Big Buddies! Biscuit's Big Friend by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

For a little pup like Biscuit, keeping up with his big shaggy-dog friend Sam sometimes takes all he got! Sam's long legs give him an advantage when he dashes around the hard. He can jump over the fence, while Biscuit has to wiggle under it. Sam can carry big sticks high in his mouth, but Biscuit's best is just to drag a stick along behind him.

And it is SO much fun to run with Sam.


But Sam's water dish is so big that Biscuit falls head-first right into it!

But when the kids play Fetch with the dogs and the ball rolls out of reach under the backyard fence, it's Biscuit who squirms under the fence and fetches the ball right back to Sam.

Alyssa Satin Caupucilli's Biscuit's Big Friend (My First I Can Read) (Harper I-Can-Read Books) shows that size doesn't get in the way of friendship. Kids just beginning to try to read with help will find Pat Schories' illustrations cue them in to the text, encouraging them to identify with little Biscuit to try their best to read this fun story for themselves. For more ball games for Biscuit, pair this one with Biscuit's New Trick (My First I Can Read).

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

House and Home: Homes Around the World by Dona Herweck Rice

What kind of home do you like?

While those brightly painted Renaissance townhouses on a Venetian canal look pretty good, there are plenty of other dwellings for all climes from all over the world in store.

There's a rustic cottage on a lake, small but with a view. Or if you really want to stay on the move, there's a well-appointed motorhome to see the sights as you drive and say goodnight whenever you choose to park.

There's a homey white frame suburban rancher with matching white fence or a brownstone apartment with fire escapes for each. There's a stationary mobile home in town or a movable yurt out on the steppes. There is a modern apartment house with balconies, an old pueblo apartment (with ladders) or individual houses made of sun-dried clay, Or for a very short commute to work, there is a farmhouse with adjoining barn, painted, well, barn red,

There are brightly decorated roundhouses, or simple thatched-roof roundhouses, or small round huts made of bundles of reeds for each family. There is also a medieval castle with drawbridge, comfy and picturesque if you have plenty of retainers to do the housekeeping. (Warning: Cinderellas are hard to retain if there is a prince nearby.)

There are many types of homes in Dona Herweck Rice's emergent reader book, Homes Around the World(Time for Kids), rounded out with easy-to-read descriptions and home habitata, and with a Picture Glossary and Words to Know appended, making this one both an easy reader and a basic social studies source. Color photos show a wide variety of human habitats and the different sorts of houses people build for them. Pair this one with Rice's nonfiction companion book, Teacher Created Materials - TIME For Kids Informational Text: Kids Around the World - Grade 1 - Guided Reading Level I.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

What's Up with Fall? Fall with Lily and Milo by Pauline Oud

The weather is changing. It's windy and perhaps threatening to rain, but Lily and Milo want to explore the changes in the woods. The first decision is what to take--a woven basket or a little wagon?

That's easy. Lily takes the basket and Milo pulls his cart.

Now what to wear? Raincoat or swimsuit? Rubber boots or flip-flops?

That's easy--it's beginning to rain!

Lily and Milo walk into the woods. Look! No more rain! Lily points out a spider web, and Milo spots the spider. They notice apples have fallen and get busy gathering them up. But Milo finds an odd-shaped fruit. What is THAT? A pear! What is THAT cute little critter? A hedgehog. And here's a snail with eyes on stalks. Lily says the hedgehog lives under a bush and the snail lives in the shell on his back. Milo want to take everything back home with him.

Lily sees red mushrooms with white spots. They are so pretty!

"We can't pick mushrooms," says Lily. "They have to stay in the woods."

Lily puts apples and pears in her basket, but Milo loads his wagon with fallen leaves and acorns. Milo doesn't notice that some of the creatures are sneaking a ride home along with the leaves. It's beginning to look like autumn, and some of it critters have come to Lily and Milo's house, too, in Pauline Oud's early autumn expedition party, Fall with Lily and Milo (Clavis, 2019). Oud's jolly, colorful blackline drawings make for a perfect backdrop for fun in the out-of-doors in early autumn, just right for toddlers and preschoolers who are ready to search for signs of fall! Says Kirkus Reviews, "Thick, durable pages make this perfect for multiple readings and page turnings for the youngest listeners."

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Cool Ghoul! Ghoulia by Barbara Cantini


And being a zombie doesn't help. A bit lonely, Ghoulia lives in Crumbling Manor with her Aunt Departed, her dog Tragedy, her Uncle Misfortune (unfortunately inconvenienced by being a severed head), and her Grandad Coffin, a ghost.

Ghoulia is warned not to let the village children see her, for fear that their parents might drive them from their home. But Ghoulia can't help want to play with the others

Still, being deathly pale with purple shadows under her eyes and detachable limbs, Ghoulia is pretty sure the neighborhood kids will guess that she is a zombie, so she watches secretly. But one day she overhears the kids excitedly talking about something called trick-or-treating, and the scary costumes--ghosts, vampires, witches-- they are planning to wear for Halloween. Ghoulia has an idea:
"Dressed up as a monster, I can join in the fun!"

So, as her zombie-self, Ghoulia sneaks out of Crumbling Manor, carrying Uncle Misfortune's head as a trick-or-treat bag and bravely introduces herself to a group of kids dressed as a werewolf, a ghost, a witch, a vampire and a zombie, and follows them through the village, collecting goodies. The kids begin to boast about how scary they are, and Ghoulia can't resist trying to impress her new friends.
She tossed her head in her hand, spun it around, and put it back on!

"You're a real Zombie!" a boy shrieked.

Ghoulia has clearly blown her cover, but her new friends are thrilled. Together they form the Secret Monster Society Club, swearing to remain mum to protect the identity of their new friend.
If Ghoulia could have, she would have blushed!

Barbara Cantini's first book,Ghoulia (Book 1) (Amulet Books), joins a long list of uncanny picture book characters of the monster persuasion, from Caspar the Friendly Ghost to Kristyn Crow's Zombelina and Anne Marie Pace's Vampirina Ballerina (Vampirina (1). Share this one along with Cantini's Ghoulia sequels, Ghoulia and the Mysterious Visitor (Book 2) and Ghoulia and the Ghost with No Name (Book 3). "Cantini’s detailed full-color drawings ramp up the comedy on every page with labels and asides, including a page from Ghoulia’s Halloween-prep journal. This well-paced series opener will work well as both a read-aloud and a humorous choice for newly independent readers," reports Publishers Weekly.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Friend in Need and in Deed! Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant

It's autumn, and Poppleton needs a new winter coat. His old patched coat is not up to keeping him warm this year.

He heads downtown to the coat store.

"I need a new coat, Zacko," he said.

Zacko measured Poppleton from head to toe, from side to side, and then all around. "I have nothing to fit you," he announced. "You're too big."

I AM NOT!" cried Poppleton.

Poppleton stomped home. He studied his image in his mirror.
"I AM too big," he said, gloomily.

He slumped sadly into his easy chair.

His friend Cherry Sue spotted him through the window and inquires what's wrong. Poppleton confessed that he's sad to find out that he's too big to buy a coat! Cherry Sue was indignant.
"WHO SAYS?" she demanded.

Poppleton explained that Zacko at the town's only coat store said so. And so did his own mirror.
"POSH!" said Cherry Sue. "Zacko is a FERRET! You are a big pig! BE PROUD!"

"I'd rather be proud IN A COAT," Poppleton said.

But all's well that ends well, as Cherry Sue returned triumphantly, waving a catalog, BIG AND TALL PIGS!
"I get ALL the catalogs," she says.

Poppleton, a friendly pig who offers cookies to all the migrating geese flying over his house, deserves a friend as good as he is, in Cynthia Rylant's seasonal beginning chapter book,Poppleton in Fall: An Acorn Book (Poppleton 4) (Scholastic/Acorn, 2020). With the jolly, engaging illustrations of the award-winning artist, Mark Teague, Rylant's talent in creating endearing characters in cozy vignettes that delight primary readers is found in all of her early reader series, including Henry and Mudge: The First Book (Henry & Mudge), and Mr. Putter & Tabby I, 12 Volumes (Bilingual Version of English And Chinese).

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

You Go, Girls! The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller


Alta can't help thinking about how it would feel to be the fastest woman in the world, to have three big heavy gold medals around her neck, to be the fastest and the best.

And then a new girl comes sashaying down the street, wearing brand-new running shoes with laces so clean and white that they glow like neon.


Alta's shoes are what you might call well broken-in, with holes in the soles.

HUH! Alta thinks. Shoes don't do the running. Feet do. And she's got the fastest feet in Clarksville.

She challenges Charmaine to a race to the mailbox and back and beats her good.

Then Charmaine challenges her to a race to the corner and takes off before Alta can even think about it. And then Charmaine cuts her off and Alta trips, tearing another hole in her old shoes. Charmaine struts across the street, sashaying and making her braids bounce.

Alta limps home, feeling sorry for herself, but then she remembers how Wilma Rudolph had polio and wore a brace on her leg, but worked long and hard to become the fastest woman runner in the world.

Alta gets busy with her friends making a banner for the big parade for Wilma Rudolph, and when they're on their way to hold it up as she drives by, Charmaine comes along and offers to help them carry it.


And when Wilma Rudolph rolls by in a convertible, with a big bunch of roses in her arms, she waves and gives a special smile to the two quickest kids in Clarksville, Tennessee, in Pat Zietlow Miller's
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville (Chronicle Books). Zietlow's two spunky characters come together in appreciation for their sport to celebrate their hometown heroine, portrayed with affectionate humor in full-bleed watercolors by artist Frank Morrison's engaging little aspirants for the fastest girl in town, helping young readers to wish them both to have their share of winning in their world. Zietlow's appendix includes an author's note which fills in the details of Wilma Rudolph's amazing Olympic career which inspired others to race to win."Sweet and inspiring," says Kirkus Reviews.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Circling the Globe! Kids Around the World by Dona Herweck Rice

Kids all around the world... are a lot like you!
Charlie in Nunavet, Canada, goes to school by snowmobile. Rosa in Bolivia helps her family take care of their goats in a land of tall, tall mountains.

JoJo in Tanzania lives on a family farm, where his family raises two crops: corn, which he likes, and coffee, which he does NOT!

Li in China lives on a farm, too, a rice farm. He is proud that his country invented paper and uses it at school every day!

Ava in Afghanistan is proud of her father, who is a teacher, her brand new school for girls, and her pretty mountains.

Little Marta in Germany lives in a town with a real castle, and her parents help build cars that people like to drive everywhere.

And kids in the United States get to go to school with kids from all over the world, in Dona Herweck Rice's Teacher Created Materials - TIME For Kids Informational Text: Kids Around the World - Grade 1 - Guided Reading Level I, which shows children in their own homes where they live in families in many different places on the planet and go to school in different ways. Double-page spreads with color photos show young children with their homes, animals, houses, and landscapes, with brief text just right for emergent readers. Easy vocabulary and very different scenes give this beginning reader book high interest along with its primary text.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Into the Depths: The Titanic: Lost ... And Found by Judy Donnelly

The first big failure of the twentieth century happened in the cold, dark North Atlantic Ocean.

It is April 14, 1912. The Titanic is in the icy waters off the coast of Canada. It's near midnight and most of the passengers are asleep. The sea is smooth as glass. The air is biting cold.

The lookout high above the ship in the crow's nest stares into the darkness. Suddenly he sees a mountain of ice.

The Titanic is heading straight for it.

In the wheelhouse, the seaman on duty cannot steer away fast enough to keep the huge ship from scraping the side of the iceberg, which tears into five compartments of the inner hull. The unsinkable Titanic, on its maiden voyage, is already doomed.

Britain had long ruled the seas, and the Titanic was to be its symbol in the new century. On its first voyage to New York City, the largest, most luxurious, and fastest passenger liner ever to sail, said to be "unsinkable" because of its double hull, sank, bow first, into the icy Atlantic barely two hours later. With the orchestra playing lively tunes on the deck, terrified passengers, some in evening dress, some in pajamas, milled about on the deck, unsure what to do. Below in the lower decks, poor people waited for someone who never came to tell them what to do. The truth was that the ship carried 2,227 passengers, but had only room in its lifeboats to rescue 1,l00 of them. No lifeboat drills had even occurred, and the seamen failed to get all of the passengers on deck loaded and launched into the water. As people screamed, some jumping into the sea to reach a lifeboat, the orchestra switched to the music of a hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee," while the deck tipped and the ship went down, leaving only 705 survivors to be picked up at dawn by the freighter, Carpathia.

No human saw the Titanic again until 1985, when explorer/scientist Robert Ballard's submarine Argo located the wreck of the ship and sent back photos and video, so that people once again could see the ship and even the elegant stairway of its grand ballroom again, asleep in the deep!

Judy Donnelly's The Titanic: Lost and Found (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4) (Random House) finds just the right rich but readable language to bring this epic disaster to middle readers in all its drama. In brief but poignant sentences and short paragraphs, Donnelly's narrative of this memorable event in history brings the event to life for young readers, assisted by the vivid art of illustrator Keith Kohler. Says School Library Journal, "Exciting nonfiction books for kids just beyond the beginner stage can be hard to come by, and the story of the sinking of the Titanic and its subsequent rediscovery will be the ticket for both hard-to-please young 'real stuff' buffs and older reluctant readers. The descriptions of the ship and action are clear, facts are accurate, and the watercolor illustrations convey the high drama of the sinking. A must."

Another exciting book by author Judy Donnelly in this high-interest historic series for developing readers is her Moonwalk: The First Trip to the Moon (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5) (Random House). And for the amazing photos and story of the visual exploration of the sunken Titanic, look for Robert Ballard's photo essay book, Exploring the Titanic.

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Daring Double Agent: A Spy Called James by Anne Rockwell

When American soldiers arrived in Europe to help free France from its German invaders in both World War I and World War II, their battle cry was "LaFayette, we are here!"

And well they should, since America owes much to the French general Marquis de LaFayette, whose money and army helped win our War of Independence at the Battle of Yorktown. It was LaFayette's secret plan to lure the English general Cornwallis into allowing his entire army to be surrounded on a peninsula in Virginia, forcing the British to sue for the peace and allowing a new nation to be born.

But there was someone else who was essential in winning that final battle--a slave named James, loaned to LaFayette as a servant by a wealthy tobacco farmer in Virginia, John Armistead. James' intelligence and loyalty did not go unnoticed by the French general, and by degrees James became that most daring of spies--a double agent.

On orders from LaFayette, James dressed himself in tatters and presented himself as a runaway slave to Cornwallis and the American turncoat, Benedict Arnold. James foraged for food for the British troops, but no one paid him much attention.

That was a big mistake!

As James worked around their camp, Benedict Arnold openly discussed battle plans and left strategic maps lying around in sight of their servant. But James was smart enough to know that what he was hearing and seeing was very valuable to the American cause.
The British had so much faith in James that they even asked him to spy on the Americans for them. James carried information to LaFayette from the British and gave the British misleading information about American plans.

Being a double agent is doubly dangerous, but in 1783 the Revolutionary War ended with freedom for the former colonies, and soon James' freedom was granted by the state of Virginia, at which time he took for his surname the name of the French hero of our Revolutionary War.

In Anne Rockwell's A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent (Carolrhoda Books), a new patriot hero is introduced to middle readers, a man whose life-threatening midnight rides between rival camps outdo those of Paul Revere. The almost photographic oil paintings of the illustrious illustrator Floyd Cooper add verve to this historic account, especially in the scene in which Cornwallis visits the camp of the Marquis de LaFayette after the battle, spots the same ragged servant he ignored, and realizes that he's been led to lose the thirteen colonies by a mere servant.

With more information to be had in the Author's Note and Bibliography, this is a great book to introduce readers to a little-known hero of American history. "A profoundly successful work!" says School Library Journal.

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Bunny Buddy: Biscuit Meets the Class Pet by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Biscuit the pup has a visitor!

“Here, Biscuit! Nibbles is our class pet, here for a visit!”
Biscuit answers with a worried WOOF! Puppy Biscuit watches the little bunny investigate the room. He hops over to Biscuit’s bed to take a sniff of Biscuit’s toy chew bone. Biscuit looks worried. Then Nibbles finds Biscuit’s ball. Biscuit looks even more worried and quickly returns the bone and ball back to his bed, where they are supposed to be!

The girl decides to go get a snack to keep Nibbles busy and tell the two to stay right there. But Nibbles doesn’t stay put. He hop-hops under the table and then under the chair. Biscuit doesn’t know what to do. This silly bunny doesn’t understand what STAY means. When the girl comes back, Nibbles is nowhere in sight. Oh, dear! She can’t lose the class pet! But Biscuit’s nose knows how to find Nibbles! He’s hiding in Biscuit’s bed! What a smart pup!
Nibbles found your bone, your ball and your bed! And you found Nibbles!”
It’s a happy ending to the visit with Nibbles, with basic words and plenty of repetition in this My First Book intended for shared reading between a child and parent, with the help of artist Pat Schories’ whimsically charming illustrations of child and two young animals, in Alyssa Satin Cupicilli’s Biscuit Meets the Class Pet (My First I Can Read) (Harper). Learning to read is fun when it is shared with Biscuit and a nosy little rabbit. Share this one with one in which Biscuit takes a trip to see where Nibbles really lives, Biscuit Goes to School (My First I Can Read).

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Frills and Flowers! Annie and Snowball and the Magical House by Cynthia Rylant

At school Annie made a new friend.

One day Sarah invited Annie over to play.

And Annie can bring her bunny Snowball! Dad drives her over to Sarah's house. Annie is immediately blown away!
Sarah's house looked like a gingerbread house!

Sarah's house is a white-painted Victorian, with fancy gingerbread trim around the roof and along the porch, which is surrounded by flowers of all colors. There's a weather vane topped by an ornate whale. There's even a flower box at the upstairs window and a pink, flowering tree in the yard.

Sarah's mother greets them at the door and invites Annie and her dad inside to an equally frilly room, with flowery wallpaper, and with heart-shaped wreaths and bows, doilies, fringe, and doodads everywhere. There are even fresh frosted cookies with sprinkles for Annie's dad to take home!
Frilly things were Annie's favorite things!

Outside in the equally flowery backyard, with climbing ivy, roses, smiling angle statues, and even a spouting Cupid fountain, Sarah and Annie choose a huge blooming hosta as a perfect place to make a fairy house under its broad leaves and with a fairy table and plenty of rose petals. Snowball the bunny is happy to nibble the lavender. By the time the fairy tea is served, the girls' frilly dresses are a bit dirty and the two are very happy with their completed fairy house.

Back home with Dad, Annie has happy memories of her play date.

"It was magical," says Annie.

Annie the girly girl is in her glory in Cynthia Rylant's Annie and Snowball and the Magical House (7) (Aladdin Books/Simon and Schuster), in contrast to her usually more boisterous play times with her cousin Henry and his big dog Mudge.

"Dainty" is the word of the day for this addition to notable Newbery and Caldecott author Cynthia Rylant's beginning readers' books. Level 2 books in the Ready-to-Read series offer "more complex stories, varied sentences structures, paragraphing, and chapters" tailored to primary grade readers." Rylant's best selling series about Annie and Snowball, Henry and Mudge, and the High-Rise Private Eyes are great for rising independent readers.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Light but Useful! Feathers Not Just For Flying by Melissa Stewart



But we now know that dinosaurs did, too!

Of course, birds use their feathered wings to fly, but most people don't think much about what else feathers do (and did for dinosaurs)--they keep them warm! At least, people don't think about the warming powers of feathers until they need a down jacket and find out that "down" is a kind of soft, fuzzy feather from ducks and geese that holds heat very well. Birds have always known that, of course, lining their nests with down from their chests to help eggs hatch and keep their nestlings warm.

Herons used their long feathery wings to fly, but they also use their wings to shade their chicks and to help shade the water where they wade and spot fish to spear. In the tropics feathers protect against sunburn, too.

When birds oil their feathers, they become waterproof and help them float on water or glide through it gracefully, or dive down deep. Well-kept feathers help penguins slide on the snow, the way to go if you're are a short-legged, flightless bird.

But feathers are very versatile. If birds don't oil their feathers, they can soak up water for their nestlings to drink. (It's hard to bring a beaker of water to the nest in your beak!) For the manakin, wing feathers make squeaky noises to attract female attention, while the notorious peacock just spreads his gorgeous tail plumes and parades majestically. Who wouldn't notice him?

From tiny filoplumes to flight feathers, birds have got'em, in Melissa Stewart's fascinating facts about feathers, Feathers: Not Just for Flying (Charlesbridge). Illustrator Sarah S. Brannen provides the simulated nature notebooks with what appears to be feather collections. photos, drawings, and birdwatching specimens, one complete with a couple of trompe l'oeil faux coffee rings in the birder's notebook, making this a well-designed book to read for facts or browse just for the lovely illustrations. Other books about birds of a feather include Just Feather Photos! Big Book of Photographs & Pictures of Feathers, Vol. 1 and sequels.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Join the Reading Circle! Biscuit Loves the Library by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Biscuit is walking nicely on his leash. He and his girl are about to go into the library.

The room is full of kids--checking out books, returning books, reading books, and climbing up on stools to reach books. But Biscuit is busy checking the baskets full of toys--toy bears, toy dogs, and toy bunnies--and the baskets of books about bears and bunnies, but no dogs!

Biscuit finds earphones to listen to stories, but that's not what he is looking for!

Wait! What's over there? A round rug with a big comfy chair? There are kids on the rug with a curious cat in a carrier, two hamsters hanging out in their habitat, and a snoozing little puppy. But Biscuit makes a B-for-Biscuit line for the lady pulling a book off a low shelf.

"You found the librarian and a book about BISCUIT!"



Biscuit discovers that he is a super star pup even at his neighborhood library, in Alyssa Capucilli's
Biscuit Loves the Library (My First I Can Read) (HarperCollins), a fun, super-easy read about books and libraries for emergent readers and fans of cute puppies! When it comes to those first books for reading, a dog called Biscuit is a kid's best friend. Share this one with another visit to an important place, Biscuit Goes to School (My First I Can Read).

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Bad Day! Dragon Gets By by Dav Pilkey




Dragon opened the closet door instead of the front door and decided it wasn't morning yet. So he went back to bed.

But when he wakes again, he decides to get up and start his chores. The floor looks dirty, but after sweeping for hours, it only seems worse. When MailMouse rings the doorbell, she points out that Dragon's house has a dirt floor, so of course, it's "dirty." So Dragon shovels the loose dirt outside. Soon he has a huge pile of dirt in the yard.

Dragon decides there's nothing to do with dirt but bury it. He digs a large hole and shovels the dirt from his floor into it. At last that's done. But then he turns around and sees a big pile of dirt.

By now, Dragon is famished. But his cupboard is bare, so he drives up the big hill to the grocery store. Dragon is a wise shopper.

Dragon loads his cart with cheese crunchies from the dairy group, catsup from the veggie group, doughnuts from the grains group, and pork rinds from the meat group. And from the chocolate group he picks out fudge popsicles. Barely balancing all his food groups, Dragon staggers with his bags to the car. But it seems that when all the groceries are loaded, there's no room left for him in the car. What to do? The only choice is to eat all the food first.

It's one of those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days, in Dav Pilkey's Dragon Gets By: An Acorn Book (Dragon 3) (Scholastic Books, 2020), a delightfully silly noodle tale in which Dragon ends the day watering his bed and sleeping in the flower bed. Tomorrow can only be better!

Kids love author-illustrator Dav Pilkey's flair for the absurd in this beginning reader series that will be irresistible giggle bait for preschool and primary kids who love their books on the silly side. Pilkey, winner of a Caldecott Honor Medal for his novel, The Paperboy is also the creator of his comic graphic novels, Dog Man: The Epic Collection: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 1-3 Boxed Set), his best-selling series, Captain Underpants: 10 Book Set, and his classic pictures books such as The Dumb Bunnies, Dogzilla, Kat Kong, and The Hallo-Wiener., guaranteed to draw gales of giggles and make the day for young readers.

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