BooksForKidsBlog

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back to School: Dad School by Rebecca Van Slyke

WHEN I GO TO SCHOOL, I LEARN HOW TO WRITE MY NAME, PAINT PICTURES, AND PLAY GAMES. MY DAD SAYS HE WENT TO SCHOOL, TOO.

I THINK HE WENT TO DAD SCHOOL.

And the endearing narrator Lucas approves of his dad's curriculum. He studies fixing boo-boos, making multi-decker ham-and-cheese sandwiches with pickles and potato chips for the lunch box, and how to toss his son and the air and never drop him (he practices with plush toys, of course, until he's error-free.) Of course, all that tossing requires BIG muscles, so all the dads have to spend some time in the Dad Gym pumping iron! And then there's that absolutely essential parenting skill--multitasking!

AT DAD SCHOOL, THEY EARN HOW TO DO MORE THAN ONE THING AT A TIME, LIKE MAKING BREAKFAST AND CHECKING MY HOMEWORK.

Dad can even play Go-Fish and pay the bills at the same time.

But Dad's education does have a few deficiencies--

DAD MISSED THE DAYS THEY TAUGHT ABOUT MATCHING COLORS, BRUSHING HAIR, AND CLEANING THE BATHROOM.

But what's a little messy hair and toilet paper and toothbrushes on the floor when your dad is so good at fixing your bike and climbing the monkey bars at the park?

Rebecca Slyke's delightful Dad School (Doubleday and Company, 2016) shows an adorable father and son, backpacks and lunch sacks and all, as youngsters learn how dads learn to do it all. Lucas is proud as Dad graduates in cap and gown and gets an appropriate trophy, all portrayed engagingly by artist Priscilla Burris's just-right illustrations done in blackline and flat intense colors. Burris even contributes winsome endpapers, with three-hole-punch lined notebook paper with repeat patterns of Dad's school supplies--from bandaids to wrenches to a deck of Go-Fish cards. This one is a sly way to approach the off-to-school jitters for preschoolers, pointing out that even Dads need their schooling. "Sweetly funny and full of paternal devotion," adds Publishers Weekly.

Pair this one with Van Slyke's and Burris's equally winning companion book, Mom School.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tall Tail Tale? Tall Tale Tail?: A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened To Anya on Her First Day of School) by Mike Boldt

ANYA WOKE ONE DAY..

ONLY TO DISCOVER

THAT OVERNIGHT SHE HAD GROWN...

NOT A PIGTAIL OR A PONY TAIL...

A TIGER TAIL.

A long, striped, orange-and-black tail poses several problems. For one, wearing new jeans or fancy tights are sorta out.

Not to mention how she's going to explain her tail to her new class and teacher.

Mom and Dad are no help.

"IT BRINGS OUT YOUR FUN WILD SIDE," MOM SAID.

"I FELT THE SAME WAY WHEN I GOT GLASSES. YOU'RE STILL THE SAME WONDERFUL ANYA!" SAID DAD.

Anya tries to come up with outfits to conceal the tail, but they all come up, well, short. She even tries disguising the tail by wearing all the clothes in her closet. They hide the tail, but she realizes she'll never be able to go the potty. either. She tries to pretend to be too sick to go to school, but Mom perkily pushes her along with a reminder that she doesn't want to miss the bus. But just then the bus roars down the street.

"I GET TO DRIVE YOU TO SCHOOL ON YOUR FIRST DAY!" SAYS DAD CHEERILY.

Anya settles sadly in the back seat, sitting on her tail, and concludes that she has only one choice to avoid an embarrassing disaster of a first day. She's going to have to run away to join the circus.

It's a particularly wacky way to start the school year in Mike Boldt's brand-new tall tale, A Tiger Tail: (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School) (Simon and Schuster, 2016). Author Mike Boldt pokes gentle fun at the unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions or bad-hair days that are the usual stuff of first-day-disaster tales with the story of a girl who has a real, albeit fantastical, personal problem to deal with on the big day, with the wry pitch that Anya's not the only one who's a little, er, unconventional in her new class.

Boldt's inventive and bright artwork keeps the treatment of personal differences light by making them more than a bit far-fetched, while portraying poor Anya's all-too-real wardrobe dilemmas with wry but empathetic humor. And his closing page features a first-day photo of Anya's class that drives home the premise that we're all a little different in our own one-of-a-kind ways. Of this different look at first-day-jitters, Publishers Weekly says, "Boldt has a fine idea and the pictures to match: his digitally rendered images have a painterly, acrylic texture and sculptural exaggeration that dovetail well with the humorously over-the-top situation."

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Monday, July 25, 2016

"Sleep No More!" Good Night, Owl by Greg Pizzoli

OWL WAS SETTLED INTO BED WHEN HE HEARD A NOISE.

SQUEEK!

It's not loud. It's not unpleasant, actually. It's not even scary. But what IS it?

Somebody at the door? Exasperated, Owl puts on his robe and shuffles to the door.

Nobody.

Back in bed, he wills himself to drop off.

"GOOD NIGHT, OWL." HE SAYS TO HIMSELF.

SQUEEK!

Now the sound seems to be coming from below him. Relentlessly, Owl peers under his bed. Nothing. It must be coming from under the floor. Systematically, Owl begins to pry up the floorboards, one at a time. Still nothing.

By now Owl is more than perturbed. He lies down, but by now his ears are tuned to hear nothing but that sound.

SQUEEK!

It must be coming from the cupboard. Owl takes everything out. Nothing. His comfy bedroom is in chaos. But as soon as his head hits the pillow, he hears that sound again.

SQUEEK!!

It's coming from the roof! With a wild look in his eyes, Owl grabs a sledge hammer and begins to demolish his roof Now surely he has vanquished whatever is making that sound at last!

Or has he? Owl's cozy cottage is reduced to shambles and he is one wide-awake and no wiser owl, in Greg Pizzoli's newest anti-bedtime story, Good Night Owl (Hyperion Books, 2016). With his usual puckish humor, Pizzoli's charming illustrations reveal the cause of his crazed insomniac activity--a small brown mouse, sometimes seen peeping from behind the head board or under the bed, sometimes from a facing page, always out of sight for Owl. It's a mouse who seems to want no more than a cozy place to snooze, as is revealed in the final pages as he and Owl finally say good night from their bed under the stars.

We've all had the experience of settling down in bed, only to hear that one strange noise that we just can't quite ignore. Being naturally nocturnal, owls are often chosen for the role of "night owl" in picture books, and this Owl is no exception. In fact, in his obsessive search for the source of the mysterious sound, Owl's eyes take on a comic, slightly manic look.

Kids will get a good giggle out of the mouse's stealthy appearances all over Owl's bedroom and Owl's silly measures to find him, and they will be soothed, despite themselves, by that final "Good night, Owl."

Pizzoli's soft and flat pastel illustrations, set against muted nocturnal gray-green and gray-blue backgrounds, belie the feverish activities of poor Owl while adding a comforting sleepytime mood to this story, a different take on bedtime. Greg Pizzoli is the master of wry, ironic humor for the preschool set, as evidenced in his earlier award-winning smash, The Watermelon Seed, which answers that burning childhood question, what would happen if I swallowed a watermelon seed and it grew inside me, or that other compelling question, what would happen if I told my parents to leave me alone and they actually did, as in Pizzoli's Templeton Gets His Wish (read reviews here).

Pair this one for storytime or bedtime with that other sleep-resisting owl in Jonathan Allen's I'm Not Sleepy! (Baby Owl).

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys! Chimpanzees for Tea by Jo Empson

Mum's in a swivet. The cupboard's getting a bit bare, and it's almost teatime! Vincent's engrossed in perfecting his soapbox racer, but Mum orders him off to the shops for a few groceries.

"A BUNCH OF CARROTS, A BOX OF RICE, SOME TASTY CHEESE, A BIG, FIRM PEAR, A CAN OF PEAS--AND HURRY HOME FOR TEA!"

Grabbing the list, Vincent jumps into the driver's seat of his racer and rolls down the hill toward town.  But as he waves to his friend Mr. Singh, the list blows away. Oh, dear, he thinks. He runs through the list in his mind.

"... a big. firm pear, and... a trapeze?"

But just as he's almost back on track, he spots a circus parade, with a stilt walker in the lead. Momentarily distracted, he tries to repeat the list back to himself.... Let's see... "A bunch of carrots ... a big furry bear, and a trapeze?"

With each distraction, Vincent's mind comes up with a new substitution to Mum's list, all in perfect rhyme. Fortunately, the traveling circus comes up with everything on Vincent's mental list, and he leads them all back to his house for tea!

"A BRANCH OF PARROTS, A BOX OF MICE, SOME CHIMPANZEES, A BIG, FURRY BEAR, AND A TRAPEZE."

All present and accounted for just in time for a proper British tea, in Jo Empson's tale of a strangely riotous shopping spree, Chimpanzees for Tea! (Philomel Books, 2016). With an author's nod to the oft-used "telephone game" plot, and with page design that emphasizes the brawling, sprawling nature of the story, a cast of comic critter characters, all in a swirl of movement, this one turns what is usually a humdrum errand that is everykid's idea of a bit of a bloody bore into an outrageously fanciful adventure. A ho-hum teatime turns into a party, ending with an sympathetic furry bear serving an overwhelmed Mum a much-needed cup of tea! "... A perfect read-aloud for all ages and a great memory game to play with school-age kids." says School Library Journal.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Derek Jeter Presents...Night At the Stadium by Phil Bildner

THE YANKEES WIN! "THAT WAS THE AWESOMEST GAME EVER!" GIDEON CHEERED.

TIME TO GET AUTOGRAPHS, DAD!" GIDEON LOVED AUTOGRAPHS, BUT ONE WAS STILL MISSING--THE ONE HE WANTED MORE THAN ANYTHNG.

"EVERYONE, STAY TOGETHER!" MOM SAID.

Giden follows his family, fumbling through his jacket pocket for his precious autograph book. But's it's GONE! He turns around to look behind him toward where he was sitting, but he hasn't dropped it there. And when he turns back around, his family is gone, too, out of sight in the crowd streaming toward the exits!

Gideon panics.

HE ZIGGED UP ONE RAMP AND DOWN ANOTHER.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" SAID A VOICE.

Everything looks strange, and the voice seems to be coming from a tangle of groundskeeping rakes and hoses in a corner.

"YOU TALK?" HE ASKED.

"WE ALL DO. SOME OF THEM TALK TOO MUCH," SAID THE HOSE.

Gideon feels as if he gone down that famous rabbit hole or through that looking glass. But he follows the directions from the talking rake and opens a door that says EQUIPMENT. Inside are some bossy yakking baseballs stacked in a pyramid. One of the bats hops into his hands, and in a wooden monotone croaks"Yer up, Kid!"

But Gideon isn't up to playing ball. Leaving the loquacious equipment behind, Gideon runs up some stairs, to where the food vendors' stocks are stored. He has to find his family!

THE HOT DOG SHOOK HIS BUNS, AND POINTED AHEAD.

"MONUMENT PARK!"

And inside the stadium's Monument Park Museum, it only gets stranger. Gideon meets Babe Ruth, who points his way to where Derek Jeter himself is waiting. Gideon gets his coveted autograph and directions to where he'll find his family from his idol himself, in Phil Bilder's takeoff on Night in the Museum, Derek Jeter Presents Night at the Stadium (Jeter Publishing) (Aladdin Books/Jeter Publishing, 2016). Fantasy-loving baseball fans will enjoy the inside tour of Yankee Stadium and get a chuckle or two from the wisecracking rakes and baseball bats in his latest of Jeter's baseball spinoffs. Jeter may inspire older readers of this one to move on to his popular semi-autobiographical boyhood baseball series, which includes Hit & Miss, (Jeter Publishing) The Contract, (Jeter Publishing) and his current hit (pun intended), Change Up. (Jeter Publishing)

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Something Wicked This Way Comes: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

"Never go into the forest," Pa had told her many times. "There are dark forces there that no one understands, things that ain't natural and can do ya wicked harm."

Pa has his reasons. He found the infant Serafina, a half-dead newborn at the place of a bloody struggle in the deep forest, a place that humans have feared since ancient times. And Serafina was not the usual infant foundling: she had only four toes and fingers on her feet and hands, her spine had extra vertebrae which make her unusually supple, and her collarbone is not joined, letting her squeeze into small spaces. And then, there are her large yellow eyes that can see as well by night as by day.

Pa's job is to keep the steam engines and giant electric dynamo running to keep lights on at the Vanderbilt estate in the North Carolina mountains, and at first it is easy to keep little Serafina hidden with him in the labyrinthine cellars beneath Biltmore. But Serafina is now 12, curious about the world above, and uses her small size and agility to squeeze through the air ducts and hide in dark corners upstairs to spy on the lives of the Vanderbilts upstairs. She even manages secretly to befriend the lonely young Braeden Vanderbilt, orphaned nephew of the masters of the house.

And when Serafina encounters an elderly guest, Mr. Thorne, wrapped in a frightful black cloak that seems to have a life of its own, she watches him seize the young girl guest, Clara Brahms, who seems to vanish in a black, stench-filled cloud inside the cloak. Serafina and Braeden watch other children disappear, first another wealthy guest, Anastasia Rostonov, and then Nolan, son of the stable master, taken from their carriage on a dim track through the forest.

Serafina feels that she alone can stop the devastation of the Black Cloak, but to do so, she has to confront the horrible apparition deep in the dark forest.

On the other side of the two crossed, she came into a boscage of rotting dead snags, with rocks on the ground as sharp as ax blades. The narrow, overgrown track twisted and turned, and dove down into a rocky ravine, and she couldn't see what lay beyond.

As she gazed at the darkened passage, a shiver went through her spine. She had no idea where it would lead her, but she started down the path.

Like the sorcerer's stone that grants eternal life and unbridled power, the evil black cloak needs a human body to carry out its evil ends, and as Serafina confronts the decaying Mr.Thorne inside the cloak in the graveyard deep in the woods, even she must resist its attraction, its offer of all knowledge, all power, and life everlasting.

Robert Beatty's Serafina and the Black Cloak (Hyperion Books, 2016), only published last month, has become an instant best seller and a classic tale of the young hero or heroine called to go forth in the battle with good and evil. Like the Harry Potter stories, with which it shares many elements of fantasy, this new novel offers the same non-stop immersion into the narrative, the same seemingly flawed, halfling hero who confronts evil, that made Rowling's series iconic. Beatty's narrative in Serafina's voice is hypnotically engrossing, filled with action and insight that foreshadows great sequels to follow, one of which has just been published, Serafina and the Twisted Staff (A Serafina Novel) and looks to establish itself as an American classic in the vein of the English fantasy tradition that gave us Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lewis' Narnia books, and Rowling's Harry Potter series, with the eternal struggle against evil all wound thrillingly inside our own native Appalachian folklore. A strongly written novel and a killer-diller thriller for summer reading.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fun Time! Where's the Party? by Ruth Chan

TO GEORGIE, THERE WAS NOTHING BETTER THAN A PARTY FOR HIS FRIENDS.

PARTIES WITH BALLOONS. PARTIES WITH LIGHTS.

PARTIES WITH CAKE!

Georgie wakes up with an idea for a party for his friends. He sits right down to make the plans.

1. MAKE A LIST.
2. GET CAKE.
3. INVITE FRIENDS.

Georgie makes his list and hits the pastry shop to pick up a large, festive cake. Then he initiates the invitations process.

Feta the dog declines. She's too busy making brine for pickles, she says. Georgie resigns himself to missing his best friend and consoles himself with a pinch of cake from his parcel.

Lester loves to dance, but he can't come because he changing the bulbs in his string of colored lights.

Ferdinand demurs. He just wants to be... alone.

Sneakers is too busy trimming his trees. And given the view of helium balloons seen through his window, it seems Rocco already has a party in progress.

Okay. Georgie moves on to his B list of invitees. One friend offers his itchy ears as an excuse. One pleads that he has socks to fold. One says her shorts are too tight. One implausible friend says the sidewalk is on the wrong side of the street!

Georgie is perturbed. There's a palpable supply of pretty lame excuses here!

But there's nothing for it. Georgie's cake is down to a morsel after he's consoled himself so many times, so he heads home disconsolate. Clearly, all his friends have something better to do.

And so they do, as Georgie the cat discovers when he opens his own front door, in Ruth Chan's new Where's the Party? (Georgie and Friends) (Roaring Brook Press, 2016). Although other authors have utilized the surprise party plot, author-illustrator Chan offers youngsters a truly charming little kitty and a crew of quirky characters with sorry excuses that will have most young readers suspicious and well primed for the final "Surprise!" Chan's little urban neighborhood is picturesque and and her curious critter characters are personable, with an engaging setting, done up in soft pencil, ink, and watercolors that are pleasing to the eye. Says Kirkus Reviews, " ... this uncomplicated feel-good debut is definitely a charmer."

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Runnin' Wild! Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

BOY: I love to explore!

BEAR: Exploring is my favorite thing to do!

BOY: There are so many neat things to see like over there! (Mother Quail and her chicks)

BEAR: So many strange things to find, like over here! (Weird worms under a log)

Two adventurers set forth on an expedition, the boy with flashlight and camera and notebook, the bear with a set of fireflies, a sturdy vine, and a flat rock for recording observations.

You'd expect these two to be comrades, even Best Friends Forever.

Except the the little boy has never met a bear, and the young bear has never encountered a boy.

Until one day they run into each other. Talk about strange sights. Suddenly they remember their parents' warnings about all the weird things in the wild!

BOY: I was scared!

BEAR: But then, I saw we were both explorers!

But the two intrepid wanderers can see that they share the passion for exploration, and combine their quest to discover more together.

Cale Atkinson's Explorers of the Wild (Hyperion Books, 2015) show two unlikely companions combining their quest and agree that together...

"No mountain is too big to conquer!"

Atkinson's sweet little parable of overcoming external differences shows that together is better than alone, and his style is to do more showing than telling in getting to the heart of his premise. Atkinson's illustrations of woods and mountains are inviting, and at the end of the day they have discovered a new world in the wilds."Beyond celebrating what nature has to offer, Atkinson leaves readers with the tantalizing and valuable idea that exploration of any kind, whether in the wilderness or not, can turn “I” to “we,” points out Publishers Weekly.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In The Swim! Puppy Pool Party: An Underwater Dogs Adventure by Seth Casteel

TEST THE WATER!

DIP YOUR TOES.

BLOW SOME BUBBLES

THROUGH YOUR NOSE.

What's cuter than a speckled pup?

A speckled pup doing a cannonball into the pool and flashing an underwater grin as he swims up to the surface!

Seth Casteel's newest in his Underwater series, Puppy Pool Party!: An Underwater Dogs Adventure (Little, Brown and Company, 2016), is another underwater romp with a cast of dozens of darling dogs, from a few weeks old to a few years old, all clearly enjoying themselves with the other pups in the pool. They blow bubbles and smile underwater, dive from poolside and duck to the bottom to retrieve water toys. They go down the slide to make a splash, and they climb up the pool stairs to the side and give themselves a shimmy and a shake, and a good time is had by all.

Casteel's rhymes (Give it your all--cannonball!) trip off the lips as exuberantly as the pups take to the water, making this one a joy to read to a child or fun for a child to read solo. The incredibly funny full-bleed color closeups of the pooches' expressions and body language in and out of the pool, all shot with a waterproof camera with (what else?) a fish-eye lens, are also a joy for the eyes. Included for dog lovers is an appended list of all the canine swimmers, with their thumbnail photos, names, and ages.

Salute summer with your own personal puppy pool party and get in the swim.

"... "Sure to make a splash at storytime," bubbles School Library Journal's reviewer

Other books in this series by Seth Casteel are Underwater Dogs Kids Edition, and Underwater Babies.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Snack in the Shade: What This Story Needs Is A Munch And A Crunch by Emma J. Virjan

WHAT THIS BOOK NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG,
BAKING BREAD
POURING PUNCH,
MEETING FRIENDS FOR A PICNIC LUNCH
.  

And that's just what we've got, in Emma J. Virjan's newest Pig in a Wig book, What This Story Needs Is a Munch and a Crunch (A Pig in a Wig Book) (Harper, 2016). Our bewigged porker is the hostess with the mostest, packing up a bright, checkered blanket for the spread, plates, and lot of eats to treat her guests, rabbit, and squirrel.

There are savory sandwiches, crispy carrots, apples, and peas, and ketchup for the fries. And for fun there's a ball for playing catch and a kite to send up in the breeze, and of course...

FRIENDS TO MUNCH AND CRUNCH UNDER THE TREES.

What else have they got? A shady glade to set up their picnic spread and time to play, and

KA-BOOM! A sudden thunder shower drops in to share the fun.

What do they need now! A hasty retreat, dashing to shelter with whatever they can grab.

Now what?

All they need for a party is food and friends, and an indoor picnic is fine, in this latest beginning reader book hosted by the Pig in a Wig. This installment in Harper's venerable and justly famous I-Can-Read series concentrates on the vowel-consonant combination -UNCH with plenty of fun for the whole BUNCH! Pair this one with any of Virjan's jolly rhyming readers, What This Story Needs Is a Bang and a Clang (A Pig in a Wig Book), What This Story Needs Is a Hush and a Shush, (A Pig in a Wig Book) or the series opener, What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig (A Pig in a Wig Book) for a little reading review during those long summer days over a munchy, crunchy brunch!



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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ban the Bot? Ray Bot by Adam F. Watkins

THIS IS RAYBOT.

HE LIVES ALL ALONE IN A JUNKYARD AND DOESN'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS.

Poor lonely Raybot lives in his very own rust belt. With not a pal in sight, Ray is forced to play both sides of his castoff checker board.

Poking around the place, he notices a handbill with a slogan that intrigues him:

Your puppy deserves the best, because he's your best friend.

BARK! BARK!

Raybot sets out of his junkyard into the wide world. If he can just find a puppy who says "Bark! Bark!" he will have a best friend. All he has to do is find him.

But as Raybot learns, there are a lot of creatures in the wide world. The first two he meets are quite friendly, but one goes BAA! and the other says BAWK BAWK!

Close, but no BARK BARK!

As Raybot wanders the world, he finds many amiable critters, who moo and oink, quack and growl. A hippo huffs out his HU-HU-HUURUUGH!  A monkey comes out with a spirited OOO-OOO-AH-AH and a snake has nothing more friendly to say than a hisssssss!

Raybot continues his globe-trotting, and finally finds himself in a rain forest. He spots a gorgeous parrot and tries his hopeful greeting:

BARK??

And at last he hears what he has been hoping for:
BARK!

A puppy! A best friend at last!

And ironically, with his best friend "puppy" on his shoulder, Raybot meets up with an equally friendly critter who says "WOOF!"

Friends come in all shapes and voices, in Adam F. Watkins' latest, Raybot (Price Stern and Sloan Books, 2016), a promising premise, and a plot that helps youngsters learn to recognize animals and animal sounds along the way. Watkins portrays his charming little Raybot and his potential animal friends with jolly verve, and preschoolers will chuckle at his adoption of a parrot who just happens to be able to sound like a puppy. Pair this one with Watkins' earlier R Is for Robot: A Noisy Alphabet.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

No Crystal Ball Required: Mira Forecasts the Future by Kelli Andrews


MIRA COULDN'T TELL THE FUTURE.
That wouldn't bother most people, but Mira's mom is the famous Madame Mirabell, the Miracle by the Sea.

WHEN MIRA GAZED INTO HER CRYSTAL BALL, SHE ONLY SAW HERSELF.

Mira tries faking it, but her predictions always seriously miss the mark. When she tells a boy that good fortune is about to drop in his lap, the scoop of ice cream in his cone comes in for a landing--where else?--right in his lap.

Mira is morose about her future career options.

But then one day Fisherman Fred asks for a forecast for the day's fishing. Mira notices the steady wind moving the pinwheel and windsock pinned to her mother's booth.  She notices the small fleecy clouds in the sunny sky and foretells good weather all day.  Fred is grateful.

Mira thinks she's on to something and borrows a few books on weather from the library. And the next day Mira hangs out her shingle:
WEATHER FORECAST
FREE FOR ALL
The regulars on the boardwalk and beach--Sam the Pizza Man, Taylor the Lifeguard, and Ms. O'Mooney the Beach Shop manager--become her daily patrons. Mira feels good about her job.

But then push comes to shove.  The day of the annual surfing contest dawns bright and sunny, but when Mira consults her barometer, her wind direction indicators, and her cloud formations book, she realizes that they all point to an approaching storm--a BIG STORM.
"GET EVERYONE OFF THE BEACH!" MIRA ADVISES.
"DON'T LISTEN TO HER!" SAID THE JUDGE.

Will Mira's prognostications prove proficient? It won't be hard for young readers to foresee what happens next, as Kelli Andrews' new Mira Forecasts the Future (Sterling Books, 2016) proves that meteorology trumps magic every time in a sunny story of a girl who finds that  a talent for science is also helpful in predicting the future. Lissi Marlin's illustrations of a retro beach town are bright and cheery as befits a summery beach story, and all's well that ends well down on the boardwalk.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Great Expectations! I Wanna Be A Great BIG Dinosaur! by Heath McKenzie


"MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD, I WANT TO BE A GREAT BIG DINOSAUR!"

A precocious preschooler has big aspirations! And it fortunately this must be his lucky day, a terrible Tyrannosaurus Rex appears to be his mentor! Gasp!

"YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING TO A BE A GREAT BIG DINOSAUR?

FIRST, YOU MUST . . .


ROAR!"

And once the boy masters roaring, his tutor demonstrates. . .

"STOMPING!"

Roaring and stomping are great fun, and the boy and his visitor have a good go at both. But then the T. Rex brings up another required behavior.

"EAT!

LOTS OF MEAT!"

His mentor demonstrates, devastating the provisions in the fridge.

"JUST MEAT?"

The boy tries to distract his dinosaur pal with some alternative and less carnivorous activities--eating pizza, reading, soccer, video games? To his dismay the dino takes to all of them, He has a great time, without a single roar or stomp! The kid can't even get him to stop gaming. He suggests that maybe it's time for his guest to go home for dinner.

But T. Rex looks heartbroken. Sadly he confesses that his secret wish, He just wants to be...

A LITTLE BOY!

And in Heath McKenzie's I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky Press, 2015), there's soon a compromise in the works. Romping, stomping, and roaring is fun for kids, but a T. Rex needs a little variety in his life, too, and a little ice cream, a good read, and a bit of fun playing pirate or spaceman is a nice change of pace for a sauropod! Heath McKenzie's ebullient illustrations add to the fun in this meeting-of-the-minds playdate which offers exercise for the imagination along with plenty of active playacting.

Pair this one with McKenzie's equally exuberant wish-fulfillment fantasy on the distaff side, My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess. (See my 2015 review here.)

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sleepytime How-To! Good Night Like This by Mary Murphy

YAWNY AND DOZY,
TWITCHY AND COZY,
GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE RABBIT
.

Little ones meet sleep in many ways, in Mary Murphy's adorable little book in praise of drowsing off to dreamland, in her Good Night Like This (Candlewick Press, 2016).

FLITTY AND SHINY,

FLASHY AND TINY

GOOD NIGHT, FIREFLIES. SLEEP TIGHT.

Author Murphy uses evocative rhyming adjectives to describe how a variety of creatures go to rest, some at night, and some, like the firefly, snuggled safely away during the day. Beetles, bears, and birds, kittens and caterpillars, frogs and fireflies, most have Mama close by to wish them a "Good night"or a "Sleep tight" to ease the way to sleep. Artist Murphy's two-page spreads of each creature settling down to sleep are lovely, with parent and child shown in soft, muted shades of brown or gray, with textured blackline outlines, a glowing pastel sunset, (or in the case of the firefly, a dawn), or a twilight or deep night, with their chosen resting place shown surrounded with silhouetted flora set against the blue or purple sky. Each double-page spread also has a half-page flap, in which a turn reveals the young one drowsing off to a sweet wish for a sweet sleep. Soft and gentle text and illustrations set the mood magically for going gently into a good night, which is, after all, what all parents wish.

"Move over, Goodnight Moon. There's a new star on the bedtime bookshelf," says Kirkus in its starred review.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wait for It! The Teeny-Tiny Woman by Paul Galdone

ONCE UPON A TIME...

THERE WAS A TEENY-TINY WOMAN--

From her teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village, the little woman sets out for a small stroll. It's autumn, and the chilly winds are loosening the last leaves from the trees as she opens the filigreed gate in an iron fence around a quaint old churchyard.

And there, on one tiny grave, there lies... a teeny-tiny bone.

Should she pick up that bone? Should she take it home in her teeny-tiny pocket?

Of course not.

So, in the best tradition of such stories, of course she does.

"THIS TEENY-TINY BONE WILL MAKE ME SOME TEENY-TINY SOUP FOR MY TEENY-TINY SUPPER." SHE SAID TO HER TEENY-TINY SELF.

Back home, she feels like a bt of a lie-down, so she stashes the teeny-tiny bone in a similarly-sized cupboard in her similarly small bedroom and climbs into her teeny-weeny bedstead. Soon her teeny-tiny snores fill the room, but her dainty nap is soon interrupted by a tiny but disturbing voice:

"GIVE ME MY BONE!"

Does this diminutive woman fork over the bone? Of course not! She burrows her head under her teeny-tiny quilt. Well, who wouldn't? And just as she begins her smallish snooze, she hears, a teeny-tiny tad louder....

"GIVE ME MY BONE!"

Does the little woman jump up and return the teeny-tiny bone to its proper teeny-tiny resting place?

Of course not! She huddles even further under the bedclothes and finally falls into a teensy sleep. But then comes that voice from the cupboard once more, now not so teeny-tiny at all:

"GIVE ME MY BONE!"

And then what happens?

What? You want a spoiler?

Suffice it to say, this old English folktale is one of a venerable genre known as the "jump tale," in which the reader or storyteller shouts a surprising something that makes the listeners startle or jump in their seats. This brand-new edition of Paul Galdone's beloved The Teeny-Tiny Woman (Folk Tale Classics) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), is perfect fare for pre-Halloween storytimes for first-graders, especally if they are already familiar with Jill Bennett's and Caldecott artist Tomie de Paola's simpler and charming preschool classic, Teeny Tiny (Puffin Books) and followed up by Joanna and Paul Galdone's homespun all-American version, The Tailypo: A Ghost Story (Paul Galdone Classics) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

These are delightfully slightly scary stories meant to be performed with gusto, with just the right ambiance in their illustrative atmosphere to hold a few kids or a crowd open-mouthed as the suspense builds to the final page-turning climax. For a class these stories are great for asking the kids "Why is this called a "jump" tale" and "What is alike and what is different in these stories?" Savvy readers (or ones with older siblings) may even recognize the, er, bare bones of these stories as forms of the more frightful fireside summer camp staple, "The Golden Arm" or the oft-assigned literary horror story, Edgar Allan Poe's The Monkey's Paw.

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