Monday, March 18, 2019

Terrific tongues by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jia Liu

This book is for anyone who finds a little gleeful pleasure in encouraging a roomful of toddlers to stick their tongues out at people. Heh heh heh.

The story opens with a cute monkey sticking out her tongue towards some ice cream and a description of all the tools a tongue can be. "If you had a tongue like a sword, you might be a ..." the picture accompanying this shows the monkey with a long, sharp tongue fencing. Who has a sword-like tongue? Turn the page and find out that it's a... woodpecker! A red-bellied woodpecker is shown using it's long, barbed tongue to extract insects while the monkey watches from high up in a tree. Additional information about the woodpecker is included in smaller type.

The guessing game continues with the tongues of a moth (straw), frog (party blower), snake (nose), bat (mop), okapi (washcloth), and more. The last spreads show the many uses of a human tongue and a spread of all the creatures and their tongues in the book. Back matter includes more information about the different animals and their tongues and some additional terrific tongues!

Liu's digital illustrations and the layout of the book may definitely bring Steve Jenkins and Robin Page's books to mind, but this is definitely its own animal. Liu's illustrations mimic cut paper but are more colorful and detailed, especially in the wider scenes. They also offer more humorous touches, like the monkey using its tongue like a washcloth, covered in birthday cake.

Verdict: The interactive elements and colorful, humorous illustrations make this new animal attribute stand out from the crowd and are sure to guarantee it a success in storytime. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781620917848; Published April 2018 by Boyds Mills Press; Purchased for the library

Saturday, March 16, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am still tired

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
    • Summer Reading YS Staff Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • VIP Volunteers
  • Wednesday
    • Lakeland School field trip
    • Winter Wigglers: Yoga
    • Meeting with new department head for Parks and Rec
  • Thursday
    • Outreach: 5th grade career fair
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Rock 'n' Read
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Worked 36 hours; 18 hours on desk; 3 programs
Projects and notes
  • Of course I have a cold or something now. Of course. A mix of respiratory and stomach bugs are sweeping the down - I seem to have the respiratory one. That's why this week is fairly brief b/c I feel so icky.
  • I left work early on Tuesday to make up for last week's extra hours and had my hair done - mermaid colors are fresh now!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mr. Penguin and the lost treasure by Alex T. Smith

I love several of Smith's picture books; could take or leave his Claude chapter book series, and, while I personally enjoyed it and thought it was funny, am doubtful about the audience for his latest book as well as having some concerns.

Originally published in the UK in 2017, this wacky book introduces the eccentric Mr. Penguin, who longs to be an adventurer and detective, but is hampered by his equally strong love of comfort (and lack of experience). However, when he gets a call from Miss Bones and her brother Montague, who need his help to find a treasure to save the Museum of Extraordinary Objects, he is on the case, along with his sidekick and assistant, Colin the spider! After many weird and wacky adventures, and with the help of their friend Edith Hedge "who lived in the park" Mr. Penguin successfully solves the case.


It turns out that the real Miss Bones has been kidnapped and the Miss Bones and her brother Montague are two (male) villains, jewel thieves in disguise. I didn't care for the plot point of having "Miss Bones" be disguised as a woman and the only person of color is Edith, who is mostly pushed aside at the end (despite having really solved the case herself). As Kirkus says, it reinforces "dominant race, gender, and class norms". This is also pretty long for the theme and plot - a little over 200 pages - while the book reads much younger, about 2nd grade.

The main reason I'm attracted to this series is that it reminds me irresistibly of Angleberger's weird but oddly popular Inspector Flytrap and also Rider Woofson, which I don't care for myself but which has several dedicated readers. Mr. Penguin is longer and more challenging and certainly won't be for every kid, but I can see my Flytrap fans, who keep begging me for more books that don't exist, falling all over this one!

Verdict: Not for every kid or library, but if you have fluent young readers who like the weird and wonderful, with a side of goofy humor, this should go over well.

ISBN: 9781682631201; Published April 2019 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Small Readers: Mighty Truck: Traffic Tie-Up by Chris Barton, illustrated by Troy Cummings

Clarence, a dirty brown pick-up truck, has a secret. When he gets wet, he turns into Mighty Truck, a shiny red monster truck who saves the day! (A bubble before the title page gets readers up to speed on Mighty Truck's origins).

Stella the news chopper is flying high above the city, announcing traffic jams and other important news. Stella is LOUD, just like she should be... outside. But, unfortunately, she's loud inside too, and it's really annoying her friend Clarence. He decides to teach her how to use an inside voice - with an unexpected result. She starts using her inside voice outside too, and pretty soon traffic is stuck. Will anyone get to the big art show? Can Mighty Truck save the day?

Colorful cartoons decorate the pages and will definitely make kids think of the popular Cars franchise. The "moral" of the story, that Clarence needs to be more tactful and not criticize his friends is a bit off - Stella does need to learn to use an inside voice and an outside voice, just at the appropriate time and Clarence was actually really nice about teaching her how to have an inside voice.

The words are interspersed through the cartoons, in occasional speech bubbles, and between bubbles. The text is bold and dark and generally stands out well. This is a guided reading level K, so about medium.

Verdict: Not particularly stand-out, but a good filler with pleasing characters and a strong attraction for kids who like cars and trucks.

ISBN: 9780062344700; Published May 2018 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Jonny Lambert's Animal 1 2 3

I discovered Lambert's watercolor collages (I don't know if that's what they're really made of, but that's what they look like to me) a while ago and I've come to really enjoy the style. This is a simple but sweet board book with attractive images.

Each spread shows a few animals - some out in the open, some hidden, and asks the reader to count them. On alternate spreads, you lift a flap to see the full picture. So for four camels, you see two small camel calves and an adult, but if you look closely, you'll see there are extra legs behind the adult. Lift the flap (up) and you will see a second adult camel bringing the total to four. On the pages with no flaps, the animals are still challenging to spot because of their blended colors and shapes.

From the beginning; 1 bear is alone, lift the flap to see two flying dragonflies. One hippo and two noses are shown, lift the flap to see all three hippos. The fifth wolf of the pack is shown as only a flying tail until you lift the flap. Six mice have no flap. Seven lizards are shown on the page, but lift the flap to see two of them dance away. Eight penguins have no flap. Nine bees buzz across two full-page flaps and a field of sunflowers. Ten flamingos (no flap) are the final number and the last spread and page of the book shows the numbers and small pictures of each animal.

The flaps are the thickness and weight of the heavy board pages themselves. I don't think they actually need reinforcement, but maybe some extra tape along the hinge would be good. The book is on the larger side, 8.5x8.5 so it would make a good storytime choice as well, spreading out the flaps for a good look.

Verdict: A fun and well-done addition to any board book collection recommended.

ISBN: 9781465478450; Published November 2018 by DK; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Up the mountain path by Marianne Dubuc

Dubuc's pastel watercolors and colored pencils present a gentle but meaningful intergenerational story. The elderly Mrs. Badger has had many experiences and lived a full life. Every week, on Sunday, she walks up the neighboring mountain. One day, she meets a small cat on the way. She shares her food and invites the cat to go with her. She helps Lulu find a walking stick and keep going even when its hard. Finally, they reach the top of Sugarloaf Peak and together they see the world. Their weekly walks and observations continue, but one day Mrs. Badger is too tired to climb the mountain. Now Lulu climbs and comes back to tell her friend of all she's seen and bring her treasures. And one day, Lulu finds a new friend to whom she can pass on the wisdom she learned from Mrs. Badger.

Just so you know, Mrs. Badger doesn't die. This isn't a story about death but about generations sharing wisdom and the beauty of the natural world together. Dubuc's soft watercolors show a wonderful world of animals, nature, and other discoveries that the two friends make on their hiking trips and a lifetime of quiet nature observations and acceptance.

Verdict: While this may not be a storytime pick, it's a lovely story to read one-on-one with a child or in a classroom of older kids and talk about the things they can learn from adults - and what they can teach themselves, as well as fostering a love of nature and the ability to overcome difficulties.

ISBN: 9781616897239; Published October 2, 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bugs don't hug: Six-legged parents adn their kids by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Steven Stone

"Bugs aren't like us." So begins this silly, informative, and rather gross picture book about bugs. Bugs don't give hugs, serve scrambled eggs for breakfast, or... But wait! Mother crickets do lay extra eggs to feed their babies. Father beetles clean up their baby's droppings. Parent shield bugs find the perfect fruit for their picky eaters. Maybe bugs are kind of like humans after all?

Cartoon art contrasts realistic pictures of bugs with their offspring and caricatures showing bulgy-eyed, anthropomorphic bugs mimicking human behavior. The bright colors make for cute pictures, as long as you don't look too close... at dung beetles and their cakes of dung, burying beetles making a meal off a mouse corpse, or a mother pill big curling up with her larvae on her belly. This one isn't for the squeamish!

Back matter identifies each bug by their scientific name and gives more specific details about their habits and behavior. There are a few picture books listed for future reading and an author's note about scientific vs. playful language. There's a final note to parents gently suggesting they not pass on their bug phobias to little ones who are curious about the world around them.

Verdict: A great choice for storytimes or bug units, use this one to introduce kids to the ways we are all part of the natural world as well as to encourage interest in the bugs and creatures around us.

ISBN: 9781580898164; Published September 2018 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am too tired to come up with something clever

Happenings at the library this week:
  • I realized last week I missed the deadline for two grants I was looking at. I'm hoping the Friends will cover one and the other opens again in the summer, so I'll try to be ready next time.
  • Reports, preparing for summer reading meeting with staff next week, bills, preparation for the Maker Faire, and all manner of misc. things.
  • Maker Faire was exhausting, but worth it!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Two truths and a lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

Another edition in Paquette and Thompson's excursion into critical thinking, this book focuses on historical incidents. The book is set up to tell three stories for each category - two are true, one is a lie. There are also lists of facts (can you find the one fake fact hidden there?) and additional information. Back matter includes the solutions, sources, and a resource guide.

A goofy monkey cartoon decorates the pages, participating in various stories. The backdrops are photographs, but some of them make the text difficult to read. The book is divided into history - there is a set of stories for ancient times, more recent (over 100 years ago), and relatively recent events. The next three chapters focus on geography - weird places and the people who live there (or do they?). The final section focuses on people, from Ben Franklin to interesting cultural notes (did you know marshmallows grow in Iceland? Or do they?)

Verdict: Readers and teachers who enjoyed the first book, will be excited to find more challenges in this title. Teachers and parents will also find this useful for lessons on sifting "fake news" from the real thing and thinking critically about what we read, in print and online.

ISBN: 9780062418869; Published June 2018 by Walden Pond Press; Purchased for the library

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Open Wide! The ultimate guide to teeth by Susan Grigsby

I don't know where I first saw this, but it looked really interesting and I've been intending to read it for... a while. I finally picked it up, and it was just as fun as it looked!

The opening endpapers have six fun questions, or "toothy tidbits" with answers on the back endpages. This sets the stage for a funny and informative journey through the world of dentition. There are sections explaining the general organization of mammal teeth, the different teeth used by rodents, insects, and fish, and the different uses for teeth from eating to defense, from hunting to tools. Not just wild animals are covered, but pets, dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. There are in-depth sections on primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth, the history of tooth cleaning, dental hygiene, and even braces and orthodontia.

Back matter includes a variety of resources from online sites to museums, sources, acknowledgements, glossary, index, and credits.

I can see multiple uses for this handy and interesting book. Hand it to kids to dip into if they're interested in the human body, animals, teeth, dinosaurs, or history. Use it as a resource prior to dentist trips, wiggly teeth, or to soothe worries about the fate of baby teeth or future braces. Use it as a starting point for research, or just to pick up interesting facts to repeat (I'm thinking of teaching the seven-year-olds to say they're feeling grumpy because their lateral incisors are coming in...)

Verdict: Fun, informative, and definitely fills a gap, this is a toothsome book you will definitely want to have on your shelves. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781633221239; Published 2017 by Seagrass/Quarto; Borrowed from another library in my consortium