Saturday, May 18, 2019

This week at the library

Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Open Storyroom
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddler Party: Garden
    • Sewing Workshop: Accessories
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Family garden program
    • We Explore Outdoors: Bees
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Book Explosion: Percy Jackson and mythical fantasy
  • Friday
    • 1st grade field trip
    • Scholastic warehouse sale
  • Worked 44 hours; 14 hours on desk; 3 programs
  • Ordered materials for summer
  • Updated calendar to use a new format
  • Still working on neighborhoods weeding
  • Working on and off on summer programs
  • Getting ready for 5th grade field trip next week - spent several hours putting ALL THE BOOKS on hold!
  • Sewing workshop ended up mostly finishing skirts from last week.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Straw into gold: Fairy tales re-spun by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb

There are a lot of reworked fairy tales (E. D. Baker's are some of my, and my patrons', favorites) but McKay goes in a different direction with this collection of retold fairy tales. Her introduction, although definitely Euro-centric, clearly shows her love of fairy tales and her writing skills. The tales include Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Pied Piper of Hamelin, Snow White, Princess and the Pea, Red Riding Hood, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Hansel and Gretel, and the Swan Brothers.

McKay's reimaginings are British in tone, but also definitely in her own style. Rapunzel reflects on how she has to free herself from the prison of her tower, even though she's not physically trapped there. Rumpelstiltskin is retold as a goblin-like creature who is misunderstood and tormented by the villagers and smug miller's daughter. A lonely little girl listens to the wandering tales of her elderly grandmother and harassed mother about dancing with princesses underground. The youngest brother longs to fly, one more time, as a swan. A little princess finds a piece of a magic mirror that whispers to her about being the fairest. The stories range from sad to sweet, mysterious to humorous.

Gibb's silhouette illustrations have an old-fashioned, classic look reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and other golden age illustrators. Ladies in puffy skirts, fairies with wings, and little flecks of magic sprinkle the pages as McKay works her own fairy tale magic.

Verdict: Fairy tale fans, especially those who love the traditional, Western classics, will fall in love with this volume. It's not for everyone - young readers accustomed to instant action, over the top humor, or contemporary realism are not likely to pick up this dreamy collection, but for the right reader it will be treasured.

ISBN: 9781534432840; Published February 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mighty Meg and the magical ring by Sammy Griffin, illustrated by Micah Player

This beginning chapter is another "girl discovers superpowers", similar to Mia Mayhem. At her birthday party, Meg gets a special ring from her aunt, who is an archeologist. That night, she dreams of being a warrior queen in armor, fighting in a battle. The next day, strange things begin to happen - she has super strength! She can leap rivers! She does some tests and realizes it is indeed the ring giving her powers, but when she sees their neighbor's dog struggling in a swollen river, her powers aren't enough - she needs to be brave to rescue him as well. The story ends with Meg choosing her superhero name, realizing she'll have to lie to her parents sometimes, and foreshadowing her next adventure.

While the text is in a larger font, it's still pretty dense for a beginning chapter book. It's also fairly high-level, more middle grade than beginning chapter. It's illustrated in a somewhat blurry, muddy style in oranges and blacks. There are illustrations on every page, but they're not seamlessly integrated with the text, making it sometimes difficult to read the text itself.

Meg is eight and this just didn't work for me. Now, the only "non-canon" superheroes that my library kids really like are Captain Underpants and Captain Awesome - they usually don't go for the "kids with superpowers" books, but this one really didn't thrill me. While it's great to see a black girl as the main character, I was skeptical about her "dream" of being a Viking warrior. No blood is shown, but it had definite violent overtones, way too much for an eight year old. It's certainly wish-fulfillment, in how she can just disappear after school with nobody looking for her and a quick lie/apology smooths everything over, but it didn't sound right. Basically, this didn't sound like a real child and the text was oddly elaborate and/or stiff in places.

Verdict: If you have kids that enjoy this genre and are strong readers, it's an additional choice. Otherwise, I prefer Gumazing Gum Girl by Rhode Montijo.

ISBN: 9781499808322; Published January 2019 by little bee; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Small Readers: Flubby is NOT a good pet and Flubby will NOT play with that by J. E. Morris

I loved Morris' Maude the Koala books and I was thrilled to see she's published a true easy reader with her humorous cartoons. These are sure to fly off your shelves and I can't wait to introduce them to my book club kids!

In Flubby is NOT a good pet, Kami, a girl with brown skin and wild brown hair, introduces us to her pet cat Flubby. Her friends have pets too - they can sing, do tricks, jump, and more. But Flubby does not do that. Flubby does not do ANYTHING. Flubby is a very disappointing pet. But maybe there is one thing that Flubby can do? It turns out, he's just the right pet to have in a scary storm!

In Flubby's second adventure, Flubby will NOT play with that Kami is once again trying to elicit a response from the enigmatic Flubby. Kami has a whole bag of toys to try out on Flubby. Will he play with the mouse? With a swinging toy? Or the really exciting one? Nope. Nope. Nope. It looks like there's absolutely nothing Flubby will play with... except, just maybe, a brown paper bag!

The short, simple sentences, "This toy rolls." or Jill's pet can jump." put this squarely in that rare category of pre-readers. It falls at 150 on the lexile scale, or an E on the Fountas and Pinnell scale. The short sentences lend themselves well to Morris' deadpan humor, which is played out in the accompanying pictures. Flubby, a pudgy white cat with gray markings (inspired by Morris' own cat Flubby shown on the frontispiece with an equally unimpressed expression) is just not very interested. Tricks? He'd rather nap. Toys? They leave him cold. But when it counts, and just when Kami has given up on him, Flubby stirs himself and does the unexpected! Cat owners and cat lovers alike will giggle as they recognize the extreme cat-like behavior of Fluffy, sauntering home in the rain, only to suddenly panic when the thunder and lightning starts, or the sudden shattering of his cool when Kami pulls out the really "exciting" toy!

Verdict: A funny addition to the easy reader genre, this is sure to delight cat-lovers and kids who like the humor of Mo Willems and other comic writers for the beginning reader set. Recommended and I look forward to more Flubby in the future!

Flubby is NOT a good pet
ISBN: 9781524787769

Flubby will NOT play with that
ISBN: 9781524787783

Published April 2019 by Penguin Workshop; Review copies provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Wake up, color pup by Taia Morley

This joyful explosion of color is sure to attract children and adults alike. The story begins with a sleepy white puppy, her tail dipped in a pool of golden sunlight, in a dark, gray house. When she wakes up and bounces up to investigate the light, her tail keeps its golden hue. She runs outside...

and encounters a world of color! She plunges into the yellow sunlight, a yellow bird alighting on her nose and turning it yellow, then an orange butterfly leads her into a wash of orange, coloring her head and ears. A ladybug leads to red, then a dragonfly to purple. As each new color washes over the page - and the pup - she picks up shades of it dappling her white coat and blending with her previous colors. The pup demonstrates new movement on each page as well, "trot, greet, circle, sniff, wade, splash through." Color pup plunges into a blue pool, wriggles through the green bushes, but then a storm begins! The pup huddles with her friendly yellow bird as the frightening storm washes away her colors, leaving her in a gray landscape... with all her colors in a puddle! One last joyful shake and colors spatter the world, leaving the reader with a picture of a vivid and colorful world and a happy puppy, tail still dipped in yellow, as she saunters home.

The bold text and simple language, paired with glorious, joyful splashes of color, are sure to make this a storytime favorite. Read it in color storytimes, before art programs, and cozied up with a little one during a rain storm. Encourage your little ones to try painting their own colors on different surfaces and see the lovely color in the world around them.

Verdict: A perfect book for wiggly toddlers, make this a storytime staple and encourage your young listeners to wade, wiggle, and experiment with color right along with sweet Color Pup.

ISBN: 9780399559457; Published March 2019 by Random House; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, May 13, 2019

Life at the zoo: The secret world of your favorite animals by Michael George

I'm always looking for more books about zoos - there are plenty of books about animals, but hardly any about zoos! This book absolutely fills that need.

What is it like for animals at the zoo behind the scenes? Where do they come from? How do zookeepers take care of them? This introduction walks readers through the behind-the-scenes of a zoo, explaining about captive-bred and rescued animals, how keepers care for their charges, offer enrichment, handle medical issues, and train animals for their own health and the public's education.

Throughout the narrative, photographs of animals, their keepers, and the zoo surrounding are included with most labeled with species and/or name of the animal. Readers will not only learn how keepers feed, care for, and stimulate giraffes, they'll also learn how their neck vertebrae are organized. How have zoos helped the Galapagos tortoise? How do zoos teach animals to live in a natural habitat? Can endangered animals be saved by zoos? These and more questions are touched on throughout the book.

Although it's in picture book format, the layout is large chunks of fairly complex text, broken up by photographs. I'll be putting this in juvenile nonfiction despite the size, since it's really not a read-aloud. It would also pair very well with Zoology for kids, which offers career advice for many of the jobs mentioned in this book.

Verdict: Sure to fly off the shelves, this nonfiction book will fill a gap in library collections for third grade and up animal lovers, especially if there is a zoo in/near your community. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781454930891; Published November 2018 by Sterling; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This week at the library

Happening this week:
  • I've still got a cough that is driving me crazy. I had a ton of bills to do this week, plus suddenly realizing I hadn't done my monthly report and I'm still behind in getting ready for summer. Field trips start next week as well as a number of other things going on. I'm just tired I guess.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Joe Bluhm

A boy writes letters to his sister from the time she is a baby until he leaves for college. They start out as crude charcoal drawings, complaining about the sister being whiny, stinky, and loud; a typical baby. The two grow together, weathering arguments and illnesses, life changes and new challenges. Finally, the story ends with the brother leaving his sister all the letters he's written her and permission to use his treehouse as he sets out on his new adventure in skillful line drawings in black and blue shades.

The art is the main attraction of this story. From scribbly drawings of an annoying baby sister to "progress reports" on her whining abilities, to two exasperated tween boys stuck with a lively sister and her best friend at the movie theater, the art conveys the annoyance and exasperation as well as the growing affection between the siblings.

Verdict: This is a quick read with lots of pictures, it's humorous and touching, but ultimately it felt more like something that an adult would pick up than a child. It has a nostalgic flavor for the joys and sorrows of childhood and the bond of siblings that most kids won't appreciate until they are leaving home probably. Still, it's a sweet story and the heavy illustrations may appeal to some readers.

ISBN: 9781481451420; Published October 2018 by Atheneum; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The big idea gang: Everybody needs a buddy by James Preller, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

I've really liked some of Preller's books and I'm always looking for more beginning chapter books, but I had a hard time seeing kids pick this up; it's just too didactic.

This is the second book in the series; in the first book, four third graders formed the "Big Idea Gang" to get a cooler school mascot. In this second book, the third graders are chatting over lunch about their favorite parts of the day when they hear some interesting news; the PTA has a big surplus of money from selling the merchandise of their new mascot and is going to spend it on something for the school! The kids throw around some vague ideas, but meanwhile Deon notices a new boy who stays by himself and looks lonely. At the same time, their teacher gives them some important lessons on gossip. Then she tells them the PTA has decided to give the money to the library, to buy new books. The kids are disappointed that they didn't get to even suggest the idea they finally decided on; a buddy bench. But working together and with some help from various teachers and parents, they get their big idea. The benches are exciting at first, but then life goes back to normal. Even so, the kids still use the benches when they need them.

I appreciated the depiction of the librarian explaining why she had to get rid of old, outdated books and teachers will surely be able to use these to teach lessons on gossip, persuasive writing and speaking, and the importance of being kind. However, this... just wasn't very interesting. It didn't have a hook like a mystery and there was little to no action.

Verdict: If you're just looking for filler or teachers want a classroom book to read together to focus on social-emotional development this would be fine, but it's not a story that I can see kids grabbing off the shelf.

ISBN: 9781328857194; Published January 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: One patch of blue by Marthe Jocelyn

In this wordless board book, Jocelyn uses her collage skills to great effect to show young readers different perspectives. The "story" begins with a crouching child, with straight black hair and brown skin, a grainy blue patch of fabric coming off their jeans. Each following page shows the "patch of blue" in a different picture; as the bowl of a shovel, the car of a Ferris wheel, a window, a sign showing a person in a wheelchair, an aquarium, a house in a neighborhood with flowers, the tag on a dog's collar, and more. The final picture shows what appears to be a younger child sleeping under a quilt made of squares, including the patch of blue.

This book is just right for helping toddlers recognize shapes and colors and follow a single item through different transformations. The pictures are simple enough that young children can identify them without too much trouble, but complex enough to challenge them. Adults can make up simple stories, or just dialogue to go with each page. "Can you find the blue square? What did it turn into? Can you find a green square?" etc.

Verdict: I'm sometimes reluctant to buy Orca board books because they're almost twice the average cost of most board books - about $10 - but I think this one is worth the price. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781459820739; Published 2019 by Orca; Borrowed from another library in my consortium