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Archive for the month “March, 2013”

eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

eleanor & park BY RAINBOW ROWELL (St. Martin’s Press, 2013)

Oh my gosh, what a great read! I heard some scuttlebutt about this book and ran out and bought it and I am so glad that I did. The story is about two teens – juniors in high school – who meet on the school bus. Park is Amer-Asian and kind of stays off by himself although he’s certainly not an outcast at school. Eleanor is a sad case – her mother has remarried and she chose one of the biggest losers out there. Richie is an alcoholic, he’s abusive, and Eleanor and her younger siblings are terrified of him. She pretty much lives in her room and avoids Richie completely but he goes out of his way to make her life hell. She’s a big girl and she dresses weirdly and her curly red hair couldn’t be more noticeable. She instantly becomes a target and finds herself badly bullied by the popular Tina at school. In fact, Park is the only one who relents and offers to share his seat on the bus. They say opposites attract and in Eleanor and Park’s case it turns out to be true. Their romance seems so realistic – he’s nervous, she’s nervous….but little by little they get to know one another. It’s wonderful. But then Eleanor figures out who has been writing those lewd and suggestive notes on her textbook cover and everything changes. This  book is an amazing read and it stays with you when you’re finished. What is love, anyway, and is it forever? 


A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke

A LITTLE BOOK OF SLOTH BY LUCY COOKE (Margaret K. McElderry, 2013)

To my eyes, sloths are utterly adorable. Having said that, they are a bit shaggy and they tend to be covered in algae in the wild so I can see that not everyone might fancy them. This book just might change your mind! Set in the Aviarios sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, this book treats us to everything about sloths. Did you know there are two varieties? I didn’t. It turns out that there are 2-toed sloths and 3-toes sloths. They eat vegetation which is lovely at the sanctuary. In the wild is far less nutritious for them and contributes to what they are known best for – moving incredibly slowly. In fact, it is this inherent slowness that actually helps the algae grow on them. It’s almost as if they are standing still which is a perfect situation for algae to grow. That and the fact that they tend to live in steamy climes. Not to worry, though, because that algae serves as a terrific camouflage for them so their predator, eagles, have trouble spotting them up in trees. This book does not offer any backmatter to give us even more information and they even forgot to include the URL for the sanctuary ( but it will serves as a good introduction to this very interesting and most unusual characters in the animal kingdom. And the photos will make you ooh and aah over how cute these creatures actually are. 

Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse


This book is offered as a companion to Mirror Mirror, Singer’s first book of reverso poems. If you haven’t discovered these poems yet you are in for a real treat. From kids as young as 3rd grade all the way up through high school (shoot, my college kids are enthralled by these!) get a huge kick out of these poems. Let me explain. A reverso poem can be read from the top down and tell the story of, for instance, the Tortoise and the Hare from the hare’s perspective. The accompanying poem is that same poem but read from the bottom up which magically tells the same story but from the tortoise’s viewpoint. I cannot imagine how Singer does it because it seems so very complicated to me. Mirror Mirror was a gem and this new one, Follow Follow, is also a must have. Check it out, you won’t believe how marvelous these poems are. 

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenfeld

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenfeld


The protagonist of this curious and fun picture book is an exclamation mark who really doesn’t know what his purpose in life is. He knows the question mark is always questioning, commas are pausing, and periods stop everything in their tracks. But what does an exclamation mark do? Over the course of this book he finds out the importance he holds as he adds oomph to every sentence that he ends! 

Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter


This charming homage to Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey completely stands on its own two feet. It’s based on a true story from Montauk, Long Island when five little ducklings fell into a storm drain while out on a walk with their mother. Everyone around runs to help to no avail until one bystander connects a cable on his pick-up truck to the grate and pulls it off. A fireman descends into the murky waters and plucks the ducklings out one by one to the cheers of everyone waiting above. The family waddles back to their pond with the help of a policeman who helps by halting traffic with an outstretched hand as in McCloskey’s classic. This story is new and fresh but bears a comforting and satisfying similarity to Make Way for Ducklings. Carpenter’s art work is absolute perfection. I read this to some 3rd graders recently and they LOVED it. They also got the connection to McCloskey’s famous book and then understood what an homage really is. Ah, the wonders of a picture book!

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen


Laszlo is a little boy who has always been afraid of the dark. Windows seem friendly during the day but at night they become scary. And the basement is completely creepy! When the Dark comes to visit him in his room one night, Laszlo faces his biggest fear head on. This story of facing one’s fears is perfectly complemented by Klassen’s understated art work.Laszlo is a little boy who has always been afraid of the dark. Windows seem friendly during the day but at night they become scary. And the basement is completely creepy! When the Dark comes to visit him in his room one night, Laszlo faces his biggest fear head on. This story of facing one’s fears is perfectly complemented by Klassen’s understated art work.

How To Be A Cat

How To Be A Cat

HOW TO BE A CAT BY NIKKI MCLURE (Abrams Appleseed, 2013)

With a nearly monochromatic palette (a touch of blue is found on each page) McClure creates a beautifully simple story with stunningly simple illustrations. Mama cat is showing her kitten all of the things cats do. Each page (or spread) has one word depicting what the cats are doing. From stretch to explore to dream, each page is a visual stunner. This simple story does have a problem when the kitten gets separated from Mama while chasing a butterfly but on the very next page the frightened kitten is found. This is a book that little ones will pore over and maybe even pick up a sight word or two.

Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid

Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid


Percy loves every kind of balloon. He likes to play with them but when he does the balloons always pop. Did I mention Percy is a porcupine? Therein lies the problem but Percy is determined to circumvent it. Percy thinks and thinks and finally comes up with a solution that works for him. This tale of doggedness is deftly illustrated with light pencil sketches of a porcupine most children might be able to draw for themselves. The soft, pastel palette makes the problem Percy faces not nearly as daunting as one might think. A real charmer for young readers.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet


Horace Pippin was a self-taught African American painter who worked around the time of WWI. Serving in France during the war, he was wounded in such a way that his right arm was relatively useless. Upon returning home he turned to other jobs but nothing fulfilled him the way painting did. By training his left arm to support his right arm, he was able to pick up painting where he left off. The famous painter, N.C, Wyeth, saw Pippin’s paintings and arranged for him to show his work. Pippin’s determination paid off and his primitive paintings are considered American classics. The prose is lovely and Sweet’s illustrations are superb. The back matter tells much about Pippin’s life, his painting style, and where his work can be seen. This is a lovely picture book biography of an artist whose story will inspire children ages 7-10.

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

MANDELA BY KADIR NELSON (HarperCollins, 2013)

This picture book biography highlights the life of Mandela from his childhood through to his election as President of South Africa including the 27-1/2 years he spent imprisoned for his political beliefs. It focuses on Mandela’s sense of the injustice of Apartheid and his compulsion to speak out against it. This picture book is a great introduction to a famous and important statesman for young readers. It goes without saying that Kadir Nelson’s art work is striking.

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