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Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Seeing Red by Kathy Erskine (Ages 10-14)

Seeing Red by Kathy Erskine (Ages 10-14)

Red’s world changed completely when his daddy died. Daddy was his hero, his moral compass, and the best father a boy could have. His death precipitates a possible move to Ohio from their home in Virginia and Red is doing everything he can to prevent that. Daddy’s friend, an elderly black woman named Miss Georgia, remains a constant in Red’s life and is part of the reason for him getting to the bottom of a mystery his father left behind written in a small note yellowed with age. Set in 1972 when the South was still reeling from the Civil Rights movement and the country was in the midst of social unrest and political activism (think Viet Nam war protests, etc.), Red has to decide whether to do the right thing when he uncovers the mystery his father left behind.


Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Audio)

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Audio)

Life has changed for Piddy Sanchez. Her decrepit apartment building gets so bad that Mama decides to move them across town. Yaqui ends up at a new school with some rough characters including a bullying Latina girl with a violent streak named Yaqui Delgado. Piddy doesn’t know why Yaqui has decided to torment her but the torment ends with a physical attack on Piddy that is filmed and put up on the internet. Piddy feels all alone in this new neighborhood and school and her best friend from the old neighborhood has moved away. This once straight A student with enormous potential is slowly falling between the cracks. Will she rat Yaqui out or try to fly under the radar. This is a strong audiobook with a strong story of mother-daugter relationships, inner city gangs, tough girls and bullying.

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.

That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

Straying from his well-known Duck and his Elephant & Piggie series, Willems’ new book is a clever spin on an old tale of a fox outsmarting his prey. This fox may be clever but watch out for goose! The chicks who act as the “audience” keep us distracted enough to let the table turns without us noticing it. All in all, a fun farce that packs an unexpected punch.

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid

Have you ever wished that all of your problems would just disappear? Oliver sure did. Oliver is starting school and you can tell even on the endpapers that he’s worried terribly about it. He stops by the swamp on his way to school and gets an alligator to help him through the tough day ahead. And he does help. In fact, when the teacher asks Oliver his name, he stammers out, “Munch, munch” and the alligator eats the teacher. The same with all the kids and all the classroom decorations! When Oliver realizes that all the fun appears to be happening INSIDE the alligator, he lets loose with the incantation and out they all pop. The endpapers let us know that the alligator is actually Oliver’s reliable stuffed animal and at the end we see him left behind while Oliver goes off to school alone. This is a fun book that, despite all the people-eating, actually is very reassuring – especially in the hands of a good teacher/parent/librarian.

Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Ton Lichtenheld

Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Ton Lichtenheld

The creators of Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site have teamed up to do another lullaby of sorts. Here, the rhyming text follows all the animals and creatures onto a train just in time for them to go to sleep. The illustration on the last page reveals that the train is in the bedroom of a little boy who has chosen all the creatures on the train before going to sleep himself. The artwork is spectacular and the endpapers were a fun surprise.

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Seeger tackles bullying in her latest book and does so in a rather unique way. The red of the simple front cover along with the bull’s angry stare sets the stage for the scenes to come. We first meet the bull in an enclosure with a bigger bull who yells at him to, “GO AWAY!” The look on his face is sadness and hurt and he does what he is told. He comes upon a rabbit, a chicken, and a turtle who ask if he’d like to play. His expression turns mean and he bellows, “NO!” Even though he has just been hurt by the bigger bull, his behavior mirrors him with these new friends. He calls them names and each time he does he grows larger on the page until he is overpowering. Along comes a billy goat who looks like an ant in comparison and he challenges the bull by calling him a bully. After the goat challenges him twice the bull begins to think about what he has done. As if he were a balloon deflating, the bull flies willy-nilly all over the page. When he is back to his normal size he apologizes to the animals and forgiveness is the order of the day. Seeger plays with the bull’s size, with font, and placement on the page that makes children see the effects of bullying.

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue

When Jimmy was still just a joey in his mother’s pouch she crossed a road one night and was struck by a car. Amazingly, Jimmy survived the crash. The next day he was found and rushed to Koala Hospital where they set about making sure he survived by tending to his physical needs, including keeping him warm and feeding him. The story details the rescue as well as his rehabilitation and the work that went into preparing him to return to the wild. The photographs are priceless and the story itself will have children cheering for Jimmy. The text is aimed at the younger child and kids who are in first and second grades could even read it themselves. This is a great book to introduce marsupials, the problems with people encroaching on woodlands the koalas need, and the importance of integrating the koala back into the wild.

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Brian Floca’s impressive art is the first thing that draws you to this book. The trim size is large and the gorgeous cover with a magnificent locomotive almost demands that you open the book. Once inside the endpapers grab you with information about the trains and locomotives you are about to read about or just finished reading about. It’s the story of westward expansion and how the strength of many created this cross country railroad system. It is the story of our country. Children will pore over this volume, soaking up everything they can from the pages filled with onomatopoeia and the nuts and bolts of trains. This book can turn any child into a train afficionado.

Come Back, Ben by Ann & John Hassett

Come Back, Ben by Ann & John Hassett

Ben is a wee lad who holds tight to a balloon that takes him up and up. As he passes his sister, his window, the tree, and everything else on his way up they each call out, “Come back, Ben.” Upward Ben goes. When he lands on the moon he loads his pockets with rocks and down he drifts to home. When he gets there he releases the balloon and on the very last page we see what the balloon does next. This is a terrific beginning reader with charming illustrations and a fanciful journey that little ones will not soon forget

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