Showing posts from November, 2016


A POEM FOR PETER The Story of EZRA JACK KEATS and the Creation of THE SNOWY DAY by Andrea Davis Pinkney, pictures by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-425-28769-2 Ages 6-10 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day helped open the door to children's books being published with diverse main characters.  While the lack of such diversity remains a problem, the numbers of such books being published continues to grow.  In beautiful poetic language, Andrea Davis Pinkney introduces the reader to the man behind the book.  I didn't even know that Keats had changed his name until reading this book.  I loved getting a glimpse into the man who dared to take a chance, who saw a picture of a cute African-American boy and hung on to it because it touched him.  And then 20-years down the road using that photograph as inspiration when creating his first children's picture book.  It was sweet r…

MMGM/NONFICTION MONDAY: Framed! and Choosing Courage

FRAMED! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti Aladdin, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-4814-3630-4 Source: publisher for review (Thanks!)
Ages 8-12
Middle grade mystery All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his …

PICTURE/POETRY BOOK REVIEW: When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, pictures by Julie Morstad Roaring Brook Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-59643-852-1 Ages 6 and up Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

december 29
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes

Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano's skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad's charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.


I decided to read this book after hearing it praised on Heavy Medal, the School Library Journal blog that discusses the Newbery Medal and its contenders.  I wanted to see if I felt the same as the others who had praised the book.  I am very happy to say that I do feel the same way.  The book is gorgeous both in language…

NONFICTION MONDAY: The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

THE BORDEN MURDERS: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller schwartz & wade books, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-553-49808-0 Source: purchased YA Nonfiction Ages 14 and up All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

In linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892, murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. Most of what is known about Lizzie’s arrest and subsequent trial (and acquittal) comes from sensationalized newspaper reports; as Miller sorts fact from fiction, and as a legal battle gets under way, a portrait of a woman and a town emerges.

With inserts featuring period photos and newspaper clippings.


I knew very little about Lizzie Borden and the murder of her pa…

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Fablehaven Book of Imagination by Brandon Mull

FABLEHAVEN BOOK OF IMAGINATION Create-Discover-Explore by Brandon Mull Shadow Mountain, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-62972-241-2 Ages 8-12 Source: publisher for review All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Fablehaven has sold more than 3.5 million copies and readers made The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven, the first visual discovery and definitive guide to all the mythical creatures of Brandon Mull's wildly brilliant imagination, a bestseller in Fall 15. Now it's the READER'S turn to tap into your imagination in the very first interactive guide to Fablehaven!

Tuck this journal into your backpack, tote it along and use it as a fun activity book for all things Fablehaven and to reflect on the mythical creature metaphors found in the series.

If you owned your own invisibility glove like Seth, how would you use it today?Learn how to draw a dragon’s head with step-by-step instructions.You have found the legendary Totem Wall. Choose a face to speak with. What questi…

SERIES THURSDAY: Meet the Bobs and Tweets by Pepper Springfield, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell

MEET THE BOBS AND TWEETS by Pepper Springfield, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell Scholastic, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-545-87072-6 Early Reader Ages 6-8 Source: publisher for review All opinions expressed are solely my own.

...the Bobs, who are messy, and the Tweets, who are neat. How can these two strange families get along in the same neighborhood? And are all the Tweets really neat and all the Bobs slobs?

This is the first book in a brand-new series of full-color, illustrated high-interest rhyming stories that's just right for reluctant readers. It's Dr. Seuss meets Captain Underpants wrapped into one zany adventure. Get ready to read...and laugh!
The Bobs and Tweets are two families who are about as opposite as opposite can be.  The Bobs are very messy, except for the youngest who prefers to be neat and quiet.  The Tweets are neat and quiet, except for the youngest who likes to be messy and loud.  When the two families inadvertently move in next door to each other, chaos…

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Nanette's Baguette/The Cookie Fiasco/We are Growing

NANETTE'S BAGUETTE words and pictures by Mo Willems Hyperion Books for Children, 2016 ISBN: 978-148472286-2 Ages 4-8 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Today is the day Nanette gets to get the baguette! Is she set? YOU BET!

Mo Willems' hilarious new picture book, Nanette's Baguette, follows our plucky heroine on her first big solo trip to the bakery. But . . . will Nanette get the baguette from baker Juliette? Or will Nanette soon be beset with regret?

Set in a meticulously handcrafted-paper-modeled French village, the uniquely vibrant laugh-out-loud world of Nanette's Baguette may be Mo's best creation yet. Get set to krack into an irresistible tale you won't soon forget!


Mo Willems has really hit it out of the park, again, with this amusing look at a youngster's efforts to run an errand for her mother.  Young Nanette, a frog, is sent by her mother to buy a baguette from the local bakery. Despite being distracted by f…

MIX N'MATCH MONDAY: Three World War II books (1 novel, 2 nonfiction)

PROJEKT 1065 A Novel of World War II by Alan Gratz Scholastic Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-545-88016-9 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Ages 10-14 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Infiltrate. Befriend. Sabotage.

World War II is raging. Michael O'Shaunessey, originally from Ireland, now lives in Nazi Germany with his parents. Like the other boys in his school, Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth.

But Michael has a secret. He and his parents are spies.

Michael despises everything the Nazis stand for. But he joins in the Hitler Youth's horrific games and book burnings, playing the part so he can gain insider knowledge.

When Michael learns about Projekt 1065, a secret Nazi war mission, things get even more complicated. He must prove his loyalty to the Hitler Youth at all costs -- even if it means risking everything he cares about.

Including... his own life.

From acclaimed author Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087) comes a pulse-pounding novel about facing f…

SERIES THURSDAY: Dead City by James Ponti

DEAD CITY by James Ponti Aladdin, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-4424-4130-9 Middle grade speculative (fantasy) Ages 9-12 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Most kids have enough to deal with between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends, but Molly Bigelow isn’t your typical tween. By day, Molly attends MIST—the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology—but it’s what she’s learning outside of school that sets her apart from her classmates. Molly is a zombie hunter, just like her mother.

This, however, is news to Molly. Now she must come to terms with not only the idea that zombies exist, but also that they’re everywhere, and it’s her job to help police them and keep the peace. Sure, she’d like to be a regular kid, but “regular” just isn’t possible when it turns out the most revered (or feared, depending on your perspective) zombie hunter in the history of New York City is your mother. It seems Molly’s got some legendary footsteps to follow…

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Bridge to the Wild by Caitlin O'Connell

BRIDGE TO THE WILD: Behind the Scenes at the Zoo by Caitlin O'Connell w/ photographs by Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-544-27739-7 MG/YA Nonfiction Ages 10 and up Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

With stunning photographs and exemplary narrative nonfiction, the Sibert Honor-winning creators of The Elephant Scientist, Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell, give readers a heartwarming insider's look into a day in the life of zoo curators and the meaningful bonds that they form with their menagerie.


I confess to having a great love for wildlife.  Yet I consider myself more of an 'armchair' wildlife lover because I enjoy reading books or watching documentaries about them, but I wouldn't work with them very well at all (allergies being only one reason).  So books like this one that talk about what working with animals is really like are really up my ally.  What I loved so …

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Hey, That's My Monster/Quit Calling Me a Monster

HEY, THAT'S MY MONSTER! written by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam Flashlight Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-936261-37-6 Source: purchased Ages 5-10 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

When Ethan looks under the bed for his monster, he finds this note instead: “So long, kid. Gotta go. Someone needs me more than you do. –Gabe” How will Ethan ever get to sleep without his monster’s familiar, comforting snorts? And who could need Gabe more than Ethan does? Gabe must have gone to Ethan’s little sister’s room! She has been climbing out of bed every night to play, and obviously needs a monster to help her get to sleep – but not HIS monster! Ethan tries to help his sister find her own monster, but none are the perfect blend of cute and creepy. Just when it seems that Ethan will lose his monster forever, an uninvited, tutu-toting little monster full of frightening fun ap­pears. Following in the spooky-silly tradition of I Need My Mon­ster, here’s another irre…

MMGM: Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

HOODOO by Ronald L. Smith Clarion Books, 2015 ISBN: 9780544445253 Middle grade speculative (fantasy) Ages 9-12 Source: school library All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell.   Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first.       Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.


The creepy Southern swamp atmosphere of Ronald L. Smith's Hood…

SERIES THURSDAY: Sprout Street Neighbors by Anna Alter

FIVE STORIES Sprout Street Neighbors #1 by Anna Alter Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-385-75558-0 Ages 6-9 Early Chapter Books Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In the tradition of classics such as The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh comes Anna Alter’s first chapter book.

Henry, Violet, Emma, Wilbur, and Fernando are neighbors in the same apartment building and they are also friends—though they have very different personalities and interests. Henry prefers peace and quiet, and poetry. Violet spends hours knitting and practicing her flute. Emma loves planning birthday parties. Wilbur would be happy to spend all day in his garden. And Fernando is just a little bit shy, but has a secret talent for the stage.

Sharing walls with your neighbor can sometimes bring the unexpected, but in the end, these five work together to overcome their differences.


Alter has created an adorable new series that revolves around the lives of five a…