Posts from the ‘Not a Book Review’ Category

Robot Go Bot

Every month, each staff member takes the time to review a title that has arrived this month in 100 words or less. I include my contributions in a feature I like to call To the Point Tuesday. Feel free to comment with a link to your own to the point reviews.

Robot Go BotTitle: Robot, Go Bot!
Author: Dana Meachen Rau
Illustrator: Wook Jin Jung
ISBN: 9780375870835
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher/Date: Random House, c2013.

For the earliest of readers, this picture book formatted like an early reader presents an unnamed girl building a robot friend. Things start off well, with the pair happily playing together with bubbles, a ball, a boat, and a book. But then the girl finds other uses for the robot, she orders the robot to “Hoe, Bot!” “Grow, Bot!” and “Mow. Mow. Mow Bot!” Bot understandably gets frustrated and leaves. When the girl finds him, it’s to ask him back and give him his turn on the swing, learning her lesson and providing an example of good manners and friendship.

Friday Feature — Having a Ball!

Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

I noticed a trend recently in picture books where balls played an important role in the story. So I gathered up some for my monthly visit to the local preschool and we had a ball!

Watch Me Throw the BallTitle: Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Author: Mo Willems
Series: Elephant and Piggie

Anyone who hasn’t heard of Elephant and Piggie by now who works with young children should run right out and grab one (or multiple titles). Elephant insists that it takes hard work to throw a ball, but Piggie has other ideas and extravagantly celebrates his success. Or, what he thinks is his success, since really the ball has been unintentionally thrown backwards and Piggie can’t see the result of his wind-up. Gerald does, and out of frustration finally gets Piggie to understand that the ball did not go around the world. Piggie though is unfazed, and he reassures Gerald that although he didn’t throw it far, he still had fun, with the subtle moral coming across loud and clear. Stick around for the surprise ending as Gerald then celebrates his “successful” ball throwing skills. Even the littlest kids understood what was going on and the room was filled with giggles at the realization that they were in on the joke.

BallTitle: Ball
Author/Illustrator: Mary Sullivan

This newly published book is less well-suited for story time in that it only features the single word title throughout all of its pages. However, the expressive illustration carry the story beautifully as a dog wakes a girl and plays with a ball repeatedly until the girl leaves for school, with a purple bag slung over her shoulder as the dog dejectedly looks on, ball hanging from its mouth. After soliciting the mother in a yoga pose and outfit, a baby in a bassinet who bursts into tears, and the cat who wants nothing to do with the dog, the dog finally drifts off to sleep and dreams of different scenarios featuring the well-loved toy. I’ll be honest, I skipped over those because I thought I would lose my younger audience with those scenes. Eventually, the dog pricks up its ears because, yes, thank you, the girl has finally returned and is more than happy to play with her pouch, ending the story with a satisfying “BALL!”

Duck and GooseTitle: Duck and Goose
Author/Illustrator: Tad Hills
Series: Duck and Goose

This is a not so new book that also allows readers to be in on the joke long before the title characters. Duck and Goose discover what they think is an egg, and after each tries to claim it as their own, the find themselves in a face off sitting on the spherical, spotted object. They finally find common ground as they talk about teaching whatever hatches how to fly and swim. A little blue bird disrupts their contemplative stance, but also points out that maybe things aren’t as they seem, especially to these oblivious animals. Friends are made in the end, and it’s quite obvious from the cover that this very obvious case of mistaken identity is improbable but enjoyable all the same.

Stick!Title: Stick!
Author: Andy Pritchett

Throwing kids a “curve ball” (the preschool staff laughed), I ended the story about a dog and his stick. Similar in scope to Ball, this book features only a half-dozen words that are repeated throughout the book. Pritchett’s brightly colored backgrounds and minimal details contrast nicely against Sullivan’s more muted pastel colored palette. The excitable dog (who reminds me of Snoopy with his white body and black floppy ears) offers a stick to a cow, a chicken, and a pig who all refuse his overtures for grass, worms, and mud respectively. Flopping down with a storm cloud over his head and a gray background, he throws the stick in frustration… and it comes back with a “Clunk!”. It’s another dog, this one brown, who joins the original character, and the other three animals soon join them after peering around the pages to see what the excitement is about. A satisfying “Friend?” ends the story with the animals playing a catch type game. The animals initial responses are shown in the book before the word is produced via a page turn, which gives I think offers kids a unique connection opportunity to see that they were right about the animal’s predicted response.

Books I didn’t use:
Peanut and Fifi Have a BallTitle: Peanut and Fifi Have a Ball
Author: Randall de Seve
Illustrator: Paul Schmid

While I love the idea of incorporating imagination into a story time, the color palette was very similar to Mary Sullivan’s Ball with the peach and soft blues making up most of the story. I loved the girls’ responses to each other, mimicking the fleeting nature of ideas as Fifi springs from one thought to the next, and Peanut is ever the realist until the very end. When trying to convince Peanut to share her ball, Fifi imagines it’s identity as a basketball, needing a hat, serving as a crystal ball, becoming dough, and finally balancing on the nose of a seal. Peanut’s responses, on the other hand, include “My ball doesn’t need a hat”, “Check the closet” and “Just a ball.” It would serve it’s purpose well on a rainy afternoon that requires imagination.

Ball for DaisyTitle: A Ball for Daisy
Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka
This Caldecott winning wordless book was very similar to Ball and Stick in both its plot line (dog finds a friend to play with) and it’s language (it is wordless). Even the pictures of the dog are similar, with both Stick and A Ball for Daisy featuring a white dog with black ears making a new friend in the form of a brown dog. While the pictures are beautiful, I’d had enough of the limited vocabulary dog books, and decided to pass on this one and go for the newer titles that they hopefully hadn’t seen yet. That’s not to discount it, it was just too much of the same for this story time.

What books do you roll over about?

2 the Point Tuesdays Animals Upside Down

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Animals Upside DownTitle: Animals Upside Down: A Pull, Pop, Lift, and Learn Book!
Author: Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
ISBN: 9780547341279
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, c2013
Publication Date: August 27, 2013

Please be gentle with the many pull tabs in this ingeniously designed book about animals. Everyone will learn some new information about creatures that turn upside down to eat, sleep, or protect themselves. Did you know the bat sleeps upside down because it can’t take off by flapping its wings? Or that the sparrowhawk eats by turning upside down in flight and catching smaller birds unawares because they are watching for danger from above? Birds, beasts, beetles, and our fishy friends are all featured with interactive cut-paper collages. Many readers will recognize by Steve Jenkins distinctive style, which in some cases literally pop from the page. Don’t forget to flip to the end where it provides information about the animals’ sizes and locations.

Elvis and the Underdogs

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Elvis and the UnderdogsTitle: Elvis and the Underdogs
Author: Jenny Lee
ISBN: 9780062235541
Pages: 300 pages
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, c2013.
Publication Date: May 14, 2013

“Hi, doggy. My name is Benji. What’s your name, huh?”
The dog opened his mouth again. I thought he was going to lick the other half of my face, but instead he said, “Very nice to meet you, Benji. My name is Parker Elvis Pembroke IV. You may call me Parker Elvis Pembroke. Or Mr. Pembroke, if you prefer. So . . . this place is much smaller than I imagined.”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, did I just read that correctly? Did he say the dog talked? Well, I’m here to tell you that you did read correctly, and yes, the dog did talk, and that’s exactly what he said, word for word. But if you’re surprised, you should be, because when it happened, I was just as surprised as you are. So much so that I didn’t even know what to say. My first thought was that the twins were playing a joke on me, and my second thought was that perhaps I was having some weird allergic reaction to the dog, and my third thought was that I’d imagined the whole thing, because I’m a pretty smart kid and I know that dogs do not talk! [...]
And then I fainted. (72-74)

Ten-year-old Benji was born premature and as a result is small for his age, has lots of allergies, faints frequently, and finds himself at the hospital more often than school. The doctor offers Benji an ultimatum; wear an ugly padded helmet everywhere or get a therapy dog. When the dog arrives, it’s not a cute, furry creature but a 200 pound, two feet tall, TALKING Newfoundland named Parker Elvis Pembroke IV, who Benji promptly nicknames Elvis. Only Benji can understand him, which might not be as great as it sounds since bossy Elvis was destined for the White House and is unimpressed with his current situation. Both Benji and Elvis struggle to make sense of this mix-up and determine who’s really top dog. But will Elvis come through for Benji when it matters the most?

2 The Point Tuesdays Zebra Forest

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Zebra ForestTitle: Zebra Forest
Author: Adina Rishe Gewirtz
ISBN: 9780763660413
Pages: 200 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2013
Publication Date: April 9, 2013

“Just stay quiet and I won’t hurt anybody,” he said. “I’ll stay only as long as I need. Just stay quiet and you’ll be fine.”
I couldn’t think what he meant. But Rew, always quick, understood immediately. Behind me, I heard him dash into the front room and grab the phone.
The man was quicker. He shoved past me, rushed at Rew, and knocked the phone from his hands. [...]
Rew turned and ran for the front door. He fumbled with the lock, his hands shaking. I darted forward to help him, but the man grabbed at me as I passed, catching me by the hair. He jerked me back so hard, I lost my footing and fell against him, my head slamming against his ribs. Then his heavy arm came round my throat, and with his free hand he grabbed my arms and held me tight to his chest as I struggled to pull away. I kicked back as hard as I could, but his arm squeezed my throat and I held still, gagging.
“Stop!” he yelled at Rew, who had nearly gotten the front door open. “Go anywhere or call anyone and I’ll hurt her! You see? I will!” (31-32)

Annie and her brother Rew have lived with their grandmother for as long as they can remember. Their grandmother doesn’t talk much and has trouble caring for them. Knowing only that their dad was killed in a fight, they make up stories about how their dad could have been a pirate, pilot, or secret agent. But it’s hard to maintain their fantasy stories after an escapee from the local prison arrives at their doorstep and holds Annie, Rew, and their grandmother hostage. With no help coming to their secluded home any time soon, Annie and Rew need to come up with a course of action before something happens that tears the family apart forever.

More of a psychological question than an action packed thriller, I could see this sparking interesting discussions in middle grade reading groups.

2 The Point Tuesdays The Menagerie

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

MenagerieTitle: The Menagerie
Series: Menagerie #1
Authors: Tui T. and Kari Sutherland
ISBN: 9780060780647
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher/Date: Harper, and imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, c2013.
Published: March 12, 2013.

“What the . . . ,” Logan muttered. “Guys, who ate all your food?” And then put the lid back on?
“SQUUUUUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOOOOOORP!”
Logan froze. That was a noise he had definitely never heard before. And it had come from somewhere in his room.
He turned around slowly, his heart pounding.
That’s when he saw the tail stretched out along his carpet, sticking out from the trailing edge of his comforter. A long, golden, furry lion’s tail.
There was a monster under his bed. (17-18)

Logan has just moved from Chicago to a small town in Wyoming with his dad, following the only clue in his mother’s sudden disappearance. Logan literally runs into Zoe and Blue, the weirdest girl and most popular boy in school, who claim to be searching for a lost dog. Discovering it’s not a dog they’re searching for but a griffin, Logan returns the cub to Zoe’s home and enters a world of mythical creatures. Everything’s in danger of exposure if the three teens can’t track down the rest of the missing griffins. Was it an accident, or is someone attempting to sabotage the Menagerie and shut it down? A light fantasy mixed with realism, sisters Tui and Kari Sutherland have created a fast read. Readers will enjoy this first book in an obvious series, which sets up a satisfying ending while still leaving enough unanswered questions for the upcoming sequels.

2 the Point Tuesday Duck Sock Hop

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Duck Sock HopTitle: Duck Sock Hop
Author: Jane Kohuth
Illustrator: Jane Porter
ISBN: 978080373712
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.
Publication Date: May 10, 2012

Warm up, wiggle, stretch your beak.
Duck Sock Hop comes once a week.
The mood is high, the sun is low,
the music starts, get ready, go!

Jane Kohuth’s rollicking rhymes provide tumbling tongue twisters and Jane Porter’s colorful creations encourage enjoyment. Similar to Seuss’s Fox in Socks, ducks frolic in stylish socks from spots and stripes to “jeweled deluxe.” But like most dances, as it progresses the ducks and socks get worn out, until they tumble into each other and the ensuing pile-up encourages big laughs from the audience. But never fear, they’ll regroup and host another one next week!

Pair this with Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee (review coming soon) for a fresh, frenzied and fun look at footwear or pair with Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka for a rollicking, rock and roll story time. My outreach kindergarteners loved them both!

2 The Point Tuesday Chu’s Day

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be adding my contribution to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Chu's DayTitle: Chu’s Day
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Adam Rex
ISBN: 9780062017819
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Harper, c2013.
Publication Date: January 8, 2013

Readers are warned that “When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.” The panda cub’s parents are quick to ask if he feels a sneeze coming on when entering the dusty library or the peppery diner. Each time, Chu responds with a threatening and escalating “aah- aaah- Aaaah-“, only to finish after the page turn with a “No.” But it’s at the circus, when everyone is preoccupied, that readers witness the danger in Chu’s sneeze. Adam Rex’s expressive illustrations bring Chu to life in this book by celebrated author Neil Gaiman, which is perfect for a read-aloud during a sick day from school.

2 the Point Tuesday The Giant and How He Humbugged America

For my new job, all the librarians write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be adding my contribution to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

The GiantTitle: The Giant and How He Humbugged America
Author: Jim Murphy
ISBN: 9780439691840
Pages: 112 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., c2012.

Nichols had hit something solid. After banging his shovel on it several more times, Newell decided he’d hit a large stone and went to get a pick. While Newell was gone, his two workers continued to dig and clear the area around the stone. But they discovered something startling. The blue-gray stone was shaped exactly like a foot. A very large foot! […]

They worked quickly and managed to uncover the entire body in a matter of minutes. The diggers scrambled from the hole and all six men stood there, gazing in astonishment. Despite its being covered by a gnarly old tree root, they could see it was indeed a human body. A very old-looking one at that. And big. In fact, at ten feet, four inches long, it was nothing if not a giant. (11-12)

A New York farmer named Stub Newell enlists the help of some of his neighbors to dig a well for his farm in 1869. In the process, they discover a body of a man measuring over ten feet tall! Nearly impossible to keep secret, newspapers and so-called respected experts nation-wide weigh in with pictures and “evidence” on what the figure could be. Is it a petrified body? Is it some unknown ancestor to the Native Americans? Is it an engraving from some persecuted civilization? Or could it really be an elaborate hoax? In a time when science, archeology, and idea of specialists were just beginning, this convoluted tale of secret agreements, underhanded dealings and conflicting stories of authenticity became one of the biggest scams in America’s history.

2 The Point Tuesday Stealing Air

For my new job, all the librarians write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be adding my contribution to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Stealing AirTitle: Stealing Air
Author: Trent Reedy
ISBN: 9780545383073
Pages: 266 pages
Publisher/Date: Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., c2012

“What’s up?” Alex shouted over the noise from the wind and engine.
“Not us,” Brian answered. “Not yet.” He gripped the yoke, pulling with all his weight. They were up now, two, maybe three feet off the ground.
“Dude, this is awesome! We’re flying!” Alex said. “You got it!”
No, I don’t, Brian though. The pitch wasn’t right. The nose should be pointing higher when he had the yoke pulled all the way back. Instead they were level. The flyer smacked back down on its wheels.
“Give it some gas!”
“She’s at full throttle already!” The flyer was up and then down again. This was bad. They were running out of runway! They needed to get more air right now. [...]
“The road!” Alex shouted. “I’ll hit the brakes!”
“No, don’t!” Brian called back. “You’ll stop us right in the middle of the highway. Just hold on!”
“Of course I’m holding on!” Alex screamed. “The heck you think I’m doing?”
“Please no cars, please no cars, no cars, no cars, no cars,” Brian whispered. The flyer rolled out into the highway. (76-77)

Brian just moved to Riverside, Iowa for his dad’s new business. While fleeing bully Frankie on his skateboard, analytical “Mad Max” saves him with his rocket-powered bicycle… which later explodes. Brian’s understandably cautious about helping Max with his project of building a functioning airplane in an abandoned barn. Max swears it just needs two people to fly it, but Max is afraid of heights. With scheming Alex, who has big dreams of the publicity and pay-out this will yield, the three unlikely friends form a partnership. With some false starts (okay, technically crashes), a shortage of supplies, and Frankie still out to cause trouble, it’s anybody’s bet as to whether or not this plane will truly get off the ground. For fans of the movie October Sky, Trent Reedy’s novel soars, combining science and a fascination of flight with a realistically portrayed group of boys who struggle for greater heights.

I’m not sure what drew me in exactly, but I was thoroughly engaged and think it’s a great book for boys and girls alike with an intriguing cover.

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