Posts tagged ‘0-100 pages’

Pingo

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a 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.

Pingo.jpgTitle: Pingo
Author: Brandon Mull
Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
ISBN: 9781606411094
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Shadow Mountain, c2009 Creative Concepts LC

This books is unfortunately not what I expected. Pingo is Chad’s imaginary friend, looking mostly monkey with oversized ears, small horns, and a eerily human face. It’s all fun and games for Chad and Pingo, until Chad has had enough of the teasing and wants to abandon Pingo. As the text states, Pingo’s against the idea and Chad now has “an imaginary enemy” who keeps him up and pulls mean-spirited pranks. When Chad is finally alone in a nursing home setting, he welcomes Pingo back and they resume having adventures together. Personally I’d be trying to get rid of Pingo if he pulled those pranks on me, not welcoming him back. It’s a surprisingly unoriginal story by an author who gave us such a fantastical and well loved world in his Fablehaven series. Maybe that’s why, although there is a sequel, he’s since stuck with the middle grade audience.

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a 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.

Dog that Nino Didn't Have.jpgTitle: The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have
Author: Edward van de Vendel
Translator: Laura Watkinson
Illustrator: Anton Van Hertbruggen
ISBN: 9780802854513
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Originally published in Belgium in 2013 under the title Het hondje dat nino niet had by Uitgeverij De Eenhoorn BVBA, c2013.
First published in the United States in 2015 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

An unusual book that tells the story of Nino’s dog, who happens to be imaginary. You know this initially by Van Hertbruggen’s retro drawings that portray a light-colored dog with dark spots that readers literally see through. Then the text reveals that everyone else has trouble seeing this creature. When Nino finally gets a real dog, it’s different than the one he imagined, but that’s okay because this lonely boy can still find joy in both the real and imaginary creatures he calls friends. The final double-paged spread showcases all these animals watching over Nino as he sleeps. The beautiful pictures help readers decipher the sparse but carefully worded text, and I’m curious to learn what children’s reactions have been. This is not a book to be read quickly, but slowly and reflectively, possibly before bed time.

We Forgot Brock!

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a 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.

We Forgot Brock.jpgTitle: We Forgot Brock!
Author/Illustrator: Carter Goodrich
ISBN: 9781442480902
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2015.

The weird thing about Philip’s friend Brock, dressed in garb reminiscent of a pirate, is that nobody else can see him and everyone calls him “Philip’s Imaginary Friend.” After a day at the fair, Philip falls asleep and Brock gets left behind. Luckily, a girl named Anne and her own imaginary friend named Princess Sparkle Dust find Brock and bring him home with them. Will Brock and Philip ever find each other again? Watercolor illustrations portray the imaginary friends in childish, crayon like states very different from the rest of the more detailed drawings, although if you look carefully you’ll notice they still cast shadows. The problem is neatly solved and everyone makes a new friend in the end. The story is realistically childlike, down to Philip posting “Lost” flyers, which prove surprisingly effective! A sweet story perfect to share with children who may have their own imaginary friend.

The Price of Freedom

Price of FreedomTitle: The Price of Freedom
Author: Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
ISBN: 9780802721662
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Walker Books for Young Readers, c2013
Publication Date: January 8, 2013

Trouble began in early September 1858, when a ten-year-old boy spied several “rough-looking” men on the porch of an Oberlin flophouse. Suspecting that they were slave hunters, Oberlinians posted lookouts around the hotel.
Indeed, the men were slave hunters. They were led by Anderson Jennings, a Kentuckian who had been promised $500 per slave (equal to about $13,000 each in today’s money) for returning John and Frank to their former owners.

John and Frank had escaped from their master in January, 1856. Fleeing Kentucky, they crossed into Ohio where Quakers sheltered runaway slaves. Even though Ohio was a free state, they could still be legally captured, so the original plan was to continue on to Canada. Upon arriving in Oberlin, Ohio and learning the route was blocked, the two friends stayed in the friendly town, taking up jobs and living among its residents. That all changes when slave catchers come to town, and John is captured. With the law against them, residents of Oberlin demanded John’s release. But are they successful in this time of divided ideals and conflicting politics?

I was slightly disappointed by this book. While the story is unique, based on fact, and one I’d never heard of, the writing lacks the suspense that should probably be present. Almost half the story contains very short non-sequiturs introducing the people involved in rescuing John, which quickly bogs down and confuses the story. The artwork starts strong, and I was especially struck by the page where we see John and Frank peering over a fence with the moon lighting their path visible behind them. Surrounded by spooky, bare-limbed trees, it’s astonishing how well the mood is struck with that one picture. In contrast, the scene where the townspeople have gathered, demanding John’s release, looks hastily colored, with none of the details and only vague impressions and blobs of paint for some of the faces. Eric Velasquez’s artwork seems to lose something when doing larger scenes, and if he had stuck to the closeups and featured only a handful of people in each of his drawings, then I think it would have worked better.

The other thing missing from this book is map! While I’m impressed that the book provides a bibliography, further reading, and websites lists, along with a small note in the back, there is no map of either the route John and Frank took, or a state map simply identifying where Oberlin is located in correlation to Cleveland. On the suggested Oberlin College website, readers can view a picture of a monument dedicated to the Oberlinians who fought for John’s freedom, but there’s no mention of that monument in the book. Instead, it mentions a sculpture that “honors the role of the college and town” but there’s no picture of it in the book or on the website.

Overall, I feel like this very short story would have worked better in a compilation of little known tales involving either the underground railroad or civil war history since so little is known about the participants. Libraries in Ohio have a unique link to the story, and would do well to have it on hand for young school children. However, I’m not sure how much demand there will be outside of the immediately mentioned area. If this is a diamond in the rough, I think it still needs a little polishing.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

Drowned City

Drowned City.jpgTitle: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
Author/Illustrator: Don Brown
ISBN: 9780544157774
Pages: 96 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2015.

“Monday, August 29
The hurricane’s strength slips from category 5 to category 3. But it is still a monster, measuring four hundred miles across, with 121-mph winds. At the last moment, Katrina “wobbles” and steers a bit east of New Orleans, sparing the city a direct hit.” (12)

Published to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this slim volume starts before the storm and continues its coverage of the storm through the immediate aftermath.With a critical eye towards the efforts of various governments and agencies to react, he draws from multiple sources to use the words of those immediately affected by the disaster. While the city is still attempting to rebuild, and will probably continue their efforts into the foreseeable future, it’s an eye-opening account aimed at children who weren’t even alive when it happened.

Don Brown’s illustrations (which I’m told on the copyright page are “pen and ink with digital paint”) are the most affecting part of this story. Brown wisely lets the pictures tell most of the story. The double paged spread (which is divided into two panels so as to avoid loosing any of it in the bleed) on pages 30-31 is just one example. Simply narrated with “People fight the flood. Some succeed. Others do not.” readers’ eyes are arrested by the single body sinking under the water as others struggle for gasping breaths and rooftop rescuers struggle to pull them to safety. An earlier set of four panels, vertically stacked, show flip-book style a wave crashing into the town of Buras, Louisiana, with only the water tower remaining. You see the pictures and the devastation before being reassured that, in this case, “The townspeople have all evacuate and no one dies.” Those are just two of many examples of the arresting artwork and well-placed text blocks. The cover is stamped that a “Portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.” Hopefully the funds will be put to good use. Pair with the earlier reviewed Finding Someplace, as many of that main character’s fictionalized experiences are detailed in this emotionally moving graphic novel. Highly recommended.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

World Penguin Day

April 25 marks World Penguin Day! Why, you ask, are penguins celebrated in April, when the weather is finally starting to cooperate (hopefully)? It’s because this day has been proven to coincide with the annual northern migration of penguins, as detailed on the Ian Somerhalder Foundation’s website.

I however continue to present my penguin themed story time in the winter, because two-year-old children have no sense of migration unless it’s the migration between my story time carpet to the toy area and back. Penguin Awareness Day is January 20th, and that’s when I choose to celebrate our fine flightless friend.

Penguin Cha-ChaTitle: Penguin Cha-Cha
Author/Illustrator: Kristi Valiant
ISBN: 9780375970726
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., c2013.

How have I gone so long without knowing about this darling book? Julia, perched atop of a tree branch in a flouncy green skirt, is watching the dance show at the Romping Chomping Park and Zoo, when she notices some interlopers on stage. It’s the penguins, pilfering the props and beating a hasty retreat back to their enclosure. Julia is intent on joining in the fun, but the penguins see through her disguise and ultimately that of her unlikely dance partner. Will the penguins allow her to join their party, or is she relegated to observer? The penguin exhibit isn’t really an enclosure with an ice bridge leading right out through the door, but I’m suspending belief on that and most of the exhibit designs. That’s part of the whimsy, as monkeys frolic in a banana themed structure and the giraffe and elephants are seen interacting with patrons. Also part of the whimsy is Julia’s electric tape and pillow costume fooling the zoo staff and her repeated interactions with the animals. Never mind that though, suspend away, because the illustrations work so well. Bright, bold, expressive, and full of movement, these penguins have personality, possibly influenced by the penguins in the Madagascar movies.

I Wish I Could Dance.jpgTitle: I Wish I Could … DANCE!
Author: Tiziana Bendall-Brunello
Illustrator: John Bendall-Brunello
ISBN: 9781609921071
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: QEB Publishing, Inc. 2011.

Penguin watches a dance at the zoo, where the monkeys swing dance (haha) and the flamingos dance ballet and the hippos line dance. Little Penguin can’t do any of those things right. His moves spark a movement though, and creates a new “break dancing” because it breaks all the rules. Penguin is reminiscent of Gerald in the Elephant and Piggie series Elephants Can’t Dance, with his sheer enthusiasm to try something new, but his complete disregard for accuracy in light of his utter joy is unique and a refreshing spin (couldn’t resist) on attempting to learn a new skill.

Flora and the PenguinTitle: Flora and the Penguin
Author/Illustrator: Molly Idle
ISBN: 9781452128917
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books LLC, c2014.

If you liked Flora and the Flamingo, you’ll enjoy this follow-up to one of a previous year’s Caldecott Honor Books. Flora, decked out in a blue snow suit with yellow accents in her shirt, hat, and the pom-poms on her ice skates, encounters a penguin whom she invites to dance. After several spins around the ice, the penguin disappears into the water to bring up a fish to present to Flora. Not as pleased with the gift as the penguin expected, his look of aghast as Flora flings it back into the frozen water is priceless. Flora than must set things right. This wordless book is designed beautifully, with a few simple flaps and one pull out page that works so well, it’s obvious Molly Idle, or someone on her team, knows what they are doing! Pay attention to the fish under the ice and the body language of the characters. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and in this case they tell so much more.

Flight School.jpgTitle: Flight School
Author/Illustrator: Lita Judge
ISBN: 9781442481770
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2014.

Who knew that beaks could be so expressive? Skepticism, frustration, and utter joy are all present in slight changes of the beak lines. Penguin has the soul of an eagle, but after enrolling in flight school all the other birds see is the body of a flightless penguin. He attaches feathers to his wings and jumps, but does not stay airborne. Flamingo helps him realize his dreams, but there’s one final scene where I’m sure Flamingo is questioning if that was really the best course of action. Penguin’s aviator-esque glasses defy gravity in their constant presence on his beak. The yellow sky and bright colors mean even when Penguin is disheartened, reader’s still see the light and the book’s cheerfulness is unaffected.

If You Were a Penguin.jpgTitle: If You Were a Penguin
Author/Illustrator: Wendell and Florence Minor
ISBN: 9780061130977
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, c2009.

The Minors make the task of  melding nonfiction and fiction look effortless in this must read book. Did you know there are 17 different kinds of penguins? Many are presented in these pages, in close-up, life-like drawings. The rhyming verse addresses the audience and informs them of little-known facts, like some penguins live underground. Be sure to peruse the last page where many (but unfortunately not all) species of penguin is identified. A must read that I’ve been including for years whenever I conduct a penguin themed program.

I Am Small.jpgTitle: I Am Small
Author/Illustrator: Emma Dodd
ISBN: 9780545353700
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., by arrangement with Templar Publishing, Surrey, United Kingdom, c2010.

A coworker clued me into this quieter tale about a tiny penguin who knows his place in the bigger world. Filled with beautiful, captivating illustrations, I’ve used this twice now and both story times the kids (well, most of them) were fascinated by the pictures. The unfortunate part is that the story starts and ends on the endpapers. This means the first and last pictures are obscured by the flaps, which in library books are taped down to avoid being lost. Blacks, grays, whites and blues are complemented with hints of silver, possibly inlaid into the page. The baby penguin is so adorable you can’t help but fall in love with him. If you’re penguin party is getting too raucous, calm them with this very soothing story.

Virgil and Owen.jpgTitle: Virgil and Owen
Author/Illustrator: Paulette Bogan
ISBN: 9781619633728
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, a registered trademark of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, c2015.

Some people get upset when penguins and polar bears are portrayed together in picture books, since polar bears and penguins live in different environments. According to Polar Bears International: “Although popular art and children’s books often show polar bears and penguins together, the two live at opposite poles. Polar bears live in the Arctic, a massive frozen sea surrounded by continents. Penguins live in Antarctica, an ice-covered continent surrounded by oceans.” But if librarians can read books about talking animals, giant red dogs, and other things that aren’t real, why can’t we suspend belief for just a moment and imagine that a polar bear and a penguin can be friends? Besides, no one seems to have a problem with the fact that seals have been known to eat penguins (and also apparently have sex with them my Google search results tell me… OH MY! Okay, back to the book, back to the book)

Bogan is simply suspending belief like those other authors, and she even somewhat explains the course of events if anyone bothered to look at the dedication page where we see a polar bear adrift on an ice flow heading straight for a penguin. It also explains the novelty of Owen’s existence, since penguins don’t normally come in contact with polar bears. Little details like Virgil dripping wet with snow on his face adds humor for observant readers, and it can serve as a discussion opportunity about sharing and friendship, especially after prompting children with questions like “Is Virgil happy in this picture?” Children recognize the fit Virgil pitches, even if the younger children may be unsure as to why.

The last three books listed I used for my penguin themed story time. I took an idea from Mel’s Desk and made a vertical story tube with seven different colored fish (from a less shocking Google search that directed me to ClipArt Panda) and paired it with a revised version of Marco the Polar Bear (I found it at Story Time Katie, who credits KidsSoup).Story Tube Fish.png

The reason it was revised was that the kids got so excited with the appearing fish that I cut the first verse and just repeated the second verse over and over, adding the color of the fish to the rhyme. To get rid of the fish, I saw Read Virginia had a great Feed the Penguin rhyme that I changed for different colors instead of numbers.

Feed the Penguin (adapted)
Penguin, penguin short and sweet
Would you like a fishy treat?
What color fish would you like
I think a ______ fish would taste just right!

That same website also gave me Five Royal Penguins, which I changed to little penguins, and the site adapted Five Little Monkeys (Jumping on the Bed) to Five Little Penguins. The different activities for each lyric were too much for my story time crew, so to get rid of the penguins that had accumulated we stuck with

Five little penguins playing in the snow.
One fell down and stubbed his/her toe
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
“No more penguins playing on the snow.”

There are many, many more penguin books out there, the flightless fowl being a favorite of more than a few folks. What’s your favorite?

The Sleeper and the Spindle

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a 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.

Sleeper and the Spindle.jpgTitle: The Sleeper and the Spindle
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
ISBN: 9780062398246
Pages: 69 pages
Publisher/Date: first published in Rag & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales, published in 2013 by Little, Brown. c2013, Illustrations c2014. Originally published in the U.K. in 2014 by Bloomsbury. Published in U.S. by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, c2015.

The smallest dwarf tipped his head to one side. “So, there’s a sleeping woman in a castle, and perhaps a witch or fairy there with her. Why is there also a plague?”
“Over the last year,” said the fat-faced man. “It started in the north, beyond the capital. I heard about if first from travelers coming from Stede, which is near the Forest of Acaire.”
“People fall asleep in the towns,” said the pot-girl. […]
“They fall asleep whatever they are doing, and they do not wake up,” said the sot. “Look at us. We fled the towns to come here. We have brothers and sisters, wives and children, sleeping now in their houses or cowsheds, at their workbenches. All of us.”
“It is moving faster and faster,” […] “Now it covers a mile, perhaps two miles, each day.” (18)

Three dwarfs tunnel under the mountain range in search of a wedding gift for their queen, returning with news of a horrible sleeping sickness plaguing the neighboring lands and heading closer every day. The queen, having previously faced her own sleep spell, postpones the wedding and attempts to break the spell and save both kingdoms. Although this might sound familiar, Neil Gaiman’s twist ending flips the story, and you question who is really being held captive. The queen’s confidence is obvious in both narration and illustration, and is the most welcome adaptation to the traditional tale. Two illustrations specifically catch my eye, the first has the queen standing with the dwarfs ready to embark, and the second is the full-spread gorgeously rendered drawing of the kiss. It doesn’t seem enough though to warrant publishing a previous short story as its own book, but U.S. fans will enjoy Gaiman’s newest import.

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