Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fun Adventure Crafts series by Anna Llimos

Oh, we so wanted to like these. Crafts books are always very popular here, not just with our kid and adult patrons, but with Miss Ami, who continually has to think up new and exciting craft ideas! Unfortunately, as cute as the crafts pictured are, they aren't terribly useful for either Miss Ami or her patrons.

Every single craft involves clay, paper and cardboard. While paper is certainly plentiful and used every day, cardboard - especially shaped the way some of these need to be - is a bit unweildy for younger children. Clay can be loads of fun - with one child. A room full? Not so much.

From Enslow's site (bold is ours):
These crafts center on a theme and use simple materials found in the home, or are easily available. All of the projects combine to create one full scene, and are simple enough to make without a lot of parental help. Each book includes hands-on activities. Students can also choose to make just one or several of the crafts. A class group might work together to create the full scene, with each individual student responsible for a different craft.
We have to disagree with that highlighted part. Amazon lists the age range as 4-8 years, but we think that's a bit low. These might be of interest to older children, particularly those who enjoy spending a lot of time on intricate projects. And intricate they certainly are! While children certainly don't have to get as detailed as the examples (the toes on the cabin boy!) they are almost certain to become frustrated and disappointed when their attempts don't match up. The lack of variety was also disappointing - one would expect a book of crafts on a subject to use different media and approaches, while these are just different variations on clay people and structures.
Cute projects, and the instructions are clear, but we don't see these getting much circulation. We give them a

3 out of 5.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Silverlicious, by Victoria Kann

by Victoria Kann
HarperCollins Publishers
It's always fun to get envelopes (or better yet, boxes) in the mail from publishers and see what treasures are inside. Every once in a while, though, you pull one out and feel your mouth automatically pucker into an "Oooooooooh!!!", as visions of specific patrons start flashing through your mind.

Such is definitely the case with Victoria Kann's latest! We can't keep Pinkalicious and its sequels on the shelves, and this one is sure to fly out the door just as quickly.

BUT...all that is without opening the cover. We know it will sell/check out, because it's Pinkalicious. But is the story any good?

First, a note on the illustrations: whew! If little girls didn't get their pink fix in any of the earlier books, the copyright page alone should satisfy them. So, what's with the silver? We don't see any new friends or magical unicorns in silver, just lots and lots of pink! And...jellybeans?

In this 'episode', Pinkalicious has a loose tooth that finally falls out. Good news, right? Wrong! This was her sweet tooth, and now nothing tastes sweet! (I know, who knew Pinkalicious could star in a horror story!)

Not to fear, she writes a note asking the tooth fairy for help. And gets Cupid. And the Easter Bunny. And a Christmas Elf. All very nice, but not what she wanted! Finally, the tooth fairy makes her appearance with some silver (aha!) coins, and reminds Pinkalicious of what it really means for something to be sweet.

A very cute story that will lend itself easily to read-alouds, with listeners guessing who will come next and what they will leave behind. A child learning to count could sit on your lap for hours, counting hearts, eggs, or candy canes. You may end up with some candy cravings of your own by the end, though, so be forewarned!

So yes, it does measure up to the rest of the series, and you can purchase it for your library without worrying that Kann has fallen into the too-commercialized-to-try trap. We give it a

4 out of 5.

And now we would like some candy hearts, please, we are suddenly very hungry.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

What a fun idea! We love lists, and the folks at The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme called "Top Ten Tuesday" - in which they offer a topic, and bloggers post their personal top ten. Make sure you click on the link to see what other bloggers have posted.

The topic this week is: the ten books you wish you had read as a child. This is tough, because Miss Ami read EVERYTHING when she was younger. Her family lived way out in the country, and she always checked out the max of 50 books whenever she got to go to the library. She would often read 2 or 3 while standing in line, and have to go grab a few more at the last minute. There were a few that escaped her notice, though (or just weren't published yet), so here are her picks:

1. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Always a nature-lover, I would have swooned over the idea of helping a garden regenerate itself. Kid walking, father home, blah blah, whatever - but I would have been madly in love with Dickon.

2. The Pink Refrigerator, by Tim Egan. I was painfully shy for much of my childhood, and this might have eased me into trying new things sooner.

3. Christmas Tapestry, by Patricia Polacco. I would have loved the tear-jerker aspect, and hopefully would have absorbed the all-things-work-together-for-His-purpose message.

4. Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein. Hmm - many of these are centering around concepts I wish I'd understood and embraced much earlier in life - like the ability to find the beauty in the ordinary.

5. The Araboolies of Liberty Street, by Sam Swope. I 'discovered' this book in a workshop as an adult, and immediately squeed and paired it off with The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel M. Pinkwater. That one I did read when I was younger, and adored.

6. 101 Questions Children Ask About God (and its sequels), by David Veerman. Simple, straightforward, nondenominational answers to questions I didn't know I necessarily had, and wouldn't have known who to ask them to.

7. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, by Bruce Coville. I would have read this one to pieces. Our library has three copies, and a giant stuffed dragon named Tiamat.

8. Any Small Goodness, by Tony Johnston. A world I was unfamiliar with, as a small-town Ohio girl. Brilliant book, satisfying ending.

9. Squire's Tale series by Gerald Morris. Excellent introduction to King Arthur, characters that don't have to be all good or all bad, and absolutely hysterical. The fantasy aspects would have hooked me, and I would have absorbed a lot about human beings that would serve me well later.

10. The Thief series, by Meghan Whelan Turner. Because it took me too long to get to them to begin with. Sigh.

So, what's your top ten? Post it here, or join the group at The Broke and the Bookish!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

That's Not Funny, by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

Andersen Press
Only, it is!

The front cover says it all. How can you not look at that face and smile? That, btw, is the face of a hyena (we weren't sure at first, but we still thought it was cute) who delights in playing tricks on the other animals. The other animals don't find it that amusing, but hyena laughs and laughs - until the tide turns, and he ends up covered in...

Well, we'll let you come to that gem on your own. But trust us, your kids will love it! Personally, if we ever get a new library, we want Reynolds to come and paint a mural for the Children's Room. We are especially in love with the giraffe (what can we say, turtles...giraffe...opposites attract!)

This one is a sure crowd-pleaser, and we will be working it in to story time soon. We give it a

5 out of 5.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Want My Light On, by Tony Ross

by Tony Ross
Andersen Press USA
Any household with kids has this issue at one time or another - and really, how many adults can't sleep with an arm or leg hanging over the side of the bed without the nagging feeling that SOMETHING is going to reach up and grab it, hmm???

Just us? Okay, never mind. Miss Ami's 4-year-old, however, is going through the leave-a-nightlight-on-and-the-door-open phase. She brought this one home to read to him, and he immediately asked for a reread! His favorite part was where the Little Princess yelled "Boo!" and scared the little ghost. Having a little sister who can be quite frightening herself, he had no trouble believing a ghost would turn tail and run.

While the idea of the monster/ghost/whatever being afraid of the child is not a new one in kidlit, this version is a sure kid-pleaser you will want to add to your collection. We give it a

5 out of 5.

**Note from Miss Ami: Usually I donate review copies to the library, but I think there will be a mutiny at home if I try to bring this one in. So, if anyone from the IRS is reading, feel free to nail me on my taxes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Orange Everywhere, by Kristin Sterling

by Kristin Sterling
Lerner Publications
...and black, and red, and green, and purple...Color books are popular with preschoolers and their parents. We often see them checked out by parents making the first forays into possibly home schooling their kids. With as much use as we know these will get, it's good to have Lerner's fantastic binding to help them hold up!

This series goes a bit beyond just naming things of a certain color, and we think home schoolers especially will enjoy it. We have sections on various shades of the color, something that is not usually addressed but can be confusing to small kids (how can the sky and my jeans be the same color?) Complimentary colors are mentioned - a potential lesson in itself. Recipes, activities, and fun facts (did you know carrots were once white?), as well as the now-expected index, glossary, and web sites to visit round the book out nicely, and can easily give you material for a week-long unit.

Any school or library serving preschoolers will want to have this set on hand. We give it a

5 out of 5.

For more great reviews of nonfiction for kids, swim on over to NC Teacher Stuff

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feel Free to Ignore This Post

Unless you are another librarian swapping postcards with us. If you are in that group, you should shortly be getting a postcard featuring our library - a LONG time ago. I can't find when that picture was taken, but it was definitely a few years back. Here is the library now, for comparison:

And, the postcard shot:

Slug bug! (ouch!) (sorry!)

We're guessing early seventies, before the addition on this side, which now houses reference (and leaks), and the addition in the back (not visible) which houses the Children's Room (and leaks).

The biggest thing we noticed was the landscaping. Those huge trees outside our book drop didn't even exist yet. Hard to tell if that tree to the left is the same one or not. We're sad that there are trees here that obviously don't exist any more, though. Don't worry, the grass is still green much of the year, it's just January now - while we don't have snow, unlike 90% of the country right now, our vegetation does take a little winter break.

Of course, you library kiddos will probably be looking at this during the summer - remind us, and we'll update it. In fact, by then we should have a new, NON leaking roof to show off!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Carolrhoda Books
Another great historical tidbit we didn't know anything about! Who knew you could learn so much from picture books?
Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren't treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws... Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth's family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome black travelers. With this guidebook—and the kindness of strangers—Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma's house in Alabama. Ruth's story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact.
Do you remember a time when you were younger and your parents bought a new (or new to you) car? Sliding around the seats, checking out where the cup holders were, marveling over power windows or individual AC vents. How much more exciting if your family has never even had a car before!

Do you also remember a time when you were young, and something wonderful was ruined by someone else's meanspiritedness? Ruthie goes through a whole range of emotions, and a little bit of growing up, on her journey to Grandma's. A great way to introduce youngsters gently to the issues of racism and of helping out a stranger. We give it a

5 out of 5.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Let's Look at Sloths and Armadillos

by Judith Jango-Cohen
Lerner Publications Company
by Janet Piehl
Lerner Publications Company
We have only one minor issue with this series,but we noticed it right off the bat. Thus far the series includes;

brown bears
monarch butterflies
prairie dogs
sea otters
and snails

Notice anything conspicuously MISSING? I mean, we know they can't possibly get a series out with every animal in the world right off the bat, but - earthworms? They don't even have cute little faces like turtles do! They don't have faces!!! And pigeons? Seriously? The creature that originated the phrase "bird-brained"? A winged animal that thinks it is more expedient to try to WALK out of the way of your car in the parking lot, rather than, I don't know, FLY???

(Deep breath). Okay, we feel better now. And we do have to admit that sloths and armadillos are pretty cool, which is why we chose these two to review. Who could not love this face, after all?

And don't we all wish we could move slowly enough for algae to grow in our fur? Well, you know what we mean. Hang out, eat, sleep, maybe go for an occasional swim. No wonder they smile!

Armadillos, on the other hand, are cute in their own way.
especially the babies
They have cool shells like we do, like both bugs and plants like us, and we can both swim and dig. Many people forget, though, that armadillos are mammals, not reptiles - the scaly-looking skin throws them off! So, we can't quite call them cousins, but we still enjoyed reading about them.

This series is great for begining nonfiction readers, with short text in attractive fonts, big clear photographs, and extras such as a range map (we really liked those), diagrams, glossary, and further reading/web site lists. We give the series a

5 out of 5

and plan to buy the rest of the books. Especially, hint hint, if they add one on turtles.

For more great nonfiction book reviews, click over to Tales from the Rushmore Kid for Nonfiction Monday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Miriam in the Desert by Jacqueline Jules

by Jacqueline Jules
Kar-Ben Publishing
After a heavy diet of YA Fiction, we plan to relax for a bit and bring you some picture book reviews. We have a stack of great titles that have been waiting on us patiently, so have your order cards ready!

We love reading about characters from history we were unaware of before, and that certainly includes Biblical characters. Through the eyes of Bezalel, Miriam's grandson, we follow the people of Israel through their grumbling journey to the base of Mt. Sinai. Bezalel draws in the sand along the way as Miriam sings and comforts the people.

This simple story is perfect for young children learning both their basic Bible stories, and a little about the personality of God. The pictures do a wonderful job of conveying both the frustrations and the hope of the Israelites. We give it a

5 out of 5.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Teen Cafe: Decorating Book Ends

For last night's Teen Cafe, we decided to spruce up some of the book ends in the Children's Room. We gave them the option of painting or making collages with magazine pictures. Most chose to go with the collage idea, which somewhat surprised us.

Half the kids are still milling about the snack table

For some reason, body parts were very popular.
We did tell them not to worry about the edges, Miss Ami would trim them with a razor once they had dried. She felt no pressing need to hand out objects sharper than scissors.

Sheesh. Before you city slickers freak out, remember, this is New Mexico. Everyone carries a knife. But we did make him put it away and use scissors.

This one turned out great...until she realized she had done the wrong side. Oops!

The finished products, which turned out better than expected. Nice job, guys! We'll trim up the edges and coat them with shellac. Definitely a project to do again.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Cybils Fun! The YA Fiction List of Synchronicities

synchronicities: 1. the quality or fact of being synchronous 2. the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung --Merriam-Webster Online

This list of similarities and coincidences among the 2010 Cybils YA Fiction nominations is humbly submitted to you by the 2010 Cybils YA Fiction Panel. It is no way to be considered completely exhaustive, as we are certain nominated books will have been missed. This list was originated out of amusement as the seven panelists read their way through the 182 titles. If you know of a nominated title that should be included in one of the synchronicities below, please feel free to submit it in the comments! To get the entire list, you’ll have to visit all seven of the panelist’s blogs (click on their names below).
11. Covers with Broken Glass: Dirty Little Secrets; The Life of Glass; The Secret to Lying; You; Freefall

12. Covers with Kissing: Lighter Side of Life and Death; Not That Kind of Girl; Tell me a Secret; Return to Paradise; For Keeps; Rules of Attraction; The Secret Year; Forget You; Sea

13. Covers with Hands/Hand Holding: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour; Change of Heart; Friend is Not a Verb; The Ghosts of Ashbury High; Girl, Stolen; The Heart is Not a Size; In a Heartbeat; The Julian Game; Scars; Sing me to Sleep; Something Terrible Happened on Kenmore; Stringz

14. Covers with Hearts: After the Kiss; Change of Heart; The Freak Observer; The Heart is Not a Size; In a Heartbeat; Love Drugged; Scarlett Fever; The Sky is Everywhere; Tangled

15. Creepy Love-Type Situations, Triangular or Otherwise: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour; Sing Me to Sleep; Stolen; This Gorgeous Game
16. Deadbeat Dad: Glimpse, Sorta Like A Rock Star; Stringz; This Gorgeous Game; What Mamma Left Me
17. Deadbeat Mom: Faithful, The Sky is Everywhere; Stringz

18. Evil Piles of Evil: Nothing; This Gorgeous Game

19. Both Parents are Happy, Married, and Living Under the Same Roof: Beat the Band, Butterfly (maybe?), Cinderella Society; Hold Still; Love Drugged; Rhythm and Blues; Some Girls Are (even though they fail as parents); Stolen; Change of Heart 

20. Depression: A Blue So Dark; Life, After; When I was Joe (his mom)
21. The Economy Stinks (aka, someone’s out of work): Beat the Band; Eighth-Grade Superzero; Exit Strategy; Life, After, The No-So-Great Depression; Harmonic Feedback

Weird? We know. Too much time on our hands? Perhaps. More like, too much data in our brains. Intriguing? Good! Check out the other panelists' blogs to get the rest of the list!
Amanda # 1-10
Cheryl # 22-32
Jackie #33-42
Justina #43-52
Kelly #53-62
Melissa #63-72

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique, by Jane O'Connor

by Jane O'Connor
First, we just have to say that we turtles love, love, love tag sales (or yard sales or rummage sales or garage sales, or whatever they are called in your neck of the woods.) Many a Summer Reading program has existed in part because of decorations and prizes scavenged on Saturday mornings. We ourselves even came to the library as the result of an advertisement on an online yard sale! So, we had mixed emotions when Fancy Nancy decided to hold her own tag sale fashion boutique. Squee of excitement that she was having one, and utter despondance that we couldn't actually go. Sigh.

Nancy is raising money to buy an extremely beautiful lace fan, having spent all her money on a birthday present for her little sister. A great plan, until little sister Jo-Jo falls in love with one of Nancy's sparkly necklaces - which has already been sold! What can she do now?

Numerous disasters are averted in signature Fancy Nancy style, as we are reminded that nothing is more important than people, and that people don't always stay in the little box we expect them to. And need we even mention the glittery cover? We thought not. Buy several copies for your shelves and one for your princess, it's in stores now!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Today's the Day!

The day the Cybils shortlists are announced, of course! If you are reading this, that means the shortlists have been officially announced, and panelists can break the oath of silence we took during a special ceremony involving three chickens, a duck, and some curly fries. Well, maybe not, but if someone just got a story idea, that's all good. Make sure you also click over to to see what the other panels came up with. Like I mentioned, have your order cards ready! These are the best of the best, so you'll want to make sure your library has them all on hand!

It was incredibly hard to narrow our list of 182 YA titles down to 7, but here they are. Most we have already reviewed, so rather than rehash our take on them, click on the link below each to see what the author had to say!

In no particular order:

by Mark Shulman
Roaring Brook Press

Click here  for a very funny commentary on where Scrawl came from.

by Tara Kelly
Henry Holt & Co.

Here Kelly talks about the bliss - or not - of getting published.

by Swati Avashti
Knopf Books  for Young Readers
We are still reeling from this book! Read here to see how Avashti is using her book's success to help victims of domestic violence. And to learn how to pronounce her name.

Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Griffin
Amazing how we can like a book so much and hate most of the characters. Here is what Summers has to say about that!

by Lucy Christopher
The Chicken House
Christopher actually just started blogging this past year, but there is still lots to see on her web site. Her Q&A section answers some of the questions we had about the book...and teases us with others.

by Erin McCahan
Arthur A. Levine Books
We didn't find any commentary from McCahan about her book per se, but thought her blog was interesting - she does a thing called "The Saturday Seven" in whch she sums up her week in seven words. Hmm, we sense a challenge...

by Watt Key
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Click here for a very interesting background to Dirt Road Home (and an explanation of why it wasn't just a sequel to Alabama Moon)

So, there they are! Seven books we are very glad we read, and recommend you do too!