Monday, June 6, 2011

The Great Migration

As you may have noticed, our posts here have been few and far between lately. A large reason for that has been issues with Blogger. Miss Ami actually has two blogs she manages, this one and a more eclectic one titled A Mom's Spare Time . For some reason, Blogger is not letting people log in and out of different blogs for large stretches of time, and since Miss Ami was logged into the other blog on her computer, she can only access this one from random public computers. Not conducive to late-night-everyone-is-finally-asleep posting.

For that and other reasons, we have decided to combine the two blogs, and move everything over to A Mom's Spare Time. We the turtles are going into semi-retirement, but may pop in for an occasional comment. You can still find us here under the sun lamp at the Library, soaking up the rays, and listening to stories read by our faithful younger patrons. If you are one of our regular followers, we encourage you to become a follower of A Mom's Spare Time, and thank you for your readership and your great comments over the past couple years here. We'll see you on the other side!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Where in Town is This?

As part of our Summer Reading Program, Miss Ami zipped around town taking pictures of things you probably pass by every day - so often, in fact, that you probably don't 'see' them any more! We'll have a different shot or two posted at the Library, as well as on our blog, each week. If you recognize one, go ahead and name it in the comments!

To start us off, we have an easy one (we think) and a harder one:

Of course, if you're not from around here, neither of these will look familiar. Fear not - some of our future shots include buildings commonly seen across the country:)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Boyfriend is a Monster - Graphic Novel series from Lerner

I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang: Book Cover
by Evanne Tsang and Janina Gorrisen
Graphic Universe (Lerner Publishing)
978- 0-7613-6004-9

Made for Each Other by Paul D. Storrie: Book Cover
by Paul Storrie and Eldon Cowgur
Graphic Universe (Lerner Publishing)
You may have noticed that we don't review many graphic novels. As in, we never review graphic novels. There's a reason for that: we don't generally read graphic novels. But who can resist a title like My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces, featuring a story line with a zombie apocalypse? And lines like: "There's a difference between a zombie and a high school boy? Well, when you get a zombie's attention, you know that it'll stick with you, at least until it can eat your brains. Regular guys are more fickle."

Definitely one for guys or girls, nerds or jocks (or turtles). It's campy, of course, and moves too quickly to flesh out the plotline much, but - it's a graphic novel! The dialogue and the artwork are the key elements of a book like this, and both work very well in this case. We will be handing this to the first reluctant reader we spot. We would also love to see Tsang try his hand at some non-graphic YA fiction.

The second in the series, Made for Each Other, follows a Frankenstein theme. Not quite as funny as the first, it still has enough of the same characteristics to hold a reader's attention - although it does seem a little more girl-oriented. At any rate, the entire series has promise of being a big hit among middle and high schoolers. We give both books a

4 out of 5.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Best Dogs Ever series by Elaine Landau

Pit Bulls Are the Best! by Elaine Landau: Book Cover
Mastiffs Are the Best! by Elaine Landau: Book Cover
Great Danes Are the Best! by Elaine Landau: Book Cover
all from Lerner, who provided review copies
Have we mentioned how much we absolutely love this series? Yes? Can we say it one more time, then?

There are tons of dog books out there for kids, and plenty of series with breed-specific volumes, but most of those tend to be a little fuzzy on the specific characteristics and needs of each breed. Definitely not so with these! In addition to the individual history of a dog breed, we find out about energy level, personality, and pros and cons of owning each type (mastiffs=slobber). We even read about things like legislation issues, for example in the case of Pit Bulls.

Ah, pitties. We are definitely big dog lovers, and the three featured above are among our favorites. Mastiffs have such sweet big lugs, and the Great Dane on the cover of his book looks just like Miss Ami's "Dude" - who considers himself the mother of every orphaned kitten that comes along. We have a special soft spot for pits, though. Yes, we know, many pits make the news in bad ways, and we don't necessarily want to debate that whole issue. We do want to point out two things:
When Miss Ami was little, German Shepherds were the 'evil' dogs. No responsible parent would let one near their child. Then it was Dobermans, then Dalmatians, etc., etc. In a couple years, we'll be seeing news stories about those dangerous Malteses.
Two patrons JUST had a conversation in front of us (really, as we were typing!) about a problem pit that turned out not to even be a pit. Check out this web site and see if you can do better than us (we never get it right on the first try).
Okay, off the soap box. All dogs, particularly big and strong dogs, do need plenty of exercise and training, and these books are very clear about that. They also give other books and web sites to check out if your readers want more information, as well as basic advice about selecting a new puppy and welcoming it into your home. Be warned about previewing these, though - once you hit the pages of puppy pictures, you are going to want every single one of these dogs! Same great Lerner quality with binding and illustration, they get a

5 out of 5.

More more reviews of nonfiction books for children, check out today's post on Simply Science

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Picture Book Mini-Reviews

Believe it or not, there are some books we like that other people (or turtles) don't, and vice versa. Something every library employee needs to keep in the forefront of their mind is that libraries are for everyone, and just because something doesn't suit our taste/opinions/politics/beliefs, that doesn't make it any less worth putting in the collection.

The same applies to reviewers. The following books were some we just couldn't get behind ourselves, but we can see that they are of good quality, and could be appealing to a different audience. In fact, they have both received good reviews elsewhere. As the selectors of books for the library, however, we like to see a mix of reviews before we make ordering decisions. So:

The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring: Book Cover
by Mark Sperring
Andersen Press
Review copy from publisher.
The pictures were very cute, but the message was a bit heavy-handed. A little knight wants a sword "to whoosh and swoosh in the air" and to fight dragons with, but his mother gives him a sunflower instead. Of course, he ends up making friends with a dragon because of it, and soon all the grown-up knights follow suit. Some parents will be thrilled with the pacifist theme, while others will roll their eyes at the lack of subtlety.

Thumb Love by Elise Primavera: Book Cover
by Elise Primavera
Random House
Review copy from publisher
A cute book, but we weren't sure if this was for children, or for thumb-sucking adults. The whole format would be familiar to any six-year-old...who has attended a few AA meetings. From the beginning confession in front of a group ("Hello. My name is Lulu and I'm a thumb sucker,") through the twelve step program she develops, and even the manipulations of the thumb ("I don't even know who you are anymore,") the audience seems a bit beyond the preschool crowd.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond, Illustrated by Diane deGroat

Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond: Book Cover
by Ree Drummond
Review copy from publisher
There's a reason most dogs have big brown eyes. Brown eyes just look sadder, more soulful than any other color, and dogs (kinda like toddlers) often have need of an especially soulful look to either a) get themselves out of trouble, or b) get what they want. Members of the hound dog family have the added advantage of that little droop, and when you add long, floppy ears - well, just look at this cover and tell us who could resist that face!

This is the first of what is expected to be a series of stories about Charlie, a real dog living on a real ranch in Oklahoma. Like everyone else on a ranch, Charlie works very hard from sunup to sundown (with an occasional assist from his friend Suzie). Kids of all ages will enjoy following Charlie through his day, spending extra time looking at all the detail in Diane DeGroat's illustrations. Miss Ami's 5-year-old had fun finding the smiling chipmunk on every page, and pointed out things Miss Ami had missed - like Drummond's sillhouette in the upstairs window.

This book comes with lots of extras, including a lasagna recipe (Drummond is also known as the author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, and her blog, The Pioneer Woman).

On her blog, you can read about the process she went through to get the book published - kids (and adults) may be fascinated by the many steps the illustrations go through, as well as the back-and-forth betweeen author/illustrator/editor. A great tool to use with those reluctant to edit their first drafts!

Finally, Barnes and Noble has a video of Drummond reading the story, so you can either preview it that way or let your kids follow along with their own copy. While some of the extras, particularly the latter, are obviously ways for the publisher to promote the book and attract a wide audience, they work to complement it rather than seeming gimmicky. This is a series sure to have many fans, and we are looking forward to the next installment. We give it a

5 out of 5.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: On the Move with Trains, Motorcycles and Ambulances!

Trains on the Move by Lee Sullivan Hill: Book Cover
by Lee Sullivan Hill
Lerner Publications
Ambulances on the Move by Laura Hamilton Waxman: Book Cover
by Laura Hamilton Waxman
Lerner Publications
Motorcycles on the Move by Lee Sullivan Hill: Book Cover
by Lee Sullivan Hill
Lerner Publications

Review copies from publisher
We reviewed Big Rigs and Fire Trucks On the Move back in November, and loved them - as have our patrons. We were happy to receive review copies of these three books in the series, and plan to fill in the ones we are missing as soon as the cumbersome end-of-fiscal-year-budget-process will allow us to order things again!

We don't really have a lot to add to our previous review of this series (we shouldn't say that, because now they won't send us any more). Same quality binding and great format, with exciting fonts, easy text, and big attractive pictures.

Ah, but Lerner, beware the eagle eye and sharp memory of a four-year-old! Miss Ami was test-driving Ambulances on the Move with her young son, and he suddenly jumped up and ran to his bookshelf. He returned with this book from Scholastic:

Ambulance by Chris Oxlade: Book Cover

and showed her that the photo on page 9 of that book was the exact same photo as that on page 19 of Waxman's. Nothing wrong with two books using the same stock photos, but THEY WILL KNOW. It's all good, though - he was still excited about the book, and he is, of course, and exceptionally perceptive child.

Another 5 out of 5 for this series, perfect for preschool/beginning readers. For more reviews of great nonfiction books for kids, check out today's post at Shelf-Employed (love that blog name!)