Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Balloon for Isabel

 A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Laura Rankin
Greenwillow, 2010

The Children's Round Table of the Texas Library Association puts out the 2x2 reading list, which is a list of recommended titles for kids age two to grade two. They always have a great variety of titles, and that's how I found this book. 

Graduation day is approaching and everyone in the class will get a balloon. Everyone, that is, except for Isabel and Walter. They are porcupines and porcupines get bookmarks. Bookmarks are not as exciting as  balloons, so Isabel is determined to come up with a way for the two to get balloons. After several hilarious attempts to cover her quills, she finally comes up with the cutest plan. And her porcupine teacher is finally able to have a balloon as well.

The illustrations are cute and colorful, and the animals have such great facial expressions. The humor in this book works for both children and adults. I've read this no less than seven times, and I still crack up over Isabel's plan involving bubble wrap.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Currently Reading

Oh! Spring has arrived! Maybe only temporarily, but it's here. The weather has been gorgeous, after such a mess of snow and ice. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon reading and soaking up the sun. Today, with the weather equally nice, I walked my dog at the lake and listened to birds chirp. I noticed green shoots in my yard, meaning the daffodils are not far behind. I think I've had a productive enough morning that I can read outside again this afternoon. I just can't get enough of this sunshine!

I'm currently reading The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek. I read a lot of blogs about books, and reviews in different places, and have a habit of scribbling down titles of books that sound good on various pieces of scrap paper. And then sometimes I lose the scraps of paper. This is one of those books, and I just happened to come across when I was browsing at my current favorite library.

I started it, and didn't think I was going to finish it - there are references to The Great Gatsby, which I read in high school and don't remember much of, and I was afraid the book was going to consist of an awful lot that I'd simply skim over. But, that turned out to not be the case and I'm really enjoying it.

Two half-sisters, who are complete opposites, have inherited a house in Southampton from an aunt. They are supposed to spend a month in the house, before selling it, although there is some disagreement as to whether they should sell it. The book is sharp and witty and an entertaining story with great characters.

Here's a quote I love:
"Our first party on the porch started as summer vacation does, giddily hopeful. The early part of the evening, with its fragrant, darkening air, held such expectation, like the beginning of summer: this is going to be fun." (p. 45)

And, like the beginning of summer, and, I think of spring, too, this book is fun.

What are you currently reading? And do you have a good system for keeping track of what books you want to read?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paisley's Pick - The Leanin' Dog

The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum
HarperCollins, 2008
grades 4-6

Eleven-year-old Dessa Dean lives with her father in a remote mountain cabin. Reeling from the death of her mother, she suffers from nightmares and "daymares" and is unable to leave the security of their cabin. She fears she may be going daft. When a dog appears one day, Dessa Dean quickly welcomes it into her life. Her father is more hesitant - they are running low on food, even without having to feed a dog. The dog is also claustrophobic, and while she panics when in the cabin with the door closed, she also doesn't want to sleep outside alone. Despite these issues, this dog turns out to be just what Dessa Dean needs to finally heal.

I first read this several years ago when I picked up an advance reader copy at TLA (after being assured the dog didn't die). I fell head over heels in love with it. I wrote in my first Paisley post that our experiences influence our reading, and one of the things I loved most about this book is that the dog is a full-fledged character whose growth mirrors that of the Dessa Dean's. And it's so realistic, and I say that from experience, because when I first got my dog, she was so scared and so skittish and wouldn't leave the yard to go on walks. She has come a long way since then! Having seen her confidence grow, I could really relate to the Leanin' Dog's growth. That being said, this book is about more than just a dog, and you don't have to be a dog owner to appreciate it.

With my more recent reading, I was struck by the writing of this book - you feel the cold and the weight that Dessa Dean is carrying around with her, the panic she feels when she tries to leave the cabin. This is a story of friendship, of the bond between pet and person, and of healing. I highly recommend it!

Reviewed from library copy

Monday, February 7, 2011

January Recap

So...I don't really have a routine/schedule down yet for posting! I'm working on it...

I'm reading lots more than I review, so I decided to do a monthly recap...however, from now on, hopefully it won't be a week into the following month! Here's what I read in January:

What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb - juvenile fiction - very good!

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay - adult fiction - LOVED this! great choice for a book group

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts - adult fiction - 4th in Bride Quartet series; a quick, fun read

The Good, the Bad and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone - juvenile nonfiction - lots of info on the history of Barbie; I had a few tiny issues, but enjoyed this. Best parts - the biography of the inventor and early history of Mattel, and the pictures of all the different Barbies.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen - young adult fiction - speakeasies, flappers - fabulously fun! I do feel like I should give a warning that there is a small scene with dead dogs (it came of nowhere)...which I have an issue with. But, I still recommend the book. Godbersen's Luxe series is also lots of fun. It's like Gossip Girl set in the late 1800s, only better.

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman - juvenile fiction - Paisley's first pick

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler - young adult fiction - Good, but I think I liked her Twenty Boy Summer better.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs - young adult fiction - on the Texas Lone Star Reading List; not my favorite, but it has been popular with teens. I will confess, the movie Splash is the standard by which I judge all other mermaid stories.

Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff - juvenile fiction - review here

The Confession by John Grisham - adult fiction - couldn't put this down! This is what Grisham does best, and it almost makes up for the time I spent reading Theodore Boone.

Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder - juvenile fiction - I absolutely loved this. Penny, when she gets bored, pulls a book off her shelf and opens it to find something to do, such as put on a puppet show. She references some of my favorite books, like The Penderwicks. And how can you not like a girl who, when seeing a girl her own age in her new neighborhood, thinks, "Maybe she was the friend of Penny's dreams, a Betsy to her Tacy." (p.106) If you get this reference, you will really love this book! And if you don't, and you are a girl, your childhood reading is lacking and you should email me so we can remedy this.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - young adult fiction - captures Paris so perfectly and made me want to go back!

Juliet: A Novel by Anne Fortier - adult fiction - I really wanted to like this, but when I finished, all I could think of was when Ramona gave her book report and ended with "I can't believe I read the whole thing." (Ramona Quimby, Age 8)

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie - adult fiction - fun and quick - Just what I needed after the previous book.

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry - young adult fiction - review here

Random Connection of the Month - I read the book Penny Dreadful, and then Anna and the French Kiss, which has a band in it called the Penny Dreadfuls.

Currently reading: The Candymakers by Wendy Mass and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen