Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Recap

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt - This is a companion to The Wednesday Wars, which I think is a perfect book. I loved this one, but I don't think it's as perfect as the other. Here's the thing about Schmidt: he manages to write beautifully while telling an engaging story. Some authors write stunning sentences, with gorgeous language, but don't manage to really capture the reader with a plot. And some tell great and exciting stories that are not so well-written. Schmidt excels at both language and story. I cannot recommend these books enough, as well as Trouble (which has a great dog in it!)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows - This was published several years ago, but it might be my favorite read of the year.

Dead is Not an Option by Marlene Perez - While I'm a little tired of paranormal YA, and don't always finish series, this is one I've kept with up. It's just a fun read. The first in the series is Dead is the New Black.

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell - Blundell won the National Book Award for What I Saw And How I Lied. While I think that book was better written, I enjoyed the story of this one more.

Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel by Candace Bushnell - I read the first one, and wasn't going to read any more...and then I did. Carrie is in New York for this one, hanging out with Samantha and Miranda. I skimmed parts, but this is an easy summer read.

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor - First in a new young adult trilogy - lots of fun, and should be popular with teen girls. Recommend to fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Kantor's other books.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin - A middle grade book that has lots going on for such a short read. I'm interested to hear what kids think of this one - I think it may appeal more teachers and librarians.

Currently reading: Chime by Franny Billingsley

Friday, May 20, 2011

How To Get A Dog

A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose
by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
illus by Linzie Hunter
We're first introduced to Amelia in her room, where she's showing her parents an illustration of a dog. She's surrounded by a dog scrapbook, stuffed dogs, a dog puppet, pictures of dogs, dog slippers, a leash, a dog bowl...but no dog. Every day she asks her parents, "May I have a small brown dog with a wet pink nose?" But her mother always says, "Oh, no" and her father always says, "We're just not ready for a dog."

One morning she changes her tactic, and asks her parents, "But if we did have a dog, could we name him Bones?" Yes, they could. Throughout the day, she continues to ask questions relating to "if we had a dog." Finally, before bed, her last question concerns what would happen if they had a dog and he got lost. Her father assures her they wouldn't stop looking for the dog.

The next day, Amelia wakes up with an imaginary dog - a small brown dog with a wet pink nose named Bones. Her parents have to be careful not to let the dog out, not to sit on the dog...even though they don't see him. Bones begins to do everything with Amelia, until the day she wakes up and he is gone. And remember, her father has already assured her they would look for their missing dog until he was found. Off they go to look for Bones, and sure enough, they end up finding a small brown dog with a wet pink nose...one who is quite willing to be called Bones.

This book is clever, so clever! It's fun, and older kids will enjoy recognizing how Amelia's plan came together at the end, when she gets her dog. The brightly-colored illustrations provide lots to look at  - the illustrations and the length make this book a better fit for one-on-one reading, or reading with a small group, as opposed to a storytime. Invisible Bones is outlined with dashes, so you can tell he's not really there. Younger kids may need a bit more discussion to really understand what's happening - that Amelia has a plan, but this is a don't-miss book!

Reviewed from library copy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keeping Bees and Peaches...Or, What I'm Currently Reading

Sometime last year I read a non-fiction book called The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns. It is fascinating look at the life of honey bees, with great photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. The book offers an explanation of the mysterious disappearances of honey bees, all the factors that may be contributing to the disappearance, and what is being done to understand this colony collapse disorder. It's accessible and interesting enough for older elementary school kids, but also equally wonderful for adults, especially as an introduction to this topic. I've been wanting to do more reading on the subject, so when I saw ARCs of The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America by Hannah Nordhaus at TLA,  I eagerly picked one up. (It will be available on May 24.)
At times it might be a little more in-depth than what I wanted, and it got off to a slow start (talking about cars?) but it's really gotten incredibly interesting. I am underlining things, feeling like I am working on a research paper. (This is a good thing, enjoyable to me.) I had no idea just how migratory bees are - some are transported all over the country and their migration has a huge impact on much of our agricultural system. They pollinate everything from almonds to cranberries to lettuce to blueberries.

Did you know that bees are not native to North America? They came over from England with the first settlers. And bee migration is not new - beekeepers in ancient Egypt moved bee colonies up and down the Nile River. I could keep going with the facts...Seriously, this book has so much information and, first few pages aside, it's written clearly and is easy to follow.

If I haven't managed to convince that reading about bees can be really interesting, I'm also reading The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.
I picked it up not really knowing what to expect, and it's been a pleasant surprise. It has a hint of magical realism in it, which I wasn't sure about at first...and there's a scene toward the beginning of the book that I'm hoping gets explained more later on, but the characters and the mystery, have kept me up way too late reading each night to see what's going to happen.

Willa Jackson comes from a prominent old family in her small Southern town; unfortunately, her ancestors hit hard times and lost their fortune, and their historic home. One of Willa's former classmates, and a local socialite, Paxton Osgood, is renovating this house, the Blue Ridge Madam, and turning it into a grand inn. Plans take an unexpected turn when a skeleton is found buried on the grounds, under a peach tree. Willa and Paxton find themselves becoming friends as they try to find out what happened years ago, and how their grandmothers were involved.

With the hints of magical realism, superstitions and ghosts, a mystery and a little romance, this book has completely drawn me in.
What are you currently reading? Any good recommendations?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge

MotherReader is hosting her Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge the first weekend in June, and I'm so excited to participate this year! I've watched for several years, and now that I have a blog, I've signed myself up.

I do have to work that Saturday, but am still planning to get lots of reading done. At first I was going to use the time to catch up on some of the books that have been stacked around my house for a very long time, but now I'm thinking I should have a theme...maybe mysteries?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Giving A Mouse A Cookie and A Dog A Donut

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illus. by Felicia Bond

This is an oldie but goodie. I almost always use it when I do a cookie-themed storytime. Depending on the group, some kids have never heard it before and some can recite it word-for-word. If I have a lot of kids that know the book, I let them tell the story as I turn the pages, prompting them as needed.

This little mouse also goes to the movies and to school. He's an adorable character with lots of personality and has fun in all of his books. In other books by this duo, a moose gets a muffin, a pig gets a pancake (and later a party) and a cat gets a cupcake. While I like all of them, the mouse has remained my favorite.

BUT...that was before I saw a galley of If You Give A Dog A Donut when I was at the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference. And, I'm sorry to say, the mouse is no longer my favorite. You might know by now that I've a new appreciation for dog books, but this little one is too cute; if you give him a donut, he's going to want to apple juice, and so on. My favorite scene is when he does a happy dance. Love it!

I couldn't find cover art to show you, but watch for this to be published in October. I know that's still a ways off, but I am too excited not to share. I've got it marked on my calendar!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

April Recap

short and fast this month...

The Trouble With Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer - I picked this up because the main character is an archivist and the setting is the National Archives. A fun read with conspiracies, murder and never really knowing who is good and who is bad until you reach the end.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen - available May 10* - young adult fiction - So good. I just don't think Sarah Dessen can write a disappointing book.

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch* - young adult fiction - I don't feel the need to read the next one. Surprisingly, I'll be okay not knowing what happens.

Storm Runners by Roland Smith - A great writer for middle school kids, Smith is another author who never disappoints. This book - talk about a cliffhanger!

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - available in Aug.* - young adult fiction - A re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel...not what I expected...mixed thoughts about this one.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy - delightful story of a small-town that supports everyone...if you've read other Binchy books, you'll recognize some characters.

Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor - available May 12* - lovely...review to come

* I had a lot of ARCs from TLA this month.