Posts Tagged ‘fiction books’


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I have finally read Betsy-Tacy by Maude Hart Lovelace!  What a charming book of friendship that is set years ago when pennies bought chocolate men, piano boxes became play houses, and people left calling cards.  I can’t wait to continue the series!  This would make a wonderful read-aloud!

Alvin Ho

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things  tells the humorous tale of a second grader with a lot of fears, family, and friendships to deal with.   Here are some reviews.  If you like this title, don’t forget to check out Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters!

Booklist Reviews
In the chapter-book universe of Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones it’s hard to know what’s more surprising about Alvin Ho: his Y chromosome, or his Chinese American heritage. In this book, Look, who has made a career of portraying Chinese American family life in picture books and chapter books, focuses less on cultural commonalities than on the idiosyncracies of Alvin’s family (a dad fond of Shakespearean insults, a grandfather who sews), filling in the Chinese American backdrop exclusively through a small amount of Cantonese vocabulary and some food references. The book’s lighthearted treatment of Alvin’s unusual problem (mutism that kicks in only at school) doesn’t seem entirely apt. Still, many children will sympathize with fearful Alvin, who hates his therapist and marvels at his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD.” They’ll also hope that the book’s concluding, unexpected friendship will reap psychological benefits in a sequel. Pham’s thickly brushed artwork matches the quirky characterizations stroke for stroke. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Fearful second-grader Alvin Ho has never, not once, said a single word in school. His voice works at home, in the car, on the school bus. “But as soon as I get to school…I am as silent as a side of beef.” Like the author’s Ruby Lu chapter books (Ruby Lu, Brave and True; Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, rev. 5/06), this one acknowledges kids’ troubles while lightening them in a funny yet respectful way. For instance, Alvin plays cards with the psychotherapist he sees for his anxiety. When he realizes she’s letting him win, he says his first words to her — swear words he’s learned from his dad. But they’re Shakespearean swear words (“Sit thee on a spit, then eat my sneakers, thou droning beef-witted nut hook”), so she’s impressed. There’s no miracle cure for Alvin’s missing voice, and the book nicely focuses more on his need for friends. At the end, he’s still afraid of school, scary movies, etc., but he’s made a friend — and it’s (yikes!) a girl. Generously illustrated short chapters include laugh-out-loud descriptions of Alvin’s attempt to grow taller (his siblings leave him hanging from a tree branch where he remains forgotten until his mother spots his empty seat at dinner), his fateful decision to bring his dad’s beloved childhood Johnny Astro toy for show-and-tell, and his brief membership in a not-so-tough neighborhood gang. Readers will hope Alvin has enough fears to fill yet another small but hugely amusing chapter book. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews
Bright, energetic Alvin Ho is about to enter the second grade. The middle child in his close family, he idolizes his devoted, patient dad. He’s a big superhero fan and he loves all things that explode. His enthusiasm, however, doesn’t carry over to school—he’s so petrified while there that he can’t utter a single word: “But as soon as I get to school…I am as silent as a side of beef,” he explains. In the vignettes that make up this exuberantly funny slice of Alvin’s life, Look portrays the world as it would be viewed through the eyes of a wildly creative but undeniably neurotic kid. In his hometown of Concord, Mass., Alvin searches for friends, meets with a psychotherapist (who he supposes must be a “very smart crazy person” based on her job title) and gets himself into a variety of jams. A witty glossary and Pham’s simple yet expressive line drawings perfectly complement this appealing story about the refreshingly original, endearing Alvin. (Fiction. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Kenny and the Dragon

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Kenny and the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi (of Spiderwick fame), is a wonderful adventure based on Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant DragonKenny and the Dragon is also up for the Bluestem Award this year!   Here are some reviews!

Booklist Reviews
Kenneth Grahame s classic tale The Reluctant Dragon gets an update in this quaint, comfortable novella. A young rabbit meets an incidentally fearsome dragon and comes to his rescue when the townspeople of Roundbrook engage the local bookseller to slay him. The plot follows that of Grahame s original closely, embellishing on the homage with pointed allusions (the rabbit is called Kenny, short for Kenneth, and the Dragon is named Grahame, for example). The spot pencil illustrations deftly express the characters natures and feelings with energy and whimsy. DiTerlizzi s popularity, built on his contributions to the Spiderwick Chronicles, may draw children to this enjoyable outing. And this engaging story, in turn, may carry them up the bucolic hillside to the original, inspirational works of Mr. Grahame himself. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
To young rabbit Kenny’s surprise, the fearsome new dragon in town, Grahame, loves books and good food rather than ravaging. As Kenny and Grahame become friends, however, the local animals consider dragon-slaying; it falls to Kenny to keep the peace. This genial dragon story, with its nods to myth and Kenneth Grahame, is an accessible, enjoyable read. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews
Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—”Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Heart of a Shepherd

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Heart of a Shepherd is a beautiful novel of love, family, and faith.  Here are some of the reviews for the book:

Kirkus Reviews
Sixth-grader Ignatius—he goes by “Brother”—faces a hard year as his father is deployed to Iraq, and he, the youngest of five boys, is left with his aging grandparents to manage the family ranch in Oregon. The episodic presentation, with each chapter a vignette from one of the months his father is gone, effectively portrays the seasonal changes of farm life. The spare, evocative language of his first-person narration immediately captures readers’ interest and never falters in describing a year in the life of this eminently likable boy trying hard to be the man of the house, facing up to one believable challenge after another. From raising orphaned lambs he names after hobbits to delivering a calf to rescuing a farmhand and the stock from a raging prairie fire, each event moves Brother toward a new sense of his own emotional strength. At once a gripping coming-of-age novel and a celebration of rural life, quiet heroism and the strength that comes from spirituality, this first novel is an unassuming, transcendent joy. (Fiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
PW Annex Reviews
In Parry’s debut novel, 11-year-old Brother (his given name is Ignatius: “Guess they ran out of all the good saints by the time they got to me”) helps manage his family’s Oregon ranch. With his father in Iraq, his four older brothers at school or in the military, and his mother painting abroad, caring for family’s livestock falls to Brother, his grandparents and some hired help. Though he is eager to prove to his siblings, grandparents and most importantly, his father, that he can handle it, Brother nonetheless struggles with the rigors of the job, his father’s and brothers’ absence and the stress of war (“I could never do it…. I could never take those salutes and the `yes, sirs’ and then take moms and dads into danger”). Slowly, Brother fills the shoes of his elders and realizes his own calling when he is literally tested by fire. Brother’s spiritual growth and gentle but strong nature, in tandem with details of ranch life and the backdrop of war, add up to a powerful, unique coming-of-age story. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Some Recent Favorites

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I finally got a chance to read some great books that have come out in the last few years.  These are ones I have check out multiple times over those years but never had time to read.  But they were well worth the wait!  Here are some titles I have been enjoying over the last week.

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn is a great, chilling ghost story.  Travis and Corey are spending the summer at their grandmother’s inn when they awaken the mischievous ghosts that have been sleeping for years.  Now they must discover the secrets surrounding the ghosts in order to bring peace back to the inn and the ghosts themselves.  All the Lovely Bad Ones just recently won the 2010 Rebecca Caudill award as well!

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau tells the tale of Lina and Doon who must unravel a secret lost years ago in order to bring light and life back to their decaying city.  I cannot wait to read the next in the series!

In Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins, Gregor and his baby sister fall through the air vent in the laundry room of their New York City apartment building and end up in Underland.  There, Gregor must help fulfill an ancient prophecy in a war with humans, crawlers (roaches), spinners (spiders), and gnawers (rats) to restore peace and rescue his father who went missing two years before.  An exciting adventure, I again cannot wait to continue the series.

What’s New

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Looking for what has recently been added to the Children’s Department collection of materials?  Stop by the library’s homepage and click on the New to the Collection tab to see!

Here are some of the recent titles.  Click on the title to see the item in our catalog.


     Attack of the Tyrannosaurus

  A Conspiracy of Kings

  Tofu Quilt

  Stage Fright

  American Archaeology Uncovers the Underground Railroad

  Animal Tongues

  The Dust Bowl Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Helped Remedy a National Disaster

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I just finished reading The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor and found it quite touching.  Popeye is a lonely young man with nothing to do until a motor home gets stuck next door to his grandmother’s house.  The motor home is full of curly-haired children and it is the eldest, Elvis, who takes Popeye down the creek and off on a small adventure to find the source of little boats that come floating down the stream.

The Enemy

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

The Enemy: a book about peace by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch is an interesting commentary on war.  Though there is little text and simple illustrations, The Enemy is a powerful tale.  It discusses a major issue that war raises: believing someone different from oneself is a monster.  The two soldiers in the book begin believing what they have been taught about their enemy; they think the other is a heartless killer.  Yet they are dynamic characters; they learn about the other, have a change of heart and come to the conclusion that both want the war to be over.  The ending leaves the reader with hope.

 Publishers Weekly Reviews and School Library Journal Reviews recommends the reading audience be grades 4-8.  Read reviews on The Enemy: a book about peace here.