Sunday, December 15, 2019

Picture Book: Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Illustrated by the author
2019 Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.58 - 318 ratings
My rating:  5 
Endpapers:  Map of the woods, shack, and surroundings in shades of green

1st line/s:  "This is my family.  Ray (14) Bea (12) Rich (10) Marv (8) Marvel - me (6) Lowell (4) Dal (2) Eva (3 mos.) Mum (34)  Dad lives with the angels now, and we need to find a new home."

My comments:  This one actually brought tears to my eyes.  Lovely story of a family of eight kids during the depression, dad had just died of cancer, and they found a tar paper shack in the woods where they lived for the next five years.  Based on a true story of the author's grandmother, who was one of the nine kids.  Lovely and nostalgic.  The accompanying illustrations are super-wonderful.

Goodreads:   This picture book from Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother's childhood and pays homage to a family's fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.
          Eliza Wheeler’s book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died. Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn’t seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be. During their first year it’s a struggle to maintain the shack and make sure they have enough to eat. But each season also brings its own delights and blessings–and the children always find a way to have fun. Most importantly, the family finds immense joy in being together, surrounded by nature. And slowly, their little shack starts feeling like a true home–warm, bright, and filled up with love.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Picture Book - Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore

Illustrated by the author
2019 Owlkid Books/Canada
Hardcover $17.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.93 - 180 ratings 
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Solid jungle green

1st line/s: " There once lived a child the crocodiles called Little Doctor." 

My comments:  The title should be Fearless Little Doctor and the Beast!  A brave little gril doctor gently cares for all the crocodiles in the (lush) jungle, until a huge croc comes to her and she can't discover what's wrong with him.  With great ingenuity she finally figures out how to get him to open his huge jase - and discovers the crux of the problem.  No words are used to explain the problem, only that inside the open jaws are baby crocs, all wrapped up in plastic six-pack rings.  Subtle message, love it.  Must use to talk about correct recycling of plastics, as well as beautiful illustrations!

GoodreadsCrocodiles come from far and wide to seek Little Doctor's care. She treats each one with skill and kindness--even the toughest crocs with thick skins and large, powerful jaws. Little Doctor marvels at these fearless beasts, listening to their stories, while she diagnoses and cures what ails them. But when she meets Big Mean, the largest crocodile in the land with jaws clamped tightly shut, Little Doctor can't figure out what's wrong. And she might be just a little bit afraid.
          When one creative idea lands Little Doctor right inside Big Mean's tremendous jaws, she is sure she'll be munched or crunched--until she sees that Big Mean isn't so horrible, after all. As it turns out, the crocodile is only protecting her hatchlings, all tangled in plastic, inside her mouth.
          Watercolor illustrations create a richly imagined world in this awe-inspiring story about how even little kids can be fearless, and even big, mean creatures sometimes need help.

Picture Book - Ruby's Birds by Mya Thompson

Illustrated by Claudia Davila
2019 Cornell Lab Publishing Group
HC $16.95
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.52 - 63 ratings
My rating:  3
Endpapers: white with puffy clouds

1st line/s:  "School's out.  Mom and Dad are at word.  My brother, Malik, is at soccer practice.  Grandma's at her spot near the window.  Alex keeps her company.  Things are too quiet around here."

My comments: A young girl is introduced to bird-watching in Central park by her neighbor.   There are lots of birds to search for in the illustrations, which are really fun.  The story has a really flat ending, however.  A great writing extension for 4th & 5th graders might be to write a better ending!

GoodreadsSometimes the most beautiful things in nature can go unnoticed. Meet Ruby, a seven-year-old kid with the energy of the city in which she lives--New York City. She plays the piano--LOUDLY. She romps around the apartment--LOUDLY. And she sings songs she makes up herself--LOUDLY!
          So, when her downstairs neighbor Eva takes her on a nature walk through Central Park, Ruby has to learn how to slow down, step carefully, and be quiet enough to see and hear the amazing birds that are everywhere around her.
          From author Mya Thompson and illustrator Claudia D�vila comes a delightful story of a brand-new bird watcher just spreading her wings.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Picture Book - Encyclopedia of Grannies by Eric Veille

Translated by Daniel Hahn (translated from French?)
2019, Gecko Press, New Zealand
HC. $17.99
28 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.46 - 24 ratings
My rating:  3
Thick cardboard covers, thick pages with rounded corners.

1st line/s:  "The world's first encyclopedia devoted entirely to grannies."

My comments:  2/3 of the book seemed intended for the entertainment of grandmothers, if they're not easily offended.  Not actually sure who the intended audience of this book actually is....but I enjoyed most of it with a wry smile throughout....

Goodreads:  Why do grannies always tell us to speak up? Why do they have creases on their faces? Are grannies flexible? How do you cheer up a sad granny? How old are grannies, actually?
          Eric Veill� explains it all in this offbeat book for the extended family to chuckle over--no matter what kind of grandma you have, are, or would like to be. From the author of My Pictures after the Storm, which received three starred reviews and which School Library Journal proclaimed "may be the funniest book of the year."

Picture Book - Blooming Beneath the Sun

Poems by Christina Rossetti
Cut Paper Illustrated by Ashley Bryan
2019 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.67
My rating:  4
Endpapers: orange with cut paper daisies (like the daisies that accompany "Where Innocent Bright-Eyed Daisies Are."

Fourteen poems by Christina Rossetti, three follow

My comments: Anything that has anything to do with Ashley Bryan makes my heart pound.  The illustrations are bold and beautiful!  And I've ALWAYS loved the simplicity of Christina Rossetti's beautiful words, although there are a few poems in this collection that I'm not overly fond of....

GoodreadsNewbery Award honoree Ashley Bryan has hand-selected a collection of celebrated English poet Christina Rossetti’s poems to illustrate with his inimitable flourish.  
          The world changes so quickly, but the joy and fun of being a child always remains. Christina Rossetti’s classic nursery rhymes have embodied the simple essence of childhood for centuries, and now award-winning illustrator Ashley Bryan brings new life to them with this wonderfully illustrated selection of Rossetti’s poetry.
          Bryan’s bright and intricate collage art perfectly complement Rossetti’s simple text, and together they create a vibrant book for both kids—and kids at heart.

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Hurt No Living Thing

Hurt No living Thing
Ladybird, not butterfly
Nor moth with dusty wing,
nor cricket chirping cheerily
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.

Where Innocent Bright-Eyed Daisies Are

Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are,
With blades of grass between,
Each daisy stands up like a star

Out of a sky of green.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hanukkah Picture Book Quickies

It's Hanukkah!
Jeanne Modesitt
Ill. Robin Spowart
GR: 3.50- 12 ratings
My rating:  2
Mouse family, some is irrelevant just to rhyme:"We all dance the horah, even Great-Grandma Laura."  Don't really like the story or the illustrations, but the addendums about the holiday, menorah, and dreidels are useful.

It's Hanukkah Time!
Latita Berry Kropf
Photographs by Tod Cohen
GR:  3.22 - 9 ratings
My rating:  4 - Perfect for Toddlers
I plan to use this for a toddler storytime (18 - 35 months)  It's simple, and photographs accentuate each idea that's presented.  (Note: Instead of latkes, they fry sufganiyot, and include a recipe in the back).

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
Susan L. Roth
GR: 3.63 - 43 ratings
Mice again.  Super simple: the words to a song.  Cut paper collage. Not a great read-aloud, IMO, but might accompany a recording of the song.
"Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah.
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora.
And while we are playing,
The candles are all burning low.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light.
To remind us of day long ago.
    (Repeat twice)

Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights
Leslie Kimmelman
Ill. John Himmelman
GR:  3.52 - 21 ratings
My rating:  3
Very simple story of how a family celebrates Hanukkah.  A bit misleading in that it might be interpreted that specific things are done on specific nights.  If it's made clear that there's no particular order of when to celebrate in each way, it works just fine.

One Night, One Hanukkah Night
Aidel Backman
GR:  2.00 - 1 rating
My rating:  3
Great premise, one page contemporary, the next historical - but didn't quite pull it off.  As a read-aloud with explanation it would probably be fine.  Each page has a different traditions, a menorah with the correct amount of candles, and simple explanations if needed.

Hooray for Hanukkah!
Fran Manushkin
Ill. Carolyn Croll
GR:  2.94 - 18 ratings
my rating:  2/5
Another simple way to show the eight nights of Hanukkah and share the different holiday traditions.  It's from the P-o-v of the menorah.  Old-fashioned clothing, though it's set in contemporary times - this bothered me.  And the repetition of "I am bright, but I could be brighter" became very tiring very quickly.
It's a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook
Stephanie Spinner
ill. Jill McElmurry
3.92 - 36 ratings
A grandmother tells a different story on every one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  All end up being a true story about family members she not only knows, but who will attend the family meal. Within the stories she tells are Hanukkah traditions.  Although the story is longish, it's delightful.  The book ends with "The Hanukkah Legend," a glossary, and the three Hanukkah blessings.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Picture Book - Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah by Michael J. Rosen

Illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
2000, Holiday House
Seems to be out-of-print
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 25 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: azure

1st line/s:  "The very first night of Hanukkah, we polish the silver menorah that was my great-grandma's.  She brought it from Russia maybe a hundred years ago!  It's the oldest thing in the house, I think.  We all say the prayers together as we light the shammash -- that's the tallest candle -- and touch it to the first night's candle."

My comments:  A child tells of his family's traditional "doings" on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  Not only does it include all sorts of Hanukkah traditions, it includes how they celebrate with theiri non-Jewish friends so that Christmas is not ignored, but included slightly in three different places in this excellent story.  A bit long for 3-year-olds, but great for 4 and up.

Goodreads:   For Jewish families around the world, the eight nights of Hanukkah are unlike any others. For this family each night is an occasion to share cherished traditions such as lighting the menorah with family and friends. It's also a time to have fun dancing at the temple's big Hanukkah party, playing with dreidels and chocolate coins, and eating delicious latkes. This joyful celebration of Hanukkah miracles, great and small, presents a heartwarming picture of one family's festivities from the first night of the Festival of Lights to the last.

Picture Book - Pippa's Passover Plate by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Jill Weber
2019, Holiday House
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.26 - 87 ratings
My rating:  3
Endpapers:  simple line drawings of Passover and Jewish-related items (red on peach)

1st line/s:  'Hurry, scurry, Pippa Mouse, .
washing, scrubbing, cleaning house.
Passover starts at six tonight,
Seder meal by candlelight."

My comments:  The story is cute, rhyming, and fun!  But other than cleaning the house and talking about the Seder plate in general, the book tells nothing more of Passover.  It's written for very young kids, but even for Jewish kids, there's not very much about Passover or even why you'd need a seder plate.  And I have one huge unsolved question - how did the Seder plate get in the water?
     I also love the alliteration of the book title!

Goodreads:   An irresistibly adorable mouse tries to find her Passover plate before sundown when the Seder begins in this colorful Jewish holiday story.
          An enchanting mouse scours her cozy, miniature home for her Passover Seder plate with no luck. Sundown is near and the Passover celebration will begin soon. Pippa Mouse must venture out and be brave to ask a cat, a snake, and an owl for help. To her surprise not only are the animals helpful in tracing her plate to the pond, they become her Passover Seder guests. A spread at the end of the book shows the Passover plate with its six essential symbolic items: zeroah (a roasted bone), beitzah, (an egg), maror and charoset (bitter herbs), chazeret (mortar or paste), and karpas (a spring vegetable). 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Picture Book - Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and his Muse by Alexandria Giardino

Illustrated by Felicita Sala
2018 Cameron Kids, Petaluma, CA
HC $17.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.27 - 128 ratings
My rating:  5 Love, love, love...
Endpapers: Thick ONION SKIN!

1st line/s:  "Pablo was hard at work, writing a long, sad poem.  His pen whirled.  the pages piled high."

My comments: Within this very cool picture book is the story of a friendship/relationship, how to begin thinking about a poem, and beautiful words.  It ends with Neruda's actual "ode to the Onon" (in both English and Spanish!) and a paragraph about Pablo and Matilde's relationship.  Outstanding biography!

Goodreads: A poetic, beautifully illustrated picture book inspired by Ode to the Onion by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973).  Pablo has a lunch date with his friend Matilde, who shows the moody poet her garden. Where Pablo sees conflict and sadness, Matilde sees love and hope. The story is less a biography of Neruda and his muse, Matilde Urrutia (1912–1985), and more a simple ode to a vegetable that is humble and luminous, dark and light, gloomy and glad, full of grief and full of joy—just like life.
A Junior Library Guild Selection.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

103. In Plain Sight by Linda Castillo

#10.5 Kate Burkholder, Ohio Amish Country Chief of Police
listened on my iPhone - own on Audible
narrated  by Kathleen McInerney
Unabridged audio (1:51)
2019 Minotaur Books
67 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery in a series - short story
Finished 10/22/19
Goodreads rating: 4.01 - 954 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: contemporary Painters Mill, Ohio

First line/s: "Darkness pressed down on him with an almost physical force."

My comments
A straight-forward, simple-to-solve short story /novella set in familiar Kate Burkholder territory in Amish Country/Painters Mill, Ohio.  In this one it's nice to discover that the victim, for once, doesn't die, despite horrific injuries.  In this one, an Englisher high schooler and an Amish boy on rumspringa are dating.

Goodreads synopsis:  From Linda Castillo, the New York Times bestselling author of A Gathering of Secrets, comes a new Kate Burkholder short mystery, In Plain Sight: a story of star-crossed love and murder in Amish country.
          Seventeen year old Amish boy, Noah Kline, is struck by a car as he walks alongside a dark country road late one night in Painters Mill. Seriously injured, he lapses into a coma. Initially, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder believes it’s a straightforward hit and run, a driver that panicked and fled. But evidence soon emerges that the incident wasn’t accidental at all--and Kate uncovers a story of teenage passion and jealousy that may have led to attempted murder.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

102. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

#2 Arc of a Scythe
listened on my iPhone, purchased on Audible
narrated by Greg Tremblay
Unabridged audio (13:02)
2018 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
513 pgs.
YA Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 10/19/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.52 - 42,389 ratings
My rating: 5

First line/s:  "How fortunate I am among the sentient to know my purpose.  I serve human kind.  I am the child who has become the parent.  The creations that aspires towards creator."

My comments:  In the year after Citra and Rowan become scythes, Rowan is on the run, killing scythes that are not doing their gleaning fairly, and Citra has created her own way to compassionately do her job.  There's a new protagonist, Grayson, who is a particularly good person and we hear a lot from the Thunderhead, the artificial intelligence that runs everything and everyone on the planet except for the scythes.  In the ultimate battle between good and bad we have to wait for the final chapter knowing that the bad are on the winning side.  What a tense, thrilling journey is this book!  Glad I don't have to wait too long for the final installment.

Goodreads synopsis:  Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.
          Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Monday, October 14, 2019

100. Bloody Genius by John Sandford

#12 Virgil Flowers
read on my iPhone bought it on Audible
narrated  by Eric Conger
Unabridged audio (10:21)
2019, G. P. Putnam's (Penguin Audio)
384 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery, from a series
Finished 10/14/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.33 - 6,989 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary Minnesota state university

First line/s:  "Barthelemy Quill led his companion through the murk and up the library stairs towards his personal study carrel."

My comments:  I've got to admit that I had figured out the bad guy pretty early on, although I was surprised I did - just a little too much foreshadowing I guess.  And I'm still not happy about Frankie, don't know her at all, not enough, not for Virgil.....

Goodreads synopsis:  Virgil Flowers will have to watch his back--and his mouth--as he investigates a college culture war turned deadly in the latest thriller from #1 New York Times-bestseller John Sandford.
          At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of PC culture. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right?
          Then someone winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate . . . and he soon comes to realize he's dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

99. Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

listened to Audio, borrowed from Bosler
narrated by Patricia Rodriguez
Unabridged audio (9:56)
2018/Atria Emily Bestler Books
352 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 10/13/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.60 - 3640 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Contemporary Minnesota

First line/s: "By the time the boy in ward four attached me, I'd already nicknamed him "the Lost One" in my head."

My comments:  Set mostly in a mental hospital, this story is the tale of two young people and the mental legacies they receive from their parents.  As their stories begin to intermingle, my mind was in a constant state of "what would I do in this situation?"  I was quite caught up in the story. 

Goodreads synopsis:  From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.
          There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.
          Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later...the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life
          But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Books About Muslim Life and Experience

Picture Books:

Clever Ali (Farmer) 2006 (4.5) folktale
Four Feet, Two Sandals (Williams & Mohammed) 2007 (4)
Malala's Magic Pencil (Yousafzai) 2017 (5)
My First Ramadan (Katz) 2007 (4)
My Name is Bilal (Mobin-Uddin) 2005 (3)
Night of the Moon (Khan) 2008 (5) Ramadan
One Green Apple (Bunting) 2006 (5)
A Party in Ramadan (Mobin-Uddin) 2009 (4)
Silent Music (Rumford) 2008 (4.5)
Snow in Jerusalem (daCosta) 2001 (4)
Time to Pray (Addasi) 2010 (4.5)
Under My Hijab (Khan) 2019 (5)

Middle Grades:

Other Words for Home (Warga) 2019 (3)
Shadows of Ghadames (Stolz) 2005 (5)
Under the Persimmon Tree (Staples) 2005 (4)

Young Adult:

Internment (Ahmed) 2019 (2)
A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Mafi) 2018 (4.5)




A Most Wanted Man (set in Germany) 2014 (5.5)
Mustang (set in Turkey) 2015 (5)
Sabah, A Love Story (set in Canada) 2005

98. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

listened on Audible/own
narrated  by Christopher Ragland
Unabridged audio (22:41)
2014 Atria/Emily Bestler Books
612 pgs.
Contemporary thriller
Finished 10/9/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.25 - 105,039 ratings
My rating: 5

First line/s: "There are places I'll remember all my life - Red Square with a hot wind holwing across it, my mother's bedroom on teh wrong side of Eight Mile, the endless gardens of a fancy foster home, a man waiting to kill me in a group of ruins known as the Theater of Death."

My comments:  This was a long one, over 600 pages and took about 22 hours to listen to the audio.  I think it is the way that it's written that most fascinates me.  the crux of the story is the hunt for a terrorist, but it gives all sorts of background and form to both the protagonist and the antagonist.  It is the story of an incredibly brilliant empathetic man who is also very lucky.  The story is a woven one, and it's woven brilliantly.  It gives you background without going from point A to point Z in order.  and every tiny detail is interesting...and believable.  AND well written.  I was mesmerized.  I loved this book, this story, this protagonist, this narrator.  22 hours well spent.  It looks like from skimming the reviews of this thriller that you either love or hate this book.  I just can't imagine hating it for some of the reasons given, and when I read the reviews I wonder if, for the most part, I read the same book!
     NOTE: Quite a bit of the book takes place in Bodrum, Turkey, a city I have visited.  Many of the descriptions really took me back and I could picture it perfectly.

Goodreads synopsis:  A breakneck race against time...and an implacable enemy. An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square. A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard. Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan. A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity. One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.