Friday, December 8, 2017

68. Sofia Martinez: Abuela's Birthday by Jacqueline Jules

Illustrated by Kim Smith
Read the book - Bosler Library
2015, Picture Window Books
32 pgs. (3 chapters)
Finished 12/8/17
Goodreads rating:  3.48 - 25 ratings
My rating:  4
Guided Reading Level K

First line/s:  "Sofia carried a big bag across the yard to her cousins' house.  The bag held everything they needed to make a pinata."

My comments: Super easy first chapter book with Spanish words to learn in context, includes glossary and a couple of questions to ask the kids who read/listened to answer aloud or in writing.  Very cute, easy story.

Goodreads synopsis: Sofia wants to make her grandma's birthday extra special. With the help of her cousins, she has the perfect plan. But an uninvited helper might ruin the entire surprise.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Illustrated by the author
2016, Peachtree, Atlanta
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.45 - 639 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers: pale brown

1st line/s:  "I do NOT like to read."

My comments:  So many people take reading for granted -- forgetting all those who struggle, get frustrated, then give up, only to spend their life thinking they hate to read.  Meet Madeline Finn, who struggles with reading but wants to be a STAR reader. With the help of a super librarian and a reading-to-a-dog program that's currently popular across the country, Madeline Finn's self confidence begins to soar.  This is a wonderful, feel-good book about a young girl, a dog, and reading.  It's special.  It's cute.  It's quite highly recommended.

GoodreadsMadeline Finn DOES NOT like to read. Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck.
     Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn't so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn't mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out.
     As it turns out, it's fun to read when you're not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it's okay to go slow. And to keep trying. And to get support from a friend.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Luka's Quilt by Georgia Guback

Illustrated by the author
1994, Greenwillow Books
HC $16.99 - looks like it's still in print
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.35 - 49 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Endpapers: solid green, the color of the background of the quilt Tutu made for Luka
Illustrations are cut paper Collage!  Gorgeous
1st line/s:  "My tutu lives with us.  Tutu.  That's Hawaiian for grandmother.  Tutu takes care of me while Mom and Dad work.  We do lots of things together.  I like that, and so does Tutu.  But all that changed when the quilt came along."

My comments:  I loved the cut paper collage illustrations (gorgeous!) and the beautiful quilt that Tutu made for Luka.  I love all the information about Hawaii.  But I don't love that Luka's pretty much a spoiled little brat.  Nothing I can change about that, it's part of the story, and the story about making the quilt, and the leis, is super. Just don't like the kid.  At all.

Goodreads:  Luka and her grandmother Tutu are best friends until Luka shows her disappointment at the traditional Hawaiian quilt that Tutu makes for her. Tutu is hurt, Luka is upset, and things just aren't the same anymore. But when Lei Day comes, the two set aside there differences to enjoy the holiday.
          "Guback's storytelling proves as affable as her bright, intricate cut-paper collages." -- Publishers Weekly.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Dia de Los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros
2015, Albert Whitman & Co., Chicago
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.93 - 189 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Endpapers: charcoal with small sugar skulls and simple flowers, all in gray and white
Illustrations: all aquas and oranges, with tiny bits of lavender and pink thrown in.

1st line/s:  "It's Dia de Los Muertos, the sun's coming round,
as ninos prepare in each pueblos and town.
For today we will honor our dearly departed
with celebraciones -- it's time to get started!

My comments:  Here's another fun book about Day of the Dead to add to my collection.  The story is written in verse form using couplets and infusing many of the terms associated with this special holiday in Spanish.  There's a glossary at the back, but most meanings can be gleaned from the text.  The illustrations seem a little busy but they're fun and full of information and items to hunt for from page to page. There's also an excellent description of Dia de Los Muertos at the end, after the poem.  I liked it.

Goodreads:  It’s Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and children throughout the pueblo, or town, are getting ready to celebrate! They decorate with colored streamers, calaveras—or sugar skulls—and pan de muertos, or bread of the dead. There are altars draped in cloth and covered in marigolds and twinkling candles. Music fills the streets. Join the fun and festivities, learn about a different cultural tradition, and brush up on your Spanish vocabulary as the town honors their dearly departed in a traditional, time-honored style.

PICTURE BOOK - The Girl With a Brave Heart: A Tale from Tehran by Rita Johanforuz

Illustrated by Vali Mintzi
2010, Barefoot Books, Cambridge, MA
avail in HC and paper - and at Bosler
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.37 - 112 ratings
My rating: 3
Endpapers- a solid muddy brown

1st line/s: "On a quiet street in the city of Tehran lived a little girl called Shiraz."

My comments:  Another Cinderella Story - this time from Iran.  Shiraz lives in Tehran and loses a ball of yarn in a very strange woman's garden.  I would have loved a little more cultural "stuff" from Iran, but some of the illustrations give hints about this.  The title seems a little misleading, too, since they never talk - at all - about Shiraz being brave, only being loving and kind.  Excellent for comparing and contrasting several different Cinderella stories.

Goodreads:  After showing kindness to a strange old woman, Shiraz receives the gift of beauty but her lazy and unkind stepsister, Nargues, suffers a less pleasant fate in this adaptation of the Grimm's fairy tale, Mother Hulda, reset in Tehran, Iran.

PICTURE BOOK - Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa

Illustrated by Cornelius VanWright & Ying-Hwa Hu
2001, Albert Whitman Co.
Only available new, in paper, $6.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:3.58 - 65 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers:  an illustration:  the walled city, with a golden-domed building on the other side of the wall
Illustrations cover both pages, and the text is on top of the illustration, no white edges!
1st line/s:  "In the walled old city of Jerusalem, which some call the Center of the Universe, Avi waited."

My comments: I didn't realize there are four ethnic/cultural sections in Jerusalem - Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian.  In this story, two boys from different cultures - Jewish and Muslim - find common ground because of a stray cat who "befriends" them both.

GoodreadsAvi and Hamudi are two boys who live in Jerusalem's Old City -- Avi in the Jewish Quarter and Hamudi in the Muslim Quarter. To each boy, the other's neighborhood is an alien land. And although neither boy knows it, both are caring for the same beautiful white stray cat.One day the boys follow the cat as she travels the winding streets and crosses the boundaries between the city's quarters. And on this journey something wonderful happens, as unexpected as a snowfall in Jerusalem.

Monday, December 4, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Math at the Art Museum by Group Majoongmul

From the copyright page:  "Majoongmul is a Korean word that refers to "priming water" poured into a pump to start the flow before pumping water from a well.  Group Majoongmul is the name of the authors' group that creates books that serve as the priming water within children's hearts.
Illustrated by Yun-ju Kim
2015 TanTan Publishing - originally published in Korea
HC $16.95
32 nice, thick pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.92 - 24 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers: Mottled cream

1st line/s: "My sister and I are going to the art museum with our parents!  'It's interesting that math can be found in art," Dad says.'"

My comments:  Many famous artists' work is represented in this art appreciation book for kids, each named and identified well.  At first I was a bit reluctant to see particular paintings included until I realized that point-of-view/perspective is, indeed, math.  Included are famous paintings by Jasper Johns, Seurat, Kandinsky, Leger, Picasso, Degas, Magritte, Matisse, and Dali, as well as two that I must learn more about: Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Kim Jae-hong.   The last five pages are informational and include activities for kids that combine art and math.

Goodreads:  This charming and colorful book incorporates mathematical concepts by introducing children to a fresh perspective on math through art
          When his father tells him there’s math in art, a young boy is suspicious of the idea. But when the boy explores paintings and other masterpieces with his sister and their parents, he begins to understand there is math in art, both hidden and visible. He sees, too, that math in art is brilliant—and beautiful! Hands-on activities and elementary mathematical concepts that relate to perspective, composition, symmetry, patterns, and other elements in artwork turn exploring art into an eye-opening adventure.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

TV Show - Glitch

Just finished watching Seasons 1 and 2
Premiered:  7/9/2015 Netflix - Season 1 (but I think that was in Australia, in America it was 2016) Current season 2 began 9-14-17
Number of Episodes:12 (6 each season)
Length of Episode: 60 minutes
IMBd:  7.6
RT Audience Score: 90
cag: 6 (Loved, loved, loved it)

Characters:  James Hayes, chief of Police (Patrick Brammall)
                       Dr. Elishia McKellar (the doctor who helps Chief Hayes try to figure everything out)
                       Kate Willis (dead wife)
                       Sarah Hayes (current wife)
                       John Doe (Rodger Corser) a highwayman?
                       Charlie Thompson (Sean P. Keenan) WWI hero
                       Kirstie Darrow (18-year old from the 1980s)
                       Maria Massola  (pious wife, mother, and schoolteacher)
                       Paddy (Patrick) Fitzgerald (the town's first mayor)
                       Beau (the boy who witnesses the dead digging themselves out of their graves)       

My comments:  I was immediately sucked into this series, and the 12 episodes were over much too quickly!  The cast, all unknown to me since this is an Australian production, were mesmerizing, as was the story, the characters, and the setting (the fictional town of Yoorana).  I love it when you're constantly wondering what will happen next, right along with the characters. The lead - a young cop - discovers his dead wife is one of the people who have come alive.  Also "risen" are:  an 18-year-old girl who died in the 80s, a young WWI era war hero, an Italian-speaking refugee (?) from the early 20th century, the first mayor of the town, who died in 1864, a 39-year-old mother who died in 1969, and a mysterious (and might I say extremely hunky) 40 year-old who we learn about more slowly than the rest.  SO GOOD!!!  How did this happen?  Why?  How are these people connected?  Will they ever be able to leave the boundaries that appear to kill them if crossed?

Storyline from RT:  A drama series where six individuals suddenly appear in a cemetery in the middle of the night with no recollection of who they are or where they come from. Trying to identify these people, and the truth behind how they are connected, will turn the life of the police officer put in charge of the investigation upside-down.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Aunt Olga's Christmas Postcards by Kevin Major

Illustrated by Bruce Roberts
2005, A Groundwood Book, House of Anansi Press, Toronto & Berkeley
Out-of-print
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.91 - 22 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Red striped background with collage of antique Christmas postcards
Illustrations:  Facsimiles of oodles and oodles of vintage postcards.  Drawings of Aunt Olga and the little girl look like pen and ink and watercolors.

1st line/s:  "Great-great Aunt Olga is ninety-five.  She calls herself a nonagenarian!  We all think the world of her."

My comments:  This is a wonderfully special book for me.  It's about Christmas and poetry and aging and familial grandparent-type/child relationship.  Its about memories and art and poems that both rhyme and don't rhyme.  There's quite a bit of text, but not so much that snuggling with a child older than a toddler and a gingerbread cookie wouldn't remedy!
Goodreads:  Anna’s great-aunt Olga has collected Christmas postcards all her life. She’s ninety-five, and many of the cards are very old. The holidays are the perfect time for Aunt Olga to share her postcards and her memories with her favorite niece. Decked out in red, Aunt Olga is ready for fun as she teaches Anna how to write her very own Christmas rhymes. Written with warmth and humor, this lovely story is a perfect starting point for discussions of the “olden days”, as well as a charming introduction to the joys of collecting.

Monday, November 20, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

Illustrated by the author
2009 in England
2010 US McMillan Children's
HC $17.99
Goodreads rating:  4.24 - 760 ratings
My rating: 5 - This is going to be along-time favorite, I love it!
Back cover:  “The Rabbit Problem:  This book is based on a problem that was solved in the 13th Century by the Mathematician Fibonacci, but it is NOT (I repeat NOT) and book about math.  It is a book about rabbits… Lots of rabbits!”

My comments:  First of all, the book is made so you can SEE how it’s made, you can see the ¾-inch long stitches, you can see the four signatures, you can take a look at the spine and see how the book is put together.  For me, that’s cool.  Secondly, the book is made like a calendar.  Once you open to the first page you have to rotate the book and read it vertically.  There are even holes punched all the way through the book (including the cover) so that it could hang like a real calendar.  And then the cleverness starts.  So thirdly, each double-page spread has a small “something” attached that you have to read (and totally enjoy!) before you turn the page.  And fourthly (spoiler alert!!!):  the last two pages are a magnificent pop-up.
          An invitation; knitting directions; Bunny’s baby book; The Ministry of Carrots RATION BOOK (all filled in); “The Fibber”, Fibonacci Field’s only local newspaper; and the Carrot Cookbook are all totally delightful and hysterical.  Read every work, these are a riot.  Actually, the entire book is a riot.  Perfect for older kids and even adults for a good ha-ha-ha.
          And Fibonacci’s Principle is fully discovered, disclosed, and discussed.  There’s even a math problem involved if one desires to try to figure it out (I do!).  Every page bears details to delight one and all, so look carefully everywhere, and take your time.  What a treat!  Hugely recommended.

Goodreads:  Hop along to the Field and follow Lonely and Chalk Rabbit through a year as they try to cope with their fast expanding brood and handle a different seasonal challenge each month, from the cold of February to the wet of April and the heat of July.

PICTURE BOOK - The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Allison Inches

2009, Little Simon (Little Green Books)
3.99 in paper
24 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.11 - 83 ratings
My rating: 4
There looks like there's another book called The Adventures of an Aluminum Can that is published by the same publisher.

My comments:       This story is told in diary form, from the point-of-view of crude oil flowing at the very bottom of the ocean.  He’s pumped onto a ship, then to a refinery, made into small plastic bits, then molded into a water bottle.  After the bottling plant he’s purchased by a boy who, after guzzling the water, refills it and gives it to his mom with a flower.  After it’s done its duty as a vase, they recycle it and it’s sent to another place where he’s boiled down, made into spaghettis of plastic, then into a synthetic fleece sweatshirt that astronauts wear.
      There’s no mention of how long plastic takes to break down, which would have been another interesting aspect of the story.  But for a discussion about recycling, this would be a great introductory story.

Goodreads:  Learn about recycling from a new perspective!  Peek into this diary of a plastic bottle as it goes on a journey from the refinery plant, to the manufacturing line, to the store shelf, to a garbage can, and finally to a recycling plant where it emerges into it's new life...as a fleece jacket! 
          Told from the point of view of a free-spirited plastic bottle, kids can share in the daily experiences and inner thoughts of the bottle through his personal journal. The diary entries will be fun and humorous yet point out the ecological significance behind each product and the resources used to make it. Readers will never look at a plastic bottle the same way again!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Me and you and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol

Illustrated by Phil
2017 Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, Toronto
HC $18.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.83 - 82 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Solid Red
Illustrations are acrylic on wood paneling!  Very cool
1st line/s:
"I woke before the sun was up,
before the moon closed its eyes,
before the stars twinkled out,
when the whole world was just thinking
about the new day,
and everything was
purple and magical."

My comments:  Although I'm not a fisherperson - and it doesn't interest me at all - and this book is about going out onto a lake fishing, I still consider the book a work of art, both in words and illustration.  It's written in verse form, and would be a wonderful sample of free verse to share with a tween or teen.  Gorgeous writing.  The illustrations are really, really beautiful, there's no white, and even the page of text has a background paint-y collage that's lovely. I love that the illustrator is "Phil."  No surname.  Both author and illustrator are Canadians. Highly recommended.

Goodreads:  In the stillness of a summer dawn, two siblings leave their campsite with fishing rods, tackle and bait, and push a red canoe into the lake. A perfect morning on the water unfolds, with thrilling glimpses of wildlife along the way.
          The narrator describes the experience vividly. Trailing a lure through the blue-green depths, the siblings paddle around a point, spotting a moose in the shallows, a beaver swimming towards its home and an eagle returning to its nest. Suddenly there is a sharp tug and the rod bends to meet the water. A few heart-stopping moments later, the pair pull a silvery trout from the water, then paddle back to the campsite to fry up a delicious breakfast.
          The poetic text is accompanied by stunningly beautiful paintings rendered on wood panels that give a nostalgic feeling to the story.

PICTURE BOOK - Finding Christmas by Lezlie Evans

Illustrated by Yee Von Chan
2017 Albert Whitman & Company, Chicago
HC $16.99
Simpson Library
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.75 - 24 ratings
My rating: 3
Endpapers:  a medium solid evergreen color
Illustrations are very sweet.  The entire book is sweet. 
1st line/s:  The Little Burrow was nearly ready for Christmas.  Hare sang as he decorated the tree, Squirrel sprinkled sugar on the hazelnut cookies, and Mouse scurried out the door."

My comments:  This was a quiet, sweet story of three friends who share a home.  It's about sharing, and doing for others, and a little bit about procrastination, to tell the truth!  I'm not super big on anthropomorphism, so my rating may be a little slanted.  It really is a sweet story, and the illustrations are very nice.  There's lots and lots of white space on the pages, which is also a bit of a turn-off for me, but I did enjoy it.  Recommended.

Goodreads:  Squirrel, Mouse, and Hare are getting ready for Christmas. While Mouse is out looking for the perfect gift for Hare, she finds Swallow sick in the snow. The three friends bring Swallow home and try to nurse the bird back to health. Squirrel and Mouse realize their Christmas gifts will help Swallow get well. As they give up their presents to help Swallow, they find the Christmas spirit.

PICTURE BOOK - Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht

Illustrated by Jarvis
2017, Candlewick Press
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.1 - 70 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers"  Small, simple snowflakes on lt aqua background
Illustrations:  Chalk, pencil, paint (and colored digitally, whatever that means)
1st verse:
"Pick a pine tree
from the lot ---
slim and tall
or short and squat.
One with spiky needle clumps,
scaly bark, or sappy bumps."

My comments:  Full of rhyme and rhythm, this buying-and-decorating-the-tree poem should be shared with kids just before they either go out to purchase a tree or lug the fake one down from the attic.  It'll get thim "in the mood."  Be sure to examine the illustrations well, there are lots of little things going on to notice.

Goodreads:  A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime -- beginning, of course, with picking out a tree! 
Part of the magic of the Christmas season stems from the traditions that families and friends take part in every year: hanging up stockings; putting lights in the windows; and, one of the most important of all, picking out and taking home the Christmas tree. With style and warmth, debut author Patricia Toht and Jarvis, the author-illustrator of Alan's Big, Scary Teeth, evoke all the rituals of decorating the tree -- digging out boxes jam-packed with ornaments and tree trimmings, stringing tinsel, and, at long last, turning on those twinkling lights. Joyously drawn and rhythmically written, this celebration of family, friends, and the holiday season is as merry as the tradition it depicts. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Robert's Snow by Grace Lin

Illustrated by the author
2004, Viking (OP, currently available used)
Bosler Library
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.02 - 51 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Page divided into nine squares, set up like a tic-tac-toes board, large snowflakes ans the "tic" and numerous smaller snowflakes as the "tac."  Pale, pale blue and white.
Illustrations:  Most double page spreads have at least one, full-page edge-to-edge illustrations, very fun illustrations at that.
1st line/s:  "Robert and his family lived in a house that lookes a bit like a shoe.  Really it was a boot, but Grandpa had made a lot of changes to it."

My commentsRobert loves the snow.  I don’t.  So with trepidation, I began reading this book.  It’s adorable and clever, and I got a brainstorm about a great activity that could go along with it that I think kids would love.  Robert and his very extended mouse family live in an old shoe that is falling apart.  When winter comes, to be warm and safe, they barricade themselves inside.  Their rooms are snug and tidy.  They use pill bottles and loose change, bottle caps and dice, toothpicks and empty spools, alphabet blocks and tiny pieces of fabric, postage stamps and tiny boxes, corks and buttons.. They eat jelly beans and nuts.  The story, although mostly about winter weather, includes a tiny, very clever bit about Santa, but I wouldn’t consider this a Christmas book, particularly, though it includes the idea of giving to others.  And after the reading aloud (some pages have a bit more text than others, but the book shouldn’t take too very long to read), kids could each be given a small box, a variety of “found items,” and create their own cozy little homes for mice.  Oh, what fun.


Goodreads:  "Too much snow," Grandpa Mouse grumbles.
"Snow is just trouble," scoffs Aunt Vicky.
"Small animals like us," Mum says, "don't like snow."

But Robert, the smallest mouse, knows he likes snow, even though he's never touched it. When he finally gets his wish to go outside and play in it, Robert is overjoyed. Snow is wonderful! That is, until he can't find his way home. Is there anyone who can help him? There is, and even though little Robert doesn't recognize his rescuer, readers will--because it's . . . Santa!