Wednesday, June 30, 2010

48. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

Washington Square Press
published in Australia in 2008
paper, $15.00
552 pages
for: adults
Rating: 5

I really enjoyed this cleverly woven story of three generations of women. Set in Brisbane, Australia and Cornwall, England, it flips back and forth - quite flawlessly, actually - between the period from 1900 through 1913, to 1975, and then 2005. It is a mystery, with a cottage on a Cornwall cliff that contains a walled secret garden as one of the characters. It is also intertwined with the fairy tales written by Eliza, which adds another dimension to the rich story.

In 1913 Nell is abandoned on a ship that is making its way from London to Australia. Many years later, she tries to piece together the story, figure out who she is and where she came from. After she dies, her beloved granddaughter Cassandra picks up the pieces and continues the search, trying to figure out the mystery of which her grandmother had never spoken.

We meet Eliza, orphaned daughter of beautiful Georgianna, who left Blackhurst Manor to flee an obsessed brother and follow her heart. Georgianna's husband is a sailor, and when he is killed, she chooses to live in poverty in London with her twin daughter and son rather than return to Cornwall. The son tragically dies and Eliza is swept back to Blackhurst to "entertain" her sickly cousin, Rose. Years later the cottage on the cliff, connected by an intricate maze to the manor, becomes Eliza's. It sits empty for 60 years until it becomes Nell's, then another 30 until it becomes Cassandra's. And it is Cassandra that eventually unearths all of its secrets and works diligently to make it her new home.

I couldn't put this book down. Even though I had a pretty good idea of the outcome, it was nice to see all the extra, intricate pieces of the story fall into place. I very much enjoyed Kate Morton's writing, and will look to find the book she wrote a few years previously, The House at Riverton.

Two Weeks in Maine

Two weeks in Maine included swimming, kayaking, a glorious weekend on Abram's Pond, Acadia National Park (where Bren became a Junior ranger), frog hunting at Lake Pond, lobster dinners and clams by the shore, a birthday party at Rosalie's in Bar Harbor with Ashley, a couple of trips to Bangor, one of them to visit the Children's Discovery Museum (really wonderful place),reading picture books at the Ellsworth Library, humidity, huge horseflies, lupine everywhere,, Ashley's dance recital and Brendan's preschool graduation, trips into Northeast Harbor to visit family and the cemetery, two of my favorite yarn shops - Shirley's just outside Ellsworth and Grace Robinson in Freeport, lots of time with Fran and the kids, and putting 1500 miles on my rented Subaru going back and forth from Massachusetts and Maine. It also included no time blogging!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

MOVIE - The Karate Kid

Fun movie - it does make me realize how much I abhor bullies
Released June 11, 2010
PG (2:20)
6-24-10 at Maine Coast Cinema with Brendan
RT: 69% cag: 87%
Director: Harold Zwart
with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan

This is a "remake" of the 80's movie of the same title. The setting this time is in Beijing, China, where 12 year old Dre Parker has moved with his mom because of her job. He is immediately set upon by a group of bullies that take kung fu from an unscrupulous teacher. He is beaten, and taunted, and afraid, until his apartment's handyman decides to take him under his wing. His training is tiring, repetitious and very rewarding.

The scenes from China are g o r g e o u s. The Great Wall. Dragon Mountain (I think that's what it was called...Brendan's in bed or I'd ask him if he remembers). Chinese countryside. The Forbidden Palace. I loved the Chinese culture depicted everywhere, in the park, in the apartment, at the school.

Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith (of Pursuit of Happyness fame) is a 12 year old powerhouse. Cute, talented, athletic...he has all the moves and mucho charm. And throw in Jackie Chan in a serious role....well, it worked for me! And Brendan was enthralled. Some of the conversation was in Chinese with subtitles, and I whispered some of what was going on to him so that he wouldn't get lost. On the ride home he kept saying "she," and I realized that he thought the protagonist was a girl, - his hair was covered in braids and his features are, indeed, quite gentle. I do wonder how what, exactly, is now going on in his five year old mind. He'll be making karate kicks into the air for a few weeks, I imagine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dory Story - Jerry Pallotta

Illustrated by David Biedrzycki
Charlesbridge, 2000
32 pages
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Rusty red

Brendan and I went to the Acadia National Park visitor center yesterday, looked at the huge relief map, watched the movie, and decided to participate in some junior ranger activities this week. We were drawn to this big, colorful book and bought it, stamped it with the National Park passport stamp, and signed the inside cover. So this will be a very special book. We've already read it three times.

Not only does this relate the ocean adventures of a curious boy, it teaches about the food chain....from plankton to shrimp to eels to mackerel to bluefish to killer whales. We see seals, gulls, lots and lots of ocean, and see how imagination and curiousity can create a whale of a tale.

The illustrations and layout of the book are lovely - the picture covers most of the two-page spread -- oh those blues! -- and the font, a large blue type, is on a white vertical strip down the side.

Informative and fun, what more could one want?

Monday, June 14, 2010

MOVIE - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Wow. An incredible, topnotch movie.
Released 3-19-2010
R (2:34)
6-13-10 at the Loft
RT: 86% cag: Do I Dare Rate This as My Highest? 97%
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
In Swedish, with subtitles
From the book by Stieg Larsson

NOTE: There was some incredibly graphic violence in this movie that was extremely disburbing.

But, WHAT A MOVIE! Incredbile storytelling, fantastic acting, setting and tone and mood that just worked perfectly together. Within ten minutes I wasn't even realizing that I was reading subtitles. And since I come from a Swedish background, hearing the lilting accents, checking out the countryside, and even having one of the small towns included that are part of my own family history was pretty cool.

Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, was set up, charged with libel, and as the film begins, has been sentenced to six months incarceration. He has six months before he has to submit to this. So when a wealthy industrialist and CEO of a powerful family conglomerate hires him to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his much-loved niece, Harriet, he takes on the job and moves to a cottage on the Vanger property in northern Sweden, away from the craziness of Stockholm.

Lisbeth Salander is a 24 year old computer hacker with lots of baggage, a trouble past, and a dozen reasons to be sullen. She has dozens of piercings, a huge tattoo on her back, and a cigarette constantly between her lips. Her new probation officer is a sexual predator that is one of the nastiest I've ever seen portrayed. But Lisbeth is smart. She retaliates. And since she was the researcher that helped put Mikael away, she realizes that he's innocent and keeps hacking into his harddrive to see what he's up to.

Well, the two stories come together when she joins him to help him investigate.

So we are really examing two scenarios - hers, and their investigation. What a story, so well told. This movie does it justice. I've heard talk they're going to do an American edition. Why? I don't think they could top this one.

I'm really glad I didn't read the book before I saw the movie. The suspense was wonderful. But NOW....I wanna read the book!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

47. The Messenger - Jan Burke

Simon & Schuster, 2009
HC $25.00
305 pages
for: adults
Rating: 5, gotta say it...couldn't put it down.

Well....this is a "supernatural thriller." No vampires, phew. But, one or two immortals in a society of humanity. Southern California humanity. LA foothills humanity. No specific descriptions of the setting, unfortunately, but a generalized sunny southern California. And a dog is one of the protagonists. Now, I am not a dog lover. But I couldn't put this book down. A really good mystery.

The book doesn't have different speakers, per se, but we switch back and forth to see the story from different perspectives. Amanda Clarke, early 20ish orphaned rich kid who doesn't work and roams around a big, expensive, LA foothills house. Tyler Hawthorne, 24 plus a few hundred years, Amanda's new next door neighbor. He's a messenger. He can hear the wishes of the comatose almost-dead and help them bring closure to devastated family. And he is indestructable, as long as his trusty, huge dog Shade is nearby. And then Amanda becomes the first person he has really confided in since his demise during the Battle of Waterloo.

Add one evil, ancient, supernatural being that has been turned into ashes and kept in a locked box at the bottom of the sea, a set of bickering cousins, and lots of people that are greatful to Tyler, and there's the story. Burke also threw in a foursome of ghosts - Amanda's dead parents aunt, and uncle, but I found this somewhat superflous and unneeded. Oh well, I could never think up a plot like this, so best leave it to the pros.

It looks like Jan Burke writes mystery short stories and a series of books based on Irene Kelly, an LA cop or investigator or something. These started appearing in 1993, and the library doesn't have the first five or six, so I'll have to track them down at Bookman's or online. But I'm looking forward to checking them out.

That Cat Can't Stay - Thad Krasnesky

Illustrated by David Parkins
Flash Light Press, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 5
Endpapers: blue with cat scratches, perhaps? Hard to say!

In this rollicking, rhyming story, a cat-hating dad gets saddled with first one, then two...three...four...FIVE cats...that all come to the family in different ways.

Cute, cute, cute.

The illustrations - watercolor over pen and ink - are a riot, especially the dad, a plump guy who always wears short and horizontally striped short sleeved shirts. And the cats. Oh, yeah.

This one's a real winner. I want to read it aloud - to my class, to my grandkids, to my friends....

What a great picture book to read along with Hate That Cat (Creech).

Author List Q - Z

My author's list outgrew its home, so I'm breaking it down into three different posts. How exciting, actually. So here's part three, the list from Q to Z. (You can get to the list from A to H here.)

Quick, Matthew
.....The Good Luck of Right Now, 2014
Raasch, Sara
.....Snow Like Ashes, 2014
Rabe, Trish
.....Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry? 2011
.....My, Oh My - A Butterfly! 2007
Raczka, Bob
.....Artful Reading, 2008
Rallison, Janette
.....How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, 2007
Ramirez, Antonio
.....Napi Goes to the Mountain, 2006
Ramsey, Calvin Alexander & Bettye Stroud
.....Belle, the Last Mule at Gee's Bend, 2011
Ransom, Jeannie Franz
.....What REALLY Happened to Humpty?: From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective, 2009
Rappaport, Doreen
.....The Secret Seder, 2005
Ray, Delia
.....Here Lies Linc, 2011
Reed, Lynn Rowe
.....Basil's Birds, 2010
Reid, Barbara
.....Fox Walked Alone, 2006/2009 US
Reinhardt, Dana
.....A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, 2006
Rennison, Louise
.....Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, 1999
Rex, Adam
.....School's First Day of School, 2016
.....Pssst! 2007
.....Tree Ring Circus, 2006
Reynolds, Peter H.
.....The Smallest Gift of Christmas, 2013
Rhoads, Dorothy
.....The Corn Grows Ripe, 1956
Rhodes, Jewell Parker
.....Ninth Ward, 2010
Rice, James
.....The Cowboy Night Before Christmas, 1986/2007
Riggs, Ransom
.....Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 2011 DNF 
Riordan, Rick
.....The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones, 2008
.....Big Red Tequila, 1997
Robb, Don
.....Ox, House Stick, 2007
Robinson, Sharon
.....Testing the Ice, 2009
Robinson, Steve
.....In the Blood (#1 Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery) 2011
Robotham, Michael
.....Night Ferry, 2007
Rodriguez, Rachel
.....Building on Nature, 2009
Rohmann, Eric
.....A Kitten Tale, 2008
Rollins, James
.....Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow, 2009
Romer, Anna
.....Lyrebird Hill, 2014
Rose, Caroline Starr
.....May B a Novel, 2012
Rose, Deborah Lee
.....The Twelve Days of Springtime, 2009
Rosenberg, Nancy Taylor
.....Sullivan's Law, 2004
Rosenfelt, David
.....Down to the Wire, 2010
Rosenstock, Barb
.....Dorothea's Eyes, 2016
.....The Noisy Paintbox, 2014
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse
.....The Wonder Book, 2010
Rosoff, Meg
.....Wild Boars Cook, 2008
Roth, Sally
.....Attracting Birds to Your Backyard, 1998
Roth, Susan L. & Cindy Trumbore
.....The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed a Family, 2011
Roth, Veronica
.....Divergent, 2011
.....Insurgent, 2012
Rowell, Rainbow
.....Eleanor & Park, 2013
Rowling, J. K. (writing as Robert Galbraith)
.....The Cuckoo's Calling, 2013
Rubbino, Salvatore
.....A Walk in London, 2011
Rubin, Susan Goldman
.....The Anne Frank Case, 2009
Rubin, Vicky
.....The Three Swingin' Pigs, 2007
Ruddell, Deborah
.....Today at the Blue-Bird Cafe, 2007
Rumford, James
.....Silent Music, 2008
Runyon, Brent .
....Maybe, 2006
Ryan, Pam Munoz
.....Esperanza Rising, 2002
Rylant, Cynthia
.....Brownie & Pearl Step Out, 2010
.....All in a Day, 2009.
.....The Bookshop Dog, 1996
Sabuda, Robert
.....Winter in White, 2007
Sachar, Louis .
....The Cardturner, 2010
Salak, Kira
.....The White Mary, 2008
Salas, Laura Purdis
.....Water Can Be... 2014
.....Book Speak! 2011
Salerni, Dianne K.
.....The  Inquisitors Mark,  2015 DNF (though probably will someday)
.....The Eighth Day 2014
Sandford, John
.....Deadline, 2014
.....Storm Front, 2013
.....Mad River, 2012
.....Shock Wave, 2011
.....Bad Blood, 2010
.....Heat Lightning, 2008
.....Rough Country, 2007
.....Dark of the Moon, 2007
.....Dead Watch, 2006
.....Rules of Prey. 1989
Satterthwaite, Walter
.....At Ease with the Dead, 1990
Say, Allen
.....Erika-San, 2009
Scanlon, Liz Garton
.....All the World, 2009
Schachner, Judy
.....Come Back Soon, 2009
Schanzer, Rosalyn
.....What Darwin Saw, 2009
Schertle, Alice
.....Button Up! 2009
.....Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, 2009
Schimel, Lawrence
.....Let's Go See Papa! 2009 
Schlitz, Laura Amy
.....The Hired Girl, 2015
.....The Night Fairy, 2010
.....Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! 2007
Schnur, Susan & Anna Schnur-Fishman
.....Tachlich at Turtle Rock, 2010
Schotter, Roni
.....The Boy Who Loved Words (2006)
Schroeder, Lisa
.....The Day Before (2011)
Schwartz, Betty
.....What Makes a Rainbow? 2000
Scott, Elizabeth .
....Living Dead Girl, 2008
Scottoline, Lisa
.....Killer Smile, 2004
Scotton, Rob
.....Splat the Cat, 2008
Seeger, Pete
.....Turn! Turn! Turn! 2003
Selznick, Brian
.....Wonderstruck, 2011
Sepehri, Sandy
.....How the Peacock Got its Feathers, 2006
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Annie Barrows
.....Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, 2008
Shange, Ntozake
.....We Troubled the Waters, 2009
.....Coretta Scott, 2009
Shank, Ned
 .....The Sanyasin's First Day, 1999
Shannon, David
.....It's Christmas, David, 2010
Shapiro, B. A.
.....The Art Forger, 2012
Shetterly, Robert
.....Americans Who Tell the Truth, 2005
Shovan, Laura
.....The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, 2016
Shreve, Elizabeth
.....Oliver at the Window, 2009
Shulevitz, Uri
.....Dusk, 2013
.....When I Wore My Sailor Suit, 2009
.....How I Learned Geography, 2008
Siddals, Mary McKenna
.....Compost Stew, 2012

Sidman, Joyce
.....This is Just to Say, 2007
.....Butterfly Eyes and Others Secrets of the Meadow, 2006

Sierra, Judy
 .....Born to Read, 2008
.....Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Pie, 2006
Silvey, Anita
.....Henry Knox, Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot, 2010
Simmons, Kristen
.....Article 5, 2012
Simner, Janni Lee
.....Bones of Faerie, 2009
Simpson, Lesley
.....Yuvi's Candy Tree, 2011
Simsion, Graeme
.....The Rosie Project, 2013
Singer, Marilyn
.....Mirror Mirror, 2010
.....First Food Fight This Fall (and Other School Poems) 2008
Sitomer, Alan Lawrence
.....Homeboyz, 2007
Sittenfeld, Curtis
.....Eligible , 2016
Slade, Arthur
.....Dust, 2001
Slate, Joseph
.....I Want to Be Free, 2009
Slaughter, Karin
.....Criminal, 2012
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
.....Counting by 7s, 2013
Sloan, Robin
.....Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, 2012
Smallman, Steve
.....Santa is Coming to Tucson, 2013
Smith, Alexander McCall
.....Akimbo and the Crococile Man, 1993
Smith, Andrew
.....Grasshopper Jungle, 2014
Smith, Cynthia Leitich
.....Rain Is Not My Indian Name, 2001
Smith, David J.
.....If America Were a Village, 2009
Smith, Deborah
.....Sweet Hush, 2003
Smith, Jennifer E.
.....This is What HAPPY Looks Like, 2013
Snicket, Lemony
.....The Dark, 2013
.....The Composer is Dead, 2009
Snyder, Laurel
.....BAXTER, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher, 2010
Solomon, Sharon K.
.....Christopher Newport, Jamestown Explorer 2013
Sones, Sonia .
....What My Mother Doesn't Know, 2001
Spencer-Fleming, Julia
.....Through the Evil Days, 2013
Spielman, Lori Nelson
.....The Life List, 2013
Spinelli, Eileen
.....Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, 1991
.....Someday, 2007
Spinelli, Jerry
.....The Warden's Daughter, 2017
.....I Can Be Anything! 2010
.....Eggs, 2007
.....Loser, 2002
.....Stargirl, 2000
Springer, Nancy
 .....The Case of the Missing Marquess. 2006
Srinivasan, Divya
.....Little Owl's Night, 2011
St. John, Lauren
.....The White Giraffe, 2006
Staake, Bob
.....Bluebird, 2013
.....The First Pup, 2010
Stabenow, Dana
.....Blood Will Tell, 1996
Staines, Bill
.....All God's Critters, 2009
Stamaty, Mark Alan
.....Alia's Mission, 2004
Stanton, Melissa
.....My Pen Pal Santa, 2013
Staples, Suzanne Fisher
 .....Under the Persimmon Tree, 2005
Stead, Rebecca
.....When You Reach Me, 2009
Stemple, Heidi E. Y. (Jane Yolen's daughter, cowritten with her...)
.....Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, 2010
Sten, Viveca
.....Still Waters, 2015
Sternberg, Julie
.....Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, 2011
Stevens, Courtney C.
.....Faking Normal, 2014
Stiefvater, Maggie
.....Forever, 2011
.....Linger, 2010
.....Shiver, 2009
Stock, Catherine
.....Gugu's House, 2001
Stolz, Joelle
.....The Shadows of Ghadames, 1999/Translated 2004
Stone, Tanya Lee
.....Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?  2013
.....A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, 2006
Stoop, Naoko
.....Red Knit Cap Girl, 2012
Stork, Francisco X.
......Irises, 2012
....Marcelo in the Real World, 2009
Strauss, Linda Leopold
.....The Princess Gown, 2008
Stroud, Bettye
.....The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom, 2005
Strout, Elizabeth
.....The Burgess Boys, 2013
Stryer, Andrea Stenn
.....Kami and the Yaks (2007)
Sturm, James
.....Satchel Paige, 2007
Stutson, Carolyn
.....Cats Night Out, 2010
Sullivan, Sarah
.....Passing the Music Down, 2010
Sutcliffe, Jane
.....Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk, 2016
Swain, James
.....The Night Stalker, 2008
Swanson, Susan Marie
.....The House in the Night, 2008
Tafolla, Carmen
.....What Can You Do with a Rebozo? 2008
Tan, Shaun
.....Tales from Outer Suburbia, 2008/2009 US
Tapply, William G.
.....Gray Ghost, 2007
Tavares, Matt
.....Henry Aaron's Dream, 2010
Taylor, Janet B.
.....Into the Dim, 2016
Taylor, Lani
.....Daughter of Smoke and Bone, 2011
Taylor, Sarah Stewart
.....O' Artful Death, 2003
Tegen, Katherine
.....The Story of the Easter Bunny, 2005
 Thomas, Shelley Moore
.....Somewhere Today, A Book of Peace, 1998
Thomason, Dustin
.....12.21: A Novel, 2012
Thompson, Holly
.....The Language Inside, 2013
Thomson, Bill
.....Fossil, 2013
.....Chalk, 2010
Thompson, Colin
.....The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness, 2009
.....How to Live Forever, 1995
Thompson, James
.....Lucifer's Tears , 2011
.....Snow Angels, 2010
Thong, Roseanne
.....Wish, 2008
.....The Wishing Tree, 2004
Thornton, Betsy
.....Empty Houses, 2015
.....A Song for You, 2008
.....Dead for the Winter, 2004
.....Ghost Towns, 2002
.....High Lonesome Road, 2001
.....The Cowboy Rides Away, 1996
Timberlake, Amy
.....One Came Home 2014
Tintori, Karen .
....The Book of Names, 2007 (with Jill Gregory)
Tishy, Cecelia .
....Now You See Her, 2005
Tobin, Jim
.....The Very Inappropriate Word, 2013
Tolan, Stephanie S.
.....Surviving the Applewhites, 2002
Trottier, Maxine
.....Migrant, 2011
.....The Walking Stick, 1998
Trumbore, Cindy & Susan L. Roth
.....The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families, 2011
Truss, Lynne
.....The Girl's Like Spaghetti, 2007
Tucker, Lisa
.....Once Upon a Day, 2006
Turck, Mary C.
.....Mexico & Central America, 2004
Tutu, Archbishop Desmond
.....Desmond and the Very Mean Word, 2013
Tyler, Anne
.....Digging to America, 2006
Underwood, Deborah
.....Here Comes Santa Cat, 2014
Unger, Lisa
.....Fragile, 2010
Updike, John
.....A Child's Calendar, 1965/1999
Urbanovic, Jackie
.....Sitting Duck, 2010 Urrea, Luis Alberto
.....Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush, 2010
Van Allsburg, Chris
.....Queen of the Falls, 2011
Vanderwater, Amy Ludwig
.....Every Day Birds, 2016
.....Forest Has a Song, 2013

VanDusen, Chris
.....King Hugo's Huge Ego, 2011
.....The Circus Ship, 2009
Van Laan, Nancy
.....Nit-Pickin, 2008
Van Ommen, Sylvia
.....The Surprise, 2003
Vansickle, Vikki
.....If I Had a Gryphon, 2016
Varon, Sara
.....Chicken and Cat Clean Up, 2009
Vaswani, Neela & Silas House
.....Same Sun Here, 2011
Verdon, John
.....Wolf Lake, 2016
.....Peter Pan Must Die, 2014
.....Let the Devil Sleep, 2012
.....Shut Your Eyes Tight, 2011
.....Think of a Number, 2010
Viorst, Judith
.....What are you Glad about?  What are you Mad about? 2016
Volponi, Paul
.....Hurricane Song, 2008
von Buhler, Cynthia
.....But Who Will Bell the Cats? 2009
Wahl, Phoebe
.....Sonya's Chickens, 2015
Walker, Karen Thompson
.....The Age of Miracles, 2012
Walker, Walter
.....Crime of Privilege 2013
Wallace, Michael
.....Crow Hollow, 2015
Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth
.....Stars! Stars! Stars! 2009
Walls, Jeannette
.....The Silver Star, 2013
Walsh, Vivian
.....June and August, 2009
Ward, Lynn
.....The Biggest Bear, 1952 Warhola, James
.....Uncle Andy's Cats, 2009
Ward, Rachel
.....Numbers, 2010
Wardlaw, Lee
.....Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, 2011
Wasserman, Robin
.....The Book of Blook and Shakow, 2012
Watson, Jess Joshua
.....Hope for Haiti, 2010
Watt, Melanie
.....Scaredy Squirrel, 2006
Waugh, Sylvia
.....Space Race, 2000
Weatherford, Carole Boston
.....Moses, 2006
Weaver, Tim
.....Never Coming Back (#4 David Raker) 2013
Webb, Betty
.....Desert Shadows (#3 Lena Jones) 2006
Webb, Wendy
.....Tale of Halcyon Crane, The, 2010
Weber, Elka
.....The Yankee at the Seder, 2009
Wedel, Steven E.
.....After Obsession, 2011 (with Carrie Jones)
Weeks, Sarah
.....As Simple as It Seems, 2010
.....Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth, 2009
Weiner, Jennifer
.....Good in Bed, 2002
Wells, Rosemary
.....Following Grandfather, 2012
Wenzel, Angela
.....13 Artists Children Should Know, 2009
Werlin, Nancy
.....The Rules of Survival, 2008
Whelan, Gloria
.....In Andal's House, 2013 (pict bk)
.....Small Acts of Amazing Courage, 2011
.....The Listeners, 2009 (pict bk)
.....Yatandou, 2007 (pick bk)
.....Listening for Lions, 2005
.....Angel on the Square, 2001
Whipple, Laura
.....If the Shoe Fits, 2002
White, Karen
.....The Time Between, 2013
White, Ruth
.....A Month of Sundays, 2011
.....You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) 2011
White, Stephen
..........Dead Time, 2008
Whitehead, Jenny
.....Holiday Stew, 2007
Wiesner, David
.....Mr. Wuffles, 2013
.....Art & Max, 2010
.....Flotsam, 2006
.....The Three Pigs, 2001
.....Tuesday, 1991
Wiggs, Susan
.....Family Tree, 2016
Wild, Margaret
.....Let the Celebrations Begin! 1991/2013
Wilkinson, Lili
.....Pink, 2011
Willems, Mo
.....Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, 2012 dog, country frog, 2010
.....Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, 2009
Willey, Margaret
 .....The 3 Bears and Goldilocks, 2008
Williams, Brenda
...Lin Yi's Lantern, 2009
Williams, Laura E.
.....The Can Man, 2010
Williams, Karen Lynn
.....Beatrice's Dream, 2011
.....My Name is Sangoel (with Khadra Mohammed) 2009
.....Four Feet, Two Sandals (with Khadra Mohammed) 2007
.....Galimoto, 1990
Williams, Mary
.....Brothers in Hope, 2005
Williams-Garcia, Rita
.....One Crazy Summer, 2010
Wingate, Lisa
.....The Prayer Box, 2013
Winter, Jeanette
.....Wangari's Trees of Peace, 2008
.....The Librarian of Basra, 2005
.....September Roses, 2004
.....Calavera Abecedario, 2004
.....Elsina's Clouds, 2004
.....My Baby, 2001
Winter, Jonah
.....My Name is James Madison Hemings, 2016
.....Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude, 2009
.....Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx, 2009
.....Dizzy, 2006
Wiviott, Meg
.....Benno and the Night of Broken Glass, 2010
Wizner, Jake
.....Spanking Shakespeare, 2007
Woelfe, Gretchen
.....Write On, Mercy! 2012
Wolf, Dick
.....The Intercept, 2013
Wolf, Sallie
.....The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound, 2010
Wolff, Ashley
.....I Call My Grandma Nana, 2009
Wolk, Lauren
.....Wolf Hollow , 2016
Wong, Janet S.
.....Homegrown House, 2009
Wood, Douglas
.....Aunt Mary's Rose, 2010
Wood, Fiona
.....Six Impossible Things, 2010
Woods, Stuart
.....Hot Mahogany, 2008
.....The Run, 1995
Wortche, Allison
.....Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine, 2011
Worth, Bonnie
.....I Can Name 50 Trees Today! 2006
Worth, Valerie
.....Peacock and Other Poems, 2002
Wynne-Jones, Tim
.....Boy in the Burning House, 2000
Yaccarino, Dan
.....Lawn to Lawn, 2010
Yancey, Rick
.....The Fifth Wave, 2013
Yankovic, Al
.....When I Grow Up, 2011
Yates, Louise
.....Dog Loves Books, 2010
Yohalem, Eve
 .....Escape Under the Forever Sky, 2009
Yolen, Jane
.....Not All Princess Dress in Pink, 2010 (cowritten with her daughter, Heidi El. Y. Stemple)
.....All Star! Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever, 2010
.....My Uncle Emily, 2009
.....The Scarecrow's Dance, 2009
.....Naming Liberty, 2008
Young, Suzanneh
.....The Program (The Program #1) 2013
 Zalben, Jane Breskin
.....Leap, 2007
Zappitello, Beth
.....First Dog's White House Christmas (With J. Patrick Lewis) 2010
.....First Dog (with J. Patrick Lewis) 2009
Zarr, Sara
.....Sweethearts, 2008
Zenatti, Valerie
.....A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, 2005
Zevin, Gabrielle
.....The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, 2014
Ziefert, Harriet
.....Passover, 2010
.....One Red Apple, 2009
Zoboi, Ibi
.....American Street, 2017

Goal! - Mina Javaherbin

Illustrated by A. G. Gord
Candlewick, 2010
Rating: 3.5
Endpapers: Red

Five friends who love soccer (or "football" in South Africa) get a chance to play with a real regulation soccer ball, won by one of them. However, one has to stand guard on a shanty rooftop to watch for bullies who will cause trouble and steal the ball. And, unfortunately, in they ride on their bikes. But the wily friends hide the soccer ball, letting the bullies steal their old plastic ball, feigning tears. Then they go on to play again - because they love the game.

(And what will happen next time, and the time after that?)

A. G. Ford's illustrations are their usual: brilliant.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chalk - Bill Thomson

Marshall Cavendish, 2010
40 pages
Rating: 5
Endpapers: Bright green

This is a wordless picture book that is SO beautifully illustrated! I'd love to see the words that kids would create to go with it!

Three kids are out walking through a playground in the rain. They find a shopping bag that holds pieces of colored chalk. When one kids grabs a yellow piece and draws a sun on the wet sidewalk, a sun rises to the sky, drying up the rain and wetness. When another kid grabs a peach chalk and draws butterflies, monarchs flutter up into the air. The third kid chooses a green one and draws the outline of a dinosaur. And suddenly they are overshadowed by a huge real one! They run, screaming, into the playground's slide tunnels. The kid grabs a blue chalk and, on the inside of the tunnel, draws a cloud and raindrops. As the rain starts falling, the dinosaur drips to nothingness.


*Read this aloud and then give kids a piece of chalk.
*Write the story.
*Choose snazzy vers, adverbs, or adjectives to describe each page.

Mama, Is It Summer Yet? - Nikki McClure

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Red with white strawberry vine paper cuts

Two page spreads
Left page: solid color with the words, "Mama, is it summer yet?"
Right page: A black & white cut paper illustration on pale yellow.
Then, two pages with the simple response. For example:

"Not yet, my little one.
But the buds are swelling.
Soon new leaves will unfold."

The illustrations are black and white cut paper on a pale yellow with accents of the solid color from the previous page. They tie together beautifully and are quite lovely. I love the look.

Every four pages become a different color - green, brown, purple, yellow, pink, and then red when summer finally arrives. The book is simple and beautiful.

All Star! Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever - Jane Yolen

Illustrated by Jim Burke
Philomel, 2010
32 pages, $17.99
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Facsimiles of baseball cards on light green background

This book really has nothing to do with a baseball card (although his card is worth a fortune, and mentioned near the end), it is a terrific biography of one of America's most famous baseball players, Honus Wagner. Born in 1874 near Pittsburgh, he went to school until he was 12, then worked in the mines with his father. The family played ball after church on Sundays and it eventually became his career. He joined the major league Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900 and the rest is history. Some of his records are still unbroken!

"At sixteen, Honus joined the Mansfield semipro team.
He was 5' 11" and nearly 200 pounds,
and already known for his bowed legs,
long arms, and great barrel chest.
He called his huge hands 'scoops.'
They seemed to large for his baseball glove."

Descriptive verse tells his story, and the reader is left with a real feel for the guy.

Jim Burke's illustrations compliment the text perfectly - they are paintings where you can see how he uses a stroke or dab of paint for shirt creases and shadow. His artist's note at the end tells of his love of baseball, his research of the book, and his observations about Honus Wagner.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

46. Beastly - Alex Flinn

HarperTeen, 2007
300 pages
Rating: I did enjoy this story, more than I thought I would.....4/5

Alex Flinn's version of Beauty and the Beast is a page turner. I saw a trailer for the movie as a preview a few weeks ago, it looked quite good, so decided to read the book before the movie hits the big screen in July. Now, with a bit of research, I see that it has been delayed until next March. Bummer. The summer least so far....have not interested me very much.

Kyle Kingsbury is spoiled, gorgeous, self-centered, and has a wild mean streak. He gets everything handed to him by his father. Everything except his father's care, love, and attention. The dad's a well known, handsome, workaholic news anchor in NYC. So Kyle is pretty much on his own, and not a nice guy. Of course, it's his father's attention that he craves more than anything.

When he pulls a prank on a fellow high school student, asking her to the prom when he doesn't intend to follow through, he discovers that she's a witch and she turns him into a beast. An ugly, clawed and fanged, furry creature. His life suddenly takes a nose dive.

SPOILERS AHEAD: His father sets him up in his own five-story home in Brooklyn, knowing that he cannot show his face outside the realms of this house. And slowly Kyle, with the help of a caring, blind, live-in tutor and his non-judgmental housekeeper/cook, changes. He becomes a reader, and a gardener, growing lovely roses of every color and type. And then, a drug-addict thief changes everything for him....for the good, believe it or not. For he is willing to give over his daughter in exchange for freedom.

Happy ending, of course, as most of us know some version of the story. But how it all comes together is great fun. Lots of lessons here, about beauty and what is really important. Very different from the other books of Alex Flinn that I've read.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie, which will have Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris, and a creative makeup job, sans fur, for Kyle the beast, who will be played by Alex Pettyfer. But we'll have to wait until March 18th to see it. Bummer.

The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound - Sallie Wolf

Charlesbridge, 2010
For: Kids
44 pages
Rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Gray & cream checkerboard with simple bird sketches

Observation journal - an excellent model
Poetry book

This journal takes us through a year of observations - of birds, or the changing seasons, and models an observation journal beautifully. It is also a poetry book that includes rhyming poeims, haiku, list poems....

Wolf ends her jounral with a page of thoughts behind journal keeping and a page of bird-watching resources.

Winter Wren
Are you a winter wren?
I see you only once or twice a year ---
a tiny, dark shadow scooting under bushes.
If your tail weren't so perky,
if you weren't so tiny,
I'd think you were on of those
ubiquitous sparrows.

I often hear what I can't see ---
birds and squirrels scolding me.
I scan the branches far and near,
but I don't see what I can hear.

(A haiku)
Early crocuses
burst through dead leaves. Brown creepers
circle up tree trunks.

I love all the pen and ink and watercolor sketches.

Next year I'm going to begin our science studies with observations of the flora and fauna of southern Arizona. Perhspas I'll teach the kids how to sew together an easy journal of blank pages and we can start making observations using this super book as a model.

Picture Books as Models for Writing

Note: Books read and reviewed prior to June, 2010 have not yet been added to this list - but they will be one of these days.....

Aunt Mary's Rose (Wood/Pham) 2010

Word Choice
The Spider Weaver; A Legend of Kente Cloth (Musgrove/Cairns) 2001 Similes, too.

Journal Writing
The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound (Wolf) 2010

Aunt Mary's Rose (Wood/Pham) 2010

Observation Journals
The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound (Wolf) 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

The Bravest Woman in America (Moss/U'Ren) 2011

Aunt Mary's Rose - Douglas Wood

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Candlewick, 2010
24 large pages
Rating: 4
Endpapers: large blossoming pink roses on a huge bush cover the pages

This memoir, told from a young boy's point-of-view in the 1950's (or so) is about family and tradition. Using a rosebush as a metaphor - and to illustrate real events - Auunt Mary raised this boy's father and uncle when their parents died. She goes even farther back to recount how her father had originally planted the bush on their farm. Events from the Depression and WWII are recalled, and the reader is asked to ponder family ties as each generation has a part in caring for the bush.

The illustrations are realistic and lovely, helping depict the historical feel.

Using this picture book in the classroom will open up discussion on a myriad of topics - U.S. history, gardening, family, perhaps even genealogy! Also a good model for dialogue.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

45. Drink the Tea - Thomas Kaufman

Adult Murder Mystery
Minotaur Books, 2010
294 pages
HC $24.99
Rating: 5

This is a first novel for Thomas Kaufman. And I loved it. Clever. Humorous. He spent a lot of time on the setting, describing where in Washington D.C. things took place. If only I knew Washington D. C., I'd be in heaven!

Willis Gidney grew up a child of the streets of DC, never knowing his real name, his real birth date, or where he came from. He was a child of the system - and he'd learned every in and out, every twist and turn. He was a con man by ten, a survivor. And now he is a grown man, trying to find his place in the world.

We are introduced to a lot of characters in this book - so many that at first I had a hard time keeping up with who was who. But that's because Willis told "his" story in the first person, flipping back and forth between scraps of memory from his childhood years and his current life - which, in his new job as a PI, was solving a mystery. And many of the faces from his childhood still appear in his life...whether in person or in his thoughts. The story of his childhood is compelling, slowly unfolding to the very end of the book, and the mystery he unravels is the same way, we are taunted and tempted with bits and pieces of information that are cleverly wound together. Surprises, action, adventure, this is a fun fun fun mystery.

Willis' first job as a wisecracking PI is to try to find the 25 year-old daughter that his jazz-saxophone-playing-friend Steps Jackson has just discovered he had. This leads Willis all over Washington DC, from the office buildings of the capital to the police station to the dregs of the city. Shady politicians, ruthless corporations, nerdy chemistry geeks turned drug dealers...this story covers a wide spectrum.

The big question to ponder: Where does a man/woman's humanity come from? What makes it? What changes it?

And the title: Drink the Tea? Well, it's nice to get an answer to this .... you can drink the tea no matter how sour or strong it is. Hey, sometimes you just have to add a bit of sugar!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mirror Mirror - Marilyn Singer

A Book of Reversible Verse
Illustrated by Josee Masse
Dutton Children's Books, 2010
32 pages
Rating: 5
Even the endpapers mirror each other - aqua and teal

Yes, yes, yes!
Superbly clever Marilyn Singer does it once more. What a marvel! She's written "reverso" poems - ones that make sense reading down...and then up! These are all based on fairy tales - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Ugly Duckling, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, Princess and the Frog, Sleeping Beauty--all are cleverly versed forward and backwards.

Cinderella's Double Life

Isn't life unfair?
Stuck in a corner,
while they're waiting for a chance
with the prince,
dancing waltz after waltz,
at the ball,
I'll be shining
these shoes
till the clock strikes midnight.

Till the clock strikes midnight,
these shoes!
I'll be shining
at the ball,
dancing waltz after waltz
with the prince
while they're waiting for a chance,
stuck in a corner.
Isn't life unfair?

Words on one vertically-split page - twin verses on white and cream, with the same sort of separated illustration opposite. Beautifully done. You've got to see this for yourself!

There are some people in the blogosphere that HAVE tried these out themselves. There's a reverso poem that someone at A Year of Reading tried. This is NOT easy! And Check out the review and poem at Bookends. And for a real treat, check out 100 Scope Notes. From these you can stay up late and be inspired enough to possibly attempt one yourself.

44. The Big Swim - Cary Fagan

for: Middle Grades
Groundwood Books/Toronto, 2010
HC $14.95
128 pgs.
Rating: 2

Ethan, a 12-year old boy who seems quite a bit younger, is forced to go to overnight summer camp for the first time in his life. He dreads it, but it's okay. The story is told in short stories that seem almost like snapshots (blurry snapshots). Much time is spent speculating about a "bad" kid, Zachary, who's supposed to arrive sometime in the summer. Once Zachary arrives he does seem quite interesting, not at all the "bad" kid, he just marches to his own drummer. However, we never really get to know him. The little we get to know the protagonist doesn't make us like him very much, either. I tried to figure out which of my students would enjoy this book. For the most part, I think they'd all consider it "boring," which I hate them to say.....but in many ways it was....

I really don't enjoy writing negative reviews. I feel badly. But this is not to be one of my favorites. Sorry.

43. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer

Twilight Series Book #3
Audio read by Ilyana Kadushin
Random House Listening Library, 2007
13 unabridged cds
16 hrs, 23 mins.
640 pages
Rating: 2

The movie's about to come out, and there's no way I'm going to miss it; I really wanted to read the book first. I listened instead. Blech. On and on and on - there are about 400 pages too many to tell the story of this incredibly self-centered girl and the two powerful young men that love her. And for heaven's sake, what is it they love about her? I don't get it. She whines and mopes and makes demands and tells half truths and doesn't really have very much interesting going on in her head....

Victoria, the partner to James, who was killed at the end of book #1, is still tracking Bella and wants her dead. So she creates a mob of "new" very blood-thirsty vampires to help her attack the Cullens. The werewolves align themselves with their hated foes, the Cullens, to help save Bella. Give me a break. In the meantime, Jacob has tried and tried to convince Bella that she loves him and that he would be much better for her than Edward. Finally Bella realizes this, but knows that as much as she loves Jacob, she must be with Edward. Blah blah blah.

Let's see how the movie-makers portray this very boring story. And I've got to admit I'm interested to discover how Meyer will wrap this up - how can she make Bella become a vampire when for the first year after she's "turned" she'll be a bloodthirsty killer? I doubt if I'll read the next book until just before the final movie, but I imagine I'll do it. Can't stop now.