Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Play's the Thing Ages 5-9

Miss Brilliant is full of ideas. With her students she celebrates everything: teeth, corn, mummies, spiders -- and plays!
Only José isn't interested in "Mary Had a Little Lamb," or being a Brilliant Player, or even his surprise role. But as José learns about drama and tension and working with his classmates, he finds that he, too, has his own special place in Miss Brilliant's class and in her heart.
Aliki has created a memorable teacher and a class full of personalities that all readers will want to join.
A Play's the Thing By Aliki
Illustrated by Aliki
Edition: illustrated
Published by HarperCollins, 2005
ISBN 0060743557, 9780060743550
32 pages
Inventive and jolly, Aliki tells a tale in her familiar comic-strip style, with shiny bright colors and enough sly references to convulse adults, even if the kids sail past them. Miss Brilliant, who must have gone to the same teachers' college as Ms. Frizzle, announces to her class that they are going to put on a play based on "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Her multicultural cast hops to with a will, except for José, who bears a passing resemblance to a certain Pierre who didn't care and who spends almost the whole story acting out against everyone else. They write the script—Miss Brilliant assigns them their roles (Bandana, whose English isn't big yet, is a musician; Steffi, who uses a wheelchair, is the narrator)—lines are written and learned, costumes and scenery prepared. The parents are invited, and it's a great success even for José, who not only plays the teacher but whose mom leaves work early to see him. The children are a rainbow of the American classroom, and the lessons gently taught. (Picture book. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
Gr 1-3-Aliki's latest production ...
... explores how an experienced teacher uses a student-led performance of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to help one of the children deal with his bullying behavior. When Miss Brilliant's class decides to put on a fractured version of the story poem, Jos must learn to work with his classmates and overcome his antisocial tendencies. Children will readily identify with the variety of characters and dynamics that populate this class. The students represent a smorgasbord of nationalities and often make references to their cultural heritages. The format of the book resembles comic strips with blocked pictures in various sizes used to contain the action and conversation bubbles. An independent narrative runs beneath these boxes. This text needs the dialogue to flesh out the plot. It is in the conversation bubbles that Jos 's defiant attitude and self-awareness are evident. Using the book with a group may prove difficult because children will not be able to appreciate the nuances of the boy's expressions and his deliberately unkind actions. This is, however, the type of work that children will be drawn to again and again because they recognize their world so aptly captured in both word and art. Each time they revisit, they will find something new in the colorful cartoon illustrations that prove that Aliki knows her audience.-Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA «

Monday, April 27, 2009

On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids Ages 6-13

Kids learn about theater with games and activities that cover basic theater vocabulary, puppetry and pantomime, sound effects, costumes, props, makeup, and more.
On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids
By Lisa Bany-Winters
Edition: illustrated
Published by Chicago Review Press, 1997
ISBN 1556523246, 9781556523243
180 pages
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-6, Ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 A compendium of theater games that is sure to delight young thespians. While the material is not new and many of the games are classics ("Mirrors," "Change Three Things," and "Freeze"), Bany-Winters has a clear and concise way of explaining both the activity and its purpose, making her work a useful source for ensemble-building games for student-run drama groups and rehearsal techniques for adult teachers/directors. Often renamed for greater child appeal, the activities range from vocal warm ups to improvisational scene work, and many include helpful suggestions for variations on familiar games. Exercises in puppetry, mask making, costuming, makeup, and set design, as well as several short scripts, round out the presentation. Explanations of theatrical terms are smoothly incorporated into the text. Tips for young actors and short anecdotes about theatrical figures or plays are featured throughout. Simple black-and-white graphics add touches of humor. One drawback is the list of "Suggested Plays and Stories for Kids," which includes some titles that are beyond both the abilities and interests of preteens. Nevertheless, this will be a terrific addition to drama collections. Purchase an extra copy for the professional shelf as well. Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist
Gr. 4-7, Ages 10, 11, 12, 13. Here's a welcome addition for libraries that have calls for theater-related topics. Bany-Winters, who has taught children's theater, has compiled a varied and interesting assortment of theater games that will stimulate the imagination and get young thespians ready to perform on stage. The games are divided into different categories, among them improvisation, creating characters, using and becoming objects, and ideas for pantomime and puppetry. There are also suggestions for monologues, scenes, and plays. A clean design, highlighted by ink drawings, makes the book accessible for kids who want to use this on their own (though teachers, scout leaders, and other interested adults may be the book's best audience). There are also plenty of tips for costumes, makeup, sets, and props. Glossary; bibliography. Ilene Cooper

Show Time!: Music, Dance, and Drama Activities for Kids Ages 9-12

Kids can learn to develop their skills as singers, dancers, and actors through more than 80 activities that include imitating a musician or musical instrument, acting out a song, or creating a mirror dance. Illustrations.
Show Time!: Music, Dance, and Drama Activities for Kids
By Lisa Bany-Winters
Edition: illustrated
Published by Chicago Review Press, 2000
ISBN 1556523610, 9781556523618
194 pages
Gr 3-6, Ages 9, 10, 11, 12 -An introduction to musical ...... theater. The author covers the history of musicals from those inspired by Shakespeare to those written by Sondheim in one- and two-page chapters with added tidbits in sidebars. Creating musicals from poetry, basic acting preparation, rhythm and dance, and creative dramatics form the basis for activities. There are games, scenes for experimentation, and short scripts to stage. Many activities are physical in nature, and would work well with groups of young actors. The directions are given in organized steps. Some of the activities are quite creative and will challenge even the more seasoned performers. A few games involve vocal expression, but adults could add sound to any number of the activities; indeed, many invite experimentation. Simple drawings add a friendly touch. Since the book looks at musical theatre from so many points of view, it will be useful for different pursuits, e.g., teachers, directors working with young actors, and children looking for direction in theatrical ventures.-Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY

I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello Ages 4-7

He's shy, a wallflower. He's the man at the side of the room listening to a duet for cello and viola. Even now you wouldn't notice him. But our shy fellow suddenly has an urge to swallow a cello, which is precisely what he does. And he doesn't stop there. He follows it with a harp, a sax, and a fiddle. On and on he goes, trying to satisfy his voracious appetite for musical instruments. A strange diet, you say? It's the perfect diet for a strange fellow, a strange, shy fellow. Barbara S. Garriel's wacky take-off on the old woman who swallowed a fly is the perfect match for John O'Brien's fertile and funny imagination.
I know a shy fellow who swallowed a cello
By Barbara S. Garriel
Illustrated by Barbara S. Garriel
Edition: illustrated
Published by Boyds Mills Press, 2004
ISBN 1590780434, 9781590780435
32 pages
Surreal illustrations add disturbing and ...... enjoyable vigor to this adaptation of "I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly." The shy fellow is listening to a string duet when, much to the consternation of the cellist, he swallows the cello—"perhaps he'll bellow." This strange gentleman, now shaped like the cello he has swallowed, follows up with the harp from an Irish dance troupe, the saxophone from a jazz band, a cowboy's fiddle, a marching band's cymbal, the flute from a revolutionary war piper, and a birthday party's kazoo. With each addition to his strange meal, the shy fellow becomes more and more strangely shaped. At last he swallows the bell off a passing cat's collar—one snack too many!—and the resulting explosion returns the instruments to the musicians in a delightfully vibrant musical blast. The dynamic line of the illustrations, full of swoops and squiggles, provides excellent accompaniment to this silly reworking of a familiar rhyme. (Picture book. 4, 5, 6, 7)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.

Meet the Orchestra Ages

Have you ever met an orchestra? Well, here's your chance!

Meet the rabbit with her flute... The koala cellist...the tuba-playing warthog...the alligator on the drums...

This unusual introduction to the orchestra describes the instruments - strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion - and offers interesting information about them.

Playful illustrations show the animal musicians as they gather for an evening's performance. Then the conductor lowers his baton, and the wonderful music begins...

Meet the Orchestra

By Ann Hayes, Karmen Thompson
Illustrated by Karmen Thompson
Edition: illustrated
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995
ISBN 0152002227, 9780152002220
32 pages
From Publishers Weekly
Working within the framework of an evening at the symphony--the title page features concert-goers buying tickets, the last page shows musicians and audience members heading home--these collaborators have drummed up a treasure of a book for musically inclined children. Each instrument of the orchestra--from oboes and violas to tubas, trumpets and timpani--is explained, with clear definitions as well as more subjective information as to how each one sounds (the clarinet's "cool tones melt in your ears just like ice cream melts in your mouth"). Thompson's illustrations are sumptuously silly--but musically correct--featuring an array of formally dressed animal musicians (check out the otter in tails on the piccolo). Readers also meet the conductor and learn his role, and are treated to a glimpse of the orchestra seated and in full cry. It's a smashing introduction to classical music, and a must prior to a first visit to the symphony. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-- An attractive, well-planned book that introduces the orchestra's families (groups of like instruments) and its members. In clear and understandable prose, each instrument's function, especially as it relates to the other members of its family, and its sound are described in sometimes poetic phrases--"its song can be bright as laughter, light as air, soft as a whisper, or sad as a tear." Single- or double-page spreads feature a large watercolor illustration of an animal playing the instrument under discussion. Although most are aptly chosen for their instruments--a polar bear playing a bassoon and a lion as the conductor--some are disconcerting. The sight of a chimpanzee in a pink dress and frilly pantaloons sitting at a grand piano lessens the effectiveness of that instrument's description. Overall, however, these creatures add a lively note and enable the book to be friendly and accessible without exhibiting the overriding silliness found in Eugen's Orchestranimals (Scholastic, 1989). A good book to use in the classroom as well as individually, this is a collaboration between two artists whose love for music and the orchestra is evident throughout. --Jane Marino, White Plains Pub . Lib . , NY
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Zin! Zin! Zin!: A Violin Ages 4-8

When this book begins, the trombone is playing all by itself. But soon a trumpet makes a duet, a french horn a trio, and so on until the entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Written in elegant and rhythmic verse and illustrated with playful and flowing artwork, this unique counting book is the perfect introduction to musical groups. Readers of all ages are sure to shout "Encore!" when they reach the final page of this joyous celebration of classical music.
Zin! Zin! Zin!: A Violin
By Lloyd Moss, Marjorie Priceman
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Edition: illustrated
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1995
ISBN 0671882392, 9780671882396
32 pages Review
"The STRINGS all soar, the REEDS implore, / The BRASSES roar with notes galore. / It's music that we all adore. / It's what we go to concerts for." In this exuberant tribute to classical music and the passionate, eccentric musicians who play it, author Lloyd Moss begins with the mournful moan and silken tone of one trombone. A trumpet sings and stings along, forming a duo, then a fine French horn joins in, "TWO, now THREE-O, what a TRIO!" The mellow cello ups it to a quartet, then ZIN! ZIN! ZIN! a violin soars high and moves in to make a quintet. The flute that "sends our soul a-shiver" makes a sextet, and "with steely keys that softly click," a sleek, black, woody clarinet slips the group into a septet. We move on! A chamber group of ten! And the orchestra is ready to begin. Moss should be congratulated for creating a playful, musical stream of rhyming couplets that seamlessly, slyly teaches the names of myriad musical groups. Marjorie Priceman, the whimsical, masterful illustrator of Elsa Okon Rael's When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street and Jack Prelutsky's For Laughing Out Loud, won a Caldecott Honor Award for this swirling, twirling, colorful musical world worthy of thunderous applause and a standing ovation. (Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly
This debut book by author Moss, as kids today would say is boss. Its clever, jazzy verse presents (In language that is never dense) a helpful intro to each orchestra instrument-how some are alike but rather more are different. He starts with the trombone's "mournful moan," playing solo (i.e., alone); then adds a trumpet, French horn and cello-all sounding forth a signature "hello." Each musical portrait (in quatrains) abounds with perfectly chosen, alliterative sounds. Thus the flute, notes Moss, "sends our soul a-shiver; flute, that slender silver sliver." And Priceman's zany art's just right, with loose-limbed figures taking flight around each spread in garb bizarre, if proving how funky musicians are.With every new instrument joining the throng of diligent players practicing song, Moss incorporates numbers and stops only when his team finally reaches a "chamber group of ten." So the book can be used as a counting tool (A great way to perk up a dull day at school): but it really works best, it's easy to see, as a deft means of meeting the symphony. So a plentiful praise to this finely matched pair, whose pictures and words show unusual flair.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Chocolate Year Ages 8 to 12

My Chocolate Year

Charlotte Herman
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
FictionAges 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Simon and Schuster, 2008, 1-4169-3341-7 163 PAGES
Dorrie Meyers is starting fifth grade, the year of the Sweet Semester baking and essay contest at school. Dorrie is determined to win, but her cakes fall flat, her cookies look like pancakes, and she learns the hard way that chocolate-covered gum is NOT a good idea.

Then Dorrie meets her cousin Victor for the first time. Victor is an immigrant from Europe, and he is about to teach Dorrie that a loving family and a safe homeland are the sweetest things of all. With some top-secret tips from Victor's family's bakery and a big slice of confidence, Dorrie Meyers might just have the yummiest year of her life.

The anticipation of "Sweet Semester ...
...," the fifth-grade dessert-making contest, has Dorrie and her Chicago classmates planning all sorts of recipes. This year, Mrs. Fitzgerald has made the contest more exciting and important by including a fundraiser for children of post–World War II Europe with the promise of newspaper coverage for winners of the best dessert and essay. Dorrie and best friend Sunny try out recipes for several favorite chocolate treats, often with humorous setbacks and unforeseen disasters. But the real tragedy is the news that most of Dorrie's Jewish Polish family perished in the war with only 16-year-old cousin Victor surfacing from his hidden Holocaust life. Herman's autobiographically inspired short novel captures the essence of a 1940s Jewish-American lifestyle filled with the love and hard work of an immigrant family determined to reunite with their sole surviving relative. Her lighthearted first-person narration, studded with 12 recipes for successful chocolate desserts, reflects a certain childhood sweetness that evolves into a more poignant understanding of the realities of war and the importance of family ties. Pham's black-and-white drawings add a nostalgic flavor to the book's time period and setting. (Fiction. 8, 9, 10, 11,12) «

2008 Read Aloud Award When Dinosaurs Came With Everything Ages 3-8

Get a WHAT!?

Free WHAT!?


Just when a little boy thinks he's going to die of boredom from running errands with his mom, the most remarkable, the most stupendous thing happens. He discovers that on this day, and this day only, stores everywhere are giving away a very special treat with any purchase. No, not the usual lollipop or sticker. Something bigger. Much, MUCH bigger. It's a dream come true, except...what exactly do you do with these Jurassic treats? And how do you convince Mom to let you keep them?

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything
By Elise Broach, David Small
Illustrated by David Small
Edition: illustrated
Published by Simon and Schuster, 2007
ISBN 0689869223, 9780689869228
40 pages
What if one day every merchant in town ...
... offered up, and indeed, insisted that shoppers take home a live dinosaur (free) with every purchase? That's what happens to a boy and his mother in this sweet, absurd story that unfolds very much like a dream—or a nightmare, depending on the reader's perspective on having a large dinosaur as a pet. In Small's comical, wonderfully expressive watercolor-and-ink drawings, it's easy to identify the mother's reaction to the bonus triceratops (free with a dozen doughnuts); stegosaurus (from the doctor instead of stickers); and pterosaur (from the barber instead of the usual balloon): unmitigated horror, inversely proportionate to her son's delight. The hulking beasts are irresistibly endearing, though, as they wait patiently, doglike, for their new owners outside all the town establishments and ultimately, once at home in the family's backyard, prove their worth as household laborers, cleaning gutters and rescuing far-flung Frisbees. In the end, the boy's friends bring their own newly acquired dinos over to his house for a poolside party—and he knows Mom has truly come around when she calls the baker for more doughnuts. (Picture book. 4, 5, 6, 7)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) 9/25/2007 VNU Business Media, Inc.
PreS-Gr 1 Age 3, 4, 5, 6 — In a playful take on the ...
... stickers and lollipops that bored kids sweep up at businesses as parents do errands, Broach imagines what would happen if a dinosaur were the giveaway of the day. A boy's increasing delight at the freebies he collects from the bakery, the doctor, and barber contrast with his mother's increasing panic and dismay as the lumbering beasts start to accumulate. When they acquire the fourth behemoth, Mom decides that the errands are done and whisks everyone home. Once there, she finds some unique ways to put the stegosaurus, triceratops, hadrosaur, and pterosaur to good use doing household chores. Small's sketchy, tongue-in-cheek watercolor-and-ink artwork perfectly captures the boy's exuberance, the dinosaurs' mass, and the hubbub that a city full of these reptiles would create. Dinosaur lovers will enjoy seeing their favorite creatures pictured and named, though the book's appeal won't just be for them. Both listeners and independent readers will appreciate the humor in the text, and the book will spark imaginations and discussions on what else might make great giveaways.—Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI

2009 List of Books Nominated for the E. B. White Read Aloud Award

Read Aloud 2004 Award SkippyJon Jones Ages 4-8

2004 Winner

SkippyJon Jones, by Judith Byron Schachner PREVIEW

Unique, quirky and memorable, SkippyJon Jones is chock-full of rhyme and rhythm. A Siamese kitten, who imagines himself to be a Chihuahua and a sword fighter - anything except an ordinary cat - is the star of this book. The story takes young readers on a wild ride in which they can't help but join along with sing-along songs and chants. Peppered with Spanish expressions and full of energized fun, SkippyJon Jones is not only entertaining for the listener, it's also enjoyable for the reader.

Judith Byron Schachner has been illustrating and writing children's books since 1992.She has illustrated many of her own stories as well as those written by others. Her artwork has been called "absolutely delightful" by School Library Journal. In 1999, her book Mr. Emerson's Cook was among the Carolyn Field Notable Books.

To find out more about Judith Schachner, visit her web site.

From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3 Ages 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 -This is a wildly wonderful book about a hyperactive kitten, Skippyjon Jones, whose head and ears are too big for his body, and whose imagination is too intense for his mama. According to her, he needs to do some serious thinking about what it means to be a Siamese cat instead of a bird (Skippyjon always wakes up and eats worms with his feathered friends). She sends him to his room, where he imagines he is a Chihuahua ("My name is Skippito Friskito./I fear not a single bandito"). Chock-full of rhyming chants and Spanish expressions, the feline's adventure as a doggy Zorro ends in chaos. His frazzled mother gives him a hug anyway and says, "Say good night, Skippyjon Jones." "Buenas noches, mis amigos," says the kitten, as he bounces on his bed all ready for another adventure. The buoyant and colorful cartoon illustrations match the exuberant text perfectly. Spanish-speaking children will be especially delighted by the words and humor; others may be a little bewildered by all of the foreign phrases and will need some explanation, but the story definitely has the potential of a fun read-aloud. A good multicultural offering.
Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Read Aloud Winner 2005 Wild About Books Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

2005 Winner

Wild About Books
By Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown

Wild About Books is a rollicking rhymed story of Molly the librarian who accidentally drives her bookmobile to the zoo and introduces the birds and beasts to a new something called reading. Molly finds the perfect book for each animal --- tall books for giraffes, small books for crickets, joke books for hyenas - and has them going "wild, simply wild, about wonderful books." Author Judy Sierra combines clever prose with laugh-out-loud book selections for the animals:

"She even found waterproof books for the otter,
who never went swimming without Harry Potter."

Judy Sierra is renowned for her funny and brief retellings of folktales, most recently in the delightful collection of Silly and Sillier. Equally adept at rhyme, she wrote a collection of amusing poems about penguins, Antarctic Antics, which was a bestseller. Ms. Sierra devotes considerable time to storytelling and reading to children at schools and libraries, endeavors that help her know exactly what makes children laugh. Judy lives in Castro Valley, California. Click here to visit Judy Sierra's web site.

A rollicking, loving tribute to Dr ...
.... Seuss (to whose memory this is dedicated) and to books and libraries. Here's a rhyme that works, without clunking but with inspired silliness in the best Seussian meter. Librarian Molly McGrew, resplendent in hot-pink trousers and a tropical striped jacket, drives the bookmobile into the zoo, with delightful results. The animals become fascinated by reading, and by words, and she strives to satisfy them: tall books for the giraffes—titled Skyscrapers, Redwoods, and Basketball in Brown's clever take—books in Chinese for the pandas, "And llamas read dramas while eating their llunches." The insects write haiku, critiqued by the scorpion—not only a lesson in verse, but quite hilarious: the Dung Beetle writes: "Roll a ball of dung— / Any kind of poo will do— / Baby beetle bed." The scorpion sniffs, "Stinks." Brown's paintings, rich in pattern and detail and wonderful color, show graceful, cheery animals. A storytime spectacular. (Picture book. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
PreS-Gr 2-In a rhyming text that is both ...
... homage to and reminiscent of Dr. Seuss's epic rhyming sagas, Sierra spins the tale of librarian Molly McGrew who mistakenly drives the bookmobile to the zoo. The various denizens are attracted to her read-alouds and soon are reading, writing, rhyming, and going wild about those wonderful books. With Molly's encouragement, the animals start their own Zoobrary so they can read to their hearts' content. Sierra's text has a wacky verve and enough clever asides and allusions to familiar characters to satisfy bibliophiles of all ages. The author's sense of playfulness in plot and language ("llamas read while eating their llunches"; a hippo wins the "Zoolitzer Prize") creates a lavish literary stew. Comic moments abound, including bugs writing haiku and unruly bears licking illustrations right off the page (until Molly gently teaches them how to treat books properly). Brown's cheerful, full-color illustrations stretch his trademark art with ever-so-slightly stylized spreads that are rich in pattern, texture, and nuance. On each spread, he plays with perspective and layout to create an electric sense of excitement as the animals discover what kids have known for a long time-reading is fun!-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha's Public Library, WI

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time Ages 4-8

The creators of the E. B. White Read Aloud winner HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA offer a charming sequel about taking time out from the hustle and bustle.
The first snow of winter has fallen, and Houndsley is very happy, as he loves the quiet time. Catina does not like the quiet time, however, and she does not enjoy being snowed in. What about all her plans for the day? What if their evening concert has to be canceled? With a bit of pretending, a few books and board games, a flourish of creativity, and
some time to dream, Houndsley helps Catina let go of her worries and enjoy the snowy day, wherever it might take them.
Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time
By James Howe, Marie-Louise Gay
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Edition: illustrated
Published by Candlewick Press, 2008
ISBN 0763633844, 9780763633844
42 pages
From Booklist
Emergent readers will enjoy the latest outing featuring this appealing cat-and-dog friendship. The first winter storm finds the duo snowed in while preparing for the evening’s community concert. Houndsley loves the quiet time, while Catina is hopping mad that she is stuck inside. Finally, neighbors shovel them out and the concert takes place after all. Gay’s delicate watercolors capture the delight of a wintry day, and Howe’s on-target portrayal of friends who get along despite bumps along the way make this special. Grades K-2, ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. --Bina Williams

Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise Ages 4-8

"Published in beginning-reader format, this gentle story will appeal to children’s compassion as well as their sense of humor." — BOOKLIST

Houndsley is sad. Not because it’s raining or because there are holes in his sweater, but because he doesn’t know when his birthday is. And now Catina is sad, too. But friends are good at cheering each other up, and Houndsley and Catina are the best of friends. So it won’t be long before they each discover, in a most surprising way, how a first-rate friend can brighten even the saddest days.
Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise: Candlewick Sparks
By James Howe
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Edition: illustrated, reprint
Published by Candlewick Press, 2007
ISBN 0763636401, 9780763636401
48 pages
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2 Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 –The personable canine and feline friends continue their adventures in this early reader. Houndsley tells Catina that he is sad because he doesn't know his birth date. Worried that he has made her sad, too–she doesn't know when her birthday falls, either–he decides to surprise her with a cake. Catina is up to her own surprises, though, and arranges a birthday party for her pal. Gay's soft watercolor-and-pencil illustrations with collage details are fun and lighthearted, and scenes are filled with activity and assorted sweet-looking animals. The ratio between text and pictures will appeal to new readers.–Sandra Welzenbach, Villarreal Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist
This sequel to Houndsley and Catina (2006) begins with Houndsley the dog feeling blue and his best friend, Catina the cat, wondering why. Walking in the rain with his pal, Houndsley admits that he is sad because he doesn't know when his birthday is. Catina confesses that she doesn't know her birth date either. Within days, each animal has found a way to cheer the other. Published in beginning-reader format, this gentle story will appeal to children's compassion as well as their sense of humor. Though the setting is a cold, sometimes-bleak autumn, Gay's pencil, watercolor, and collage artwork glows with warmth, style, and quiet pizzazz. An appealing book for independent readers in the early grades, the story will also make a good fall read-aloud for preschool classes. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

2006 Read Aloud Award If I Built a Car Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

2006 Winner, Picture Books

If I Built a Car, by Chris Van Dusen
$15.99 Penguin Young Readers Group PREVIEW

Young Jack is giving an eye-opening tour of the car he'd like to build. There's a snack bar, a pool, and even a robot chauffeur named Robert. With Jack's soaring imagination in the driver's seat, readers are off on a wild ride of imagination!

Chris Van Dusen's interest in art began at a young age when his mother gave hiim and his four brothers pencils and paper to keep them busy. After high school, Chris pursued his interest in art by studying painting and illustration at the University of Massachursetts at Dartmouth, graduating in 1982 with a BFA. In 1985 he returned to Maine and settled in the coastal town of Camden. He is also the auhtor of Down to the Sea wit Mr. Magee, and A Camping Spree with Mr. McGee. In his spare time, Chris likes to hike and bike all over the Maine coast with his family. Click here to visit Chris Van Dusen's web site.

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2-With descriptions and a rhyme scheme clearly inspired by Dr. Seuss, a little boy relates all of the wonderful things about the car he plans to design, including safety features, a pool, a robot driver, and the ability to go underwater and fly through the air. The rhyme scheme works well enough, although at times the rhythm falters. The artwork is the real draw here. The brightly colored, crisp, cartoon-style illustrations, reminiscent of the Jetsons, are likely to keep viewers' attention. The full-bleed pictures are animated and detailed, and the boy's dog, which appears in each picture, ties the images together nicely. This slight story may attract young fans of vehicles, but readers looking for a plot will be disappointed in what is essentially an extensive laundry list of the automobile's attributes.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist
K-Gr. 2. A young boy decides to design a better car than the old family station wagon. Driven by a robot, his sleek, supercharged vehicle can drive underwater and fly, and the interior includes a snack bar and swimming pool. The story is told in jaunty rhyming couplets, but the fun really comes from the illustrations, which perfectly parody 1950s' visions of the future, as depicted in such magazines as Popular Mechanics. The car glides past neat suburban homes with wide and perfect lawns, where everything is bathed in pastels. This may appeal more to parents (or, perhaps more accurately, to grandparents) who remember these renderings of technological dream worlds. Still, children will enjoy the exuberance and goofiness of the double-page spreads, such as the close-up of the expansive snack bar, which dispenses burgers, fries, and Cheez Whip on command. Todd Morning
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

ABC Read Aloud Award Winner 2007 Alabama Moon Ages 9-14

Winner - 2007 E.B. White Read Aloud Award For Older Readers

Alabama Moon
by Watt Key
$16.00 Farrar, Straus & Giroux Ages 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 PREVIEW

I could trap my own food and make my own clothes. I could find my way by the stars and make fire in the rain. Pap said he even figured I could whip somebody three times my size. He wasn't worried about me.

For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the forest in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, their only contact with other human beings an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon's father dies, Moon follows his father's last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn't know or understand, apparent property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the outside world on his own terms.

From the Committee:
Described by one ABC bookseller as Hatchet meets Holes, the committee loved this coming of age novel for its freshness of voice, originality, and blend of humor and drama. Tested by several of the committee members on target audiences, the language and pacing of the book made it a great read-aloud that grabbed listeners' attention and didn't let go.

From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8, Ages 12, 13, 14–Moon, 10, has spent most of his life in a camouflaged shelter in the forest with his father, a Vietnam veteran who distrusts people and the government. Pap has educated him in both academics and survival skills. His life suddenly changes when the land is sold to a lawyer and his father dies. The lawyer discovers him and, believing what he is doing is best for the child, turns him over to Mr. Gene from the local boys home. When Moon escapes, Mr. Gene alerts the constable, an emotionally unstable bully who becomes obsessed with capturing him. Once at the home, though, Moon makes his first real friends and learns what friendship is all about. Much of the story revolves around multiple chases, captures, and escapes. The ending might be a bit too perfect, but it is a happy one for Moon. The book is well written with a flowing style, plenty of dialogue, and lots of action. The characters are well drawn and three-dimensional, except for the constable–but then, maybe thats all there is to him. Even those who knew him as a child have nothing good to say about him. The language is in keeping with the characters personalities and the situations. Although Moon is only 10, older readers will also enjoy the book and will better understand the adults perspectives.–Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* This excellent novel of survival and adventure begins with the death of young Moon's father, an antigovernment radical who has been living off the land in rural Alabama with Moon for years. Moon has never known any truth but his dad's, and so he tries to continue his father's lifestyle. Unfortunately, Moon quickly finds himself in the claws of civilization, as personified by a sadistic cop. After a brief stint in jail (a lifetime of hunting and gathering leaves Moon hilariously pleased with the prison food), Moon again lights out for the territories, only to be recaptured and end up in reform school. Of course, no reform school is gonna keep Moon in check. Key's first novel is populated with memorable characters--such as Moon's reform-school buddy's dad, whose life is devoted to drinking and shooting machine guns--and studded with utterly authentic details about rural Alabama and survivalism. Stylistically, the book is perfectly paced, and Moon's narration is thoroughly believable. A terrific choice for reluctant readers and also for fans of Gary Paulsen's Brian novels. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

ABC Read Aloud Award Winner 2007 Houndsley and Catina Ages 5-7 Aloud, Ages 7-10 Alone

Winner - 2007 E.B. White Read Aloud Award For Picture Books

Houndsley and Catina
By James Howe
llustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
$14.99 HC / $4.99 PA
Candlewick Press

Catina wants to be a famous writer. Houndsley is an excellent cook. Catina thinks Houndsley is a wonder. Houndsley thinks Catina is a very good friend. So what should Houndsley say about Catina's seventy-four-chapter memoir? And can Catina find the right words of comfort for Houndsley after the big cooking contest fiasco? James Howe's funny and endearing world of ginger tea, no-bean chili, and firefly watching is brought to life in cozy watercolors by Marie-Louise Gay in this tender chapter book about what it means to be friends.

From the Committee:
Although this book falls in the Early Reader category, the committee chose this book as the recipient of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Picture Books because of the wonderful relationship between James Howe's writing and Marie-Louise Gay's illustrations. Committee members felt that the lovely relationship between the two main characters was an evocative update on classic friendship stories like Frog and Toad and George and Martha.

From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2 Ages 5, 6, 7 Catina, who has just completed Life Through the Eyes of a Cat, looks forward to winning prizes and being famous. Houndsley thinks that the book is terrible, but spares her feelings by telling her that her writing leaves him speechless. He is such a good cook that Catina and their friend Burt convince him to enter a cooking contest, but he is so nervous that he undercooks the rice and leaves out the beans in his three-bean chili. In the end, Houndsley realizes that he is happy to experience the joy of cooking; he can live without fame, and Catina confesses that she does not enjoy the process of writing. Houndsley suggests that she can be famous for something else and tells her that she is good at being a friend. Catina purrs: Being your friend is better than being famous. Gay presents distinctive watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations in varying layouts to illuminate the story. The dog and cat exude emotion and motion in modest, vintage homes and beautiful outdoor settings. This intimate look at friendship is a welcome addition to series such as Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad (HarperCollins) and Elissa Haden Guest's Iris and Walter (Harcourt). Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Gr. 2-4 Ages 7, 8, 9, 10, younger for reading aloud. Catina (a cat) and Houndsley (you guessed it, a dog) are best friends, and they encourage each other as best friends do. Houndsley is mortified when he reads his friend's novel-in-progress, and realizes that Catina has little writing talent. "I'm at a loss for words," he finally musters, satisfying Catina, who seems focused on literary prizes and fame instead of the actual writing. Then Catina encourages Houndsley to enter a cooking competition, and he's so nervous that he fouls the recipe and endures the judges' mockery. Together the friends confess that, rather than simply enjoying their activities, they secretly wanted to become famous. This early chapter book, while emphasizing doing what you love, not what will bring acknowledgment, is heavy-handed. But it will still hit home with kids just learning about their own particular talents and passions, and the lively, brisk writing is wonderfully extended in Gay's airy watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, which keep the focus on the caring friends. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Association of Booksellers for Children Members in North Carolina

North Carolina

Author Squad Bookshop and Publishing Center
Huntersville, NC
Phone: 704-992-6290

Black Forest Books & Toys
Charlotte, NC
Phone: 704-332-4838
Email us

Books to be Red
Okracoke, NC
Phone: 252-928-3936
Email us

Bookshop By the Lakes
West End, NC
Phone: 910-673-5900

Country Bookshop
Southern Pines, NC
Phone: 910-692-3211
Email us

Quail Ridge Books
Raleigh, NC
Phone: 919-828-1588

Spellbound Children's Bookshop
Asheville, NC
Phone: 828-232-2228

Websites of Authors and Illustrators, Members of ABC

Association of Booksellers for Children has a web page of Authors and Illustrators who are members of ABC. There are links to their individual web pages.

The E. B. White Read Aloud Awards

The Association of Booksellers for Children's E. B. White Read Aloud Awards are a series of Web Pages from September 2, 2004 through December 18, 2007 which are now available through the Way Back Machine of

Here is the link to the list of them:*/

Websites of Awards for Childrens Books

Here are websites where you will find complete lists of:

The Caldecott titles

The Newbery titles

The Golden Kite Award titles

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award titles

The Kate Greenaway Award titles

The Carnegie Award Winning Titles

The Book Sense Best Children's Book Award titles

The Scott O’Dell Award For Historical Fiction

The E. B White Read Aloud Award

Through the Looking Glass Reviews of Award-winning Books

An Online Children's Book Review Journal
This link is for Award Winners

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Princess Baby Ages Ages 1-5

Poor baby, no one calls her by her real name! “I am not a buttercup, or a giggly goose. I am not a cupcake. Please don’t call me Little Lamb, and never ever Gum Drop,” she insists. With a curtsy and a twirl, again and again our protagonist makes it abundantly clear who she is. She wears a shiny crown, a fancy dress, sparkly shoes, a velvet cape, and glittery jewels.
There are more clues too–she dances with princes, has perfect manners,
and makes sure that everyone in her kingdom is happy. Her persistence
pays off in the end, and even the youngest readers will be cheering,
“Princess Baby!” From the Hardcover edition.
Princess Baby
By Karen Katz
Illustrated by Karen Katz
Edition: illustrated
Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008
ISBN 0375941193, 9780375941191
32 pages Ages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Science Verse Ages 7-12

What if a boring lesson about the food chain becomes a sing-aloud celebration about predators and prey? Only the amazing talents of John Scieszka and Lane Smith, the team who created "Math Curse," could make science so much fun. CD Recording Included
Science Verse
By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Edition: illustrated
Published by Viking, 2004
ISBN 0670910570, 9780670910571
40 pages
In 1995, Mrs. Fibonacci laid a Math ...... Curse; this year, it's Mr. Newton who says, " . . . if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything." What follows is a madcap collection of science poetry that lampoons familiar songs ("Glory, glory, evolution") and poems ("Once in first grade I was napping"). The whole lacks the zany unity of its predecessor, opting for an impressionistic tour of scientific terms and principles; the illustrations are less integrated into the text as well, if individually often quite inspired (a set of antiqued nursery rhyme panels are just perfect). Some of the poems rise to the level of near genius (" 'Twas fructose, and the vitamins / Did zinc and dye [red #8]"), while others settle for the satisfyingly gross ("Mary had a little worm. / She thought it was a chigger"). If this offering falls short of the standard set by Math Curse, it will nevertheless find an eager audience, who will hope that the results of Mr. Picasso's curse will soon be forthcoming. (Poetry. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
Gr 2-5- Ages 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 In Math Curse (Viking, 1995), a ...
... teacher's chance comment causes a girl to see every aspect of her life as a math problem. This time around, the fun starts when a boy hears this remark: "-if you listen closely enough, you can hear the poetry of science in everything." What follows is a series of poems that parody the styles of Joyce Kilmer, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, and many others, as well as familiar songs and nursery rhymes. "Once in first grade I was napping/When I heard a scary yapping" begins a lament about studying dinosaurs year after year. In "Astronaut Stopping by a Planet on a Snowy Evening," the narrator bemoans the fact that he can't figure out what planet he's on because "In science class I was asleep-." Children need not be familiar with the works upon which the spoofs are based to enjoy the humor, but this is a perfect opportunity to introduce the originals and to discuss parody as a poetic form. The dynamic cartoons are an absolute delight. The expressions on the face of the beleaguered boy keep readers smiling and the pages are chock-full of funny details that are in perfect sync with the poems. Printed in a cream-colored, readable font and set against solid backgrounds, the text is never overwhelmed by the frenetic illustrations. Fans of Scieszka and Smith will be in heaven, but the book will appeal to one and all.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar Ages 3-7

Keeping watch over a caterpillar leads to amazing surprises in a bright, buoyant read-aloud inspired by a children’s verse.
When Arabella Miller finds a tiny caterpillar, she brings him home and feeds him lots and lots of leaves. Soon the not-so-tiny caterpillar sheds his skin and disappears inside his chrysalis. Arabella misses her friend, but when he finally emerges, she is filled with wonder at the beautiful creature he has become. Clare Jarrett’s sweet story and vibrant illustrations weave details about a caterpillar’s transformation into this elaboration on the song "Little Arabella Miller."
Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar
By Clare Jarrett
Illustrated by Clare Jarrett
Edition: illustrated
Published by Candlewick Press, 2008
ISBN 0763636606, 9780763636609
32 pages

Expanding a familiar preschool finger ...
... rhyme, Jarrett delivers an appealing (and singable) confection capped with a double spread of facts about the life cycle of the butterfly. By leading with two new verses, before inserting the well-known one, the author signals to children and caregivers that something fresh and new is in store. Carrot-haired Arabella, after the inevitable admonishment from mother, builds a shoe-box home for the caterpillar, feeds it ("Curly cabbage, crisp and crunchy, / frizzy parsley, fresh and munchy") and observes its changes, from multiple skin-sheddings, to chrysalis-building and metamorphosis. Jarrett's airy pencil-and-paper collages utilize variable perspective, a chiefly pastel palette and ample white ground to carry the simple text. Cleverly, saturated primary hues link the butterfly's markings with Arabella's bright hat and shirt. Pleasing and useful, for storytimes as well as one-on-one sharing. (Picture book. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) 2/1/2008 VNU Business Media, Inc.

Let Me Bee Apiphobia Ages 4-8, All Ages

Let Me Bee is about unfounded fear and how children can reduce these anxieties as they learn and understand more about the source of their alarm. A little boy is, unde, afraid of bees. "You don't know how I feel when I see a bee and it seems like they always come straight after me!" But the bee responds, "I'm no wasp or hornet, I'm a sweet honeybee. I don't think you're seeing the actual me." The dialogue continues as the boy and the bee learn about each other with Mom helping our little boy understand that there are many places to learn about bees and how they help us and overcome his fear.
Let Me Bee
By Vanita Oelschlager, Kristin Blackwood
Illustrated by Kristin Blackwood
Edition: illustrated
Published by Vanitabooks, 2008
ISBN 0980016215, 9780980016215
40 pages Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and everyone who want to overcome fears
Unique Illustrations!
Vanita Books Website

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Everything Book Ages 2-6

ABCs, 1-2-3s, colors, shapes, nursery rhymes, finger games, and more...The Everything Book has something for everyone!
The Everything Book
By Denise Fleming
Edition: illustrated
Published by Macmillan, 2000
ISBN 0805062920, 9780805062922
64 pages Ages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
PreS-Animals of all kinds, lively ...... insects and birds, and a diverse array of small children romp through this collection of simple rhymes, numbers and letters, and listings of familiar objects. The book includes everything needed to make it an anthology of preschool interests and concerns, from mealtimes to body parts. It even has traffic lights and trains. The very attractive illustrations, done in Fleming's characteristic bold and energetic style, were produced by pouring cotton pulp through hand-cut stencils, the result being simple forms that are attractively textured, with edges that are just fuzzy enough to look soft and friendly. The brilliant, warm colors are given depth and interest by the inevitable small differences in color produced by this process. Small children will enjoy pointing out the ladybugs crawling or flying or perched quietly on grass blades or leaves in almost every picture. There are, in all, 119 of them to be found, and doubtless young readers will spot every one. This is, indeed, an "Everything Book."-Marian Drabkin, Richmond Public Library, CA

Alice the Fairy Age 5-7

Imaginative Alice has a nose for trouble, but luckily she's a fairy--a temporary fairy. She has a magic wand, fairy wings, and a blanket, all of which she uses to disappear, to fly, to transform her dad into a horse, and to turn his cookies into her own.
Alice the Fairy
By David Shannon
Illustrated by David Shannon
Edition: illustrated
Published by Blue Sky Press, 2004
ISBN 0439490251, 9780439490252
40 pages Ages 5, 6, 7
Young David, who ran bare-bottomed into ...
... the hearts of zillions, has a sister—or at least a kindred spirit! Unlike her nonverbal relative, though, she's quite a chatterbox. Introducing herself as a "Temporary fairy," she proceeds to demonstrate tricks she can do—magically turning Dad into a horsie, a plateful of Dad's cookies into her cookies, and, by waving her wand too close to a glass of juice, a white dress into a red one—and can't—making the dog, or her strewn clothes, float off the floor. A peg-toothed child sporting tied-on wings, and a sequined tiara atop blonde curls, Alice dances through Shannon's blotchy, scribbled domestic scenes. Her big personality shines forth from both pictures and hand-lettered nattering, and the touch of vulnerability that he adds to her brash self-confidence makes her all the more likable. Watch out, Olivia. (Picture book. 5, 6, 7)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
PreS-Gr 1-Donning a fairy costume ...
... inspires a little girl's imagination in this droll picture book. Alice speaks for herself, claiming she can fly (not too high but really fast), can change her dad into a horse (for a horsey ride), can make herself disappear (by flicking off the light switch with her wand), and can turn oatmeal into cake by pouring on fairy dust (sugar). There are elements of danger, such as broccoli poisoned by the wicked Duchess (Mom) and baths (fairies hate baths), as well as mischief ("-my mom made cookies for my dad. So I turned them into mine") and mishaps ("Once I accidentally turned my white dress into a red one"). Alice knows that Permanent fairyhood requires a lot of tests, attending Advanced Fairy School, and learning how to "make clothes get up off the floor and- line up in the closet," so she'll "probably be a Temporary fairy forever." With his signature cartoon-style art and childlike lettering, Shannon has created a winsome, exuberant heroine whose wide eyes and toothy smile bring David to mind, though Alice's blond ringlets are all her own. Variety in page and text layout and the use of brilliant color make the pictures dance and occasionally pop right off the pages. An enjoyable romp.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

25 Science Plays for Emergent Readers: Ages 5-7

Offers a collection of plays designed to help children learn about science.
25 Science Plays for Emergent Readers: Delightful, Reproducible Plays with Extension Activities That Build Literacy and Invite Kids to Explore Favorite Science Topics
By Sheryl Ann Crawford, Nancy I Sanders, Nancy L. Sanders
Published by Scholastic Inc., 2001
ISBN 0439117607, 9780439117609
64 pages Ages 5-7
Polar Bear, Koala Bear, Wampanoag, Little Monster, Little Turtle, Teddy Bear, construction paper, Venn diagram, Conifer, food chain, Anteaters, place like home, Uranus, Groundhog, Pluto, Little Spiders, nighttime comes, Toot, chrysalis, butterflies