Friday, May 15, 2009

Pirates, Plankton, and Pelicans: Sailing

Explore the sailing vessel the Spirit of South Carolina.

Take a Virtual Tour and explore the ship's galley, bunks, engine room and more with 360* panoramas.

With the Interactive Model learn about the essential components of a sailing schooner with this interactive version of the Spirit of South Carolina,


SC Maritime Foundation

Spark Notes from Barnes and Noble Jr & Sr High

Study Guides,
NO FEAR Shakespeare,
Fact Charts,
Test Prep,
Subject Browser,
College Texts Condensed


We offer hundreds of free study guides, chapter summaries, plot analysis, book notes, chapter notes, synopsis, essays, downloadable notes.
is a "G" rated study resource for junior high, high school, college students, teachers and home schoolers. What does PinkMonkey offer you? The World's largest library of free online Literature Summaries, with over 460 Study Guides / Book Notes / Chapter Summaries online currently, and so much more. No more trips to the book store; no more fruitless searching for a booknote that no one ever has in stock!
You'll find it all here, online 24/7!

Vocabulary Games

ABC's, Phonics, Beginning to Read, Read Alone.
Interactive with sounds and word pronunciation. Stories are read. Great colors and graphics.

2009 Summer Reading

Kids can earn a free book with the 2009 Summer Reading Program from Barnes and Noble - LINK.

Here's How It Works:

1. Kids read any eight (8) books of their own choosing.

2. Kids use the Summer Reading Journal to tell us their favorite part of each book. A parent/guardian signs the journal when it's complete. You can also get a Spanish-language Reading Journal.

3. Children bring their completed Reading Journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 26th & September 7th, 2009.

4. We'll give them a coupon for a FREE book! They choose from a list of exceptional paperback titles.*

* Eligible books will be listed on the coupon. Choices must be made from available stock. No special orders. Limit of one (1) form per school-age child (grades 1-6), please. Incomplete forms will be ineligible for free books.

Book Adventure Sylvan Learning 7000 Titles

Book Adventure is a FREE reading motivation program for children in grades K-8. Children create their own book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they've read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes. Book Adventure was created by and is maintained by Sylvan Learning.

Find a book at specific Reading Level

AudioBooks and eBooks Resource

One More Story

A one-year home subscription is $44.00. Take the Tour.
What We Are
One More Story is an online library of the best of children's classic and contemporary literature. Through a simple point and click process, children can choose a book, see the illustrations and have the book read to them whenever they want.

The One More Story library features the highest quality children's books (including Caldecott Medal winners) from ten different publishers. Books will be continually added to the One More Story library until we reach one hundred and eight books.
See a list of the books in the One More Story library >>

See a sample book
Hear and See a Book
A child can easily choose a book by clicking on the green button under that book. As the narrator reads, words are individually high-lighted in the text box at the bottom of the screen. Each story is professionally narrated, and original music has been written for each book.

See I Can Read It mode
I Can Read It
One More Story offers the I Can Read It mode for beginning readers. Clicking on the "I" button (in the upper right hand corner) mutes the sound, allowing the child to read the book. If a word is unfamiliar, the child can click on it and hear that word spoken by the narrator. This is available for every word in each book in the One More Story library. Classic Children's Stories is a fun storybook entertainment site that celebrates reading and books. Classic children’s stories are brought to life by TV star Kathy Kinney as Mrs. P.

Reviewed by Common Sense Media

What's the story?

Reviewed by Susan Yudt

Actress Kathy Kinney played cantankerous secretary Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show. But on MRSP.COM, Kinney -- one of the site's co-creators -- dons a pair of reading glasses as Mrs. P., a storyteller with an Irish brogue and a dry sense of humor. Mrs. P sits in her flash-animated study, surrounded by quirky, clickable objects. Click on her bookcase and Mrs. P will read whichever book you choose. There are fairy tales aplenty, along with other children's classics like "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." Older kids can check out Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" (but maybe not right before bedtime).

Is it any good?

4 Stars
Though a high-tech endeavor, aims to preserve the very low-tech pastime of reading and storytelling. The sophisticated animation and high level of interactivity are undoubtedly digital age, but Mrs. P. also employs some delightfully old-fashioned touches, like prefacing her tales with personal anecdotes. The stories are light on illustration, compelling kids to use their imaginations to flesh out the tales. Well done overall, with the promise of more stories to come. reviewed by: Common Sense Media

What's the story?

Reviewed by Jacqueline Rupp

During election season, TV programs become awash in political advertising. With emotionally-charged music and images and dramatic voiceovers, these ads can be quite compelling. That is until you look at the facts behind the melodrama. But sorting through news reports, candidate Web sites, and editorials can be a lengthy process. That's where FACTCHECK.ORG comes in handy. This 2008 Webby Award-winning site provides daily analysis of U.S. political players, monitoring factual accuracy of what's said on TV and in debates, speeches, and interviews through detailed articles that provide both a summary and lengthy study of a specific subject. FactCheckEd, the educational section, interprets political lingo and catch phrases, and has a dictionary and a resource which helps kids sift through other sites by identifying them as partisan, public, or general.

Is it any good?

5 Stars
Like a breath of fresh air, cuts through the political mudslinging and propaganda to provide real, factual information about the abstract claims made by political candidates. Just the Facts is a CNN-esque video report that dissects timely topics such as the creative video editing of campaign ads. With young correspondents and a clean look, the videocasts judiciously use news clips and commentary, making the videos easy to watch and understand. This is probably the department most accessible to kids.

Ask FactCheck is also a clever timely feature and allows visitors to ask the site's staff questions about the political campaign. As far as Web designs go, FactCheck is nicely organized and easy to navigate. It doesn't overwhelm the user with too many features, but instead presents deliberately detailed analysis that's hard to find these days.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dance With Me Ages 7-12

A joyous collection of poems celebrates many kinds of traditional and original dances, from the classic waltzes and tap dances to a dance with the wind and a gardener's dance with her hoe.

Dance with Me
By Barbara Juster Esbensen
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Published by Harpercollins, 1995
ISBN 0060228237, 9780060228231
32 pages Ages 7, 8, 9, 10
A lovely collection of 15 poems, graced ...
... with iridescent pastel illustrations. Everyday objects and events are given a new charm in these verses that capture a rhythmic dance, from the tap-dancing of raindrops falling on the roof in a summer storm to the hidden music as a baby dances with her reflection in the mirror. Even such unlikely ""dancers"" as a gardener and basketball make appearances. Esbensen (Baby Whales Drink Milk, 1994, etc.) has a talent for choosing subjects, using rhythms, and finding language with ready appeal for her audience. Sunny or dramatic, Lloyd's illustrations deftly capture the tone of the accompanying verse. The pacing of the book is particularly nice: It begins with an invitation to the wind and the wind's reply, and ends with the still dance of sunlight through a dusty room. A fine addition to poetry and picture book collections, this is simple enough for reading alone and strong enough for group sharing.
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
"Gr 3-6, Ages 9, 10, 11, 12 -- In 15 poems, all manner of dancers move to all sorts of rhythms and reveal unexpected images in the most delightful ways. Introducing the book with an invitation to partner the wind, Esbensen highlights such diverse subjects as bubbles, waves, and dust, and sees surprising choreography in everyday experiences. Even the visual arrangement of words on the page reinforces the verbal images and cadences that explore movement. Trees '...lock crooked arms/ and step across the lawn.' Mirages '...slide on invisible feet.' Raindrops are '...high-stepping/hoofers of summer.' There are people here, too; a baby tapping a beat to her mirrored reflection, a woman dancing a staccato rhythm as she weeds the garden, two grandparents gliding to a melody of memories. Lightning takes the exuberant stance of swordsmen, and children shadow dance and race in the sun. Lloyd's lovely crayon and pastel drawings add a floating lightness to each page and suggest, rather than tell, what the poet imagines. (As in Esbensen's Cold Stars and Fireflies (1984), Who Shrank My Grandmother's House? (1992), and Words with Wrinkled Knees (1987), all Harper/Collins), readers will find new discoveries and fresh delight in repeated readings." -- School Library Journal by Barbara Kiefer, Teacher's College, Columbia University, NY City

Honey Bees Ages 4-12

While visiting The Storyteller's Bookstore I found these!

How do bees make honey? Why are they so sweet on their queen? What hours do they work in their honey factories called hives? For all the buzz about honeybees, this Jump into Science title really is the bees' knees!
By Deborah Heiligman, Carla Golembe
Illustrated by Carla Golembe
Edition: illustrated, reprint
Published by National Geographic Society, 2007
ISBN 142630157X, 9781426301575
31 pages Ages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 8.7 x 0.1 inches

The Life and Times of the Honeybee PREVIEW
Charles Micucci offers a wide-ranging and spirited introduction to the life cycle, social organization, and history of one of the world's most useful insects. "A solid, fascinating treasure trove of bee stuff, as enriching to the mind as it is pleasing to the eye. Micucci's book is a wonderful example of how good children's nonfiction can really be." -- Booklist, starred review
By Charles Micucci
Edition: illustrated
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997
ISBN 039586139X, 9780395861394
32 pages

The author of The Life and Times of the ...
... Apple (Orchard, 1992) uses the same breezy, colorful format to introduce the honeybee, its history, anatomy, odd facts, and daily life. He describes the bee from egg to adult in brief text and soft-colored pictures. Each spread offers a dozen or more drawings and tidbits, e.g., bee communication through dancing, beekeeping, wax and honey products, bees through history, and around the world. This is a charming browsing title, but the text lacks precision and the author gives no sources. Micucci notes, ""8000 B.C. After the Ice Age, people hunted bees with torches."" Maybe, but how do we know? He states that the round dance is used when the flowers are ""less than 100 yards away."" Encyclopedia Americana (1994, Volume 3) says that when the nectar source is closer than about ten yards, the circular dance is used. For nectar from 10 to 100 yards away, the dance becomes sickle-shaped and eventually the figure eight. Honeybees are fascinating and have been extensively researched; most enthusiasts will want more information than this title provides.
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4 Ages 8, 9 , 10. Information about honeybees has never been more interesting. As in Micucci's The Life and Times of the Apple (Orchard, 1992), text and illustrations perfectly complement one another in a concise presentation of facts about the insects both within and outside the hive. Their physical characteristics, division of labor, and role in pollination are fully described. Additional fascinating facts about a bee's year-round activities, the job of the beekeeper, the many products that contain beeswax and other natural products from the hive, and ways honey has been used throughout history are included. Excellent organization with attention to clear labeling of diagrams and correct juxtaposition of text and illustrations combine with a direct writing style that makes the material easy to understand. Even the "tail-wagging dance" that directs bees to flower locations is simple to follow. The author's naturalistic watercolors are beautifully rendered in soft hues that reflect the true colorations, and a whimsical little bee in glasses appears periodically to lend a touch of humor. There is no index, but a table of contents leads to specific topics. A book that is right on target for young readers, and one that would be a fine companion to photographed titles such as Barrie Watts's Honeybee (Silver Burdett, 1990). Diane Nunn, Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Glen Rock, NJ
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist
Gr. 3-5, Ages 9, 10 , 11, younger for reading aloud. Every bit as nicely designed and packed with information as The Life and Times of the Apple (1992), this book reminds us that original artwork can be more precise and just as spectacular as photographs in children's nonfiction: here, for example, there's a large, striking, double-page-spread illustration of a worker bee guaranteed to make kids gasp. Most of the drawings, however, are small, finely detailed, and many to a page. Along with reinforcing and expanding upon the text, they lighten the information load--a bespectacled cartoon bee adds a bit of comedy by flitting from page to page among his more realistically drawn relatives. Each nicely organized double-page spread deals with a different aspect of the honeybee variety we know best (Micucci is not concerned with African or Africanized bees). The information, which appears in concise, clearly written blocks of text, covers everything from distribution, reproduction, behavior, and honey manufacture to the honeybee's niche in history. A solid, fascinating treasure trove of bee stuff, as enriching to the mind as it is pleasing to the eye, Micucci's book is a wonderful example of how good children's nonfiction can really be. Stephanie Zvirin --

Honey Bees and Honey PREVIEW
Young readers love the rich photographs in these books as they explore the world of honey bees. The book "Honey Bees identifies the body parts of these insects. The other three books focus on pollination, the hive community, and the production of honey. Labeled photographs support readers' understanding of content-area vocabulary. This series explores and supports the standard "The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life," as required by Benchmarks for Science Literacy: Project 2061.
By Lola M. Schaefer, Gail Saunders-Smith
Edition: illustrated
Published by Coughlan Publishing, 1999
ISBN 0736802339, 9780736802338
24 pages
Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 6.3 x 0.3 inches
Key Terms

From "Baby Bumblebee" to "The Ants Go Marching," children learn about the insects they encounter in their own backyard with these songs. The book features more than 250 activities that teach children about colors, counting, growing things, friendship, and bugs. 40 illustrations.
Bugs, bugs, bugs!: 21 songs and over 250 activities for young children
By Pamela Byrne Schiller, Clarissa Willis
Illustrated by Deborah Johnson
Edition: illustrated
Published by Gryphon House, Inc., 2006
ISBN 0876590202, 9780876590201
128 pages
About the Author
Pam Schiller, Ph.D., is an early childhood author, consultant, and highly sought after speaker. She has written numerous articles for early childhood journals, including Child Care Information Exchange and Texas Child Care Quarterly. Pam is the author of five early childhood curriculums, eleven children's books and more than 30 teacher and parent resource books.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Destination: Space & Galaxies Ages 9-13

For over a century the idea of a black hole was merely a theory, one that was fiercely debated. Then, while using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe a distant galaxy, scientists were able to take the first pictures of a black hole. A mystery that existed for over a hundred years was solved!

Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope is still sending us images of the cosmos never before seen by the human eye. There are more pictures and new discoveries every day. Orbiting above the atmosphere, the Hubble Space Telescope can see into space ten times more clearly than the most powerful telescope on Earth.

In Destination: Space, stunning visuals illustrate major discoveries as Seymour Simon explains what each carefully chosen image has shown us about the universe. Capturing fascinating and complex scientific discoveries in dramatic photographs and an easy-to-understand text, Seymour Simon once again shows why he is widely regarded as one of America's most exciting and informative authors.

Destination: Space
By Seymour Simon
Edition: illustrated
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2002
ISBN 0688162894, 9780688162894
32 pages
The dean of science-writers for the ...
... grammar-school set offers comments on over a dozen big, dramatic photos and photo collages generated by the Hubble Space Telescope, from a sharply focused triple image of Mars to a tiny red arc identified as the most distant galaxy every observed. Most of the pictures look thousands of light years into space—to star "nurseries," remnants of massive explosions, clouds surrounding black holes, colliding galaxies, and less identifiable phenomena. In his characteristically matter-of-fact way, Simon (Seymour Simon's Book of Trains, p. 51, etc.) describes just what the viewer is seeing, puts it into astronomical context, and even mentions, sometimes, how or why certain shots were taken. Though this is nothing like a complete picture of what the Hubble has added to our knowledge of the visible universe, it will leave even readers who are not scientifically inclined with both a clearer understanding of modern astronomy's frontiers, and an enhanced sense of wonder at the starscape's vast, turbulent beauty. (Nonfiction. 9, 10, 11)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
Gr 4-7 , Ages 10, 11, 12, 13-In this handsome and fascinating ...
... oversized book, Simon discusses the many new discoveries scientists have made because of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), which has been orbiting Earth since April, 1990. On each spread, the large-print, easy-to-understand text is supported by a stunning, full-page color photograph. The author explains what discovery each image produced and how the information fits into our existing knowledge. His enthusiastic descriptions create vivid pictures in and of themselves.-Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA
This close-up look at our own Milky Way and other enormous clusters of stars describes the many different types of galaxies, how they were formed, and how they got their different shapes. "A dazzling photo-essay."--School Library Journal.Galaxies
By Seymour Simon
Edition: illustrated, reprint
Published by Harpercollins Childrens Books, 1991
ISBN 0688109926, 9780688109929
32 pages
From Publishers Weekly
Like an afternoon at the planetarium watching a sky show, this is a step-by-step introduction to and description of the many galaxies in the universe. Simon, the author of many science books, uses 20 color photographs, most of which are from the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, to accompany the text. He includes discussions of the ways in which astronomers classify galaxies, black holes, smaller satellite galaxies such as the Magellanic Clouds and supernovas. The terms are explained within the text; however, a glossary might have been a nice addition. As fascinating and accessible as this book is, with its straightforward writing, the concepts may be difficult to comprehend for some readers in the designated age group. They may gain more by sharing Simon's splendid work with adults or older siblings. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 6 This dazzling photo essay immerses readers in a night sky no human eye ever beheld, full of long exposure color photos and computer-enhanced pictures, to introduce the galaxies: the Milky Way and a variety of others we can detect. Simon gives a clear, sure overview of the subject, occasionally surer than the experts. In one place, he states, ``The Galaxy has three spiral arms,'' ignoring the mixed nature of the evidence. Galaxies and Quasars (Watts, 1987) by Heather Cooper and Nigel Henbest offers considerably more detail for grades 4 to 8, in colorful but less alluring oversize format, and with its own set of errors. Simon's Galaxies is worth having just for the inspiration. Margaret Chatham, formerly at Smithtown Library, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Home Ages 6-10

Home. In this unique volume, prominent American writers from the past and present--Willa Cather, Henry David Thoreau, Eloise Greenfield--give voice to the region of the country each calls home. Thomas Locker's lavish oil paintings accompany each passage, transporting the reader from the crashing waves of the Pacific coast to the bluebonnet fields of the Texas prairie. Come along on a spectacular journey through our home--America.
Home: A Journey through America
By Thomas Locker, Candace Christiansen
Compiled by Thomas Locker
Illustrated by Thomas Locker
Edition: illustrated
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1998
ISBN 015201473X, 9780152014735
32 pages
Lush and romantic paintings of a broad ...... range of landscapes illustrate the poetry and prose of a dozen American authors and poets, whose homes ranged from the Hudson River Valley to the midwestern prairies and beyond. Each spread includes a poem or other brief block of text about home, as well as a biographical snippet about the featured writer. On the opposite page is a painting that illuminates an aspect of the writing; in general, Locker's landscapes are august and riveting. The selection of those included is a hybrid: some names seem written in stone (Frost, Irving, Thoreau, Cather, Sandburg), while others are still very much of the earth (Bruchac, Yolen, Greenfield, Locker). Nevertheless, from the East Coast to the West, the book shows how individual feelings about nature and home have shaped the artistic efforts of writers.
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
From Publishers Weekly
This visual pilgrimage to the native terrain of a variety of venerable writers suffers from Locker's visually homogeneous treatment of America's diverse landscapes. The journey begins in San Francisco, Robert Frost's birthplace (though most readers likely equate the poet with New England). His "Once by the Pacific" is comprised of strong, clear images: the "great waves" that "thought of doing something to the shore/ That water never did to land before"; the clouds, "low and hairy in the skies." In Locker's painting, however, power is diverted from Frost's fierce flexure of the sea to a purple-to-black sky brooding over agitated water and cliffs glanced by light. Throughout Locker's tour, his brush seems dipped in the Hudson Valley light of his own homeland, and not surprisingly, the standout paintings here are those paired with an excerpt from Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle"?depicting a leisurely sail up the Hudson River, the boat dwarfed by the dramatic Kaatskill mountains aflame at sunset?and his own "Birches in the Fall" with white trunks leaning inward, inviting readers down an autumn trail of golden grasses. But when called upon to conjure the Southwest of Pat Mora's "Gold" or the Amish country depicted in Merle Good's "Song of a People," Locker fails to capture the indigenous palette and mood. Unfortunately, the book seems driven by its theme, rather than a celebration of it. Ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up-American landscapes as viewed via paintings and words. Locker and Christiansen have collected poetic and narrative views of scenes from across the continent by such well-known writers as Robert Frost, John Muir, and Washington Irving as well as modern writers such as Pat Mora, Jane Yolen, and Joseph Bruchac. The oil paintings, in true Lockerian tradition, reflect an inner view of landscape, one reminiscent of early British painters who came to paint American scenes but made each of them look like home. This romanticized approach, relying not on accuracy, perspective, or detail, but rather on creating a mood, may appeal to adults but the use of the same color palette, massive cloud effects, and little action will not capture the imagination or hold the interest of children.
Ronald Jobe, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Cinderlily Ages 5-9

Where have all the flowers gone? They’re dancing up a storm in this whimsical, wondrous rendition of a well-known fairy tale, created by the one and only David Ellwand.

For hours beneath the velvet sky they dance without a care,
Until the clock chimes midnight . . . then she’s no longer there!
Just a single lily petal and her fragrance in the air.

One magic night, a poor cinder girl is granted an impossible wish. It may be the most familiar of tales, but under the inimitable wand of David Ellwand, this timeless story blooms as never before. Here, the innocent heroine is a delicate flower, a lily whose faded petals spring to new life as she arrives at the Sultan’s ball in a butterfly-drawn coach. When the smitten Prince sets out in search of the shy, retiring flower who has vanished into thin air, leaving but a petal behind, it’s clear that Cinderlily’s comically garish, pansy-faced stepsisters won’t stand a chance.

With singular vision, humor, and a touch of computer magic, David Ellwand directs a delightfully expressive cast of flowers in a breathtaking production sure to enchant lovers of fairy tales - and lovers of flowers, too.
Cinderlily: A Floral Fairy Tale in Three Acts
By David Ellwand, Christine Tagg, Charles Perrault
Illustrated by David Ellwand, Christine Tagg
Contributor David Ellwand, Christine Tagg
Edition: illustrated
Published by Candlewick Press, 2003
ISBN 0763623288, 9780763623289
32 pages
Waving his digital wand, Ellwand poses ...
... balletic figures made from flower parts against black backgrounds for an uncommonly elegant, theatrical rendition of the fairy tale. Just an upended stem with slender, graceful lily stamens for limbs and a twist of dried petals for dress, Cinderlily arrives at the Sultan's palace in a pumpkin coach with sunflower wheels; those petals open to dazzling white curls as she enters, and she leaves one behind when they revert at midnight. In the pared-down plot, the Sultan, quite dashing in his iris-petal pantaloons, quickly tracks Cinderlily down, upon which her stepsisters, instead of suffering just deserts, merely slip offstage. Written in stumbling meter and printed in a set of ornate typefaces, the text doesn't measure up to the inventive art—but children will know how the story goes anyway. An eye-catcher. (Picture book/folktale. 7, 8, 9)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
K-Gr 3, Ages 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 -In this visually intriguing twist ...
... on the traditional tale, Ellwand has replaced the human protagonists with flowers. Using Adobe Photoshop, he has arranged lilies, pansies, tulips, roses, and other petals in graceful poses against stark black backgrounds. While the pictures are technically well executed, it is unlikely they will engender other than a passing interest in children. Tagg's text, written in reasonably well-rhymed couplets, is thin on plot, character development, and imagery. In addition, the alterations she makes in the original tale are incongruous. The prince has become a Sultan, but nonetheless the "band strikes up a waltz" at his Royal Autumn Ball. The fonts, which change frequently in an apparent attempt to match the action of the story, are often hard to read, particularly when placed against those black backgrounds. For a more effective use of natural objects as characters, stay with Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffer's How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods (Scholastic, 1999).-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mozart Finds a Melody Ages 5-9

For the first time in Wolfgang's life, the famous composer was at a loss for a tune. He tried every trick to get his imagination going. He sang standing on his head. He played his violin in the bathtub. He even threw darts at the blank music paper. Alas, nothing worked.

An imaginative story about Mozart's many inspirations

Wolfgang Mozart must compose a new piano concerto to perform at the famous Burgtheatre in Vienna. But Mozart can't think of a note to write. When he hears his hungry pet starling sing out melodiously, his creativity begins to flow. Before he can put notes to paper, however, his muse escapes through the window, and Mozart is off on a frantic search to bring her back. Will Mozart find both his friend and song in time?

Based on a true story about the famous composer and his beloved pet starling, this enchanting tale celebrates inspiration in any form it takes.
Mozart Finds a Melody
By Stephen Costanza
Edition: illustrated
Published by Macmillan, 2004
ISBN 0805066276, 9780805066272
40 pages
Costanza spins an upbeat tale from a ...
... wisp of fact in his solo debut. A case of writer's block keeps young Mozart staring at a blank page, until his pet starling chirps an intriguing fragment of melody before escaping out the window. The composer's ensuing search takes him through Vienna's streets, where he hears laughter and other sounds that add to the birdsong—and by the weekend, there's a new piano concerto to perform. As in his art for April Pulley Sayre's Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero (2002), Costanza suffuses his scenes with a golden light that falls alike on Mozart's flyaway mane, on the elaborately costumed Viennese, and on that starling (colored here more like a hummingbird, but call it poetic license)—who returns in the end to perch on the composer's baton. As chronicled in Mordicai Gerstein's What Charlie Heard (2002), the later composer Charles Ives actually did create music inspired by ambient sounds, though to very different effect. But either tale makes a thought-provoking study of the creative process. (afterword) (Picture book. 7, 8, 9)
Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
K-Gr 3 Ages 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 -In this fictionalized version of ...
... how the composer wrote his "Piano Concerto no. 17 in G Major," Mozart is facing a case of writer's block and a looming deadline. His pet starling begins to sing and the notes provide a fine melody. When the young man opens her cage, she flies out. He looks for her all over the city but doesn't find her. However, the sounds of the streets give him additional inspiration so that he can complete the piece and perform it as planned. During the concert, Miss Bimms hears the music and flies to the theater where she is reunited with her owner. Done in gouache, acrylic, and colored pencil, the sepia-toned illustrations provide beautifully detailed glimpses of Vienna and the concert hall. Unfortunately, Mozart is shown with a round head, big eyes, and wild hair-slightly stylized features that give him the appearance of a Cabbage Patch doll. There is a silliness about the story that seems to detract from the man and his talent. In an author's note, Costanza indicates the source for his ideas. Though not outstanding, this tale can be used to introduce Mozart and to open discussion about how a composer might get inspiration from life around him.-Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City