Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Arlo is visiting an art museum with his grandmother (he'd probably much prefer to be playing baseball). As grandmother reminds him how to behave, and look at the art seriously, Arlo's imagination allows him to see the art in a much different way. Written and illustrated by David LaRochelle, the pages of this book have 50 flaps that transform the works of art into something quite different (and sometimes their neighbors too). This book will probably be most appreciated by children who have some exposure to art; but the humor can be enjoyed by all.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
It's February 13, and Henry and his first grade classmates notice that their teacher, Mr. McCarthy, has a big Valentine box on his desk. "Does he have a girlfriend?" everyone wonders. All day they watch for evidence that it might be true. The next day, at the classes' Valentine party, Mr. McCarthy has a surprise for everyone. The stories of Henry and friends are written and illustrated by Nancy Carlson. Share this one with your favorite kid soon!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Minnesota poet Joyce Sidman and artist Pamela Zagarenski have collaborated once again (they are also known for Red Sings from Treetops, a Caldecott honor book in 2010) on a collection of short poems that are arranged in four sections 1) chants and charms [to bolster courage and guard against evil], 2) spells and invocations [to cause something to happen], 3) laments and remembrances [to remember, regret, and grieve], and 4) praise songs and blessings [to celebrate, thank, or express love]. The poems touch on universal themes that teens and adults can relate to, and the illustrations are a poetic match for the words. I heard recently that this is becoming a popular gift book among adults, although the target audience is probably teens. Readers of any age will appreciate the beauty of this book.
This is also a good place to note that Joyce Sidman is the winner of the 2013 Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, given by the National Council of Teachers of English.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Minnesota ornithologist, Laura Erickson, has created another wonderful book about the birds of Minnesota--this time with a focus on raptors. Twenty raptor species are profiled in this book including vultures, ospreys, eagles, harriers, kites, hawks and falcons. Information includes nesting, breeding, and migration habits as well as any special signature traits of the species. The introduction includes a history of Hawk Ridge near Duluth, as well as information on the challenge of counting and banding hawks there. Illustrator Betsy Bowen, normally a woodcut artist, switches to painting with acrylics for this second collaboration with Erickson. This is an excellent classroom resource for high school students studying raptors and bird migration.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Set in a fantasy world called Aletheia, this is the story of a boy, who is a social misfit, and who works as the "hand" (i.e. lowest servant) of a magician named Caleb. Oscar lives in the basement of Caleb's shop, and spends his days making potions, charms, and tinctures for Caleb to sell. Then Oscar's world turns upside down when Caleb leaves on an extended trip, his apprentice is mysteriously killed, and Oscar is left in charge. A healer's apprentice, Callie, helps him learn social manners and behavior, and together they must tackle a large mystery concerning why the magic (that everyone depends on) is suddenly doing bad things to people. Written by Anne Ursu, with illustrations by Erin McGuire; junior high and strong upper elementary readers will be drawn into this fantasy world where everything depends on the magic.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Hmmm--where to start with this book? Let's try the main characters. Flora is a young girl, living with her romance-writing mother because her parents are divorced. Flora has withdrawn into the comic book world of The Amazing Incandesto! and has memorized much of its ongoing feature Terrible Things Can Happen to You!
Ulysses is a squirrel who has been swallowed whole by a neighbors new vacuum cleaner. Flora rescues Ulysses; and Ulysses is transformed into a superhero who can fly, type and compose poetry, and is always hungry.
This quirky story by Kate DiCamillo (we claim her as a Minnesotan, although she isn't always residing here), with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, will appeal to intermediate readers.