Category Archives: Book Reviews

Picture Book Review

I love, love, LOVE! the new Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld book: Exclamation Mark ……!!!

image from Goodreads

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Great concept, great design, great story! Short and sweet, the illustrations are simple and bold, blending perfectly with the story of this little exclamation mark who tries so hard to fit in, until he realizes his full potential. I love that this story essentially takes place on that gray/oatmeal-colored, almost-newsprintish, wide-lined paper with the little dashed line in between each that I used in elementary school to practice writing my letters. A fun story for any age, but also a great book to read when learning about punctuation!

This gets 5 Goodreads stars from me!!

Blog Signature

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Design, Book Reviews, Children's, Picture Books

Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons Love Tacos image from Amazon.com

This super-cute picture book by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri is a fun read for ages 4 & older. It’ll tell you all you need to know about how to throw a successful taco party for dragons: how they like their tacos and how they don’t (i.e. NO spicy salsa.) Because, of course, it’s something you’ll probably need to know in the future. The illustrations have some hilarious details that will crack you up – my personal favorites describe the different types of parties dragons like….too funny! The end gets a little “spicy” but it’s nothing a few mild tacos won’t fix 😉

Check it out!

Blog Signature

4 Comments

Filed under Authors, Book Design, Book Reviews, Children's, Picture Books

Middle Grade Fiction Review (Audio Book)

Liesl and PoLiesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved, loved, loved this story! I listened to the audio recording, read by the incredible Jim Dale, and basically it got to the point where I would make up reasons to drive somewhere so I could keep listening to it. It’s wonderful fantasy with a classic fairytale feel. The story is perfectly woven, bringing plots and characters together seamlessly. Filled with magic, misadventure, ghosts, extremely evil step-mothers, love and friendship. Definitely a new favorite!

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Middle Grade Books

Mock Newbery

Well, I’ve been MIA for a few months but one of my New Year’s Resolutions (which is actually all of my old ones that I never, um, resoluted?) is to actually post MORE on my blog. Or, at all, as the case may be.

Anyways, this email I just received from one of the Youth Advisors from MLS (Massachusetts Library System) was definitely post-worthy, as it confirms what I thought when I first read See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Am I biased because Jo was my AMAZING writing professor who was an inspiration to everyone in my masters program? Perhaps. HOWEVER, that does not make her novel any less Newbery-worthy. In my humble opinion.

See You at Harry's Cover Image

I only hope MLS is OK with this…..!

“Greetings,
 
We are all eagerly awaiting the results of all the ALA Book Awards on Monday, January 28! 
 
In the meantime, a small but tenacious group of your peers have been reading and discussing their picks for the Newbery Award since June, using for communication a moodle’s discussion lists and sometimes chat (when it worked). The “Committee” is made up of 9 school librarians, 3 public, 1 academic, and 1 other.
 
And here is the Short List! 

2013 Mock Newbery Short List:

 

Crow by Barbara Wrights. Random House Books, 2012

The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure. Candlewick, 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. Scholastic, 2012

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. Scholastic, 2012

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead.  Wendy Lamb Books, 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Putnam, 2012

Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Harper Collins, 2012

One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2012

Son by Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin, 2012

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Little Brown, 2012

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  Dial, 2012                                 

Wonder by Patricia Palacio.  Knopf Books, 2012

  Enjoy!”

See? How cool is that?

Blog Signature

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, In the news, Middle Grade Books

YA Fiction Review

The Dark UnwindingThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Dark Unwinding at BEA this past spring and I was eager to read it. Mine didn’t have the pretty cover, but I had a postcard with what it would look like. I defintely really enjoyed reading this story. I thought the characters were very well done. The main character was interesting because she wasn’t your typical saintly, innocent heroine. She had a job to do and her own interests to look after, especially in a time when females typically had no income without a husband or someone to take care of them.

It was a well-told tale, full of intruging imagery and mysteries that kept me wondering. I did crave a bit more darkness and maybe some more romance. But it is still a creepy and chilling tale, without even being supernatural, which is usually the case for these types of Victorian/Gothic/Clock-work-ish novels. Because of this, I would recommend it for younger teens +.

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Design, Book Reviews, Teen, Tweens, YA Books

YA Fiction Review

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Kristin Cashore’s third book in the – well, I’m not sure exactly what to call it. Realm Trilogy? I don’t know. Regardless, it was good! It made me want to re-read Graceling and Fire to remember some of the history of the characters. Bitterblue’s grown-up character was very believable and refreshingly real for a fantasy novel. I loved how honest and frank she is about herself as she discovers, not only the mysteries of her re-awakening kingdom, but who she is as a queen and woman. It was dark in a way that I hadn’t expected, and that Graceling had only scratched the surface of, but that was what made it so good I couldn’t put it down. The other great thing? I got to read my very own autographed copy from BEA where I actually spoke to Kristin (we have so much in common since we both went to Simmons and all – haha.)

Authors are my celebrities 🙂

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Teen, YA Books

YA Fiction Review

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)The Diviners by Libba Bray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved reading Libba’s newest novel. I loved the Gemma Doyle trilogy, and The Diviners is along the same vein. The fun and excitement of the 1920’s time period made an interesting contrast to the frightening plot. Characters are well-developed and the story kept me wanting more. Thrilling and delightfully dark. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Teen, YA Books

YA Nonfiction Review

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of FaithCharles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed listening to this book and I learned a lot about Charles Darwin that I never knew before – actually, I really never knew much about him except that the idea of Evolution came from him. I thought it was a nice turn from a typical biography, with the focus being mostly about Charles and Emma, not just Charles and his accomplishments. Though the book was also largely about that as well. I thought it seemed well-written and researched and I found that I enjoyed it more than I originally thought I would. Some of the little details about their everyday life were nice and made them seem like real people. Biographies & Nonfiction are not my favorite genre, but I like to break out of my fiction box every now and then and this was a pleasant side trip 🙂

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Teen, YA Books

Book Signing with Jo Knowles!

A few weeks ago I received my copy of See You at Harry’s – Jo Knowles’ newest novel!

    

I was so excited because I have been waiting so long to read this book and I was not disappointed. This is an amazing middle grade novel – Jo’s first in this age-level. Her past 3 books have been for teens/YA. Though each of her novel’s is unique, they all have a small piece of her heart within their pages. I was lucky enough to hear her read a few passages at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA. Jo always speaks so eloquently and candidly about her writing, and this was no exception. I am so excited to have my copy autographed and it’s has moved up to the “Autographed Copy” shelf  in my bookcase 🙂

And maybe I’m biased after having Jo as my writing professor, but I think this is one of the best middle grade novels so far …..perhaps a Newbery contender? We’ll see!

(my review of See You at Harry’s coming soon via Goodreads)

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Book Stores, Middle Grade Books

Story Time ~ ART

 

My computer is on it’s way out, but it appears to be working now so I’ll try to get a post in!

Here are my story time plans….which my dog just stole off the table and my husband had to bribe her with a treat to get it back. The paper is a bit soggy and has teethmarks. In case you wanted to know.

Ahem….

Story Time – Art (ages 3-5)

  • Introduction (if there’s anyone new I’ll introduce myself and say a little bit about what we’re going to do. I usually ask how everyone is doing, if they did anything fun over the weekend. If there’s a birthday, we’ll sing 🙂
  • Announcements (I’ll let parents know about upcoming programs or remind them that there’s no story time the next week, etc.)
  • Opening Song: “My Hands Say Hello” (to the tune of “the farmer in the dell”)

My hands say hello, my hands say hello / Every time I see my friends, my hands say hello  (Ask kids to  name body parts and sing the lines again – as many times as your sanity allows.)

  • Books (part 1)

Patrick Paints a Picture by Saviour Pirotta                                                                                                                                            Art by Patrick McDonnell

                

Art is a really cute book about a boy named Art who does….you guessed it! Art. The kids really liked this one. Highly recommend it!! Love all of Patrick McDonnell’s books!

  • Song/Dance Break (I find that I can sometimes get 3 books out of them if we stop for a song/dance break. I usually use “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi. I have no idea what tune this is supposed to go to, so I sort of made one up. It’s great for an especially rowdy group.)
  • Books (part 2)

~If I think they’ll make it through one more book, then I go for it. The third book I read was The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle. This is a great book because it shows the kids that art can be anything you want it to be.

  • Game/Activity (we played The Color Game – which is a song by Jim Gill. I have bags with construction paper circles of each color he mentions in the song and we go through and talk about what colors things are so they are ready for the song (it goes a bit fast.) We had Jim Gill at our library a few years ago and he was AWESOME!
  • Walking, Walking – I usually end with this game/activity/song. They LOVE it. Have them line up in a circle behind you and start walking in a big circle, saying the words and doing the actions.

Walking, Walking (to the tune of “Frere Jacques“)

Walking, walking
Walking, walking
Hop, hop, hop!
Hop, hop, hop!
Running, running, running
Running, running, running
Now we stop
Now we stop.
 
  • Craft (using Bingo Daubers the kids made their own “modern art” pictures. Fun & easy, especially as this particular story time doesn’t leave as much time for a long craft.
  • Snack (Yeah, I usually have a snack. I started it and now I can’t go back. I chose rainbow goldfish for this one, but I also try to get something healthy and allergy-free to go with it. Pre-cut apple slices in a bag (I’ve only been able to find these in larger bags at Walmart or Target) work well and the kids really like them. So do the parents!

Fin. 🙂

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Children's, Crafts, Food, Library, Picture Books, Story Time