Sunday, January 31, 2016

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A Spratt illustrated by Phil Gosier




Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt and illustrated by Phil Gosier is the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was young.  I could just see myself reading this book in my backyard on a hot summers day.  I always loved a good mystery. 

What I love about this book is that the author R. A Spratt does not talk down to her audience. There is an understanding that the reader knows certain things about the world around them.  The writing is fast paced which is great for children who live in a fast paced world.  We learn about Friday quickly and succinctly so that we are able to get right into the crux of the story which is solving mysteries.  Friday Barnes, Girl Detective reminds me of Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective which is probably intentional.  I am hoping boys won't be turned off because it is about a girl detective.  Sadly that is still an issue in today's world. Hopefully this book will help with that situation.  I would not hesitate to give it to a boy because I know they will enjoy it. 

My first inclination is that this would be a great book for a child like I was, a voracious reader who loves to read mysteries. That being said I also think it perfect for the reluctant reader, boy or girl, who needs to expand their universe.  As I said it is a fast paced book that will not lead to boredom.  The mysteries are fun and while a bit outlandish they are great for the imagination.  For me this is what reading is all about.  Stories that make us dream about what is possible and helps foster creativity.  

I can't wait to see what other adventures Friday Barnes will encounter....

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy New Year! (a bit late)


Happy 2016!  This promises to be a big year for children's books.  I had all good intentions of writing a blog post earlier but so many things got in the way.  First there was the holidays and then I got a wicked cold.  It seems that while I might like a warmer winter it doesn't like me.  Plus and more importantly I finally got the list of books I need to read for the 2nd round of Poetry judging for Cybils.   I am on my last book...such good reads. I wish I could talk about them now but I need to wait.  I promise to write about all of  them when my duties are over.  It's going to be hard to pick just one book to win.

Congratulations too to this years Newbery and Caldecott winners.  How exciting that a picture book has won the Newbery.  I also love the fact that it received a Caldecott Honor.  I have always felt that picture book writers don't get enough love.  Words are just as important as pictures and they should both be celebrated!

I am also loving the fact that I gave the book Waiting by Kevin Henkes (one of this years Caldecott Honor books)  to my great nephew Benjamin for Christmas.  I know he will love it when he gets a bit older....right now he is busy saying "hi" and "baby" when we video chat.

One of the books I've read that is not a requirement  was the new Kwame Alexander poetry novel Booked that is coming out in a few months.  I don't usually recommend books that have not been published yet but thought I would make an exception.  I read it because I was told there was a mention of my sister Ann's book All the Broken Pieces in it.  I am glad I did.  I can see why he won the Newbery award....he is a wonderful writer who really understands how kids act and react. It is sure to do well when it is finally published.  I can't wait.

So Happy New Year and Happy Reading----until the next time---hopefully sooner rather than later.




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Roundup

It has been a busy end of the year. October is a busy month for me and I thought once November came I could post more. But of course as the saying goes "the best laid plans....often go awry".  

 My News Years Resolution is to post more in 2016 as there are so many books I missed talking about this year. 

As soon as Christmas was over the end of year lists started appearing. So I thought I would do a Roundup of some of my favorite books  of 2015.  I always recommend books I like or think others would like but these seem to have a much more memorable feel about them.  

Here they are in no particular order:

Waiting by Kevin Henkes this is the book I gave my nephew for Christmas.  So sweet!

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano great Gothic ghost story for all....

Planting a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds a beautiful book that teaches kindness....

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman a perfect book for young readers (or anyone)...I just loved it.

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton great book to look at often....love the photographs....

This is just a small sample of some of the books I recommended in 2015. I hope anyone who has read my blog has found it enjoyable and useful.....I know I enjoy writing about the books I find.  To that end I would also like to recommend my favorite "grown-up" book that I have read this year, it is also by Alice Hoffman.....

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman was so wonderful I had trouble picking up another book to read.  Her writing is as magical as the stories she writes about. I highly recommend it!

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Years and that the next year brings much joy!  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell

It has been a very busy few months for me and things are finally quieting down. This has been a time of highs and lows....joys and sadness but even amidst the craziness of life there is always time to be thankful.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving when we are supposed to pause and give thanks.  

Now that I have time to get back to book reading and evaluating I combed over many a Thanksgiving title to suggest.  I kept coming back to today's title because it universal and not just about giving "Thanks" on one day but to give "Thanks" everyday!  This is a must have, read aloud, bedtime story for every day of the year.  

Thank You and Good Night written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell is an instant classic.  I have always loved his books and his comic strip---he so quietly reminds us of how we should live our lives.  This is the story of a first sleepover of friends---they do all the things children do at sleepovers from having a snack to goofing around to a final bedtime story.  They are also asked to give thanks for something---the long list of simple things is a reminder that we all have something to be thankful for everyday. It is a beautiful way to instill in children that they should remember to be grateful for the little things as well as the big things. As I said this is a must have book for any child in your life.....maybe even some grownups....

In spirit of the holiday I would like to say I am Thankful for my family and friends who are an important part of my life----you are all special to me.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Autumn Visitors by Karel Hayes

I was in my favorite bookstore recently and noticed this really sweet book about Autumn. I had not seen it before nor did I know that it was the fourth and final book in a series of books about the cutest bear family.

Autumn Visitors by Karel Hayes is the perfect book for the season. It has wonderful illustrations that show a family of bears and the fun they get into during the fall season.  It is such a sweet read aloud that can be read every night from October and Halloween until Thanksgiving.  I love the way the sparse text is enhanced by the rich and colorful illustrations. There is something new to discover in every reading.  This is the perfect book for a classroom story time or a one on one bedtime read...a must have new book to be read every year during the fall.

I think all the books deserve a place on a child's bookshelf.....going back and reading  the first three I really loved The Winter Visitors too....this has the Bear family taking over a vacation cottage when the owners leave....few words again but rich and expansive illustrations....a cosy book to read by the fire!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman



Nightbird by Alice Hoffman is one of those books that stays with you for a long time.  It is a middle grade reader that I feel any grown up would love.  I read it in one day and loved it.  Usually I recommend a book knowing that it will appeal to a certain audience.  I generally need to like the book but even if I don't I usually know it will fill a need for a certain reader.  This is not the case here.  This is a book I wish had never ended...a story that is timeless.

I have always read Alice Hoffman books.  Her last few grown up novels I have loved....I am actually reading her most recent novel The Marriage of Opposites as I write this.  Beyond that I have loved her YA titles too....the best being Green Angel a book that I still see vividly in my mind.

I now have a new favorite....today's book Nightbird.  Like I said I read it one afternoon. It is more a middle grade novel than YA but that doesn't matter to me.  I always feel like books don't really have an age range.  Middle grade, YA or adult as long as I am reading a good story it doesn't matter.  That is how I felt when I read Nightbird.  From the first moment I started reading I  was drawn into the world of the main character "Twig"....she sort of reminded me of myself at her age.  I loved to read and kept mostly to myself.  This was a book I would have devoured when I  was young.  Alice Hoffman has written a book that feels like it could have taken place at any time. It doesn't pinpoint an era so the reader has the freedom to see just the characters and the moment of the story not the when of the story.  It really took be back to being a twelve year old reading in the backyard on a summers day.

I love how Alice Hoffman injects magic in her stories.  It is such a subtle magic that we can almost feel like it is real.  The world she has created here is warm and inviting a world I didn't want to leave. I realize I haven't given a description of what it is about and there is a reason for that.  This book is all about emotion and feelings.  The joy I felt when reading it....but as I have said before I am not a reviewer....I recommend books that should be read.  I don't want to give a review that tells you the story because the reader should find that out for themselves.  I am just here to say that it should be read....especially if you love a good mystery with a bit of fantasy thrown in....a story with great characters that will stay with you forever.  I literally cried when it was over because it so reminded me of how books made me feel when I was young....to go back to that time even for a moment was a joy.

Friday, October 9, 2015

FLUTTER AND HUM / ALETEO Y ZUMBIDO Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis

My busy season has officially begun.  Which means late nights for a morning person.  I have been trying to recommend a book each week so as to keep up with my blog. But it has been challenging.   I was so excited to learn that I have been accepted as a judge in Poetry for the second round of CYBILS.  Because of this I thought I would recommend today a beautiful Poetry book about animals. 


Flutter and Hum/ Aleteo Y Zumbido: Animal Poems/ Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis caught my eye because of it's striking cover.  I don't speak Spanish but I was intrigued by the design of the book. As I started reading I realized how Ms Paschkis had seamlessly combined words and pictures. I love how the illustrations have words intermingled to further clarify the poems. It is this mingling of words and pictures that made me truly love this book. This is the kind of book that is perfect for the classroom.  I could see each spread being made into a poster for display. The fact that each poem is also in Spanish is an added bonus.  It is not necessary for someone to read Spanish and it is also not necessary for someone to read English in order to enjoy this beautiful book. 
  It is a perfect gift for not just bilingual families to read together at bedtime or anytime.  Most children I know love animals and this book makes a great introduction to the animal world.  The poems are whimsical and soothing at the same time.  A beautiful edition to any child's or classroom library.