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'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 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.   

Sunday, September 27, 2015

You're Here for a Reason written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman

This week the United States hosted a visit from the Pope.  His message was clear to me--kindness to all and that everyone has a responsibility in this world.  Then I came across Nancy Tillman's new picture book which beautifully illustrates his message.

You're Here for a Reason by Nancy Tillman grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover.  Then I read it and realized it is perfect book for everyone to read to reaffirm our reason for being.  It teaches the youngest among us that they are special and important with out being preachy. There is nothing worse than a book that is wordy and preachy....

I love the illustrations they are soft and soothing. I also love the global feeling it presents---dare I say "diverse".

Besides being a great read aloud book for either bedtime or story time---in a classroom or bedroom....this book also makes a perfect gift. I would give this to a child starting school or even a grown up starting a new is meant to inspire and reassure that all are important.  To that end it would be a wonderful graduation gift too.

In this world where there are so many people being bullied and abused this book reminds us that we can rise up from our circumstances because everyone is "Here for a Reason".....beautifully done!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano is a wonderful new book for children ages 8-12.  Although it would be a great book for anyone over the age of 12 who loves a good mystery/ghost story.

 I love this book. I loved it from the first paragraph.  This is the kind of book I would have loved when I was young.   The main character Pram is the kind of girl I would have wanted to be friends with when I was little.

Lauren DeStefano has woven a tale that is a spellbinding page turner.  It may be a little dark for some but that is all part of it's charm.  It has an instant classic feel about it, a must have new book for those who love magic, ghosts and mystery!

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Am Yoga by Susan Verde illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

I have officially only taken one Yoga class in my life. That being said I have done Yoga in my living room via my cable provider.  Which means that even if I am not doing the poses correctly I am hoping I am getting something out of them.

Years ago when I was a Children's Book Buyer I was presented with a book project that dealt with Yoga for children.  It was more than just a book but a program that had a non-book/video component.  Needless to say I thought it was interesting but from what I can recall it never got off the ground.  I think they were too ambitious in all that they wanted to do.

Fast forward to now and I find this very soothing book for children.

I Am Yoga written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds is a  new book that combines simple Yoga poses with sweet calming words that encourages a child's creativity.  The text as written by Ms Verde, a certified Yoga instructor, is lyrical and soothing which combined with Mr Reynolds illustrations makes a wonderful book to be read again and again.  I think this is a great book for story time as it can be very interactive.  I can even envision it being read during a preschool or kindergarten gym class --- wouldn't that be great , books helping to encourage movement. This is a perfect introduction of Yoga for children.  The added bonus is the Author's note in the back of the book which also has brief descriptions of the poses used in the book.