Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flashback Tuesday: Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

It was a sad day when I heard that one of my favorite author's had died.  Diana Wynne Jones wrote one of my favorite fantasy novels.

Dark Lord of Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones plays on the themes I like best.   It is like a fractured fairy tale only it is a "fractured" fantasy novel.   What I loved about it was the way she wrote a satire of fantasy books without insulting the genre.   I loved the characters and the warmth that penetrated the story.  She was a master storyteller whose writing was filled with rich images and unforgettable characters.  This is the kind of book that is not just for children but for grownups as well.  A truly must have for any fantasy fan.    Diana Wynne Jones brought true magic to the world with her stories....she will be missed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reference Sunday: Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F Yezerski

I am a proud New Jersyan!  I know that sometimes we are stereotyped and given a bad rap ~ but we are not all like what is seen on TV.   I usually try not to write about local stories but sometimes a local story can be good for the global environment.   

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story
Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F Yezerski is the kind of local or regional book that has a universal appeal.    Through the years I have seen personally how the wetlands in the Meadowlands has been built up.   I was always amazed how  swamp land could be used to build on.   As a child I was afraid  if people walked in it they would sink and never be seen again.   As I grew older I felt bad that this was how the world perceived my state and thought that New Jersey was just one big swamp.  New Jersey has beautiful parts to it too, I can attest to that.   Finding this book has given me hope that someday this portion of my state will someday reclaim the beauty that it once was.   I appreciate  Mr Yezerski's efforts in explaining the history of this area from it's beginnings to now.   I not only love the historical detail but the beautiful illustrations as well.   It makes me proud that someone realizes that this place, a place most people write off,  is still important and alive.   This book is not just for New Jersyans but for anyone who loves the environment and wants to do something to preserve it.   While this is a picture book for children ages 5-8 years old I truly believe older children and adults can learn something valuable in reading it.   A must have title I truly recommend.   

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire ~ March 25th, 1911

One hundred years ago today The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had a fire so devastating that it changed history.   It amazes me how this one event is still relevant  today.   For weeks now labor unions and the rights of workers has been all over the news.   It was because of this fire that there was a call to arms for workers rights and safety.   My sister reminded me that our Mother, who was not yet born when this event occurred, was taught about it in school.   It was taught to her like 9/11 is taught today.   Here are some books that are helpful in explaining this significant moment in history.

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its LegacyThe Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (Graphic Library, Disasters in History)Fire at the Triangle Factory (Carolrhoda on My Own Book.)

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy by Al Marrin and published by Knopf books for Young Readers.   This is the newest book on this subject.  Very good for older children.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (Graphic Library, Disasters in History) by Jessica Gunderson and published by Capstone Press.  This is in graphic novel form.  Perfect for the child who finds it easier to read this way.

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield and illustrated by Mary O'Keefe Young, published by Carolrhoda Books.  This is a good book for younger readers.   It is a fictionalized account of this terrible day.

These are only a few titles that are available on this historical event.  They are a good starting point for a child to learn about this time in history.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flashback Tuesday: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Over the weekend I had a nice discussion with my nephew about the book he was reading in school.   It brought back nice memories for me.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (rpkg)
I read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi as an adult when I was working in the bookstore.      I so wished it had been around when I was young as it was the kind of book I would have enjoyed.  It has just the right mix of history and adventure that I loved.  I have always admired Avi for the way he has of taking an unknown piece of history and making it come alive.   He writes such courageous and human characters, they are real.   I know most kids will probably read this in school but just in case they don't or they need to read a particular author I would highly recommend this as it has something for everyone.   Even though the main character is a girl I know boys will like it too....thanks Michael for reminding me of a wonderful book.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reference Sunday: 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System

Growing up the only thing I remembered about the planets was the sentence we were taught to remember them.   It went something like this: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles ---Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.   Then a few years ago I remember feeling bad because "Pluto" was no longer considered a planet, which totally made my sentence obsolete.   In doing some research  for information about last night's "supermoon"  I came across this book from National Geographic about 13 Planets which intrigued me because I couldn't understand how we went from 8 planets to 13 in a short amount of time.   Luckily this book is a great way to explain to kids how this happened.

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System (National Geographic Kids)

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar and published by National Geographic kids was just published this month.   It explains how Pluto came back into the planetary fold and how there are a few more just like it.   It groups the planets into different types and explains the history of their names and where they are located.   It also talks about the sun, astroid belts and the moons of each planet.   I found it really interesting and well written.   It doesn't talk down to a child (or a grown up who is science handicapped).  It is written for an older child ages 9-12 but I think younger kids can certainly learn from it too.   A great book to get ---- before the Astronomy community changes their mind again.    

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

I do not come from an Irish American family....our roots come from Italy but that never stopped my Mother from celebrating St Patrick's Day in a somewhat traditional way.   She always said that St Patrick  was a great Saint and should be celebrated.  Every year she would watch the St Patrick's Day parade, where green and make Irish Soda Bread.  I only remember her making corned beef and cabbage a few times....my Dad was not fond of it....but we would always have the soda bread.  So for my Mom and for the day I am wearing green while the Irish Soda Bread bakes in the oven.

Here are some of my favorite St Patrick's Day books -----

St. Patrick's DayJamie O'Rourke and the Big PotatoTim O'Toole and the Wee Folk (Picture Puffins)The Luckiest St. Patrick's Day Ever

Tim O' Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott---a great read aloud.

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie dePaola----another fun "Irish" story.

The Luckiest St Patrick's Day Ever by Teddy Slater and illustrated by Ethan Long----cute little leprechaun book.

St Patrick's Day by Gail Gibbons---the best book to explain this holiday to children...keeps it simple.

Just a few ideas to help celebrate --- Erin Go Bragh!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flashback Tuesday: Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino

Today is my father's birthday.   I always remembered the date because it is the "Ides of March"... of course I never knew what that meant until I read Julius Caesar in school.  I know so many people say this but in my case it is so true....my Dad was the best Dad in the world.   He was....really.   He was kind and understanding but never failed to teach us to do the right thing.   We always knew where we stood with him and that more than anything he loved us.    He taught me that no matter what I did he would support me even if he didn't agree with me.   He only wanted what was best for his children.

Every Friday

Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino reminds me of my Dad.   I was reminded of the book last week when I wrote about Mr Yaccarino's new book All the Way to America.  Just looking at the cover for Every Friday evokes strong memories of going to work with my Dad.   He dressed just like the father on the cover---right down to the hat.   His briefcase was not really a briefcase but an art bag.   But the idea is the same.   I loved to go to my Dad's studio, he was a commercial artist and did photographic retouching (think photoshop by hand).   I loved to sit at his desk and play with paints and  watch the other artists ply their trade.   I learned about mechanicals and story boards which always amazed me.   The best part was going to lunch.   We would go to the diner across the street (just like in the book) and have tuna sandwiches and milkshakes although he would have coffee.   This sweet book of a father and son doing a similar ritual evokes such wonderful memories.   Even though it is not exactly my story it is a wonderful story to read with your child and maybe help you start your own traditions with them.

I miss my Dad every day but know that he would be happy knowing the little things he did for me still mean alot.   Happy Birthday Daddy...I love you!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reference Sunday: Japan

The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been on my mind all weekend.   The images are striking and mesmerizing at the same time. If the images are disturbing to adults than I am sure they are disturbing for children.   The fact that this event has literally touched American shores has probably doubled a child's concern.   I have written about earthquakes and tsunamis in the past so I thought I would recommend books about Japan----a vibrant and beautiful country.

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and MoreLook What Came from JapanI Live in TokyoK is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet (Discover the World)National Geographic Countries of the World: Japan

K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet by Gloria Whelan & Jennifer Nolan with illustrations by Oki Han for ages 4-8.

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts & More by Willamarie Moore with illustrations by Kazumi Wilds for ages 9-12.

I Live In Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi a picture book for ages 4-8.

Look What Came From Japan by Mile Harvey for ages 4-8.

National Geographic Countries of the World: Japan by Charles Phillips for ages 9-12

These are just a few books that I thought would interest children.    I liked them because they each offer something different in the way Japan is described for children.   There is something for everyone.   I hope that by reading these books a child might gain an understanding of a world outside their own.   My thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people during this difficult and trying time.