Showing posts with label _Kathleen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label _Kathleen. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lonely Existence of Asteroids and Comets

It’s a big universe out there, and information about it can be overwhelming. Teacher and author Mark Weakland helps to make sense of the nature of asteroids and comets in this graphic novel-style book from the “Graphic Library Adventures in Science” series by Capstone Press.   Text boxes chock full of information on these objects from space are framed and complemented by cosmic cartoon panels by artist Carlos Aón.   Different aspects of nature of comets and asteroids are covered, including what they are, what they are made of, their impact on the solar system, and earth (and dinosaurs) in particular, what people in earlier civilizations thought about them, and what and how scientists have found out about them.  The author also raises questions about the future of space observation and exploration for readers to ponder.  The information is organized into chapters, making it even easier for readers to take in.

Recommended for Grades 3-6

 The Lonely Existence of Asteroids and Comets by Mark Weakland (2012)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"French on the Move for Kids" & "Hear-Say French" Downloadable Audiobooks


Are you looking for games to play and music to listen to while on a car trip this summer?  Or perhaps you want a new project while waiting for school to start again?  OR are you a “Fancy Nancy” fan who longs to add some new words to your vocabulaire extraordinaire  Français?

Try these audiobooks, available on the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium’s Overdrive Digital Downloads Collection, which can be found through the InfoSoup online catalog.  “French on the Move for Kids,” developed by Catherine Bruzzone, features fun and catchy songs, both original and traditional, that teach basic but relevant words on topics such as numbers, colors, family, holidays, school, animals, weather, and food (“The Pizza Song” is one of my favorites). Before each song, the narrator asks a question that the listener may answer by listening carefully to the lyrics.  The answer is revealed when the song is over. There are also a number of games throughout that help kids develop vocabulary, basic grammar and conversation skills.  In addition to the vocabulary, listeners hear the pronunciation of several typical French names.  Much of the program is spoken and sung by people with real French accents.  Only 50 minutes long, it’s easy to listen to a little or a lot at one time, process, practice, and build basic skills without being either overwhelmed or bored.  Available in Windows Media Audio format, it is down and up-loadable on windows media and ipod devices, and can be burnt to a CD for further use.  There is a “Spanish on the Move for Kids,” as well as an “On the Move” series for older listeners.
 Another audiobook, “Hear-Say French,” by Donald S. Rivera, is a dictionary with a twist!  It features the pronunciation of French words that symbolize everyday objects and actions, preceded by the sounds they make--animals, appliances, vehicles, people, etc.  Kids hear the familiar sound, then the word for the thing making it.  The narrator, with a real French accent, says each word twice, encouraging practiceIt’s a good way for kids to build vocabulary on the go.  Available on both MP3 and Windows Media Audio, It is down and up-loadable on a wide variety of compatible computer and device formats, and can be burnt on a CD for further use.  A companion e-booklet chock full of comic-style illustrations can be checked out and downloaded as well, and is compatible on many computers and e-readers.  Kids may find it helpful in identifying the things making the sounds on the audio.  There are more “Hear-Say” audio dictionaries in the series, including German, English, Italian and Spanish!
  These are just two of many world language resources, in a variety of formats, accessible through the public library!  C’est chouette! It's great!

“French on the Move for Kids” is recommended for ages 3-8, though others may enjoy a whimsical way to learn the basics.

“Hear-Say French” is recommended for ages 5 and up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bake Sale

Cupcake’s life is full: he runs a bakery, plays drums in a band, and enjoys city living with his best friend, Eggplant.  Even so, Cupcake is in a bit of a creative slump, and he longs for—well, something more.  Meanwhile, Eggplant is invited to visit Aunt Aubergine in Turkey, who happens to work with baking celebrity Turkish Delight.  Eggplant wants Cupcake to come along. How can Cupcake raise the money to travel to Turkey and meet his idol?  With a bake sale, of course!  The two friends devise a plan to make their dream a reality.  But life is full of twists and turns, leaving Cupcake to decide what matters most in it all.
 Cupcake’s little adventures are set in a city inhabited by food items; readers need to suspend their belief enough to imagine a cupcake who bakes cupcakes, sells carrot cake to a tomato, afterwards is served French fries by a carrot at a diner, and has an eggplant for a best friend; but if they do (and most readers will), the story is a “piece of cake!”  Pun intended!
This quirky but sweet graphic novel is chock full of charming details: the workings of a busy bakery business, big city landmarks, as well as tips and instructions for things like sugared flowers.  A note to aspiring bakers: in back of the book is “Cupcake’s Repertoire,” recipes of several of the treats that are featured in the story.   Of the 5 recipes I tried and shared with the Children’s staff, all were hits, especially the peppermint brownies!  Throughout the story and the recipe section, artist Sara Varon contrasts whimsical characters with the detailed urban settings, all with cheery pastel colors that are good enough to eat.  I would hold out for the brownies, though!

Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

Bake Sale, by SaraVaron (2011)

Monday, July 16, 2012

It’s Time to Sleep, It’s Time to Dream

Children will delight in this predictable yet enjoyable picture book, where mother and child cuddle for an adventure in dreamland.  Adler’s use of the phrase, “It’s Time to Sleep, It’s Time to Dream,” will delight the youngest of toddlers with its repetition throughout the story.  It’s Time to Sleep, It’s Time to Dream provides parents and caregivers the opportunity to work on vocabulary and labeling skills while the dream-like illustrations cast an illuminating glow over this lullaby of a book.

Ages 2-5

It’s Time to Sleep, It’s Time to Dream, by David Adler (2009)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Giggling and Laughing: Silly Songs for Kids

Everyone will find something to giggle about with this great CD, one of many produced in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the“Music for Little People” Company.  From great action songs like Raffi’s “Shake Your Sillies Out,” and “Everyone Loves to Dance” by Aaron Nigel Smith; funny story songs like “I’m My Own Grandpa,” sung by the late great Chet Atkins, and “My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver” by comedian Cheech Marin; new treatments of old favorites such as Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti,” sung by the Persuasions; and other great tracks by Buckwheat Zydeco, Taj Mahal and Linda Tillery, Maria Muldaur, Dan Zanes, and the Music for Little People Players.  Music and laughter go together well--check this out and hear for yourself!

Fun for all ages, especially 3-8.

Giggling and Laughing: Silly Songs for Kids, by Music for Little People (2010)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Where’s My Mummy?

Little Baby Mummy seems to have lost Big Mama Mummy in a game of “hide and shriek.”  But he isn’t afraid of the creepy creatures he encounters on his search for Big Mama Mummy, until he comes across a small rodent that makes him say, “Help, Mama Mummy, I’m Scared!”  Children will revel in Manders’ dark and hilariously detailed illustrations and Crimi’s spectacular use of rhyme and alliteration make this book a spectacular read aloud choice, especially around Halloween.

Ages 3-6

Where’s My Mummy?, by Carolyn Crimi (2008)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hopper and Wilson

One day two best friends, Hopper and Wilson, decide they want to set out on a journey to find the wonderful things that may be at the end of the world.  After grabbing their balloon with the red string and saying goodbye to their cactus who is too little to travel, they sail away from home.  Their smooth sailing soon turns rough with rain drops that bring a giant storm and causes the two animals to get separated.  After some anxious searching they are happily reunited to find the end of the world, which is not far from where they started.  With unadorned but elegant artwork the simplicity of the pictures help to captivate the beautiful messages of friendship and home.

This cute book of friendship is recommended for ages 3-6.

Hopper and Wilson, by Maria Van Lieshout (2011)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Otis and the Tornado

Author/artist Loren Long’s sweet and spunky little tractor, Otis, is back for another adventure—and what an adventure it is!   Otis spends many a summer day playing “Follow the Leader” with all the farm animals—all, that is, but the big, ornery bull that snorts and charges at anyone who comes near.  One day, the sky suddenly turns stormy, dark, and green, and the farm-folk scramble for shelter, with no time to tend to the animals.  The reason: a tornado is coming!  Otis springs into action with a clever idea to help his animal friends, as the twister bears down.  Can he save them all?

This book literally has a silver lining, to match the return of sunny skies at the story’s end.  Although some children might be frightened by the images of a tornado and its wake, there will be others who will be fascinated by the theme; it may even serve as a comfort to children coping with a fear of severe weather.  Many will find the storm illustrations in murky gray, green and brown just scary enough, balanced by the warm, red coziness of Otis.

Recommended for ages 3-8.

Otis and the Tornado, by Loren Long (2011)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

Not many of us are familiar with creatures known as naked mole rats, but there are three important things we should know.  They are a little rat, a little mole, and a whole lot of naked- all except Wilbur that is.  Wilbur’s love of clothing has set him apart from the other mole rats until wise Grand-pah mole rat thinks about the situation.  This wonderfully illustrated book captures the essence of Willems' humor while giving children the opportunity to question why it is we do what we do. 

Ages 4-8

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, by Mo Willems (2009)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Little Owl Lost

Uh-oh! Little Owl has fallen from the nest and cannot find Mommy! With the help of a dizzy but well-meaning squirrel, Little Owl sees many animals with some of the same traits as Mommy Owl, but that are definitely not her. Whooo--I mean, who-- knows where she is? Originally published in Europe with the title A Bit Lost, this book features gentle humor, charming animal characters and simple landscapes in bright colors with contrasting earth tones. It's great for reading aloud, with enough of a pattern to make it good for beginning readers as well. It’s been storytime-tested and approved, and has become a favorite with some folks!

Great for ages 3-7.

Little Owl Lost, by Chris Haughton (2010) 

This review is dedicated to Maisie.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Tommy is not one of the cool kids in his school, but of all of his classmates, the weirdest has to be Dwight. When Dwight comes to school with a folded paper finger puppet resembling Yoda from “Star Wars,” it’s strange enough; but when he starts giving his classmates advice, tidbits of insight and wisdom--or correctly predicts happenings like pop quizzes--in screechy Yoda-speak, while holding the origami puppet, Tommy takes notice. Does Origami Yoda have mystical powers, or is he just a “paper wad” as his friend Harvey says? Is Dwight not as dorky as he appears to be? As Tommy watches kids come to Dwight/Origami Yoda with their questions and problems, he has his own to ponder: does the girl he likes like him back? He’s afraid to find out on his own, but can he trust Origami Yoda to guide him? To help him decide, he collects accounts from friends and classmates of their experience with Origami Yoda’s “powers,” and puts them in a “casebook”, complete with comments from himself and his friends and plenty of doodle-type illustrations. It’s “Wimpy Kid” meets “Star Wars!” Can it get better than that? Yes, it can! Included are instructions for folding a simple version of Origami Yoda. (I made my own, as you can see!) With that, plus the more complex paper Yoda pictured on the cover, the kid-friendly fonts and the doodles, it’s sure to attract younger readers. But middle graders will better understand the humor and references in the plot, and relate to the situations Tommy and his classmates describe in their encounters with Origami Yoda, their teachers, and each other. For fans of the book, there is a sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back. This review is dedicated to Ronan.

4th to 6th Graders: Try it!

No…Read. Or read not. There is no “try.”

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger (2010)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Every Thing On It (Shel Silverstein)

Although beloved poet and artist Shel Silverstein passed away in 1999, his spirit is alive in this most recent and never-previously published collection of poems and drawings. It’s a wonderful companion to his other works--including the groundbreaking Where the Sidewalk Ends--but it stands on its own in quality. Every Thing On It has everything in it: long poems and short; funny, silly, sweet, macabre, fantastical, ironic, wistful, thought-provoking and slightly naughty ones too, accompanied by well-placed drawings that often provide the punch line for the humorous set-up in a poem. The pieces were carefully selected by the prolific poet’s family, based on how good they sounded when read aloud, as well as how they complemented each other. There are a variety of themes, including thoughts about the writing process, social commentary, wordplay, alphabet play, as well as several invitations for readers to be creative. The very first poem, “Years from Now” is an invitation to read and enjoy: “Although I cannot see your face/As you flip these poems awhile/Somewhere in some far-off place/I hear you laughing—and I smile.” The title and cover illustration comes from another poem early in the book, about a kid who makes the mistake of ordering a hot dog with “everything on it.” There’s a parrot, a bee in a bonnet, a wristwatch, a wrench, and more! Other poems feature dirty feet, a man-eating plant, and sneaky letter snake, and a car with legs! Have you been to a spelling bee? What about a yelling bee? Heard of a police department? How about the "please" department? Meet the Rhymey Bird, Transparent Tim, Little Seth with Garlic Breath, Rude Rudy Reese, Burpin’ Ben, and a genie who’s a meanie, too! April is Poetry Month; enjoy it with Every Thing On It!

There’s something in it for any age, but kids ages 8 and up will be old enough to better enjoy the book as a whole. 

Every Thing on It: Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein (2011)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Two Alike

With rhyming text and whimsical but natural landscapes featuring two cheery, bright red birds, this beautiful picture book by the author/artist is a celebration of both the winter season and the idea of individuality: while there are distinct similarities among various things in nature--snowflakes, leaves, animals and plants of the same species, even people—no two are exactly alike. Observant children will be able to point out the subtle differences in the birds as they flit through the pages with their antics.

Great for ages 3-7, or anyone who would be inspired by the book’s message.

No Two Alike, by Keith Baker (2011)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Lincolns: a Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary

In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birth month, as well as the 150th anniversary of the 2nd year of the American Civil War, a good book to know about is The Lincolns: a Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming. The scrapbook format is inviting, and allows readers to take in a little or a lot, in chronological order or here and there, with satisfaction. The book is a window into the lives of some of the most famous and important people in American history, so readers can see their human side as well as the reasons they had such an impact on the course of the country. Newspaper clippings, photos, cartoons, notes (including those in Lincoln's hand) and text depict the personal lives of the Lincoln Family and the tumultuous time in history in which they lived. I also enjoyed reading of the connection the author has with her subject. Included in the “scraps” is Mary Lincoln’s recipe for Abe’s favorite cake--it’s delicious! For anyone celebrating Lincoln’s life this month--even if you don’t make the cake--take a look at the book!

Recommended for students Grades 5 and up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Perfect Square

This picture book surely lives up to its name. Not only is its story about a square, it is square! The book's shape is just one of many creative details that make this book so delightful. And it is just about perfect, too, with a clever but simple story, a good message, and colorful, playful, beautiful illustrations by artist and author Michael Hall. A perfect square is happy being just that, square and perfect. But when it is suddenly cut, torn, and otherwise changed, the square finds new happiness in adapting to each of the changes and transforming into other beautiful, more complex shapes.

Its gentle adventure would make it good for reading to preschoolers and up; its imaginative illustrations, and message of adaptation to change, would make it ideal for use in an art class, book discussion, or for inspirational reading for all ages. While an original work, it is in the same spirit as the works of Eric Carle, Leo Lionni and Lois Ehlert. Another wonderful, visually stunning book by Michael Hall is My Heart is Like a Zoo.

Perfect Square, by Michael Hall (2011).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Life as a 5th grader is tough enough for Logan, due in part to his own tendency to dream up stories as excuses for sometimes acting irresponsibly -- and the trouble that brings. But now, Logan’s grandfather has come to stay with the family, and his forgetfulness and strange behavior is not only embarrassing, it has gotten Logan in even more trouble. To make matter worse, not only has Logan had to give up his bedroom to Grandpa, he’s had to postpone his dream of getting a dog as well. He tries to keep his grandfather a secret, even to his best friend, Malik, who, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. When Logan tangles with Emily, a new girl in school, Emily is bound and determined to get revenge on Logan, and to discover what’s inside Malik’s backpack. What’s worse is that Logan’s parents and teacher are blaming Logan for the mishaps that occur whenever Emily or Grandpa is around. When Emily finds out something that may make Logan the fool of the school, she threatens to tell everyone unless Logan helps her find out Malik’s secret. Logan is torn between the prospect of being laughed at by his classmates and of ratting out his best friend. He can’t help but wonder: is he really the “Ratfink” that Emily says he is? As Logan struggles with his dilemma, Grandfather, in his lucid moments, proves to be a clever and creative confidant; as Grandpa struggles with his memory loss, Logan comes to his aid, and the two form a bond. Both Logan’s and his grandpa’s troubles go from bad to worse so often that it it almost seems too much; but luckily the story is balanced by lighter moments, well-rounded characters and a few plot twists for the better. The author treats the subject of old age and dementia of a family member with sensitivity, humor, and understanding. 

Grade school kids will identify with Logan's problems, especially 5th Graders, or those children whose families are dealing with the decline of an elderly loved one.

Ratfink, by Marcia Thornton Jones (2010).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah

The popular English language lyrics to a traditional Yiddish folksong provide the text for this picture book, illustrated by a talented husband-and-wife artist team. The song is enhanced by the colors, the movement, and the joy on the faces of a family in full Hanukkah celebration: decorating, dancing, eating, playing, exchanging presents, honoring the holiday. Everyone joins in the fun, including the dog! The book begins with the musical notation of the folksong; it ends with an author’s note on its history. 

This is a nice introduction for young singers and listeners, especially preschoolers.

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov (2011).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Not Santa

In a red stocking cap, Baby Owl is playing with his sled in the snowy woods. Baby Hare comes along, sees him, and mistakes him for Santa Claus. Baby Owl tries to convince Baby Hare that he isn’t Santa, but Baby Hare doesn’t believe it and starts crying. Baby Owl does his best to calm Baby Hare down, but things go from bad to worse. Who can save the day?

This sweet and funny story, with pictures to match, will make a nice, short family read-aloud for the Christmas season, especially for ages 4-8.

I'm Not Santa, by Jonathan Allen (2009).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My First Kwanzaa

One of the “My First” holiday series by popular author/artist Karen Katz, this picture book is told in the first person by a perky, round-faced little girl as she describes the many ways her family, friends and neighbors celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa. The book is divided in seven sections, with a Swahili word or phrase for each of the principles that give meaning to the celebration, along with a pronunciation guide, and clear, simple descriptions of the activities. Brilliantly-colored folk art illustrations and borders add to the liveliness of the family’s festivities. 

The book includes an author's note on the history of Kwanzaa, and makes a great introduction to the holiday, especially for ages 3-8.

My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz (2003).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Christmas Tree for Pyn

Oother is a big, gruff, widowed mountain man who lives with his small, gentle, pigtailed daughter, Pyn. While he loves Pyn, Oother is not the kind to soften for anyone; when Pyn calls him “Papa,” he responds with a grunt, “My name is Oother.” Patient, uncomplaining Pyn cooks and keeps house while Oother works all day in the woods. As Christmas draws near, Pyn longs for a tree to decorate, to help bring cheer into their humble cottage. When Pyn asks, Oother’s immediate grunt of an answer is, “No Christmas Tree.” But Pyn does not give up, and finally sets off alone in the snow to find the perfect tree.

Popular author and artist Olivier Dunrea uses his distinctive, clean lines and intricate shadings to illustrate this sweet (not sappy) story.  This would make a great holiday bedtime story, especially for ages 5-8.

A Christmas Tree for Pyn, by Olivier Dunrea (2011).