Friday, October 17, 2014

Extra Yarn

written by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen

Ages: birth – 8 years (approximately grades preschool – 2nd)

In a drab little town filled with while snow and black soot, Annabelle finds a box of yarn in every color. She takes to the task of knitting a sweater, first for herself and her dog, to find that the box was still filled with the extraordinarily colorful yarn. She then busies herself knitting for her naysayers, her classmates and teacher, her parents and neighbors, and eventually covers the entire town (yes, animals, trucks, and buildings, too) with knitted sweaters. And still her box remains full. This amazing feat draws the masses to shake Annabelle’s hand, including a mustachioed archduke who makes Annabelle an offer she can’t refuse for her magical yarn box. Except that she does refuse, and the Duke deigns to steal the box and sail with it to his faraway kingdom. Upon opening the box and finding it empty, the archduke angrily tosses the box out of his castle’s window and curses Annabelle. As if to spite the greedy archduke, the box almost magically returns to Annabelle, and who lives (and knits) happily ever after.

Jon Klassen’s Caldecott Honor illustrations are true to his simplistic, cut-out style. Both the drab hues of the town and the colorful splashes of yarn are perfectly attuned to the story’s quite simple narrative, and often times seem to tell a story in and of themselves. Paired with Mac Barnett’s words, a true deviation from his usual plotlines, makes this a truly winning title. Those who enjoyed the simplicity of Pom and Pim or the whimsy of Sparky! will enjoy this Caldecott Honor title.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Zane and the Hurricane

by Rodman Philbrick

Ages: 9 years and up (approximately grades 3+)

Zane Dupree is going to New Orleans to meet his long lost great-grandmother, Miss Trissy, the only family connection he’s got to his deceased father. Begrudgingly, Zane and his dog, Bandy, leave the familiarity of their New Hampshire home for the Crescent City. Just as Zane is settling into his visit, disaster strikes. The impending arrival of Hurricane Katrina forces Zane and Miss Trissy to evacuate New Orleans. As they are leaving the city, Bandy runs away and Zane chases after him. All alone and trapped by rising water, they are rescued by Mr. Tru, an aging jazz musician, and his young charge, Malvina. They hope to get to Algiers, a parish to the south where Tru has a relative that can provide help. Together, the trio embarks on an arduous journey filled with dangers in both natural and human form.

This is a realistic yet accessible story about Hurricane Katrina. It does not shy away from the harsher aspects of the disaster such as the racial tension, violence and atmosphere of despair that existed. However, it also shows that through adversity, we can discover new things about ourselves and what we are capable of. This experience changes Zane as he and his companions encounter both the highs and lows of humanity. The quick pacing keeps the action rolling and readers engaged with Zane’s dilemma. This title is a worthy read for the unique perspective it offers on a significant American disaster. Pair it with Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ninth Ward for another take on Hurricane Katrina

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons

by Jon J. Muth

Ages: 0-12 years (approximately grades preschool – 5th)

Koo, a curious panda bear, takes a trip through the seasons and the alphabet in modified haiku. Starting in fall and easily transitioning through the remaining seasons, Jon J. Muth's illustrations and poems find Koo in interesting (but sometimes expected) circumstances as he eats warm cookies in fall, stomps through snow in winter, explores a rainy terrain with flashlights in spring, and draws wonderful chalk art in summer. Although each of the 26 haiku accompanies a picture, the book as a whole doesn't necessarily contain a plot. The seasons (and beautiful watercolor illustrations) are what drive the story forward in a gentle, playful way. Each modified haiku contains a capitalized letter of the alphabet, starting at A and ending in Z, giving an added depth to the motion of the story. Readers can easily separate each picture and poem from each other for an introduction to haiku or the alphabet, or can look at the book as a whole (including the clever play on words for a title!) for more advanced reading. This story is best suited for children who enjoy poetry, the changes in seasons, or enjoyed Firefly July or the collected works of Jon Muth.

Find Hi, Koo! in our catalog.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate

Ages: 9 – 12 years (approximately grades 3 – 7)

Ivan is based on a real great silverback gorilla. He lives at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He spends his days trying to understand humans and their constant use of words, watching television shows with his dog friend, Bob, talking to his elephant friend, Stella, and drawing with his human friend, Julia. He has food to eat and his domain to sleep in. He is content.

Or is he? When a new animal, Ruby, a baby elephant, comes to the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, everything Ivan thinks he knows is thrown upside down. Hearing about Ruby’s former life with her family before being captured to perform tricks at a cruel road circus reminds Ivan of his own life in the jungle with his family. Reminiscing about the simpler, freer times in the wild, Ivan finally understands how truly trapped he and his friends are. He promises Stella, upon her untimely passing, that he will take care of Ruby and decides that if they are doomed to live a life out of the wild, away from their families, Ivan is convinced it should not be under the Big Top, but in the best place for animals in human captivity: the zoo.

Will Ivan’s daring attempt to free himself and his captive friends from the failing Big Top Mall and Video Arcade succeed, or will he, Ruby, and the others be doomed to a fate of circus frivolity?

This winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a 2015 Rebecca Caudill Nominee, The One and Only Ivan is an entrancing tale of friendship, bravery, and overcoming contentedness that fans of Because of Winn Dixie or Zoobreak, or gorilla and zoo enthusiasts will enjoy

Find The One and Only Ivan in our catalog.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gaston

by Kelly DiPucchio

Ages: 0 – 6 years (approximately grades preschool – K)

Gaston lives with his three siblings, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La with their mother, Mrs. Poodle. As Mrs. Poodle’s puppies grow, they learn all the nuances of being as polite and poodle-like as possible. Gaston, though he tries, never manages to quite fit the mold. As hard as he practiced his manners, he still slobbers when he should sip, he “RUFF”s when he should “Yip!” Despite Mrs. Poodle was very pleased with all of her puppies all the same. On their first public stroll in the park, Mrs. Poodle and her pups come upon Mrs. Bulldog and her children, Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette. Seeing that there has been a horrible mix up (Gaston is a bulldog and Antoinette is a poodle!), the mothers let Gaston and Antoinette decide to trade places so they will fit in better with their new families. As you may have guessed, it seems another terrible mistake was made because “that looked right, it just didn’t feel right.” Upon their final switch, Gaston and Mrs. Poodle, as well as Antoinette and Mrs. Bulldog agree to meet regularly and teach each other their own specialties.

With playful illustrations reminiscent of simple marker or finger paint, Gaston is a bold story about standing out, fitting in, and being yourself. In the end, as Gaston and Antoinette have a family of their very own, the takeaway message is to be yourself, and let your children do the same, because those who matter most will love you anyway. Such a sweet message is not overdone, and the mixed poodle-and-bulldog pups (complete with brown splotched coats and pompadour poofs) articulate it to the non-readers perfectly. Gaston will be a hit for those who love puppies (French Bulldogs and Poodles in particular), those with an independent streak, and those who enjoyed A Ball for Daisy or the illustrations of Jon Klassen.

Find Gaston in our catalog.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

By: Chris Grabenstein

Ages: 8+ (approximately grades 3 and up)

The twelve-year-olds in Alexandriaville, Ohio have lived without a public library their entire lives. This all changes when a mysterious and generous benefactor constructs a brand new, state-of-the-art library in town. To celebrate the library’s grand opening, a contest is held that will allow 12 lucky winners to spend one night in the library. It’s revealed that successful and eccentric game maker Luigi Lemoncello is the genius behind the library and the kids can’t wait to see what’s in store. After a fun night of exploring the library, Kyle Keeley and the 11 other contest winners are stunned to find out that their adventure has just begun. Just like one of Mr. Lemoncello’s famous games, each kid must race to find their way out of the library by finding clues and solving zany puzzles. It will take wit, patience and maybe even teamwork to escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library and claim the life-changing prize.

With equal parts mystery, adventure and humor this fast-paced book is a very fun read. It’s a contemporary version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that highlights characters who are multicultural, relatable and realistic (even smarmy villain Charles Chiltington). Readers will enjoy discovering clues and solving the puzzles along with the characters. There are also plenty of references to literary works that avid readers will get a kick out of spotting. Fans of mysteries, puzzles, libraries and the books The Puzzling World of Winston Breen and The Mysterious Benedict Society should definitely check this one out! Recommended for grades 3 and up.

Find Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library in its many formats in our catalog.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Exclamation Mark

by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Ages: 0 - 9 years (approximately grades preschool – 3)

A special little punctuation isn’t sure where he fits in. In fact, he always finds himself standing out, even when he tries so desperately to fit in. Even when he scrunches and squishes himself down, he never quite feels like part of the group… period. One day, he meets a very interrogative fellow who won’t leave even a moment of silence with all of his questions. Fed up, our punctual hero cries “STOP!” unleashing the very thing he knows he was born to do: stand out! After showing his friends his newfound talent for exclaiming, he goes off to make his mark on the world…

This very fun story explores punctuation in a way that is accessible for all ages. Younger readers will have their first meeting with the different forms of punctuation in a very personable way, while older readers will revel in the oh-so-clever puns and double entendres while the various forms of punctuation interact with each other. Overall, this book is simply about a lost soul finally finding himself, a message that we can all relate to and revel in its importance. Exclamation Mark will enthrall readers who enjoyed Little Red Writing and 123 Versus ABC, as well as those who like a zippy plot with a happy ending.

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