Monday, July 16, 2012


I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO by Lauren Child is the story of Lola  a small and very fussy eater and her brother Charlie who was assigned by their parents to feed Lola.  With colorful collages of photographs and childlike drawings and fun filled text placed in various and sundry areas of the big pages its a real page turner!  After Lola, sitting at the table waiting for her dinner gave her dissertation on what she won't eat,  Charlie proves to be quite the problem solver turning what might have been a major confrontation into a wonderful game.  He gave all the foods new and intriguing names.  Now who could resist "orange twiglets fom Jupiter", "green drops from Greenland, "cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji" or the favorite food of mermaids, "ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea"?  Charlie created the space for Lola to assert herself and, then Lola renamed the tomato just so she could stick to her guns about never not ever eating a tomato.  All ends well.  All children would rather have fun, and can easily be distracted by making the potential confrontation into a game, instead. This book eloquently makes that point, and ensures many more peaceful hours in many households.
Bonnie R
197 of 1001

THE KEEPING QUILT/ by Patricia Polacco

THE KEEPING QUILT by Patricia Polacco is a beautiful story about the author's Jewish family history and precious heirloom.  It was a quilt made of various articles of clothing belonging to family members. "We will make a quilt to help us always remember home," Anna's mother said.  "It will be like having the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night."  And so it was from page to page, the quilt was there for every occasion (special or not) playing an integral part - It served as a tablecloth for Sabbath and and birthday celebrations, the huppa for weddings, a blanket that warmly welcomed newborns and kept children and elderly comfortable, and sometimes a superhero cape or tent.  I loved the art work, and the way the quilt was accented by being the only thing in color.   At every family gathering it was the grandmother's pleasure to tell the story of the Keeping Quilt. 

Traditions are for keeping and whether in a quilt or a photo album or just memories it is a grandmother's pleasure to tell the story.

Bonnie R 
195 of 1001

Holes/ by Louis Sachar

The novel is telling a story of Stanley Yelnats, young man who through his bad luck (family curse) ended up in the correctional facility Camp Green Lake. There is not lake there, it is the place in the middle of the desert where prisoners have to dig 5 by 5 hole each day of their terms. Prisoners are told that digging helps to build character, but Stanley suspects they are looking for something. Holes can boast to have a very unusual plot, with a few twists and unusual plot turns. It is a quick read, and as I started I was never able to put this book down. The author skillfully mixes a modern day setting with 2 other stories from remote past, which are connected with Stanley’s present and his family’s mystery. Stanley’s character is memorable: he develops from a meek guy with low self-esteem to a loyal courageous friend, unlikely hero by all means. Zero, another main character of the book is mysterious and quiet, but the mystery has its purpose: he is connected to Stanley’s family story. Sachar’s novel is humorous, heart-breaking at times, thrilling and very engaging. The author’s writing style is appealing to readers, because it sounds very casual, laid-back. Grades 5-7
194 of 1001
Ksenia R

The new kid on the block/ by Jack Prelutsky

In this zany anthology of poems, Prelutsky covers a whole array of topics: bullies, brotherly love and hate, teachers, friends and strange creatures. The poems are very funny, sometimes with nonsense words and outrageous plots ( the author’s attention is on the situations and objects from life that are familiar to children). Each piece of poetry rhymes, and the author plays with the language quite skillfully, employing alliteration and onomatopoeia for many of the pieces. The layout is very minimalistic: 1 poem per page with blocks of text neatly organized. Illustrations are simple black and white sketches, which catch the “core” or the main theme of every piece of the poetry. I think this book could be perfect for preschooler boys who love disgusting staff, but language is quite challenging at times, so the book is suitable for older children. I would love to read more of Prelutsky’s poems: they are very appealing to both children and adults, and I think this anthology is great for development of vocabulary and phonological awareness. Children grades 1-8.
193 of 1001
Ksenia R

Why mosquitoes buzz in people’s years: A West African tale/ by Aardema V.

A folktale from West Africa about a mosquito who tells lies to iguana and how this lies brings a series of unfortunate events to the animal world. But as in most of folk tales, the good defeats the evil, and justice will shine. The reteller did a great job with the story through the use of rich onomatopoeic language. The text is arranged into poetry-like blocks when the repetitive pattern is introduced. This makes it easy for a child to participate in retelling the cumulative story. The artwork was done through using watercolors applied with airbrush in fine spray and spatter technique. Then, cut-out effects were achieved through cutting the shapes out of vellum and frisket masks at several stages. Indeed, very sophisticated techniques which pay off, as readers will be mesmerized with these captivating and soulful illustrations. The illustrator also played with black and white colors to achieve the effect of a day that never came. When the owl refuses to wake up the sun, the text background changes from white to black and remains so until the very last page. The book won Caldecott Medal in 1975 .Ages: preschoolers- 3d graders.
192 OF 1001
Ksenia R

Jumanji/ by Chris von Allsburg

Jumanji is a name of a jungle adventure game that was found by Peter and Judy in the park. One has to read instructions to this game very carefully: once it is started it cannot be finished until players reach the Golden City. As soon the children rolled the dice, their house filled up with rhinos, monkeys, a lost tourist guide, a python and a scary lion. How will they manage to finish the game and clean up by the time mom returns home? This story is a real thriller for children: the plot is very exciting and well-developed with twists and enigma building up with every page.  Grey illustrations help to establish the mood, and the author-illustrator skillfully uses shades and shadows to build the suspense. Even though published in a picture book format, it is more suitable for children who are in the transition to chapter books, because the book has large amounts of text on each page. I noticed how the author skillfully arranges paragraphs: it is easy to follow the story when there are breaks on the page. Overall, Jumanji can be praised for its high-pace, unusual and very memorable plot and great way to introduce children to marvels of Africa. The book is recommended to children in 1-4 grades.

Ksenia R
191 OF 1001

Miss Nelson is missing/ by Harry Allard

The children in room 207 are misbehaving: spitballs and paper planes are everywhere and they are rude even during story hours! Poor miss Nelson cannot cope with them and disappears one day. Now the children from the room 207 have a new substitute teacher: Ms. Viola Swamp! She is strict, she is mean, and she will give so much homework to children from the room 207! Now children from room 207 miss Nelson very much…… This humorous book is a perfect read for preschoolers and up. With the plot worthy of Hitchcock, and with funny quirky illustration filled with clues and sharks, this marvelous story will delight, puzzle and amuse every child who loves to read silly stories-thrillers. The storyline is very creative, and the illustrations made with crayon complement the text perfectly. I loved the description of dailies in school with all the flying airplanes, chewing gum and noise sounded so familiar! The author also uses “speaking” last names such as detective Mc Smogg( who smokes pipes on the pictures) and Viola Swamp( mean and nasty one). I also enjoyed the concept of probability gently introduce when children try to figure out what happened to their beloved teacher (“Maybe Miss Nelson went to Mars” – “but that did not seem likely either”)
Ksenia R
190 of 1001

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?/ by Bill Martin Jr.

This minimalistic book that is perfectly suitable for toddlers presents a variety of colorful animals every page:”Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” “I see a red bird looking at me”. Then a yellow duck, a blue horse and red fish appear on following pages. The rhyming is catchy and memorable, building on repetition and predictability. Large illustrations are centered, and there are no other details distracting the attention of a child. It is a wonderful introduction of colors and names of animals to a young child. The illustrations are presented in the form of colorful collage, in almost na├»ve style, a trademark of Eric Carle. This beautiful book has been around for a long time, with generations of parents and children also enjoying marvelous sequels Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you see? (1991) and Panda Bear Panda Bear, what do you see? (2003).
Ksenia R

189 of 1001

Joyful noise: poems for two voices/ by Paul Fleischman

JOYFUL NOISE : Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman was a fun and quite informative sharing time for me and my grandson, Isaiah.   As we read these fourteen poems together, sometimes in chorus, sometimes speaking alone, and other times echoing each other each became alive.  They were all poems about, of all things, bugs!   In their own words the bugs tell their own stories - stories we found most interesting and entertaining!  We especially liked the Water Spiders and Honeybees and gained a greater understanding and appreciation of all the bugs!
Bonnie R 
188 of 1001

Up in the tree/ Margaret Atwood

UP IN THE TREE  by Margaret Atwood is the story told in the words and simple illustrations of two children who live very happily up in a tree as long as they do not feel "stuck" there.  With a kind slightly Dr. Seuss over all feel and tone, it speaks to how our happiness and contentment is directly related to our sense of freedom.

Bonnie R 
187 of 1001


ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz is a story told in the words of the youngest son who woke up with gum in his hair, tripped on the skateboard on his bedroom floor, dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running and found nothing but breakfast cereal in his breakfast cereal box.  At that point he was thinking he would like to move to Australia.  Things got even worse as the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day went on.  This is a  book that anyone at any age can relate to because...... who has never had one of those days?  And what mother has never said, "Some days are like that."  I, like the author, raised three sons (who slept in bunk beds).  The names are different but the scenarios are so the same!
On the way downstairs the elevator door closed o mu foot and while we were waiting for my mom to to get the car, Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and then when I started crying because of the mud Nick said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Nick for saying crybaby my mom came back and scolded me for being muddy and fighting. 
My youngest never mentioned moving to Australia but he did want to move to Mexico so that he wouldn't be forced to go to school!  But he has learned, there will always be days like that (even in Mexico and Australia) so just eat your lima beans and be thankful.
Bonnie R
186 of 1001

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


THE GREAT ESCAPE FROM CITY ZOO by Tohby Riddle is the hilarious story of what happens when an anteater, an elephant, a turtle, and a flamingo go over the wall of the City Zoo and are able to hide, amazingly blending in quite well, for years of freedom.  Like most of the old TV cartoons, kids will enjoy the simple story, but its probably funnier for adults because of references that appeal to adults but are unknown to most children. (Twenties-era settings, King Kong, Edward Hopper and Abbey Road are some examples) Its my thought though, that kids will be reminded of this story every time they see a flamingo standing in someones front yard.

Bonnie R
185 of 1001


LILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE by Kevin Henkes is a darling book about a very free-spirited little human-like girl mouse who dresses in red cowboy boots for school.  She loved everything about school and most of all, she loved and admired her teacher, Mr Slinger.  "I want to be a teacher when I grow up," said Lilly.  "Excellent choice," said Mr. Slinger.  Then one Monday, after a very successful shopping trip with her Grammy over the weekend little Lilly took her treasures to school.  She wanted to show everyone and in her excitement she misbehaved in school.  Mr. Slinger was not amused and confiscated her glittery glasses, shiny quarters and musical, purple, plastic purse.   Whoa!!    The teacher Lilly once loved became a despicable character in her eyes!  She expressed her anger in an ugly picture of him with very unflattering words and sneaked it into his book bag before she marched out of the classroom in a huff.   Mr. Slinger wrote a note for Lilly, too, and had slipped it inside her purple, plastic purse.   Lilly found his note on her way home and found out that Mr. Slinger was still her hero.  The story has a very happy ending and  lends itself to lots of teaching possibilities on.... uniqueness, admiration, emulation, respect, disobedience creative expression, guilt, repentance, support, apology, restitution, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation .... just to mention a few.  A must read to every school-age child.

Bonnier R
184 of 1001

ONE WOOLLY WOMBAT / by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent

ONE WOOLLY WOMBAT written by Rod Trinca and Kerry Argent and illustrated Kerry Argent is a witty, humorous counting book with lots of zany, colorful pictures featuring native animals of Australia, most dressed up and all acting like silly human, Australian counterparts (except for the eight echidnas eating ants).  Starting with one woolly wombat (sitting in a blue-and-white-striped deck chair and wearing palm tree decorated trunks and yellow sunglasses) sunning by the sea, two cuddly koalas sipping gumnut tea it continues in rhyme and a good time all the way to thirteen hopping mice picking desert pea and fourteen slick seals sailing out to sea.  My favorite page depicts eleven dingoes playing with yo-yos.  I also like the nine hungry goannas (look like alligators) in aprons and chefs hats.  Funny!

Bonnie R

183 of 1001

Anastasia Krupnik/ By Lois Lowry

 Touching novel about Anastasia, just ten, who deals with her first crush, death of her grandmother, and the birth of her new baby brother (“the rats. So they were going to have a baby”.) She is also thinking for a while of becoming a Catholic, but learning about confession, quickly changes her mind about this. Anastasia is very funny, smart and original, and how her father puts it “mercurial” as well. She loves making lists of things “I hate” and things “I love” and in the beginning of the novel, ‘I hate” list is almost full. As the book proceeds, and Anastasia copes with grandma’s death and disappointment of first love, things “I hate” are crossed and now almost everything is in “I love” list. Lowry created very memorable characters: Anastasia’s funny and intelligent father, understanding mother and grandma living in her memories. The author touched on many topics in this small novel: love and hate, accepting changes, ageing and death.  Young girls will enjoy this work because it is written from a 10 year old perspective, and even with adults present in the story, the focus is almost entirely on Anastasia. The pace is fast, and even though written in 1979, the story does not feel dated at all. I absolutely loved Anastasia’s character in this book, and I think she could certainly be one of the best characters created in children literature. I could not help laughing reading this novel: it is full of sweet humor and witty remarks. Suitable for children in 5-7 grades.
Ksenia R
182 OF 1001