Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Read LOTS of Award winners this week

Well, I am going to have to do a mini post on the books I read this week, or blogging would be all I did all week. I read a BUNCH of the award winners. Mind you, nearly all of them were picture books, and that goes a lot faster.

Here, in no particular order, are the titles I read and a short blurb about each.

Balloons Over Broadway was my favorite picture book, even though it actually won for informational book. It has AMAZING art and interesting information. this book will be an easy sell. Even my husband was interested in it.

Breaking Stalin's Nose
was a short novel with some drawings - not enough drawings to call it a graphic novel, though. Liked learning about Russian history. Wonder if kids will get into this or if there's too much backstory they don't know. Or will they care there is backstory or just like it for the story it IS?

I Broke My Trunk. Silly and cute and little ones will love it. Pretty minimal text. Good amount of repetition - not overwhelming.
The Elephant Scientist. Beautifully illustrated with photographs, this book tells both the story of a female elephant scientist and of elephants themselves. A reasonable amount of text, but nicely balanced by photos and captions.

A Ball for Daisy. This was the Caldecott winner this year, and I have to say, I didn't love the art in it nearly as much as some others. It is a wordless book which has advantages and disadvantages.

Tales for Very Picky Eaters. A beginning chapter book, it's clever and about a topic that I think many, many kids can relate to. Also many parents. I thought this one was quite fun.

Diego Rivera. Filled with drawings that mimic the artist's great murals but are not meant to represent them perfectly. I learned some things about Diego Rivera, but I wasn't wild about the book.

Underground. Thought the cover art was the best of the book. It's not that I didn't like the rest, but I really, really like the cover, and I was not as wow'ed by the rest.

World Book Night - a GREAT idea!

What is World Book Night?

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books to be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.

Anyone age 16 or over can sign up! Be part of the fun and spread the word about how great reading is. Get all the details HERE!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Help donate books to kids!

Everybody Wins! in a non-profit dedicated to improving literacy levels by mentoring low-income youth. Their philosophy is one mentor, one child, one book at a time, and since it’s founding in 1991 Everybody Wins! has grown to include programs in 16 states reaching thousands of children.

You can help their cause simply by watching the book trailer for Rose’s Garden by Peter H. Reynolds. Dedicated to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Rose’s garden is about community, nature, beauty, and the power of faith. For every 10 people who watch the 60 second trailer, Fablevision, a media and interactive development studio, will donate one children’s book to Everybody Wins!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Gallagher girls book coming March 13th

LOVE this series by Ally Carter - full of exciting spy high events and activities. So I was pretty excited to read that the newest book in the series is almost out. Want to read the first chapter? Go HERE!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Yesterday the American Library Association announced this ear's book award winners. The full list is available here. Here are the covers from some of the winners.

Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai

I was just thinking that most of the novels in verse I read are not historical fiction, they're contemporary, and then I realized I'd just blogged about one that was (Karma, here) and Out of the Dust, a previous Newbery winner was one, and then there's Witness. OK, so maybe it's more than I thought, although I still stick by my original thought that most are contemporary.

Anyhooooo, a lot of people thought this might win the Newbery, and obviously a lot of people were close to right, as it did win a Newbery Honor. Again, I was feeling pretty good because I had already read this one, and I didn't have a lot of plusses in that column this year.

this novel in verse tells the story of a young immigrant girl who moves with her mother and brothers (her father is missing in the war) from Vietnam (at the end of the war) to Alabama. I think if even I moved to Alabama it would be quite a shock to the system, but imagine moving there from Vietnam. It is not an easy thing, and I thought one of the most poignant moments was when the young narrator, Ha, said that sometimes she felt that she'd rather be in Vietnam even as bad as it was than living in the US. I think it's easy to feel a little superior here, like we've got everything figured out and we're so great and who wouldn't love it here, but honestly, not everything is great here, and of course people miss what they know. Not to mention some people were pretty nasty to Ha and her family, which is sad. But some people were lovely, and it's a great things when she finds them.

Amazingly, this story is based on the author's own life. I thought this was very well done and worthy of a Newbery award. Highly recommended for people who like novels in verse. If you haven't read a lot of novels in verse, this might not be the best one to start with. Or maybe it is. You tell me if you try it.

Grandpa Green, Lane Smith

LOVED this sweet little book. So happy to see that the Caldecott people also loved it, at least enough to give it a shiny silver sticker. It's a gem of a book, and one I can just imagine looking at together with a little person. Grandpa Green's great-grandson follows him into a garden of topiaries he created, and we follow right along with. The topiaries are extraordinary, and the story is charming and a little bittersweet, at least for the adult readers, as grandpa has lost some of his memories.

Highly recommended.

Heart and Soul, Kadir Nelson

This book won both the Coretta Scott King Honor Award for illustration and the Coretta Scott King gold for writing, and I am pretty excited that I had read it before the awards, because if you saw my postings on Facebook as I followed the announcements, I had not read too many of them ahead of time.

This is a beautiful book full of rich pictures by one of our country's greatest illustrators and it beautifully takes us through US history, that of African Americans and of all Americans, via the life of Kadir''s own family. I thought it was very well done, and I think the picture book format was perfect with the text. The text alone would not have drawn me in, but with the pictures, I was hooked.


3 YAs - Karma, Where She Went, Uncommon Criminals

I recently read these three books, and while they are each about a girl, that's about as far as the comparison goes. Well, I suppose there's death in all three as well, or near death at any rate.

Karma, a novel in verse set in 1984 is about teenage Maya going with her father to India with her dead mother's ashes during a tumultuous political time. This book literally made my stomach hurt to read it, it was so depressingly sad. There were some moments of light, but they were few and far between. I think the punch packed in verse as opposed to prose made this book that much more difficult for me. I did not build as much sympathy with Maya as I would have expected, and I'm still really unsure as to why. The book was well done, an those who enjoy books in verse should check it out, but it was not my favorite novel in verse.

Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I was literally sobbing when I read the first book in this series, and luckily I did not get the sequel right away because I don't know if I could have taken it. The first book was SO heart-wrenching. This book, however, did not overwhelm me emotionally like the first one did. I thought it was well done, and it has a nice twining together of past and present (and possibly even future), and I thought Adam's character, in particular, was very well done, but it didn't stick with me like the first one did. Not that I should be surprised, because it is a rare second book in a series that can do that. I did like it and would recommend it, but it's not really fair to compare it with If I Stay.

Uncommom Criminals
is by Ally Carter, a fab and fun author who also writes the Gallagher Girls series. Um, yeah, remember that whole thing I just wrote above about the second book thing. Yeah, just re-read that part again here. Again, a book I liked, has a good mystery, has some thrills and adventure, but it just wasn't as good as the first one. Also, I was not loving Kat. A little too bratty or something. Couldn't quite lay a finger on it, though. she seemed to be shaping up at the end of this one, though, so perhaps #3 will bring me back.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Press Here, Hervé Tullet

Best children's book I have seen in a long, long time, bar none. However, I would caution parents that this book is going to be a repeater, repeater, repeater, and how. This highly interactive book is going to be a favorite with children. Heck, it's a favorite with me.

The book is super simple, just yellow red and blue dots on white pages (and occasionally on black). And the text is also simple. Press five times on the red dot. Press five times on the blue dot. Try shaking the book just a little bit. But the joy of this book is that when you're given a direction on one page, the next page has a result. If you press the blue dot five times, on the next page there are five blue dots. If you shake the book a little bit, the dots are all wiggled around on the next page. If you tilt the book, all the dots go into the corner, etc.

It is so much fun to read and DO. Not so many books have the listener/reader being such an active participant, but this one is quite amazing.

Betsy Bird, a reviewer I particularly like, asked in this review if it's perhaps "...the first picture book of the picture book app age?" No iPad required.


Caldecott contenders? Me...Jane and Melvin and the Boy

Well, many people had suggested these might win the Caldecott, and Me...Jane was indeed an Honor book. I thought it could have gotten a non-fiction award as well, but it did not. Did you know that Jane Goodall had a stuffed monkey when she was growing up? And then she went on to study chimpanzees and gorillas (which are NOT, by the way, monkeys) all her adult life! She was quite a scientific little thing all her life. some people are just born knowing their destinies, I guess. Sometimes I feel like I'm still figuring mine out. I really loved that they included some of Jane's drawings from when she was a young girl in this book. Very cute and clever.

I was not the biggest fan of Melvin. I thought it was fine, but I had a hard time because the premise of it is that a little boy takes a turtle from a park home for a pet. Now that in itself wouldn't be so bad - most little kids have at least wanted to do this, but what I didn't like was that his parents seemed to think that was a fine idea. Now luckily, Melvin comes to the realization on his own that this is NOT a good idea, and he takes the turtle back, but shouldn't his parents have given him a little guidance? Told him this wasn't going to work out and here's why? I know I wanted to tell him. In the end, however, it does all work out, and Melvin is probably the better for having learned the lesson himself. But I would have told him.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Explosive Eighteen, Janet Evanovich

This is an adult book that is one of my favorite mystery series. It's fluffy and funny and silly and goofy, and I love these books. I am also excited because I heard they're making a movie of this first book, which I've said they needed to do forever. This is book is pretty much like the books in the rest of the series,and maybe that's why I like it. Nice easy predictability. I need that sometimes. Plus I need books that make me laugh. This fits the bill.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bird in a Box, Andrea Davis Pinkney

I was lucky enough to meet Andrea Davis Pinkney this fall when I went to Minneapolis for the American Association of School Librarians where she spoke. And when I heard she wrote a book that was about Joe Louis, I became even more excited because you may remember that I learned a lot about Joe Louis earlier in the year when I read a picture book by Matt de la Peña and Kadir Nelson called A Nation's Hope which I reviewed here. I thought it would be super cool to pair these two books up, and I was eager to find out if I was right.

Indeed I was, and in fact I think I enjoyed Bird in a Box much more because I HAD read A Nation's Hope. That background knowledge really made listening to this story much more interesting.

There are three young African American narrators in the story, Hibernia, Otis, and Willie. All three of them are going through personally traumatizing events, but they find solace in part through each other and in part in other ways, including the fights of Joe Louis. It's sort of fascinating how Joe Louis was such a huge part of the culture at that time. It's sort of like Michael Phelps in the Olympics, how everyone in the country was cheering for him and rallying around him, hoping he'd win and bring glory to the US. Michael Jordan was another athlete who had this kind of pull. But it's very few athletes who bring the whole country together like this. It's really interesting.

I thought this was a fabulous story, and fans of Christopher Paul Curtis are sure to love them. I wonder if some students will struggle with it if they don't have the historical background. Some readers may also struggle with the changing narrators, but listening to it on audio made that less of an issue for me.

Available at Multnomah County Library.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All the Way to America, Dan Yaccarino

I saw this book offered on The Picnic Basket just after I'd read somewhere that someone thought it might be a Newbery award book this year. I was thrilled when the publisher sent me a copy.

The full title is All the Way to America: The Story of A Big Italian Family and A Little Shovel, and I thought it was just delightful.

One thing I really liked about this story was that it was the actual family history of the author, not just a good story about made up people. I loved how he showed the progression of relationships throughout the tale and wove details into the text and the art that reminded you the generations were shifting. But what I loved most was the constant of the shovel that his great-grandfather used in Italy and continued to use when he came across the sea to America, searching for a better life, but never forgetting what he'd left behind. His grandparents then used the shovel in their work, as did his parents, and now so does he. Well, he also uses it for fun in the garden. I thought it was interesting how they showed different uses for the shovel over time. My favorite was when it was used in the store.

This book has bright drawings and even includes some old family photos. I think this will be a wonderful book for opening up discussions of immigrants in America and also discussions of family history. A great picture book to use with older readers as part of a lesson in addition to using with younger readers.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Book Fan Friday this week!

BOOK FAN FRIDAY! JANUARY 13TH 4:30-5:30 at Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing.


Ever wonder how books get their covers? An editor of award winning books at Random House explains cover design and the team that makes the magic! For avid writers & artists age 8-18!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Cybils Finalists announced

The Cybils awards are given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles. This year's finalists have just been announced. See the list here Winners will be determined on February 14th. What a love-note to an author to win one of these on Valentine's Day, hey? Happy reading!