Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy holidays, all!

And what better way to say happy holidays than by sharing booklicious blog's collection of literary themed gingerbread houses?  Here's my favorite, from Baked Ideas:

Yes, it's edible.  But who could bear to break it apart?  You can see many more bookish gingerbread creations HERE.

Hope you get lots and lots of books to celebrate the holidays!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Flora and the Flamingo, Idle, Molly Schaar

This book is  on a Mock Giesel list, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Notes: On lift-the-flap pages. In this wordless book, a friendship develops between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo, as they learn to dance together.
From the Publisher: In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

Strengths: This book is super, super cute. The pictures are darling and the interactions between Flora and the flamingo are delightful, even though they're wordless. Having watched some large birds (egrets and herons, though, not flamingos) dancing in the shallows last year, I thought the dance moves were really quite true to life. Dancers will flock to this book (sorry, couldn't help myself!!).

WeaknessesThe physical book wasn't available in my library, but the e-book was, so I thought I'd read that.  I read lots of books on my Kindle and my iPad, so Im definitely not opposed to e-books, but let me tell you, lift the flap e-books, not nearly as fun as the real thing.  The cover of the book is pink, and even at a young age, some boys balk at pink anything (as do some boys' parents). I think they could have gone with yellow for sand or sun or turquoise for waves or something. I know this is gender stereotyping, but this is what I see in my schools, and I wouldn't want a boy to miss this book just because of its color. Flap books are tough ones for libraries, in any case.  Since I didn't see the actual book, I'm unsure of the durability of these pages, but they'd need to be pretty darn tough to withstand a library.

The Life of Ty - Penguin Problems, Lauren Myracle

I'm generally not the biggest reader of the early chapter books. This year, I've decided I need to plunge in a little more to this level of books, so I've been attempting to do that.  I shouldn't balk; they take about 20 minutes for me to read cover to cover, yet still I do. Life of Ty might be one of the books that helps me get  out of this rut and realize these early chapter books are pretty good after all.

Notes: "Seven-year-old Ty gets into mischief and big-hearted schemes while navigating second grade and becoming a big brother"--Provided by publisher.
From the Publisher:
A brand-new illustrated chapter book series by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle!

Winnie Perry's sweet baby brother, Ty, is the quintessential dreamer, full of big ideas and wacky plans that only a seven-year-old boy could hatch. Whether it's battling the family cat with a Dustbuster or smuggling a baby penguin out of the aquarium, Ty is always in the middle of a well-intended, big-hearted scheme.

In the spirit of the Judy Moody spinoff Stink series, Ty will work his way into the hearts and funny bones of a whole new generation of Myracle fans.

Strengths: This book is pretty funny, in an early elementary school way.  I can easily imagine elementary school kids, boys especially, cracking up at some of the things in this book. It's also an accurate portrayal of how the once-was-the-youngest child might feel when a new baby comes into the house, a feeling common to many early elementary school kids. Has illustrations so it's not too much of a shift for those readers just moving into chapter books. And finally, haven't we all wanted to kidnap an adorable baby animal from somewhere at some point?

Weaknesses: Ending was a bit implausible. I think even elementary kids would question how he could get away with kidnapping the penguin and have none of the grown-ups find out.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Books about effort, including Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird

An elementary school recently invited me to read a book at their school assembly. They are working on the character trait of effort, and asked if I could pick a book that fit that topic.  If you remember my post about a Thanksgiving story, you'll know I love this type of challenge - finding a read aloud on a particular topic that I can also dress up for!  And you'll also remember that I have to read a lot of books to find the perfect one.  Finding a book to read to a whole elementary school is a tricky thing, but Giant Dance Party worked beautifully!

Lexy is a dancer, but she's done with dance classes.  Dance classes mean dance recitals, and those are NOT Lexy's thing.  But she decides that since she still loves dancing, perhaps she'll teach dance.  After all no performing is required of teachers (of course every teacher in the room rolled his/her eyes when I read that part!). Lexy goes through quite a lot of effort to get the dance lessons off the ground, unfortunately, all to no avail.  No one comes to her dance lessons.  Until...the giants.  And although giants don't dance, Lexy figures out (more effort) how to teach them to dance. And she discovers something about herself in the end as well. It's a fun and funny book that models the value of effort in a painless and non-didactic way that the kids enjoyed. AND since it mentions the chicken dance in the story, we all got to learn and do the chicken dance at the end.  It was a delight.  I'll be using the same story for another school that's focusing on perseverance after the holidays. If you haven't seen this book by the brilliant Betsy Bird, librarian and blogger extraordinaire, check it out soon.

Me in my Lexy costume

Other books I considered for my assembly presentation that have to do with effort are listed below.  I liked these books, but they weren't just right for the assembly.

The Improbable Life of Paul ErdösBy Heiligman, Deborah
By Yamaguchi, Kristi
How Nikola Tesla Lit up the WorldBy Rusch, Elizabeth
By Adler, David A.
How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest WomanBy Krull, Kathleen
Based on A True StoryBy Ryan, Pam Muñoz
[being the (slightly) True Narrative of How A Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) across the Plains]By Hopkinson, Deborah
Si, Se Puede! = Yes, We Can!By Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.
The Heart of A HeroBy Buehner, Caralyn

By Kimmel, Eric A.
By Fleming, Candace
Michael Jordan in Pursuit of A DreamBy Jordan, Deloris

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson never disappoints with her work, and this novel, due out in January, is no exception

From the Publisher: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy's PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Pros: This book is full of suspense and tragedy, but it's so well balanced, that you sometimes forget how precarious everything is for Hailey and her father, and you hope that Hailey can forget it for a few minutes at a time herself. LHA is a master of character development, I think that's what draws me into her work more than anything. I cared about these characters deeply and quickly. These characters became real to me, in part, I'm sure, because I know there really are Hayleys and Andys out there in the world, but also in large part because LHA crafts their characters through actions and inactions as well as she does through words. We need more books that play out the consequences of war and the hidden collateral damage done to families of many who survive.

Cons: I thought Finn's family issues were glossed over a bit and the story might have been a little better without that sideline because it didn't seem to move the story along much, just make Finn a little more empathetic. I think she could have done that in a different way and still had it be just as effective. I also wasn't impressed with the school in this story.  I would hope that when it was so clear that there were issues in a home, a school would do more, but that's not really about the book itself, now is it. That's me in my Pollyanna glasses on my soapbox.

High school collections will definitely want to purchase this book.

I read an e-ARC of this book.