If you're a Jack Reacher fan, skip this one. It doesn't even sound as if it was written by Lee Child. Maybe he has a ghostwriter working with him? The...moreIf you're a Jack Reacher fan, skip this one. It doesn't even sound as if it was written by Lee Child. Maybe he has a ghostwriter working with him? There are so many things to criticize I won't even go there, but don't read it if you love this series like I do!(less)
British author/illustrator Alex T. Smith returns with a winter-themed addition to his beginning reader series about the adventures of a genial dog nam...moreBritish author/illustrator Alex T. Smith returns with a winter-themed addition to his beginning reader series about the adventures of a genial dog named Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock (yes, Sir Bobblysock is actually a sock, an unusual sidekick--or perhaps it makes sense since dogs love to chew socks?) This is the fourth book in the series.
In Claude on the Slopes, we are introduced to Claude, a small, plump dog who wears shoes, a sweater and "a rather nifty beret," and resides with Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes and his best friend Sir Bobblysock at 112 Waggy Avenue. In each book, Claude and Sir Bobblysock take off on adventures. One day they go to the library, where they visit Miss Hush, the librarian, who has to remind Claude to use his "nice Indoor voice." Claude is in for a real adventure when he experiences snow for the first time, and winds up at a winter sports center, where he experiences snowball fights, sledding, and snow sculpture and skiing. When he forgets he's not supposed to use his loud outdoor voice out in the snow and accidentally triggers an avalanche, his magic beret, which seems to hold everything you can need, helps Claude save the day.
This beginning reader is perfect for fans of gentle humor such as Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant or the Amanda pig series by Jean van Leeuwen. The cartoon-style artwork, done in black, white, grey and red, adds to the humor of the stories. As is typical with beginning readers, the author uses a format of brief chapters which can be read independently if a child is not yet ready to read the entire book at one sitting. The book would also make an amusing read-aloud, although the small size of the volume make it better suited for reading with a small group than a classroom.(less)
British poet Brian Patten and British painter and illustrator Nicola Bayley combine forces in Can I Come Too?, an exquisitely illustrated picture book...moreBritish poet Brian Patten and British painter and illustrator Nicola Bayley combine forces in Can I Come Too?, an exquisitely illustrated picture book suitable for the youngest children, in which a tiny but adventurous mouse sets out on a quest to find the biggest creature in the world.
In his gentle and lyrical text, Patten turns to a familiar and beloved pattern for children's books, the cumulative tale, much as P.D. Eastman uses in Are You My Mother or Deborah Guarino uses in Is Your Mama a Llama, to mention just a few. Here, our mouse heroine meets a succession of larger and larger animals, asking each "Are you the biggest creature in the world?" A friendly frog, a rainbow colored kingfisher, a sleepy cat, an otter, a badger, a dog, a goat, and a tiger all admit they're not the biggest creature in the world, but ask politely if they can come along on the adventure. When the story is read aloud, children will enjoy chiming in on the oft-repeated refrain, "Can I come too?" Finally, the motley group of animals, led by our intrepid mouse, meets a polar bear, who knows just where to find the biggest creature in the world. They all follow the polar bear to the ocean, where they encounter an enormous and majestic whale. Satisfied, the sleepy animals spend some time watching the whale frolic in the ocean, and then return home, where Mouse curls up and muses, "I might be tiny, but I've had a very big adventure."
This is a calm and soothing story that would be perfect for bedtime reading for young children; snuggled in a chair or bed an adult and child could not only enjoy the text but also have time to observe the intricacies of Nicola Bayley's meticulously detailed illustrations, rendered in colored pencil. Her style brings to mind celebrated American illustrators such as Michael Hague and Jan Brett. (less)
Wonderful, heartwarming memoir of Post WWII London through the eyes of an upper-middle class girl who becomes a midwife to the Cockney families of Lon...moreWonderful, heartwarming memoir of Post WWII London through the eyes of an upper-middle class girl who becomes a midwife to the Cockney families of London's East End. If you've enjoyed the PBS/BBC series, you must read the book! I especially enjoyed the audiobook, which had excellent narration.(less)
Candace Fleming is a master at writing narrative nonfiction that is entertaining as well as informative, and her newest book on the tragic and doomed...moreCandace Fleming is a master at writing narrative nonfiction that is entertaining as well as informative, and her newest book on the tragic and doomed Romanovs is a worthy successor to her last foray into nonfiction, the highly acclaimed Amelia Lost.
Fleming expertly weaves together the intimate life of Russia's last czar and his family with the saga of the revolution brewing underneath their royal noses, beginning with workers' strikes in 1905 and leading up to Lenin's seizing power in 1917. Interspersed with her compelling narrative are original documents from the time that tell the stories of ordinary men and women swept up in the dramatic events in Russia.
Unlike many books for young people, which seem to romanticize the Romanovs, Fleming doesn't try to make the family into martyrs. Indeed, it is hard to have a lot of sympathy for the Russian royal family after reading Fleming's account. Fleming describes Nicholas as a young boy as "shy and gentle," unable to stand up to his "Russian bear of a father." His wife, the Empress Alexandra, a German princess raised to be a proper Englishwoman under the wing of Queen Victoria, never felt comfortable with the excesses of the bejeweled, partying Russian aristocracy, and encouraged her husband to retreat to Tsarskoe Selo, a park 15 miles and a world apart from St. Petersburg. Fleming brings us inside of their privileged--but also strangely spartan--life (for example the children were bathed with cold water in the mornings and slept on army cots in their palace!), one in which they had almost no contact with outsiders.
Fleming manages to integrate her narrative history of the Romanov family with the larger history of the turbulent times in Russia, as the czar is forced to resign and he and his family are exiled to Siberia, fleeing in a train disguised as a "Japanese Red Cross Mission" so that the royal family would not be captured by angry peasants. She skips back and forth from the family's saga to what is happening in the capital, with plenty of original documents such as an excerpt from journalist John Reed's first-hand account of the swarming of the Winter Palace as well as excerpts from many other diaries.
In my favorite quote in the book, Fleming discusses how Lenin nationalized the mansions and private homes throughout the country, while the owners were forced to live in the servants' quarters. She quotes one ex-servant as saying: "I've spent all my life in the stables while they live in their beautiful flats and lie on soft couches playing with their poodles...no more of that, I say! It's my turn to play with poodles now."
Whatever one's feelings about the Romanovs, one cannot help but be moved by the account of their cruel assassination in the basement of their quarters in Siberia. Particularly ironic is the fate of the royal children, who did not die immediately because they were hiding the family jewels in their camisoles and other undergarments. This layer of jewels unwittingly created a bullet proof vest that protected them initially, until they were finally murdered with bayonets and then with gunshots. The bodies were immediately hidden in the woods, where the remains were not found until 1979 and then kept secret until the fall of communism in Russia. Ironically, the Romanovs have since been canonized by the Orthodox Church in Russia.
The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs. An extensive bibliography is included, as well as a discussion of primary and secondary sources. Fleming also includes suggestions of websites on the Romanovs, as well as source notes for each chapter and an index.
Highly recommended for middle school and high school students. (less)
In this delightful new picture book series from British author and illustrator William Bee, Stanley the hamster is very busy--building houses, working...moreIn this delightful new picture book series from British author and illustrator William Bee, Stanley the hamster is very busy--building houses, working at a garage, even running a farm. In Stanley the Builder, Stanley is building a house for his friend Myrtle the mouse. He'll need his orange bulldozer, his yellow digger, and his green crane. Step by step, he prepares the land and then builds the house. Together with his friend Charlie, he finishes the project by painting the house in Myrtle's favorite colors--red, white, and blue--before returning home for supper, a bath, and bedtime.
In this series, Bee uses very simple vocabulary and minimal text together with very appealing digitally-created images to craft a story that is equally appropriate for two distinct audiences: toddlers/preschoolers and beginning readers.
There are so many things to like about this book, but first and foremost are the illustrations, with their clean black outlines, flat bright colors, and simple shapes (not to mention adorable hamsters...) I was especially interested to note that Bee trained as a designer (check out his quirky website, which gives little information on his books but tells you all sorts of interesting trivia about his passions for vintage cars and the Queen). His design flair can be seen in everything from the endpapers (see first image below) to the font chosen for the text. While this series is a sure-fire winner with toddlers and preschoolers, it's also ideal for beginning readers, with simple sentences and minimal vocabulary. Even with the limited vocabulary, Bee uses correct words for different tools and parts of the house, such as "shingles" for the roof, thus providing a rich use of words for the earliest readers. The book will also allow young readers to practice sequencing, since the steps for building a house are clearly delineated, and they can even re-tell the story using just the pictures as well.
In this laugh-out-loud new picture book from South African writer-illustrator Alex Latimer, we discover that while it's not always easy to be friends...moreIn this laugh-out-loud new picture book from South African writer-illustrator Alex Latimer, we discover that while it's not always easy to be friends with those who are different from us, the result can be worth the extra effort.
Pig is completely flummoxed when, for no reason at all, his nose begins to squeak.What could it be? Time to get out the medical book, of course, to look for Squeaky Nose Syndrome. But it's not in the book (although the book includes Squeaky Knee Syndrome and others). Finally, after much observation, Pig discovers there's a tiny bug on the end of his nose, waving and squeaking at him. Pig can tell by the bug's friendly squeaking that he wants to be friends, but the activities they try --a tandem bike ride (with Pig pedaling and Bug holding on for dear life), a game of chess, making matching sweaters--don't work very well.
They are about to give up, when Pig has a sudden inspiration--a movie! Bug doesn't eat much popcorn, and he can sit right on Pig's ear. Soon they can think of all kinds of things they could do together! They even forget that one of them is big and the other little, until, in a surprise twist, an elephant comes along to ask if he can be friends, too.
Alex Latimer's whimsical cartoon-style artwork is distinctive, with speech and thought bubbles taken from traditional cartoons. The illustrations are created first as pencil drawings, then digitized and finished with a bright color palette with orange and turquoise dominating. The colorful artwork meshes perfectly with his witty and engaging text. The theme of the challenges of friendship with someone different is a universal one, perhaps particularly appropriate in Latimer's hometown of Cape Town, South Africa, where the "rainbow nation" of post-apartheid still struggles with issues of equality for all its citizens, as we continue to do in the United States. This book would work well in a preschool or early elementary storytime, and could encourage discussions about how we get along with others. I could easily see a writing prompt about imagining activities Pig, Bug, and elephant could do together, for example. Latimer's earlier work, Lion vs. Rabbit (Peachtree, 2013), in which a clever trickster rabbit outwits a lion, is also a terrific storytime selection. (less)
A charming read for tween girls, this novel follows the life of Chloe Turner, daughter of the concierge at one of New York's swankiest hotels. When sh...moreA charming read for tween girls, this novel follows the life of Chloe Turner, daughter of the concierge at one of New York's swankiest hotels. When she manages to entertain one of the hotel's most difficult small clients, she's given a position as Junior Concierge, specializing in the children that stay at the hotel. But when a real royal family comes to visit New York, Chloe is faced with a snooty young princess, a swoon-worthy young prince, and a mischievous princess who loves to pull a disappearing act! Will Chloe be able to save the day? (less)
Dinosaurs are always popular with kids, and in this fun new picture book, Ruth Ann MacKenzie meets an unusual T-Rex at the Museum of Natural History....moreDinosaurs are always popular with kids, and in this fun new picture book, Ruth Ann MacKenzie meets an unusual T-Rex at the Museum of Natural History. She thinks she knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs, until she meets the gentle LInus, a gigantic T-Rex who's not only alive, he's a vegetarian! The silly humor should appeal to dinosaur lovers and the 4-7 year old set.(less)
With the advent of Common Core, publishers are bringing out new nonfiction to meet the heavier emphasis on nonfiction throughout Common Core. This new...moreWith the advent of Common Core, publishers are bringing out new nonfiction to meet the heavier emphasis on nonfiction throughout Common Core. This new series, Seedlings, is pitch-perfect nonfiction for kindergarten and first grade readers. Its large square format allows lots of full color photos of elephants on vibrant two page spreads with text in very large type. A minimum of information is presented, but in age-appropriate ways, with unusual vocabulary, such as "tusk" presented in color, while the rest of the text is presented in white against a dark background or black against a white background. The book even includes an index, vocabulary words, web sites, and suggestions for further reading. This book is also great for storytimes to provide a nonfiction addition to other elephant stories. The photos are especially outstanding.(less)
Ex-military police officer Jack Reacher is drifting around the country when he witnesses an apparent suicide late at night on a nearly empty New York...moreEx-military police officer Jack Reacher is drifting around the country when he witnesses an apparent suicide late at night on a nearly empty New York subway car. The NYPD wants to dismiss it as just another suicide, but Reacher isn't so sure. He's suspicious and soon the feds and a congressman's office become involved. Before long, Reacher is uncovering a terrorist cell that's up to no good, and you can bet that Jack Reacher won't walk away from the challenge. Another entertaining entry in this popular series, in which Reacher attains near superhero status as he deals on his own with dozens of foes. (less)
Kalinka, a young Ukrainian girl on the run from the Nazis in 1941, is helped out by unlikely friends--Przewalski horses, rare wild horses that resembl...moreKalinka, a young Ukrainian girl on the run from the Nazis in 1941, is helped out by unlikely friends--Przewalski horses, rare wild horses that resemble those you see in prehistoric cave paintings, and their caregiver, who runs a nature reserve where the horses live. The horses, like the Jews, are being hunted by the Nazis, and are seen as inferior to the "pure-blooded" horses preferred by the Germans and thus ripe for extermination. Will Kalinka and her friends escape the cruel Nazi officer who's in charge of the area? This is a moving and suspenseful story perfect for animal lovers. A good choice for readers 10-14 years old. (less)
Peter Godwin, born and raised in what was then Rhodesia, tells the story of his boyhood and journey into manhood, which coincided with the civil war t...morePeter Godwin, born and raised in what was then Rhodesia, tells the story of his boyhood and journey into manhood, which coincided with the civil war that resulted in black Africans taking power from the white Rhodesians who had been there for generations. Required to do military service when finishing high school, Godwin joins an elite unit of the police, and finds himself fighting in a civil war he hates for a dying white government that he doesn't believe in. Eventually he is able to leave the country to attend Cambridge. Returning when the blacks take power, Godwin becomes a human rights lawyer and a journalist covering the atrocities of the new government, which crushes political opposition through terror and murder. The first in a a trilogy of memoirs by Godwin, which together span the period up to the Zimbabwe election of 2008. A moving, highly person story of the transition from white to black rule in Southern Africa. (less)
In this well researched book, the author takes us back to 1964 Mississippi, when the nation was shocked by the disappearance--and discovery of the mur...moreIn this well researched book, the author takes us back to 1964 Mississippi, when the nation was shocked by the disappearance--and discovery of the murder--of three Freedom Summer workers, courageous young people who travelled to Mississippi, living with black families, trying to register black voters and opening Freedom Schools to educate black children and their parents. Rubin follows the story chronologically, focusing on specific anecdotes which make the story more immediate for young people. The book is handsomely illustrated with archival photographs and drawings. Back matter includes information on the trial of the main organizer of the murders, who did not face trial into 2005. Information is provided on additional resources; there is also a timeline, source notes, reproduction of original documents, a detailed bibliography, and an index. Excellent nonfiction book for the new common core curriculum. Recommended for students in grades 5 and up.(less)