When Prue and her friend Curtis traipse into the Impassable Wilderness, they never expect to encounter talking animals or the kingdom they call Wildwo...moreWhen Prue and her friend Curtis traipse into the Impassable Wilderness, they never expect to encounter talking animals or the kingdom they call Wildwood. Their quest is arduous and long, but Prue will do anything to save her baby brother, who was kidnapped by a murder of crows. Wildwood is full of twists and turns that reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, but was it's own original tale. Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis really had fun with this story. Their enjoyment leaks out of every chapter and every illustration, and that excitement is contagious. A lovely beginning to what is sure to be a great series.(less)
This was a very easy, quirky read written by Judith Viorst, the author of Alexander and the terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and illustrated...moreThis was a very easy, quirky read written by Judith Viorst, the author of Alexander and the terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and illustrated by Lane Smith, the illustrator of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Lulu is a brat by all definitions and when her parents tell her she can't have a brontosaurus for her birthday, she ventures into the forest go get her own brontosaurus. She disrupts the wildlife, hits and punches and yells and screams at the animals who are in her way. At this point in the book, I was not a fan. I am tired of the teachy way some authors show a brat and then the child learns a lesson. However, the rest of this story takes an interesting twist that actually made this book enjoyable. When Lulu finally finds her brontosaurus, the dinosaur decides that he wants a pet and Lulu's plan backfires. The Brontosaurus plops Lulu on his back and takes her home with him. When she finally escapes through the forest, she is nice to all the animals she was a little devil to before. The Brontosaurus catches her again, but at this point, both Lulu and the Brontosaurus realize that neither of them can be the other's pet. For the ending, you can pick one of the three ending Viorst writes for Lulu and her new friends. All three of them are funny, and are good ends to this unique book for elementary aged kids.
Deborah Wiles and her books have been a store favorite for quite some time with her beautiful books Love, Ruby Lavender, Each Little Bird That Sings,...moreDeborah Wiles and her books have been a store favorite for quite some time with her beautiful books Love, Ruby Lavender, Each Little Bird That Sings, and Aurora County All-Stars. But with her new book Countdown, Wiles takes a different approach to literature. Set in the early '60s, this book is filled with pictures, quotes, and song lyrics from the time period that give you a feel of what would have been important to our characters. Just look at that beautiful cover! The whole presentation of the book is fantastic and the book itself is physically heavier than normal because of the quality of the paper and pictures. So on to the story, which is just as beautiful as the physical book. Franny Chapman is eleven in 1962. She practices hiding under her desk for bomb drills, writes a imaginary letter to Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and really just wants peace for everyone. She worries constantly about her family: her big sister Jo Ellen who just started college and now gets secretive letters and never comes home, her dad who is in the Air Force and could have to go fight any moment, her Uncle Otts who lives with them and has begun to have flashbacks of his stint in war, her younger brother who has trouble dealing with the changing and dangerous world that seems to be closing in on them, and her mom and how she is handling all of this. As you can see, Franny has a lot on her plate. So when her best friend stops being her best friend and she realizes she has a crush on her neighbor, things get really complicated for our soft spoken protagonist. When the Russian begin to assemble nuclear missiles in Cuba in what is now known as the Cuban missile crisis, Franny can hardly keep it together for her family. With courage she doesn't even know she has, Franny not only pulls through, but pulls her family through as well.
If you can't already tell, I love this book. The presentation, the story, the whole package feels like an instant classic. It is a great book to introduce kids to history or historical fiction. A kid could read this alone and get a wealth of information, but I think the best way to read this book would be in conjunction with adult discussion. Wiles lays everything out for the audience, but even I have learned more recently by talking to people who lived through the 1960s.(less)