This is the kind of book I would've loved as a kid. Heck, it's the kind of book I love now. There are so many details to examine and it's such an intrThis is the kind of book I would've loved as a kid. Heck, it's the kind of book I love now. There are so many details to examine and it's such an intriguingly spare telling of a man's life and work. It makes me want to know more about Roget. It makes me want to go read the thesaurus! Once again, brilliantly done by the dynamic duo Bryant and Sweet. I was also a big fan of last year's A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin and here they've done and equally remarkable job. Bravo! Hooray! Encore! ...more
The text is just about perfect, but much credit goes to illustrator LeUyen Pham, whose style here is full of energy and cute to boot. The illustrations play such a key role (belying the text, providing clues for young readers, explaining concepts visually), that I'm tempted to put this on my "graphic" shelf, even though this would rightly be called "heavily illustrated" and not a "graphic novel." But who cares about labels? Certainly not The Princess in Black! ...more
This book has an amazing opening chapter. So gripping and intense. But ultimately I felt the book was too long and I got really tired of Barnhill italThis book has an amazing opening chapter. So gripping and intense. But ultimately I felt the book was too long and I got really tired of Barnhill italicizing individual words to show emphasis. If something matters, we should be able to tell it matters without you having to say it matters. If a writer does this sparingly, it's fine, but I think Barnhill overdid it, like it was a little bit of a crutch.
I think this will be a popular book among middle-grade readers who love dog stories and heart-wrenchers. Rose is a memorable narrator who is easy to rI think this will be a popular book among middle-grade readers who love dog stories and heart-wrenchers. Rose is a memorable narrator who is easy to root for, even while her obsession with homonyms is potentially tiresome for readers (as it is for the people around her in the world of the book). I've criticized similar books for being too bummer-y and this one comes pretty close to my personal limit for how many bummers I can take in one story. However, I think Rose's self-referential narrative style (she'll say stuff like, "I'll talk about that more in the next chapter") adds a distinct flavor that makes this more readable. It's like Rose is trying to help you get through her story--like she knows she's a little annoying and her situation is depressing but she wants to encourage you to keep reading. The ending was somewhat abrupt and convenient (view spoiler)[Rose's borderline abusive father up and decides in the middle of the night to leave Rose in the care of her kind and understanding uncle. It makes sense and it doesn't--a really interesting point for young readers to mull over (hide spoiler)], but also pretty satisfying. And, I have to say, I felt a strong urge to hug my own dog tight after reading this book. ...more
Having a dad with MS is serious but Maggie's story is full of humor. Her silly and self-assured voice will entertain and impress kid readers. Things IHaving a dad with MS is serious but Maggie's story is full of humor. Her silly and self-assured voice will entertain and impress kid readers. Things I loved about this book:
1. Footnotes! From Bartimaeus to David Foster Wallace, I'm a big fan of the quippy footnote.
2. There are no bad guys. Everyone in this story is a decent person, which is rare. There are no villains, except MS and kind of Maggie's sister Tiffany (who's really not so bad). No one needs to be redeemed or saved. Everyone just grows and changes a little over the course of a year, which is realistic and, in this case, not at all boring. Also, here's a book for children that stars a child with two loving, living parents. A rare breed nowadays.
3. Speaking of parents, Maggie's mom is a wonderful character. Though everyone will be talking about Maggie's dad as the parent facing a debilitating disease with grace and dignity, Maggie's mom was the one who made me tear up. She reminded me of my own mom and all moms who do more for their families than seems humanly possible. I love how hard she worked and how appreciated she was by her family.
4. Maggie's voice! Overly confident, super naive, always positive or striving to be positive without being tiresome. Here's a kid I'd like to know. She loves food, school, rules and her parents. She almost never doubts herself, except when it comes to gym class.
This loving portrait of a strong working class family in the 80s was a great read. Though it tackles a sad and difficult issue, it never veers into melodrama. It's a little light on plot, but its characters and style shine. Recommended for boys and girls 9-12. ...more
Not a fan of the author's tone. His recommendations come across as absolutes, which I think betrays an overly rigid attitude towards parenting. If somNot a fan of the author's tone. His recommendations come across as absolutes, which I think betrays an overly rigid attitude towards parenting. If someone tries tell me his way is THE WAY and all other ways are crap, I immediately distrust him. Still, I gave it two stars because there are ideas worth trying in here (particularly the idea that you need to start settling your baby within 1-2 hours of wakefulness). I just wish the author had a gentler approach and was more open minded. Parenting a newborn is hard and I don't need to read stuff where the implication is "If you're not doing exactly what I say, you're doing it wrong." ...more
Unfortunately, things are piling up on my to-read list and I know I'm not going to make it through this. It's good, but a little too long and too manyUnfortunately, things are piling up on my to-read list and I know I'm not going to make it through this. It's good, but a little too long and too many characters for me to handle right now. Maybe I'll return to it someday. ...more
This book is way biased toward exclusive breastfeeding for as long as possible and unmedicated childbirth. If you going into it knowing that much andThis book is way biased toward exclusive breastfeeding for as long as possible and unmedicated childbirth. If you going into it knowing that much and are prepared to take from it what works for you and leave the rest behind, I highly recommend it! A lot of good advice and information. ...more
This is just your basic guided relaxation exercise for childbirth. I liked that the male narrator's voice was soothing and that the emphasis is on howThis is just your basic guided relaxation exercise for childbirth. I liked that the male narrator's voice was soothing and that the emphasis is on how natural and normal the birthing process is. Women have been doing it for millions, perhaps billions, of years. Your body is perfectly suited to bring your baby into the world. Etc., etc., etc. ...more
This is my new favorite "Where do babies come from?" book. I think Sophie Blackall does everything right here. It's funny, but it also gets to the truThis is my new favorite "Where do babies come from?" book. I think Sophie Blackall does everything right here. It's funny, but it also gets to the truth. It's kid-friendly. It's beautiful. It has a fun plot, so it's an honest-to-goodness story, and it also has a section in the back with some nitty-gritty FAQs (What about kids who are adopted? What about kids with two moms or two dads?).
Nate Foster may not be the world's best singer or dancer or actor or...anything, but he's taking Broadway by storm with his enthusiasm. This charmingNate Foster may not be the world's best singer or dancer or actor or...anything, but he's taking Broadway by storm with his enthusiasm. This charming follow-up to Better Nate Than Ever finds Nate understudying the title role in the new musical E.T. alongside his nemesis, the perfect Jordan Rylance who's starring as Elliot. Nate is funny and charming as a bumbling success. He relies on his BFF Libby via Skype and texting. He makes friends and enemies. He does some serious growing up and becomes an even more lovable character.
One important detail is that this story, unlike the first, lets Nate explore his romantic interests a bit towards the end of the book. If Tim Federle wants to write a third installment in the Nate saga, I'll surely read it! (Or probably listen to it, as Federle does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook.)...more
This is a fun picture book biography about one of the first hip hop DJs. It shows how DJ Kool Herc grew up in Jamaica, moved to the Bronx, and found aThis is a fun picture book biography about one of the first hip hop DJs. It shows how DJ Kool Herc grew up in Jamaica, moved to the Bronx, and found a way to make dance parties even more fun. DJ Kool Herc was more of a facilitator and less a musician, but he definitely made important contributions. He introduced a new way to spin records, making the breaks last longer for "break" dancers and he popularized something DJs in Jamaica were doing: "toasting" or chanting over the beat when they played records, which evolved into what we call rapping.
There's an author's note in the back with a timeline that will put Herc's story in context for young readers. I guess I do have one criticism, which is the author's examples of how popular hip hop has become:
"...no one could have imagined that a few desperately poor kids would reinvent American culture. Who could have imagined that a hip hop/jazz infusion group called The Roots would become the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon? Who could have imagined that rap would fuse with African High Life into an all-new musical form called Hip Life? Who could have imagined that a rapper would be invited to perform at the White House?"
Hip hop is insanely popular and the best examples the author could come up with are the house band on a late night TV show and a musical form I've never heard of? Come on! The White House example is excellent. The other two, not so much. He should have picked more meaningful examples, like how Jay-Z has had more number one albums than any other solo artist in U.S. history. Kids are not impressed by Jimmy Fallon or Hip Life (whatever that is).
I really loved the first 90% of this book, and then felt a little let down by the ending. It's not that the ending was bad, but I had built up certainI really loved the first 90% of this book, and then felt a little let down by the ending. It's not that the ending was bad, but I had built up certain expectations during my reading that weren't met. I don't think it's quite a spoiler to say that I wanted to know so much more about the Night Gardener himself. As I've said in many a review, a shallowly developed villain character always gets my goat. If an author takes the time to flesh out the villain, to give him a compelling back story, it takes a book to the next level (Voldemort, am I right?).
Still, it's a great scary read for kids. The mood reminded me of the fabulous Splendors and Glooms, but is more likely to gain a wider readership because it's not as dense or stylized.
I'd love to share this with my young readers club someday because Molly, Kip, Penny, and Alistair are all such interesting kids. It would be great to hear what the kids think about how they change and what motivates them. Also, the quote about the difference between stories and lies (stories reveal the truth and lies hide the truth) has a lot to unpack.
Also, in closing, I must say that this is basically Faust for kids. (Only Faust is a tree.)...more
I had a hard time getting into this book because I knew what was coming (Hurricane Katrina) and all the pre-storm plot seemed slow and cruel to me. ThI had a hard time getting into this book because I knew what was coming (Hurricane Katrina) and all the pre-storm plot seemed slow and cruel to me. The beginning of the book is actually really heartwarming for the most part, but that's what makes it cruel. You see Armani's loving, happy family gathering for her tenth birthday and you just know that they are going to suffer.
And suffer they do. Once Katrina hit I barely put the book down. Survival stories have always held appeal despite how difficult they can be emotionally. I think it's because we long to see our hero triumph in the end, even when it seems impossible. Armani, as the narrator of the book, is sure to survive, but her friends and family? The same can't be said for all of them.
Armani's eventual "triumph" is definitely bittersweet and, in my opinion, truncated. I desperately wanted an epilogue or at least a glimpse into the future, but I didn't get one. The reader is left to imagine what will ultimately happen to Armani and other Katrina survivors.
Though I'd have to go back and reread it to be sure, I think I prefer Ninth Ward to this. They're both good, but Ninth Ward's more poetic style drew out the surreal quality of surviving the storm. Also, there were big moments in this book that fell a little flat for me. I'm seven months pregnant and apt to cry when I hear a sad song on the radio, and this book didn't squeeze a tear out of me. That is unusual. Even when I'm not pregnant I'm a crier! I definitely felt for the characters here, but the flow of the plot and the style of the writing kept me at a bit of a distance. ...more
1. This is like Rebecca Stead lite! And I mean that as a compliment! Stead's books explore themes in interesting andMy thoughts upon finishing this:
1. This is like Rebecca Stead lite! And I mean that as a compliment! Stead's books explore themes in interesting and sophisticated ways. This explored a theme (the impacts of science on nature) on a bunch of levels in a way that is (probably) easier to grasp for most young readers. I'm very excited to talk to kids about this one.
2. Man, I love this idea of a teenage grandparent. So funny. There was something about it that was familiar to me, but I can't put my finger on where I've seen it before. It begs to be a movie with a great young actor playing Melvin with his scrunchies and polyester pants. Now, I will admit that so much of the Melvin story stretches logic past its breaking point, but I don't care. The story was realistic where it needed to be, and not so realistic in other places. I thought it all flowed beautifully in service of the story.
3. I wish I had read this earlier so I could have booktalked it at my school visits last spring. Our Summer Learning theme is science and this book pushes science in a really fun way. Ellie feels left out of her mom's theater world and her friend's volleyball world, but finds she belongs in the world of scientists.
4. I love Jenni Holm! I've never read anything by her I didn't like. The only thing that keeps me from giving this five stars is the title--well, really, the whole goldfish metaphor. It seemed a little tacked on and unnecessary, like driving home a point that's already been made, which is sort of like talking down to your audience. The only off-key note in an otherwise perfectly pitched middle grade novel. ...more