Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Children's Book Roundup

Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
Holy moly do I love this series.  First let’s talk about the illustrations that I love, love love…and there’s a good reason why…they are done by Tony Fucile (ya know the genius that brought the Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Wall-E ect.ect.ect. to life!!!)  He uses a lot of black and white illustrations, and then infuses the page with splashes of bright color.  Let’s just say that there is one story that involves a pair of rainbow striped socks that I *need* to have. 

Now about the story…the book tells the story of an unlikely pair of best friends that may not agree on everything but having fun.  Its style is a mash up of graphic novel (comics), easy reader, picture book and short story.  And while it may seem too simplistic for older readers…the funny and whimsical stories will hook them in right from the start.

Book Description via Amazon
Release date: April 10, 2012 | Age Range: 6 - 9 years | Series: Bink and Gollie
Winner of the 2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award!
In a brilliant collaboration, best-selling authors Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, along with acclaimed illustrator Tony Fucile, introduce an outrageously funny pair of friends.

Meet Bink and Gollie, two precocious little girls — one tiny, one tall, and both utterly irrepressible. Setting out from their super-deluxe tree house and powered by plenty of peanut butter (for Bink) and pancakes (for Gollie), they share three comical adventures involving painfully bright socks, an impromptu trek to the Andes, and a most unlikely marvelous companion. No matter where their roller skates take them, at the end of the day they will always be the very best of friends. Full of quick-witted repartee, this brainchild of Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and award-winning author Alison McGhee is a hilarious ode to exuberance and camaraderie, imagination and adventure, brought to life through the delightfully kinetic images of Tony Fucile.

Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates
If you have an artist in your house…or anyone that likes a new box of crayons and a blank piece of paper…this is the book for them.  Dog gets a brand new sketch book and does not know what to do with it.  Very quickly he learns that a blank piece of paper can lead you to wonderful new places.  Robbie loved it and wanted to draw his very own adventures right after we read it (although his involved zombies…sigh…but that’s a story for another time.)

Book Description via Amazon
Release date: August 14, 2012 | Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Dog loves books, but one day he receives a strange one in the mail—it's blank! Soon, Dog realizes that this book is not for reading, but for drawing. Before long, Dog is doodling and drawing himself into a new world, full of friends and surprises.

Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2012:
“This book will inspire and entertain young artists and fun-loving readers alike.”


If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder

Book Description via Amazon

Publication Date: April 17, 2012 | Age Range: 3 - 6 years

The walls would tremble. The dishes would break.
Oh, what a terrible mess we would make!

If all the animals came inside, bears would run down the stairs, kangaroos would bounce on the couch, and hippos would play hide-and-seek through the halls! Join one family's wild romp as animals of all shapes and sizes burst through the front door and make themselves right at home.

Extraordinary collage artwork from beloved illustrator Marc Brown (Arthur series) pairs with Eric Pinder's hilarious rhyming verse to make this the perfect book to read aloud again and again




Friday, February 22, 2013

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

I was really hesitant to read this book.  Fault in Our Stars by John Green really, really, really traumatized me.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved that book, it was beautifully written but man, did it leave a scar on my heart.  I just wasn’t ready for another book about a dying teenager, and clearly there is going to be a dead girl somewhere in this book, it’s in the freaking the title.  But I read many, many reviews that assured that this was not a sad, depressing book – so I jumped in…

And it’s not, well a little, but not in the emotionally scarring kinda way.  Here’s the thing, this book is funny, I mean really funny.  The narrator, in my mind, is Jonah Hill in Superbad (with the vocabulary to match.)  If bad language is a deal breaker…don’t read this book.  He is self-effacing and quirky and full of self loathing…and I love him…and here’s why:
“Jesus Christ in a cockwagon.  At the beginning of this sentence, my Feeling like a Dick Quotient was at a solid 4.0, which is normal.  By about the word “excuse,” it was all the way up to a 9.4.  By the end I was easily maxed out at a 10.0.  Actually, I may have broken the scale.” Greg Gaines

Book Description via

Publication Date: March 1, 2012

Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.

Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl make her a movie, and Greg must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Children's Book Roundup

Yup…all the reviews got it right…this book is great!  First let’s talk about the characters, Stead has created a unique cast that have you rooting for them from the beginning.  I like how she has written a book about bullying without it *really* being about bullying…it doesn’t beat you over the head with its preaching but it gets the message across…being different is ok.  The mystery that is in the forefront of the story is interesting and will definitely keep you guessing.  The other thing I LOVE about this book is the length.  Being a parent of 6th grade triplets (with two that have the leanings to be reluctant readers) shorter books appeal to them.  They don’t feel overwhelmed by a huge tome…it is age appropriate and interesting and the perfect length.


Book Description via Amazon

Release date: August 7, 2012 | Age Range: 9 and up | Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)

An instant New York Times bestseller, Liar & Spy is a story about games and friendship. Seventh-grader Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building and meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: How far is too far to go for your only friend?

This is a funny, little gem of a book.  There are not a lot of words on each page but the ones that are there, combined with colorful illustrations, make this a winner.  My five year old gives this two thumbs up!

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: February 16, 2012 | Age Range: 4 - 7 years

2013 Recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award!

Three side-splitting stories in one great picture book!

In three laugh-out-loud situations, an irresistible cast of colorful birds illustrate the concepts of "up," "tall" and "high." First, a short peacock proves that he may not be tall, but he definitely isn't small. Then, a resourceful bird helps his penguin friend find a way to fly. Finally, two birds want to live in the same tree, but what goes up must come down! Each short story features a flap that reveals a surprise twist.

With fun fold-outs, easy-to-read text, and a hilarious cast of characters, these stories beg preschoolers and emerging readers to act them out again and again.
This book is perfect for any house that has a ninja loving member.  We have read this no less than twenty times in my house!
Book Description via Amazon
Publication Date: September 18, 2012 | Age Range: 1 - 6 years
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal...and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?
With spare text and lush illustrations, Nighttime Ninja is a fun, adventure-filled story about the power of play and imagination.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Children's Book Roundup - The Award Winners Edition!!!

I am going to try something a little different.   Each week I am going to review children's books that the kids and I are reading.  I frequently have parent friends ask me for book recommendations for their kids so I am hoping this gives people some ideas.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This was picked for this year’s Newbery winner.  Before having read it, I was angry with the Newbery committee for not even acknowledging Wonder by R.J. Palacio (my hands down favorite of 2012).  After reading (post upon post upon post) about all the award winners I thought, in fairness, I should read it before coming to any quick judgments…and I am glad I did.  This is a very beautifully written story of a soulful and artistic gorilla, named Ivan.  I start “animal” books with a little trepidation (they are always *so, so, so* sad) but I was quickly swept up into the story.  This does have tissue worthy moments but it is worth it in the end.

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: January 17, 2012 | Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 3 and up

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

This is not my Hat by Jon Klassen

And to continue on the award winning track…Jon Klassen’s This is Not my Hat took home the Caldecott this year.  This is such a great book and very funny too!  After having previewed the book at work (and loving it) I decided to take it home and try it on the real critic…my five year old son, Robbie…and he loved it too!

Book Description via Amazon

Release date: October 9, 2012 | Age Level: 3 and up | Grade Level: P and up


From the creator of the #1 New York Times best-selling and award-winning I Want My Hat Back comes a second wry tale.

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

I am embarrassed to say that I had not previously read this book.  I picked it up this week because my 11 year old triplets are reading this in class.  I love that I get to read things I may have missed in the past, now that I am reading along with them.  It is also so great to be able to discuss books with them…and what a book this is to discuss.  Number the Stars introduces the reader to what happened during WWII - the holocaust, the Nazi occupation, ect; in a very age appropriate way.  It is such an important historical time but it is also such a hard topic.  This provides a place for the discussion to start. 

Editorial Reviews via Amazon

The evacuation of Jews from Nazi-held Denmark is one of the great untold stories of World War II. On September 29, 1943, word got out in Denmark that Jews were to be detained and then sent to the death camps. Within hours the Danish resistance, population and police arranged a small flotilla to herd 7,000 Jews to Sweden. Lois Lowry fictionalizes a true-story account to bring this courageous tale to life. She brings the experience to life through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen, whose family harbors her best friend, Ellen Rosen, on the eve of the round-up and helps smuggles Ellen's family out of the country. Number the Stars won the 1990 Newbery Medal. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

THE SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK (The Silver Linings Playbook): A Novel [silver linings playbook] Matthew QuickWell, aren’t I late to the party???  What a book!!!  I read this in a little over one day and what a treat.  First – let’s talk about the setting - it takes place in Collingswood - which is the next town over!  It is really cool being able to actually picture all the places the author is writing about.  Second – the characters – so well developed, so well written…I heart Pat Peoples.  Now comes the terrible decision…to see the movie or not????

Book Description via

Publication Date: 2010

Why did NPR's popular librarian Nancy Pearl pick The Silver Linings Playbook as one of summer's best reads for 2009? "Aawww shucks!" Pearl said. "I know that's hardly a usual way to begin a book review, but it was my immediate response to finishing Matthew Quick's heartwarming, humorous and soul-satisfying first novel . . . This book makes me smile." Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending-the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat's now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he's being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he's being haunted by Kenny G! As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: "Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bone and Shadow by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy)
Why did I wait so long to read this book?!?!?!  This book in one word …A-mazing!!!  This is classified as a Young Adult novel but it has a lot of adult appeal.  I loved the characters (Mal – I heart you), the writing…and the world where this all transpires is unique and interesting.  I can’t wait to revisit them all again.  Which, incidentally, is June 4, 2013…yup my calendar is already marked! 

Book Description via Amazon

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: Alina Starkov has never been anything more than yet another orphan of her country’s on-going wars...until she channels magic not seen in centuries to protect her best friend, Mal. Her new-found powers attract the attention of the Darkling, the most powerful of the country’s magic-wielders. He tells Alina that her magic could heal the Shadow Fold, if she can only learn to control it--and if she agrees to trust the Darkling despite the mystery that surrounds his very existence. Leigh Bardugo brings a cast of well-defined characters and a unique magic system to her lavishly imagined world, where light doesn’t always conquer dark and deception runs so deep that it becomes truth. And yet, against all expectations, the bonds of sacrifice and friendship remain too strong to be severed in this thrilling debut. --Malissa Kent