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Category Archives: Award Winning

Book Review: Cloudette

Although we are currently renting out our home, we still have some seriously wonderful neighbors.  The past weekend was spent back in the hood getting the rental ready for new tenants and our neighbors were so excited to see Little Lucy.  They had this adorable book waiting for her.  If you’ve met Little Lucy, then you know that she really is little.  She is very small for her age and when people see her walking about they often exclaim, “How old is she!” thinking that I have a baby wonder who must be walking at 6 months when really she is 13 months which is a very typical age to be walking.  Well, just like Little Lucy, Cloudette is a very small cloud that wants to do big things in life.  While she might not be big enough to create a thunderstorm or make a waterfall, Cloudette finds out just what a little cloud can do.  Having a small child of my own, I instantly fell in love with the message of this book.  The illustrations and small captions sprinkled throughout add to the cute factor and the added cloud terminology speaks to the teacher within.  Written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld who is the illustrator of the famed “Duck!Rabbit!”.  Check out his website for a cute book trailer and  links to his other books with activity guides.

Title:  Cloudette

Author/Illustrator:  Tom Lichtenheld

Publisher:  Henry Holt and Company

ISBN:  978-0-8050-8776-5

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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Award Winning, Picture Books

 

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Book Review: When You Reach Me

This is one of those books that go on the “I can’t wait to read it aloud to my Little Lucy” list.  A middle grade novel that tells a tale of friendship.  The genre is hard to pin down, part science fiction and part mystery.  The setting is 1979 in the Upper West Side of New York city and a sixth grade girl, Miranda lives in a small apartment with her single mother who has just found out that she will be a contestant on the “$20,000 Pyramid” game show.  Miranda’s neighborhood is filled with interesting characters:  her best friend Sal, who lives in her building but suddenly stops talking to her after getting punched walking home from school, Jimmy, the deli shop owner that allows Miranda and her friends to work during their lunch hour and has a piggy bank full of $2.00 bills, and the crazy man on the corner who shouts out weird words and sleeps with his head under the mailbox.  Miranda is trying to piece together some odd notes that appear asking her to do things and telling her about events that haven’t happened yet.  Meanwhile she makes some new friends along the way.  This is a highly engaging novel, with the opportunity for great discussion and children will love trying to solve the puzzle and fit each piece together as they read.  It is not surprising that this book has won a Newbery Medal.

Title:  When you reach me

Author:  Rebecca Stead

Publisher:  Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN:  978-0-385-90664-7

 

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Book Review: Breaking Stalin’s Nose

I must admit that while reading I had a hard time envisioning today’s youth actually wanting to read and able to relate to this middle grade book.  The story is set in 1950’s Moscow where a young, and very naive boy named Sasha, is set to become a young pioneer.  The quick pace keeps the reader involved in this brief story that spans only a few days.  While the story depicts aspects of what life must have been like, it is also heavily punctuated by absurd, cartoon-like events, such as a conversation with a talking, smoking, Stalin’s nose.  The author is an artist and his black and white illustrations really help bring the characters to life.  In addition, the most interesting part of the book is knowing far more than young Sasha who thinks that only if Stalin knew what was happening, then he would surely help those being wrongly accused.  I hope that young people prove me wrong and enjoy this book as much as the adults who have deemed it worthy of both a 2012 Newbery Honor book award and Horn Book’s Best Books for 2011.

Title:  Breaking Stalin’s nose

Author/Illustrator:  Eugene Yelchin

Publisher:  Henry Holt and Company

ISBN:  978-0-8050-9216-5

 

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Book Review: Where Things Come Back

This debut novel by John Corey Whaley has been making its way onto all kinds of must read lists that I have come across.  It is the winner of both the Michael L. Printz award in young adult literature and the William C. Morris Debut award from the American Library Association. While it is a darkly comic book, Whaley does a remarkable job of creating realistic, multidimensional characters and weaving together different story lines to create a unique story about religion, family and friendship.

Cullen is a 17-year-old boy growing up in a small Arkansas town where somehow, despite best intentions, everyone seems to end up coming back, stuck in this small town.  Now even the supposed extinct Lazarus woodpecker has come back, but amidst the woodpecker frenzy Cullen’s 15-year-old brother goes missing and everyone is left wondering if he will ever be found and make his way back.

There was a sense of foreboding and suspense that propelled me through this book.  I enjoyed the sprinkling of book titles that Cullen dreams up and records throughout such as, “#78:  It Is Not a Sin to Kill a Woodpecker” and “#82:  Five A.M. Is for Lovers and Lawn Ornaments”.  I think young adults will identify with Cullen as he struggles with how to relate to others while wading through a family tragedy and growing up in a small town.  Like many others, I look forward to reading more by this new author.

Title:  Where things come back

Author:  John Corey Whaley

Publisher:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers

ISBN:  978-1-4424-1333-7

 

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Book Review: Grandpa Green

Grandpa Green’s great-grandson wanders through an amazing garden filled with topiary trees that tell the story of his great-grandfather.  And it’s a good thing because Grandpa Green is “pretty old and he sometimes forgets things… but the important stuff, the garden remembers for him.”  This wonderful story about gardening as art, memory, and familial love is a Caldecott Honor Book.  View a very sweet book trailer on YouTube.

Title:  Grandpa green

Author/Illustrator:  Lane Smith

Publisher:  Roaring Book Press

ISBN:  978-1-59643-607-7

 

 

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Book Review: A Ball for Daisy

If you’ve been following my posts you know that there hasn’t really been a book I have reviewed and not loved. I was really excited to finally get my hands on a copy of the 2012 Caldecott Medal winning book.  I was, however, really disappointed.  I don’t think it’s a bad book, but I have been immersed in reading some really great picture books in the past few weeks and this one just didn’t compete.  It is a sweet story that follows the adventures of Daisy the dog and her beloved red ball.  While at the park playing with another dog the ball pops and Daisy is very sad indeed.  How will she ever recover?  The message is great and a wonderful book to read if a little one in your life has lost that special, revered toy in their life.  While I am glad that I read the book, it isn’t one of my favorites.

Title:  A ball for Daisy

Author/Illustrator:  Chris Raschka

Publisher:  Schwartz and Wade Books

ISBN:  978-0-375-85861-1

 

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Book Review: Inside Out and Back Again

This is actually the first book I have read that is written completely in verse.  I wasn’t sure if I would like the format, believing that there couldn’t be as much detail to draw me into the story.  I was wonderfully wrong.  This amazing story spans one year in the life of 10-year-old Ha and is drawn from the author’s own experience leaving Saigon during the Vietnam war and landing in Alabama.  Along with her mother and three brothers, Ha must flee her home and everything she knows.  They spend a long journey on a boat with little food, no bathrooms and two mats to share among the five of them.  Eventually they secure a sponsor in Alabama and Ha must learn to navigate her way in a new world.  There is so much to love about this book.  Ha is a spunky little girl who in the first two pages is angered by the cultural tradition of only allowing male feet to be the first to walk through their house after the new year so she makes sure to awaken extra early and sneaks just her big toe out of the bed she shares with her mother and presses it to the floor.  The friendship that develops between Ha and her neighbor, a retired teacher who tutors the family and welcomes them with open arms is touching while the prejudice they face from others is painful.  This is the first (hopefully not the last) book written by Thanhha Lai and the winner of the 2011 National Book award.  It is recommended for grades 4 through 8 and I think would make a wonderful read aloud due to the richness of topics and feelings to be discussed.

Title:  Inside out and back again

Author:  Thanhha Lai

Publisher:  Harper

ISBN:  978-0-06-196278-3

 

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