Thursday, May 31, 2018

Short & Skinny

Today's review of Short and Skinny a new graphic novel by Mark Tatulli is brought to you by Evan, Brianna, Olivia, Sophia, Taylor and Izzy!

Evan: This is a story about a kid who is short and skinny (cough-cough like me) and is super self conscious about it. Mark tries to use all these things to make him grow bigger and stronger like "miracle muscle."

Brianna: I liked how the author changed the name from "Star Wars" to "Star Bores."

Evan:  I thought this book was hilarious, but in the end it got kind of sad.

A little revolt erupted just now because no one else thought it was sad.

Izzy:  I don't think it got sad in the end.

Olivia:  How is it sad? He shows his movie to a bunch of people and he's happy.

(The sad/happy ending debate continued for a while...)

Evan:  Remember he throws his movie everywhere because he was mad?

Brianna: Remember at the roller skate arena and Alan said, "I don't like her as much as you do."

Was that sad?

Izzy:  It wasn't sad

Olivia:  I read the book three times.  It was SO good! I just liked the Star Wars/Star Bores part. 

Izzy:  And because of Star Wars he realizes being short and skinny isn't so bad!

Sophia:  The cover made me want to read the book because it made it look like it would be a funny Star Wars book.  And it sort of was because Mark was making a funny version of Star Wars.

Izzy:  To me the cover look confusing.  He was just randomly in the hallway with the mom, the dad and some kid filming them.

Olivia:  I wanted to read the book after looking at the cover because of all the little details.  It looked so interesting.

Taylor:  I didn't like that the cover was all yellow.  I like the illustration on the cover.  I just don't like the yellow.

Olivia:  I think the beginning should change because some people might pick it up and it might turn them off with the aliens.

Evan:  I like the illustrations.  They kind of showed how Mark was short and skinny.

Izzy:  And how he was struggling.

Evan:  Hashtag The Struggle is Real  #thestruggleisreal

All:  I would recommend it!

Brianna:  I would recommend it to everyone!

Olivia:  I would recommend it to people who like graphic novels.

Evan:  I would recommend it to people who are sappy (sad/happy).

Olivia:  YES! I would definitely read another book by this author.

Evan:  I think he should make another book and call it "Tall and Strong" and they would meet and become friends.

Sophia and Izzy:  There's was just a little too much romance in the book.

Brianna:  I think the author should make more graphic novels.

All:  The third book should be "Normal and Boring."

Olivia:  This book was great!

Brianna:  No, it wasn't a great book.  It was an awesome, amazing book!

Evan:  This wasn't a great book...This was an AWESOME book!

Izzy:  This book is great for people who are short and skinny, tall and strong and normal and boring!

The book comes out in September with full color illustrations! We can't wait to see it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Winnie's Great War

I'm starting to recruit a new batch of reviewers. 5th grade Reading Ambassador, Ayla, came in this morning eager to share her thoughts on Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut with art by Sophie Blackall which she read over the weekend.

"I cried at the end of the book because it was a really touching, good story. This book is the story of how Winnie, a bear, became 'Winnie-the-Pooh.'

"Harry is a soldier who bought Winnie for $20 in 1914. Harry had to bring Winnie to the zoo while the War was going on because he didn't want to risk Winnie's life. Winnie was really sad without Harry. The zookeeper had special guests visit her to try and make her happier. When Harry came to visit Winnie for the first time at the zoo, she jumped on him. I felt happy for Winnie. But then Harry had to leave Winnie to go back to the war.

"I would rate the book 10 out of 10 stars. I liked learning about Winnie's story throughout the book. I would recommend this book to a friend.  I would say to them if you want to read a book about a funny and outgoing bear, this is the one! And even if you don't, read it anyway!

"Winnie was my favorite character because she was funny. Before Harry had to drop her off at the zoo, they were at the campsite and Winnie always liked to roll around in the mud and play games with Harry and the other soldiers. One time the soldiers hid a sock and Winnie had to find it. It was funny because she went wandering in a cave to find it. It may not sound funny, but the way it was described in the book made me giggle and smile.

"So how did this Winnie become the most famous bear?  You'll just have to read the book to find out! It comes out in September!  Be patient! It's worth it!"

Thank you, Ayla and welcome to the world of leaping book reviews.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Izzy is BAAAAACCCCKKKK! Over the weekend, she read Nightbooks by J.A. White (comes out in July!).  This time Izzy's twin sister, Sophia, helped guide our conversation about the book.

Izzy:  Nightbooks is a book about a boy named Alex.  He is going down to the basement to burn his nightbooks in the incinerator.  His nightbooks are where he writes down his scary stories.

Sophia:  Why does he want to burn his nightbooks?

Izzy:  Because he feels like he doesn't fit in with the other kids. He's that weird kid.

Sophia:  How does that relate with him being the weird kid?

Izzy:  Because of the nightbooks. The nightbooks are what make him weird. 

Me:  The other kids know about the books?

Izzy:  Yeah. They do. Once he read one of the stories aloud in class and they all gave him a weird look.

Sophia:  What kinds of stuff are in the nightbooks?

Izzy:  Scary stories. You know, vampires, death, werewolves.  Back to the story...when he's going down his hallway in his apartment, he hears the soundtrack to his favorite movie, The Night of the Living Dead. So he's so tempted to go knock on the door and watch it with his neighbor. So he does.  When he opens the door a blast of pumpkin pie smell hits him. A nice looking lady answers the door and asks, "Why are you here?"  And Alex says, "I heard my favorite movie."  Hmmm...I never heard that before. So he walks in and the room turns BLACK.

Sophia:  Izzy! Is that the book you told me about where there's an evil witch in the apartment that traps kids?!

Izzy: Yep! So Alex finds himself in a cell...

Sophia:  With many other kids?

Izzy:  Not really...

Sophia:  Ohhh....

Izzy:  So then he goes out the door and keeps finding himself in the exact same cell over and over again. He's thinking he will never see his family again.  He misses them.

Sophia:  How long has he been in there?

Izzy:  Not very long but he's worried he won't get out.  Will he find a way to get out? Read this frightening book to find out.

I asked Izzy for a few last words about the book and she shared this:

"When I first started the book, I was worried I was going to have nightmares. But I didn't!  It was definitely worth worrying about what's in the dark!"

A Tale Dark and Grimm

In preparation for a visit from Adam Gidwitz on June 12, I'm trying to get 4th and 5th graders reading his books.

This morning, Evan stopped in the library on his way from the bus to his classroom. He finished A Tale, Dark & Grimm over our long weekend and wanted to blog about it immediately:

"One word that describes this book, bloody.  I never read anything like this.  It was creepy and I really liked it. It was about Hansel and Gretel but doing all different things. Like different than the typical story we know.  I don't really like the typical story so I'm really glad that Adam changed it.  My favorite characters were the three ravens because they were all sarcastic like me. Hansel and Gretel were brave through the whole thing, too.  Rather than sit in a corner and cry their eyes out.

"My favorite scene is hard because I have a lot of favorite scenes.  I can picture when Hansel ran from the Devil.  I can picture the red wall and the red Devil and the steam coming out from above his head. I can imagine the mad devil and I can see him in the little boat with the oars and trying to get out because he can't even though he said he could.  This book was mostly scary but it was funny, too.

"The best thing about this book are the pages where Adam talked. He's telling it from his perspective that he made up and he's also narrating it.  I think that's hard to do because it's hard to make up your own story and the narrated part.  Right at the beginning he writes, "And of course, the most blood." And there was a lot of blood.

"I think everyone should read this book except children in second grade and younger because they will probably cry.  But everyone else should read it. This is SUCH a good book. I loved it!"

PS-I'm not sure I would give this to a second grader lol.  Several years ago, I gave it to a fifth grader and she returned it the next day because it gave her nightmares. Oops.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Evan Reviews "The Wild Robot"

Evan is BACK! This time he's is raving about one of our favorites from 2016, Peter Brown's The Wild Robot.

"The Wild Robot was really surprising and full of twists and turns. Peter Brown is a really creative author because I don't think anyone else could think of this story of a robot breaking and showing up on this island.  I don't think a lot people could think of that stuff. Like everyone thought Roz was different when she was really just trying to help them and everything. She would always try and communicate with them and they would run away because they thought she was a scary monster.  Later in the story I felt better for Roz because the animals understood her more when she started talking to her.  My favorite part was when Roz picked up Brightbill's egg and it hatched.  I like birds and ducks a lot.  This isn't part of the story, but my mom said that if I take care of our cat Dexter really well, she might get me a parakeet.  I thought the ending was really creative and smart.  I was surprised that the story felt realistic even though it was about a robot stuck on an island. Like the parts about the geese and the opossums.  I thought that was really, really cool. 
"The illustrations were simple in the beginning but I felt like they had more details towards the end.  I love Peter's art.  I don't like when authors go above and beyond with the artwork.  Peter kept it basic and so simple. I loved it.  I can seem some authors wanting to try and draw everything so detailed and he just did it basic and it turned out so well.  That was really cool.

"My favorite character is Chitchat.  I like Chitchat because she talks a lot, just like me!

"I love this book and I definitely think it should have won the Newbery award last year.  The words were way more detailed than the pictures, which is what I like.  Usually pictures tell the story, but in The Wild Robot the words tell the story."

So there you have it! We have another Wild Robot fan in our midst! AND another fan of the blog reviews.  Stay tuned for more from Evan!

BTW: This is a great blog post from Peter Brown about the making of The Wild Robot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Doughnut Fix REVISITED

By Izzy, of course!

Izzy is BAAAAACCCKKKK from a very short hiatus! This time she's got thoughts to share about The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz.

"Tristan Levin is a boy from New York City who just moved Petersville, the middle of nowhere, in upstate New York. When he sees his house for the first time he says 'Why do we have to move? We were perfectly happy in NYC.' The next morning he decides to check out the actual town. He bikes down there and most of the buildings are abandoned. Then he sees a sign that says, 'Yes we do have chocolate cream doughnuts.' So he walks in and says that he'll take a dozen. The lady behind the counter says, 'Eggs?' He replies, 'No, doughnuts!' Turns out that they don't even serve doughnuts anymore. So instead he gets eggs and bikes back home.
"Later in the book, Tristan's parents ask him and his sisters to think of a project  because they aren't starting school for a couple of months. He tries to think of a project but all he can think about are chocolate cream doughnuts. He asks the lady at the counter for the recipe and she said he had to prove that he was worthy of the 'life changing and heavenly' recipe.  Will he get the recipe?  Will his project have to do something with doughnuts? Read this chocolate creamed filled book to find out."

I was thrilled to revisit this sweet book again while Izzy dictated her review to me.  Here's a link to my earlier review before it even hit the shelves!  Now I have missed meeting Jessie once while she was only a doughnut hole's throw away from my town but I can't let that happen again.  We NEED to meet for doughnuts and coffee asap!

PS-Reason #17 of why I leap? So I can eat doughnuts!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Unicorn Rescue Society: The Basque Dragon (#2)

This morning, fifth grader, Evan came in beaming! I had given him the arc of Book #2 of Adam Gidwitz new series, Unicorn Rescue Society. He LOVED it! "It was so good!" he exclaimed.  "I hope there are so many more coming out.  I can think of so many more you can come up with. And I really just want to read all of them.  I hope there's like eight more coming." He was speaking so fast and so excitedly, I could hardly keep up!

"I liked the creativeness.  A lot.  The names are really clever.  I would never have thought of that.  I can't even pronounce them like Mr. Mendizabal and the names of the dragons were really creative, too.
"My favorite part of the book was when Uchenna found this seven headed dragon, or what she thought it was.  And the six heads came off and they were just baby dragons.  This was really surprising because I thought it was going to kill her or something like that," Evan says with a big smile on his face. "Can this win the Newbery?"
"Probably not likely," I say sadly.  "I wish," he says emphatically.
"Adam is the best author yet."  His message for Adam, "Keep writing because your books are so great!"  Izzy was in the library, too, and you know she agreed wholeheartedly! 

I'm thrilled because on June 12, Adam Gidwitz will be walking the halls of Castleton Elementary School!  Yes, we were Inquisitor's fans from the beginning! And yes, we are Unicorn Society fans, too!  And moving on to Grimm fans (I just requested a copy from our middle school for Evan.)


Here's my blog post on Book #1:
Unicorn Rescue Society: Creature of the Pines

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Would you like some cake with your Maupin?

...or aka "An Ode to Audiobooks"

I had been in between audio books until late last week.  That was causing a big problem in my running routine. Little did I know that listening to a little CAKE would bring me back 25 years to San Francisco.  Not really San Francisco, but the life of Armistead Maupin's characters in Tales of the City.  Yes, way before I became a librarian, I was addicted to those characters (you know I'm a character girl) and could not put down any of those books circa my life in the early 1990s.

About that same time, I discovered "Cake."  Sort of a funk, rock, country band that you may have heard of when they made a remake of "I Will Survive."  I loved, still love, their first album from 1994.  That was a good year.  I had a boyfriend (my husband). I was in graduate school for health education at the University of Maryland. And I was having a ton-o-fun.  CDs were the rage and I was listening to my "Motorcade of Generosity" on loop (if you could even do that back then).

I still love those songs but boy has a sea of guilt fell over me my last few runs.  I was not listening to a book! How could I just listen to music?  I'm always reading, thinking, doing something related to my job.  As it was, while I was enjoying my "Cake" I was editing this blog post in my head.  Whatever. That's how I roll and I'm still loving that I'm humming these songs days later.

Audiobooks All Around

Today's NYT Book Review reviewed several new audiobooks including Becoming Madeline: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters. The book is written by her granddaughters and read by them.  Only 2 1/2 hours long, this would be a good choice for a shorter road trip or just a week driving around town.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Jen Cannell, had an article published in the most recent issue of School Library Connection on ebooks and audiobooks.  She includes some great tips on how to keep "the reading momentum going throughout the summer." I heavily rely on Overdrive for my audiobooks on my road trips and when I want to read a book "instantly" after midnight and I'm hundreds of miles from home.

My Audiobook Slides

Thursday I presented my love for books at a recent workshop.  I couldn't leave out my passion for audiobooks and my crushes on the characters and readers.  Have I ever mentioned my crush on Michael Crouch's voice before?  I never met a book read by him that I didn't like.

And on that note, I have chores to do and a run to squeeze in before the rain falls again.  No more guilt--I have a book to listen to!

*ps-I just realized I titled that slide, "I run to YA" and included Lily and Dunkin on that one. Lily and Dunkin is really middle grade.  This slide really was about the readers--I listened to Perks of Being a Wallflower right after we saw Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway and Noah Galvin was our Evan.  Noah is the reader for this book.  Michael Crouch reads Lily and Dunkin and Simon (see above!) 😉

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Royal Reflection

This morning I realized that my son is nearly the exact same age I was when Lady Diana wed Prince Charles.  It was 1981 and I was in Maine spending the summer in Waldoboro.  We didn't have a TV so the best I could do was look closely at all the photos in the paper the following day.  It satisfied me enough but boy did I feel left out that I didn't see it live.

I loved Diana.  I wanted to be her.  Even down to her hairstyle.  That year in Seventeen magazine there was a how-to on her hairstyle that you could cut out and hand over to your hairdresser.  I did it and looked awful.  Did my hairdresser know better? Of course.  I can still picture her telling me that it wasn't going to work on my curly, thick hair.  But I insisted. Thankfully, hair grows.

Today when I have a TV and Internet, I didn't set my alarm or attend any parties (I heard about this one at the Kansas City Public Library on NPR yesterday) but I did tune in when I finally managed to get out of bed.  I missed the ceremony but still got my share of the pomp and circumstance. And my tears were flowing. C'mon. Who doesn't cry at weddings?

The news these days is not good so a fairytale royal wedding is medicine for the soul. An escape, even if it's for an hour.  That's what reading does for me, too.  Plucks me right out of my life for a while. It's cliche but true. Take me to another world, another life, please.

Last week I finished Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, a perfect lead up to today's event. Englishman Monty, his younger sister, Felicity and his best friend, Percey embark on a year long "Grand Tour" of the continent sometime in the 1700s.  There's a stolen box from Versailles pirates, parties, drinking, sex, Monty's love for Percey (unrequited or requited?) and quests...this exciting young adult novel has it all. The adventure, the triplet, the English countryside had me thinking it was a more-than-PG-13-but-less-than-R-rated version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as Monty, Felicity and Percey seek to find a mysterious cure. The sequel from Felicity's point of view, comes out October 2.

Thank you Royal Family for giving me the opportunity to escape to England for the second time this week and congratulations Harry and Meghan from across the pond, up the Hudson River over in Castleton.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mac B. Kid Spy Mac Undercover

Izzy is back again the second time this week!  Yesterday she went home with Mac B. Kid Spy Mac Undercover, a new book by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Mike Lowery that comes out in September. She read it in one night! Here's what she had to say about it:

"This book is about Mac, just a regular kid. Then he gets a call from the Queen of England! She says that one of the crown jewels has been stolen and Mac has to find it."
One of Izzy's classmates, Gabe, stopped by and was eavesdropping in our conversation.  He started to ask Izzy some questions:

"Who's Mac? Is he cool?" Gabe asked.
"He's the main character and yeah, he's cool!" Izzy said with a smile.
"Who's the dog?" Gabe wondered while stealing a look at the cover.
"He's one of the many Queen of England's corgis! She has them as pets." Izzy replied. "Now back to the book--Someone left a note that they stole the jewel and Mac has to figure out how to get it back. Will Mac find the jewel? If he does, will he be able to outsmart the guards to get it back to the Queen? Read this sneaky spy book to figure it out! I recommend this book to kids in grades 1 and up.  You can't be too old to read a good book.
"By the way, I was on the swings when I was the reading the part when the Queen called Mac and said she wasn't paying him to eat cheeseburgers and she wasn't even paying him! That made me fall off the swing!"


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ocean Renegades!

Izzy is BAAAAACCCCKKKK! This time she's reviewing the first book in a new nonfiction graphic novel series, Earth Before Us: Ocean Renegades due out this August.

"The new book, Ocean Renegades, is an informational book but it's also pretty funny. Miss Lernin is babysitting Ronnie while his parents are away.  But the babysitting turns into quite the adventure.  All Ronnie wanted to do was go to the playground and check out the new swings.  Instead, Miss Lernin and Ronnie ended up at the aquarium. When they were looking at all the fish, they decided to time travel. They end up at the time before the dinosaurs.  They learn that even before land animals existed there were so many living creatures that are still evolving to this day. It would be awesome if when I was babysat for that I got to travel to time before the dinosaurs!
"If you want to learn about before land animals 
existed in a fun way, read this book!"
Earth Before Us: Ocean Renegades! by Abby Howard comes out this August by Abrams.