Monday, May 12, 2003

Break Any Woman Down by Dana Johnson

Great short stories about black women in the South and LA. Loved it.
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

This is his first children's book and his first book that I have read.

Why is someone determined to keep the Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House from starting construction? And who is the barefoot boy Roy saw running past the school bus? Learn all this and more in a great eco-mystery.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Just Like Beauty by Lisa Lerner

In a world controlled by the Just Like conglomerate and saturated with chemicals, Edie Stein is determined to be Deansville's Feminine Woman of Conscience.

This novel is incredibly great. Wonderful writing. Believable sci-finess.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Disappearing Ingenue: The Misadventures of Eleanor Stoddard by Melissa Pritchard

Interesting set of short stories that are about one main character. Sometimes it was hard to figure out the time-line and there were discrepancies about where grew up and father's occupation. Well, maybe not discrepancies but unexplained changes in different stories.

Monday, April 14, 2003

The Greatest of Marlys! and The Freddie Stories by Lynda Barry

Two great collections of Lynda Barry's comics. I need to find a newspaper around here that carries her.
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

Slammerkin: a loose dress, a loose woman. About a young teenager who ends up as a prostitute in 18th century England. Not as interesting as I expected but fairly well-written.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia

This book is hilarious. A detective story where dinosaurs still walk the Earth disguised as humans. Very cool.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Kind of boring story of an artist dealing with issues she has with childhood friends.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Nectar: a novel of temptation by Lily Prior

I don't know who this novel is tempting but it certainly wasn't me. The premise, an albino woman who has an entrancing scent, is interesting, but there are way too many characters and the plot leaves a lot to be desired.
Yellow by Don Lee

A collection of short stories about Asian-Americans living in the fictional town of Rosarita Bay near SF in California. Very nice.
Come Up and See Me Sometime by Erika Krouse

Great collection of short stories, each prefaced by a quote from Mae West.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Quentins by Maeve Binchy

A great novel that revolves around a restaurant in Dublin. Brings in characters from some of her previous novels.
Still Life With Woodpecker: A sort of love story by Tom Robbins

When an exiled princess meets an on-the-lam bomber, hilarity and love ensue.

I didn't like it as much as Skinny Legs and All but I could actually get through it as opposed to Another Roadside Attraction which I could not get into.

Recommended by Sarah B.
Just who the hell is SHE, anway? by Marisa Acocella

Interesting comic about the new career woman.

Friday, March 21, 2003

I read a bunch of books by Lois Lowry because I was doing a group presentation on her. She writes wonderful books.

Summer to Die- semi-autobiographical about a girl whose older sister dies of cancer.

Gathering Blue- the second in an informal trilogy of sci-fi stories that started with The Giver. A crippled girl is orphaned and then taken in by the government. Very interesting.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Nonfiction Relevant to Cultural Diversity

Multiple Authors, The World in 1492, Henry Holt and Company, 1992

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1993

Age Range: 9 and up

Quality: Well written essays on the civilizations of the different continents in 1492

Potential Use: homework, curriculum support, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: Great for historically interested children. Also great for showing the developments outside of Europe.
Book about Native Americans

Louise Erdrich, The Birchbark House, Hyperion Books for Children, 1999

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2000

Age Range: 8 and up

Quality: Well written narrative about a year in the life of an Ojibwa family.

Potential Use: book talk, curriculum support, free voluntary reading, story time

Child Appeal: Engaging story of survival focused on the seven year-old girl in the family
Picture Book about Asian-Americans

Milly Lee, Nim and the War Effort, Yangsook Choi, Frances Foster Books, 1997

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1998

Age Range: 6-9

Quality: Engaging story and beautiful pictures.

Potential Use: story time, curriculum support, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: Kids will relate to trying to win a contest.
Novel about Asian-Americans

Laurence Yep, Dragon’s Gate, HarperCollins, 1993

Source: Newbery Honor 1994

Age Range: 10 and up

Quality: Well-written story about the Chinese who built the railroads in the U.S.

Potential Use: curriculum support, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: For children who are interested in the role of immigrants in the U.S.
Picture Book about Latinos

Pam Muñoz Ryan, Mice and Beans, Joe Cepeda, Scholastic, 2001

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2002

Age Range: 5-8

Quality: Simple text with Spanish mixed in and colorful, engaging illustrations.

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: Kids will love how the mice help prepare for the party.
Short Story Collection about Latinos

Gary Soto, Baseball in April and Other Stories, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990

Source: Pura Belpré Honor 1996

Age Range: 8 and up

Quality: Great stories about real life from impressing a girl to playing baseball.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, book talk

Child Appeal: Kids can relate to the situations and anxiety about growing up.
Novel about African-Americans

Mildred D. Taylor, Let the Circle be Unbroken, Dial Books, 1981

Source: Coretta Scott King Medal 1982

Age Range: 8 and up

Quality: Well-written novel that continues the story of the Logan family started in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.

Potential Use: curriculum support, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: For older children and those that liked Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Sports Book

Sue Macy, Winning Ways: A photohistory of American women in sports, Henry Holt and Company, 1996.

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1997

Age Range: 9 and up

Quality: Well researched book with index, table of contents and chronology. Also includes great photographs and additional resources.

Potential Use: homework, free voluntary reading, curriculum support

Child Appeal: Very interesting history of women in sports. Great photographs help document the changing attitudes towards women athletes.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Social Science Book

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Black Potatoes: The story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850, Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2002

Age Range: 10 and up

Quality: Well researched with a table of contents, an index, and a timeline. Also includes illustrations from the time.

Potential Use: homework, curriculum support

Child Appeal: Great for historically minded children and those interested in Irish history.
Sex Education Book

Robie H. Harris, It's So Amazing! A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies, and family, Michael Emberley, Candlewick Press, 1999.

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2000

Age Range: 6-12

Quality: Well researched to include answers to as many questions as possible. Includes an index and table of contents as well as moving chronologically.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, parent-child discussion

Child Appeal: Great illustrations. Deals with the issues in a non-confrontational manner. Acknowledges both kid's curiosity and disdain for the subject.
Hobby Book

Gail Gibbons, Click! A book about cameras and taking pictures, Little, Brown & Company, 1997.

Source: Children's Catalog 2002

Age Range: 6-10

Quality: It has no index or table of contents but it moves in a linear way through how cameras work, film and developing, taking photographs, and a brief history of the camera.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: Easy text and lots of illustrations to pull kids in. Great for beginning photographers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Poetry Book

Francisco X. Alarcón, Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risueños y otros poemas de primavera, Children's Book Press, 1997

Source: Pura Belpré Honor 1998

Age Range: 6-12

Quality: great poems in Spanish and English

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, curriculum support, story time
Poetry Anthology

Simon James, Days Like This: A Collection of Small Poems, Candlewick Press, 1999

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2001

Age Range: 5-10

Quality: Good variety of short poems with contemporary illustrations

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading, curriculum support

Child Appeal: poems are short and about things that appeal to children
Folktale Anthology

Virginia Hamilton, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, Leo and Diane Dillon, Alfred A. Knopf, 1985

Source: Coretta Scott King Medal 1986

Age Range: 8 and up

Quality: Great introduction dealing with slavery. After each story there is an explanation of the source and a bibliography of other versions. Great black and white drawings.

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading, curriculum support

Child Appeal: for older children since some deal with brutality of slavery, but animal stories will appeal to all ages.
Picture Book Folktale

Marisa Montes, Juan Bobo Goes to Work, Joe Cepeda, HarperCollins, 2000

Source: Pura Belpré Honor 2002

Age Range: 6-12

Quality: simple pictures illustrate a humorous story from Puerto Rico

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: humorous story about the town fool who never gets it right
Picture Book Folktale

John Steptoe, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1987

Source: Coretta Scott King Medal 1988

Age Range: 8-12

Quality: Beautiful illustrations and text inspired by the Zimbabwe ruins where it was collected

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading, curriculum support

Child Appeal: good and kind prevails over mean and greedy
Picture Book Folktale

Ed Young, Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story From China, Philomel, 1989

Source: Caldecott Medal 1990

Age Range: 8-12

Quality: Beautiful pictures and a great text translated from a collection of Chinese folktales

Potential Use: story time, free voluntary reading, curriculum support

Child Appeal: classic story with a twist, intriguing illustrations (look for the wolf)

Friday, February 14, 2003

Uptown by Brian Collier

A great tour of Harlem. Great collage pictures.
Controlled Vocabulary "Easy Reader"

Betsy Byars, The Golly Sisters Ride Again, Sue Truesdell, HarperCollins, 1994

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1995

Age Range: 5-8

Quality: Amusing vignettes of traveling sisters who sing and dance

Potential Use: free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: humor and short easy to read stories
Controlled Vocabulary "Easy Reader"

Charlotte Pomerantz, Outside Dog, Jennifer Plecas, HarperTrophy, 1993

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1994

Age Range: 7-9

Quality: Child-like pictures accompany an easy to follow story.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: About a child who wants a dog, very easy to relate
Picture Book for 9 and older

David Macaulay, Black and White, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990

Source: Caldecott Medal

Age Range: 9 and up

Quality: Great illustrations and text for four stories that may or may not be related

Potential Use: book talk, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: Intriguing style and stories are great for puzzle lovers

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Picture Book for K-3

Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach, Crown Publishers, 1991

Source: Coretta Scott King Award 1992

Age Range: 5-8

Quality: Quilt inspired illustrations accompany a great text about dreams.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, story time, curriculum support

Child Appeal: engaging story about achieving dreams
Picture Book for K-3

Mary Hoffman, Amazing Grace, Caroline Binch, Dial Books for Young Readers, 1991

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1992

Age Range: 5-8

Quality: Very realistic illustrations accompany a lively story.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, story time

Child Appeal: likable character with a lot of imagination and energy
Picture Book for Preschoolers

David Shannon, No David!, Blue Sky/Scholastic, 1998

Source: Caldecott Honor 1999

Age Range: 2-4

Quality: Child-like pictures and simple text send a more complex message

Potential Use: story time, parent-child discussion

Child Appeal: every preschooler's experience
Picture Book for Preschoolers

Uri Shulevitz, Snow, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998

Source: Caldecott Honor 1999

Age Range: 2-4

Quality: Beautiful pictures and simple text capture the joy of an unexpected snowfall.

Potential Use: story time

Child Appeal: engaging pictures and little text deal wonderfully with a great joy of childhood, snow!
The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy

A great collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

The Egypt Game
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
215 pp. New York:
Atheneum, 1976
$14.95. (Ages 8 to 12)

There has been much talk lately about how television, video games and the Internet are rotting children's minds and bodies. They don't read or go outside and play. Maybe what they need is a reminder of simpler times. Maybe they need to read The Egypt Game.
Although The Egypt Game was written in 1976, it still deals with issues relevant to kids today: moving, making new friends, and crime. Throughout the adventure and mystery of the book one thing is conspicuously absent, television. The characters read, go to school, and play outside but never do they watch T.V.
The story begins when April's mother sends her to live with her grandmother. The university town is not where April wants to be after living with her aspiring actress mother in Hollywood but she figures it will not be for too long. Soon she meets her neighbor Melanie and her younger brother Marshall. Melanie and April soon discover their mutual love for imagination games and ancient Egypt. When they find the unused yard behind the A-Z curio shop, they realize it will be perfect for the Egypt game.
In order to prepare for the game, Melanie and April read all of the books, fiction and non-fiction, about ancient Egypt that are in their local public library. They also are characterized as voracious readers when they first meet.
After the research is done and a new tenant in their building, Elizabeth, is added to the group, they are ready to begin the game. Unfortunately this is when tragedy strikes. A child in their neighborhood is murdered and the police suspect a resident is to blame. Fingers start pointing at the Professor, a quiet old man who owns the A-Z shop. Now they can not leave the apartment building except to go to school. With Halloween approaching, the children decide to make costumes for the game. Parents agree to serve as chaperones for groups of kids so that the neighborhood can go trick-or-treating. This is a golden opportunity to visit Egypt again.
When they sneak off to Egypt during Halloween, they are followed by Toby and Ken from their sixth grade class. Now that they've been discovered they bring the boys in to keep the secret. Ken would rather play basketball but Toby is very excited and asks the girls what books they looked at so that he can come up with ideas too.
Soon the game is in full swing again with Egyptian names, hieroglyphics for sending messages, and new ceremonies. Then comes the oracle. After their teacher talks about them in class, the kids decide that an oracle is just what Egypt needs to liven things up. After more research the oracle is started. The oracle ends up starting another mystery when someone not involved with the game leaves an answer.
It all gets wrapped up at the end with the murderer being caught, with help from Marshall, and the discovery that the Professor answered the oracle's question.
Throughout the novel, the children use the library and books in order to fuel their imaginations for their game. The adventures they create are as riveting as the ones on T.V. or in video games. The Egypt Game can open a child's mind to the power of their imaginations.
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Egypt Game. 1976. 215p. Atheneum. $14.95 (0-689-30006-9).
Gr. 4-6. When April's mother sends her away to live with her grandmother, April is sure that the university town will not be nearly as exciting as Hollywood. Boy is she wrong! After meeting her neighbor Melanie they discover an interest in imagination games and ancient Egypt. This leads them to create the Egypt game, with Melanie's little brother Marshall, in an empty lot by the antique and curio shop. As more people are added to the game, tragedy strikes. A child is murdered! Now no one can play outside. Will the Egypt game ever be played again? Will the murderer be found? These and other questions are answered in The Egypt Game. This book is good for kids who like to read. Zilpha Keatley Snyder captures the world of children making their own fun in her engaging prose. Although today's children may be surprised to see kids having fun without video games and television, they will enjoy the adventure and mystery.
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Egypt Game. New York: Atheneum, 1976.
April thinks living with her grandmother will be boring but then she meets Melanie and the Egypt game begins.
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

I love Ramona! In this book she is starting the 3rd grade at a new school. She still has to deal with being nice to Willa Jean and helping her family while her father goes back to school.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Well-written story about Mexican ranch owners who lose their land and have to be migrant farmworkers in the US. Based on the story of the author's grandmother.

The story was alright but I couldn't relate to the characters at all.
Miracle's Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

When Lafayette's older brother Charlie comes home from Rahway Correctional, he's like a new person. Without their mother there will Lafayette, Charlie and Ty'ree ever be a family again?

A great book about 3 brothers trying to make it after their parents die. Touches on juvenile crime and gangs.

Monday, February 03, 2003

I'm the One That I Want by Margaret Cho

This is a great book. Comedienne Margaret Cho makes you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, as she relates her years of eating disorders and drug abuse while trying to make it in Hollywood. I haven't seen the eponymous movie but I've been planning to. I did see Notorious C.H.O..

Monday, January 27, 2003

Fantasy Novel

Nancy Farmer, The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, Orchard Books, 1994

Source: Newbery Honor 1995

Quality: Very engaging and original story set in Africa.

Potential Use: curriculum support, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: A great adventure that mixes futuristic fantasy with African folk culture
Historical Novel

Karen Hesse, Witness, Scholastic, 2001

Source: ALSC Notable Book 2002

Age Range: 10 and up

Quality: very moving, personal narrative poetry

Potential Use: curriculum support, book talk

Child Appeal: older, historically-minded children
Contemporary Realistic Novel

Virginia Walter, Making Up Megaboy, Katrina Roeckelein, DK Ink, 1998

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1999

Age Range: 8-13

Quality: Writing is good. Good use of different viewpoints and graphics.

Potential Use: classroom discussion, free voluntary reading

Child Appeal: characters are real and engaging. Graphics draw you in.
Contemporary Realistic Novel

Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1998

Source: ALSC Notable Book 1999

Age Range: 9-12

Quality: Realistic first-person narrative. Writing style really captures the main character's personality.

Potential Use: free voluntary reading, discussion of attention disorders

Child Appeal: fast-paced, engaging, likable character
Contemporary Realistic Novel

Angela Johnson, Heaven, Simon & Schuster, 1998

Source: Coretta Scott King Award 1999

Age Range: 10-12

Quality: A nice mixture of personal narrative and correspondence

Potential Use: book talk, free voluntary reading, discussing adoption

Child Appeal: engaging story, kind of slow moving

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Her by Laura Zigman

When Elise's fiance's ex-fiancee shows up in their lives, she becomes a paranoid stalker. Will their engagement survive? Very well-written and DC references.
Sex and the Single Sister by Maryann Reid

Five novellas about single, black women in different cities. I didn't really like the writing style.
Wild Cats & Colleens by Morag Prunty

A rich Irish-american's search for an Irish wife turns Dublin upside down. Hilarious.
Girl's Poker Night by Jill A. Davis

Ruby dumps her boyfriend and moves to New York write a newspaper column about single women in the city. Unfortunately she falls for her boss. Hilarity and neurosis ensues.

Monday, January 13, 2003

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

When Mary Alice goes to live with her crochety old Grandma for a year during the Depression, she doesn't know how what will happen.
I also read some random Harlequin Romance novels over break.
The Handyman by Carolyn See

Bob spend the summer before art school as handyman, changing his life and the lives of his clients irrevocably. Very well-written. I loved it.
Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller

Now a major motion picture. This collection of short stories examines the intersecting lives of seven women . Very well written.
Filthy Rich by Dorothy Samuels

When Marcy's boyfriend dumps her on national tv after she fails as his lifeline, she is thrown into fame and winds up with more than she ever hoped for.
How to be Good by Nick Hornby

Not as funny as High Fidelity but still amusing. A wife's affair sets her husband on the path to "goodness" with many twists and turns.
Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke

A well-written gritty love story about a soldier gone AWOL to drive his pregnant girlfriend home.
Me Times Three by Alex Witchel

A funny coming of age novel where a writer for a New York fashion magazine discovers that her fiancé is engaged to two other women.