Sunday, December 30, 2012

Too Many Toys

This seems like the perfect week to introduce David Shannon’s Too Many Toys. Spencer has too many toys. He gets toys from Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles and cousins, he got toys for his birthday and at birthday parties, at the drive-thru and even at the dentist. Sound familiar? Mom is fed up with Spencer’s toys strewn everywhere and tells him he needs to downsize. “A CATASTROPHE!” He loves all his toys so Mom helps him. They negotiate over almost every toy except for a misspoken pirate who turns out to be Dad’s toy. Finally all the toys have been sorted into keep or give away piles. The give-away toys are boxed up and Mom goes to have a well-earned cup of tea and a short rest. She returns to find a big messy pile of toys on the floor. Spencer agrees that he has too many toys but he says the box makes the best toy ever.

Too Many Toys

David Shannon’s artwork adds to the text. There is a wonderful drawing of Spencer’s Dad stepping on a Lego with wildly dramatic exaggeration in a way that many kids see adults (much ado about nothing).

The Yulupa Library has 3 copies and the Sonoma County Library has many copies of this book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s books are used in many kindergarten and first grade classrooms at Yulupa, especially in December.

Mossy is Jan Brett’s newest book. Mossy is a turtle who lives in a cool damp place. A garden begins to grow on her shell. On the day she meets Scoot, another turtle, she is scooped up by Dr. Caroline for an exhibit in her museum. Dr. Caroline and her niece, Tory, make a beautiful home for Mossy, but Mossy wants to go back to her old home and her new friend, Scoot. Visitors flock to the museum to see the extraordinary turtle. On the day of her class visit, Tory notices that Mossy looks sad. She asks her aunt if she thinks Mossy is happy at the museum. Will Dr. Caroline and Tory devise a way for visitors to see Mossy’s beautiful garden and let her go back home to her friend, Scoot?


The author actually saw a snapping turtle with an underwater garden on his back. It was her inspiration for the book.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies of this book. The Yulupa Library does not have this book, but has a huge selection of other Jan Brett books.

A  recently published seasonal  book is Home For Christmas. It is about a troll named Rollo who runs away from home because he does not want to do his chores.  Rollo lives with an owl family, a bear family and an otter until it turns cold. Then he travels with a Lynx who was as wild as he is until food gets harder to find and he notices the hungry look in the lynx's eyes. Next he comes upon a Moose family who eventually lead him home in time for Christmas.

Home For Christmas  Like all of Jan Brett’s books, this one is lavishly illustrated.

home_for_christmas_14-15 The Sonoma County Library has many copies and it can be found in many local bookstores.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

There’s A Fly Guy In My Soup

This afternoon, I was finishing up a tutoring session in a first grade class when the teacher started a vocabulary lesson. One of the words was “ridiculous” and she said it meant something wasn’t true or shouldn’t be true. That is as good an explanation of the Fly Guy series as any. Not to say that is a bad thing. For many kids it is a wonderful thing. A new Fly Guy book was published this fall, There’s A Fly Guy In My Soup. Tedd Arnold knows what delights kids. He takes an old Marx Brothers’ joke and turns it into a family vacation tale.

Buzz is a young boy with a pet fly named Fly Guy. They became friends when Buzz heard Fly Guy call his name “Buzzzzz! In this book, Buzz, his parents and Fly Guy go to stay at a hotel. The family decides to go to the restaurant but Fly Guy cannot go with them, so he heads out to the garbage cans to find a meal, he smells something delicious and follows the aroma to the restaurant kitchen. He winds up in a bowl of soup and causes messy mayhem in the restaurant. At the end, everyone needs a bath.

You can read about another Fly Guy book here.


There's A Fly Guy In My Soup

The Yulupa Library has six copies. The reading grade level is 1.6. The Sonoma County Library has many copies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lemony Snicket on the Radio

Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed Lemony Snicket aka Daniel Handler on her NPR program Fresh Air. The author of the 13 volume series, A Series of Unfortunate Events was on Terry’s program to talk about his new series starring a younger Lemony Snicket called Who Could That Be at This Hour?  using a detective noir style inspired by Raymond Chandler. The first book in the series is All The Wrong Questions. He has also written, in conjunction with illustrator Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat) a book for younger children, called The Dark. You also get to hear him play the accordion. Check it out!

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?

Normally, I would not be reviewing this book for the blog, but since I am building a library for a two month old boy, you will get a glimpse. How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague is one of a long series of books by the pair examine how dinosaurs go to school, say goodnight, eat their food, get well soon and laugh out loud, just to name a few.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah

 How Do Dinosaurs say Happy Chanukah starts with the usual misbehaving dinosaur when mama comes in with the holiday lights, who snatches away dreidels so no one else plays, writes his name on every gift card and grabs up all the gelt. A reformed dinosaur finishes out the eight day celebration by sharing the dreidel, eating his latkes, helping with the dishes and giving  Bubbie and Zaida big Chanukah wishes. Kids who like the other books in this series will like this one too. The artwork is wonderful.

The Sonoma County Library has many copies.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lulu and the Brontosaurus

My oldest daughter’s favorite book in the second grade was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. A few decades later, Judith Viorst is still writing and this time collaborating with Lane Smith as her illustrator. Lulu and the Brontosaurus is the story of Lulu and her quest for a pet brontosaurus.Lulu and the Brontosaurous

The book opens with a disclaimer by the author that she KNOWS that dinosaurs and people never lived on earth at the same time but she is the author and she wants to write about a little girl and a Brontosaurus, so there! Lulu is a very spoiled little girl. She gets what she wants most of the time and when she doesn’t she screeches until the light bulbs burst and throws herself on the ground and kicks her heels and flings her arms. “Just this once” her parents say when they give in to her tantrums.

Two weeks before her birthday, Lulu announces to her parents that she wants a Brontosaurus for her birthday. Her parents try to patiently explain that a brontosaurus is big and would not make an ideal house pet. They suggested alternatives such as a dog, a cat, a hamster even a rat. NO! Lulu wanted a brontosaurus!! After days of pleading, screeching, flailing her arms and kicking her heels, Lulu decides to take things into her own hands. She packs her suitcase and heads out to find a brontosaurus. And find one she does but the brontosaurus wants HER for a pet. How does it end? I am not telling. You will have to read it yourself.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea

Yesterday, I was wandering around Copperfield’s and came across a table that featured children’s books the staff thought were the best of the year. For some reason, The Templeton Twins Have An Idea by Ellis Weiner and illustrated  by Jeremy Holmes stood out. Maybe because the inside flap says that the book is “perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever and funny (just like the [Templeton] twins), and who enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t?!).”

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

Abigail is the theoretical twin who loves cryptic crossword puzzles (pay attention, these are important facts) and John is the practical twin who loves to play the drums. Their father is a famous inventor and scientist and they have a ridiculous dog named Cassie. The twins and Cassie are kidnapped by twins Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean because Dean D. Dean wants something from Professor Templeton. The story is told by an opinionated narrator who keeps asking for affirmations. He (perhaps, she, it is not clear) asks questions at the end of each chapter. Some are practical, some theoretical and some are ridiculous. Oh, and the narrator loves alliteration and there is a recipe for meatloaf.

Abigail and John use their smarts and their talents to escape from their kidnappers, save their father and at the end are getting ready for their next adventure. As you can plainly see, the Templeton Twins are planning on a series.

This would be a fun book to read out loud. It is a perfect book to try out Mo Willem’s Secrets for Raising a Reader, especially secret number 1.

The Sonoma County Library has two copies.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Tale of Despereaux

This Newberry Award winning fairy tale by Kate DiCamillo is the story of Despereaux Tilling, an unusually small mouse, with big ears, who loves the human Princess Pea, music and tales that begin, “Once upon a time” . It is also the story of Roscuro, a rat who loves the light and a serving girl named Miggery Sow who wants to be a princess. As all four of these characters do not conform to their expected roles an interesting fate awaits them. This is a story of love, hope and forgiveness told in a “dear reader” style. The author occasionally asks the reader, “what would you do if…” , which makes it a great book to read with your kids so you can answer those questions together.

The Tale of Despereaux

The Sonoma County Library has many copies of this book and it can be downloaded to a Kindle or in pdf. format. The Yulupa Library has four copies of this book.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Art & Max

Art & Max by David Wiesner is about Art(hur), an artist and Max, an aspiring artist. Arthur is finishing a painting, Max offers a compliment and then asks if he could paint, too. After a bit of a protest, Arthur fixes Max up with canvas, paints and brushes. But Max is stumped, what should he paint? Arthur suggests that Max might paint him. Max, taking the suggestion literally, starts to paint Arthur. What follows is a whirlwind tour through several artistic media to bring Art to a magnificent new look.

Art & Max

Most first graders have been able to read this book easily. They have fun sounding out “ridiculous” and “preposterous” and they love the pictures that tell how Max tries to fix Art’s problem.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies. The Yulupa Library does not have a copy but they have several other books by David Wiesner.