Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fly Guy Presents: Space

Tedd Arnold is back with a new non-fiction book about space starring two of his fictional characters, Buzz and Fly Guy. Buzz and Fly Guy go on a field trip to the Space Museum in Fly Guy Presents: Space. Like his previous non-fiction book, Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, this book is part live “action” and part scrapbook. All the photos come from NASA and satellite images. They learn  about the solar system, the sun, planets and the moons orbiting the planets. They also learn  about meteoroids, comets and asteroids. They learn about the sun’s gravity, that it acts like a giant magnet keeping the planets in orbit around it. We meet famous astronauts and learn about some of their accomplishments and about some of the equipment needed to get to space and even to live in space. This is a great introduction to space for kids who only know about it from Star Wars movies.

Fly Guy Presents Space

Tedd Arnold includes pronunciation guides to big, perhaps unfamiliar words like universe (yoo-nih-vurs). The Scholastic reader level is  2nd grade and appeals to K-2nd graders. The Sonoma County Library has several copies of the book. It is also available through Scholastic and other booksellers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some Good Advise From C.S. Lewis

Brave Knight

Hat Tip: Jump Into A Book

The Day The Crayons Quit

The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers has been getting lots of buzz. This is another great collaboration between author and illustrator. Duncan wants to color but instead of finding his box of crayons, he finds a stack of letters. Each letter is from a color  complaining about it is used. Red, Grey and Blue feel overworked, Pink complains that it is not used at all and Black wants to do something besides outlines. Purple is not happy that Duncan does not color in the lines. Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown and Orange and Yellow are having a disagreement over which one of them is the color of the sun. White is unhappy that it doesn’t show up on white paper and Peach feels naked because Duncan has torn off its paper. Each colors’ letter is written in the appropriate color crayon a wide variety of papers you’d find at home or in the classroom.

The Day the Crayons Quit 

Duncan wants to color and wants his crayons to be happy so he takes his crayons criticism to heart and colors a picture that gets him an A for coloring and an A+ for creativity. Duncan’s picture reminds me of one of my favorite Eric Carle books, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse which is dedicated to German expressionist painter, Franz Marc. 

The Artist Who painted a blue Horse

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies. The AR level is 3.8.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bink & Gollie

Roller skating Bink and Gollie are best friends. In this, the first of three books by Newbury Honor winner Kate DiCamillo and New York Times best selling author Alison McGhee, Bink & Gollie, features three adventures  about the two friends. One friend, Bink, is short, with wild blond hair and a penchant for loving things that drive her friend crazy. Gollie is tall and put-together, serious and steady.


The illustrations by Tony Fucile brings these girls to life with all their personality and quirkiness. I have long been fascinated by the relationship between author and illustrator. What kind of collaboration goes on? Whatever happened between the illustrator and the two authors, two unforgettable characters have been created. Bink & Gollie was given the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award in 2011.

Is this a chapter book? It has three of them but with pictures and only a sentence or two per page, perhaps not. Is it a graphic novel? It does not follow the conventions of one. Is it a picture book? It has 81 pages. Even different libraries within the Sonoma County system disagree what it is.  An Amazon review called it a hybrid of all three. Works for me!

The AR level is 2.5. The Sonoma County Library has many copies of this title and the two sequels.

Give With Target Update

Have you voted yet? If you voted for your school last week, you can vote again this week and every week until the program ends on Sept 21 or the $5 million has been allocated. To see what one school did to raise $2750 last year and how they spent the money, check out this You Tube video. You can vote here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Because of Winn-Dixie

In Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo,  India Opal Buloni goes to the Winn-Dixie for some groceries and comes back with a dog. A big, ugly dog who was tearing up the produce aisle at the store. To keep him from going to the pound, Opal (as she is called) claims the dog as her own.  The first name that pops into her head for him is Winn-Dixie.


Opal and her daddy, the preacher, have just moved to Naomi, Florida from a Watley in the north of the state. Since she has moved, she has been thinking about her mother, who left  when Opal was three. As she is bathing and brushing her new dog, she is telling Winn-Dixie about missing her mother. He is looking at her extra hard, so she asks him, “Do you think I should make the preacher tell me about her?”. Winn-Dixie looks at her so hard he sneezes. ( Note: My dog Piper would answer questions with a sneeze for yes and a whole body shake for no.) So Opal learns 10 things about her mother because of Winn-Dixie. She also makes friends with the librarian, a pet store clerk who plays beautiful guitar music and an almost blind woman who the neighbor boys think is a witch, all because of Winn-Dixie.  Opal’s dog becomes the catalyst for creating her new community in Naomi.

The Sonoma County Library has many copies of this Newbery Honor book.

The Yulupa Library has eight copies. The AR level is 3.9 and the test earns 3 points.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Classic Literature Board Books

We don’t often wander into pre-school territory on this blog but the new Baby-Lit books by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver, are too good to ignore. Since my favorite book of all time is Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, I’ll start with Pride and Prejudice: A Baby-Lit Counting Primer.

Baby-Lit Pride and Prejudice

The books stay true to the original story. Here are the “4” pages:

4 marriage proposals

So far there are 12 Baby-Lit classics including Moby Dick (an ocean primer), Alice in Wonderland (a colors primer) and Dracula ( another counting primer). What a great way to learn concepts every pre-schooler needs to know while planting a seed for the future discovery of classic literature.

The Sonoma County Library has a few copies of Moby Dick and Alice in Wonderland. I have found some of these books at Whole Foods and Copperfield's and all of them on Amazon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea

Seven-year old Lulu loves animals and she has lots of pets. Her mother says, “The more the merrier! As long as Lulu cleans up after them!” She has two guinea pigs, four rabbits, one parrot, one hamster, lots of goldfish and an old dog named Sam. Lulu’s best friend and cousin, Mellie, is going on vacation to the beach with Lulu and her family. At the beach house, the family is warned about a dog from the sea who is stealing food wherever he can find it. Right away Lulu wants to know more about the “dog from the sea” and sets out to find out. Lulu and then Mellie and eventually, even Lulu’s parents gain the dog’s trust. In the end, the dog from the sea comes to the rescue of Lulu and Mellie.

Lulu and the dog from the sea 

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay is the second in a series of books about Lulu and her love for animals. I found out about the first book, Lulu and the Duck in the Park, from Anita Silvey’s Children's Book-A-Day Almanac. She had high praise for the first book but when I found a book about a dog, I had to go with that one. A third book, Lulu and the Cat in the Bag is going to be published on September 1, 2013. All the books are illustrated by Pricilla Lamont.

The Accelerated Reader rating is 4.7, but the book is short (108 pages) and the story is straight forward. These books would be great for kids who are reading above grade level at a young age or as read-a-loud books. There are plenty of issues to discuss about animal welfare.

There are many copies of this book in the Sonoma County Library.  The book is also available from Scholastic.

Free Money For Your School.

Again this year, Target is giving away millions of dollars to schools in the United States using the social media sites  Facebook and Twitter. A school needs a minimum of 25 votes to receive money. Twenty-five votes equals $25 for your school. Each additional vote brings one additional dollar to your school. Target is giving 5 million dollars away between now and Sept 21st or until all the money has been allocated. Last year, Target gave 2.5 million dollars this way and it took less than three weeks to give the money away. You can vote once per week. Vote and read about it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Now Something for the Six to Ten Year Olds

From the There is a Book for That Blog is a list of read aloud books for 6 to 10 year olds. Carrie Gelson teaches 3rd and 4th graders in Vancouver, BC. She has read these books to her children and to her students in grades 1-4.

In another post, she recommends books for early readers: Ease into Reading-ready for chapters. Check them out!

Hat Tip: Children’s Literature Network

The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf

From NPR, a list of 100 Must Reads for Kids 9-12. Not all books are appropriate for the youngest in this category. There is some discussion in the comments about whether To Kill A Mockingbird should have been included as it is frequently taught in high school English classes. I read it in seventh grade with the rest of my class. Of course, when I was in the 7th grade, it was a contemporary novel and issues pertaining to civil rights were in the news every day.

The Teen list from last year included a series I read in the second and third grade: The Betsy, Tacy books. It also included at least ten books or series that are in the Must Read List for 9-12 year olds, including To Kill A Mockingbird. Both list include many writers that write for both age groups. One book may lead to another by the same author. There is plenty to keep even your most voracious reader occupied.

Friday, August 9, 2013

E.B. White Explains Why He Wrote Charlotte’s Web

A few weeks before Charlotte’s Web was published, E. B. White’s editor asked him about his inspiration for the book. You can read what he wrote here. It is exactly what I hoped he might have said as I listened to Mrs. Graham, my third grade teacher, read the book to our class.


Hat tip: Read Across America

Glory Be

Today is National Book Lovers Day. The origins of the day are lost in time but it is celebrated on August 9th each year. It is a good day to talk about the book, Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. Glory Be was the July selection of NPR’s Back Seat Book Club. You can listen to the interview with the author here.

Glory Be

It is June 0f 1964 in Hanging Moss, Mississippi. Eleven year old Glory is hot and waiting for her friend, Frankie, so they can go to the Community Pool to cool off. In twelve days, on the fourth of July, Glory will be 12 years old. Every year since she can remember, her birthday party was held at the Community Pool. Glory and Frankie and everyone else soon learns that the Community Pool will be closing to fix “cracks” in the pool. The truth is that the pool is closing because the Civil Right’s Act has passed and been signed into law and blacks can no longer be excluded. Rather than open the pool to everyone in Hanging Moss; the town council has decided to close it.

The other place Glory hangs out is the Library. She helps the librarian, Miss Bloom. One afternoon, she meets a girl from the north, named Laura. Her mother is in town helping set up a medical clinic for the poor. Miss Bloom is looking after Laura while her mother works. Like Glory, Laura loves Nancy Drew mysteries. She shows Laura around town and during their stroll, Laura helps a small black girl drink out of the “whites only” drinking fountain. Glory was, as the Brits say, gob smacked. There was one fountain for whites and another for coloreds and that is the way it had always been.

Glory’s mother died when she was very young. The only mothering she can remember has come from the family's black housekeeper, Emma. Glory and her sister, Jesslyn love and respect Emma. Jesslyn is going into high school in the fall. She and Glory have been on different paths for months. Jesslyn is growing up and her interests are changing and she is not as available as she has always been.

Change is coming to Hanging Moss, too. Freedom Riders are in town registering voters and setting up a medical clinic. Some in town fear the change and others, like Miss Bloom and Glory’s father, Brother Joe Hemphill, embrace it. The story is told through the eyes of an adolescent who until now has not questioned the rules she has lived by. Glory begins to understand that the custom and law she has always lived with are not the same thing as the values she has learned from her father and Emma. As Glory grows and sees that her cancelled birthday party is only a small part of what is wrong with closing the Community Pool, she and Jesslyn forge a new relationship.

The Sonoma County Library has 2 copies of the book. The Yulupa Library also has a copy.  The AR level is 4.3.