Archive for August 2009

The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French

August 29, 2009

If you like fractured fairy tales and stories that are spooky but not n239111scary, this is a great book for you. The sorceress Lady Lamorna lives in a ghastly castle above the town of Fracture. She has a burning desire for a new gown – black velvet, decorated with poison ivy, spider webs and skulls, but she has no gold in her treasure chest to pay for it. She hatches a plan: she will turn all the local princes into frogs and demand ransoms from their royal parents. The author has written a humorous adventure full of the typical fairy tale characters: a bad prince who is really not the least bit evil, a beautiful but nasty stepsister with a “heart as hard as a frying pan”, a sweet, brave little girl named Gracie who must escape her wicked stepfather, a wise-talking bat, a troll whose head often comes off, and three old crones whose job it is to spin the web of power. French is a wonderful storyteller and the story moves along at a furious pace, taking twists and turns that you wouldn’t predict. This book is a winner.

The Cats of Roxville Station by Jean Craighead George

August 29, 2009

n298560I had a great reading experience yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I packed up my beach chair, lunch, and a new book and headed to the river to read for the day.

The Cats of Roxville Station was my book, and it turned out to be a great choice for reading outside, because there was lots of information about the natural world that’s all around us but that we don’t often notice. Here’s the opening sentence: “A lady in a fur coat threw a fighting, hissing cat off a bridge, got back into her car, and sped into the night.” Poor Rachet! Abandoned, she must now fend for herself . She quickly discovers that there is a group of wild (feral) cats in the neighborhood and she must learn to fight for her place among them. Jean Craighead George is a master of writing about the natural world (she won the Newbery Medal for Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain). In this book we find out about the hidden world of the wild cats; how they hunt, establish their territory, and try to avoid predators like snakes, owls, and foxes. There are humans in the area, too, including the nice “Bent Lady” who feeds the wild cats every day, and Mike, a foster child who wants more than anything to bring Rachet home. Check this book out if you like reading about the animal world. The author does a nice job of combining an interesting story with real facts about how cats communicate with each other and humans. Since reading this book I have had great fun watching my cat move around in the back yard, interacting with other cats (not wild cats!), birds, chipmunks, etc. I learned a lot.

Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly Jones

August 28, 2009

Sand Dollar SummerHere’s a great family story that takes place on the Maine coast. Lise is a 12-year-old with a young brother who is very bright but doesn’t speak. Her mother is raising the two children alone. When I started reading it I thought, “oh, this is going to be one of those stories about an overwhelmed, neglectful mother and Lise will have to take full responsibility for her little brother.” Not so. I was happy to see that the mother is strong and capable, BUT she has a bad accident and decides to recover on an island in Maine where she grew up. Lise is very afraid of the ocean and has no interest in leaving her friends and going to a boring island. The author skillfully shows how Lise changes from a self-centered, resentful, scared girl by means of a few interesting people she meets on the island and an intense encounter with a dangerous hurricane.

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

August 25, 2009

n298538I just finished a new book by Andrew Clements called Extra Credit. You may have read some of his other books, like Frindle, No Talking, or The Landry News. This is the story of two sixth graders, an American girl and a boy in Afghanistan. They become pen pals because she has to do an extra credit project to keep from being held back in sixth grade. The letters flow back and forth and pretty soon there is an unusual friendship building between the two: they not only learn about each other’s completely different ways of life, they also learn to appreciate their own lives. Like Clements’ other books, this is a school story but also much more: it is a story of friendship and real learning. The bonus in this book is that you learn about life in Afghanistan, a country very much in the news these days.

New Graphic Novels!

August 22, 2009

Following last year’s explosion of interest in graphic novels such as the BONE series, Bumperboy, Sticky Burr, and Johnny Boo, I have done some research and found some new titles that I hope will be high quality AND popular with CPS students. Included in the new titles are Despereaux, Jellaby: Monster in the City, Artemis Fowl, Point Blank, and Stormbreaker.  You may notice that all of these titles (except Jellaby) are also novels.  Check out the graphic versions of these favorites and see which format you prefer!

New books added this week!

August 5, 2009

School will be starting in less than a month, and new books are arriving in the CPS Library. This week, the following books have been added

Many new fairy books in the Disney fairy series, as well as the Flower Fairies series. Here are a few titles:

Tink, North of Neverland / The great Fairy Race / Pixie Hollow Paint Day / Iridessa lost at Sea

A second grade student recently had a birthday party, and instead of presents, the girls brought money which was donated to the CPS Library to buy some new books! Thanks, girls, for being so generous! These are some of the books bought with this “birthday donation” :

urlFairy Houses and Beyond by Barry and Tracy Kane

This unusual book is made up of fascinating and beautiful pictures of fairy houses and villages and stories about people’s experiences with building fairy houses. It will stimulate young readers’ creativity, imagination, and love of nature.

book_neverfairies1_000In the Realm of the Never Fairies by Monique Peterson

This guide book provides all the information readers could ever want about Tink, Prilla, Vidia and their fellow fairies. It is filled with fascinating facts about fairy lore, history, daily routines, hobbies and activities, clothing, eating habits, and more.

url-1Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pool by Steve Voake

Daisy Dawson has an amazing gift – she can understand everything that animals say! One day, Daisy and her friends are on a woodland expedition to find and photograph some rather shy otters. But somewhere in the treetops, birds are singing songs about storms – will Daisy get her picture before the bad weather gets them?

h9709Judy Moody goes to College by Megan McDonald

Judy is having trouble with math, so Judy’s parents decide to find her a tutor at the local college. Visiting her tutor on the college campus, Judy enters a new and amazing world and immediately begins to transform her life—and her friends’ lives—into a college student’s life.