Archive for the ‘New Books 2009 school year’ category

Where the Mountain meets the Moon by Grace Lin

March 16, 2010

Words that come to mind when describing this year’s Newbery Award runner-up: enchanted, elegant, exciting, timeless, beautiful…

Minli (whose name means “quick thinking”) and her parents live in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, in China. They work hard in the rice fields yet they are still very poor, with barely enough rice to eat. Minli’s mother worries and complains about their hard life, but her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. One day Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, hoping he will tell her the true secret to good fortune. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon, an orphan, a group of greedy monkeys, and a king. Interwoven with Minli’s quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way, which are drawn from traditional Chinese folklore. The author’s full-color illustrations are stunning. Grace Lin has created a strong, likeable heroine and a fascinating glimpse of another country.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

February 25, 2010

This year’s Newbery Honor book presents a very charming main character, Calpurnia (“Callie Vee”) Tate , who is growing up surrounded by six brothers on a cotton and pecan plantation in Texas. It is 1899 and girls are expected to learn to sew, cook, play the piano, and dream of getting married someday. What do you think Callie Vee would rather do? Study nature! She loves observing plants, bugs, and animals, and her mysterious old Grandaddy, an amateur naturalist, begins to teach her what he knows about science and the great outdoors. Her favorite brother gives her a notebook to write down her observations, and Callie’s new scientific life is officially “launched”. There are humorous sections where Callie struggles to please her mother and lots of vivid details of family life with her older and younger brothers. (If you liked Our Only May Amelia, you will understand that Callie and May Amelia would be wonderful friends!) Throughout the book there is mounting anticipation: will Callie be able to pursue her dream of being a scientist? Read this wonderfully engaging story even if science and nature aren’t your favorite subjects: it’s a wonderful eye opener about growing up 100 years ago.

Newbery Award Winner!

February 8, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is this year’s Newbery Award Winner.  That’s a big deal in the children’s book world:  it’s like winning the Academy Award for the Best Movie of the Year.  I quickly drove to the nearest book store when I heard the news, purchased a copy, and sat down to read the book in one sitting.  The book is a quick read, exciting and mysterious but also rather confusing because it’s about TIME TRAVEL, a concept that can be difficult to understand, even for adults!

The book’s setting is New York City in 1978.  Miranda, a sixth grader, is learning to navigate school, friendship issues, and life in her city neighborhood.   Her favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, a classic children’s book from the 60’s about time travel.  One day when walking home from school, her best friend Sal gets punched in the stomach by an older boy who hangs out down the street from their apartment building. Sal pulls away from Miranda after that and stops hanging out with her. Miranda feels completely lost without him.  Walking home alone is no fun, especially as she must pass the crazy old man by the mailbox.  Then, the notes start arriving, notes that tell her things about the future.  Here’s the first one:

I am coming  to save your friend’s life, and my own…

First, you must write me a letter….

You will keep reading to find out WHO is writing the notes, and HOW the puzzle is going to be solved.   Though I’m not sure I would have voted for this book to win the Newbery Award, it is well-written and thought-provoking. I particularly liked the positive relationship Miranda has with her mom, the lessons Miranda learned about friendship and caring about others, and the connection to A Wrinkle in Time.

Caldecott Medal winner!

January 24, 2010

Drumroll, please! The Caldecott Medal, awarded each year by the American Library Association to the artist of the best American picture book for children published that year, was awarded last Monday to Jerry Pinkney for The Lion and the Mouse, a wordless adaptation of the famous Aesop fable.

How about this for an unusual, daring book cover?  No title, no author’s name!  And who do you think the lion is looking at out of the corner of his eye?  Guess who is pictured on the BACK of the book?

Check The Lion and the Mouse  out and see how Pinkney’s glowing watercolor paintings deliver the heartwarming old tale about the unlikely friendship between a strong lion and a meek field mouse. And remember:  no act of kindness is ever wasted!

More books in the Freddy series!

January 8, 2010

Do you like humorous, adventurous animal fantasies? If so, you might like the “Golden Hamster Saga” by Deitlof Reiche, which consists of five books: I, Freddy; Freddy in Peril; Freddy to the Rescue; The Haunting of Freddy; and Freddy’s Final Quest.

Freddy is a young and daring hamster who is tired of his boring life in the pet shop. In the first book, I, Freddy, he is taken home by a young girl named Sophie. At his new home, he learns to read and write and while Sophie is gone one day, he simply unlatches his cage and sets off for the greatest adventure of his life. During this adventure, he meets a tough cat named William and two snobby guinea pigs named Enrico and Caruso who end up helping him along the way. Translated from German, this heartwarming, humorous story will teach you about courage, facing your fears, and how to enjoy life. There are wonderful line drawings throughout the text, adding to the humor and excitement.

Check out book one and see if it interests you enough to read the whole series!

New Year, New Books…something for everybody!

January 4, 2010

Welcome back to school, everybody! The snow outside is beautiful! This is my favorite time of year because I can cross country ski and then come inside and read by the fire: two perfect activities! Here are some new books in the CPS Library for you to check out and enjoy:

The A-Z Mysteries is a very popular series, and I have just filled in some missing titles: Missing Mummy, Kidnapped King, Panda Puzzle, Talking T. Rex, Vampire’s Vacation, Zombie Zone, and Invisible Island. Join Josh, Dink, and Ruth Rose as they continue to solve mysteries.

Babymouse Skater Girl, The Musical, and Dragonslayer are new to the library this month. If you are a fan of this graphic novel series, don’t miss these new titles.

Here’s a new action adventure series I just discovered: Andrew Lost. Andrew is a ten-year-old inventor who has a pocket robot named Thudd. Together they invent things like a shrinking machine and a time machine. Will Andrew, Thudd, and Judy (Andrew’s 13-year-old cousin) make it back from the time of the dinosaurs? from the beginning of the universe? How will they dodge dangerous creatures in the Australian rain forest when they have shrunk themselves to the size of bugs? An exciting new series that is similar to The Magic Tree House.

Horrible Harry is quite popular in the middle grades. I just purchased Horrible Harry and the Holidaze, Horrible Harry and the Triple Revenge, and Horrible Harry Bugs the three Bears. Don’t miss Harry’s highjinks.

The Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett

December 3, 2009

Do you like dolls and fairies?  This book is 100 years old and has just come out in a new version with beautiful, detailed illustrations.  The same author who wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess wrote this story of two dollhouses and the dolls who inhabit them.  The old, shabby doll  house (Racketty- Packetty House) is shoved in a corner when a beautiful new Tidy Castle arrives.  But the dolls who live in Racketty-Packetty House still dance and sing and have wonderful times;  that is, until they find out their house is going to be destroyed.  Lucky for the dolls there is a band of fairies in the house!  Read this wonderful old classic to find out how the fairies save the day.