Friday, December 21, 2007

Miss Holly is Too Jolly!
By Dan Gutman
Most enjoyed by 1st through 3rd graders

Here's another adventure in the ever popular 'My Weird School' series. Miss Holly is in charge of this year's Christmas program and she is really getting into the holiday spirit. But for which holiday? There's Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa and Miss Holly is determined to celebrate all of them. Will the kids be able to keep up?

Under all the fun, there's some real learning here. Short descriptions of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa introduce kids to the significance of each holiday . Our 1st and 2nd graders absolutely love this series after reading it as part of the Monarch Award program. So if you're still in the holiday spirit, join Miss Holly and be jolly!

Stock Up!

Today's the last day to check out books from the Zion library before the Christmas break. Do you have enough to read over the loooooong two weeks of Christmas vacation? If not, come on up to the library today and check a book or movie out.

Over the break, stop in at the Marengo Public Library and sign up for their winter reading program. For every five books you read, you'll receive a small prize. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
by Peggy Gifford and Valorie Fisher
Most appreciated by 3rd through 5th graders

Moxy Maxwell has been assigned the book 'Stuart Little' to read over summer vacation. She's had three whole months to get the book done, but Moxy keeps finding ways to put 'Stuart' off. Despite the fact that he's gone everywhere with her, she just has not had time to read 'Stuart'. Now it's the day before school starts and she still has not even opened the book. How could she, when she's been so busy practicing her daisy petal routine for tonight's swim show and trying to plant a peach orchard and trying to figure out which of the 211 Career Paths she should take and...and...

Moxy's bubble bursts and she's faced with the down side of having left Stuart under her bed. But what will Moxy think about 'Stuart' when she finally starts reading? Check out 'Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little' and find out - does she?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Winter's Day
By M. Christina Butler
Illustrated by Tina Macnaughton
Most enjoyed by Pre-K through 2nd grade

One windy day, cold air blew Hedgehog's house away. He bundled up in his hat, mittens and scarf and went to stay with Badger. But as he walked along, he met a family of mice, an otter, and a young fawn all shivering from the cold. By the time he reached Badger's house, Hedgehog had shared his hat, mittens and scarf with his friends. But Hedgehog was worried - would he be able to find enough sticks and grass to make a new house after such a terrible storm? Hedgehog's worries are put to rest when he find his kindness in sharing repaid by his friends..

This is a cozy book for a lap-sitting story time. Cuddle up and enjoy touching the fuzzy hat, mittens and scarf that appear on many of the pages. Let the wind howl outside while you stay warm along with little Hedgehog and his friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tracking Trash:
Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion
By Loree Griffith Burns
Great non-fiction for 5th through 8th graders

Alrighty, folks, it's time for a little non-fiction on the blog today. The book we're going to...wait, wait, wait! Don't switch to another site just because I said non-fiction. Yes, the stuff is good for you just like eating your vegetables, but it's actually pretty interesting and easier to read than you think. Probably a lot easier than eating spinach. So hang with me.....

Back in 1990, a ship carrying stuff from Korea to the U.S. got caught in a bad storm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Five containers of Nike shoes (about 80,000 all total) were washed overboard. Somehow, the container broke open and out floated the sneakers. No one knew much about the spill until the sneakers started showing up on beaches along the California coast. Now, who loses that many sneakers when they're at the beach? The story made the papers and caught the attention of scientist Curt E.'s mom. She showed the story to him and asked him to figure out where the sneakers had come from (yes guys, his mom made him do it!). Being a scientist who studies ocean currents, Curt used his knowledge along with data from the ship's log to determine where the exact spill occurred. He put out a call for all beach combers to keep their eyes open for sneakers in order to determine how far they all had floated.

During his research, Curt met another scientist, W. James, who had written a computer program that figured out the movement of the ocean's surface currents. So much data about ocean currents had been gathered that together, the two scientists were able to track the movement of all 80,000 sneakers. When another spill occurred two years later, this time containers carrying bathtub toys, Curt and W. James were able to track exactly where the tub toys would end up.

Pretty cool, huh? There's more, too. More spills, more about ocean movement, more about the impact those spills have on animals (the photo of what was found inside a bird carcass will make you really sad) and more about the people that are working to clean up these spills. After reading 'Tracking Trash', you'll want to be a lot more careful with your garbage, even though we don't live by the ocean.
Bonus: If you read this book, you are guaranteed to come up with at least three ideas for your science fair project next fall. I'll give you one idea - you read the book and see if you can come up with the other two!
Idea No1. - Can your project answer this question - How fast does packaging dissolve in salt water? Packaging, or the paper/plastic/cardboard the stuff we buy comes wrapped in, doesn't always last a long time in the ocean. The salt water eats away at it. But just how long does it last? Is one type of packaging better than another?

Monday, December 17, 2007

N is for Navidad
By Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Most enjoyed by anyone wishing to practice their Spanish!

Here's a great book to celebrate the Christmas holiday and learn some new Spanish words at the same time. The description on the dust jacket describes it best:

"Bienvenidos! to a celebration of Christmas, Latino-style!
From the angel (angel) hung above the door to the
zapatos (shoes) filled with grass for the wise men's camels,
each letter of this festive alphabet introduces children
to a new Spanish word."

The colorful illustrations bring out the joy in the 22 day celebration of Christmas to make this a great introduction to an important part of Latino heritage. Feliz Navidad!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Olivia Helps With Christmas
By Ian Falconer
Most enjoyed by young and old

Everyone loves Olivia, the most precocious piggie ever to grace the pages of a picture book. Olivia wants to help the family get ready for Christmas. There's so much to do. Put up the Christmas tree, watch for Santa, make cookies, watch for Santa, hang stockings so they're just so, watch for Santa. It's almost too much for this little piggie to take! But when Christmas day arrives, Olivia is more than ready to join in the celebrations.

If you're feeling a little Scrooge-ish right about now, pick up 'Olivia Helps With Christmas'. Your spirits will lift and you'll hurry off to bake some cookies or wrap some presents!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Book Wishes 2007

Here at the library, we've created a giant 'book wish' tree. The paper tree hangs on the landing in the stairwell up to the library. Each ornament hung by our students lists the name of a book they are hoping to find under the Christmas tree on Christmas day. Parents, ask your kids what book they put on the wish tree. They just might give you an idea for that last gift you have to buy!

Here's a sampling of some of the titles we're hoping to recieve:

MVP by Douglas Evans
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (reviewed here)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (reviewed here)
Miss Daisy is Crazy by Dan Gutman
The SOS File by Betsy Byars, et al
If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
The OK Book by Amy Krause Rosenthal (reviewed here)
The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo

Wouldn't it be awesome if all of our book wishes were filled?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Talented Clementine
By Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Get ready for Clementine! If you haven't met her yet, pick up one of the titles listed above and meet a character you won't soon forget.

Clementine is a 3rd grader with her own unique view of the world. When best friend Margaret cuts off a chunk of her own hair, Clementine comes to the rescue. The cut part wouldn't look so bad, she thinks, if all the rest of Margaret's hair was short. So she offers to do the cutting, which Margaret happens to like at first. But the teacher isn't impressed and sends Clementine to the principal's office. Margaret's mother isn't impressed either, and is doubly upset when Clementine colors Margaret's hair orange with a permanent marker so that the two girls can look alike. But why, Clementine wonders, should Margaret's mother be upset when Margaret likes the color? Between cutting hair, helping scare pigeons away, and making bologna glasses, Clementine is never still for one moment.

In 'The Talented Clementine', the class is putting on a talent show but Clemetine is sure she doesn't have any talent. As much a she tries, she just can't sing or dance. Margaret makes matters worse because she's so talented, she needs to make an alphabetized list of all her talents. But when the night of the show rolls around, Clementine surprises even herself with the talent she displays.

Clemetine is a new favorite with some of our 1st graders. We've been reading 'Clementine' out loud during library story time and delighting in the antics of this wonderful character. While we don't always want to imitate her, we sure enjoy the adventures Clementine has!

P.S. Yes, Clementine really makes bologna glasses! Read 'Clementine' to find out how then go raid the fridge!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Inkheart Fans Rejoice!
Movie Debuts in March!

In case you're not much of a movie goer, you may have missed the preview for the upcoming film version of 'Inkheart' by Cornelia Funke. Watch the preview then tell me what you think. Doesn't it look like the movie version of this popular book is going to be awesome?

If you haven't read the book yet, be sure to do so before seeing the movie. But be warned - the book is over 500 pages long so start now!

Anxious for the third book in the series to come out? It's called 'Inkdeath' and is scheduled to debut in April 2008. Of course, if you can read German, you could get a copy from Germany and read it right now instead of waiting until April!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Great Joy!
by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Most enjoyed by all ages

Frances is getting ready for her Christmas pageant, but she's curious about the organ grinder and his monkey on the corner. Each day and night, they play for the few coins that clink in the monkey's cup. Frances is curious. Where do they go at night? Can they come for dinner? But Mother is too distracted with Frances's costume and the preparations for the holiday to pay Frances much mind. But Frances's heart is in the right place. Her compassion helps her share the message she's memorized at just the right moment and in just the right way.

Kate DiCamillo, beloved author of "Because of Winn Dixie" and "The Tale of Despereaux", has written a Christmas story to enjoy this season. The illustrations are truly superb. The chill of the streets, the warmth of Frances's apartment, the fear on her face as she can't say her lines in the pageant, are brought to life by Bagram Ibatoulline's beautiful drawings. The artwork is worth looking at well after the story is finished.

Add this one to your library and enjoy it for many Christmases to come!

The Arrival
By Shaun Tan
Most enjoyed by 4th grade and up

The other day, I posted about one of two amazing books on Zion's library shelves this year. The first was ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick. The second title, and today's feature, is ‘The Arrival" by Shaun Tan.

Imagine leaving your home and family to live in a new country in search of a better life. In the new country, you must find a place to live and a job. You know no one. The food is different. The people are not always friendly. You don’t speak the language. You don't know how to get places, can't read road signs, and rely on the kindness of total strangers. Yet you want to survive in this land that promises so much. Along the way, you make mistakes, miss your homeland and make new friends, many who are making the same journey as you.
Now imagine telling your story, but using only pictures. How do you show people your feelings - the fear, the kindness of strangers, the frustration, the homesickness? Shaun Tan is able to convey all of this through his wonderful artwork. While some might call this a graphic novel, it really isn't. It's an art book that happens to portray the story of a immigrant in a way that makes it meaningful to anyone. Even those of us who have never left America to travel to a new country can share the main character's experiences.
This is not a book to be picked up, read, and set down. You'll want to keep coming back to it over and over. Each time, you'll see, and feel, something new.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lawn Boy
by Gary Paulsen
Most enjoyed by 3rd through 6th graders

We are blessed to have a 4th grade teacher here at Zion who does a novel study of Gary Paulsen's Newbery Honor-winning book "Hatchet". Her students love this unit - they love the book, they love the project they do in tandem with the unit. They can't get enough of Gary Paulsen after they finish "Hatchet". And it's for those students, and any other fans of Gary Paulsen's books, that this review is directed. "Lawn Boy" is not Gary's usual backwoods survival story. It's more of a laugh-out-loud-funny survival story set in the suburbs.

Our narrator, Lawn Boy, receives an old lawn mower from his grandmother on his 12th birthday. A neighbor sees him mowing the family yard and asks Lawn Boy to mow his lawn for $20. As more neighbors ask for his help, Lawn Boy soon finds himself walking around with pockets full of cash. Enter Arnold, a stockbroker who lives down the street. He offers to be Lawn Boy's investment advisor. Before long, Lawn Boy is worth thousands and has a crew of twelve workers to do the mowing and landscaping for him. But things really heat up when Lawn Boy sponsors a prize fighter named Joey Pow.

Enjoy this book. It's wild, outrageous, and very funny. You'll want to start your own lawn service when you're done!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
By Brian Selznick
Most enjoyed by 3rd graders and up

"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" has been the most popular book on our fiction shelves this school year. Our fifth grade reading club read it and loved it. In fact, several parents read it and loved it, too. It is one of two books published this year that demonstrate that authors are constantly creating new ways of telling stories. Later this week, you'll read about the second book in our collection that deserves a look because of the way the author shares his story.
Inspired by old silent movies, author Brian Selznick has created a unique book in "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". Part graphic novel, part storybook, it tells the story of young Hugo, orphaned when his father dies in a museum fire. Hugo has been living in a Paris train station, struggling to repair the automaton his father died trying to save. Hugo repairs the clocks in the station which allows him to keep an eye on the small toy shop from which he steals parts to repair the automaton. Hugo hopes the automaton will reveal a secret message once it is fixed. The toy shop is run by a young girl and her grandfather, who catches Hugo stealing and puts him to work. As Hugo gets to know the grandfather, he realizes that the old man has a secret he's hiding that has to do with the automaton. Hugo hopes that by discovering the old man's secret, he'll finally be able to complete the automaton and discover it's hidden message.
What makes 'Hugo' unique is the way the story is told. Brian Selznick outlined the story, then decided which parts could be told in pictures instead of words. Each picture section is about 30 pages long and seamlessly carries the story forward, connecting to the next narrative section. As the illustrated pages turn, the reader gets the sensation of watching a movie, as the focus of a series of pictures zooms in on one aspect of a setting. While the book is over 500 pages long, it is a quick read. And, surprisingly, not intimidating to most readers. In fact, the combination of story and pictures is what makes this book so appealing.
Brian has created an awesome website for "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". On the site, check out the movie link to see the original silent movie 'A Trip to the Moon' from which Brian got his inspiration.
Parents, if you're looking for a book to give for Christmas, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" would be an excellent choice. It's appeal is greatest for 3rd graders on up.
We currently have a waiting list for this book. Stop by the library and add your name to the list so you don't miss this fascinating book.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Labels! We've Got Labels!

Thanks to a great suggestion by a thoughtful 8th grader, our posts now can be searched by grade level. Note that this is not the same thing as reading level. Grade level simply indicates the age group of readers that might be interested in a particular book. Be sure to check out the book itself to make sure it's a reading level you're comfortable with.

Labels are displayed at the bottom of posts. Click on the label that interests you to find all related postings.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The All-I'll Ever-Want Christmas Doll
by Patricia McKissack
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Most appreciated by all ages

"Christmas always came to our house, but Santy Claus only showed up once in a while." It's the Depression, times are tough, but Nellie won't give up hope that this year, Santy Claus will bring her a Baby Betty doll. Her sisters are sure she'll be disappointed. On Christmas morning, Daddy has a special surprise for all of his girls. It's just what Nellie wanted, but the beautiful doll must be shared. "It's mine!" Nellie declares, causing her sisters to play without her. But Baby Betty is not quite the playmate Nellie had hoped she'd be. Nellie finds that sometimes it's more fun to share than to keep something all to herself.

The lesson of this Christmas story is simple. It doesn't overwhelm the joy the sisters find in playing together. The watercolor illustrations are warm and set the time period perfectly. Enjoy this reminder about gifts and their worth with your family.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Elephant and Piggie Books
by Mo Willems
Most enjoyed by preschool through 2nd grade

Mo Willems, of 'Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus' fame, has created a new series of beginner readers that can't be missed. There are four titles in the 'Elephant and Piggie' series that are perfect for beginner readers to read on their own. The vocabulary is simple. Words are used repetitively and are easy to sound out. And, most important of all, Elephant and Piggie are two characters to read about over and over.

In "There is a Bird on Your Head', Elephant discovers that a bird has landed on his head. Soon it's two birds. Actually, as Piggie kindly points out, they are two birds in love who soon start making a nest on Elephant's head. But Elephant does not want birds on his head or a nest either. Piggie, being his friend, helps him get the birds off of his head, but not quite with the results he expected!

Everyone knows pigs can't fly but not Piggie. He wants to fly despite Elepahnt's gentle reminders that pigs can't. In 'Today I Will Fly', Piggie gets the help of Elephant and another friend to learn that sometimes, maybe everyone can fly a bit.

Other titles in the series include 'My Friend is Sad' and 'I Am Invited to a Party!' and provide just as much entertainment as the two books described above. Parents, if you're looking for some fun books to help your child increase their reading skills, the Elephant and Piggie books will do the trick.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy 50th Birthday, Mr Grinch!

It’s hard to believe but the Grinch is celebrating the big 5-0 this year. He hasn’t changed one bit, has he? Let’s hope not! The Grinch is a Christmas staple. Can you imagine celebrating Christmas and NOT watching ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’? So as we begin the countdown to Christmas, let’s say ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Grinch. May he continue to delight and entertain us for another 50 years!

But wait! Have you read the Grinch, watched the Grinch, and still can't get enough? Check out the fun Grinch website in Seussville. There's games and activities all about our favorite grump. Why, you can even decorate your Who tree with Grinch ornaments you print and color!