Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World

By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Christine Joy Pratt
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Pirate fans rejoice! The gals get their due! As author Jane Yolen points out in 'Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World', pirates weren't just men. There were a few ladies throughout history that grabbed a cutlass and donned breeches in search of booty. This excellent book brings those ladies to life.

The opening chapter gives a brief history of pirating and pirates. The remaining 12 chapters offer the stories of 13 female pirates, beginning with Artemesia in 500 BC and ending with Madame Ching in 19th century China. From around the globe, these women committed acts of piracy as daring as the guys. But how much of these stories are true? Yolen does a nice job of sorting fact from fiction, and what remains is still pretty swashbuckling.
If pirate movies leave you wanting more, come in and check out 'Sea Queens'. It's just the right dose of salty sea story for free time reading!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inkheart Movie Debuts in January

Think it's for real this time, Inkheart fans? We got all excited when the movie was scheduled to come out the first time then had our hopes dashed when the release was postponed. Now we can get excited again because, on January 9, 2009, the movie will finally make it to theaters.
Take a look at the trailer. What do you think? It appears to have a little more action than the book, but I'll reserve judgement until I see for myself. I still love the book, don't you?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where's My Mummy?

By Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by John Manders
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 4th graders

Only one week left until Ms. Crimi comes to Zion! We are so excited! This is the last of Ms. Crimi's books that we'll be reading to get ready for her visit. This is another title perfect for Halloween, especially for the younger set.

Baby Mummy is not ready for bed. He wants to play one more game of 'hide and shriek'. As Baby Mummy goes looking for Big Mama Mummy, he meets all sorts of characters who tell him that the woods are too scary for a little guy like him, but he assures them he isn't scared. At least, not until he meets up with the scariest creature of the forest!

Ms. Crimi has created a charming bedtime story that's not too scary. The creatures are all getting ready for bed and doing the things little ones do, like brushing their teeth and washing their face. When the 'scary' creature is revealed, little ones will laugh at Baby Mummy's fright. The ending is just right for one more bedtime kiss before turning out the lights. Illustrator John Manders has a knack for creating silly characters; just take a look at the pirates in 'Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies' and you'll see what I mean.

Read this one with the littlest in the family and get ready to hear 'Read it again!'.


By Christopher Paolini

We've got a copy. Care to check it out? Perfect for weekend reading!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Boris and Bella

By Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by Gris Grimley
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 4th graders

Boris and Bella are neighbors who don't get along. Bella Legrossi is a slob, plain and simple. Boris Kleanitoff, on the other hand, can't stand a speck of dust. Both go out of their way to make the other miserable. When Halloween rolls around, Bella plans a party and invites everyone but Boris. When Boris hears this, he plans a party, too, and invites everyone but Bella. Soon the RSVP's start coming in, leaving both mad. Seems everyone is going to Harry Beastie's party to avoid getting bitten by Bella's dust bunnies or nagging by Boris about scuff marks. Bella and Boris crash Harry's party ready to give him a piece of their minds only to find the party in full swing and no one paying attention to them. When the music starts, Bella and Boris can't resist the urge to take a turn on the dance floor, leading them to realize that a little dust and a clean punch cup aren't so bad after all.

Another title by Carolyn Crimi, this one is just right for a Halloween read-aloud. The illustrations are perfect, showing just what a mess Bella is (does her room look like yours?) and how ultra-clean Boris is. The monsters partying away are a hoot, too.

Enjoy this one just before you head out trick-or-treating and see if you can spot Boris or Bella!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Need Friends

By Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Most enjoyed by Kindergarten through 4th graders

Rat's best friend has moved away from the junkyard and his heart is broken. He's sure he'll never have a friend again so he decides that he doesn't need any friends at all. No matter how nice the other animals in the junkyard are to him, Rat turns them away. One day, a big, grouchy dog moves in on the other side of the junkyard. The dog and Rat spend their days telling each other to stay on their own sides, which they do, until winter comes. As the temperature drops, Rat and Dog shiver alone in their own homes. But when a foot-long sub sandwich appears, the chance to step outside their own homes opens up a window to friendship.

This is a wonderful story about the highs and lows of friendship. Lynn Munsinger's illustrations show Rat and Dog's emotions so well. In fact, just when Rat's words on the page say 'Don't need friends, don't need 'em at all!', one look at Rat's face and the reader isn't fooled by Rat's words. A great reminder that friendships aren't always perfect but they're better than no friends at all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Louds Move In!

Written by Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by Regan Dunnick
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 4th graders

This is NOT a bedtime story! As a matter of fact, it's not a quiet time story either. It is LOUD! Earmuffle Avenue is populated by Miss Shushermush, Mr. Pitterpatter, and Miss Meekerton who, as their names imply, are very quiet. But the neighborhood changes when the LOUDS move in. The LOUDS do everything loudly, from walking to eating. And no matter how friendly they are, the residents of Earmuffle Avenue want no part of them. Until the LOUDS go on vacation. Then things change, but is it for the better?

This is a fun read-aloud because it is so noisy! The size of the text changes when the Louds talk, reminding the reader to change the volume level, too. The illustrations are silly and make the Louds look as outrageous as they sound. Enjoy this one when it's time for a few laughs!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies

By Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by John Manders
Most enjoyed by pirates in Kindergarten through 4th grade

Two years ago, when our current 3rd graders were in first grade, Mrs. Jones, teacher extraordinaire, read 'Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies' to her class. They had finished reading all of the Monarch Award books for that year and were still in the mode of evaluating good books. After reading this one, they asked Mrs. Jones if it could be an award book, too. So Mrs. Jones nominated it and here, two years later, the book is a candidate for the 2009 Monarch Award and is the reason we're going to meet the author in a few weeks! The power of a good book in a child's hand!

Henry is not like the other pirate bunnies on the ship. Instead of pillaging for treasure or making prisoners walk the plank, he'd rather read. His father, Captain Black Ear, orders the books thrown overboard but Henry saves them just in time, agreeing to swab the deck in the hopes that it will make him see reason and give up reading. But when the pirate ship is caught in a storm and wrecked, the crew is cast on a deserted island. Who will come to their rescue and save them? Might it be a little bunny who knows a thing or two from books?

Kids and pirates go together. A pirate is brave and fearless, just like a kid ready to devour a plate of peas. A pirate can swash buckle with the best, just like a kid trying to avoid homework. And pirates can learn lots from books, just like kids do with great teachers like Mrs. Jones who introduce them to awesome bunnies like Henry!

This is our favorite Carolyn Crimi book, although we're growing quite fond of a few others. Keep checking back here to find out about Ms. Crimi's other books!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Get Busy, Beaver!

Written by Carolyn Crimi
Illustrated by Janie Bynum
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 4th graders

On Friday, October 3rd, Zion will host a visit from Illinois author Carolyn Crimi. Ms. Crimi writes wonderfully fun books for young readers, including one of our favorites which I'll blog about tomorrow (sorry, you have to wait to find out what it is!). To prepare the kids for Ms. Crimi's visit, we're reading all of the books she's written. Today, we start with 'Get Busy, Beaver!', the perfect story for the dreamer in your house.

Pa, Ma and sister Babs Beaver are hard at work building a new house for the winter. Thelonious is supposed to be helping but he'd much rather spend the time looking at the clouds or watching a leaf spin on the water. Even the neighbors are hard at work on a den of their own, which worries Pa and Ma even more. If only they could get Thelonious to help out! But he does help, in a way no one expected and in a way they all enjoy.

Ms. Crimi has written a tribute to free thinkers everywhere. As one of our 3rd graders said today after listening to 'Get Busy, Beaver', since you 'can't judge a book by it's cover', we'd better not judge people by how they look!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Picturing America Artwork Received!

It felt like Christmas today here in the library. Back in May, we were awarded a Picturing America grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. I've been anxiously awaiting it's arrival and today was the day!

Included in the set of 40 images are paintings, sculpture, architecture and decorative art that span several centuries of American history. You can make out a few of images in the picture above, but to get a better look, check out the Picturing America website. The collection, heavily laminated so it will last for years, will be used in our classrooms and in the library to expand our knowledge of art and to supplement our study of American history.

Many of the pictures included in the collection will be displayed throughout the halls of Zion this year. Take the time to stop and enjoy them. You may find that your child learned something about that picture today!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nora's Ark
By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 3rd graders

Young Wren lives with Grandma and Grandpa on a farm in Vermont. Grandpa is building Grandma a new house high up on a hill but Grandma's not too thrilled. She thinks the house is 'just gravy'. But her mind is changed when rains begin to fall, causing the river by the farm to rise. Grandma and Wren move to the new house and it isn't long before they're joined by some neighbors and their animals, filling the house with chickens, children, and three horses! When Grandpa doesn't return after going out in the storm to help a neighbor, Wren and Grandma make the dangerous journey into the flood waters to try to find him.

Based on the disastrous 1927 flood that caused widespread damage and loss of life in Vermont, this is a warm, reassuring story of how love and friendship win out in tough times. Share this book with your family and talk about how you weather tough times as a family. Isn't it reassuring to know that, like Wren, Grandma, and Grandpa, you'll have each other to fall back on? Another in the 2009 Monarch award titles, this one is a winner.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ashes of Roses
By Mary Jane Auch
Most enjoyed by 5th through 8th graders

As Margaret Rose's boat arrives at Ellis Island from Ireland, she feels ready for a new beginning and a new name. Calling herself Rose, she and her family arrive to make a new life in America, the land where the streets are paved in gold. But when officials discover her brother has a eye infection, Da must return to Ireland with him leaving Rose, her sisters and mother to fend for themselves. They hope to find a home with their Uncle Patrick but his new wife and her daughters are not welcoming. In frustration, Ma declares they will leave America and go back to Ireland. Rose and her sister Maureen escape at the last minute, determined to try to make a life of their own in this country of opportunity.

Life begins to show promise as Rose and Maureen accept jobs at the Triangle Waist Company, sewing shirts together for fashionable ladies. With Rose's paycheck, the girls go to their first movie, enjoy cheap novels about working girls, and dream of buying one of the shirts they make. But one Saturday, as work finishes, fire breaks out in the factory on the 8th floor. Trapped inside, Rose attempts to flee, forgetting about Maureen until it is too late. Will Maureen survive? Will Rose be able to rebuild her life after tragedy?

The horror of the fire at the Triangle Waist Factory that took place on Saturday, March 25, 1911 is the basis for this gripping novel. Readers will find that the action never stops, with one page-turning event after another. The characters are all believable; you'll come to love many, dislike a few, and find your heart breaking as some of your favorites face the fire. If you like historical fiction, try 'Ashes of Roses' by Mary Jane Auch. It will make you think about what's most important to you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude
By Kevin O'Malley
Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto
Most enjoyed by Kindergartners through 3rd graders

Want to start off this short week with a laugh? Check out 'Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude'. The boy and the girl narrating the story have to tell their favorite fairy tale to you, the reader. But since they can't agree on which fairy tale they like best, they tell their own. At least, that's what they try to do. She has one idea that involves princesses, pretty ponies and spinning gold. He, on the other hand, favors rotten-toothed giants, volcanoes and one very cool motorcycle dude. These two very different views of a good fairy tale come to an ending that satisfies both. Sort of.

'Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude' is a great read aloud for two people, preferably one male and one female. Why don't mom and dad try reading it out loud to the kids after dinner, before everyone heads off to do homework? Talk about some dinner table fun! The three illustrators each take a point of view, making the artwork very distinct for each character. The princess and her ponies are so pretty done in pinks and purples. The motorcycle dude's coolness is reflected in dark, bold colors.

This is another title from the 2009 Monarch Award list and one that is sure to get lots of votes in the spring. Enjoy it now because it won't stay on the shelves once everyone has read it!