Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford and ABC is for Circus by Patrick Hruby

Title: Big Bouffant
Author: Kate Hosford
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Pub Date: 04/01/2011 - APRIL FOOLS DAY!
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Title: ABC is for Circus
Author: Patrick Hruby
Publisher: Ammo Books
Pub Date: on sale now!
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Sidenotes: I put all the info at the top because I want to do more of a story dual review than a more regular review - because for me these two books will always be intertwined with tonight. Also I can't find either of these books on Indiebound so I'm linking to Amazon instead of to Indiebound. I'm still a huge fan of the little guy and fully encourage everyone to buy local. But whatever. Also? I'm typing this on my sister's laptop - a MacBook. OMG. There is no home key. And if I press ctrl + shift + arrow to highlight lots of text at once it doesn't let me. Not only does it not let me but it BEEPS at me and makes me all sorts of upset. Also it'll underline words it thinks are spelled wrong but there is no right click button! How am I supposed to right click without the ability to right click? That sounds like some sort of Zen meditation but it is actually a dire problem. And I'm sorry - I'm not even going to try to put pictures on here. I'm super fail with a Mac. I'll get better. But anyway - the books.

I used to talk a lot about my neurosis on this blog but then I found somewhere else to ramble incessantly so they haven't been on here recently and this blog can be a hair more professional. Tonight? The neuroses. What on earth does this have to do with books? Wait - I'll get there.

Pippa is a pretty easy sleeper but Kaylee has always been hard to get to bed. Tonight I'm taking care of my brother's girlfriend's son as well as both of my girls while my whole family is at the Notre Dame game. I only enjoy football in big groups of people I love which this game would have been but since someone had to stay home with the teeny tinys, I would much rather do that. And we all had a lovely night. And Pippa went to bed beautifully. And Aaron went to bed beautifully. And Kaylee lay in bed and whined and cried and called for me. I've learned to give her 15 minutes between goings in to see her. I hate it, it's hard, but the other option is lying in her bed for an hour or so until we both drift off to sleep and I wake up with a crick in my neck and a foot in my nostril. So tough love it is. And tonight it was hard. And I was sitting in my bed feeling sorry for myself and, "oh woe is me my brother's girlfriend is better at raising kids than I am, look her baby went right to sleep even though mine is 10 feet from him making enough noise to wake the dead." You know those nights, right?

And then I hear the pitter patter of little feet and there was Kaylee looking up at me with tear filled eyes, "Mom - the only thing that will ever make me happy ever is one book. One really good book."

We're on vacation and I thought I was being so smart by going to the second hand store (kid's books 15 for $1!) and buying a slew of paperbacks and only packing those. Light, small, and if they get lost or ripped on the journey it isn't such a big deal. The problem? While some of the books I brought are good (Tarzanna is my favorite), none are that perfect book, ya know? And I pulled Kaylee up onto my sister's amazingly tall guest bed and thought about how I would fix this conundrum. And then I remembered that the good folks at NetGalley had given me 2 picture books to review! So I pulled them out and they are both absolute winners, folks. I will be buying both of these for real. My favorite was Big Bouffant. Kaylee's favorite was ABC is for Circus but I think for both of us it was a pretty close tie. And the best part? After I read the books I carried Kaylee back to bed and she went right to sleep. MAGIC BOOKS!

The beginning of Big Bouffant reminds me of The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School. On Anabelle's first day of school she notices how everyone has one of just a few hair styles so she resolves to do something different and falls in love with her grandmother's bouffant. Her mother is skeptical of doing such an involved and strange hairdo on the girl so she tries to do it herself with ... severely weird results. And then her mother relents and she becomes an absolute hit at school with everyone (including the boys) joining in to see just how high they can get their hair. Holly Clifton-Brown's artwork is gorgeous and fun and made me want to join Anabelle's class. Their teacher was wearing plaid pants with an orange star-filled shirt on the first day - how can you not want to learn from a lady like that? And Kate Hosford's rhyming text was just fun to read to Kaylee. I love it when a book makes her giggle throughout - and with any luck she'll get over her hatred of having her hair brushed (which doesn't go so well with her fear of getting her hair cut) and let me give her a bouffant!

ABC is for Circus is just gorgeous. (Sidenote: since I had to look this book up on Amazon I discovered that the artist has also made this gorgeous puzzle. Kaylee is currently obsessed with both puzzles and princesses so a puzzle of a princess castle done by the artist of one of her favorite new books? I think I know what she's getting for Christmas.) It was full of words that Kaylee didn't know (calliope and kerchief) but now she does. I've found that ABC books are so much more fun now that Kaylee has a pretty firm grasp of not only what the ABCs are but how they work and finding unusual ABC books is always a good vocabulary builder. Also I feel I need to give major props to Patrick Hruby for really only having one word that isn't exactly perfect. Y is for Yellow. Usually a themed ABC book has a handful of letters that you can tell made the author really stretch for a word - but ever word in here is perfect. My favorite was the t for tiger - that was one gorgeous tiger.

Overall four enthusiastic thumbs up from both Kaylee and I and many thanks to everyone involved in these books at all for turning my terrible blues into a happy memory.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fun

I was helping a boy and his mother find a biography and when the mother asked the boy if he knew who Houdini was the boy replied, "Duuuuuh. I've read, like, a hundred books on Houdini."

(incident happened earlier but I'm saving this for Friday fun. Because Friday is VACATION!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What they're reading now

Pippa loves books and for the first time ever she's showing book preference. It warms my librarian heart! The main object of her affections is Baby Dance by Ann Taylor. I love this book - it's to the tune of Hush Little Baby and any book I get to sing makes me happy. And the story is so perfect for our family - the mama is lying on the couch while the daddy is throwing the baby in the air. I don't know how Brandon always has so much energy after dinner but while I'm begging the girls to play board games or do puzzles with me, Brandon can muster the umpf to throw them in the air or play our favorite game of tick-tock. I love this book! Pips also shows a strong preference toward this gorgeous rendition of Pat-a-cake by R. A. Herman. I always have trouble reading this because it's got the traditional chant going along the top and a story of a baker baking along the bottom - it throws me off to read them both at once so I have to read it twice.

Kaylee cried when I left for work today. Did she cry because she was going to miss me? No. She was crying because I was returning Hat by Paul Hoffe. We're going on vacation tomorrow for a week and I wanted all library books returned before then. I'm thinking this one will either be re-checked out immidiately upon return and/or eventually bought for Kinsie. The story is very reminicent of New Socks - one of my absolute favorite books. A boy finds a hat on a park bench and he imagines all the wonderful things he could do with that hat! But then his mother reminds him of whoever the hat belongs to - who would need that hat to do all those wonderful things. It's adorable and great fun and I am sad I didn't know about it for the hat storytime I did 2 weeks ago! It's one of those books that I put on hold for the storytime but came in the day after - so Kaylee got it instead! And she is very grateful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bless this Mouse by Lois Lowry

Title: Bless This Mouse
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub Date: 03/21/2011
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

I have a bit of a strange relationship with Lois Lowry. For the most part I adore her books, and then every once in awhile I read a book that either doesn't excite me or that I completely hate and I don't know what to do with myself. How can I dislike a book by LL?

Fortunately I am exceptionally pleased to share that Bless This Mouse is fantastic. Beautiful! Fun! Heartwarming! Perhaps it's because of a childhood addiction to Brian Jacques, but Animal Fantasies will always have a special place in my heart and to see them done really well makes me beyond happy.

Hildegarde is the leader of a large group of mice that live in the church and she takes care of them well. She organizes how they will stay safe when the church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis and all the parishioners bring in their animals (including the cats!), she helps the families find places to stay together and hidden, and most importantly, she keeps a watch out for The Great X.

Despite the drama of the exterminators coming and the feast of St. Francis being moved inside, this was a quiet book - it almost seemed more like an extended character study of this group of mice - Hildegarde in particular. Lowry tiptoes into this world and writes what is there and who is there and how they behave and then just as quietly* she tiptoes out and leaves this world to continue revolving without her observation.

*For those of you who've read this book: yes, I know that final scene was dramatic and gorgeous but wasn't it also beautiful and quiet in it's own way?

This book was short and I feel like writing more about what happened will give away what little plot there is - so I'm just going to leave this with a hearty recommendation for anyone who is a fan of Brian Jaques, Edward Tulane, or who just wants a beautiful, gentle read.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Linkedy linkedy links, links, links

I'm starting to understand the appeal of the link-round-ups that everyone does. There are lots of things I want to mention but I don't know that I have enough to say about any of them to merit a whole post! So here is my first link-round-up.

So the YA book blogosphere is angry about James Frey. I talked about it to some friends yesterday and was all set to write something long and involved about what an arse James Frey is and how he's taking advantage of writers - demeaning his own profession - and he's showing complete disregard to young adults in general. Then I come around today and see that Maureen Johnson has once again said it first and said it best. A Chair, a fireplace, and a tea cozy also has a lovely take-down of Mr. Frey.

I've been using goodreads so much more lately for organizing my life. I've made a shelf of my favorite story-time books and have spent way too much time looking at the communal storytime shelf. The babies shelf is too full of praenting books and what to expect books to be much use for lapsit so I've started a shelf called lapsit and so far I'm the only one using that shelf so come and join me! I'm going to branch out into more specific genres for chapter books and such soon. Mel made this brilliant List of Picture books for Boys that I'm going to stick on a shelf soon for me to remember (and add too) because that's a question I get alot. What shelves do y'all use on goodreads? What is your favorite librarian-ey way to use goodreads?

I lent my friend Anna one of my favorite books ever and she LOVED IT! Life is wonderful.

I am also over the moon about ALA adding a Stonewall Children's and YA Literature award. People who think that kids of any age are too young to read about characters who are a part of the QUILTBAG community maybe shouldn't let their kids read books where anyone loves or gets married or has any sort of passionate feelings at all. (judgey LP is judgey)

The New York Times has released their list of the Best Picture Books of 2010. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR! From now until Marchish is just list after list of good books and award after award for great books and it all makes me happy. And I'm going to be linking to a lot of lists in the future. Because I love them.

I had Hush, Hush checked out and I'd just barely started it - and the whole thing was making me feel icky so I did some googling to make sure I wasn't the only one aaaaand I am definitely not. So that book when on my goodreads Abandoned shelf. Because sometimes I just don't want to finish something.

When I was in library school, Michael Gorman was still president of the ALA and a common refrain in one of my classes was “WOW Michael Gorman is SUCH A curmudgeon! I love him!” Seriously. I just want to pat him on the head and tell him how adorable he is. That isn’t to say I agree with him about, pretty much, anything - but he is an adorable curmudgeon. This article about libraries reinventing themselves just reinforced that for me.

I've never read any Eva Ibbotson but Laura Amy Schlitz has inspired me. As soon as I'm done with The Amaranth Enchantment, she's up next for audiobooks.

There was one of those memes going around awhile back where you had to write a haiku to the item sitting on your right. I was rather proud of mine:
Boxcar children book
Missing many pages
Goodbye, cruel lib’ry
I've found that weeding is much more fun (and oh, it gets super fun if you're in the right mood) if you take the book that is to be weeded and say, "you ARE the weakest link! Goodbye!"

I'm sure there's more I want to comment on but I'll leave that for another post. In the meanwhile here is a picture my brother took of Kaylee and Pippa last week. They're getting SO BIG and I love them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun

One of my favorite 3 year old patrons (excluding, of course, my own personal 3 year old patron) just came up to me with her hands in her pockets.

“I HAVE POCKETHS!” She yelled.

I put my hands in my pockets. “I have pockets too!” I said, a little louder than usual (the occasion seemed to call for noise).

Three year old looked at my coworker expectantly. “I have pockets too,” she hurriedly said.

“WE ALL HAVE POCKETS!” said my patron.

“It’s POCKET party!” I agreed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

Title: The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable
Author: Dan Gutman
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperCollins Children's)
Pub Date: 01/25/2011
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Dan Gutman was our City Reads author* two years ago and while he was always popular, since then our patrons have been insatiable for him. When Netgalley gave me the opportunity to read the first book in his next series, of course I jumped at the chance! This will help me be a better librarian give me MAJOR bragging rights with all the Dan Gutman fans I see on a daily basis!

*our version of one book/one community. We pick an author (preferably one who can show up and visit schools) and everyone reads that author instead of just one book)

Twins Coke and Pepsi* find out that they are part of a super secret government project called The Genius Files only when people start trying to kill them. They embark on a cross country road trip with their eccentric (and awesome) parents, try to survive, and try to figure out what the Genius Files are all about anyhow. The Genius Files isn't going to win itself a Newbery award and I'm doubt that it's going to stand the test of time and be a classic for decades to come - but that is part of what makes this book so much fun. The book encourages you to go to google maps or mapquest to track Coke and Pep's progress on their road trip, the twins google things they need to find out, and get excited about places on their trip with free wi-fi. This book has serious kid appeal and I can't wait to introduce it to my patrons!

*Yes, they know. And they've heard that joke. And that one.

Their names don't make it terribly obvious but Coke is a boy and Pepsi is a girl. Coke has a photographic memory but Pepsi has the wherewithal to be able to take all the clues they've been given and synthesize them into a working theory or crack the code or get them out of the situation. If you know me you know how much I love books where girls get to shine. Have you ever noticed how even when there's a female action hero she never gets to save the male? Either the male dies tragically or saves himself or if she does manage to save him it's not after some serious damage to him? Well Pepsi definitely gets to save Coke a few times in this book - and Coke gets to save Pep.

The writing is pure Gutman. Funny and personal and insightful. He draws you in on the first page and keeps you hanging on until the end. While not all the characters are completely fleshed out, this is the first book in what promises to be a substantial series and there are hints of fleshing out to come.

Overall I'd say your library would want this one - and you should read it yourself if you get a chance between all the holds it'll have. It'll only take you a day.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A story, by Kinsie Beth EE

The following story was narrated to Brandon by Kaylee yesterday morning while She, Patricia and him lounged in bed

The Story of the Three Four Orange Birds
By Kaylee Elizabeth EE

Once upon a time, there were three orange birds, and they were in their nest and they were very happy. There was a Kid bird a Baby bird and a Daddy bird. But then a Halloween witch came and cast a spell on them, and turned them into toys. She turned the kid bird into a jack-in-the-box and she turned the baby bird into a jack-in-the-box and she turned the daddy bird in to … a jack-in-the-box too! But then, they changed back, because they loved each other sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. And then the princess named Susan came and helped them climb back into the nest in the top of the tree. And then, the mommy bird came home from work at the library, and she brought the kid bird three library books! and she brought the baby bird one too.
The end ever after.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

All Hallows Read

Being the Neil Gaiman Fangirl that I am, when NG declared Halloween a book giving holiday I decided to jump right in. My local thrift store sells used children's books 15 for a dollar so Kaylee and I went down there and had the absolute best time picking out 105 children's books which I then organized on one of our bookcases (top row: board books then picture books then readers. Bottom row: chapterbooks then nonfiction). Pippa the tiger here does her very best Vanna. We moved in March and our new neighborhood is HUGE and full of families with children so we figured we'd get a ton of kids! Tragically our house is on a little side road in the neighborhood so we only got 30ish kids. But they all enjoyed the books!

(also I know I'm a slacker and should have typed this up 2 weeks ago. If I tell blogger to publish it a week and a half ago can I bend the space/time continuum and be forgiven?)