Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Planet Earth and Universe Favorites

Kids of all ages love books about world records, planets and stars, and amazing animal facts. Books like these are often put in a category called non-fiction, a strange name, which sounds boring, vaguely negative, and generally meaningless. This is odd, because the following books are actually dynamic, interactive, and addictive to read; and we have many more that have similarly exciting formats. See what you think...

Ultimate Interactive Atlas of Space by Robin Scagell

The title says it all. This cleverly designed and excitingly visual tour of our solar system will provide hours of learning and fun for your young astronomer. It is filled with remarkable illustrations and NASA photos that will take your breath away with their beauty. Each topic has interactive features - pop-ups, pull-outs, sliders, and flaps - to capture and hold your child's attention. This title will be under the Christmas tree for my seven year old grandson. I know he and his dad are going to love it! Ages 7 and up. - Joanne Kennedy

The Ultimate Interactive Atlas of the World by Elaine Jackson

This atlas will take your child on an exciting tour of the world, continent by continent. Each section is filled with facts, illustrations and photos to teach and entertain. The interactive features - flaps, pull-outs, and sliders - give your child a hands-on adventure in learning. We live in a small world which is becoming more interconnected every day; this atlas will give your child an understanding of and appreciation for this wonderful planet in all its diversity. For ages 7 and up. - Joanne Kennedy

Zany Miscellany: A Mixed-Up Encyclopedia of Fun Facts! by Tom Jackson

This crazy book has snippets of information about anything under the sun. You might find whales, minarets, cable cars and latitude all explained on the same page, and who knows what on the next page. It isn't linear learning, but it is fun especially because of all of the extras like Flop Ten lists of mistakes, question marks that lead you to answers, seesaw boxes telling how things have changed, wanted posters of notorious people through the ages, goof-a-thons describing accidental inventions, strange factoids, and wormholes that lead to related information if you want to know more. It's a nutty kind of encyclopedia, but likely to get read more thoroughly than the dusty volumes on your shelf. Great for curious minds ages 8-12.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Favorite Books continued...

The Youngest Templar Book One: Keeper of the Grail by Michael Spradlin
Young Tristan, an orphan brought up in an abbey, is swept off to war when he joins a group of Crusaders passing through on their way to distant lands. He becomes the trusted squire of Sir Thomas, who asks him to escape from the Holy Land with a sacred object and carry it to safety. Tristan now has Saracens, corrupt knights, and secret agents of the King on his trail, because the object he has to protect is none other than the Holy Grail. This is the first in an exciting new series for ages 10 and up.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

These three holiday romances, written by award-winning young adult authors, all take place during one Christmas Eve snowstorm that stalls trains and closes roads. As the snow piles up, a chain of events begins to unfold that changes the lives of several teens in unexpected ways. Part of the fun is discovering how the stories crisscross each other and how random events in one story have unintended consequences in another story. A perfect story to read over holiday break while sipping a big mug of hot chocolate.

Alcatraz versus The Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson

On a mission to meet up with his grandfather, Alcatraz Smedry becomes the unlikely and reluctant leader of an even more unlikely crew. Alcatraz, along with Kazan, Bastille, and Australia, faces the most frightening enemy yet in the constant struggle against the Evil Librarians who control the Hushlands. In an adventure that leads to the dangerous Library of Alexandria (where the cost of checking out a book is your soul!), Alcatraz must use his rare Talent, along with luck and wit, to save the lives of those for whom he cares. If he fails, they all could perish and the Librarians would rule the Free Kingdoms. Set aside all you've learned in school and all you think you know about the way the world works and step into the real world of Alcatraz Smedry! - Kathleen Lehman

The Gate of Days by Guillaume Prevost The Book of Time II

Sam has a problem. Well, actually, Sam has many problems, but the one that worries him the most is that his dad, Allan Faulkner, is being held captive by Vlad Tepes, the historical torturer and inspiration for the dark character Dracula. Not that Sam or his father belongs in the 1400's, that just happens to be the time to which Allan travels and in which he was captured. Sam must now use an ancient stone statue to follow his father's path through time in an effort to save his dad form certain death. Not only will facing Vlad Tepes be tricky, and dangerous, but without being able to control the destination of his travels through time, Sam's chances of reaching his dad may be just near impossible. With the help of his cousin, a few coins, and a whole lot of luck, Sam just might find his dad in time. - Kathleen Lehman

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Evie and her mother have always stuck together "like glue" and when Joe returned from the war and married her mother, Evie got the father she always wanted. With another summer coming to an end, Evie's stepfather suddenly decides to take the family for a trip to Florida. What begins as a carefree vacation quickly turns to something else. With a a new business deal and an intriguing romance mixed with lies and deception, the mess begins even before the storm hits. In the heat of Palm Beach Evie learns the skills of a woman and must make an important decision about loyalty and betrayal. The family will never be the same, but it is Evie who will be the most dramatically changed. - Kathleen Lehman

Come Back, Cat by Joan L. Nodset illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Making friends with a cat isn't easy for the young girl in this simple story. Gradually she learns how to be gentle, how to hold a cat, and how to sit quietly letting the cat come to her. Soon the cat settles in her lap, and she is rewarded for her patience with the sound of purring. Kellogg's lovely autumn colors and swirling leaves complement the story beautifully. This would be a perfect introduction for a family getting a new pet or a toddler learning to be gentle with the family pet. Ages 3-6.

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Old Bear falls asleep as the first snowflakes begin to drift in the air. He dreams about being a cub wandering through spring flowers, summer butterflies, autumn leaves and winter stars. When he wakes up expecting snow, he finds a world filled with flowers and wonders if he is still dreaming. The illustrations are inviting and comforting, and the simple story flows in a reassuring cadence, adding up to a perfect bedtime book for sleepy, little ones ages birth to 4.

Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis illustrated by Laura Cornell

A new, winning collaboration by this #1 national best-selling team. Lots of words like Stupendous, Consequence, Co-operate, Patience, and Celebrate are explained in Curtis' rollicking rhymes with underlying themes of self-esteem and respect. Cornell gives each word a familiar with a lovable cast of characters in silly scenes and lots of details to laugh about. Definitely meant to be read aloud to ages 3-6.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Our Favorite New Books for All Ages

Louise the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo and Harry Bliss

Talk about adventures! Louise leaves the farm to find excitement and soon meets up with pirates, gets shipwrecked, joins the circus, is chased by a lion, gets kidnapped and imprisoned in a foreign bazaar and survives to tell the tale back on the farm. The illustrations make the most of each adventure adding humor and thrills to Louise's daring escapades. For ages 3-6.

I Completely Know About Guinea Pigs by Lauren Child

A new Charlie and Lola book is always a hit. In this new adventure Lola gets to bring Bert, the class pet, home after learning all about guinea pigs from her classmates and her teacher. Unfortunately, Bert gets lost, and Charlie and Lola search frantically all over the house for him, finally hearing a tell-tale squeak that leads them to a surprise, which Lola says she knew all along. Lots of fun for kids who love animals - ages 4-7.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff illustrated by Felicia Bond

Watch out if you give this cat a cupcake because you will have a very full day with trips to the beach, the gym, the science museum, the park and more, and in the end you can bet that he's going to want another cupcake. Marvelous illustrations turn this merry-go-round of a book into an all-out celebration of ways to have fun. Easy to read for ages 5-7. Read aloud to ages 3 and up.

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and other poems by Jack Prelutsky

This is a treasury showcasing 112 of Jack Prelutsky's greatest hits selected from the thousands of poems that he has written. It includes 15 new poems and pages of funny activities like playing Frog I Spy, creating Scranimals, and singing the poems to surprising, familiar melodies. This hefty volume also includes a CD with 30 performances by the author! A real treat for ages 4-11.

Fairy Blossoms #1 Daisy and the Magic Lesson by Suzanne Williams

At Clov
erleaf Cottage Daisy and seven other flower fairies start their training as junior fairy helpers. Within 48 hours they have accidentally caused mischief and mayhem, despite their good intentions. Working together to solve the problems they have caused helps them form new friendships and learn a few lessons along the way. Four books have been released in this charming series which is sure to delight fairy lovers ages 4-8.

Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey by Herman Parish illustrated by Lynn Sweat

All of the third grade teachers are out sick and the third-graders' Thanksgiving pageant will have to be cancelled until Amelia Bedelia offers to help out. Misunderstandings and puns abound, but in the end Amelia Bedelia and the students put on a play to remember beginning with the Pilgrims landing at the right address - 1620 Plymouth Rock. A holiday treat for beginning readers ages 4-8.

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

The newest Elephant and Piggie book for the beginning reader is another funny story about easy-going Gerald and excitable Piggie. Full of ideas for playing outside, Piggie gets grumpy when it starts raining and spoils his plans. Gerald notices some worms having a grand time in the rain and thinks maybe some splishing and splashing would be fun. By the time Piggie gets over his funk and decides that he loves rain, the sun comes out and ruins his fun all over again. Joyful and silly, the books about these two friends are winners for ages 4-7.

The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin illustrated by Brian Selznick

Annabelle and Tiffany find a mysterious package that might hold Annabelle's long-lost baby sister. It takes a runaway adventure with the dolls ending up in McGinitie's department store, where they almost get split up and sold, before they sort things out and find their way home. They make new friends, discover hundreds of identical Funcraft dolls, and even have a scary meeting with Mean Mimi. Lush illustrations fill the pages, giving the reader a doll's eye view of the world. A great story for readers ages 8-12 and a perfect read-aloud for ages 5 and up.

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

In this sequel to The Birchbark House and The Game of Silence, Omakayas and her Ojibwe family have to leave their beloved home on Madeline Island and search for a new place to live far away from the European settlers of 1852. On their journey, Pinch, the mischievous brother, befriends a little porcupine and carries him around on his head, earning himself a new nickname - Quill. Traveling into unknown territory can be exciting, but it is also risky, and one day the family is attacked by heartless men, who injure Deydey and steal the canoes packed with all of the family's belongings. Life takes a desparate turn for Omakayas and her family, who still have a long way to go and have lost everything.

The 39 Clues #1 The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

Riordan is the author of the bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and he has fun setting up the plotline for this new ten books series about a dangerous treasure hunt for a vast inheritance. First, the wealthy and mysterious matriarch of the Cahill clan leaves a will offering certain relatives a choice between receiving a million dollars or finding the first clue to the source of the family's historical power. Dan and Amy choose to search for the clue and are plunged almost immediately into dangerous situations from explosions to poisons, thanks to their scheming cousins. Great fun for ages 8-12.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This may be my top pick for teens this fall. I could not put it down, and I have been thinking about it ever since it ended. Like a horrifying Olympics, the Hunger Games are a competition with opening ceremonies, a festival atmosphere, and 24 teen-aged contestants, who must fight to the death, on live TV, while imprisoned in a wilderness filled with death traps. Over several weeks they struggle to survive hunger and thirst, while they are hunted by their fellow competitors. The last one alive will win, and only the dead can leave the game. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen has the skills to survive her harsh life in District 12, but in the Hunger Games she needs to also become popular with the TV audience, while trying to outlast her competitors and fight off their attacks. The first in a thought-provoking and suspenseful new YA series.