Monday, May 27, 2013

Let's make stuff!

I will do anything to avoid housework, especially if the distraction allows me to play.  Check out my tower made of magazine-insert origami boxes.  Then, visit my Let's Make Stuff page for directions and the story behind this piece of silliness.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barefoot Books

Forget all blog-related "schedules".  I will post what I want when I want.  This week's KBWT is KBWThursday.  (I was off doing something else on Tuesday.)

Barefoot Books has been one of my favorite publishers since they arrived on the scene.  Their folklore anthologies are attractive and fun to read.  Barefoot Books is committed to providing colorful books that provide children with access to diverse cultures and activities.

Visit their Kids page to download craft activities, watch videos and listen to stories.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Family Tree Quartet by Ann M. Martin

 Family Tree Book One: Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin

The Prologue of the first book in the Family Tree Quartet warns us that sometimes, as the title says, it is Better to Wish than to know what is in the future.

Abby's story starts in 1930 when she is 8.  We learn that times are tough but that her father works hard.  Abby's mother still grieves for the two children she lost.  Abby has a good friend, Orrin, that her father doesn't want her to play with.  This first chapter sets the stage for the challenges Abby faces as a girl coming to age in the Depression.  Her father's intractable ideas about people and their worth, her mother's inability to stand up to her husband, the fact that under it all these are people who are just trying hard to do their best, all these things make Abby's choices hard but understandable.

This book sees Abby from childhood through adulthood, from carefree days to brave decisions.  It's a lot for one 200+ page book to do.  Martin does it well.  Her language does not burden young readers with all the concerns that an adult reader will glean.  The book has just enough introspection for the audience which is girls between the ages of 11 and 14.

I look forward to reading the other books in the quartet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Children's Book Week

It's Children's Books Week!  Kids' books are awesome.  Go to the Children's Book Week Kids site.  There is a project there where you can print out the stories started by excellent children's book authors and you get to finish the story!!  This is a great classroom activity and a fun activity for story-minded children everywhere.

Vote on your favorite children's books.  Check out Children's Book Week events around the country.  Print out bookmarks.  Check out the latest list of Best Books. 

Go to your local library and check out some books!  Children's Books are for every day, not just one week a year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jessica Day George - HMH Books for Young Readers

Just so you know, when I feature a publisher's website I get no remuneration.  I just feature those websites because I like them.

Today, for Kids Book Website Tuesday, I offer you the HMH Books for Young Readers Blog.   This is a book review blog touting the latest and greatest of HMH's offerings.  You can watch book trailers.  You can choose to view only Teen titles or Kids titles or both and there are categories among all these books for you to choose from.  The blog is colorful and a teensy bit interactive.  I like it.

I also want to feature an author today.  I just finished Jessica Day George's Wednesdays in the Tower, and my reaction to the ending was WHATTTT!!!???  Because we are left hanging and that is almost exactly what happens.  Read the book - or if you hate suspense - wait until ALL the Castle books are written and read them in one fell swoop. Or, and this is my choice, read them one by one and THEN in one fell swoop. Anyway,  I checked out Jessica's website and, from there, her blog.  If you liked Tuesdays at the Castle, you will thoroughly enjoy Wednesdays in the Tower. Check out the pages!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Talking Donuts, Superheroes and Melancholy Lions

Years ago, when I was a young mother and babysitter, I rode the bus with my son and my young charge - everywhere.  What else do you do with two five-year-old boys with endless imagination and energy?  We rode downtown, to libraries, to parks, to the next town over, to visit friends.  We also walked and later, in the summer, we rode bikes.

Everywhere we went, we told stories.  After reading William Steig's The Amazing Bone, we came up with a story about a talking donut.  Every bus trip for a month or so, we added adventures about the donut and King Rupert, the donut's best friend. 

And then there were the tales of Llewellyn the Lion, who worked as a late night radio host and rarely went out in the day.  He rode a motorcycle and had a tab at the butcher's.  He lived in fear that people would realize that he was not just a gravelly voiced, hairy recluse but a lion - a real lion.  As time went on, Llewellyn told us of his friends - all graduates of the Philadelphia Zoo's secret Animal Intelligence project - and we met Llewellyn's teacher, Professor Freeman.  The animals were tricked into a reunion and were drugged and kidnapped to become stars in a traveling animal act.  Fortunately, one of Llewellyn's friends was a dainty gorilla.  Along with the Jaguar, ocelot, rhinoceros, several lions, a seal and a rhinoceros, they all managed to escape.

I wrote that story up and shoved it into the glove compartment of my old black Impala.  When the car broke down and we had it hauled to the junk yard, the story was lost forever.  The rhinoceros - or was it the seal? - was a poet and some of her poems were in that story.  They were haunting and surprised me.  Stories can be pieced together.  Poems evaporate.

And then there was Super Anders and his sidekick Critter Man.  These stories were made up bit by bit of the things that my boys suggested, cartoon characters that they enjoyed. Danny Dunn and his friends got tossed in there, too, since we read every Danny Dunn book we could find.  I liked these stories best of all.  The boys were always trying to save Little Annie, the Orphan Apple Selling Girl from danger.  But Little Annie just as often had to save our heroes.

I miss Llewellyn and his friends.  I miss Critter Man, who ba-a-a-a-rked!  And I miss King Rupert and his talking donut. 

Perhaps, I will ride the bus for nostalgia sake and remember small boys, stories and a time when I was young.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Testing

When my Thursday night dinner guest opened my screen door, she found an ARC of The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau resting against my front door. 

I actually hopped with excitement.  I DID score an e-galley during the week of StoryFUSION.  Guess what didn't get read in time?  So having a 3 dimensional paper copy in my hands - Wow.  I was not disappointed.

Definitely worth the hype!  A solid addition to the dystopian kids-against-the-pretty-weird-government trope.  (Is "trope" even a word??? Make that "genre" instead.) Except in this case the government is trying hard to help - or at least that's what the kids who get chosen for The Testing think.

The beginning of the book shows a very functional community of like minded colonists doing their best to survive and thrive after the Seven Stages of War.  The heroine's family is loving and hard working.  When the heroine is chosen for the Testing - the only route into the University - her father offers her vague warnings and advice based on dreams he has had about his own Testing.  Everyone who is Tested has their memory of the event erased.

That's all I can tell you without spoilers.  Once the heroine hits the city the suspense builds and never ends.  Book Two comes out early in 2014.

The Testing is being recommended to fans of The Hunger Games with good reason.  The purpose for the Games and the purpose for the Testing are far apart.  President Snow designed the Games to punish and threaten the Districts in The Hunger Games. The Testing is designed to sift out the best of the best to insure the country's continued survival.  "Good" intentions aside, the designers of the Testing have some pretty ghastly things planned for our young friends.  And the young test-takers provide the rest of the suspense. After a slow start, the pages just flipped themselves.