Monday, March 31, 2014

The Beatles Were Fab (and they were funny)

Publisher: Boston : Harcourt Children's Books

This story is a timeline of different events during "Beatlemania". I love the Beatles and their music, but this book really taught me some of the things John, Paul, George and Ringo went through during this time.  This book talks about the good times and the bad times they went through.

The author's writing style is exceptional.  It's very informative but fun and enjoyable to read.  I loved the facts about their band name, song styles, and how the Beatles interacted with each other.  It was so interesting to read about the relationship between the four men and how they handled the fame.

I absolutely loved the illustrations.  Some of the pictures are pretty trippy which fits perfectly for this time era. The pictures are a great demonstration of the main points the book focuses on.  I really enjoyed looking at the pictures and the detail that is provided.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone young or old.  I can see myself reading this book to my future children so that they know about this great era of music.  I can also see myself reading this book to a classroom of high school seniors.  It's a great book with very cool information.

Reviewer: AZ

Willow Finds A Way

Button, Lana, and Tania Howells. Willow Finds a Way. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2013.

Willow's classmate, Krisabella, is throwing a fantastic birthday party that everyone wants to come to.  She makes the class eat lunch with her, wear pink, and play the games she chooses at recess or they can't go to her party.

The writing style is simple for younger students.  The book is easy to read.  It showed emotions and peer pressure for young children, but the overall situation would be better for teens.

The illustrations are very simple, all on white pages. The characters are drawn small but they match the text very well.

I think the birthday party scenario fits teens, not elementary students.  It reminds me of the competition for the best sweet 16 birthday party.  Also the actions Kristabella controls are one right after another - it doesn't build well. Willow leads the class to crossing their own names off the list which show s leadership and that a peer can't control you.  But, Kristabella's apology is subtle.  Overall the lesson could have been more powerful.

This book would appeal to ages 4-8

Reviewer: CH

Gone Fishing A Novel in Verse

Wissinger, Tamera W, and Matthew Cordell. Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse. , 2013. 

Imprint: Houghton Mifflin

This story was about a young boy named Sam who cannot wait to go on a fishing trip with his dad until his younger sister gets invited to go along.  To make matters worse, his little sister, Lucy was catching fish, after fish, after fish.  Sam eventually catches a large catfish and Lucy calls him a hero.  Sam then feels bad for not wanting Lucy to come along and ends up very thankful for his family.

I loved the writing style in this book.  Each page is a poem from the perspective of Sam, Lucy, or their dad. Each poem follows the story line, but each poem is set up differently.  This book would be a great tool to use in the classroom to introduce or to review poetry.

The illustrations were great.  They were fun to look at but not distracting.  There was a picture for each poem which made this book fun and easy to read.  I loved the illustration of Lucy, especially! She definitely looks like the little sister I'd picture in my head.

Yes, I loved this book so much! I will read this to my future kids someday for sure.  I loved the little Fishing Prayer Poem.  It was so cute and made the book just perfect!  I really liked that Lucy was so encouraging for her older brother and Sam was humbled by the fishing trip.  It teaches kids valuable lessons as well as poetry.

This book would appeal to ages 4 and older

Reviewer: AZ

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lenny Cyrus, School Virus

By Joe Schreiber, illustrated by Matt Smith
New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 2013, 288 Pages, Ages 10-14

Lenny is a genius. And he has a crush on Zooey. Desperate to know how she feels about him and willing to try and change her mind from the inside, he discovers a method to shrink himself so that he can enter her digestive tract (via a capsule she unknowingly swallows). His plan:  get to her brain, see what she thinks about, and, if necessary, make her love him. All this happens on the day that Zooey’s new play, a Christmas themed zombie tale, is set to premier.

Told in first person from three perspectives (Lenny, Zooey, and Lenny’s best friend and co-conspirator, Harlan), the book charts the discovery of the shrinking process, Lenny’s experiences in Zooey’s body, and Zooey’s reaction to the foreign body as she frantically prepares for the play premier. The author does a good job of making the events of the day laugh-out-loud funny.

The illustrations for the book are much what one would expect for a chapter book aimed at grades 4-8. The kid characters appear to be white middle-class children, rendered in caricature. Bullies are appropriately stocky and big headed (also white middle-class children). Images of viruses, components of Zooey immune system, bacteria and hormones with faces and personalities help the reader accept the human-like interactions that Lenny has with them.

This book is recommended for readers interested in the human body and how it deals with disease. Oh, and for readers who enjoy off beat adventure stories. It was disappointing how little the Christmas horror play figured into the story, since it had great potential for hilarity.

Review by Jennifer Harvey, Head Librarian, Curriculum Resource Center, Jerome Library, BGSU