When I started this blog, I intended to post thoughtful book reviews on a regular basis. The thing about that is that after living my life and reading lots of books, I’m too tired to actually write lengthy reviews. So I’m going to see if I can sell you on a book in ten seconds.
Froggy’s had so many other adventures, it’s only fitting that he’s finally on his way to paradise in Froggy Goes to Hawaii, written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. All his father asks of him is that he not behave like a nincompoop (meet Rue’s new favorite word), but if you know Froggy, then you know that might be a tall order. Recommended for preschoolers-grade 2.
On the subject of ocean life, check out what’s happening under the sea in Project Seahorse, by Pamela S. Turner and Scott Tuason. This is the latest title in an excellent nonfiction series for children called Scientists in the Field. Follow two female scientists who are trying to save dwindling seahorse populations. The photographs are stunning. Grades 4 and up.
While you’re waiting for Tom Angelberger’s Darth Paper Strikes Back, the much anticipated sequel to The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, read Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset. One day, Lady Luggertuck instructs the help not to cinch her corset quite so tight. But is it the stay that maintains societal order? Find out in this delicious satirical mystery. Grades 4 and up.
Speaking of corsets, I had no idea that gentlemen of certain standing wore stays back in the day. It’s one of many fascinating facts I read in The Many Faces of George Washington, by Carla Killough McClafferty. Follow the work of scientists using cutting edge technology to determine whether the iconic image of Washington that graces the dollar bill is a good likeness. Grades 4 and up.
The inkblot finally gets the attention and respect it deserves in Inkblot, by Margaret Peot. Many of us have spent time debating what we see in a Rorschach inkblot, but did you know that Victor Hugo was an inkblot artist? Peot shares practical tips for creating the unexpected with inkblots. And chances are, you already have the art supplies necessary to start creating inkblot art. That’s my kind of art and craft book. Grades 5 and up.
If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman. If you have the option, listen to the audiobooks. I white-knuckled my way through the first several chapters of If I Stay while I was driving, which will make perfect, horrific sense to you if you do the same. Mia’s got it all: cool, supportive parents, an adorable little brother, a musical gift that’s about to take her to Juilliard, and a beautiful relationship with her polar opposite in the music world, her rocker boyfriend, Adam. In an instant everything changes, leaving her with the monumental decision that is the book’s title. You’ll wish you had a longer commute. You’ll sit in your car even after you’ve reached your destination because you just have to know.
Finish If I Stay (and you’ll definitely want to finish it) and delve right into Where She Went to find out what happens to Adam after…I can say no more. I really want to talk about how it was a satisfying end to all the heartbreak…I have to stop. Grades 9 and up.
How far would you go to save a farm? To save your mother? In 1896, Clara Estby walked across the country with her mother as part of a publicity stunt to raise money to save the family farm and prove that women were just as brave, strong, and capable as men, and therefore deserving of the right to vote. The Year We Were Famous is historical fiction based on the life of author Carol Estby Dagg’s great aunt and great grandmother. Equally inspiring as the story the Dagg tells is her perseverance in the face of years of rejection letters from publishers. Local author and former children’s librarian. Grades 7 and up.
At a recent school visit, I asked the kids to raise their hands if they like poetry. I could practically hear the crickets chirping. So I read them a few selections from Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, and then I couldn’t hear anything over their laughter. How can you not like a book of poetry that celebrates all the joys of being a boy and the wonderful unique qualities of each season? You can’t. You just can’t. For boys and girls, preschool-grade 3.
Seasons make me think of schedules, and no one likes his schedule better than Mister Bud, the star of Say Hello to Zorro!, by Carter Goodrich. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it by bringing a bossy little dog named Zorro into the mix. But that’s exactly what Mister Bud’s human does. Economy of words at its best. Illustrations that could turn anyone into a dog lover. Preschool-grade 1.
And finally, take one bar, one tall, quiet cowboy, and one girl who’s just passing through town on her way to bigger and better, and you’ve got:
A. something so trite it should require a warning label
B. one saucy love story.
In the case of The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, you get B. And the reason it works is because it really happened. This one’s for the grown up ladies.