Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Create your own Storytube!

It's almost time for the annual Storytube contest at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin. What is a Storytube? Children from around the country video themselves booktalking their favorite books, complete with costumes and different locations. How cool is that! It is simple to enter:
· Get your parent or guardian's permission if you are under 18
· Make your video up to two minutes long
· Feature one book in your video
· Enter as an individual or as part of a group of two to five people by uploading your video to YouTube or TeacherTube
· Enter between January 8 and February 15, 2009
· Be creative!
Get more updated details about participating at www.storytubes.info.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Picture Books for All!

Most parents love the closeness they share as they read to their children. There are those among us, however, that also read picture books for their own enjoyment--yes, I'm one of those!

In "The Boy Who Went Ape" by Richard Jesse Watson and Benjamin James Watson, it's field trip season for Alcatraz Elementary School. Benjamin has been very naughty, inadvertently releasing a chimp at the zoo who grabs his coat and hat, locks him in the cage and takes his place on the bus. You can imagine the adventures the chimp, Ms. Thunderbum the teacher, and the rest of the class has. Hint--a bank robbery is involved! Large, bright illustrations highlight the story perfectly.

"Doo-Wop Pop" by Roni Schotter is the story of five shy kids in school and the melodious Mr. Searle, a janitor who used to sing doo-wop back in the day. Mr. Searle finds just the right way to encourage his five fledglings to have confidence and believe in themselves. This is a universal issue that has a satisfying solution. A must read!

Advertised as "a petrifying parody", "Goodnight Goon" by Michael Rex is a take-0ff on the much loved classic "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. We find a little wolfman getting ready for bed, saying goodnight to the hairy claws, set of jaws, a loud screechy bat and a black hat. For all you monster lovers out there and your kids too!

"Dimity Dumpty: The Story of Humpty's Little Sister" by Bob Graham puts a new spin on the Humpty Dumpty story. The Dumpty family works as circus performers--all but Dimity, that is. Dimity prefers to stay out of the spotlight, playing her tiny flute away from the crush of the crowds. That mischevious Humpty, while spraypainting his name on a wall, has a great fall and it's up to Dimity to find the courage to summond the help Humpty needs.

In Francesca Chessa's "Holly's Red Boots" the first snow of the season has fallen and Holly is anxious to get outside. She tries on quite a selection of items before she finds her boots. (The sombero will have you giggling!) This is a silly story, guaranteeing many laughs.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Yes! Even More Holiday Suggestions! Whew!

What a rash of good books, right?! I read two historical fictions and a fun fantasy this last weekend that I know one of your readers will fly through!

"The Floating Circus" by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer begins with two brothers in an orphanage. The oldest, Owen, is a daredevil, while his younger brother, Zach, is kind and quiet. While climbing the highest tree on the orphanage's yard on a dare, Owen falls and injures his arm, rendering it useless. After healing the two boys are put on an orphan train to the West, but Owen fears no one will adopt Zach if he has a handicapped brother and jumps from the train. With the help of a freed slave, Solomon, Owen gets a job on a circus paddleboat. All the elements of a Mark Twain adventure are here--life on the river, learning compassion and acceptance and just growing up. A marvelous, exciting book for anyone but great for your reluctant reader! Why not look up the history of the floating circus?

"The Leanin' Dog" by K.A. Nuzum. It's the 1930's and Dessa Dean has suffered a terrible tragedy. While walking with her mother in the woods , a massive snowstorm made them lose their way home. Dessa Dean's mom died as Dessa Dean lay next to her. Dessa Dean suffered frostbite on her ears and can no longer leave her house, as it brings back those memories of her mom. One day Dessa hears scratching on her door and finds a brown dog. Will Dessa Dean be able to lure this dog into the house? And will her big, gruff father chase away the dog as it growls menacingly at him? This remarkable dog will help Dessa conquer her fears, reunite her with her father, and bring back the spirit of the holidays. Again, check out the history of the 1930's while you're at it!

My last book is a fantasy called "The Fairie Door" by B.E. Maxwell. I will give you the description of the book by Amazon, as they can report it more succinctly.

"Long ago the Faerie Queen created portals between our world and hers, so that children could summon help from faeries whenever the need arose. But a wicked entity called the Shadow Knight is endeavoring to control the doors between the two worlds, and only evil can get through. It falls to two imaginative eleven-year-olds—Victoria Deveny, from 1890 Britain, and Elliot Good, from 1966 America—to thwart his plan.
The Faerie Queen dispatches the youths on separate quests to retrieve orbs of power that will ultimately defeat the Shadow Knight. Their bravery and friendship are tested as the children travel to fantastic realms and face life-threatening dangers—from dragons to flying pirate ships to a wicked sorceress queen—before they're reunited to confront the dreaded Shadow Knight." You fourth through sixth graders will be waiting on pins and needles til the sequel comes out, guaranteed!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Holiday suggestions

I just read the funniest book and I am positive your third through sixth grader will be rolling on the ground when he/she reads it, too!

Author Jon Scieszka is not only the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature but he truly understands why boys in particular are reluctant readers. In his autobiography"Knucklehead", Mr. Scieszka relates what it was like growing up as one of six brothers. Some of the stunts they pulled will have you laughing so hard, you'll cry! This is my number one pick for third through sixth graders.

My next choice is "Barnaby Grimes: The Curse of the Night Wolf" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. The authors of The Edge Chronicles series are back with a story about Barnaby Grimes, a messenger (or tick-tock boy as they were called) in old London. Barnaby's friend Old Benjamin is missing, his favorite chair found broken and bloody in the street. Reports of attacks by huge wolves circulate throught Barnaby's favorite haunts. When Barnaby is attacked and begins to investigate, he finds links to Dr. Callwallder and his miraculous new tonic. As the flap on the cover says "A gloriously macabre tale...packed with intrigue, horror and fantastic illustrations." Werewolves, anyone?

Those toys from "Toys Go Out" are back again in "Toy Dance Party" by Emily Jenkins. Lumphy the stuffed buffalo, plush blue StingRay, and hopefully round Plastic the ball are depressed. Honey, their owner, has gone on vacation and left them at home, taking the detested Barbies instead. Honey is getting older and finding new interests and, as the toys feel unloved, they, too, expand their horizons by visiting other areas of the house and finally noticing other toys that they previously dismissed. Wonderful book for your third through fifth graders. By the way, there are obscure references in this book to "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo, another excellent book for this age group. Try both!

"The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail" by Michael P. Spradlin is the tale of Tristan, an orphan raised by monks, who accepts the invitation by Sir Thomas, Knight of the Templar, to become his squire on a trek to the Holy Land. Tristan runs afoul of Sir Hugh, another knight who seems to know more about Tristan than Tristan does himself. Between avoiding Sir Hugh's cruelty, outrunning the Hashsashins and protecting an important package entrusted to him by Sir Thomas, Tristan and his friends struggle their way from one adventure to the other. If your fifth and sixth graders showed interest in "The DaVinci Code", they will revel in this book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cute Holiday Books

More cute picture books!

Turkey Bowl by Phil Bildner. Ethan is especially excited about Thanksgiving this year. In prior years, he has not been old enough to participate in the family football game. This year he is, but an unexpected snow storm has delayed his family members. Dejected, Ethan goes outside to commiserate with his friends and realizes they now have enough players from the neighborhood to play.

Nathan's Hanukkah Bargain by Jacqueline Dembar Greene. Nathan has carefully saved his money for his very own menorah. He and Grandfather shop and shop and can't find one in their price range. About to give up, Nathan spots the perfect menorah in a thrift shop and, remembering Grandfather's stories about dickering for goods in the old country, bargains his way to the menorah of his dreams.

The Dog Who Saved Santa by True Kelley. Santa as you've never seen him! With the help of his take-charge dog Rodney and a self-help video, young Santa Claus mends his lazy and irresponsible ways.

I See Santa Everywhere by Glenn McCoy. A boy feels he's being stalked by Santa. The picture of Santa as Elvis is priceless!

When Santa Lost His Ho! Ho! Ho! by Laura Rader. Poor Santa is exhausted and can't seem to find his hohoho. Mrs. Claus and the elves try everything but a letter from little Holly finally brings it back.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Looking for Holiday Suggestions?

We all know what a priceless gift a book is, don't we? It's the gift that fuels imagination, cures boredom, and stealthily educates your child under the guise of entertainment. Here are just a few more picture books you may want to consider as you begin holiday shopping:

Millie in the Snow by Alexander Steffensmeier. Millie the Mail Cow becomes lost before Christmas. Hmmm, does the mail carrier have a crush on the farmer?

Drummer Boy by Loren Long. After accidentally being thrown away, a beloved toy drummer boy goes on an adventure that eventually brings him back to a warm home, where he is placed near baby Jesus in a manger scene.

Sam the Snowman by Susan Winget. Everyone is waiting for the littlest snowman to make snow. (I was impressed with the beautiful illustrations in this book.)

Fanny by Holly Hobbie. Based on Holly Hobbie's own experiences as a child. Fanny wants a Connie doll badly but her mother says absolutely not, so Fanny sews her own doll.

Cat and Mouse by Ian Schoenherr. A cat and a mouse play together nicely--and not so nicely--to the nursery rhymes, "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" and "Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo."

Too Many Toys by David Shannon. In an effort to stem the mess around the house, Spencer's mom decides to get rid of some toys. But Spencer has other ideas!

Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert. When the other princesses make fun of her for wearing glasses, Princess Peepers vows to go without, but after several mishaps--one of which is especially coincidental--she admits that she really does need them if she wants to see.

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo by Jonathan Allen. When Calf hears Rabbit out in the field mooing he feels inspired to give a great big baa and soon all the other creatures on the farm realize they're not limited to their own language but can enjoy experimenting with others as they think "outside the box."

Hope you enjoy my selections!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Here are three new picture books you and your children will enjoy. In "Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead" by Judy Goldman, Lupita and her beloved Tio Urbano watch the monarch butterflies return every year, just in time for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Elderly Tio Urbano cautions Lupita never to hurt or capture the monarch butterflies because they are the souls of their loved ones returning to participate in the holiday. But Tio Urbano passes away before Day of the Dead and Lupita and her family must complete the celebration themselves, finding comfort in age-old traditions. I learned so much about the Day of the Dead from this book and I know your little ones will be fascinated by the different customs, too.
"The Red Sled" by Patricia Thomas is the perfect book for your littlest readers! Large colorful illustrations and two word text on each page (fat hat, knit mitt) will grab their attention as a boy and his father have an exhilarating time sledding at night.
Budding graphic novel and superhero lovers will delight in "Traction Man Meets Turbodog" by Mini Grey. The first illustration shows a father chastising his son to please stay out of the mud as the boy plays with his superhero toy. The boy's imagination kicks in as Traction Man and TurboDog fight off germs and tromp through mud and water to find Traction Man's missing pet Scrubbing Brush. A dip in the tub revitalizes Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush but what will happen to poor battery- powered TurboDog? A lovely romp through a young child's imagination!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Here's a little Halloween song to enjoy. Boooooo!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones

This new series for 3rd-6th graders, "The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones", begins with the death of Grace Cahill. Grace was the matriarch of the huge, powerful Cahill family (so huge that four hundred family members attended her funeral.) At the reading of the will, family members were instructed to look under their chairs and found a paper guaranteeing they would receive an easy one million dollars, if they were to decline participating in an adventure that could save their family and also the world. Grace's grandchildren, Amy and Dan Cahill, opt for the adventure and begin the most treachurous quest they've ever been on, one that would threaten their lives and reveal the true measure of their relatives' being. This is to be a series of ten books written by different authors, each containing a set of cards that will help you solve the mystery. In addition, after purchasing additional cards, you may go to www.the39clues.com, play the game and possibly win $100,000!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Banned Book Week: Celebrating our Freedom to Read

Banned Book Week is coming soon. The American Library Association sets aside one week a year to celebrate our freedom to read whatever book we like and to freely express our opinions.
From Sept. 27th to Oct. 4th, why not select a book that has been challenged in libraries throughout the United States and see what all the fuss is about. I think you'll find that some of your favorite books are on the challenged list. Yes, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is there! "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo, "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White,
even "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl all have been challenged at one time or another. Take a look at this list of frequently challenged books and celebrate your freedom to read!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Books Come in Threes!

I guess good books come in threes. Let's start with "Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing)" by Alison McGhee. Julia Gillian is an only child whose busy parents are both working on their degrees. Julia Gillian has started reading a green book about a dog but, with her "art of knowing" skills tingling, suspects something sad happens to the dog. With her parents too busy to notice her distress, Julia Gillian pulls on her favorite raccoon mask (it makes her feel strong) and relies on her network of protective friends to help her through her fear. Third through fifth graders will enjoy this book.
All you ghost lovers will enjoy "School Spirit", first in the Suddenly Supernatural series by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Kat's mom is a medium who helps others with their ghostly problems. Kat is freaking out because her psychic skills have suddenly appeared. How she and her best friend Jac, a wunderkind celloist, deal with the mean girls at middle school, the school ghost and the mysterious dark shadow in the library will have you laughing and wishing for a sequel. Fourth through sixth graders, line up for this one!
Another fantasy novel, "Puddlejumpers" by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson, deals with the mystery of an orphan that no one wants. Ernie Banks was found on the doorstep of an orphanage as a baby, a baseball card and an acorn crystal the only clues to his identity. Now a thirteen-year-old, Ernie has become a troublemaker. Unfortunately, his latest pranks have brought him in front of a judge and he declares that Ernie must join a three week work program on a Farmer Russ's farm. Farmer Russ is kind and hardworking but hides a terrible truth--his only son was kidnapped as a baby. Ernie is determined to find out what happened to the baby and enlists the aid of Joey, a girl from a neighboring farm. With the help of the Puddlejumpers,
Ernie and Joey will have to face the most frightening creatures of the underworld to save the world as they know it. Adventure and ecology combine to create a story that will have you cheering the good guys and booing the bad guys! Anyone from fourth thru eighth grade will enjoy this adventuresome book.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Girl Who Could Fly

Piper McCloud is the daughter of Betty and Joe McCloud, quiet farmers whose families have lived and worked in the same farming community for centuries. When Betty realizes her daughter has the ability to fly, she secludes the girl on the farm for her own safety. But word gets out and soon the farmer is deluged by reporters. The government arrives in the form of the beautiful Dr. Hellion, head of an institute devoted to children with unusual talents. When Piper finds out there are others like herself, she can't wait to get to her new school to finally make friends and gladly hops into the waiting helicopter. Once there, she meets her schoolmates and is amazed at their abilities. A bullying genius, twins who can control the weather, the world's fastest runner, a girl who can shrink herself to a minuscule size and others are all in her classroom. Good-hearted Piper finds her place and is amazed at how relaxed she feels. Once she finds out that she is being doped to forget her powers, however, Piper realizes they must all leave the institute before they are permanently changed. But with 8 levels of security guards and the evil Dr. Hellion, how will they ever succeed? Victoria Forester, author of The Girl Who Could Fly, has created a unique book that will keep you on the end of your seat. Fourth through sixth graders will love this marvelous story of chutzpah!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Billy Bones

Hey, parents, looking for a book for that 3rd-5th reluctant reader? Well, just clatter on over to the library and check out "Billy Bones: Tales from the Secrets Closet" by Christopher Lincoln. When poor Millicent's parents die, she is taken to live with her evil, social climbing Uncle Bigham. When investigating her new surroundings in the attic, she happens upon the family's Secrets Closet, inhabited by friendly Billy Bones and his parents. Pirate ghosts, monstrous beings, and Uncle Grim (the Grim Reaper) combine for an adventurous, amusing read. Be assured that, while the story deals with skeletons and ghosts, it will not send your youngsters hiding under the covers. Instead, you'll find them cheering Millicent and Billy's friendship and booing the politics of the underworld. (Yes, they have politics there, too!) From the way the book ends, I think it would be fair to say we are seeing the beginning of another "haunting" series.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yoko, Keisha Ann and Splat the Cat

Rosemary Wells has done it again! Her new book, "Yoko Writes Her Name", features Yoko, a kind and gentle Japanese kitty. When she goes to school and writes her ABCs as she did in Japan, two mean classmates make fun of her and tell her she will never graduate because she can't write them in the English alphabet. The next day, with the help of her understanding teacher and a new friend, Yoko begins to enjoy her new school and, when it becomes appparent the mean girls may not graduate because they can't write their names in Japanese, Yoko graciously steps in to save the day.
In "Keisha Ann Can" by Daniel Kirk, Keisha Ann demonstrates that she can follow the rules to make school fun. Each page begins with rhyming questions ("Who can catch the school bus for the early-morning ride? Who can wait in line until it's time to go inside?) and ends with a resounding "Keisha Ann can!" Your children will love to join the refrain. This is a much needed positive introduction to the first day of school.
Splat the cat is afraid of his first day at school. He finds every excuse not to go, from not having clean socks to "the front door won't let me out, Mom." What Mom doesn't know is that Splat has packed his pet mouse in his lunchbox for company. Just think...a mouse in Cat School...doesn't sound good, does it? Mouse manages to help out the class in a time of need and the cats' perception of mice changes. Rob Scotton is both author and illustrator of "Splat the Cat". Splat has a soft, gently disheveled look, making him the perfect cat for this book.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

School's Almost Here!

Wow, we just finished the summer reading program with a successful pool party. Did you know we hosted about 230 people? No wonder the snacks disappeared quickly! Better yet, WE READ OVER 7000 BOOKS! Pat yourselves on the back and be sure you mention to your teacher how many books you read this summer. Did you know that summer reading serves a real purpose, other than winning awesome prizes? Each summer, as you read, your brain is exercising, getting ready to return to school. When school starts, you will find it much easier to resume your studies because your brain is now buff! So, goodbye summer reading.
Buff brains, report to school!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Goodbye Home Run Wednesdays, Hello Dolphin Lake!

Well, our Home Run Wednesdays will draw to a close next week. The lucky few who got free tickets to the Windy City Thunderbolts will have a blast! Don't forget to show Ms. Dee or Ms. Sarah your little blue ticket to get a little special something at the game. Then we're off on August 1st to the Dolphin Lake pool for our Gold Medal Splash Fest summer reading finale. You'll find your ticket in the completion bag that you can pick up at the Youth Services Desk. Lots of good snacks and fun in the cool water with your reading pals--what's better than that!
It's hard to believe but I'm already making plans for the fall K-2 Storyhour. You'll remember that last year our K-2 kids heartily embraced healthy snacks at storyhour and I plan on some yummy, healthy and unusual snack surprises again this session. So enjoy the end of our summer reading program but keep in mind that, really, K-2 is not that far in the distance. See you at the pool!

Monday, July 21, 2008

We Have Zoo Passes!

Did you know that the library has Brookfield Zoo passes available for its Homewood and East Hazel Crest patrons? For a cash deposit of $25, you will receive a pass for four to Brookfield Zoo, good for three days! Only one pass per family.
Here are four cautions:
1. There is no grace period so a $2 a day late fee will be added should you return the passes late.
2. You may not return the pass through the book drop.
3. If you were to lose the passes, there is a $10 fee in addition to the not refunded deposit.
4. The passes are available on a "first come, first served" basis.
So grab some sunscreen, your kids, and your library card and treat yourself to a day of wonder at the Brookfield Zoo! Questions? Call us at (708) 798-0121 x 222. Check out Brookfield Zoo's website, too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Illinois Authors

I've just read two new books whose authors have ties to Illinois. In "Found" by Margaret Peterson Haddix, adopted Jonah and his best bud Chip receive mysterious envelopes in the mail. Opening them up, they find a plain white card that says "They are coming for you." Chip snoops around and finds out his parents have not been honest with him and that Chip was also adopted. Mix in a freaky black jet full of infants and you have an awesome tale of suspense and time travel. Haddix's tie to Illinois? She used to be a professor at a college near Danville in central Illinois. In Andrea Beatty's "Cicada Summer", silent Lily lives unnoticed in her small rural town during the Depression. Her brother has died and Lily has not spoken since that day, preferring to let the town folk think she is brain damaged. She "borrows" books from the school library and hides to read them. One day Tinny moves in with her aunt Fern and begins to torment Lily. But Lily has noticed Tinny stealing food and money from her aunt. What is Tinny up to? And who is the repairman who wears shiny city shoes in the country? This book of historical fiction comes to an exciting end and I know you'll all enjoy it! Did you know that the author, Andrea Beaty, lives in a suburb of Chicago? Wonder if it's Homewood? Here are a few other authors from Illinois that you might want to explore: Jim Aylesworth, Blue Balliett, Candace Fleming, Arthur Geisert, Michael Hays, Laurie Lawlor, Tom Lichtenheld, Kevin Luthardt, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Bob Raczka, Laura Ruby, Natasha Tarpley, and Amy Timberlake.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Graphic Novels

Well, after all the excitement of summer reading sign-up day, I am glad to get back to checking in some new graphic novels. We have just received the second, third and fourth in the Yotsuba&! series. That charming Yotsuba tries her hand at art, has an experience with a water gun, takes to the street as Flower Cupid and masters rock-paper-scissors. We've also received the second and third of the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels. In "The Truth About Stacey", Stacey moves to a new town, deals with her diabetes and finds three new friends. In "Mary Anne Saves the Day", Mary Anne has an atomic meltdown and loses her Baby-Sitters Club friends. Will Mary Anne find her way back to her friends? We hope so! Remember the Hardy Boys? They are now also available in graphic novels and we now own "Dude Ranch o' Death." Frank and Joe are sent to a "tough love" camp to find several missing teens and to figure out just what is going on at that camp. These graphic novels are all waiting in our new book section.