Monday, March 24, 2008

Tennyson Is Not A Poet!

Another weekend, another fantastic book! "Tennyson" by Lesley M.M. Blume is a book about eleven year old Tennyson and her sister Hattie who live in a bayou-like area with their unconventional parents. (Yes, Tennyson is a girl. Her mother, an aspiring author, named her after the famous poet.) Tennyson's mother has run off and her father pursues her, dumping the two children at the family's historic plantation with eccentric Aunt Henrietta and Uncle Twigs and grumpy Zulma. Tennyson writes a story of her family history during the Civil War and sends it to the "Sophisticate" magazine, hoping to lure her mother back home. This is great historical fiction with wonderful descriptions of how the elite lived before the war. Chandeliers in trees swaying in the wind, huge spiders spinning webs that will be covered in gold dust for a party, and the haunting feel of decay are just a few of the many images you'll carry around in your mind after reading this book. I truly hated to see this book end! Readers in fourth through eighth grade will devour this book! I just know you'll be seeing this book on an awards list soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Win $500 worth of books!

Do you like to read books to your siblings? Would you like to FAMOUS?! Well, here's your chance! Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and other libraries are sponsoring Storytubes, a competition where kids in first through sixth grade tape themselves booktalking their favorite book (2 minute limit, please) and upload it to Voting will begin each week in May. The winner of this contest will win $500 in books and your local library (that's us, folks!) will receive $1000 in books! Go to for more information. We look forward to seeing your tapes! By the way, if you do not have access to the necessary camera, come to the library and we will tape you and upload it for you! Wear costumes, if you like, that relate to your book. Now, hurry, let's get going!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Three New Spring Picture Books of Note

Thank goodness we are finally seeing evidence of spring! Here are three new spring picture books I think you'll enjoy. Eve Bunting is known for her gentle stories and once again has produced a winner. "You Were Loved Before You Were Born" tells of the preparation the whole family makes while anticipating a child's birth. Grandmother plants a rose bush, Grandfather brings in the rocking chair he rocked Mother in, and aunts, uncles and cousins all donate time and materials for the little one's birth. In "Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar" by Clare Jarrett, Arabella brings home a caterpillar and watches his physical changes as he evolves into a beautiful butterfly. There is an explanation of a caterpillar's life cycle in the back of the book. "Grace for President" by Kelly DiPucchio explains the story of Grace, who wishes to be the first female president. Her school has a mock election and Grace is introduced to the world of politics. This book is not only has a good storyline but has an explanation of the Electorial College. What a great way to introduce your children or classroom to politics in this exciting year!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hey, Girls, You're Up!

It seems like I have been reading alot of books for boys. Now, girls, it's your turn!
The Magic Half by Annie Barrows tells the story of Miri, a girl who has older twin brothers and younger twin sisters. After moving to a new home, Miri is lucky enough not to have to share her bedroom with her little sisters. But the bedroom is in the attic and the wallpaper is purple with orange vines and there's a bench in the closet big enough to be a coffin! After her brother breaks her glasses, Miri loses her temper, clocks him in the head with a shovel and is sent to her room. She notices a broken lens taped to the floor molding. When she holds it up to her eye, she is transported to 1935 and meets Molly. Molly insists that Miri was sent to the past to save her from greedy Horst, who wants Molly's inheritance. Molly must help Miri and get back to the future before.....well, read the book and find out! Third through fifth grade girls would love this book.
The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach is historical fiction. Violet's older sister, Chloe, a suffragette, has left home and Mother and Father refuse to talk about her. When Violet finds a packet of letters written from Chloe to her, she realizes that Mother and Father have been hiding them from her. Violet decides to run away to New York to be with Chloe. She is befriended by Myrtle, an African American girl who is also unhappy with her life. Once they track down Chloe, they all travel together promoting women's right to vote. My favorite part of this book is the last paragraph:
"But now she knew what it was like to stand your ground. She knew what it was like to keep on when things seemed hopeless. And she knew that with patience and hard work, a radical, ridiculed idea--like women voting--could become as acceptable and ordinary as oatmeal." Whoa! Powerful! Fourth through eighth graders, here's a book that's captivating and will meet your historical fiction requirement for school.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Space and Computer Geeks!

If you are a computer or space geek, I have the perfect book for you. Lucy and Stephen Hawking, the world famous physicist and his daughter, have written George's Secret Key to the Universe. Together they have written a fabulous book dealing with ecology, space travel, black holes and super computers.
George lives with his ecological sensitive family and his pet pig, Freddy. One day Freddy escapes the confines of his pen, squeezes under the fence and runs into the abandoned house next door--except the house is no longer abandoned. George meets Annie and her dad, Eric. Eric is an absentminded scientist who, with the assistance of super computer Cosmos, teaches George about how planets are born, how they die and their relationship to black holes. Eric explains how pollution is ruining the earth and how finding another planet that is hospitable to humans is important. Unfortunately, the evil Dr. G. Reeper (Eric's teacher) is trying to steal Cosmos for his own devious scheme. This book is filled with facts and real photos of the universe. At the very end, George is giving a speech to his classmates and I think it is the best part of the book. Here is a snippet of that speech:
"All the people on Earth, the animals, the plants, the rocks, the air, and the oceans are made of elements forged inside stars. Whatever we might think, we are all the children of stars."
Fourth through eighth graders will love this book!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Donavan's Double Trouble

Wow! I just finished Donavan's Double Trouble by Monalisa DeGross and it's awesome!
Donavan's Uncle Vic has returned home from Iraq in a wheelchair. Donavan always looked up to Uncle Vic--he was a great basketball player, a fearless firefighter and all around great guy. But Uncle Vic is no longer the man he was before he was injured and Donavan doesn't know how to relate to the man he is now. In the meantime, Donavan is having trouble with math and Heritage Month is coming up at school. Grandma thinks displaying Uncle Vic's carvings at the school will help him feel better about himself but Donavan is not so sure. Strong support from family and friends help Donavan find his way. But what about Uncle Vic? Third through sixth graders, this is a great read!