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!