105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Board Books, Simply Sweet

ABC Baby Me!
by Susan Katz, illustrated by Alicia Padron

ABC Baby Me!Lots of babies get all the loving attention that little ones need, and in alphabetical order no less, from “Adore me” to “Zzzz, I’m fast asleep.” Along with the parents as caregivers, grandparents, siblings, and even pets are incorporated into the diverse families portrayed. The simple sentiments of caring and the lovely, gentle watercolor illustrations make this a wonderful reading choice for new parents. Hey, and perhaps the book can even serve as mini-checklist for those anxious mothers afraid they’ll miss a step: “Adore me. Bathe me. Cuddle me, too.” Done, done and done!

The Little Composter
by Jan Gerardi

The Little ComposterI don’t know that there is interest in the idea of composting at the pre-preschool level, but if so then this book hits the mark. Lift-up flaps show what is left of fruits & veggies — like the cores and peels — and how they can be mixed with leaves, dirt, and worms to make healthy compost for gardens. It’s fun to see an actual new concept presented in a board book, so rare given the well-trodden territory, and the illustrations are engaging with simple patterns in the color blocks. The other book in the Teenie Greenies series of two is Eco People on the Go! It’s also a cute book, but I found myself wondering what made these people particularly Eco for jogging, hiking, and skating. I’d guess the point was to find other ways to get around other than driving, but none of those three are truly alternatives, but rather recreational activities in themselves. Unless maybe eco people do skate to the farmers market to pick up their arugula.

How Do Lions Say I Love You
by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by David Walker

How Do Lions Say I Love YouVarious animals express love to their children in the ways they know best, whether by howls or cuddles. The soft, sweet illustrations complement the simple rhyming couplets. Speaking of couples, some of the tender moments seemed to be shared by mates, but rest assured that is nothing like you may have seem on those wild animal shows. Though it could add a bit of humor by finishing this particular rhyme, “A hen says I love you to her chicks with a cluck / Swans mate for life ’cause...” Yeah, you want to know how it ends now, don’t you? All right, you win. The pages are online at Amazon.

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What Happens on Wednesdays...

...stays on Wednesdays.

Today I need to talk about hamster racing. Yes, really. I saw a flyer at my local pet store about a hamster-ball racing event on Saturday and I came home all charged up. The idea of incorporating two things I love — hamsters and humor — was intoxicating. We started training our hamster, Cookie, and she isn’t at good at hamster-ball running as I may have thought. Though it has led to some great moments. Like me sighing at the end of the evening, realizing that we had forgotten to do our practice, and my teen saying with perfect comic delivery, “What?! Don’t you want to be the mother of a champion?” Then there are the times that we encourage Cookie by singing the Rocky theme song, including when my husband comes in playing it on the iPod. Or when we refer to the hamsters’ quick back-and-forth yard-long runs as similar to Rocky’s runs on the stairs, and the teen starts laughing and says, “See, it’s funny because Cookie hasn’t even seen the movie!” (Actually, Cookie did see the movie and she found it rather derivative. She recommends Etienne! for discerning viewers of the rodent art film.)

Certainly this is a scene of some silly, family fun, but it’s also a strategy. Not for the hamster-ball competition, which we are sure to lose at this point, but for injecting fun into the dreary times. I talked last week about feeling off-balance, and I truly appreciated your responses. But the venting and connecting can’t be the end game, or it’s all too easy to sink into misery. It’s tempting to look over our legitimate reasons for being down, taking our comfort in commiseration and validation. But while we may feel better about our right to feel down, we don’t actually feel better — and that should be the ultimate goal.

We need to allow ourselves, force ourselves even, to take a break from the heaviness and replenish our strength. Take a nap, draw a picture, watch a show, make a collage, pull the weeds, buy some flowers, arrange a closet, or (duh) read a book. You may even engage in the rising sport of hamster racing. In that case, Cookie and I will see you at the next meet.


Yes, we actually had this calendar hanging over Cookie’s cage, and it was hysterical.

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TeenReader Tuesday: Small Persons With Wings

In honor of the tiny winged folk in Small Persons With Wings (FYI, they hate to be called fairies), and their native language, I have decided to write this entire review in Latin! Let us begin:

Salve! Mihi nomen est TeenReader!

Actually, thanks to my school’s funky curriculum, that is all my knowledge of conversational Latin. However, I know the perfect phrasing for telling someone to go die in a ditch (I necare in fossa!), so that’s a perk.

Small Persons With WingsSmall Persons With Wings, by Ellen Booraem, is the story of Mellie Turpin, who has grown up with a fairy — er, small person with wings (gotta keep the PC man off my back). But when her small friend disappears, she is called a liar by everyone she has told about him. Resolved to stop imagining such silly things as fairies, she removes every thought of them from her brain. This plan works great — that is, until her family inherits an old inn completely infested with small persons with wings.

My favorite thing about this book is the obvious effort plotting a complex world building. Every character quirk is based in the their personal history, so much so that even the magical Parvi (another name for the non-fairies) seem to have motivated and logical actions. With the exception of the magics of the Parvi, which are explained somewhat sparsely, everything is introduced slowly but surely. In this way, every strange idea seems very understandable, and the reader finds themselves doubting themselves for ever NOT believing in fairies. The story itself is light with plenty of parts that made me literally laugh out loud, and astonishingly realistic for a book about magical creatures. All in all, an intricate and creative storyline with care put into even the smallest characters. Definitely one of my favorites, and sure to become one of yours!

Salvete, omnes!

Amore, TeenReader

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You Are Not Anonymous

It is easy to be anonymous. We can be anonymous by blending in at a sporting event or a high school. We can be anonymous driving a car, ducking in a club, or disappearing in a crowd. We can leave a note unsigned or a comment button unclicked. We can allow ourselves to feel invisible and in that, feel empowered or ignored — sometimes simultaneously.

But you are not anonymous. Unsigned notes can often be tracked to their writers, through context, motive, or investigation. And online? Oh child, you should know that every computer has an address, and every computer that you connect to has that address. When the computer is big, like at a news site, there is little need or motive to track down those addresses even if the comments are inane. But for a small site, like this one, it is easy to know the location of every computer that visits and every person that comments. While there would generally be no need to look at this information in any depth, I can do so, as can pretty much anybody with a site and the motivation. So you may click a button to comment without a signature, but you are not actually anonymous. I know, crazy — but that’s the Internet.

As this distinction can be unclear to some or an invitation to others, I have turned off the anonymous comments on my site. Almost everyone who comments here has an account anyway, so it is a small sacrifice for me and done with the intention of maintaining better control over what may appear online.

Let me say that being anonymous has a power that should be used wisely. Being in crowds can make us feel anonymous because we are one of so many people that our individual actions aren’t being watched. This can be exhilarating as we shout at sports events or sing loudly at rock concerts. And it can show an ugly side as people shout insults at town halls or spout hateful messages on YouTube. Being anonymous can be freeing when you aren’t worried about being noticed, and yet worrying when you don’t notice that your freedom requires a responsibility to do the right thing. Or at least, not to do the wrong thing. Even if nobody knows it but you.

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What Happens on Wednesdays...

...stays on Wednesdays.

A child bit my child yesterday. This would be another normal milestone in the parental path except for the fact that my child is eleven years old. And the biter was twelve. Sixth graders, biting and being bitten over sharing a hula hoop at recess. What is going on here?

It defines in one scenario the way that everything seems off kilter, in big and small ways. In the world we went from uprising in Egypt to devastation in Japan to bombing in Libya. In the United States, one man takes away the rights of multitudes and the conversation is about the lavish salaries of teachers while we ignore the compensation packages of executives that the taxpayers bailed out. In my area, two of the richest counties in the nation are looking at reducing contributions to programs that serve homeless children in our community. In my home I am wrestling with the limbo that is my mother’s condition even given access to the nation’s best physicians, and a situation with my daughter’s friend in great need and a family who seems unable and somewhat unwilling to provide.

And some kid bit my kid in sixth grade, which isn’t such big a deal really, but somehow puts into focus the sense that everything is off balance. I think my newfound drive to tackle household clutter is coming from a need to organize and straighten my surroundings in a chaotic time. The earthquake in Japan shifted the earth’s axis. I feel mine shifted as well.

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TeenReader Tuesday: Liar

Cover controversy aside — ancient history, right? — I present a review of Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. This is the story of Micah, a compulsive liar. When her boyfriend is mysteriously killed, she decides to tell the reader the truth about everything, to come clean completely. But with the truth so muddled in her lies, it’s hard to know what to believe.

LiarLiar offers the excitement of Catching Fire for people who don’t have the patience for all of Katniss’s whining. (Hunger Games? More like Whaaa! I’m Hungry! Games. Zing!) This book begins with the slow set-up, usually an enemy of me and my short atten— Hey, my cursor looks funny when it flashes! Hehehe… But yes, I normally can’t stand a measured, dramatic buildup. However, this one has some surprising events that propel the story and keep it interesting. Then when you get to section two, there is a game changer that blows your mind, and you never doubt the pure concentrated awesome of this book again. The beginning is slow but the payoff proves how necessary it is to have a deliberate beginning to provide contrast when action kicks in. It’s like your mom telling you to eat vegetables to be big and strong when you grow up. Except this is actually worth the pain. (Candy corn for life, baby!)

Liar is a fantastic read. A parting word, however: Be careful of reading too much — like the jacket flap or back cover. It can take some of the punch out of the storyline. But it’s certainly a phenomenal book, worth picking up today!

Or am I lying to you?

I’m not.

Or am I?

Seriously, though, I’m telling the truth.

The truth? What is truth?

Oh, shut it.

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Nonfiction Monday: Face to Face with Dolphins

A very quick offering today because I’ve been clutter-busting at my house and I’m on a roll. It’s been slow going because I’m terrible at... things. Sorting them, organizing them, tossing them are all difficult for me. But I’m working hard, taking small breaks, and trying to keep focused. So here’s a backlist selection for your Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at The Children’s War.

Face to Face with Dolphins
by Flip and Linda Nicklin

Face to Face with DolphinsWonderful photos fill whole pages, drawing you into the scene. But with National Geographic as the publisher of this series, we can expect pretty pictures. What is special about this book is how the photographer recounts his experiences taking the pictures — and yes, it makes more of a connection to the photo of the Amazon River dolphin when we know that this was the dolphin that was playfully nibbling at his ankles as he shot the picture. There are lots of the usual facts about dolphins too, but the text has a personal, almost conversational touch to it. The book has little sections throughout — How to Swim Like a Dolphin, How to Speak Dolphin — that allow the reader to copy the dolphin’s style for a little fun and games. The series, Face to Face with Animals, also investigates sharks, lions, frogs, penguins, orangutans, cheetahs, gorillas, and more. Many of these titles come later than my reviewed selection, but I choose this book because I’d truly like to be face-to-face with a dolphin and I can’t say the same about sharks, lions, or frogs. Though penguins would be fun to hang out with. I bet they know all the cool places to go. Hah!

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Poetry Friday: A Dazzling Display of Dogs

I’m not a big fan of dogs, or poetry for that matter, though I had dogs growing up and I’ve explored poetry as a grown-up. However, I am a fan of cleverness and art and words, all of which combine in this masterful book, A Dazzling Display of Dogs, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz.

A Dazzling Display of DogsTributes to the messy, crazy, quirky, and endearing qualities of the canine are merged with creative artistic styling, moving the words beyond concrete poems and into illustration itself. The contrasting palette of blues and oranges — opposites on the color spectrum, look it up — make the pictures pop with a retro look, while subtle tones on the scale give other pages a dreamlike feel. Throughout the book the words are incorporated into the illustrations so that words and art enhance each other in an almost inseparable way. For instance, I can’t even share my favorite poem here, because it would lose half of its effect by not have the words contained with the shapes of seven flying seagulls. So instead:
When Lucy the Cat Came to My Home

When i saw that the squirt
Was here to stay,
That she certainly wasn’t
Going away,
i concluded we had to
Cohabitate,
And the thing to do was
COOPERATE!
(on cold, dark nights
her purring’s great!)
Even in this poem, I have to mention that round shapes around the cuddling animals heads form the Os in COOPERATE. And that the poem is written in all caps, except for the i’s, which are lowercase. But if I copied that exact format online it would look like I was shouting, while instead on the page it invites the reader to share in a special moment of acceptance. A fantastic book for dog-lovers certainly, but also for connoisseurs of Art and Words and Poetry.

Poetry Friday is hosted today at A Wrung Sponge. And by the way, I must mention that it’s... Friday, friday! Gotta get down on Friday! Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend!

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Thursday Three: Board Books 2011

Clackers: Monkey
by Luana Rinaldo

Clackers: MonkeyIf this book holds up, than this is genius. Add a handle to a little board book and you’ve already got my interest as a baby mama... I mean, as a mom of a baby. But then you make those pages foam with drool-resistant paper, and thus softer and also less likely to dissolve in the chew marks of those old-school cardboard books. Nice. Plus the books are cute, with sweet illustrations and fun text. We’re not talking a classic here, but a nice little monkey tail... I mean, tale. And baby can hold the handle and wave the book around to make a clacking noise — hence the name Clackers. Is it a book? A toy? A durable teether? I won’t know for sure until I see how it holds up, so I’ll send it to a fellow blogger with an actual baby and get an updated report. For now, I’m a fan.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: A Counting Nursey Rhyme
by Salina Yoon

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: A Counting Nursey RhymeThis title comes from the “baby likes bright colors” theory. Lots of bright colors intensified by the white space on the number pages. Lively — and did I mention bright? — illustrations take us through the familiar rhyme, slowly revealing a circus scene. Cut-outs in the number pages show hints of what to expect. So, we see a color block with six stars, turn the page, and find the star-covered blanket on the back of the elephant. Nicely done. However, if you’re thinking ahead on the rhyme you can already see the plot problem ahead. Yeah, big fat hen. In a circus. So we can chalk this up as whimsy, surreal, or they’re-babies-and-won’t-care. Honestly, I can live with it, and the book is a fun take on an old rhyme. One question though — why make the “good fat hen” change? Seriously, if a word was going to be replaced there, wouldn’t fat have made a better candidate? I’m just asking.

Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie
by J.D. Lester, illustrations by Hiroe Nakata

Grandma Calls me GigglepieAh, you had me at Nakata. Love this illustrator. Here’s a board book that will be enjoyed by the reader as well as the read-to. Because yes, board books will be read by an adult to a baby, and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t hold some interest for the grown-ups. Filled with beautiful illustrations of animal pairs, this title celebrates the loving relationship of a grandma and child. Let’s not split hairs about the unlikely connection of grandmothers in the animal community. I’ve certainly never heard of the affectionate nature of snake families. But the message of love is nicely conveyed, along with tiny bits of information about the animals themselves. For instance the flamingo page says, “Grandma calls me Tricky Chick... hey, look! I’m on one leg!” Sweet sentiments and pretty pictures make this a brilliant board book.

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What Happens on Wednesdays...

Did you use “stays on Wednesdays” to finish the phrase? Me too. And I have done so ever since I read a picture book by the same title. So, I’ve decided to use this phrase to set aside a day to talk about non-book stuff. Maybe not every week, but who knows?

Can we talk about last night’s episode of Glee yet? If it’s still on your DVR, this would be the time to leave. Just go. Come back later.

First I should mention that I have a love/hate relationship with this show. Love the music. Hate the fact that every song is a solo with back-up — not very “glee club” in my book. It irks me to no end, yet I can’t deny that I love hearing these singers. Love the witty dialogue, hate the sloppy plot writing. Yes, in a musical everyone knows the song and performs it perfectly with accompaniment standing at the ready. I’ll give them a lot of leeway with that format. But Sue taking over the glee club from another school? Couldn’t we have accomplished the same thing with her bullying or manipulating the director? If it was only one ridiculous thing, I could accept it more than the piling-on of crazy while still trying to be realistic and relatable.

I have a love/hate relationship with the characters also. Sometimes I think that the writers are so, so very good with what they’re giving us. Other times they go in the wrong direction, away from the baseline of who the character is. I’m sick of Rachel talking about how she just wants to be noticed, when she had always presented as this confident chick. Maybe this mooning over Finn is giving her some depth, but it seems at odds with who she is as a person. Honestly, she’s just getting on my nerves.

But the character I root for most is Kurt. And I mean that I’m rooting for the writing of the character as much as I get lost in the fictional world of the show. We’ve gotten some of the best development and sharpest, boldest writing in this character. We’ve also had some missteps in making him too perfect, too untouchable in the careful dance to portray his sexual orientation and yet not let it become a joke or even too real.

Well, all that is forgiven with last night’s episode where Kurt and Blaine kissed. They kissed! And it was adorable! Squee-worthy! Like the best couple to kiss on the show since Will and Emma at the very beginning when we thought they would be so awesome together before it all fell apart... Anyway, I was happy for Kurt in the show and was excited that the producers/writers dared to Go There. Thank you, thank you! This is the kind of thing we need to see on TV because this moment, this kiss was sweet and real and — hey, what do you know? — not at all uncomfortable. Hopefully as more people get this — whether through their own friends/family/neighbors or characters on TV — we can approach a place where judgment for one’s sexual orientation can be a thing of the past.

Okay, perhaps that’s a lot of expect from one show, one character, one kiss. But if it were to start with one, it would be this one.

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TeenReader Tuesday: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Another TeenReader Tuesday:

Dash & Lily’s Book of DaresDash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, begins with 16-year-old Dash finding a mysterious notebook on the shelves of the Strand in New York City. Inside the book he finds a list of instructions, a set of puzzles, and clues that provide a way to contact the author — a nameless but undeniably interesting girl. As he writes an additional set of instructions himself, the two begin to pass the book back and forth, sending each other all over the city yet never meeting face to face. But faced with a real-life encounter, how will things hold up?

Overall, I thought this book was creative and well done. The puzzles that the two leave for each other are funny, surprising, and provide a great view of New York as they dash (get it? Dash?) across the city. It was a lot of fun. But halfway through, the two characters meet face to face, and utter chaos erupts, both for the characters and for the reader. The rest of the book is spent with a kind of depressed wandering. Neither of them is sure whether or not to continue to swap the notebook, family troubles erupt, and what once was a lighthearted book becomes droopy and lethargic. Granted, this kind of slump has to happen in any romance book to have a satisfying rise at the end, but here it felt a little long, changing the tone and pace of the book.

But hey, the writing had depth without being preachy, the characters were quirky without getting annoying, and even the slumpy half of the book had some laughs. So with note to plodding plot problems in places, it still stands as a good romance and story. (MotherReader would want me to mention that there is some Language in the book, but honestly, nothing that will surprise teens who walk the halls of any high school.)

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Thursday Three: Cats

Another PBS Booklights repost:

Grumpy Cat
by Britta Teckentrup

Grumpy CatThe plot isn’t uncharted territory, but it doesn’t matter. A loner cat finds his personal space invaded and grows to accept the intruder, even as a friend. The bright colors, the simple text, and the cutey cute cuteness of the kitten intruder make this book special. The large, broadly drawn pages and big print make it a good storytime book — no danger that someone can’t see the pictures here. There are some wonderful expressions to the simple illustrations — especially the Grumpy Cat’s angry face. A fun book, probably best for the twos and threes.

Cat Jumped In!
written by Tess Weaver, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Cat Jumped In!On a warm summer day, Cat jumps in the window of the house and gets into all kinds of messes through the day. At each untidy encounter, he is met by a pair of legs (that we can assume connect to a person) and the repeating phrase, “Cat? Out!” I like how the phrase “Tip-tap, pitter-pat came footsteps, closer and closer” gets steadily more tips and taps and pitters and pats and there’s a growing urgency to the “OUT!” The illustrations are perfect for a book about a cat, lively and soft at the same time. Great for all ages.

Katie Loves the Kittens
by John Himmelman

Katie Loves the KittensFirst of all, gotta love the cover of a happy dog plowing through three kittens and their surprised expressions as they flip through the air. Katie, the dog, is excited that her owner brought home three kittens. So excited that she howls like crazy — and freaks those kittens out! Being scolded for scaring them, she tries to control herself (with a priceless picture of her tail wagging until her whole body is shaking), but can’t. Katie is so sad that she scares the kittens, that she goes back to bed. There, where she is quiet, the kittens come to her. Wonderful book about kittens, dogs, and yes — patience. Personally, I’ve seen this book read and enjoyed by both a toddler and a teen, so I’d say this title has certainly got some range.

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TeenReader Tuesday: The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Yup, I’m trying to pin TeenReader down to setting aside one day a week to grace us with her presence. Give her some love, and we may make this happen.

The Great Wall of Lucy WuTeenReader popping in to talk about The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. We’ve all been through this scenario: Things are lining up to be awesome and then they decide that going well isn’t in the cards. With her sister leaving for college, Lucy will finally have her own room and is ready for a great year with her best friend and basketball. That is, until she finds that her grandmother’s sister, Yi Po, is coming to visit. For a few months. And staying in her room. Throw in Chinese school, mean girls, and a blossoming crush to make for a challenging sixth grade year.

I liked this book most of all because it is realistic. Now I know there’s that whole “realistic fiction” genre, but this book proves that it takes more than not slaying dragons to make a character realistic. Lucy and her sister get angry at each other and fight, but the result is a torn quilt — not hurled emotional grenades. Lucy’s parents are adamant about Chinese school, but do work with Lucy’s basketball practice schedule, even though they don’t understand her attachment to the sport. With Lucy’s life feeling unfair, it would be easy to exaggerate the injustice, but this story made Lucy’s complaints seem legitimate while allowing the reader to also understand the other point of view. The book also nicely incorporates cultural aspects without taking a teaching or preaching tone. Every reference makes sense in the context of the story and flows naturally.

Lucy undergoes a gradual, and again realistic, character development in her relationship with Yi Po. While she starts their relationship by literally creating a wall between them with her furniture, the wall comes down as they each reach a better understanding of the other. Lucy is angry with Yi Po, and embarrassed by her presence. But her embarrassment has less to do with her great-aunt and more to do with the self-consciousness of being a tween. And she comes to see that her anger also has less to do with Yi Po than with a sorrow that they both share — the loss of Lucy’s grandmother and Yi Po’s sister. Overall, this book captured the reality of change and relationships flawlessly and deserves my highest recommendation for its excellent writing and story.

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Thursday Three: Penguins

Penquins ABC
by Kevin Schafer

Penquins ABCIf you’re ready for a break from the ABC books with apples, balls and cats, then have I got a treat for you. Real photos of penguins and their habitat fill this educational boardbook, with A for Antarctica, B for Baby, and C for Chinstrap Penguin. Beautiful photos of the world’s most amusing birds make this title more fun for adults than your standard boardbook.

The Emperor’s Egg
by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Jane Chapman

The Emperor’s EggA story of the world’s best father, the Emperor penguin, who incubates the egg of his mate for two months in the harsh winter of Antarctica. Oh, and can’t leave his duty to eat since he’s holding the egg on his feet. And you thought you had it rough at the mall with only a stroller and a pack of fruit snacks. Amateur time. Anyway, the book is educational, but in such a fun way that no one will ever notice. Kid-friendly text and beautiful illustrations make this book a delight.

Playful Little Penguins
by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

Playful Little PenguinsCute story about penguins playing on the ice, complete with their sleds, scarfs, and hats. The refrain has a songlike quality: “Playful little penguins in the wintry weather; that’s how penguins like to move, waddling ’round together.” The last part changes as the penguins do different things along the way. The drama comes when they find a baby seal and keep her safe until her mama arrives. An interesting narrative choice given that seals, ahem, eat penguins. But not this time. In case the scarves didn’t clue you in, there’s nothing nonfiction about this penguin title, but it’s a fun book.

(A PBS Booklights repost.)

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Ode to Seuss

I forgot the whole Seuss birthday thing until I saw it all over Facebook this morning. I might have tried to whip up something for the occasion, but remembered that I had. Five years ago. And since that’s a lifetime in blogging years, enjoy a repost of this silly little ode to the Master.
The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play.
So I sat by the computer
All that cold, cold, wet day.

I sat with my blog.
We sat there, just deuce.
And I said, “How I wish
I could rip off Dr. Seuss.”

Then I looked up,
And saw him step in on the mat!
I looked up. I saw him!
The Cat in the Hat!

(Or it could have all been
in my head, not a fact.
I’d taken two Advil
And at least three Prozac.)

The Cat said,“Now why
Do you sit there so gloomy?
Your house looks quite clean
Your playroom quite roomy.”

I said, “It’s my blog,
I need something to write.
I can find no inspiration
At least not by tonight.”

“Inspiration, you want.”
(sounding kind of like Yoda)
“Open your eyes,” he said,
“And get me a soda.”

“All that you’re looking for
Is here on this shelf.
You don’t need any more,
You can get it yourself.”

And then all the titles
Popped right out at me
With a surreal neon glimmer.
(Note: Avoid LSD.)

Oh, Say Can You Say?
The Foot Book, ABC,
Hop on Pop, Mr. Brown,
The Shape of Me.

Horton, and Yertle
The Lorax and Grinch
The King’s Stilts, Mulberry Street
Oh, this was a cinch!

I turned then to thank him,
That Cat in the Hat.
I turned then to thank him
But he’d have none of that.

Then putting a finger
Aside of his nose,
He gave me a wink
And up the chimney he rose!

(Sorry about that —
A little Xmas got in.
Guess I shouldn’t have taken
That third Vicodin.)

Let me say to you all
Dr. Seuss broke the mold,
Giving us the best books
For all of time told.

From America to Zimbabwe
Readers, thinkers, let loose.
Take a moment to say,
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.
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You Is the Best (And That’s Not Bad Grammar)

A TeenReader Tuesday submission:

I love You. I love You so much. I want to keep You on my shelf and read You every chance I get. Notice a bit of a change in normality those past few sentences? It could be due to the fact that you are not You. You is the title of a fabulous book by Charles Benoit, where the narrator speaks to us in second person when describing the protagonist. For example, the fantastic first passage:
You’re surprised at all the blood. He looks over at you, eyes wide, mouth dropping open, his face almost as white as his shirt. He’s surprised, too.
The point of view makes the book very interesting to read, but when I first heard about it, I started to worry. This is the kind of gimmick that an author might use to pull off an artsy story without a plot. But this book really kept me going. The more I got into it, the less I noticed the “yous.” They become the norm, but still, almost subconsciously, add an extra splash of personality to the story. And the story — we haven’t even gotten to that...

YouYou is basically the tale of your average, below-average high school kid — getting into trouble and checking out of school. Needing a friend and longing for a girl, Kyle finds the first in Zack — a new kid with a compelling style — who promises the second with his assistance. Zack seems to have everyone in the palm of his hand, and what looks to Kyle as a way forward turns into a darker path. This riveting book feels as realistic in its high school world, and yet is as dramatic enough to just about make your head spin off in its quick twists and warped turns. I can’t help but love You.

How about you?

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