Showing Tag: "the" (Show all posts)

“Into the Unknown” by Stewart Ross, Illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Friday, July 27, 2012,

Exploration across human history has made us and revealed us as who we are: curious, adventurous, daring.  “Into the Unknown:  How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air,” written by Stewart Ross and illustrated by Stephen Biesty, does an excellent job of capturing this side of humanity.

Ross has chosen an interesting spectrum of people to discuss, and not all of them are familiar household names.  Because of his focus on journeys he deems “amazing,” he can choose pe...


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“The Unforgotten Coat” by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Thursday, July 5, 2012,

How does a child respond to a new classmate who is an immigrant from a very different part of the world?  Frank Cottrell Boyce tackles this topic in his engaging and thought-provoking short novel, “The Unforgotten Coat.”  Using first person narration and photographs, Cottrell Boyce draws the reader into the story of Julie – the “good guide” – and Chingis and Nergui – the new arrivals from Mongolia.

This book addresses many themes that teach...


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“Waiting for the Magic” by Patricia Mac Lachlan, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Wednesday, June 27, 2012,

“Waiting for the Magic” is a sweet take on the ubiquitous talking animal story.  Mac Lachlan’s tale with believable characters, both human and animal, is enhanced by the charming illustrations by Amy June Bates.  The novel’s central message is that, for true communication to take place within a family, people need to listen.  And here, in the family of human characters of William and Elinor, listening enables a person to hear the animals as well.

As the book opens, William and El...


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“Around the World” by Matt Phelan

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Tuesday, June 26, 2012,

Okay, I am starting with my quibbles first.  “Around the World” is categorized both by our list and by my local public library as a “graphic novel.”  Yet most of the book is based on fact and research.  This left me wondering – is the category labeling a result of the form, or is there some fictionalizing going on that isn’t immediately apparent?

The unifying theme, such as it is, in “Around the World” is the idea of traveling around the world as individuals.  Phelan taps...


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“Bread and Roses, Too” by Katherine Paterson

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Wednesday, June 20, 2012,

 like historical fiction.  Sometimes children like it too.  But often, I find, children’s historical fiction reads as if it were written according to some curricular checklist, to fit a particular set of standards in the most careful and efficient fashion possible.

“Bread and Roses, Too” by Katherine Paterson seems just such a novel.  Here’s the checklist I envisioned.

  1. Will it appeal to both boys and girls?  Yes, it will, because it ...

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“Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word” by Bob Raczka

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Tuesday, June 19, 2012,


Like Marilyn Singer’s “Mirror, Mirror” before it, Bob Raczka’s “Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word” uses a special, somewhat gimmicky hook to interest reader in poetry.  Singer uses the form of the reverso (see my review here), while Raczka creates poems out of single words.  In each case, the poet’s self-imposed restrictions provide a special challenge to making meaning and art.

Raczka’s technique inherently limits the poem’s topic, length, and depth. ...


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Rosemary Well's On the Blue Comet

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Friday, August 12, 2011,

I'm going to start with a disclaimer:  Rosemary Well's On the Blue Comet is exactly the kind of book I loved as a child.  It reminds of some of my favorites by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, which had an enchanting blend of realism and whimsy. But I also think that much about the book would be hard for modern children to understand.

Our protagonist, Oscar Ogilvie Junior, is obsessed by the world of Lionel trains.  Set at the beginnings of the Great Depre...


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True (. . . sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Wednesday, July 20, 2011,

True (. . . sort of) by Katherine Hannigan is both fun and serious. It is also an example of why I have learned to trust my instincts – some of my favorite books are the ones I happen to stumble upon.  This book falls squarely into that category.

The main character is Delly Pattison, a short, sassy spitfire of a girl who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  Delly has enough of a reputation in her family, at school, and in her town that she is...


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The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Wednesday, July 20, 2011,

Owen Jester seems like a typical elementary school boy.  In Barbara O'Connor's The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, Owen feels stranded on the wrong side of town, away from his friends.  His family has moved in with his grandfather both to help out his grandfather, who is recovering from a stroke, and to help themselves out, since Owen's father has lost his job.  Viola, the nearby neighbor girl, is no substitute for Owen's friends--she suffers fr...


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"The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)" by Barbara Kerley

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Thursday, July 7, 2011,

I wanted to love this book.  I love Mark Twain's books.  I even took a course devoted to his writing when I was in graduate school.  I forced my husband to make a vacation stop at Twain's home in Connecticut.  I've been known to quote (excessively, some might say) his writing. But this book just didn't live up to my hopes.

First of all, it felt as if Susy's writing was literally de-emphasized by its placement into the smaller, inserted pages.  If ...


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"Benno and the Night of Broken Glass" by Meg Wiviott

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Tuesday, June 21, 2011,


Because I work as a librarian at a Jewish Day School, the students I encounter are well aware of the Holocaust by the time they reach 4th and 5th grades.  Benno and the Night of the Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott will make an excellent addition to our collection on the topic.

Wiviott successfully captures the interest of children in this age group by using Benno the cat as the central...


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“Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty” by Linda Glaser, Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Friday, May 13, 2011,

Linda Glaser provides a gentle introduction to activist Emma Lazarus in her picture book, “Emma’s Poem.”  She introduces to young reader how Lazarus was born into wealth and privilege in the United States.  Coupled with Nivola’s lovely paintings, Glaser clearly conveys how people in Lazarus’s social class were able to read, have parties, collect art, and generally aspire...


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“Sliding Into the New Year” by Dori Weinstein

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Monday, February 28, 2011,

In the book, “Sliding Into the New Year,” we gain a wonderful new author of children’s Jewish literature in Dori Weinstein.  She brings a modern, human tone to a story that is both timely and engaging.

The story’s narrator, Ellie Silver, (aka YaYa) speaks in the authe...


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"Mitzvah the Mutt" by Sylvia Rouss

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Sunday, January 30, 2011,

"Mitzvah the Mutt” does something that I have long been wishing for as a librarian at a Jewish day school.  It tells a story that has Jewish content, without being excessively didactic. In the process, it tells a wonderful story about a family and their delightful dog.  The author, Sylvia Rouss, is better known for her Sammy Spider series of Jewish content books for preschoolers. ...


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"The Black Book of Colors" by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria and Translated by Elisa Amado

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Thursday, April 1, 2010,

This “picture” book would be a wonderful choice in helping younger students to learn about the senses.  All the pages of the book are black, with the text in Braille and in white lettering.  The illustrations are raised print on the pages, without color.  One must feel...


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"The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up" by Bradley Trevor Greive

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Sunday, December 27, 2009,


Bradley Trevor Greive has put together animal photos with a snappy text to create a helpful book for elementary-aged children.

His purpose is straight-forward:  he wants children to know what a "blue day" is and to recognize that everyone (maybe even these highly photogenic critters) has a blue day once in a while.  He illustrates some typical causes: feeling grumpy, lonely, or tired; being embarrassed or picked on; or simply just feeling out of place.

But Greive doesn't stop there.  He wants c...
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“The Frogs and Toads All Sang” by Arnold Lobel

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Friday, November 20, 2009,

I admit it—I am an enormous fan of Lobel’s Frog and Toad series.  I still chant lines from about willpower from the “Cookies” story, I cite Frog’s desire to be alone as different from lonely, and I empathize with their kite flying endeavors.  As a result, I was very excited to see that Lobel’s daughter, Adrianne Lobel, was publishing some new material that her father had...


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"Always My Brother" by Jean Reagan

Posted by Lydia Schultz on Saturday, September 12, 2009,
"Always My Brother," written by Jean Reagan, provides a gentle, yet realistic depiction of a child going through the grieving process.  Becky and her older brother John are best friends, sharing a love of soccer, their dog Toby,  and knock-knock jokes.  When John dies--out of sight and without any explanation--Becky is left to cope with her feelings.

Reagan does a wonderful job of tracing how Becky doesn't know how to behave anymore.  Soccer is hard, since it is something she shared with John....
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About Me


Lydia Schultz I am a school librarian and part-time college English teacher. I hope to review many of the books I read, both in the context of my research about children's books as well as in my pursuit of recreational reading. I want to share what I read--so what else is new?


Please feel free to contact me.  I welcome hearing feedback and advice.  If you would like to comment on a particular post, click on the title of the post and a comment box will appear after the post when the page reloads.

Thanks!

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