Monday, December 29, 2008

Love and friendship in the Bayou

Appelt, Kathi (2008). The Underneath. 313 pages. Grades 4-8.

Deep in the Bayou, three very different characters are led down paths that bring them together. An abandoned cat about to have kittens is taken in by a neglected hound who lives in the Underneath, which is under his owner's home. His owner, Gar Face, fled from his abusive and alcholic father years ago and is now obsessed with capturing the largest alligator in the bayou. Then there is Grandmother Moccassin, a shape-shifting serpent who has been asleep in a jar for the last thousand years and is ready to seek her revenge. The turn of events in the characters' lives plays an important role in the underlying message--sometimes all you need is love and friendship.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fans of Funke's Inkheart

Have you read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy? Get ready for the film, which is to be released on January 23. Click here to read about the cast and other goodies.

If you haven't read Inkheart, here's a brief summary.

Twelve-year-old Meggie has lived with her father, a book binder, for many years without knowing that he has kept a secret from her. He can "read" fictional characters to life. One night when Meggie was little, he brought several characters from a book, called Inkheart, into his living room. At the same time as the characters appeared, Meggie's mother disappeared. This is why Mo has never told Meggie about his talent. Unfortunately, his secret won't be kept in the dark for long, soon Dustfinger, one of the characters brought into this world by Mo, pays them a visit. He also brings with him a warning, which can have dire consequences. Capricorn, a powerful and evil villain, is on Mo's trail and he will stop at nothing until he has forced Mo to "read" several more characters out of Inkheart; characters which will bring death and dread to everyone around. The only chance of survival is to find the author of Inkheart and have him pen a new ending, but will Meggie and Mo find him in time?

Friday, December 19, 2008

NFPL Blog is One Year Old!

Here are some fun birthday books to read together:

Asch, Frank. Happy Birthday, Moon.

Bear discovers that he and the moon have the same birthday! What kind of a present can he give the moon?

Miranda, Anne. Alphabet Fiesta: An English/Spanish Alphabet Story.

Zelda Zebra's friends plan to attend her surprise party and look to bring something to make her birthday really special.

Patricelli, Leslie. The Birthday Box.

An imaginative young child has a wonderful time playing with a box he receives for his birthday. What's better than getting a brand-new toy as a birthday gift? Playing with the box it came in!

Sperring, Mark. The Fairytale Cake.

Can fairytale characters come to life and bake a yummy cake? Find out who made the cake!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture..."

Compestine, Ying Chang (2007). Revolution is Not a Dinner Party. 248 pages. Grades 5-8.

In early 1972, eight-year-old Ling lives with her parents, both doctors, in a comfortable apartment building. But that very summer, Ling's life changes when Comrade Li, a political officer, moves into a room in their apartment. Chairman Mao is the adored leader and anyone who disagrees with his views or is seen as being part of the bourgeois, is declared an enemy. Ling begins to witness the cruelty that meets her neighbors and her own family during the Cultural Revolution. Over four years, Ling grows into a teenager and endures more hardships than anyone, especially a child, should ever face.

An intriguing story about a young girl's life during the Cultural Revolution, based on the author's own experiences.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Power of Music in a Women's Prison

Karr, Kathleen (2003). Gilbert & Sullivan: Set Me Free*. 226 pages. Grades 5-8.

Experience the power of music and the injustice of being an inmate during the the early 1900s at the Massachusetts Sherborn Prison for Women (SPW). Libby Dodge arrived at SPW in her finest of clothing, but her story or the reason why she ends up in prison does not surface until halfway through the story. She is soon befriended by another inmate, Ma McCreary, who stands up for her when the other women treat her unkindly. Fortunately, Libby's luck is about to change when Mrs. Wilkinson, the new chaplain, arrives at SPW. She is forming a women's choir and begins recruiting the inmates. The choir gives these women hope and acts as an escape from their dreary lives in prison. Mrs. Wilkinson hopes to reform the inmates through the power of music and for the most part she succeeds. The women put on a successful performance of Handel's Hallelujah choir and take on Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. In the process, Libby and the other women's talents emerge, as they learn more about each other and the world around them.

Karr's story is wonderfully written. She portrays the harsh reality of life in a women's prison during the early 20th century using characters based on real women who made significant changes in the Massachusetts women's prison system.

*Request this book through interlibrary loan.

Great Books for the Holidays!

For the Picture Book Crowd:

Arnold, Katya. Adventures of Snowwoman.

Bianco, Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit.

Glaser, Linda. The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes.

Hobby, Hollie. Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Katz, Karen. Counting Christmas.

Lehman, Barbara. The Red Book.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Seven Spools of Thread.

Polacco, Patricia. The Trees of the Dancing Goats.

Van Allsburg, Chris. The Polar Express.

Wilson, Karma. Bear Stays Up for Christmas.

For the Independent Readers:

Cooper, Ilene. Sam I Am.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. December Secrets.

Godden, Rumer. Premlata and the Festival of Lights.

Hall, Lynne. Here Comes Zelda Claus, and Other Holiday Disasters.

Kline, Suzy. Horrible Harry and the Holidaze.

Koss, Amy Goldman. How I Saved Hanukkah.

McDonald, Megan. The Holly Joliday.

Paterson, Katherine. Angels and Other Strangers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

19th century story for younger readers

Coville, Bruce (2007). Hans Brinker. Grades 3-5 or a Read-aloud.
A young Dutch boy and his sister seek out medical help for their sick father and hope to win an ice skating competition. This advanced picture book is a shortened version of Mary Mapes Dodge's original novel, Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates, A Story of Life in Holland (314 pages). Readers will enjoy the wintery illustrations, which capture aspects of life in a Dutch village during a cold winter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

How can a plane land without a pilot?

Haddix, Margaret Peterson (2008). Found. (The Missing, bk.1) 314 pages. Grades 5-7.

Thirteen-year-old Jonah always knew that he was adopted. His parents were honest with him from the beginning. His friend, Chip, didn't learn that he was adopted until more recently. And it came as a complete shock. Unlike Jonah's parents, Chip's parents do not want to discuss the details with him and would rather he not ask them any questions. But, when both boys begin receiving anonymous letters concerning their adoptions, they begin to think that something is not right. With the help of Jonah's sister, Katherine, they attempt to figure out who is sending the letters and why. In the process, they discover that as babies, they were found on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, with no adults on board. Now it is up to the three friends to warn the other people who were on that plane before it is too late.