Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Secret Lives of Princesses

Booklist (June 1, 2010 (Vol. 106, No. 19))
Grades 4-6. One thing is certain: these ain’t no Disney princesses! Au contraire, this French import features about 30 royals who are quirky to a fault. There’s Princess Hot-Head, a study in fiery red, who “prefers brandishing a sword to practicing the piano.” And Princess Molly Coddle, cousin to the fussy girl of “Princess and the Pea” fame, who “never hesitates to demand the impossible.” A detailed, imaginative guide—more akin to titles like Wizardology (2005)—this novelty book also features pages devoted to elaborate, witty commentary on proper cradle etiquette; each character’s coat of arms; and various palace types. Dautremer’s illustrations are perfectly attuned to the mood of each princess’ prose portrait, by turns sophisticated and witty and full of odd angles and bizarre details. Princess Do-Re-Mi has the body type of a curvy violin; Princess Oblivia (“She forgets everything”) wears a hat full of holes that leaves blow through. A book to pore over.

The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark

Kirkus Review (July 15, 2010)
Mr. Fish heroically offers to find Ms. Clam's lost pearl, and as he ventures forth, gentle suspense ensues when he finds himself heading for deeper and darker waters. Young readers will enjoy the energetic and detailed cartoon-like illustrations of this friendly-yet-mysterious underwater world (the scenes deep in the ocean trench are particularly effective), while the rollicking, rhythmic text will have readers diving in with Mr. Fish as he repeatedly admits, "I'm FAST as a sailfish, I'm STRONG as a shark, I'm SMART as dolphin...But I'm scared of the dark." Fans of The Pout-Pout Fish (2008) will find just as much to love here, and any youngster who has been afraid of the dark will identify with Mr. Fish's struggle. Luckily, our hero has dedicated friends who help him deal with his anxiety, continue on his quest and keep his promise to Ms. Clam. The final notes of friendship and bravery will resonate with young readers. An entertaining read-aloud and a nice lighthearted vehicle for dealing with fear. (Picture book. 3-6)

Me and Rolly Maloo

Library Media Connection (January/February 2011)
Mixing chapter book with graphic novel, Me and Rolly Maloo is going to be a sure hit with students. Jenna Lee is a math whiz. Rolly Maloo is popular. When Rolly asks Jenna to cheat on the district math test, Jenna isn't sure what to do. Honesty and friendship are explored using a variety of formats, including narrative, email, and graphics. The mixed format of the book is fun and allows the various personalities of the characters to really shine, which is helpful considering that there are many characters involved for such a short book. The story has a satisfactory conclusion without getting preachy. This is a great book for students who are reluctant to read chapter books. Recommended. Lynn Christiansen, Librarian, Oree Bozman Intermediate School, Conroe, Texas

Library Mouse A World to Explore

School Library Journal (November 1, 2010)
K-Gr 3-Sam the Library Mouse is back in this gentle story about facing fears and learning new things. He meets Sarah, a library mouse from across the stacks with a taste for adventure. She introduces him to the wonder of exploration while he shows her the joys of traveling through books and research. Students will relate to Sam's reluctance to try dangerous things and delight in Sarah's winsome enthusiasm for daring escapades. The gorgeous, bright gouache illustrations are meticulously detailed and expressive. The story is an excellent way to introduce research to the youngest patrons, which, according to Sam, is "how you find out about things." This visually appealing offering fits beautifully into the library curriculum.-Nicole Waskie-Laura, Chenango Forks Elementary, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Just One Bite

Kirkus Review starred (September 15, 2010)
All bites of food are not created equal. In this bold, oversized picture book, readers will see--at actual size--how much tasty giant squid a sperm whale can eat in one gulp (look at the tentacles in that fold-out!) and how much dirt a worm can eat at once, too, which is not very much at all. Nine other animals and their eating habits are illustrated, from a bear licking a pawful of honey to a Komodo dragon crunching a snake, cloudy-white drool dripping from its powerful jaws. The terrific, artfully composed brush, crayon and computer-aided artwork is lavish, the perspectives dramatically up-close. The text is lively, minimal and perfect for reading aloud to preschoolers: "With just one sip, a butterfly can eat... [three golden droplets shown]... this much nectar." Close observers will be rewarded: The rabbit's clover patch yields a four-leafer, and the leaf-patterned endpapers reveal a guilty-looking caterpillar and a few telltale bites. And for dessert? Eleven vivaciously crafted paragraphs about each animal make the whole smorgasbord quite satisfying indeed. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down!

Booklist (November 1, 2009 (Vol. 106, No. 5))
Grades 2-4. Older generations may never tire of telling kids how much rock ’n’ roll, and Elvis in particular, rattled society. But in this picture-book memoir, Stamaty captures just how raucous the rock revolution really was. In comics-style panels, he lays out how pleased his mom was when he was listening to the old crooners and classical music on his radio. Then, one day, Elvis blasts out of the speakers, joyfully upending the boy in one explosive spread that’s followed in the next by Mom clutching her head in despair from “the wailing of a lunatic asylum!” Even as the boy goes from ardent listener to pompadoured hip-wiggler, Mom eventually comes around to the new sound. Dividing each page into multiple panels with sizable chunks of text allows Stamaty to cram a lot of information (both on rock history and his community’s reaction to it) into the picture-book format. It’s a fairly busy offering, but one that matches its subject well and makes a convincing case that that an old, dead singer really was cool.

Todd's TV

Booklist (February 15, 2010 (Vol. 106, No. 12))
Grades K-2. This cautionary picture book, though entertaining and meaningful on a child’s level, might be more directed at parents. When Todd’s folks are too busy to deal with him, which is just about always, they plop him in front of the TV. Soon, the affable appliance has taken over most parental duties—going to the parent-teacher conference (where it promises to cut down on Todd’s cartoon intake), tucking him in at night, playing catch, and even taking Todd on vacation. When the TV whispers to Todd that he is thinking of legally adopting him, Mom and Dad realize the gravity of the situation, but it isn’t until Todd shows them that things can be turned off that they figure out what to do. A double-page moral to the story has the family enjoying quality time together, with Todd feeling more loved than ever and winning the Student of the Year Award. Proimos’ loose, comic art and plenty of humorous touches make for a fun read, and although TV isn’t necessarily a villain, responsible parenting comes out the hero.

The Very Fairy Princess

Booklist (April 15, 2010 (Vol. 106, No. 16))
Preschool-Kindergarten. A girl who believes she is really a princess isn’t a new premise in children’s literature, so it’s refreshing to find a very real little girl as our protagonist, especially given a title that evokes an expectation of a more traditionally froufrou young royal. Geraldine (Gerry) just knows she is a princess and narrates the events of her day, offering commentary about her many doubters: “My brother, Stewart, says princesses don’t wear sneakers and don’t have scabby knees.” Gerry’s type of princess isn’t too precious; in response to her brother, she asserts, “Fairy princesses are very practical.” A long day passes—breakfast, school, playtime, and dinner—before the one person who never doubts her comes home: Daddy. Freckled, spiky haired, pink clad, and irrepressible, Geraldine is reminiscent of Eloise. She lets kids know it’s not necessary to be prim and proper to be a “real” princess; princesses who just want to have fun will find plenty of that here.

Tell The Truth B.B. Wolf

Horn Book (September/October, 2010)
In this follow-up to Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf (rev. 7/07), B.B. Wolf now lives at the Villain Villa senior center with such characters as the troll, the witch, and Rumpelstiltskin. Invited to lead a storytime by librarian Miss Wonderly, he tries to tell his version of "The Three Little Pigs," in which he was blowing on a dandelion puff and "there, in the middle of a messy pile of straw, stood an angry little piggie." Unfortunately for B.B., the three little pigs are in attendance and yell from the audience, "Tell the truth, B.B. Wolf!" The other nursery tale characters, including Humpty Dumpty, aren't buying his story, either, and eventually he apologizes and even builds the pigs a beautiful new triplex. This isn't the first re-spinning of the "Three Pigs" tale, but Seibold's stylish illustrations, with their cartoon energy and zippy details, along with the library setting and multiple puns, make it unique. The cover shows a stack of books that includes not just The 3 Lying Pigs but also Little Red Rotten Hood, and readers will be glad to hear Mr. Wolf's version of that tale someday, too. susan dove lempke