Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Show Must Go On!

Booklist (August 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 22))

Grades 3-5. Kate Klise, author of the wildly punny 43 Old Cemetery Road and Regarding series, turns to a slightly younger audience in this amusing series opener. After years of developing his traveling circus into one of the best shows in the world, old and tired Sir Sidney decides he needs some help. He hires Barnabas Brambles for a one-week trial run, but it’s clear that the smarmy certified lion tamer is more concerned with making money than respecting the performers and talking circus animals. When Brambles tries to add more cities to their tour, sell off some of the older animals, and allow the directionless Famous Flying Banana Brothers to navigate the circus train, plenty of high jinks ensue, including getting stuck atop the Saint Louis Arch. Playful black-and-white illustrations and creative language—in the form of sight gags, coined words, speech bubbles, letters, and phone texts—keep the story lively. Math teachers will especially appreciate Brambles’ profit calculations throughout. A big-top introduction to the author’s quirky humor.

Ling & Ting Share a Birthday

 School Library Journal (August 1, 2013)

K-Gr 2-Ling and Ting are back, applying their problem-solving skills and thinking exactly like real six-year-olds. The table of contents cleverly displays the titles of the six stories on layers of a luscious, pink cake. A single theme links the chapters, with such familiar birthday topics as gifts, baking, and wishes. When a gift of of new shoes arrives, each girl wears one from the red pair and one from the green so that they are dressed alike. One successful birthday cake and one burnt cake-no problem. Ling cuts hers in half to share with her twin. And when one of Ling's candles remains lit, Ting blows out hers and wishes that her sister will have a wish, too. The gouache rendering of the twins has a nostalgic charm, and Lin creates an innocent world in which children shop, bake, and move about town without adult intervention. Even though this is a short and simple early chapter book, the characters are fully developed and distinct, and children should be encouraged to infer the protagonists' traits. An excellent stand-alone purchase or addition for libraries already familiar with these endearing sisters.-Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The Big Wet Balloon

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2013)

There are so many things to do when it rains! Hooray! It's Saturday. But wait--it's raining. What are two sisters to do? Older sibling Matilda is absolutely full of ideas and ready to lead younger Clemmie on a grand adventure. What will they do first? It all begins with rain boots and entails a very special red balloon, a wink to the classic book and film. Celebrated Argentine cartoonist Liniers offers a warm visual welcome to early readers in this graphic novel; lively watercolors in comic format provide plenty of memorable images and details to examine and savor. The gentle humor and mild suspense will quickly draw readers in, while brief sentences and appropriately challenging vocabulary, flawlessly interwoven with pictures that provide visual cues, leave room for readers to decipher, consider and comprehend. Natural repetition allows for practice. Overall, this satisfying tale captures the camaraderie of two sisters and shows how the oldest doesn't always have the answers. Now, what will the girls do on Sunday? Achoo! Uh-oh.... An excellent example of how well comics can work for early readers, this warm and accessible story is sure to be a favorite. (Early reader. 4-7)

The Tree Lady

Booklist starred (June 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 19))

Grades 1-3. A terrific jacket image shows a tiny girl in a towering forest as seen from above. Who is this girl? And why is she the tree lady? Well, turns out Katherine Olivia Sessions, who grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, always loved trees—she used to weave their leaves into necklaces and bracelets. Girls back then weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty, “but Kate did.” Girls were also discouraged from studying science, but Kate sure did, graduating from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Postgraduation, Kate moved to San Diego, a desert town with little greenery. She wrote to gardeners far and wide, seeking out seeds that would thrive in a harsh desert climate, and by the turn of the century, oaks, eucalypti, and palms sprung up throughout the city. But Kate’s biggest planting project would come in 1915 with the Panama-California Exposition, to be held in Balboa Park. Nobody thought that it would be possible to create a lush garden for the event . . . but guess who did? A little-known, can-do woman shines in this handsome picture book from Hopkins and McElmurry. Hopkins ably brings a woman’s passion—and some science—to a story that’s accessible for young children. And, oh the pictures! Both old-timey and lush, they evoke Kate’s vision perfectly, and individually labeled illustrations of trees add to the educational value. A lovely tribute to the pioneering (and environmentalist) spirit, topped off by an author’s note.