Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Wikkeling

The Wikkeling

by Steve Arntson (2011)

A little spooky, a bit complicated, and very much well worth it. Three kids that don't fit in with the "normal" -- one would love to be a garbage collector when he grows up -- in a future society of computers for standardized testing on every students' desk and cell phones tracking one's every movement. (hmm, did I say "future"?)

A special attic is discovered, full of old books and candles and a window that shows a tree lined street of the past, and the children are chased by a ghost-like creature that is also connected to the city's Big Brother-like computer system. A little mystery, some adventure, helping friends and standing up for what you believe in. Cats, grandparents, and a man named "Oak" are also involved.

4/5 stars, highly recommend it.

connections: 1984, The Last Book In The Universe

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Dork Diaries

My son is appalled that I even brought this home, much less plan on reading it.

Dork Diaries
by Rachel Renee Russell (2009)

Ok, I did read it. Well, I read all of the first 100 pages, and most of the last 30 pages, and a good selection of what was in between. And while it is full of silly girl stuff like cute shoes and lip gloss, it's also about friendship, believing in yourself, and not letting yourself be dragged down in all the popularity and gossip stuff around school.



by Brian Selznick (2011)

Just in time to go watch Hugo Cabaret on the big screen I got to read Selznick's new magical combo of words and illustrations.  There is a lot going on, the two stories in words and pictures across different time periods are not always the smoothest to follow, but it all wraps up cleanly and clearly in the end. The pencil drawings are incredible, telling a beautiful and emotional story all on their own.

 Set both in the 1920s and 1977, the stories follow a boy and a girl each searching for a parent and running away from an unhappy home situation. It's not light-hearted -- one mom dies, the other leaves the family and rejects her child -- but there are elements of mystery, searching, danger and adventure, not to mention wolves!, that will keep readers interested. I would be curious to see how a child reads just the drawing pages all the way through first, just to see how much or what story they make from it.

Lots of connections -- museums, collections, sign language, Deaf community/school, that Basil Frankenriter (?) book about kids running away and living in the museum...

The Annotated Cat

The Annotated Cat

by Philip Nel

While a bit too dry/scholarly for most classrooms, this could still be an interesting reference book and certainly helps illustrate the importance of editing and rewriting for young authors. If Dr. Seuss himself has to work hours on one page and try many different words in a sentence to get it just right, maybe that will encourage students to keep working.

I love annotated editions because I like knowing where the ideas came from and how the story and art takes shape over the creative process.  This is a great book for Seuss fans, talks a lot about his early years and the effort to improve beginning reader books. The author tends to repeat himself, how many times can one bash poor ol' Dick, Jane, and Spot, but overall interesting and worth a look.

The Santa Club

The Santa Club

by Kelly Moss (2011)

Just in time for the holiday, and the mystery of Santa Claus, comes complete with membership certificate and website with countdown to Christmas Day ( First up, Elf #3's review:

"It's a good book for preschool teachers. I didn't really like the St. Nicholas illustrations. It's also a very good Christmas book."

Ok, so he's not my most verbose son, but he did give it two thumbs up. I give it thumbs up as well, although it's not a book for the classroom library, seeing as it not only spills the secret of Santa but preaches the Gospel. Detailed, colorful art and bright graphics, but it's not really a story to read but more like an introduction to a Sunday School lesson. I cracked up on all the "don't tell any other children our secret" warnings.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Common Sense Media

I mostly check out this website for movie info (violence? cleavage? creative cuss words?) but they also do book reviews