Reviews by J-girl: Pinocchio

WP_20140808_004

Pinocchio retold by Kate McMullan

Fairy tale.  Cartoon Classics Series.  ©2014.  144p.  b/w illustrations.  Share with ages 6-10.

THIS REVIEW IS OF AN ADVANCE READER’S COPY.  FINAL ILLUSTRATIONS NOT SEEN.

**Review / conversation by J-girl, age 7 **

  • J-girl: [closing book with great fanfare] “I’m done!  It was really good!”
  • My boy H: “J, what was the book about?”
  • J:  “Pinocchio…and Geppetto…and some other stuff.  Like a blue fairy.”
  • Me: “What ‘stuff’?”
  • J: [long pause] “At first, he (Pinocchio) was just a piece of wood.  Then he got carved.  Then he got into some bad stuff.  At the end, he worked for a farmer running the donkey wheel and weaving baskets.
  • Me: “Did he become a real boy?”
  • J: “He became a boy when he worked so hard.
  • Me: “What did you like?”
  • J: “I liked it because he got to be a boy at the end and his purse was full of money.   I liked when Pinocchio cracked open a lil’ chick egg because it wasn’t an egg he could eat – it was a real, live chick.”
  • Me: “What did you think of the illustrations?”
  • J: “The pictures were good because I could see how everything should look.”

I just love that J-girl stays true to herself in this review by immediately mentioning the fairy in this version of Pinocchio!

Review: Nuts to You

nuts-to-you-lynne-rae-perkins

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins

7 word summary:  Jeb moves friends and family, escapes destruction. 

Animal story, adventure.  Stand alone novel.  ©2014.  234 p.  Share with ages 6-10.

THIS REVIEW IS OF AN ADVANCE READER’S COPY.  FINAL ILLUSTRATIONS NOT SEEN.

Old Jeb the gray squirrel narrates this tale of adventure and brave ingenuity.  When he is plucked from his home by a hawk, he’s certain the end is near.  But quick thinking (relax and be like water) allow him to fall from the talons into a new grove, where he meets a crew of accented red squirrels.  His friends, certain that he fell to safety, set off along the buzzpaths (power lines) to bring Jeb home.  Only one thing stands in their path: humans.  Scattered with clever footnotes and delightful illustrations, this friends and family-themed adventure is reminiscent of Flora & Ulysses in its language and tone.  Recommended.

Review: Sisters

Sisters-Raina-Telgemeier1

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

7 word summary:  Family road trips make for great stories. 

Graphic novel, autobiographical.  Stand alone novel.  ©2014.  197 p.  Share with ages 9+.

THIS REVIEW IS OF AN ADVANCE READER’S COPY.  FINAL COLOR NOT SEEN.

Telgemeier’s anticipated follow-up to Smile puts a young Raina on the road with her mom, younger brother, and ornery younger sister Amara.  All she wants to do on is sit back and listen to tunes on her Walkman on the long drive to a family reunion in Colorado, yet Amara’s mere existence – tapping on Raina’s seat, holding batteries hostage, talking about “the incident” – is grating.  Add in the tension between her mom and dad’s relationship and dad’s job troubles, and Raina’s got plenty to think about.   A graphic novel full of sister-centered flashbacks, this is a trip down the early 90’s memory lane worth taking for tweens and adults – and especially for anyone with a sister.   Recommended.

Review: Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny

tales-of-bunjitsu-bunny

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

7 word summary:  Zen bunny practices martial arts.  How smart! 

Animal story, fantasy.  Stand alone novel.  ©2014.  128 p.  B/W illustrations. Share with ages 5-9.

THIS REVIEW IS OF AN ADVANCE READER’S COPY.  FINAL ILLUSTRATIONS NOT SEEN.

Isabel practices bunjitsu, a bunnies-only form of martial arts.  Similar to other practices, bunjitsu emphasizes the use of strength of the mind over strength of the body, and this sensibility is demonstrated within Isabel’s short, stand-alone stories.  Whether she is preparing for a bunjitsu competition or trying to get past a locked door, the bunny’s stories emphasize creative thinking and hard work.  Part ninja, part Zen, this delightful beginner chapter book begs for a sequel.  With black/white line illustrations on every page, large font and plenty of white space, this works beautifully for newly independent readers.  Recommended.

Side note: J-girl, my almost 2nd grader, wasn’t thrilled about reading this book with me.  Six pages in, the smile on her face was huge as she exclaimed, “I thought I wouldn’t like it, but I love this book!”  My boy H thought it would just be about karate, but in his own words, “it’s about thinking and making friends and not bashing the door with your feet or head or hands”.

The Fourteenth Goldfish

the-fourteenth-goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

7 word summary:  Ellie’s grandfather reverses aging, becomes surly teen.

Stand alone novel. ©2014.  190 p.  Share with ages 8-12.

THIS REVIEW IS OF THE ADVANCE READER’S COPY.

Grandfathers are moody to begin with, but Melvin’s a special case: he’s recently discovered the fountain of youth, which changed the renowned scientist into a teen.  Requiring a guardian, he moves in with his daughter Melissa and granddaughter Ellie, where he is forced to attend school – again.  All Melvin really wants is to get back to his lab and continue with his revolutionary research, but how does a teen prove that he’s really an old, brilliant scientist?  And how does his arrival impact narrator Ellie’s life?  Realistic and fantastical, this quirky adventure offers a glimpse into family and middle school dynamics.  Holm steps outside of her (award-winning) historical fiction zone to deliver an offbeat yet winning fantasy, science-based novel.

Using Facebook for professional development

Facebook and professional development don’t seem like they should go together.  But when associations, authors, illustrators, publishers, and journals are part of your FB feed, they can.

FB-likes

Why use Facebook for PD?  Simply put, it’s easy.  Chances are good you check it multiple times a day.  Seeing a great review from Horn Book, a timely article on CCSS from SLJ, or a post from a favorite author (Peter Brown writes some great ones) can impact your library and professionalism with minimal time and effort.  While I have a subscription to Horn Book, seeing a well-written Review of the Week  – and reading the comments – can sway me to purchase and create lessons with the book.  SLJ has wonderful articles and links catered to the school librarian.  Authors and illustrators will share info about new releases, older titles, and fun facts about themselves.  Associations give tips on upcoming conferences and opinions/ideas on hot issues.  And publishers share new books, advertise authors/illustrators, highlight award-winning material, and offer giveaways.  And I do love winning a giveaway!

penguin-classroom

mix-it-up

My favorites to follow on FB for professional development:

Tell Me

tell-me-joan-bauer

Tell Me by Joan Bauer

7 word summary:  A girl taken?  Anna searches for clues.

Realistic fiction.  Stand alone novel.  ©2014.  272p.  Share with ages 9-13.

THIS REVIEW IS OF AN ADVANCE READER’S COPY.  Yay for galleys at 2014 ALA!

Anna’s spending the summer with her grandmother Mim out in small-town USA while her parents navigate a trial separation.  She’s just in time for the town’s Flower Festival, and is using her dramatic flair to advertise the festival when she notices a young girl with wide eyes being taken against her will.  Unsure of what she’s seen, Anna debates telling anyone until she just knows it was wrong.  Multiple plot points, including anger management and human trafficking, are brought up and addressed without overtaking pre-teen Anna’s voice.  A happy ending, the kind that real life doesn’t always have with these topics, is guaranteed.