Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (AudioVersion)

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (2013) - Audio CD version as read by Tara Sands.


I have enjoyed playing audio books in my car for years now.   Now, since my four-year-old is often in the car as well, I try to get interesting juvenile audio books for us to listen to together.  


This one was quite a fun listen.  Ms. Sands does a wonderful job with voicing the various voices, which is something I really enjoyed as an adult. My son really enjoyed the parts with Ulysses,  the superhero squirrel . . . particularly the chapter about the donut with sprinkles.  Superheroes need to eat frequently. . .  at the least, Ulysees does!  

Flora has been tasked to spend her summer reading fewer comics, etc, and making more "normal" friends.  Instead, she has a squirrel with super powers, and a new friend named William Spiver (and don't you dare call him anything shorter!)  Flora's mother seems to be going a bit crazy since Ulysses arrived. She has also taken up smoking again (something I do not care for in a book for kids, even kids aged eight to 12.)  I wish there had been more adventures with Flora and Ulysses, actually.  It seemed like there were not enough in the narrative of this story.

Even thought I did like this book overall, I must say that I expected more adventures and less nervous mother chain smoking. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead Zone by Stephen King (published 1979)

I must first disclose that I first read this book in its entirety in 1990.  At that point, it really was not that long since the events (real and fictional) in the book (the entire 1970s) had taken place.  I was born in the decade in which this book took place.   This was the third or fourth Stephen King title I read (I read as many as possible between 1989 and 1991.)   I think I re-read it a few times over the 1990s, but have not read it at all in at least 15 years (or possibly more.)  I just read the e-book version, and I realized how long it has been.  As an adult who is now significantly older, I think I now appreciate this book in other ways. 

I liked this book when I first read it  because it was less gory than many of Mr. King's other books. I must admit that I still like it because of this (really, in the last 17 years or so, I have had a lot less taste for gore.)  Probably everyone already knows this story already . . . Johnny Smith was in an accident, and is in a coma for almost five years. He now sometimes gets knowledge from  people and things he touches.  

As an adult now, I feel like there was not enough back info about Johnny, more flashbacks about his childhood, etc. 

 As an adult, I understand even better the absolute sadness of  this story.  As a young teen, I cried, but now having had more of my own personal experiences, the absolute sadness of the whole situation Johnny is in just hit me in the gut. 

Back in 1990, after reading the book, I checked out the movie with Christopher Walken from the local library.  I really liked the movie version, although of course there were differences.   Back in 2002/2003ish, I watched the TV show version, which had even more differences . . . it was okay. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2000.)  

When this book first came out, I was a newly-minted professional Youth Services Librarian.   I tend to also be a worrier. . .  so fell in love with this book immediately!  I kept a copy on my storytime planning shelf at work.  Yes, I did indeed use this book occasionally with preschool storytime sessions.  

Recently, I introduced this book to my son, who started preschool two weeks ago.   He likes the book, but he does not totally relate with it.  He does worry about some things (especially bathroom-related things), but does not worry about all of the things Wemberly worries about.  Wemberly worries about this following:

"What if no one else has spots?  What if no one else wears stripes?  What if no one else brings a doll?   What if the teacher is mean?   What if the room smells bad? What if they make fun of my name?   What if I can't find the bathroom?  What if I hate the snack?   What if I have to cry?"   

Wemberly's parents try to tell her not to worry, but we all know from experience that sometimes that is easier said than done! Read the book to find out what happens to Wemberly as she starts school.  

I also recommend this book to be used in storytime when appropriate to the theme of the day.  


 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara (published Roaring Book Press), 2014.  

This picture book is interesting in that the illustrations printed (or appear to be) in an "old-fashioned" three color printing press style.   The story is engaging for my four-year-old son who already loves libraries and animals.  The library in this story is open from midnight to dawn, and everyone has a grand time.   The Little Librarian even finds a room for the band of squirrels to practice their music.   It is a story that my son has wanted us to read aloud every day for the last week. 

My four-year-old says the following about this book: "This is a library book.  It is about a little Librarian.  Three owls.   They help the Librarian. My  favorite page is when the library gets noisy from the music." 

We highly recommend this book.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carolyn Haywood

http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/birthbios/brthpage/01jan/1-3haywood.html

This is a link to a short bio on Carolyn Haywood.  Her Betsy books were some of the first chapter books I read independently.  I loved them. . . especially the "old fashionedness" of them, as I called it. My favorites were Snowbound with Betsy and Betsy's Little Star.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

End Times: The Prophet Emerges by Anna Schumacher

(Published in 2014 by Razorbill) 

This is a YA book I checked out as an e-book because it was available.  I ended up getting more into it than I thought I would. I will read the next book as well, because I need to know what happens.  Even though I want to know what happens next, that does not mean that I connected with the characters.  All of them, even the main character, feel rather undereveloped to me.  There is a distance. Perhaps this is purposefully done by the author. It made me, the reader, frustrated with the characters at times.  The main character is Daphne, who has had a rather rough life recently, but uses her confidence and strength to get an intense job on an oil rig at age 17.  Her teenage cousin is pregnant and expecting a baby with her not-so-great boyfriend.  Things are looking up in their lives. . . until they are not.  

I do recommend this book (series) to those who enjoy end-of-the-world and/or dystopian fiction.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (2014)

 This book, intended for middle grade readers (main character is 13 years old), is a fun read.  Abby Spencer does not know her father.  Her mother knew him when he came to the United States from India to attend college.  When they'd both graduated, they split up because they always knew that her (Abby 's father) would be returning to India in part because his parents were there.  Her mother did not know she was pregnant until later.  She wrote him a handwritten letter, which he never received.   

Now, Abby wants to know who her father is.   And she is shocked to find out that he is the hottest Bollywood star in India!  For Thanksgiving, she heads to India to meet her father and paternal grandmother for the first time.   

This is a fun read with some cultural clash as well as some angst of being a young teen.  Abby finds a boyfriend in India (although he is also from - another part of - Texas.)  I highly recommend this book!