Opening the Book Bag (March/April 2008)

Since it’s Turn Off TV Week, this seemed to be the logical day to publish the Reading Tub’s short-list of favorite recent reads! Head back to the Library … thank your librarian for the great books last week and enjoy a few more this week!

We have had an incredible two months … we posted more than 100 reviews. WOW! Our catalog has nearly 1,100 titles in it. Double WOW! Thanks so much to all of our new reviewers. Parents, grandparents, families, students, and librarians … you know who you are!

Special thanks to Clare P, a library media specialist at John Jay Middle School in Katonah, NY. Through her effort, we got to be part of Susan D’s English class project for her sixth graders. We don’t often have the opportunity to add classics to our collection, so it has been particularly fun to read their reviews. The students worked as teams and wrote consensus reviews for

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi,
Midnight Magic by Avi,
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech,
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.

If you’d like to participate in sending reviews, just contact me through The Reading Tub.

Last but not least, head over to What Happens Next to read our new Reading Roundup feature. Be sure to check out the item about Audible Books … there are free kids books you can download!

Here are the links to each of the March/April 2008 editions of the Book Bag. Click on the one that interests you.

Bilingual Books

Books for Ages 0 to 4

Books for Ages 5 to 8

Books for Ages 9 to 12

At the end of each list you’ll find our links to podcast reviews submitted by Just One More Book! and the short-list of new titles that caught our eye as books with lots of potential.

The Book Bag: Bilingual Books (March/April 2008)

We don’t often have bilingual books to feature. Here’s a multi-media product you may enjoy.

Teach Me … French Spiritual Songs by Judy Mahoney and Anne Mahoney. This is a multi-media product to teach French. There is a songbook and CD; songs have both vocal and instrumental versions. “The program is well organized, imaginatively conceived, and easily engages the learners. This is unique and enjoyable approach to bilingual learning.” (Teach Me Tapes, Inc. 2004)

You might also be interested in Jules’ review of Everything Bonjour by Leslie Kimmelman at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. (Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008)

The Book Bag, Books for Ages 0 to 4 (March/April 2008)

The Day I Swapped My Dad for a Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. Watch out, Dad! Older brother has big plans: he’s going to trade you for goldfish. His little sister isn’t so sure about this. And then Mom finds out, but the deal has already been struck. Now what? How will they get him back? “I loved this book. I was as immersed in the incredible idea of being able to trade an adult authority figure away if I wished so – as was my five year old co-reader. Some of the best humor is in the illustrations, and these should not be overlooked lest you miss the joke!” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2004)

A Horse’s Tale; A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure by Susan Lubner. We turn back time to the 1800s and learn that there once was an unhappy horse in the colonies. We follow him around Colonial Williamsburg and watch as the townspeople try to help him. This is a picture book about friendship that also offers readers a look at colonial America. “This was a fun story and it had a cute rhyming rhythm to it. I loved the illustrations of Colonial Williamsburg. I thought my daughter (age 4) would be bored because it took place in a historical setting. I was wrong. She loved it! We will be making a trip to Colonial Williamsburg soon because of the story!” (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008)

Little Ballet Star by Adele Geras. Tilly has a special birthday present. Not only is she going to the ballet, she gets to go backstage and perform on stage, too. “I enjoyed this book, and think most girls will, too. This is a story about ballet, birthday surprises, and special family time. Three things little girls love.” (The Penguin Group, 2007)

Never Take a Shark to the Dentist by Judi Barrett. This is a colorful presentation of the silly things you want to avoid: shopping for shoes with a centipede, playing Double Dutch with a grasshopper, and definitely don’t hold hands with a lobster! This is a read-aloud, laugh-out-loud picture book for preschoolers and young elementary students. “I love the whimsical illustrations, especially the fold-out giraffe. When you have finished the book, it is fun to explore other things you and your child (or grandchild) won’t want to do, like take a mouse to a cheese factory and swim in a vat of molasses.” (Athaneum, 2008)

Podcast Reviews from Just One More Book!

Dimples and Double Takes: Baby! Baby! by Vicky Celeen. “Facial expression and body language steal the show in this wordless photo gallery starring human infants and their astonishing animal lookalikes.” Listen to the podcast and see why Andrea & Mark think this book for young children has coffee-table book potential!