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!

The Book Bag, Books for Ages 5 to 8, March/April 2008

Come Look with Me: Discovering Women Artists for Children by Jennifer Tarr Coyne. There is something for everyone in this collection of 12 paintings, and you don’t need to know a lot about art to enjoy it. You’ll find information about the artist, the painting, and questions to engage your reader. They will stimulate the reader’s curiosity and provide much food for thought and discussion. (Lickle Publishing, 2005)

Come Look with Me: Discovering African American Art for Children by James Haywood Rolling, Jr. This is another in this series of books designed to introduce children to the fine arts. Our reviewer: “When I taught school, I used art in my history classes (high school level) to set context. This project is one of the neatest programs for teaching and learning about art that I’ve ever seen.”

Daisy Dawson is On Her Way by Steve Vooke. Daisy is late for school … again. But she has a good reason, really she does. A butterfly kissed her cheek and now she can talk with the animals. It would be rude not to say good morning, right? This is an illustrated chapter book that kids can relate to. Although it is meant for independent readers, this is the kind of story you want whe you are ready to introduce chapter books to a Kindergarten/first grade audience. (Candlewick Press, 2008) NOTE: We read an Advance Reader Copy.

Roonie B. Moonie: Lost and Alone by Janan Cain. Roonie B. Moonie is a young bee who wants to be a famous explorer (like Christopher Columbee, you know!). One bright, sunny day he is ready to go, and Mother B. is saying the same stuff she always says about being safe, so he doesn’t really listen. The events and strategies are paired together, creating a series of vignettes, rather than a string of events with an answer at the end. The illustrations will remind you of David Kirk’s Little Miss Spider: bright, colorful, warm! (Illumination Arts, 2007)

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)

Wordsworth the Poet by Frances H. Kakugawa Wordsworth, a mouse, liked to write poetry, even when his freidns didn’t think it was cool. During a storm, Wordsworth was able to make everyone feel better through his poetry. His writing inspired his friends and changed their way of thinking. An elementary school teacher participating in our Use Your ABCs program shared this with her class. “The kids loved it … This was a good book for sensory images. We made lots of connections. It also has a great moral.” (Watermark Publishing, 2004)

You’re Blushing, Little Octopus by Cheryl Block. Little Octopus is shy. So when her friends laugh at her for turning pink and squirting ink, her feelings get REALLY hurt. She is still growing, and hasn’t mastered camouflage yet. But the time is NOW … because an eel wants her for lunch. This is a story wrapped in a book with information about sea life on the coral reef. Although the animals have ‘personalities, the purpose of the story is to convey facts about them. This is another fabulous multi-media title in the Webs to Whales Nature Tales series. (Block Publishing, 2008)

Check out these Podcast Reviews from JUST ONE MORE BOOK! Andrea put together a collection with a springy water theme … just perfect for splashing in the Tub!

Brothers With Borders: The Puddle Pail by Elesa Kleven. “This wonderfully cluttered and sweetly retro story of a sibling’s soft struggle for individuality is a heartening celebration of creativity, character and acceptance.” (Tricycle Books, 1997)

Sun, Snubs and Striving: My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman. “Sunshine bounces from dancing water on every page of this gorgeously captured exploration of poolside politics and the prevalent pain of unrequited attentions.” (Puffin, 2005)

Canine Coast Guard: Heroes of Isle aux Morts by Alice Walsh. “Based on a true story and starring a Newfoundland dog, this suspenseful account of a daring maritime rescue is an inspiring reminder of the resourcefulness, generosity and pluck of an era gone by.” (Tundra Books, 2001) NOTE: Mark & Andrea also have links to the Canadian Coast Guard vessel featured in the story on the Just One More Book site.

Slime, Grime and Greediness: The Three Fishing Brothers Gruff by Ben Galbraith. “Stubble, nastiness, dead fish and debris transform foul fishing tactics into a riveting affair in this gloriously disagreeable cautionary tale.” (Hodder & Stoughton, 2007) NOTE: Bring this book alive with links to the author/illustrator’s hometown. Go to this Just One More Book feature.

Here are the Books we’ve recently received that caught our eye.

The Book Bag, Books for ages 9 to 12, March/April 2008

Before we jump into the Book bag to talk about some of our favorite Tween and YA books, I want to let you know about a new blog we’ve found. Fusion Stories is the place to go find new novels with Asian American protagonists that aren’t immigrant stories nor set in Asia.

All We Know of Heaven; A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I had the chance to read this one myself. I’m not one to seek out “chick lit,” but I am glad I read this one. You can read my personal review at What Happens Next. Click the title to see the Reading Tub review. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

The Curse of Addy McMahon by Katie Davis. Kids and parents (especially those who “fondly” remember sixth grade) will enjoy this humorous, wholesome journey with Addy, who learns that life is about choices, not curses. “Very clever! The story is engaging, with great characters. The author has done an incredible job allowing Addy to lead the story, but leaving plenty of room for the other characters to be equally rich and offer their views of the events.” If you are looking for a good book for reluctant readers, DEFINITELY check this one out. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

How to Be Bad; A Novel by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle. Parents of teen girls — don’t let the title scare you away. This is a YA novel with strong characters and a solid plot. We loved how each of the characters gets to tell her view of events as the story moves along. (HarperCollins, 2008)

Galahad 2: The Web of Titan by Dom Testa. This fantasy adventure has a spaceship of teens in a race to save their universe. Rare is the time when get a reviewer who writes “The reader will be hooked by the end of the first paragraph.” I don’t think there’s anything else I could add! (Profound Impact Group, 2006)

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. This is a captivating story told by Jenna Vaughn, a teen who “reinvented” herself after her best and only friend disappeared in fifth grade. Her birthday always takes her back to her “former” life and all the unanswered questions. The book covers a lot of ground, but a lot of the usual teen stuff (boyfriends, school, popularity) is part of the scenery, not central to the two main characters. This is a “soft” way to introduce teens to what abuse and the cycle of abuse look like. (Little, Brown, and Company, 2008)

Gone by Michael Grant. In one minute, we’re listening to a teacher drone on … in the next minute, the teacher and every person 14 and older has disappeared. There is no simple way to describe this book. It’s captivating, wonderful, and frightening all at the same time. Even if you aren’t a YA sci-fi fan, you will get wrapped up in this story. (HarperCollins, 2008)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleishman. If you know anything about Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), you know he is a character as colorful as those he created in his stories. This is an illustrated biography (every 3 pages there is a full-page picture) that looks like it will be perfect for reluctant readers, remedial readers, and those of us who love Mark Twain. (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Girls Rule …. A Very Special Book Created Especially for Girls by Ashley Rice. Our student reviewer at Northumberland Elementary School declared that this book was “awesome.” She is a reluctant reader, but she liked it so much that she would buy one for her sister. (Blue Mountain Arts, Inc., 2002)

Crafty Inventions: Great Inventions by Gerry Bailey. Whenever we can, we try to sprinkle in some non-fiction books. Our student reviewer at Northumberland Elementary School gave this one two thumbs up because it was fun and taught him about how to make the inventions. He even picked it up more than once! (Mercury Junior, 2004)

Here are the books we’re going to be reading.