Archive | Book Reviews RSS feed for this section

Have an Awesome Thanksgiving

In honor of this week’s holiday, a book review post from a few years back: Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday, by Mike Allegra, illustrated by David Gardner.  Whitman, 2012, 32 pages. Age-interest level: 4-up As our story opens, Sarah Hale is gathered with her five children around the Thanksgiving table.  No […]

Read full story · Comments { 3 }

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. William Morrow Paperbacks,2010 (Reprint, orig. 1950). 336 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 12 and up Bottom Line:  Coming-of-age, romance, and historical fiction is combined in a little-known novel by a classic American author. While all her classmates are going off to college, Emily […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Flying Ponies and Dump Trucks

Do little kids love fantasy? NPR recently reported on a study done by three academic psychologists on the subject of children and fiction. They asked a group of 4-to-7-year-olds what choose between two stories they might like to read or listen to: one story about a child who found a treasure, and another about a […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Happy 100th Birthday, Jean Fritz!

Prolific author Jean Fritz turns 100 today! During her long life, she has written numerous books–mostly biographies–for children. Before picture book biographies were so prevalent, elementary school children had few solid sources for biographies…except for Fritz’s works. Even with the advent of such young reader-friendly series as the “Who Was…?” series by Scholastic, Fritz’s works […]

Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Tempest in a Mixing Bowl

As a book reviewer, I have stars in my eyes. That is, I watch for stars when scanning book review journals, because they are an indicator of what someone finds excellent. Often, what others value is not what I would value, but if a book collects a lot of stars (six is the absolute gold […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Reading Outside Your Preferred Genre

As a teacher, I’ve had various conversations with parents about how to get their children engaged in reading.  The flip side of that conversation comes when a student is interested in reading, but won’t venture outside a specific genre. Now, at first, this might not seem like a concern. If the student is reading, isn’t […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

When Is a Story More Than a Story?

We live in the Age of Narrative. And increasingly, novels stop telling stories and become about story, gazing at themselves with calm adoration. This is nowhere more true than in the celebrated children’s novels of Brian Selznek. Selnek began as an illustrator who, over time, developed a distinctive, detailed, textured style built on shades of […]

Read full story · Comments { 2 }

Is Petunia Ready for Social Security? Picture Books and Retirement

Do Picture Books Retire? Petunia, that silly goose, is turning the ripe old age of 65 this year, the same age as my father-in-law who is retiring this fall from his long-standing position as nurse anesthetist. The Carrot Seed at 70 is the same age as my father who semi-retired this summer. And Harold and his trusty […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

The Uses of Terror

Yesterday I made a distinction between “terror” stories and “horror” stories—the latter based squarely on our elemental fear of death, often with buckets of blood thrown in. (Suspense is a sub-category of the horror genre, built on the same fear factor but not so brutal). The horror genre lumps together all stories that could be […]

Read full story · Comments { 3 }

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013. 306 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 14 and up Bottom Line: In an engaging alternative reality, punctuated with interesting sentences and quirky British humor, a teenage girl faces sorcerers, politics, and a dragon. Jennifer […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin

The Doll People Series, by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin. Disney/Hyperion Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 7-12 (mostly girls) Bottom Line: The Doll People series, rolling out in a leisurely way with four titles since 2003, offers a winning set of “living dolls” and an ideal transition from chapter books to […]

Read full story · Comments { 1 }