Archive of ‘Mrs. McGriff’ category

The False Princes by Eilis O’Neal

false princessSinda is not a princess in need of rescuing. In fact, she is not a princess at all–a fact she learns just after her sixteenth birthday. Instead, Sinda is one smart and brave girl, even if she is a bit clumsy. She’d rather spend her days reading books in the library, but she faces up to her new circumstances and determines to make a new life for herself (once she can figure out who she now is). Along the way, she just might rescue the true princess and save the kingdom from betrayal.

Eilis O’Neal has crafted an unforgettable–if unlikely–heroine with Sinda’s story in The False Princess (Egmont USA 2011). Sinda was raised to be a princess and one day a queen. Nothing in her training prepared her for her new status in life as the unwanted niece of a dye woman in a poor village far from the character. Even though she is seemingly hopeless, she doesn’t give up. When she discovers that she has magic–powerful magic–within her, she sets out on a journey to learn to master her magic before she destroys someone or something. Rejected by the college of magic (they don’t mess with anyone who isn’t of the nobility or doesn’t come with wealth), she turns to the eccentric Phlantha for work and study.

Sinda is not sure of herself. How could she be when everything she thought she was turns out to have been a lie? Even as she searches for the truth about the princess and the plot to steal the throne, her bigger journey is one of self-discovery. In meeting Orianne and Mika, the other two princesses, she learns more about herself through what they share–and what they don’t.

Did I mention that there is also a love story? Sinda is blind to that as well. Kiernan has long been her best friend, but she doesn’t know what to make of the growing awkwardness between them. She alternates between pushing him away and asking for his help. When it comes down to the crucial decision, though, Sinda is willing to stand up for what she believes is the right choice even if she loses Kiernan in the process. I liked the fact the the romance didn’t overshadow the adventure and quest to set the kingdom to rights again.

If you are looking for a princess story in which the princess saves the kingdom, look no further than this magical fantasy.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I fell behind on blogging this week. (The books are stacking up faster than I can review them.) But I made up for it with baking! I may have discovered a new favorite Christmas cookie. The Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies were simple to bake, look amazing, and tasted delicious. I also tried making hamburger buns for the first time. With a little help from the bread machine, they were easy, too, and look so cute! We also had Christmas orchestra concerts and Christmas piano recitals and Christmas parties. With all the Christmas fun, I did get some good reading in, too.

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I read…

shepherd kingsThe Shepherd Kings by Peter Danielson – Book II is just as gripping as the first one. These characters are struggling to find themselves and to find their way home. Jacob finally comes into his own strength after bowing to Laban for so many years. Haddad, the crippled artist, discovers a strength and love that he didn’t know he had. Shobai, the careless pleasure seeker, discovers that he has missed much in life. Kirta, the knowledge seeker, hopes to make it home to right the wrongs he left behind before it is too late.

false princessThe False Princess by Eilis O’Neal – I love, love Sinda, whether she is the princess or not. She is stubborn, smart, brave, and somewhat clumsy. Her favorite place to hang out is the palace library, but when her fortunes change, she tries her hardest to fit into her new life. Unfortunately, learning to be a princess did little to prepare her to live in near poverty as a dyer of cloth. As she struggles to find her new place in the world, she uncovers a sinister plot and discovers magic within herself. Oh yeah, there’s even a little bit of romance.

rudolphRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Ricard Scarry – This Little Golden Book follows the story from the song lyrics rather than the animated Christmas special. My daughter chose it to read for our Advent devotion. I wasn’t sure how she was going to connect Rudolph with the theme of joy for this week, but she did: We can each find joy in discovering our own unique gifts, and we should celebrate each person’s gifts instead of making fun of them.

olive the other reindeerOlive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold – Olive is a little confused whether she is a dog or a reindeer, but she is wiling to do her part to help Santa either way. Even though her presence among the reindeer team causes a few mishaps, she uses the things that dogs are good at (chewing, fetching sticks, smelling) to save the day. I enjoy this whimsical story and vivid illustrations every Christmas. I don’t listen to the lyrics to Rudolph quite the same any more either.

I’m reading…

vengeance of the lionVengeance of the Lion by Peter Danielson – Yes, I am hooked on this series. Book III picks up just a few years after Book II ends. Jacob is settled in Canaan, but his unruly sons are causing trouble (the murder of the men at Sechem to revenge the rape of their sister Dinah). The Shepherd Kings have been temporarily stalled, but with the Hittites facing internal strive, they are poised to strike the city of Ebla. Once Ebla falls, there is nothing to stop them from sweeping into Canaan. Kirta and Shobai are working to arm the city with iron, but can they do so in time?

saatisfied customersSatisfied Customers Tell Three Friends–Angry Customers Tell 3,000 by Pete Blackshaw – I’m almost done (just a few pages left), and need to finish it today so I can return it to the library. I do think much of this book is still valid even though some of the technology tools have changed (Google Reader no longer exists, for example). Customers do have more power now. Will they use it wisely? Will companies listen?

Coming up…

I still have lots of Christmas books beckoning to me! I may not get through all of them, but I will have fun trying!

What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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This has been a week filled with Christmas baking and Christmas music and even a few Christmas books. My reviews, though, are entirely in another world. Check out my thoughts about The False Prince and The Blood of Olympus.

I read…

Quintillius: The Star that Shone by William B. Thielking – I have loved this book ever since I was a little girl. Quintillius is the littlest star, but he lives in the exact spot of sky above where the new baby king is born. He practices and practices to shine brightly to announce the birth until he shines so brightly that he bursts. Now his light lives on in all who believe and reflect the light of Jesus. I am so glad my daughter loves this one, too. She read it to us to mark the beginning of Advent.

children of the lionChildren of the Lion by Peter Danielson – This saga is one of Biblical proportions. It tells the story of Abram and Sarai as they leave Egypt to settle in the land of Canaan. My favorite characers, though, are not the Biblical ones, but the imagined stories of those who traveled with or encountered Abram–the slaves, the soldiers, the metalsmiths. This begins a long saga indeed, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest. Packed with detailed characters and fast action, they are hard to put down.

miracle of christmasThe Miracle of Christmas by Stormie Omartian – A new Christmas book for me. My husband’s Sunday School class is reading this one for Advent, and I borrowed it from my husband. The 15 stories reflect on the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke, imagining what the people involved may have felt and thought through these events. Each one ends with a prayer that relates the past events to today.

santas book of namesSanta’s Book of Names by David McPhail – I love this story of Edward, who is good at math and can name most of the dinosaurs, but can’t quite read yet. His parents say “wait,” and then one Christmas night Santa drops his book of names. Edward finds it, and Santa invites him along for the journey in the sleigh. A magical book the wraps up Christmas and the magic of reading.

summer of letting goThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – After I finished reading the last page, my daughter informed me that she had already read ahead and finished the book on her own. At least she let me finish it with her anyway! I do love how characters and phrases from the book have found their way into our conversations about other things throughout our days.

how the grinch stole christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – My daughter chose to read this story to us for the second Sunday in Advent. She read it to us at breakfast, and it matched perfectly the Advent devotion that we read together at church as we lit the second candle during worship. Including scripture from Isaiah about the voice crying in the wilderness to prepare for the coming of the Lord, the devotion reminded us not to be distracted by the materialism that fills the season, but to use even those distractions to remind us of what is truly important. I love that Dr. Seuss makes the same plea but leaves it open to each reader to define the undefinable spirit of Christmas.

 

I’m currently reading…

shepherd kingsThe Shepherd Kings by Peter Danielson – This one picks up with the children–and mostly grandchildren–of the first book. Jacob is in Haran where he befriends Hadad, a Child of the Lion and Ahuni’s grandson. This is a saga of people who have lost their way and are trying to find their way back home.

saatisfied customersSatisfied Customers Tell Three Friends–Angry Customers Tell 3,000 by Pete Blackshaw – Even though it is from a different approach, this book shares many ideas with the last marketing book I read. Due to the rise of the Internet and social media, marketing no longer goes one way from company to customer. Now customers control some of the conversation, and companies must respond.

Coming up…

I’m definitely into the Children of the Lion series. As soon as I finish The Shepherd Kind, I will be ready to pick up book 3. And, of course, I still have my stack of Christmas books waiting for me!

What have you been reading this week?

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

blood of olympusThe final days are counting down for the prophecy of seven. The young demigods have split up to save the world one (hopefully) last time. Reyna, Nico, and Coach Hedge are shadow jumping with the Athena Parthenos, hoping to deliver it to Camp Halfblood before the Roman legion attacks. Will they get there before it’s too late? Only if Nico can find the strength to master the shadows before they overcome him, and only if the mighty hunter Orion doesn’t track them down first.

The rest of the crew–Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank, and Leo–are on board the Argo II. They are traveling through the ancient lands of Rome and Greece to stop Gaia from rising. The prophecy says one will go down in storm and fire, but which one will it be? Is there anything they can do to keep them all alive and prevent Gaia from destroying the world?

My daughter has been hounding me to read this last installment by Rick Riordan ever since she bought it for our Kindles. I was determined to finish Les Miserables before I started any other book on Kindle, so it’s taken me a while to get to it. Once I started, thought, I raced through the digital pages of The Blood of Olympus (Disney-Hyperion 2014). I found it a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Like the previous installments, our heroes have no rest in their quest to save the world. Every page brings a new monster to face or a new problem to solve. The fast action makes this hefty book a quick read as does the shifting viewpoints. I know some readers miss the focus on Percy and the original cast of demigods, but I have enjoyed getting to know the new heroes. Some of my favorite storyines are the ones in which the less confident heroes–Hazel, Frank, Piper, Leo–grow into their own strengths. Throughout the series, the Greeks and Romans have had to overcome their distrust of each other, and it this last book, they truly come together.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you who haven’t read it yet. (You mean I’m not the last one!) But this ending is the most satisfying–no cliffhanger to leave me desperate for the next book. I especially like the future outlook for Leo and Nico. I’ve been pulling for these underdogs/outcasts since I first met them, and I loved seeing them rise to the occasion throughout this book. The ending ties up the loose ends nicely, but it also leaves enough room to wonder and dream about what might come next.

Now that Riordan has explored Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythologies, I’m excited to see what he will do with his upcoming series based on Norse mythology in the modern world.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

false princeWhat do you get when you combine one street smart (and very smart alecky) orphan, a devious plan to save/overthrow the kingdom (depending on your point of view), and a competition in which the winner takes all (and the losers will most likely die)? You get a rollicking good adventure in The False Prince (Scholastic 2012) by Jennifer Nielsen.

Sage may not have chosen his life, but he is surviving as an orphan on the streets of a small village in Carthya. He knows little of the royal family and cares even less until he is taken by Connor, a minor nobleman with ambitious plans to save the kingdom from coming war. Sage, along with three other orphans, are now competing for the chance to become the missing prince and inherit the throne. As the competition heats up, layer upon layer of treachery and secrets are revealed. Sage must win–or lose his life–but he holds an even more dangerous secret of his own.

Every page is packed with adventure and heart-pounding action. I had some suspicions early on (but they have have come from reviews and discussions I read earlier), but most of the twists and turns in the plot surprised me. But when I went back to reread the beginning, I could see the clues already there. They don’t give too much away, but do they stand out on reading again.

Now I wonder what the next adventure brings in The Runaway King (out now) and The Shadow Throne (coming soon).

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I have much to be thankful for this past week … and throughout the rest of the year. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive as I have started in a new direction as a freelance copywriter. I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue this new adventure and for the past 15 years of teaching that have enriched my lives. I am thankful for the writers past and present who create entire worlds out of words–worlds and stories and characters who make me think, make me laugh, make my cry, and most of all make me wonder.

I shared my last picture book expeditions for November (Don’t worry, I will be heading back to find more picture books soon) in From Tall Tales to Fairy Tales and An Explosion for the Senses. I also shared my thoughts about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. You can also check out my complete list of books I read during November that I share with the Centurians Facebook Group. If you’re not a part of it, check out the group.

I finished…

freelancers bibleThe Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz – This resource is packed with valuable information for anyone embarking on (or in the middle of) this journey into freelance work. There are many opportuntiies and advantages to this journey, but also unique challenges. Horowitz gives a framework for thinking through them and plenty of options for solutions, always focusing on what freelancers can do for themselves rather than complaining about the unfairness. I checked this out of the library, but it is a refernce I want for myself.

les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo – I finished! I finished! I finished! I didn’t think I would, but a long car ride in the dark gave me time to do so.This section is sad. Jean Valjean confessed his true identity to Marius and has been slowly separating himself from Cosette so as not to have his past intrude upon her happiness. It’s slowly killing Jean Valjean. Marius is both revolted and terrified by the confession, yet he can’t reconcile how Jean produced the innocent wonder that is Cosette. Then the rascal Thenardier shows up, trying to extort money out of Marius by revealing Jean Valjean’s secrets. He reveals more than he knows when he shows who saved Marius from the barricade.

false princeThe False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen – Wow! I loved Sage from the very beginning. How can I not love a rough and tumble orphan who is street smart and toughened yet still cares for those less fortunate than him? The plot is brilliant. I had my suspicions (probably influenced by reviews I read earlier) but I was still amazed at the revelation at the end, and even more impressed when I went back to read parts again. They clues were there from the first page, but nothing is given away.

blood of olympusThe Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan – My daughter says it’s about time I got started on it. She downloaded it to our Kindles soon after it came out and has been waiting for me to start so she could talk about it. Now that I’ve finished Les Mis, I’m diving in. So far it’s nonstop action packed on every page. I loved the ending, especially for Nico and Leo, two of my favorites.

I’m currently reading…

Poliser_SummerLettingGo_jkt_website_207_1The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – Is it bad that my daughter has to tell me to pull myself together as I break down in sobs as I try to read aloud to her? Every night when I close the book, she begs for more. As long as she doesn’t have too much homework before finals loom, we should finish this week.

children of the lionChildren of the Lion by Peter Danielson – A friend lent me this series a long time ago. They’ve been sitting on the bottom of the shelf until I had time to start an 18 book saga. Now’s the time. I’m halfway through the first one and am caught up in the drama and passion that sweeps across time and the desert to imagine the story of Abram and his descendents.

Coming up…

We decorated the house for Christmas, and that means stacks of Christmas books are lyng around the house, waiting for me to reread them. I also have a new marketing book I picked up from the library, and of course, the new saga I’ve started.

What have you been reading this week?

November books read

November has been a great reading month. I explored lots of picture books and found many that I love. The novels and nonfiction I read were also good. I put asterisks by my favorites because it’s too hard to narrow down to just one or two or even three.

136) Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – intense on many levels

137) **Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

138) Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, pictures by Betsy Lewin

139) The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman, pictures by Tim Raglin

140) Little Red Riding Hood a Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst

141) The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle, paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

142) Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

143) Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, pictures by Harry Bliss

144) Strega Nona’s Gift by Tomie dePaola

145) Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle

146) The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden, pictures by Barbara Cooney

147) The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Mayer

148) Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers

149) **Canoe Days by Gary Paulsen and illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen

150) **The Butterfly by Patricai Polocca

151) The Light of the World by Katherine Paterson and illustrated by Francois Roca

152) If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felcia Bond

153) Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully by Audery Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson

154) The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed

155) The Case of the Incapaciated Capitals by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed

156) The Pirate’s Guide to Recess by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth

157) **October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman – an important and powerful book

158) **Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selzniicik

159) The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, paintings by Steve Johnson

160) Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

161) **Song of the Whooping Crane by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Elsa Warnick

162) **The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

163) The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

164) Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

165) Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

166) Library Lil by Suzanne Williams, illustrated by Steven Kellog

167) **Elsie’s Bird by Jane Yolen and David Small

168) The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague

169) **The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – This is now one of my favorite books!

170) The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz – This resource is packed with valuable information for anyone trying to make it as a freelancer in today’s economy.

171) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – It took almost two years, but I finished!

172) **The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen – So good…combines a smart–and a smart aleck– orphan, a devious plan to take over the kingdom, and plot twists that both surprise and flow seamlessly and you have one fantastic read!

173) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan – a satisfying ending to the series.

What have been some of your favorite reads from November?

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

girl who circumnavigated fairylandOnce upon a time there was an avid reader who finally got brave enough to request an ARC from a publisher. The publisher sent the ARC, and the book went straight into the TBR pile. Alas, life for the reader got busier and busier, and the book worked its way down to the bottom of the pile despite the many rave reviews floating around the Internet. One day a long time later the book resurfaced and completely captivated the reader.

And so begins the story of how I finally came to read The Girl Who Circumnagivated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Feiwell and Friends 2011) by Catherynne M. Valente. I’m not sure what took me so long to dive into this book, but I am so glad I finally did. The book did get lost on the bottom of one of many TBR piles in my house. I also had a hard time getting past the title. It’s such a mouthful. Having now read the book, I get the title, but it was a turnoff at first.

Once I fell into the pages of Fairyland with September, it didn’t matter. I was quite captivated and can’t wait to go back again for more adventures. September may be heartless–as most children are–when she leaves her mother withouth a backwards glance, but her heart grows with each creature she meets in Fairyland. She first promises to steal back a stolen spoon for the witches. She sacrifices her shadow to save a Pookah girl from a horrible fate. She gains two friends–A-through-L, the Wyvern, and Saturday, the Marid. Together they travel through the regions of Fairyland, looking for a sword that the Marquess demands. Through it all, September tries to make the right choices, but she is so small to stand against the Marquess and so hungry.

There are so many things I loved about this book. Fairyland is wild and unpredictable but each page brings new delights. Its creatures are even more fantastical. What’s not to love about a loyal Wyvern, who loves to read (and who is half library)? I would love to ride on the back of one of the leopoard winds. But the absolute best of this book was the lanuage.There were so many times when I had to stop and reread just for the sheer pleasure of the way the words flowed together. If I had stopped to copy down all of my favorite lines, I would have filled a book with the quotes.

I am eager to return to Fairyland in the next installments. Our local library doesn’t have them, so I will have to hunt them down from another source, but find them, I will.

An explosion for the senses

November Picture Book Month may be drawing to a close, but I look forward to reading many  more picture books through the coming months. These last books are a feast for the senses that open new vistas past and present.

pecan pie babyPecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010) – If I liked pecans, I would be drooling for pecan pie by the end of this book. Gia is not too sure about the new baby brother or sister on the way. The more everyone else talks about it, the less sure she becomes. Fortunately, Mama knows how to hear and understand her fears. Life might still be as sweet as pecan pie in spite of that “ding dang baby.”

song for the whooping craneSong for the Whooping Crane by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Elsa Warnick (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2000) – I have been interested in cranes ever since I visited the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin on vacation. These magnificent birds have an amazing comeback story. Spinelli’s poetry and Warnick’s watercolors celebrate the beauty and grace of these birds as they migrate throughout the year.

elsies birdElsie’s Bird by Jane Yolen, and David Small (Philomel Books, 2010) – This book is an explosion of sound, from the city streets of Boston to the whispering winds of the Nebraska prairie. Elsie loves the busy city streets, but when her mother dies, her father decides they should move to Nebraska. Now Elsie’s world falls silent except for her pet canary, Timmy. One day Timmy flies out the window and Elsie chases him into the tall grass. Finally, her ears open to the new sounds that surround her new home. After reading this, I want to listen and capture the sounds of my world, too.

greenGreen by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) – I remember seeing the book trailer and reading rave reviews when this book first came out. Neither the trailer nor the reviews do this gem justice. The vibrant illustrations show green in all its glory, from forest green and sea green to wacky green and not green. My favorite part, though, are the cut outs on each page that reveal new surprises every time I flip the page.

amelia and eleanorAmelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, pictures by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, 1999) – Someone (I wish I could remember who) from the It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! meme shared this book last week, and I knew I wanted to read it. I have long admired both Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. I can picture these two brave, strong women sneaking out for a late night flight and drive together. Both text and illustrations are captivating, and for the history buffs, the author’s note in the back explains the fact from fiction in the story. Yes, this picture book is inspired by a true story, but Ryan did take some liberties with the facts.

From tall tales to fairy tales

It’s still November so that means it’s still Picture Book Month! I made another trip to the library to find enough picture books to finish out the month. This time my husband went with me and complained that he couldn’t find me. I really wasn’t hiding. It’s just much easier to scoot along the floor while I pull picture books off the shelves to peruse before checking them out. Here are six of the treasures I brought home. The rest will be in a later post.

jumanjiJumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981) – I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had not read this one before now, nor seen the movie. As with other Van Allsburg books, the black and white drawings drew me in until I felt like I could step right into the story. Though I’m not sure I would want to fall into this story (or game) with roaring lions, stampeding rhinos, and lost guides. I do want to see how the movie captures the story on the big screen.

darkThe Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Little Brown and Company, 2013) – This one belongs on my shelf next to Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (except I have to return it to the library). Laszlo is afraid of the dark, especially when it’s at home in the basement. Then one night the dark invites Laszlo into its home and Laszlo is no longer afraid of the dark. The angles of dark shadows and light play throughout the illustrations.

little red penThe Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2011) – The Little Red Pen is determined to grade all the papers stacked on the desk, but the rest of the office supplies are too afraid to come out of the desk drawer. Only a catastrophe–Little Red Pen falls into the “Pit of No Return”–brings scissors, eraser, pencil, ruler, stapler, and the rest out of hiding to keep the sky from falling and the world from ending. If they can just quit arguing and work together, they might get those papers graded after all. Now why couldn’t my office supplies have been that helpful?

frog prince continuedThe Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, paintings by Steve Johnson (Viking, 1991) – As soon as I saw Jon Scieszka’s name on the cover, I knew I was in for a fun ride. Life is not happily ever after in the castle. The Frog Prince and his princess just can’t get along now that the royal wedding is over. The Frog Prince decides he was happier as a frog and sets off in the woods to find a witch to change him back. He meets witches aplenty, but none of them go with his story. After some close calls, he makes it back to the castle where another kiss gives a twisted ending.

three little pigsThe Three Litlte Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague (Orchard Books, 2013) – What happens when you mix three pigs (one hungry for potato chips, one hungry for sody-pop, one hungry for books) with one hungry (but really not so terrible) wolf? A delightful twist on the old fairy tale. I’m not sure which made me laugh more–the twists in the story or the illustrations that reveal some very unpig-like pigs.

library lilLibrary Lil by Suzanne Williams, illustrated by Steven Kellogg (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997) – This whopper of a tall tale starts with Lil’s origins (she was born with a book in her hands) and continues through her exploits as the librarian of Chesterville. She has her work cut out for her because the people of Chesterville much prefer television to books. Just when a thunderstorm knocks out all the power, Lil is ready to turn a town of couch potatoes into readers. Then Bust’em Up Bill zooms into town on his motorcycle. Will he be any match for our fearless librarian? This hilarious adventure is just the thing for all those super librarians I have known and worked with, who do indeed move mountains to get the right book into the right kid’s hands at the right time.

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