Author Archive

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain

March 19, 2014

Angel Island:  Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman

Many people know about Ellis Island and its place in American immigration history. But what about Angel Island?  Located in San Francisco Bay, not far from Alcatraz, Angel Island was America’s western immigration station where more than half a million people arrived between 1910 and 1940.  This is a fascinating look into a place where people dreamed of a better life, and poured out their feelings on the walls of the barracks where they were detained, waiting for immigration officials to decide their fate.  Not all reached Gold Mountain.

The book includes photographs, source notes, picture credits and an index.  Russell Freedman is a well-respected author of informational books for children, and received the Newbery Medal for Lincoln:  A Photobiography.

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The Bear’s Song

February 26, 2014

 

The Bear’s Song

The Bear’s Song

by Benjamin Chaud

For children who love to pore over visual details, this book will be a treat.  Little Bear would rather not hibernate, and lured by a buzzing noise he goes off on quite an adventure.  Of course Papa Bear must find him, and he realizes that singing Bear’s Song might help.  Readers will laugh as the story unfolds.

Chaud is from France, so you will notice a European flair to the illustrations.  The endpapers are an added treat.

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Rebel McKenzie

January 9, 2014

Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom

Rebel McKenzie plans to attend the Ice Age Kids’ Dig this summer, but she has to babysit her cousin Rudy in her sister’s mobile home community while her sister Lynette attends beauty school.  Rebel is still focused on her original plan, so she decides to enter a beauty pageant in order to use the prize money for the camp.  Will she win, and is it worth the price of friendship?

Rebel McKenzie is a nominee on the 2014 list of Bluebonnet books.  I thought it was a fun read and I think readers will enjoy the cast of characters in the story.

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The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

December 18, 2013

The Mad Potter:  George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

I read this title and thought, “Eccentric genius?  What have we here?”

Born in 1857 in Biloxi, Mississippi, George was out of step with this family, and refused to learn the blacksmith trade from his father. After he learned pottery in New Orleans, he returned to Biloxi and set up his “Pot-Ohr-E.”  George’s theatrical personality took shape in one-of-a-kind pots with unique forms, and beautiful, unusual glazes.

The Arts and Crafts movement of the time was on its way out and the Industrial Revolution enabled the mass production of pottery.  People of the time did not understand George’s eccentric personality and were not interested in buying his art ware.  George stopped making pots in 1910, packed most of his work away and told his family not to sell anything for fifty years. In 1968 his pottery was rediscovered and viewed as the work of a craftsman and artist. Now Ohr is considered a great American potter and an influential figure to contemporary artists!

I admit that I picked up this book because I loved the photograph on the cover.  If Ohr’s personality was as eccentric as his mustache then I wanted to find out a little bit about him. I truly enjoyed the photographs in this book, and learning about George E. Ohr.

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Little Mouse by Alison Murray

November 21, 2013

Little Mouse is the perfect book for a young child, and I’m grateful to one of our patrons for telling me that her two year old loves it.  The simple story is child centered.  Mommy sometimes calls the girl little mouse, but the child knows she is more than her nickname.

Young children will love pointing out the featured animals.  Murray’s illustrations are clean and simple with just a few small details that children will be drawn to which give a parent and child the opportunity to talk.  You might ask, “Did you find the little mouse?”  Off white pages and soft colors create a feeling of comfort and love.

A lot of books come through the library each day, and a few stand out as keepers.  Little Mouse fits the bill .

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Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K. G. Campbell

November 4, 2013

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell

I thought this book was hysterical!  Lester’s Cousin Clara loves to knit, and she’s really fast at her work, but Lester finds her creations not to his taste.  How will Lester avoid a “life of dreadful sweaters”?

The vocabulary and illustrations in Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters are expressive and quite amusing.  Lester is an interesting character!  I think the book will make a great read-aloud, and I can see it becoming a family favorite that will be requested again and again.  The book has been selected for next year’s Bluebonnet Award list.

Librarians stereotypically wear sweaters, so I think this gave me an extra appreciation of Lester and his dilemma.  Hopefully, I have the taste to avoid ghastly sweaters!

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Home Sweet Horror by James Preller

October 25, 2013

Home Sweet Horror by James Preller

It’s the time of year for spooky stories, so if you like haunted houses and ghosts you might try this new series by Preller, Scary TalesHome Sweet Horror is the first book in the series.

Eight-year old Liam, his father and sister have just moved into an old house, but Liam senses that something is wrong, and so does his dog, Doolin.  The family is dealing with the recent death of his mother, and no one wants to believe the house might be haunted.  When Liam’s sister Kelly and her friend Mitali play the old game Bloody Mary, they find they’ve gone too far.

Geared for nine to twelve year olds, I found Home Sweet Horror scary, but if a child is ready for scary stories, they’ll love it!  There are lots of creepy illustrations and the story is fairly short, so young chapter book readers will be satisfied.

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The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin

October 14, 2013

The Very Inappropriate Word

The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin

Have you ever heard a child use a foul word?  Have you ever wondered where in the world the child heard the word?  Hmmm, perplexed?

The Very Inappropriate Word is a funny take on the power of words.  Michael loves words, and even collects them. One day on the school bus he picks up a new word that his sister claims is inappropriate. When his friend explains that inappropriate means bad, Michael discovers that it can be fun to see the powerful reactions he receives when he uses it.  But Mrs. Dixon, his very wise teacher, needs to expand her list of choices for her spelling tests and she gives Michael the opportunity to fill his head with so many words that the inappropriate one sort of slips by the wayside.

I really enjoyed this story and the many words that are sprinkled throughout the book.  Dave Coverly’s cartoon illustrations are perfect for the text.

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Your Skeleton is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under

September 26, 2013

Your Skeleton is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under by Kurt Cyrus

Gruesome, yet oh so funny!  I’ve always had a soft spot for silly poetry, and this new book by Kurt Cyrus fits the bill.

Set in a cemetery, a boy and a ghost dog go from grave to grave looking for the dog’s master’s tomb.  Along the way the fate of each member of the graveyard is set to a poem.  Can you imagine what happened to Michael Gann the garbage man?  And who is buried in the grave with the mysterious letters, EIEIO?  Freddy Diggs dies because he won’t listen to his mother; this poem elicited a nice “ewwww!”  Wordplay creates subtle humor, so be sure you read what happened to Mary Lou South.

Your Skeleton is Showing will be a great family read-aloud.  You might just find your kids fighting over the chance to read it again by themselves.

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Call Me Oklahoma!

September 11, 2013

Call Me Oklahoma! by Miriam Glassman

I’m sure everyone knows that a child’s name can tempt peer teasing.  Paige Turner decides on the first day of fourth grade that she will now be known as Oklahoma.  She saw the stage musical over the summer, and its grandness inspired hope that the name would bring her a new identity.  She wants to leave her timidity behind and avoid bossy Viveca Frye.

I enjoyed the well rounded characters created by Glassman.  Family relationships are strong and teachers are kind.  I especially liked how Paige overcomes her fears to perform at the school variety show.  Mrs. Klonsky, Paige’s piano teacher, has just the right advice when Paige admits she’s afraid of making a mistake.

I highly recommend Call Me Oklahoma!  It’s a new favorite I’ll offer to third and fourth grade readers.

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