Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Goodnight Safari

December 3, 2016

Many parents wonder whether sharing stories with their children on tablets or other devices counts as story time or screen time.  Digital books are a great way to provide access to books, especially on the go.  No matter what type of book you use, your story times should include imagination, curiosity, and conversation.  If you choose digital picture books, make sure that the actual story doesn’t get lost in all of the animations and activities included in the app.  Apps like Goodnight Safari provide an interactive reading experience while still maintaining elements of a “traditional” reading experience.

Goodnight Safari by Polk Street Press LLC

Ages:  4+ (made for ages 5 and under)

Requires:  iOS 4.3 or later

Compatibility:  iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

 

Goodnight Safari is an interactive e-book that lets you read alone or with a narrator.  You’re at the center of the story as you help the animals get ready for bed.  The story takes place in the African savanna, and includes well known animals like zebras, but also lesser known animals like leopard tortoises.  Simple vocabulary and intuitive interactions help children follow the plot.  The main menu allows you to choose “Read to Me” or “Read Alone,” as well as “Pick a Page” to go to a favorite scene in the story.  The sound can be on or off in the app.  Additional activities are also available for a fee; a previous for each is available from the menu prior to purchase.  Activities include color identification, counting, and matching.

In “Read to Me” mode, a narrator reads the words on each page.  The words spoken are highlighted as they are read so that you can easily follow along.  In “Read Alone” mode, you can read the text yourself, at whatever speed you choose.  In each of the seven interactive scenes, you can help the animals prepare for bedtime following instructions given in the text.  Young children can simply follow the directions for each scene.  Older children can more fully explore each scene, touching different elements to see how the story interacts.  If you take too long, a graphic appears on the screen to highlight where you should touch to move the story along.  An arrow at the end of each scene advances to the next “page” in the story.

Elizabeth Stilwell has some great tips for sharing digital books with your children here.  Start by reading this story together without narration.  You can share the story like you would a physical book – pausing, asking questions, using silly voices, or even making up your own story.  You’ll also move through the book at your own pace, and you can return to pages as often as you like.

For more app recommendations and examples, be sure to join us for App Time at 11:15 on Tuesday mornings at Haggard Library or at 11:00 on Wednesday mornings at Davis Library.  Our storytimes will take a brief break for the holiday season starting December 12, but be sure to check out our full calendar online or in our Engage brochure to see more upcoming programs.  Happy reading!

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

Penguin Problems

November 30, 2016

penguin-problemsPenguin Problems
By Jory John
Illustrated by Lane Smith

Penguins. Cute and Cuddly. They waddle, they can’t fly, the all look alike. What could be better? To this little penguin, everything. I mean he waddles and looks silly when he does. He wants to fly, but he can’t. They all look alike and he looks like everyone else, repetitive but true. This penguin has problems, lots of them. In a very humorous tale, see the side of penguin life that is hard, really hard. Until a very nice walrus give him a little perspective. The mountains, the ocean, family and friends. All things the penguin can appreciate. But it is still cold and dark way too early.

By Ashley (Davis Library)

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

The Forbidden Library

November 24, 2016

forbidden-libraryThe Forbidden Library

By Django Wexler

When I stumbled upon this book and saw the title, I had to read the cover summary:

“Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed after she met her first fairy hovering in the kitchen, threatening her father. The next day her father left, never to return.

Poor Alice dutifully goes off to live with an uncle she’s never heard of: a mysterious old man with an impossibly massive library full of books she’s forbidden to read. But when she runs into a talking cat who sneaks her inside and an arrogant boy who dares her to open a book, it’s hard to resist. The moment she reads the first line Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, with only one way out.

It seems Uncle Geryon is much more than he claimed to be. Good thing Alice is too, because she’ll need all her courage and wits to face the challenges to come.”

What library person could walk away from a story about magical books that LITERALLY take you to other worlds?  And talking cats are icing on the cake!  I really enjoyed Wexler’s unique book-based magical system.  “Readers” are the wielders of magic, seeking bits and pieces of magical fragments within their huge collection of books.  They then combined the found fragments to create magical books that can contain portals to other worlds and prisons for holding powerful magical creatures.

Alice is a smart, crafty girl who overcomes the many obstacles in her way by thinking outside the box.  There is a bit of mystery and intrigue as Alice comes to learn that people’s intentions are not always clear and most things are never simply black and white.  A few pictures are sprinkled throughout the book to help illustrate the unusual places and creatures Alice encounters during her adventure.

This book is part of a series which has two more books, The Mad Apprentice and the Palace of Glass, and a fourth expected sometime next year.

the-mad-apprentice the-palace-of-glass

I would recommend this middle grade novel for readers who enjoy magic, fantastical creatures, and strong female characters.

Reviewed by: Meredith (Harrington Library)

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

There’s a Cat in Our Class!

November 23, 2016

There’s a Cat in Our Class!

A Tale About Getting Along

By: Jeanie Franz Ransom

Miss Biscuit’s classroom of dogs is about to get a new student.  This student is very different from the others, however.  She is a CAT!  How will the dogs react to someone so unlike them joining their class?

This sweet, funny and timely book offers a child-friendly excursion into the important issue of diversity. The story imparts the value of learning about, accepting and celebrating each other’s differences.

Bryan Langdo’s illustrations are lovely and expressive and allow for discussion about Samantha and the dogs’ feelings throughout the story.

This book is timely and relevant for children and parents alike.  At the end of the story is a Note to Readers by Gayle E. Pitman, PhD., which gives suggestions on ways to have meaningful conversations with your child about this difficult topic.

Happy reading!

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

Miles is a Mighty Brothersaurus

November 22, 2016

brotherMiles is a Mighty Brothersaurus

By Samantha Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller

If you have more than one child, you know that sometimes kids can compare themselves to their siblings. Maybe one is great at math, or sports, or science, but their younger (or older) sibling feels like they can’t be as impressive or successful. This Miles book addresses that problem and more. Miles is a middle child who loves dinosaurs. His older brother is great at baseball, winning trophy after trophy, while his younger brother is a gymnast. It leaves Miles feeling like he’s not any good at anything. With a little help from his loving grandpa, Miles learns that he has good qualities that are just as important as being good at sports.

If you struggle with a child that is going through something like this, then Miles can help them see it’s important to be yourself. This book is part of a bigger collection that focuses on “Helping Parents Raise Good People”. I expect to see more from this series in the future, but now you can find When Miles Got Mad and Miles is the Boss of His Body on the shelves at our library. Both discuss topics that can sometimes be difficult to approach, giving you a starting point for helping your child face problems.

Recommended for ages 4-7.

Nicki P.

Schimelpfenig Library

Here are the other books in this award-winning series (click image to go to catalog):

mad

boss

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

Kid Picks

November 13, 2016

Print this entry

Share

ABC Workbook

November 5, 2016

Did you know that writing starts with the same simple grasping motion you use to hold a spoon?  If your little one is grasping spoons, toys, and other objects, it’s not too early to introduce early writing concepts.  Writing is so important to your little one’s brain, even when it is just scribbles.  Scribbles on paper help your child understand that the words we see on paper represent things we can see, touch, and understand in real life.  This is the first step to reading!  Plus, all that grasping and moving helps fine motor skills, which your little one will need when they learn how to form letters.  Writing takes a lot of time and practice, but with the ABC Workbook app, you can take writing on the go wherever you are!

My First Speller Workbook Reading & Tracing A to Z by Andrea Perin

Ages:  4+

Requires:  iOS 6.0 or later

Compatibility:  iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

ABC Workbook is a letter tracing app that helps get your child ready to write.  Practice writing uppercase and lowercase letters with guided activities.  The free version of this app includes tracing all 26 letters of the alphabet in both forms, and you can also unlock additional games for a fee.  Work through each lesson in alphabet order, or skip to specific letters by tapping them on each side of the screen.  The app includes four different lessons.

For Lessons 1 and 2, each letter includes a word that starts with that letter (spoken in the app and shown on the screen with a picture) and a video of someone writing the letter.  You can write the letters by following the lines.  Each line has an arrow to show which direction to write.  As you follow the lines, you collect little flowers.  Once you’ve written each letter, you’ll see a comparison between what the letter looks like and what you wrote.  Each letter is widely outlined to provide an additional guide for shape.  Lesson 1 covers uppercase letters, and Lesson 2 covers lowercase letters.

For Lessons 3 and 4, the focus is on the progression of writing letters independently.  After the introduction to each letter, you’ll get to write it three times.  The first time uses the same method as above:  directional arrows to guide writing while you collect flowers.  The second time is a little harder; it includes flowers for you to collect, but no arrows to show how you should write the letter.  The third time, you’ll use dotted-line tracing while collecting the flowers.  This try is the closest to writing the letter independently, and it doesn’t include as much leeway as the previous two tries, since it doesn’t have the wide outline of the letter shape.  At the end, you’ll see all three letters side-by-side to see your writing progression.  Lesson 3 covers uppercase letters, and Lesson 4 covers lowercase letters.

You can start out using this app with your fingers.  To build hand muscles, add an additional challenge of writing letters with a stylus.  Ready to take your writing off the screen?  You can practice writing letters outside with chalk, or inside with crayons.

For more app recommendations and examples, be sure to join us for App Time at 11:15 on Tuesday mornings at Haggard Library or at 11 AM on Wednesday mornings at Davis Library.  Check out our full calendar online to see more upcoming programs!

 

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

Lucy’s Lovey

November 4, 2016

 

Lucy’s Lovey

By Betsy Devany

Illustrated by Christopher Denise

Lucy had 17 baby dolls all with very distinctive names such as Sparkly Baby, Cry Baby, Burper Baby, Bubba Bea, Squeaky Baby and many more. But her favorite baby by far was Smelly Baby.  Why, you might ask, would she name her such a distasteful name?  Well, the reason was simple. When her grandmother gave her the baby and she first kissed it she said, “She smells like peppermint.” And so Smelly Baby was named!

As most favorite doll, Smelly Baby went everywhere and did everything with Lucy. In time, this resulted in her being truly representative of her name as she smelled less of peppermint and more of smellier things.  But Lucy didn’t care, she thought Smelly Baby was perfect!  Unfortunately, so did Lucy’s dog Stasher who had his own collection of stinky, stuffy toys all of which were covered with doggie drool.

How can Smelly Baby stay safe from a doggie kidnapping? And can a family actually bond over a child’s toy – smelly or not?

This charming tale of the love between a child and her favorite doll has found a special place in my heart. Christopher Denise’s full page illustrations with soft, expressive faces are particularly delightful.

I would highly recommend this to any preschooler whose best friend is their favorite toy.

Reviewed by Connie (Schimelpfenig Library)

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

November 2, 2016

unicornA Unicorn Named Sparkle

By Amy Young

I’m sure we’ve all bought something and had certain expectations for it, only to be disappointed. Well, when Lucy buys a unicorn from an ad in a magazine, she’s already dreaming of a big, majestic creature that she can ride to school. All of her friends will be so jealous! When Sparkle finally arrives, he is not big, or majestic, and Lucy is pretty sure he has fleas. Despite her disappointment, Lucy tries to make the best of it. She plays dress up with her new unicorn, but he eats everything, including the tutu. He behaves poorly at show-and-tell (and he has gas, ewwwww). Lucy calls the unicorn delivery company to come pick him up, but finds that maybe, just maybe, this little unicorn isn’t so bad after all.

A great story about learning to see what’s under the surface, Sparkle the Unicorn will steal your heart just like he stole Lucy’s. If you give someone a chance to show their true colors, you might find that even a smelly goat can be the best unicorn friend.

Recommended for ages 3-7.

Nicki P.

Schimelpfenig Library

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share

Kid Picks

October 30, 2016

movingday 11birthdays ibrokemytrunkalwaysabigailsparklespaanewclass

Print Friendly

Print this entry

Share