Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Scary (and some not-so-scary) Tales

September 24, 2016

Boo! October is almost here and it’s the perfect time for a spooky, spine-tingling story. Here’s a list of some of my favorite books.

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The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens escaped being kidnapped by a man named Jack when he was a toddler. He is alive and safe in the graveyard, raised by ghosts, but he soon gets restless and wants to get out in the real world. Can he survive among the living or must he remain in the graveyard forever? There are even 2 a graphic novel adaptation of the book split into 2 volumes!

The Witches by Roald Dahl

A seven year old boy and his grandmother are on holiday in a luxury hotel. One day, as the boy is training his pet mice, he stumbles on a convention of Witches! Luckily his grandmother has told him everything he needs to know about witches. But is that knowledge enough to help him avoid their curses?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

A collection of scary, creepy, eerie stories that are complemented with chilling illustrations by Stephen Gammell.

I Spy a Pumpkin by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick

Exercise your brain and your eyes, by finding various Halloween objects.

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

This whole series is ghoul gold! Whenever I visited my elementary school library, I would bolt for these books. I eventually expanded my reading repertoire, but this series will always have a sweet spot in my heart.

Reviewed by Kate (Parr Library)

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Unidentified Suburban Object

September 22, 2016

Uunidentified-suburban-objectnidentified Suburban Object

By Mike Jung

Chloe Cho is tired of everyone assuming that all Asians are the same.  As the only Korean American as well as the only Asian American in her school, she’s heard it all — she’s a straight-A student because she’s Asian, she’s good at the violin because she’s Asian, her parents know how to discipline because they’re Asian — and she’s had enough!  It doesn’t help that her parents seem just fine with people confusing them for Chinese or Japanese and never seem to want to talk to her about their lives back in Korean.  Things finally start to look up for Chloe when a new teacher comes to town and she’s Korean American too!  Finally, she has someone to talk to who understands her!  But Chloe’s world starts to unravel when a class assignment about her family history forces her parents to share an out-of-this-world family secret.

I’m not going to lie; the book cover is what originally drew me to this book; just look at the face on that fish!  After reading the summary on the book cover, I was hooked.  Racial stereotypes and unintended racism can be hard topics to address and even harder to sell to young readers, but I think Jung does a great job giving it enough humor to help the medicine go down in the most delightful way.  Chloe has such an authentic voice and is very relatable.  It really sounds like a story told by a seventh grade girl.  While a lot of authors struggle with the balance of character emotion, Jung is able to portray Chloe at her whiniest, most miserable low point without alienating the reader (pun intended).  I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster and I loved the little twist at the end.  Who knows, maybe this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Miss Chloe Cho…

Reviewed by Meredith (Harrington Library)

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Tru & Nelle

September 16, 2016

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Tru & Nelle

by G. Neri

In their small town of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1930, misfits Tru and Nelle strike up a friendship and find a mystery to solve when someone breaks into the drugstore and steals some candy and a fancy brooch.

This is a fictionalized account of the real-life friendship between two of America’s great writers, Truman Capote and Harper Lee, so for adults, it’s really fun to see the ways parts of this book mirror things that happen in the books that Capote and Lee wrote as grown-ups. But it’s also a really satisfying story of friendship, small town life, standing up for yourself and your friends, childhood adventures, and dealing with tough situations in life, and also about sometimes having to let go when you’ve found a person and a place you really connect with. No prior knowledge of Truman Capote or Harper Lee are necessary to enjoy this book immensely! Definitely well worth a read for aspiring writers, mystery fans, and those looking for adventures in everyday life.

Happy reading!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

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Hammer and Nails

September 13, 2016

daddyHammer and Nails

By Josh Bledsoe

Illustrated by Jessica Warrick

I’m a daddy’s girl and nothing excites me more than seeing great daddy/daughter stories that show a dad can have an amazing relationship with his daughter. In Hammer and Nails, Darcy thinks her day is ruined when her best friend gets sick and can’t make it to their playdate. She had a whole list of fun things to do, but she crumples it up. When her daddy overhears her grumbling, he makes her a deal. If they can do one thing off his to-do list, then they can do one off of hers. What follows is an adorable mashup of daddy’s chores and Darcy’s playdate plans.

Hammer and Nails is a charming story about trying things for the first time and might inspire kids and adults both to find the fun in chores. The characters are so expressive, especially faced with that ONE thing that they’re not sure about. I would recommend this story to anyone, daddies, daughters, mothers, and sons.  As the daddy in this book puts it “Sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun! Try it.”

Recommended for ages 5-7.

Nicki Paris

Schimelpfenig Library

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Kid Picks

September 11, 2016

a-to-z cupcake-surprise the-barftastic-lifefly-guy

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That Stinks! A Punny Show-and-Tell

September 9, 2016

That Stinks! A Punny Show-and-Tell

By Alan Katz

Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

When rainy weather forces Mrs. Mueller’s class to have to stay inside for recess, the teacher suggests an impromptu show-and-tell. “That stinks!” exclaims a student to everyone’s horror until you turn the page and see that his show-and-tell item is actually his pet skunk, Harry. “Aw, nuts!” says another student and yes, her show-and-tell item is, indeed, a bowl of nuts. The exclamations and laughs only increase as child after child make what would appear to be rude statements that might have gotten them sent to the principal’s office if not for the fact that they were actually factual statements about their item being shown to the class.  Admittedly the items are a bit far-fetched but humor and cartoon style illustrations will keep children laughing as they wait to see what is actually being described as the page is turned. And what will happen when the principal finally shows up and exclaims “I have had enough!”?  You can only imagine!

Reviewed by Connie (Schimelpfenig Library)

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Kid Picks

September 4, 2016

101 Fun things to do Poo in the zoo warriors wayside

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1000 Books Before Kindergarten

September 3, 2016

This fall, the Plano Public Libraries are excited to introduce the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.  Your goal is to read 1,000 books with your child before he or she starts school.  Sound like a lot of books?  Well, it’s not as many as you think.  If you read just 1 book a day, that’s 365 books each year.  That means you’d reach 1,000 books in less than 3 years!  Plus, you can count any book that is read to your child, including the books you hear each week in storytime.  Repeated books count too, so be sure to include all your favorites.

If you’re looking for a way to track your progress online, be sure to check out the official 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten by 1000 Books Foundation

Ages:  4+

Requires:  iOS 7.0 or later or Android 2.3 and up

Compatibility:  iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android

The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app lets you track your reading activity electronically.  Even better, you can track the progress of more than one reader in your family.  You can scan books into your library, then mark the ones you’ve read.  When you first start, you’ll need to set up an account with your email address and password.  You’ll need to input a name and a zip code, to assist in case your information needs to be retrieved.  Once you’ve created your account, you can add your readers by entering a name and, if you want, a custom photo for each reader.

Next, you’ll need to build a library of books.  From the “Library” tab, you can add books by searching, scanning, or manually adding a title.  Books can be searched by title, author, publisher, subject, and ISBN, though the ISBN search is easiest.  Once you’ve found your title, you can save it to your library.

From your “Readers” tab, you can add books as your child reads them.  Simply choose, “Finished a Book” to access your library, and then click the book you read.  You’ll need to confirm that you read each title by selecting “Yes” to the confirmation message, which will then add the title to your counter.  For each reader, you can see your progress towards the 1000 books goal.

Ready to start reading?  Stop by any branch of the Plano Public Libraries to learn more about the program.  You can track your progress on the app, or by picking up paper logs at any library branch.  You’ll earn milestone prizes for every 100 books you read, and a special gift at 1000 books.  Join us for storytime or other library programs this fall, and keep reading.  Be sure to check out the Engage brochure online or in the library for more information about upcoming programs.  Happy reading!

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Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

August 30, 2016

hoodooHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Looking for a page turner?  I picked up Hoodoo, because I heard it would keep you on the edge of your seat.  Set in 1930’s Alabama, Hoodoo Hatcher, twelve, needs to learn to conjure to defeat the “Stranger,” threatening the town with black magic.  Be sure to know your reader, because this story might be too scary.  But it’s perfect for those who like a bit of a shiver.  After all, Halloween is just two months away!

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Still a Gorilla

August 26, 2016

Still a Gorilla!

By Kim Norman

Willy is a gorilla at the zoo, but he wants to be a different animal.  No matter how hard he tries to look or act like other animals, he is still a gorilla! This picture book is super fun and silly.  The large, bold and colorful illustrations are very eye-catching.  This is a wonderful book for storytime or for a preschool classroom, as well as for sharing one-on-one with your child.  There are many opportunities for kids to join in the read-aloud fun each time that Willy is ‘STILL A GORILLA!’  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.  Happy reading!

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