Dust from the Book Fairy

Posts Tagged ‘book reviews

That Book Woman

That Book Woman

That Book Woman is both an account of the impact of the pack horse librarians that brought books to isolated Appalachian families, and the story of how one illiterate boy, Cal, becomes a reader.  As a librarian, this book made me tear up; I loved how Cal changes from resenting his sister’s love of books and wondering why “that book woman” is so persistent, to asking his sister to teach him to read and thanking “that book woman” by the end of the story.
This book was much better received by the adults in my school than the students (K-5).  The adults have uniformly loved it; the students gave it a lukewarm approval.  The vocabulary and dialect make it a difficult read for them, but it works as a heavily scaffolded read aloud–meaning, take the time to explain what’s going on as you read.

Posted at The Picnic Basket


The Day Leo Said “I Hate You!”
Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 •
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

I’ve been reading this book to my kindergarten through second grade library classes this week, and it has been a definite hit. An applause-after-the-story, read-it-again-now hit. It rates a 5/5 just on the students’ reactions. They are held rapt by Bang’s imaginative illustrations, which are a combination of drawing and Photoshopped objects, like the broccoli exploding around Mommy in one spread. They loved the crazy things Leo does and gets fussed at for, like squirting toothpaste down the toilet. The particularly observant ones have noticed that Leo’s stuffed dog and dinosaur react to his emotions by looking worried when he’s worried, etc. This book provoked a lot of conversation from the kids; I stopped just before Mommy’s reaction to Leo telling her “I Hate You!” and asked them what they thought.. Some of them were sure he was in BIG TROUBLE, and others admitted to doing something similar themselves. We talked a little about how angry words can hurt feelings, and especially about how it’s hard to take them back. The story ends with forgiveness and making amends, which relieved the students. Some of my teachers got to see it during Family Reading Night, and my behavior-assistance teacher decided to order her own copy, because it would be a great lead-in to talk about the hurtful power of words and the process of making amends with her students.

—posted as a comment at The Picnic Basket book review blog–

I’ve just finished The Lightning Thief, and its sequel, Sea of Monsters, and loved them. The basic premise of the story is that the main character, Percy Jackson, discovers that not only do all the ancient Greek gods exist, but he is the son of one of them. (Telling you which one would spoil the first book a bit, so I’m not gonna). He goes to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for heroes–children of gods and mortal parents. The camp director is Dionysus, or Mr. D. On his way, he is attacked by the Minotaur. The adventures get better and better . Lightning Thief book cover

I’ve been teaching a summer enrichment program for rising sixth graders, and I wish I’d discovered these books while planning! They’d be a great introduction to Greek mythology.

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After getting the grant to order some Playaway audio books for my library, I got to do the fun part: SHOPPING! (Shopping for books with NOT MY MONEY is my favorite part of this job). Poking around Follett Titlewave, I noticed that this year’s Caldecott was available on Playaway.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you really must at least flip through it. It’s set in Paris, where Hugo lives in the walls of train station with his uncle and learns to are for the clocks of the station from him—until he disappears, abandoning Hugo to care for the clocks alone. Recently orphaned, all Hugo has of his father is a broken automaton (clockwork man) that he is determined to fix by stealing parts from the station’s toyshop. He’s caught by the toyshop owner who takes his father’s notebook of plans for fixing the automaton. In getting them back, Hugo discovers a secret about the toyshop owner, his automaton, and his love of movies.

So much of the story is told in gorgeous silvery pencil illustrations that I wondered how in the world Scholastic would manage to translate this to audio. We got it, and it has turned out to be one of the most popular audio titles at my library. For the most part, music and sound effects substitute for illustrations, but occasionally there are verbal descriptions that aren’t in the text. It is very interesting to follow along in the book while listening to the audio, which most of the kids seem to do.

I wonder if they consulted with the author about the audio version?