Tag Archives: 3rd

Hate That Cat

Hate That Cat: A NovelAuthor: Sharon Creech
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd to 5th grade

Pages: 153
Publisher: HarperCollins
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

I was really delightfully surprised at how I enjoyed reading this one. I remember loving Love That Dog and did not think that I was emotionally manipulated — although most of the time I feel Creech’s books highly “manipulative.” And again, I cried over this little story and did not hate the fact that I cried. I have been wondering about Verse Novels and this book does not only present itself as a verse novel, it discusses the notion of poetry — light ones vs. “serious” ones; children’s self-reflective writing vs. classic, grand poetry. It’s definitely a very teacher-y book. I can see 4th-6th grade teachers all over thinking to themselves, “I can use this in my poetry unit! It even teaches techniques such as similes, metaphors, and alliteration!” The introduction of a deaf mother is an interesting touch. Maybe a little forced but it does offer the opportunity for the young readers to think and discuss the notion of beat/rhythm as “sounds” and actual physical vibrations. (Oh, my, god, can this book even be used by Science Teachers about sound waves?!!)

Anyway. I am pleased with the book.

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The Black Book of Colors

Author: Menena Cotton, illus. by Rosana Faria
Rating:
Reading Level:pre-k – 2nd (and all ages)

Publisher: Groundwood
Edition: 2008, Hardcover

The Black Book of ColorsWhat a unique and amazing book!!!! I am speechless and wish everyone could read/touch/experience it!

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Someone Save the Authors from Sloppy or Non-existent Copy-editing!!!

Although I am only talking about one book today, by way of an example, I am really ranting about a fairly wide-spread phenomenon in Children’s Publishing of late — that of a lack of careful copy-editing. Copy-editing is defined briefly as: to mark errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage to prepare the manuscript for final printing so each finished book is as error-free as possible. I am unsure whether there are still full-time copy-editing staff in most children’s publishing houses these days (maybe someone can speak to this in a comment?) but from the number of errors one encounters in children’s books these days, it seems that human copy-editing has become an obsolete art. If you have read a lot of recent children’s books as I have done, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I just finished reading a very well-written and exciting story by Polly M. Robertus, entitled The Richest Doll in the World. It’s a Holiday House 2008 publication. Judging from the font size and the length (129 pages,) I have no problem thinking of this book as for fairly beginning readers. Say, 2nd to 4th graders. It is even more inexcusable that the copy-editing is so sloppy! Here are a few page scans to illuminate my concerns. Before you read on and see for yourself whether this is a serious issue, I just want to say how sorry I feel for the author of this book. I can only imagine how much time, effort, hope, and heart went into writing, revising, and perfecting the telling of this entertaining and heartwarming story and yet, as a librarian, I cannot feel comfortable recommending this book to my young readers due to its poor copy-editing. I wonder if I am alone in feeling this way?

p. 18

You lust haven’t tried hard enough…LUST?
I can just imagine how a 2nd grader reading this book asks her mom, “Mommy, what is LUST? I don’t understand this sentence. What does ‘lust haven’t tried’ mean?” Try explaining that one!

p. 26
Last time I checked (2 seconds ago,) the word “sidesh” has not made its way into the Merriam Webster Dictionary yet. (One would imagine that even a computer spell checking program would have picked up completely non-existing words and corrected the error. Did the production team not even bother with a once-over using a free program?)

These two are both from p. 34 — and I was simply baffled by the abundance of commas…

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Garmann’s Summer

Author: Stian Hole
Rating:
Reading Level: K to 3rd

Pages: n.p.
Publisher: Eerdmans
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

What an unusual book. At first glance, the images turned me off — from the cover to the first pages — with the weirdly proportioned heads/bodies done with photo-collages. Then.. I got sucked into this style and most importantly, I got mesmerized by the text and by the matter-of-fact tone of everyone’s answer to Garmann’s queries about death and fears. The illustrations eventually reminded me of Terry Gillian’s work for Monty Python’s Flying Circus with many pages featuring curving flower stems and vines and the unlikely pairings of objects: the ancient aunt on a skateboard above skyscrapers or the bus load of images of famous jazz and other musicians… So, this is a very strange experience: from “Ugh” to “Brilliant!!!”

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The Willoughbys

Author: Lois Lowry
Rating:
Reading Level: 3th-5th

Pages: 112
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

This is a surprising and pleasant find. Lowry has done something very different from her usual style, although it certainly is not the only book of this kind: sarcastic (sardonic, even?) and warm and gentle at the same time. I enjoyed this one tremendously. Will definitely test it out on young readers — as a read-aloud to start with and then gather their readers’ responses.

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Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)

Author: Park, Linda Sue
Rating:
Reading Level: 3rd to 6th grade

Pages: 48
Publisher: Clarion
Edition: Hardcover

I am absolutely delighted and pleased by the collection of Sijo poetry (a traditional Korean form of short poems) paired with playful and often surprising illustrations. It will be fun to see children and grownups trying their hands on creating this kind of poems!

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The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Author: Janice Harrington
Illustrator: Shelley Jackson
Rating:
Reading Level: Pre-K – 3rd


Publisher: FSG
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

I would have to say that this is one of the most joyful picture books I’ve read this year. I adore everything about it. It’s incredibly fun to read the text out loud and to hear it read. It is colorful and energetic, full of poetic inventions:

“wash away the dreaming and brush my teeth whiter than a biscuit”
“fast as a mosquito buzzing and quick as a fleabite”
and listen to the cadence and joy of these glorious lines:
“I think of all kinds of chicken thoughts so they won’t know I’m up to something.
Corn, I think, bright, shiny knuckles of yellow corn.
Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! Goldy-brown eggs all warm, warm warm.
Corn bread, corn bread! Crumb and crumble bread.
Worms, Slurms, swishy, swishy-mishy, ickly-tickly worms”

Oh… I’m having so much fun just looking at these words and lines.

And then, of course, there are these glorious illustrations — where the energy, the colorfulness, and sunshiny fun is captured and further expanded. The mixed media with real object collage illustrations convey the carefree high spirit of our heroine. The most effective compositions are the ones that explode outward:

The page with Pah-Quawkkkkk! and Quawkkkkkk exploding in the center of the spread.

And there are pages more subdued but no less pleasing. There is a great pacing of action verses internal thoughtfulness both in the text, and especially in the illustrations. This is just GLORIOUS! I said it a third time now :)

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Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Author: Liz Kessler
Reading Level: 3rd – 5th


Publisher: Candlewick
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The third installment of the Emily Windsnap series. I didn’t read the first two but would not consider seeking them out and reading them after scanning quickly (not quite worth my time or energy to read carefully) this book. I wonder if mer-people were real, would they be displeased at the general portrayal of their characteristics?

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Genies, Meanies, and Magic Rings

Author: Stephen Mitchell
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd – 4th

Pages:
Publisher: Walker
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The retelling is skillfully done — although I do not see how “new” and “fresh” these versions are from the older version. To gain insight, I must see some of other retellings. There are only three stories and two of them are so familiar so I wasn’t getting excited about them. The second, unfamiliar story, however, is definitely interesting and worth reading.

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Lily Reads: Betsy-Tacy

Author: Maud Hart Lovelace
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd to 4th Grade

fairrosa: So.. you gave this book 5 stars. Is it that great?
Lily: Yes. Because I felt that it made you very emotional and so you had a connection with the book.

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Lily Reads: All-of-a-Kind Family and More All-of-a-Kind Family

Author: Sidney Taylor
Rating:
Reading Level: 1st to 3rd

fairrosa: Why do you like All-of-a-Kind Family?
Lily: I liked this book because it’s about five girls and they have adventures and it’s very exciting.
fairrosa: Do you have something to say about the second book?
Lily: Yes. It has a lot of tension.
fairrosa: How? What happened?
Lily: There was a disease going around and they didn’t want to catch it.

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Gossamer

Author: Lois Lowry
Rating:
Reading Level: 4th – 6th

Pages: 140
Publisher: Hougton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine
Edition: Hardcover, 2006

Since so many people love this book, I was unwilling to read it, afraid that I’d find it undeserving in some way. But, I, too, fell in love with it right away. My admiration of the author’s skill in telling a simple and yet complex story sustains until the very last word on the very last page. What a refreshing experience.

The characters, major or minor alike, have such depth. Many things are unsaid about them, but the reader senses a strong “knowing” of their souls from the few key moments in life Lowry chooses to present. The elegant text, deceptively simple, reminds me of my favorite Dickinson poems: a few words, arranged just right, describing the most common personal experiences, can encompass the immensity of the collective human minds — conscious or subconscious.

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The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea

Author/Illustrator: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd – 5th grade

Pages: unpaged
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Edition: Hardcover, 2006

This picture book in comic book style is near perfect in every way. The narrative is fluid, the story is exciting, the cultural details are accurately portrayed both in text and illustraion, and the pictures are expertly rendered. I am impressed at how O’Brien effectively conveys varied moods by simple changes of each facial feature.

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Lily Reads: Jack and the Seven Deadly Giants

Author: Sam Swope
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd – 5th

Pages: 99
Publisher: FSG
Edition: Hardcover, 2004

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Utterly Me, Clarice Bean

Author: Lauren Child
Rating:
Reading Level: 2nd – 4th

Pages: 160
Publisher: Orchard Books
Edition: Hardcover, 2002

Lauren Child’s child-like voice manages to be both super innocent and highly savvy. Clarice Bean is utterly a little gem and utterly charming, in an I-might-find-her-a-bit-annoying-in-real-life-for-a-friend-or-a-student-but-it-sure-is-fun-to-read-her-thoughts kind of way. I love the illustrations and the creative typesetting.

The only slight gripe I have is the “fake” story that Clarice Bean loves to read so much (Ruby Redford mysteries) within the book does not grab me, but distract me from Clarice’s story. However, Lily is reading it now and she actually likes the Ruby Redford mysteries better than the main plot. Shows how tastes dictate!

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The Chocolate Touch

Author: Patrick Caitling
Rating:
Reading Level: 1st – 3rd

Pages:
Publisher:
Edition:

Lily and I took turns reading aloud to each other and had a blast. This is definitely a “messegey” book: don’t eat too much junk food! but it works well as a highly entertaining and imaginative story. I read it a long time ago and this time around, I still enjoyed it.

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Be A Perfect Person in Just Three Days

Author: Stephen Manes
Rating:
Reading Level: 1st – 3rd

Pages: 76
Publisher: Yearling
Edition: Paperback, 1996 (1982)

Lily read it and found it mildly amusing. (I had to nudge her to finish it, though.)

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Ramona Books

Author: Beverly Clearly
Rating:
Reading Level: K-3rd

Pages:
Publisher: William Morrow / Yearling / Dell
Edition: Mixed, 1955 onward

This has been a favorite bedtime story series for the last 3 months. I read it to Lily when we were in Taiwan and David has been reading it to her every night for the last 2 months. The titles in the series are

Beezus and Ramona (1955)
Ramona the Pest (1968)
Ramona the Brave (1975)
Ramona and Her Mother (1977)
Ramona and Her Father (1979)
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981)
Ramona Forver (1984)
Ramona’s World (1999)

We have finished all but the last two. I’m constantly amazed and reminded of Cleary’s uncanny talent at capturing the inner workings of a small child as I listen to David’s affective reading and watch Lily’s complete emotional involvement with the story.

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Last of the Really Great Whangdoodle

Author: Julie Edwards
Rating:
Reading Level: 3rd – 5th

is a re-read. I loved this book upon first reading — more than 10 years ago. This second reading surprised me. I don’t remember ANY of the details, and I am usually really good at recalling details. Every scene and character was brand new to me — and not in a good way at all. I detest the didactic tone and the transparent “messages” of all the benefits of the imagination! (I don’t detest imagination, of course, just the way its worth is being handled in the book — and hey, whose idea is it that adults lose their imagination? I have a lot more imagination than some of the youngsters I know!)

Over all, I couldn’t believe that I once LOVED this book, as an adult, although I can see why so many children still love it — for its vivid descriptions of the very rich and imaginative details and the adventures the children embark on.

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The Penderwicks

Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Rating:
Reading Level: 4th – 6th

This National Book Award Winner failed to intrigue me, either. It is nostalgic — faint echoes from old favorites such as Little Women and the E. Nesbit books. Some of the humor seems forced to me and the general complaint from other adult readers that the grown-ups in the story have almost no depth at all is a valid one. And to an extend, the children are stock characters themselves, each embodies a set of characteristics without surprises or changes. Their predicaments also don’t concern me much as a reader. Maybe I am too cynical and maybe this is a book for much younger children?

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