Friday, July 8, 2016

Feeding the Future

Give your young sleuths a mystery of a different sort to puzzle over this summer.

THE STORY OF SEEDS by Nancy F. Castaldo, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Author Nancy Castaldo has a passion for saving the world in a way our super heroes never considered. Her first book, Sniffer Dogs: How They and Their Noses Save the World gave the reading world a glimpse into her tenacious research.

Now she takes note of this shocking fact: one in five plants on earth are threatened with extinction.

She asks, “Who is protecting our seeds?”

To find answers, author Castaldo crossed the country from her hometown in the Hudson Valley of New York to California and traveled the globe, all the way to Russia in the dead of winter.  What she found becomes a reader’s introduction to quiet heroes who work behind the scenes, sometimes risking their lives, sometimes giving their lives up entirely, all in their mission to save seeds for future generations.

This is a book for everyone to read and ponder before and after a trip to the corner grocery. Who knew going to the market--any fruit and vegetable market--with Mom or Dad could be so intriguing?

THE STORY OF SEEDS paired with Fresh Delicious by Irene Latham, would make a great set of books for those who set up those wonderful farmers’ markets to sell right alongside the tomatoes. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Words in Work Boots

If you’ve ever thought of poetry
as formal
not for you

this is the book
that will change your mind.

we are talking about concrete

                                                         Don’t judge a book by its title.

WET CEMENT: A MIX OF CONCRETE POEMS by Bob Raczka, Roaring Book Press, 2016

No matter what your age or your relationship with words, this sliver of a book will entertain you and keep you thinking long after you turn out the lights.

Sorry I can’t tell you my favorite poem. Every time I page through, I find another that has to be first.

The author has written several collections of children’s poetry including one titled Presidential  Misadventures: Poems that Poke Fun at the Man in Charge. I’ve got to read that one.   

Visit the author's website and make a shopping list.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


This summer say thank you to the inventor of the wheel and set off on an adventure—even if it’s only to the neighborhood park.

WHEREVER YOU GO by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, Little Brown and Co., 2015.

Wherever You Go

Where does the road go?   

Over, under
zoom and race
zig and zag
left and right

Choices are made, plans change.

Share this book with your toddlers and young listeners as you pack your bags for a family trip—and be sure the book goes with you.

Illustrator Eliza Wheeler  delights sharp little eyes following a dapper bunny guide on a bike. He leads through towns, villages, the bright lights of the cities, even along a quiet winter trail through a forest dotted with cozy cabins demonstrating that all vacation trips are not made in summer. A wise looking owl flits along to provide company, a tranquil touch.

When he crosses a bridge and roads converge, the amiable bunny makes new friends. Does the family in the van resemble yours? That monkey waving from the top of the luggage carrier reminds me of my little brother on our family vacations.  

A comforting thought for all travelers: the same road you travel away from home takes you home again. 

Pat Miller will be remembered for her award winning picture book, Sophie's Squash.
Wherever You Go will join Sophie's Squash in your children’s basket of  lovingly thumbed books.
If you visit her website, you'll find other books including another book about Sophie.

Follow your road to delightful discoveries.

Bring home happy memories.

Safe travels.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Pick a Peck of Poems

What better way to celebrate spring than a poetic foray into a farmer’s market?
FRESH DELICIOUS, Poems from the Farmers’ Market, by Irene Latham, Illustrated by Mique Moriuchi, Wordsong, 2016

Poet Irene Latham's fanciful wordplay and illustrator Mique Moriuchi's  gift with paint, paper, scissors, and glue turn a trip to the outdoor market into a hunt for fun.  Who could resist a puzzle of squash or a battle with okra swords? Not I!

Engaging recipes close this adventure among the stalls of beans and peas (did one of those just wink at me?) and young readers will be eager to help, sample and devour the finished version. 

In the meantime, you will be reading this to the child on your lap over...and over...and over.

Good thing you have a healthy snack of fruit kebabs to nibble on while you turn the pages.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What’s Your Favorite Sea Creature?

A book byte…

THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin, Little, Brown & Company  2015

The first place I visit in an aquarium is the jellyfish tank. They mesmerize me. I am not the only one affected this way, apparently.

Suzy Swanson is in 7th grade, grieving the loss of her best friend in more ways than one. As the story unfolds, the reader sees that Suzy’s best friend left many months before, long before her sudden drowning. This is about grief and growing through and up because of it.

You will learn a lot about jellyfish, among other things.

A quote from this book will always be with me: “We are made of stardust.”



Friday, February 19, 2016


A librarian called this picture book, “airy.”
SWAN, The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad, Chronicle Books, 2015

And, indeed, it is airy.
Snowflakes. Petals. Feathers. Also airy. Illustrator Morstad scatters them across the pages, never letting the reader forget the soaring ambition of a little girl.

Author Snyder won’t let the reader forget, either, reminding us of the humble beginnings of this legend, repeating “shirt, shirt, laundry” even as the artist is applauded by kings and queens, yet drives herself to take ballet where it has never been.   

Anna Pavlova is known best for The Dying Swan ballet she made her own. Her influence on classical ballet can never be fathomed.  
In my mind, if we had to use a different word for ballet, it would be Pavlova.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Conversation Gap

Book bytes
A byte is a small unit.

By a stretch of my imagination, a “book byte” would be a small unit of a book review or book discussion including a quotation, comment, recommendation, whatever pops up when readers talk about books.

A writer friend asked me, “So what did you think of the Printz* winner this year?”
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby, Balzer + Bray, 2015

I couldn’t say much.

If I did, I’d risk telling too much. Spoiler alerts? I can think of several. How could I sidestep them?
This I can tell you: schedule this book for a time when your next day is an easy one, maybe a morning you can sleep in. Chances are that once you turn the first ten pages or so of this magical and haunting novel (words two other reviewers used, appropriately), you will keep reading until you are long past your usual bedtime.

After you finish Bone Gap, you will want to read it again. You can turn the pages faster when you read it the second time. And you will.

*The Michael L. Printz award honors the best book written for teens. It is sponsored annually by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.

Hillview School Library