Saturday, October 29, 2011

Covered in Cobwebs

It’s that time again. Carve the pumpkin, or purchase one that has a permanent grin. I still have the coated cardboard jack-o-lantern (my guess as to what it’s made of) I carried as a child, thanks to my mother and an attic with magical stretching powers. That space above the pull down stairs always had room for one more box of treasures. Even creepy ones with eerie smiles.

THE GARGOYLE ON THE ROOF by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Peter Sis, Greenwillow Books, 1999.

If this book is in your attic or buried in the stacks on your bookshelves, drag it out and dust it off. Poetry and pictures in the hands of these talented legends is never out of style.

This book of clever poems has longevity. Moms and dads can read it to their younger kids and dramatize as much as the youngest listener can handle. Older kids will enjoy doing their own dramatizing. One can almost hear the illustrator chuckling to himself as he creates the gruesome characters soaring, diving, and gliding across the pages. Other characters react in fright, shock, surprise, and a few smiles, but these are not the smiles one trusts.

My favorites: the plight of the Vampire who can’t see his image in the mirror,and the social problems of the Headless Horseman and the lonely Troll. It isn’t too difficult to see middle school students identifying with some of these characters.

Without any magic at all, today’s young readers will be tomorrow’s older kids. Here are two Halloween books reviewed on Book Log last year. The links either won't work on reviews that far back or the gremlins are haunting my computer. You can, however, find them by going to the archives
at left and clicking on 2010.

Trick or Treat, Old Armadillo by Larry Dane Brimner, featured October 26, 2010.

On a Windy Night by Nancy Raines Day, reviewed October 22, 2010.

They are still scary good fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reader—A.K.A. Writer

I’ve been away from my blog, but not away from my books. Time to share.

THE CASE OF THE CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Adam Rex, Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2009

If you’ve been searching for a book for a reluctant reader boy, here’s one that just might grab his interest. Does he like playing detective and solving crimes? Being a hero? How about his ego? Can it stand a good natured tumble or two?

He’d relate well to 12 year old Steve Brixton, the main character of this fun to read adventure. Steve is a fan of the Bailey Brothers detective novels and he is so good at solving crimes that he’s mistaken for a real detective. The chase is on. While he searches for a missing quilt containing coded information, he must elude librarians, police, and the mysterious Mr. E. Along the way, he learns to laugh at himself when his ego is trounced and keep his focus on the crime at hand.

Girls will enjoy this book, too, even though there are no girls in it, just two chums. That word is an inside joke. Read the book to get it. However, this is not one of those books you need read first to understand why your reader is chuckling. Just be glad he’s reading.

References to the Bailey Brothers detective novels does not slow the action. If the Bailey Brothers series is real, this book builds on them. If the idea of such a series was created only for this stand alone title, someone should write it. A readership awaits.

This was a finalist in the juvenile division of the Edgar awards given by the Mystery Writers of America.

I have a hunch the author’s website is fun.

Hillview School Library