Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Lambkins

A student brought this back to the library the other day and told me she couldn't finish it because it was "too freaky" for her. Well, that piqued my curiosity and I had to know what was it about this book that freaked her out? Well, I've read the book and I have to admit, it is little creepy. The story begins with the kidnapping of Kyle Wilson, regular kid, aspiring artist. He is taken by a woman whom he later in the story refers to as 'the shepherd' and describes her hair as 'that funny, artificial red that I guess some women think is pretty.' That made me laugh! Anyway, this woman has the ability to shrink people to the size of dolls and she adds Kyle to her collection, replacing John, who made her angry. The shepherd calls her little people 'lambkins' and she just wants to love them - and for them to love her - forever. I don't know how far the student got in this story, if it was the shrinking people that freaked her out or the shepherd wanting to force her captives to love her. The part that creeps me out is the woman's idea of a loving relationship - keeping kids prisoner and trying to make them love her by giving them time to practice their talents, though the youngest one does appear to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. The kids' situation seems pretty hopeless, but they never give up and eventually escape their dollhouse prison.
3rd grade and up.

ETA: Just finished listening to the 2010 Newbery Medal winning When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I had several false starts with this book. It was a little slow starting so I'd get distracted by something else, but I finally stuck with it and it turned out to be a very good book. I think I would recommend reading it, though, rather than listening to it. I didn't care much for the reader's voice and I found myself wanting to turn back pages to see if I missed something. This is because the book has a time travel theme. So it's important to pay attention to the little details that don't seem important at first. Kids: you might want to ask you parents (or your grandparents) about the $20,000 Pyramid and who Dick Clark is. Also, there are several references to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time throughout the book so you might consider reading that first if you haven't read it already. I don't want to say too much more about it because I don't want to spoil the mystery. I'll just say, if you don't get into it right way, stick with it! It's worth it!
5th grade and up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Falling In and The Doghouse

Okay, I finished Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell and it was very good. Isabelle Bean has always been a little different than other children. In fact, she believes she is a changeling and when she falls into a different world through a closet in the school nurse's office, she discovers that she's not entirely wrong. The world she falls into is like a fairy tale, where children live in fear of being eaten by the witch in the woods. But the witch has gotten a bad rap and employs Isabelle to help her overcome her reputation. In the mean time, Isabelle discovers a family secret and that she has a special skill. This was an enjoyable read, face-paced and light hearted. Isabelle is fearless and very likeable. I'd recommend this for grades 4 and up.

I'm becoming a big Jan Thomas fan. I'm already in love with The Rhyming Dustbunnies and in The Doghouse, Ms. Thomas uses the same combination of bold, saturated illustrations and simple text to create terrific read-a-louds for beginning readers. In The Doghouse, Cow, Pig, Duck, and Mouse loose their ball in the scary doghouse. Each takes a turn going in after it ... and not coming out! The suspense builds until the end when we find out they weren't ever in any danger. This book is fun to read out loud. I read it to two classes today and they loved it! The AR reading level of this book is 0.7. It's amazing what can be achieved with such an economy of words!

I don't have any knitting updates, really. I'm working on a cardigan. I'll post pictures when I have them.

Here are the best things kids have said to me about my new haircut:
"Whoa! What happened to your hair?"
"Are you wearing a wig?"
"Your hair looks weird."
Kid: "Did you color your hair with a crayon?"
Me: "No, I colored it with hair dye."
Kid: "Is that what happens when hair gets old?"

One last thing, the Patrick Marleau signed puck, courtesy of the Sharks Foundation, is on display in the library. If you ask me nicely, I might let you touch it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How I Spent My Spring Break

I know I'm a little late with this post but better late than never. Spring Break was really only a partial spring break as the classes I'm currently taking (at two different community colleges) were not on break last week so there was still homework to be done. In addition, I had to do traffic school which took longer than I anticipated. As a result, I didn't do as much reading as I wanted to. The JLG shipment (pictured in a previous post) was delivered the Friday before spring break and I've been able to read a few of the titles.
The bold illustration style that Kevin Henkes used in A Good Day are use again in My Garden, the story of girl who imagines a much better garden than her mothers, with flowers that change color and patterns, giant tomatoes, and invisible carrots because she doesn't like carrots. Simple text makes it appropriate for pre-school to first grade.
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan is a story from the author's own childhood. Khan is of Pakistani descent and tells a story that any girl with a younger sister will be able to relate to. Rubina is invited to a birthday party and is only allowed to go if her younger sister Sana can go with her. Sana ruins the party for Rubina and to add insult injury, eats Rubina's lollipop that she got for a party favor. Later, when Sana is invited to a party, she is expected to bring her still younger sister Maryam with her. But Rubina, remembering the repercussions of her own experiences bringing a younger sister to a party, convinces their mother to let Sana go alone. When Sana offers Rubina a gift of gratitude the sisters become friends. This is a wonderful story for grades 1 through 3.
Cloud Tea Monkeysby Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard is a beautifully illustrated book that reads like a classic fairy tale and is, in fact, based on an old legend that Graham came across while doing some research. Tashi's mother works on a plantation picking tea, but one day she falls ill and is not able to work. Tashi tries to fill in for her mother but she is too small. When her monkey friends come to her aid, her and her mothers fortunes are changed forever. This is a wonderful story for all ages.
I'm currently half finished with Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell, which also has a fairy tale feel to it with a little Alice in Wonderland mixed in. I'll tell you more about it when I finish it.
And here is some knitting that I was doing last week:

Sammy and Katie are sporting their new moustaches!
Katie models a hat for me.
Also, Mrs. Medalen and I went to see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie and we both thought it was hilarious! I'm really looking forward to reading the book now! Beware the cheese touch!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Neil Gaiman at your library

Mrs. Emerson and I went to the San Mateo Library to see Neil Gaiman's live webcast kicking off National Library week. He talked about libraries and librarians, censorship and the first amendment, reading and writing, and told us that the version of American Gods that is in his head is so much better than what he had written down. Wha wha what? Mr. Gaiman, can I please get inside your head? Anyway, I could have just watched it from home but I'm glad we went to the library to see it. It felt more 'live' that way. Plus, it was on a big screen and it was great to just stare at his big face for two hours. The webcast will be archived here. I don't see it there as of this posting, but check back soon. Also, go here to hear an interview with Mr. Gaiman on Minnesota Public Radio. That is all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Penderwicks

I don't have any finished projects to show you this time, but I did just recently finish listening to The Penderwicks: a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy by Jeanne Birdsall. This is a very nice book. The Penderwicks are a family of four sisters, aged 4 through 12, their widowed father, and a large clumsy dog who rent a small cottage on the Arundel estate for their summer vacation. There the girls befriend Jeffrey, the only son of the snooty owner of the estate, Mrs. Tifton. This book has a very old-fashioned feel to it. It harkens back to simpler times when children got in trouble for merely acting like children. The Penderwick sisters reminded me very much of the March sisters from Little Women. One is an aspiring writer, one is a little too quick to speak her mind, and the youngest is painfully shy. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to finish this book so I could go on to something else. It's a very nice story, but I prefer a little more action and adventure.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New sweater, old books.

I just finished this sweater and while I was knitting it, I listened to a couple of books that I read a while ago. First, I listened to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I listened to it from which has video clips of Neil Gaiman reading the book from different stops on the book tour for the book in 2008. The audio book is also now available in the Marshall Lane Library. The Graveyard Book was the Newbery winner for 2009. It's a wonderful book about an orphaned boy who is lovingly raised and educated by the inhabitants of a graveyard. Think Jungle Book in a graveyard.
The second book I listened to was Clemency Pogue : Fairy Killer. This a delightful tale about a girl who accidentally kills seven fairies and the adventure ensues when she sets out to right the wrongs she committed.
Next week I'll be going up to the San Mateo Library to see a live video conference with Neil Gaiman to kick off National Library Week. I'll let you know how that goes!

Monday, April 5, 2010

New stuff!

Last week I received a shipment of new books and audio visual materials for the library!  Yeay!  The funding for these items came from the School and Library Improvement Block Grant which is overseen by the School Site Council.  This will be the last order that I can make this year as I've used up all my funding.  I will continue to receive books from Junior Library Guild as that was paid for at the beginning of the year.  Some new titles to look for in the library include: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone, Your Skin Holds You In by Rebecca Baines, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look.  I also got some popular titles on audio book including The lightning Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Clementine, and The Graveyard Book.  In addition, I acquired some titles in the Eyewitness and Bill Nye DVD series.  There are many new titles in non-fiction including books about maps and atlases, books about the solar system, particularly relating to the new classification of planets and dwarf planets, and some books about the environment.  Please come in and take a look.