Friday, August 11, 2017

Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex

Finally, Adam Rex has addressed the truth of the matter in a hilarious picture book called Nothing Rhymes With Orange. Maybe, you too, have tried to rhyme orange before, with little success? But does Rex succeed?
The book starts off with the rhyming line “Who wouldn’t travel anywhere to get an apple or a pear?” On the second page, the rhyme continues, “And if that chum hands you a plum, be fair and share that treat!” Stage left, an orange wearing boots peeks around the corner of the page.  Then, he asks, “Hey, are you going to need me for this book?” But all the other fruit ignore him, and carry on singing the refrain found throughout the book, which is “Fruit! They’re healthy happy colorful and cute!” And the way Rex illustrates the fruit (by drawing eyes, mouths, arms, and legs onto a photograph of real fruit, they do indeed look cute and happy). But poor orange is left out of the singalong.
The book takes an odd turn featuring a rhyme of “peachy” with “Friedrich Nietzsche,” as if to emphasize the ridiculousness that Nietzsche gets some prime-time space in a picture book for children, but orange is still being ignored! When the pear turns into a pearwolf, the orange says, “This book’s sorta gone off the rails.” But that’s what I love about it.
At the end of the book, the reader sees orange, alone on the white page, looking downcast and glum. Before long, the other fruit find him, singing, “But the fruit are feeling rotten, ‘cause there’s someone we’ve forgotten!”
Of course, it’s orange. But I’m not going to tell you if he rhymes with anything!

*Advisory: Laughter may ensue

Circle, Triangle, Elephant!: A Book of Shapes & Surprises

A simple book of shapes turns into a delightful game in Circle, Triangle, Elephant by Kenji Oikawa and Mayuko Takeuchi. A vibrant board book for children ages 0-3, it is indeed a “Book of Shapes and Surprises.” It begins innocently enough, with a red triangle balanced on top of a pink circle balanced on top of a blue square. The next page is not too different, with the order being “circle rectangle triangle.” But, turn the page and there’s an elephant?! Smack dab between a triangle and a circle. Each page turn brings more unexpected surprises, such as a boat, a face, and lemons! This book is a great way to teach children to recognize basic shapes even when the order and color of the shapes change. Read this outloud enough times, and soon, your child will be pointing at the shapes (and other surprises), reading, “Circle, Triangle, Elephant!”

Friday, June 23, 2017

On the Spot: Countless Funny Stories by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Lea Redmond, illustrated by Sanne Te Loo

Perhaps you may know  the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, where a book could have a wide variety of endings. ON THE SPOT: COUNTLESS FUNNY STORIES by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Lea Redmond, and illustrated by Sanne te Loo is a “choose your own adventure” story for readers ages 4 to 7, where no two tellings will be the same. Even better? It’s a book the reader can play as a game. To play ON THE SPOT, the reader must gather an assortment of objects. No object is too mundane. A button can be just as exciting as a plastic dinosaur. On each page is a blank “spot”. This is where the reader places the object of their choice, making for an equally hilarious read.

For example: “I headed to the kitchen to fill my rumbling tummy. I poured a big bowl of…(PENNIES) Super-duper yummy!”

The penny could be substituted for a big-bowl of crayons, or a big bowl of legos. But it doesn’t matter what is actually on the spot because it will ensure giggles from everyone reading. The book follows the adventures of a little girl throughout her day as she eats, runs, and plays, but as it is written in the first-person, will have all readers identifying as the main character. With each reading, and with each object placed “on the spot,” the reader becomes the character in the story, choosing the direction the story will go. If found objects are not readily available, there are reusable stickers in the back of the book.

So now that you KNOW you can choose your own adventure, go, read and play, ON THE SPOT!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Laurel Snyder has written a middle grade novel that is equal parts mystery and coming-of-age story. Nine orphans live on the island. No more. No less. And they don't know how they came to be on this island, except for the changing ceremony once a year. The story follows Jinny, the eldest orphan on this idyllic island where food is plentiful and the snakes don’t bite. The only clue to an outside world is the library cabin, where Jinny reads books that used to be owned by a girl named Abigail. That, and the fact that each year, at the changing ceremony, a small child arrives in a boat to stay on the island, while the Elder steps into the boat to be whisked away over the horizon and into the unknown. Jinny knows she is supposed to leave, but she does not believe that Ess (the child she is charged to care for) is ready to be on her own. So when the boat arrives with a new child...Jinny doesn’t step into the boat. When she refuses to leave the island, there is no longer enough food, the snakes are no longer docile, and the cliffs and the calm water provide real danger.

How did these children come to be on this island? Who is controlling the mysterious boat? And why can there only be nine children, or the balance is upset? With gorgeous imagery and beautiful language, Snyder creates an atmosphere that is both enchanting and eerie. Part summer camp without adults, part survivor for kids, kids ages 10 and up will enjoy this read.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley is one of the best Young Adult books I have read this year. Gorgeous prose, great characters, and an incredible setting, you will be unable to put this book down.
Before the opening of the novel, the reader is informed that three years prior, Rachel wrote a love letter to her best friend, Henry. And she put this love letter inside of a book inside Howling Books, in the Letter Library, where patrons of the secondhand bookshop write letters to each other, leaving them inside the books, or they underline favorite passages. That letter never got delivered. So she moved away to the coast of Australia. But when tragedy strikes her family, and she loses her brother Cal, she fails her 12th year, and instead of going to college, moves to the city to live with her aunt and work. She finds herself, after three years of silence between her and Henry, her former best friend, back at Howling Books, which is the bookshop that Henry’s family owns. What happened to the letter she wrote all those years ago? What will happen to Henry and his family, and the patrons of the Letter Library, if the bookshop goes out of business?
Words in Deep Blue is an ode to the written word, to books, to everything people who are a little book crazy (like you and me) love.

When you love a story, you return to the lines that you love, to the well-worn pages that hold your heart. This book will hold the hearts of its readers. For the readers who underline, highlight, write notes, and pass along their favorite books--this story is for you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Willy Wonka is Searching for FIVE New Golden Ticket Winners!

What’s that, you say? A chance to win a WILLY WONKA GOLDEN TICKET?? A trip to New York City or London? A chance for YOUR story idea to be made into a book, written by Adam Gidwitz, author of THE INQUISITOR'S TALE, a play, a movie, a candy, or a minecraft game?? How do you win this elusive ticket? By using your imagination through the Roald Dahl Imaginormous Challenge.  See below for details.

The Roald Dahl Imaginormous Challenge is a golden ticket challenge for kids all over the US!
It's geared towards ages 5-12 and the idea is to get kids to think of a story they would love to write. It doesn’t have to be a complete idea—just the beginning of a story. Kids can submit their ideas (with parental/guardian help and approval) online at: (Also check out the website for inspirations and ideas!)
They'll be entered to win prizes for their classrooms, a trip to a Broadway showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or even a trip to London or New York City for them and their family. The key thing to know about timing here is that the contest runs until THE END OF THIS MONTH, May 31st. So get those ticket-winning ideas in ASAP!

**Challenge is for US only, ages 5-12, but anyone can help spread the word/share with the kids in their lives!

**Contest ends May 31st!

**Idea can be up to 100 words max. 

**Idea doesn’t have to be a whole story but enough to give a good idea about where the story would go. 

**Everyone should check out for contest rules, examples and resources for parents and teachers.

**Kids can submit as many times as they want, to the various categories. 

**There will be FIVE winners chosen—one winner for each of the five categories. 

**Children will obviously need adult help entering and resources for adults can be found on the Imaginormous website. 

**It’s important to the Roald Dahl Literary Estate that kids of all levels/walks of life are encouraged to enter. The idea will not be judged on spelling or grammar, just the idea itself.

**The challenge is not just for writers/artists—the challenge prizes are for kids interested in music, video games, candy, and more!

**Kids should be encouraged to use post-its (dark blue, light blue and yellow colors encouraged), as well as an easy to create idea book (can be created with a folded piece of printer paper) to come up with ideas and brainstorm. 


Friday, May 12, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, pictures by Adam Rex

Rock, paper, scissors, go! How many children have settled disputes with a simple round of rock, paper, scissors? Rock beats scissors, but paper beats rock. And scissors can beat paper. It’s a game that teaches that a simple sheet of paper can cover the brute force of rock, but that even paper isn’t invulnerable to the swift slice of scissors. But where did this game originate? Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex have teamed up to give readers the answer in a picture book called The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It begins “long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard,” where a warrior named ROCK looks for a challenger. He battles a clothespin, yelling, “drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!” Of course, Clothespin is no match for Rock, and Rock is victorious. Next, Rock challenges an apricot, and of course, apricot gets smooshed. Beating these opponents brings Rock no joy, so he journeys on his way.

The point of view switches from Rock to the “Empire of Mom’s Home Office, [where] on a lonely and windswept Desk Mountain, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was Paper.” The reader is introduced to paper (a sticky-note with eyes and a nose drawn on him), who is the “smartest warrior” in the land, and like Rock, Paper is also sad that nobody can outwit him. Paper fights computer printer, who cries, “Noooo! Not a Paper Jam!” And Paper battles a half-eaten bag of trail mix in the trash, and no surprise, Paper wins. But, lonely and still undefeated, Paper leaves the Empire of Mom’s Home Office in search of another battle.

Lastly, in the “Kitchen realm in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. They called her Scissors.” Scissors defeats tape, she climbs up to the freezer and defeats dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and afterwards, she wonders, “Am I so good that not even Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Nuggets can beat me?”

What will happen when the three warriors meet in the “great cavern of Two-Car Garage”? Will they find happiness in remaining undefeated? I think you know the answer, but, as always, it’s still epic to watch a battle of ROCK! PAPER! SCISSORS! unfold.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Round by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

By just glancing at the cover of ROUND by Joyce Sidman, the reader is in for a treat. This picture book is particularly wonderful for small children who may be learning their shapes! In particular, ROUND things. Joyce Sidman is an expert at writing about the natural world in a lyrical way. In addition to the plethora of picture books she has written, her book, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, was awarded a Newbery Honor Medal in 2011.

This whole book will help children look at the world around them and start thinking about the different shapes in nature. As the reader discovers by following a little girl in green, polka-dotted overalls, there are quite a lot of round things to be found in nature. She notices the roundness of an egg, the swirls on a turtle’s back, the spots on a mushroom, the shape of sunflowers, that are round. One of the most beautiful lines is when the child’s father carries her on his shoulders, and the little girl points at the moon, hanging yellow in the blue sky. The lines read:

“Or show themselves,
night after night,
rounder and rounder,
until the whole sky holds its breath.”

But roundness is not limited to physical objects in the natural world. The little girl discovers that a circle of friends is round, and a hug can be round, too.

Taeeun Yoo’s illustrations go perfectly with Sidman’s words. The bright colors and simple shapes that she chooses to illustrate make this book perfect for a young child.