Versatile verse

wardlaw_won ton and chopstick

National Poetry Month (better known as April) celebrates a form that can be used in myriad ways to explore any topic imaginable. Here are two collections of poems with themes in common, and two books that use poetry to help tell a larger story. A kitty named Won Ton makes his second appearance in Lee […]

Review of Dinosaur vs. Mommy

shea_dinosaur vs. mommy

Dinosaur vs. Mommy by Bob Shea; illus. by the author Preschool   Disney-Hyperion   32 pp. 3/15   978-1-4231-6086-1   $16.99 In his sixth showdown, Shea’s feisty red dino challenges Mommy all day long. From “Mommy taking a quick shower!” to a trip to the store (“roar! cookies! roar! cereal! roar! chips!”) — poor Mommy doesn’t really stand a […]

Hoppy Easter

dunrea_ollie's easter eggs

Easter’s almost here! This updated Easter recommended reading list has selections suitable for both secular and religious celebrations of the holiday.   Preschool In Ollie’s Easter Eggs, Olivier Dunrea’s lovable goslings celebrate Easter by dyeing and hiding eggs. That is, except for little Ollie, who steals all the eggs, whispering “my egg” each time he […]

Dayenu, 2015!

Korngold_Seder in the Desert

Here’s an updated list of Passover books to nibble on when the matzo runs dry.   Preschool Two Shalom Sesame series entries, written by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer and illustrated by Tom Leigh, follow Sesame Street characters in Israel as they learn about doing good deeds. In It’s a Mitzvah, Grover!, Grover and friends […]

Signs of springtime: bicycles

bikes

The snow is mostly gone, but here’s how we know it’s really springtime in Boston! While we’re waiting on those bicycles, here are some books about them. Reviews are from the Horn Book Guide Online.   Picture Books Davies, Matt Ben Rides On 32 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2013. ISBN 978-1-59643-794-4 Gr. K–3 Davies puts his […]

Review of Please Excuse This Poem

lauer_please excuse this poem

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick High School   Viking   289 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g “Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning […]

Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers

almond_tight-rope walkers

The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]

Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers

raybuck_heartbeat

Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in verse has perhaps half the […]

Review of Use Your Words, Sophie!

wells_use your words sophie2

Use Your Words, Sophie! by Rosemary Wells; illus. by the author Preschool   Viking   24 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01663-1   $16.99   g Mouse-child Sophie uses lots of words. She welcomes her new baby sister home from the hospital in Jellyfish language (“Jubbabubba”); she growls that she’s “too big for naps” in Hyena language (“Grabvjkloz!”). But her distracted parents […]

Review of In Mary’s Garden

kugler_in mary's garden

In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kügler and Carson Kügler; illus. by the authors Primary   Houghton   32 pp. 3/15   978-0-544-27220-0   $16.99 As a girl, Mary “was happiest when her hands were busy making, building, creating things.” As she grew up and traveled around the world, those early interests developed into a love for art. She returns […]