Monday, April 26, 2010

Christie's Staff Pick 4/25/2010

Breakfast of Champions

By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

For his fiftieth birthday, Kurt Vonnegut wrote Breakfast of Champions in order to clear out all of the junk in his head. It is the story of the meeting of two men, Kilgore Trout, a failed science fiction writer and Dwayne Hoover, a rich car salesman on the brink of insanity.

Anyone who knows me will probably say that I have a bit of an obsession with Kurt Vonnegut, to the point that I have a tattoo dedicated to Breakfast of Champtons on the inside of my right arm. What I love so much about this book is that Vonnegut takes a seemingly ridiculous story and reveals deep truths about human nature and American culture. One word of warning: This book is a lot funnier if you have read Vonnegut before. I would suggest reading Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five before reading this gem of a book.

Young Adult Fiction 4/25/2010

Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats has the worst luck. He is sent to Camp Green Lake, a boys' detention facility, after being falsely accused of stealing the smelly secrets of a famous basketball player. At Camp Green Lake, Stanley (along with the other "campers") is forced to dig a hole a day (five feet wide, five feet deep) in the wasteland that used to be Green Lake. While Camp Green Lake is not a Girl Scouts Camp, neither is it without its secrets...

Holes is probably one of my favorite children's books of all time. Sachar combines mystery with family history with magic in this great story of a boy with really, really bad luck. I would highly recommend this book for anyone middle school age and up.

Early Readers 4/25/2010

Arthur's New Puppy by Marc Brown

Arthur is so excited to have a new puppy. That is, until Pal leaves messes all around the house and destroys the new curtains. Arthur becomes very worried that his parents will send his problem puppy away. What will he do?

Arthur's New Puppy is a great book to teach early readers about responsibility. Instead of despairing over the puppy's lack of control, Arthur decides to do his very best to train him. This is a cute tale of a boy and the love he has for his dog.

Children's Illustrated 4/26/2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

One evening, Harold decides to go on a moonlit stroll. This begins an adventure that he creates solely with his purple crayon. His drawings get him in and out of trouble, before he decides to go searching for his bedroom window to go to sleep.

This is a very fun and creative book. The illustrations consist solely of Harold and his purple crayon drawings. When he is hungry, he draws a picnic, when he is full, he draws animals to finish his picnic so the food does not go to waste. Perfect for the child just learning to color! Harold and the Purple Crayon reminds us what sort of adventures we can go on with just our imagination.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 4/19/2010

The 39 Clues #1: The Maze of Bones

by Rick Riordan

When Amy and Dan Cahill's beloved grandmother, Grace, dies, they hope to inherit something special to remind themselves of her. Instead, they, along with a roomful of their distant relatives, are given the choice to take one million dollars or embark on a quest to find the 39 clues and find the secret of the Cahill family, one of the most powerful families in the world.

The Maze of Bones is the first in a series written by all different children's book authors. It is a book that is sure to get you addicted. Once you read the first clue, you can't stop! It's a great series to get your child into reading.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Early Reader 4/19/2010

Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

One day, Danny goes to the museum to see what is inside. He sees lots of exhibits - bears, Indians, and eskimos, but his favorite one was the dinosaurs. Danny thinks about how fun it would be if dinosaurs were real and could play with him, when a dinosaur tells him it would be fun to play with him, too.

Danny and the Dinosaur is a great book for a young reader with a great imagination. The adventures that Danny and his dinosaur go on are fun (and safe) and enjoyable to read about

Children's Illustrated 4/19/2010

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales byJohn Scieszka and Lane Smith

Forget the fairy tales that you know and love! The Stinky Cheese Man takes fairy tale favorites and retells them in a fairly stupid way. Scieska and Smith tell the story of the ugly duckling who really was just really ugly, Little Red Riding Shorts, and many more!

If your child has a great sense of humor, this Caldecott Honor book will definitely be laugh out loud funny for them. With the narrator Jack constantly butting in and hilarious illustrations, this book really is great fun.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christie's Pick 4/14/2010

Of Mice and Men

By John Steinbeck

"Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus' somethin' that was his. Somethin' he could live on and there couldn't nobody throw him off"

George and Lennie are unlikely friends. Lennie is a huge man with brute strength but a low IQ. George is small and the one that forms all of their plans. They go from town to town, looking for work, hoping that one day they would be able to save up money to own a farm of their own.

While Of Mice and Men is a short book, it is not lacking depth. Steinbeck gives the reader an interesting look into the "American Dream," and how it existed in the first half of the twentieth century. Every single scene of the book is an important set-up for his powerful conclusion. Of Mice and Men is a great introduction to the genius of John Steinbeck.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 4/12/2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. In this Newberry award-winning book, Neil Gaiman tells the story of Bod, short for Nobody, who grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts. When Bod crawls out of his crib as a baby, his family is murdered by a strange man named "Jack." The ghosts of Bod's family beg the inhabitants of the graveyard to care for him, and so Bod grows up away from normal humans.

While a bit spooky, The Graveyard Book is definitely an interesting read. It comes with beautiful, sort of graphic novelesque illustrations by Dave McKean. This is a great book for young adults who are interested in something a bit different than the norm, and are not afraid of ghosts.

Early Reader 4/12/2010

Cam Jansen: The Chocolate Fudge Mystery

by David A. Adler

Cam Jansen has a special talent. She is able to look at an object, close her eyes, say "click," and store a mental photograph of what she just saw. This talent helps her remember things quite well, but also helps her solve mysteries
In The Chocolate Fudge Mystery, Cam and her friend Eric are going door to door to sell fudge and rice cakes to support Ride and Read, a program that helps provide rides for elderly people to go to the library. As Cam and Eric collect money for the program, they come across a house that should be empty that seems to have someone inside. Who could it be?

Children's Illustrated 4/12/2010

Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans

When the new stock of illustrated books came in, I have to admit I was like a kid in a candy story. I grabbed Madeleine and sat on the floor right away and read it. It's been years since I last read it, and I was most definitely not disappointed. Madeleine is an adorable tale with fantastic illustrations.

Madeleine is the tale of a house in which twelve little girls live. The youngest one, Madeleine, seems to be afraid of nothing. That is, until one night, when Miss Clavel wakes up to hear Madeleine crying. Madeleine needs to get her appendix removed and is rushed to the hospital.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 4/5/2010

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

If you were browsing the children's room while I was working, I would have probably told you that Stargirl is one of my favorite books and that I think every girl (no matter how old she is) needs to read it at some point. As wonderful as Stargirl is, Spinelli's sequel, Love, Stargirl does not disappoint.

Love, Stargirl takes place a few months after when Stargirl ends. Stargirl has moved to a new town and is getting over the loss of Leo (sorry for the spoiler if you still haven't read Stargirl). What is so fantastic about this book is that, unlike Stargirl, it is told from Stargirl's perspective. The character that one grows to love in the first book becomes more human. She cries and she has bad days, but, despite this, Stargirl is still a great role model for girls of any age.

Early Readers 4/5/2010

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

Henry is lonely. He has no brothers and sisters, no children live on his street, and he has no pets. Because Henry was so lonely, his parents let him get a pet dog to keep him company. Thus begins the friendship with Henry and Mudge, the 180 pound, 3 foot tall, drooling dog.
Henry and Mudge is a cute story about the love between a boy and his dog. They are best friends and constantly make each other happy. It is a great story for children who are just learning to read

Children's Illustrated 4/5/2010

Tillie and the Wall by Leo Lionni

For as long as the mice remember, there has been a wall. No one could see beyond the wall, it was too tall and too long. The mice never questioned what was on the other side; they mostly forgot that the wall even existed. That, is, until Tillie became curious. She tried everything she could to see beyond the wall until she dug a big hole under it. What Tillie found made her a hero to the mice.

Once again, Leo Lionni does not fail. His collage illustrations along with this creative story are perfect for the young reader (along with the old!) This tale is timeless. It inspires the reader to think outside of the box (or the wall). I would highly recommend Tillie and the Wall.