Thursday, May 20, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 5/19/2010

The Clock Without a Face

by Scott Teplin, Mac Barnett, and Eli Horowitz

"This much is true: twelve emerald-studded numbers, each handmade and one of a kind, have been buried in twelve holes, strewn across the country. These treasures will belong to whoever finds them first. The clues to their locations lurk within these thirteen floors." Thus states the back of The Clock Without a Face. This is a extremely interesting and unusual book. The reader is asked to, along with the two main characters, solve the mystery of who stole twelve emerald-encrusted numbers of a clock held on the thirteenth floor of an apartment building. Each new page includes an interview with the tenants of each floor, along with a drawing of their floor. With both the drawings and the text, the reader is then asked to solve the mystery! When the mystery is solved (and yes, the answer is given) a new mystery begins: where are the numbers buried? Each floor has clues within the drawings as to the real location of the buried numbers. And so begins a second (and much more difficult) adventure.

This book is extremely fun. While it can be read and solved in one sitting, the second mystery as to where the numbers are located is much more difficult. What is so interesting is that there are real numbers buried all around the United States. So, if the reader dares, she or he can go on a treasure hunt with The Clock Without a Face as a guide. Become one of the first to find the numbers' locations!

Early Readers 5/17/2010

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

My Friend is Sad is a book in the Elephant and Piggie series. Piggie stumbles on Gerald the Elephant who looks very, very sad. To cheer him up, Piggie dresses up as some of Gerald's favorite things - a cowboy, a clown, and a robot - but Gerald is still sad. Finally, Piggie comes as himself and Gerald is happy again. All Gerald wanted was to share the awesome creatures he was seeing with his best friend.
My Friend is Sad is a great book for those just learning to read. It is a short but fun tale. Mo Willems uses simplicity to tell the story of these friends, and even includes little humorous lines that adults will chuckle at. What a cute story!

Children's Illustrated 5/17/2010

The Shy Little Kitten

by Cathleen Schurr and Gustav Tenggren

The Shy Little Kitten is a Little Golden Book classic about, well, a shy little kitten. The shy little kitten had five black-and-white bold siblings, but she was striped and shy. When the family goes on a walk outside of the barn, the shy little kitten slowly walked at the back of the line, and ended up losing her family. In her trip back home, the shy little kitten ends up meeting a ton of new friends!

This is a book straight out of my childhood. Before I could read myself, my mom would read this book to me. I loved it so much that one of my first stuffed animals, a striped kitten, was dubbed Shy. The Shy Little Kitten is a great story about how even those who are shy can make new friends.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 5/10/2010

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

The Cardturner is a story about bridge. Not a bridge or bridges, but about the card game bridge that seems to be only popular amongst older people. In this book, Alton Richards is forced by his parents to be the cardturner for his blind (and rich) great uncle, in order to help his family get mentioned in his will. In the process, Alton learns the tragic past of his great-uncle and begins to learn the magic of bridge.

I have never played bridge before, and before this book, never even knew much about it, but Louis Sachar explains it in a way that makes the reader want to learn. Of course, The Cardturner is not all about bridge, it tells the story of a guy who is just trying to figure everything out. While maybe not as perfect as Holes, The Cardturner is another book well done by Louis Sachar.

Early Readers 5/10/2010

Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

In the continuation of My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the baby dragon leave Wild Island and search for Elmer's home, so that he could be back in time for his father's birthday. On their way, they get stranded on Feather Island, a island where escaped canaries go to. Elmer and the baby dragon help the canaries get better from a deadly case of curiosity, which has slowly been killing the canaries over the years.
Elmer and the Dragon is such a fun and creative follow up to My Father's Dragon. The adventures that Elmer and the baby dragon go on are simple and fun. They're perfect for early readers, but they're also fun stories for adults to read as well.

Children's Illustrated 5/10/2010

Children's Illustrated:

Phileas's Fortune by Valeria Docampo

Phileas's Fortune is the tale of a strange place where words are made in factory and sold in stores. In order to speak, one must buy or find words and swallow them. Phileas cannot afford expensive words, but he saves up three words to give as a gift to Cybele, his neighbor, to explain how he feels to her. When he gets there, he sees Oscar telling Cybele that he loves her with all of his heart. Can Phileas explain his feelings in three small words?

This book is a great book about self-expression. It teaches that it is not necessarily words that matter, but how one uses them. It is a simple book with wonderful illustrations by Agnes de Lestrade. I loved it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Christie's Staff Pick

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

By Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is the tale of four lonely souls in a Southern mill town, who all connect through one man, Mr. Singer, who is deaf and mute. Through the eyes of these people on the fringes of society, McCullers gives insight into race relations, poverty, and the woes of growing up during the 1930s.

I had been staring at McCullers' portrait for so long, intrigued, when I finally decided to read this book. Once I started, I could barely put it down. McCullers gives a beautiful and heart-wrenching insight into 1930s Southern America. While it is not a feel-good sort of story, McCullers book gives the reader a deeper understanding of what race and class meant to America during this time period.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Young Adult Fiction 5/3/2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia with their spoiled cousin Eustace. The three of them find themselves aboard the ship the Dawn Treader, along with their old friend Prince Caspian, on a journey into uncharted waters to search for seven lords that Caspian's evil uncle send away.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was always my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia. Each island that the characters travel to is absolutely fascinating and unique. The Dawn Treader is full of action, adventure, and wisdom. I would advise someone new to the Chronicles of Narnia to start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian to understand the back story, but even though The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is fifth in the series, it does not have to be the fifth one read.

Early Readers 5/3/2010

Little Bear's Visit by Else Homelund Minarik

Little Bear goes on a visit to see Grandmother and Grandfather Bear. They each tell him a story. Grandmother Bear tells the story of how Mother Bear took care of a baby robin. Grandfather Bear tells the tale of a goblin being chased in the woods--by his own shoes! Before he even realizes it, Little Bear is exhausted from his visit.
The Little Bear books are definitely classics for a reason. The stories are short, simple, and fun, and Maurice Sendak's illustrations are great as usual. This is most definitely a book that will be around for years to come.

Children's Illustrated 5/3/2010

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum has the perfect name, or she thinks she does. On her first day of school, the students all make fun of her 13 letter-long name (which is half of the alphabet!) and the fact that she's named after a flower. Chrysanthemum begins to hate her name, until she meets a teacher with an equally "weird" name.

I really like Kevin Henkes. His stories are full of great illustrations, good messages, and wit. While Chrysanthemum is written for children, adults can find some humor in Henkes' story as well. Chrysanthemum is a fun and colorful tale!