Sunday, December 4, 2011


Blessings to you and yours this holiday season from all of us at the Lake County Public Library. Here are some books available to mark this wonderful season! Go to and with your library card number and PIN place a hold for easy pickup at your local branch. I'll see you in the New Year!

Ho-Ho-Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Lexile.....AD650          Pages.....32          Ages.....3-6
AR Quiz No. 109976 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.2 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

The first thing I noticed about Fletcher and the Falling Leaves was the illustration - the watercolor paintings are beautifully done in stunning autumn colors.  Fletcher, a young fox pup, is one of the cutest things on four feet!

The story opens with Fletcher noticing the almost daily differences in the world around him - the changing colors, the crisper sounds as he walks around, and his favorite tree is getting dry and brown.  Fletcher is very worried about his tree and tells his mother that he thinks his tree is sick.  She tells him, "'Don't worry, it's only autumn.'"  Fletcher accepts this thinking it's something that will get better soon.  When it doesn't, and the leaves start falling off the tree, poor Fletcher gets more and more distressed, trying to "fix" the tree by tying the leaves back on.  Then the squirrel takes some of the leaves for his nest and the porcupine takes some to keep warm.  This causes Fletcher to become more upset.  "'Help! Help!  The wind, the squirrel, and the porcupine are stealing our leaves,' cried Fletcher."

As the story goes on the tree has lost all of its leaves and Fletcher is despondent, thinking he has failed his friend.  One morning, though, he gets out of bed and goes to check on the tree and it is covered in icicles, sparkling in the early morning sun.  "'You are more beautiful than ever,' whispered Fletcher.  'But are you all right?'"  Nodding with the breeze the tree answers, making the icicles tinkle together with a sound like laughter.  At last, Fletcher knows his friend is okay and his worry is over.

I am rather conflicted about this book.  On one hand, as I have said, the illustrations are both beautiful and friendly.  Also, there are good lessons a child can learn if the book is read with an adult.  There is the lesson of caring for others, doing your best to help them.  You could even, depending on the age of the child, get into the idea that sometimes even if you do your best it might not be enough, but that there is no shame in it if they know they've done their very best.  There is also the lesson of the changing seasons and the physical changes that take place in the world around them.

However, what disturbs me is that even though Fletcher is a pup and the others in the story seem to be adult - Mother, Squirrel, and Porcupine - no one explains to Fletcher, despite his apparent distress, that all of what is happening is natural and that his friend is just fine.  I am concerned some children, especially the more sensitive ones, may experience some distress of their own if left to read the book alone.

I like Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, I really do.  Maybe I'm being too sensitive myself, but I feel it is a book best read together, child and adult.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

You can find Fletcher and the Falling Leaves at the Lake County Public Library or click here
 and with your library card number and PIN, reserve a copy for pickup at your local branch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BIG WORDS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell

Lexile    Not Rated          Pages    40          Ages     4-7
AR Quiz No. 127019 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.6 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

I loved this book! It's funny and it can be slightly irreverent, but each 2-page spread has a lesson within a lesson. Not only does it expand your child's vocabulary, the words chosen convey principles that our children need to learn in their journey to becoming productive members of society - privacy, consequence, cooperate, persevere, respect and inappropriate to name a few.

Ms. Curtis also explains how a little word can have a BIG meaning - "Love is your family, your siblings, your friends.  Love is your ocean without any end."  Not all big words are big!

Laura Cornell's illustrations are brilliant! While some might find them a little busy, if you look closely you'll find all sorts of fun. You can use them as a search and find puzzle - in the classroom scene on the page spread for "consequence" you'll find a sign for a missing frog and her seven tadpoles. Upon closer inspection you will find them hiding in various places around the room.  Some of the humor is geared more toward the adults - "'I'm RESPONSIBLE,' you say when you pick up your toys" and all parents should recognize the picture of toys, all marked as "mine" or "not mine." Sound familiar? : )

Big Words for Little People is the eighth book by the Curtis/Cornell team and I think it's a real winner! You can find it at the Lake County Public Library or with your library card number and PIN, you can click here and reserve a copy for quick pick-up from the Circulation Desk at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Monday, September 19, 2011

TWEAK TWEAK by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Lexile    Not Rated          Pages    40          Ages     3-6
AR Quiz No. 144013 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 1.9 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Mama Elephant and Little Elephant go out for a walk, Mama telling Little Elephant, "Hold on to my tail. If you want to ask me a question, tweak twice."  Along the way they see a frog, a monkey, a songbird, a butterfly, and a crocodile. "Tweak, tweak!" With a child's typical curiosity, Little Elephant wants to know about each one. "What is that? What is it doing?" Mama patiently answers each question. "That is a frog. It is jumping," or "That is a butterfly flying high in the sky." Little Elephant then asks, "Can I do that?" while fantasizing himself jumping or flying or climbing a tree. Mama Elephant explains that no, he cannot do that because he is not a frog (monkey, songbird, etc.) BUT he can do THIS! She then proceeds to show him something he can do because he is an elephant and asking him how he likes it. The story closes with Little Elephant leading the way home full of confidence and happy with being himself.

I like this book because it shows children that not everyone is good at everything, but that everyone is good at something. I think that sometimes we parents push children to excel at everything. The truth is, some people are good at one thing while not being very good at others. And that is nothing to be ashamed of! I, for one, love to read and I am, and always have been, good at it. On the other hand, I have ALWAYS had a rocky relationship with math - hence the fact I work at a library, not an accountant's office! : )

Sergio Ruzzier's illustrations are cute, friendly and eye-catching. The "fantasy" pictures are rather reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, with purple trees, giant flowers, fish with noses and all other manner of imaginative things.

I would highly recommend Tweak Tweak as part of any one's permanent collection.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Tweak Tweak can be found at the Lake County Public Library, or click here to use your library card number and PIN to reserve a copy for pick-up at your nearest branch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIN OR LOSE BY HOW YOU CHOOSE! by Judge Judy Sheindlin, illustrated by Bob Tore

Lexile    Not Rated
Pages    80
Ages     7-12

This is a great book for parents to read and discuss with their children. Written by Judge Judy Sheindlin of television fame (I love Judge Judy!), Win or Lose by How You Choose! presents moral and/or safety issues faced by today's children: "All your friends are smoking. They are making fun of you because you are not," or "You are home alone and someone knocks on the door." The scariest and I feel one of the most important issues she opens for discussion is, "You find a handgun in your father's closet." Yikes!

The questions are presented in a multiple-choice format with some of the answers laugh-out-loud funny. Usually the answer is obvious. But some of the questions get into a gray area where more than one answer may be appropriate, dependent upon the parents' rules or wishes. The simple line-drawing illustrations by Bob Tore give the book a friendly look, making it seem like fun rather than like a lesson.

Win or Lose by How You Choose! is not a book that will work well for children to read alone, and many of the 36 situations are geared toward the younger of the 7-12 age group. But as a tool to instill fairness, honesty, kindness and other desirable traits, you can't do much better than the good, common sense of Judge Judy.

You can find Win or Lose by How You Choose! at the Lake County Public Library or click here and with your library card number and PIN reserve a copy for pick-up at your nearest branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MANANA, IGUANA by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by Ethan Long

Lexile    AD370          Pages    30          Ages     4-8
 AR Quiz No. 80866 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 1.9 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, RV, VP

This is a great book to introduce a first foreign language to your little ones.  Using a liberal sprinkling of basic Spanish words - days of the week, animals, and short, familiar phrases, the author weaves a Little Red Hen type tale that is not only fun but also carries a good lesson.

"On Monday, lunes, Iguana twitched her tail happily.  'Let's celebrate spring with a party on Saturday.'"  Her friends Conejo (rabbit), Tortuga (tortoise), and Culebra (snake) think it's a great idea - "Yes! Let's!"  But when Iguana asks who will help write the invitations, no one is willing.  "Yo no, Not I," say her friends, all giving excuses as to why they can't help.  "I'd do it too fast," says Conejo.  "I'd do it too slow," says Tortuga, while Culebra says, "I'll do it manana, Iguana, if I grow some arms!"   The same thing happens with all of the party preparations throughout the week, the excuse always being the same.

When Saturday (sabado) arrives all of Iguanas friends are excited.  "We're ready for our fiesta, let's go greet our guests!"

Iguana says, "NO!  I did everything, and now I, and I alone, will greet my guests at my fiesta!" and proceeds to do just that.  Everyone has a great time - everyone that is, except Conejo, Tortuga, and Culebra who go and hide, watching the festivities but not participating.

When the fiesta is over Iguana says, "I'm too tired to clean up.  I'll do it manana," and is soon asleep.

From his hiding place Conejo says, "Iguana's really worn out!" and Tortuga comes out of his shell saying, "She should be.  She did everything."  Her friends realize how hard Iguana worked while they did nothing but play and watch, expecting to reap the rewards of her hard work.  Ashamed, they work all night to clean up the mess from the festivities while Iguana sleeps.  When she awakens she is amazed.  "Gracias! Thank you!" she says.  "Who wants to share the leftovers with me for breakfast?"  They all answer, "Yo si! I will!" and they all sit down and enjoy together as friends should.

The artwork in Manana, Iguana is simply amazing.  Brightly colored and with a flavor of the Southwest, Ethan Long captures facial expressions to perfection, from everyone's excitement about the party, to Iguana's frustration at having to do everything, to her friends' shame at having done nothing. Children will laugh at the idea of animals playing Tic, Tac, Toe and drawing graffiti on a cactus (another lesson that could be discussed!)

The lesson of being rewarded only for what you work for is one that is being lost in today's world. I think we need to get back to the days when children learned about disappointment and frustration right alongside happiness and pride in a job well done, like Iguana's friends did. Manana, Iguana gets that lesson across in a fun and sometimes funny way. There is a glossary of the Spanish words used at the front of the book making it simple to translate the Spanish words used. I liked it so much I'm going to purchase a copy for my permanent collection!

Hard Work and Feliz Lectura!
Miss Laurie

Manana, Iguana is available at any branch of the Lake County Public Library, or click here and with your library card number and PIN reserve your copy for easy pickup at the Circulation Desk. In most cases, if we don't have a copy we can get it manana! : )

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I LIKE MYSELF! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

Lexile    Not Rated
Pages    32
Ages     3-8

"Even when I look a mess, I still don't like me any less, 'cause nothing in this world, you know, can change what's deep inside, and so . . . ."

This little girl knows what's really important! I absolutely love this book from cover to cover - the message is something we need to instill in all of our children and the illustrations are colorful and fun. "I Like Myself!" is rated as being for ages 3-8 but I think it carries a message that is ageless. We all need to love ourselves just as we are - warts, wrinkles, and all!

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie (who likes herself! : ))

"I Like Myself!" is available through the Lake County Public Library. Visit any branch or click here to place a hold for pickup at your favorite branch.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am on vacation this week visiting family in Tennessee. I believe I will have to look at farm books when I get back. Everyone have a fun and safe Independence Day and I'll see you on the 5th or there'bouts!

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Lexile    Not Rated
Pages    32
Ages     4-7

This was a really fun bedtime story!   How many times have you said, "Time for bed," only to hear, "Mom!  Just five more minutes, please? Please??
PLE-E-E-ASE!?!?"  : )

Bedtime For Mommy reverses the roles, with the daughter trying to get Mommy through the bath and bedtime ritual.  From "five more minutes" to "Can I have a glass of water?" to the eventual kiss goodnight, kids and parents alike will recognize the tricks Mommy uses to get extra time, tickling funnybones along the way, making for a fun and stress-free bedtime.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Bedtime For Mommy can be found at any Lake County Public Library branch, or click here and with your library card number and PIN, order for quick and easy pick-up at the branch circulation desk.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Clink by Kelly DiPucchio and Matthew Myers

Lexile    Not Rated          Pages    32          Ages     4-8
DiPucchio, Kelly
AR Quiz No. 146538 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.1 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

When Clink was first built he was a top-of-the-line robot. He was even able to make toast and play music at the same time! Now, many years later, like all things "tech" he is out of date and sits on the shelf gathering dust. People want the more dazzling robots - the ones that will do things like bake cookies or play baseball or help with homework.

One by one, Clink's friends find homes with happy families. Clink isn't programmed to cry but he still manages to leak rusty tears when they leave.  Finally Clink gives up and turns himself off.

One day a boy comes into the store who comes in often but never buys anything.  The owner shows him all of the fancy new robots but he doesn't like anything he sees. As he is getting ready to leave the store, he pulls a harmonica out of his pocket and starts playing. When Clink hears the music he gets an idea. He turns himself on, creaks to a standing position, shakes off the dust, and starts playing a joyful tune.

The boy turns around and there is Clink singing and dancing. "I want that one!" he says. The owner tells him that Clink is old and missing parts and why would he want that one? "He's PERFECT," the boy says. He bundles Clink up and takes him home where Clink discovers that his new friend, Milton, is good at fixing things and also loves to dance!

The first thing that drew me to this book is that Clink is so cute! By today's sleek standards, Clink is downright old-fashioned, but he is colorful and friendly looking. After that, I like the message that there is someone out there for everyone, even if they aren't fancy or fashionable. Too often children feel pressured to be like the "in crowd" instead of just being themselves.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Clink is available at the Lake County Public Library. Click here and with your library card number and PIN you can reserve a copy for pickup at your favorite branch.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller

Lexile    AD460          Pages    32          Ages     4-8
AR Quiz No. 159021 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.7 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Do Unto Otters is the perfect book to introduce young children to manners.

Rabbit is hopping his way home, singing his little song, "Doo-Dee-Doo, Doo-Dee-Doo" when suddenly, "Doo-Dee-DONK!"  He gets home and finds a surprise - the Otter family has moved in next door. Rabbit gets worried because he doesn't know anything about otters and is afraid they won't get along.

He talks to his friend Owl who tells him, "Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you." Rabbit asks what that means and Owl tells him it means to treat the Otters the same way he would want the Otters to treat him. Rabbit asks himself how he would like the Otters to treat him. He comes up with a list that includes being friendly, polite, honest, considerate and more.

The humor in Ms. Keller's illustrations and situations make learning about manners fun. Some of the text can be read in an exaggerated manner with big, sweeping movements to get extra giggles.

Do Unto Otters is full of fun and good lessons and I would consider it a must for any well-stocked bookshelf.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

You can get a copy of Do Unto Otters at the Lake County Public Library or click here and with your library card number and PIN reserve a copy for pick-up at your favorite branch.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin

Lexile    Not Rated          Pages    30          Ages     4-8
AR Quiz No. 121390 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.5 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, RV

"Ruthie loved tiny things - the tinier the better." So when she is playing on the school playground and finds a teeny, tiny camera, she can't believe it; how lucky can a little fox get? She puts her eye to the camera and starts snapping off pictures - clouds, bugs, the school.  But when she tries to take Martin's picture he says, "Hey, that's my camera!" Then comes what everyone who has dealt with children hears at one time or another:  Ruthie lies.

"No it's not, it's mine," says Ruthie.
Martin replies, "Give it to me, it's mine!"
"It is not!"
"Is too!"
"No it's NOT!" Ruthie insists and runs to the classroom.

The teacher asks what they are arguing about and Martin tells her that he got a camera for his birthday and he dropped it on the playground and now Ruthie has it. Ruthie lies again, yelling, "It's mine! I got it for MY birthday!" Mrs. Olsen takes the camera saying, "It can't belong to both of you. I'll keep it for now and we'll talk about it tomorrow."

Ruthie knows she lied and she doesn't feel very good about it. She can't concentrate, time drags, she can't eat - not even her favorite macaroni and cheese. Finally at bedtime Ruthie starts crying and tells her parents what happened. They ask her if she knows what went wrong and she replies that she said it was her camera when it wasn't. Papa says, "It will be okay. You made a mistake, but tomorrow you can fix it."

The next morning Ruthie goes to Mrs. Olsen and confesses what she did. Mrs. Olsen gives her a hug and tells her how brave it was to admit her mistake and tell the truth. Ruthie then apologizes to Martin and he forgives her. Ruthie immediately starts feeling better - her concentration returns, her stomach doesn't hurt anymore, and she has fun the rest of the day.

This is a great book to introduce to your children the importance of telling the truth and not taking things that don't belong to you. The illustrations get the lesson across in a non-threatening way, the animals being some of the cutest I've ever seen. Children at the older end of the age scale will probably relate to how Ruthie felt when she lied, while some of the younger ones may not have experienced those feelings yet. This book would be an excellent addition to your shelf.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get your copy of Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie at the Lake County Public Library, or click here and with your library card number and PIN, reserve a copy for quick pick-up at the Circulation desk at your favorite branch.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Koko's Story by Dr. Francine Patterson, photographs by Dr. Ronald H. Cohn

Lexile    Not Rated
Pages    40
Ages     9-12  

This is a true story about Koko, a gorilla who was taught American Sign Language by the author, Dr. Francine Patterson. They started with just three words - food, drink, and more. After working with Koko about one month, one morning when she was cutting fruit for Koko's breakfast, Koko signed "food." Dr. Patterson was ecstatic! When Koko saw how happy she was, she was so happy and excited that she plunked a bucket over her head and ran gleefully around the room.

Koko has now learned over 500 signs. It's truly amazing how she can reason and communicate. She jokes, rhymes, and she even lies! People don't often think of animals having personalities, but Koko proves that animals can have personalities just as complex as any person's. When Dr. Patterson gets a second gorilla, Michael, Koko displays signs of jealousy, calling Michael mean names like "Stupid Toilet" and refusing to share her toys.

Koko's Story is a really fun book and the photographs of her with her frog (yes, she had a pet frog!) or her kitten are just cute as can be. This book along with the companion book, Koko's Kitten, is just as fun for adults as it is for children.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get Koko's Story at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for pick-up at your local branch.

Monday, May 30, 2011

THE DUMB BUNNIES GO TO THE ZOO by Sue Denim, illustrated by Dav Pilkey

Lexile    480          Pages    30          Ages     4-8
 AR Quiz No. 19936 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.7 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, VP

Have you ever heard of Sue Denim? I'll bet you have and just didn't know it - it is a pseudonym (Sue Denim) for Dav Pilkey! : ) This is the fourth book in the Dumb Bunny series and it is the funniest yet!

At the zoo the family mistakes a Monarch butterfly sitting on the lion cage sign for the lion - because a lion has stripes, right? Just ask Momma Bunny and she'll give you the lowdown! When it flies away they create general panic among the other visitors by running around yelling, "THE LION IS LOOSE! THE LION IS LOOSE!" The chaos is even greater once the Dumb Bunnies finish running to all of the animal cages and letting the animals loose so they'll be safe (including the real lion,) before being asked to leave.

This book was just plain fun. No underlying life lesson. Just silly fun. It can be used as a teaching tool by asking your child what it was that the Dumb Bunny family did wrong, but for the most part you'll just laugh. Dav Pilkey's crazy wordplay may go over the heads of some of the younger audience but the parents will get a chuckle out of it and his illustrations range from the ridiculous to the slightly gross, to the just plain silly. Have some real fun with your child and the Dumb Bunnies today!

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get a copy of The Dumb Bunnies Go To the Zoo at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy with your library card number and PIN for pickup at the branch nearest you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LOOKING FOR THE EASY LIFE by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Lee Harper

Lexile:    750          Pages:    36          Ages:     5-8
AR Quiz No. 142983 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.9 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

The monkeys on Monkey Island have life pretty good. They sit around most of the day talking and dreaming. Uh-Huh Freddie is the Chief Monkey and he works hard to make sure that everyone has a good life. The monkeys on the island are happy except for Oswego Pete, who wants the Easy Life where he never has to do any hard work. He talks the other monkeys into going with him to find it.

First they look on the Big-Grrs Plains where the lions sleep all day, because Oswego Pete says he's never seen a lion doing any hard work. But when they get there they are nearly eaten by a lion, with Pete losing part of his tail to the lion.

Next they go to the seashore because fish have it easy - all they do is float around doing nothing and opening their mouths when they want to eat and eating whatever floats in. Things are good at first; the monkeys are swimming and having fun until a shark appears. Oswego Pete says, "Hey, Shark, what you want with your beady-eyed self? And how come you ain't got no lips?" to which the shark replies, "'Cause I don't want nothing between me and my lunch!" Again, the monkeys escape with their lives, but Oswego Pete loses yet another piece of his tail. He says, "We need to find someplace where they living the Easy Life and don't eat monkeys."

They find that place with the hippos in Hip-Hop Haven where all they have to do is ride on the hippos' backs and hold an umbrella so the sun doesn't get in the hippos' eyes, and they can have all the food they want from the Hip-Hop Hippo restaurant. In the beginning this seems okay - they are living the Easy Life. But soon they tire of it. They are bored, they don't like the food, and they miss their home in the trees. Uh-Huh Freddie says, "I'm going back home." The other monkeys agree and they all pack up and head home to the San Banana Valley where Freddie declares, "Easy ain't always good, and a little work ain't always bad!" and all the other monkeys agree with him and re-elect him as the Chief Monkey.

I love the message in this story. Too often we want easy money or have a misguided sense of entitlement. Children need to learn that nothing comes free and that you have to work for what you want, sometimes doing things you don't like in order to achieve your goal. Or that something may be easier, but it's not necessarily you'Easy Life gets this across in a fun and humorous way. When Shark wants Oswego Pete to come back into the water to discuss getting back the piece of tail Shark has bitten off, Pete "just gave that shark a hard look and flicked a booger at him." Kind of gross, but kids tend to really like gross stuff. You can always talk to them about the evils of booger-flicking. : )

Lee Harper's illustrations are wonderful! They are extremely colorful and perfectly express the beauty found on tropical islands. Each monkey is drawn so that children should be able to easily put them together with their names.

Have some fun with Uh-Huh Freddie and Oswego Pete today! Get your copy of Looking for the Easy Life at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for *EASY* pick-up : ) at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Vincent Nguyen

Lexile    Not rated          Pages    32          Ages     4 - 8
 AR Quiz No. 111361 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.6 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Elephant wants to swim in the pond so he chases Hippo away. Hippo makes Lion get off of the path so he can pass by. Then Lion chases Leopard out of his favorite napping spot. Leopard goes up in a tree only to find Monkey there, so he chases Monkey away. Monkey goes to his mother and she tells him he needs to stand up for himself and tell Leopard there is room enough for both of them in the tree. Monkey is afraid so Mother Monkey offers to go with him. Together, they go to Leopard, telling him "Don't you tell me what to do, this tree's big enough for two. Share it with me as a friend, don't be mean to me again." When Leopard is confronted he agrees to share the tree. Then he starts thinking and asks Monkey to go with him to confront Lion. This scenario repeats up the chain until all of the animals are playing together and having a good time in the pond.

Jungle Bullies is a non-threatening introduction to the subject of bullying for young children. I like that it shows that bullying can be confronted without anger or being mean. It illustrates how meanness breeds more meanness, the larger animals picking on smaller ones who then find someone smaller than they are to take out their anger and that bullies often back down when confronted. I also like how in the end all of the animals are playing together, sharing the pond and having a good time.

I love the illustrations in Jungle Bullies! The animals are cute but also convey the meanness when they are bullying someone smaller than they are.

Jungle Bullies can be found at the Lake County Public Library, or you can click here to reserve a copy for pick-up at the circulation desk at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Sunday, May 22, 2011

WHEN I GROW UP by Al Yankovic, illustrated by Wes Hargis

Lexile:    930          Pages:    28          Ages:     6-9
 AR Quiz No. 143069 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 4.8 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Who doesn't love Weird Al? Now you have a new way to love him - as a children's author!

Every Thursday at noon is show and tell in Mrs. Krupp's second grade class and this week the subject is "What I want to be when I grow up," a subject that is one of Billy's favorite things to think about.  Billy is thrilled when he is chosen to give the first presentation! In elaborate rhyme, Billy tells the class about his desire to become a world-famous chef, making sumptuous dishes like rigatoni with sauteed black truffles and pickled baloney, which he can keep in my humble opinion! : ) Guess I'm just a cheeseburger type of girl!

Mrs. Krupp thanks him for his presentation and Billy replies, "Hold the phone now, I haven't departed. Hang on to your seats, 'cause I'm just getting started!" He goes on to describe other careers he has considered, each one more fanciful than the next: snail trainer, milking giraffes, gorilla masseuse, and many more. Kids will get a real kick out of some of the jobs Billy wants to try! Finally Mrs. Krupp stops Billy and tells him he needs to make up his mind, which one is he going to choose? Billy goes on to tell her about his Great Grandpa Bob, who at 103 has tried many things and hasn't yet decided on what he wants to be, so since Billy is only 8 maybe she would cut him some slack if he leaves his options open and heck, he just might have time to do all of those things!

I love Billy's attitude! I am a great believer in following your dreams. I also think your dream can change as your life progresses, so you should always keep your options as open as possible. Too often adults try to push children to choose a career much too early, when they should still just enjoy being a kid.

When I Grow Up is best read aloud to younger children as some of the vocabulary might be over their heads but the rhyming and text have a good rhythm and the kids love the imaginative career paths that Billy considers. I think this book would be a fun addition to any collection.

Happy Reading,
Miss Laurie

Pick up a copy of When I Grow Up at the Lake County Public Library or click here and with your library card number and PIN order a copy for pick-up at any branch.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


SOURCES OF LIGHT by Margaret McMullan

Lexile:    840          Pages:    234          Ages:     See below
 AR Quiz No. 136605 EN Fiction
  IL: MG+ - BL: 5.2 - AR Pts: 8.0
  AR Quiz Types: RP

This is a juvenile fiction book. I'll confess I just did a quick skim of the flyleaf and thought I had picked up a book about a young girl interested in photography. What I got was an intense, potent narrative of life during the racial strife in Mississippi during the early 60's.

Samantha is 14 years old, living with her mother in Jackson, Mississippi. Her father died a hero in Vietnam and having no relations on her mother's side, they have moved to be near her father's family. Her mother is a professor of art history at the university. A slightly bohemian figure, Sam's mom doesn't fit in with the bouffant, shirtwaist dress crowd of her friends' mothers. Sam herself doesn't fit in with the girls in her freshman class at the high school, still caught in that in-between world of not being a little girl and not yet being grown up. While the other girls in her class want to do things like practice kissing and writing to celebrities, Sam still likes to hula hoop and collect bugs in a jar, until the night she meets her classmate's older brother Stone.

Sam's mother meets Perry, a new professor in her department who teaches photography and they develop a relationship. Perry introduces Sam to photography and she discovers it is something she loves and has a natural talent for. Perry tells her she "has the eye."  Through Perry, Sam and her mother get involved in the racial issues of the day, helping black people register to vote and sticking up for black people in the segregated shops in town. Unfortunately, Stone's father is the head of the White Citizens'Council, a KKK-type organization without the hoods and capes.

In the midst of her blooming romance with Stone who, unlike his father, believes in the rights of all people, Sam is thrown into the middle of riots, political unrest, and even murder, capturing much of it on the camera that Perry has given her. Stone, trying to somehow stop the things his father is doing, and not knowing all of his father's sins, keeps showing up during the horrors, appearing to be with the other side. Sam doesn't know what to think and confronts Stone with proof of what his father has done.

In the end Sam and her mother end up basically being run out of town through her mother's firing and inability to find another job. However, in leaving they are moving toward a better life, so while you ache for what they have been through you also rejoice in what they are moving toward.

Booklist rates this book as being for grades 5-8, but School Library Journal puts it at grades 7-10. Given the subject matter and sometimes graphic descriptions I would have to agree with SLJ. While this is a work of fiction, I find it to be a relatively accurate accounting of the happenings of the 60's, from James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi to Medgar Evers' assassination. I would call it a must-read for anyone interested in the history of segregation in the south.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get a copy of Sources of Light at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for delivery to your local branch.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Lexile     Not rated          Pages     32          Ages      4 - 8
 AR Quiz No. 143601 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 0.8 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

When Willy wakes up he can't find his sock monkey, Bobo. He looks and looks for Bobo - he has to have his faithful friend at his side to help him. "Bobo, is that a bitey-bug?" And Bobo isn't afraid to go down the slide or walk past the big dog. Willy finally finds him - he has been monkey-napped by the family cat, Earl. Willy and Bobo go off to breakfast where Willy expresses his disappointment through his good friend Bobo - "Bobo thought we were having pancakes! He doesn't like raisins in his oatmeal!"

When Willy's attention is diverted, that wiley Earl strikes. Willy turns around and Bobo is missing! So the search begins yet again. The story goes back and forth like this and in the end, Earl is sneaking off yet again with Bobo while Willy naps in the chair.

Honestly, I like this book because I love both sock monkeys and cats. : ) The illustrations perfectly capture that sock monkey blank stare and the expressiveness of the feline face in Earl. I think children will be able to relate to Willy, understanding how important Bobo is in helping Willy with things he is afraid of and also with expressing his feelings.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

I Must Have Bobo! is available at the Lake County Public Library or click here and with your library card number and PIN, reserve a copy for pick-up at your most convenient branch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright, illustrated by Ronald Himler


Lake Station, Indiana
February 2, 2011

It's a LOT warmer, and still lots of fun!

Lexile     500          Pages     30          Ages      5 - 8
 AR Quiz No. 68987 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.4 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, VP

It's December and Billy's birthday has rolled around.  Billy is disappointed because usually his aunt and uncle, and his cousins come to celebrate with him but with a blizzard in the forecast they can't make it this year.  He's jealous of his sister Mae, whose birthday is in July - the cousins can always come and celebrate with her.  But circumstances hold a special surprise for Billy . . . .

Billy and Mae head for school, Billy dragging his feet and feeling sorry for himself.  Once there, lessons go on as usual in the one-room school.  At lunch the children go outside and build a snowman in the school yard - the snow isn't too bad yet.  But soon after the lunch break Billy's friend, Jim, pokes him and points out the window . . . . it's snowing so hard you can't even see their snowman anymore!  Then Mr. Carter comes to the school to tell them that the road is closed and they will have to stay the night at the school.  The teacher, Miss Bailey, says, "Oh, but we can't stay here, we don't have food or blankets. Mae and Billy, do you think your folks would mind some guests for the night?  Your home is the only one close enough to walk to."  Mae tells her, "No, ma'am."  So the whole school heads for Billy's house.

Once there everyone pitches in to help with the chores.  While Billy's mother cooks dinner, the children have a big snowball fight and have a ball playing in the rapidly building snow.  Everyone gets their fill at dinner and then they all gather 'round the piano for a good, old-fashioned sing-a-long.  Finally, Billy's mother says, "Dessert's ready.  I get to choose the last song."  She goes into the kitchen and comes out with a big cake, candles blazing, and everyone sings a rousing "Happy Birthday" to Billy.

After dessert Billy's mom and dad pull out all the sheets and blankets they can find and everyone settles down wherever they can find a spot to get some sleep.  Billy's dad asks him, "Wishing you were a July baby, I suppose?"  Billy gives a big grin and says, "December's okay with me," and falls asleep, having had a birthday party he'd never forget.

The Blizzard, with its one-room schoolhouse and group sing-a-long is reminiscent of simpler times that I think we all long for now and then. A time before television, video games and computers, when people interacted more with one another.  It also reminds us that when disaster strikes, we all need to pull together and help each other, something I was lucky enough to experience when we had the blizzard in February.  A BIG "Thank you!" to my great neighbors!  I enjoyed this story very much and think I will have to purchase a copy for my collection!

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Come to the Lake County Public Library for a copy of The Blizzard or click here and use your library card number and PIN to reserve a copy for quick pick-up at the circulation desk at your favorite branch.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Papa Snores by Melinda Long, Illustrated by Holly Meade

Lexile     Not rated          Pages     30          Ages      3 and up
 AR Quiz No. 45262 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.4 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

"Nana says that sometimes Papa snores.  And Papa says that sometimes Nana snores.  The truth is, they both snore.  I just can't decide who snores louder." 

This is a really fun book.  The snoring sounds are a real hoot!  Coming from a family of snorers, I can hear them in my head . . . . . "ARRGHH-OOM, ARRGHH-OOM!  GARRUUM, GARRUUM!"  And when Papa and Nana snore, a whole laundry list of fun things happen:  the window blinds clank together, the dishes in the drainer shake themselves dry, the shoes jump off the shoe rack and tumble down the stairs.  Each scenario builds on the last, gaining momentum up to the surprise ending.

Kids will love hearing the snoring sounds and it's a lot of fun hearing them when you ask them, "Does Mommy or Daddy snore?  What do they sound like?"  There are a lot of giggles when reading this book!

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Come to the Lake County Public Library for your copy of When Papa Snores, or click here to reserve a copy with your library card number and PIN for pick-up at your local branch.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lizzy and Skunk by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Lexile     Not Rated          Pages     32          Ages      4-8
AR Quiz No. 44414 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 1.8 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Lizzy is afraid of things - the dark, spiders, making mistakes and more. But as long as she had her hand-puppet Skunk with her, Lizzy could overcome her fears. Then one day, Skunk disappears. Lizzy looks high and low for Skunk - under the bed, even though it's dark and scary, in the attic with its spiders. She finally finds him high in a tree. Although she's afraid, she climbs up in the tree and rescues Skunk, climbing down to the applause of a crowd of onlookers.

Lizzy and Skunk is a relatively simple book with few words. However, children can relate to being afraid of the same things Lizzy is and understand it is sometimes easier to face them with a friend by your side. It also shows them that friendships are two-sided and that sometimes you have to be strong for your friend just like your friend is strong for you.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get your copy of Lizzy and Skunk at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for pick-up at your local branch.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Frog Principal by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Lexile     230          Pages     30          Ages      6 - 8
 AR Quiz No. 54770 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.0 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, VP

Mr. Bundy is the principal of P.S. 88 and everyone agrees that he is the best principal ever. One day he is interviewing a magician, Marty Q. Marvel, who he planned on having do a magic show at school assembly. He asks Marty to demonstrate one of his tricks and Poof! Marty accidentally turns Mr. Bundy into a frog and can't change him back. Mr. Bundy hops off to a nearby pond where he swims and zaps tasty bugs.

That day at recess the children are playing softball and hit the ball into Mr. Bundy's pond. Imagine their surprise to find a talking frog in the pond! And even more surprising he wants to be their principal, telling them if they let him be principal, he will get the ball for them. The children cross their fingers behind their back and agree. Once they have the ball back they run off, leaving Mr. Bundy behind. However upon hearing the story, the Vice Principal Ms. Moore, makes them keep their promise and the fun begins.

How do the children like having a frog principal? Does Mr. Bundy ever become his regular self?

This humorous twist on the fable "The Frog Prince" is a fun read-aloud book. The kids get a real charge out of some of the things the principal does as a frog. As an added bonus, you have the lesson of keeping promises.  The illustrations of the crazy antics are great, from Mr. Bundy joining in on a game of leap-frog, to his eating Nancy's science project, a bug collection - "Give this student a gold star! Her collection of bugs was delicious . . . I mean, excellent."

Come to the Lake County Public Library for your copy of The Frog Principal to find out Mr. Bundy's final fate. For a quick pick-up, click here and with your library card number and PIN, reserve a copy to be delivered to your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Barry Moser

Lexile     AD340          Pages     32          Ages      4 - 8
AR Quiz No. 132159 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.0 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes is a humorous twist on the Aesop's Fable The Fox and the Grapes. The story starts out with Fox spying some delicious-looking grapes hanging out of reach from a vine high in a tree. He thinks, "No matter, I am sly. Clever. Smart. After all, I am a fox."  He comes up with a plan that looks great on paper but is not so wonderful in execution. The result? No grapes.

This is the point where Aesop's story stops but where Ms. Palatini's story just gets going. Fox employs the help of his friend Bear, asking him to stand under the grapes so Fox can stand on his head and reach the grapes. Bear starts to make a suggestion as to an easier solution but Fox cuts him off - "Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, my dear dim buddy. You leave the thinking to me. After all, I'm the fox. Sly. Clever. Smart." So Bear agrees and Fox climbs on his head . . . . . and still can't reach the grapes. 

The story goes on with Fox enlisting other animals to his cause - Beaver, Porcupine and Possum. Each tries to make a suggestion as to an easier way to get the grapes but Fox interrupts them all, boasting, "I know how to get grapes! I am a fox. Sly. Clever. Smart."

In the end, all of Fox's plans have failed. The others each tell him "well, I could have . . . . ." with Possum saying "I can run up the tree and toss them down."  "Why didn't you say so?" asks Fox and they turn his words back on him. "Well, after all, you are the fox. Sly. Clever. Smart, very smart." : )

Fox gets extremely angry and he stomps off disgusted, muttering for them to do as they wish, he wouldn't eat any of those lousy, rotten, stinkin' grapes and that they are probably sour anyway. Meanwhile, Possum climbs up the tree and tosses the grapes down to the others and the last page spread shows Fox stomping off while the others happily enjoy the yummy grapes.

While this book illustrates Aesop's moral "It is easy to despise what you cannot get" it takes the lesson farther. Fox's arrogance is the reason he cannot get the grapes, his unwillingness to believe that someone other than sly, clever, smart Fox could possibly have a better idea.  This leads him to interrupt his friends and disregard their ideas.  It shows the value in teamwork, each member contributing ideas and work to reach a common goal.

The colorful illustrations by Barry Moser add to the humor in Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes.  The expressions on the animals' faces convey exactly what they think of Fox and also show the slyness and arrogance of Fox.

Come to the Lake County Public Library for a copy of Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes today or click here to order a copy for pickup at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Monday, April 18, 2011

Uno's Garden by Graeme Base

Lexile     Not rated          Pages     40          Ages      5-8
AR Quiz No. 110348 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.8 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Uno goes into the forest and loves its beauty so much that he decides to stay.  Among the 100 plants, the Moopaloops, the Lumpybums and Frinklepods, and the one Snortlepig, he builds himself a little hut to live in.  But in building the hut, one of the plants disappears.  More people follow Uno, building homes, railroads, and skyscrapers.  As the city grows, the forest shrinks and the incredible animals and the beautiful plants slowly disappear until there is nothing left - not even the Snortlepig.  But in the midst of all of this urban growth, Uno has planted a small garden with one of each of the plants the book starts with in it.  One morning he goes out to find the Snortlepig in his garden, where it lives until it, like Uno, gets old and dies.  By then, the other people have completely destroyed the rest of the forest and they look out their windows and ask, "Why do we live here? There are no trees or animals!" and they pack up and move away.

Slowly, over generations, Uno's descendants bring the forest, the Moopaloops, the Lumpybums and Frinklepods back, keeping the buildings and the forest, the people and the animals in balance.  But the Snortlepig is gone forever.

This is a great book to introduce ecology to your children - the importance of keeping the Earth clean and the urban sprawl, and forests and vegetation, as well as the people and other creatures in balance.  The illustrations start out colorful and fantastical, but as urban creep sets in they become more and more dull, both in color and content.  As Uno's descendants reclaim the forest the color and fantasy slowly come back - all except for the poor Snortlepig.  His fate opens the door for a conversation about extinction and our job to protect all living creatures.  As a bonus, at the top of each two-page spread there is a list of what is left of the plants and animals that is represented as mathematical equations, giving you a chance to introduce basic math skills.   Uno's Garden carries a message that is important not just for children, but for all of us.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Get your copy of Uno's Garden at the Lake County Public Library today or click here to reserve a copy for fast and easy pickup at the Circulation Desk at  your favorite branch.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Lexile     920          Pages     36          Ages      8 - 12
AR Quiz No. 110259 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 4.1 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

This is a fictional story about the Underground Railroad, inspired by true accounts of actual slaves compiled into the Slave Narrative Collection by out-of-work writers hired by the U.S. Government during the Great Depression.  In reality, the two characters, Christmas John and Granny Judith, never knew one another but the author has woven their histories together into an amazing tale of slavery, dignity, courage and every person's right to freedom.

Christmas John is only twelve years old, living in a pineboard cabin with his Granny Judith, both of them slaves on a Kentucky plantation. One night Granny Judith tells Christmas John about a boat hidden on the nearby river - a boat that she wants him to row across the river with the cook's daughter Molly, to the Underground Railroad station on the Ohio side of the river. Being only twelve, she explains, he is big enough to row the boat, but young enough to escape notice. Christmas John is afraid, but faces that fear and does as his Granny asks. When he returns, Granny Judith asks what color Molly was wearing and John tells her "blue," and Granny tells him that on that night the color of freedom is blue. She takes a piece of blue cloth and starts a quilt that over time, with each trip across the river, collects all the colors of the rainbow.  Finally it becomes too dangerous to continue and Granny Judith tells Christmas John he must row himself across and not return. He doesn't want to leave her but she insists and he goes. Before he reaches the river, he decides he can't leave without his Granny and runs back and convinces her to come with him. In a close race with slave hunters with guns and dogs, they make it to the Ohio side of the river and freedom!

E. B. Lewis' illustrations are so realistic you can feel the suspense of the story and almost smell the fear of the slaves in their desperate dash for freedom, and at the end of the book, the unmitigated joy on Granny Judith's face will bring tears to your eyes.

This is a wonderful story to read to your children and use as a starting-point to discuss the issues of slavery, segregation, equality and freedom. I would recommend it to anyone, young and old alike.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Check out a copy of Night Boat to Freedom at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for pickup at your favorite branch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller

Lexile     450          Pages     32          Ages      4-8
AR Quiz No. 115909 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.3 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Hedgehog discovers Mouse covering himself with leaves and when he asks him why, Mouse says he is hiding from their friend Snake.  Again, Hedgehog asks, "Why?"  Mouse says that Fox told Skunk and Skunk told him that snakes are dangerous to mice.  Hedgehog convinces Mouse he has nothing to fear from their friend Snake and to come out from under the leaves, but Mouse is still afraid.  Not watching where he is going, Mouse stumbles into a deep, narrow hole and can't get out.  For various reasons Hedgehog and Mouse's other friends Rabbit and Squirrel can't get him out.

Who gets Mouse out of his predicament?

This is a story about friendship and trust coming up the winner when confronted by gossip.  The cute, clean illustrations, the simple story, and the friendly-looking animals make this a book that confronts the meanness of gossip in a way that is non-threatening to children yet gets the point across.

You can find Help! A Story of Friendship at any branch of the Lake County Public Library or click here for fast and easy pick-up at the Circulation Desk at your local branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez

Lexile     670          Pages     32          Ages      4-8
AR Quiz No. 8680 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.4 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP, RV, VP

Maria is feeling all grown up. She is wearing her mother's apron and helping to make the Christmas tamales. She has the job of helping knead the masa. If only she could wear the diamond ring that Mama has removed and lain on the counter. Her mother has to leave the room for a moment and temptation strikes - and Maria is unable to resist. She slips the ring on her thumb and then after admiring it for a moment, resumes her kneading. It isn't until later, after the tamales are finished and her extended family have arrived that she realizes the ring is missing! The last time she remembers seeing it was when she was kneading the masa, watching it disappear and reappear as she kneaded. Realizing what must have happened, she gathers her three cousins and they start eating tamales. Pretty soon, the tamales that looked so delicious piled on the plate aren't tasting so good anymore . . . . .

Does Maria find the ring? Does she confess her mistake to her mother? Does her Christmas turn out to be happy afterall?

The illustrations in this book are rich and beautiful. They, along with the story, convey the meaning behind family, traditions, and honesty. Too Many Tamales also lets children know that we are all confronted with temptations at one time or another, and that we sometimes give in to those temptations.

Come to the Lake County Public Library and check out a copy of Too Many Tamales or click here to reserve a copy for pick-up at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie