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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Harriet Dancing by Ruth Symes, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church

Lexile     Not Rated          Pages     28          Ages      4-8
AR Quiz No. 122226 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 2.5 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

Harriet is a happy little hedgehog. After her breakfast of strawberries and worms (YUMMY!) she sets off to visit her best friend, Ivor. Along the way she happily greets her other friends, Rabbit, Mole, Frog and others with a cheery, "Good morning!"

Harriet suddenly sees the sky full of butterflies. They are dancing and spinning, looking like a field of dancing flowers. Harriet joins in, dancing and dancing and dancing, until she notices the butterflies have stopped.  She asks why and is told, "The butterfly dance is only for butterflies." Poor Harriet is crushed and hurries away so the butterflies can't see her cry.

Does Harriet stay sad? Can you keep a happy little hedgehog down for long? I think, "No." : ) In the end, Harriet is a happy little hedgehog once again, dancing with not only all of her friends, but the butterflies too!

This is a good book to share with children to teach them about the hurtfulness of excluding others and shunning people because they aren't like you.  It only takes one small, careless word or action to make someone unhappy.

Come into any branch of the Lake County Public Library today for a copy of Harriet Dancing or click here and with your library card number and PIN order a copy for pick-up.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie (dancing!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lazy Ozzie by Michael Coleman, illustrated by Gwyneth Williamson

 Lexile     420          Pages     18          Ages      3-5
No AR information at this time

Young Ozzie is a very lazy owl living in a barn with his mother and siblings.  Mother Owl wants Ozzie to learn to fly but Ozzie thinks it looks like too much work. "I'm practicing being wise," he tells Mother Owl, but she's not buying it. She tells him she's going out looking for food and if he is wise, he had better have flown to the ground by the time she gets back. Ozzie comes up with the idea of using the other barnyard animals to help him get to the ground. He starts with the horse, telling him "It's an emergency! Take me to the milk shed!" The horse takes him to the milk shed where he jumps to the cow's back. He keeps going, using animals that get smaller and smaller until he jumps to the ground. When Mother Owl comes back he tells her that he flew all the way down, not knowing that she has been watching all along. "That's wonderful," she tells him and then asks him to fly back up. Good job, Mother Owl! : )

On the surface this is just a cute story about a lazy little owl but when you really look at it, it is full of great lessons for children. It shows them what lazy is and shows that Ozzie works twice as hard getting out of the work of flying as he would have had he just done what he was told. It also gives parents an opportunity to discuss telling lies and deceiving others.  "It's an emergency!" Ozzie says. Talk with your children about what is or is not an emergency.  Additionally, there is rhyming (Big Pig), alliteration (Little Lamb, Dinky Duck,) plus the lesson of the difference in animal sizes from large to small and animal habitat (milk shed, pigsty, pasture, etc.) It's amazing what the author has packed into this one book!

Come to any branch of the Lake County Public Library for a copy of Lazy Ozzie, or click here to order a copy with your library card number and PIN for delivery to your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie