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.