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Author Archives: jbrandy

About jbrandy

I like to read!

Stack the Cats

Title:   Stack the Cats
Author:   Susie Ghahremani
Series:   —
Recommended for:   toddlers and preschoolers as a readaloud and counting book, early elementary school students because it’s a fairly early reader and teaches alternate ways to organize sets
Pages:   32 pages
Call Number/Link:  E GHAHREMANI, S.

Rating:   ****

 

 

Synopsis:

Cats of all shapes and sizes scamper, yawn, and stretch across the pages of this playful counting book. And every now and then, some of them pile into the purrfect cat stack!

Comments:

This is such a cute book!  The cats are adorable and remind me a little of my hero Pusheen.  The bold, colorful illustrations could work well with a group of children.

It makes me happy that the book works on more than one level.  For toddlers, it is a book with cute cats having fun.  For preschoolers, it is also a counting book.  There is also slightly trickier math for the early elementary school students when sets are regrouped (or divided).  This happens when 6 cats are divided into two groups of 3 cats and 9 cats are divided into three groups of 3 cats.

 

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Concepts, Picture Books

 

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Optimists Die First

Title:   Optimists Die First
Author:   Nielsen-Fernlund, Susin
Series:   —
Recommended for:  teens who like books that deal with death, family problems, betrayal, support groups – and a little romance. And fans of The Fault in Our Stars, The Breakfast Club and other books/movies where unlikely strangers wind up becoming friends.
Pages:   228 p.
Call Number/Link:   Teen Fiction Nielsen, S.

Ratings:   ***

 

 

Synopsis:

Since her sister’s death, Petula de Wilde sees danger in everything. A mandatory art therapy class with a groups of teenage misfits is the worst part of each week. She wants nothing to do with them– especially Jacob and his prosthetic arm. When they work together on a project, he helps her with her fears. But a secret he’s been keeping from her could unravel everything….
Comments:
I think we’ve all heard the saying:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  I know I have.  And that I still sometimes choose a book to read because the cover grabs me.  Most often, it is because the cover features delicious looking baked goods.  But in this case, I liked the contradiction between the cover and book title.  It looks like the front of a homemade knitted sweater… with skeletons and the title Optimists Die First.  So I read the front flap and found out that the protagonist was in an art therapy group.  Be still my heart!  I’m kind of fascinated with the idea of art therapy, although I only know a little about it.
The book didn’t completely grab me, but I still liked it.  The art therapy group kind of reminded me of the support group in The Fault in Our Stars.  This may be a stretch, but the change in how the group members interacted at the beginning and at he end of the book made me think of The Breakfast Club.  Thus, I think the book could be a hit with teens who like problem novels, support groups, The Fault in Our Stars and/or The Breakfast Club.
And I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there is a romance….
 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Realistic, Teen

 

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Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise

Title:   Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise
Author:   Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Series:   Nate the Great
Recommended for:  early readers who are almost ready for chapter books.  Also as a readaloud for children ages 4 and up.
Pages:   41 p.
Call Number/Link:  READER SHARMAT, M.

Rating:   ****

 

 

Synopsis:

As more and more of his flowers display the bite marks of a wandering tortoise, Nate sets out to uncover the mystery of the reptile’s origins.

Comments:

It is difficult to find mysteries for children at an early reader level who either want a mystery or need to read one for school.  Nate the Great is an excellent choice for those children.  While Nate is solving actual mysteries, with the help of his dog Fang, his methods will make sense to kids reading the book.  He solves mysteries by looking around, making observations and thinking about what he has seen.

I appreciate that the book’s text and illustrations are timeless, so that kids can continue enjoying Nate the Great for years to come.

 

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Readers

 

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Boys Dancing: From School Gym to Theater Stage

Title:  Boys Dancing:  From School Gym to Theater Stage
Author:  George Ancona
Series:   —
Recommended for:  kids in grades K and up, especially active athletic boys who like to run, jump, spin and leap
Pages:   Unpaged  (approximately 46 pages)
Call Number/Link:   E 793.3 ANC

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“Follow four energetic boys as they train for and take the stage in a community dance performance celebrating classic kids’ books”–Provided by publisher.

Comments:

With the exception of break dancers, there’s not a lot of support out there for boys who dance.  This book shows that average, everyday boys who like to run, jump, yell, climb and throw balls to each other at recess can also like to dance.  They warm up for dance class by running through the halls of their dance school and do pull-ups to strengthen their arms.  They are going to perform a dance number based on Treasure Island so learn how to fake fistfights.  Older boys in their school learn how to fight with swords.

As part of a collaboration between the National Dance Institute of New Mexico and several schools in their town, students are taught movement (i.e. leaping, running, spinning, jumping and showing emotions like joy or anger) set to music.  These movement classes teach students to dance – and prepare them for performances in May.  The final May performance has more than twenty dances and all of the 500 students are in the grand finale.

The book shows that dance can be fun, athletic, active and very boy (and girl and firefighter) friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Juv, Non-Fiction

 

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A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales

Title:   A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales
Author:   Chris Colfer
Series:   The Land of Stories
Recommended for:   fans of the Land of Stories series, anyone who would like to read fairy tales and nursery rhymes
Pages:   323 p.
Call Number/Link:   J FICTION COLFER, C.

Rating:  ***

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An illustrated nursery rhyme and fairy tale collection that features the classic tales that Alex and Conner fall into in the Land of Stories series.

The treasury includes these classic fairy tales:  Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks and the three bears, Jack and the beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The three little pigs, Rumpelstiltskin, The elves and the shoemaker, Beauty and the beast, The boy who cried wolf, Sleeping Beauty, The princess and the pea, Rapunzel, Henny Penny, The little mermaid, Three billy goats gruff, The Snow Queen, The frog prince, Puss in boots, Thumbelina, The Gingerbread man, The ugly duckling and Pinocchio.

The treasury includes these Mother Goose nursery rhymes:  LIttle Bo Peep, Little Miss Muffett, Little Jack Horner, The old woman who lived in a shoe, Humpty Dumpty, Rub-a-dub-dub, Three blind mice, Baa, baa, black sheep, Georgie Porgie, Hey diddle diddle, Pat-a-cake, Jack and Jill, Jack be nimble.

It concludes with Mother Goose’s Fairy-tale survival guide.

Comments:

This is a good, traditional retelling of fairy tales, folk tales and nursery rhymes.  I did not read every fairy tale in the book, but the ones that I read were true to other versions I’d read previously.  Due to the length of the stories, the collection would probably be best read aloud to children in kindergarten and up.

As for the preschool set, I think it would be better to share a collection (or individual tale) with less text and more pictures.

I thought it was a great idea for the author to write this traditional collection so that readers of his Land of Stories series would have a better understanding of his source material.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Fairy Tales

 

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Dormouse Dreams

Title:   Dormouse Dreams
Author:   Karma Wilson          Illustrator:   Renata Liwska
Series:   —
Recommended for:   grown-ups who are reading aloud to preschool children
Pages:   32 p.
Call Number/Link:   E WILSON, K.

Rating:   ***

 

 

Synopsis:

Dormouse hibernates and dreams of spring until spring arrives, and along with it comes his dormouse friend.

Comments:

I loved this book’s cute, cozy illustrations.  The pictures of the dormouse sleeping were my favorites.

The story was cute, but it confused me.  There were times when I couldn’t tell if the illustrations were of the dormouse’s dreams or things that were actually happening in the outside world.  Thus, it would probably not be the best choice to read to a very literal, logical child who is bothered when a book doesn’t make sense to him or her.  It could be fine for other children though.

And the illustrations are just so adorable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Picture Books

 

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Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of

Title:  Lesser Spotted Animals:  The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of
Author:   Martin Brown
Series:  —
Recommended for:  kindergarten and up for sharing, third grade and up for solo reading
Pages:   53 p.
Call Number/Link:   E 590 BRO

Rating:  *****

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Find out all about the amazing animals you need to know but never get to see, from the numbat to the zorilla, and everything in between.

Comments

This book definitely fits into the fun non-fiction category!  While it is factual, it also has humorous illustrations and funny comments.

As an example, here is a paragraph from the entry about the Lesser Fairy Armadillo:

“Imagine having your own suit of armor – not the clanking, noisy, metal medieval knight kind of armor – but tough, leathery bony plates that fit you like a second skin.  That’s what armadillos have.  Sticks and stones?  Dog bites?  Little brothers?  Ha!  You’d laugh at these pesky annoyances.”

And, I must admit that I would probably love any animal book that decided to include animals with names like the lesser fairy armadillo, dagger-toothed flower bat or Speke’s pectinator in it.  What awesome names!

This would be an excellent class readaloud.  I think a teacher would only need to read one chapter to grab the students’ interest.  And then there would hopefully be multiple copies of the book in the classroom so that fisticuffs didn’t ensue,  The book would also be an excellent way to introduce a unit where students would write animal reports, about either frequently spotted or lesser spotted animals.  Students could be asked to include wacky facts and try to make their reports fun.  (Or at least attempt one or two humorous illustrations.)

But now I must close so that I can search the Internet for photos of the lesser fairy armadillo!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Funny, Juv, Non-Fiction

 

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