Golden Books

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a nice piece on the new history of the Little Golden Books.  I look forward to getting my hands on a copy to see it for myself.

Personally, my favorite wasn’t The Poky Little Puppy.  I loved every book done by Eloise Wilkin as a child and even now can find myself sighing happily over the illustrations.  Her pictures are the icon of my childhood.  How about you?  Got any undying love for a Golden Book?

Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon

Alfred Kropp:  The Seal of Solomon
by Rick Yancey.

This is the second book in the Alfred Kropp series.  Alfred Kropp is back in school being mercilessly bullied until he is kidnapped and taken out to the desert where he learns that the Seal of Solomon and its vessel contain demons of incredible power.  He isn’t the strongest person or the most coordinated, but he just may be the key to recontaining the demons who are changing the face of the earth itself.  First, he will have to learn who to trust and why he is the pivotal figure in the situation.

This is a wild ride of a book perfect for teen boys.  Its entire premise is very like Indiana Jones, but if anything it is more frightening, more vivid and faster moving.  Once a reader enters the story, there is no turning back, only turning pages faster and faster.  Yancey has mixed the perfect blend of horror, action and humor to make this a real winner of a novel.  His characterizations are strong, his pacing is phenomenal and his story is sound. 

Highly recommended for teen readers of either sex, this book will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson.

39 Clues

The New York Times has an announcement from Scholastic about what they hope will be their next hit series.  The new series is called The 39 Clues and will be a series of 10 books, each written by a different author, but following a single story arc. 

The first book, The Maze of Bones, was written by Rick Riordan.  Gordon Korman has been signed to write book 2, Peter Lerangis to write book 3, and Jude Watson to write book 4.  Riordan is also responsible for the overall story outline. 

The series will have a strong online component as well as collectible cards. 

The Maze of Bones will be released in September 2008 with consecutive books following every few months. 

The Chaos King

The Chaos King by Laura Ruby.

This sequel to The Wall and the Wing is a great read all on its own, though readers will want to find out the details of the first book after reading this one.  Georgie is the Richest Girl in the World, but she is learning that wealth doesn’t solve all of her problems.  She is shunned and teased in her new school and her friendship with Bug is disintegrating.  Georgie would feel all alone, but before she can dwell on it, she finds herself once again in the middle of an adventure where a giant octopus, a pen that can alter the world, and a chocolate-loving sloth feature prominently.

Ruby has managed to take the world we are familiar with and change it into something wondrous and amazing.  The city library has secrets galore, some people can fly, and there are incredible creatures at every turn.  The book is fast paced and fun.  It is certainly an adventure worth embarking on, I guarantee you will never see cats or budgies in the same way again.

Recommended for fantasy lovers from age 10-12. 

Rabbit's Gift

Rabbit’s Gift: a Fable from China by George Shannon, illustrated by Laura Dronzek.

Rabbit smells more snow coming and dashes out to find food.  He finds two turnips and leaves one at Donkey’s door in case she hadn’t found any food.  Donkey takes the extra turnip to Goat, who takes it to Deer, who returns it to Rabbit.  Rabbit finds it at his doorstep by tripping over it and decides to share it with everyone.

A very simple book about sharing and the power of community.  This book is not preachy at all, just an easy tale of friendship.  With the emphasis on snow and sharing, this could easily be used during the holiday season as a non-holiday specific book that showcases the feeling of the season without alienating diverse audiences. 

Highly recommended for adding to preschool story times focused on snow or the holidays.  The gentleness of the story will work well with preschoolers who will also not see the circular nature of the story coming. 

The latke who couldn't stop screaming

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: a Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket.

Who doesn’t need a subversive book in the middle of all of the holiday carols, glam and glitz?  Snicket has created a Christmas book that speaks to those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas and those of us who celebrate it with a lot fewer lights, inflatable Santas on motorcycles and blasting carols.  I too have felt the need to start screaming, but knew if I did I would never be able to stop again. 

This book mixes Hanukkah and Christmas with a splash of sarcasm and lot of nerve.  It features the disrespect we show other faiths and customs with our blaring of Christmas everywhere.  The illustrations are fifties-style with simplicity and a sense of fun.  They mix well with the text that is the real winner here.  Some of the passages are so funny that I was unable to read aloud for awhile because I was laughing so hard.

While this book is appropriate for children, I think that adults will enjoy it the most.  If you have someone on your Christmas list who celebrates Hanukkah, get them off of that list and buy them this book!  And don’t wrap it in red and green paper either!  Don’t make me start screaming!

Anne Turns 100

Anne of Green Gables is celebrating 100 years!  They have a great website filled with details about the celebration, vacationing in Prince Edward Island, educational resources, and much more. 

With regret, I must admit that I love the films, but really don’t enjoy the books.  I know!  I know!  You don’t know how I have tried to love the books!  But I don’t.  The films on the other hand capture me every time and I can watch them again and again. 

Any other freaks out there like me?  Or perhaps you can persuade me to try one more time?

Rating Books

The Times reports that British publishers are going to start putting age guides on children’s books.  Sigh.  Librarians have a love-hate relationship with age guidelines already.  Yes, they make it easier for patrons to find appropriate films, but they are also so very arbitrary and often strange.  Video games especially are oddly rated and because the ratings range so widely from one title to the next they are less than helpful. 

I worry that book ratings will be even more difficult to pinpoint.  The age range for books has very little to do with reading level, unless you are looking at the levels of beginning readers and any person who has tried to use numerical levels from one series to the next knows that there is no standard there either.  But what do they do with teen novels purposely written at lower reading levels.  There will be teen content but their ratings seem to have more to do with reading level than content, making it a completely different type of rating than anything else parents have dealt with. 

How about you?  Do you see book ratings as a positive move?

Holiday Reads

The Los Angeles Times has a list of new holiday titles to try.  The list has my two favorites of the year that I hope to review next week: 

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket and The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll by Patricia McKissack. 

Two very different but equally wonderful books.