skip to Main Content

Fridays Featuring Flintridge – An Easter Basket of Books

An Easter Basket of Book Reviews from Hilary Taber …

Recently, I’ve realized that there are a wealth of words that we never use. “Haberdasher”, for example, or “perchance” are words that come to mind.  Certainly, “hodgepodge” falls into this category. During an Easter season when, if one is lucky enough, there are baskets filled to the brimful with a lovely hodgepodge of all sorts of delights, then surely there is absolutely nothing wrong with a literary hodgepodge. Who knows what I might put in this one? In the spirit of the whole thing, I’ve mixed all kinds of books together for this week’s reviews. Old will meet new, and these “introductions” will hopefully lead you to some new book friends. Just think of these reviews as the different kinds of candies you might find separately packed into those colorful plastic eggs in your Easter basket, and you can’t go wrong!

DreamFriends_JKT_mech2_sm_smDream Friends (Nancy Paulson Books/Penguin, $16.99) by You Byun, Ages 3 and up

This exquisite picture book débuted at story time last week at Flintridge Books and my young audience was especially appreciative of how many beautiful things we could find on each page. The main character, Melody, has a Dream Friend that visits every night in her dreams. Is it a huge, white dog? A huge, white bear? While we couldn’t settle on a definite species we all agreed that the Dream Friend is wonderful, and takes Melody on all kinds of adventures through a world filled with opal-like colors, tiny cats that look like potential astronauts, spiral staircases, giant tulips, and paper cranes that sail the sky. Through this dream world, Melody and her Dream Friend fly together. However, back in the real world of the schoolyard, Melody is in need of a friend. Will Melody be able to make a real friend who will understand how important and magical her Dream Friend is?

This is a treasure box of a book that is simply enchanting. Many smaller illustrations make the book fun to explore. On each page my story time pals picked out what illustration they would like to take home to have in their room if such a thing were possible. With a Dream Friend really anything is possible, and that is the charm of the story. With a happily-ever-after-ending this makes a wonderful bedtime story that I’m sure will leave a child wondering if they will make a Dream Friend of their own. Dream Friends is a Publisher’s Weekly starred reviewed winner, and I wholeheartedly agree with that!

TrixieTen-240x300Trixie Ten (Henry Holt & Co., $16.99) by Sarah Massini, Ages 3-7

Ah, poor Trixie Ten’s life is filled with the burden of brothers and sisters! Not just one or two of them, but nine of them. Trixie is the tenth child. All of her siblings are particularly annoying in their very own way. One always sneezes, another always stumbles on things, another always makes a sound like a roaring lion, and so on. How annoying! Trixie Ten can’t take it anymore! One night she grabs a trusty flashlight and leaves to find somewhere that is quiet, and definitely not filled with noisy siblings. Yet, when she finally finds that place, she’s not quite as pleased as she thought she would be. While it’s true that everything is very quiet it’s equally true that Trixie misses her noisy family! While Trixie Ten is gone, her family is busy counting everyone to make sure that the whole family is accounted for. In cozy beds they begin counting, “Wanda One, Thomas Two…” and so on until they get to Trixie Ten. On my! Where is Trixie Ten?! The whole family sets out on an adventure to rescue Trixie.

My young story time audience was just pulled into this book. Annoying brothers and sisters that you wish you could ditch now and then? I could just feel that they totally understood that! Yet it was the question of “Who are we without our family?” (that Ms. Massini cleverly poses) was what kept their attention until the very end. Highly recommended for any child, but can you imagine if you came from a large family how much you would connect with this story? Also, if you are a teacher, well here is a book that begs for some really great discussions about family, counting, and colors. Also, this book is a great basis for a fantastic craft. Every character is a fingerprint of a different color with a little face, making finger and hand print activities ideal. Have fun!

80171Fairy Tales (Liveright, $17.95) by e.e. cummings, illustrated by Meilo So, ages 5 and up

I made the discovery of this book a few years ago, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading the fairy tales that poet e.e. cummings wrote for his grandson. While a few of the stories would be more suited to a grown-up audience because of the symbolism, most of them are just fine for their intended audience. I especially like “The Elephant and the Butterfly” (these character are meant to be cummings and his grandson), and “The House that Ate Mosquito Pie”. They are both touching, beautifully written stories about unlikely friendships. A few lines just took my breath away. “A bird began to sing in a bush, and all the clouds went out of the sky, and it was Spring everywhere.” This next line just make me shiver it was so pretty, “In a little while the house heard a new sound, which was as if five or six (or maybe even seven) brooks were laughing about a secret; and this sound grew higher and clearer until the house knew that it was somebody singing and singing and singing.”

What can I write about writing like that? e.e. cummings is a poet whose prose in these stories is simple, yet profound. More than that I dare not venture, but I do hope you will find out for yourselves!

TangleKnotsRevisedBasket__2__2_394x600A Tangle of Knots (Philomel/Penguin, $16.99) by Lisa Graff, Ages 8-12

In this finely spun tale told in multiple points of view, almost everyone has a Talent that borders on being magical. Some have a Talent for knitting, for spitting, for whistling, but eleven-year-old Cady has a Talent for cake baking. She can take a good look at any person and match them up with the perfect cake. When Cady was left at Miss Mallory’s Home for Lost Girls, Miss Mallory had no idea that Cady would stay for so long. Having a Talent for matching her girls with the perfect family Miss Mallory has no idea who would be the perfect family for Cady until a series of events begins to unfold, each one mysteriously tied to the other, that reveal a Talent Stealer, a man with a Talent for tying knots, and a certain blue suitcase marked “St. Anthony’s” among other mysteries. Other child and adult characters join Cady with their secrets, Talents, and searches for Talents. This book is sure to please fans of Ingrid Law’s Savvy if what drew them to the book was the idea of people having varying magical talents and gifts. An intriguing puzzle for mystery lovers, and a thoroughly enjoyable book that links the Facts of the characters with their Fate. All through the book there are Cady’s recipes for cakes matched with all the key characters in the book which would be especially pleasing to young bakers. A Tangle of Knots earned a starred review from Kirkus, which was much deserved!

9780060846169Miki Falls: Spring (Book One) (HarperTeen, $8.99) by Mark Crilley, Ages 12 and up

Miki is beginning her final year at high school, and she’s determined that this year will be the best year ever. There is nothing so tempting a fate as to announce that very soon you will be planning to control everything, and Miki soon learns that lesson in the form of a tall, handsome new student named Hiro. There’s definitely something mysterious about this new guy in town, and soon Miki becomes determined to find out exactly what he is up to. Yet, as Miki learns, sometimes knowing someone else’s secret is a pathway to an adventure. This adventure will turn Miki’s life upside down, and challenge everything she ever thought she knew about love.

Although Miki and Hiro are high school students, I think that readers still in middle school would find it very enjoyable. It’s just enough romance (but not too much) for a young girl just beginning to be curious about love, and has enough action to keep the reader engaged for the rest of the series. I would definitely recommend buying at least the first two books in the series because once you’re hooked you can’t wait for the next sequel! I’m just beginning to explore the world of graphic novels for children and teens more thoroughly. “Miki Falls” really caught my attention because it’s so beautiful, and Mark Crilley’s experience as an American living in Japan is evident in every page. This may be seen in the thoughtful attention to detail in the scenery, which is done with an expert touch. Fans of “Fruits Basket” will be sure to enjoy this American foray into manga-inspired graphic novels.

HilaryTaberPlease visit the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events. And when you stop by, keep a lookout for Hilary peeking out from behind a novel.

Share this:

A Touch & Pull Book For Toddlers

The Nose Knows!

My kids loved interactive books when they were toddlers and it will be easy for you to understand why when you share Sniff! ($9.99, Simon & Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book, ages 2-6) with your little ones. New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Matthew Van Fleet “nose” what kids like in touch and pull books and in Sniff!, he’ll draw them in instantly with the cute moving elephant on the cover and then continue to keep them engaged with all the tactile pleasures youngsters could imagine.

Van Fleet introduces a skunk (pee-yew!), a pig (wipe that drippy nose!), a mouse (with twitchy whiskers), a bear (with his squishy nose), a tiger (touch that fuzzy nose), and a whole lot more creatures who, in just a few sort board book pages and gentle rhyme will captivate your child.  Meet the author and get activities at KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com.

Today’s review is by Ronna Mandel.

Share this:

A Cat Who Can Bake and Kids Who Love to Eat Cake

Debbie Glade shares her thoughts on this imaginative chapter book.

Mrs. Noodlekugel ($14.99, Candlewick Press, ages 5 and up) is a charming chapter book about a boy and his sister, who discover a tiny house sandwiched between tall buildings behind their apartment. The janitor in their building tells them a nice old lady lives there, though they should not bother her at all. But kids being kids, naturally their curiosity leads them to explore where they are told not to go.

What they discover is a secret garden and a friendly old lady whose house smells like fresh-baked goodies. It is there that Mrs. Noodlekugel introduces the children to a cat who can bake and play the piano, among other things and a few other interesting creatures too. There’s a nice surprise for the children when they tell their parents they have been to the old lady’s house.

Here’s a book that in addition to being very imaginative, also reads like a quirky, yet wholesome adventure every young child would love to have. Who wouldn’t want to be treated to yummy fresh-baked goods while interacting with endearing animals with human characteristics?!  Along with the story are some cute cartoon-like black and white illustrations by Adam Stower. Author Daniel Pinkwater, who has written many popular books, generally bases his characters on people he knows in real life. This leaves us asking the question: Who is the Mrs. Noodlekugel in his life?!

If you read and love this book, you’ll be happy to know the adventures continue in 2013 with Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice.

Share this:

Make Time to be a Kid!

Just the title, The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister ($16.95, Flashlight Press, ages 5 and up) made me want to read this book. Written by Linda Ravin Lodding, this is a story written as much for parents as it is for kids.

Ernestine is a typical girl, who likes to play like other kids her age. But Ernestine’s parents have so many activities scheduled for her, that there is no time for fun. Between school homework, sculpting class, ballet, tuba, karate and even yodeling and knitting lessons, Ernestine hasn’t a minute of free time.

One afternoon, Ernestine’s tells her nanny that she is going to the park and refuses to go to her planned extracurricular lessons. What do you suppose happens when Ernestine’s yodeling teacher reports to Mr. and Mrs. Buckmeister that their daughter is missing from class?

In this age of overachieving children and over-parenting parents, this book teaches a valuable lesson – that kids are kids, and they need their playtime. In addition to the wonderful storyline, you and your child will love the fabulously creative and colorful illustrations by Suzanne Beaky as much as I do.

If you are the type of parent who over-schedules your children’s activities, this book will make you see things in a new and brighter light. You’ll want to take your child and run through a park, throw a ball or just sit on a blanket and look up at the clouds together. Ernestine Buckmeister teaches you there’s simply no better way to spend your time.

Share this:

Inside The Pages of a Great Book

OTTO, THE BOOK BEAR 

It should come as no surprise that I will always read books that are about books and in this book I immediately found myself charmed by Otto, The Book Bear ($16.99, Disney/Hyperion, ages 3-7) by Katie Cleminson. Imagine living inside a book on a shelf in someone’s house. Well that’s exactly where Otto, the book bear lives. Imagine also that this adorable page-sized brown bear could come alive “when no one was looking.”

What fun for Otto to explore the world not found in fiction, but for real. Real furniture, flowers and even a typewriter on which to compose his own tales. However Otto’s favorite thing was having children read his book especially the children who owned the book.  But sadly, one day Otto discovered the house empty, its owners having moved on and boxes of books forgotten or abandonned. Left to fend for himself and find a new home, Otto searches in vain but nothing seems to stack up to much. That is until Otto finds a welcoming new home, filled with books galore and lots of new friends, too.

Between Cleminson’s wonderful language and captivating artwork, this book is sure to be a crowd pleaser at storytimes, at bedtime or anytime for that matter. There is always time to read when a book is as engaging as Otto, The Book Bear.

 

Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Share this:
Back To Top