Book Buzz Blog

Boys Against Girls by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Boys Against Girls

Does your town have an elusive creature called an abaguchie roaming around and causing trouble? The abaguchie is the local legend in the town of Buckman, West Virginia. Ever since the Malloy girls moved across the street from the Hatford boys it has been a constant war of practical jokes and attempts at humiliating the other. The Hatford boys Jake, Josh, Wally and Peter just cannot stand Eddie, Beth and Caroline Malloy and want them to go back to Ohio. They scheme and plot in order to make the Malloy girls hate Buckman. However, the Malloy girls do not take this lying down and vow to get even.

The newest Hatford scheme is actually a town legend and that is the abaguchie. No one in Buckman has actually gotten a good look at the abaguchie but things mysteriously disappear when a townsperson has claimed to have seen it. The Hatford’s use the legend of the abaguchie to scare the Malloy girls and it is a running theme throughout the book.

Poetrees by Douglas Florian

Poetrees by Douglas Florian

Whether you’re “nuts about the coconut,” or think the Japanese Cedar is “ex-seed-ingly fine,” you’ll be drawn into this amazingly creative celebration of trees. I have to say that the statement on the cover was right – I loved this book “tree-mendously!”

Be prepared to have your ideas of books and poetry turned sideways! Poetrees by Douglas Florian is formatted to take advantage of the height created when opened. I’ll go out on a limb and say it is the best combination of words, layout and art I’ve seen in a long time. Whether it is the words of “The Seed” printed in the form of an infinity symbol to show how the life of trees is a cycle or the words in “Roots” that cascade down the page, much like roots sink into the soil, the arrangement of text on the pages adds another layer of meaning to the already strong combination of vivid imagery of the poems and the inspired illustrations. Poetrees is just an amazingly beautiful and effective book.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas, by Keith Baker, will bring a smile to parents who have heard their children slur the middle letters together as they sing the alphabet song. This engaging book is populated by lively Peas whose occupations and activities match the letters of the alphabet. These little “pea-ple” are acrobats and explorers, parachutists and X-ray doctors.

Baker’s colorful illustrations bring the peas to life as they bicycle across the pages to the finish line, dive underwater or juggle dishes. The images are simple and clear, perfect for reading aloud to a group, but with plenty of detail to invite closer looking. Parents will enjoy such hidden treasures as “The King” singing for the kayakers. See if you can find the ladybug hiding in every two-page spread. 

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Kitten’s First Full Moon

Have you ever mistaken an object for something other than what it truly is? That is exactly what happens to sweet, hungry and unlucky Kitten in Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. She mistakes the first full moon she has ever seen for a big bowl of milk in the sky. She tries numerous methods to capture the bowl of milk, such as pouncing, chasing, and climbing a tree to reach it, but all attempts lead to dismal results. Then, Kitten becomes overwhelmed with excitement when she believes she has found an even bigger bowl of milk in the pond. Not realizing it is the full moon’s reflection in the water, Kitten leaps into the pond and gets soaked! Throughout the story Kitten is relentless. As the author says multiple times in the book “still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting” and Kitten is determined to get it. Readers will delight in Kitten’s unrestrained and enthusiastic spirit.

Happy Birthday, Monster! by Scott Beck

Happy Birthday, Monster!

There's a lot more to Happy Birthday, Monster! than just monsters. Sure, there is a mummy, a skeleton, a vampire, and a ghost involved, but there's an alien and a robot too. That is not a problem. Diversity is great, especially when dealing with guys and gals like these.

This bunch is just looking to have a good time at their friend Doris' (a lizard creature of sorts) birthday. Devilish Ben is throwing the bash, and early on we see him brushing and flossing his teeth... and then brushing and flossing his horns.

The fun of Scott Beck's book is seeing how each of these very different characters interact with each other.  The book explores what happens when the ghost slow dances ("You're very light on your feet.") or when the robot falls in love with an ordinary houselamp.

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Shark vs. Train

The unlikeliest foes of all time are put to a series of tests. One is a fearsome predator, the other a powerful example of human innovation. Contests, races, and video games are all necessary when trying to figure out who is better. It's teeth vs. wheels. It's beast vs. machine! It’s Shark vs. Train!
 
What starts as two boys’ simple search through a toy box spirals into the possibilities of pitting these very different opponents against each other and predicting what might happen. Now I know what you are thinking: there are a million differences between a shark and a train, and that is part of the fun. This book is the extreme equivalent of comparing apples to oranges.

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)

A bright young girl runs through the chaos of demolished streets. Plumes of black smoke rise from the rubbled buildings. No one else is in sight. Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) is a life lesson that everyone should receive: always take responsibility for your actions, particularly when they involve a ginormous hulking robot with the power to crush cars and shoot lasers every which way.
 
Usually when my school science projects went wrong, it was more of a mild disappointment than anything else. My baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano did not erupt. I received a C- instead of an B+. These are minor hiccups when compared to our main character’s situation. Oh No! allows us to think about our own mistakes and say, “Well, it could have been worse…much, much worse.”

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade

School is almost out, but pirates are most definitely still in, which is why it is wonderful to come across a picture book like A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. In it, a young boy gets ready for his first day of school, accompanied by all of his imaginary pirate friends. He awakens to his scurvy dog happily licking his face, but there’s no time to wait! Ye must set sheets to the wind and sail!

The text, all in pirate talk, might be a bit distancing at first, but with a glossary in the back and the clear illustrations, I think most young first mates will be able to figure out what’s going on. A parent could even make up a game with their child, figuring out what “Gangway me hearties!” could possibly mean.

 

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles

In A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine, young Elodie embarks on her journey to Two Castles with the warning of her family ringing in her ears: beware of ogres and dragons, and, even worse, the whited sepulcher. Elodie’s parents think she will apprentice to a weaver. But headstrong, independent Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. As she nears Two Castles, Elodie discovers that the free,10-year apprenticeships have been abolished. She does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship or to pay for the voyage home. What will she do? How will she survive?

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.