Book Buzz Blog

08/01/2013 - 3:02am
My New Teacher and Me! by Al Yankovic

Getting ready for back-to-school, but not ready to pack away the fun? Al Yankovic’s My New Teacher and Me! is as welcome for the last weeks of summer as an ice cream truck after a long, hot day at the pool.  In this rollicking story, Mr. Booth’s strict rules have met their match in Billy, a bright-eyed boy who shows up for the first day of class with a wide-open imagination. Disapproving Mr. Booth spots the dirt on Billy’s shirt immediately! Billy quickly—and politely—tells him how that came to be:

“I was digging to China out in my backyard.

And I almost was there when—I hit something hard!

Well, I dug, and I dug, and I dug a bit more

And discovered the skull of a real dinosaur!

“And I would have cleaned up, sir, but hey, I’m no fool—

I just couldn’t be late on the first day of school!”

Bow-tied and sour, Mr. Booth says his tale sounds highly unlikely, but as Billy points out, “the awesome-est things in the world often are!”

07/22/2015 - 4:45pm
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, by Viviane Schwarz, is part comic, part how-to guide, and all around a hilarious way to use your imagination to make something cool. It follows the story of a child who receives a cardboard box with the title phrase written across it.

From there, we explore the fun and logistics of making your own personal robot costume. The book explains the materials you need, tasks that might require adult assistance, and potential hazards to be aware of during your robot's construction. With this guide, your imagination is your only limit.

07/22/2015 - 4:43pm
Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics is an all-star line-up of cartoonists and illustrators who use their artistic chops to put fun spins on all sorts of old rhymes and songs. Fifty rhymes adapted by fifty cartoonists. Woo-hoo! I'd like to take a moment to point some choice selections.

07/11/2013 - 3:03am
The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Vladimir Vagin

The old king was beloved, but he had died, leaving in his place a handsome, intelligent and rich son. That was the good part.  The bad part—in addition to those sterling qualities, Raphael was a grasping, cold-hearted, and vain young man. He was angry, too. Before his father died, he gave him a blessing that seemed more like a curse. Raphael could make all the horrible laws he wanted to, but he could not wear the crown until he found a girl to marry him who was The King’s Equal—as rich, good-looking, and intelligent as he is, and Raphael wanted that crown.

07/05/2013 - 10:37am
Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.

06/20/2013 - 3:31am
Uncle Andy's by James Warhola

Ah, the wacky uncle. He is an institution as old as the concept of family itself. Many can claim to have one, but few can say that his uncle is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. That's where Uncle Andy's, by James Warhola, figures in.

Before Warhol was a painter, a filmmaker, and a celebrity, he was Andrew Warhola. After college, he shortened his name and left his home in Pittsburgh to start an art career in Manhattan. But back in Steel City was Andy's older brother Paul, who worked in a junkyard and was father to seven children, one of whom was our author/illustrator James. Paul used a lot of the trash he found to make sculptures, and if he found something particularly unusual, he would bring it to Andy.

07/24/2015 - 4:52pm
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

"This hat is not mine. I just stole it."

This is Not My Hat invites us into the mind of a tiny fish who cares nothing for his underwater brethren.  The fish offers many reasons why he will succeed in his crime, why he deserves the hat over the much bigger fish he snatched it from. Obviously, we are dealing with a sociopath here.

02/26/2016 - 4:53pm
Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert
It’s Saturday afternoon on a working farm in the Midwest. Kids ride along as baled hay is taken to the barn. At 12:15 PM, lightning strikes a power line. That gets the attention of the people in the truck and the animals in the fields... and under the fields. In >Thunderstorm, by Arthur Geisert, there are almost no words, the only “words” are time signatures as the thunderstorm rolls across the farm, getting stronger and causing problems for everyone around.

07/22/2015 - 4:40pm
Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down! by Mark Alan Stamaty

I have never liked getting haircuts. There is just too much room for miscommunication. Too much of a chance for a top-of-the-head surprise that won’t go away. Recently, I have figured out a way around any chance of miscommunication.

“Just make it look like Elvis.”

Shake, Rattle & Turn that Noise Down! is a beautifully illustrated coming-of-age story by Mark Alan Stamaty. He is best known as a political cartoonist, and here his caricatured drawings serve his personal story of discovering Elvis Presley, to the chagrin of his poor mother.

05/24/2013 - 8:51am
The Dark by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Fear of the dark is fear of the unknown. If you are unable to see what is out there, your imagination is quite adept at filling in the frightening gaps for you. 

The Dark, by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, focuses on Laszlo, a young boy who tries to preempt the dark from visiting his room at night by meeting it where it lives during the day, down in the basement. Poor Laszlo finds that his journey does little good after his nightlight burns out one evening. What's more, the dark wants to show Laszlo something.


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