Book Buzz Blog

Hilarious Series

Right now there is a sick kid upstairs, reading and coughing. And laughing, in between coughs. "Mom, this book is hilarious!" he manages to squeak out, somewhat breathlessly. When I ask what the book is, I'm told, "This Book is Not Good For You," which doesn't sound like a promising read when you are ill. The plot summary includes something about adventure, chocolate, and kidnapping. And a narrator who writes himself into the story, sometimes even falling asleep for pages at a time.

Creating Geniuses, One Book at a Time

    If your children watched the “Baby Einstein” videos, but failed to turn into geniuses, you can get your money back.  A recently settled suit against Disney, the owner of the popular series, asserts that the claim that the videos are educational is unfair and deceptive.  Parents can get a refund of $15.99 for up to four of the videos.  


    Fortunately, at least one way to help your child to grow intellectually is free and widely available.  You guessed it – reading to your child from books you can borrow from your local public library.  Not only is it free, but numerous studies show the benefits of early read-aloud sessions.  Just pick up one of our “Every Child Ready to Read” brochures, and plunge in!

Let Teens Pick Their Own Books!

 A recent New York Times article on school reading has been making the rounds among librarians, teachers and parents.  In “A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like,” Motoko Rich reports on the “reading workshop” model of engaging middle school students in reading.  Unlike the traditional assignments, where the whole class reads and analyzes a classic book together, this approach encourages kids to choose their own titles.  “If your goal is simply to get them to read more, choice is the way to go,” says one literacy professor.
 At local middle schools, even kids with assigned reading can participate in a voluntary reading program. Café Book, a collaboration between the public library and eight middle schools in Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania, encourages seventh and eighth graders to read from a list of twenty new books, discuss them during lunch periods, and vote on their favorites.

New Books for New Readers

    “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”  This saying, attributed to Pascal, applies perfectly to books for beginning readers.  Writing a seven-hundred-page novel is quite an accomplishment, but some writers might argue that writing a thirty-two page reader with limited vocabulary is even more challenging.  Here are a few recent examples of the best.

Words Into Pictures

 One of the most popular displays in our children’s rooms showcases children’s books that have been made into movies.  For every reader who complains, “the book was better!”, there’s another who delightedly discovers that a favorite movie was based on a good book.
 Currently in theaters is “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” an animated movie based on the picture book of the same name by Judi Barrett.  Translating a 32-page picture book into a 90-minute film means adding more characters and plot twists, but the critics seem to be positive about the results.

Who Was First?

“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two/ Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”  But there’s more to the story.  As Columbus Day approaches, take a new look at the explorer in Russell Freedman’s “Who Was First? Discovering the Americas.” 

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie

 Lauren Thompson’s story begins, “This is the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked.”  But how did Papa make the pie?  Start with apples, “juicy and red,” then the tree, “crooked and strong,” and so on until we come to “the world, blooming with life, that spins with the sun, fiery and bright…” 
 Perfect for this time of year, “The Apple Pie That Papa Baked” is a rollicking picture book illustrated by Jonathan Bean in tones of cream, sepia, black and red, evoking classic illustrations by Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gag. 

In Search of Ancient Humans

She’s only four feet tall and 110 pounds, but little “Ardi” is causing a sensation among paleoanthropologists. Earlier this month, after fifteen years of research, scientists reported that they had identified Ardi’s skeleton as the oldest hominid known to modern humans. Ardipithecus ramidus, as she is formally known, lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. She’s remarkable not just for her age, but for what she tells us about human evolution. Scientists are re-arranging the human family tree in light of this new research.

          Up until Ardi’s discovery, Lucy was the most famous hominid skeleton, and she is still important to an understanding of human evolution. Catherine Thimmesh tells her story for readers ten and up in her new book, “Lucy Long Ago, Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From.”
 

Fall Into New Books

 The next time you’re in the library, take a look at some of the newest books to grace library shelves.  Readers of all ages will be entranced with Jerry Pinkney’s wordless edition of Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse.”  The story of kindness rewarded has a simple plot filled with action, just right for a wordless treatment.

New Booklist: Imaginations Run Wild!

Let your own imagination run wild with these books from our newest booklist.