by Lane Smith
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars (not for kids!)
This book quickly made the rounds at work and we were all giggling hysterically. The woman with a 14-year-old daughter and I were the only ones to get the page where the donkey reduces a page of Moby Dick to texting acronyms (the 30-something, fairly tech-savvy woman and older women did not get that part at all) and it was one of my favorites. I am reluctant to say too much more to give away the magic, but the last page is priceless. Please note, this book is much more for adults. Definitely read it first if you are concerned about mild swearing in front of your innocent little one(s).
by Mo Willems
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
In the same vein of “more for adults than kids” comes Knuffle Bunny Free. I’m going to take this time to restate how much I enjoy Mo Willems. While my life would not suffer for the loss of the Pigeon (which I just find really hard to read convincingly, given that I don’t do voices), I enjoy Elephant and Piggie and have loved the style and content of the Knuffle Bunny books. He was also featured in this film I saw last Tuesday, and was pretty funny. I was pleasantly surprised by the title of this one, feeling that it was clever and yet indicated it was tied in to the series number in a cute, kiddie way. They all make me tear up, this last one the most. It came in on hold for someone and we quickly passed it around before putting it on the hold shelf (shh, don’t tell). Our little Trixie is growing up! Go join her for the ride!
by Brian Selznick
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
This book is amazing. On one hand, it seems completely natural once you’re in the story that the narration switches between words and drawings. You hardly notice it and the drawings are so intricate that they are almost photograph-like. Every once in a while I realized that these were drawings, most likely done in pencil, and the level of detail and shading is absolutely amazing. The story is nothing to sneeze at either; bringing together characters of very different backgrounds in a story that wraps up fairly neatly and interestingly. Go check it out!
Last Tuesday, I went to see this film and hear the panel (Lois Lowry, Jerry Pinkney, Leslea Newman, Padma Venkatraman, Roger Sutton and the filmmakers) speak. It was incredibly inspiring and I was sad to have to leave early! Hopefully this film will soon be available to the general public.
by Maryrose Wood
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
This book asks you to suspend a lot of reality to make it work. However, if you are 7 years old and wondering just how three children around your age might act if they were actually raised by wolves, that might just be what you are looking to do. Miss Penelope Lumley, at 15 a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is placed as governess to Lord and Lady Ashton to take care of three half-wild children found on their property. After an unusual interview process in which she does not meet the children until after she has accepted the job, she discovers them on her own when her animal-loving instincts hear their cries from the barn. In a few short months she has them cleaned up, practicing niceties and working on saying words with less howling and more talking. Apparently they are supposed to be siblings; the main trouble I had with this book was that the author expected us to believe that they were all abandoned together, around the same time, so the oldest would have been at least 4 or 5 and definitely speaking English. However, there is enough humor in it, especially regarding Penelope’s proper upbringing, to forgive all the holes. There are also some darker themes, especially Lord and Lady Ashton’s relationship, but probably the target audience for this book is too young to pick up on that. Overall solid and entertaining.
by Liz Kessler
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
I mentioned Philippa before, when I first bought the book, and was happy to finally get to her. I originally learned of Philippa Fisher from one of my favorite third graders last year. I was worried that it would be too sparkly and girly for me, but aside from a few choice descriptions, it really wasn’t. It was more the story of a girl who gets three wishes and wants to change her dorky family and her popularity status, but along the way learns those oh-so-important lessons about friendship, bullying, popularity, dorkiness, and parental love. You might be able to guess what she does with that third wish, but it’s how she got there and what the fairy godsister had to do with it that got me. There is a sequel, Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter, but I’m skeptical based on how they set up the fairy godsister system in the first book – namely, that they have one limited-time assignment with a client and then must move on. I’m not sure I’ll read any more, but I really liked Philippa and Daisy’s (the fairy) relationship. I could see this being a great book for those who have outgrown the Rainbow Magic books and want something with a little more meat to it, but don’t want to leave fairies behind forever.