Monthly Archives: May 2013

Mrs. Lilly is Silly

by Dan Gutman
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

This is book 3 in the My Weird School series. I haven’t read any others but I imagine they are pretty similar. The only thing that bugged me was that Mrs. Lilly encouraged the kids to make up deliberately misleading headlines, but maybe that will help kids clue into the fact that media is biased and not all publications can be trusted. Hopefully it won’t clue kids into the fact that they should make things up about other people! But the resolution helps dissuade that point of view. These books are an early chapter book series to keep kids reading, but personally I’m more likely to recommend Captain Underpants if the silly factor is what’s required.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Movie and Book

by Roald Dahl
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

We showed the movie at work so I had to reread the book. I knew when I saw the movie a few years ago that they had changed things and expanded the plot a lot but I forgot exactly what other than the whole subplot with the nephew. The actual story is pretty simple and short. The movie is fine, but has a ton more backstory that was not in the original book. The movie is very well done, but then, I’m a sucker for George Clooney, what can I say. I assume everyone’s read the book, but if you haven’t, I recommend it!

Whales on Stilts

by M.T. Anderson
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I found this book funny, in that the adults were completely clueless and useless, but I’m not convinced that kids would find it as funny. Certainly the plot was ridiculous and whimsical (and I felt the same way about Anderson’s contribution to the Exquisite Corpse book) and so fans of Kate DiCamillo might also enjoy it. There was some hetero-normative stuff, and some sexist bits, but overall I liked it. I especially liked that the whale invasion was thwarted by Lily’s listening to her grandmother’s wisdom. I am a special fan of books that show respect for elders.

From the Librarian Extraordinaire, whose book club gobbled it up: “The kids LOVED it – highlights were humor, “super hero” characters, constant surprises and cliff-hangers. Also, it was short. There was a lot packed into a smaller, shorter books.”

Elijah of Buxton

by Christopher Paul Curtis
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I am a fan of CPC’s (as I like to think of him), even though I couldn’t get into Bud, Not Buddy. I like his style and the way he writes how a child would think. Some of naïve Elijah’s thoughts trying to figure out how “growed folks” think are absolutely hilarious, yet you can understand why he would be confused. He is a literalist and has trouble with grownups’ sarcasm and gentle teasing, even though he’s eleven years old and most kids get a handle on sarcasm earlier than that. But he talks the whole book about how his parents think of him as a “fra-gile” child and you really sense how he grows up over the course of the book.

Retold by James Vance Marshall
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Mythology

Personal Evaluation: I have always been fascinated by aboriginal culture and stories and learned as much as I could while living abroad in Australia. However, I had not heard most of these stories before, but it was really cool to know the places and animals they were talking about and how the Aborigines say they were formed.

What might interest children: The illustrations are very different and may not appeal to them, but the stories are well-told and there is a page of explanation after each one. It is very much geared toward a non-Australian audience, which is helpful for American kids to understand the context of the stories.