Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
If you have ever appreciated the incongruity of a little house amisdst high-rise city buildings you will enjoy Mrs. Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater. When two siblings, Maxine and Nick, move into a new apartment, Maxine discovers a cute little house set in the backyard of the their tall apartment building. Meet Mrs. Noodlekugel, her piano playing cat Mr. Fuzzface, and four farsighted mice.
Mrs. Noodlekugel is a short chapter book that’s perfect for early elementary students who are ready to move on from early readers to chapter books. Loaded with Daniel Pinkwater whimsy, this is a book that adults will also enjoy.
The Dark is a brand new picture book from two children's books luminaries: Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen. Laszlo is a boy who is afraid of the dark until he actually gets to know it. The dark lives in the basement but comes to visit Laszlo upstairs in his room one night. Then Laszlo goes down to the basement. All of this sounds terribly foreboding but is refreshingly resolved.
The Dark could be helpful with those ever common afraid of the dark childhood fears. But the way that the dark and Laszlo are presented with language and illustration is well worth the read for any age.
Sitting in front of the town's general store, Ms. Pettway explains to Alex why Belle the mule is allowed to browse freely in her garden. The mule is revered in the little farm town of Gee's Bend, Alabama, for her role in the civil rights movement. In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Gee’s Bend to speak, encouraging everyone assembled to register to vote. People from Gee’s Bend took the ferry to Camden across the river in order to register. Belle helped to convey citizens from Gee's Bend all the way around - the long way - after racist ferry operators closed the ferry to the people who wanted to register to vote.
Belle is especially revered in the town because she is one of the two mules that served to honor Dr. King's wish that mules from Gee's Bend pull the farm wagon that would hold his burial casket. King had visited Gee’s Bend on several occasions. Community members from Gee’s Bend traveled elsewhere to march in protest with him. Based on a true story, this picture book portrays one moment in the American civil rights movement. The story was passed on to the author by the Reverend James E. Orange, who worked with Dr. King and remembered his connection with the community of Gee’s Bend.
Belle, the Last Mule at Gee's Bend
At the beginning of The Chamber in the Sky, the fourth and
final book in the Norembugan quartet, Brian and Gregory are lucky to be alive.
The Thusser horde have already colonized the minds of the inhabitants of the
Vermont subdivision where it all began after The Game of Sunken Places. Brian
and Gregory, along with their blue-blooded elfin companion Gwynyfer have to
find a travelling chamber that contains the off switch to the centuries-long
game if they hope to make it back to Vermont. M.T. Anderson is a fine
storyteller and funny. What a unique blend of laugh out loud moments along with
genuinely thrilling plot twists and turns. The four-part series will probably be
most enjoyed by 10 and ups.
The Chamber in the Sky
When I read the new picture book Sky Color, I was reminded of a fascinating piece from Radiolab called "Why Isn't the Sky Blue?". In different ways, Peter Reynolds' new picture book and the Radiolab program acknowledge that the color concept of a clear blue sky may be largely a social and linguistic construction.
In Sky Color, Marisol has the opportunity to share in painting a mural in her school library. When she can't find the color blue, which she thinks she needs for the sky, she thinks a bit more on how to represent the sky on her mural. That night, she has a dream and realizes she may not need the color blue to present the color of the sky after all.
Sky Color is the third in a series of picture books by Peter H. Reynolds about creativity. The first two titles are The Dot and Ish.
Drumming, by Ian Adams, is a good introduction to playing drum set. This new nonfiction title for beginning drummers shows the different kinds of equipment used to get started playing the drums along with good advice on safe drumming (ear plugs) and finding a teacher. An explanation of musical notation specific to drums, grooves and styles, inspiring highlights on influential rhythmic creators like Stewart Copeland, Cindy Blackman, and DJ Afrika Bambaataa plus great images of drummers from a wide variety of musical genres make this a great read for upper elementary, middle school, and teen readers.
With fuzzy memories of the film version of the original book by Ian Fleming, and having read and enjoyed some other titles by Frank Cottrell Boyce, I was excited to hear about the new book based on the eponymous magical flying car. In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, Chitty is manifested in a 1966 camper van purchased by Mum, beautifully restored by recently unemployed Dad and son Jem. The Tooting family also includes older sister Lucy and Little Harry, both important characters in the plot.
I really enjoyed Boyce's new book and so I went back to Fleming's original and the movie musical version. They're both so much fun in their own special ways. This new installment in the Chitty franchise is as different from the 1968 Albert R. Broccoli movie adaptation as that movie was from Ian Fleming's original. They all take off from the real-life legend of Count Zborowski's 1920 custom built chain-drive super-fast race car in one way or another, however. And while Fleming didn't live to see the MGM film production or the publication of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, his only title written for children, Fleming clearly had a great imagination beyond Bond. You can enjoy them all at KPL. I think I can safely say that I Geek Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
Going off to work isn't always easy for parent or child. Monday is One Day is a touching picture book that shows all kinds of families through the week. In simple verse and accessible illustrations, preschool children are portrayed with their caregivers in everyday heading-off-to-work activities in this "love note from a working parent to a child". Monday is One Day might help to ease youngsters' separation anxiety when mom or dad need to head off to work. It's also a simple and beautiful celebration family togetherness.
Monday is One Day