Staff Picks: Books

From Norvelt to nowhere

Reading a book by Jack Gantos can be a wild and crazy ride, in a good way- you never know what’s coming up next. That’s one of the things I like about his books. He doesn’t talk down to kids, either, or try to sugar coat the world. And he’s funny.

His book for kids and young adults, “Dead End in Norvelt”, won the Newbery Award. Now Gantos has written a sequel, “From Norvelt to Nowhere”. Twelve year old Jack lives in a small Pennsylvania town, with his mom; it’s the Cuban missile era. Jack’s mom arranges for him to accompany slightly mad old Miss Volker to New York City. She’s ostensibly going to pay homage to Eleanor Roosevelt, but Jack and Miss Volker are also on the track of an elusive murderer. And that’s just the start of this road trip story, filled with eccentric characters and lots of action.

Book

From Norvelt to nowhere
9780374379940

A Very Big Deal

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that Ron Burgundy: Let Me Off at the Top! My classy life & other musings, the new book by legendary fake news anchor Ron Burgundy, is by far the best movie tie-in fake biography of a fictional character that I’ve read this year. The book not only presents the rich, dare I say majestic, life story of Mr. Burgundy, but also offers readers the kind of practical advice that only comes from a life lived at top speed without brakes. That is, the life of a local TV news anchor. Burgundy’s tips on parenting, like instilling confidence in a ten-year-old by teaching them to drive on the freeway, along with his essential “rules for living through a prison riot” are priceless, pure Burgundy and worth their weight in gold. As the man himself says in the introduction to Let Me Off at the Top!, this book is a gift. If you are a silly person looking for a very silly read, it is a very nice gift indeed. Stay classy.

Books

Ron Burgundy: Let Me Off at the Top!
9780804139571

Takedown Twenty

Stephanie Plum and Lula are at it again. It’s a formula that works, Stephanie Plum is a cute, bumbling bounty hunter. She is torn between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger. Morelli is a former bad boy turned cop and Ranger is a mysterious man who runs a security company, can open any locked door and shows up just in time to save Stephanie over and over, mostly because he has trackers in her purses, cars etc. In Takedown Twenty Stephanie is after Salvatore "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi who ran over a guy twice. Finding Sunny is problematic. Bella puts the evil eye on Stephanie. Stephanie, as she does in every book, needs Rangers help and wreaks and loses cars. Janet Evanovich, the author, in this book changed up the animal from a monkey, which we have seen in a couple of previous books to a Giraffe which Lula keeps trying to find and feed. The fun is in the reading, not the solving or capturing of the criminal. If you look at the back cover I think Stephanie Plum is Janet Evonovich’s alter ego.

Book

Takedown Twenty
9780345542885

A Wild and Crazy Guy

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown caught my eye a few weeks ago. This humorous and thought provoking picture book starts out by focusing on Mr. Tiger’s very uptight lifestyle; prim, proper, and oh, so boring! Being unhappy with the phony baloney circumstances of his town (where all the animal inhabitants walk upright and wear dreary, monochromatic, Victorian era clothing), makes him want to turn over a new leaf. He first decides to loosen up a bit by getting down on all fours. Right off the bat, this makes him feel like a brand new, more natural tiger. To celebrate this newly found life’s joy and to let off some pent up steam, he roars his loudest roar ever!

All his animal friends are shocked by this behavior. Mr. Tiger’s new ways are totally unacceptable and against all the proper protocols of their little society. But the animal citizens of this somber and stodgy town haven’t seen anything yet, as Mr. Tiger discards his fussy top hat, his drab suit and his oh, so sensible shoes. Au naturel, he runs into the wilderness to bond with the truly natural world that surrounds him, with his orange, white and black streaked fur on fast, furious and fabulous display.

However there is one drawback to this self imposed exile to freedom; he misses his friends and even the city he escaped from. After a while he returns to see that a lot has changed for the better there; more tolerance and freedom for all. By taking that first risky step himself and leading by example, Mr. Tiger made a positive impression on his friends and they in turn made positive changes in their own lives as well. In short, everyone was much happier being themselves. And that was indeed a very good --- no, a very great thing!

The message of the necessity to be true to oneself, and that by adopting this adage other good things will follow, could not be more clearly expressed than in this simply written, yet visually sophisticated volume.

It’s a Roaring good time!

Book

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
9780316200639

The Wish List

I love the way Eoin Colfer writes. I was hooked on his book “Benny and Omar” then I got hooked on the Artemis Fowl series. I just finished his book “The Wish List” and am still happy with his brand of writing. In The Wish List Meg and Belch are robbing an old man. Meg is reluctant and basically a good girl but Belch is rotten. When the old man pulls a shotgun Belch sic’s Raptor, his Rottweiler on the old man. Meg tries to help out, Belch is not happy. Meg jumps out the window and Belch follows her. Belch has the shotgun and in the ensuing struggle it goes off and a gas generator explodes killing Meg, Belch and Raptor. Now the twist, up until then it was a regular story but Eoin Colfer does not write just regular stories. Meg finds herself given a second chance. St. Peter gives her a chance to redeem herself and he sends her back to earth to help the old man. Belch has merged with his dog Raptor and the Devil has sent back him back to make sure Meg fails so he could get her soul. It makes an entertaining read.

Book

The Wish List
9780786818631

Light and fluffy

Bagels may not often described with the above adjectives, but Sharon Kahn’s Fax me a bagel definitely fits the bill.  The first in her Ruby, the rabbi’s wife series, it is a quick and enjoyable read, with quirky characters and old technology (published in 1998 – can that really be fifteen years ago already – facsimile technology and the necessary accoutrements of a business have come a long way).  If you enjoy this title, you’ll be pleased to know that we have the rest of the series, which are six in total.  Just beware: you may finish reading with a craving for bagels, though you may be as lucky as I was – and coincidentally be offered one.  Just in case it wasn’t a coincidence, my next read may be about winning the lottery!

Fax me a bagel

Book
9780684847375

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old boy genius who kidnaps a fairy in order to get her gold. This is the first in a series and is titled Artemis Fowl. Artemis is what every 12 year old boy wants to be. His mom has dementia so he is not hampered by her rules and having to go to school, yet he does miss her and would still like to have her back as his mom. Artemis has a man servant with the last name of Butler who is huge and protects Artemis. The first thing that happens is that Artemis captures a fairy book. With this first chapter we are introduced to Artemis and find out that he has a castle, has a great computer network, that he is always two steps ahead of everyone and that Butler is very strong and dedicated. Artemis uses the knowledge in this fairy book to ambush Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy unit. He holds her hostage and demands a ton of gold. The fairies try to get Holly back but are defeated time after time by Artemis. Root, a commander in the LEPrecon unit decides to send in a dwarf named Mulch. This book is written for a teen age audience. It is heavy into to fairies, dwarfs, goblins, trolls etc. It also has the gassy fart humor that teen age boys enjoy. The drawf can unhinge his jaw and tunnel through dirt. Prior to starting he also opens the back flap of his tunneling pants because what goes in the jaw comes out the other end. He also builds up a tremendous amount of air pressure and he actually is able to use this to incapacitate Butler. This book is full of details about fairy life. This is book one of a series. I got my copy from KPL's digital audio collection but we also have them in hard copy. I look forward to “reading” (having them read to me) the others.

Book

Artemis Fowl
9780786817078

Habits of the house

I was excited to discover that Fay Weldon has a new novel out, Habits of the house, the first of a planned trilogy. Set in England at the end of the 19th century, it follows the attempts of the Earl of Dilberne to solidify his family’s financial situation. From a brief summary I’ve read, it sounds like a rich American heiress might save this titled British family teetering on the brink of financial ruin, but in Weldon’s hands, it is sure to be a compelling and surprising read (and surely all the Dilbernes’ problems will not be solved by the end of the first book).

When I learned of the existence of this book, I immediately placed a hold on it, and I’m going to read it while I await the arrival of Mary Roach’s newest book, Gulp.

Book

Habits of the house
9781250026620

My Heart Is an Idiot

Davy Rothbart’s life is anything but ordinary.  This Ann Arbor native and creator of Found Magazine has an endless yearning for new experiences, exhibits a complete fearlessness of strangers, and falls in “love” with every pretty girl he meets, however briefly that meeting may be (if you have dark eyes, long hair, and work at a Subway—watch out!).  My Heart Is an Idiot, Rothbart’s new collection of essays, chronicles the adventures he stumbles upon, or rather creates, in his travels across the U.S.  Rothbart has the ability to make friends with anyone and everyone, and that talent, combined with a restlessness that compels him to constantly be on the move, makes for some very crazy encounters.  Hitchhiking?  There’s plenty of that.  Traveling across the country for a girl he barely knows?  Sure!  Dead man in a pool?  Yeah, he found one once.  I can’t say that his writing is the best or that his constant pursuit of unrealistic romance didn’t get tiresome, but the weird situations and odd coincidences in these stories make My Heart Is an Idiot entertaining. His heart is definitely an idiot, but at least it’s a charming, adventurous one.

Book

My Heart Is an Idiot
9780374280840

Apocalypse or family visit...

…the library has you covered.  The world may end in nine days (and many of our survival skill books are checked out already), but if it doesn’t, you may want to check out The worst-case scenario survival handbook: holidays.  According to the cover, it will show you how to prevail against hordes of shoppers OR reindeer.  I think it also has tips for tough family situations.

 

Book

The worst-case scenario survival handbook. Holidays
9780811835992

Care of Wooden Floors

The engaging and darkly humorous Care of Wooden Floors, a debut novel by UK journalist Will Wiles, tells the tale of a nameless house-sitter who is given the opportunity to get away from his rather drab life in London and visit a nameless eastern European city to watch over the sleek and ultra-modern apartment of an old college friend and finally concentrate without distraction on the creative writing that he tells himself he has in him. Oscar, the friend, a renowned minimalist composer and beyond serious neat freak, leaves nothing in his life to chance. As the narrator discovers a series of obsessively specific notes concerning the care of the flat, and particularly the unique wood floors, it becomes clear that there is more to the house-sitting, and more to the relationship with Oskar, than was assumed. As the story unfolds, and then absurdly unravels, a sense of schadenfreude sets in and readers will revel in the “it can’t get any worse” twists and turns as the simple house-sitting assignment morphs into a downright Kafkaesque existential struggle.

Book

Care of Wooden Floors
9780547953564

Charlie Collier Snoop for Hire



Charlie Collier: Snoop for Hire

Growing up I read every Encyclopedia Brown book. Recently Donald Sobol, the author of this series died and I was feeling nostalgic. Then I came across Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire by John Madormo.  It's not nearly the caliber of the Encyclopedia Brown series (Sorry John) but it was good enough to scratch the itch. If you recall Encyclopedia Brown had a desk and charged to solve crimes and had a girl named Sally as his "enforcer" and a bully named Bugs Meanie. Charlie has a desk in his garage and his "enforcer" is named Henry. Encyclopedia Brown had the support of his parents (his father was the police chief). Charlie has to sneak his detective work and if his parents come home too soon Henry and Charlie have to hurriedly clean up the garage. But luckily Charlie's grandmother is supportive, in more ways than you would think, but you have to read the book to find out more. Some of the solutions Charlie comes up with are a bit of a stretch. For example, his father reads in the newspaper that a man was found on the beach in Miami, no foot prints, his bones were broken but they were broken after death, cause of death was hypothermia. Charlie has the one and only possible solution, The man was a stowaway on an airplane . He stowed away in the landing gear and when it got to thirty thousand feet he froze to death, when the landing gear came down, he fell out and on to the beach. Throughout the main story there are little brain teasers like this, mostly from his assistant Henry who wants to try and stump him. You can find this book in our Children section of the library.  

Book

 

Charlie Collie Snoop for Hire

 

9780399255434

 


How to Be a Woman

When I heard a buzz about a British bestseller written by a very funny woman who wasn’t afraid to talk about feminism, I thought, “This is the book for me!” And when I checked out the book and found a blurb on it that referred to it as “the British version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants,” I thought, “this is definitely the book for me!” Although I see only a few similarities between Bossypants and Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (both written by funny women who are willing to acknowledge the difficulties of being a mother), it really was the book for me.
Caitlin Moran began her career as a columnist for Melody Maker (a British music magazine) at the ripe young age of 16. Her book is a funny but pertinent look at feminism and women in the Western world today, told through important events/mistakes over the course of her life and career. She’s warm, irreverent, and a bit crass. Reading this book felt to me like getting back in touch with an old friend and laughing about ridiculous life choices made in an effort to be a woman.

Book

How to Be a Woman
9780062124296

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder

If you can get past the title, you'll love the book. The story takes place in Oslo, Norway, days before the annual Norwegian Independence Day celebration. 11 year old Nilly has just moved to his new house where he meets his new neighbor, 11 year old Lisa. Nilly is very small - which is important to remember. Living next door to Lisa is the inventor, Doctor Proctor. Doctor Proctor has invented many things, including a powder that makes you glow green and the all important fart powder (regular strength) and fartonaut powder (extra strength). You'll also meet the not so nice twins Truls and Trym, and Anna Conda. You can decide what you think of Anna. There is intrigue, revenge, adventure, lots of laughter and of course - farts! The humor and magic has been compared to Roald Dahl. There are two more books in the series to enjoy, Bubble in the Bathtub and Who Cut the Cheese? My youngest son and I really liked the book and will be starting the next one tonight.

Book

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder
9781439156063

Wicked Business

If you are looking for a book that has a guy who can open any lock, one who can disappear in a puff of smoke, a guy who dresses in medieval armor and carries around a sword, spells that only partially work and an extremely smart monkey then Janet Evanovich's latest book "Wicked Business" might be for you. (You should read "Wicked Appetite" first). In "Wicked Business" Lizzy, the cupcake maker and sensor of magical objects, and Diesel, a magically enhanced good guy are tracking down the Luxuria stone (Latin for lust) one of the seven ancient stones that hold the power of the seven deadly sins. Professor Gilbert Reedy is tossed out of his fourth floor window. When Diesel and Lizzy show up with Carl the monkey, Carl runs up the professor's body and comes away with a tiny key in his hand. Lizzy and Diesel have to find out what the tiny key opens, solve some riddles, and find the magical stone before Wuff the magically enhanced not good guy cousin of Diesel. The fun of reading Janet Evanovich's novels is not so much the actual solve the mystery, but the journey, all the mishaps that occur along the way. Enjoy.

 

 Book

 Wicked Business

9780345527776


Another Anniversary

Guess who is observing a 60th this year? It's Lucy. In this large commemorative volume are summaries of all the episodes of "I Love Lucy," complete with photos to accompany each. Also included are recipes of foods they ate on the show, lyrics of songs they sang, and little-known facts about the production. At the back is a section that has information about, photos of, and comments by Lucille Ball's real-life family. I'm a long-term Lucy fan, and I've looked at a lot of Lucy books, but this one has much that I had never seen before. KPL also owns the DVDs for those who would be interested in watching the show.

Book 

"I love Lucy" : a celebration of all things Lucy : inside the world of television's first great sitcom 
9780762439768

Only connect

Last year when we got 11 points guide to hooking up (by Sam Greenspan, who created the site 11points.com, where he posts funny lists of 11 items “because top ten lists are for cowards”), I thought it would be funny to put it here on the blog, and then I promptly forgot all about it. Last month, while looking up relationship books for a patron,  I stumbled across it again, and checked it out for a fun, fast read. I wasn’t expecting it to contain much in the way of helpful advice, but it actually does, with lists including "11 Ideas for Fun, Memorable Dates", "11 Tips for Proposing, Wrangling, and Shining during a Threesome", and "11 Ways to Transition a Friendship into a Relationship". You’ll find it shelved with humor books, and it definitely entertains; it also hits home a lot of the time.  

Book

11 points guide to hooking up 
9781616082123

Warm Hearts and Cold Noses

Those of you who have read my previous posts here, will be well aware of my weakness when it comes to cats. We currently live with three domestic felines, and I have had the pleasure of the company of quite a few others over the years, all of whom I dearly love. However, this does not mean that I am indifferent to, much less prejudiced against, those of the canine persuasion. In fact, my affection for all animals began with dogs.

It started when as a small child living in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Parma, I laid eyes upon my first hound. I don’t really recall it’s looks, just the fact that I was instantly drawn to it and it to me. All dogs were now officially identified by me in my naïve way of thinking as my best friends ever. And there was nothing more important in my life at that time than to make friends with each and every one as soon as I saw it. By the time I was six, I was often never to be found anywhere around our house, since I was out chasing dogs of all breeds and sizes in the neighborhood. They led and I followed. Not being able to locate me and growing somewhat desperate, my mother would often resort to calling my seventeen year old cousin who had just attained his driver’s license to track me down in his ‘55 Oldsmobile. His task was to bring me home in one piece, preferably without any motley mutts in tow. My behavior never resulted in my family actually getting a dog of our own, since my mother was dead set against the idea, and her veto power was absolute. But still I was on affable terms with each and every pooch in a four block radius around our house. And to this day at family get-togethers, my childhood obsession with dogs is rich material for nostalgic anecdotes that are always good for a chuckle or two.

Just as much as I am attracted to dogs, so too am I attracted to fiction about them. As a result, I very much looked forward to reading A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Sometimes hilarious, and oftentimes heartrending, this is a rather unique work of fiction since it’s told from the dog’s perspective and is a search for the true meaning of life. While this task may be too much for most humans to contemplate, much less to seriously consider undertaking, the book proposes that it can be that much more daunting for canines. The story follows a dog who finds himself reincarnated over the course of several lives. As a result it tries to weave together a common purpose for these lives and discover how best to fulfill that purpose.

Somewhat reminiscent of Garth Stein’s 2009 novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, where a lab terrier mix narrates his experiences as a canine and observes what makes human beings “human,” Cameron’s work similarly produces a wealth of insight and emotions. As a bonus for Michiganders, Cameron, being a Michigan native himself, sets the story in various state locations.

So, if you have ever gazed into the eyes of a dog and wondered what that creature in front of you was capable of thinking, this book might help answer that question. It certainly suggests that there might be much more than just walks, sniffs, supper and squirrels on the agenda.

Book

A Dog’s Purpose
9780765326263

Smokin Seventeen

Smokin" Seventeen by Janet Evonavich

The Stephanie Plum novels are a fun quick read. Leave reality, immerse in the characters and have fun.

Take a look at the back cover and you tell me who Stephanie is modeled after. I was very upset when it was announced that they were making a Stephanie Plum book into a movie. I love that they will make it a movie I hated that they chose Katherine Heigel for the role of Stephanie Plum. My fellow CAMP workers at the library tend to agree with me on that aspect. They do think that the person picked to play Ranger is definitely drool able. Ranger is a major hunk so this actor has an almost impossible task ahead of him. In this novel there are a bunch of bodies being buried in shallow graves at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds temporary location. Not good for business to have police roping off crime scene areas right in front of your trailer which is your office. Yeah the killer of these victims is sought but the greater thrust is Who will Stephanie pick; will it be the Hunky Ranger who can send her into orgasmic heaven or will it be Morelli who was Mr. Bad boy but is now a cop and can give her a night of passion that has her passing out from delight. These books have a rough plot of solve the crime and Stephanie has colorful friends like Lulu but mostly the book is about Stephanie's urges. Her quandary about which man to hook up with solely. She wants them both and has them both. As do we vicariously as the author describes the mounting passion and the trip to heaven. Personally I think she needs to settle down and choose Morelli, but she is still in the have your cake and eat it too phase. So she sleeps with both, mostly Morelli kinda in the roll of husband (or steady lover) but she also keeps taking a trip on the wild side with Ranger as he has the ability to blast her into outer space. There is debate in CAMP as to who she should choose. But there is not debate that even the thought of being with Ranger makes you weak in the knees. But Ranger is so transient that he is only good for a roll in the hay. Morelli is the one she should marry but not until she has the ability to quit getting it on with Ranger. She has to choose someday but the longer she puts it off the longer she has the best of both worlds and lives in orgasmic bliss. As to the story, it's incidental but yes she solves the mystery. I love the Stephanie Plum novels. I love the quirky way she brings in a bond jumper and I love her internal debate over who to choose and I love her descriptions of her trips to the heavenly delights.

Books

 Smokin" Seventeen
9780345527684

Holiday Read-Togethers with Kids

We usually travel to my sister’s place in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s a hectic, yet fun time for all, but especially so for the kids. In this case, I’m talking about my niece’s two young girls Zoya, age 7 and Maya, who is 4. To keep the tykes from being underfoot in the kitchen while celebratory meals are being prepared, I have taken to bringing a bag full of children’s books to read to them. All three of us find a comfortable sofa, oversized pillows or bed in a quiet nook of the house and settle in for some choice holiday stories. After doing this for the last 3 years or so, the girls eagerly look forward to our holiday read-together times.

During Thanksgiving our favorites have included Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr, as well as A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting. In both of these humorous kid’s tomes, the turkey does not get eaten on Thanksgiving Day and instead a vegetarian meal is served. In Run, Turkey, Run! the meal substitution is completely unintentional, when the turkey manages to outwit the farmer and his family who have to settle for grilled cheese sandwiches as a result. However in A Turkey for Thanksgiving, a non-turkey menu is planned from the very start, as the moose family (all fervent vegetarians by birth) invite their local turkey neighbor to sit down with them for the feast as their guest of honor. And of course as befits this special status, he is placed at the head of the table.

For the Christmas holidays, some of our past favorites have included: What Dogs Want for Christmas by Kandy Radzinski, The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, Wake Up Bear...It’s Christmas! by Stephen Gammell, as well as the British classic, The Church Mice at Christmas by Graham Oakley.

On occasion, I like to mix-up the repertoire a little by also including stories not related to the holidays. One of these is Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters, which happens to be Zoya’s particular favorite, and which I have had to read numerous times due to the incessant clamor of an unyielding, adoring (and adorable) audience. To further keep interests high, along with the stories I will sometimes incorporate a craft or two that relates either to the holiday theme or the main character of a book.

So if you have kids, nephews, nieces or friends with children, go to your local library to stock up on some fun titles. Then take some time out, gather up the troops, read, laugh and enjoy.

Reading together: It’s a great way to put that memorable, extra special, human sparkle into the next generation’s holiday season!

Book

Run, Turkey, Run!
9780802796301

Make Way for Ducklings

I wonder how many times I’ve read this book aloud. Hundreds, at least. I remember the book from my childhood and I’ve since shared it with children at home and at the library.

How is it that a book published in 1941, with illustrations in only one color, is so loved by kids? Those one-color illustrations in Make Way for Ducklings are certainly a big part of the attraction... the ducks are realistic, the perspectives and angles are varied, and there’s a strong feeling of movement and action. But the story is nearly perfect, as well. Words are practical yet poetic, the conversations between Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are wry; Mrs. Mallard, especially, has a bit of attitude that allows for no nonsense from anyone or anything.

If it’s been a while since you’ve spent some time with Robert McCloskey’s ducklings, visit the Children’s Room for a reminder of the power of a picture book.

Book

Make Way for Ducklings
0670451495

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

I heard the title story in Karen Russell's collection of short stories read aloud by Joanna Gleason on PRI's Selected Shorts a while back and greatly enjoyed it. Each of Karen Russell's short stories in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is surreal and darkly funny, zooming right along in original and unexpected ways. The stories read like somone recounting "the strangest dream" and you're both laughing because it's so funny and otherworldly and you're really kind of glad that it was just a dream. If you like George Saunders you'll probably love Karen Russell, too. Now I'm looking forward to reading Russell's full length novel Swamplandia, a taste of which we get in "Ava Wrestles the Alligator", the first story in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.

Book

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
0307263983

Extreme Experimentation

What would it be like to always tell the truth about what you were thinking?  This is one of the month long experiments A.J. Jacobs reports on in his book My Life as an Experiment.  Jacobs made his name trying to live a full year according to the rules in the Bible and writing about it in The Year of Living BiblicallyMy Life as an Experiment includes details of ten other challenges he gives himself such as:  living by the 110 rules George Washington wrote in a notebook, impersonating an actor at the Academy Awards, and my favorite, outsourcing personal tasks to a company in India.  In fact, it made me wonder if I could have that same company write my blog post.  Jacobs book is a good, funny, simple summer read.

Book

My Life as an Experiment
9781439104996

Why Read? It’s Summertime!!

Recently, I was reading the May/June 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine when an editorial caught my eye. Written by Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief for the magazine, the editorial, titled “Who Can We Count On?” raises several very good questions about reading in general, and specifically, about summertime reading by schoolchildren. These questions are certainly ones that teachers, parents, librarians, and other concerned adults should ponder. Here they are, with some of my own added:

• How many books should one read in a given time frame?

• Should we encourage schoolchildren to read?

• Does reading level (of the reader) really matter?

• Should summer reading schoolchildren be provided with incentives for reaching pre-set reading goals? And, who should set these goals?

• What types of incentives should be offered? (books, burgers, bicycles?)

• Should the number of books read count for anything?

As a librarian in a public library who works almost exclusively with children’s reading habits, I find these questions “right on the money” for insuring success in a summertime reading program or club. At the Kalamazoo Public Library, the summertime reading program for kids begins in early to mid-June, and continues until the last weekend in August. Somewhere close to twelve (12) weeks. The Library offers summer games for children ages birth-entering Kindergarten, for children entering 1st-4th grade, for ‘tweens who are entering grades five through seven, and for teens entering grades eight through graduation. (Don’t worry, adults, there’s a game for you, too!) Each of these games offers incentives at intervals along the way. Each of the children’s games encourages reading books at one’s pre-determined level (usually from the Accelerated Reader program in the schools). Each game encourages reading for a minimum of twenty (20) minutes a day, and also allows for reading at one’s level and for being read aloud to.

This year, incentives and games are going to be more “across the board” than they have been in the past. Readers will earn paperback books, tee shirts, stickers, and colorful beads at pre-set intervals.

Should you bring your child/encourage your child to come to the library this summer and read in one of the games? Absolutely! And, don’t forget to read yourself! What better role model than a reading parent?

Roger Sutton’s editorial concludes with this question: “…creating a second home on the floor of the children’s room…”. Won’t you join me this summer and read, read, read?

Book

Summer Reading
kids-summer-reading-2011-160
/summer/

This is a blog

I was intrigued to hear on NPR this morning that comedian Demetri Martin has a new book out entitled This is a book and when I arrived at work, and checked the KPL catalog, I was pleased to see that KPL already had a copy of the book available for checkout. Fans of Martin's brand of surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy will see that it transfers to the page very well. I think of Martin as the Stephen Wright of the current generation of comedians, with a similar absurdist approach, but with a much more upbeat and joyful worldview.

Book

This is a book

9780446539708


Clementine

My daughter and I have been enjoying a little bit longer read alouds for a while now, and are really having fun with the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker. Clementine is a third grader who notices things her classmates don't. She solves problems (and creates new ones to solve) in unique ways. Clementine is fortunate to have a teacher who understands her unintentionally subversive personality. With occasional illustrations by Marla Frazee, these are truly funny "feel good" short chapter books that adults will enjoy reading aloud.

Part of the reason my kindergartener daughter enjoyed all of the Clementine books is because she's part of that school culture now. Suddenly those wonderful books about negotiating school and home are very relevant. Some of Kevin Henke's picture books are set in this world. I'm thinking especially of Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. Like the Clementine books, these longer picture books are a direct connect with the very real situations that adults may have forgotten but are urgently important and entertaining for early elementary school aged kids.

Book

Clementine
0786838825

Guys Read: Funny Business

So what DO guys like to read? Just ask Jon Scieszka. He knows all about what young guys like to read and has promised them a whole series of books with short stories just for them.

Volume One is called Funny Business (if you know Jon, you know it all starts with humor) and has ten short stories by some of the funniest writers for kids today.

So what’s inside? Homicidal turkeys, kids swimming in chocolate milk, and a school for superheroes. It’s not to be missed! Also not to be missed is Jon’s website www.guysread.com for more great ideas about what Guys Read.

Book

Guys Read: Funny Business
9780061963742