“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Wants to Be a Poodle I Don't • Picture book

Who Wants to Be a Poodle I Don’t
Written and illustrated by Lauren Child • September 2009 • Candlewick Press • Picture book • Ages 4 - 8
Lauren Child takes the lead with this wry and wooly tale of a pampered poodle who just wants to paddle in puddles -- like REAL dogs do.
Story:  Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot-a-Lot Delight (Trixie Toes for short) does not want to be a pampered, poofy poodle.* She doesn’t like the puffing and poofing and preening. She doesn’t like being dressed in little pink ponchos. She wants to be dazzlingly, dangerous, and daring. And most importantly, she wants to paddle in puddles, like REAL dogs do. Wouldn’t you?

*poodle noun an intelligent breed of dog with a thick curly coat that is often clipped in a distinctive manner. The name poodle comes from the German word Pudel, from Pudelhund, or “splashing dog”; the word Pudel is also related to the English word puddle.

Story behind the story:  Lauren Child, the author-illustrator of the beloved CLARICE BEAN books, explains: "The story was inspired by my friend Verity, who used to have a little Burmese cat. Verity was always wanting to dress the cat in little bonnets and jewelry, and I couldn’t help wondering how the cat might feel about this – she didn’t look like the clothes-wearing type. I had already written a book called That Pesky Rat, about a neglected street rat who has nothing, and I thought it would be interesting to write about a pampered poodle who has everything. However, all the poodle really wants is to catch sticks and splash in puddles like a normal dog."

Unleash your inner poodle with these activities.

FYIAll the review copies for this title have been sent.  But please check back and click on the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The 15th anniversary edition of It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health • Non-fiction

The 15th anniversary edition of It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health
Written by Robie Harris • Illustrated by Michael Emberley • September 2009 • Candlewick Press • Non-fiction • Ages 10 and up
“A book about sex that manages to be honest without losing its sense of humor.” The New York Times Book Review
Story: The Birds and the Bees: There comes a day in every parent’s life when you and your child must have “the talk.” You know the one; it goes something along the lines of, “Well… we do need to…talk about…I need to talk to you… about…sex
But before you launch into the business of the birds and bees, make sure you have It’s Perfectly Normal by your side – you know, for those moments when you’re at a loss for words.

Considered the definitive book on kids’ sexual health, It’s Perfectly Normal provides accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and HIV/AIDS. This 15th anniversary edition has been completely updated for the 21st century, including new information on the HPV vaccine and a brand new chapter about staying healthy and safe on the Internet. Says Robie, “When my editor and I discussed that It’s Perfectly Normal would soon be fifteen years old and the way to celebrate would be to publish a 15th anniversary edition, I realized that there was one topic that was not in the book—the Internet. While I knew a lot about the Internet, I didn’t know enough to write a responsible new chapter. So yet again, I went back to many of the experts I had gone to in the past—parents, younger teens, teachers, school principals, librarians, health professionals, clergy, and some new experts, including Internet experts. Once again, I learned a lot, especially from the kids I interviewed. The title of this new chapter is: HELPFUL, FUN, CREEPY, DANGEROUS—Getting Information and Staying Safe On The Internet.”

Click here for tips on how to use all three books in Harris’ and Emberley’s FAMILY LIBRARY: It’s Perfectly Normal, as well as It’s So Amazing! and It’s NOT the Stork! with your children and teens.

The Story Behind the Birds and the Bees: Some giggle, some gasp, but most are charmed and fascinated when they open up the book – that’s perfectly normal.

Sex is a complicated subject, not easy talk or write about or illustrate in an age-appropriate and comfortable manner for kids, teens, and their families. But since its publication in 1994, over one and one-half million copies of It’s Perfectly Normal have been sold, testifying to the fact that so many families, schools, libraries, and health organizations in this country and around the world have found this book helpful in providing the information our pre-teens and teens need to have to stay healthy. And yet, It’s Perfectly Normal has been no stranger to controversy, due to the efforts of some groups and some individuals who feel that our kids and teens should not have access to the information that is provided in It’s Perfectly Normal. That’s why, despite its numerous awards, this book has landed on ALA’s top ten banned book list. While no book is a perfect fit for every child or family, both Robie and Michael strongly believe that those kids and families who choose to read their book have the right to do so—so that they may have access to the most up-to-date and accurate science facts about reproduction, puberty, and sexual health.

Says Robie, “One of my core values when it comes to talking to kids and teens – and talking is what I do in my books – is to be honest. For if we are not honest or leave out information our kids and teens have a right to have, then what we say or what we write about in a book will have no credibility.
If you are someone who disagrees with my values, I have the highest respect for your right to disagree with what I have written. That’s why as an author I would never, ever say that my books should be in every home, every school, or every library or bookstore in America. But I would say that in our democracy, any person, any family, school, library, organization, health professional, or clergy member who chooses to have my books should have the right to do so, and that right needs to be respected and protected as well."
FYI:  all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back and click on the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook • Graphic novel

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook
by Eleanor Davis
September 2009 
• Bloomsbury USA • Graphic Novel • Ages 10-14
Can three undercover nerds save the world? A graphic novel bursting with wacky inventions, harebrained schemes, and hilarious adventure.
Story: Supersmart Julian Calendar thinks moving to a new school will mean he can shed his nerdy image—but then he meets Ben and Greta, two secret scientists like himself. The three form a covert club, complete with a high-tech lair. There, they can work to their hearts content on projects like the Stink-O-Meter, the Kablovsky Copter, and the Nightsneak Goggles. All that tinkering comes in handy when the trio discovers an evil scientist’s dastardly plan to rob a museum. Can three inventors, armed with their wacky creations, hope to defeat this criminal mastermind? Illustrated in full color throughout, The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook is a treat for the eyes, with marvelous gadgetry rendered in elaborate detail. And stay on the lookout for more Secret Science Alliance adventures from comic supergenius Eleanor Davis!
Story behind the story: Eleanor Davis, author of the American Library Association Geisel Honor book Stinky, did the writing and drawing for the book, while Drew Weing did the "inking." Eleanor and Drew having been making comics for most of their lives and they enjoy it more than almost anything else, except for making and eating food, riding bikes, playing with their three cats, and spending time with family and friends. They like each other too, which is lucky, because they are married.

Advance praise:

“Let’s give π (3.14) cheers for The Secret Science Alliance! Eleanor Davis’s debut graphic novel perfectly captures the terrifying social divides of junior high while accurately animating every brainiac’s daydream. I want to join!”

—Tony DiTerlizzi, co-author and artist of The Spiderwick Chronicles

“Eleanor Davis is one of the most thoughtful, inventive and versatile new voices in comics today.”

—Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics

“Full of funny twists and clever turns . . . brimming with creativity, humor and talent.”

—Francoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker

FYI:  all the review copies for this title have been sent; check back and click on the comments link below to read what your colleagues have to say.
See also reviews from 100 Scope Notes, Publishers Weekly and A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog).

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Do You Wokka-Wokka? • Picture book

How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
Written by Elizabeth Bluemle • Illustrated by Randy Cecil • August 2009 • Candlewick Press • Picture book
Say "HEY!" to your neighbors and get your dance on! Jazzy rhythms, silly rhymes, and welcoming images are guaranteed to entice little readers.
Story: Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka. Wokka what? Wokka-wokka! It’s about movement. It’s about dance. It’s about shimmy-shakin’, be-boppin’, and more! It’s about gathering friends and joining the party. The creative team behind MY FATHER THE DOG returns with a call-and-response for preschoolers, an exuberant invitation to be part of the fun – and show your stuff!
“Infectious… This bouncy book is a joy as a read-aloud whether in a group or one-on-one, and kids and adults won’t be able to resist making their own nonsense rhymes and dances as they “wokka-wokka” through the book.” School Library Journal, starred review
Story behind the story: The book was inspired by Elizabeth’s nephew Will. Little Will, then just 2-years-old, asked his family the classic zen kōan, “How do you wokka-wokka?” And though they knew the sound of one hand clapping, they had no idea what he meant, so they made up silly dance moves. “There was the seed of something really wonderful in that question,” said Elizabeth. “And several years later, my memories of summer block parties in New York City collided with the joyful dances my nephew inspired, and this book was born.”
FYI: all of the review copies have been sent; please check back to read what your colleagues have to say!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grandfather's Story Cloth • Picture book

Grandfather's Story Cloth
Yawg Daim Paj Ntaub Dab Neeg
by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford illustrated by Stuart Loughridge
2009 Shen's Books Ages 4-8 Picture Book
Presented bilingually in English and Hmong, Grandfather's Story Cloth allows children and their loved ones not only to gain an understanding of Alzheimer's Disease, but also to share in the simplest act of pleasure and love -- that of reading together.
Story: Chersheng's grandfather is beginning to forget things...little tings like turning off the water faucet and big things like Chersheng's name. Chersheng feels sad and helpless when he learns that Grandfather has Alzheimer's Disease, but then Chersheng's mother presents him with a story cloth stitched by Grandfather himself, embroidered in the Hmong tradition. Through the story cloth, Grandfather's memories of his life in Laos come alive. And inspired by Grandfather's tales about his life before the war forced him to immigrate to America, Chersheng comes up with a plan to capture his family's new life with his own art project. This way, they can all remember that their love is stronger than Alzheimer's disease, no matter which country they live in.
Story behind the story: Author Linda Gerdner talks about the origins of the story: In 2002, I visited a northern province of Laos, where I had the unique opportunity to participate in the daily life of the people living in a Hmong village. There, and in the U.S., I learned that elders often lived in the home of a married son who had children of his own. These grandchildren often had difficulty understanding the progressive memory and behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease in their grandparents. I saw a need for a culturally meaningful picture book for Hmong-American children and their families to promote understanding and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

The story was written based on general themes from my research findings. For example, caring for an elder is generally viewed as being reciprocal of the love and care that the elder had provided to the younger generation of family members. Caregivers preserve these values for future generations by serving as role models. Grandfather’s Story Cloth was written to mirror these values. The book also introduces the idea of using a story cloth to stimulate Grandfather’s remote memory in an effort to promote understanding and communication between Chersheng and his grandfather. It was our desire to create a book that would be meaningful, educational, empowering and one that the community would also be proud of."


2009 NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book

2009 Mom's Choice Award

2009 Moonbeam Award Silver Medal

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please check back and look at the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say about it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties • Short stories

The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties
by Toon Tellegen illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
Just out! September 2009
Boxer Books Ages 4 and up Short stories
"Beautifully told, quirky, and delightful, and have the warmth of the wonderful Pooh stories. Jessica Ahlberg's illustrations perfectly complement the mood of the writing, they're a joy!" -- Wendy Cooling, author, editor and children's literature consultant
Story: You're invited to the squirrel's birthday party and into a magical world of the imagination created by Toon Tellegen, one of Holland's most celebrated writers. Brief, evocative, thought-provoking and (I truly believe) unlike anything else ever written, The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties is rich in unforgettable, even surrealistic images. A squirrel and an ant discover a mysterious feast with an invisible host in the depths of the forest. A whale and a seagull dance silently on a moon-drenched beach. A grasshopper pays a fortune for a speck of dust. Here's a little preview of the writing: "While the squirrel was baking cakes, the animals were choosing what to wear to the party. The elephant put on a small red jacket he had never worn before. The bear wore a large gray coat that was so baggy he couldn't possibly burst out of its seems. The mole looked for something that wasn't black, but he couldn't find anything, so he just put all his clothes on inside out." A collection of nine charming short stories about friendship, dancing, memories, and lots of cake.
Story behind the story: In launching this book as part of their first fiction line, Boxer Books gave it the prescient art direction they're known for: they brought in the ever-talented Jessica Ahlberg (daughter of the acclaimed author-illustrator team Janet and Allen Ahlberg of the JOLLY POSTMAN and EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM among many other children's favorites). So jewel-like...I find myself wanting miniature figurines of her characters, and their gifts, and the cakes -- on the cakes!

ADVANCE PRAISE: "...one of the strangest and most delightful children's imports I've seen in a long long time....we end up with a book that feels like an old friend the first time you turn one of its pages. Like coming home again....feels like a contemporary successor to Milne's Pooh tales....You cannot read this book and understand how anyone but Ahlberg could have illustrated it. She is the E. H. Shepard of the 21st century... a tiny treasure that some will choose to remember for years to come....Here's hoping we see far more of these books in the English language translated for our amusement. A jewel." -- Elizabeth Bird, A FUSE #8 PRODUCTION, School Library Journal blog

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and are in the works; please check back and click on the comments link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hello on this Monday morning. I was looking through the blog and reading recent comments and thought that, since it takes a few weeks from the time books are posted until the reviews are published on the site, I'd remind you to take a look at a few titles that are getting some terrific response:

Seems that Carolyn MacCullough is brewing some magic with her young adult novel ONCE A WITCH. Be sure to hear what teachers and librarians are saying about it. And lots of 5 out of 5 ratings for 14 COWS FOR AMERICA, the story of a Kenyan village's gift to America following 9/11. Plus terrific response, though still early, for The Secret Life of Walter Anderson and Cora Cooks Pancit, the latter posted just last week.

What's being served at the Picnic Basket in the next week? A collection of charming short animal stories about friendship and memories that's been likened to Winnie-the-Pooh and a picture book full of rhymes to get kids moving and dancing. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cora Cooks Pancit • Picture book

Cora Cooks Pancit
by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore illustrated by Kristi Valiant

April 2009 Shen's Books Picture book Ages 4-8
Cora helps Mama make pancit, her favorite Filipino noodle dish. What will the rest of the family think of their newest chef?
Story: Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon until, one day when her sisters and brother head out, she gets the chance to be Mama's assistant chef. With Mama's help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles needed to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish -- and even gets to stir the noodles in the pot (carefully!) while Mama supervises. When dinner is served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking. PS: Glossary and recipe (!) included.

Story behind the story: Author Dorina Lazo Gilmore says "CORA COOKS PANCIT is a story inspired by my own adventures in the kitchen with my Italian mama and my Filipino grandma, Cora. Both of them encouraged the celebration of culture and taught me to cook different ethnic dishes. The main character, Cora, mixes up a batch of Filipino pancit with her mama. There are hundreds of different versions of pancit but this recipe is similar to what my grandma made as we were growing up. There was always a large platter of pancit on the table for any kind of celebration.

The book also includes some history of Cora's family. Since I live in California I did some research and interviews with Filipinos originally from California's San Joaquin Valley. Rebecca Torosian, who sells stone fruit at our local farmer's market, shared with me the story of her Filipino father working in the fields and cooking delectable Filipino dishes for the farmworkers in Stockton. Her story echoes the stories of so many Filipinos who made their home in the Valley growing and picking produce. My book celebrates their legacy as well."

Illustrator Kristi Valiant tells us that "since picture books tell part of the story through pictures, I like adding a small side story to my illustrations that kids can discover and giggle at while listening to an adult read the book. For Cora Cooks Pancit, I added a dog to the illustrations who wasn't in the text. He follows Cora around and brings her an ever-growing pile of toys, but she doesn't notice him. In the end, they finally play tug-of-war with the very first toy the dog had brought. Bringing Cora to life was a lot of fun. The little girl I used as a reference for Cora never stood flat on two feet, so I gave Cora that same cute quirk.


"Cora Cooks Pancit is a lovely story about home, family, food, culture, growing up, and how all those things fit together. A glossary of terms and, of course, Lolo’s pancit recipe are included at the end of the book, making culture come alive in the kitchen while empowering kids to participate." -- PaperTigers

"Gilmore, who grew up in a Filipino Italian kitchen, tells a heartwarming tale that illustrator Valiant captures with the perfect combination of whimsy and action. You can actually feel Cora's longing as she watchers her siblings in the kitchen, her wonder as she listens to Mama's stories ..., her worry that her pancit might disappoint, and her beaming pride when the whole family enjoys the meal she so lovingly helped to create. This is one treasure of a family book. Delicious, too!" -- BookDragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say!