Saturday, December 26, 2009

Book Review: Astonishing Ancient World Scientists by A. Graham

5/5 stars. As part of the Great Scientists and Famous Inventors series, Astonishing Ancient World Scientists: Eight Great Brains by Amy Graham presents the lives of Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy, Zhang Heng, Al-Khwarizmi, and Archimedes. The early scientists featured in this collective biography studied mathematics, medicine, philosophy, astronomy, geography, seismology, and more.

Each chapter is dedicated to an individual early scientist and includes biographical information and major discoveries. Also, Lifelines are provided to highlight each scientist’s accomplishments. The text is easy to read and understand, while the book is beautifully illustrated with full color photographs. The book features a glossary, chapter notes, and an index. Additionally, Report Links are included for students interested in doing further research.

The Bottom Line: Astonishing Ancient World Scientists: Eight Great Brains by Amy Graham fills a niche by providing biographical information for subjects that might not receive a full treatment. The book’s reinforced binding will hold up nicely in both school and public libraries. This collective biography is highly recommended for kids in middle school and early high school.

Details: Astonishing Ancient World Scientists: Eight Great Brains by Amy Graham. Published by Enslow Publishers, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-59845-079-8

Other titles in the Great Scientists and Famous Inventors series include: Brilliant African-American Scientists: Nine Exceptional Lives by Jeff C. Young, Daring American Heroes of Flight: Nine Brave Fliers by Jennifer Reed, and Inspiring African-American Inventors: Nine Extraordinary Lives by Jeff C. Young.

Note: Enslow Publishers, Inc. provided a complimentary copy of Astonishing Ancient World Scientists: Eight Great Brains to Mini Book Bytes for review purposes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: Matchless: A Christmas Story by G. Maguire

3.5/5 stars. Gregory Maguire uses his storytelling skills to add a Christmas twist to Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, The Little Match Girl. It appears in Chapter 2 of Matchless: A Christmas Story with very few changes; thus, maintaining the spirit of the original.

Maguire masterfully weaves the story of a poor little boy named Frederik around Andersen's classic. Maguire's illumination of this tale has an uplifting ending without changing the intentions of the original. Maguire reminds us that The Little Match Girl is still relevant today.

Matchless: A Christmas Story was originally commissioned by the NPR for their annual Christmas story in 2008. It was performed by Gregory Maguire. You can listen to it or read the story by visiting the NPR website here.

The Bottom Line:
Recommended for readers who enjoy fairy tale adaptations. This slim book makes for very fast holiday reading and would make the perfect stocking stuffer.

Matchless: A Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire. Published by William Morrow in 2009. ISBN: 978-0-06-191301-3

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: Powers by John B. Olson

3.5/5 stars. Powers is the action packed sequel to Shade that will keep you on the edge of your seat as members of The Standing continue to fight The Badness.

A gypsy girl named Mariutza “Mari” suddenly finds that she is all alone in the world after her grandfather, a great prophet and healer of The Standing, is killed. Although Mari has trained for this day all her life, she is full of apprehension and doubt as she puts on her traveling clothes and leaves the swamp behind. Mari finds the outside world to be intimidating, and the innocent girl is confused by all of the things we take for granted: cars, bottled water, buildings and more. She must learn to overcome her fears and focus on searching for the fabled prophet Jaazaniah.

Meanwhile, Jaazaniah or Jazz, a worldly, guitar playing con-artist, suddenly finds himself having strange visions and being pursued by men in hooded cloaks. As he and his friend Hollis are being chased, Jazz learns of his grandfather’s passing and the inheritance that is hidden and waiting for him. However, The Badness is always close behind having convinced the FBI that the members of The Standing are a terrorist group.

The race is on as Jazz and Mari begin the search for Jazz’s inheritance, which he believes to be treasure. Eventually they meet up with Melchi and Hailey from Shade to fight The Badness. But can they defeat the evil in time to find Jazz’s inheritance and fulfill the prophecy?

The Bottom Line: Powers is non-stop action. While the writing can be a bit flowery at times and the characters a bit shallow, the action keeps the story moving. Recommended for teens and adults who enjoy Christian suspense fiction with a supernatural theme and a hint of romance. Some of the terminology can be a little confusing; therefore, to fully enjoy and appreciate Powers, read Shade first.

Powers by John B. Olson. Published by B&H Books in 2009. ISBN: 978-0-8054-4735-4

NOTE: MiniBookBytes received Powers as a complimentary copy from B&H Publishing in exchange for a review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer Program at LibraryThing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by K. McGowan

4/5 stars. Fay Holaderry, the evil witch from Hansel and Gretel, has resurfaced. Although everyone thought that Hansel and Gretel had defeated her, it turns out that the witch survived.

Today the woods around her old gingerbread home have been claimed by urbanization and her house is no longer disguised as gingerbread and candy. However, as a witch, Holaderry proves her resourcefulness when it comes to finding tasty children to eat. For example, there are conveniently located drop-off boxes for “donations” and strategically placed Helpers who package up naughty children for pick-up.

It’s quite the set up, and parents of mischievous children everywhere seek out her services. And so it was that Mr. & Mrs. Blink moved to Grand Creek after much research hoping to find a solution to their childcare troubles. However, Sol and Connie are no ordinary kids; in fact, they are rather extraordinary. Together they must find a way to overcome the evil witch and escape becoming dinner.

The Bottom Line: The classic fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel has been brought into the modern era with a contemporary retelling by debut author Keith McGowan. Black and white illustrations by Yoko Tanaka help set the dark mood and add to the charm of this witty little novel. Enthusiastically recommended for young adults who appreciate a slightly morbid sense of humor. It's simply wicked fun.

Details: The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. Published by Henry Holt and Company in 2009. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8668-3

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: A Taste for Red by L. Harris

4.5/5 stars. In his debut novel, A Taste for Red, Lewis Harris introduces us to Stephanie Grimm, a sophisticated sixth grade girl with a problem. She thinks she's a vampire. It's the only conclusion that can possibly explain her preference for black clothing and taste for red foods, not to mention her desire to sleep underneath her bed. Stephanie even changes her name to Svetlana!

Having been home schooled her whole life, Svetlana is horrified to find herself enrolled in public school. By lunchtime Svetlana decides that the popular and perky Sandy Cross and her friends are her adversaries. However, the girls are mere annoyances compared to her new science teacher Ms. Larch.

Although Svetlana sometimes seems wise beyond her years, she is troubled by Ms. Larch, who is able to probe her thoughts and speak inside her mind. Svetlana is beginning to suspect that Ms. Larch is out to kill her. However, no one believes Svetlana, not even her two new friends Dwight and Fumio. Things change rapidly when Sandy and her pals go missing.

Nothing makes sense until The Bone Lady takes Svetlana under her wing. As she begins to discover the secrets of the Circle of Red, Svetlana comes up with a plan. In order to set things right and defeat Ms. Larch, Svetlana must rely on her instincts and learn to trust her new friends.

The Bottom Line: Witty and filled with action, Svetlana and her sidekicks keep the suspense going. This quick paced read is highly recommended for the middle school set. For those reluctant to read vampire stories, don't worry; A Taste for Red is more adventure than horror.

Details: A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris, Published by Clarion Books in 2009. ISBN: 978-0-547-14462-7

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cookbook Review: Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook

5/5 stars. 'Tis the season for holiday cookie exchanges, but what should you bring? The problem is finding a great tasting recipe that either makes dozens of cookies or is easily doubled. The Editors of Good Housekeeping have come to the rescue of busy bakers everywhere with their new book Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 large-batch recipes to bake and share.

The Editors begin with an introduction to hosting a cookie swap and a chapter on how to make the perfect cookies. This little cookbook offers a great selection of treats including bar cookies, drop cookies, rolled & cut-out cookies, and shaped & refrigerator cookies. Some of my favorites include: Cinnamon Spirals, Palmiers, and Ginger Biscotti.

Sure to please, this book comes in a spiral-bound, hardcover format that lies flat making it easy to read the recipes. It also includes an index and blank recipe cards so that bakers can share their favorite recipes.

The Bottom Line: The baker in your life is sure to love this easy to read cookbook. The recipes make a minimum of 84 cookies or bars. (Be sure to check out the recipe for Shortbread Bites which makes 320 cookies!) Highly recommended for bakers of all levels, and just in time for the holidays too.

Details: Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 large-batch recipes to bake and share by the Editors of Good Housekeeping. Published by Hearst Books in 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58816-757-6

If you like this one, try Good Housekeeping The Great Bake Sale Cookbook: 75 sure-fire fund-raising favorites by The Editors of Good Housekeeping. Published by Hearst Books in 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58816-787-3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cookbook Review: The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book by C. Saulsbury

4.5/5 stars. Just in time for the holidays, this book is a must for those planning to participate in bake sales and holiday cookie exchanges. Camilla Saulsbury teaches readers the ins and outs of using cake mix, brownie mix, cereal, or premade refrigerated cookie dough to speed up traditional baking.

The recipes are easy to read and a cinch to make. The introductory chapter, Cookies 101, is great for novices just getting started in baking. All readers will have fun choosing from over 700 recipes for Drop Cookies, Fancy Cookies, Bar Cookies, Brownies, and No-Bake treats. The book includes information on frostings and fillings, also. Handy features include the Glossary, Equipment & Ingredient Sources, Metric Measure Conversions, and the Index.

The Bottom Line: This cookbook fits all levels of bakers including kids just learning to bake and experienced bakers looking for time saving tips. You'll find a cookie for any occasion. If you own Saulsbury's previous cookie books, you might choose to pass this one up. However, The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book is a great compilation of her previous titles and includes some color photos. Highly recommended for everyone who enjoys baking. More color photos would have been appreciated.

The Details: The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book: 745 Scrumptious Recipes That Start With Refrigerated Cookie Dough, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, or Ready-To-Eat Cereal by Camilla V. Saulsbury, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58182-701-9

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cookbook Review: Japanese Hot Pots by T. Ono & H. Salat

5/5 stars. Lovers of Japanese food are already familiar with sushi, but now they have another treat to try. The art of table top cooking is demystified in Chef Tadashi Ono and food writer Harris Salat's new cookbook Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals.

Hot pots or onabe are a staple in Japanese cooking especially in the winter months. These dishes are known for being simple and easy to prepare. While you can prepare them using a stove, for added fun try cooking tableside and get the whole family involved.

Authentic recipes are featured in this beautifully illustrated book. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow including hot pot recipes for vegetables; fish and seafood; chicken and duck; and beef, pork, lamb and venison. There is an index and a handy section on resources for those hard to find items.

The Bottom Line: Perfect for the wintertime cooking, this cookbook fills a unique niche in Japanese cooking. Highly recommended for all home chefs looking to try something new and fun.

Details: Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58008-981-4

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review: Who On Earth is Jane Goodall? by V. Guidi

5/5 stars. In this fascinating biography of Jane Goodall, author Victoria Guidi entertains and informs readers about the accomplishments of a true humanitarian and pioneer in the study of primates. As part of the new Scientists Saving the Earth series, Who On Earth is Jane Goodall?: Champion for the Chimpanzees, Guidi provides insights into Goodall's childhood, work, and life.

The book is illustrated with beautiful full color photographs that hold a young reader's attention. It also features a handy timeline, glossary, and index. Additionally, the chapter notes are perfect for students working on book reports.

The Bottom Line: With the reinforced library binding, this book will hold up nicely in both school and public libraries. It's great to see a series featuring so many women scientists. Highly recommended as an excellent biography for kids ages 11 - 16.

Details: Who On Earth is Jane Goodall?: Champion for the Chimpanzees by Victoria Guidi, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-59845-119-1

Other titles in the Scientists Saving the Earth series: Who on Earth is Aldo Leopold?: Father of Wildlife Ecology by G. Scherer & M. Fletcher, Who On Earth is Archie Carr?: Protector of Sea Turtles by C. Webster, Who on Earth is Dian Fossey?: Defender of the Mountain Gorillas by J. Kushner, Who on Earth is Rachel Carson?: Mother of the Environmental Movement by G. Scherer & M. Fletcher, and Who On Earth is Sylvia Earle?: Undersea Explorer of the Ocean by S. Reichard.

Note: Enslow Publishers, Inc. provided a complimentary copy of Who On Earth is Jane Goodall? Champion for the Chimpanzees to Mini Book Bytes for review purposes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review: Bayou Dogs by T. Abbott

3.5/5 stars. In this second installment of The Haunting of Derek Stone series by Tony Abbott, we find Derek and his brother Ronny preparing to fight a Legion of evil. Until the train wreck, Derek was just a normal 14 year old kid. Derek survived, but his brother Ronny wasn't so lucky. Ronny died, and the soul of Virgil Black reanimated Ronny's body in a process called translation.

Virgil is one of the good souls, but many of the dead are not. The Rift has allowed the souls of the dead to cross over, and they all seem to be after Derek. The boys find themselves at Bayou Malpierre, where they meet their Dad's friend Bonton and his peculiar son Waldo.

Derek is soon flooded with memories of a time when he almost drown in this very same bayou. Derek's long-awaited return to the bayou signals the time to raise the sunken ship Bellamina. Derek must overcome his fears and confront the evil inside Waldo as the battle between good and evil in the land of the dead spills over into the land of the living.

The Bottom Line: Kids in middle school, especially boys, will enjoy this zombie adventure. The action starts slowly, but rapidly builds as Derek, Ronny/Virgil, and a little girl named Abby join forces and fight the dead.

Details: Bayou Dogs (The Haunting of Derek Stone Book 2) by Tony Abbott, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-545-03430-2

Other books in the series include: City of the Dead (Book1), The Red House (Book 3), and The Ghost Road (Book 4).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: ISIS by D. Clegg

5/5 stars. This hauntingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and the supernatural will mesmerize the reader from beginning to end. ISIS by Douglas Clegg is a triumph. He invites the reader to witness the transformation of a young innocent girl into a mysterious oracle.

Born Iris Catherine Villiers, the story finds young Iris growing up with her siblings on her grandfather's Cornwall estate. She soon discovers his collection of books on the occult. When her beloved brother Harvey dies, Iris is overcome by grief. Despite the warnings of Old Marsh, the gardener, Iris is unnaturally drawn to the Tombs as she turns to the supernatural to resurrect Harvey. But will things be the same as before Harvey's death? This gothic themed novella transports readers to the exact moment Iris becomes realizes her new power and becomes ISIS.

Readers of Clegg's Harrow House series will remember Isis. Many have wondered: who is she, where did she come from, and how did she become an oracle? All of these questions are answered in this stand-alone prequel. Read ISIS as a "chapter" in the continuing saga of Harrow House or read it for itself. Either way this novella will stay with you for a long time.

Features stunning black & white illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne. The intricacy of the artwork is astounding. Just when you think you've seen everything, something else catches your eye.

The Bottom Line: ISIS is the best novella I've read in a very long time. Whether you are a fan of horror, mystery, fantasy, or gothic fiction; this book will appeal to many. Try it; you'll like it.

Details: ISIS by Douglas Clegg, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-593155407

For more supernatural fun, visit Douglas Clegg's website at: (I, for one, couldn't resist swatting the fly, and I bet you can't either.) Find out more about ISIS:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: Two Bad Pilgrims by K. Lasky

2/5 stars. Award winning author Kathryn Lasky introduces us to two brothers, Johnny and Francis Billington. Her new book, Two Bad Pilgrims, is a fictionalized account of a notorious family, who were on the passenger list of the Mayflower.

Presented in comic book style, the two brothers tell it like it was when they traveled to the New World with Captain Myles Standish and the other pilgrims. Faced with the boredom of being cooped up on the Mayflower, the brothers' adventures include almost blowing up the ship. The story is saturated with the naughty, feisty nature of the main characters. While the storyline is unique, the crudeness of Johnny & Francis stands out.

The Bottom Line: Although Two Bad Pilgrims is a picture book, it contains 8 chapters. While it presents some interesting trivia, this book did not appeal to me. Parents looking for books about Thanksgiving should look elsewhere. Written for kids ages 9 - 12 who like graphic novels.

Details: Two Bad Pilgrims written by Kathryn Lasky & illustrated by John Manders, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-670-06168-6

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Billy Bones by C. Lincoln

4.5/5 stars. Most families have a skeleton or two in their closet, but few know that the skeletons actually live in a home's Secrets Closet and guard all the fibs and secrets of a house's inhabitants. Billy Bones: A Tale from the Secrets Closet by Christopher Lincoln is an imaginative read about one family's darkest secrets.

Billy Bones is a child skeleton who lives with his skeleton parents in the tiny Secrets Closet at High Manners Manor. The Bones family has the tedious job of guarding the secrets of the Sir Barkley Braggety Biglum family, but Billy longs for adventure. He soon finds it when Sir Barkley's orphaned niece Millicent moves in.

One day the curious Millicent stumbles upon her grandmother, Dame Biglum, who has been shut away for many years. Millicent, also, discovers the hidden Secrets Closet to the surprise of the Bones family. It soon becomes obvious that there are many mysteries lurking around the Manor. Millicent joins forces with her grandmother and Billy to uncover the Biglum family secrets and Sir Barkley's latest plot to gain more wealth at any cost.

Meanwhile, Billy's parents have their own secrets to hide and come under investigation in the Afterlife. The mysteries keep getting deeper and the trio of friends must face many adversities along the way to overcome the evil lurking within the Manor. The biggest secret of all is finding out Billy's true identity. Just who is this boy skeleton? Can they find out in time?

The Bottom Line: An absolutely great read...lots of fun and action. Recommended for kids in Grades 4 - 6 and for kids who never grew up. Also, join Billy Bones in his new adventure in The Road to Nevermore.

Details: Billy Bones: A Tale from the Secrets Closet by Christopher Lincoln, 2008. ISBN: 978 -0-316-014731

Cookbook Review: Great Salads and Sides by F. Smith

4/5 stars. More than just leaf lettuce on a plate, salads have been transformed in Fiona Smith's new cookbook, Great Salads and Sides: simply delicious recipes for everyday eating and entertaining. The book offers mouth-watering recipes for both side salads and entrée salads including everything from Classic Caesar Salad to Pork & Lentil Salad. There is also a great selection of recipes for warm sides including Three Nut Pilaf and Ratatouille. Other chapters include Salsas and Dips; and Relishes, Pickles, and Sauces.

This book features gorgeous food photography in full color by Diana Miller. There is also a Glossary of Ingredients, Index, websites, and conversion charts. A beautiful addition to any cookbook collection. However, there is one area which could be improved; the font is too small and light. Bolder text would make reading the recipes much easier.

The Bottom Line: You don't need to be a vegetarian to enjoy a salad. Recommended for cooks of all levels.
Details: Great Salads and Sides: simply delicious recipes for everyday eating and entertaining by Fiona Smith, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-84597-837-2

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cookbook Review: Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies by M. Bryan

4.5/5 stars. Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery in Staunton, Virginia is renowned for pie...all kinds of pie. In fact, Mildred Rowe was given the nickname "the Pie Lady" by her loyal fans. Her pies have become the stuff of legend, but now readers can attempt to bake these scrumptious treats in their own ovens with the help of this cookbook.

The book includes pie making tips and techniques as well as a whole chapter dedicated to crusts and toppings. With over 50 pie recipes, chances are that you'll find your favorite in this slim culinary treat. Beautiful full color photos highlight the pies; however, more photographs would have been splendid.

Recipes include the classics: Granny Smith Apple Pie, Fresh Peach Pie, Original Coconut Cream Pie, Classic Banana Cream Pie, and Shoofly Pie. Readers can also try something different: Butternut Squash Pie, Tar Heel Pie, German Chocolate Pie, Watermelon Pie, and Lemon Chess Pie. A full index is included.

The Bottom Line: Highly recommended for both novice and advanced bakers as well as cookbook aficionados.

Details: Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies by Mollie Cox Bryan, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58008-980-7

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review: Haunted Party by I. Trapani

4/5 stars. Iza Trapani's ghost host has his hands full of spooky fun in Haunted Party. This counting story in rhyme will keep little ones focused on the menagerie of ghouls and creepy creatures that attend a Halloween party "At the haunted house of the ghost." But the fun really begins when the 10 children arrive all "sunny and sweet." The party guests are frightened out of their wits to the chanting of "Trick or Treat!" All make a hasty exit as we count back down to the last remaining ghost and a surprise for readers.

This humorous picture book is vividly illustrated in watercolor, colored pencil, and ink. Simply an adorable Halloween treat for readers learning to count from 1 to 10.

The Bottom Line: Recommended for children in PreK - Gr. 1.

Details: Haunted Party written & illustrated by Iza Trapani, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58089-246-9

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Review: Skelly the Skeleton Girl by J. Pickering

5/5 stars. Gothic and spooktacular illustrations, reminiscent of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, capture an eager audience in Jimmy Pickering's Skelly the Skeleton Girl.

We join Skelly as she searches for the owner of a lost bone. But who could it possibly belong to? Let's follow as she questions her skeleton fish, pet bat, man-eating plants, ghosts, the spider next door, and more. The trail seems to grow cold until she hears a noise and solves the mystery.

The Bottom Line: A charming tale beautifully rendered in full color using mixed media. For spooky, but not frightening, fun any time of the year. Sure to please children, especially girls, ages 4 - 7. Also, look for Skelly's new adventure in Skelly & Femur.

Details: Skelly the Skeleton Girl written & illustrated by Jimmy Pickering, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-4169-1192-0

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review: The Thirteen Hours of Halloween by D. C. Regan

4.5/5 stars. Written in the tradition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, author Dian Curtis Regan presents the Halloween classic, The Thirteen Hours of Halloween.

A little girl recounts a tale of all the Halloween gifts she receives including pumpkins, bats, cats, ghosts, zombies, and more. By the time the 13th hour of Halloween arrives, she has accumulated quite a collection of whimsical beasts and ghouls. She decides to give them all away except for one. Which gift will she keep? Regan keeps us guessing until the very last page.

Lieve Baeten's lively colored pencil and watercolor drawings are fantastically executed. A classic Halloween treat for children ages 4 - 8.

Details: The Thirteen Hours of Halloween by Dian Curtis Regan, 1993. ISBN: 0-8075-7876-2

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review: Ghosts in the House! by K. Kohara

4.5/5 stars. Kazuno Kohara's charming picture book, Ghosts in the House! features a little girl who moves into a splendid, old house. There's only 1 problem; the house is haunted. But this is no ordinary little girl; she is a witch whose specialty is catching ghosts. Soon the witch girl and her witch cat have rounded up every last ghost...and they all lively happily together in the house.

Strikingly illustrated in mixed media using the 3 colors of Halloween: orange, black, and white. Children ages PreK - Grade 3 will love it.

Details: Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-59643-427-1

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: Earl the Squirrel by D. Freeman

4.5/5 stars. Fans of the children's classic Corduroy will adore Earl the Squirrel. Little Earl is growing up, but his mother is worried that his friend Jill has spoiled him with gifts. Earl makes up his mind to set out on his own to prove to his mother that he can find acorns on his own. Along the way Earl must confront challenges including the mighty bull Conrad. Earl outwits the beast and ultimately is rewarded with a bountiful harvest of acorns.

Published posthumously, Don Freeman's signature style and ability to capture childhood are timeless. Freeman's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations with splashes of red color here and there are eye-catching as well. A true classic. Highly recommended Fall reading for children in preschool through grade 3.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: Say Cheese - And Die Screaming! by R.L. Stine

4/5 stars. The new Goosebumps HorrorLand series is frightfully fun for all. In installment #8, Say Cheese - And Die Screaming!, Stine introduces us to aspiring news photographer, Julie. When Julie stumbles across an old and very rare camera, she just has to have it. However, Julie quickly learns that the camera is evil. Horrible things happen to everyone who is unlucky enough to be caught in the camera's lens. Can Julie break the curse of the camera in time to save everyone?

Later Julie receives an invitation to be a Very Special Guest at the HorrorLand Theme Park. It is soon obvious that all is not as it should be in HorrorLand. The Very Special Guests are all trapped. Can Julie and the other kids escape to Panic Park? Or are they doomed?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Celebrate Tolkien Week

"Come, my precious..." and join the fun during Tolkien Week (Sept 20 - 26, 2009). This special week honors J. R. R. Tolkien and his son/editor, Christopher J. R. Tolkien. It is a celebration of the Middle-earth cycle: The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (including The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth.

The highlight of Tolkien Week is Hobbit Day, which is always celebrated on Sept. 22. Why the 22nd? That special date is marks the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins; it is the date of the Long Awaited Party. In keeping with that theme, some libraries, schools, and bookstores prepare displays or host seminars about Tolkien and his works. Other celebrations are more festive. Take the Hobbit Day Celebration at the Parmly Billings Library in Billings Montana, for example. Patrons can make Hobbit Day cards, enjoy tea with crumpets, and view a special screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

However you decide to celebrate, make it a great week. Fun activities for Hobbit Day could include costume contests, games, exchanging cards/gifts and feasts. Another way to celebrate is to visit your local library and check out your favorite Tolkien tome.

For further information, visit the following:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: In the Night Kitchen by M. Sendak

3/5 stars. Despite being frequently challenged, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak is a charming tale about a little boy. Mickey is awakened by noises and dreams of making cake during the night. His adventure is told through beautiful illustrations. Some readers will be offended by the depiction of a nude child; however, readers who enjoyed Where the Wild Things Are, will find this tale delightful.

Save Money @ Your Library

Looking to tighten those purse strings in this economy? Well, look no further than your local library. There you can check out the latest fiction bestsellers, audio books, e-books, and magazines. Public libraries also offer educational and entertainment programming for all ages. And don't forget the DVDs and video games.

For job hunting purposes, check out the Internet, computer, and printing services. Many libraries also offer free Wi-Fi for your laptop. Additionally, there are reference materials and databases for you to use when researching potential employers.

Prefer to purchase your books? Some libraries offer a Friends of the Library Bookstore where paperbacks are sold for bargain prices. Others offer a paperback trade. Just how much money can you save? Take a look at the following:

The Value of ONE Library Visit
Free program - $10.00
New Bestseller - $24.99
New Magazine $4.99
New Children's Book - 12.99
New DVD - $29.98

New Wii Video game - $39.99
TOTAL Value of ONE Visit = $122.94*

If you visit your Library once every 3 weeks, your yearly savings could total over $2000 ! Just think of what you could do with all that extra cash. So stop by today and discover the value of your very own library card.

To find your local library, visit the Library Locator.

*Based on 2009 prices.


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