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Archive for May, 2012

May 30, 2012

Three Stars for Hide & Seek!

? Just like children everywhere, the animals in this picture book’s rain forest amuse themselves with a game of hide-and-seek. When Elephant offers to count, things get off to a rocky start (“‘Hey! No peeking!’ shouts Flamingo”), but soon everyone—including Rhino, Gorilla, the starlings, and the big-eyes bush babies—are experiencing the familiar “where should I hide?” panic. Tall Giraffe’s options are limited to trees, and Tortoise, who can pull himself into his own hiding place, is mistaken for a rock. Birds have the obvious advantage, but there’s one animal who can best them all: Chameleon. Na (The Book of Sleep, 2009) creates swirling, vibrant, Technicolor-layered digital illustrations that sparkle as they introduce the pals at play and present the spectacular rainforest from a number of vantage points. Elephant, set off on the right-hand side, restlessly switches positions with each page turn (it’s sometimes dull being the counter), and his voice grows louder as the tension mounts and the number approaches 10. Not only is this a fun introduction to 1 to 10 counting, there is also the opportunity to join in the action: where is chameleon hiding? With a glorious color palette and an accessibly-presented topic, this will be a sure hit with preschoolers.

— Ann Kelley, Booklist, STARRED REVIEW


?Na’s (Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit) creative vision turns a group of animals’ game of hide and seek into a joyful spectacle. Featuring a predominantly pastel palette, the delicate art incorporates a range of intricate patterns and textures. As in Na’s previous books, swirls and spirals are common motifs, giving the pictures buoyancy and a sense of motion. The game is set in a rain forest where an elephant with heart-patterned ears counts to 10, as other animals find hiding places of varying ingenuity. A giraffe takes cover behind a tall tree, while a gorilla stands atop a mottled turtle, pretending he’s a statue. The cleverest player, of course, is the chameleon, and readers can find him in various scenes, including a dazzling, sunlit spread in which the chameleon’s friends give up and shout “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Na’s shifts in perspective—spying on the game from behind, from above, and from below—add visual interest, and the elephant’s continued counting “1… 2… 3…” generates a fitting degree of excitement and low-grade tension. Ages 2–5. (May)

- Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW


? Expert hide-and-seekers will hear the hushed scuttles and feel the quickened pulses as a group of animals plays a rainforest game of hide-and-seek.

Elephant counts while his animal friends scurry. Butterflies flutter around the crouching little elephant, a new one joining in with each page-turn, adding up to a swarm that equals each giddy announcement: 1, 2, 3! Meanwhile, flamingo, chameleon, giraffe, rhino, monkey, tortoise, the starlings and bush babies hasten to get hidden. Momentum mounts as readers alternate between an animal wondering, for example, “Can I hide behind this rock?” (on left-hand pages) and the elephant’s’ escalating counting (on the right). Na also directs readers’ eyes up into the canopy and down into the underbrush, where creatures look for cover, getting them to crane their heads and look at the forest from every angle. Text size swells and reduces, indicating emphasis, and keeps the antsy energy going. Digital layering produces a fantastic fusion of painterly textures, soft patterns and fine outlines, yielding ethereal illustrations with dappled colors that shine like light through a leaf. So many undulating components could easily turn into roiling confusion on the page, but here each element coheres beautifully, rendering a sweetly swirling, tie-dyed rainforest awash in reds, yellows, greens and blues.

Ready or not! Here comes a book worth finding. (Picture book. 2-5) 

- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

May 30, 2012

June: Let the Summer Games Begin!

June – Let the Summer Games Begin

Many young readers are gearing up to follow the summer Olympics in London in July.  The library is filled with resources for all ages to help them prepare for an excellent Olympic experience, even if their participation is done via television.  June is a terrific time for public libraries to sponsor programs that get readers excited about this International event.  Many schools are in session until the end of June, and teachers are looking for meaningful activities for students as they wind down the school year.

  • Kick off a study of the Olympics by asking students to use books in the library or sites on the Internet to find answers to the following trivia quiz: http://www.syvum.com/cgi/online/serve.cgi/quiz/olympics.html?question_hide (Note the answers are given).  In the spirit of team competition, give them a chance to work in small groups.  Have them cite the sources they use.  The team that completes the quiz with the most correct answers and in the shortest time wins the Gold Medal.  Beginning readers will enjoy the following titles:

Ancient Greece and the Olympics (ages 6-10) by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce & illus. by Sal Murdocca

The Magic Tree House: Hour of the Olympics (ages 6-10) by Mary Pope  Osborne & illus. by Sal Murdocca

  • Ask readers if they can name the sports in the Summer Games.  How many did they name?  Send them to the official website for the Olympic Movement for the answer (http://www.olympic.org/sports).
  • Tell them that there are two sports that were in the 2008 games, but won’t be a part of the 2012 competition.  Which two?   Which countries won the Gold Medal in these sports in 2008?  Encourage them to find out why these sports are no longer included.
  • Ask them to follow the Olympic flame on a map.  A list of the towns, villages and cities can be found on the following website: http://www.london2012.com/torch-relay/.
  • Have readers find out about the various Olympic sports venues in London.  How many were constructed especially for the 2012 games?  What is living in the athletes’ village like?  The following website will give them information about the venues: http://www.olympic.org/london-2012-summer-olympics.
  • Ask readers to brainstorm the qualities it takes to become an Olympian.  They might consider: Determination, Perseverance, Self-Discipline; Teamwork, and a Healthy Lifestyle.  Then ask them to read a book with main characters that display at least one of these qualities.  Some titles from Random House include:


The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food (ages 4-8) by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Busy Body Book (ages 4-9) by Lizzy Rockwell
Oh the Things You Can Do That are Good for You (ages 4-8) by Tish Rabe & illus. by Aristides Ruiz
Strong Man (ages 4-8) by Meghan McCarthy
Amelia Earhart (ages 6-9) by John Parlin
Junie B. Jones is Captain of Field Day (ages 6-9) by Barbara Park & illus. by      Denise Brunkus
The Great Houdini (ages 7-9) by Monica Kulling & illus. by Anne Reas
Sky High (ages 6-8) by Marissa Moss & illus. by Carl Angel
A Spotlight for Harry (ages 6-9) by Eric A. Kimmel & illus. by Jim Madsen
To the Top (ages 7-10) by Sydelle Kramer
Dude Ranch (ages 9-12) by Bonnie Bryant
Wild River (ages 9-12) by P.J. Petersen


  • Display books that deal with each of the sports represented in the games.  Then ask readers to select a book, either fiction or nonfiction, about a sport that interests them, and ask them to review the book for the school or library website.  Here are a few suggestions from Random House:

Go for Gold (Dora the Explorer) (preschool) by Golden Books & illus. by Warner McGee
Canoe Days (ages 4-8) by Gary Paulsen & illus. by Ruth Wright Paulsen
Cat on the Mat (ages 4-6) by Susan Schade
The Champ (ages 5-8) by Tonya Bolden & illus. by R. Gregory Christie
Nothing But Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson (ages 4-8) by Sue Stauffacher  & illus. by Greg Couch
Paddywack (ages 4-8) by Stephanie Spinner & illus. by Daniel Hoswarth
Tillie the Terrible Swede (ages 4-8) by Sue Stauffacher & illus. by Sarah McMenemy
Good Sports (ages 8-up) by Jack Prelutsky & illus. by Chris Raschka
Basketball’s Greatest Players (ages 7-10) by Sydelle Kramer
Horse Crazy (ages 9-12) by Bonnie Bryant
Horse Show (ages 9-12) by Bonnie Bryant
A Passion for Victory (ages 10-up) by Benson Bobrick
Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics (ages 10-up) by John Feinstein
Hoops (ages 12-up) by Walter Dean Myers
Losing Is Not an Option (ages 12-up) by Rich Wallace
One Good Punch (ages 12-up) by Rich Wallace
The Outside Shot (ages 12-up) by Walter Dean Myers
The Power of One (ages 12-up) by Bryce Courtenay
Wrestling Sturbridge (ages 12-up) by Rich Wallace

May 03, 2012

Three Starred Reviews for Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey!

? Here’s another standout from a popular franchise. Traction Man Is Here! (2005) was great and Traction Man Meets Turbodog (2008) was even better. Here, just the endpapers in Traction Man’s third picture book would immediately make this purchase worthy. Just as every Ken needs a Barbie, the action-figure star meets his match in Beach Time Brenda (“Fully Accessorised with Lots and Lots of Stuff” and “Available in Light Pink, Mid Pink, or Sick Pink”). In this adventure, Traction Man and his trusty sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, are brought to the beach by their boy owner. They explore an underwater world of crabs and cockles, defend their picnic lunch from a hungry dog, and get swept out to sea by a vigorous wave. They’re rescued by a girl and are squirreled away in a sand castle, where they meet two towering sirens called the Dollies (“You can stay in our castle FOR EVER!”). All ends well, when, in a nice reversal, the Dollies show as much pluck as Traction Man in escaping as the castle crumbles. Grey supplies equal doses of humor and heroics in the zippy illustrations that play out the dual dramas on both human and miniature scales. The adventures that toys have apart from their owners is a surefire theme worth revisiting time and even more so when done with this much panache. — Ian Chipman, Booklist STARRED REVIEW



? The intrepid, square-jawed action figure Traction Man is back, but is he ready for the likes of Beach-Time Brenda™?

The endpapers alone are worth the price of admission to the third comic-book–style picture book in Grey’s award-winning Traction Man series, thanks to the commercial glory of Beach-Time Brenda™. She is “fully accessorized with lots and lots of stuff,” including “teeny tottery microshoes,” a “pinkly patterned towel” and “unrealistic Vital Statistics.” Traction Man collides with Beach-Time Brenda™ when he and Scrubbing Brush head off for a beach holiday, or more grandly, “odyssey.” Granny comes, too, with her new pet dog Truffles. Once at the beach, it soon becomes Traction Man’s charge to defend the picnic—especially the quiche—against Truffles. Truffles buries him, literally. The ever-loyal Scrubbing Brush digs him up, but watch out! Both hero and sidekick end up adrift in the ocean, then seaweed-compromised in a Beach-Time Brenda™ Bucket that belongs to another kid. Every vivacious spread teems with delicious details in a world where both the tide-pool creatures and the quiche have eyes. The spare, dryly funny text on bits of torn graph paper is perfectly choreographed with the colorful, boldly designed spreads.

A wonderfully satirical, action-packed romp that echoes the grand tradition of comic books as it ingeniously communicates the complete absorption of imaginative play. (Picture book. 6-9) Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW


? Children who are into action figures, those who can easily slide into the flow of a fragmented story, and fans of the previous titles will undoubtedly be attracted to this tale about the square-jawed Traction Man and his sidekick, Scrubbing Brush. This title finds the duo dashing through a variety of adventures at the beach. Told by an omniscient narrator and through the conversations of various characters, the story dips and swerves and introduces the Dollies, who become playmates for the toys, and whose owner becomes a new friend for the boy. Splashy front and back endpapers, devoted to advertisements for Brenda Magazine, foreshadow the meeting and the beach pail that Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush ride in. At first put off by the Dollies’ fussing and girly style of play, they join forces when disaster strikes their sand castle and the toys team up for more creative and daring play. Grey fills the spreads with color and action, providing plenty of high jinks and hilarious happenings.–Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA, School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW