Friday, August 31, 2012

The Mad Mask by Barry Lyga-OPTIONAL

Lyga, Barry,  The Mad Mask. Scholastic Press, 2012. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

When Mighty Mike the alien crash-landed on Earth, prankster, Kyle Camden was in the area and ended up absorbing super brain powers and flying abilities. Determined to prove Mighty Mike is a phony and not a good superhero, Kyle becomes a supervillain. Little beknownst to him, however, Mad Mask was also in the area and absorbed super brain powers and one ugly face. Bitter towards the world for shunning him for his disfigurement, Mad Mask shows up on Kyle’s doorstep and enlists his help with finishing his 10-story-tall creation, Ultitron. A device he says is meant to defeat Mighty Mike, but secretly is meant to destroy more than just the alien superhero. Mad Mask wants to have his large-scale revenge and then wants to kill Kyle. Will Kyle find out before it’s too late? Will he be able to stop the masked villain?

A funny, quirky version of superherodom. Alhtough Mighty Mike and Mad Mask are a little one-dimensional, the other characters are well-developed and likable. The twist on the classic anti-hero makes the reader think about what truly makes one evil or one good. The plot twists and turns are entertaining and keep the story moving at a fairly good pace. Readers who have read Archvillain and like superheroes, aliens, pre end-of-the-world scenarios, and adventure will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Wild About you by Judy Sierra –ADVISABLE

Sierra, Judy and Illustrated by Brown, Marc Wild About You! 40 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. $10.79  (Rating: G)
All the animals and creatures at the zoo are having babies. But not the tree kangaroo or the pandas, so they are sad. But when a new egg arrives, none of the animals know what kind of baby is inside. But the kangaroo doesn’t care and is even when it turns out to be a penguin, which wasn’t what she was hoping for, she loves it even more. Every animal at the zoo helps to take care of it. Next its the Pandas turn.
With some great themes about community, adoption, and unconditional love –well you can’t go wrong. Not to mention the great art by Marc Brown. Its slightly lyrical, very colorful, and sweet as can be.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian 

Night Knight by Owen Davey –ADVISABLE

Davey, Owen Night Knight 32 pgs. Templar, 2012. $11.67.  (Rating: G)
This is about a little boy who wishes he was a real Knight, so he takes a pre-bed time adventure as Knight -via his imagination. He rides a horse through the forest of his hallway, climbs mountains of stairs, and even faces crocodiles to brush his teeth.
This is fantastic book and will no doubt win awards. I love how the author captured the over the top imagination his main character. The only fault I found were that the color scheme is so monochromatic that it won’t be useful for story time.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata - OPTIONAL

Kadohata, Cynthia A Million Shades of Gray 216 pg. Atheneum BFYR, 2010. Language - PG. Sexual Content- PG. Violence - PG-13. $16.99. Deep in the jungles of South Vietnam, thirteen year old Y'Tin is the best elephant trainer in his village. He dreams of one day going to elephant training school or even opening his own training school. Those dreams come crashing down when his village is attacked by the North Vietnamese. He is separated from his family and flees with his elephant, Lady, into the jungle. His father always told him that a jungle will change a man, and it isn't until Y'Tin is forced to choose between family, friends, enemies, and elephants that he understands what his father means.
I was intrigued with the premise of this book, but it fell flat for me. It was very dry and very slow. It did give the reader a glimpse into the struggles of the Vietnamese people during this time period, but I think kids would have a hard time enjoying this one. EL/MS- OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland - OPTIONAL

Greenland, Shannon The Summer My Life Began 250 pg. Speak, 2012. Content - PG. $7.99. Elizabeth Margaret (Em) is restricted by her families rigid set of rules and life outline. She figures nothing will change until an unexpected letter arrives from a mysterious aunt she has never met. Em's aunt invites her to spend the summer at her Bed and Breakfast on the outer banks of North Carolina. Deciding to take the plunge, Em dives into a summer full of romance, freedom, and change and finds that by the end, she is ready to make some life choices she never dreamed she'd have the chance to make.
Definitely a beach read. The story line about family and forgiveness is something we've all read, although there was a major twist. The writing style was simple but kept my attention. The character development was decent, and everything worked out a little too perfectly. Nothing to rave about- just a quick, easy read. MS/HS - OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bugs Galore by Peter Stein -ADVISABLE

Stein, Peter Bugs Galore 40 pgs, Candlewick Press, 2012. $11.98.  (Rating: G)
A jam packed rhyme all about bugs. Its lyrical and describes everything from the bugs that fall into your food, that you step on, that smell bad, and that even crawl on poo!
I really like this book. It has fun bright imagery perfect for a story time, along with super silly funny words that will have your students laughing out loud.  
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke -ADVISABLE

Duke, Kate Ready for Pumpkins 40 pgs, Random House Children's Books, 2012. $11.98.  (Rating: G)
Hercules is a class guinea pig who doesn’t like to be left out. When he sees the children in his class growing seeds, well it’s a sure bet the Hercules is going to too. He sneaks out of his cage during summer break and plants a pumpkin seed and takes care of it. What will happen when Hercules has to go to back to school, but his pumpkins aren’t full grown yet!
Dreaming and accomplishing your goals with initiative and self  motivation, is always a good lesson for people of any age.  The artwork was cute but not stand out for me.  I think that after students read this they may wonder what their class pet is plotting!
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Great British Baking!

Some people were there when Dylan first went electric.  Some knew about Harry Potter before he hit the mainstream.  I, dear reader, was with The Great British Bake Off from series one, episode one.

Indeed, the whole first series watched without much comment - I loved it, and even toyed with entering the second series.  But then it suddenly became much better known, attracting higher ratings and being a heated topic of conversation in the Bodleian tea room.  I was even inspired to hold my own cake party.  I'm much enjoying series three (and watched the third episode with Mum this evening, on iPlayer) but the standard and difficulty have far exceeded anything I would be able to manage.  In case you haven't watched it, the combination of Mel and Sue's witty, irreverent-but-kind commentary, Mary Berry's grandmotherly sweetness, Paul Hollywood's gruff criticism, and a dozen nervous, jolly bakers is utterly irresistible.  I don't know if the whole series' episodes are available on iPlayer still, but if you can see the cakes in episode 1, they were amazing.  They had to bake cakes with patterns or pictures on the inside... exceptional.  Are you watching it?

And now for something completely different.  My very dear friend Lorna came to visit earlier in August and (despite she being a recently married uber-professional journalist, and me being... well, old) we made gingerbread and decorated it!  I only have two cutters, so they were gingerbread cats and gingerbread teapots.  And we didn't stint on the squeezy icing...

The cutters are ready!

I'm clearly enjoying myself :)


I couldn't squeeze on 'aged 26'.

I make a Colin cat (it's a Wolverhampton Wanderers shirt...) 

Harry Potter cat!  (Please don't sue.)

Lorna hard at work - such concentration!

Lorna's spread - spot the Parisian teapot, landmarks and all

My finished creations.
Now you see why I didn't enter GBBO...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Am I My Brother's Reader?

I've been very ruthless over the past couple days, and weeded out over 100 books which have gone to Barrington (a local National Trust property with a book barn) or The Honeypot (an even more local secondhand book seller - my Mum in our garage, for the church!)  I haven't been quite as ruthless as Rachel, but I've been stern with myself and certainly managed to make a bit of room... and then immediately filled it with the books I sent home with Mum and Dad when I moved house.  But, whereas I'd usually keep books I've read unless I hated them, now they're out if it's unlikely that I'll want to re-read them for years.

One book which probably won't be finding its way back onto my shelves is The Eye of the World (1990), the first novel in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, which I finished on the train home.  In early 2010, my brother Colin and I set each other a reading challenge.  Our tastes our not similar at all, as you'll remember from his My Life in Books interview, and I wanted him to sample the wonder of Virginia Woolf.  Since she writes normal, sensible length books - and Robert Jordan first volume OF FOURTEEN comes in at an astonishing 782 pages - Colin had to read Orlando and To The Lighthouse, and would still get off far easier in terms of length.  As it turned out, he struggled with Orlando and called it the worst book he'd ever read.  Read more here (scroll down to August 25th 2010 entry).  I was sad but not surprised, and let him off reading To The Lighthouse.  Virginia Woolf is too brilliant to be everyone's cup of tea, so we'll sweep that under the carpet.

Well, The Eye of the World isn't the worst book I've ever read, but it did take me 2.5 years to read it.  I actually read over 500 pages on a trip to and from Paris in March 2010, because it was the only book I took with me, but I only read in dribs and drabs until, determined that it should feature on A Century of Books, I took it with me on a 3.5 hour train journey, and blitzed the final 200 or so pages.

Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve live in a jolly place called The Two Rivers, which is attacked by Trollocs (wolf-type creatures), and Rand's father is killed.  I forget quite how this leads to the quest, but it does.... in fact, looking back, I can't really remember ever being told what the quest actually was.  It certainly involved walking a very long way, outwitting Dark Forces, and seeking the elliptical wisdom of an Aes Sedai  - prophetess-type - called Moiraine, who is rather pretty, if memory serves.  They wanted to get to The Eye of the World, but I don't really remember it being mentioned until they actually got there.  Perhaps they're just on the run from the Trollocs and sundry evil things?

And on they go.  And on.  And oooonnnn.

I will mention, before I go on, that The Eye of the World was better than I thought it would be.  At no point was the writing laughably bad, although for the most part it was pretty pedestrian.  It doesn't hurry particularly, and one of the reasons the book is so. very. long. is that Jordan doesn't have any sense of economising.  Here's an excerpt chosen entirely at random, to give you a sense of the pace:
The stone hallway was dim and shadowy, and empty except for Rand.  He could not tell where the light came from, what little there was of it; the grey walls were bare of candles or lamps, nothing at all to account for the faint glow that seemed to just be there.  The air was still and dank, and somewhere in the distance water dripped with a steady, hollow plonk.  Wherever this was, it was not the inn.  Frowning, he rubbed at his forehead.  Inn?  His head hurt, and thoughts were hard to hold on to.  There had been something about... an inn?  It was gone, whatever it was.

He licked his lips and wished he had something to drink.  He was awfully thirsty, dry-as-dust thirsty.  It was the dripping sound that decided him.  With nothing to choose by except his thirst, he started toward that steady plonk - plonk - plonk.
So, as you see, nothing dreadful, nothing in Mary Webb territory.  But since we're comparing Jordan with Woolf (which I can't imagine has ever happened before)... well, you can't imagine anybody reading prose like that simply for the joy of reading beautiful writing, can you?  It's serviceable, though, and unobtrusive, which is no mean feat.  Plenty of novelists would give their left arm for that.

A book's merits can be considered in terms of plot, character, and writing style, broadly speaking.  What The Eye of the World lacks in writing style it almost gains in character.  Although it took me the first hundred pages to disentangle Mat, Rand, and Perrin (and that gap of two years in my reading entangled them all over again) I was impressed by the complex relationships between the central characters - with jealousy, admiration, affection, rivalry, loyalty, and frustration all playing their roles.  It's not always the most subtle character delineation, but it's a good deal more subtle than I was anticipating.  As usual, there are forces that are plain Evil, without redeeming feature or clear motivation, but the Good characters weren't annoyingly bland in their pursuit of all that is pure.  They did all seem as though they were about 15 years old, whereas the cover suggests they're a decade or so older than that...?

So, the plot?  It didn't grip me, to be honest, because it seemed just to be walk, obstacle, overcome obstacle, walk, obstacle, overcome obstacle, repeat as needed.  The heroes are trapped!  Will they die?  Er, no.  The heroes are lost!  Will they find their way?  Er, yes.  The heroes are trapped again!  Will they escape?  Can you guess?  When there are another thousand books in the series, you know that the main characters are going to live for at least another few books.

I love books where not much happens, as you know.  I love To The Lighthouse, for goodness' sake, and bar a death and an argument or two, nothing really happens.  But The Eye of the World is so fixed on its quest plot, and its up-and-down attempts to heighten tension, that when it doesn't grab a reader the foundations of the novel must collapse.  I think I'm just allergic to the artificiality of any quest-plot.  And - not that it's relevant - covers like this.  Why do fantasy books so often have covers like this?  And silly names?  I'm put off when writers make up gibberish languages.  I think writers should be able to be creative within the bounds of the English language (or, y'know, whichever language[s] they speak.)  I don't see how 'Aes Sedai' brings anything that 'prophetess' doesn't, other than making me think (for some reason) of Anais Nin.

And while I'm moaning, goodness me, it's slow.  Colin tells me that it's the most pacey novel in the series - but no novel of 782 pages can claim to be fast-paced.  I think it could all easily be condensed into 300 pages, max.  I suppose part of the appeal to the sort of people who like lengthy fantasy series is that length. Perhaps it makes you feel like you're on the quest too.  (It did make me chuckle that one of the cover quotations was "I read it in three days" - for most books, an indication of compulsive, compelling reading would be "I read it in three hours.")  I was never hugely curious to find out what would happen next, partly because it was almost always glaringly obvious what would happen next and partly because it all happened at a glacial speed.

So, summing up... neither Colin nor I have converted the other to our much-cherished writers, but I fared better with Robert Jordan than he did with Virginia Woolf.  I shan't be reading any other books in The Wheel of Time series, but I liked The Eye of the World more than I thought I would.  I just wish someone had hidden Jordan's pen after 300 pages.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan-ADVISABLE

Monaghan, Annabel, A Girl Named Digit. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. Pgs. 187. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

Digit is 17 and a genius, only she doesn’t want everybody to know it. Digit likes to pretend with her friends she’s just like them-only while watching a show with her friends, she cracks a terrorist plot. The FBI needs her help and stages a kidnapping. Will she be able to help them stop the terrorists and return to her normal life?

The plot is fun and moves fast. This mystery adventure mixed, with a little clean romance, has great characters and does a good job of holding the reader’s interest. Readers who like spies, action, and adventure with well-developed plots will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira Moody, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen -Advisable

Van Dusen, Chris Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit 32 pgs, Candlewick, 2012. $10.77.  (Rating: G)
Randy Riley two favorite things collide in a spectacular way in this story. He loves baseball, but isn’t so great at it. He loves astronomy and is so good at it that he is the first to notice that a fireball is headed right for his town. He creatively combines his two hobbies in his attempt to save the day, and he just might have some brains and luck on his side.
The story is over the top and fun, and combined with the big stunningly bright artwork –it’s a homerun for a silly story time.
EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Dog Loves Drawing by Louse Yates -ESSENTIAL

Yates, Louise Dog Loves Drawing 32 pgs, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. $10.77.  (Rating: G)
Dog finds out that drawing is more than just coloring when he fills the pages of a blank book with his story.  His art takes him on a fantastic little adventure!
This is an inspiring book for learning to love illustration. Students will love seeing how adventures come to life. Perfect for a unit on the power of Picture books.
EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds -ADVISABLE

Reynolds, Peter Sky Color 31 pgs, Candlewick, 2012. $9.45.  (Rating: G)
Marisol is thrilled to get a chance to paint part of a library mural at her school. But how can she paint a sky when they are all out of blue paint. Marisol starts to look at the sky at different times of day, and comes up with a wonderful solution.
This was a great book about thinking outside of the box. This is a perfect book for students, as a message to keep their creativity and unique thinking alive as they make their way through school. (Which we all know can sometimes be a right and wrong answer kind of place). I also love how everything but the paint and sky are illustrated in subdued tones, playing up the brightness of the colors.
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Pirateria by Calef Brown -ADVISABLE

Brown, Calef Pirateria 40 pgs, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. $13.98.  (Rating: G)
This is a great picture book Pirate story –its all a very special story -the Pirateria. Which is stuffed with everything a person needs to be a pirate. The text includes every pirate word imaginable.
This is a must have for September’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! Its going to be a fun storytime read and there are lots of sill words! The artwork is big, interesting, and colorful. I love that the book features girl pirates as well!
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

The Warden - Anthony Trollope

In 2004, when I first joined the online book group which became dovegreybooks, and which I still love, everyone was talking about Anthony Trollope.  Over the course of the year, I managed to acquire all of the Barchester Chronicles & Palliser novels.  Fast forward eight years, and... I finally read something by Trollope!  And it wasn't even one of the actual books I bought in 2004, although it was a duplicate of one of them - Penguin sent me their new edition of The Warden (1855) a few months ago, and I decided that was a good excuse to give Anthony T a go.

Verdict: Success.

Several people have told me over the years to skip over The Warden and start with Barchester Towers, because The Warden was dull or pedestrian.  My friend Will expostulated with some warmth about how much he'd hated it at school - but by then I was already halfway through the novel and LOVING it.

On the face of it, the subject matter isn't of huge excitement and relevance to 2012.  A complicated combination of vague wills and inflation means that clergymen are benefiting from legacies intended for the charitable assistance of later generations.  Mr. Septimus Harding is one such clergyman - the warden of some almshouses, collecting £800 a year, and thus far more than the one shilling and sixpence given daily to the twelve old and infirm men who live there.

Now, I love the Church of England, but even I couldn't call myself gripped by their financial workings 150 years ago.  At least, not in the hands of any other author.  In The Warden, it scarcely matters what the issue is - what matters is the way Trollope uses it.  While some people value Dickens as a social reformer rather than a comic writer (I am the reverse), I find Trollope's touch much more palatable.  If this scenario had appeared in a Dickens novel, the warden would be called Mr. Grabsomecash, a cackling, acquisitive, unholy man.  And that would be fine, because he'd offset it with brilliant dialogue and hilarious grotesques, but it wouldn't have shone any very realistic light upon the issue.  Trollope, ingeniously, combines his evident belief that reform is needed with a character who is the opposite of conniving, money-grabbing, or selfish.  At the start of the novel, after Mr. Harding has been accepting £800 a year for quite a long period, the idea that he is doing the wrong thing 'has never sullied his quiet, or disturbed his conscience.'  Things soon change...

Heading the charge is John Bold, social reformer, who (despite his Dickensian name) is a subtle combination of forthright and bashful.  He isn't directly affected by the almshouse dispute, but is the sort of left-wing gent who views all disputes as his personal business.  He is idealistic, but also (you would have seen this coming, had I mentioned that Mr. Harding has an eligible young daughter, Eleanor) in love.  Which gives excuses for wonderful honourable-young-lady speeches like this:
"Mr. Bold," said she, "you may be sure of one thing; I shall always judge my father to be right, and those who oppose him I shall judge to be wrong.  If those who do not know him oppose him, I shall have charity enough to believe that they are wrong, through error of judgement; but should I see him attacked by those who ought to know him, and to love him, and revere him, of such I shall be constrained to form a different opinion."  And then curtseying low she sailed on, leaving her lover in anything but a happy state of mind.
You can't imagine Kim Kardashian or the cast of The Only Way Is Essex handling the situation in quite the same way, can you?

Septimus Harding has another daughter, Susan, but one not quite so close to his heart - largely because she is married to the ferociously logical and unpleasant archdeacon (she cannot bring herself to call him by any name other than 'archdeacon'.)  There can be no character so frustratingly awful as one who uses 'common-sense' instead of compassion, logic in place of love - and the archdeacon, Dr. Grantly, is one of those.  He is Mr. Bold's equal and opposite, forthright in defending Mr. Harding's right to receive his £800 a year, brooking no compromise on the topic.  When Mr. Harding wishes to find out whether he is morally and legally entitled to the money he receives (which nobody really seems to know) Dr. Grantly blinds him with syllogisms and declares that Mr. Harding will be abandoning the church if he does not continue to accept the money.  Yet even with Dr. Grantly, Trollope is charitable, noting towards the end of The Warden that:
We fear that he is represented in these pages as being worse than he is; but we have had to do with his foibles, and not with his virtues.  We have seen only the weak side of the man, and have lacked the opportunity of bringing him forward on his strong ground.
And he goes on to list his virtues, alongside his vices.  For Trollope is scrupulously fair in The Warden.  Right and wrong are not clearly demarcated, and even the right things are done for wrong reasons, and vice versa.

The Warden is largely the exploration of Mr. Harding's conscience, his craving for privacy, his sense of duty, and his love for Eleanor and the men of the almshouse.  It is all subtle and generous, and in a beautifully lilting prose.  I can see the threads of Jane Austen more clearly than I have in any other Victorian writer; Trollope values the balance and measure of sentences as much as Austen did.  The issue is no longer relevant, and perhaps never was to the majority of the country, but people have not changed.  Anybody familiar with disputes local or national will recognise the various characters here, or at least some of their traits.  At the centre of it is the wonderfully complex figure of Mr. Harding, thrust into a limelight he loathes and forced to defend a position he is beginning to consider indefensible.  If the rest of the Barchester Chronicles just gets better, then I'm excited to read on!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning - ESSENTIAL

Manning, Maurie J. Laundry Day. 40 pgs. Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. $16.99.

In this delightful graphic novel, a young boy is trying to make a living shining shoes in a vibrant city in the early 20th century. When his slow day is interrupted by a red scarf falling from the sky, he and his trusty cat go in search of the scarf's owner. Up, up he climbs, along clotheslines and over balconies, talking to the diverse tenants of the nearby buildings. Along the way, he does thoughtful things for each person he meets. His generosity is rewarded with friendship and a few nice surprises.

This sweet book would make a very nice addition to many collections. The illustrations spread across the page in various shapes, lending an active feel to the novel, and the hustle and bustle of the city are captured through many fun details. A great introduction to lessons on cultural tolerance, history, and/or generosity.

EL - ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn.

City Chickens by Christine Heppermann - NO

Hepperman, Christine City Chickens. 64 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. $16.99. What looks like a helpful, feel-good guide to raising chickens in the city is actually the story of a family who converted their home into a chicken rescue center, as well as the biographies of many of the hens and roosters they rescued. Several of the stories are heart-warming, while others are very sad, and the section at the end about how to prepare for adopting chickens could prove helpful. Unfortunately, the book's message - that it's important to be prepared before setting up your own coop - is lost in an exhaustive background of the family, the rescue, and the adopted birds. There is little solid, helpful information, and the disorganization and nonessential info make the text difficult to follow and, frequently, boring. Younger students may find the pictures and story disturbing, as the book touches on such subjects as cockfighting, medical testing, frostbite, and animal attacks on coops. EL, MS - NOT RECOMMENDED. Reviewed by: Caryn.

Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice-ESSENTIAL

Surplice, Holly.  Guinea Pig Party, 32 pgs.  Nosy Crow, 2012.  $14.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. Ten adorable guinea pig are celebrating a birthday.  One by one, the guinea pigs disappear in the party fun. But once a birthday wish is made, all friends are back to celebrate once more.  In this perfect counting book, children are challenged with rhyming clues to guess the next number.  This book would be great for celebrating a birthday, or for learning and practicing numbers.  The rhyming is perfect and fun to read.  The illustrations are bright and inviting.  We loved this book!  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Take Two! A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis-OPTIONAL

Lewis, J. Patrick.  Yolen, Jane.  Take Two!  A Celebration of Twins.  Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 72 pgs.  Candlewick, 2012.  $17.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. This book contains a collection of original poems by two famous authors: J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen.  This is a perfect book to read to and share with anyone expecting or enjoying twins.  Titles like, “Be Careful What You Wish For”, and “Eating With Twins”, helps readers to know that this book is filled with heartfelt truth and surprise.  Because there isn’t a lot of classroom application, I have rated it OPTIONAL, but it would be a great purchase for those experiencing twins on a day to day basis.  EL(K-3). EL. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: SL

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies- ADVISABLE

 Davies, Nicola.  Just Ducks!  Illustrated by Salvator Rubbino.  32 pgs.  Candlwick, 2012. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. The title says it all, this book is just about ducks- but with a twist.  The author includes facts about ducks and their behavior on every page of this book.  In addition, we share in an experience of a little girl who hears the ducks outside her window in the morning, and joins them down at the river to see and learn how fascinating these creatures can be.  This is a very informative book .  The illustrations are detailed and exquisite.  This book could be used in a unit on ducks.  EL(K-3).  EL.  ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.   

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills-ADVISABLE

Hills, Tad.  Duck and Goose Find A Pumpkin.  BOARD BOOK. 22 pgs. Schwartz & Wade, 2012.  $10.99. Content: G.  Thistle has a big beautiful pumpkin.  His friends, Duck and Goose, want one as well.  But where will they find one?  In this large board book, Duck and Goose explore the sights and sounds of autumn by searching for a pumpkin.  They look high and low, and explore the world around them. This is a beautifully illustrated board book.  The words are simple and the story easy to read.  Pre-K.  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL