Previous month:
March 2014
Next month:
May 2014

Posts from April 2014

Press Release: Screen Free Week is May 5-11

SFW-logo-with-2014-dateScreen-Free Week is May 5 – 11, 2014! 

Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to spend 7 days unplugged.

BOSTON -- April 28 -- Children are spending way too much time with screens -- and it’s not good for them.

  • School-age children spend more time with screen media -- television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices -- than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers -- according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching just television.
  • A recent survey found that the amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled in two years.
  • Screen time is habit forming and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
  • 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day -- even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging screen time for children under two.

For these reasons and more, so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 5 – 11, 2014), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn on life by turning off screens for entertainment. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, the National WIC Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Public Health Association.

“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, exploring nature, and dreaming -- activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the upcoming festivities:

  • The Irving (TX) Public Library is hosting events all week long including sidewalk chalk art, a bubble bonanza, a science experiment, and opportunities to create books and build with construction materials.
  • In NYC, The Uni Project will take up residency all week on a wide stretch of sidewalk in the Lower East Side with their pop-up, open-air reading rooms.
  • The Wooden Horse toy store in Los Gatos, CA has a week of activities planned, starting with a pajama party and story time and ending with a play day that will be filled with arts & crafts, games, and races. A game night and nature-themed activities will also be offered during the week.
  • Spring Garden Recreation in York, PA will be joining with local businesses and Recreation departments to offer an activity for each day of the week free of charge. They’re starting the week off with a kids’ biathlon.
  • In Cambridge, MA families will celebrate Screen-Free (Screen-Wise) Week with cooking from the garden, building and playing with cardboard tubes, a kids’ walk and picnic at Fresh Pond, exploring materials with magical properties, and sketching plants and trees. They’ll end the week with a Mother’s Day bike ride.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (www.commercialfreechildhood.org) is a national coalition that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).

_______________________________

See also my post about my family's experience with Screen Free Week last year. I'm going to try for "Less Screen Week" this year (see a post by Marge Loch-Wouters on this topic), but I think that's all I'll be able to manage right now. 


Torn Away: Jennifer Brown

Book: Torn Away
Author: Jennifer Brown
Pages: 288
Age Range: 12 and up

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown is about a teenage girl living in a small midwestern town who loses everything in a tornado. I hadn't read any of Brown's novels up to this point, though I was vaguely familiar with them (particularly Hate List, about a school shooting). She is known for taking on ripped from the headlines stories and making them stand out. I found Torn Away to be a definite page-turner, with gripping descriptions of the tornado and the devastation that it caused. It is a rather depressing book, but one that wrung a few tears out of me in the end. 

Jersey is likable without being perfect (a bit pudgier than she might like, and one who prefers to stay behind the scenes, rather than be in the limelight). Prior to the tornado, she is frequently irritated by her irrepressible five year old half sister, Marin. She eventually comes to regret not being nicer to Marin when she had the chance. I personally found this point to be hammered at a tiny heavily. But it did make me resolve to be more patient with the irrepressible preschooler living in my own house. And I respected the author's decision not to sugar-coat Jersey's relationship with her sister. Teens are not always kind to their much-younger siblings - this is a fact of life. Other characters, even those that don't survive, are allowed not to be perfect, which is a big part of what makes the book work. 

Jersey's experience after the tornado, when she is sent to live with her estranged father and his heinous family, is in some ways worse than the tornado itself. Brown's tone is somewhat matter of fact, rather than overly melodramatic, which helps to keep Torn Away from being too sad to bear. Here are a couple of snippets:

"Had I not know I was standing in my living room, I never would have guessed this was my house. The roof was completely missing. The whole thing. No holes or tears--gone. Some of the outside walls were also missing, and the remaining walls were in perilously bad conditions. One was leaning outward, the window blown and the frame hanging by a corner. Farther away, where the living room and the kitchen normally, met, the house just... ended." (Chapter Four, ARC).

"What the news crews couldn't show was the real damage Elizabeth's monster tornado had left behind. How do you record the wreckage left in someone's heart? I pulled out a piece of gum and popped it into my mouth, then smoothed out the foil. I found a pen on the nightstand and drew a picture of a big stick figure holding a little stick figure." (Chapter Eleven, ARC)

When I was a teenager, I would have adored this book. A natural disaster! A compelling plot full of terrible things happening to someone delightfully ordinary. Complex family relationships. Torn Away has a lot going for it. As an adult reader I enjoyed it, despite feeling the tiniest bit emotionally manipulated. My inkling to read Hate List has increased, in any case. 

Torn Away is a book that I think will reach teen readers, and give them (at least for a little while) a new appreciation of their families. And perhaps they'll feel a bit more empathy towards the victims of natural disasters seen on the evening news. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 25

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. We are light on book lists this week, but heavy on events (World Book Night, Children's Choice Awards, National Poetry Month, etc.). 

Authors

Author Tanita Davis on why she's supporting the ALTERED PERCEPTIONS anthology in support of author Robison Wells http://ow.ly/w84Wy

squeetus: What do writers and mental illness have in common? Why @haleshannon is participating in Altered Perceptions http://ow.ly/w6a6N

Book Lists

A Tuesday Ten: Speculative Environmentals | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/w5qyf #booklist #kidlit

11 Jewish Folktales for Kids from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/w00w3 #kidlit #booklist

Diversity + Gender

Diversity in #KidLit: 7 must reads from @rosemondcates "you can find the uniqueness of each character while relating" http://ow.ly/w83Ej

A Diverse Dozen in #yalit http://ow.ly/w03aO #booklist @diversityinya

CCBlogC: Same Old Story: The Stats on Multicultural Literature http://ow.ly/w3xrF #diversity

Heartening post @Freakonomics on father/daughter initiative to encourage McDonalds to not make gender assumptions http://ow.ly/w3z6C

"it’s our job to represent humanity in literature. And humanity is #diverse" | @haleshannon on "Neutral characters" http://ow.ly/w02g2

Boys, Reading and Misogynistic Crap | @tashrow takes on Jonathan Emmett's recent Times of London piece http://ow.ly/vZZz1 #literacy

Events

World Book Night (tonight!) and a Proper Celebration of the Day of Shakespeare’s Birth — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/w5qiK

Voice your choice! Voting for @CBCBook's Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards is open through May 12: http://ccbookawards.com #CCBA14

SFW-logo-with-2014-dateIs anyone participating in Screen-Free Week 2014, May 5-11? | @CommercialFree Childhood Campaign http://ow.ly/w3wZw

Can you commit to 20 min of reading as a family for 20 days? #Read20@jendonn @5M4B is taking @Scholastic Challenge http://ow.ly/w01Qd

Celebrating Earth Day: A focus on Molly Bang's science picture books (ages 4-10) from @MaryAnnScheuer http://ow.ly/w01jW #kidlit

Poetry Challenge for Kids {Week 4} from @momandkiddo for #NationalPoetryMonth http://ow.ly/vVOlL

Growing Bookworms

Teaching Kids How to Take Care of Books - @growingbbb http://ow.ly/w8451 #GrowingBookworms

7 Book-Related Things I’d Like to Destruct by Here Comes Destructosaurus author Aaron Reynolds | @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/w5qdK

Another well-put reminder: "All books are worthy of being read. Just let kids read" by @mentortexts @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/w00Ld

Study finds mothers share rich Information when Reading Picture Books (narrative and non) reports @tashrow http://ow.ly/w815v #literacy

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

"No matter how long a book has been out, the first time you read it, it’s new to you" Michael Guevara @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/w84sR

Parenting

Literacy, families and learning: Fifteen Creative Ideas to Try During Holidays from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/w5qNy

Schools, Libraries, and Homeschooling

12 Big Ideas About Homeschooling from @PenelopeTrunk @escapeadulthood http://ow.ly/w82ci

Growing Our Reading Community: Learning from Older Readers (on reading buddies) by @cathymere http://ow.ly/w02Cw

"the books our kids want to read, and the books we want to share", Mumbai school librarian @ShirinPetit @KirbyLarson http://ow.ly/w82HQ

The joy of sharing (recommending) books, by Hong Kong Academy teacher librarian @tgaletti @KirbyLarson http://ow.ly/w8349

Going to the #Library Gives You the Same Boost as Getting a Raise! | @tashrow Sites and Soundbytes http://ow.ly/w80sz

Depressing | Modesto to Replace School Librarians with Teachers in response to #CommonCore http://ow.ly/w3vKt via @PWKidsBookshelf

Common Core Flip-Flop: Gov Cuomo Changes Mind About Using #CommonCore Results For Teacher Evaluations | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vUiip

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


Zoe's Jungle: Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Book: Zoe's Jungle
Author: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-5

My daughter and I both enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Bethanie Murguia's two previous picture books about Zoe (Zoe Gets Ready and Zoe's Room: No Sister's Allowed). In this third installment, the irrepressible Zoe and her younger sister Addie pretend that a playground is a jungle. Some tension is added to the story by the fact that Mama has decreed that they'll be leaving the park in five minutes. But as it turns out, five minutes is enough time for a jungle adventure, if you have sufficient imagination.

Alternating page spreads show the jungle that Zoe is picturing, vs. the playground as it actually looks. This may be a bit confusing for the youngest readers (my four-year-old wasn't sure what was going on, the first time we read this). But once they understand the device that Murguia is using, I think that kids will enjoy it. For instance, Zoe crosses over an alligator-filled river on a fallen log. The "log" is revealed on the next page to be a wooden bench, passing near some kids playing in a puddle. Not until the final endpages do we see the full view of the park. (And I must say, it's a very nice park!)

Although this is still clearly Zoe's story, it's nice to see her sister growing a bit bigger, and more able to actively take part in things (this is clear from just looking at the cover). The "Addiebeast" runs away and hides, and the brave explorer Zoe must track her down. Addie's polka-dotted dress is echoed in the Addiebeast's spotted tail. 

I also, as a parent, enjoyed the by-play between Zoe and her Mama over when they would leave the park. Zoe goes on a huge rant over how five more minutes is "NOT" enough time. At the end of the rant, Mama just says: "Four minutes!". Zoe slumps over, saying: "Is there no respect for the explorer and her quest?" But then Addie distracts her, and the game is on. 

I love the green jungle palette of Zoe's Jungle, and the images of kids climbing trees and riding wild beasts, as well as the images of kids just playing in a playground. Mostly I love that Zoe's Jungle is a celebration of imaginative play, as well as a celebration of sibling bonds. Recommended, and sure to become a Baby Bookworm favorite!

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 22

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks. (I'm sending one day early right now because TypePad has been a bit unreliable of late, and I want to get it out while I can.)

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult) and two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. I also have a post documenting my Baby Bookworm's plan to turn her bedroom into a library. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read four young adult and three adult titles. I skewed towards the older age range because most of this reading took place during a cross-country trip that I took (to attend my college reunion at Duke). A high point of the trip for me was a friend telling me that reading my blog had encouraged her to continue reading aloud to her kids. So nice to have the chance to make a difference (and to hear about it)! Anyway, I read:

  • Jennifer Brown: Hate List. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Young Adult. Completed April 10, 2014, on Kindle (library copy).
  • Meg Rosoff: Picture Me Gone. Putnam Juvenile. Young Adult. Completed April 11, 2014, on Kindle (library copy). 
  • Ashley Elston: The Rules for Breaking. Disney-Hyperion. Young Adult. Completed April 13, 2014, digital ARC on Kindle. I must admit that I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the first book: The Rules for Disappearing. But for fans of YA thrillers (including a teen in the witness protection program), this 2-book series is worth a look. 
  • Stephen Chbosky: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. MTV Books. Young Adult. Completed April 22, 2014, on MP3. I enjoyed this book, but my appreciation was diminished a bit by the fact that I had already seen the movie, and knew how it would end. Both book and movie are well done, though. 
  • Sue Grafton: S is for Silence (Kinsey Millhone series). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed April 13, on Kindle (library copy).
  • Harlan Coben: Missing You. Dutton. Adult Mystery. Completed April 18, on MP3.
  • Sue Grafton: T is for Trespass (Kinsey Millhone series). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed April 21, 2014, on Kindle (library copy).

I'm currently reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the conclusion to Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series on Kindle, and Pieces of Me by Amber Kizer in print. Baby Bookworm's policy these days is to immediately ask to be read aloud any new book that comes into the house, from board books through early readers. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year if you are interested to see more. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Library in My Daughter's Room

On Sunday the Easter Bunny brought my daughter a book (among other things). When asked how the Easter Bunny could have known that she liked books, she said: "He would just have to look in my room. There's about a million books in there." When her father responded that, yes, she practically had a mini library in their, she got a little gleam in her eye. Without missing a beat she told us: "When I am 10 or 8 I'm going to have a real library in my room."

Over dinner, we fleshed out the whole plan. The requirement to wait until she is 10 or 8 quickly fell by the wayside. Here are some highlights:

  • Kids will be able to borrow books Anyone checking out books now will be able to check out four books (because she is four), but by the time she is 25 they will be able to check out 25 books.
  • She will hold separate storytimes for boys and for girls (though she plans to read them the same books). 
  • We discussed sending out invitations to all of her friends to visit the library, and even made a list of which friends would receive invites. (Though we did not actually get to the point of making the invitations.)

When she proposed that we move to the middle of the country, so that it would be easier for her cousins to also visit the library, we decided that things had gotten out of hand, and we moved onto something else. But not before she declared her new "what I'm going to be when I grow up" plan. She's going to be a doctor and a librarian. When she's not busy taking care of patients, she can read books to people. 

I thought that those of you who've been following this blog might appreciate this little window into the evolving life of a Baby Bookworm. If you give a kid "about a million" books, and make time to read them, you might end up having to let her open a library one day. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon Affiliate. 


Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile: Marcia Wells

Book: Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile
Author: Marcia Wells
Illustrator: Marcos Calo
Pages: 256
Age Range: 9-12 (lightly illustrated middle grade)

Mystery of the Museum Mile is the first book of the new Eddie Red Undercover series by Marcia Wells. Eddie Red is a code name for Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, a sixth grader with a photographic memory and the ability to draw (well) anyone he has seen. When Eddie's talents are inadvertently discovered by the New York Police Department, he is hired to help on a special case involving art theft. He's only supposed to visit some museums and draw the people he sees, under the guidance of a grouchy but protective cop named Bovano. But of course things get more complicated, and more dangerous, than that. 

So, ok, there are a couple of points here requiring suspension of disbelief. The NYPD hiring an 11-year-old? Said 11-year-old's parents going along with it? The photographic memory AND drawing skill? But personally, I found it well worth letting those points go and enjoying the ride.

Edmund (or Eddie Red, as you may prefer to think of him) is a solid character. Smart, sure, but realistically insecure about it. Loyal to his best friend, who has pretty serious OCD. Eddie breaks the rules in order to learn more about the case, but he's nervous about that. He's not your young James Bond, able to do everything. He's more your regular kid who has one particular skill. He desperately wants to solve the case so that he can make enough money to remain in his private school. 

Eddie is also pretty matter-of-fact about being a young African-American male in the city. The color of his skin isn't a big deal, but it's not glossed over, either. It's an integral part of who he is, and who his parents are. This, together with his white friend Jonah's quirks, makes this a mystery that should feel relevant to a wider range of kids than many. Eddie does have a very mild love interest, which didn't really feel necessary to me, but there's not enough to it to be off-putting for younger kids. 

The mystery involves following clues, putting things together, and applying a bit of geometry (Jonah is helpful here). A fair number of scenes take place in Jonah and Eddie's school for gifted kids, which I found interesting. 

Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for Wells' writing:

"People always ask how to spell my name. It's European and looks pretty unusual, but it's easy to pronounce: Lawn-rot. Some family down south owned my ancestors back in the slave days, and the name stuck." (Page 16)

"I try to follow. Sadie, our cat-who-may-be-an-evil-overlord-in-disguise, heads me off. Leaping in front of the kitchen door, she arches her back in a ripple of fur and hisses." (Page 39)

"He remains standing, staring out the window. He has quite a pasta/beer belly packed onto his tall body. This man is what my mother would call a touch cookie. Only he's more like a tough loaf of old and angry Italian break, with too much garlic mixed in." (Page 53)

There are also occasional full-page illustrations, representing Eddie's drawings of important characters in the story. Calo's pencil (charcoal?) sketches are a bit professional to actually be created by a sixth grader, but they are a nice addition to book, fleshing out Eddie's talent and giving readers a glimpse of the characters. 

All in all, Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile is a nice addition to the ranks of middle grade mysteries. I look forward to Eddie's further adventures. Recommended!

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 18

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a few more than usual, as I was traveling late last week, and then had a big burst of catch-up links on Monday and Tuesday. Lots of links this week about diversity and about libraries. 

Book Lists and Awards

RT @tashrow James Patterson wins the 2014 Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Award. http://buff.ly/1l1S0Yk #kidlit

Make 'Em Laugh: Gut-Busting Picture Books That'll Have 'Em Rolling in the Aisles | @FuseEight for @NYPL http://ow.ly/vUt6f #kidlit

Booklist for Easter from @cjfriess | Favourite picture book bunnies http://ow.ly/vPivI #kidlit

Chapter Books for the New Chapter Book Reader | @ReadingWithBean http://ow.ly/vPhZO

20 Books for Tween Boys Reading Up » Children's Book Reviews by @StorySnoops http://ow.ly/vPjw7 #kidlit

So You Want To Read Middle Grade: #Nonfiction for Middle Grade by Sarah Albee @greenbeanblog http://ow.ly/vPfr1 #kidlit

15 Adorable Children's Books For Your Little Architect from @buzzfeed via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/vPsvr #booklist

A fine list: 22 Great Non-fiction Books for Boys (& Girls) from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/vPgjr #nonfiction #kidlit

The top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2013, from @GuardianBooks + @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/vN1Bm #censorship

Great Books About Eggs and Chicks | @sljournal #booklist http://ow.ly/vMQAl #kidlit

Diversity + Gender

We Need Bigger Megaphones for #Diversity in #KidLit | "Why aren't more people" speaking up? @catagator @bookriot http://ow.ly/vPeKy

Becoming More Diverse – A #Library Journey by Crystal Brunelle @librarygrl2 @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vVOsw #diversity

Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's go, urges @MitaliPerkins http://ow.ly/vUtir #yalit #diversity

Diversity in young adult literature: Where's the 'Mexican Katniss'? ask #yalit authors @cnn http://ow.ly/vMQMW via @PWKidsBookshelf

Stacked: TeenGirls Reading: What Are They Seeing (or Not Seeing)? asks @catagator http://ow.ly/vUsRL #yalit

Men: let us know about female characters you admire | @GuardianBooks campaign #LetBooksBeBooks http://ow.ly/vPgUg

Boys Read Girls (Let Books Be Books) @bookzone http://ow.ly/vPgIy via @charlotteslib #kidlit #gender

RT @ElisabethElling "Are Teen Girls Seeing Themselves Reflected in What They Read?" #yalitclass http://feedly.com/e/YKzivZyN

Sigh: "Being male still seems to present an advantage when it comes to recognition, prestige, and awards" in #kidlit http://ow.ly/vMRKY

eBooks / Online Reading

It’s an #Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vVO9q via @tashrow

RT @tashrow Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say – Washington Post http://buff.ly/1qkngTN #reading

Author @MitaliPerkins is proposing once a week Device-Free Day. Are you in? http://ow.ly/vN1m3

Events (inc. National Poetry Month)

TBD2014BannerSupport @readergirlz Teen Literature Day & "Rock the Drop", @CynLeitichSmith @melissacwalker http://ow.ly/vUsyl

5 Great Poetry Collections for Kids #NationalPoetryMonth@jenndon @5M4B http://ow.ly/vVNQZ

10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About #Poetry by @smozer at @KirbyLarson blog http://ow.ly/vPjjb

Forgiving Buckner by John Hodgen, #poetry @missrumphius | "Can baseball be the true harbinger of spring?" http://ow.ly/vPiKz #redsox

NationalPoetryMonthPoetry Challenge for Kids {Week 3} from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/vPiro #NationalPoetryMonth

Kidlitosphere

This post made me happy + sad| Children’s Literature Online at a Glance: A Look Back at Friends Long Gone @fuseeight http://ow.ly/vN1Um

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Lovely! The Top 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Stop Reading Children’s & Young Adult Literature by @EsMteach @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vPhG5

Growing Up As an Only Child, Fictional Characters Were My Siblings | @BookishHQ http://ow.ly/vMS12 via @PWKidsBookshelf

Dare to Disturb the Universe: Madeleine L’Engle on Creativity, Censorship, Writing + Duty of #kidlit | @brainpicker http://ow.ly/vMRsK

Schools and Libraries

This is interesting | (Much of) Parental Involvement (at school) is Overrated @NYTimes Opinionator http://ow.ly/vPqwg

Shanahan on #Literacy: How Much In-Class Reading? (On reading aloud and silently in the classroom) http://ow.ly/vPhhi

How VA Middle School Librarian + Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15k Meals for Students in South Sudan | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vUhW5

Thanks to NBA Star LeBron James, Akron Public Schools Has One of the Largest E-Libraries in Country | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vUh45

12 ways to Save Money at Your Public #Library from @AboutKidsBooks - Borrow Kids Books eBooks Audiobooks DVDs http://ow.ly/vRqJ3

Betsy @FuseEight has set up a very cool #Literary Salon @NYPL on Podcasting Children’s Books w/ @KatieDavisBurps + more http://ow.ly/vRq7K

RT: AboutKidsBooks: 6 picture books about libraries and librarians and 1 article about how to save money at your public library. http://abt.cm/1hHgTtt

What you should do to help libraries in crisis (instead of holding a spontaneous book drive) — @lizb http://ow.ly/vN2ar

Think libraries are dying? Think again @cnn shares #library photos and reports on their enduring popularity http://ow.ly/vPb68

Reasons why you should be taking your child to the #library from @HuffPost + @tashrow http://ow.ly/vN1ru

In Arizona, After Girl Scouts’ #Library Project Set on Fire, Public Support Pours In | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vMQqc

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


We Were Liars: E. Lockhart

Book: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages: 240
Age Range: 12 and up

We Were Liars, e. lockhart's upcoming young adult novel, is fabulous. I couldn't put it down, particularly the last third. On finishing it, I had to go back and immediately re-read large chunks of the book. This is something I never do. Yes, it is that good.

Really, if you are an e. lockhart fan, or a fan of suspenseful young adult fiction of any stripe, that should be enough. You should stop reading here. Because this is NOT a book that you want spoiled. You want to go into it knowing as little about it as possible.

The protagonist isn't wholly likable. She's wealthy, beautiful and spoiled (with heavy parallels to the Kennedy family). She doesn't even know the names of the people who work for her extended family every summer. But it doesn't matter. She is compelling anyway - I promise.

The primary setting, a private island near Martha's Vineyard, isn't one that will resonate with most readers' personal experience. But that doesn't matter, either. Lockhart draws the island so clearly, and the characters so sharply (for good and ill) that you feel like you're there with them. 

In terms of mature content, there is some kissing, and some drinking, and some talk of (but no action regarding) sex. But this is a powerful book, and I would not give it to kids under 12. 

And honestly, that's all I have to say. Pre-order it, read it when it's available, and try not to read any detailed reviews in the meantime. Highly recommended for teen and adult readers, male or female. I won't stop thinking about We Were Liars for a while. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Pottytime for Chickies, Bedtime for Chickies

Books: Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies
Author: Janee Trasler
Pages: 24 each
Age Range: 2-4 (padded board books)

Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies, both by Janee Trasler, are part of a new series of padded board books focused on issues of interest to toddlers and early preschoolers (upcoming titles discuss the arrival of a new chick, and the development of table manners). Both books feature three little round chicks, apparently parented by three farm animals (Pig, Cow, and Sheep). The parent figures all look male to me, though this isn't completely, which makes for a nice, subtle message about varied types of families. 

In Pottytime for Chickies, the chicks are, as you might suspect, learning how to use the toilet. They have their own ideas about what the potty is for, however, and when left to their own devices they do things like swim in the potty (ick!), and use the toilet paper like a trapeze. Each time, one of the parents returns, passes out hugs or kisses, and tries to get them onto the right track. So, for example, we have:

"Pottytime, Chickies.
Just two things.

First wipe your tail feathers,
then wash your wings.

Goodbye, Sheep.
Shut the door.
We know what the potty's for."

Followed by jumping off the back of the potty onto a pile of towels, followed by hugs and gentle redirection from Sheep. And in the space of a few short pages, the chicks figure out what to do. So, no, not the most realistic potty training book that parents can add to their arsenals. But it is pretty fun! My already potty-trained daughter pealed with laughter over the chicks in the potty. 

Bedtime for Chickies tackles another common issue - the ways that kids will delay going to bed. Even as the adults are settling into their own beds, the chick are thirsty, have to go potty, and need a story, to the increasing chagrin of the three tired adults. Eventually, each chick ends up falling asleep in the lap of a similarly sleeping grown up animal (a more realistic ending than the first book). 

One thing I liked about Bedtime for Chickies was the way the author teased kids, by making them think that a rhyme was coming when it wasn't. Like this:

It's bedtime for chickies.
It's bedtime for sheep.
It's bedtime for pig and cow.
Let's all go to ..."

My four-year-old immediately chimed in with "sleep." But in face, on the next page the text is:

"cheep, cheep, cheep.
We can't sleep.
We have to go potty."

The disruption in the text mirrors that disruption in the actual bedtime process. Nice.

Trasler's illustrations aren't realistic, of course, but the three round chicks are cute and kid-friendly, and the adult animals are quirky (and wear clothes). The adults come across as more nurturing in the potty book, vs. just exhausted in the bedtime book (both of which seem appropriate to me). The colors are soothing - not to bright, and the energy of the chicks is apparent on nearly every page. 

I think this is a nice addition to the ranks of toddler-focused board books. These take a very light tone, and focus more on the universal humor of things kids do than on "teaching" a certain behavior. And I do love that the adult caregivers are apparently male and of different species than the kids. Not only does this make the book more visually interesting, it quietly tosses stereotypes aside (an usual thing in the board book world). Recommended new baby gifts or first through third birthdays. I look forward to seeing the other books in this fun new series.  

Publisher: Harper (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copies from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 11

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Book Lists

Stacked: Revisiting YA Verse Novels: A 2014 Guide to the Format http://ow.ly/vwXku #yalit

Always good choices | Waterstones Children’s Book Prizes 2014 | @tashrow http://ow.ly/vwXAV #kidlit

A roundup of Rapunzel retellings from @alibrarymama http://ow.ly/vCtot #kidlit

Diversity

Color Your Bookshelf: 39 Diverse Board Books to Give a Baby or Toddler from @SproutsBkshelf http://ow.ly/vx18R #kidlit

On not stereotyping | Joseph Bruchac responds to "You Don't Look Indian" @CynLeitichSmith http://ow.ly/vwV9z

Entertainment Weekly — Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White — thoughts on @ew article from @lizb http://ow.ly/vzC4X #diversity

Events (National Poetry Month)

Poetry writing for kids: 14 Ideas from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/vzBCc #NationalPoetryMonth

For #NationalPoetryMonth, Five Teen Poet Ambassadors Will Present their Works Across the Country | @sljournal http://ow.ly/vzD4h

Growing Bookworms

Nursery Rhymes: Not Just for Babies! (Activities for older and younger kids)| @ReadingRockets via @librareanne http://ow.ly/vwMHP

How Can a Child Learn to Write in 30 Minutes? (after lots of groundwork) by @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/vwZ7a #literacy

Relevant for many! The Lesson I Learned From My Daughter About Reading Choice by @littlemamab @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/vwWR2

Great advice from @SunlitPages Raising Readers: Teaching Children to Read With Expression http://ow.ly/vzCnu #literacy

Miscellaneous

Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3) — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/vCuGS#kidlit

Very cool! See a time-lapse video of LEGO Fenway Park being built | BetaBoston http://ow.ly/vwAqG via @tonkazona #RedSox

MagicAndMLK3My photo w/ Magic Johnson + Martin Luther King III at We Day CA, in blog post by my friend Jonathan White http://ow.ly/vwB90 #WeDay

OK, this is very fun! From @escapeadulthood | Dude Transforms Deck Into Pirate Ship http://ow.ly/vzACo

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

The 9 Most Mischievous Literary Pranksters, Ranked | @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow http://ow.ly/vx0wm

Perspective, people. Thoughts from a mother + author on why she can't respond to everyone's emails from @haleshannon http://ow.ly/vwUtU

Yes (most anyway). Should celebrities stop writing children's books? | The Observer @Guardian http://ow.ly/vzKex via @PWKidsBookshelf

LA Times - 'Fault in Our Stars' writer John Green has a good read on teens, tech by @Gwenda via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/vzK3U

How I learned to stop worrying and love the @Kindle @DailyDot via @tashrow http://ow.ly/vx0Th

Schools and Libraries

Nice! New Jersey Librarians Get $116,000 in Makerspace Grants - @ShiftTheDigital http://ow.ly/vzCV6

SummerReadingKids-1Infographic about positive impact of library #SummerReading programs as reported by parents http://ow.ly/i/5a9ww @SantaClaraLib @alscblog

Nice infographic about the positive impact that library #SummerReading programs have on kids http://ow.ly/i/5a9qN @SantaClaraLib @alscblog

Parenting

Food for thought | I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical | @BunmiLaditan @HuffPost http://ow.ly/vwYp1 via @FreeRangeKids

Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It | Peter Gray at Psychology Today http://ow.ly/vwWcx

What Parents Should Know About Kids’ Social Networking from @StratfordSchool http://ow.ly/vwXwZ

Programs and Research

News: @Scholastic Launches Classroom and School-wide Registration for Students to Join the #SummerReadingChallenge http://ow.ly/vwJ8h

Join the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge - @CoffeeandCrayon http://ow.ly/vzBqR #STEM

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.


Moldylocks and the Three Beards: Noah Z. Jones

Book: Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Book 1: Moldylocks and the Three Beards
Author: Noah Z. Jones
Pages: 80 (illustrated early reader)
Age Range: 5-7

Moldylocks and the Three Beards (yes, Beards) is the first book in a new heavily illustrated early chapter book series by Noah Z. Jones called Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe. Princess Pink has seven older brothers, and her parents were so happy to have a girl that they named her "Princess." Their last name is "Pink." She is the exact opposite of her name:

"Princess Pink does not like fairies. She does not like princesses. And she REALLY does not like the color pink.

Princess Pink does like dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, monster trucks, and cheesy pizza." 

When her refrigerator turns into a portal to another world one late night, Princess finds herself in the Land of Fake-Believe. Her hair turns pink, but her new friend Moldylocks thinks that it looks cool. Hungry, she sets out with Moldylocks to visit the home of three Beards she knows, in the hope of sneaking some chili. A mix of expected and unexpected events follow, culminating in a daring rescue. And at the end, when Princess is back in her own bed, there's a suggestion that it just might have all been true. 

This series is designed to appeal to first and second grades, with a grade 2 reading level. But I have to say that my just-turned four-year-old adores Moldylocks and the Three Beards as a read-aloud. When she realized that it was a satire on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she didn't quite get it, but she pealed with laughter anyway. She liked trying to predict what would happen next. 

But really, I do think this this is going to be a very nice series for new first and second grade readers. It's funny, and just a little gross. (Eating chili that a spider has been bathing in? Yuck! Green, moldy hair? Yuck!) It riffs on standard fairy tale tropes (there's a Mother Moose, for example, with a Tunacorn), and has entertaining illustrations. It's a nice introduction for kids to the concept of fractured fairy tales, and the way that they confound expectations. 

Princess is about as non-stereotypical as she she could be, with medium brown skin, ragged shorts, and multi-colored socks. And I have to say, she looks pretty cool with the pink hair. She runs away from the Beards at first, but goes back bravely when her new friend needs her. In short, she's a delightful heroine for the modern primary schooler. And really, despite being about a girl named Princess Pink, the story is certainly boy-friendly, too. 

Moldylocks and the Three Bears is something of an early reader/graphic novel hybrid. Much of the story is told through colorful, comic-like pictures and text call-outs. But there's traditional narrative on every page, too. Princess's words are shown in pink, while Moldylocks' are green. The girls are wide-eyed with expressive features. The Beards are a little odd, but funny. The spiders are surprisingly cute. And Moldylocks' green-tinged apron, well, that's a bit gross, but funny, too. The vocabulary is quite straightforward, and should be accessible to second graders. There are plenty of clues in the pictures as to what is going on anyway. 

In short, I think that The Land of Fake-Believe series is going to be a nice addition to the ranks of early chapter books. I've even checked online already to see when the next book will be out (not until August, alas). School and public libraries will definitely want to give Moldylocks and the Three Beards a look. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook