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Posts from April 2013

Friday, May 3 is School Lunch Superhero Day

Slshd_logo_high_resI don't believe that I've ever mentioned this before, but my grandmother worked as a school lunch lady when my father and my uncles were young. She was always quite proud of that fact. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why I enjoy Jarrett Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series so much (see my reviews here, here, here, here, and here). Certainly this is one of the reasons why I am pleased by the idea of dedicating a day to honor school lunch ladies. Yes, that's right. Jarrett Krosoczka, Random House, and the School Nutrition Association are celebrating School Lunch Superhero Day this Friday, May 3rd. 

Here are some quick tidbits about the event (from Random House):

  • INPSIRATION: Jarrett’s very own School Lunch Superhero, Jean Cariglia, inspired his Lunch Lady series. When Jarrett visited his school after the first book was published, he was astounded to see how much this recognition meant to Jean. This, and other acts of kindness he has seen while touring for the series, planted the seed for School Lunch Superhero Day.
  • WAYS TO CELEBRATE: The website has all kinds of activities to help schools celebrate – games, activities, valentines, you name it!
  • TEDx: Besides creating a really innovative take on superheroes, Jarrett is also a really amazing individual. Last Fall, he was invited to present a TEDx talk. His talk has over 500,000 combined views and is really inspirational. See the video here.
  • THAT'S A LOT OF FOOD: School nutrition professionals feed 31 million students every day.
  • NEW LUNCH LADY: LUNCH LADY AND THE VIDEO GAME VILLAIN is on sale now. This is an action-packed graphic novel series with fun food-related gadgets. The series is great for beginning readers.

Check out the SchoolLunchSuperheroDay website, as well as Jarrett's recent post on the subject at The Nerdy Book Club. And, this Friday, consider toasting my grandma with some cafeteria-style tater tots (if they still serve those). 

The Originals: Cat Patrick

Book: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick (@seecatwrite)
Pages: 304
Age Range: 12 and up 

The Originals is a young adult novel about three identical-looking girls forced to live a single life. One of them goes to school in the morning, another in the afternoon, and the third goes out in the evenings. Whenever one of them is out of the house, the other two have to remain hidden at home. No one can suspect that Elizabeth Best is actually the combined front for Lizzie, Betsey, and Ella. Their mother has her reasons for making them live like this, they believe. But as the girls approach their 17th birthday, two of them fall for different boys at school, and their carefully constructed existence begins to crumble. 

I found this an intriguing, if not entirely plausible, premise. Like Lizzie's boyfriend, Sean, I didn't fully understand why the girls would put up with living such an odd, segmented life. But Patrick sprinkled in enough suspense regarding the mother's secrets, another look-alike in a different city, and possible enemies tracking the girls down, to keep me up late reading. 

In truth, much of The Originals reads more like a young adult romance than the speculative fiction / suspense suggested by the premise. This is not a bad thing. I liked Lizzie and Sean's relationship - particularly a chapter in which they just spend the afternoon at his house. She meets his mother. They take pictures of each other. He loans her socks. It's all very ordinary and sweet. But it's definitely a contrast to the girls' normally bizarre and stressful situation. 

Lizzie is a strong character. Her situation magnifies typical teen self-reflection. She isn't always sure who she is, except in relation to her sisters. She bubbles over with anger sometimes, but has a delightfully snarky humor, too. Like this:

"And I hate chicken," I add, which is among the most untrue statements ever uttered. But I'm still mad at her, and I'm boycotting chicken to prove it. Or at least I'm telling her I am; you never know what'll happen when dinnertime rolls around." (Chapter Eight)

Patrick does a good job of giving the three girls distinct personalities, despite their outward similarities. Their interactions with one another come across as surprisingly realistic (given, you know, the not so everyday setup). Lizzie's relationship with Sean is a little ... rose-colored, but nice to see. 

The Originals is an enjoyable romp, with an unusual premise, and an interesting perspective on a teen's developing sense of self. It's a bit of a romance / speculative fiction hybrid, falling on the tamer end of the spectrum relative to books like Altered, Yesterday, or Beta. I think it could be a bridge book for younger teens, preparing them for some of these other books. There's no sex or violence in the Originals (only some kissing, a not-particularly-scary kidnapping, and some sneaking around behind the mother's back). Which, now that I think about it, is kind of refreshing. The Originals is well worth a look. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
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).

© 2013 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

Snippet: The Early Riser: Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Book: Snippet: The Early Riser
Author: Bethanie Deeney Murguia (@aquapup)
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7 

Though it introduces a new set of characters, Bethanie Deeney Murguia's new picture book, Snippet: The Early Riser comes across very much as a companion piece to her earlier book Buglette: The Messy SleeperSnippet is an ordinary young snail, drawing on the sidewalk, chewing leaf sculptures, and getting piggyback rides from his parents. Snippet's problem is that he wakes up much earlier than the rest of his family. Desperate to have his family members to play with, Snippet tries everything his friends can think of to wake his family up. He finds, however, that the solution lies in understanding what his family members really love. 

I love Murguia's understated humor. Like this (after Snippet fails several times to rouse his family):

"Hmph. How did I end up with a family of slugs?" wondered Snippet. 

Or this:

"I could stink them out," offered Stinkbug.

"We'll have none of that," declared Caterpillar. And then he turned back to his breakfast.

The text and illustrations together enable the reader to completely inhabit Snippet's snail and insect world. Snippet draws on the sidewalk by making slime trails (though Murguia renders them in white to make them more visible). He makes leaf sculptures by chewing patterns into the leaves. A pill bug gets used as a soccer ball. Murguia does a great job of taking some real attribute and then making it fun and quirky, and completely kid-friendly.

Murguia's distinctive illustration style (Snippet is clearly a book-sibling to Buglette) completely works for this story. The plants and leaves are over-sized and realistic, while the insects and snails are charmingly quirky. Snippet himself wears a patchwork shell. His mother's is flowered. There is plenty of white space in the illustrations, but also enough greens and yellows to make the reader get a sense of the outdoors.  

Snippet is funny, creative, and lacking in didactic messages. I hope that Murguia and Random House add more to this semi-series. I also adore Murguia's Zoe Gets Ready (with a human protagonist), and look forward to the coming sequel, Zoe's Room: No Sisters Allowed. Snippet: The Early Riser is a great choice for preschoolers and up, for home or library use. Recommended! 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
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).

© 2013 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 26

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

Book Lists and Awards

Check out the 2013 Eisner Award Nominees for kids and teens | @tashrow

Stacked rounds up April Debut YA Novels @catagator #yalit

Love lists? Check out Five Useful Book Lists for Children from @momandkiddo #kidlit


RT @reachoutandread: Get your tickets NOW for our Read to Succeed breakfast in #Boston 5/7! @dennis_lehane keynotes!

RT @SPLBuzz: Tonight 25K people across US will give away a favorite book to spread the love of reading @wbnamerica

Help teens gain access to books: It's Time for the Annual Spring Book Fair for Ballou High School Library!!!

From the Boston Airport on a Tuesday morning...,@CHRasco's thoughts on Boston + the latest #literacy roundup

Growing Bookworms

Learning Letters? 5 Great Resources from @bethanyntt #literacy

I love this #literacy milestone post from @NoVALibraryMom: Caught in the Act: The Birth of a Writer

Thoughtful post from @CampHalfBlood on Reading Myths and the Myths of Reading #literacy #kidlit

I agree with @LiteracyLaunch: Books Foster Empathy and Compassion! #literacy

Literacy Programs and Research

RT @ReadtoaChild: Did you hear? Everybody Wins! USA has become Read to a Child! Read more here. #readtoachild #literacy #readaloud

Interesting post guest @joe_bower by @hadleyjf on what can happen if you stop grading students

Books and Libraries

PW reports Big Jump for Children's and YA Sales in 2012, Says AAP via @PWKidsBookshelf

RT @tashrow Jo Knowles – What’s so important about your local library? #libraries

Reasonable hypothesis: Why I Think Wonder Didn’t Win a Newbery by @ReadByExample for @NerdyBookClub

Very cool book-themed library seats from @100scopenotes #kidlit

Mo Willems shares secrets to writing a children's hit book @cnn via @PWKidsBookshelf @The_Pigeon

Do classic children's books give us too rosy a view of childhood? asks@gdnchildrensbks via @PWKidsBookshelf


The latest Fusenews @FuseEight points out something I didn't even realize about my GIANT DANCE PARTY review

RT @LaurelSnyder: Konigsburg stands out for me as a writer of unsupervised children. Her kids didn't need magic. They had the real world to explore, alone.

She will surely be missed. Nice round up of E.L. Konigsburg tributes from @bkshelvesofdoom


Genius. Spiderman window washers at Children's Hospital: Escape Adulthood via @kimandjason

Don't think I'm ready to do it, but I respect it: Life With No TV: Why We Gave Up Television from @momandkiddo

Gender and Society

Shannon Hale keeps the important discussion coming with new post: Let's talk about consent @haleshannon

I wish all teeens and parents could read this (+ links): The greatest contributor to rape culture by @haleshannon

© 2013 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.

Tiger in My Soup: Kashmira Sheth & Jeffrey Ebbeler

Book: Tiger in My Soup
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Tiger in My Soup is a picture book about a boy who is left home in the care of his older sister. He tries again and again to get his sister to read to him, but she is immersed in her own book. Finally, over lunch, he conjures up a tiger rising from the steam of his soup. Eventually, his imaginary adventures break through his sister's self-absorption, and she reads him his book (about tigers, of course). 

I think that this book might be a little confusing for younger kids. The narration and pictures both convey the tiger in the soup and related actions as if they were real, not imaginary. This makes for some rather stunning visuals, but younger readers may well wonder how the sister could avoid noticing the tiger battle just a few feet away. It's definitely a book that's going to require a bit of extra explanation.

But for those who can follow the subtleties of the plot, or who are young enough to just accept the story as-is, Tiger in My Soup offers a breathless narrative. Like this:

"I have to protect myself. I stab at him with my spoon. Some tiger spit lands on my face.

This means war!"

The acrylic illustrations in Tiger in My Soup are gorgeous. The siblings' house is on a rocky island, up a huge, twisty flight of wooden stairs, Ebbeler uses different perspectives (like looking up, and then down the stairs) to maintain visual interest. When the boy is fighting with the tiger, he puts a metal colander on his head, and brandishes a sword and belt. Angles and points of view shift with the battle. The characters (boy, sister, and tiger) are all rendered with an ever so slightly exaggerated realism. The boy is priceless, with his round glasses, spiky hair, and range of expressions. The tiger practically leaps from the page. 

And oh yes, the siblings are African American. This doesn't affect the storyline in any way that I can see, but it's nice to have a picture book that matter-of-factly incorporates non-white characters. 

Of course the thing that I personally love most about this book is that the entire storyline keys off of the love of books. The boy wants his sister to read his book to him. He tries to look at the pictures on his own, but it's just not the same. The reason that the sister won't read to him is that she's lost in a book herself. Delightful. 

Tiger in My Soup, with its seamless mix of reality and imagination, may not work for the very youngest of readers. But for early elementary school kids, especially anyone fascinated by books and/or tigers, Tiger in My Soup is a fun visual treat. The fact that it adds a bit of diversity to the picture book section is a nice bonus. Recommended for home or early elementary school use. 

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
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).

© 2013 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

Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain: Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Book: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain: Lunch Lady #9
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka (@studiojjk)
Pages: 96
Age Range: 7-10 

Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain is the ninth in Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series of graphic novels. There is a lot going on in this installment. The main plotline involves Lunch Lady and Betty investigating a rash of technology thefts from around the school (including Hector's X-Station Mobile). This is set against Hector's battle with bully Milmoe in the election for class president. Milmoe has mysteriously deep-pocketed support, and his friends discover that an enemy from a previous book may be involved. Meanwhile, Principal Hernandez is concerned about an upcoming tour of the school by the new, reform-minded superintendent, a tour which turns out not to bode well for our heroic Lunch Lady. The book ends on a cliffhanger regarding Lunch Lady's future. 

In Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain, Krosoczka spends a bit more time on plot, and a bit less time on cafeteria-themed inventions than the previous books in the series. Or so it seemed to me. There is a "Crazy-Straw Earpiece", but the spork phone is missing in action. There are also, instead, various other, more traditional, forms of technology mentioned (many of them missing), like "the latest ePad" and a "stepometer." 

However, the book still has the same feel that young readers will expect. Milmoe is still a bully, surrounded by sycophants. He says things like:

"HA! That twerp? The only thing he can beat is the latest video game of "Nofriendo"!"

There's a funny scene in which Lunch Lady and Betty set up a sting operation, and tumble out of a locker. There is byplay with the grouchy janitor, and a battle with a villain near the end of the book. It's all vintage Lunch Lady, albeit with slightly fewer gadgets, and slightly more continuing plotlines. I think that young fans will enjoy it. I know I did. Recommended!

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
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).

© 2013 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

Giant Dance Party: Betsy Bird & Brandon Dorman

Book: Giant Dance Party
Author: Betsy Bird (@FuseEight)
Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8 

Of the many books that arrive on my doorstep, few fall into the "sit down and read it immediately" category. The second Hunger Games book comes to mind, and not much else. But when I received an advance copy of Giant Dance Party, written by Betsy Bird and illustrated by Brandon Dorman, I set everything aside and opened it up.

If you don't know why, you haven't been following Betsy's blog, A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy is a tremendous force in the field of children's literature. Her lengthy, in-depth reviews are humorous and insightful. Her Top 100 Picture Books and Top 100 Children's Novels poll results are widely used and highly regarded. She was the primary host for last year's Kidlitosphere conference (and is a regular host for other NYC kidlit events). Giant Dance Party is Betsy's first published picture book. Much attention will be paid.

But let's talk about the book, shall we? Giant Dance Party is about a little girl, Lexy, who loves to dance, but is afraid to perform in front of an audience. Instead of performing herself, Lexy decides to start offering dance lessons. She'll let her students perform, while she basks in the joy of dance from behind the scenes. When the only ones to take Lexy up on her offer are a group of fuzzy blue giants, however, things get a bit more complex. And a lot more fun.

Giant Dance Party features a breezy voice, with short sentences and fun words to read aloud. Like this:

"So she tried hypnotism.

She tried pretending Moore and Caroll and Anne were people.

She practiced for her parents every night while they tried to watch TV.

And every time she was sure her stage fright was gone, along came another recital, and blammo! Ice pop." 

Those who have read Betsy's reviews for years will recognize her voice, particularly in that last paragraph. Giant Dance Party also reveals a surprisingly subtle humor (surprising given the over-the-top nature of the plot). For example, when the giants are waiting for Lexy to agree to teach them, we have:

"They folded their arms, crossed their legs, and sat down. 
They stuck out their lower lips. Birds perched on them."

I love "birds perched on them." I also laughed at:

"When the big night arrived, Lexy felt the familiar butterflies in her stomach. But at least she wouldn't have to dance. Instead, she gave her giants a big smile, patted them on the heels, and said, "You can do it!""

Get it? She patted them on the heels, because they were too tall for her to pat on the head. Just a little gem tossed in there for the alert reader.  

Brandon Dorman's exuberant illustrations add to the humor, and the general bouncy feel, of Giant Dance Party. When Lexy is practising for her parents as they try to watch TV, we see her leaping across the television set, ribbons flying, clearly blocking the parents' view. When she stands there on stage, frozen with stage fright, she looks rather like a wide-eyed, tutu-wearing ice pop, if such a thing is possible.

I think my favorite illustration is a little vignette from when Lexy is trying to interest people in her dance lessons, and blasts "snap-happy mambo music from the porch." Her posture, eyes, and clothing all match up perfectly with "mambo." In general, her huge brown eyes capture her many moods, windows to her trials and tribulations. Dorman also makes nice use of perspective to show Lexy's tiny size relative to that of the blue giants. 

Giant Dance Party is told in a mix of short and long paragraphs, and of small vignettes and full-page illustrations. While there are quite a lot of words in the book overall, there is also plenty of white space, making the book a good, unintimidating fit for individual readers or library storytimes. I do think it's more of a book for the 4 to 8 crowd than for the youngest readers (who won't understand stage fright, and might find the movement conveyed in the illustrations a bit overwhelming). 

Giant Dance Party is eminently read-aloud-able, the perfect mix of the practical (overcoming stage fright, solving problems) and the absurd (umm, furry blue giants dancing). Lexy, as conveyed in both words and pictures, is a delight. I am expecting Giant Dance Party to fly off the shelves. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
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).

© 2013 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 Dark: Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen

Book: The Dark
Author: Lemony Snicket
Illustrator: Jon Klassen (@burstofbeaden)
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-6 

The Dark is going to get a lot of attention in the coming weeks. That's because it's written by Lemony Snicket (of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame) and illustrated by Jon Klassen (who just won the Caldecott for This Is Not My Hat). The Dark also fits into a well-established niche in children's books: books to help kids to deal with something. In this case, that something is fear of the dark. I am personally quite suspicious of the "books to help kids deal with something" genre. So many of these stray into didactic territory. Fortunately, I don't think that either Snicket or Klassen could be didactic if he tried. As a result, The Dark is a winner. 

The Dark is about a young boy named Laszlo who is afraid of the dark. He views "the dark" as a vaguely menacing thing that lives in his basement during the day, only spreading throughout the house at night. Laszlo keeps a flashlight nearby at all times. Naturally, he sleeps with a glowing night light. But when his night light burns out one night, Laszlo must face his fear head-on. Well, sort of head-on, anyway. Snicket continues the device of treating "the dark" as an entity, lending a fantasy quality to the story. The suspense of Laszlo's encounter with the dark will keep kids reading. And the mildly cryptic treatment of the means by which Laszlo overcomes his fears will keep them from feeling manipulated.

Klassen's illustrations are, as usual, brilliant. While somewhat spare (hardly any furniture is shown in Laszlo's house, for example), and with a limited color palette, they do a fine job of conveying the size of a big creaky house as perceived by a small, scared person. Klassen shows a lot of old wooden flooring, and angled staircases.

Although this is a book about fear, the only thing that is scary in the images is the presence of the dark, rendered as pure black. Laszlo's night light, however, and his flashlight, stave off the dark admirably. And the scenes in which the night light burns in this room as he curls up beneath a patchwork quilt are coziness personified. 

I especially love the subtlety of the book's final page, in which Laszlo plays with a couple of toys as the sun is setting. This picture mirrors a page early in the book. The only difference is the lack of a flashlight nearby. Laszlo has conquered his fear. 

I recommend The Dark to fans of Snicket or Klassen, and to anyone with kids in the three to six or so age range who are battling with fears of the dark. My just three year old daughter adores it, and I think it's actually helping with her own fear of the dark. The Dark is going to be big. And it deserves it. I think that this is a book we'll hear about come award time.  

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
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).

© 2013 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

Eight Recent Baby Bookworm Favorites: April 19

This post is the third of a series (here are number one and number two) in which I have been highlighting some of my daughter's favorite reads. She just turned three, and her tastes do not always coincide with mine (as highlighted below). Here are eight books that she has been especially enjoying over the past month:

1. Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn (ill. Ali Teo & John O'Reilly). Peachtree. Reviewed here. This is a book that I've had for years, ever since reviewing it back in 2008. It pops in and out of favor with Baby Bookworm, but she's been requesting it lately. It's about a little boy who runs away from the sloppy kisses of his Auntie Elsie, but then misses those kisses when Elsie is unable to visit for a while. It's funny, and a bit touching at the end. I think that Baby Bookworm is just at the right age to find the idea of kisses being "yucky" entertaining. 

2. A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker (ill. Kady MacDonald Denton). Candlewick. Reviewed here. The grouchy Bear and "small and gray and bright-eyed" Mouse are always popular with Baby Bookworm. Lately she's been requesting A Bedtime for Bear at bedtime. Could be because it's a relatively long picture book, or because she is just starting to appreciate the humor in Bear being scared of the dark. 

3. Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel. Random House.Reviewed here. This is a book that I love, despite not being at all a cat person. It's about a housecat who sneaks outside. Nini enjoys exploring the woods until things become a bit scary after dark. She makes it home safely, of course. I think Baby Bookworm likes the fact that this book is scary in the middle, but ends up safe and cozy at the end. 

4. If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff (ill. Felicia Bond). HarperCollins. Baby Bookworm was introduced to this series (which starts with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) by her cousins. She received a boxed set of five small books in the series, and she requests them constantly. In truth, I find them hard to read aloud without falling asleep, due to the repetition. But Baby Bookworm loves them, especially If You Give a Moose a Muffin (she is partial to muffins herself). 

5. The Peace Book by Todd Parr. Little, Brown. This is a book that Baby Bookworm picked up from the library. It lists various definitions of things that are related to "peace" in some way (some of them quite tangential). For instance, wearing different kinds of clothes. The book shows children of various (and unearthly) skin colors. Baby Bookworm quite enjoyed it, but I found it a little too overtly message-y for my taste. 

6. The Dark, by Lemony Snicket (ill. Jon Klassen). Little, Brown. Review coming next week. This book is fabulous, and is a favorite with our whole family. I won't be at all surprised if it turns out to be award-winning. Not only is it a great read, with gorgeous illustrations, but I think it actually has helped Baby Bookworm in coping with fear of the dark. At the very least, it inspired me to buy her a night light. 

7. The Teeny-Tiny Woman by Paul Galdone. Sandpiper. This is another library book that Baby Bookworm became fascinated with. I was a little surprised, frankly, because it's kind of a creepy story. It's about a "teeny-tiny woman" who goes for a walk, finds a bone in a graveyard, brings it home, and is subsequently hounded by a ghost. But it's fun to read aloud. "Teeny-tiny" is repeated almost enough to make it a tongue-twister.  

8. The Three Bears, by Byron Barton. HarperFestival. Another library book, this 1991 edition of the classic story is very straightforward, with uncomplicated illustrations. It was a nice introduction for Baby Bookworm to the three bears (she also has a doll that shows Goldilocks one way and the bears another way, but she hadn't known the story until now). We read it over and over again. Rather than buying her this version, though, I think we'll just try out some others, and see which ones she likes best. 

What books have your children been enjoying lately? Do you find them clamoring for you to buy them copies of favorite library books? We had to do this once lately, after my daughter would not let me return Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. Fortunately, she had a birthday coming up! 

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).

© 2013 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 19

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Some of these were also shared on my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

Book Lists

Stacked: Unlikable Female Characters in YA Fiction: A Reading List from @catagator #yalit

Book list: Early and First Chapter Books for Kids {Mysteries and Detective Stories} from @momandkiddo

Perfect list for Poetry Month: Top Ten Novels in Verse by Lauren Strohecker | @NerdyBookClub


Lovely Boston music mix and tribute from Philip Nel, who grew up in the same town my dad did

Have you read Carrie Jones' post about the Boston Marathon (she was there). You must:


This is good news. Simon & Schuster Launches Ebook Lending Program With NYC Libraries - @ShiftTheDigital

An excellent question: RT @tashrow: Why Do We Keep Making Ebooks Like Paper Books? #ebooks

PullmanQuoteGrowing Bookworms

Activities for Children's Book Week, 2013 from @BookChook #literacy

How to Use Your Child's Interests to Make Reading Fun from @LiteracyLaunch #literacy

Helpful stuff! How to Read Wordless Picture Books to Kids from @momandkiddo #literacy

A cautionary tale for parents: Confessions of a Former “Really Good Reader” by @tobeyant | @NerdyBookClub

Fun post from Bob Staake: 31 Things Parents and Kids Can Do Without a Screen  #literacy

Encouraging post from @carriegelson @NerdyBookClub on school-based grade 4-7 book club success: Book Monsters Unite

Roundup of some Early #Literacy Outdoor activities from @bookblogmomma

RT @tashrow: Reading with Babies and Board Books for Babies – Mama Smiles-Joyful Parenting

Programs and Research

One Million Books Available Now for Schools and Programs in States Affected by Hurricane Sandy @FirstBook

Learned about a new #literacy nonprofit that gives books to foster kids: The Book Train, via Gail Gauthier  #litrdup

Guys Lit Wire: It's Time for the Annual Spring Book Fair for Ballou High School Library!!!  @chasingray #literacy

This is a neat article. Cincinnati pediatrician trades ER for children's bookstore  #literacy

Gender and Society

Parents (esp. of daughters) should check out @StaceyLoscalzo post on the evolution of "Skinny Toys" for girls. Sigh.

I sure hope so. Article asks: Can Building Toys for Girls Improve Math and Tech Skills? - @WSJ

An important post. @haleshannon launches a discussion about "rape culture" (an environment conducive to rape)


RT @bookchook: Great tips for #parents Playground Etiquette

Must-read from @thereadingzone "Start treating teachers like professionals" in “You’re Too Smart to be a Teacher!”

RT @CPPotter: Do you use ARCs? @catagator and @LizB are looking for librarians, teachers and bloggers to answer a short survey.

© 2013 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 18

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the 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. There are 1663 subscribers. Currently I am sending the newsletter out once every two weeks.

LiteracyMilestoneANewsletter Update: In this issue I have seven book reviews (four picture books, one early reader, one middle grade novel, and one young adult novel). I also have a children's literacy roundup (more detailed post at The Family Bookshelf), a post introducing Screen Free Week, and a quick post with a literacy milestone for Baby Bookworm

Not included in the newsletter this time around I have:

Reading Update: In the past 2 weeks, I finished 3 novels for middle grade readers, and 6 novels for young adults. I'm not quite sure how I managed that! I read:  

  • Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Early Middle Grade. Completed April 17, 2013.
  • Ellen Potter: Otis Dooda, Strange But True. Feiwel and Friends. Early Middle Grade. Completed April 13, 2013. Review to come. 
  • Kristen KittscherThe Wig in the Window. HarperCollins. Middle Grade. Completed April 6, 2013. Review to come.
  • Dan Wells: Fragments (Partials #2). Balzer + Bray. Young Adult. Completed April 3, on Kindle. While I read this one quickly, and even dreamed about it, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first Partials book. I found the "humans are bad and will eventually destroy the planet" messages both heavy-handed and repetitive. Which is too bad, because Wells has built a compelling dystopian world full of witty characters and interesting ethical challenges. I'll still read the next book, though.
  • Maureen Johnson: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, Book 2). Putnam Juvenile. Completed April 8, 2013, on MP3. Love it, but I don't typically review audiobooks, since I use them as an escape. This book left me very eager for Book 3. 
  • Simon Mayo: Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter. Splinter (Sterling Publishing). Young Adult. Completed April 9, 2013. Review to come.
  • Amber Kizer: A Matter of Days. Delacorte Press. Young Adult. Completed April 10, 2013. Review to come (this one is fabulous!).
  • Sara Zarr: The Lucy Variations. Little Brown. Young Adult. Completed April 12, 2013. My review.
  • Cat Patrick: The Originals. Little Brown. Young Adult. Completed April 16, 2013. Review to come.

I'm currently reading Lenny Cyrus, School Virus by Joe Schreiber (ill. Matt Smith) and listening to Free Range Kids by Lenore SkenazyAnd, of course, I'm reading every day with Baby Bookworm. I'll have a post tomorrow highlighting some of her recent favorites.

Lately Baby Bookworm has been highly tuned in to any packages that I receive in the mail (many of which are from publishers). Her eyes light up as she sees me opening something that looks like a book. And if picture books (or early readers, or sometimes even graphic novels) come out, she says, delighted: "For me!". I then have to sneak off with the ones that I intend to read for review. She definitely views our letter carrier and UPS driver as people who bring books to us, lucky child that she is. 

How about you? What have you and your kids been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 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

Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-April

JkrROUNDUPWelcome to the latest children's literacy and reading news roundup, now available at The Family Bookshelf. The roundups are brought to you twice a month by Carol Rasco from RIF and Quietly, Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub and The Family Bookshelf, and me, here at Jen Robinson's Book Page. For this mid-month roundup, Terry has highlights regarding litercay and reading-related events; literacy programs and research; and suggestions for growing bookworms.

Here are some highlights from Terry's roundup:

30poets30Days_2013"National Poetry Month is still going gangbusters! There are lots of activities.

  • One of our favorites is 30 Poets 30 Days at Gottabook, poet Greg Pincus’ blog. 
  • TOMORROW is Poem in Your Pocket Day. If you’re looking for a poem, be sure to visit They have “thousands of poems” that you can read and print. PLUS you get to read a bio of the poet."

Book_train_pu0wajLike me, Terry was taken with Gail Gauthier’s post about Book Train, "a literacy nonprofit that gives books to foster children. Currently, Book Train distributes books in Colorado and Connecticut, and is looking for social workers in other states to distribute books.” 

This is interesting. "Scientific American recently had an article about changes in our “reading brain ” in this modern age. The Reading Bran in Digital Age: the Science of Paper vs. Screens shares research in how our brain needs “physicality” in reading to help with comprehension, a sense of control, and other sensory development. It is fascinating research."

But do click through to read the full roundup. And here are a few additional tidbits from me:

SFW-logo-with-2013-dateScreen Free Week is coming April 29th - May 5th. I wrote about Screen Free Week previously (including some things I've observed about screen time in my own daughter). Today I came across a fun article by Bob Staake (one of Random House's ambassadors for Screen Free Week) in the The Huffington Post. Staake (whose picture books I adore) shared a tongue-in-cheek 31 Things Parents and Kids Can Do Without a Screen. Like "Go on a hike -- and ask random woodland creatures to friend you." Fun stuff! (See also this list of 7 great picture books for Screen Free Week from Erica at What Do We Do All Day?)

Earlier this month, Trevor H. Cairney shared a useful post on Getting Boys Into Reading: Ideas, Books & Resources. He lists four fundamental building blocks to get boys reading, and goes on to give some specific ideas for reading with boys, as well as book suggestions. 

Our friend Susan Stephenson shared an important post on letting kids read the books that they want to read, rather than pushing them to read ever-more-difficult titles. Here is her conclusion (but do read the full post):

"Sometimes it seems to me there are forces at work that want to rob our kids of their childhood. By trying to push them into learning they are not ready for, by making everything a competition and comparing our kids to some so-called norm, we are doing them a huge disservice. I believe we must do our best to help our kids love reading. That is the number one priority in my mind. I urge every parent to make it a priority too."

And that's all we have for you today. But Carol will be back towards May 1st with the end of April roundup. And we'll continue to share literacy news as we find it @JensBookPage, Growing Bookworms@ReadingTub, and @CHRasco. Thanks for reading, and for caring about children's literacy. 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.