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Posts from October 2014

Circle, Square, Moose: Kelly Bingham & Paul O. Zelinsky

Book: Circle, Square, Moose
Author: Kelly Bingham
Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

Circle, Square, Moose is a companion book to Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky. The premise for both books is that a narrator is trying to teach teach something (shapes, in Circle, Square, Moose), until said narrator is interrupted by a wayward Moose. Zebra attempts to tame Moose's bad behavior, but this only makes things get more out of hand, until the poor narrator just gives up. 

Circle, Square, Moose is just as funny as Z is for Moose. The goofy, determined Moose and the worried, cap-wearing Zebra's escapades are sure to entertain kids. And there is useful information in the book about shapes, though one has to remain a bit focused to read it. My favorite bit, I think, is when the narrator is using a sandwich to illustrate "square", and then Moose steals the sandwich, and chomps it into a triangle. A memorable way to think about transitions between shapes. 

This book is made to read aloud. Even though I was alone the first time I read through it, I still read it aloud. The narrator's protests are increasingly vehement, and call for dynamic vocalization on the part of the reader. It's a bit disjointed, sure, with interruptions to the narrative flow on every page, but it's pretty much the perfect combination of entertaining and informative. 

Zelinsky's mixed media illustrations capture the playfulness of the story, and Moose's irrepressible spirit. The variety of fonts and colors makes the book fairly busy, a daytime read rather than a quiet bedtime book. 

Circle, Square, Moose is more a book to read with slightly older kids than to read aloud to toddlers (who won't get the joke). But for pre-k listeners and up, Circle, Square, Moose is sure to be irresistible. I do think it's more of a one-on-one book than a group storytime book, though I would be interested to hear otherwise. In any case, Circle, Square, Moose is a surefire hit. Recommended!

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 31

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Please note that I expanded upon most of the Growing Bookworms tweets that I shared this week in a separate post, and so have not re-shared them here. But I do have links related to book lists, the Cybils awards, diversity, gender, events, kidlitcon, the kidlitosphere, schools, and reading. 

Books and Book Lists

10 Picture Books to Scare Up Your Halloween Spirit selected by @rosemondcates #kidlit

Ten #kidlit titles from @TesseractViews in which a witch is a character with impact on the story 

This review @SunlitPages made me certain that we'll need a copy of Blizzard by John Rocco when it comes out 

Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition from Kitty Flynn @HornBook  #kidlit

‘Tis the Season: Holiday Stories for Young Readers (many w/ #diversity in culture) │ JLG | @sljournal 

Beyond the 'Problem Novel': Anti-Bullying Books 2014, by Alexis Burling in @PublishersWkly 

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten selected by @PragmaticMom  #BookList #kidlit

Top Ten Children’s and Young Adult Books About Trees, Woods, or Forests by @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub 

Gallery: The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2014 — @100scopenotes  #kidlit 

45 YA Titles for your October - December Radar from @catagator @bookriot  #YALit

The 2014 Kirkus Prize(s) have been announced, reports @bkshelvesofdoom 

Inspiring the Next Architects: Children’s Books About Design, Building, and Architecture @LEEandLOW @cynleitichsmith 

This is neat. An Infographic w/ timeline of YA historical fiction (starting in BC) by Epic Reads @bkshelvesofdoom

Top Ten YA Books that Tackle Love and Abuse by @mathangisub @NerdyBookClub #YALit


Today's featured #Cybils Review: Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton, reviewed by @100scopenotes 

Today's #Cybils Review #1 | How I Became a Pirate book app, reviewed by @cppotter 

Today's #Cybils review #2: El Deafo by Cece Bell, reviewed by Alysa @Everead  #GraphicNovel

Today's #Cybils Review: Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, reviewed by Mark at Buxton's Blog O' Books 

Diversity + Gender

WNDBLogoSqaureThe scoop on the IndieGoGo campaign for #WeNeedDiverseBooks from @bkshelvesofdoom 

Blended and Bold: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of Bi-Racial/Multi-Racial Main Characters in Spec Fic #BSFM 

Never Too Young To Be a Hero: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of YA Black main characters in Speculative Ficition #BSFM 

Middle Graders Are Awesome Too!: @dos_twinjas Top 10 List of MG Books w/ AA Main Characters #BSFM 

Characters From The Motherland: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of African Main Characters in Spec Fic #BSFM

Disability in recent Middle Grade and YA Speculative Fiction: a (short) list from @charlotteslib  #diversity

Have you seen the @realjohngreen video on why #WeNeedDiverseBooks ? 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Indiegogo Campaign Aims to Raise $100K | @sljournal 

Has #WeNeedDiverseBooks changed you? @haleshannon asks writers, agents, librarians, bloggers, etc. 

14 Children's Books with Multiracial Families selected by @momandkiddo  #DiverseBooks #BookList

Guys Lit Wire: On the fine art (& frustration) of crafting a #diverse book list for teenagers from @chasingray 

Trinity syndrome and failed parody in The Lego Movie, on wasting potentially strong female characts @haleshannon 

Helping Readers Find Strong Girls on the Road to Katniss by Kate Hannigan @NerdyBookClub 

Events + Programs 

Guys Lit Wire: Sale books still left on the Ballou Sr HS library book fair wish list. Good books + cause  @chasingray

Press Release Fun from @FuseEight | Nominate a Literary Landmark 

Growing Bookworms

El Deafo, by Cece Bell, or why assuming that an 11-year-old boy wants only certain books is pointless @charlotteslib 

7 Ways to Get Your Kid to Read, guest post by F.T. Bradley @PragmaticMom 

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids | @PreKPages #literacy


Nice surprise to find myself on this list: Where to Find a Good Children's Book from @SunlitPages  #kidlit

Oh yes, I can relate to these thoughts from Tanita Davis on accepting one's (introverted) limitations 

KidlitCon2014_cubeA Roundup of #KidLitCon 2014 posts from Finding Wonderland (Tanita Davis + @aquafortis) 

#KidLitCon 2014: A Retrospective, Part II from Tanita Davis - Reflections on Floating Heads + #diverse book covers 

Lots of interesting tidbits in Fusenews: Bemoaning, Lamenting, and Generally Carrying On — @fuseeight 

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Quick summary here in the Morning roundup @bkshelvesofdoom on Five recent YA thinkpieces 

11 Reasons Why Young Adult Fiction Is Even Better When You Read It As An Adult | Emma Lord @Bustle  @PWKidsBookshelf

Kids Should Feel Free to Read Kids' Books, Because That's What Kids Do | Emma Cueto in @Bustle  @PWKidsBookshelf

Young Adult Fiction Doesn't Need to Be a 'Gateway' to the Classics by Noah Berlatsky in @TheAtlantic  @PWKidsBookshelf

Rebecca Mead’s Takedown of Percy Jackson Is Wrong by Sarah Seltzer @Flavorwire  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Yes! "I truly believe that the most important thing we can give (kids) ... is a love of reading." from Becky Levine 

Yes we do, in fact, need negative book reviews says @tlt16  via @tashrow

Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World - The Zena Sutherland Lecture by @realjohngreen @HornBook 

Schools and Libraries

The K.C. and S.F. public libraries are fighting on Twitter, and it's delightful | @Cut4 via @tashrow 

Why Are So Many Adults Threatened by Students Choosing Books? asks @thereadingzone 

© 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

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull: Bill Harley

Book: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull
Author: Bill Harley
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Pages: 160
Age Range: 7-10

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Shrieking Skull is the third title in the Charlie Bumpers series of illustrated chapter books, written by Bill Harley and illustrated by Adam Gustavson. I have not read the first two books, but didn't find this to be a problem.

Fourth grader Charlie is excited when a friend invites him to a Halloween sleepover. He expects trick-or-treating in Alex's more upscale neighborhood to be more lucrative than usual, and he looks forward to NOT having to take his little sister out with him. But when Charlie learns that Alex plans to show a VERY scary movie that night, his enthusiasm wanes a bit. Luckily(?) Charlie's older brother undertakes a de-scaring regimen, to help Charlie learn not to be so frightened of scary stories. 

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Shrieking Skull seems well-suited to newer readers who are ready to move past easy readers and into chapter books. There are black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, some woven in with the text. The chapters are fairly short (~3-6 pages), and the text spacing is wide. I didn't notice much in the way of challenging vocabulary. 

Charlie's fears and interests seem authentic for a fourth grader (and accessible to readers a bit younger), though his personality is perhaps a tad idealized. There's a scene near the end of the book in which he admits his fears to his friends, and is supported,that didn't quite read as authentic to me. Nice, but not quite authentic. But I am probably more cynical than members of the book's target audience.

Apart from that one point, I found Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull to be an enjoyable read, with a nice balance of Halloween-related drama and ordinary family and school interpersonal dynamics. Charlie's working mom is too busy to help him with his costume, and he has to make it at school. His older brother delights in scaring him. His younger sister complains and complains when he reveals his plan to not take her trick or treating, but clearly adores him. His dad likes to tease, threatening to go trick-or-treating in his underwear. 

Here are a couple of quotes:

"Right!" said Tommy, getting more excited. "The bigger the houses, the bigger the candy bars! Then maybe we'd have to carry extra bags for when the first ones got filled up. That would be stupendous."

"Terrific!" I said.

"Stupific!" Tommy said.

"Stupific!" I repeated. "That's hilarious." (Page 4)

Then they proceed to use "stupific" throughout the rest of the book. 

"Sure," I said. The plan sounded a little crazy, but when your best friend wants to be a werewolf, you help him be a werewolf." (Page 103) 

Gustavson's illustrations add some detail to the characters that is not necessarily revealed in the text (like the fact that Tommy seems to be African American). They also add to the Halloween creepiness of the book, by bringing to life Charlie's brother's scary story, the cover of the scary movie  that the kids are supposed to watch, and so on. The little sister comes across particularly well in the pictures, adding an extra touch of warmth to the story. 

Charlie Bumpers and the Squeaking Skull is a fun and age-appropriate book for second through fourth graders, perfect for reading during this Halloween week. 

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers 
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Some Recent Articles on Growing Bookworms

JRPB-URLonly-smallI wanted to do some sort of growing bookworms post for today, but nothing particular came to mind. Luckily, there has been a fine crop of posts on this subject from some of my favorite blogs this week. Thus instead of sharing my ideas, I will point you to theirs:

At What Do We Do All Day?, Erica shares her strategies for avoiding frustration/burnout in her relatively reluctant younger son's emergent reading. She offers a list of 10 alternatives to forcing your kids to learn to read. Personally, I think her hands-off approach, focused on maintaining a love for books, is the right way to go. Here's one example, a technique that I have employed myself, but do click through to the full post for more:

"When reading aloud, take an extra long pause before a word. I have to be casual about this so my son doesn’t catch on, but if I pause long enough, he gets impatient and I see him looking at the word to figure it out."

At Literacy, Families, and Learning, Trevor H. Cairney shares some detailed recommendations for parents and teachers who are working with their beginning readers on oral reading. He discusses reasons why one should (and should not) practice reading aloud with kids, how to select books, and concrete DOs and DON'Ts. He concludes that oral reading should be used in a postive way, and should "virtually never" be used as a test by parents.  

In a more off-the-cuff post than the previous two, Stacey Loscalzo muses on the joy of reading aloud. She says:

"I challenge us to ... ask our children to be children again and read aloud as often and long as we can. Even and especially after they can read to themselves because there is still something inherently important in hearing the written word spoke aloud." 

There was also an interesting discussion at A Fuse #8 Production earlier this week on whether (or when) it is rude to ask someone what their kids are reading now. Betsy Bird worries that:

"if used for evil instead of good, (asking what your child is reading) could act as an awfully effective way to engage in shaming your fellow parent."

At Growing Book by Book, as part of Sensory Processing Awareness month, Jodie Rodriguez writes about why her child can't sit still when they read. She offers  discussion and strategies. For example, this excellent point:

"If your child is comprehending what is read, does it really matter that they aren’t sitting still during the story?"

And there you have it. A few links of potential interest for those of us who are attempting to grow bookworms. 

And, ok, I do have one tiny literacy milestone to share that cropped us this afternoon. My daughter asked to read Naked! by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, only our second read of this library book. Mid-way through, she pointed to a little cluster of toys in the foreground of the page. She said: "that doll and that potato were in I'm Bored!, except that the doll was wearing a different shirt." And sure enough, I looked back that the cover of I'm Bored! (by the same author and illustrator), and the doll in Naked! bears a strong resemblance to the little girl from I'm Bored! As does the potato.

This isn't quite a milestone, because she has certainly recognized characters from one book who crop up in another (most notably The Pigeon). But this one impressed me because it was so subtle, uncovered in a pair of books she didn't even know very well, and that had completely escaped me. I told her that I was impressed.

Yes, if you put enough books in front of your kids, they will start to notice details. Happy reading to all!

© 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.

Harriet Can Carry It: Kirk Jay Mueller & Sarah Vonthron-Laver

Book: Harriet Can Carry It
Author: Kirk Jay Mueller
Illustrator: Sarah Vonthron-Laver
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Harriet Can Carry It, by Kirk Jay Mueller and Sarah Vonthron-Laver, is the story of a hard-working kangaroo mom whose attempt to take a day off to relax with her son is derailed by other animals. All Harriet wants to do is take her Joey, with some towels and the boy's favorite toy, to the beach. But she meets a series of pushy animals along the way, all expecting Harriet to carry their gear in her pouch. Eventually, they push poor Harriet too far, and she gives up. Fortunately another solution is found by the others, and Harriet and her Joey get their time alone). 

Mueller's text is mostly in rhyming couplets, with the notable exception of Harriet's attempts to protest, which are always cut off. Like this:

"It was old Wanda Wombat, so nosey and grouchy,
Asking, "That a beach towel hanging out of your pouchy?
Can I come to the beach? Can I come with YOU?
Will you carry my beach chair? Can I please come too?"

"W-e-l-l," Harriet hesitated.
"I don't know--"

"Of course I can," answered the pushy Wombat
"You have lots of room. You have loads of space
For tons of stuff in your big pouchy place.
The sun is so bright. The ocean's so blue.
YOU CAN CARRY IT, HARRIET, so I can come too.""

This text is repeated, with minor variations (different types of animals, different types of gear, different adjectives for the pushy Wombat), throughout the book. The animals are all Australian natives, mostly marsupials, as is explained in a handy "Animal Facts" glossary at the end of the book. I wasn't aware that "Australia has about 200 species of marsupials." Of course most of them probably don't have beach towels and kayaks in their pouches. Still, it's nice to see an introduction to different types of animals from the usual bears, elephants, giraffes, etc. 

I also appreciated Mueller's use of descriptive vocabulary words like "trudged" and "bossy". And while Harriet Can Carry It has not a whiff of didacticism, one could use it to discuss that with kids the idea that it is ok to say no when people are making unreasonable requests. 

Vonthron-Laver's watercolor illustrations are bright and colorful, conveying the heat of a summer's day, the green of the countryside, and the exhaustion of poor Harriet. Her lumpy pouchy, with various beach items sticking out, will resonate with moms everywhere (the designated toters of family items). Harriet Can Carry It made me want to go to the beach, with nothing but a book and a towel.

Harriet Can Carry It is an entertaining picture book that introduces kids to marsupials in a light, yet memorable manner. It would make a fun read-aloud for schools or libraries. Recommended. 

Publisher: Star Bright Books (@StarBrightBooks)
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Flora and the Penguin: Molly Idle

Book: Flora and the Penguin
Author: Molly Idle
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-5

Flora and the Penguin is a companion book to Molly Idle's Flora and the Flamingo. In this installment, young Flora is skating, apparently on an ice floe, when a little penguin comes up out of a hole in the ice. Flora and the penguin skate/dance together quite happily, until the penguin returns below the surface of the water, and comes back with a fish. Flora's initial rejection of the fish (she tosses it back into the hole) nearly ruins their budding friendship. But luckily, Flora is able to redeem herself, and the friends ice dance together again. 

Flora and the Penguin is a wordless picture book with occasional flaps to lift. The illustrations, set against a white (the ice) and pale blue (the water, shown in profile below the ice) background are minimalist. Most of the story is conveyed through the facial expressions and, especially, the body language of Flora and the penguin. We see Flora, after she has thrown back the fish, lift her head and turn away in arrogant denial of wrong-doing. Then, lifting a flap, we see her peer back towards the penguin, remorseful. Personally, my favorite images where those of Flora and the penguin skating together, hand in flipper, graceful and free. 

Those who enjoyed Flora and the Flamingo will be pleased to see Flora back in print for another adventure. Fans of wordless picture books in general (and I know there are many) will want to give Flora and the Penguin a look. It is not necessary to have read the other book first. Flora and the Penguin is a celebration of winter and ice, as well as friendship. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 24

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a ton of links this week on topics including: book lists, book awards, recent controversies, diversity, growing bookworms, events, cybils, kidlitcon, kidlitosphere, reading, pubishing, social media, and libraries. 

Book Lists and Awards

10 Great New Non-Fiction Books for Younger Readers selected by @TrevorHCairney #kidlit

It’s Time to Come Inside! 10 Cozy Picture Book Companions as winter approaches by @epan11 @NerdyBookClub #kidlit

Meet the 2014 Teens' Top Ten titles from @yalsa @bkshelvesofdoom #yalit

Stacked: (Mostly) YA book suggestions from @kimberlymarief for various October themes (American Cheese Month, etc.)

A welcome mini-trend highlighted @HornBook | Grrrl power grrraphic novels (memoirs or w/ similar feel)

Some Favorite New Books for 3rd Grade Transitional Readers, selected by @frankisibberson #kidlit

Story Time Secrets: 8 Funny Middle School Series for Boys selected by @mrskatiefitz #kidlit

Sleuths, Spies + Alibis: Calling All Junior Secret Agents: Resources for Budding Spies + Detectives by F.T. Bradley

(Many) Nominations for 2015 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals | @tashrow #kidlit

12+ Classic Books for Tweens selected by @momandkiddo (all more than fine for middle grade) #kidlit

Creepy short stories: mysteries & thrillers for ages 10-13, 4 collections recommended by @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

10 Awesome Middle Grade/YA Families from @Book_Nut #kidlit

The Need for Big Books: A Top “Ten” List for (mostly) boys who crave longer books by @stephaseverson @NerdyBookClub

A Tuesday Ten: Twins! in speculative #kidlit from @TesseractViews

7 Books That Will Get Young Boys Readingby @bobshea + Lane Smith in @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow


Afternoon links: Amazon Vine as the wild, wild west. As always, @bkshelvesofdoom tracks down the scoop

I'm with @gail_gauthier in her response to the @NewYorker piece "The Percy Jackson Problem". Read what you like!

Yes, I Am Afraid, says @LizB on putting one's name and face out publicly in the blogging world, and Kathleen Hale

Morning links: The author-as-stalker edition, @bkshelvesofdoom rounds up links on Kathleen Hale stalking a reviewer

Morning links: The author-as-stalker edition, part two from @bkshelvesofdoom (w/ Twitter extract)

The Consequences of Stalking: Why So Many Took a Stand Against the Author-Stalker | @bethrevis via @kidsilkhaze

Dear Author, Whose Book I Read and May Have Negatively Reviewed, Your Anger Will Not Silence Me says Tanita Davis


Read along with @Everead and others in the Armchair #Cybils #kidlit

Today's featured #Cybils Review: Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen, reviewed by @LogCabinLibrary

Another #Cybils featured review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson reviewed by Jennifer from Reederama

Our first Featured Blogger at #Cybils is Amy at Hope Is the Word, nominated by @semicolonblog #kidlit

Today's #Cybils Review is Colors of the Wind by @jlpowers, reviewed by @StackingBks


Science Fiction & Fantasy: How Multicultural Is Your Multiverse? asks Dionne Obeso in @PublishersWkly #diversity

WNDBLogoWNDB Diversity Organization Announces New Initiatives reports @PublishersWkly #WeNeedDiverseBooks

'PW' Panel Warns Industry, Lack of #Diversity Threatens Publishing @PublishersWkly

@WeNeedDiverseBooks and @sljournal Announce Collaboration #kidlit #yalit

A #WeNeedDiverseBooks post from @MsYingling on the particular lack of male writers for color in #kidlit

Why is today's teen fiction not as #diverse as it could be? | @GuardianBooks via @PWKidsBookshelf

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Realistic fiction with diverse protagonists | @sljournal Spotlight

Why We Need #Diverse Book Reviewers + Bloggers: @dos_twinjas List of Black Book Bloggers Who Review Diverse Spec Fic

South Asian YA: 5 Titles to Read from SWAPNA KRISHNA @bookriot via @catagator #diversity

New categorized listing of links on Where To Find #Diverse Books from #WeNeedDiverseBooks via @FuseEight

Where are all the disabled characters in children's books? | Megan Quibell in @GuardianBooks #diversity

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Group Announces Walter Dean Myers Award and Grants #diversity via @PWKidsBookshelf

Events, Programs and Research

The 9th Annual Carle Honors event 2014 as reported by @fuseeight #kidlit

Guys Lit Wire: Celebrating Ballou High School's library dynamo, Melissa Jackson, by @chasingray

.@TaylorSwift13 & @Scholastic team up to show how reading + writing can help kids be more resilient – #SharePossible

Growing Bookworms

SoupWays that reading aloud feeds your child's brain from @BooksBabiesBows @ReadAloud_org #literacy

Story Time Secrets: Early #Literacy in Everyday Places: The Park from @mrskatiefitz

"Reading isn’t just taught. It’s passed on, like a treasure from one reader to the next" @donalynbooks @NerdyBookClub

How do I get my child to read? Thoughts from @iShrutiKohli (including not forcing the issue)

How to Raise a Nerdy Book Lover, why you should read to your baby in utero from @belly_books @NerdyBookClub

Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? @NYTimes via @PWKidsBookshelf


#KidLitCon 2014: Further Thoughts (and Sketches) from @aquafortis

What type of blogger are you? A snazzy infographic from @shgmclicious #KidLitCon presentation #diversity

KidlitCon2014_cubeThoughts on #KidLitCon Day 1- Theme #DIVERSITY @afrocubansista @dos_twinjas

Thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #kidlitcon 2014: notepad forum: cultural appropriation, part a

Thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #KidlitCon 2014: Notepad Forum, Part b ~ The Weekend Word: "Cultural Appropriation"

A few more links to #KidLitCon roundups added here (near the bottom of the post): #diversity

New webcast: Announcing the Debut of Fuse #8 TV — @fuseeight @sljournal #kidlit

Jennifer at Jean Little Library will collecting links to reviews of scary children's books all month long #kidlit


Secret Codes and Language Games for Kids from @BookChook

Fun from @RIFWEB | Picture book-inspired Halloween costumes for kids #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

I Feel Smart: On Wordless Picture Books and Perception — @100scopenotes #kidlit

A Not-So-Young Audience for Young Adult Books, balanced piece by Meg Wolitzer in @NYTimes via @PWKidsBookshelf

"Does meeting a book creator make you appreciate... work more? What does it do to your critical abilities?" @HornBook

Read whatever the hell you want: why we need a new way of talking about young adult literature @ElizabethMinkel

Thoughts on #kidlit nonfiction, that incendiary @NYTimes article, and “dumbing down” by @shgmclicious

Schools andLibraries

Recommendation from @chasingray for The Public Library, a book/photo essay about libraries

Neat! With Funding From Friends Group San Antonio Public Library Installs Digital Book Kiosks at SAT Airport

Would you rather have $50,000 or $25,000? @ReadingShanahan Explains the impact of full-day kindergarten

Social Media / Online

When Your PLN Fails You (and What You Can Do About It) | Concrete suggestions from @ReadByExampleh ttp://

New @PewResearch Report Finds Young Women (especially) Targeted for Online Harassment | @sljournal

Good advice from @catagator | 7 Steps to Protect Your Privacy As A Blogger (Or As A Person On The Internet, Period)

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

Bad Dog Flash: Ruth Paul

Book: Bad Dog Flash
Author: Ruth Paul
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-6

Bad Dog Flash is a picture book aimed at toddlers and preschoolers, about the antics of a puppy named Flash. Each pair of page spreads follows Flash getting into some sort of mischief, concluding with a pronouncement from the grown-ups of: "Bad dog, Flash." Only at the end of the book, when a little girl holds Flash, is puppy-like behavior greeted with "Good dog, Flash." 

Paul's minimal, lightly rhyming text makes this book accessible to the youngest of listeners. Bad Dog Flash could also be used as a very early reader. Here's an example, spread across four pages:

"Still cat,
dull cat.

Fast cat, 
fun cat.

Run cat!

Bad dog, Flash."

The fact that each incident is going to end with "Bad dog, Flash" is clear early on. My four-year-old enjoyed chiming in with that part, starting on our first read-through of the book. This predictability should help keep younger children engaged in the story. I think that preschoolers will also be able to relate to Flash, whose enthusiasm and energy get him into unwitting trouble. 

Flash's expressions are those of a hapless toddler, too, in Paul's warm illustrations. When he's caught digging up the garden, you can practically hear "Ooops. This wasn't a good idea" as he looks up at a wagging adult figure. The adults are always shown from the neck down (or lower), keeping the focus on Flash and his actions. Only the child owner, shown near the end of the book, has a face (a smiling, loving face). The backgrounds that Paul uses on most of the page spreads are minimalist, and this again serves to keep the focus on Flash. 

Parental warning: Flash is cute enough to entice young listeners into wanting a dog of their own. The cover is quite engaging, too, showing Flash chewing on the three-dimensional letters of the title. 

Bad Dog Flash focuses on kid-appealing mischief, with just a hint of sentiment at the end. This makes it a perfect fit for preschoolers, especially those who love dogs. Recommended for home or storytime use. 

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (@Sourcebooks)
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

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

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 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 the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have eight book reviews (picture book through young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and one post describing a recent literacy milestone by my daughter. Not included in the newsletter, I also shared one final post of the year about KidLitCon

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I only completed two books, both audiobooks, on middle grade and one young adult. I listened to:

I'm still reading the third book of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I'm enjoying it, but my reading time has been very limited, and it is fairly slow-paced and I keep falling asleep when I read it before bed. I also started Rick Yancey's The Infinite Sea on my Kindle, but I'm trying to restict reading that to times when the Kindle is all that I have available. I'm listening to Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. The narrator, Katherine Kellgren, is also the narrator for the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books, which occasionally pulls me out of the story. Does that ever happen to you?

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She is starting to learn sight words at school, and enjoys sounding out or recognizing the occasional word when I read aloud to her. She's also chiming in more with memorized passages from books, even books that I didn't realize she knew all that well.

She continues to want, want, want more books all the time. Last night we read Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda. At the end of the book there is a pretty clear hint to what the next book in this series is going to be. She immediately started begging me to buy that one. But I think what I'm enjoying most is watching her sense of humor develop, as she finds more and more things in books funny. 

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

H2O: Virginia Bergin

Book: H2O
Author: Virginia Bergin
Pages: 336
Age Range: 12 and up

Virginia Bergin's H2O is a young adult novel about an apocalypse that occurs when rain turns deadly, leaving only 0.27% of the population alive. I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the first-person narrator, Ruby, off-putting, and her chatty narrative style (with many diversions) annoying. And yet ... I couldn't put the book down, and consumed it in record time. 

The plot of H2O carries echoes of various other apocalyptic survival stories (the loss of the immediate family, the quest to find a lost relative, the teaming up with someone who one would never have teamed up with before, the presence of authority figures of questionable intent, the shopping in empty stores and scrabbling for food, etc.). There's a reason these elements are found in so many apocalyptic stories - they are compelling, and keep readers turning the pages. 

But I think that what hooked me with H2O was the sheer menace of the premise. Imagine if a single drop of rain could kill you. Imagine that the tap water, not to mention lakes and swimming pools, is corrupted. You would learn, as Ruby does, to be an expert at watching cloud formations. But eventually, someone, somewhere would have to figure out a longer term solution. Wouldn't they? There's only so much bottled water out there, after all...  So, H2O made me think, and Ruby's near constant peril kept me turning the (virtual) pages. 

Here are a couple of sample quotes, to give you a feel for Ruby's voice:

"I was sitting in a hot tub in my underwear kissing Caspar McCloud. Ha! That also sounds like a great beginning, maybe from some kind of kiss-fest romance, or maybe Caspar would turn out to be a sexy vampire." (Chapter One)

"All those people's lives--on the coffee table, in one long, neat row. People (like Simon) go on about people (like me) and not being able to be apart from their cell phones. They're missing the point; it's not the cell phone--it's the life that's in it you don't want to be apart from...even when they don't work anymore." (Chapter Twelve)

""Bye!" I shouted, which I thought was very charitable of me, considering. Charitable and also a further sign of how serious the situation was: girls like me don't even acknowledge the existence of boys like Darius Spratt. It's a basic law of nature." (Chapter Fourteen)

That last quote gives you a bit of insight into Ruby's character. She's run into a boy from school who is a bit of a nerd, and she just can't let go of their social differences. In the middle of an apocalypse. She's vain (constantly looking for makeup and cool clothes, in the middle of her travels) and selfish. Now, the target audience of actual teen readers might be able to relate to Ruby better than I did, of course. And she does try to do the right thing here and there, and improves over time. But overall, Ruby's voice didn't work well for me. 

And yet, on another level, it did work for me. I could picture, and practically smell, Ruby's surroundings. She does not shrink from talking about things, even disgusting or embarrassing things. She reveals her flaws and her insecurities. She is loud and out there and alive. I was impatient with her digressions because I wanted her to get on with the story. I wanted to know what would happen next. I was invested.

So, if you like apocalyptic survival stories - ones that tell you exactly what someone was going through during and immediately after the disaster, H2O is one to check out. It has many of what have become conventions of the genre, and the narrator is (in what may be a refreshing change for some), not particularly heroic. But the premise is compelling and downright creepy. I don't think I'll ever look at rainclouds the same way again. 

PS: Tanita Davis has a much more comprehensive review than mine at Finding Wonderland. 

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

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

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus: Jen Bryant & Melissa Sweet

Book: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Pages: 42
Age Range: 7 and up

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a picture book biography written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. The publisher lists it for ages 7 and up, which seems about right to me. It's quite dense, and full of lists and historical tidbits that make it likely over the heads of younger readers. But for elementary age kids, and adults for that matter, particularly those who appreciate words and lists, The Right Word is simply a delight.

This book made me smile, and it made me want to go out and get an old copy of Roget's thesaurus, from back before it was even arranged alphabetically. It enabled me to picture the young Peter Roget, a lonely, bright boy who always loved lists. The Right Word made me feel like I knew him. And that is a successful biography. 

The Right Word describes Peter's life, from early childhood through his publication, late in life, of his Thesaurus. There is a mix of narrative text, poems, and information conveyed through the illustrations (including comic strip-like panels). And, always, throughout the book, there are lists of words. Afterwords by the author and illustrator explain where the included information (especially the illustrations) came from. There is a timeline that mingles events from Peter's life with world events of the same time periods (separating the types of events by color).

Somehow, this mix of Bryant's text and Sweet's annotated collage illustrations  evokes emotion in the reader. One feels for Peter, and rejoices in his eventual success. Or I did, at least. Like this:

"When Peter moved back to London,
he joined science societies and
attended lectures given by famous
thinkers and inventors. Before long,
he was asked to give lectures too.

But could he do it? Could shy
Peter Roget face a crowded room
and talk about what he knew?

(next page)

Yes, he could.

With his book in hand, Peter spoke concisely,
with clarity and conviction!"

Sweet's illustration of this second page shows Peter standing, proud without being vain, in front of a group of black-robed men who are whispering about him. There's a mix of old-fashioned setting with cartoon-like faces keeps the book accessible to young readers. 

Even the cover of The Right Word is appealing, with a worn book cover showing at the bottom of the page, looking like soft leather, and a host of images from various fields of study and periods of time spilling out from between the pages at the top. The Right Word celebrates that power of words, and the lasting contribution of the man who created Roget's Thesaurus, still in print today. It is a wonderful picture book biography and a must- purchase for libraries and word-lovers everywhere.  

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Sky Jumpers Book 2: The Forbidden Flats: Peggy Eddleman

Book: Sky Jumpers Book 2: The Forbidden Flats (iBooks link)
Author: Peggy Eddleman
Pages: 272
Age Range: 9-12

The Forbidden Flats is the second book in Peggy Eddleman's Sky Jumpers series (my review of Book 1 is here). Both books are set in a relatively near-term post-apocalyptic American West. One of the oldest adults remembers the pre-apocalyptic world, but most characters were born afterwards. Only small, spread out communities survive, with no means of communication between them.

The Forbidden Flats begins with an earthquake, which sets off a reaction that threatens the survival of the sheltered town of White Flats. A small team is sent on a mission to procure a mineral that will, if obtained in time, fix the problem (and save the town). The mineral is only available from a far-off settlement in the mountains. Among the members of the team are Hope, the 12-year-old heroine from the first Sky Jumpers book, and her two friends, Aaren and Brock. This high-stakes quest, particularly because there is a firm time constraint before disaster occurs, lends suspense to the book. 

Once nice thing about this second book in the series is that Hope (and thus the reader) gets a chance to see much more of the world than in the relatively sheltered first book. I always enjoy it when, in post-apocalyptic books, characters run across artifacts from modern day life. In The Forbidden Flats, Hope and the team visit people who live in the ruins of pre-apocalyptic cities. Hope sees things like asphalt for the first time in her life.

Eddleman's world-building for this series remains sharp - she has a strong grasp of what is the same and what is different from our own world. What comes across in particular detail in this new book is the impact of the apocalypse (environmental bombs) on the minerals in the earth. There are minerals newly created by the blasts, and other things that used to work that don't anymore. In particular, iron can no longer hold a magnetic charge, which greatly restricts and resumption of technology. This makes for an intriguing sub-quest in the book, one that I expect will be continued in future stories. 

The Forbidden Flats also fleshes out the character of Hope in more detail. She meets her uncle, the brother of the mother who died immediately after Hope's birth. Learning more about her mother, and getting to know her uncle, gives Hope some insights into her own character. There are a couple of other interesting new characters, too, one of which I suspect we'll see again.

But I do have to say that I felt that the existing secondary characters came across as a bit flat in this installment. It felt like I was supposed to remember what was special and unique about Aaren and Brock, rather than being able to see this through their words and actions. This stood out for me in particular because there's the tiniest hint about a romance brewing between Hope and Brock, but Brock feels like a bit of cipher. My feeling is that even if a book doesn't need to stand on its own in terms of plot and world-building (it may be necessary to have read the first book to understand what's going on), the characters should stand on their own in each book. 

Overall, though, The Forbidden Flats is a worthwhile successor to Sky Jumpers. The plot is suspenseful and full of twists, and readers get to learn more about the broader world in which Hope lives. Although the plot in this book is fully resolved, I see plenty of directions in which Eddleman can go in future books. Fans of the first book will definitely want to give this one a look. The Sky Jumpers series is nice in being a middle grade (vs. YA) post-apocalypse series, one that does NOT revolve around a dystopia, but instead shows people working together to build a new world. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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