Friday, July 3, 2020

Time for Summer Reading...

Perhaps I got a bit carried away last month... when the libraries were closed and I worried I would run out of books.

Plus I still have a bunch of books in my "to be reviewed" basket. So .... 

Sally’s Bookshelf is taking a break from book reviews to indulge in summer reading.

While Sally's gone ...

  • Check out your library's summer reading program. 
  • Grab some books for the next road trip.  
  • Build a fort (and read in it).
  • Read a good bug book - and then go find some bugs.
  • Write haiku in sidewalk chalk.
  • Learn to identify trees - then tie a hammock between a couple of them and read.
See you in August. Happy Book Adventures!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dogs at Work and Play

Sally’s Bookshelf is Going To the Dogs – all month long. Today I’m sharing two spring releases from National Geographic Children’s Books.

theme: dogs, nonfiction

Doggy Defenders: Cadi the Farm Dog 
by Lisa M. Gerry; photographs by Lori Epstein
48 pages; ages 4 - 8

Cadi is a border collie. She lives on a farm with her family, the Bakers.

Like everyone else on the farm, Cadi has a job to do. Her job: take care of the cows. When she’s not herding cows, Cadi checks up on the other farm animals – the goats, ducks, chickens – and helps keep an eye on the vegetable garden.

What I like about this book: Cadi is much like our neighbor’s farm dog, Spencer. He “helps” with so many things, but his big job is making sure the chickens are safe. So I totally love seeing a book about farm dogs. I also like the back matter. One spread features a Q&A with Jessie Baker, the farmer and another is “Cadi’s Animal Care Tips” to help young readers learn how to be better friends with animals. This book is part of the Doggy Defenders series featuring Dolley the Fire Dog, Stella the Search Dog, Tiger the Police Dog, and Willow the Therapy Dog. I’m looking forward to more books in the series.

Just Joking Dogs 
by National Geographic Kids
208 pages; ages 8 - 12

The title says it all: it is page after belly-laugh page of dog jokes. Here’s a couple:

What kind of dog works in a library?
A hush puppy!

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Pup who?
Pup-eroni pizza.

And there’s even a joke for our neighbor’s farm dog:
Why did the dog cross the road?
He was following the chickens.

Beyond the Books:

Make up your own dog joke or two. If you need help, ask a dog! If you don’t have a dog, ask your friend’s dog. A stuffed dog will do in a pinch.

Next time you’re out and about, pay attention to the kinds of dogs you see. You might see dogs playing Frisbee in a park, or taking their humans for a walk. Or you might see dogs on the job, such as a farm dog or service animal.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by Media Masters Publicity.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sit. Stay. Read.

Sally’s Bookshelf is Going To the Dogs – all month long. So today I’m pulling one of my favorites – a great summer read that was published last August.

by Bobbie Pyron
304 pages; ages 8 - 12
Katherine Tegen Books, 2019

I am a Bobbie Pyron fan. What can I say? I love her dog stories and can never resist just one more… and this one hit close to home. Because that’s what it’s about, at its core: finding home.

Piper, who’s not-quite-twelve, and her family arrive in a new city by bus. The buildings are tall, sunlight fills the sky, and mountains in the distance nearly poke through the blue and into heaven. A new start, but when her family arrives at the address for Hope House, they find a hotel-like emergency center – and daddy has to live apart from them, in the men’s residence.

Baby is luckier – he gets to live with his person, Jewel, in a park. Every day presents a new chance to explore the city. They have a corner where Jewel sits, and some people give her money or food, and others yell at her to get a job. But always, they have each other and the park. Life is good, but something is not right with Jewel.

Using alternate points of view, Piper and Baby, Pyron dives into a tale of what family means. What friendship means. And what kids can do to make the world a better place, even when they don’t have a home to call their own.

What I like about this book: I love the sense of place. Bobbie sets the story in a place so real that you can find it on a map. And even though it’s been years since I lived there (and downtown landmarks have changed) I could visualize the paths she walked through the park and the corners where Jewel and her comrades fly their signs.

I love how real each character is. And, as a once and future Girl Scout, I really love that Piper gets involved with the “Firefly Girls” - and that their service project embraces finding a way to reconnect Jewel with Baby while raising awareness about mental health issues and homelessness.

If I gave out stars, Stay would get an entire Kibble’s box worth.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy from my personal library.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dog Finds the Gold!

This month Sally’s Bookshelf is Going To the Dogs! This week we’re going on an adventure – to the California Gold Rush.

Bo-Bo's Cave of Gold (At the Heels of History)
by Pam Berkman and Dorothy Hearst; illus. by Claire Powell
192 pages; ages 6 - 9
Margaret K. McElderry Books (S&S), 2020

It’s 1852 in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. Sage has been kicked out of the pack. “You’re weak,” snarls the pack leader. “We have no place for a dog who puts some scraggly two-legged creature ahead of her own pack.”

Now, a moon’s cycle later, she is accosted by a mouthy parrot. It nips her tail. It jabs her paw. It calls her names (silly, sad-faced, soggy dog!) – and eventually leads Sage to a stream where a boy is trying to move a big rock in a river. The boy, Sheng, is searching for gold, with his father and uncle. With his mind on finding gold, the boy gives the dog a new name: Bo-Bo, little treasure. But will Sage/Bo-Bo be strong enough to help?

A bear escapes, some bad guys want to jump Sheng’s family claim, and Sheng and Bo-Bo must find gold to pay back a debt. Of course there’s a cave, rattlesnakes (what would a western be without snakes?) and a treasure map.

What I like about this book: It is fun to read! And it’s an engaging story – especially if you love stories about heroic dogs. I also like that there is back matter. An author’s note spills the beans about the facts behind the story, and raises a few questions. For example: prospecting is hard work, and most folks who flocked to the gold rush never struck it rich. And yes, thousands of men traveled from China to the gold fields. They left China to escape war and famine, only to face racism in America. Not only did Chinese prospectors have to pay a “foreign miners” tax, white prospectors harassed them and sometimes stole their claims.

The authors also discuss the impact of the Gold Rush on Indigenous people and African Americans, as well as what a dog’s life would be like in California at that time.

Bo-Bo's Cave of Gold  is second in the series that began with Filigree's Midnight Ride (I reviewed that one in December). There will be more in the series - great stories for kids who love dogs and long for adventures that Might Really Have Taken Place....  Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Such a Good Boy!

This month Sally’s Bookshelf is Going To the Dogs! So of course I'm starting with one called Such a Good Boy! Because, really, how could I resist? Look for doggy books all month long.

theme: dogs

Such a Good Boy
by Marianna Coppo
48 pages; ages 5 - 8
Chronicle Books, 2020

This is Buzz. Come here, Buzz! Good Boy.

Buzz has a good life. He lives in a fancy house, eats nutritious food, and is pampered well cared for. He takes his people for walks every day, and on Sundays he gets to go to the dog park! As long as he stays on a leash… because those other dogs could be mean or scary. And then one day, Buzz finds the right door open and he’s free!

What I like about this book: I love that Marianna Coppo asks really important questions, like what does it mean to be a “good boy?” And what sorts of considerations go into life-altering decisions such as whether to return home or explore the outside world? And I like the end pages: the front endpapers are filled with trophies and doggy toys; the back papers are filled with sticks, puddles, and adventure.

Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses 
by Paige Towler
32 pages; ages 4 - 8
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2020

While not a dog story, this book does introduce kids to the Downward Dog pose, along with several other “wild” yoga poses. Rhyming couplets, paired with photos of animals, will have kids bending and stretching, reaching and curling, and definitely moving. A great companion for quarantine, because yoga doesn’t take much room. Plus, it helps reduce stress – something we can all use. Kids will learn to bend like a gorilla, balance like a flamingo, slide like a cobra, and stretch like a puppy.

Beyond the Books:

What does it mean to be a “good” dog – or kid? What are the sorts of things that are considered “good” behavior in your home?

Design a park for dogs to play in. What sort of things would you want in a park if you were a dog? If you need some ideas, check out these dog parks.

Stretch like a puppy. If you have never done a downward dog pose, here’s how to do it. And sure, go ahead and bark! Such a gooood boy!

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Perfect bedtime stories

These two books from Chronicle are perfect bedtime reads. Quiet enough to relax, but with enough curiosity to make you think.

theme: family, friendship

Over the Moon
by James Proimos; illus. by Zoey Abbott
44 pages; ages 3 - 5
Chronicle Books, 2020

When a baby floats down a river, she doesn’t think about her place in the world.

And when two wolves sit on the river’s edge, it’s a pretty good bet that one of them is thinking about dinner. So what happens when a baby floats by? The wolves scoop her up and take her home and “teach her about good and evil, dark and light, right and wrong.” Even though one of the wolves is still thinking about dinner.

What I like about this book: This is such a sweet story, perfect for sharing before bedtime. I like how the girl learns to live as a wolf, and then one day discovers something new! Other children. She wants to join them, and when she leaves even the second wolf sheds a tear. But family is family, so she will return because she has learned about good and evil, light and dark…

Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark
by Jonathan Stutzman; illus. by Jay Fleck
48 pages; ages 3 - 5
Chronicle Books, 2020

It is our first campout in the backyard, and we are nervous.

Tiny (a T-rex) and his stegasaurus buddy, Pointy, are going to camp outside. But even mighty dinosaurs get scared if they can’t sleep with their “nighty-lights”. It is very dark outside, and hard to be brave when you are scared of Nom-bies and Crawly-creeps.

What I like about this book: Tiny and Pointy come up with a plan. It involves a hiding fort, Christmas tree lights, and plenty of snacks. It is a good plan until – something goes wrong and everything is very dark! But Tiny finds some night light …. in a place he hadn’t expected.

Beyond the Books:

Draw a plan for a hiding fort – and then build it. Think about materials you have at hand: blankets, pillows, tables and chairs…

Imagine what your life would be like if you were adopted by wolves - or some other wild creature. Draw a picture or write about your adopted family. What makes them "the best"?

If you’re going to sleep outside, you need to make s’mores. You need: marshmallows, chocolate candy bar, and graham crackers. If you have a campfire, toast marshmallows and put them on a slice of candy bar between two graham cracker halves. Otherwise, put a marshmallow on a graham cracker half and pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds or so. Then put on the chocolate and the other cracker half and yummmmm!

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publisher.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Naked Mole Rat Saves the World

Naked Mole Rat Saves the World 
by Karen Rivers 
304 pages; ages 8 - 12 years
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019

I love a good Karen Rivers middle-grade novel, so I read Naked Mole Rat Saves the World as soon as it came out last fall. And then put it on my desk to be reviewed. And stacked stuff on top.

This week, during an archaeological excavation of my office, guess what I unearthed? The cover is still bright blue, the lettering still shiny, bold yellow.

Twelve-year-old kit (yes, lower case k) was born small enough to fit in her mom’s hands - like a naked, wrinkled, hairless animal baby. Her life is full of normal twelve-year-old stuff: roller-skating, star-watching, volunteering at the animal shelter, and hanging out at the flea market with her best friend, Clem. kit lives with her mom, and her mom lives with a lot of fears: cancer, bad guys, crowds, traffic, spiders … the list is long and always growing.

kit's life is perfectly normal until one day ... it isn’t. The day Clem, part of an acrobatic family, falls during a TV performance. kit, watching her friend on TV, has a panic attack. Her eyesight gets blurry, her hand looks like a squashed grey leaf with wrinkly skin … she’s turned into a rodent. Maybe. Or maybe she imagined it. She even googles “hyperventilating and turning into a rodent” on her computer – is it some sort of superpower? (and if so, seriously? being a naked mole rat?)

In chapters that alternate between kit’s point of view and Clem’s, we are pulled into a story about growing and changing. kit is full of questions: why do people change? does everyone change? do we all turn into different animals, and is that a part of puberty?

But mostly, this is a story about friends who grow apart, then back together, and how hard it is to navigate through life.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.