"Sally" is going on sabbatical to write a book.

Please browse the Bookshelf ~ and look for STEM book reviews over at Archimedes Notebook.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Poems from the Farmer's Market

Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmer's Market
by Irene Latham; illus. by Mique Moriuchi
32 pages; ages 4-8
WordSong, 2016

What's round and smooth and red and "ripe like a summer moon"? If you guessed tomato, then you're right. And if you're eating juicy red tomatoes straight out of the garden - or fresh from the farmer's market - then you know there is nothing that says "summer" like tomato juice dripping down your chin.

Unless it's watermelon. Or peaches. Or blueberries or strawberries... or any of the fruits and vegetables featured in this book of fresh, right-off-the-vine poems.

The language is not only lyrical, it's mouthwatering. Take this ending of a bit about lettuce:
"Sometimes / I crunch / into a leaf
the very / same flavor / as rain."

Or the image of okra pods as "mouse-sized swords". Or the poem about shooting watermelon seeds... makes you want to grab some fresh watermelon and have a seed-spitting contest right now!

At the end are recipes from the farmer's market: salsa, fruit kebabs, fritata, pizza, ice cream. YUM!

The combination of yummy poems and bright, bold illustrations will tempt you to head out on an expedition to your local farmer's market. Make sure you take a notebook and some colored pencils along with your shopping bag, because you might want to jot down your own delicious poems and draw some pictures of the fruits and veggies you meet.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer I-Like-To-Reads

Got some just-getting-to-read-on-their-own kids looking for some summer reading? Here's two new books from Holiday House. These easy to read stories are are written in simple language that will appeal to newly independent readers.

 Drew the Screw
by Mattia Cerato
24 pages; ages 4-7

Drew's a simple guy. He lives in the workshop and hangs out with his friends: cross-cut saw, hammer, pliers. Each of them has a job. Pencil draws, tape measures. But what do you do? they all ask Drew.

Throughout the book, the boy is building something. We never see it until - finally! The boy gives Drew a job!

A Hole in the Wall
by Hans Wilhelm
32 pages; age 4-7

"A dog saw a hole in the wall. What was in it? Another dog!"

Dog can't wait to tell warthog and lion and all his other friends. They can't believe it. A hole in the wall with a dog? Of course, each animal has to go see for itself. But when warthog comes back, he reports that dog is wrong. There was no dog in the hole - it was a warthog!

If this tale sounds familiar, it is. Hans Wilhelm was inspired by "A Fable" written by Mark Twain. Wilhelm includes Twain's tale and adds his own moral about expectations, mirrors, and stories.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Garden of My Imaan

The Garden of my Imaan
by Farhana Zia
230 pages; ages 9-12
Peachtree publishers, 2016 (paper)

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in. She wants to talk to the cute boy; she wants to stand up to the bully. That she's Muslim is just another part of her life - homework for Sunday school, deciding whether (or not) to fast during Ramadan.

And then a new girl moves into town. Marwa won't eat the chicken nuggets in the cafeteria because they're not halal. She fasts during Ramadan. She wears a hijab. And now Aliya has questions about herself. Like every coming-of-age story, Aliya wonders who she is, what she believes, and how she fits in.

Hijab: should she wear one? Her friends who do say that it's just part of who they are - like a zebra wearing stripes. But Aliya hears stories about name-calling and people ripping hijab off girls at a school and in the mall. Even without a head scarf strangers have yelled things at her: "go back to the desert"; "drive a camel".

What I like about this book: it has a great inter-generational scenes, especially when a grand-aunt visits. She is quite demanding and Aliya must give up her room so Aunt can sleep well. I also like that the story challenges assumptions about Muslims. And that Aliya finds a way to cultivate her growing faith (Imaan) through writing (a diary filled with letters to Allah). I also like the story about the Mango tree... which reminds us that if we want to see fruit we have to do more than toss a seed onto the ground. We have to cultivate the garden.

Review copy provided by publisher.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Rainy Day Reading

Rainstorms are part of summer. Sometimes they are gentle, pattering drops on the leaves and roof. Other times thunder crashes, lightning flashes, hail bounces. Here are a couple of books to read on a stormy day - one new, one old.
Safe in a Storm
by Steve Swinburne; illus. by Jennifer A. Bell
32 pages; ages 3-5
Cartwheel Books (Scholastic), 2016

This is a fun and imaginative good night story that is perfect for a rainy night. It features animal characters that comfort their young ones during a storm.

When the storm rumbles loudly and the sky turns to ink,
Snuggle close, my little mole. Touch noses, warm and pink.

Each spread features a different animal - duck, wolf, sloth - and each illustrated in their natural habitat. The other cool thing is that the storm becomes more intense as you move through the book, then fades as you reach the end. The last spread features a collie comforting her pup. Review copy provided by publisher.

When the Rain Falls
by Melissa Stewart; illus by Constance R. Bergum
32 pages; ages 4 - 8
Peachtree Publishers, 2008

Inside clouds, water droplets budge and bump, crash and clump. The drops grow larger and larger, heavier and heavier until they fall to the earth.

When it rains, most people run inside and wait for the storm to end. But where do the animals go? Melissa Stewart shows how birds stay dry, where mama fox and her kits take cover, and what bumblebees do when they're caught in a shower. She reveals the rainy day secrets of animals that live in forest and field, in luscious and lyrical language. From my bookshelf.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Independence Day


Drop by for a book next week. But this weekend head out to celebrate the Fourth of July!