Friday, January 27, 2017

Squirrel in the House

Squirrel in the House
by Vivian Vande Velde; illus. by Steve Bjorkman
80 pages; ages 6-10
Holiday House, 2016

Squirrel is a mischief-maker, but if you know any squirrels you already know how they are. And now it's winter, and squirrel is wondering if there's something better than his cold hollow in the tree.

Cuddles, the dog, gets to go inside the house sometimes. And look, is that a special squirrel entryway up there on the roof? It sure looks like one to squirrel, so he leaps from limb to roof and scrambles to the chimney. Then do-o-o-own he goes. Poof! into the soot at the bottom.

Squirrel, of course, makes a mess... leaving sooty paw prints on the couch, knocking over a lamp. And when Cuddles tries to warn his people, they put him outside. Things get tense, and when the smallest human gets lost, it's Squirrel to the rescue. If he can....

This is fun to read and (if you have squirrels around your home) true to life! Even if you're not a kid, go ahead and enjoy a story that will warm your heart, or at least warm you up with body heat generated by laughing. Review copy from publisher.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuktuk - a tale from the Tundra

Tuktuk Tundra Tale
by Robin Currie; illus. by Phyllis Saroff
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale, 2016

theme: nonfiction, animal tale

At the  top of the world, an Inuit driver cried to the sled dogs. "Hike!"
"Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!"
He saw the setting sun on the ice, but he did not see one furry kamik slip under the ropes and off the sled.

But Tuktuk did, and he thought the kamik was just perfect for a collard lemming. As he drags the boot home he is stopped by other animals who think that they should have the kamik.

What I like about the book: Instead of arguing with other animals, Tuktuk becomes the trickster. Yes, the kamik is a perfect fit on the polar bear's nose, or the arctic fox's tail... even the moose. But the fit is less than perfect.

I also like the back matter: information about polar seasons, a matching game, some Inuit vocabulary, and "fun facts" about life in the cold (more fun when you've got a sweater on and a hot mug of cocoa).

Beyond the Book:

Watch a slideshow of Arctic tundra animals.

Discover some sneaky facts about collard lemmings and other lemmings here.

Learn how to say "good morning" and more in Inukitut here.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publishers.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Snow + Animals = Fun!

Who can resist a winter's tale about animals in the snow? Here are two for reading on a Snow Day.

Pablo in the Snow
by Teri Sloat; illus. by Rosalinde Bonnet
40 pages; ages 2-5
Henry Holt & Co, 2017

theme: winter, animal tale

It's early in the morning and the sheep are still dreaming. Except for Pablo. PAblo is looking out the window.
"Look, Papa! Pieces of the clouds are falling!"

It's just snow, but Pablo has never seen snow. He takes a few steps outside and sees his tracks behind him. "Snow is for making a trail," he says. Then he sees other tracks. Who has made the trail?

What I like love about this book: As Pablo explores, he learns new things about what snow is for. Swooshing down hills, snow is for fun. Making a snowman, snow is for making friends. But then he gets lost in the storm. I don't want to spoil the ending; just know that snow is for adventures.

Mr. Putter & Tabby Hit the Slope
by Cynthia Rylant; illus. by Arthur Howard
40 pages; ages 6-9
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016

Mr. Putter and Tabby are the best of friends - and there are more than 20 books in the series to attest to that. These are fun, fun, fun books for early readers.

Winter has come and things are slow. Mr. Putter doesn't remember winter being slow when he was a kid - he used to zip down hills on his favorite sled.

His neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry has a sled. Would he like to go sledding? "Cowabunga!" yells Mr. Putter as he and Mrs. T fly down the slope. Mrs. Teaberry steers; Mr. Putter hangs on. As for Tabby... she is not amused. How will Mr. Putter get Tabby out of the tree? Will she be his friend again?

Beyond the books:

Follow some tracks in the snow. Who made them? Where do they go? 

Find a hill and slide down. If you don't have a sled or saucer, improvise. Use a piece of plastic or cardboard. 

Celebrate snow by making snow angels. Put colored water in spray bottles and make paintings on the snow. Make snowmen or snow dragons. Stomp paths in the snow for other people to follow. Have a snowball fight.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Aim ~ historical fiction for the middle grades

by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
288 pages; ages 9-12
Calkins Creek, 2016

Fourteen-year-old Junior Bledsoe would like nothing better than to play baseball, but he can't make practices because he's got to take care of the farm chores when Pop goes off drinking. His pop's not a bad guy - he fixes folks' cars and never takes money for it - but he's got his own problems.

Junior's got his own problems, too, including his new roommate - granddaddy. Granddaddy loves baseball, too, and listens to games on the radio - except when he's listening for news of the war. So far, the US has managed to stay out of it, but for how long?

Then there's school. Junior wants to do something more useful than practice penmanship. And he's tired of getting picked on. Things change when Pop dies, and Junior quits school to take care of the farm. But he wants more. He wants to be of use. And he wants to find out whether someone had a hand in his Pop's death. What starts as an attempt to make friends with the bully leads Junior into a series of bad decisions.

What I like about this book is the way Joyce Hostetter pulls you into the world her characters inhabit. She brings Hickory, North Carolina to life in such a way that you'll be checking the map to see if it really exists (it does) and whether you can hop a train to get there (you can't). 

We'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading.
Review copy provided by the publisher.