G is for One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book by Tiny DiTerlooney (Tony DiTerlizzi), published by Simon & Schuster Books
64 pages; Genre: alphabet book, picture book
Intended age/audience: children learning the alphabet and numbers, parents
Annotation: G is for One Gzonk! is a creative journey off-the-beaten path of alphabet books. Replete with Gzonks, Acks, and Uggle-Unks, this book is not your average ABCs.
G is for One Gzonk! is a zany adventure in the world of alphabets and numbers. While more appropriate for children who know the alphabet due to its occasionally non-sequential letters, the book is a fun read. The animals in the books are more reminiscent of Lewis Carrol's Jabberwocky or Dr. Seuss's whimsical creatures. The rhyming is enjoyable and adds to the predictability of the story. The coloring is reminiscent of picture books from the mid-twentieth century.
The School Library Journal said it is sure to "Wow Woos of all ages" and that is certainly quite true. The review very clearly illustrates the most important parts of the book and doesn't gloss over any of the silliness which is joy of this book.
Here Comes the Big Red Car by the Wiggles, produced by Koch Records
37:10 minutes; Genre: kids music
Intended age/audience: children under 8
Annotation: Here Comes the Big Red Car is sure to get the kids moving and learning through song. The tunes are enjoyable for adults and children alike, but be sure to bring your silliness!
Here Comes the Big Red Car contains silly songs, movement songs, and learning songs, but is non-stop fun. The songs are short, about a minute and a half, which is perfect for your child's attention span. It might be too much for parents to listen to non-stop, but for keeping kids entertained on a car ride, this would be a good choice of tunes.
Scholastic reviewed the CD as being appropriate for ages 3-5, which is about right. The songs are so young that anyone older would likely loose interest. The reviewer stated that the songs were "short and sweet" and they are probably more correct about them being short. They are a bit annoying, but much less so than I expected.
Book Crush by Nancy Pearl, published by Sasquatch Books
261 pages; Genre: Reader's advisory reference source for parents
Intended age/audience: parents or other adults to assist in book selection for the Teen and lower age range.
Annotation: Book Crush is a collection of reading lists for children from baby to teen, spanning a multitude of genres and styles. With catchy booklist titles, there will be one to help refer books for your reluctant or zealous reader alike.
Book Crush does what it sets out to do: provide books that would inspire the love of reading. Containing not just books chosen for educational reading, but for pleasure, Pearl's lists will help you find the right book for your student.
School Library Journal was not as favorable for this volume saying that librarians wouldn't need it and would immediately enter into squabbles with colleagues and fill it with sticky-notes adding to the lists. Even so, if the target is for people having a hard time thinking of books to refer to the under-18 crowd, this serves its purpose: recommend books on many topics to all ages.
Booklist, on the other hand, said that this was a must-have for all libraries and that they should buy two: one to circulate and one to keep on hand. It seems as though this illustrates that recommended reading is an intensely personal preference and that it is important to know what sources are out there.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems, published by Hyperion Books for Children
31 pages; Genre: award winner, Caldecott Honor
Intended age: 2-5
Annotation: Trixie's daddy takes over for the day…and it's a disaster.
Knuffle Bunny's suspenseful story shows children that even though parents might make a mistake, and that it can be frustrating to not be understood, it works out. The creative juxtaposition of black-and-white photography with whimsical colored illustrations bring the story to life and allow imagination take over.
Booklist raved over this story, saying, "Even children who can already talk a blue streak will come away satisfied that their own strong emotions have been mirrored and legitimized, and readers of all ages will recognize the agonizing frustration of a little girl who knows far more than she can articulate." This is very true of the story and show just how much is conveyed in the book's brevity.
NCTE (National Council for the Teacher's of English) praised the book for its depiction of language in all forms, from pre-speech sounds "Aggie flaggle Klabble!" to body language (going boneless). The review summarized all the nuances of the text and leave the reader wanting to read more.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Colville, published by Harcourt
150 pages; Genre: fantasy
Intend age: 8-12
Annotation: Just when Jeremy Thatcher thought sixth grade couldn't get any more dramatic than an upcoming art contest, having a note read out loud by the art teacher, being chased by boys who make fun of him for Mary Lou wanting to kiss him, and having to mow the lawn, a mysterious egg shows up.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is a riotous journey through the sixth grade as Jeremy Thatcher has to wrestle with issues of growing up AS WELL AS raise a dragon. But, he must do exactly what the note says or things will go very, very wrong.
The plot is fast-paced and moves the reader quickly through the story line. The issues Jeremy faces are common to all children (issues of raising a dragon aside), and kids will see themselves in his drama. If a child likes the idea of Eragon, but is not quite up to that reading level, this would be a great segue into that book.
The Reading Teacher wrote about Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher's enticing plot, "filled with humor and suspense." This is a fair assessment of the story, but doesn't quite do justice to the many themes in the book, ranging from responsibility, respecting others, and boy-girl issues, as well as the joy of raising a dragon and partaking in a magical world.
What The Reading Teacher lacked in its perception of the book, School Library Journal more than understood. The reviewer recognized that Jeremy Thatcher has all of the normal problems of a 12-year old, as well as some new ones (top secret dragon, anyone?). This review is effective in that it presents a book that a middle school reader would want to read again and again.