Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Blog 7: The Fairy Ring

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie & Frances Fool the World

Author: Mary Losure

Publisher: Candlewick

Copyright Date: March 27, 2012

Age Range: 10 and up

Lexile Level: 940

Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth: 2012
Horn Book Fanfare 2012

Summary: Frances (age 9) and Elsie (age 15) are two young girls who are seemingly bored in their small England town during World War I. They decide one day to create fairies by drawing, coloring, and cutting out the small figures. They then set them in woods behind their house and took pictures with them to make it appear as though the fairies were real. Because technology at the time did not include photo editing and the photos were not as clear as they would be today, people believed they were real. The trick went so far as to fool the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, renowned Sherlock Holmes creator.

My Review: I thought the book was quick and enjoyable. I had heard of these fairy photographs but did not know anything substantial about the story. The author tries to get into the mindset of the children and why they did what they did. The book is very much a narrative nonfiction work, to the point where I wanted to question the details. Losure cited that much of the material came from Frances's own book, which made it more reliable. However, I am not sure how reliable she is because the book represents her as slightly neurotic and it is unclear whether she believed there really were fairies. All in all, I would recommend it to children who are interested in fairies and fantasies with a note to read more about the history of it.

Similar works: 
The Coming of the Fairies: the Cottingley Incident- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (This work was mentioned in The Fairy Ring as being written about Doyle's belief in the fairy pictures.)

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron- Mary Losure (For those that like the writing style of Ms. Losure comes this book about another little known bit of history.

The Fairy Bible: The Definitive Guide to the World of Fairies- Teresa Moorey (If you can't get enough of the idea of fairies, here is your guide to everything about them.)

Book Blog 6: How They Croaked

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Author: Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley

Publisher: Turtleback

Copyright Date: July 3, 2012

Age Range: 11 - 14 years

Lexile Level: 950

2012 International Reading Association Best Non-fiction Award
2012 ALSC ALA Notable Children’s Books List
2012 YALSA ALA Quick Picks List for Nonfiction
2011 Cybils Awards Finalist (nonfiction)

Summary: This creative and darkly humorous book describes the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 19 renowned people in history. It also explains, in many cases, what happened after their deaths. For example, Mozart was put into a body bag, doused in quicklime to decompose, and buried in an unmarked grave. After each chapter, there is an interesting fact sheet with information about the time period, the disease, etc. For Edgar Allen Poe, this included a description of tuberculosis (which his family suffered) and rabies (the disease which may have killed him).

Critique: Despite the morbid subject matter, this book is highly entertaining. The author keeps it humorous and lighthearted seemingly to not depress the reader. There are details included that one may have a hard time finding out for themselves; however, Bragg has a thorough source list in the back of the book so you can verify the information. I think older children would definitely enjoy this book because it's full of fun and interesting facts. More importantly, it is kind of gross and they will love to freak out their friends with what they learned.

Similar works: 
How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous- Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley (If you enjoyed How They Croaked, you should read the second book this team has written about the epic mistakes people have made throughout history.)

Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History- Brianna DuMont (This is another nonfiction title that uncovers the truth behind some famous historical figures.)

Bugged: How Insects Changed History- Sarah Albee (Since you've looked at how people have changed history, you should check out this title on how some of our smallest cohabitants have altered history as well.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Blog 5: Titanic- Voices from the Disaster

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Copyright Date: April 1, 2012

Age Range: 8 and up

Lexile Level: 1040

 Robert F. Sibert Award honor book
 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor book

Summary: This book uses recollections and interviews from witnesses and survivors to put together the timeline of what happened aboard the Titanic and the aftermath of its sinking. The "voices" heard within range from third or steerage class to first class. There are accounts from passengers as well as workers on the ship. While it describes the emotions and actions of the people, the author also weaves in the mechanical details of the ship to explain why the Titanic sank. 

My Review: Initially, I found the book difficult to read because of the changing characters and trying to remember who everyone was. However, by the time the iceberg hit, I was fully enthralled with the book and could not put it down. Because the book is being told through first hand accounts, it feels as though you are really there. You also get to hear stories from every aspect of the ship and can finally piece together everything that happened that night. I have been a bit obsessed with the Titanic since I was about 7 or 8, only a few years before the movie cam out. This has to be one of the best books I have read on the subject. It also provides enough of a narrative feel that even those who are hesitant to read nonfiction can easily dig into the story.

Similar works: 
Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic- Gregory Mone (This is a fictional children's mystery that takes place on the Titanic; however, it includes very accurate details of the ship and events.)

A Night to Remember- Walter Lord (This is considered the unsurpassed account of what happened on board the Titanic. It would appeal to a more mature reader, but is considered a classic book.)

Explore Titanic- Peter Chrisp (For those that want to see more pictures and artifacts, this is the book to look for.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Blog 4: Witches!

Witches!: the Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

Author: Rosalyn Schanzer

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books

Copyright Date: September 13, 2011

Age Range:10 and up

Lexile Level: 1190

Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011   
2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Award
ALA Notable Children's Book
School Library Journal Starred Review and Best Book of the Year
NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book
NY Public Library's 25 Best Nonfiction Titles of 2011
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

Summary: This book describes in vivid detail the events of the Salem Witch Trials. It begins with the accusations and a short history of how this community came to be and ends with the hangings and later reversal of charges against the accused. There are descriptions of each historical figure that took part in the trials from the accusers to the accused to the judges. The reader gains and in depth understanding of how this tragedy came to be and who the key players were.

My Review: While I have read some fictional works about witches and even one or two about the Salem Witch Trials, I had no real idea what happened during that period or the extent of the damage. While this is a children's book and has definite appeal to children with its pictures and easy text, the subject matter was at times difficult for even me to read. I would recommend this for older kids or to be read alongside an adult so they can talk over the details. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and feel like I have a better understanding of the historical events.

Similar works: 
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Salem Witch!: Bizarre Accusations You'd Rather Not Face- Jim Pipe (For the younger crowd, this book is a more light-hearted look at the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials.)

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History- Jane Yolen (Another children's book about the Salem Witch Trials, but this one features beautiful illustrations.)

The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details About Life in Colonial America- Elizabeth Raum (While not about the Salem Witch Trials, this book gives children an idea of what life was like during those times.)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Blog 3: Does This Book Make Me Look Fat

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

Authors: Edited by Marissa Walsh

Publisher: Clarion Books

Copyright Date: December 29, 2008

Age Range: 12 and up

Lexile Level: N/A

Summary: This book features short stories from well known youth authors such as Matt de la Pena, Ellen Hopkins, and Barry Lyga, to name a few. They feature a mix of mini memoirs and fictional stories with the theme being body image. Despite the title, not all of the stories are about being overweight; they include characters of all shapes and sizes trying to find their place in the world or society. Inside, you'll find a story where a dressing room mirror is the narrator describing the struggles of its viewers. Another shows that a makeover can change your life... sometimes not for the better. We also see that negative comments can often have more impact than positive ones.

My Review: This is a very entertaining read and while this book is about a serious subject (body image), it doesn't take itself too serious. There were many times that I found myself laughing along with the narrator at the absurdity of the situation. Overall, this is a great book for preteens and teens, as it shows that everyone goes through the awkwardness of accepting their body. It also shows that some insecurities never go away. My favorite quote came from the first story when Daniel Pinkwater is discussing being overweight and if he would ever want to change. He says "if I could be any size I wanted.... I think I'd rather be the size I am, but with a better wardrobe." I just feels that it shows that it doesn't matter about how big or small you are but how you feel and represent yourself. 

Similar works: 
Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror: A Teenage Girl's Guide to Living a Happy and Healthy Life- Helena Grace Donald (The title really explains it all.)

No Body's Perfect- Kimberly Kirberger (This book is all about inspiring young women to love their bodies.)

The Ravenous Gown: And 14 More Tales About Real Beauty- Steffanni Raff (These modern fairy tales are about accepting your true beauty.)

Book Blog 2: Finding Winnie

Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

Authors: Lindsay Mattick & Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: October 20, 2015

Age Range: 3-6 Years

Lexile Level: 590

Notable Awards: 
Caldecott Medal Winner of 2016

Summary: Finding Winnie tells the story of a young veterinarian who happens to purchase a bear before heading off to war. He raises the bear, named Winnie, along with his fellow soldiers and they all grow immensely attached to Winnie. When they are called to battle, the vet brings Winnie to a zoo for safety where she eventually meets Christopher Robin Milne and his father and author A. A. Milne. The rest of the story becomes history. The author is the great granddaughter of the veterinarian and the book is written as a story she is telling her own son.

My Review: 
This book gives you all the feels you could possibly want, especially if you have ever been a fan of Winnie the Pooh. Most of us (myself included) never knew how Winnie the Pooh came to be. I knew that the characters created by Milne came from real life inspirations, but had no idea that there was a real bear or that she had such an amazing journey! Overall, the story is sweet and inspiring; the illustrations are gorgeous with great attention to detail. The only thing I would suggest is a warning to children that you should not try to keep a pet bear!

Similar works: 
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh- Sally M. Walker (Another picture book depicting the story of Winnie the bear.)

The Real Winnie: A One-of-a-Kind Bear- Val Shushkewich (This is a longer chapter book for the older readers who want to know more about the history of Winnie.)

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood- Kathryn Aalto (Going beyond the bear, this book discusses the real Hundred Acre Wood with beautiful illustrations and photographs to connect you to the stories.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Blog 1: And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three  

Authors: Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: June 1, 2005

Age Range: 4-8 Years

Lexile Level: 720

Notable Awards:
ALA Notable Children's Book in 2006
ASPCA's Henry Bergh Award in 2005

And Tango Makes Three is a 32 page picture book about two male penguins, Roy and Silo, that fall in love at the Central Park Zoo. The couple soon realize that they would like to start a family like the other penguins around them so, with the help of zookeeper Gramsay, they hatch an egg together. The result is a little girl penguin named Tango. The book shows that the family is like every other one at the zoo- living, playing, and sleeping together. The watercolor illustrations throughout the book are very detailed and the passages on each page are no more than a paragraph in length.

My Review:
I had initially read this picture book years ago when it first came out because there was such hype about it being banned in schools and libraries. Despite it being 12 years later, it is still a hot button issue with many individuals that this book depicts two gay penguins. I personally think that the book is adorable and simply represents a loving family. Not only is it depicting an "alternative" family, but it is also giving some information about chinstrap penguins and their mating rituals. The only thing I found disappointing was not with the book itself, but finding out that after it was written, the two penguins actually separated and found different partners.

Similar works: 
Heather Has Two Mommies- Leslea Newman (A now classic LGBTQ picture book about a little girl growing up with lesbian mothers.)

Stella Brings the Family- Miriam B. Schiffer (A picture book about a little girl who decides to bring her two fathers to her school's Mother's Day celebration.)

I Am Jazz- Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings (A true life picture book about growing up as a transgender child.)