Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some recommendations from Planet Esme

I wish I knew how to effectively link to other web sites. Arrrrrrrrrgh!

Anyway, here is the url for Planet Esme's recent blog entry, which is partly about excellent chapter books that sound promising for Joliet Reads:

Please note that she started with a review of Origami Yoda....

Friday, July 23, 2010


I had such high hopes for Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita. I was looking forward to having another science fiction book I could enthusiastically recommend to kids. deep sigh.

Other people might really love it. But I didn't. I guess it was okay. I managed to finish reading it. But I didn't really want to. deep sigh.

I think it's worth having other people on the committee read, nonetheless. I have a quirky sense of humor - maybe people who laugh at more "normal" like sitcoms on t.v. would like it. (Or more to the point, maybe kids will find it funny.)

It's cool that there are web sites that extend the story. They are pretty fun - I especially liked the site, but was okay.

I'll try to find some reviews so we can get other viewpoints.

Kirkus Reviews
P.S. 858 fifth grader Michael K. had hoped for a normal first day in his new school, but what he gets is crazy-weird. He's paired with two other new students, Bob (who talks like a commercial) and Jennifer (who sounds like a wrestling announcer), who seem to know him and who think he can do anything. They and their loquacious hamster, Major Fluffy, even say that they are aliens sent to Earth to recruit SPHDZ. They are sure Michael K can help them recruit 3.14 million kids-if not, the Earth will be turned off! While Michael K. is trying to figure out how to escape or at least mitigate the total weirdstorm, Agent Umber of the Anti-Alien Agency is hot on the trail. With this series kick-off, Scieszka and Sedita have just written the book (literally) on how to integrate new media into a "traditional" book for children. The story's websites are all functional (not to mention funny) and extend the narrative. Prigmore's black-and-white illustrations are a perfect match; in fact, artwork and text have rarely worked so well together in this format. Hysterical, sneakily instructive fun. You will be SPHDZ! (Multi-platform science fiction. 7-12)

Publishers Weekly
Michael K. (nudge nudge, young Kafka fans) is hoping for a smooth transition as he starts fifth grade at a new school in Brooklyn. But things go downhill when two weirdoes named Jennifer and Bob glom onto him, revealing that they're aliens from the planet Spaceheadz; their leader is the class hamster; and they believe Michael K. can lead 3.14 million Earth kids in a movement to save the planet from being "turned off." Additionally, they must deal with a haplessly persistent agent with the Anti Alien Agency (motto: "To Protect, and to Serve, and to Always Look Up"). To get the full experience, readers can log on to a number of Web sites woven into the story:, for example, is a funny spoof of a government site. But while Michael K. makes an appealing fish out of water, the story, parceled out in bite-size chapters, feels both padded and flat. And the central running joke--that Bob and Jennifer talk like TV commercials--comes across as recycled material from a Saturday Night Live Coneheads skit. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 7–10. (June)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

I'm usually so far behind on my "to read" list that I don't read ARC's (advance reader copies), but I made an exception for Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Why, you ask? Andrea loved it so much she wasn't willing to let it leave her house (or let anyone else read it). And she's a generous kind of person. (Normally!)

And I really really loved their previous collaboration Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. (The book, not the movie.)

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Dash and Lily was actually BETTER! I may even have to buy it so I can keep it always. (And I rarely buy books - work in a library and am extremely frugal/thrifty/cheap.) But this one's a keeper!

The Clementine series

I don't remember if I've previously mentioned my deep and abiding love for the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker.

The humorous books are at about the same reading level as Junie B. and Judy Moody, but they are wa-a-a-ay better. Just think: funny with character development and a protagonist you can care about. (No offense to Junie B.) Clementine is very creative and has a good heart, EVEN if she calls her baby brother by a variety of vegetable names (broccoli, okra, squash, etc.)instead of his real name.

The newest book in the series is Clementine: Friend of the Week.

To state the obvious, it was excellent!!!

More Picture Books

Guess I'm just a blogging fool today. I have been meaning to mention a few other picture books this summer.

I love the bright cheerful illustrations and creative thinking in A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood. I enjoyed the heartwarming story and illustrations in Fluffy and Baron by Laura Rankin. And Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton is VERY funny.

Another picture book

Guess who spent the morning reading picture books about chickens.... My next recommendation is Tough Chicks by Cece Meng. It was very funny!

Adorable baby bunny!

I found this photo while I was searching for the cover of Wee Little Bunny. It is too cute not to share!

Picture Books!

Just a quick mention of some picture books worthy of consideration. I enjoyed each of them for different reasons.

First of all, there's the humor and photos in Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson. Second, there's the humor and helpfulness in Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman. Finally, there's the sweet story and soft, touchable bunny in Wee Little Bunny by Lauren Thompson.

Smiles all around!