August 29, 2015

~posted by Ruth

EnchantedEnchanted:  The Woodcutter Sisters by Alethea Kontis

Based on a recommendation from Meghan, the other half of this blog-writing team, I dug into the first book in this teen series re-imagining fairy tales, and I was–well–Enchanted. Sunday is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter.  Not only that, her father is the seventh son of a seventh son. There’s a set-up for lots of magic indeed.  This first in the series focuses mostly on Sunday’ s story and we soon learn the power of her fairy godmother (for good and evil), and how the world of fairy tales can be woven and rewoven.  There’s the little matter of the talking frog Sunday meets by the well, who turns out to be a prince in disguise.  And then, her brother sells the family cow for–you guessed it!–magic beans.  Spinning straw (and wool) into gold?  Check!  Geese that lay Golden Eggs?  Yup.  I know it may sound like a crazy fairytale mash-up, but it actually is an engrossing tale spun with clever plot twists and spunky heroines, and heroes, too.  I am looking forward to reading more in this series and have just begun Book 2:  Hero, which is the story of Sunday’s sister Saturday.  Another terrific protagonist-not to mention pirate ships and wicked witches.  Dearest came out earlier this year, it looks like there are more to come.  Stay tuned!


August 21st is Poet’s Day

August 20, 2015

Poetry-SpeaksYes, a special day to celebrate literacy and creators of fine reading experiences:  August 21st is a day dedicated to Poets. For the history and rationale of Poet’s Day, check out this website on Poet’s Day.  And here’s the perfect book to relish the special delights of poetry with your family.

Poetry Speaks to Children (Book and CD) edited by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah, illustrated by Judy Love and Paula Wendland

A wonderful collection of over 90 poems for children age six and older (and the adults in their lives).  The book features poets beloved by adult audiences such as Robert Frost, Ogden Nash, Seamus Heaney, Billy Collins, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and also highlights children’s literature favored authors such as Roald Dahl, Nikki Giovanni, and X. J. Kennedy.  The accompanying CD is a special treat, as most poems are read by their authors, so children are introduced to both the words and poetic phrasing of the poets truly in their own voices. I love the varied moods, from thoughtful to hilarious, and from free-verse to lilting rhymes.

Time to turn your reading diet to poetry to celebrate the waning days of summer this Poet’s Day.  Happy Reading!

MS. MARVEL: A Superhero for Today’s Teens–and Adults!

August 10, 2015

Ms.-MarvelMs. Marvel:  Volume I:  No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona

It’s about time for a new Marvel Superhero, and a young woman is even more fitting.  Meet contemporary teen, Kamala Khan:  “an ordinary girl from Jersey City.”  Ms. Marvel returns as a 16-year-old Muslim girl.  The character, her super-powers, the stories, and the awesome graphics are all Marvel innovation at its height. Our hero, Kamala Khan is your typical 16-year old geeky girl who lives in a working class Muslim family.  Her family’s lifestyle holds her back from hanging out with the cool kids, going to parties:  in short, fitting in on her terms. But one night, while sneaking out to a party against her families wishes, Kamala gains shape shifting abilities in a dark mist. Now scared and amazed by having super powers, Kamala takes up her icon Carol Danvers’ (a previous Ms. Marvel incarnation) old alias and costume, Ms. Marvel, to help out the community.  I love how  Kamala is trying to work out her new powers and the pressures of school and family life at the same time. Volume I:  No Normal is a collection of the the New Ms. Marvel 1-5.  I’ve read Volumes I and II, and I’m hooked–and so are several of my adult friends, as well as teen informants. 

Stay tuned for more adventures!

More Graphic Novels for Tweens

August 3, 2015

Yes, Molly and Jacob are officially tweens, at least according to their reading tastes.  They love chapter books and picture books, still love readalouds, appreciate good joke books. . .but most of all they love graphic novels. Two of their favorites this summer have been on our lists:  Bad Island for Jacob and Cleopatra in Space and Zita the Space Girl for Molly. (You might want to check out our earlier blog list on Graphic Novels for Tweens for more recommendations.)  Here are a few more sure hits, with more to come as we enter this new passion with friends and family.

CardboardCardboard by Doug TenNapel

If the kids in your life loved Bad Island, you can’t go wrong recommending Cardboard.  In this ingenious tale,  cardboard can magically come to life.  Originally, it is a cardboard box, given as a birthday gift, impoverished father to son.  As you an imagine, Cam at first thinks it is the worst birthday present ever.  But when Cam and his dad shape the cardboard into a man, it come to life!  Enter Marcus, neighborhood bully and all around bad guy who with evil intent warps the cardboard to his own destructive plans. Creepy and interesting details and a clever adventure highlight this book, not to mention TenNapel’s offbeat humor and drawings.


Roller-girlRollergirl by Victoria Jamieson

What happens when best friends for life Nicole and Astrid decide on two different paths for the summer?  Astrid falls in love with roller derby, and signs up for derby camp.  But Nicole has her own passion: dance.  Lost friendship, new attachments, and making your way with the newness and turmoil of middle school.  A Portland debut for Jamieson,, we can’t help but be impressed with her ability to turn her own passion for roller derby (a rollergirl herself!) into this terrific graphic novel.  Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier.  Speaking of which. . .


dramaDrama by Raina Telgemeier

While Drama deals with very middle school themes (a young girl being attracted to two boys, working as a set designer for a stage crew when she would rather act. . .), but the drama of this graphic novel–on and offstage–makes it appealing to the younger tweens as well.  It is definitely more teen-oriented than Smile, but Callie, the main character,  is irresistible and funny, and I appreciate that the book emphasizes how important it is to be who you are. I also like the introduction of sexual orientation in a thoughtful and wise manner.  Another Telgemeier winner!



July 24, 2015

InterstellarInterstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

As readers of Litforkids know, we are enamored of Cinderella in all her retellings updates, and original glory. (See: Book Flight on CinderellaCinderella Around the World ;   and  Cinderella Revisted. ) So our interest is naturally piqued when we see titles like Interstellar Cinderella.

We can’t help but think that Underwood has read Cinder, the YA novel by Marissa Meyer.  Like Cinder, our Cinderella hero in this early reader version is a “stellar” repair mechanic for rocket ships and space vehicles.  Rather than an android sidekick, our younger heroine has a robotic mouse named Murgatroyd who helps her tinker with spaceships.  All the trappings of the original tale are here:  evil stepmother and step-sisters, fairy godmother (here, a fairy god-robot), and a Grvaity-Free Ball.  In a surprise twist, Cinderella turns down the prince’s marriage proposal, but agrees to be his chief mechanic.  Our summer readers enjoyed the rhyming text and the graphic novel-type illustrations.  This reader appreciated the focus on Cinderella’s abilities to do things rather than wear things.  Check it out!



A WRINKLE IN TIME: The Graphic Novel

July 18, 2015

WrinkleA Wrinkle in Time:  The Graphic Novel by Madeline L’Engle and Hope Larson

Fifty years ago, Madeline L’Engle’s ground-breaking novel was first published.  Of course, since then it has been hailed as a classic and winner of the Newbery Award.  What a fitting way to celebrate this incredible tale–by creating a graphic novel version.  Once I held the graphic novel in my hands and looked through the pages, I realized that the format provided the perfect illustrations for this amazing and beloved tale.  But that may only be because Hope Larson is the illustrator and clearly holds the novel and its themes in deep respect.

If you haven’t revisited the novel in a while–or have kids you’d like to introduce to Madeline L’Engle, I highly recommend it.  Remember the young Meg and Charles Wallace, and Calvin at the start of their odyssey?  I appreciated being re-introduced to the three Mrs.:  Who, Whatsit, and Which.  United, they are powers that can fight off the dark forces of the universe.  This classic has aged well, too, with a strong female protagonist, as well as intriguing science fiction elements.

It’s got me on the lookout for similar graphic renditions of old favorites.  Let is know when you come across your own re-visioned treasures!

July! Time for More Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

July 10, 2015

It’s fitting that July has been named the month to celebrate hot dogs and ice cream.  For more on the history of these two delicious summer foods (as well as a book or two. . .), check out our blog:

July is National Hot Dog–and Ice Cream–Month.

We’re also recommending a couple of new books to complement your feast.  Enjoy!

Ice-Cream-SummerIce Cream Summer by Peter Sis

If you are interested in a visual treat to go along with your love of ice cream, look no further.  Peter Sis has created an ode to ice cream as his narrator details the joys of his summer learning adventures to his grandfather; the illustrations show ice cream scoop-shaped waves, sand castles with cone turrets, baseball fields with ice cream sandwich bases.  The pastel colors are the perfect palette for this delectable picture book.  And every page really does teach something about ice cream!


Two-Hot-DogsTwo Hot Dogs With Everything by Paul Haven

Not a brand-new book, but new to us.  Because it’s perfect for Jacob, baseball player extraordinaire, soon-to-be third-grader into chapter books and good read alouds.  We think Molly will like it, too, as she is a die-hard LA Dodgers fan.  (Not to mention, Molly is the name of one of the heroes of the book!) The characters are both engaging and a bit quirky.  Danny Gurkin, the main character, is committed to his team and has lots of crazy ideas to help them break the curse that seems to be keeping his team of sluggers from winning.  A surprsing amount of suspense, not to mention humor.  A terrific summer read–and of course, you’ll love that hot dogs are a key plot device!


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