Thursday, December 17, 2009

The International Children's Digital Library

The International Children's Digital Library is my new best friend!! What a wonderful site dedicated to the world's children's literature.  I just finished writing a paper on this library for my digital libraries class, and had to share some information about this great resource. They have a collection of over 4,000 digital children's books. Materials are mainly older books that are available in the public domain, or are contemporary literature that the publisher or author have given permission for them to digitize. Their ultimate goal is to have 10,000 books digitized in over 100 different languages.

One of the best features of the site is the simple search they have on the site...this search allows children to even search by the color of the book; what a perfect search quality for kids. Here is what the simple search looks like:

Another great feature on the site is their book interface that allows you to read the books. They have a standard, comic, and spiral reader.

So if you haven't checked out this digital library collection, check it out! It doesn't come close to replacing a real book, but it is another great way to get kids interested in reading and learning!

Friday, August 28, 2009

What happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles

A very quick and easy read, but a very dark one! I don't know that I loved this book, but it held my interest. Cass McBride is kidnapped and buried alive. With a walkie talkie taped to her hand, and a small airhole, the reader experiences the horrific sensation of being buried alive. Giles gave a very detailed description of her feelings and fear, that make you feel almost claustrophobic while reading it. You hear Cass's version of the story, along with Kyle (the one who buried her), and the police officer investigating the dissappearance of Cass. Each chapter alternates with these characters. I can see why teens would find this book intriguing, I didn't really find it scary per say, but just a bit disturbing. It has some language in it not appropriate for young readers, and would probably be best recommended for high school grades 9-12.

A Curse dark as gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

What a wonderful book!!! I loved this book. I was drawn to it because it is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. But it doesn't have anything to do with a King, becoming a Queen, and it doesn't even mention the name Rumpelstiltskin. It is cleverly set in the 1700's on a running mill. Charlotte Miller and her younger sister are left to run their fathers mill after he dies. Everything imaginable happens and then come close multiple times to losing the mill. Charlotte is certain that the mill has been plagued by a curse, a curse that is the culprit of the disasters that have been happening. She bargains with a mysterious man named Jack Spinner, but ends up getting in too deep. 

A page-turning adventure and I loved Bunce's take on this classic fairytale! She writes beautifully, and combines magic and historical fiction together very well. Historical fiction isn't my favorite genre, but the story is captivating and intriguing at the same time! I would highly recommend this book, especially for 9-12 grades. I think some 7th and 8th graders may like it, but it might have a bit more depth to it than usual middle school reads.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

I just finished this book and I loved it!! A great science fiction read about the land of Opium...a country that lies between the United States and Mexico. El Patron is the ruler of this land (a very powerful drug lord). His clone, young Matt was harvested and put in the womb of a cow until his birth, and is treated as an animal and not as a human by the Alacran family. Only Maria, a friend of the family, befriends Matt, and helps him to believe in himself. The story follows Matt as a child at the young age of 6 up to 14, and how he copes with being a clone and how he comes to find out what El Patron's actual purpose in life is for Matt. He has to find a way to escape El Patron and the terror of what may happen to him if he doesn't.

This was a fascinating book, and I normally don't seek out or read science fiction very often, but I was very entranced while reading this and couldn't put it down. There is quite a bit more to the book, but I don't want to give it away. I figured out this a ways through the book, but don't want to ruin it for anyone else. I would highly recommend this book, especially for grades 8 and up.

This book won the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award Honor book, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for 2003.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

I had heard a lot about this book while researching a paper about self-censorship for my Ethics class. It is a book that a lot of school librarian's have vowed to keep out of their libraries! All because of one word, "scrotum". The word appears on the first page of the book, but actually refers to the anatomy of a dog. The book itself won the Newbery Medal for 2007 and has gotten a lot of great reviews, and to date the book has not been challenged or banned, other than an "unofficial" ban to keep it out of libraries.

It is an endearing story of a 10 year old girl named Lucky who lives in Hard Pan, California, who wants to find her "higher power" in life. It is a great coming of age book! And to me a very true account of the daily activities and thoughts of a 10 year old girl! She struggles with the death of her mother and abandonment issues with a father she has never met.

The book has lovable characters like Miles, a five year old who has a constant craving for cookies of all flavors, and Lincoln, who is an expert at tying knots, and whose mother hopes he will become president of the United States.

I would highly recommend this book, and felt that a lot of the librarian's out there who have kept this book away from their library really haven't read it as a whole, they have just based their opinions on one word. It is a book that would be great for ages 9-12.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stinky by Eleanor Davis

This is similar to an "I can read" book for beginning readers, only in graphic novel/comic format. The illustrations are so cute and endearing I absolutely fell in love with this book after I read it. I am hoping Eleanor Davis is concocting a series of Stinky books!

Stinky is a monster of the swamp who loves everything gross, including his pet toad, Wartbelly! He loathes children and is beside himself when a kid actually builds a treehouse in his swamp!! He thinks of "gross" things to do to the boy to make him scared of the swamp, and in the end is surprised by a wonderful friendship! An adorable book!

A Theodore Seuss GeiselAward Honoree of 2008

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Best graphic novels of 2008

Best graphic novels of 2008: "
Granted, “best of” lists are always subjective, and considering the number of new books released every year, I never expect to see many...

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell; photographs by Richard Paul Campbell

A very informative non-fiction book on the habits of the carnivorous Wolfsnail who eats smaller snails and slugs...sometimes the snail and the entire shell! The book has beautiful large color photographs of this snails ascent up a plant to feed on another snail. At the back of the book is a useful section with more information about Wolfsnails and their habitats.

An excellent read for ages 4-8. It also won as a Geisel Honor book this year.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson; illustrated by Beth Krommes

What a wonderful book!!! A simple and beautiful bedtime read for children. It focuses on the things at night that are a comfort and will help the little ones sleep! The illustrations are done in scratchboard, a technique that involves scratching away the black to reveal white lines, interspersed with a yellow warm glow on specific objects. I loved exploring the images and finding something new. I think children will delight in this book and will want it read over and over again. A great read aloud for toddlers and for beginning readers.
This was also the Caldecott Award winner for this year. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bodies From the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past by James M. Deem

This was a wonderful and fascinating book! Although a bit morbid since it deals with the recovery of bodies that have been preserved by glaciers, I was overall very impressed with how many photos and images were in the book. It was interesting to read all the information about glaciers and how they are slowly melting away, and may cease to exist one day. It is a very visual book with tons of scientific findings. I think kids will find this book intriguing and exciting.

I would recommend this book for ages 9 and up!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton

This is the first of five volumes based on the character Owly by Andy Runton! They are all wordless graphic novels and absolutely adorable! I have include a few images below from the novel itself.
Owly is a lovable owl who is lonely and is seeking friendship and acceptance. He saves a small worm, whom he becomes the best of friends with (a very unlikely friendship indeed)!!! :) A great read for any age!!! Especially for English Lanuguage students, since any of the volumes can be adapted to any language! Even children who are barely learning to read will feel a sense of accomplishment to read this 156 page book based on images, symbols, and expressions.

I haven't read volumes 2 to 5 yet, but they are on my list!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave McKean

The Graveyard Book is a haunting story about a boy named Nobody (Bod) Owens. When he is a toddler his whole family is murdered by a man named Jack; luckily Bod escapes to the graveyard down the street. Mr. and Mrs. Owens, ghosts in the graveyard, agree to raise him as their own son. Although he is human, he receives the freedom of the graveyard and is graced with the secrets of the ghosts. The story revolves around Bod’s many adventures in the graveyard and small village with ghouls, witches, and school bullies. He learns many lessons from his guardian Silas and his teacher Miss Lupescu, and he is rescued from quite a few sticky situations. All the while Bod is still being hunted by Jack. The tale has many strong and powerful characters that help shape Bod’s life and education in the graveyard. Readers witness Bod’s journey of growing into a young man until he is able to leave the graveyard and live on his own. Gaiman’s style of writing fills the reader with wonder and a sense of mystery. The story pulls together strongly at the end and even has a surprise twist that will keep readers guessing. Gaiman weaves a story that will fascinate and engage readers young and old.

I absolutely loved reading this book and I loved the illustrations too! The same illustrator who illustrated The Wolves in the Walls for Gaiman also did this book. They have collaborated on many novels together, including Coraline. I read this for my class and was surprised to hear that a number of my fellow students didn't like the book at all, a lot of them felt it was a lower read, maybe for 5th & 6th graders! I completely disagree, and would love to find out who else loved the book like me! I feel it is a read that could be read easily by 5th graders, but that high schoolers and adults will enjoy the book as well. If anyone else has read this I would love to hear your comments on the book! It recently won the Newbery Award, and I can see why. I love Gaiman's style and felt the whole book tied together beautifully.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

I just read The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. He is probably most famous for his graphic novels, Coraline (which is out in theatres now), and his newest The Graveyard Book (The Newbery Winner...I will review this one later).

The Wolves in the Walls is an absolutely terrifying story! The illustrations add a very eerie quality to the story, but are fascinating to look at, they seem to be collages mixed with drawings, and maybe even photographs. Here is a sample of one of the pages of the stories I found on Amazon:

Lucy starts to hear things in the walls and tells her Mom, Dad, and Brother that there are Wolves in the walls...her Mom says it must be mice, her Dad says it must be rats, and her Brother says it must be bats, but they all agree that if "the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over!!" To Lucy's dismay no one seems to know "what" is all over. The Wolves do come out of the walls and Lucy and her family flee down to the garden. The Wolves take over their home and her parents and brother discuss moving to different countries, but Lucy just wants to live in their home again. Lucy finally convinces her family to go and live in the walls of their home. Once her family sees the Wolves wearing their clothes, playing her brothers video games, and getting jam all over everything, they decide they are going to rightfully take their home back!! Once they come out of the walls the Wolves yell "And when the people come out of the walls, it's all over!!"

I really enjoyed the story, but then again I quite like scary, strange, and weird stories!! I don't think I would recommend this to young children who are easily scared! I would recommend to older children...maybe ages 7 and up! Having the book in the picture book area will cause confusion! And there could be kids out there who really enjoy strange and wild stories like this one!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Children's Literature

I have been wanting to start a book blog based on all the children and teen books I have read and will be reading. Well here it is...finally!

I am currently in the Library Science program at the University of Arizona, and have been taking a lot of classes that focus on children's literature. I have taken "children's literature in a multi-cultural society", and am currently taking "adolescent literature" & "children and public libraries". We are reading tons of books, and I want to review and write more about books I like and don't like. I hope this will prove helpful to some in finding books for your kids to read, or even for adults to read. I personally read more kids books than adult books and am proud to admit it!

I also am going to be finding other websites or blogs that focus on children's literature or young adult books and posting links. I would love any feedback or any other links anyone else knows about!