Monday, November 16, 2009


NED'S NEW HOME by Kevin Tseng (Tricycle) When a worm's real estate value plummets (i.e. his apple starts to rot), it's time to go house hunting. A pear? Too wobbly. A watermelon? Sometimes bigger isn't better. And life is anything but a bowl of cherries when he finds himself riding fruit that has been plucked by a bird. They say you'll know your true home as soon as you enter it, and so it goes for Ned; he finds the perfect place to lay his welcome mat, and a clever surprise ending suggests even a feathered foe has been added to Ned's friend list. This book does everything right for early literacy: a charming, good-humored narrative that stands up to repeated re-reads, with pictures that allow for naming fruits and colors, and the best literary invertebrate since Richard Scarry's Lowly. Not overproduced or flashy, just one good apple in the book bushel that will be right at home in preschool collections. (3 and up)

Also of interest:
A fruitful bounty of children's books.

RASPBERRIES! by Jay O'Callahan, illustrated by Will Moses (Philomel) Fans of down-home storytelling will enjoy this tale of Simon, a roaming red-headed baker down on his luck who ultimately finds a sweet tart and a sweetheart, and a home in a happy town. Children will enjoy joining in the refrain of "rassspberrrrieeeees," listening to the accompanying CD read by the author, and the folksy art done by Grandma Moses's talented great- grandson. (5 and up)

STREGA NONA'S HARVEST by Tomie DePaola (Putnam) Big Anthony is up to his old mischief in this latest story about the witch who cures warts, headaches and creates love potions, and has assistants that sometimes need assistance. In one of the most winning episodes, Anthony's attempts to do something perfectly (and what young child hasn't been eager to show that s/he can do something well?) leads to an overly bountiful yield in the garden. What to do with all the spare squash? Lots of small frames underscore the homey kitchen and garden scenes and a very seasonal mood. While Anthony blows three kisses to the moon, I'm blowing a few smoochies to the author for such a fine autumnal addition to the Strega Nona series. (4 and up)

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CORN by Charles Micucci (Houghton Mifflin) This author offers consistently wonderful and in-depth explorations of the natural world for primary readers (as well as knockout text for teachers seeking background knowledge), and this book is no exception. This latest title sports really eye-catching displays of the rainbow of corn, speckled and spotted, ears of blue and "painted mountain" and pod corn, the oldest corn in the world in which each kernel has its own woody husk. How corn pops (it turns inside out!), how it pollinates (those tassels in the breeze aren't just saying hello), how the Native Americans cultivated the crop using the brilliant "three sisters" technique (corn, beans and squash), the mystery of its existence, its role in America and its many, many uses and places on the menu are just a few kernels of interest and appreciation explored in these pages. Bright pictures, contagious enthusiasm for the subject and as many fun facts as seeds on an ear of jala, this is nonfiction gold. (6 and up)

Check out more books to be thankful for here and here. Also, teachers, don't miss the chance to share the moving and classic read-aloud MOLLY'S PILGRIM by Barbara Cohen, about the Russian immigrant girl who uses her doll to show teasing classmates that the pilgrims are still coming and have a place in our great country (7 and up), and one of my favorites, THANK YOU, SARAH: THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THANKSGIVING by Laurie Halse Anderson (the great novelist behind the young adult classic SPEAKwho also knows how to throw down a picture book), about how the woman who wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" also wrote the letters that inspired the holiday (7 and up).

And what a great time of year to say "thanks!" to your child's favorite teacher, with a nominal gift certificate to a bookstore or a sweet treat or an encouraging handmade surprise. Every day, I am so thankful I can read! What teacher gave you that gift? What teacher is helping your child to shine? Send a shout out in the comments...this week, one contributor will be chosen to receive a free copy of HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE READING, to assist as you pay it forward, using great children's books to become someone else's best teacher.

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
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Rawley said...

Can I tell you how excited I am to see a new Strega Nona book? She is a splitting image of my own Italian Nona, potions and all :)Also, as a teacher, I must say that the most memorable gifts have been the handmade ones. I have a box full of bookmarks, cards, drawings, and notes that I have collected over the years (all handmade by students) that I wouldn't trade for all the gift cards in the world!

journeyaround said...

Where have I been? I just discovered your blog and love it! What a gift! I was telling my daughter's book group about it today and we had a question we thought that you as the expert readiologist might know the answer.... some of the other mothers and I were remembering a book we had read when we were young similar to "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" except the main characters spent the night in the NY public library... does that ring a bell with you?

Thanks, and again, thanks so much for the gifts you share.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and use it to make selections all the time (I'm an elementary school librarian). One request: Please keep updating the reissues. I LOVE reissues and always purchase them for the library. Thanks, Esme.


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