I absolutely adored The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. It reminded me of books that I liked to read when I was small of a slower-paced world, where children explored small towns riding their bikes around or visiting the lonely mansion. In this story, four sisters, Rosalind, Sky, Jane, and Batty, with their dad and dog arrive at the Arundel estate for a summer holiday. Here, they have the holiday of their dreams--no sand, no beach, but an imposing castle surrounded by a formal garden. With their dog, Hound, the girls just about tear down the estate at the dismay of its owner, the forbidding Mrs. Tifton; however, her son, Jeffrey, has the summer of his life. The girls' vivacity and energy transforms Jeffrey's world of stifling upper-class formalness to a world of play and spontaneity. This story is a great summer read. If you are interested, the story continues with two sequels: The Penderwicks at Gardham Street and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. I recommend this book for girls from 3rd to 6th grade, because the book describes a range of girlhood experiences. This book qualifies as an award winner, for it received the National Book Award in 2005.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite childrens books. It is about a boy and his true friend, a tree, who loves this boy so much he gives everything in exchange for the boys happiness.
In Minette's Feast we are introduced to "Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child who was perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris." You see Minette belonged to Julia Child and her husband Paul Child who both believed that "a house without a cat is like life without sunshine!" As we follow Julia Child as she begins her cooking career, Minette is always there; perhaps taking a nibble of a new recipe, or feasting on the meat still clinging to a bone, or perfecting her hunting skills by chasing "a Brussels sprout tied to a string." Minette truly was a lucky cat! The illustrations are charming, done in pencil and water colors and the book is a wonderful introduction to that most famous chef, Julia Child.
I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend by Wendy Henrichs. Ceramic cats with one upraised paw are said to bring good luck and prosperity. In her book, Wendy Heinrichs lets Tama tell the traditional story of the cat's origin. Tama, a homeless Japanese bobtail, is taken in by a very poor monk who feeds her, loves her and takes good care of her. Both feel very fortunate to have each other and Tama always tries to repay his kindness in small ways. One day during a raging storm a wealthy samurai comes by their home and Tama manages to save his life by raising her right paw to him. The samurai repays Tama and her master by making their temple his "family's place of honor". At the end the old monk says to Tama, "you truly are a lucky cat, for you brought good fortune to us all." This is a beautiful retelling of the legend with wonderful watercolor illustrations. Give it a read.
The Freddy the Pig series of children's novels by Walter R. Brooks was one of the first reasons I got hooked on reading. They were first published between 1927 and 1958, but it was in the '80s that I tore through all 26 books in the primary grades. As an animal lover, I was delighted by the adventures and personalities of Freddy, Jinx the cat, Charles the rooster, Mrs. Wiggins the cow and so many more. Simon the rat is one of the great all-time villains if you ask me. Incidentally, Walter R. Brooks also created Mr. Ed the horse of TV fame.
I'm not alone in my adoration of Freddy. The Friends of Freddy was founded in 1984. They hold biennial conventions, publish a quarterly newsletter, and work to ensure the Freddy books will be available for generations to come. SJPL is great place to start delving into the world of Freddy and his friends (and in fact was for me when I was a kid!).
Here are two more new titles for bedtime: My Dad is Big and Strong, But . . . : a Bed Time Story by Coralie Saudo and Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere. Both are charming with a funny twist at the end. You have to check them out. Because they are both brand new to San Jose Public Libraries, you will find them on our new picture book display pyramids.
Have you laughed sufficiently today? If you require more levity, hasten to open Alligators all Around by Maurice Sendak. The late author/illustrator was undoubtedly a comic genius. The strenuous life of Sendak’s alligators includes being quite quarrelsome, shockingly spoiled, very vain and yackety-yacking, among other pursuits. So much to envy about these truly evolved and singularly astute reptiles! Alligators make good amigos!
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is about Caitlyn, a girl who has been identified as having Asperger's Syndrome. Caitlyn's condition seems to be somewhat more severe and closer to moderate autism, however.
Identified as odd by her peers, Caitlyn's problems escalate upon the death of her brother. Caitlyn's brother had been acting as a behavioral aide for her and helped her to analyze different social situations. Social situations that may seem clear-cut to others are a maze for Caitlyn.
Caitlyn is mystified by how she "should be" experiencing the tragedy and by how her father is coping with the death. Meanwhile, the general community is coming to terms with the tragedy in relation to her brother's death. How can everybody find peace? How can Caitlyn find her own peace? Read this National Book Award winner to find out!
August is Audio Appreciation Month! Celebrate this event by checking out various audio book and music titles at your library! Here are a few recommendations for children.
* indicates Series
The library has audio book versions of many popular titles shown below in audio compact disc format.
Children's Audio Books
Harry Potter* by J.K. Rowling
One of the most popular fantasy series about a young wizard named Harry Potter. Harry attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and makes new friends, learns new magic spells and goes on a quest to defeat the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
Nicholas Benedict, an orphan afflicted with physical ailments and narcolepsy, is sent to a new orphanage where he encounters depraved bullies, difficult circumstances, and a mystery that could change his life forever.
39 Clues* by Various Authors
A series of intriguing adventure stories written by today's popular authors such as Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis and more. These audio books will engage readers by combining card collecting, reading and online gaming.
Besides compact disc, you can also download audio books to your digital audio player, including your iPod, smartphone, or home computer via OverDrive Digital Library or OneClickdigital. Using your digital audio player, you can transition or navigate to other chapters of the book without having to change discs. Here are a few recommended digital audio book titles:
Children's Digital Audio Books
Artemis Fowl* by Eoin Colfer
A popular fantasy and action series about a young master criminal named Artemis Fowl. Artemis gradually develops his moral character as he works with the fairies to help defeat enemies and save the world.
The Mysterious Benedict Society* by Trenton Lee Stewart
Reynie Muldoon, an orphaned child with special abilities joins an elite team of four talented children and they become the Mysterious Benedict Society. They soon go on an adventurous journey of espionage to defeat a villain who plans to take over the world.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians* by Rick Riordan
A young boy named Percy Jackson discovers that the legendary Greek Gods still exists and goes on an adventurous quest to prevent a devastating war between the gods.
In addition to audio books, the library also has a substantial collection of new music CDs and downloadable new eAudio and eMusic for all ages! Please see a librarian at your library for more details.
True (...Sort of) (AR 6.0, Level 3.4) by Katherine Hannigan, the author of Ida B, is about an unconventional character who doesn't know why she seems to get everyone angry. Misunderstood, everyone keeps putting Delly down. Finally, she decides that she will act out!
Brud is a terrible basketball player. The problem is that he loves basketball! How can he ever become good at the sport that he loves?
Then Ferris moves to town. Delly befriends her because she does not speak; Ferris does not criticize her. Brud befriends her because Ferris is an amazing basketball player and teacher.
If you are a person who doesn't quite fit in at school, you may find a friend in True (...Sort of). Though Ferris has her issues, she accepts her two new friends when no one else will help them. And what is friendship if not for acceptance? Enjoy this great book!
Donald Sobol, the author of the Encyclopedia Brown series died on July 11th. He was 87 years old.
Encyclopedia Brown has been a staple for 2nd and 3rd grade readers for decades. Each book features several short mysteries which remain unsolved until you check the back of the book for the answer. I've always considered these books great for reluctant readers and for budding mystery fans.
His last book, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme is scheduled to be published and next year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first Encyclopedia Brown book.
Thanks for the mysteries!