Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Counting Down

Next Monday is my last day before vacation, and I have 11 pages of reviews that need to be posted. I'm just going to throw a bunch on the blog every day. They are very short reviews; I'm planning to return to longer reviews in the new year.

So, in no particular order:

Panda: A Guide Horse for Ann (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

Everyone’s familiar with guide dogs. If we don’t personally know someone with a guide dog, we’ve seen guide dogs and their companions in the grocery store, at the post office, or on television. On the other hand, guide ponies are still quite rare. In Panda: A Guide Horse for Ann, we meet Panda and her human. Panda helps Ann, who is legally blind, with her everyday activities and allows her more freedom and confidence than she would have if she only relied upon a cane or her husband/daughter for assistance. When Ann goes to the post office, rides the train to Albany, or goes to work, Panda is right there, making sure that Ann can safely cross streets, find doors, and whatever else Ann needs her to do.

Clear and crisp photography enhance the appealing and child-friendly text. Ann’s disability is presented very matter of fact, and Panda is an adorable and smart horse.

A Lion to Guard Us (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Chapter Book)

Children’s historical fiction books can be quite dense and long. If you need a short and easy to read historical fiction book, try A Lion to Guard Us. Although this is short on male characters, save for one, scenes of sea travel should interest boys adverse to “girl books.”

Birthday Surprises (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Short Story Collection)

What a fun read! Johanna Hurwitz contacted well-known children’s authors and asked them to create a story on one premise: a child opens a birthday present, only to find that it’s an empty box. It’s fascinating to see how completely different each story is, whether it’s historical fiction, a contemporary short story, or a poem. This would be a great read aloud collection for elementary school classes, and a springboard for writing exercises.

Day of the Dead: A Mexican-American Celebration (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

Two fraternal twin girls take us through the history and relevance of Day of Dead, celebrated by many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Vibrant pictures add vitality to the information-packed yet accessible text.

Tales Our Abuelitas Told (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

This is an outstanding collection of lively, funny, and mysterious folktales from Latino cultures. The stories are begging to be read aloud to an audience, and the brief yet informative essays that accompany each folktale will satisfy teachers and librarians who need to know that kind of stuff. Highly recommended.

Good Grief, Third Grade (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Easy Chapter Book)

Marsha is determined to start third grade on the right foot. No more disappointed looks from teachers and no more “talks” with her mother. That all changes when Roger is assigned to be her reading partner. Roger has been Marsha’s torment as long as she can remember. A shared love of a book begins a slow friendship, but Roger gets into serious trouble when an argument and accident happens. Marsha must decide whether or not to admit the truth, thus getting herself into trouble. This is a funny, endearing, and realistic school story that young chapter readers will enjoy.

Into the Volcano (read for Capitol Choices)

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this nearly as much as I did. Two preteen brothers find themselves on an action-packed and dangerous volcano expedition, complete with a missing mother, mysterious identities, and a new crush. Reluctant readers will particularly enjoy this immensely enjoyable graphic novel.

The Best of Aesop's Fables (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

There are many collections of Aesop’s fables, but this is my new favorite. Margaret Clark decided to not include a final sentence “spelling out” the story’s moral at the end of each story; she thought that the story’s moral spoke for itself (they do). Clark brings out the humor and timelessness in the fables, which makes this a perfect read aloud collection.

I think that's enough for now. I will throw more random reviews at you tomorrow.

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