Reviews are by area educators Barbara Britsch (BB), professor emerita of Lourdes College; Melissa A. Cain (MAC) from the University of Findlay; Alexa L. Sandmann (ALS) of Kent State University, and Barbara St. John (BSJ), a retired Bowling Green State University professor.
Summer days will soon be here, bringing lazy afternoons, long twilight evenings, porch swings, and warm sandy beaches, all perfect places for a leisurely read. Our book choices for this sunny season feature laid-back outdoor settings as well as adventurous stories peopled by likeable characters. A glass of lemonade or your beach bag will not go amiss.
GOSSIE & FRIENDS. By Olivier Dunrea. Houghton Mifflin. $18. Four familiar gosling characters Peedie, Gossie, Gertie, and Ollie are featured in newly issued boxed board book sets. The books may be sat on, chewed, dripped with jam, and held in sticky fingers and these jaunty little guys and girls will keep on bouncing through the meadow and farmyard. Peedie loses his lucky red baseball cap, Gussie her red boots, and Ollie simply won t come out of the egg. Childhood problems are nicely solved in a format for years of hugging. (BB)
READ IT, DON T EAT IT! By Ian Schoenherr. Illustrated by the author. Greenwillow. $17.99. This pleasant work shows young children how to treat books. Lively animals dressed as children demonstrate what not to do turn down, tear, sneeze on, or deface pages. They also tell what to do read the stories and then turn the books back into the library so others can enjoy them. White backgrounds highlight the appealing characters and the simple text conveys the message without being preachy. (MAC)
THE CURIOUS GARDEN. Written and illustrated by Carson Ellis with music by Nathaniel Stookey. HarperCollins. $17.99. Lemony Snicket, author of the wildly popular Series of Unfortunate Events books, presents a silly but educational murder mystery in which an inspector questions all of the instruments in an orchestra looking for the murderer of a composer. Clever language play "We have all butchered a composer at one time or another" and a CD of Snicket reading the story accompanied by appropriate orchestral music make this book memorable. (MAC)
A MIRROR TO NATURE. Written by Jane Yolen. Photographs by Jason Stemple. Wordsong/Boyds Mill Press. $17.95. Subtitled "Poems about Reflection," the book s entrancing photographs capture an animal s image reflected on nature s "mirror" still water and inspire poems of various kinds. A mixture of free verse, rhymed verse, and even a haiku, each work causes the reader to stop and think, and indeed reflect. A brief fact about each animal is included. Cover photos, as well as several more tucked inside, provide an opportunity for the reader to pause and then become a writer of an additional "poem about reflection" to complete the collection. (ALS)
TACKY GOES TO CAMP. Written by Helen Lester. Illustrations by Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin. $16. Tacky and his fellow penguins are off to camp in Nice Icy Land, As always, Tacky s preparations are a bit unusual he has a yellow-and-orange-striped tent, and a television! However, Tacky does participate wholeheartedly in activities, even when he s not entirely successful. The last night at camp is for s mores and scary stories. Tacky can t get enough s mores, but his story about a huge bear is not very frightening. The real bear terrifies everyone, but Tacky saves the day. Munsinger s illustrations are hilarious! (BSJ)
SCAT. By Carl Hiaasen. Knopf. $16.99. Black Vine Swamp is invaded by intruders out to destroy (or save) its ecology. In short order we meet Twilly Spree, eccentric eco-avenger; the Red Diamond Energy Company, which is about to drill for oil; student activists Nick and Marta, and Bunny Starch, the most feared biology teacher ever. We also come across a stuffed rat and a testy wild panther. The race to stop the drilling is a twisted and imaginative tale in the best Hiaasen tradition (think Hoot). (BB)
POPPY & ERETH. By Avi. Illustrated by Brian Floca. HarperCollins. $15.99. This is the seventh and last book in a series about a little deer mouse named Poppy and her best friend, Ereth, a grouchy porcupine. In this adventure, a bat mistakes Poppy for a moth and flies off with her right before Ereth s eyes. Thinking Poppy has died, Ereth starts planning her funeral. Meanwhile, a fire in their home forest adds drama and suspense to this sweet story of friendship. (MAC)
THREE CUPS OF TEA YOUNG READERS EDITION. Written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Adapted by Sarah Thomson. Puffin Books. $8.99. Greg Mortenson set out to scale K2, a mountain in Pakistan and the second tallest in the world, to place his sister s necklace on the summit in her memory. Instead, he built a school in a nearby village. A dozen years and at least 60 schools later, he continues to "change the world one child at a time," especially for girls. His schools target the education of girls who often do not have the chance to go to school. An inspiring story of one man s mission for worldwide peace through education, through "books, not bombs." (ALS)
ASHLEY BRYAN: WORDS TO MY LIFE S SONG. Written by Ashley Bryan. Photographs by Bill McGinness. Antheneum. $18.99. Art fills Ashley Bryan s days. From the time he was a small boy, a fascination with drawing and painting has dominated his life. As a child he carried a sketch book where he captured bits of everyday life a habit which has followed him to this day. He studied at Cooper Union College, where the color of his skin was not an issue. Always his days were filled with creating drawings, paintings, puppets, and stained glass windows. He has won many awards for his illustrations, including the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. This book is a joyous adventure filled with colors and shapes and the words of a man who finds adventure and wonder in each day. Meet Ashley Bryan he will enrich your life! (BSJ)
PARTLY CLOUDY: POEMS OF LOVE AND LONGING. By Gary Soto. Houghton Mifflin. $16. For all young teens, girls and boys, here is a richness of short poems about first love the anticipation, hazards and joys of it with an appealing conversational tone. Soto divides this truly charming collection into two parts: first, the girl s voice, and second, the boy s. The book is small (it fits in a pocket) but infinite in language, wishing, teen emotions and, above all, the yearning of love. (BB)
A KISS IN TIME. By Alex Flinn. Harper Teen. $16.89.
Jack, sent to Europe by seemingly disinterested parents, ditches his tour group and finds a castle hidden by a forest of thorns. Inside, he sees a sleeping princess and can t resist a kiss. The princess awakens and believes Jack is her true love. The trouble is, how do Talia and her entire kingdom rejoin the world after a 300-year sleep? Flinn s writing is witty, yet thought provoking, and the ending is satisfying. (MAC)
WINTERGIRLS. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking. $17.99. Lia and her best friend, Cassie, are wintergirls, frozen in their mission to be the "skinniest" together, although Lia is determined to be even "better" than her friend. Anderson captures, seemingly unerringly, the internal battle of an anorexic, the will required to keep from eating and then to exercise unrelentingly to cancel out any calories from the little food that is consumed. Anderson s captivating writing style and all-too-realistic story share important truths about a significant health issue which impacts not just teens but their families as well. A most compelling read. (ALS)
THE SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING. By Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster. $16.99.
Seventeen-year-old Quinn has spent her life surrounded by women who caution her about relationships, particularly those involving men. Only recently has Quinn s father claimed a place in her life. While visiting his home, she discovers he has stolen an object from each woman who was important to him. Joining forces with her older half-sister and her younger sister who demands truth, Quinn sets out on a journey to meet the women. Readers will relate to the stories Quinn uncovers and admire her strength. Great characters. (BSJ)