Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Themed Reviews: Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Giving thanks is the heart and soul of this American holiday. Every year, on the fourth Thursday in November, we spend time with loved ones-cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner, making holiday crafts and decorations, and volunteering in the community. We express our gratitude-just like Junie B. in Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff), which has this popular character working with her first grade classmates to win a school competition for the best list of things they are grateful for. The other recent children's titles featured here focus on the rich history and traditions of Thanksgiving with heart and humor. To search for more "Turkey Day" titles, learn about awards, and find curriculum tools search the CLCD database.

Sarah Gives Thanks
Mike Allegra
Illustrated by David Gardner
   Today, Thanksgiving in the United States is an official holiday that occurs on the fourth Thursday in the month of November. However, this was not always the case; until the mid-1800s when a woman named Sarah Hale campaigned for several years to recognize Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Read the introductory information about Sarah Hale's life and background. She was a single mother with several children to support. In order to provide for her family, Sarah Hale worked as a writer and editor for a women's magazine; her articles influenced many subscribers. During her life, Sarah felt that it was important for Americans to give thanks for the many blessing that they received. She wrote to several presidents asking that they make Thanksgiving a national holiday but there was no action taken. She continued to write letters and was determined to make it happen. Abraham Lincoln received one of Sarah's letters. During his presidential term, Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863, Hale's dream to make Thanksgiving an official holiday became a reality. In the book, readers will find illustrations depicting some of the different periods of Sarah's life. At the back of the book, the author's notes provide additional information about Sarah Hale. There is a list of sources about her life and publications. 2012, Albert Whitman & Company, Ages 6 to 10, $16.99. Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9780807572399

Thursday, November 15, 2012

National Book Award: Young People’s Literature

The 2012 winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature is William Alexander for Goblin Secrets. Here are two reviews taken from CLCD (The Children's Literature Comprehensive Database); if you are not yet a subscriber for further information and reviews sign up for a free trial to CLCD.

Goblin Secrets
William Alexander

Reading Measurement Programs:
Lexile Measure 710

ISBN: 9781442427266 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781442427280 (ebook)

Reviewer: Leslie Worrell Christianson (Catholic Library World, September 2012 (Vol. 83, No. 1)).
                Zombay is not an easy place to live for an orphan boy named Rownie whose brother Rowan is missing. Rowan disappeared after performing with a troop of Goblin actors. In order to find his brother, Rownie has to run away from Graba, a menacing and cruel witch with metal clockwork chicken legs, who takes in stray children. Performing and wearing masks is against the law for citizens of Zombay. Goblins are people that have been “changed” and are no longer citizens, so their performances are ignored by the Lord Mayor’s guard. Rownie joins the troop of Goblins who are also looking for Rowan because he holds the key to the future of Zombay. Rownie begins to secretly perform and wear masks while with the troop. His forbidden friendship with these castaways reveals that the Goblin’s ancient craft of mask making is tied to the heart and soul of the city. Rownie eventually finds his brother but their reunion only reveals a new purpose and relationship for the pair. The visual imagery of this book swirls together, darkness, clanking and grinding metal, gears, cogs and teeth, burning, and automatons with adventure, humor, hope, transforming waters, and friendship. Like a folktale, this book has a magical and dreamy atmosphere that juxtaposes the beauty and release of myth with the gruesomeness of life in Zombay. 2012, Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 to 13, $16.99.

Reviewer: Kate Quealy-Gainer (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 2012 (Vol. 65, No. 8)).
                A tempestuous river divides the city of Zombay into two parts: the wealthy, aristocratic Northside, run by the Mayor and his gearworked Guard, and the Southside, whose impoverished residents are under the control of Graba, a powerful, cruel witch who takes in orphans to be her servants. Rownie and his older brother, Rowan, have been her charges since their parents were taken by the River, but Rowan has recently gone missing after performing in an illegal play. Rownie runs away to join a goblin theater troupe in the hopes that the actors might have a clue to Rowan’s whereabouts, and he learns that Rowan was to play an essential part in a ritual meant to save the town from an impending flood—so his disappearance means certain doom for the citizens of Zombay. The appeal here lies in Alexander’s careful construction of a distinctive world: touches of steampunk can be found in Graba’s geared-up legs and the Mayor’s automaton guards while a more ancient, primal magic seems to guide the goblins and their powerful brand of storytelling. The plot, however, sputters at points, with action scenes often limping to uneventful conclusions and the River’s villainy never quite crystallized beyond a vague threat. Rownie is a sweet kid, however, and although he is a lifelong resident of Zombay, his innocence and bewilderment at the seedier sides of his town provide a nice access point for younger readers. Rowan’s savage ultimate fate may be a bit of a shock, but the bittersweet ending remains true to the story’s overall dreamy, melancholic tone. 2012, McElderry/Simon & Schuster, Grades 4 to 7, $16.99.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Themed Reviews: Veterans Day

 On November 11, 1918 an armistice between Allied Forces and Germany was signed, ending World War I after four years of fighting. The armistice ended hostilities at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The following year U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first Armistice Day proclamation:
   To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
   On Armistice Day in 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in WWI was buried in a special tomb in Arlington National Cemetery; now know as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by members of The Old Guard and located near the center of the cemetery.
   Armistice Day was declared a Federal holiday in 1938. Celebrations honoring WWI veterans continued to include parades, public gatherings, and moments of silence.
   After World War II and the Korean War, veteran service organizations lobbied congress to amend the 1938 act—changing the word "Armistice" to "Veterans." This new legislation was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 1, 1954. Since November 11, 1954 the U.S. has honored American veterans, living or dead, of all wars on Veterans Day.
   The following recently published books are about Veterans Day, wars involving American soldiers, or the impact veterans have on their friends and family. Browse through this feature and those from previous years to discover more.

Veterans Day
Julie Murray

   As a brief introduction for youngsters about one of America's most important national holidays, every sub-topic has its own chapter with actual photographs, key vocabulary in bold red and basic text in a large font. Concepts are explained using simple descriptions beginning with the significance of Veterans Day in honor of those who have served in the military. There is a small amount of U.S. History related to its origins as Armistice Day. For example, President Woodrow Wilson designated it to be celebrated for the first time on November 11, 1919 as World War I concluded. Not until 1938 did this holiday become official. However, in 1954 after World War II and the Korean War ended, the name was changed to Veterans Day. Other countries around the world commemorate veterans on Remembrance Day on or near November 11. France still has an Armistice Day since the word armistice means "the end of hostilities." No matter when special holidays are officially celebrated, young children can investigate Passover, Easter, Ramadan, Juneteenth, and Saint Patrick's Day in this friendly "Holidays" series. Colorful photos bring real life to the forefront in each engaging book. Handy sections at the end of books cover Interesting Facts, Important Words, Web Sites, and provide a nice Index. Extensions to other subjects and concepts are easily incorporated by related hands-on projects, additional reading, oral conversations, and assorted media. 2012, ABDO Publishing Company, $17.95. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Susan Treadway, M.Ed. (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9781617830433

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Themed Reviews: Election (Part III)

After the long, arduous campaign process leading to the White House, the newly elected President of the United States of America and his (or, someday, her) family moves into the Presidential Quarters of America's most famous residence. The site was chosen by George Washington and the corner stone was laid in 1792. Eight years later, the White House, designed by James Hoban, was completed. Since 1800 with President John Adams and his wife Abigail as the first official occupants of the White House, there has been a succession of interesting inhabitants in the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave mansion.
   As The White House aged and demands for space grew, several presidents made renovations and additions to the structure. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt oversaw a renovation and made some significant changes, including moving his office from the Second Floor to what is now known as The West Wing. President William Taft had the Oval Office constructed in an enlarged office wing. During the Truman administration, major renovations were needed due to structural deterioration. Except for the exterior walls, the entire house was gutted and restored. Through the intervening years, The White House has been modified and remodeled to suit the needs of various changes in governmental procedures and to reflect the tastes of different residents.
   More excellent information can be found at the official website of The White House.
   The following facts are from the website:
    White House Trivia
  • There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
  • Presidential Firsts while in office... President James Polk (1845-49) was the first President to have his photograph taken... President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama... President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) was the first President to ride in an airplane.
  • The White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000.
  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.
   Some of The White House residents have been the pets of the Presidential Families. It is hard to imagine an alligator lounging in the halls or a flock of sheep grazing on the lawn; but those are only a couple of example of some of the creatures that have taken up residence at the home of America's First Family. The families (and their pets) need to be taken care of as the go about their duties, so there are many people who work at The White House. Their behind-the-scenes efforts support all of the events that are held there, as well as all of the things that are needed to keep a real family well fed and comfortable.

Contributor: Sheilah Egan, Literature Consultant

The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents
Susan Katz
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

   Susan Katz has turned amusing facts about American Presidents into rhyme. She begins with the fact that George Washington never slept in the White House--although he designed it, the building was not finished until John Adam's term. As for John Adams, we learn he was called "His Rotundity" instead of the title of His Majesty which he advocated should be used for the President. Most of the Presidents through Woodrow Wilson are included-he is the one who kept sheep on the White House Lawn as part of the WWI home front efforts. The title of each poem fits the topic and is followed by the president's name and their dates as president; each verse is followed by a short factual note. Neubecker's good humored illustrations complement the light hearted tone of the text. All in all, middle schoolers introduced to this book are likely to decide history isn't all dry as dust. 2011, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $17.99. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9780547182216

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week is October 7 - 13, 2012

This year’s theme is “Have 2 Ways Out” which focuses on the importance of fire escape labels, planning, and practice. Read these fire safety tips and check out the titles below for ways to teach fire prevention.

Have a look back at our previous feature.

Firefighters to the Rescue
Meish Goldish
            Emergencies can happen at any moment, and firefighters must always be ready to save the day. The exhilarating title from “The Work of Heroes: First Responders in Action” series gives readers an inside look at some of the dangerous situations that firefighters face every day. Captivating color photos with informative captions accompany touching stories of heroic rescues and brave actions in dangerous situations. This high-interest work gives children a glimpse inside life at the fire station, methods of job training, and reasons that some choose this dangerous but rewarding career. Included are thought-provoking true accounts of catastrophic events with photos, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Readers will learn that firefighters are not only called on to extinguish fires, but respond to various other emergency situations as well. Readers will become familiar with different vehicles used to fight fires, including pumper trucks, planes, and fireboats. New or challenging words are printed in bold and are defined in simple terms in the glossary. In addition, a photo showing a firefighter in full gear is clearly labeled, helping readers to understand the purpose of each piece of equipment. While recommended for those at a third grade reading level, this book will appeal to any children who are interested in a firefighting career or who are fascinated by these real-life heroes. 2012, Bearport Publishing Company, $25.27. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Rachelle Andrade (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781617722844

Description: http://www.clcd.com/spacer.gifFire Disaster
Chris Oxlade
            The nature of fires and the procedures taken to restore balance after disasters caused by fires are presented within this text. In the beginning, fire is defined and the conditions required for a fire to begin are provided. As further explanation, numerous examples of previous destructive fires around the world are given. These examples give the reader a relatively thorough glimpse into the dangers of fires and the steps that were taken toward restoring communities that experienced such tragedy. The glossary is succinct and informative as it provides clear definitions for new words presented in the text. The illustrations throughout are artistically displayed contributing to the overall artistic yet serious message of the text. The supplemental information, such as Breaking News and At-A-Glance, provide the reader with additional resources to explore for further study of this type of disaster. The index is all-conclusive and provides a nice final piece to an informative book. Part of the “Emergency!” series. 2011, Arcturus Publishing, $28.50. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Allison Fetters (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781848379534

Fire Trucks in Action
Anne E. Hanso
            This text is part of the “First Facts: Transportation Zone” series specifically focused on vehicles “in action” that might be of interest to young elementary readers. This particular text, focused on firetrucks, defines what that rescue vehicle can do, provides a short history of how putting out fires all started with human fire brigades and how technology through the years changed fire-fighting approaches, and then discusses how fire engines work today. The book also highlights the features of a working fire truck, how many firefighters typically make up a crew, and finishes with “fire truck facts” that readers should be intrigued by as they move through the text. For example, I didn’t know that Dalmatians became mascots because in the early days of fire trucks, the dogs kept rats away from the horses that pulled the fire tanks. Photos come in two batches: black and white photos (and the occasional painting) present the history of fire fighters, from fire brigades through horse-drawn tanks, while contemporary endeavors are illustrated through photos that show fire trucks and their crews in action today. As with the other books in the series, I continue to appreciate the “Hands On” section that highlights an activity or an action in which younger readers can partake. The Glossary, Read More, and Web Sites sections are solid; an Internet site called “FactHound” with a code offered in the text provides interested readers even more information about firefighting. The text, and the series in general, provides an effective look at a number of vehicles in action in an easy to follow format that will encourage kids’ fluency in reading. 2012, Capstone Press, $23.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781429668248

Rescue Vehicles
Mary Kate Doman
            On both water and land, these rescue vehicles are busy saving people. One or two sentences along with each photo summarize what they are doing. Police cars, helicopters, and ambulances are featured in action photos. A helicopter rescues someone from a boat, fire trucks put outfires, and lifeboats rescue people lost at sea. The photos have some details of interest to young children, such as the close-up of a bell on one of the trucks, and a photo of a helicopter and ambulances that looks like it was taken at the scene of some emergency. The small book is designed for pre-readers, and a note to parents and teachers explains that the text introduces simple concepts with repetition of words and short simple sentences. It contains a table of contents, a word list with photos, bibliographical references, and an index. Free educator guides are available online. Part of the “All About Big Machines” series, this text is informative and interesting. Children who are just learning to read could learn new words with the help of an adult. 2012, Enslow Elementary/Enslow, $21.26. Ages 4 to 6. Reviewer: Vicki Foote (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780766039346

Saving Animals from Fires
Stephen Person
            When people hear of wildfires they often think of the many animals that may be in danger. It may be relatively easy to save a pet from a home that is at risk of burning, but the problem becomes more involved for people who own multiple pets or who live on a farm. Sadly, most wild animals are in grave danger when a fire begins. Even if they can out run the flames or burrow in the ground, their home and their food sources are often destroyed by the fire. This informative book thoroughly explains how all animals are in danger when fires begin, and it discusses the growing efforts to help save them. Every page contains at least one bright photograph with a corresponding caption, and interesting facts are interspersed throughout. The chapters are two pages long and there is only one paragraph on each page. This book will appeal to readers with an interest in animals, science, natural disasters, or in helping others. It has a glossary, index, and useful bibliographical references, making it an ideal reference source. It is part of the “Rescuing Animals from Disasters” series. 2012, Bearport Publishing, $25.27. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Denise Daley (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781617722936

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Themed Reviews: Election Part II

History and Humor of Getting Elected in the United States

   Many of those who have run for an elected office are quite aware of their place in history and contemplate how historians may view their actions in the future. Many of those same people would probably want to avoid records that shed a humorous light on their political platforms but also recognize that life can be humorous - even for politicians or especially for politicians. Can you imagine President Lincoln telling jokes? ". . . as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Lincoln reportedly 'kept the House in a continuous roar of merriment.'" Apparently he loved to make people laugh and told jokes even after he was elected. He kept books of jokes to read to friends and visitors to the White House.

   The following selections were gleaned from the rich literature resources found at CLCD and reflect the humor of elections and the elected, as well as some of the changes in the history of elections and voting in the United States.

   Using CLCD made it easy for me to build this list, restricting my searches to those books published since the last election (parameter setting: titles from 2008 through the present). Also, I was able to search for specific ages and particular subjects (ex: election humor). Take the free trial and discover for yourself the power of the database. CLCD will aid teachers, librarians, parents, and others who work with children and young adults. I know that I find it invaluable when I need to have access to vast amounts of information about literature.

Contributor: Sheilah Egan, Literature Consultant

President Pennybaker
Kate Feiffer
Illustrated by Diane Goode
   When his father issues an especially undeserved edict, Luke Pennybaker exclaims the universal cry of children everywhere: "It's not fair!" Not satisfied with just complaining, Pennybaker decides to do something about it. So, he runs for President of the United States on a platform that promises pets for all children, dessert any time of day, optional homework, and most importantly, to make life fair. With his dog Lily as a running mate, Luke heads out on the campaign trail, and the promises continue to grow. The retro style of clothes, cars, and telephones in Goode's illustrations give the story an old-time feel. Her whimsical watercolors energize this timely tale of a grassroots movement and the democratic process. Children will laugh at the idea of an orange White House, as well as the other ridiculous promises made by Pennybaker, but teachers can use the silly story as a springboard for more serious discussion about the election process. Pair this with Cronin's Duck for President for a fun November story time. 2008, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Ages 4 to 7, $16.99. Reviewer: Heather Christensen (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9781416913542