Thursday, March 22, 2012

Themed Reviews: Money

            The topic of money is undoubtedly a tough concept to tackle. When researching how to teach kids about money and budgeting the general consensus seems to be the sooner the better! For adults managing money, budgets, and investing can be intimidating. Often, these skills aren't introduced until later in life—when they can easily be overwhelming, causing problems and stress. Even before kids learn how to add and subtract they see money being used around them. Teaching good financial habits is often done in the home, so giving parents the resources to help them explain the topic of money is critical. Our feature highlights books designed to assist with this! With a few fiction titles thrown in, these books are recently published books relating to money for young children and teens.

Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop
Devon Kinc

            Pretty Penny has big ideas and lots of enthusiasm. She writes a first novel and hosts a dog fashion show. However, when it's time to spend the summer with her artistic grandmother, Penny is stumped as to how to celebrate Bunny's upcoming birthday. It takes her a while, but she finally realizes that her grandmother, who rents apartments, has an attic stuffed with things at the top of the building. Penny goes to work cleaning and sorting and pricing, and holds a "small mall" sale which is well attended by the tenants. Having earned ten dollars, Penny goes to the bakery, buys ten cupcakes, invites all the residents to join her, and throws an impromptu party for Bunny with the earnings from her sale. Pictures are expressive, cartoon style with primary pinks and yellows featuring Penny (of course) and Iggy the Piggy and Bo the cat. Narrative is in first person, and this cheerful story offers opportunities for talking about money and its uses with young readers. 2011, Random House, Ages 6 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375867354

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Themed Reviews: Happy St. Patrick's Day

            The Irish have observed St. Patrick's Day for over a thousand years. March 17th, the anniversary of St. Patrick's death in 461, falls during the Christian season of Lent. In the past, Irish families would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon—with Lent rules relaxed for the day, people would eat, drink, and dance—in some ways, not much has changed over time.

            March is a great month to explore Irish history, culture, and its peoples. The Irish have a long and rich history; originating in Ireland around 8,000 years ago. Now, an estimated 80 million people of Irish descent live all over the world—the largest number of which live in the United States (around ten times more than in Ireland). The selections below are recent examples of fiction and nonfiction with Irish themes.

Megan's Year: An Irish Traveler's Story
Gloria Whelan
Illustrated by Beth Peck

Megan's Year: An Irish Traveler's Story is a volume in the "Tales of the World Series" from Sleeping Bear Press, which partners with another series titled "Discover the World" to make fictional stories from exotic lands available to young readers. "Megan's Year" is about a girl in a family of Irish Travelers, whose parents migrate through parts of Ireland, seeking seasonal and other work during the summer months. There is a Summer Megan and a Winter Megan. The Summer Megan travels in the caravan with her family moving from job to job and living off the land with other Travelers. The Winter Megan returns to government housing in apartments in Dublin, and attends St. John's National School. Sometimes other girls are unkind to Megan at school, calling her a dirty tinker. The Sisters (teachers) try to teach all children to show charity. Megan misses her summer life in the winter school days. Megan's family is descended from Irish farm folk who were forced off their land by English landlords and the potato famines. Today about 25 thousand Travelers, or Travellers, as they are called in Ireland and England, lead an itinerant life style seeking seasonal employment and moving about. They have their own culture and a unique secret language called Gammon. "Megan's Year" introduces students to a different life style and some of the expressions of Gammon, while describing a year in the life of a young girl. "Megan's Year" is both compassionate and honest in its representation of the life of the Irish Travelers today. "Megan's Year" is highly recommended for students ages 6-10. The Multicultural Shelf, Sleeping Bear Press, Ages 6 to 10, $16.95. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, December 2011).
ISBN: 9781585364497

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Themed Reviews: Women's History Month

            The 2012 theme for Women's History Month is Women's Education—Women's Empowerment. A celebration of women's contributions to American history, culture, and society, Women's History Month has been observed annually in the United States since 1987. As with many month long celebrations, this event was developed by a small group; in this case, the Sonoma, California school district. Their week-long celebration caught on and in 1980 President Carter issued the first proclamation declaring a week in March as National Women's History Week. In 1987 the National Women's History Project (a group still in existence) pushed Congress to declare all of March as Women's History Month.

            Today, more women are enrolled in college than men but this is only a very recent occurrence. Historically, educational opportunities for men and women have not been equal. It has taken generations of hard work to change the standards of what makes a successful woman. The books in this year's feature showcase many of the amazing and trailblazing women who helped pave the way for change.

For further information about Women's History Month visit:

First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low
Ginger Wadsworth

2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA, and a fresh, comprehensive biography of founder Juliette Gordon Low is most welcome. Since Mrs. Low did not embark on her best-known enterprise until relatively late in life, Wadsworth faces the challenge of keeping readers engrossed in decades of prefatory material before finally reaching what will be, for most, the main event. Fortunately, Low's life reads like a series of novels: an early childhood in a family divided into opposing sides of the Civil War, a privileged adolescence in boarding schools and frolicking with an extended family of aunts and cousins, a young adulthood of courtships and European tours, a romantic marriage that devolved into adultery and divorce. Finally, well into her fifties, the restless Mrs. Low settled on an enthusiasm worthy of her energy and talent—working for the betterment of American girls. The tone here is admiring and enthusiastic but never hagiographic; it's always clear that "Daisy" could be a bit flighty and more than a bit pushy. Plenty of black-and-white photographs are included, and Girl Scouts who are familiar with the solidly built Low in her tailored uniform will be delighted to see her more youthful images of a quite beautiful woman of fashion. Endnotes are included, as well as a timeline, a bibliography of print and online sources; the bound book will include an index. Pass the Thin Mints, please. Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2011, Clarion, $17.99. Grades 5-8. Reviewer: Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 2011 (Vol. 65, No. 5)).
ISBN: 9780547243948