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