Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Singing to the Sun by Vivian French and Jackie Morris - ESSENTIAL

French, Vivian Singing to the Sun, illustrated by Jackie Morris. PICTURE BOOK. Kane/Miller, 2008; first published in Great Britain in 2001.


A lord who does not believe in love marries a woman who only believes in gold and they have a son and make him study books and spells. After his 18th birthday they send him off to win the hand of one of three princesses, one whom brings wealth, one lands and the third love and happiness. The parents send him off with the court jester, still arguing over the value of land vs wealth. But the princess may have ideas of her own and being born a prince doesn’t bring wisdom.

While there seems to be a trend in rewriting fairy tales to make the girl be stronger, this trend also seems to make the boy look foolish or useless at the same time. This is a rare tale that lets the princess be strong, while showing the prince a path to actual happiness. This short book makes a powerful statement to counteract a movement that seems to have gone too far in the opposite directions. Teachers in elementary can use this as just a great stiry with beautiful illustrations, while middle and high school Language Arts teachers should make this a part of any unit about fairy tales. Even a Teen Living teacher could use this as a great opener to a discussion about gender roles in fairy tales and the modern world and the effect they have on our self-esteem or world view.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweet and Sour Summer by Diane Muldrow - OPTIONAL

Muldrow, Diane Sweet and Sour Summer, pgs. 143 Grosset and Dunlap (Penguin).

Content- G


Molly, Amanda, Natasha, Shawn and Elisabeth started a cooking service last summer, but this year everyone is somewhere else and nobody can manage it. Molly is at Cape Cod with Jason, Amanda is at acting camp. Shawn is at cheerleading camp. Everyone has their ups and downs.

I think that this book would be really good if there were more action. I also think that the author could include more information on what the cooking service is and how it started.

Student Reviewer: SH
FYI - This is book number 9 in the Dish series, but the only one that this student reviewer has read. It would be a good series for a large elementary collection, for the public library, or for a young aspiring chef. - CM

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen - OPTIONAL

Yolen, Jane Naming Liberty, paintings by Jim Burke. Philomel (Penguin), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


 The story of Gitl’s arrival in America with her family is told alongside the tale of the building of the Statue of Liberty.

 Yolen has made a nice choice juxtaposing a young girl’s dreams of a new life with the building of the greatest symbol of freedom in America. My current favorite on this subject is Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty. There is a nice range of picture books about the Statue of Liberty now. I could even see a middle or high school class gathering a collection for a short unit on our national symbols.

Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Secrets, Lies and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman - OPTIONAL

Lichtman, Wendy Secrets, Lies and Algebra. pgs. 188 Greenwillow (Harper).

Content - G


Tess loves algebra. She uses it as a secret code in her journal. When different problems are thrown at her she uses her secret code to help solve them. Tess is in a tight spot.

I liked this book, but I wouldn't read it over and over again. I think it is kind of confusing the way the author uses algebra as a code.

Student Reviewer: SH

Pete and Fremont by Jenny Tripp - OPTIONAL

Tripp, Jenny Pete and Fremont. Pgs. 192. Harcourt Childeren's books.

Content - G


Pete is a poodle. He is in the circus. One night after they leave a town, he hears noises in a cage at the end of the train. He goes to investigate and meets a bear named Fremont. They learn to live with each other and make an act together.

I think that this book is okay. But it is not relistic enough for me. I like books that are realistic. This book is interesting and parts of it are funny.

Student Reviewer: SH

Saturday, July 26, 2008

You Can't go to School Naked! by Dianne Billstrom - ESSENTIAL

Billstrom, Dianne You Can’t go to School Naked! Illustrated by Don Kilpatrick III. G.P. Putnam’s (Penguin), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.

Parents – ESSENTIAL 

If he has to start school, then this young boy is determined to go naked. His parents rustle up some pretty good arguments against that scenario, so the boy counters with his own unique going-to-school style.

 Parents of toddlers who like to run around naked, may want to buy this right away to convince their little ones of the need for clothes! I don’t think schools will be able to use this one, however.

 Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hiss Me Deadly by Bruce Hale - ADVISABLE

Hale, Bruce Hiss Me Deadly, 118 p. Harcourt

Content - G


Chet Gecko, Elementary detective, has solved a case or two in his time, and now another has come to his door. When his little sister reports a stolen pearl necklace, Chet takes the case only to find that a multitude of other items have been snatched as well! Will he be able to solve the case before it's too late?

I have no doubt that this story was aimed towards elementary students, but I still loved it. This story was light hearted and full of witty comparisons that kept even me entertained. Though rather predictable, this story is a great, light-hearted read that I would recommend to anyone that wanted to smile.

Student Reviewer: KH

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spy Force: Hollywood by Deborah Abela - OPTIONAL

Abela, Deborah Spy Force: Hollywood, 229 p. Aladdin Paperbacks -

Content: G


Max Remy is a spy. While on a trip to Hollywood to meet her dad, she gets called on another mission to thwart Mr. Blue's plan to take over the world. On top of everything else, Max's rival, Toby, is in town. Can she save a good friend and uncover Mr. Blue's evil plan before it's too late?

Well, it's a regular kid story...not too many heart pounding moments or anything. This should probably be on an elementary school library somewhere. Anyone older than that is going to be bored really quick with it. It's o.k., as long as there is nothing better to read.


Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf - OPTIONAL

Holm Jennifer L. Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf. pgs. 117. Atheneum.



There is not much I can say for a summary for this book. Over 90% of this book is pictures and it is a diary told through a girls stuff. In my opinion, this book would be a lot better if it was more of a book than a diary.

Student Reviewer: SH

10 Ways to Make My Sister Disappear by Norma Fox Mazer - ADVISABLE

Mazer, Norma Fox 10 Ways to Make My Sister Disappear, 160 p. Scholastic.



Sprig,10, gets mad because she is jealous of her older sister Dakota. Dakota is more trusted, more popular and Sprig feels that its all just because Dakota is older. Sprig makes a list – a list that has ten ideas of how to get rid of her sister. As the story progresses you learn that they both rely on one another for different things.

The author did a good job capturing the characters' moods. You can sense the emotion put into the book. I think that this book is good for a younger age level.

Student Reviewer: SH

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twelve Terrible Things by Marty Kelley - ESSENTIAL

Kelley, Marty Twelve Terrible Things. Tricycle Press (Ten Speed), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


A young boy takes us through twelve things that can be alternately dreadful and frightening, sometimes for all of us, but definitely for a kid.

 It makes a great tool for a teacher or parent to talk to kids about why some of these things are scary and diffuse some of the tension – others are just funny and sometimes none of us can escape those situations. A great piece of humor!

 Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sandy's Circus by Tanya Lee Stone and Boris Kulikov - OPTIONAL

Stone, Tanya Lee Sandy’s Circus, illustrated by Boris Kulikov. PICTURE BOOK/BIOGRAPHY. Viking (Penguin), 2008.


Alexander Calder always had a talent for creating fun out of bits and bobs of wire, wood and fabric. During his time in Paris he creates a tiny, fantastic circus that he uses to perform highly intricate entertainments which grow larger and more involved as time goes on.

This peek into the life of Calder, the creator of the mobile, is full of fantastic drawings; as just a picture book it works just fine. The only thing I wish is that there were actual photographs of Calder and his creations in order to connect the text to the life behind it.

Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport - ESSENTIAL

Rappaport, Doreen Eleanor: Quiet No More, illustrated by Gary Kelley. PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY. Hyperion, release: 2009. 


The life of Eleanor Roosevelt is laid out simply and yet movingly, in this powerful picture book. Called ugly by her own mother and browbeaten by her mother-in-law, Eleanor still manages to find her strength and her passion and the power to do what she has to do. An excellent resource for an elementary student or an excellent addition to a middle or high school lesson on biography.

Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gobble It Up! by Jim Arnosky - ESSENTIAL

Arnosky, Jim Gobble It Up: A fun song about eating! Scholastic, 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Complete with rollicking music on CD, this hilarious book is a straightforward look at every creature’s need to eat. Kids might get a little squeamish when the ducklings get eaten, but this is the facts of life, folks. If my own kids were younger, I would definitely add this to our long car trip repertoire.

Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Jean Cassels - ADVISABLE

Larson, Kirby and Mary Nethery Two Bobbies: A true story of Hurricane Katrina, friendship and survival, illustrated by Jean Cassels. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Walker (Bloomsbury), 2008.


After Hurricane Katrina, a cat and a dog were found starving and wandering together through the debris. Their rescuers discovered a special secret about the pair and only a very special family would be the right kind of home for this pair.

Communities affected by Hurricane Katrina will appreciate this story of hope, but animal lovers of all ages will also be touched the two bobbies tale.

Cindy Mitchell – Library-Teacher

Monday, July 14, 2008

Abe's Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport - ADVISABLE

Rappaport, Doreen Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Hyperion, 2008. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION.


Quotes from Abraham Lincoln are interspersed with free verse text chronicling his life, accompanied by beautiful pictures.

My only regret is that none of the quotes are footnoted, so that there is no way to know the source of each quote. There is a bibliography at the back, but it's not quite the same.

Cindy: Library-Teacher

School Spirit by Elizabeth Kimmel - ADVISABLE

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit, 316 pgs. Little Brown and Company



Kat thought she was a normal teenager until she started seeing them. Yes, like that kid in the movie, Kat sees dead people. She is a medium. It began soon after she turned thirteen. Her mother also is a medium, practicing out of their home. At school, those who know about her mother taunt Kat relentlessly. At the head of this group is Brooklyn, one of the queen bees ‘satellites’ or entourage. Kat does make one friend, Jac. Jac is constantly lugging around her cello. Kat finds out that Jac used to be a very famous prodigy cellist. However, not long ago she suffered from an extreme bout of stage fright and hasn’t been able to play since. One day while in the library, a book falls off the shelf on its own. When Kat returns it, it falls again. Then Kat sees her, a young teen ghost with a flute. This girl needs Kat’s help and Kat must find out what she needs and how to help her.

This story is a delightful jaunt into the world of a young teen that is also a medium. While slightly creepy, the ghost are not demonic or frightening, they just are there. The friendship between Kat and Jac is honest and real. Fans of Jennifer Allison’s Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator will enjoy this new series and look forward to more from this author.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we ag...