Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trick or Treat? Enter to win a free book - that 's a treat!

Happy Halloween! It's time for a treat (no tricks). Enter below for your chance to win April Pulley Sayre's The Slowest Book Ever. Readers who choose to follow the Fairview Review will be entered in a second drawing to win an advance reader copy of the book. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent


Teachers looking for new stories about the American Revolution will be glad to see the story of James Lafayette. Rather than the usual tales of Washington crossing the Delaware, Paul Revere's ride, or Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty, or give me death" speech - this is an account of a brave man acting as a double agent in the British camp. Anne Rockwell has researched the life of the man responsible for gathering information critical to the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown and created a narrative that is informative and enjoyable to read. Floyd Cooper's illustrations show James in his tattered clothes acting the part of a runaway slave, and then the careful eavesdropping James did as he worked around the camp unnoticed by the British officers.

The fact that James was not freed at the end of the war because he had played the part of a spy rather than a soldier will probably strike young readers as grossly unfair. And they will probably admire Lafayette for his efforts to help James gain his freedom. What will seem very strange to them as they read the author's note is the fact that, after gaining his own freedom, James went on to become a slave owner himself. I can imagine many students reading this book as part of their study of American history and the discussions that it will spark.

Along with the author's note, the suggestions for other books about the time period are also helpful. Whether it is used in class, or chosen for self-selected reading, it is a helpful addition to school and classroom libraries and fills some of the gaps in the representation of other figures in history besides those names that are already famous.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 Marine Biology: Cool Women Who Dive


The Girls in Science series from Nomad Press has some wonderful titles. The book on marine biology features the biographies of three women from different careers within the field. Laura Mullineaux is senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Ashanti Johnson is a chemical oceanographer, and Natalie Arnoldi is a marine biologist. Those three profiles share details on how each woman developed an interest in the ocean and what led them to their career path. Along the way, other marine geologists, ichthyologists, and conservationists, are also spotlighted.

Before the biographies, the book discusses the importance of marine life. Cultures as far apart as Babylon, China, and the Inuits all have myths of sea deities and creatures. Aristotle wrote about marine biology in 352 B.C. and Charles Darwin wrote about coral reefs in 1842. All of these are predecessors of present day studies. Archival photos and images add to the information presented in the text. Readers can use the QR codes that link to online resources like NOAA's tour of the Aquarius, demonstrations by NASA marine scientists, and see Rachel Carson in the CBS program "Silent Spring." 

With information about underwater robots, submersibles, and microbiologists, this book makes sure to show the wide variety of jobs and careers available under the umbrella of marine biology. Whether readers are already fascinated by the ocean or simply exploring a new interest, there is plenty for them to delve into among the text, timeline, glossary, and resource lists. A great addition to a STEM program, a unit on careers, or for use with a study of marine life.

I won a copy of the book in a giveaway sponsored by the publisher.

Fall Reading 2016 Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly


The Girls in Science series from Nomad Press has some wonderful titles. The book on aviation features the biographies of three women from different careers within the field. Meg Godlewski is a flight instructor, Taylor McConnell is a production support engineer, and Kristin Wolfe is an F-22 Raptor pilot for the U.S. Air Force. Those three profiles share details on how each woman developed an interest in aviation and what led them to their career path. Along the way, other female pilots, astronauts, mechanics, are also spotlighted.

Before the biographies, the book lays out the history of aviation itself. From the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, to da Vinci's designs for ornithopters, and on through the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart up to the present day. Archival photos and images add to the information presented in the text. But the feature that really impressed me are the QR codes that link to online resources like the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, NASA, and PBS.  Imagine how much more exciting the topic will be when young readers can hear the original radio broadcast covering the Hindenburg disaster, or watch a time-lapse video of a Boeing 777 being assembled.

With information about drones, lasers, and aerial firefighters, this book makes sure to show the wide variety of jobs and careers available under the umbrella of aviation. Whether readers are already hooked on flight or simply exploring a new interest, there is plenty for them to delve into among the text, timeline, glossary, and resource lists. A great addition to a STEM program, a unit on careers, or for use with a study of aviation.

I won a copy of the book in a giveaway sponsored by the publisher.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 I Want That Love


There is a scene in the move "Beastly" during which Kyle tells Lindy about a film he saw at the zoo when he was a child. It told the story of a mother elephant who lost her calf to illness, and later found his bones and mourned over them. "Can you imagine that love?" Kyle asks. When I saw the title for this book, I immediately thought of that scene. And it turns out that there is a similarity. Both stories deal with the transformative power of love. 

In this latest book from Tatsuya Miyanishi, a Tyrannosaurus believes that power and strength mean everything. His belief is reinforced by the way all the other dinosaurs let him do whatever he likes and hide from him in fear. But one day he meets a baby Triceratops who doesn't recognize him and treats him kindly. This new experience starts a change in the T-rex, a change for the better. Years later, when that little Triceratops is a father and has little dinosaurs of his own, he tells them the lesson he learned from that Tyrannosaurus - "Love is stronger than violence." And one of the kids says, "Will you give me that love? I want that love."

Children who love dinosaurs may enjoy the stories for the characters alone, but adults will be glad to see the life lessons that are gently conveyed in each of the books in this series. Even for young readers who are not dino fans, the illustrations are colorful, and the sound effects are fun - chomp, crack, snap! Highly recommended for all ages.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Fall Reading 2016 Grumbles from the Town: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist


The writing duo of Yolen and Dotlich, authors of Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist, have done it again. This time they have taken on nursery rhymes with their unique approach of writing a pair of poems from different viewpoints from the original rhymes. From the hundreds of Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes, they have chosen 14 to focus on for our entertainment. For "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" we hear from the shoe itself, as well as one of the children who lived in it. The plum from "Little Jack Horner" shares how it feels about being poked with a boy's thumb. Even the sock from "Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling" speaks up.

The illustrations add another layer to the experience. The opening note to readers is shown as being tacked to a wall, and underneath are ads for Peter Piper's Picked Peppers and a notice that some sheep have been found (call Bo Peep). One of the funniest pictures is that of the bleary eyed dog who can't get any sleep because of the snoring in "It's Raining, It's Pouring." All around him are birds sleeping in nests, frogs and squirrels snoozing, and the old man asleep in his armchair. They are all snoring away while the poor dog is tossing and turning in his doghouse, wide awake.

Whether you want to find out how the pail felt about the trip Jack and Jill made up the hill, or have always wondered how the rosebush felt about kids dancing round and round it - this is the book for you. And, as the authors suggest, once you are done reading, you should pick a rhyme and write your own new companion piece. Perhaps you would like to expand on "Georgie Porgie" or "Simple Simon." Whatever you choose, make it fresh and funny to go along with Grumbles from the Town

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 The Music in George's Head


I love all the wonderful picture book biographies that are being created now, and I really wish they had been around when I was a child. (Does anyone else remember reading those Childhood of Famous Americans books?) Suzanne Slade's new book on George Gershwin is captivating in its presentation of how Gershwin grew up to become one of America's most famous songwriters. And Stacy Innerst's illustrations take the coloring from George's "Rhapsody in Blue" and use it as a signature palette throughout the book.

Key events from George's life are shared with the reader, things like his fascination with "Melody in F" after he heard it at a nearby penny arcade, or the way he taught himself to play the piano by copying the movement of the keys on a player piano at a friend's house. Many of the illustrations show Gershwin either playing an instrument, or thinking up a song with musical notes dancing around him. I especially like the double-page spread that shows the influences he included in his "Rhapsody in Blue." Slade describes the concerto as a "musical kaleidoscope of America's melting pot." Innerst has pictured New York in the background, along with a jack hammer, a train, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, a clarinet player in Orthodox Jewish clothing, and a couple dancing. Tying the figures together is a stream of musical notes coming from George's piano keys and sheet music blowing from his piano and then twisting and floating through the other scenes. It truly captures the feel of how everything he experienced became an influence on his work.

The word choices also carry a lot of the weight in conveying the story clearly. When the text states that "A clarinet fluttered softly, like butterfly wings on a morning breeze," or that the song was "daring, and razzmatazz dazzling" readers can imagine how those first audiences reacted to his music. Young readers will enjoy the way that the story comes full circle. It begins with "George heard music all the time" and ends with "He'd been hearing beautiful music all his life." The Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, timeline, and bibliography all give added details to support the story.

Highly recommended for school libraries (particularly elementary), and for music teachers who enjoy sharing biographies of famous composers and performers with their classes.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 this ORQ. (he #1!)


Orq is a caveboy who has the perfect life. His pet Woma ( a woolly mammoth) loves him. Orq can run fast, climb high, throw far. Everyone thinks Orq is #1...until Torq and his giant sloth Slomo move in next door. Suddenly Orq is not the best at everything and all his admirers turn their attention to Torq. What can Orq do to reclaim his place in the hearts of the community?

This is Orq's third book. He has dealt with bullies, convinced his mother that a woolly mammoth is a good pet, and now he has to figure out a way to get back on top. It is especially annoying that Torq loves his own success so much and even does a taunting victory dance. But when Torq has an emergency, it is up to Orq to save the day.

Young readers will enjoy the text with it's "caveman" way of talking. "This Orq. He #1." And Orq's plight is something that everyone can relate to; we've all had the experience of being bested at something. His mother's advice will also sound familiar to many of us. This is a story to share with anyone dealing with setbacks and disappointments, or those having trouble making friends with a new classmate or neighbor.

For teachers and librarians working with Makerspaces and STEM, it will be especially appealing to have a caveboy inventor to share with their students and patrons. 

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 A Number Slumber


Is it a counting book? A bedtime story? How about both? Suzanne Bloom has created a fun look at bedtime while counting down from ten to one. Readers are invited into the book by questioning them about their own bedtime habits. Do they ask for a story and brush their teeth? Do they wait until they are feeling sleepy before they put on their pajamas? And then she takes us through an assortment of animals all preparing to turn in for the night. 

This would be a great book to use for a vocabulary lesson, with words such as warble, nimble, and exhausted. It would also be a good mentor text to use in teaching descriptive writing or alliteration. Phrases like "Ten terribly tired tigers tiptoe to their beds," show the power of repeated sounds. My favorite is probably "Seven slightly stinky skunks somersault into their bunks." Another activity that would tie in well with this title is to research the different animals that are shown. Obviously skunks don't catapult into bunks using a circus springboard, so where do they sleep in real life? 

The illustrations will have readers chuckling over those somersaulting skunks, exhausted elephants, and weary wombats. It would be fun to see how many items appear in common within the various scenes - pajamas, stuffed animals, and blankets, for example. The pastels used to create the pictures lend each vignette a warm and cozy glow, perfect for snuggling up at bedtime.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 Drive


Books featuring vehicles of any kind are always popular in my library, and some kids prefer big trucks over cars and motorcycles. This board book takes readers through a day as a truck driver leaves home and hits the road. The driver's child narrates the story, talking about Daddy driving carefully, stopping for lunch, and finally coming back home.

There are only a few words for each double-spread illustration and the pictures themselves have just enough detail to keep them interesting without being overly fussy. This is a book that shows a parent leaving for work, but returning home in the evening - a topic that fascinates preschoolers who are still trying to make sense of daily routines and object permanence.

Great for truck enthusiasts and kids whose parents drive for a living, whether it is a big rig, a UPS or FedEx van, etc. 

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 Whose Shoes?


This board book is full of sharp, clear photographs. The text begins with the statement that "Most people wear shoes." There is a photo of an infant wearing soft baby shoes, then it talks about shoes for different kinds of weather and shoes in favorite colors. The heart of the book is filled with photos of shoes for specific occupations and the reader may guess what job is begin shown, then turn the page to see if they are correct. The photos include everything from a ballerina to an Army National Guard soldier. And the book brings the whole thing full circle by showing children dressed up as different professionals that they might someday become.

The photos are nicely done and show a mix of men and women in the various careers. I wish there had been more of an effort to show different cultural backgrounds. The only African American is shown playing soccer, which some readers might feel leads to stereotyping since the man is shown in sports and not some other occupation. The children playing dress-up are more of a mix of backgrounds, which is nice to see.

The guessing game portion of the text has the predictable question, "Whose shoes?" for every new type of footwear shown. That will make it easy for beginning readers or pre-readers to chime in at the correct time with the right words. Overall this is a fun look at something we take for granted every day.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!


Books that feature letters and notes between characters can be really funny. Just think of the letters that Farmer Brown receives from the various animals on his farm in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. And what about the letters that are sent to Dear Mrs. LaRue? Don't we all love to laugh at those? 

Paul Meisel's latest picture book features an exchange of notes between two unlikely roommates. Bat has lost his home, and after a lot of searching, finds what he thinks is the perfect new place. Unfortunately, when Squirrel wakes up to find her nest has been moved into, she is not happy. Squirrel tries leaving notes, but Bat doesn't seem to get the message. When she says, "LEAVE MY HOUSE," Bat just adds more leaves to the nest. Will they ever be able to work things out?

While Bat is not as clueless as Amelia Bedelia, he does seem to misunderstand each note. This could be the perfect book to introduce the topic of clear communication and how word choice can affect how a message is perceived. It might also be a good segue into multiple meaning words and how context helps us determine which meaning is intended.

Aside from the vocabulary possibilities, this is also an excellent story for showing that friends don't have to be exactly like each other. These two roommates are opposites in some ways. One is nocturnal, flies, hangs upside down to sleep, and eats bugs. The other sleeps at night, eats nuts, and runs about on four legs. But what they have in common, and the things they choose to share with each other, are more important than their differences.

Whether you need a language arts text, a story about making friends, or just want to enjoy a humorous picture book, you won't go wrong choosing this one.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 You Are NOT a Cat!


Fans of Jon Klassen will feel right at home in this story of an imaginative duck and a very frustrated cat. Poor Cat is busy taking a catnap when up walks Duck and says, "I'm a cat, Meow." No matter how much Cat explains, even imitating the "Quack, quack," that Duck should be saying, it does no good. As it turns out, Duck enjoys pretending to be other animals - a squirrel, a rooster, etc. And how can you be angry with someone who is having such a good time?

Along with Sharon Flake's amusing story-line, Anna Raff's illustrations capture the personality and playfulness of this funny bird. As Cat tries to explain why Duck cannot be a cat, Duck is busy using natural materials to create a cat costume. An acorn on a string becomes a collar and tag, a couple of leaves become pointed ears. This is one super creative fowl.

For those who have small children that enjoy imitating animal noises, this story is a goldmine. Tiny tots can have a great time meowing, quacking, and squawking along. For readers a bit older, the growing frustration as Cat unsuccessfully tries to reason with Duck will have them giggling. And the scene of Cat stomping across a field and shouting, "Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack." will have them rolling with laughter. 

If you enjoy the humor of books like. This Is Not My Hat, then you need to get a copy of You Are NOT a Cat!

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 This Book Is Not About Dragons


Since the debut of David Wiesner's The Three Pigs (2001), the world of picture books has never been the same. The opportunity to play with the "meta" level of stories and invite the reader behind the scenes has been gleefully accepted by many authors. But even before that, there was The Monster at the End of this Book (1971), with the narrator blithely breaking the fourth wall to directly address the reader. Shelley Moore Thomas has created a book that shares features of those beloved favorites with her title, This Book Is Not About Dragons.

The narrator (a mouse with a very dashing bow-tie), assures us that there are no dragons in this book. We are not so sure, since we see claws here, a tail over there, and ominous shadows swooping across the pages. But the mouse blithely saunters through page after page, pointing out rabbits, trucks, pizza, and baby chicks without ever seeming to notice the flames and destruction that follow close behind him. When he finally does clue in, he tries to talk us out of turning the page, but we don't listen. (Did he really think we would?)

As if the story-line were not funny enough on its own, the illustrations add even more hilarity to each page. Illustrator Fred Koehler used "crumpled paper and various incendiary devices including bombs, firecrackers, and blow torches. The resulting detritus was photographed and assembled digitally with digitally rendered drawings." That is a direct quote from the copyright page. And if you can't believe that, what can you trust? (I was also very relieved to hear that no dragons or mice were harmed while creating the book.)

For readers of any age who enjoy the humor of Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, and Mo Willems, here is a book that will be right at home on their bookshelf. Highly recommended.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe


Carole P. Roman continues to add to her new series on different historical periods throughout the world. I just finished the book on Viking Europe. As usual, there are tons of facts and details, including the clothing, foods, and recreation enjoyed by the people of the Vikings around 870 A.D. Carole has chosen the family of a wealthy trader (of the Jarl class), as her example, explaining the home they would have lived in, the social customs, and the education the children would receive. But she also talks about the other social classes, the Carls who were peasants and farmers, and the Thralls who were usually captured in raids and used for hard labor.

Carole explains that there was no standing army, so that men like the father of the family she describes were called on to support the king when he needed soldiers and were rewarded for their service. She also shares how the people were identified by different names depending on the circumstances. We call those who were exploring and trading on their ships, Vikings. If they were settled in villages and farms, we refer to them as Scandinavians. And if they had settled in foreign lands, then they are called Norsemen. The practice of marrying daughters off at the age of 15 will raise some eyebrows, and so will the fact that women had no vote and could not be a chief.

At the back of the book there is a section which gives brief descriptions of famous people such as Erik the Red, Leif Erikson, Cnut the Great, and Emma of Normandy. And there is a glossary of terms to help out readers who may not have encountered terms like wimple, rune, or mantle.

A nice introduction to young readers who are curious about the past and important time periods and people. This series gives a broad overview of each period and location, and enough specifics to answer basic questions while also giving facts that can lead to further research.

I received a copy of the book from the author for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2016 If You Were Me and Lived in ...Poland


The "If You Were Me and Lived in... " series introduces young readers to countries around the world through the eyes of children. The book on Poland is the latest addition to the titles available. How the city of Warsaw is named for the figures in an old legend involving a fisherman and a mermaid is charming. Children will also find the game of looking for gnomes in the city of Wroclaw intriguing - and a bit like the current craze to find Pokemon characters around town.  Common names chosen for boys or girls, and the nicknames for mommy and daddy are also introduced. Favorite foods, sports, and games are described. In the back is a glossary/pronunciation guide for the Polish words such as chrusciki, misiek, and pilka nozna. Readers will be surprised at how different the sounds associated with the letters are when compared to the English pronunciation of the same letters.

Along with the everyday details of home, school, and pastimes, there are other facts about the country and its history. Did you know that the great composer Chopin and the famous astronomer Copernicus were both from Poland? Books such as this are great as a first introduction for elementary school students to the various cultures around the world. Teachers and librarians will find it handy to have the entire set on their shelves.

I received a copy from the author for review purposes.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Reading 2016 Furthermore


Imagine my surprise when I turned the page in the most recent Entertainment Weekly and there was an article about Furthermore! Author Tahereh Mafi is quoted as saying, "I wrote [Furthermore] after I fell in love with Ransom. It was like my life had entered a world of HD hypercolor."

And that is exactly what Furthermore is, a world of hypercolor, danger, trickery, fascinating beauty, and oddness. Alice lives in the world of Ferenwood, but travels to this other realm with her former schoolmate Oliver in search of her father. They encounter many strange things - origami foxes from a 2-dimensional village, Time (or Tim as he invites them to call him), guardian ladies in pantsuits (much scarier than they sound), and even a village built entirely in the tops of gigantic trees. Along the way through all these adventures, they come to know one another and their own strengths. (I'm not telling if they find her father, that would be cheating.)

The writing is as lush and layered as all the colors and personalities within this fantasy world. Mafi makes it easy to imagine the various villages and their inhabitants. She also captures what it is like to be a child of 12, moving into young adulthood and seeing parents with new eyes. "Alice had long suspected that Father was different from everyone else in Ferenwood - his thoughts were richer, his mind fuller, his eyes brighter - but Alice never thought of Father as a man with secrets, and now she was beginning to wonder if she'd really known Father at all." And what it can feel like to do that growing up. "And she was beginning to realize that part of growing up meant growing tender, and that secrets were sometimes wrapped around tender things to keep them safe."

Furthermore is as richly imagined as any trip through a looking glass or down a rabbit hole, and it seems fitting that the protagonist in this story has the same name as the girl in those stories. While there are no hookah-smoking caterpillars or Mad Hatters, there are definitely some queens (and princess and twincesses) that want Alice's head, and Oliver's too. Once you read this story, you may find yourself imagining ever so many impossible things before breakfast.

Highly recommended for those in middle grades and up who enjoy fantasy adventures.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.