Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite Books 2008: Fiction

Here are some of my favorite fiction titles of 2008. As a librarian, I would love to read every book that comes across my desk, but sadly there is never enough time. I do my best to read lots of books and this list represents just some of what I enjoyed this year (in no particular order)...

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Alvin Ho Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. LaFevers
Masterpiece by Elise Broach
The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
Lost and Found by Andrew Clements
My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park
Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favorite Books 2008: Non-fiction

Here is my top 12 list of favorite non-fiction titles for 2008. There were MANY to choose from but these were ones I especially enjoyed reading...

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
Elephants and Golden Thrones: Inside China's Forbidden City by Trish Marx
Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fireside Stories: Tales for a Winter's Eve by Caitlin Matthews and Helen Cann
Frogs by Nic Bishop
What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley
Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills by Julie Cummins
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
This is Your Life Cycle: with Special Guest Dahlia the Dragonfly by Heather Lynn Miller
One Voice, Please by Sam McBratney
The Raucous Royals by Carlyn Beccia
The Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel

Friday, December 26, 2008

Favorite Books 2008: Picture Books

Around this time of year, everyone comes out with a "Best Books" list and this year I decided I would put together one of my own. I'm going to do this in 3 parts: Picture Books, Fiction and Non-Fiction. Different people use different criteria but the books I've chosen were ones that crossed my desk this year that I particularly enjoyed. They are funny, touching and beautifully illustrated books that I encourage you all to check out.

Here are my top 18 picture books for 2008 (in no particular order):

Engelbert Sneem and His Dream Vacuum Machine by Daniel Postgate
Artful Reading by Chris Raczka
Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
Big Plans by Bob Shea
In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck
Madam President by Lane Smith
The Retired Kid by Jon Agee
Thump, Quack, Moo: a Whacky Adventure by Doreen Cronin
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
Baron Von Baddie and the Icy Ray Incident by George McClements
Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
I See Santa Everywhere by Glenn McCoy

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

January Book Selection: The Case of the Missing Marquess

Just a reminder that our January book will be The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer. We will meet to discuss the book at 3:30pm on Monday, January 26, 2009 in the Children's Program Room.

When Enola Holmes, much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared - and on her fourteenth birthday, to make matters worse - she knows she alone can find her. Disguising herself as a grieving widow, Enola sets out to the heart of London to uncover her mother's whereabouts - but not even the last name Holmes can prepare her for what awaits.

Suddenly involved in the kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether, Enola must escape murderous villains, free the spoiled *Marquess, and perhaps hardest of all, elude her shrewd older brother - all while collecting clues to her mother's disappearance.

*Marquess - a European nobleman

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December Meeting Wrap-Up: Love That Dog

The Book Buddies Book Club met yesterday afternoon to discuss Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. All of our members really liked the book and the fact that it is a novel in verse. Our club members are all interested in poetry and enjoy writing poetry of their own, especially poems about animals, seasons, life and holidays! Everyone felt that the book really stood out from other books because of the way it was written. One member found it a little bit hard at the beginning but once she got the hang of it she felt like she knew what was going on. Some of our club members had read novels in verse before and for others, this was their first experience.

We talked about what types of people write poetry. We came up with a number of different adjectives to describe poets including funny, calm, smart, nice, fun and busy!

We discussed the ways in which Jack changes over the course of the story. In the beginning, Jack doesn't like poetry, in fact he believes that boys don't write poetry - girls do. But by the end Jack is inspired by many poems and enjoys writing his own. In addition, Jack's poetry improves over the course of the story and he becomes willing to share it with others without remaining anonymous. Finally, Jack's poetry gives him an outlet for his grief over his dog Sky's death.

Everyone agreed that they would recommend this book to a friend or family member and most are excited about reading the sequel, Hate That Cat!

In addition to our book discussion, we also had special holiday cookies and made poetry snowmen for our craft project. Everyone chose different lines of poetry (either their own or from poetry books) and wrote them on snowman ornaments. We had a lot of fun talking about poetry and creating our snowmen!
It was a terrific meeting and a great way to end 2008! I wish everyone a wonderful winter vacation, very happy holidays and a spectacular new year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Club Meeting Monday!

Just a reminder that the Book Buddies Book Club will be meeting this Monday, December 22nd at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room. We will be discussing Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, having some delicious holiday snacks and doing a craft project. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Novels in Verse

Love That Dog is one example of a novel in verse. Wikipedia defines a novel in verse as a type of "narrative poetry" in which a story is told using poetry instead of prose (traditional storytelling that we are all more familiar with). I've noticed recently that novels in verse seem to be on the rise and that they are particularly popular in young adult literature. Do teenagers respond better to storytelling through poetry rather than through a more traditional narrative? It's an interesting question. There are many wonderful novels in verse and here are just a few you can find in our children's department:

Grow: a Novel in Verse by Juanita Havill (2008)

Two misfit children and other members of a Minneapolis, Minnesota, neighborhood are brought together by a woman creating a community garden.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (2007, a Rhode Island Children's Book Award 2009 nominee)

Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner.

Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown (2006)

Through a series of poems, Rachel expresses her feelings about her parents' divorce, living without her mother, and her changing attitude towards her father.

Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli (2007)

In a series of poems, Diana writes about her life, both before and after her father loses his job and she and her family move far away to live with Grandpa Joe.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech (2004)

Twelve-year-old Annie ponders the many rhythms of life the year that her mother becomes pregnant, her grandfather begins faltering, and her best friend (and running partner) becomes distant.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry?
"The Tiger" (first stanza)
-William Blake

Love That Dog is all about the magic of poetry and how anyone can write a poem - you just have to try. At the start, Jack doesn't want anything to do with writing poetry because he doesn't believe he can do it and he thinks it's just something girls do, but over time he realizes that he can and also that he just might have something to say after all.

Jack is inspired by all of the poems Miss Stretchberry reads to his class and especially by the poetry of Walter Dean Myers. Miss Stretchberry reads poems by Robert Frost, William Blake and Valerie Worth among many others. Have you ever been inspired by a poem? What was it and who wrote it? My favorite poets include Shel Silverstein, Douglas Florian, Naomi Shihab Nye and Maya Angelou. Check out these posts from last April (National Poetry Month) and October (new Children's Poet Laureate announced) about some of my favorite poets and poetry.

I encourage all of you to read a lot of poetry and try writing your own poems. Poetry should be celebrated all year long, not just during National Poetry Month (April). If anyone would like to share something they've written, feel free to send it in as a comment to this post.

Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers is the amazing writer and poet who inspires Jack in Love That Dog to try writing some poetry of his own. His poem "Love That Boy" is the basis for Jack's poem about his dog, Sky, "Love That Dog." Mr. Myers has written many books of poetry for children including:


I hear the call of the cornet
I hear the swingin clarinet
They're playing hot jazz in the heat
Of old New Orleans...

15 poems about the different styles of jazz, from ragtime to swing to be-bop to fusion.


They took to the road in Waycross, Georgia
Skipped over the tracks in East St. Louis
Took the bus from Holly Springs
Hitched a ride from Gee's Bend
Took the long way through Memphis
The third deck down from Trinidad
A wrench of heart from Goree Island
A wrench of heart from Goree Island
To a place called Harlem...

Blues, blues, blues,
blues, what you mean to me?
Blues, blues, blues,
blues, what you mean to me?
Are you my pain and misery,
or my sweet, sweet company?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Few Holiday Reading Recommendations...

As the Fall semester winds down and we prepare for winter vacation, I thought I'd pass along a few holiday reading recommendations to make your season brighter...

On Christmas Eve by Ann M. Martin

Eight-year-old Tess is convinced that if she believes and stays aware of the magic around her, she will meet Santa Claus on Christmas Eve of 1958, when she will thank him for his gifts and ask him to use his magic to cure her best friend's father of cancer.

The Greek Who Stole Christmas: A Diamond Brothers Mystery by Anthony Horowitz

Fourteen-year-old Nick and his brother, an ineffectual private detective, try to prevent the threatened murder of an international pop star in London at Christmas time.

Stink wants snow for the holidays but it hasn't snowed on Christmas in Virginia in more than a hundred years. Will the new mailman, Mr. Jack Frost, be able to make his wish come true?

December Secrets by Patricia Reilly Giff

Each student in Ms. Rooney's room celebrates the December holidays by being a secret pal to a classmate.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hate That Cat!

Sharon Creech has just released a wonderful new sequel to Love That Dog called Hate That Cat!
Newport's copy is on order but additional copies are available through the Ocean State Libraries Catalog.

Author Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech is the amazing author of Love That Dog. She has written many books for children including Heartbeat, Ruby Holler, Walk Two Moons and Chasing Redbird. She has a detailed website with lots of interesting information that I encourage you to visit.

And be sure to check out her Love That Dog page!