Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Pair of Picture Books!

Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead have created a delightful tale about waiting patiently for spring.  This story is gentle and thoughtfully paced, and the promise of spring and all her beauty is fully realized.  Erin Stead's illustrations are a perfect compliment to Fogliano's prose.  And Then It's Spring is great new addition to my spring story-time collection and well deserving of the Caldecott Award that was bestowed upon it and its creators this January.


Boot & Shoe written and illustrated by two time Caldecott Honoree Marla Frazee is the story of 2 dogs content to live together, but exist separately- Boot is a back porch kind of dog and while Shoe prefers the front porch.  This arrangement seems to be working out fine, until a squirrel comes to the yard and causes quite a calamity.  A sweet, fun and funny book for my dog story-time! I am a big fan of Frazee's work and Boot & Shoe are a great addition!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

Lisa Graff, author of Umbrella Summer has created a magical world in Pougkeepsie, NY ( a rather ordinary place, I have found) where nearly everyone has a special Talent.  And yes, that's Talent with a capital T.

Each chapter tells the story of a different person's gift and their life's path and the culmination of all these situations is the tangle referenced in the title.  Graff manages to take every quirky circumstance and tie all of these knots into a beautiful, magical bow.

At the forefront of A Tangle of Knots is Cady, the orphaned cake baker with an affinity for knowing the perfect cake for each person she meets.  Cady lives with Miss Mallory at the Home for Lost Girls and she has a knack for finding the perfect family for each of her charges, except of course, Cady, who cheerfully bakes Adoption Day cakes for all of the girls who eventually leave the home.  

Across town The Owner of the Lost Luggage Emporium is bitterly carrying the baggage (pun intended, sorry) of his lost family treasure while his upstairs tenants; The Ashers, troublesome Zane and Will; Marigold, who is searching desperately for her Talent and terrified that she'll only be Simply Fair and Mrs. Asher, the incredible knitter and Mom, are each harboring their own secret. 

With quirky, fun characters and recipes* this story evoked Polly Horvath's delightful Everything on a Waffle.  And the serendipitous world in which they reside, full of secrets and Talents, reminded me of Ingrid Law's lovely Savvy.  Thoroughly enjoyable, but you need to pay close attention to see how everything and everyone ties together.  

*Warning! Recipes will make you long for a trip to the bakery.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder R.J. Palacio’s debut novel is topping all of the Best Books of 2012 lists, and with good reason.  Wonder is joyful and sad and beautiful.

Auggie Pullman is about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, a rather progressive school in Upper Manhattan.  Auggie has been home schooled up to this point in his life because he was born with severe facial deformities that have required surgeries, hospitalizations and constant care and attention. 

While Auggie’s looks have always garnered stares and unwanted attention,  he was generally safe in the cocoon provided by his family: Mom, Dad, big sister Via, his beloved dog, Daisy, the dog and a few friends.  All that changes when Auggie agrees to attend Beecher Prep.  While transition is difficult, Augie perseveres.  

This is a family story, a school story, a story of self discovery and self acceptance.  I read it in one sitting.  While I was captivated by Auggie and how he grows, the novel also features some full realized secondary characters like:  Auggie’s sister,  Via, and her estranged friend Miranda, and Summer who befriends Auggie in the dreaded cafeteria.    Although, the story is primarily Auggie’s, I enjoyed the alternating narrators and felt it helped us to learn about Auggie struggles and the effects on their family through others, specifically Via. 

Everyone is struggling.  Auggie works at adapting to school and the inevitable cliques, friends and bullies. Via is trying hard to figure out where she fits in the family as Auggie’s sister and protector and to find her place in her own new school and with and without friends.  Their parents are on new shaky ground, wanting Auggie to spread his wings, attend school and make friends and terrified how the world will react to Auggie’s deformities. Everyone learns  to cope and there is much humor and hope along the way.  

Our Mother Daughter Book Club recently read Wonder and everyone’s sentiments echo my own.  Wonder is thoughtful and well written and so worthwhile.   I think you should run to the library and get a copy today!  And it wouldn’t hurt to have some tissues handy!