Friday, April 25, 2008
Title: Zoobooks: Lions
Author: John Bonnett Wexo
Illustrator: Richard Orr (paintings)
Publisher: Zoobooks/Wildlife Education, Ltd.
Publication Date: March 2008
Full of color photographs, paintings, and other graphic illustrations, this periodical walks the reader through the life and habitats of lions. Part of the popular Zoobooks! series that features various animals inspired by the author's trips to local zoological gardens, this issue highlights many access features including illustrations, photographs with captions, diagrams (cutaways and cross-sections), sidebars and inserts, author and illustrator notes, and photo credits. Each periodical includes an activities insert that focuses on vocabulary development, aristic and creative activities, parental involvement activities, facts, and questions. These periodicals also include teacher lesson guides and activities available at their thematic curriculum link.
Title: Give Me Liberty!: The Story of the Declaration of Independence
Author: Russell Freedman
Illustrator: Russell Freedman
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
Publication Date: November 2001
In this 96 page recounting of the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Freedman relates the various challenges and issues that arose within the birth of the American nation. Freedman uses quotations, contextual situations, and actions to define and describe the forefathers including Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and Washington. Additionally the book includes the full text of the Declaration, facsimiles of the first and final drafts, and a list of all its signers. This book is a sure winner for any teacher or student studying the origins of the United States.
Title: The Reason For a Flower
Author: Ruth Heller
Illustrator: Ruth Heller
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: February 1999 (reissued)
Heller is known for informational books written in rhyme and this book is no different. Labeling the parts of a flower as well as its purpose in the ecosystem, Heller walks the reader through the botany and ecology in a simple story with an entertaining rhythm. The illustrations are beautifully done and include some flowers that don't appear to be flowers but really are. This is part of Ruth Heller's "World of Nature" series.
Title: Galaxies, Galaxies
Author: Gail Gibbons
Illustrator: Gail Gibbons
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
Publication Date: September 2006
Take a bite out of the Milky Way and explore our universe in this delightful book about our solar system (albeit now outdated due to recent astronomical redefinitions) and the galaxy in which we live. Learning about astronomy the science, the astronomers who make this science their livelihood, telescopes, and the types of galaxies that are classified makes this a great resource for a basic astronomy information in the classroom, with caveats regarding distortion of size and redefinition of planets.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Title: Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures, Vol. 1
Author: J. Torres
Illustrator: J. Bone
Alison Dare is not your typical 12-year-old. The daughter of an archeologist/adventurer and the masked hero known as the Blue Scarab (and the niece of an international super-spy), Alison's life has always been different from other girls her age. A craving for danger is in her blood. Sent by her parents to the prestigious St. Joan of Arc Academy for Girls, hoping that this would lead to a more "normal" life for their daughter, Alison and her cohorts, Wendy and Dot, seem to have the adventures find them. Genies, bank robbers with super powers, and members of the peerage bent on world domination all cross Alison's path. A modern day, preteen combo of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, these graphic novels are sure to be a hit with youngsters of both sexes.
Title: The River of Wind (Guardians of Ga'Hoole Series #13)
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: July 2007
The owls are seeking out a sixth kingdom in this thirteenth book of the series. Following the religious incident with the ember worship which nearly destroyed the colony, Coryn and the Chaw of Chaws have returned order. However the band must seek out the new kingdom when Bess, from the Palace of Mists, discovers the unknown sixth kingdom across the Unnamed Sea. The owls set out on a quest to discover the new land and also to rescue one of the triplets who has wandered astray and been sucked into the River of Wind, unbeknownst to the band. They discover a new group of monastic owls who differ than any others from the Five Kingdoms but the challenge comes from the race against the Purists and their desire to restore the ember. This low fantasy novel features talking owls and other creatures as well as foreign settings and is indicated to appeal to nine to twelve year olds. The owl language can be difficult to follow at times and this doesn't seem to be a good series to start at a midpoint as the previous story lines tie into the current one.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Title: Artemis Fowl : The Arctic Incident
Author: Eoin Colfer
Publisher: Hyperion/Miramax Kid
Pub. Date: May 2003
Artemis Fowl, the thirteen year old criminal genius and mastermind returns in this book to rescue his father from the clutches of the Russian Mafiya. However, Fowl's plans run afoul of the LEPrecon forces that seek him out based on curious goings-on in the Underworld. Forced to ally himself with Captain Holly Short and the other magical creatures of the LEPrecon regime, Fowl may not be able to ransom his father in time. This fantasy book transports the reader through the center of the earth and to the Artic Circle. Following traditional fantasy celebrating imagination and intellect this series engages readers both young and old.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Title: The Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pub. Date: March 1995 (reprint)
The first, in a subsequent series of fourteen fantasy novels, takes Dorothy Gale from Kansas to the emerald land of Oz as a result of a cyclone. This novel has been noted for its political overtones and themes which were revelant to social issues of the day, such as the gold and silver standards, however the novel itself has withstood the test of time. Dealing with various children's fears regarding a lack of dedication (heart), lack of intelligence (brain), and childhood nightmares and worries (courage), the book takes a turn into each child's imagination and teaches them that their concerns can be overcome. This book makes an excellent read aloud and the film version starring Judy Garland, while not to be missed, is and inaccurate retelling of Baum's bedtime tale.
Title: The Black Cauldron (Chronicles of Prydain Series #2)
Author: Lloyd Alexander
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated
Pub. Date: May 2006
In this third book of the Chronicles of Prydain series, Taran, the assistant pig keeper, goes in search of one of his charges Hen Wen who appears to have gone insane. Taran discovers that Hen Wen is in fact magical and possesses powers of premonition. Through Hen Wen's visions, Taran and guardian Dallben discover that the Horned King seeks the Black Cauldron, a vessel which contains the imprisoned soul of an evil king and that the Horned King plans to utilize Hen Wen for that purpose. Taran encounters Gurgi, a creature who wishes to befriend Taran, while traveling through the forest but must follow the dragon like creatures that capture Hen Wen and take her to the Horned King. Taran saves Hen Wen by pitching her into the moat but himself is captured and placed in the dungeon where he encounters Princess Eilonwy who is dismayed to discover that Taran is not a hero but instead an assistant pig keeper. Taran and Eilonwy encounter Fflewddur and it is at that point that Taran discovers his sword and its magical abilities. Later in the woods, the witches, now in the form of clouds, inform the heroes that the Black Cauldron can never be destroyed, but only its evil power can be stopped. A living being must climb into the cauldron of his own free will, however the good person shall never climb out alive. This novel is based loosely on Welsh mythologies however it deviates from Welsh lore and the geography and history are not Welsh in nature. This book follows the traditional hero tale as well as including elements of high fantasy: unusual creatures, quests and magic.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Title: Island of the Blue Dolphins
Author: Scott O'Dell
This is the 1960 Newbery Award winning tale of Karana, based on the real life individual Juana Maria a member of the Nicoleno tribe who was stranded on San Nicholas Island. Karana's small village of Ghalas-at is visited by Aleuts who wish to hunt sea otters on their island. The Aleuts attempt to leave before paying the villagers. A war breaks out and many of Karana's tribe are killed. When a village elder attempts to get a ship to take the remaining tribe to safety a storm breaks out and Karana jumps ship when she realizes her brother has been left on the island. Karana's brother is subsequently killed by the village dogs which have become feral and she takes on duties and responsibilities previously reserved only for the men in the tribe in order to assure her own survival. Avowing revenge on the dogs, Karana kills many of the feral pack but injures the leader whom she later befriends. The Aleuts return, this time with a young woman who eventually befriends Karana. Later a ship appears to rescue Karana. She dresses in her finest clothing, a skirt made of cormorant feathers and a sea otter pelt top. Her rescuers determine that Karana is unprepared for civilization, dress her appropriately, and take her to a mission in Santa Barbara. This book remains a popular choice because it discusses gender roles and responsibilities, offers an opportunity for youth to debate whether they would be able to step up as Karana did, and offers an opportunity to discuss various environmental concerns. Young adult readers may identify with Karana for her courage and nobility as well as her personal dedication.