Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Shouting at the Rain
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

What it's all about...
Delsie lives with her grandmother in a small seaside town on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This summer Delsie is grappling with a friend who seems to have outgrown her and a mother who left her behind.

Why I love it...
Although the reader may not have experienced everything Delsie is experiencing, Lynda Mullaly Hunt has an expert way of creating characters who are true to life. She depicts them with honesty and respect. Lynda weaves in some great strategies for looking at the world through a different lens to practice gratitude.

Why will kids love it?
Kids will enjoy seeing the friendship between Delsie and Ronan, the new boy in town, evolve.  They will also feel empowered when they learn how Delsie overcomes her negative interactions with the "mean girl" Tressa.

Why will grown-ups love it?
Grown-ups will appreciate the love Delsie's grandmother and neighbors have for her. Grown-ups will also appreciate how Delsie's grandmother intuitively knows how to handle Olive, the cranky neighbor who struggles with her own loss.

Where to find/buy...
Indie Booksellers
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Aside from being one of the nicest and most genuine people on the planet, Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a former teacher who became a writer after taking time to raise her children. She is the author of One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree.







Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

THE LINE TENDER
by Kate Allen

(This week's pick is from cottager & librarian Melanie Roy.)

What it’s all about …
Best friends Lucy and Fred live in the seaport town of Rockport, Massachusetts. Lucy is an artist and Fred is a scientist and together they are working on a field guide of the wildlife they come across over the summer. When Lucy experiences a devastating loss, she relies on her late biologist mother’s shark research proposal to pull her out of despair. 

Why I love it …
This story is so well done. It will break your heart yet leave you with hope. When you finish reading, be sure to go back and re-read the Rachel Carson quote at the beginning. It will have so much more meaning. As I read I kept picturing the seaside town in the Jaws movie as the setting. This book really would make a terrific movie. There is loss, love, laughter, and a road trip. 

The illustrations --  Lucy’s shark drawings -- are incredible. 

Why will kids love it?
I would hand this to a reader in fifth grade and beyond.Kids will love it because they want to grapple with heartbreaking and difficult topics from the comfort of the pages of a book. And it has some really cool sea animal facts that will be interesting to learn. I hope to do a book club with this title to hear their thoughts.

Why will grown-ups love it?
The opening paragraph of the book: “The morning the great white came to Rockport, my best friend and I were sticking our fingers into the coin returns of every pay phone in town. We averaged about two dollars a day during the summer. Most days we cashed in for candy.” What grown-up wouldn’t want to be reminded of those simple pleasures of our childhood? Beyond that, though, this story is so well done. It tackles tough topics and presents it in a way that is not utterly depressing. 

Pair it with:

Great White Shark Adventure (Fabien Cousteau Expeditions)

by Fabien Coustea, James O. Fraioli, and Joe St. Pierre
This graphic novel would be a great companion to The Line Tender.

Where to find/buy …
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

About the Author-Illustrator
Kate Allen grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Minneapolis, MN with her family. The Line Tender is her first novel. You can find Kate on Twitter at @kateallenbooks



Monday, April 29, 2019

FRANK AND BEAN sneak peek!!!!!

Superstar librarian and blogger Margie Myers-Culver recently revealed the cover of the funny new early reader FRANK AND BEAN (Candlewick Press, October 2019)! It's written by our very own Cottager Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Bob Kolar.

Find out if you're a Frank or a Bean on Margie's popular blog Librarian's Quest!



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mr. Pig Live . . . with Parker Bell!

Hello, friends! It's time for an all-new episode of MR. PIG LIVE -- a talk show of scintillating interviews with your favorite children's book characters, hosted by moi, MR. PIG!

Today, we have a special guest joining us. Please give a warm welcome to the STEMtastic star of Cynthia Platt's chapter book, Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship. It's budding scientist . . .



Parker Bell! 
<<applause>>

Welcome to the Cottage, Parker Bell! Let's get started. What one word best describes you?
Mad Scientist! Okay, I know that’s two words, but one word really isn’t enough to describe my scientific know-how.

We don't have many human characters on the show. Do you have a belly button?
I didn’t hatch from an egg, and I’m DEFINITELY a human (I’ve done tests to confirm this already), so I have a belly button. 

What is the best thing about being you?
Having Cassie Malouf, coding and fact-remembering genius, as my best friend. We fit together like complimentary angles.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
You don’t need a superpower when you’re an engineer. You can build a superpower for yourself. But I guess flying would be kind of fun.

What's in your pocket right now? 
One Ultra-Megabot eraser, seven paper clips (you never know when you’ll need them), four guinea pig pellets, and a pencil.


Fascinating! What is your pet peeve?
Can a pet peeve be a person? Or more than one person? Then mine would definitely be my nemeses, the Dempsey Triplets. Aidan, Braidan, and Jaidan a.) tell bad jokes and b.) don’t care about science. Enough said.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring? (Certainly not the Dempsey Triplets.)
Obviously, I’d bring my guinea pig, Algebra. And a desert island wouldn’t be the same with my BFF Cassie and some of my dad’s world famous chocolate chip cookies (I guess I’d bring my dad and my mom along, too!). 

What is your favorite word?
ROBOT. Isn’t that the best word ever? It has a long O and a short O, and sort sounds like what it means. Also, I love to build robots, so it would probably be my fave even if it didn’t sound so fierce.

What is you least favorite word?
I have six least favorite words: “Parker, you’re going to be late!” I hear my parents say them an awful lot. 

What is the worst thing about being you?
My mom really doesn’t understand my fashion sense. She also doesn’t like it when I do things like take apart the toaster to see how it works. I am very misunderstood in my own family.

  1. What are you reading right now?
    I just read Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker and Dow Phumiruk, which I loved. And I took Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling, and Laura Freeman out of the library, so that’s up next. I’m OBSESSED with Katherine Johnson right now! I might need to get a poster of her to put up in my bedroom next to my Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall posters.

    What is your favorite sound?
    The sweet sound of a guinea pig squeaking.

    What is your least favorite sound?
    Did I already mention my parents telling me I’m going to be late? 

    If you could dine with three characters from other books, who would they be?
    Tricky question, but I’d expect nothing less of you, Pig. I’d want to have lunch in my dad’s bakery with Ramona Quimby, Jasmine Toguchi, and Narwhal. Not that a narwhal could really stop by for lunch. Or that it would eat food from my dad’s bakery. Maybe I should have picked someone who was more of a scientific possibility for lunchtime?


    What was it like working with Cynthia Platt? 
    I was a little worried at first because she dresses super-casual like my mom does, but it turns out she’s really into science. She’s even edited lots of nonfiction books, and has a daughter who’s really into science and engineering, too. So she got me.

    She's a lucky writer. And I'm lucky to meet you. Thanks for coming, Parker Bell! We can't wait for your new book -- coming in May! 



Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship
by Cynthia Platt
illustrated by Rea Zhai
(Clarion Books, 2019)

In this fun young-middle-grade novel with STEM appeal, Parker really wants to win the school Science Triathlon—but first she’ll have to figure out how to keep her BFF from being stolen.

Budding scientist Parker Bell really wants to win the school Science Triathlon and follow in the footsteps of her idols, chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall and astronaut Mae Jemison. She’s sure that if she teams up with her trivia whiz BFF, Cassie, they will dominate the Science Bee, Egg Drop, and Animal Adaptation Presentation. When Cassie invites her new friend, Theo, to join their team, Parker is worried—that Theo won't help them win and might steal her best friend. As the three work together, Parker learns that you don’t have to be the best to be a real scientist and a good friend.


Cynthia Platt is a children’s book editor as well as a writer. She’s the author of three picture books: Panda-monium, A Little Bit of Love, and Grow. Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship is her middle-grade debut. Cynthia lives in Massachusetts with her husband (who is a middle school science teacher), daughter (who loves engineering), and guinea pig (who is very unscientific). Visit her online at cynthiaplattbooks.com, on Twitter @cynplatt, and on Instagram @cynthiaplattbooks.










Rea Zhai is an illustrator based in Bejing, China, where she lives with her husband and their three cats. When not working, Rea is a bass player in a small blues band. Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship is her first book for children. Find her online at reazhaiart.com and on Instagram @zhazhazhaart.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Little Crooked Bookshelf



I NEED TO WEE!
by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet


(This week’s pick is from Cottager Jamie Michalak.)  

What it’s all about …
When you gotta go, you gotta go. But Alan the bear is having too much fun to take a wee break. With the help of his friends and a special dance, will Alan make it to the toilet in time?


Why I love it …
Hendra and Linnet have their very young audience squarely in mind at all times and know what tickles a little one's funny bone.

Favorite line ...
The refrain,
"I NEED TO WEE!"
will be a hit at story hour.

Favorite illustration ...

From I NEED TO WEE! by Sue Hendra. Illustration copyright 2015 by Paul Linnet.

Why will kids love it?
Every element is super kid-friendly -- from the map endpapers to the brightly colored illustrations of wacky characters to the funny story about the familiar wee dance. 

Why will parents love it?
It's the perfect book to share with littles known to do the wee dance. Use it as a gentle conversation starter about not waiting as long as Alan.

Where to find/buy …

Or at a school or library near you!

About the Author-Illustrators
Sue Hendra studied illustration at Brighton University while also selling doughnuts from a kiosk at Chessington Zoo. Sue has now illustrated over 100 books for children. When Sue met Paul Linnet she found another person with the same silly sense of humor as her and they fell in love and started writing and illustrating together. Their creative brilliance soon led them to come up with a wealth of bestselling, award-winning picture books including Barry the Fish with FingersNorman the Slug with the Silly ShellSupertato, and most recently the Laugh Out Loud Book Award–winning I Need a Wee. Sue and Paul live in Brighton with their daughter Wanda who inspired Sue’s picture book and TV series Wanda and the Alien.

Paul Linnet was born by the sea near to Brighton, but he grew up in Derby, where he studied graphic design and played guitar in a band called The Chihuahuas. Eventually Paul moved back to Brighton where he met Sue Hendra and they instantly fell in love. Their celebrated picture book partnership has created many bestselling, award-winning books including Barry the Fish with FingersNorman the Slug with the Silly ShellSupertato, and most recently the Laugh Out Loud Book Award–winning I Need a Wee. Sue and Paul live with their daughter Wanda in a house in Brighton where Paul likes to fuss about with an old motorbike and still plays the guitar.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Little Crooked Bookshelf



RUBY IN THE SKY
by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

(This week's pick is from cottager Melanie Roy who is always struggling to be brave.)

What it's all about...
Ruby and her mom just moved to Vermont. Ruby is hoping it is temporary so they can soon go back to Washington D.C and resume the life they used to have. In the meantime, she will fade into the background and not bring any attention to herself. She certainly won't talk about her father. And she definitely won't talk about her mom getting arrested and awaiting trial. But classmate Ahmad is patiently trying each day to be her friend. And Ruby finds herself wanting to visit with "the Bird Lady" at the bottom of her hill more and more.  Eventually Ruby must make a choice: stay quiet or stand up for the people she has grown to care for.

Why I love it...
Ruby is a reminder of the quiet students we have in front of us who have so much more to offer and say than they are showing us. I liked the portrayal of her teacher Mr. Andrews who was patient and persistent with Ruby, not giving up on her and quietly showing her that he had high expectations for her. 

Why will kids love it?
There is a scene in the book where the teacher Mr. Andrews uses scissors to pull apart a baseball and show his students all the layers. He tells them to remember this as they study the person they will portray for the Wax Museum and peel away the layers until they find their person's cork-ball center. I think kids will enjoy getting to know each character in this book because there is so much more to each of them than the misconceptions and rumors about them in this small town.

Why will grown-ups love it?
Grown-ups will love it for the same reason as kids. This book is satisfying because as the story unfolds readers get a chance to learn more about the characters' back stories and realize they are all more resilient than anyone is giving them credit for.

Where to find/buy...

Indie Booksellers
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

About the Author
Ruby in the Sky is Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo's debut novel. It won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award in the Middle Grade Category (2016).  Her next book is set to publish in 2020. You can find her on Twitter @JZulFerr.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Feel Good Friday - The Power of the Read Aloud

Someone Who Makes a Difference 
Mr. Farley and his student (2017)

Fourth graders in Mr. Kevin Farley's class at Hampden Meadows School in Barrington, RI become voracious readers when spending the year in his room. As their school librarian I am a witness to this year after year. Children place holds for and have dozens of books delivered to their classroom each month. They cannot wait to take out their own copy of the book Mr. Farley is currently reading aloud to them. Students are eager to hear about new titles I introduce them to, and they eat out of the palm of my hand. The reason these children have such a positive outlook on literacy boils down to something so simple yet so important and sometimes overlooked: the daily read aloud.


Mr. Farley reads aloud to his students every day and this builds a culture of reading. It gives his class a shared experience and a level playing field. So far this year he has read How to Steal a Dog, Loser, Letters from Rifka, Maniac Magee, Al Capone Does My Shirts, and Crash. His students had lots to say about Mr. Farley's read alouds. I interviewed his class so they could help me write this post. The following paragraphs are completely their contributions.


Before beginning a book, Mr. Farley gives them background knowledge on what they'll need to know, like telling them about Alcatraz for Al Capone Does My Shirts. Before he starts a book, he tells them it's great and why. His class says he has read the book before so he can read it aloud even better, but he never spoils it.


Students love the way Mr. Farley reads aloud to them. They say when he reads, he uses different voices for the characters, and students almost feel like they are in the book. Students say when he does the voices for different characters they can imagine what the characters look like. Students like that if someone is absent, Mr. Farley catches them up on the read aloud when they get back. They also appreciate that he stops and talks about what a word might mean or he explains the time period to make the book easier to understand.


The impact of Mr. Farley's daily read aloud is far-reaching. Students say that by taking the time to read to them he makes them feel important. One child said that Mr. Farley's reading to them gave her a chance to get to know him better. One student said, "Sometimes if we need to take a break from the work we're doing, he will notice and say, 'Let's take a break and read for a bit.'" Yet another compelling reason to read aloud to students is a quote from a girl in Mr. Farley's class: "Whenever he reads aloud, it makes me feel calm."


I asked the class if anyone liked reading more this year after hearing Mr. Farley read aloud to them. Eighteen students raised their hand. One girl said his read alouds made her want to read more books and read all night. One boy said, "He mostly reads realistic fiction, which encouraged me to read other realistic fiction titles such as the Mr. Terupt series, One for the Murphys, and Eggs by Jerry Spinelli." Some students report that they enjoy reading the book along with Mr. Farley. One girl said before she had Mr. Farley she had seen the covers of the books he read aloud and wasn't interested, but now she wants to read the books he reads to them. Another girl said it makes her want to read the books again and imagine him doing the voices.


A few years back, one of Mr. Farley's students (pictured above) wrote her Library of Congress Letter About Literature to Jerry Spinelli because Mr. Farley had shared his books with her. I reached out to Mr. Spinelli through email to let him know about the student's letter and how her fourth grade teacher helped her develop a love of his books. Jerry Spinelli graciously wrote a letter to the student and sent a signed Maniac Magee poster for Mr. Farley as well. It was a thrilling day at our school. And a true testament to how a teacher who takes the time to read aloud to his students makes a bigger impact than he will ever truly comprehend.