Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite MG Books for 2012

My Year in Review:   I found many well written and wonderful books this past year in the middle grade area. I am always happy when I find ones that have strong characters, good development and of course, positive messages for our young readers. Looking back at my list, I was disappointed that I did not have more time for reading middle grade this year. I plan on making a conscience effort next year for a better list. One thing I do know is that the books I did read were very memorable. Too many books today are promoted for middle grade readers that are advanced in content and are just not a right fit for their reading level or maturity. Here are a few that stood out as some great reads this past year for me.

I am looking forward to what the new year has to offer from a few of my favorite authors and finding many new ones as on the link for my reviews!

Listening for Lions     Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelen

Marty McGuire Digs Worms!     Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner

An Elephant in the Garden     Elephant in the Garden by Michael Murpurgo

Pie     Pie by Sarah Weeks

The Adventures of Tintin: A...     The Adventures of Tintin by Alex Irvine

Mo Wren, Lost and Found     Mo Wren, Lost and Found by Tricia Stringstubb

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars...     Super-Sized Slugger by Cal Ripken, Jr.

Spy School     Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Favorite Picture Books of 2012

My Year in Review:  This was another outstanding year for wonderful picture books. I definitely had a few favorites from old authors as well as some new ones who I hope will continue to inspire our children to read with their writing talents. I also don't know where this year has gone but boy, has it flown by! Looking back at my list today though, I wished that I had been able to find more time for searching and reading. I am sure there are plenty more I have not yet discovered and will make a conscience effort to do better next year. There were a variety of stories with good humor, sweet and heartwarming animals and characters or just wonderful messages for our little ones to learn from. Here are a few that stood out as being some of my favorites from 2012.

I am looking forward to what next year has to offer as on the link for my reviews!

Sky Color    Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds

Rocket Writes a Story     Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

The Christmas Quiet Book      The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

Bear Has a Story to Tell     Bear has a story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead

Me...Jane     Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

No Two Alike     No Two Alike by Keith Baker

Over and Under the Snow     Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

Red Sled     Red Sled by Lita Judge

Crafty Chloe     Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio

Favorite YA Books for 2012

My Year in review:  As for the Young Adult category, I did not do so well....  Over the course of the year, I remember abandoning a few choices because either the characters were weak or the book was so similar to another that I read that I lost interest and it sat around for too long. I do hope to improve on this part and have two books lined up for the start of the new year already. Maybe they will spark me to find more good reads from last years favorite authors or some new debut ones. The one book that I did read was very memorable and I found that it stayed with me for quite a while. I guess that is what I am looking for when I venture into a young adult read.

I am looking forward to what the new year has to bring my on the link for my review!

The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cold Snap review

Cold Snap
It's snowy cold in the town of Toby Mills. The thermometer is sinking toward zero, and the icicle hanging from the nose of General Toby's statue is growing closer to the ground. The newspaper headline reads "COLD SNAP!" The people of the town are losing hope—and the feeling in their toes—until the mayor's wife saves the day with a toasty treat.(goodreads summary)

As each day passes, it becomes colder and colder in Toby Mills. People are stuck on the city train, the furnace goes out at the local church and street workers make fires in metal drums. The townsfolk are trying everything to keep warm but their spirits are dwindling as the temperatures plunge lower every day. That is until the Mayor's wife has a winter surprise in store that will bring back warmth to the city.  Here is a book that is perfect for the cold winter season. After reading this, it reminded me of when I was a kid and we used to have this kind of weather in Wisconsin.  Not so much anymore, but it was nice to have the memory again. The illustrations are bold with primary colors and whimsical. The descriptive storyline really offers that small town feel facing a cold snap and in the end the community coming together for a heartwarming surprise. I think this is a "just right book" for ages  4-8.~

Title: Cold Snap
Author: Eileen Spinelli
Pub. Date: October 2012, Knopf Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Penguin and Pinecone review

Penguin and Pinecone
When Penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms. But Grandpa reminds Penguin that pinecones can't live in the snow-they belong in the warm forest far away. Though he will miss his friend, Penguin returns Pinecone to his home, dreaming of the day they can reunite. And when he finally returns to the forest to check on his friend, Penguin discovers that love only grows over time-and so do little pinecones!(goodreads summary)

One day, little Penguin finds an unusual object in the snow.  Whatever it was seemed cold. Penguin made it a nice warm scarf and spent many days with it. Unfortunately, the snowy ice is no place for a pinecone so Penguin packs it up for a journey back to the forest where it belongs.  This was a wonderful story about caring and friendship that will warm you from head to toe.  After the two are separated, they both are reunited and Penguin finds a big surprise. They spend a fun day together and soon it is time for Penguin to travel back home. Even though they are sad to be apart, they knew what was best for one another.  The text is simple but the illustrations are cute and heart-warming adding even more to this loving tale making it a great read on a cold winter's day. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-7.~

Title: Penguin and Pinecone
Author: Salina Yoon
Pub. Date: October 2012, Walker & Co.
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just Right for Christmas review

Just Right for Christmas

In this celebration of the joy of giving, one snowy Christmas eve, a king buys some soft, red cloth to make the perfect Christmas gift for his daughter. Little does he know that the left-over cloth will be used to make presents for many more of the kingdom’s inhabitants, right down to the last teeny bit of cloth which is made into a scarf just right for a mouse. (goodreads summary)

One day, a King sees the most beautiful red bolt of fabric. He decides it would make a perfect cloak for the Princess and the remaining leftover pieces are placed outside the castle door. When the kitchen maid finds them, she knows she could make the perfect gift for someone special.  As each piece dwindles down in size, it is gently passed on and picked up by another. This is a very sweet book about sharing and giving that is perfect for the holiday season.  The illustrations are joyful and large while the text flows nicely for reading aloud. The warm and generous thoughts of each individual is evident in the storyline as they hand make the perfect gift for that someone special.  In the spirit of giving, this book will show its readers that a just right Christmas is one that comes from the heart. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-7.

Title:  Just Right for Christmas
Author: Birdie Black,  illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Pub. Date: September 2012, Nosy Crow
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Christmas Quiet Book review

The Christmas Quiet Book
The holidays are filled with joyful noise. But Christmas is sometimes wrapped in quiet: “Searching for presents quiet,” “Getting caught quiet,” and “Hoping for a snow day quiet.” Irresistibly cute, soft colored pencil illustrations of bunnies, bears, and more paint a magical holiday picture indeed.(goodreads summary)

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes we need to stop and reflect on a quiet moment or two. This sweet and charming book will help you wind down with a cup of hot cocoa and bring you back to a more peaceful and serene feeling.  With its' cute characters and illustrations, each quiet moment is portrayed with such wonderful imagery that when I read it I experienced a sense of calmness. I enjoyed the variety of quiet moments but my favorite was the Luminaria quiet.  After reading that page, I felt the outdoor sensation of slowly walking in the forest surrounded by the snow and just being one with my thoughts.  Just like in The Quiet Book and The Loud Book, the illustrations are touching and full of expression giving me a smile afterwards.  Christmas is fast approaching and old man winter will soon be knocking on our door. This book is a nice reminder that we should take a break to stop and think about cherishing those special, quiet moments in our everyday life. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-6.~

Title: The Christmas Quiet Book
Author: Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska
Pub. Date: October 2012, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

You may also enjoy: (click for my reviews)

The Quiet Book            The Loud Book!