By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
Due to my profession, I am constantly reading book reviews to select the best possible new titles for my library. When the books arrive, I then spend time reading as many of them as I can so I can accurately do everything from recommend titles to parents and kids to finding the best new read aloud for story time.
I thought it was definitely time to share some of the best titles I have run across so far in 2013.
Red Cat Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond. Red Cat and Blue Cat both have things they are good at, but they envy each other. Red Cat is sure that Blue Cat thinks he’s all that…and vice versa. Until the day a challenge is issued and a friendship is born instead. Great illustrations and a good message make this picture book a winner. For ages 3 and up.
Rabbityness by Jo Empson. An old favorite book of mine is Frederick by Leo Lionni. Frederick imparts the idea that art is just as important as anything else to life. Now Rabbityness does the same thing. Black rabbit likes to do ordinary things, but he also likes to make music and paint. One day, black rabbit disappears and the other rabbits are sad…until they go down his rabbit hole and realize they can celebrate his legacy with their own unrabbity things. Besides being artistically gorgeous, this picture book tackles both the idea of dealing with loss as well as creativity. Just fabulous. For ages 3 and up.
Penguin’s Hidden Talent by Alex Latimer. This book made me chuckle more than any other has in a long time. Penguin looks for a talent to perform in the variety show, but when he can’t do anything like juggle appliances, perform magic or burp the alphabet, he decides to just help plan the show instead. The show is a big hit, but Penguin is still a bit sad to be talentless. His friends try to cheer him up with a party, but do a rotten job. Which is when Penguin realizes he DOES have a talent–for event planning! The illustration details are hilarious as is the side commentary by various characters (“Is that the King of Norway?” “Why yes, I believe it is.”). Adults will chuckle over the band The Jolly Llamas singing “Ice Ice Baby” while the kids enjoy the picture book on a straightforward level. For ages 5 and up.
Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It by Michael Kaplan. Betty Bunny has already been learning lessons in Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake and Betty Bunny Wants Everything. In this installment, Betty breaks a lamp and learns to lie about it. Then she learns to tell the truth. Maybe she learns to tell the truth a little TOO well. Any which way you look at it, Betty Bunny and her family tackle typical issues young children face with humor along with the moral of the story. The stories are a bit long for the youngest ones, but ages 5 and up will get a real kick out of it.
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. If we had all had such entertaining books about grammar when we were in school, proper punctuation would never be a problem. Exclamation mark knows it is different and doesn’t fit in, but it isn’t until Question mark comes along that it learns its true use. And so do we! A clever story that shows correct use of question marks and exclamation points. Plus grown ups will recognize the “paper” in the background of each illustration.
Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City by Wendelin Van Draanen. I am a big fan of unintentional detective Sammy Keyes. She’s like the 8th grade version of Murder, She Wrote, where a crime just happens whenever she’s around. This is the 16th book in the series and we are finally treated to the solution of more than one mystery, including the unknown father that her mother has been hiding from Sammy all her life. What makes the series worthwhile (outside of solid mysteries) are the terrific characters we’ve come to meet and love over the years, and this title won’t disappoint. I wouldn’t start with this book if you haven’t read any of them–you really want to pick up Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief to begin properly. But readers ages 10 and up will be pleased to eat up this mystery series.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Last year, Meyer wrote a scifi version of Cinderella where our protagonist, Cinder, is a cyborg girl living in a futuristic plague-ridden China. The unusual setting made it stand out even while the twists of the plot weren’t unexpected. This year, book 2 in the Lunar Chronicles series weaves in the plot of Red Riding Hood. The story alternates between Scarlet’s search for her kidnapped grandmother (and yes, there is a “Wolf” in the story, but not how you expect) and Cinder’s escape from the prince, the Lunar Queen and prison. It is a rare day for me to say that the sequel is better, but this installment is far more inventive and interesting than Cinder was. Worth picking up for your teen readers, ages 13 and up.
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. The final book in the Across the Universe trilogy was well worth the wait. Each book has introduced the mix of science fiction and a suspenseful mystery, told via the varying points of view of Amy and Elder. I can barely tell anything or I’ll spoil it, but suffice it to say the crew of the Godspeed finally manage to make it to the surface of the planet after hundreds of years aboard ship. Let’s just say it isn’t what they expected. Really great read for teens ages 14 and up.
Keep your eyes peeled for more new book reviews coming your way in this space.
|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”
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