Saturday, July 31, 2004

Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives

In The Case of the Graveyard Ghost: And Other Super-Scientific Cases, 2002, by Michele Torrey, Barbara Johansen Newman, fifth graders Drake Doyle, Nell Fossey and her dog, Dr. Livingston (I presume) use reason and the scientific method to solve mysteries. When a classmate gets stuck in a laundry chute, they use baking soda and vinegar to “force” her out of the chute. Scientific principles are explained in the context of the story.

Kids who are looking for another series like Junie B. Jones will enjoy the humor and witty dialogue. The Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives series will be popular with readers of all ages.

Science teachers can use the books as an entertaining and quick read-aloud. There is also a section at the back of the book with experiments to demonstrate the science in the stories.
Great fun!

The other books in the series are The Case of the Gasping Garbage, The Case of the Mossy Lake Monster, and The Case of the Barfy Birthday.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Creepy story...

Skeleton Man, 2001 by Joseph Bruchac is a book that does a number of things very well. The story is tremendously creepy and scary. Molly's parents have mysteriously disappeared. A great uncle that Molly has never heard of has suddenly shown up to care for her. He is very sinister and locks her in her room at night. Molly is a great character. She is strong and resourceful and ultimately saves herself by drawing on her Mohawk heritage. The background of the Native American “skeleton man” folktale is terrific. The final scenes are absolutely gripping.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Read me a story

If you want someone to read you a story, check out BookPals Storyline Online.
The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is proud to bring you Storyline Online, an on-line streaming video program featuring SAG members reading childrens books aloud.

Actors like Elijah Wood, Amanda Bynes and Tia and Tamera Mowry read picture books. The BEST reader though is Sean Astin who reads A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. David Shannon is a great author/illustrator. His illustrations for the book How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long are hilarious. His David books are always a hit with kids.

Fun with Hypnotism!

When you see the cover of Georgia Byng’s book, Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism, 2003, you might think it is a story about a dog. It is actually the tale of a young orphan with thin legs and splotchy skin named Molly Moon. Her life at Hardwick House is not happy but it is made bearable by her fellow orphan and best friend, Rocky. Things start to change for her when she discovers a book, Hypnotism: an ancient art explained at the library. Imagine being able to hypnotize your way to success. Unfortunately, she must evade the clutches of the ruthless Professor Nockman who will stop at nothing to possess the book. Along the way she must learn what it really means to be happy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Mighty Boy

Just finished Mighty Boy, 1999, by Carol Sonenklar. Howard Weinstein is bright but "small for his age." He has recently moved to a new school and has not made any friends. He is beset by bullies who make his life miserable. Howard's favorite TV show is "Mighty Boy" and watching the program is the best part of his day. Howard daydreams and lives in a fantasy "Might Boy" world. When he wins a contest to meet Mighty Boy and appear in an episode, he has an opportunity to become a hero in his own right. TV characters do take on a life of their own in some children's imaginations. Kids will identify with Howard. A nice read, especially for boys!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Sequel to Gregor the Overlander coming soon!

According to the Amazon website, author Suzanne Collins will publish Gregor and The Prophecy Of Bane in September 1, 2004.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Coretta Scott King Award Seal

I have looked at the Coretta Scott King Award seal so many times on book covers and never known the beautiful meaning behind it. You can see the seal here.
The Coretta Scott King Award Seal was designed by internationally-known artist Lev Mills in 1974. The symbolism used in designing the seal centers around Dr. King's teachings and doctrines, the purpose for which the Award was founded.

The basic circle represents continuity in movement, revolving from one idea to another. Within the circle is the image of a black child reading a book. The five main religious symbols below the image of the child represent nonsectarianism. The superimposed pyramid symbolizes both strength and Atlanta University, where the Award was headquartered at the time the seal was designed. At the apex of the pyramid is the dove, symbolic of peace, one of Dr. King's doctrines. The rays shine toward peace and brotherhood.

Chicken Liberation

Love, Ruby Lavender, 2002, is an exquisite little gem by Deborah Wiles. Ruby Lavender comes from a long line of strong women. The story starts off with a chicken "liberation" raid by Ruby and her grandmother, Miss Eula. Their wonderful relationship is at the heart of this story. Living in Halleluia, Mississippi, Ruby is looking forward to her summer until Miss Eula leaves to visit a new grandbaby in Hawaii. In letters to her grandmother Ruby pours out her woes and her triumphs. Things start looking up when a new teacher and his family move to town. The teacher's niece, Dove, becomes a good friend. She helps Ruby resolve issues surrounding her grandfather's death and her on-going feud with classmate, Melba Jane. Ruby is an exuberant spirit who loves her chickens and calms them by reading them the dictionary. This book is funny, tender, and full of love. Go read it!
Her bare feet slapped the dirt road, and her ponytailed red hair leaped all over the place, like a fire chasing her down the hill.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

A loss for children

Sad news on Thursday: author Paula Danziger has died. BBC News has a nice tribute to her without too much advertising on the webpage. Her books have been favorites with children for a long time. Her books are funny and imaginative. Some of her titles include the Amber Brown stories, The Cat Ate my Gymsuit,and the Matthew Martin series.
With author Anne M. Martin she wrote stories of friendship in Snail Mail No More and P.S. Longer Letter Later. One of my favorites in recent years is The United Tates of America. Paula loved scrapbooking and she incorporated her hobby into this story of family love. It is a terrific read. She loved writing for kids.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

More on Chasing Vermeer

One of the best books I have read all summer is Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. Well, the movie rights have been sold. For more information about the business side of the book click here.
NEW YORK, June 15, 2004 - Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, announced today that Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired the movie rights of The New York Times best-selling mystery novel Chasing Vermeer...

The book, which Newsweek called "The Da Vinci Code for tweens," is written by debut novelist Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist, the illustrator of the New York Times best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket. Chasing Vermeer has garnered rave reviews with The New York Times praising it as "suspenseful, exciting, charming and unexpectedly moving" and the Chicago Tribune hailing it "an amazing page-turner for adults and children ...

Scholastic also has a terrific website devoted to the book. You can play with pentominoes and check out the hints to the "reader's challenge" that illustrator Brett Helquist hid in the pictures.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ghoulish fun...

Eva Ibbotson writes stories about funny and not too scary ghosts; a recurring theme is displaced or homeless ghosts. One of my favorites books is Dial—Ghost where the ghost family has to make its home in a knicker shop (Ibbotson is British…think—Jockey brand)

The Haunting of Granite Falls
, 2004 is the story of a millionaire who purchases an ancient Scottish castle from 12-year-old orphan Alex MacBuff, and moves it to Texas. Every castle has ghosts; this one has five of them: Krok, a Viking warrior; Miss Spinks, a governess intent on drowning herself; Stanislaus, a toothless vampire; Flossie, a child/poltergeist; and Cyril, a hellhound. They are the only family Alex has every had.

Her writing always makes me grin. There is just the right touch of ghoulish humor. Her “Granite Falls” could be modeled on Marble Falls, Texas; “where Granite Mountain is a huge dome of high-quality pink and red granite, prized worldwide. Quarrying began in the 1880s for construction of the Texas Capitol. An unending flow of the superb material has continued ever since, yet the bulk of the dome has hardly been diminished.” A interesting connection for Texas readers.

Read more about Eva and her books here.
Island of the Aunts, 2001 is wonderful.

Entertaining Mystery

Deep Doo-Doo and the Mysterious E-Mail, 2001
by M. C. Delaney, Michael Delaney
Election politics and cyber sleuthing make this a timely and entertaining read.
Pete and Bennet are best friends and run the Deep Doo-Doo website. They live to be the first to break a story. Someone stuck a big pumpkin on top of the Town Hall flag pole. How did it get up there? Who did it? Are the mysterious coded emails coming in to the website a clue? Mysteries abound in the context of the town’s mayoral election.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Oh, Seuss! Off to Great Places

July 2, 2004 – September, 2005
The Children's Museum of Manhatten is hosting this 4,000 sq. ft. Dr. Seuss exhibit.

Celebrate the magic of Dr. Seuss and free your imagination to take you to new places! Join Horton and the Cat in the Hat in a world where you can fly while standing still, catch falling words in your hands, teeter on a circus tightrope, unslump a mighty Borfin, navigate a hot air balloon, and play with rhyme in the Green Eggs and Ham train.

Kids can put the Throm-dim-bu-lator back together. There is also a Borfin to schlump and unschlump. CMOM has a has an informative NYTimes article about the creativity and engineering know-how it took to put on the show. It will be at CMOM for over a year and then begin a 3 year tour. Wondering if it will get to the Houston Children's Museum...

Harry Potter Online Quiz and Trivia

Scholastic has the ultimate Harry Potter quiz game on their site. Forget AR, these questions are truly difficult, or at least they were for me. My in house expert, however, knew everything. She got 22 correct in a row. Check it out here.

Monday, July 05, 2004

More about Walden Media

What an interesting entertainment company. Their website has astonishing statements on it:
Walden Media is committed to producing entertainment that makes a real impact on young audiences, inspiring them to explore the world around them. We are both a Hollywood studio making acclaimed movies and a network of educators developing innovative ways to use film in the classroom.

And this:
A Walden Media project begins with compelling source material, like a book that kids, their parents, teachers, and community leaders already love and admire.

The list of some of the movies in the works is quite admirable. Because of Winn-Dixie,Bridge to Terabithia, Nim's Island, and (wow!) The Giver.

The Chronicles of Narnia: the movie

Over 50 years ago, C.S. Lewis created a land of wonder and enchantment called Narnia, and since then over 60 million readers have discovered the wondrous world that exists beyond the back of the wardrobe.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that the idea for the Narnia books came to him from images: "a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen in a sledge, a magnificent lion."

It is going to be a movie or two or three. This could be promising but the Disney touch is a worry. Maybe they will be content to just put up the money. They are anxious for a franchise a la Harry Potter or LOTR. The following is lifted from the Narnia website.

Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Shrek 2) is directing the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book published in C.S. Lewis' famed series. "The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an agreement with Walden Media to co-finance and distribute the long-awaited motion picture."

Walden Media is the company behind the movie Holes, Ghosts of the Abyss, and this summer's Around the World in 80 Days.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Goblet of Fire Movie news

From Yahoo News:
According to London's Daily Mirror, producers are in talks with Ralph Fiennes (news) to play You Know Who once the actor wraps The Constant Gardener opposite Rachel Weisz currently shooting in Kenya.

Fiennes is a fine choice to play the villainous Voldemort, having earned an Oscar nomination for his work as a Nazi thug in Schindler's List and playing the serial killer known as the Tooth Fairy in 2002's Silence of the Lambs prequel Red Dragon.

There's a hitch, however. Reportedly Fiennes isn't sure he wants to commit to at least three additional Potter installments, which will likely feature Voldemort.