Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion by Hilaire Belloc

The title pretty much gives you the whole story. Jim is well cared for, but runs away during a visit to the zoo and a lion eats him. The book is very well executed, with the text running through flaps and fold-outs very fluidly. The illustrations are adorable, appealing to modern sensibilities while retaining a stylistic feel appropriate for the time when kids commonly went on outings with nurses.

There is a warning on the cover stating: 'Contains a dangerous beast and a miserable end'. It should also mention graphic images, as the book do not cut away during the devouring of unfortunate Jim. It's a book I'd expect from Edward Gorey were he still around and writing. Quite delightful for those who can stomach it.

"Now just imaging how it feels when first your toes and then your heels, and then by gradual degrees your shins and ankles calves and knees are slowly eaten bit by bit. No wonder Jim detested it."

[click here to see if it's available]

by Scott

Darwin by Alice B McGinty

Darwin's interest in the natural word is peaked as a young boy. As he grows up he continues to explore and document his discoveries. He notices animals of the same type having different characteristics, which leads him to the theory of evolution.

It's nice to find a biography that can read as a picture book, as this does. The illustrations (as done by the Caldecott winning illustrator of Snowflake Bentley) support the feel of an 1800's world quite nicely, and excerpts from Darwin's actual notebooks and letters give an insight to the man himself.

[click here to see if it's available]

by Scott

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

"Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl" (tagline from the front cover).

Mirka lives in Hereville a small community of Orthodox Jews with her father, her step-mother and a gaggle of siblings. Most of her excitement in life is derived from finding ways to avoid doing her knitting, arguing with her step-mother and an irksome pig who keeps sneaking into the village and eating her homework. However, though Mirka's life seems quotidian her dreams are anything but. Mirka dreams of slaying a dragon. A dream that seems out of reach until she does a favor for a woman who turns out to be a witch. The witch gives Mirka instructions on where to find a magic sword and that's when Mirka's adventures really begin!

I love the way this book immersed me in a totally different culture. The book drops Yiddish phrases left and right (and fortunately translates them at the bottom the page), provides a loving description of Shabbos and even explains how you can tell which school girls are pious, popular or rebels just by looking at their nearly identical school uniforms. (click on the picture below). The book ends with a bang too! The way she fights the troll will certainly make you chuckle and maybe even burst out laughing. Give this one to feisty girls, fans of (Jewish) adventure stories and people who love to laugh grades 3 to 8.

[Click here to see if it's available]

by Patrick

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper

"Just Grace" is one of four Graces in her class, there is Grace W, Grace F, Gracie and finally "just Grace." Just Grace didn't want to be called that, but when the teacher asked what she would like to be called she said "just Grace" and it stuck. Just Grace tries to make the most of it though, just like the people on her favorite TV show, Unlikely Heroes, a show about normal people who do extraordinary things to help others. So when she hears that her neighbor, Mrs. Luther, is in trouble she has to help! Mrs. Luther broke her leg and now her cat, Crinkles, (who is also her best friend in the whole world) is too scared of her bright orange cast to sit on her lap anymore. So Grace and her friend Mimi make postcards for Mrs. Luther by taking photos of Crinkles and then adding messages like "I miss being cozy with you" and "one of my favorite things is you." But when Crinkles goes missing will just Grace be lauded for cheering up Mrs. Luther or fingered as a cat-napper? Give this one to kids who like cats and books that make you laugh grades 2 thru 4.