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Samuel Blink and his sister are facing huge challenges in their lives after the loss of their parents. Martha has stopped speaking and Samuel is angry at an unfair world that seems out to get him at every turn. When they are shipped to Norway to live with their odd Aunt Eda he just knows they've gone as low as they can go. Things just couldn't get worse... could they? Yup, they can get a lot worse and definitely weirder.
Aunt Eda and Samuel don't hit it off right away. She has a lot of rules and Samuel means to break every single one of them as quickly as possible. There's the rule about cheese (you'll have to read it to understand this one). The rule about not going into the attic. And then there is the big one: don't go into the woods. Samuel disrespects the cheese, heads up to the attic and ends up chasing his sister into the deep dark woods all in one short morning. It turns out that his Aunt Eda really had good reasons to keep him out of the woods. It's packed with strange and dangerous mythical Norse creatures who either want to eat him or blow him up or worse.
Samuel and his Aunt Eda's dog are lost in the forest and they have to figure out how to survive long enough to rescue Martha who has been captured by a group of the nastiest creatures in the forest. Not only does he need to help his sister and escape from the wood but they all need to figure out what has gone wrong with the forbidden forest that has caused so many good creatures to go bad. According to the Truth Pixie (who wants to blow him up) his chances are not good.
This is an action packed page turner with trolls, witches, pixies, evil geniuses and bad cheese. You'll laugh and gasp and keep turning those pages. Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig is happily just the first in a series of unique and exciting adventure stories.
What Can You Do with a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla and Amy Córdova
A rebozo is so versatile! Mamá spreads it like a butterfly and wraps it into a cozy cradle for baby brother. Big sister braids it in her beautiful hair. Grandma uses hers to keep warm when it's cold at night. The little girl in the story uses the rebozo to play. Made of silk or cotton, rebozos are traditional large shawls that have been used by women in Mexico for centuries. Carmen and Tafolla and Amy Córdova celebrate the lovely tradition of el rebozo in "What Can You Do with a Rebozo?". "What Can You do with a Rebozo? was a 2009 Pura Belpré Honor Book.
In this book, author Mary Losure pieces together what is known about Victor's strange and dramatic life. Where there are gaps in verifiable information, she makes educated guesses or leaves the reader to imagine what might have been. For example, here's what she writes about the first time Victor was caught by villagers:
"...every day, he was forced to stand, hour after hour, for everyone to see. And maybe it was then that the wild boy began to hate the eyes of staring crowds. But at last (exactly how, no one knows) he got loose."
Readers will learn about how Victor was treated by the 19th century scientists and teachers who worked with him, and how our understanding of Victor has changed over time. They will also strive to understand Victor and root for him to find happiness.
This is a quick read with a compelling plot, interesting characters, solid writing, and an exciting premise. Recommended for 4th through 7th grade.
Don't Squish the Sasquatch by Kent Redeker; illustrated by Bob Staake
Fun, fun, fun! As Sasquatch boards the bus, he informs Mr. Blobule the Bus Driver that he hopes it doesn't get too crowded because he doesn't like to get squished. Mr. Blobule warns each new monster passenger to, "Please...don't squish the Sasquatch." They kindly do their best, unfortunately, squishage cannot be avoided and the bus explodes. As Sasquatch lays in the street, everyone wonders what to do. What makes all things better? There is only one thing to do. Smooch the Sasquatch!
Children will enjoy the wacky animal combinations that make the monsters, bright digitally created cartoon illustrations, and the chance to enthusiastically shout the repeated phrase, "Don't squish the Sasquatch" as riders board the bus. A fun choice for a monster theme or tribute to our local legend, Sasquatch. Preschool through second grade.
Michael Rosen's Sad Book written by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake
This is a deeply personal picture book written in the first person, describing the sadness of the author after his 18 year old son, Eddie, dies, and how he copes with grief. As it is written in such a personal style, it makes the uncomfortable emotion of sadness real for young children as well as for older readers. Sadness is an emotion that all humans feel, including young children; so this title fills an important niche in helping young children talk about what being sad feels like, and possible ways to cope with what is often an overwhelming emotion. (The author does not dwell on details of his son's death, but focuses on the emotion of grief.) Intense, moving, and beautifully written with complementary illustrations by Quentin Blake; this book makes an excellent discussion starter, bibliotherapy title, or solo reading experience for any-aged reader.
It's spring time in the Pacific Northwest and the rain is coming down in buckets and barrels and boatloads. Of course rain will make the flowers (and moss) grow but sometimes it's hard to remember that when you're dripping wet for the tenth day in a row. It's also time for the slugs to slip slide their way into action once again. It's time for Rainy Day Slug by Mary Palenick Colborn!
This slug doesn't let a little rain slow him down. He's looking for adventure and finds it in a house with long, pink drapes (scrape, scrape) and a soft, blue rug (srug, scrug). Rainy Day slug works his way through the entire house, with sound effects for each new experience, until he reaches a soft pink cheek (YEEK!). After freaking out the young human he ends up back in the rain wet garden happily sliming his way home.
The pictures are vibrant and the slug speaks volumes with his buggy eyes making this a simple and enjoyable romp in the rain to share with your little reader.
April is National Poetry Month, and for a children's poetry collection that is unique and oh-so-fun (in a delightfully naughty way!), you might like to seek out Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It. Inspired by William Carlos Williams's famous poem "This Is Just to Say" and penned by author Gail Carson Levine, this book will have you cackling out loud, much like the witch in Hansel and Gretel (who happens to be the narrator in one of Levine's poems) --
This Is Just to Say
I baked / a cottage / made all / of gingerbread
which / you and your sister / will be unable to resist
Forgive me / I am hungry / and I prefer my food / young
One of my personal favorites comes in the form of an apology by a character of Levine's own creation -- a young boy who clearly is not a bit sorry about ruining one of his sister's favorite toys.
This Is Just to Say
While you were buying / doll dresses / I sanded off / your Barbie's face
which / you constantly / patted / and praised
Forgive me / her beauty / was only / skin deep
The accompanying line drawing shows the trickster, tongue protruding in utter concentation, sanding away as his horrified sister arrives trailing tiny clothes on hangers. The illustrations here are as devilishly delightful as the poetry! This is the perfect collection for anyone who has ever offered an insincere 'mea culpa' (haven't we all?), and will be especially enjoyed by kids in grades three and up.
In The Center of Everything by Linda Urban magic wishes, parades, constellations, donuts, and time travel all cross 12-year-old Ruby Pepperdine's mind as she tries to come to grips with the death of her beloved grandma Gigi.
If you're a fan of Rebecca Stead (whose book When You Reach Me gets a mention in the story), I can almost guarantee The Center of Everything will touch you. Like Stead's books, it's intelligent, well-written, emotional, a little complicated in its plotting (in a way that keeps you turning the pages trying to figure it out), and told efficiently in just 200 pages.
This is not just a book about recovering from the loss of a loved one. Ruby's story explores universal themes like friendship, responsibility, and how we are all connected--as well as the geometry and mythology of the donut.