Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lucy and Linh

Lucy Linh, the heroine in Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung is happy and content in her life. She is a leader at her school, Christ Our Savior, and goes to school with her best friend, Linh. She takes care of her little brother, affectionately know as Lamby, and translates English into Chinese for her Chinese mother. She also helps her mother with her mother's piece work sewing. Her mother's sewing brings much needed extra money to their household.

But all of this suddenly changes when Lucy wins a scholarship to Laurinda. At first, Lucy is thrilled. This will be a wonderful opportunity for her! But life at Laurinda is not what it seems to be. Lucy doesn't know her classmates' unwritten rules of behavior and it's difficult for her to be surrounded by classmates who have grown up with so much wealth and privilege. However, that is nothing compared to her nemesis - three of the school's most popular girls, know as "the Cabinet". Lucy is intimidated by them and stands by helplessly as they play a practical joke on a teacher that causes the teacher to have a breakdown, break another girl's wrist by slamming the bathroom stall when she is in there, and falsely accuse a teacher of sexual harassment.

Has Lucy lost herself and her soul? Will she be able to find her voice before it is too late? Read Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung to find out.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nature Story Time

Today's story time was on nature and I had a lot of fun picking the stories for this one! The first book that I read was Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. In this story, Baby Bear wanders outdoors and the children and I identified the colors of what he saw. For example, he sees a yellow sun, green leaves on a tree and green grass, blue jays, a brown trout, red strawberries, orange butterflies, and a beautiful rainbow at the end. The children did a great job guessing the colors, but some of the children said that the trout was orange, not brown. The trout has a very light brown color, so I could see the reason for confusion. The children and I had a wonderful time identifying the colors of the rainbow at the end of the story.

The next story that I read was Watersong by Tim McCanna. This is a story about a fox trying to find shelter during a storm. This story is told entirely in onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what it is named. For example, meow, cuckoo, or buzz. The children enjoyed identifying what was going on in the story and they also enjoyed reading along with me and saying drip, drop; spitter, spatter; gush, rush; lash, whirl; and bash, swirl, just to name a few of the fun and delightful words in this story.

The third and last story that I read was Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan. This is a delightful story told in rhyme about chicks, bumblebees, and kittens enjoying a beautiful sunny morning and just settling in for a nap - when bam! bang! a storm arrives. They are left wet and soggy. How will they get dry? The children enjoyed answering questions about the story and what was happening.

These are alternate books that I selected, but did not read. Boom Boom by Sarvinder Naberhaus describes how a preschool class experiences a thunderstorm, spring, fall, and winter.

Puddle by Hyewon Yum tells the story of a little boy who is upset. He can't go out to play because it is raining. His mother draws a picture of him, his dog, and her taking a walk in the rain. The picture looks like so much fun to the little boy! He suggests that he, his mother, and his dog take a walk in the rain.They go outside together and have a wonderful time!

The last book that I selected, Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth is more of a one on one read-aloud then a story time book. The title is a play of words on the content. The book format is in haiku. The main character, a panda bear named Koo, tells us his experiences of the different seasons.

Monday, August 7, 2017

We Never Asked for Wings

Vanessa Diffenbaugh's first novel was the Language of Flowers, which I absolutely loved. I'm pleased to report that her second novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is as good as her first!

When we first meet Letty, she is driving frantically to Mexico to find her mother, Maria Elena. Maria Alena has gone to Mexico to find her husband and Letty's father, Enrique. Letty is lost without her parents. For fourteen years, Letty, who is a single mother, has worked as a bartender to pay her bills and provide for her children, Alex, fifteen, and Luna, six. Maria Elena has raised Alex and Luna. Letty doesn't know how to be in a room with her children, let alone raise them.

But all of that is about to change - quickly. Enrique has decided to stay in the Espinosa family home in Oro de Hidalgo, Mexico, and he wants Maria Elena to stay with him. Letty cannot persuade Maria Elena to return with her.

Letty gets into a car accident on the way home and her reunion with her children is awkward and stilted. Bit by bit, day by day, they learn to trust and love each other. Letty starts dating her coworker, Rick, and then Alex's father, Wes, comes back into her life and Alex's life. Letty has to make a decision about who to let into her life and her children's lives. Alex makes a disastrous decision for his girlfriend, Yesenia, and they both have to find a way out of the consequences. But through it all, love helps relationships heal, last, and triumph!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Transportation Story Time!

The first book that I read was Bug on a Bike by Chris Monroe. The entire book is a delightful rhyme where Bug convinces his friends to join him, but where are they going? Nobody knows! Lizard Mike, Randy the Toad, some ants on a log, Butterfly Andy, and the polka dot dog follow him cheerfully even though they have no idea where Bug is going. Along the way, more animals join them as well as an athletic pickle and a nickel. The children seemed very interested in the story, but I think it might have been a little too long. To make it more interesting, I don't read the long lists of who was following Bug, but the children and I counted how many animals/nickel/pickle were following Bug. When they finally arrive at their destination, they realize they are at Bug's birthday party! Bug has a beautiful and elaborate birthday party and the children and I had fun pointing out the many different items at Bug's birthday party: a moon bounce, a cake, cupcakes, cookies, hot dogs, and tacos to name just a few! At the end of the story, the satisfying conclusion focuses on Bug's reaction:

"And the bug on a bike? Well, he just had a ball. Seeing all his friends happy was the most fun of all."

The second book I read was Little Plane Learns to Write by Stephen Savage. It is a more interactive story and the children loved this story! Little Plane has to learn how to write his name in the sky by using arcs, dives, and loopity-loops. Little Plane successfully masters his dives and his arcs, but struggles with his loopity-loops. They make him dizzy. Eventually he masters his loopity-loops and can write successfully in the sky. The children and I spelled out and said the words cloud, rainbow, and moon which Little Plane had written in the sky. We also identified the colors in the rainbow.

The last book I read was Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. I don't think that this classic needs an explanation, but if you are unfamiliar with the story the bus driver leaves his bus and tells the readers, "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!" Then after the bus driver leaves, the pigeon arrives and tries to get the readers to let him drive the bus. The answer is always a resounding "No!" and the children love to keep saying "No!" to the pigeon's requests to drive the bus. However, one little girl was convinced and did say "Yes!" at the end of the story.

My alternate book that I didn't read was The Bus Is For Us! by Michael Rosen. In a catchy rhyme, the author suggests different forms of transportation: riding a bike, taking the car, taking the train, traveling in a little boat and in a big ship, but always concludes: "But the best is the bus. The bus is for us."

Saturday, July 29, 2017


This is the second book that I read for the At Odds section for Books for the Beast. I wasn't sure if I would like it because I usually don't read graphic novels, but I liked it and enjoyed it.

The story features a hero, Sir Goldenloin, and a villain, Lord Blackheart, but as the story progresses the villain looks more like the hero and vice versa. Sir Goldenloin is employed by the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Lord Blackheart had his arm cut off by Sir Goldenloin in a joust. Later in the story, Lord Blackheart tells Sir Goldenloin, "What if I cut off your arm right now? Then you'd see how fast the institution would cast you aside. Just like they did me." Sir Goldenloin tells Lord Blackheart, "You wouldn't." Lord Blackheart responds with, "No, I wouldn't. And I'm the villain. What do you suppose that says about you?"

Enter Nimona! She's a young girl with bright red hair and announces to Lord Blackheart that she is his sidekick and that the agency sent her. "That makes no sense, why would they send some kid to be my sidekick?" Lord Blackheart asks and then Nimona suddenly turns into a shark! She is a shapeshifter and that is what convinces Lord Blackheart to hire her.

Throughout the story she changes into a wide variety of shapes: dog, bird, cat, rhinoceros, elephant, monkey, boy, and dragon. She tells Lord Blackheart that a witch turned her into a shapeshifter. But at the end of the story, when she turns into a dragon that ravages the kingdom and kills the king, Lord Blackheart finally realizes that she may not be what she seems.

The illustrations in this story were fabulous!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Farm Animals Story Time!

The first book that I read was Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist. This story is about a goat who stays to himself and doesn't want to play with the pigs, cow, or sheep. Then one day he discovers a bright yellow dandelion at the top of the hill that reminds of something, but what is it? The children immediately guessed that it was the sun! He takes care of his dandelion every single day, watering it and trimming back the grass. He starts to become friendly with the sheep, the pigs, and the cow. Then one day the unthinkable happens! All of the petals on his dandelion blow away! Grumpy Goat is devastated, but fortunately he and the rest of the animals find a field full of dandelions.

This story wasn't as interactive as most of the stories that I pick, but the children did learn a new vocabulary word - dandelion! Also, I had the children identify the pigs, cow, and sheep and we counted them together. Most of the children were attentive to the story.

The next story that I read was The Cow Said Meow by John Himmelman. The children absolutely loved this story! A cow sees the cat get into the warm snug house when it is raining by saying, "meow." The cow, who is drenched, says "meow" to get into the house and the other animals follow. One by one the pig, chicken, donkey, goat, and duck get into the safe shelter of the house. The children had a lot of fun making animal sounds with me!

The third story that I did was a rhyme that involved the farm animals on popsicle sticks. I held up each animal and asked the children to identify the animal and make the sound that the animal would make. This was a huge hit! I also recited the following rhyme:

I had a little dog

The nicest dog yet;

and that little dog

was my very own pet.

Then the little dog said, "bow-wow, bow-wow!"

I changed the rhyme slightly for each animal.

The credit for the rhyme goes to the Prince George's County Memorial Library system.

The following is a list of alternate titles that I chose, but did not read:

Five Little Chicks by Nancy Tafuri

Blue Goose by Nancy Tafuri

Moo! by David LaRochelle

Monday, July 24, 2017

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin takes us on Charlotte's journey to find a quiet place where she can sit still, relax, and not be bombarded by noise. Charlotte lives in the city and experiences the following: "In the living room, the TV bellows and blares; in the classroom, the bell clangs; in the lunchroom, the trays clatter and clash; on the sidewalk, the jackhammers blast; and on the street, the sirens warble and wail."

Charlotte has trouble finding peace and quiet even in the park! But one day her dog, Otto, chases after a squirrel and pulls the leash out of her hands. Otto leads Charlotte to a quiet secluded grove where Charlotte finds the peace she has been so desperately seeking. Even better, she finds an inner peace and quiet that she takes back with her to her noisy and bustling home.

I was originally going to use this story for my city story time, but it was too long. I think this would be perfect for a one on one read aloud.