Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book talk: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

[In an effort not to reveal their romance or any spoilers, I limited myself to the earliest part of plot.]

It really, really irritates me when people read over my shoulder, especially if I’m on a bus or a train, because then it’s harder to get rid of them. Park takes the bus to school every day, and he’s sort of considered a cool kid, but he’s also sort of an independent. You know how high school is.  A decidedly not cool girl -- Eleanor (even her name is uncool) --  has been sitting next to Park on the bus – every single day: to school and back home – and he just figured out that she’s been surreptitiously reading his comics while he’s reading them: that’s brazen. 
 Eleanor’s the kind of girl you’d feel sorry for if she wasn’t always sitting right next to you in closed quarters. She dresses really, really oddly (a giant men’s shirt with seashells all over it?!), seems to have no friends, and is already a bully target. Park feels as if he should say something to her – in fact, he’s always felt that way about her, which is odd and unexplainable because he’s never felt that way about anyone, ever – and he wants to say something to her, but he’s gone so long now without speaking to her that he doesn’t know what to do. Something is up with him, you know. And something must be up with her, as well, or she’d sit next to someone else. For now, he makes sure she can see the books and he turns the pages a little more slowly.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin's Griffin, 2013. 336 p. Booktalk to high school; has crossover appeal for adults, as well.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book talk: Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2013-2014)

Flying a kite is so much fun, until your kite gets stuck in a tree, and trees never want to give up their treasures. Nope. Trees will hold on to your stuff. They will attempt to keep your beloved things. Don’t mess with the trees. I just had a talk with a boy named Floyd.

Floyd had a really cool red kite, and it all started when his kite got stuck in a tree. He tried pulling and swinging, but the kite would not come unstuck.

It’s the worst feeling, isn’t it? So Floyd had an idea. He threw his favorite shoe into the tree to knock loose his kite, and GUESS WHAT? His shoe got stuck too!

Would you like to guess what happened to Floyd’s other shoe? [Take a few answers.] Yep, the tree held on to the other shoe.

The tree held on to other objects hurled up by Floyd as well. I can’t tell you all the objects, because we don’t have all day.

I’m not lying to you when I say that a whale was involved with all of this, too.

Poor Floyd. Has he met his match in the form of a tree? Will he ever get his poor kite back?

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Unpaged. Philomel: 2011. Virginia Readers’ Choice (Primary grades), 2013-2014. Booktalk to PK-3.

Book talk: Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: And Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky

You know how scientists keep finding new species? The poet Jack Prelutsky has found new species too – hybrid imaginary creatures who act crazy and may even honk at you while getting stuck to trees. 
My personal favorites are the slobsters. Trust me, do not take one of them to a restaurant, because you’ll regret it: “Slobsters are slovenly, / slobsters are crude, / slobsters love mashing / And smushing their food.” Their utter lack of manners will really embarrass you, unless you yourself have no manners at all, and then you’re probably a slobster yourself.
The sobcats can be just as tough as the slobsters to hang out with, because the sobcats just sit around weeping and weeping for no reason whatsoever. “That miserable sobcat’s / been moaning for years, / Sitting alone, / Weeping copious tears.” They just like being miserable. No, I don’t understand it either. I do like the blankets they’re hiding under, though. Maybe it’s comfy under there.
You know who has an even tougher time of it than the sobcats? The chormorants! They look like these real birds – called cormorants – but because they just do chores all day, day after day, -- they’re called chormorants. These birds are serious and never joke around. I just wish they’d clean my house, because I live with some slobsters.
Stardines will also introduce you to creatures such as the tattlesnake, the gloose, and the wedgehogs. Watch out for the panteaters, too.
Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: And Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger. Unpaged. Greenwillow Books, 2012. Booktalk to grades 2-6.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book talk: Shiver Me Timbers: Pirate Poems by Douglas Florian and Robert Neubecker

Pirates are good at being nasty, smelly, and rude. It takes a lot of work, and they take it very seriously. If you’re a pirate, there are strict dress and behavior codes you must follow: “Pirates wear patches. / Pirates have hooks. / They all play with matches. / And give dirty looks.” How are your dirty looks? Have you been practising them? These pirate poems will get you back up to speed with all of that, trust me.

If you’re a pirate, you have to do a really great evil grin, too. You have to get your pirate language memorized, as well: a rotten pirate is a “scurvy dog,” and a villainous person is a “scallywag.” Are you getting this? Say “aye,” if you are! My favorite poem in this book of pirate poetry is “The Pirates’ Code of Conduct.” “Don’t take a bath. / Avoid all math. / It’s best to yell / And blessed to smell. / Act rash and rude. Dash down yer food…”

Speaking of food, the poem, “Pirates’ Meal” will let you know exactly what your weekly meals will consist of. Can you guess what the main food group is? No, it’s not McDonalds. It’s much, much worse.

Shiver Me Timbers: Pirate Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian, pirates by Robert Neubecker. Unpaged. Beach Lane Books, 2012. Booktalk to grades 1-5.

Book talk: Cat Talk by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest

Wouldn't you love to get the inside scoop on a cat's life, told from the perspective of the cat himself?
That's what this wonderful book of poetry does. I love all these cats, but I have three favorites.

Lily tells us she was born in a big red barn, with cows, horses, and sweet-smelling hay. Lily has a secret that she'll only share with you: her best friend is a mouse! [Show picture of Lily.]

Sylvie is the boss. I mean, THE BOSS. You don't mess with the boss. "I am the boss cat. / I twitch my tail to prove it. / I boss the dogs. / I boss my people." There are three things which Sylvie loves, and if you read her poem, you'll know not to mess with them. You don't want to get in trouble with the boss! [Show picture of Sylvie.]

Eddie is cat with a job!"I greet people at the office door. / I sleep on the copy machine. / I run to the phone when it rings." And when Eddie is tired, he closes his eyes and pretends that you aren't there at all. He's really good at living in an office and not letting the chaos get to him.

There are other cats I didn't have time to tell you about. Read their poems in Cat Talk by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest.

Cat Talk by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, illustrated by Barry Moser. Unpaged. Katherine Tegen Books, 2013. Booktalk to grades K-3.