B is for Betsy

B is for Betsy, by Carolyn Haywood, is a fun, carefree read that you can read to your child chapter-by-chapter at bedtime, or they can read it themselves. Betsy has spent the entire summer jumping out of bed and having fun. But now the summer is over, and school must begin. That means first grade. From what Betsy has heard from Old Ned, who works at her grandfather’s farm, school is going to be an absolute disaster! However, Betsy gets a surprise: School isn’t that bad after all, not when you have Miss Grey for a teacher and have friends like Ellen and Billy. The year turns out to be full of adventure, and perhaps a little mischief. B is for Betsy is a playful book that I enjoyed as a little girl, and I think other kids would as well. It’s a good way to get them interested in reading. So, next time you’re at the library, maybe you’ll take a look? Also, if you find you like it, there is Betsy and Billy, Back to School with Betsy, and Betsy and the Boys.

Author Tidbit: Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley, author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the other Flavia de Luce mysteries, has led an interesting life. He was born in Toronto, Canada. He received an education in electrical engineering, and has worked at television and radio stations. He become Director of Television Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, and later left for early retirement. He then began writing. He has written children’s stories and short stories that have been published in literary journals, and became the first President of the Saskatoon Writers. While part of the Casebook of Saskatoon, he met the late Dr. William A.S. Sarjeant. The Casebook of Saskatoon was devoted to Sherlock Holmes and his adventures, and studying them. The book they worked on together, Ms. Holmes of Baker Street, presented the idea that Sherlock was, in fact, female. This resulted in many interviews and appearances, in the “firestorm of controversy”. He has also written The Shoebox Bible, a story about a family managing to persevere and love, even without a father. The first book in his series of Flavia de Luce (remember Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie?) got the Debut Dagger Award of the (British) Crimewriter’s Association, and the next two books in the series have been received the same enthusiasm. Actually, the fourth book, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, is just recently published, at the beginning of November. In my opinion it is just as good, if not better, than its predecessors. Yes, I’ve already read it. Alan Bradley presently lives in Malta with his wife. Also two cats. You can visit him at www.flaviadeluce.com. I strongly suggest you take a look and grab onto one of his books when you get the chance!

Climbing the Stairs

Have any of you ever thought about what it would be like to live in India? But not just India. India during World War II. And not just India during World War II, but a girl in India during World War II. Have you? I hadn’t, until I read this book, Climbing the Stairs, by Padma Venkatraman. The year is 1941, and as the Allies are warring with Hitler, India is fighting its own battles. Many Indians are sick and tired of being treated like they are inferior to the British who colonized the country, and it is a time of turmoil and change. But to Vidya, a fifteen-year-old with her mind on dreams and college, matters such as this are far away. Far away, that is, until something awful happens to turn her entire life upside down. Vidya finds her family uprooted and taken away to live in her grandfather’s home. But everything is different. The men, including Vidya’s older brother, live upstairs while the women must stay to the bottom floor. This new life seems as if it will be terrible, and Vidya begins to despair. Enter Raman, a friend of the family who treats Vidya with kindness. Vidya also soon discovers Grandfather’s library, rich in its knowledge. Then, just as things are starting to look up, Vidya’s brother makes a choice that shocks the family and leaves her to question what she believes in. I started this book and had a lot of trouble putting it down. This story is very unique, not just in its setting, but also in its characters and events. I learned much about the lives of Indians in those days, more than I expect to in Social Studies. It really made me think, and the writing is great. I strongly advise you to take a look!

A Birthday For Frances

So, I was feeling kind of stupid the other day–just so happens I missed my own blog’s first birthday. <sheepish look> So anyway, to make up for that, I am doing a post about…a birthday book! And it’s a good one. A Birthday for Frances, written by Russel Hoban, is only one of the books telling the story of the young badger called Frances. A birthday is coming up, and everyone is preparing. The only thing is that it’s not Frances’s; it’s her little sister Gloria’s. Gloria is the one who took Frances’s pail and shovel and hid them, and she never got them back. Frances has decided that she won’t give Gloria a present, but then she realizes that everyone else is. When Mom gives her two allowances, Frances and her father go the store and get a present: Four balls of bubble gum, and a Chompo Bar. Chompo Bars have nougat, caramel, chocolate, and nuts in them. Frances wonders if Gloria can eat it all. She starts to have second thoughts. This book and the others about Frances and her family were read to me a lot when I was little, and believe me, they are good. The pictures done by Lillian Hoban add great character to the book, and the things Frances gets up to are perfectly amusing. I recommend this for little kids and the parents who read to them. Go check it out!