What Do You Say, Dear?

My friends and I read this I-don’t-know-how-many times in the media center at school.  And not just when we were little. “What Do You Say, Dear?” (penned by Sesyle Joslin, and illustrated by Maurice Sendak) is a great book that I will still like when I am 97.5 years old, and older. It’s hilarious, and at the same time it is teaching you something–manners! Well, I guess we all better learn them at some point, huh? Say you have just gotten married, and are looking forward to a nice long life with your true love. But first…you are starving. What do you say, dear? “Could you please pass the cake?” of course! This and more are just inside this little book, which is written with humor and imagination. Perhaps some parents would have a problem with the little bit about a cowboy, in which someone comes up to you with a gun and asks you if you would like them to shoot you in the head. (Obviously, you say “no, thank you”) But I don’t. Have a problem with it, I mean. Little kids run into violence in cartoons, movies, etc. This book is a winner. It’s a very fun way to teach kids manners! And I wouldn’t be surprised if a parent read it to themselves once or twice, just for the heck of it.

P.S. I don’t know if any of you have heard about this yet, but April 23, 2012 is World Book Night. This is an event in which people across the U.S.A. will each give away 20 books in their communities: In a mall, a park, or any number of other places! The idea is to encourage reading and, hopefully, make some new readers. (So you should probably not give books away in libraries or bookstores, or give them to people who are already holding them.) You can read more about this and sign up on the great website, and I hope you participate! I sure hope to.

A Christmas Carol

Yes, I know it has been a while since my last post. But I am back on Christmas Eve, with a holiday-themed book. Who hasn’t heard of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’s famed ghost story of Christmas? Who hasn’t heard of the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge, whose every other word is “humbug”? How many of us have actually read the story? I never had, I realized, so I thought I’d give it a try. Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly man, without a family, whose sole interest is making money. He believes that Christmas is a humbug, and no more cares for it than he does for being wished a merry one. Scrooge has no sympathy for the beggars who crowd the streets of London, nor even for his own clerk, Bob Cratchit. He has had no friend since his partner, Jacob Marley, died on Christmas Eve seven years past. But Scrooge doesn’t mind, which is just as well. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge has his usual day of conducting business, eating at a tavern, and going home to his lonely house: The one Jacob Marley formerly lived in. It is a normal day, correct? But the night brings something unexpected. A ghost, wrapped in chains, appears to Scrooge as he sits by the fireside. And there are three more specters to come. After a whirlwind night of memories, visions, and revelations, Ebenezer Scrooge will never be the same. Charles Dickens’s writing can certainly be a little confusing at first, even frustrating, but once you get the hang of it, the story is enjoyable. Warning: It may be a Christmas story, but that doesn’t mean it will not give you the chills. However, it will get you in the holiday spirit, and I wish you a happy one!

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!

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!

Girl Knows Books’ 100th Post!!

That’s right, it’s #1-0-0! The countdown is over. And this occasion will be marked by highlights of my favorites, YOUR favorites, and perhaps some utterly random stuff. So let’s get started.

1. Month of the Most Views: December, 2010. It’s the busiest month of the year for us, too. I guess it’s for gift ideas!

2. Random But Cool: Really, the only truly random but cool post would have to be Book Dominoes. I mean, come on, it’s a video with books falling over one another in intricate designs that…well, I won’t give it away.

3. A Book I REALLY Liked: This highlight goes to The Sisters Grimm, by Michael Buckley. Fairy tale characters coming to life, mysterious disappearances, a dog by the name of Elvis–who isn’t at least SLIGHTLY interested, hmm?

4. Your Favorite Genres: As some of you may recall, back in May I published a poll asking everybody what their favorite genre was. And the results are in…Mystery and Fantasy tie for first place. So there you have it!

5. Most Helpful Book: Now, for you it may be different (in fact, it’s probably different), but probably the most useful book I have ever read would be Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly. This is most likely just because I want to be a writer, but I have found it to be quite valuable in getting me a little closer to my goal. Gail Carson Levine has done it again!

6. Most Touching: The most touching book I have ever reviewed is most certainly Anne Frank: The Story of a Young Girl. It so vividly brings to life the struggles a teenage girl went through in the Holocaust that it brings tears to the eyes and makes your heart pound. A must-read.

7. ONLY Post About Authors Whose Books I’m Not Allowed to Read: Brontë Sisters, Power Up! is a funny and intriguing video. Just look at the title!

8. Not Really a Post, But: This isn’t a post, but I thought it would be interesting. Girl Knows Books got its most views on January 20, 2011. Thank you to everyone who got bored while at their computer and thought they’d check me out. Your boredom is appreciated.

9. Informative (But Not in the Textbook Way): I find my most informative posts, in a real life way, are the Author Tidbits, just because they give a bit of background of the authors whose books we have fallen in love with. And sometimes, you can find out pretty interesting things! I guess that’s actually why I write them.

10. People Who Have Helped Me: No, I never actually wrote a post about this. But I figure some people have helped me so much I’d like to put a bit in about them. Like my family, who have helped me out tons, and my friends, who have supported me. A lot. Thanks! Without you, I probably wouldn’t have made it to this post.

Well, that’s the end. Tomorrow, it’s back to regular old reviewing. But I’m glad I got to do this post. Hope you all have had great summers!

Small Persons With Wings

Yes, Small Persons with Wings. DO NOT call them fairies. They don’t take kindly to it, as Melissa Angelica Turpin finds out pretty early in life. Age five, to be exact. That’s when she had a Small Person with Wings living in her room. His name is Fidius, and he could make squash look like candy corn and a room look like a jungle. But all that changes when Mellie comes back from kindergarten with the exciting news that she plans to take Fidius in to show everyone. Maybe for once she might have some friends. Then Mellie’s hopes are dashed when she wakes up the next morning to an awful surprise: Fidius has left, leaving nothing behind but stupid china figurine. Let’s just say things don’t turn out well on Monday when that’s all Mellie has to show of her “fairy”. The embarrassment follows her for years, right up to when she’s thirteen. But when there is news that her grouchy grandfather has died and left her family his old inn, it’s a golden opportunity to leave it all behind and get a fresh start. But what do Mellie and her parents find when they get there? You guessed it. An infestation of Small Persons with Wings. Sigh. what can Mellie do now? This is a fresh, fun book, with a good plot and lovable characters. The writing is good, not particularly engaging, but definitely works. It’s appropriate for both children and young adults. Nice job to Ellen Booraem! This is a book I would recommend to all fantasy-lovers. I suggest you go check it out!

July 27, 2011: Only two more!