Around the World in 80 Tales

I saw this book in my parents’ bookstore and immediately wanted it. Folktales from across the globe! If anything sounded interesting, that did. And, come my birthday, that’s what I found in a package. Around the World in 80 Tales, by Saviour Pirotta. Stories from China, Brazil, and other places you may have never heard of! I read some of these tales to a three-year-old once, and he wanted more. When I asked him, “Do you want me to bring this book back?” he said yes! Whether you are eight or eighty, you will enjoy at least one of the stories in this book. I’m interested in other countries, and this is a good way to dip into other people’s lives from all over. You can see what kind of stories parents in South America might read to their children! Or Asia, Africa, or Europe. So look online or somewhere else for Around the World in 80 Tales.

Please Write in This Book

This book will suit both boys, girls, and even adults, I’m sure. It’s funny, and contains views from all possible characters. The interesting people and plot keep your eyes glued to the pages. Mary Amato has created a book for positively everyone. Ms. Wurtz decides to place an empty notebook in the Writers Corner of her classroom. The kids love writing in the book, but they don’t always get along. It’s a lot of fun to read the hilarious views of Luke and the bold words Lizzy wants to get out there. The kids have a number of adventures-there is the Stinky Feet Experiment, and the different styles of cute drawings are just making the book better. This story is quite the read. I suggest you check at your library, got to the bookstore, just find the book!

Lives of the Writers

Did you ever know what Charles Dickens ate? Or how Frances Hodgson Burnett dressed? This is a good book that enables you to find out. Lives of the Writers is not merely a collection of short biographies of different authors-it is a very interesting and absorbing book as well, written by Kathleen Krull. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down. Some of its stories include the lives of the Brontë sisters, Hans Christian Anderson, and E.B. White. It has a lot of cool facts, like did you know the Brontës made up a whole different world called Glass Town? There’s that and more. I actually convinced a friend to read it, and when she returned the copy to me, she said that she’d expected it to be boring, but it was really awesome. Are you convinced yet? This would be an excellent gift for any young (or adult) reader so that they can learn more about their favorites. So get in your car, and go to the nearest good bookstore or library. I don’t care which one.

P.S. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy Kathleen Krull’s other books in the series, such as Lives of the Artists.

Clara and the Bookwagon

This book, written by Nancy Levinson, was the frst chapter book I read as a little girl. Therefore, I read it many times over. Meaning, at least thirty. It’s a good read for any starting reader. Especially if they already enjoy books a lot. Clara spends her time on her family’s farm in Maryland doing chores and looking after her little siblings. No time for reading. Papa says that farm people don’t read. Clara doesn’t agree, especially when opportunity comes knocking in the form of Miss Mary and her bookwagon, which is specifically for farm people. Clara’s enraptured! Books, books, and more books! What could be better? Clara’s exactly like me. I feel a sort of hunger when I see tons of books all in one place. If your child is having trouble growing enthused with literature, believe me, this could be a colossal help. So look it up on Powell’s, or something. Seriously.

Penny Dreadful

Laurel Snyder is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. (Don’t worry, Gail Carson Levine, you still rock!) In her newest book, the author has created another lovable and real character. Penelope Grey. Most people would probably give just about anything to have her life. But Penelope wouldn’t. She’d give anything to have something interesting happen! And (after a little wish) she gets it. Her dad quits his job. WHAT??!! Things do change, and they’re interesting. If you can manage to get past her father’s listlessness, her mother’s depression, and the fact that money is dwindling, sure. But Penelope can’t. Then, all of a sudden, the Greys up and move to the country, a place called Thrush Junction. And things change again. For the better. Penelope gives herself a new name, meets new and awesome friends, and even her parents are happier. Until something happens to spoil it all. Hmmm, sound familiar? I thought so. Laurel Snyder uses absorbing language, and the characters are original and amazing. The cute, occasional illustrations add to the fun. Let’s go, Laurel!

P.S. By the way, she’s got a new book coming out later this year!


Nutcracker, Illustrated by Maurice SendakWho hasn’t heard of the Nutcracker, and in this festive season, it’s even harder to miss. I discovered the book on my shelf last year, and decided I’d give it a try. I knew a bit of the story, like how a little girl called Marie Stahlbaum gets a nutcracker for Christmas, but that is only a fragment of the tale. In reality, the book is much more. True, Marie does receive a nutcracker for Christmas, but did you know that he came to life that night as she played in the glass cabinet, just in time to do battle with the evil seven-headed mouse king and his army? I didn’t think so. Gradually, the little girl is drawn into a fantastical world, filled with interesting characters like Princess Pirlipat, Madam Mouserinks, and Godfather Drosselmeir, of course. And the valiant and loyal Nutcracker is at the center of it all. I quite enjoyed this book because of the out-of-this-world plot and the pleasing characters. I strongly advise you end the holiday season in a good way, by reading this book.

What Do You Do With a Kangaroo?

I loved this book as a little kid. It was just so fun! Written by Mercer Mayer, it’s a book that tells the story of a little girl who wakes up one day to find a kangaroo in her bedroom! Suddenly, the animal starts telling her what to do and is acting like he lives there! So what does she do? Throw him out, of course! I mean, what would you do? But it doesn’t end there. There’s an opossum in the bathroom and all kinds of other creatures! The girl is at her wit’s end. But, believe me, you’ll be giggling as you turn the pages, happily absorbing the hilarious antics of the characters. They’re the reason I enjoyed this book so much. What Do You Do With a Kangaroo? is a wonderful little book to read to your kids when they’re gloomy, or even when they’re not! So, I’d go at least check this book out, if I were you.

The Memory Bank

The Memory Bank, by Carolyn Coman, is a great read. It’s the story of Hope Scroggins, who has simply horrible parents. But, thankfully, while Hope is in the dumps and slipping away because of the fact that her little sister has been abandoned, she’s delivered to the WWMB, or the World Wide Memory Bank. It’s a fun world where the memories of every person on Earth are stored, and there are lots of interesting and kind people there. But the WWMB is at war with the Clean Slate Gang, which Hope’s little sister is now a part of! I was a little disappointed when I read this and saw it was for younger kids too, and was fairly easy. But if you are a younger kid or have one that’s about around the age of eight, they will love this. It’s a very imaginative and fantastical story with lots of nice pictures and a great plot. So go to the bookstore right now!

Dog Magic

Poor Molly. She can’t stand being around a dog, yet there are so many in her neighborhood. But the problem is solved when she gets a gorgeous pair of Magic Shoes for her birthday. Carla Golembe tells the tale of a girl finding a way to finally get over her fears. But the trouble starts up again when the shoes Molly has come to depend on fiercely have finally been outgrown. Now our heroine must strive to find the courage needed to get on with her childhood. I loved this book and had it read to me many times when I couldn’t do it myself. I’m a huge fan of dogs, and it was so interesting to read about a little girl who didn’t feel the same way (at first). The writing is good, and the pictures are lovely. Before children can read for themselves it’s always important to get them started. And I bet they’ll love hearing the story about Molly and her Magic Shoes.

Tough Cookie

Welcome to the cookie world of crime. This book is by a very imaginative author, David Wisniewski, and he can really write. This book brings you down to the bottom of the cookie jar. Literally. Meet the Tough Cookie, a guy with a brain in his head as well as raisins. He’s a member of a hardworking (sort of) police force, breaking up trouble-cooking gangs and trying to protect fellow snacks from the numero uno threat to the Jar: Fingers. When Tough Cookie’s partner gets chewed up real bad, this baked good sets off towards a show down. Alone. I just love love love love love love this book. When I was only about two-years-old the author came to my parents’ independent bookstore, and I got a signed copy of Tough Cookie. I’ve heard he’s very nice and caring, and I really wish I had met him, because he passed away. But you are totally going to laugh at his portrayal of life in a cookie jar. I mean it.