New at the library

The year 2013 saw the release of several great children’s books, including a handful selected for the 2014 Great Lakes Great Books list, recently released by the Michigan Reading Association. The list which includes books for kindergarten through high school students offers a selection of fiction and non-fiction. Schools across Michigan will vote on their favorites from each grade category. Books in the Second and Third Grade group include an injured artist who relearns to paint, a birthday bunny who turns evil and enacts his evil plan and the diary of a hamster who realizes that life in the cage is less scary than facing a cat. The list includes: Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian and Exclamation Point by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, along with these:

In what might be the funniest children’s book every written, yes I mean that, comes a tale of a sweet birthday bunny turned evil in Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka. The book looks old and appears written in, but that’s the genius of this tale. A sweet note inside the front cover wishes Alexander a “Happy Birthday.” But Alex wants no part of a sweet Birthday Bunny and turns him in “Battle Bunny”, rewriting the script and illustrations. And in this tale instead of a surprise birthday party, Battle Bunny executes his evil plan, to cut down all the trees in the forest and blow up the world. (Insert maniacal laugh) In a voice authentic to elementary school boys, the laugh out loud ingenuity of this book will stimulate conversation and lead to possible creation of one-of-a-kind tales. Battle Bunny is so much fun readers will say yes, let’s make our own.

The Pet Project by Lisa Wheeler (great jumping off point for scientific method)

A little girl wants a pet, and she systematically goes through several choices, researching, then studying each choice, coming to the conclusion that she really doesn’t want a pet. They stink, peck at her legs, nip her nose, poop on her, destroy her garden, “veracious Vikings bunnies in disguise”, die (goldfish), make fiendish plots (ants), do nothing (turtle) pee on her (guinea pig), curse (parrot) and worse (snakes eat mice). She finds instead that this investigation process is what she enjoys the most and asks for a microscope. It’s a very fun cause and effect, draw a conclusion, budding scientist analysis type book. For every kid that thinks they want a pet, see the reality in this charming book.

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan is an engaging story of rescue- both dogs and humans – that gently introduces readers to a chapter book. Zoe and her younger sister Alice love taking care of Pyrenees rescue dogs their mom fosters until new homes can be found. They notice nine year old Phillip when he moves in next door with his Aunt and Uncle, who don’t seem to understand kids or pets. Phillip doesn’t speak, but is drawn to the sisters, Kodi and May, two Pyrs and a rescued parrot named Lena, that their veterinarian father brings home. The group spends days developing friendships; and two more Pyrs Jack and Callie come to live with the sisters and their family. One night Jack runs away and the next morning it’s discovered Phillip is missing too. Readers will love the sister’s unapologetic approach to a relationship with Phillip and the dogs. MacLachlan’s writing makes this book charming and delightful at any age.

Inspired and amazed by the simple elegance of Horace Pippins work in spite of the very real struggles in his life, writer Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet wanted to capture his story. In a A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, Bryant writes about the artist’s early days dreaming of sketches at school and work. He drew sketches for soldiers in the trenches of France in WWI, but tragically lost the use of his right arm when he was shot on the battlefield. Still he longer to draw and started using his left arm to steady his right arm as he painted memories of the war. Then he began other paintings, producing 140 pieces of art with his still injured right arm. The determination and ingenuity of this fantastic painter will inspire and awe.

He didn’t speak until he was three. He was a disruption to his class. And he didn’t like to wear socks with his shoes. Read about how one boys curiosity changed science forever in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. This endearing story chronicles the life of the most famed scientist of the 20th century in a fresh and fun way. The light colored backgrounds reinforce Einstein as the creator of the theory of relativity, but offer text and a story relatable to young readers. Einstein was simply a man who asked questions, again and again, dreaming about the possibilities of the universe. What child doesn’t do the same?

All aboard! “Clang-Clang! Clang-Clang! Hissssssss. Huff, huff, huff!” Jump on the iron horse for an adventure. Winner of the 2014 Caldecott Award, Locomotive by Brian Floca offers stunning illustrations of a family moving cross country from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California on a steam locomotive. Hear the sounds, smell the smells as Floca paints the plains, deserts and mountains of the U.S. interior with his words and drawings. Chocked full of facts on the mode of transportation that connected the country for the first time, this non-fiction book will appeal to train aficionados and audiences that enjoy a good trip.

By Jeni Kilpela

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