Showing posts with label cybils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cybils. Show all posts

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TSS: Cybils Time! (and Six Book Reviews)


October is winding down but I've had quite the book month. Cybils nominations. My un-birthday book club month. Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. The Texas Book Festival. And next week at the library:  my identical twin sister, Zebby Zance, will visit to tell the children at my school some spooky stories. (Wish I could tell spooky stories, but, unlike my sister, I am a big baby when it comes to scary tales.) Here's Zebby from last year:


I am very happy with the reading I completed last week. One travel narrative. Two 1001 Children's Books. One 1001 Grownup Book. One book for review. One YA I'd heard lots about.

Here are my reviews:

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof

I like travelogues. I like books about cooking. The Spice Necklace is a two-fer, about both travel and cooking.

It’s part two of the story of a couple who sold most of what they owned and zipped off to live on a boat (see part one, Vanderhoof’s first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, for more information). Now the couple is sailing around the Caribbean, visiting beautiful places, and sampling (and attempting) Caribbean cooking.

 Nothing by Janne Teller

Could this be the bleakest YA ever? It would get my vote.

Here is the story: Pierre decides that nothing matters, walks out of his classroom, climbs up into a tree, and refuses to come down. The others in his classroom feel compelled to try to convince Pierre that some things do matter. Using increasingly bizarre and horrific methods, Pierre’s classmates attempt to demonstrate that things matter.

While I respect what this author was doing with this book, it is most definitely not my cuppa tea.

 Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Liz was born to a mother and father whose lives were ruled by their addictions to alcohol and drugs. From an early age, Liz did not receive enough to eat, skipped school, had no supervision, and, eventually, drifted into homelessness. Yet, somehow, Liz managed to beat all these obstacles, complete high school, and win a scholarship to Harvard. A fascinating story.

Thank you to Hyperion for sending me this book for review.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A 1001 CBYMRBYGU.

Bod, a human boy, is sent to the graveyard to live in an attempt to elude those who would kill him. All of his companions, including his adopted parents, are dead. Bod is educated and kept safe for many years until, one day, his would-be killers return.

I’m not a scary-book-person and this will never be on my list of favorites as a result. But, if you are such a creature, The Graveyard Book just might be on your top ten list.

 Amazon Adventure by Willard Price

A 1001 CBYMRBYGU.

Two boys, Roger and Hal, travel with their father down the Amazon in search of creatures for zoos. They fight cannibalistic Indians, piranhas, crocodiles, and even an angry anteater. This is an adventure book filled with excitement and drama and scares. There are any number of not-so-politically-correct moments and, as a parent, Roger got on my last nerve, but I loved reading this book.

(BTW, this is a photo of the actual book I checked out from the Houston Public Library. It has a copyright of 1949. I loved carrying this book around.)

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

A 1001 Books You Must Read

Mr. Pooter keeps a diary in which he recalls all the events of his days. He seeks to attain social status, but, time and again, finds humiliation instead.

The copyright date on this book is 1892, but the story feels as fresh as yesterday. Funny. A little sad. And, most of all, insightful.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Come In!


Come in!
It's time.


Everything is ready.


The fountain is flowing.
The candle is burning.
Classics for Reading is playing on the stereo.


Inspirational posters are on the walls.


Pith helmet.
Both computers operational.


Cybils shirt and cup.


The books have begun to arrive.


Let the Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book judging...


...BEGIN!

(Don't I have the most wonderful reading room ever?!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cybils Time!


October 1 will mark the start of Cybils nomination time. The Cybils are Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards. Anyone can nominate a book published in 2009 in English. Only one nomination per category is allowed. Nominations will be taken through October 15. To nominate a book, visit the Cybils blog from Oct. 1-Oct. 15.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

TSS: 2008 Cybils Winners Announced!

The 2008 Cybils winners have been announced. Here are my favorites among the winners:

Nonfiction Picture Book
Since I served as a panelist for this award, I was happy to see the winner in this category was Frogs by Nic Bishop.

Fiction Picture Book
I checked How to Heal a Broken Wing out of my own school library yesterday.

Easy Reader
Every kid loves Mo Willems. This year's winner for this category was I Love My New Toy.

Young Adult
I just finished Hunger Games yesterday. Whew. What a tough book to read....I wonder when book 2 will be out....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Announcing the Cybils 2008 Nonfiction Picture Book Finalists

I am proud to have served as a judge on this panel.




2008 Nonfiction Picture Book Finalists

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant illustrated by Melissa Sweet Eerdmans Books for Young Readers This biography follows "Willie Williams" from his days as a smart, athletic youngster to his later years as a physician. As readers see him aging, they also see the inexplicable pull of poetry in his life and the making of a man as a poet. The multimedia illustrations closely compliment the text, making for a book that exudes the spirit of Williams in every way. The book concludes with timelines of both Williams' life and world history during Williams' lifetime.


Astronaut Handbook written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
How does one become an astronaut? McCarthy opens the door to astronaut training and lets readers in on all the secrets. The eye-popping illustrations offer ways to understand information that would be too difficult for the target audience had it been presented only in text. The back matter includes a page of fascinating facts and a bibliography of books, web sites, videos and places to visit.





Duel! Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words written by Dennis Brindell Fradin illustrated by Larry Day Walker Books for Young Readers
Fradin's historically accurate telling of the story of the duel between Hamilton and Burr is dramatically told. Both men are cast as well-rounded human beings with flaws and strengths, and both are shown to be at fault for the duel. The book concludes with a lengthy bibliography.


Fabulous Fishes written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale Peachtree
This Seuss-like look at the world of fish uses bold illustrations and rhyming text to introduce young readers to the wide variety of ocean fish. Stockdale follows up her textual overview with a few pages of additional information about each fish pictured. A long list of resources is also included.

Nic Bishop Frogs written and illustrated by Nic Bishop Scholastic Nonfiction
Jam-packed with amazing and sometimes quirky facts, and gorgeous photos, this book takes readers on a journey through the wonderful world of frogs. Scientifically, Bishop doesn't talk down to young readers, but rather helps to make the mystery that is life and science more understandable. A glossary and index are included.

Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray Viking
Using Gág's own words, Kogan Ray tells the story of a woman born into an art-loving family who followed her own dream to create art, no matter what obstacles stood in her way. This biography follows Gág from her childhood years up through the publication of her Newbery award-winning book, Millions of Cats.



Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter Harcourt
Winter's bold illustrations and straightforward prose tell the story of this Nobel Peace Prize winner's efforts to bring the green back to Kenya. Focused on her early life, this biography introduces readers to a girl who loved nature, decried its destruction, and worked tirelessly to reforest her beloved homeland. The back matter includes an author's note and quote from Maathai.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2 + 3 + 2 = Book Reviews

2 Cybils



Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton by Catherine Brighton

Two more Cybils read this week, leaving eight to go.

Keep Your Eye is the story of Buster Keaton's childhood and early days in film. It is told from a first person point of view, a more powerful way to take in someone's life, but also more difficult to write convincingly.

The pictures look like little movie clips. The illustrator effectively zooms in and zooms out just like a movie of a person's life might do.

Brighton, the author/illustrator, provides a nice source list and a list of movies for Keaton and also adds a short author note at the end about Keaton's life.



Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

If Hillary Clinton had won the nomination for president, this book would probably be on every library shelf in America.

It's a good book. Belva lived a big life. She went to law school despite terrible obstacles. She got her law degree despite terrible obstacles. She ran for president despite terrible obstacles.

She overcame the obstacles, time and again. What a great role model!

The book contains an extensive author's note and a selected bibliography along with a glossary.

3 More Picture Books



Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty

We in America seem to forget there are other countries, other people in the world.

We who are teachers should not forget this.

This book highlights the Peruvian festival held each year to honor the Sun God. The pictures and text combine to give children a little glimpse into the celebration that takes place.

The pictures are vibrant and show the colors and textures of the Peruvians who attend this celebration.

The author uses a long author note at the end of the book to explain more about the Festival of the Sun, other Peruvian festivals, a history of Peru, the people of Peru, Machu Picchu, the Andes, and cool facts about Peru.

I would rate this book a 4. Most children in the US have little exposure to Peru and this would be a welcome introduction.



Every Human Has Rights based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adapted by the United Nations sixty years ago. The atrocious violations of basic human rights by the Nazis during World War II shocked the world. A need for such a declaration was seen.

Sixty years later, reading over the list of thirty basic human rights, I am surprised to see both how fundamental they seem and how often they are ignored.

How different the world could be if countries around the world united together to ensure that all humans have these rights.

I will add this book to my school library collection.



We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures
What a beautiful book! The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the text and children's picture book authors from around the world provide the pictures.

I am so amazed that these basic human rights are not yet deemed valid for all peoples in the world. We continually see some humans are treated better than others. Sixty years have passed since these were adapted by the UN. Will they ever be universally adopted?

I will add this book to my school library collection.

2 Grownup Books



No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin

The true stories of young men who were sentenced to death as teenagers is the subject of this book. It is a brutal world, the life of a teenager on death row. How did these young men get there?

Most hardly remember the crime for which they were given the death sentence. Most show deep remorse. It seems obvious to me as a reader that all were immature and easily led.

It is a hard decision, I think: How do you appropriately punish young people who have done abominable things yet bear in mind their age?

And we must also hope to find a way to help these people back into productive lives or, at a minimum, find a way to keep others safe from them.

These are not happy stories. It would be interesting to see what teens might think of these stories.



French Milk by Lucy Knesley

I'd originally requested this book thinking I might share it with my eighteen-year-old niece who visited France last year with her mom.

After having read it, I think not.

While, for the most part, I enjoyed reading the fun combination of comic drawings and photographs detailing the author's month-long trip to France with her mom, I am always surprised to see books I'd see as for teens containing profanity and sex-references. I was surprised to see how blase Knisley seemed to be about the entire adventure.

I wish my niece had written this book. She'd have brought to the subject things I wish Knisley had: enthusiasm for the trip, a freshness of vision, a deeper look at France, greater appreciation for writing and art.

I liked best the way the graphics were laid out, in big, full-page rectangles instead of the usual small squares. The liked the juxtaposition of photos and drawings.

But I was disappointed overall.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Cybil Nonfiction Picture Book Nominees



cover



Baby Polar Bear by Aubrey Lang

I was happy to discover that this book is not just about wonderfully cute and photogenic baby polar bears. It actually covers the entire life of a polar bear. The photographs are captivating and the text is kid-friendly, using comparisons with things children are familiar with and providing details children are interested in. Because there are so many photographs, many of them are very small, too small to share in a read aloud, but that is a small gripe.

The author and photographer are a husband and wife team who have worked on books and films about nature for eighteen years. Baby Polar Bear is part of a series including Baby Porcupine, Baby Grizzly, Baby Penguin, and many others.

Animals Robert Scott Saw: An Adventure in Antarctica by Sandra Markle

A better title for this book would be Scott's Adventures in Antarctica. I'm not really sure how "animals" got into the title, though the animals Scott encounters are a big part of the story. But the book is really about all the experiences Scott had in the Antarctic.

This is the kind of book my husband would have loved reading when he was a little boy. I am certain there are many readers today who would love hearing and reading about the dangerous adventures of these explorers. It is full of scary stories about Scott and his men while they were traveling in Antarctica. I couldn't stop reading to find out more about their frightening exploits. The use of a combination of drawings and actual photographs adds a lot to the book. The sidebars with interesting additional information were a plus.

It is not a simple read and there is a lot of text, so if it is to be an independent read, it would be best for older elementary readers or middle school readers.


Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship by Nikki Giovanni

The book opens at a big celebration at the White House. President Lincoln is there and he is watching anxiously to see if his friend will come. Then the story segues into parallel stories about Lincoln and Douglass's early years, their common struggles to learn and find out more about the world. The two men meet and form a friendship based on their common beliefs.

The most moving page of the book is a four page fold out; the two pages on top show the inaugural reception but the pages fold out to show what everyone is thinking about: the terrible war that is going on even during the celebration.
Then Douglass arrives and the two men speak together about their hopes and dreams for the future. Were the words the men speak on the pages actual words the men used or were they provided by the author? They are eloquent and inspiring; one can only hope they are genuine.

No information is given about source material.


We the People: The Story of Our Constitution by Lynne Cheney

I don't know about children and this book, but I will say that reading this book made the whole story of the creation of the Constitution very clear to me.
The war had been won and England was starting leave, but the people who had come together to fight a common enemy were not fighting amongst themselves. A need was seen to find a way to have bind the states together so that every state was happy.

It was a difficult task.

The men who worked to form the Constitution made compromise after compromise, sacrificing many individual wishes and dreams for the good of the one nation.

It is an inspiring story. The pictures add an air of authenticity to the book, with detailed depictions of costume and architecture. The author provides an exhaustive list of source material in the back of the book.


The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum by Kathleen Krull

Kathleen Krull has never disappointed me; her biographies are fun and full of inside information about the people she writes about.

This biography of L. Frank Baum is no exception. Krull presents a picture of a boy lost in his imagination who grows into a man who never really wants to leave the world he loved as a boy. Baum tries to find a way to make a living as a grownup, and has many triumphs along with an equal number of abysmal failures.

I liked Krull's use of parenthesis as asides from the author, though I'm not sure they would be widely esteemed by academics. Krull provides additional information about Baym in a Storyteller's Note at the back of the book and she also briefly lists her sources. But the audience for Krull's book is not academics, fortunately, but children, and I think children would find this to be a fun read.


Smart-Opedia Junior: The Amazing Book About Everything

Kids are wild about this kind of book. I call it a browsable book, the kind of book you can spend hours reading through, though not really reading every sentence, every word. It is full of fun facts about the human body and the home and the city and school, starting with what children know and moving outward in concentric circles of wider experience. It manages to cover pirates and firefighters, insects and plants, ocean life and the planet, everything children want to know about, in 184 pages, with an extensive index.

I have one important question, however, and that has to do with the 184 pages. It was my understanding that this category of the Cybils was limited to books with 48 pages or less. Do we make exceptions for encyclopedic books?


The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby is a beautifully written story about a man who won the Kentucky Derby two times, Jimmy "Wink" Winkfield. Wink was a jockey during the time in American history when most jockeys were African-American, though that began to change rapidly during Wink's lifetime. Wink grew up poor, one of seventeen children, the son of a sharecropper. His dream was to become a jockey. He worked hard and achieved his dream.

But Wink suffered greatly from the prejudice of the day against African-Americans. He was treated shabbily time and again. Eventually he went to live in Europe where people were less cruel to nonwhites.

I found it fascinating to see that twice Wink did not achieve his goals and both times it was because he pushed too hard too soon.

Wink achieved great victories and suffered great defeats. The struggles of a jockey is depicted in clear detail; for the first time, I could see the terrible difficulties of riding horses.

The author provides a note at the end of the book which gives more information about Wink's life, but little is provided about where she drew her information outside interviews with Wink's daughter.


March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris

Christine King Farris tells the story of her brother, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington. She tells the story from her own point of view, relating the events of the day as King and five prominent civil rights leaders helped change America by showing the support of millions for equal rights.

The pictures look like photographs. The text, with some words presented in caps, emphasizes the oratory styles of the speakers of that day.

One small irritation to me was that Farris was not there for this day, though she writes of the day as if she were. A small irritation.


Gone Fishing: Ocean Life by the Numbers by David McLimans

McLimans presents a beautiful look at our oceans and ocean life. But it is a beautiful look with a dark underside; the oceans, he writes, are threatened. His book is a look at both the natural beauty and wonder of the oceans and ocean life, but also the dire need for saving our oceans from the dangers that confront them and the creatures that inhabit them.

This book is a counting book and an artistic wonder and a wealth of information about our oceans and ocean life. Delicious and nutritious.



Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

Two books on our list of nominees for the Cybil nonfiction picture book award are about the same person, Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. That is a testimony to the worth of her work.

This book features Winter's characteristic simple drawings and simple text to create a beautiful picture of a life.

The author adds a final page of text to provide detailed information about Maathai's life.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Plethora of Cybils, Read and Reviewed


Trout are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

An intriguing title like this one would have been enough for me to seek out and read this book. And the author is able to show, by describing a series of events that take place in a stream, that the title is not only intriguing but also true.

The text tells the story of the transmogrification of trees into trout, from the death and decomposition of their leaves to their absorption in the bodies of fish. The author uses simple text to tell the story of a complex process. She provides an extensive bibliography for a young reader and gives a list of ways the reader can help this natural process continue without intrusion from the human world.

Finding Home by Sandra Markle

This book is the story of a mother koala and her baby who survived two terrible fires in Australia. It was a compelling tale of the mother's search for a way to escape the fire and of her subsequent search for food for herself and for her child.

I found it to be a valid nonfiction story, based on eyewitness reports. The mother wore a tracking collar, making it easy for people to follow her movements.

It would be an appealing book for children, giving an inside look at the details of the life of a koala and providing the drama of escape from danger.

Winter Trees by Carole Gerber

Growing up along the Texas Gulf Coast, I was at a loss as a child to comprehend the ideas of leaves changing color during fall and the loss of leaves on trees during a snowy winter. We simply did not have traditional autumn leaves nor leafless trees in winter. This book would have been very useful to me as a girl in trying to visualize changes in trees during markedly cold weather.

Each tree common to the northern sections of the United States is illustrated and described in rhyming text. I wish the author had made it clear where these winter trees are located; my Gulf Coast version of Winter Trees would have been radically different.

I also wished there had been some information about where the author obtained her facts about each tree.


Dignity Rocks! by Stephanie Heuer

Another nominee that arrived with a distinctly amateurish look was Dignity Rocks! The text is a juxtaposition of comments by children to fill in the blank, "I feel like nobody when...." and "I feel like somebody when...." The comments have an authentic feel and would resonate with children.

It's a simple book, but a book that might help children better be able to express their positive and negative feelings.

I hope to share it with a group of children and see what their responses are.

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist by Philip Dray

I'm seeing a common theme in nonfiction biographies: fighters of injustice. Ida B. Wells was one such heroine.

Wells was born a slave but became free after the Civil War. The early deaths of her parents necessitated Wells' movement into the work world at a young age. She became first a teacher and then a journalist. Always she fought for those who were treated unfairly. She spent many years promoting the enactment of laws against lynching.

The pictures give a dreamy quality to idealistic Ida's life. The text is clear and written showing the dramatic difficulties Wells faced.

The author concludes with additional information about Ida's life, lynching, and a detailed bibliography.

Down By The Sea by Marilee Crou

This book is yet another book that gives an amateurish first impression. All the words in the title are capitalized, even "the." The entire book is written in script, something that is difficult for children to read. It might have made a better book for adults than for children.

Each page has a photograph and a sentence describing the photograph. The sentences are quite long and flowery.

The photographs are stunning and are the best part of the book.

No information is provides about where the author gets her facts.

Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale

Fabulous Fishes is a Seuss-like look at the world of fish, with simple text and lots of rhyme. The illustrations, like the text, are simple and don't provide a lot of detail. The author follows up her rhyming textual overview with a few pages of additional information about each fish pictured. She also provides a long list of resources she drew upon.

Fabulous Fishes might be a nice introduction to the wide variety of fish living in the ocean for very young children.

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell

Wolfsnail is a very close look at a snail that lives in the southern part of the United States and, unlike most snails, which eats meat. The story is presented using a series of photographs, though the photographs do not always depict completely the text.

Unexpectedly, I found myself being drawn into the story of the wolfsnail, seeing him as he violently hunts for and devours his prey.

I'm not certain there is a wide audience among children for this book, but young readers may enjoy reading the simple story of the wolfsnail's daily activities.

Please Don't Wake the Animals: A Book About Sleep by Mary Batten

Initially, I thought this was to be a book about hibernation. Yes, hibernation is part of the book, but not all of the book. The book is actually about the sleeping habits of various animals in our world.

A sentence summarizes the text at the top of each double page spread. The author uses examples of various animals' unusual sleeping patterns to highlight the oddities of sleep. It makes for a compelling book, filled with interesting information about a phenomenon most know little about. The author gives a list of books and websites where more information about sleep can be obtained.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford

What inspired John Coltrane to become a great jazz musician? That question is at the heart of this book. The author, using words shaped like jazz itself, lists the sounds that Coltrane heard as a child and young man.

This book felt more like a poem than a biography, but perhaps a jazzy poem is appropriate for a man like Coltrane.

The pictures and shapes of the text add to the jazzy feel of the book.

An author's note at the end of the book serves as a short biography of the author's life. In addition, the author provides both a list of books for more information and a list of CDs in order to hear Coltrane's work.


Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy

How does one become an astronaut? McCarthy shows children how to become astronauts in this book.

I like very much how the author directly addresses the reader, using questions the reader might be thinking and answering in clear ways children would understand.

The illustrations offer ways to understand information that would be too difficult for the target audience had it been presented only in text.

I went away from the book feeling like being an astronaut would be a fun job and that, with a little hard work, it was something anyone could become.

Duel! Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words by Dennis Brindell Fradin

I could easily see this book used in history classes all across America. Wouldn't history be so much more cool to kids if they could read text like this instead of deadly dull textbooks?

Though the story of the duel between Hamilton and Burr is dramatically told, it is also historically accurate and doesn't talk down to the older student. Hamilton and Burr are cast as well-rounded human beings with flaws and strengths. Both are shown to be at fault for the duel.

The book concludes with a lengthy bibliography.

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken

This is exactly the kind of book the preschool and kindergarten teachers are looking for to introduce seeds. The text is filled with sound words that children love, but it also contains a nice array of information about seeds and the way they travel from place to place.

Illustrations of vocabulary words related to seeds are given in the back.

No sources for the information are provided by the author.

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Do animals have brothers and sisters? How do animal brothers and sisters get along?

Children are interested in these questions, the focus of this book.

It's amazing to see how much interesting information about brothers and sisters the authors have squeezed into this small book. Some animals have no brothers or sisters. Some have hundreds. Some have only sisters. Some live in enormous colonies where every member is a sibling and all have the same mother.

There is a small list of references at the conclusion of the book.

Frogs by Nic Bishop

Is there any information about frogs that has not been included in this book? Frogs by Nic Bishop is filled with data about these fascinating amphibians. What child wouldn't enjoy reading all the cool facts this book presents about frogs?

The photographs add tremendous value to this book. They show frogs of all sorts, in all settings, from all angles.

The book contains an index and a glossary, but it has no list of references.

Molly the Pony by Pam Kaster

Every child, every adult who saw the photo on the cover of this book instantly went, "Ahhh." Apparently, there is something very touching about a horse that has been able to overcome disability and be fitted with a prosthetic foot.

The book tells the troubles that faced Molly. First she struggled to survive Hurricane Katrina. Later she was badly bitten by a dog and lost her hoof and leg. Usually a horse cannot exist without the use of his legs.

A team of vets decided to take a chance and fit Molly with an artificial leg. To their surprise, she thrived.

A story of overcoming adversity and the ability of science to improve the world, even for horses.

The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America by Bob Raczka

I saw this book last spring in a book fair, but I wasn't even interested in it enough to open it. I wish I had.

This book has simple text that accompanies a series of pictures that illustrate various aspects of America. Its simplicity is powerful. It could be used with children of all ages to talk about what America is and how it is perceived.

Two pages in the back of the book provide more information about the artists who drew the artwork used in this book. No information is given about where that information was obtained.

In many ways, the book feels more like poetry than it does informational text.

"Mrs. Riley Bought Five Itchy Aardvarks" and Other Painless Tricks for Memorizing Science Facts by Brian Cleary

I love this book. I've never seen a children's book like it. I immediately began thinking of people who would like to have a copy of this book.

The author lists idea after idea for helping to learn key science information. Some of these are commonly known, but most were unknown to me.

The illustrations add to the fun. The ideas are playful and creative. This could be a bestseller among science teachers.

Used Any Numbers Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman

An alphabet book with a numerical twist. Allen and Lindaman bring their sense of fun to an alphabet book about the ways numbers are used in the world.

The illustrations are humorous and include some inside jokes to readers of Allen and Lindaman's other books.

Children would enjoy reading through this book and think of their own ways numbers are used in the world.

No references are given, but the information presented is so widely known that none is really needed.

A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero adapted and illustrated by Gina Capaldi

Capaldi took the text of a letter Montezuma wrote to a professor at the Smithsonian and used it to create this book, the story of Montezuma's life. There are so few books about Native American heroes outside of cowboy and Indian folklore that this book needed to be published.

Montezuma was stolen from his parents as a small boy. He was adopted by a kind and compassionate man who saw that Montezuma received an excellent education. Montezuma became a medical doctor and a leader of his people.

Capaldi adapts the letter Montezuma wrote to create a first-person narrative of a life of great struggle and courage. She tells how she came to write the book and provides an extensive list of sources.

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley

Alice Roosevelt was the daughter of president Theodore Roosevelt. As a child and even as an adult, Alice was considered a pistol. Her father wrote that he could run the country or control Alice, but he couldn't do both.

Alice lived life to the fullest, eating unusual foods, roaming around spots throught unsuitable for woman, dancing, singing, playing, learning. She was full of energy.

This book reflects that energy with its pictures and the composition of the text.

Alice was apparently the Hannah Montana of her day. She finally grew up and began using her amazing energy to help her political causes.

A fun and lively read.