Teen review – The New Normal By: Ashley Little

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I hate when a book doesn’t get to the point.  You read the blurb on the back and it sounds so exciting, so great, and then it takes half the book to get to that aha! moment that drew you into reading the book in the first place.  The new normal is the opposite.  The opening sentence grabs you immediately, “I am losing my hair, I don’t know why.  I’m only sixteen”  Tamar Robinson’s back story is filled in for you in the first two pages.  She’s losing her hair and her twin sisters are dead “They died from riding in cars with boys. Stupid, drunken boys.”

Tamar’s parents are a complete mess, her dad sits at home in a fog while her mother hides from her grief by doing yoga 24/7, which leaves Tamar more alone than she ever thought possible, and wondering how you grieve the loss of sisters that weren’t all that likable to begin with?

Many parts of this book reminded me of The reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, 
especially with it set in the suburbs of Calgary and the family dealing with the grief of losing a sibling, how do you define yourself as a family after something like this?

Tamar is incredibly likable, and laugh out loud funny. Trying to get through grade 11 in one piece.  There were a few loose ends that fell into place a little to nicely and abruptly at the end of the book in order to finish it up in the allotted pages, but for the most part this is a really great read from a new Canadian author.

age 14+

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Picture book review : Creepy carrots! By: Aaron Reynolds, Illustrated by: Peter Brown

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I hate carrots, more than the taste though, I hate the sound of my husband taking a full carrot out of the fridge and eating it whole.  The sound drives me nuts (which I’m positive is why he continues to eat it in such a fashion).  So when Creepy Carrots! came out I was so excited to have my thoughts on carrots put into a perfectly awesome picture book. Plus it allows me shout “creepy carrots!” whenever he’s eating them.

Jasper Rabbit is your average rabbit. The guy can’t stop eating carrots, and if he can pick a few from crackenhopper field each day, who cares, he loves carrots!  But then things start to get weird.  Jasper starts hearing noises….and seeing things, and swears he’s being followed……….tunktunktunk.  Is Jasper eating carrots….or are the carrots getting ready to eat him?!

Aaron Reynolds has written a superb read aloud book, that allows the reader to slowly build up suspense through out the story, and with a twist ending that deserves a bit of a maniacal laugh when you read it.  Illustrator Aaron Reynolds, who wrote and illustrated Children make terrible pets and You will be my friend has created beautiful artwork in black and orange that draws your eye to what Jasper may or may not be seeing throughout the book, and the shadowing creates the perfect, creepy vibe for the reader.  Winning him a well earned Caldecott Honor for 2013.

 

 

 

End of the year amusement – Entrepreneurs

It’s that lovely time of year, when I collect the 1500 outstanding books from the school.  Shelf read the library (can you sense the excitement of putting every book on the shelf in order?……goosebumps I tell you).  Then doing a complete inventory.

It’s a bit mind numbing.  I always find classic books as I complete all of these tasks.  Today I found this book.  The cover alone stood out, I didn’t know who this Entrepreneur was, but his 90’s look, and self-confidence grabbed me immediately.  Plus he’s Canadian….tell me more!!!

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Then I opened the book, and I laughed even more.  The classic Canadian entrepreneur that all children should aspire to be appeared on page two.  Compete with picture that should have ended up anywhere but in print. 

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This is why you weed your collection.  Books that can seem new are easily filled with misinformation depending on the topic.  But man do I enjoy reading them.

Review – On a beam of light : a story of Albert Einstein By: Jennifer Berne. c2013.

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Picture book biographies are becoming outstandingly wonderful.  One of the most recent, “On a beam of light : a story of Albert Einstein” is a spring favorite.  It’s simple language and brilliant pen and ink drawings appeal to people of all ages.

One of the most enjoyable things about this biography is as much as the author discusses what a genius Einstein was, she spends equally as much time talking about Einstein as a person, allowing the reader to relate to him as a human being first and foremost.

“Albert even chose his clothes for thinking.  His favorite were his comfy, old saggy-baggy sweaters and pants.  And shoes without socks.  He said now that he was a grown up, no one could tell him to put on his socks.”

The book follows Einstein from his early years as a child, through to the end of his life and his many scientific discoveries.  More than that though, it allows you to dream, to imagine, to explore. Anything is possible.

“Albert thought and figured until the very last minute of the very last day of his life.  He asked questions never asked before.  Found answers never found before, and dreamed up ideas never dreamt before”

Age 6 and up.

The art of weeding

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Weeding is an art form.  Where you go through the shelves and get rid of classic books about the Soviet Union, or those new fan-dangled tube tv’s!I I weeded this beautiful book from a school library I worked in about 7 years ago.  By and far the best/worst I’ve found in a collection.  The title alone made me giggle, but the addition of the sticker asking the user to please wash their hands before reading was the icing on the cake.

When you open it though, you find beautiful poetry, about death, and people being shot, right next to poetry about what little girls are made of.  It’s like dressing up as a clown and then talking to children about suicide, what in the world???  It now belongs on my bookshelf at home, a classic.

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I also removed many wonderful books from that collection that boasted they were “now in colour!”….nooooo who splurged to get it in REAL COLOUR!!!!  There’s a fanastic website that is dedicated to many of these wonderful books that long ago should have been taken off library shelves.  Amuse yourselves at http://http://awfullibrarybooks.net/

Review – Jake and Lily by: Jerry Spinelli

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I’m not sure if I’m happier that I loved a Jerry Spinelli book or that I just loved this book period.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve never been a Jerry Spinelli fan.  I’ve tried to enjoy his stories in the past, and oh have I tried.  But they just never really grabbed me.  Then along came Jake and Lily.

The book is written in two voices with Lily and Jake alternating chapters/entries.   Jake and Lily are twins.  But not only are they twins, they’re best friends, one half of the other.  All of that changes the summer they turn eleven.  They get separate bedrooms, Jake starts hanging out with a group of guys, and Lily is left devastated.  What ensues is a summer where Lily and Jake have to figure out what kind of people they are individually.  Great topics on bullying and becoming your own person.  Between Goombla and Goobers, this is an excellent summer read.

Grade 4-7