Wednesday, July 29, 2015

10 Picture Books About Ducks & Geese

Ducks and geese are popular characters in picture books. Here are ten titles starring these fluffy feathered friends.
  • Duck and Goose by Tad Hills
    Duck and Goose become friends when they each fall in love with a polka dotted ball they believe to be an egg. 
  • Gossie by Olivier Dunrea
    Gossie loves to wear red boots every day - a habit which leads her to make a like-minded friend.
  • The Day the Goose Got Loose by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Stephen Kellogg
    When the goose gets loose, utter chaos breaks out on the farm in this rhyming story. 
  • A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom
    A very chatty goose and a quiet, thoughtful bear form an unlikely friendship. (This book was a 2006 Geisel Honor book, meaning it's a great choice for beginning readers!) 
  • Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
    When Petunia finds a book, she assumes she has been given all the wisdom necessary to give advice to other farm animals, with silly and hilarious results. 
  • Across the Stream by Mirra Ginsburg, illustrated by Nancy Tafuri
    When a mother hen and her chicks are threatened by the presence of a nightmarish fox, they escape across the stream on the backs of a mother duck and her ducklings. 
  • Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack
    When Angus the terrier goes out exploring, he has a surprise encounter with some neighborhood ducks, who scare the curiosity right out of him! 
  • Little White Duck  illustrated by Joan Paley
    This picture book adaptation of a well-known folk song uses large, colorful images to portray the actions of a duck, frog, bug, and snake. 
  • One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jane Chapman
    This rhythmic counting book tells of the efforts of different animals to rescue the duck who is stuck in the muck down in the marsh. 
  • The Fuzzy Duckling by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen
    In this Golden Book, a fuzzy little duckling walks down the lane greeting other animals as he goes. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chapter Book Review: Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon (ARC)

Dory and the
Real True Friend

by Abby Hanlon
2015. Dial Books.
ISBN: 9780525428664
Dory, aka Rascal, is about to start the new school year as a first grader, and her older siblings are concerned that she won't have any friends if she doesn't stop behaving so strangely. Deciding that she will leave her imaginary monster friend, Mary, at home, Dory figures she has a great chance of making a real, true friend. Unfortunately, when she meets Rosabelle, whose own imagination is every bit as big as Dory's, no one in her family believes that she is real, and Dory is forced to prove her existence. In the meantime, Dory and Rosabelle team up to save Dory's fairy godfather from the evil Mrs. Gobble Gracker.

This sequel to Dory Fantasmagory is a great celebration of imagination reminiscent in many ways of Kevin Henkes's picture book, Jessica. While many adults discourage kids of Dory's age from having imaginary friends or letting their imaginations run away with them, this book sees the good in having a wildly creative mind and demonstrates that all you need is one like-minded person to strike up a meaningful friendship. The imaginative side of the story is not quite as strong as in the first book. It is a bit tricky to keep track of everything that is happening in the expanded world of make-believe created by Dory's and Rosabelle's combined imaginations, and the imagined exploits of Mrs. Gobble Gracker are not quite as fresh as they were when she was first introduced. Still, the message of the story - that being oneself is the best way to find a real, true friend - is perfectly suited to the intended audience, and the way it is delivered is entertaining and kid-friendly, rather than overly preachy.

Dory and the Real True Friend will appeal to fans of the first book, as well as to readers who have enjoyed other early elementary friendship stories, such as Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend, Bink & Gollie, and Princess Posey and the New First Grader.

I received a digital ARC of Dory and the Real True Friend from Dial Books via Edelweiss.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Middle Grade Review: A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff
2013. Philomel.
ISBN: 9780399255175
Most people in the world Cady lives in have a Talent. Some are seemingly inconsequential, like a Talent for spitting, or being able to whistle well, but others are quite useful, such as Cady's Talent for baking, or Miss Mallory's Talent for matching orphans like Cady with their perfect families. In this novel, multiple voices come together to tell the story of a man desperate to find a lost piece of luggage, another man mourning the loss of his wife and child, an elderly woman victimized by a stroke who can't communicate her true identity, and Cady, who longs for the day she will bake the perfect cake for her own Adoption Day party.

Using Talents as its vehicle, this book explores the unexpected interconnectedness amongst the citizens of a somewhat magical Poughkeepsie, New York. Each character experiences a mixture of hope and sadness throughout the book, as the tangle of knots that is their lives slowly unwinds, comes undone, and falls into place. There are a lot of characters, which can be overwhelming, and there are wasted pages devoted to recipes readers are unlikely to bother reading, let alone baking, but there is something compelling about the writing style that overshadows these minor problems. There is a timelessness to the story, which seems to exist in a vacuum away from cell phones, video games, iPads, and Apple watches, and away from the pettiness of catty girls, middle school love triangles, and other tired middle grade cliches. Because of the meaningful issues it explores, and the uplifting, happy ending, it is a book even the most conservative of parents (read: me) will happily allow a child to read without reservations.

Next summer (2016), Lisa Graff will publish a companion to this book, A Clatter of Jars. In the meantime, readers who enjoyed this book and want more might be interested in the Quirks series by Erin Soderberg and Savvy by Ingrid Law. This book would also make a great addition to my list of middle grade novels set in upstate New York.

I borrowed A Tangle of Knots through inter-library loan.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Old School Sunday: The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (1958) (Reading Through History Review 30 of 52)

It is 1784, and Ann Hamilton and her family have left Gettysburg and moved west, over the Allegheny Mountains to the Western Country, where they must do without many of the modern comforts they enjoyed back East. In her diary, Ann laments the loss of everything she loved about her past life, including being able to spend time with her cousin Margaret, and not having to put up with pesky Andy MacPhale, the squatter's son, who seems to enjoy taunting her. When a surprise visitor turns up on Ann's doorstep one day, however, her whole outlook on the West changes, and she realizes she and her family are at the forefront of an important American movement.

Author Jean Fritz based this book on an actual entry in her great-great-grandmother's diary, a fact which is sure to please young readers who always want to know if events described in books really happened or not. Though many of the details surrounding Ann's life are invented, she comes across as a very real ten-year-old, torn between her love for her old home, and her desire to please her family as they embrace their new life in the wilderness. Young readers will easily relate to her longing to do normal things, such as have a tea party, and her fears about surviving the long, cold winter. Despite how long ago Ann is living, kids will feel as though they know her and could be her friend.

Like The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Cabin Faced West is a chapter book most suitable for newly independent readers. The font is large, and the vocabulary is fairly basic, with very few completely unfamiliar words. This makes it a perfect choice for introducing pioneer living to kids in the early elementary grades, and maybe even to younger kids, if the book is read aloud. Because of (spoiler alert) George Washington's visit at the end of the story, it also works as a tie-in for a Presidents Day lesson.

I borrowed The Cabin Faced West from my local public library.
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