Public relations dynamo or misunderstood?


I’m not sure if this book is a reflection of our political world or just funny.  Is Shark an intentional liar or maybe someone who shades the truth to reflect better on himself, no matter how absurd?

Every time Shark is reminded that people are watching him, it turns out he isn’t really going to eat a fish.  Maybe he wants to show someone his cool new teeth.  Maybe he’s only returning a baby seal to its parents.  Maybe he’s sharing his fine supply of bandages with the bloody-kneed human.

The ocean gets its saltiness from the tears of misunderstood sharks!

Or so we are told.

Is he really lying to us?  Maybe we all just need a hug.  But not a shark hug.  Definitely not a shark hug.

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon

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Beyond words

drawn togetherSome years ago, I took my then infant son with me to visit a friend and her mother for coffee.  They were both from Bosnia, and my friend’s mom spoke some English, but did not get much of a chance to practice it.  We all chatted for a while, and then my son woke up, happy and ready for attention.  My friend’s mom picked him up and toured him around the house, happily describing everything to him in Bosnian.  Did he care?  No.  Was he suddenly in love with my friend’s mom?  Yes.  She tickled his belly.  She made faces.  She was a dream.  Little ones really don’t care what language you speak as long as you are speaking to them.  Being the center of attention works in any language.

Once you’re a little older, having a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak the same language can be a little more challenging until you find the ways you can communicate beyond words.  And that’s pretty much this book.

It is a perfect and wonderful book.  The words are perfect; the art is perfect.  And there is so much love in it.  What a joyful reminder of the special relationships grandparents can have with their grandchildren, no matter what lives they’ve left behind.

Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

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Good book, confusing title

inventors at no 8George might be the unluckiest boy in London.  He’s sure got lists of all the awful things that happen to him.  It’s only after someone tries to steal his last precious item that he connects with the future Ada Lovelace — now acknowledged as the computer programmer extraordinaire of the 19th century—before there even were computers as we know them.

It’s a steampunky kind of world we enter, with automatons, flying mechanical birds, airships, and the like.  You’re never quite sure who George can trust, but Ada is fierce and smart and sneaky, all the things you need in a sidekick that involves traveling to other countries, disguises, orangutans.  It almost makes you wonder why she wasn’t the main character.  Too interesting, maybe.

The only thing I found annoying about the book is the title.  George lives at No. 8 with his “man” Frobisher.  They are not what I would call inventors.  Ada is the inventor, but she lives across the street.  Very little of the book actually takes place at No. 8, since they are out and about trying to get the precious item back.  So I must be missing something.  Maybe it will all be explained in what is sure to involve a sequel?

The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

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Alcatraz, oh, Alcatraz

If you’ve been longing for a little break from reality and favor prison stories and mysteries, especially if you are already a fan of the Book Scavenger series or Moose & Natalie’s Al Capone adventures,  you’ll want to check out these two.  Both take place at Alcatraz.  Both bring back favorite characters solving new puzzles, while dealing with self-doubt and growing up.  Both are a nice escape from reality and offer some insight into the history of Alcatraz.  Summer reading, anyone?

The Alcatraz Escape (Book Scavenger) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertmann

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve  by Gennifer Choldenko

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A boy on the run, a man struggling with grief, a special bird

boy bird coffin makerThere is an island with flowers made of rubies.

It’s not where Tito, Fia, and Alberto live, but it’s out there, either in someone’s imagination, or maybe just maybe across the horizon – away from an abusive father, far from grief and sadness, just a boat ride away.  But how to get there?

A beautiful, sweet story about love, trust, and the things that make us a family.

The Boy, the Bird, the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

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Rock your curtains, Julián

julian is a mermaidJulián loves mermaids.  And really, why wouldn’t you?  They look fabulous in their sparkly, colorful costumes.  Becoming a mermaid is a combination of imagination, what you can find around the house, and finding the right place to show off your awesomeness.


Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Giant shells, moon jellies, good days, love

ocean-meets-sky-9781481470377_hrMemories of grandparents, memories of anyone we love – they’re all to be treasured.

Whether in our dreams or in every moment we walk through life, those we love remain with us if we keep them in our thoughts.

A beautiful book.

Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers

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Math is beautiful, Lightning Girl

lightning girlThere’s nothing quite like a math teacher who really LOVES math.

I have many fond memories of my high school calculus teacher showing us something new and suddenly bursting out with, “Oh wow.  You guys are going to love this!  Isn’t it cool?”  He would bounce around the room when we were doing something he really loved – boing, boing, boing.  “You guys, look at this!!”

Every kid needs to have at least one math teacher like that, but sadly, not everyone gets one.

Lightning Girl, who has acquired her awesome math ability by being hit by lightning, has a nice math teacher who’s got some potential, but she’s in middle school after years of being homeschooled and could not be less interested in revealing her abilities.  There are also other kids who are not so kind, although you realize later in the book that they’ve probably got some reasons to be unhappy themselves.

Being different in any way can have its challenges, and it’s hard to realize that your life is going to move far beyond the boundaries that seem so set when you’re 12 or 13.  This one might be a nice way to provoke some discussion.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

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Someone needs a nap

penguin and tiny shrimpNo, no, definitely no.  There will be no duckies and baths and comfy pillows here.  Penguin and Tiny Shrimp are on a mission to stay away, and yes, it will involve fireworks, running through the Serengeti and a Uni-hippo.  Eventually, though, we will all be yawning, which is exactly as it should be.

Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! by Cate Berry and Charles Santoso

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Sparkly wings & a yellow coat to hide them

perfectly normanNorman is wonderfully normal until the day wings pop out of his back.  They are awesome wings: colorful, useful for speeding through the air, definitely unusual.

So Norman hides them beneath his yellow coat with a hood, passing through his days pretending to be normal – if that’s possible when you’re always wearing a yellow coat with a hood.  He doesn’t want his parents to realize he’s not the same Norman anymore.  Sigh.  So much light hidden under a yellow coat.

Then, one day he realizes there are other people wearing coats.  Are they maybe hiding something, too?  Something wonderful?  Something amazing?

Don’t hide your awesome, kids.  It might not be “normal” to everyone, but it’s perfect if it’s you.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

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