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April 24, 2007 > Footnotes: April reading

Footnotes: April reading

Recommended for ages 5 and up

"Life Doesn't Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou with paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Stewart, Tabori and Chang hardback, $17.95. (1996)

This book is a powerfully-written poem, giving strength to the reader, especially if read out loud. It has a lovely rhyme sequence:

"Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall;
Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Bad dogs barking loud
Ghost up in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me at all!"

Basquiat's paintings are a bit edgy, almost harsh, and not for the very young. My belief is that children will hear the words, see that the scary things in life can be faced, and find comfort to conquer those fears.

Reviewed by dh.

Recommended for toddlers to preschool

"In My Car: Keep Me Busy Driving" DK Publishing board book, $12.99. (2006)

There's so much in this book that it's hard to know where to start! Your little driver will be able to actually turn the wheel and steer from page to page. On every brightly colored page there are all sorts of lift-the-flap opposites to discover: big and little buses, driving fast and slow, etc. Each page has an imaginary trip to drive to and through. This activity book would be great either as a travel book or as an accompaniment when doing those quick in town trips. Reviewed by dh

Recommended for 5th grade and up

"Adam Canfield of the Slash" by Michael Winerip, Candlewick paperback, $5.99. (2007)

Adam Canfield is really looking forward to school this year. Not only will he be an ace reporter for the school newspaper, he'll get to be the co-editor too. He's hoping that he'll find some outstanding Pulitzer Prize-winning super story that'll blow everyone socks off.

Right off the bat though, the principal, Mrs. Marris, has made it clear that she will have the right to veto any article she doesn't think is appropriate. She also suggests some REALLY boring topics for the front page. Little does Adam know that one of those 'boring' topics is actually one that will bust the lid off of a major scandal. Is Adam brave enough to risk everything and get into major trouble just for an article in a school newspaper? Reviewed by dh.

Recommended for 3rd grade

"My Haunted House (Araminta Spookie #1)," by Angie Sage, HarperCollins hardback, $8.99. (2006)

Araminta Spookie lives in the perfect house - lots of space for her and her Aunt Tabby and Uncle Drac, bats in the belfry, hidden rooms....perfect! Perfect that is until Aunt Tabby decides that she can't deal with the cantankerous boiler any more and is determined to sell. Araminta can't move; she just refuses! With the help of a haunted suit of armor, a young ghost named Edmund and a lot of creative plots, she intends to drive away any potential buyers. At first her plan seems to work, but then a family shows up that thinks Araminta's house is just lovely, perfect in fact! Now what is she going to do? Very Adams family-ish, with humor and silly scary situations and a very satisfactory ending. This is the first in a series, hurray!. Reviewed by dh.

Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto is also available in hardcover.

Recommended for 5th-6th grade

"Lionboy (Lionboy Trilogy)" by Zizou Corder, (Puffin Paperback, $7.99. (2004)

Don't let the book quote comparing this to Harry Potter turn you off. This series has its own charm and creates its own world without wizards and magical beings. The hero is a 10 year old boy who seems very modern with his cell phone and text messaging but who can still be enchanted by circus acts.Unlike many children's books, Charlie has loving parents. They are brilliant scientists, multiracial and obviously well-matched

When Charlie Ashanti returns home one day to find an empty house, he launches immediately into the journey of a lifetime. Sleazy Rafi, a teenage boy who hangs around playgrounds, shows up to take him to his parents. Our hero plays along and quickly escapes Rafi's clutches only to find himself stowed away on a circus ship heading to Paris. Taking advantage of his astonishing ability to speak the language of cats, Charlie sets in motion a chain of communication from London to Paris via scruffy alley toms, fluffy lap kitties, and even ferocious lions. Along the way, the clever boy manages to stay one step ahead of Rafi, but unfortunately always one step behind his parents.

Zizou Corder is actually a mother/daughter writing team. "Lionboy" is the first in a trilogy that is bound to become a classic. Readers will shriek and groan when they read the words at the conclusion - "To Be Continued..." - and won't rest until they get their hands on all three breathtaking, funny, well-written titles.. Reviewed by jp.

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