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May 31, 2011 > Footnotes


For Preschool and up:
Clink, written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Clink is an adorable little robot in a robot shop. Unfortunately, his parts are getting old and rusty, and occasionally PLINK! POP! Ping! parts and springs fall off. His fellow robots can do really neat things, like bake cookies or play baseball while picking up laundry. Clink's special gift? Burning toast. Not much call for that, and as the days go by Clink gives up hope of ever finding a home. Then, through the door one day comes a boy, one who always looks but never buys. Could it be he's looking for a robot who burns toast? Hmmm... (HarperCollins hardback, $16.99)

For Kindergarten and up:
Look! A Book! By Bob Staake

This little gem is a charming version of the Seek-and-Find books that can be overwhelming for some of the younger folks. This one features charming rhymes, peek-a-boo circles which show a few details from the following page, then suggests an item to find. As the reader/spotter progresses, there's more to find, and at the end, yet more challenges. The illustrations are very cute, and the rhymes engaging. This a perfect book to keep a young mind occupied at the doctor's office or in the car. Thank you to Lisa Blizel for showing me this one! (Little Brown hardback, $16.99)

For 1st grade and up:
Argus, written by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Andrea Wesson

Sally's class is given chicken eggs to hatch. All the eggs look pretty much the same, except for Sally's. Hers is NOT a chicken egg. "Mine looks different," she says. "Don't be difficult," responds her teacher. When the eggs hatch, out come cute little fluffy chicks. Sally's egg instead produces something green, scaly with big yellow eyes. It is definitely NOT a chicken. "Mine is different," says Sally. "Don't be difficult," says Mrs. Henshaw.

Sally has no idea just how different her 'chick' Argus will turn out to be - he doesn't eat seeds, for example, but instead tries to eat the other chicks! He grows at a tremendous rate, and the holes he digs in the recess yard... well, Sally just wishes she had a chick like the others. Her chance comes when Argus disappears. Will she go after her missing charge or jump at the opportunity to be like everyone else in class? And what will happen to the missing Argus? (Candlewick hardback, $15.99)

For 1st grade and up:
Turkey Trouble, written by Wendi Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper

I'm offering this book in spring instead of around Thanksgiving for this reason: the story is about a turkey trying to get out of being eaten at Thanksgiving dinner! The story is engaging, and the illustrations hilarious, but there is the possibility of a child becoming a little too attached to the lead character! At any rate, in the beginning of the story, Turkey decides that the best way to avoid being cooked is to disguise himself as a horse. His costume is almost perfect... until Cow protests that Turkey is too short to be a horse. He then dresses in a new costume, as a cow! His costume is almost perfect... until Pig protests that Turkey is too skinny to be a cow. His journey continues until he finds the perfect costume - but what could that be? Thank you Carol Zmolek for discovering this one! (Marshall Cavendish hardback, $15.99)

For 3rd grade and up:
Can We Save the Tiger? Written by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White

Martin Jenkins is a conservationist and Vicky White is an incredible illustrator. Jenkins takes what could be a dry or very one-sided subject, and tells the story of how animal species are driven into extinction. In some cases it is because of a simple accident, such as the introduction of the giant African land snail. In other cases it could be because of economics; if you were a farmer who could earn three months income and feed your family for the price of one tiger's skin, you might think its worth it.

Beautiful animals are on the brink of extinction and ugly ones too, such as the white-rumped vulture. There are stories of environmental successes, animals who have been saved, and others who might soon disappear. All species in this book are portrayed as vital, beautiful creatures. My favorite is the largest parrot in the world, the kakapo. They live as long as people do, but can't even fly! Fascinating, moving, and educational, this book is a gem. (Candlewick hardback, $16.99)

For 5th grade and up:
Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

Homer Pudding lives on a farm, but he dreams of becoming a treasure hunter some day, like his uncle the world traveler. When his uncle dies, Homer receives his most valued possession, a Bassett hound. How could this dog be valuable? He has no sense of smell, is lazy beyond belief and can't even herd a chicken? Homer's father wants him to get rid of the dog and Homer begins to think his dad may be right when he spots a coin hooked unto Dog's collar. The coin looks old, and has a mysterious message on it. With the discovery of the coin and a resulting treasure hunt, Homer and Dog are flung into an adventure the boy has always dreamed about. But you know what they say... be careful what you wish for! With laugh out loud situations, adventure and plot twists, this book is one of my favorites - and there's a sequel! (Little Brown paperback, $6.99)

For junior high and up:
Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Jacob Fielding survived a car accident he shouldn't have. Just before the impact, his foster father told him "You are indestructible." At the time, he didn't think the message was anything more than the wish of a man for his son; a week later he writes those words on the cast of a girl named Ophelia. When she then survives a devastating skateboard crash without so much as a scratch, Jacob begins to wonder. He, Ophelia and Jacob's friend Milo begin to test the strength of those words, and what power they may have. They discover that although they have the power to save lives, there is a price that must ultimately be paid. For every life they save, someone else must die. With the power of life and death in their hands, is it any wonder that one of them begins to show signs of insanity? A suspenseful page-turner. (Little Brown paperback, $8.99)

And now a serious message from Dominique: To those parents with children reading at a higher level than their age, please be very careful to look at the content of a book before giving it to your child. A kindergartener may be able to read at 5th grade level, but the content of those books is probably not kindergarten friendly, containing difficult and/or scary situations that the child is not emotionally mature enough to handle. The same goes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders, etc. A 2nd grader may be able to read the words in Twilight, but the teenage angst, the deaths and tense situations are not reasonable for a 7-year-old to process. There are lots and lots of books at lower levels providing wonderful stories - please, please don't push young children to process too much too soon!

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