I had a great time listening to The True Meaning of Smekday, the recipient of the 2011 Odyssey Award. (The Odyssey Award is presented by the American Library Association to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the U.S.) How can you not love a friendly, tongue-clacking "Boov" alien nicknamed "J.Lo" (because Boovish names are unpronounceable by humans) who becomes the unlikely companion of an intrepid 11-year old car-driving heroine named Gratutity (nickname "Tip")? Throw in a cat called "Pig," a flying car called "Slushious," and other colorful characters, along with some strange, funny, and occasionally horrifying events - well, the result is a futuristic road trip like you've never imagined.
Whew! Looks like Spring has finally arrived! What a great time of the year to get outside and Get Moving!
Whether you like to hop, jump, skip, kick a ball, ride a bike, or do some yoga, there are a lot of ways to exercise for fun - and we have a lot of books with great tips on how to keep your body fit and strong. Did you know that in addition to keeping your heart and muscles strong physical activity can also keep your brain strong? Read more »
There is nothing that heralds the arrival of Spring like the sound of the spring peepers. I enjoyed listening to their chorus when it was warm enough a couple weeks ago to open the windows and hear them singing in the evening from the creek in the backyard. But frogs are often hard to see - especially now that the weather has turned cold again!
To get a wonderful close up peek at spring peepers and other frogs, take a look at Nic Bishop's book Frogs. It's filled with beautiful color photographs of a variety of frogs and fascinating facts about them, too. Read more »
Are you a fan of Erin Hunter's Warriors Series or the swashbuckling adventures of Redwall Abbey? If so, you owe it to yourself to check out Watership Down by Richard Adams, one of the greatest animal fantasy novels of all time.
A band of brave rabbits sets out from their doomed warren on an epic journey across a dangerous land. Along the way, they must face weasels, birds of prey, cats, men, and hostile bands of other rabbits. Filled with nail-biting escapes, brave heroes and terrifying villains, Watership Down will keep you up way past your bedtime. It's one of those rare, "stand alone" fantasy novels, but the characters searching for a new home in this story will stay with you for years to come. Recommended for grades 5 and up.
It is 1936 in the depths of the Great Depression and Abilene Tucker has been sent by her wandering father to live in the dying town of Manifest, Kansas. She spends the summer making friends and trying to discover the truth about the town, its colorful inhabitants, and her father's past. The mystery revolves around the years 1917-18 when America was fighting in World War I and a deadly outbreak of influenza swept the world. Abilene and her buddies delve into old newspapers, find hidden clues, and uncover secrets through a diviner's stories to reveal the extraordinary friendship between two young men, Ned and Jinx. Abilene is disappointed when she believes there is no trace of her father in Manifest but for the first time in her life, she begins to think of a place as home. Read more »
What's your favorite Dr. Seuss story? Let us know. And share it with a friend to help celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2. This is Dr. Seuss's (Theodor Geisel's) birthday, and a day that the National Education Association honors by calling for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult. We'll be celebrating on Saturday, March 5th with some Seusspicious events. Join us!
Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrixis written by Gary Golio, and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, using mixed media in colors both bright and pastel, on plywood. Hendrix was fascinated with music, sound, art, and color at an early age. As a young boy, he even used a broom as a pretend guitar, playing and singing to an imaginary audience in his bedroom. He listened constantly to blues, jazz, gospel, classical, folk, and rock and roll music, but was also mesmerized by sounds he heard in the street and in nature, and by the colors of things around him. In his mind, according to the author, colors had sounds to them, and he wondered "Could someone paint pictures with sound?"
If you thought this winter in Bloomington was a fierce one, you may feel it was downright balmy after reading about the winter the Revolutionary War soldiers experienced at Valley Forge in 1777-1778.
In Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson continues the compelling story she started in her award-winning novel Chains which describes the involvement of African American slaves in the Revolutionary War. Chains was told from the perspective of Isabel, a slave who spies for the rebels during the start of the war. She meets Curzon, a slave whose owner required him to enlist as a soldier and fight in the war in his place, with the promise that Curzon would become free when the enlistment time expired. Read more »
When I got my first car, I couldn’t wait to take a road trip of my own. I’d spent plenty of time in the “wayback” of the family station wagon as a kid attempting to read while my Dad switched the radio back and forth from baseball broadcasts to classical music stations. Now I’d be in the driver’s seat and could choose what to listen to and when and where to stop for a rest break! The road atlas was my guide as I set off on my own from Chicago to visit my brother in Pennsylvania.
When Ruth and her family set off in the early 1950s on a road trip from Chicago to Alabama, they needed something in addition to a road map to guide their trip. They needed "The Green Book." "The Green Book," author Calvin Alexander Ramsey explains in his picturebook Ruth and the Green Book was developed in 1936 by a postman named Victor H. Green to help black people who were traveling. The book listed by city all the restaurants, hotels, gas stations and businesses that would serve African Americans during the era of “Jim Crow” laws when many establishments, especially in the South, refused to admit blacks.