Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Magic Tree House – Review

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The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

Ages: 6-9 years old

On their way home from school, Jack and Annie stumble across a mysterious tree house in the tallest tree in the woods. Inside the tree house are old books, and new books. And books that can take you into new worlds with new adventures. For Jack and Annie, they are taken into the long lost land the dinosaurs.

Jack is the older brother at 8 and a half years old. Annie is the rambunctious, and curious 7 year old. In the first installment in a series of over 70 books in the span of a decade, Jack and Annie explore the land of the dinosaurs, making friends and trying to find a way home before they become dinosaur dinner. The Magic Tree House series began in 1992, and I feel like that the last children’s librarian to read this title. The series incredibly popular with kids. I would highly recommend this book to young readers that enjoy either adventure or fantasy books. Jack and Annie are very simple characters, and there are no greater themes underlying the story. It is a simple adventure story of a boy who loves to learn and a girl with a world of imagination at her disposal. I think these two kids are very lucky. Who wouldn’t want to find a mysterious tree house filled with books that can take you anywhere in space or time?

The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark
by Mary Pope Osborne
Random House, 1992
ISBN 0679824111
68 pages

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Find this book at your local library

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The Skinnygirl Rules – Review

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The Skinnygirl Rules for Getting and Staying Naturally Thing by Bethenny Frankel

Age: Adult

Bethenny Frankel is best known for her role as the sassy, sharp-tongued friend on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York. She is also known as a contestant on the Martha Stewart Apprentice, author of Naturally Thin, and as a natural foods chef. All of these qualifications lead to this audio cd.

book jacketVia three quick cds, Bethenny discusses ten rules to help the listener become a naturally thin person. Nearly each of the ten rules was an expansion of “eat in moderation.” At times, her advice felt contradicting and repetitive. I was also annoyed that the only type of tempting foods out there are “decadent” foods. Had this been a book, I would gone through and counted how many times Frankel used this adjective.

With each of the ten rules, she threw in a Naturally Thin Thought (ideas on how a thin person would approach a situation), a Heavy Habit (ideas on how a heavy person would approach a situation) and celebrity facts (comments on how certain celebrities handle their food). These parts were interesting, but there was nothing here that I really didn’t know before.

There were some interesting tidbits and ideas that I do want to try. Like ordering a small appetizer and a series of side dishes next time I go out to eat instead of ordering a main entree. I also liked her recipe suggestions of improving upon a basic meal. The CD compilation does come with the added bonus of a 22 page PDF Recipes for the Skinny Girl. Each recipe is personalized with a little suggestion for modifications based on individual taste. The recipes are broken into 10 topics, a set for each of the ten rules discussed on the cd. Bethenny felt more in her element talking about constructing meals than in how to go about eating less of it. I’m holding on to the hope that she will release a cookbook in the near future rather than more how-to-eat books.

The Skinnygirl  Rules: For Getting and Staying Naturally Thin
By Bethenny Frankel
Simon & Schuster, 2009
ISBN 9781442300507
3 CDs – 3 Hours

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Find this audio-cd at your local library

Noteworthy Links #5

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Forbes ranked the 15 richest fictional characters, and you can bet to see some familiar names on that list from Chuck Bass to Jay Gatsby. Who is the number 1 richest fictional character, you ask? Follow the link to find out!

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Home libraries make kids smarter (stating the obvious much?) Miller-McCune posted a great article about the benefits of encouraging literacy as early as possible in children.

This effect holds true regardless of a nation’s wealth, culture or political system, but its intensity varies from country to country. In China, a child whose parents own 500 books will average 6.6 more years of education than a comparable child from a bookless home. In the U.S., the figure is 2.4 years — which is still highly significant when you consider it’s the difference between two years of college and a full four-year degree.

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If you’ve ever accrued overdue fines from your local library, worry no more! You are just following in the footsteps of one our most heroic forefathers: George Washington. He apparently owes $300,000 for having never returned 2 library books! What did he borrow?

According to a ledger found in 1934, Washington borrowed the “Law of Nations,” a treatise on international relations, and Vol. 12 of the “Commons Debates,” which contained transcripts of debates from Britain’s House of Commons, on October 5, 1789.

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For fans of fashion and books, Marc Jacobs has plans to go into the bookstore business in New York’s West Village. The original bookshop Biography Book Shop is relocating and now Jacobs will be taking over the location. I love the name that’s been twittered around the web “Book Marc”

but now it seems Jacobs is retaining the library feel of the space, making it into his local empire’s first bookstore.

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ALA is out with its top 10 of the most challenged books of 2009:

There isn’t really anything new on the list (nothing that hasn’t been there before). I do however think the reasoning for #5 is amusing.

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

Seriously? Sexually explicit? Did they read the same book that I did?

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Don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, what’s wrong with you? You stand in the minority, and these 25 insane book covers prove it!

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Nostradamus makes history again as his Prophecies is the first French book to be archived by Google Books.

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This is a movie of a super-cool “painting” hanging in the basement of the British Library, in London. The author has done many such paintings, but this is the best (and all the others are very similar). It’s called “Paradoxymoron”, by Patrick Hughes

This is so awesome. I think its well worth a trip to London to visit the British Library (among other things)

News of sorts

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Life has been busy over here. I’ve been working nearly everyday between my three library jobs. I’m on the tail end of Age of Innocence and soon to start East of Eden for my book club. I’ve also gotten a wee bit addicted to the newest Zynga game on Facebook, Treasure Isle. Is anyone else playing? I need blue gems and fruit pronto!

California weather keeps going back and forth between a beautiful sunny day and a dismal rainy day. Its sunny right now, lets hope it stays this way!

In bloggish news:

My blog is in the Top 50 Book Blogs Rankings. I came in at #40 in Top Book Blogs by Unique Monthly Visitors and #40 in Top Book Blogs by Complete Rank. I’m stunned. I didn’t even think I’d land in the top 100. =p

Check out my guest review of The Screwed-Up Life of Charles the Second by Drew Ferguson over at Queer YA.

And have you been tuning in for my new weekly book news feature? Please send in any articles or news snippets that you want to share with the rest of the world!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Review

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

Age: 10+

Dorothy is a 10 year old orphan who lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in a small town in Kansas. One day, a terrible tornado strikes her home and whisks her, and her pup Toto into the brand new world of Oz. Once in Oz, Dorothy is introduced to a number of different creatures including, but not limited to: the Tinman, the Scarecrow, and a cowardly lion, as she tries to find her way back home to Kansas.

Believe it or not, this is my first time reading this book. I’ve seen the movie with Judy Garland a number of times since my childhood, but I’ve never actually picked up the book before now. Reading this book, I had few references floating through my head. I kept thinking about the movie, and I also kept thinking of Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

Since I had the movie in my head, I picked up on a few major differences between the book and movie. For one, in the book Dorothy has silver shoes not the ruby red you see in the technicolor movie. The movie also added extra characters in Dorothy’s life in Kansas. In the book, we start immediately with the tornado that takes Dorothy to Oz.

I think what I like the most about Baum’s writing was that it reminded me of my favorite contemporary children’s authors. I could see snippets of Roald Dahl books (the orphan child goes on an adventure) and Neil Gaiman’s books (strange creatures in strange new worlds) in this book. Baum was a very influential author to have created a world like Oz with all its inhabitants. He went on to write about 13 sequels to the Wizard of Oz, most of which have at some point been transformed into a movie.

This book was also read for the Read, Remember, Recommend Challenge hosted by Bibliobabe.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by Frank L Baum
published 1900
ISBN 9780141321028
187 pages

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Find this book at your local library

Read the book free via Google Books

Noteworthy Links #4

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The 2010 LA Times Book Festival will be gracing the UCLA campus next weekend, April 24th & 25th. General attendance is free, parking is $10 and doors open at 10am. Check out the full A-Z list of authors here to look for your favorites!!

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Neil Gaiman talks libraries for National Library Week. If you missed his interview, you can find it archived at NPR here.

You can also read his interview with Kate Pritchard at Bookpage.

A snippet of the interview:

KP: Do you have a favorite library?

NG: My very favorite library of all is fictional, because it’s the one that I made up in The Sandman. That’s the library of all the books that people dreamed of writing but never wrote, all the sequels that never happened, all that kind of thing.

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Catch up on your favorite author interviews and giveaways with Book Club Girl.

The next interview will be with Todd Johnson of The Sweet By & By on Friday April 26th at 4p.

She is also hosting a giveaway for book club members in honor of Rebecca Wells newest novel The Crowning Glory of Calla Lilly Ponder. You can find all the rules and information here.

The first 25 clubs to sign up will receive a Randazzo’s King Cake to enjoy during their Calla Lily discussion!

For those of you wondering what a King Cake is:

Sent directly to your book group from New Orleans’ own Randazzo’s Camellia Street Bakery, this King Cake is adorned with their famous gooey frosting and topped with purple, yellow and green sprinkles, and includes a unique Randazzo’s Mardi Gras theme bag, stuffed with beads, doubloons, the history of Mardi Gras and the king cake, a 2010 commemorative 11x 16 color poster, a beautiful feather mask, and a kings crown! What better way to jazz up your book club night!

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Not really book related, but its close enough for me. Polyvore is an awesome fashion website with adorable themed outfits. Its Anthro meets a library.  I just love their photo compilations of various styles.

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For those who want the book feel, but can’t afford all the merchandize… this might solve a few of your problems.

Noteworthy Links #3

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Do you have an interesting story about books you’d like to share? Send me an e-mail with links to your favorite news blurbs about anything bookish!

www.savelibraries.org

Save Libraries is a grassroots effort to compile information about libraries in need of our support. Save Libraries will aggregate information about current advocacy efforts, archive advocacy efforts, and provide links to resources for libraries facing cuts.

A very informative and useful website for anyone concerned about the state of libraries across the nation. You can check in daily for the latest batch updates on budget cuts, news links and much, much more. I highly recommend visiting this website and putting in your two cents on how valuable libraries are to you.

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Perhaps the greatest endorsement for libraries and librarians. In a most surprising interview, Rolling Stone’s guitarist Keith Richards reveals that had he not gone into Rock n’ Roll he’d be a librarian!

He is in fact an avid bookworm who has taken great pride in developing libraries inside his homes in Sussex and Connecticut.

Awesome…right?

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Sad times for school libraries is evidenced in this Google map tracking school library closures across the nation.

This map marks the cities, towns, communities, and states that have made the decision to either eliminate certified school library positions (indicated in blue) or require one school librarian to work with two (2) or more school library programs throughout the week (indicated in red).

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On the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien talks with the San Francisco Chronicle about his views on life, war and family. You can read the interview here.

Matt Steinglass of the New York Times discusses what its like reading Tim O’Brien in Hanoi.

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Are you a fan of judging a book by its cover? This New York Times article takes an interesting look at how e-readers are making it harder and harder to accidentally come across that next perfect read.

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Don’t like your parents? Well neither do the authors of teen and children’s literature. This essay looks through a number of popular, classic and contemporary books and examines the role of the parents. Titles discussed include Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Twilight, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

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The Wedding Girl – Review

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The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham

Age: Adult

When Milly Havel was 18 years old and studying in Oxford, she made a single, impulsive move: marrying a gay man so that he could stay in England. 10 years after that fateful summer, Milly is getting ready to start a new life, with a new man. With less than a week before the wedding, the secret Milly kept for so long will finally reappear in her life.

I’m not the biggest fan of chicklit, nor do I have the patience to get through audiobooks. For reason, I picked up the audiocd version of The Wedding Girl (bonafide chicklit), and somehow, I ended up really enjoying the story and the characters. I think something has to be said for the fact that the only audiobooks I have started and completed are those read with a British accent. Why that is? I have no clue. But if you have an accent and you’re narrating a story, chances are I’ll actually finish the book.

I thought the story was clever, and the characters were very enjoyable. Milly’s mother is what I pictured Mrs. Bennett to be like in preparing the weddings for Elizabeth and Jane. Very fussy, very determined to see her children in successful and wealthy marriages. I didn’t really attach myself to any character in particular and for such a light-hearted novel, the author went into some pretty heavy themes. There were discussions about single parenting, homosexuality and religion, deception, family loyalty, and honest and identity. I thought the ending wrapped up much too neatly, but I honestly wasn’t expecting any other ending.

Madeleine Wickham is best known for her novels as Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic series. If you like that series, then you’ll enjoy this book too. If you liked the Shopaholic move, but haven’t read the book, then you’ll probably enjoy this title as well.

The Wedding Girl
by Madeleine Wickham
Read by Katherine Kellgren
Macmillan Audiobook, 2009
ISBN 1427207348
8.5 hours on 7 cds

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Find this at your local library: Book or AudioCD

The Dunderheads – Review

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman

Age: 6-9 years old

The Dunderheads are a group of kids with very special talents. From a photographic memory to the ability to spit farther than anybody else in school. Mean teacher Miss Breakbone has a penchant for making students cry and confiscating everything she sees. The Dunderheads are a smarter group than she anticipated. By putting their individual strengths together, they are able to fight back against her mean ways and save the day for one of their close friends.

This book is adorable. An odd description, I know, but its fitting. This short book is a fun read for boys and girls alike in 1st and 2nd grade. This book will teach younger kids to stand up for themselves, acknowledge their individual talents and learn the art of sharing and teamwork.

The Dunderheads
by Paul Fleischman
Candlewick Press, 2009
ISBN 9780763624989
56 pages

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Find this book at your local library

Noteworthy Links #3

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www.booksalemanager.com

A wonderful drug for the book addict. This site will help you locate library book sales anywhere in the nation. A great way to map out an itinerary when traveling, or just for a day out and about in your own neck of the woods.

You can search by zip code, by state, and narrow the findings down to a specific date range. You can then click on a hyperlink for more information about the library. You’ll get the address, types of payment accepted, and any special notes about the sale (ie $5 for an all you can carry bag of books!).