It's Only Stanley!

"It's very late, and Stanley is up to something. Will you figure out what he's doing before his sleepy family does?"

Author Jon Agee, known for his whimsical and deeply funny picture books, has just published a new gem: It's Only Stanley.

This charming story begins with the family dog Stanley howling at the moon late one night. The Wimbledon family springs awake, only to find that "it's only Stanley". But the story doesn't end there. The Wimbledons are awoken time and time again, as Stanley's activities become more and more fantastical. The clanking sound that wakes the family turns out to be Stanley fixing the oil tank, and the funky smell emanating from the kitchen is only Stanley making catfish stew. The story builds until it culminates in a very satisfying (yet somewhat bizarre) ending.

The entire story is written in verse, which adds a nice rhythm to this fun read-aloud. The simple watercolor illustrations also add to the story, with hidden gags and clues that hint towards the book's surprising ending. This hilarious book is a must-read for fans of Click Clack Moo.

For more interesting and hilarious reads by Jon Agee, check out Orangutan Tongs : Poems to Tangle Your Tongue, The Retired Kid, and Who Ordered the Jumbo Shrimp? : and Other Oxymorons.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #526

Lady Montfort's (Clementine Elizabeth Talbot) annual summer ball is the highlight of the season, not just for the household but for the county, and all their London friends. With the millions of details to be seen to, her ladyship relies heavily on her capable and resourceful housekeeper Edith Jackson, a handsome woman in her early thirties. The 1912 ball went off without a hitch. Even the weather was perfect to show off the Montfort's new sunken garden. Tragedy strikes in the early hours of the next morning when the gamekeeper finds a body, hanging in a gibbet that turns out to be that of Teddy Mallory, Lord Montford's dishonorable nephew, just expelled from Christ Church, Oxford.

When it was discovered that a new housemaid and one of their London guests also disappeared during the night, Scotland Yard gets involved. After unwittingly witnessed a violent confrontation between her son Harry, Lord Haversham and Teddy in the early evening, Lady Montfort fears that the official police inquiry is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect. Taking matters into her own hands, the countess enlists the help of Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case.

In Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman "an enchanting debut, author Tessa Arlen (incorporates) exquisite period detail into her well-mannered mystery, offers readers an engaging peek into the lives of upper and lower classes of early 1900s England combined with a little history interspersed." For those who enjoyed English country house mysteries like Gosford Park and Kate Morton's The House at Riverton.

If the elegant estate on the jacket cover brings to mind another establishment depicted in a long-running Masterpiece Theatre TV series, it's intentional. In fact, Tessa Arlen will participate in a panel discussion entitled Downton Malice: British Historical Period Mysteries at the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, Sunday, May 3, 2015.

Historical mystery fans interested specifically in the Edwardian era may wish to check out the author's Redoubtable Edwardians blog, choke-full of fabulous information and readalikes.

PreK BITS - "I" is for "Issues" ... with clothing!

We had issues with clothing in Ms. Rachel’s Storytime this week.
BROWN BEAR In A BROWN CHAIR was sad and flat since nobody sees her sitting there. Is there a solution?
PETE The CAT: I Love My White Shoes keeps stepping in stuff that change the color of his new white shoes. Does he worry? Goodness NO!
"Cinderella Dressed In Yellow" is a jumping rope rhyme. You can find versions on YouTube and write your own verses.

For more stories about clothing issues try these favorites:
MR. FRANK by Irene Luxbacher … when Grandfather, the tailor, comes to live with the family.
ZORRO GETS AN OUTFIT … and how embarrassing!
PINK ME UP! when Daddy takes Violet to the Pink Girls Pink-nic. He needs a bit more pink to join in the fun.
MORRIS MICKLEWHITE And The TANGERINE DRESS … Morris loves an orange dress. It's beautiful. It's tactile. It's the color of tigers, and mother’s hair, and his cat MOO.
The GROWING STORY by Ruth Krauss. How to know you are growing ... when you think you are not.
NAKED! What's more fun than being naked?
MR TUGGLE’S TROUBLES … finds himself wearing a strange assortment of items as pieces of clothing go missing.
The KETTLES GET NEW CLOTHES. Evryone has their own opinions.
ANIMALS SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT WEAR CLOTHING! … persuasive examples in case you do not already know why.
So many issues. So little time.

Are you my mummy?

Do you enjoy reading about mummies from Egypt? Are you fascinated by the Terracotta Warriors of China? If so, you should check out At Home in Her Tomb-Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins. In 1972, a tomb was discovered in Mawangdui in Hunan Province. Deep inside was Lady Dai, who died more than 2000 years ago but who was perfectly preserved, along with clothing, games, lacquer dishes, and even food! Her tomb led to many discoveries about life in ancient China and this book brings both the archaeology process and Lady Dai herself to life.

Red: A Crayon's Story

Favorite children’s author and illustrator Michael Hall has given us another lovely book with Red: A Crayon’s Story. A red crayon struggles to draw the things that he is supposed to: fire trucks, strawberries, ladybugs… everything he draws and colors turns out blue! The other crayons all have tips and advice for him, but nothing works. Kids will quickly see the problem: the crayon has been mislabeled and is actually a blue crayon with a red papering! Readers will cheer Red on as he struggles to find his true calling… and will celebrate with him when he ultimately draws a beautiful BLUE ocean and realizes his talents.

Other books by Michael Hall are My Heart is Like a Zoo, Cat Tale, and Perfect Square.

The Lion and the Bird

The Lion and the Bird is a beautiful picture book written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc and published by Enchanted Lion Books. They are creating some of the most wonderful books lately and the illustrations in this book are no exception. It’s a gorgeous book that tells the story of friendship through the seasons.

Lion is working in his garden when he hears a sound. He soon finds an injured bird that he decides to care for. Since Bird can’t fly with an injured wing he stays with Lion all winter long and they become the best of friends. Then spring arrives, and with the warm season comes more birds. Lion knows that Bird must fly off with them. As the seasons change and autumn arrives, the birds start to fly off for winter. But what about Bird? Where will he go? You can only guess.

IAW 2015 Get to Know the Judges: Dan Wells


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Dan Wells.

An avid reader and rabid gamer, Wells writes in a variety of genres, from dark humor to science fiction to supernatural thrillers. He grew up in the United States and spent copious amounts of time at his local library as a child. Although he didn't read much horror and didn't expect to write it, Wells somehow ended up doing just that, evidenced in his first book about teenage sociopath John Cleaver in I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER (2009). He is also the author of the young adult dystopian science fiction series called the Partials Sequence, starting with PARTIALS(2012) and followed by and FRAGMENTS and RUINS (2014). This series follows the teenage medic-in-training Kira Walker, who lives on the ravaged eastern seaboard of the US after a war between humans and an engineered race of organic beings that look human devastates the globe. North American survivors of the war and of the weaponized virus RM have gathered on Long Island to recover, but time is running out. Immunity to the virus has not been born into the human race in over a decade, and their numbers are dwindling. Kira must take it upon herself to save her people, discovering secret connections along the way between humans and Partials. PARTIALS ultimately must ask: What does it mean to be human?

Wells co-hosts (with author Brandon Sanderson, webcomic creator Howard Tayler, and author/puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal) a weekly podcast about writing called "Writing Excuses." A list of his favorite things includes the movie Mary Poppins, the book Perfume by Patrick Suskind, and the word "defenestrate."

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #525 - “At some point you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The one thing is finding the courage to do it.” ~ Suzanne Collins

The Fire Sermon * * * by award-winning poet Francesca Haig has been billed as The Hunger Games meets The Road - a richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy, and is poised to become the next must-read hit.

Four hundred years after a catastrophic nuclear fire destroyed much of Earth and its civilization, genetic mutation dictates that each human is born with a twin. Of each pair, one (an Alpha) is physically perfect, the other (an Omega) is burdened with some form of deformity. While the Alphas are designated as the ruling class, the Omegas are branded and banished to strictly controlled colonies. For all their superiority, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

"Haig's prose is gorgeous and engaging, particularly when she describes the desolate landscape, now peppered with ruins from the Before. Fans of dystopias will appreciate this adventure-filled yet character-focused tale that offers hope and explores (in a refreshingly nuanced way) the moral complexities involved in defeating an oppressive and backward government structure."

A great addition to the recent crop of dystopian novels.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Gardening with Kids

It's Spring! It's National Gardening Month! It's even almost Earth Day! Perfect time for the whole family to start or nurture a garden together! Gardening with kids is a fun, engaging activity that encourages learning and exploration, building quality relationships, and creating something rewarding. Check out these books for ideas about gardening with youngsters, from toddlers on up:

Gardening Lab for Kids: Fun and easy projects - plant seeds, plan your garden, and make things for your garden (tool totes, rain gauges, stepping stones, terrariums, and way way more!). A beautiful layout and page design makes this an extra good choice for inspiration.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Ever heard of a sunflower house? And what's a pizza patch?? A bean tunnel sounds fun! This highly recommended book will help the family create inspiring, kid-friendly garden spaces and special projects! Illustrated with colorful drawings by the author.

Fairy Garden Handbook: Fairy gardens are a big hit with all ages these days. Why not get a wee one to help make one?! Those little imaginations can run wild with these fairy garden projects and tips. Beautiful photos accompany the text.

The Family Kitchen Garden: A practical guide to growing a garden with the whole family. This book is full of the info adults need to make a successful kitchen garden, while also including guidance on choosing plants, tools, and tasks that make sense for kiddos. Perfectly balanced for creating a functional garden that includes the whole family in a meaningful way.

Ready Set Grow!: Each simple, fun, and colorful spread features a different project, plant, or tip for the garden. Very easy to follow along step-by-step.

Grow It, Cook It: Bright photos for each step of growing edible plants, and then cooking with them, will engage youngsters who are ready to try something new. Recipes include cute tomato eggplant towers, mini pumpkin pies, scrumptious chocolate mint mousse, and more.

A Fine Dessert: a "treat" of a story!

What a charming and special new book! A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall, tells the story of four families in four different centuries who are all making the same delicious dessert. The ingredients for the yummy treat, blackberry fool, remain the same over the years, but the methodology for getting the materials and making the dessert changes with the times.

In the 1700s, a girl and her mother collect blackberries and then whip cream by hand from the milk from their cow. In the 1800s, a slave family in Charleston, South Carolina, picks blackberries from the plantation garden and uses a whisk made by the local blacksmith to whip the cream. In Boston in the early 1900s,a girl and her mother buy blackberries from the market and use pasteurized cream delivered by the milkman that morning. And in modern day San Francisco, a boy and his dad buy blackberries and cream at the grocery store, print a recipe from the Internet and use an electric mixer to whip the cream.

The authors do an amazing job of depicting both the similarities and differences between the families and lifestyles over time. They manage to weave in some bigger topics (slavery, gender roles) in a subtle way and provide great historical portraits of each of the time periods. And, the best news is, the recipe for blackberry fool is included at the end of the book!

Yum!

Syndicate content