Kid Bits - Journals, Hah !

Do you keep journals? Do you like to read other people's journals? Need to escape relatives and guests? Here are some goofy and good reads to fill the Holiday Breaks at home. Dear Dumb Diary series with 6th grade Jamie Kelly; Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of Fifth Grade; Amelia's Are-We-There-Yet Longest Ever Car Trip; and The Night I Flunked My Field Trip one of the Hank Zipzer, "world's best underachiever" series.

American Born Chinese & The Monkey King

Cleverly interweaving stories tell the tales of Jin Wang, a teen who meets with ridicule and social isolation when his family moves from San Francisco's Chinatown to an exclusively white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, enrolls at his high school; and the Monkey King who, unsatisfied with his current sovereign, desperately longs to be elevated to the status of a god. Exploring issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation, and self-acceptance American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a rare treat.

Give the gift of a good read!

Are you stumped on what to get your family members for the holidays? Try giving someone a book! NPR's All Things Considered has several recommendations here in the article "Book Selections to Nourish the Mind at the Holidays."

And while you're on NPR's website, check out their page of holiday recipes too!

Dogs About Town

Portable dogs have increased in popularity, no longer residing solely under the arms of old ladies who wear costume jewelry and fur coats. Referred to as “woman’s best friend” in a recent New York Times article, pocket-sized dogs have become ubiquitous among young female celebrities, often appearing in matching outfits, poking their tiny heads out of designer bags. Tinkerbell Hilton, a Chihuahua, even has his own entry on Wikipedia.

Lest you miss out on the trend, we have you covered: projects for crafty owners skilled with needles, Dog is my Co-Pilot, a compilation by the editors of trendy dog magazine, BARk, and, for pocket-sized people (kids!), try Pocket Dogs by Margaret Wild. And, of course, there’s always local retailer, Dogma Catmantoo for all your persnickety pooch’s particulars.

Kid Bits - FolkLore

Every fall Youth Services runs tours DownTown for 2nd grades called "Second Grade RoundUp". A Folk Tale leads every tour, and the "J 398.2 Collection" (FolkLore and FairyTale Collection) is discovered. Folklore crosses age levels, displays cultural roots, and passes on values. To expand yourself, try FairyTales by the Brothers Grimm to hear some Grimm Brothers tales read aloud. Visit LibrarySparks to explore ways to help kids think critically about folktales. Or simply enjoy worldly favorites from the Library Folklore Collections, like Head, Body, Legs from Liberia, Something From Nothing from Russia, New Patches For Old from Turkey, Elves And The Shoemaker from Europe, or Kumak's House from Alaska.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (12/10/06)

The reviews for Pynchon's latest book have been surprisingly mixed. Taking 9 years to write and coming in at over 1000 pages, the novel may end up as a door stopper for some disgruntled readers.

For something entirely different and more entertaining, I recommend the latest mystery by Hillerman. I have never been dissatisfied with any of his magical stories set in the Navajo nation, featuring Leaphorn and/or Chee.

At #4 is The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman: "Lt. Joe Leaphorn, a tribal detective, tracks down an antique Navajo rug with a complicated history."

At #13 is Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon: "From the time of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 to World War 1, a sprawling cast of characters engage in Pychonesque high jinks."

Ever wondered . . .

how a jet's black box works, how a skin graft is grown, or how a pet translator interprets the mood of your dog or cat? Take a look at Cool Stuff and How it Works. This full color picture book uses advanced imaging technology such as X rays, scanning electron micrographs, and infrared thermograms, along with traditional graphics, to reveal the workings of all this and more. A feast for the eye and brain!

Master of Souls

I enjoy traveling by book both in time and place. I quite enjoyed "Master of Souls" a Mystery of Ancient Ireland book 15 of 16 by Peter Tremayne pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis a well-respected authority on the ancient celts. It features Sister Fidelma & is set in 7th century Ireland with a well thought out plot. I could see where some of the red herrings were leading me but was pleasantly surprised with the twist at the end.

More information on the series apears at the website The International Sister Fidelma Society.

Another excellent mystery series I recommend is the "Brother Cadfael" series of 20 books set in the 12th century in Shrewsbury, England & written by the late Ellis Peters pseudonyn for Edith Pargeter.

December New and Noteworthy

The Book of Lost Things* by John Connolly.
An enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality and learns lessons of bravery and loyalty. Never truly frightening and consistently entertaining.

Billionaires Prefer Blondes* by Suzanne Enoch
Witty romance with sizzling chemistry between an art thief and her billionaire beau.

A Safe Place for Dying* by Jack Fredrickson. (FFF)
Smartly plotted, briskly paced and laced with humor mark this impressive debut of “Dek” Elstrom, an embattled intrepid Chicago PI who became the prime suspect in a series of explosions.

Mad Dogs* by James Grady.
5 CIA operatives, hidden away in a lunatic asylum in Maine, embark on a week-long run for freedom and revenge. “Whipsaw bouts of action, dark humor and poignant glimpses into the characters' broken lives” makes for a page-turner.

Dead and Buried* by Quintin Jardine.
Marvelous British procedural - Edinburgh detective Skinner is tapped by the head of MI5 to investigate security breaches while juggling several other crimes and crises close to home.

The Blonde* by Duane Swierczynski.
Adrenaline-charged thrill ride through the streets of Philadelphia for Jack Eisley and the blonde in question who just infected him with deadly and fast-replicating nanomachines. Fast and funny.

* = Starred Reviews

South Africa Remembered

Explore social issues in the mid-20th centry of South Africa in , Cry, The Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Paton, a native white of South Africa explores the power of ideas in this story of a old Zulu parson as he searchs for his son. The murder of a white man, devoted to helping the native South African, results in far reaching changes in both a white and a black family, along with a rural native tribe.

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