Love Roald Dahl? Try Mr. Gum!

Mr. Gum is a thoroughly rotten old man, but the Mr. Gum series by Andy Stanton is anything but rotten. In fact, it’s downright hilarious.

Reminiscent of Roald Dahl, this series combines plenty of off-the-wall humor with an eccentric villain and a touch of magic to create a thoroughly enjoyable read that is also a fantastic read-aloud. The series begins with You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!, in which our villainous Mr. Gum attempts to get his revenge on the dog who dug up his yard. It continues with Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire, Mr. Gum and the Goblins, Mr. Gum and the Power Crystals, Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear, What’s for Dinner, Mr. Gum?, Mr. Gum and the Cherry Tree, and Mr. Gum and the Secret Hideout.

So if you’re looking for new adventures after journeying to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and making friends with Matilda, then you should definitely take a look at the Mr. Gum series.

Sophie’s Squash

It’s the season for gardens, planting, and VEGGIES, VEGGIES, VEGGIES. The local farmer's markets have been HOPPING with vendors and shoppers. Though it's not quite squash season... Sophie’s Squash is a darling new picture book that features a young girl who loves her freshly plucked squash. So much so that she names it Bernice and treats it as though it’s a baby doll. Her parents are perplexed and don’t know what to do when Bernice starts to rot. Sophie is determined to love Bernice forever! This is a funny and sweet book that talks about the seed to plant process and goes along with that stack of kids gardening stories you’ve got at home. It has such a cute ending.

School Library Journal lists it as one of the Best Picture Books of 2013.

Moo!

There are a lot of books about mooing at AADL. If you’re a reader of children’s picture books, animals and animal sounds are heavily featured in this area. Moo! by David LaRochelle is one of my favorite new picture books, and it’s told with only one word: MOO!

The gist of the story is that the cow gets ahold of the farmer’s car and takes it for a ride, and well, things don’t go so well for him. The coolest part of the whole book is that the entire is story is told using only the word “moo.” It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about reading aloud, voice inflection and how the same word sounds differently when said with a “.” or an “!” at the end. Moo. Moo? Moo! Mooooooooooooo. Give it a whirl be ready to laugh!

Audiobook for Kids: Rooftoppers

As a baby, Sophie is found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck and is taken in by the man who found her, eccentric Englishman Charles Maxim who uses books for plates and toast for bookmarks! Sophie and Charles live a quiet, happy life together until Sophie’s twelfth birthday, when the authorities decide that Charles is not a fit guardian. Rather than letting Sophie be taken to an orphanage, Sophie and Charles embark on a quest to find Sophie’s mother with the cello case as their only clue. The pair travels to Paris where Sophie meets the illusive rooftoppers who agree to help her with her search for her missing mother.

The audiobook of Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has the feel of a classic with its gorgeous writing, gentle humor and determined young heroine, and narrator Nicola Barber gets the accents exactly right. The novel is also reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo with its adventures through the secret world of Paris.

Young People's Theater: The Wizard of Oz

Young People's Theater will present the classic story of The Wizard of Oz from May 16-18 at the University of Michigan Power Center. For ticket information, click here. Meanwhile, YPT also is organizing summer camps which you can learn about here.

Multicultural Chapter Books: The Alvin Ho Collection

Second-grader Alvin Ho loves playing the brave Firecracker Man at home but at school he is too afraid to say a word. In fact, Alvin is afraid of many things but faces fear after fear in the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. In the first book, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, Alvin worries about making friends at school. In its sequel Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters, Alvin and his family get ready for Alvin’s first camping trip. Not only are these books delightfully funny, but the situations are very relatable. The audiobook is a particular treat, narrated by child actor Everette Plen who brings a fantastic youthful energy to these stories.

I think my favorite thing about the Alvin Ho series,though, is their celebration of multiculturalism. Alvin’s close-knit Chinese-American family includes a father who spouts Shakespearean insults and a grandfather who sews, and Alvin’s growing friendship with classmate Flea offers a wonderful message about accepting friends who are different from us.

The series continues with Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes; Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances; and Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in The Night. More books in the series are also available as audiobooks.

Picturebook Picks: The Shape of My Heart

The Shape of My Heart by Mark Sherring is a delightful, colorful picturebook that is perfect for reading aloud. Sherring takes the readers on a journey to discover all of the wonderful, beautiful shapes that we see in our everyday life. From the shapes of our eyes to the sun, from the shapes of the zoo to our hearts, this is a heartwarming book that is perfect for engaging in seek-and-find - “Where is the duck?” - play. The illustrations, colorful and bright, are a collage of animals, shapes, and objects that children will immediately recognize. In addition, these amazing illustrations are brought to life with added sound effects, from chirps to squeaks! Children will fall in love with the high level of interaction this every-color-of-the-rainbow book has to offer.

Avatar, the Last Airbender

If you're looking for a fun TV show that appeals to both kids and adults, check out Avatar, the Last Airbender. This cartoon has a great plot that will keep you interested until the very end.

The wold is divided into four nations (Earth, Water, Fire, and Air). Each nation’s people are able to manipulate their specific element. This manipulation is called “bending” and each nation’s bending is based off of a specific martial art (for example, water bending is based on tai chi, and fire bending is based on Northern Shaolin). There is one person who is born with the ability to bend all of the elements called the “Avatar,” this person is also in charge of keeping peace between the nations. However, when the Fire Nation decides to attack, the Avatar disappears.

A hundred years later, the Fire nation is now on the verge of dominating the entire world. But two siblings from the water tribe, Katara and Sokka, have just found the missing Avatar, a twelve-year-old boy named Aang, and his flying bison frozen in an iceberg. But can Aang learn to master all four elements and restore peace in time?

While this cartoon is not technically considered anime, it is heavily influenced by anime in it’s character designs. The fighting sequences are incredibly entertaining to watch and there are plenty of humorous moments which makes this cartoon a hit with the young and not-so-young.

If you enjoy the TV show, you should also check out the books, graphic novels, or even The Last Airbender movie that was directed by M. Night Shyamalan (disclaimer, if you are a big fan of the cartoon, this movie may miss the mark).

U-M North Campus Bookstore is Hosting Monthly Story Hour

The University of Michigan North Campus Bookstore is hosting monthly story hours, having recently attracted 28 children for stories, crafts and coloring. The next one is coming up Friday May 9 at 2:30 pm with classics, treats and crafts relating to the books of Dr. Seuss. Summertime story hours are scheduled for June 6, July 11, and August 8, all at 2:30 pm. The bookstore is located in Pierpont Commons.

And the cars go…

Author and illustrator William Bee is one to bookmark if you have a little one into THINGS THAT GO.

First there was And The Train Goes… and the newest one is And the Cars Go…. Both are such cute picture books!

The books are chock-full of amazing illustrations with sounds to make and read along with. BRRRMMM BRRRMMM, HONK HONK, POP POP POP, BANG BANG HISSSSS. Little ones will enjoy sitting on your lap and checking out the pictures, signs and THINGS THAT GO!

For further fun, check out Trains Go and Trucks Go by Steve Light. Super amazing big board books.

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