Stuck- Oliver Jeffers

I came across Oliver Jeffers when I selected his picture book Lost and Found as a read-aloud for preschool storytime. I was immediately charmed by the simple illustrations that could convey so much from a tiny penguin. When I saw the follow-up, Up and Down I think I was just as excited (if not more) than the children. I really love the pairing of a penguin and his friend the boy.  Now, I am excited about his book Stuck.

Anyone who ever got something stuck in a tree (in this case, a kite) can appreciate this book, as well as the increasingly silly reactions that follow the kite’s unfortunate entanglement. First, a shoe is thrown. Good idea, right? Nope. It joins the kite, followed by the other shoe and a wildly hilarious collection of other objects. Will the kite become unstuck? Read and find out!

Oliver Jeffers is an Irish writer and illustrator currently living in Brooklyn, New York. According to the author’s website (www.oliverjeffers.com) He is widely known for his picture books for children, published by HarperCollins UK and Penguin USA. How to Catch a Star debuted in 2004 to critical acclaim, and Lost and Found (2005), won the Nestles Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal 2006, the Blue Peter Book Award 2006 and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal the same year. The Incredible Book Eating Boy (2007) won the Irish Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. If all of this doesn’t convince you, then go find an orangutan and throw it in a tree. You’ll appreciate Stuck even more.

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5 Reasons Why Bob Shea is Awesome:

1. His books never fail to make me laugh.
2. His illustrations not only captivate young minds, they relate to them.
3. His prose makes for fantastic read-alouds
4. Toddlers and preschoolers can act out and memorize the stories
5. His new book is about the library!
I really could go on. I was completely enamored with Mr. Shea after I read New Socks. I have read it multiple times in my storytime program at the library. (I make sure to wear my new socks every time!) Then, I ordered Dinosaur vs. Bedtime. After reading, I had a room full of roaring children. You might think that sounds like a nightmare, but as a “noisy librarian,” I think it was brilliant. I enjoyed reading Dinosaur vs. the Potty (oh no! A three-juice box lunch!) and as a mom experiencing the travails of potty training, I totally love it. I scored an autographed copy of I’m a Shark, which prompted me to jump up and down and snatch it up like I was in a Black Friday showdown. Forget that it was midday and no one was even on the book aisle with me. I still hurried to purchase. So I realize I have another author crush. I don’t care. Bob Shea’s books will appeal to grown-up types as much as it does to kids, and to me that’s a very special thing. Even my husband enjoyed his gift of Oh, Daddy! with our daughter on Father’s Day. If you haven’t tried his books, please do! I promise…you’ll enjoy every word!
In his newest addition, the lovable toothy red dinosaur is back, and he’s visiting a favorite place: the library! (yay!) Instead of going it alone, as he did with bedtime and the potty, dinosaur brings along a few friends. All is fine and dandy with this roaring group of pals, but how will roaring fit in at the library? Will Storytime win against this rambunctious little guy? Read and find out!

I Want My Hat Back

Poor Bear

by Mandy

 

When I saw this book, I was immediately drawn by the simple cover illustration that conveys a large bear’s utter melancholy. I immediately ordered it for my Children’s Storybook Collection at my library.
Jon Klassen, the author and illustrator, does a really fantastic job in this story with a twist. Like “Tadpole’s Promise” by Jeanne Willis, there is a wry ending that might not be for everyone, but possessing an off-kilter sense of humor, I loved both books.

I Want My Hat Back is Klassen’s first foray into the double-threat of writer and illustrator. I love his style! It’s so delightfully understated that is can really be a fun read-aloud with different voices and tones. While I am no artist, I can appreciate an artfully rendered book. His color palette is very neutral, almost devoid of colors other than brown. All is muted and very natural. What I’m trying to say is that his universe is completely realized and ever so sly. Adults will enjoy this book as much as the kids! Curious? Here’s the gist:

Bear has lost his hat. He really, really wants it back. Morose and oversized, he wanders from page to page, asking his woodland compatriots. The text is so minimal that you can’t help but draw your eyes back to the ever-despondent (but ever-so-polite) bear again and again. Repeatedly, bear is informed that his hat has not been seen, but wait! Look again! There’s a wily traitor in his midst. Who could it be? It is only when bear collapses onto the ground that he receives the right questions from Deer, and he is able to reunite with his (adorable) red pointy hat.

Copyright 2011.

The Night Circus

by Mandy

 

What if your first kiss was held suspended in time, bestowed as all in the room succumb to the power of magic?

There’s no doubt Erin Morgenstern has created magic. In her debut novel, two opponents fight in a lifelong battle of skill versus skill in a mysterious challenge that threatens to rip the world apart. Well, some of it anyway.

The black and white tents of Les Cirques des Rêves appear without warning, suddenly occupying space that was empty the day before. Drawn by its mystery, townspeople enter and are enthralled by nights filled with mystery and feats of extraordinary talent. But who is behind it all?

Bound as children to a contest they do not understand, raised without love by men they barely know, Celia and Marco are rivals in an arena that defies convention. It is a dreamland, one that speaks to the hearts, souls and imaginations of not only the audience, but the creators of each exhibit. Dazzling and intricate, the circus is a living thing, and perhaps Morgenstern’s most brilliant invention. Every decadent page speaks of love, betrayal, hope, mystery and magic. It’s a love story, but it’s so much more. As pawns trapped in a cruel wager between two powerful, magical and proud men, Celia and Marco must not only discover the nature of the challenge, but how to play and ultimately win. Each tent is not only a display of immense talent, but a secret token of affection to one another. Poetry runs down the trunk of a tree, an ice forest grows and blooms and a reflecting pool transcends grief and loss.

I was drawn in by the early buzz, but skeptical of the label “Harry Potter for adults.” I take issue with this. It is a desperate plug for publishers and entertainment houses in a post-Harry Potter and Twilight world to gain what they love most: money. First of all, Harry Potter is just as much for adults as it is for kids and teens. It’s just that good. Tread carefully when invoking Harry’s name, people! Anyway, I received my copy, and from the very first line, I was entranced. The hook is fantastic. It’s a confident work, and I will smile whenever I see splashes of red alongside black & white. I’m certain it will be a trend, with the book generating its own rêveurs. The book is not for the impatient: though the chapters are brief, each slice of the circus is delivered leisurely. Glimpses are provided through different characters, descriptions of challenges created and answered and through the players themselves. It’s slow, but maddening only because the desire to know more about the circus is so strong.

I want to say more, but some tents are left better explored at one’s own pace. Enjoy.

The Last Werewolf

by Mandy

 

Imagine a world that has grown tired of you. Not just tired, it has systematically and efficiently eliminated all of your kind. Except you. You are the last, and you are tired.
Jacob Marlowe is 200 years old. He’s literally been there, done that. Healthy and hunted, he makes evading the WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena) look easy, even if it requires heels and makeup. Between his existential crisis and tortured memories, Jake feeds. He is blunt, jaded and consumed with ennui as he describes his appetites for flesh, devoured or sexually dominated, without holding back. He wants to die, but the world isn’t quite through with him yet. He cannot repress his murderous nature, nor does he try. He simply copes, and keeps moving.
Beyond a thinking plot (are humans really better?) there’s action aplenty. Graphic, brutal action. Duncan’s biting cynicism stands in stark relief from the cruel mechanisms of lycanthropy. Literary references and modern British prose can take several pages to encapsulate the reader, but the payoff is worth it in this unique take on a potentially exhausted genre.
Recommended for the reader seeking a good gory romp this Halloween. I’ll not give too much away, but we may see more of Duncan’s universe. ( I hope so!)

Room

by LauraKate
 
 
 
Imagine living in an 11×11 foot room for all of your life with nothing but a soundproof sky-light and an old television as windows to the outside world. Imagine that your only friends are the furniture and occasional insects that inhabit this room. 
 
This is the setting for 5-year-old narrator Jack and his Ma in Emma Donoghue’s 
Man Booker Prize winning novel, Room.
 
The reader is invited into Jack’s world on his fifth birthday, and one gets a glimpse 
of the horror of their situation and the undeniable bond of love between a mother 
and her child. Jack is an extremely intelligent and curious child and his mother has 
realized now that Jack has turned five and has even more questions than ever that it is time for her to tell him the truth about her kidnapping and his subsequent birth at the hands of their captor, “Old Nick.”  
 
To complicate matters further, Ma has told Jack for his whole life, in an effort to make his situation more bearable, that the people, things and places he has seen on television and read in his collection of five books are all make believe. Now Jack has to struggle with the reality of his existence in a world much larger than the confines of Room.

Room is a beautiful and poignant look at the human will to survive and the deep bond between a mother and child and the lengths that they will go to for each other.