Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Echo {2016 Newbery Honor}


Written by Pam Munoz Ryan
Published February 24, 2015

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have been trying to catch up on reading all of the ALA award winners from this year, and Echo has been my favorite so far by a long shot.

Pam Munoz Ryan cleverly weaves a fairy tale into the telling of stories of three different adolescents during World War II.  I think that is why I love the book as much as I do.  It is a masterful twist of imagination and historical fiction.  Otto is a boy who gets mixed up in a fairy tale involving three sisters and a harmonica.  The harmonica is the key to the fairy tale and eventually gets passed on through various means to three youth: Frederich, Mike, and Ivy.  They each discover something about themselves as they play the harmonica, and it helps them through their unique circumstances and challenges.  

Ryan uses each situation to provide interesting perspectives on the time period and the war.  Frederich is living in Germany in 1933 and has a sister and father with conflicting political opinions, Mike is living in Pennsylvania in 1935 and is an orphan trying to keep him and his younger brother together, and Ivy is living in California in 1942 and has a brother serving in the military.  Yet, through the harmonica, all are intertwined in the bigger plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and would recommend it to anyone.  Echo showed many moments of  heroism and hope despite difficult challenges that the characters faced.  World War II is such a hard time to write about and keep hope alive, but Ryan pulls it off beautifully.

My Rating: 5 stars (I can see myself reading this one again.)
Perfect for: 10-14 year olds

Happy Reading!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Our Bag of Books {The Full Moon at the Napping House, Have You Seen My Dragon, and Harry the Dirty Dog}

Every week, we come home from the library with a bag full of books.  Some books are new, some books are old, and some are books that we have checked out repeatedly.  Every week, a few stick out for various reasons.  I share them in hopes that you'll find some new ones to enjoy with your family.  :)

The Full Moon at the Napping House

Written by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
Published September 1, 2015

Knowing the love my kids have for any book written and illustrated by Audrey and Don Wood, I was excited to see that they had come out with a sequel to The Napping House.  With a full moon, no one is ready for bed and poor, sleepless granny is left with a restless household.  As we read this version together, I can feel my kids energy start out high at the beginning of the story, and then relax as the napping house is able to finally calm down thanks to a chirping cricket.  I loved how it had the same feel as The Napping House, but had its own twist that captured the bedtime process for so many families.  And who can resist Don Wood's delightful illustrations?

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (I could definitely see myself buying a copy,)
Perfect for: Babies, Toddlers, Preschool, Early Elementary

Have You Seen My DRAGON?

Written and Illustrated by Steve Light
Published April 8, 2014

I'm always on the lookout for a good counting picture book, and this one fits the bill.  A little boy has lost his dragon in New York City, and sets out to find him.  On each page layout, he visits a place where the dragon might have gone to in the city.  Each place he visits is intricately illustrated in black and white, and has colored items that the reader counts, such as boats, buses, dogs, balloons, and taxis.  It starts out with 1 item and ends with 20 items on the final page.  We all loved looking at the illustrations.  Overall, it was an original counting book that gave my toddler some good practice.

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars 
Perfect For: Toddlers, Preschool

Harry the Dirty Dog

Written by Gene Zion
Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Originally Published 1956

Harry the Dirty Dog is a classic, and for good reason!  Harry hates baths and after hearing the bath water running, he grabbed his scrub brush, buried it in the back yard, and ran away.  When he comes back home, he is absolutely filthy and unrecognizable.  His family isn't going to let him in the house since they don't know it is him!  He retrieves the brush he previously buried and they decide to give the dog a bath only to discover it was Harry the whole time!  I love how this book has been around for fifty years, but still delights children.

My Rating: 5 stars
Perfect for: Toddlers, Preschool, Early Elementary

Happy Reading!