About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Best Gifts of 2011!

My Favorite Gifts of 2011!

by MoMA
Ages 1-5
These stacking blocks are different in that they balance at an angle, creating a fantastical topsy-turvy tower that toddlers will love to create (and destroy). What sets this set of stacking and balancing blocks apart are their bright colors, and their smaller shape, making them easier to stack and store.

by Sam McBratney
illustrated by Anita Jeram
paper engineering by Corina Fletcher
Ages 3-99
A classic story is now available in a pop-up edition!

by Lego & DK publishers
Ages 6-99
The Lego Brickmaster series gives you a set of Legos combined with full-color book that shows you all their different combinations. Combine this with ninjas, and you get a toy that is sure to please!

by shains
Ages 6-99
Shains are bracelets made of rubbery plastic that you can modify with your own
letters, symbols, & words! So much fun! They are a great gift for
boys and girls!
by Chronicle Books
Ages 13-99
A wonderful set for beginning artists and those on the go. The materials provided include high quality paints and paper, thus this is not a set for the younger child.

Best Board Books of 2011!

My Favorite Board Books of 2011!

by Eric Metaxas
illustrated by Nancy Tillman
Ages 0-3
Richly illustrated dreamscapes combined with lyrical text make this an entrancing story for little eyes to behold! 

by Susan Marie Swanson
illustrated by Beth Krommes
Ages 0-3
Finally the Caldecott winner of 2008 is printed in a board book format! The black and white illustrations with spots of gold are high in contrast and grab even the youngest reader's attention. These fantastic illustrations combined with a magical poem that seems tailor-made for bibliophiles make this book a winner for children and adults alike!
by Emily Gravett
Ages 0-6
A concept book for a wide age range! Youngest readers will enjoy the whimsical illustrations while older pre-schoolers will enjoy bears that turn orange, apple, and pear! Oh the difference a comma can make!
by Tiger Tales
Ages 2-5
So simple and yet so brilliant , A is for Apple takes the basic alphabet book, combines it with lift-the-flaps, and tracing tracks to create a book that really makes those letters stick! Tracing the letters with little fingers is really going help certain youngsters understand letter shapes. And hiding under the flaps are additional words that start with the letter, re-enforcing the sound of the letter and the concept of words. A is for Apple is a great tool for teaching the alphabet!
by Rufus Butler Sedler
Ages 1-6
Watch scenes from the Wizard of Oz come to life! The youngest readers will enjoy the scanimation though this book will really appeal to toddlers and pre-schoolers familiar with the movie. Toddlers will enjoy the basic story retelling on the bottom of the page while pre-schoolers and adults will undoubtedly enjoy all the classic quotes scattered throughout.

Best Picture Books of 2011!

My Favorite Picture Books of 2011!
by Eric Rohmann
Ages 4-8
Eric Rohmann's illustrations are fantastic, but it is the heartwarming story of the love between a boy and his dog, a love which lasts beyond grave, that makes this my favorite picture book of 2011! This can be used as a Halloween tale, or a tale for those dealing with the loss of a pet, but in truth it is just a great story. I should make it clear that I'm not a dog person, since having my own child I am actually scared of most dogs. Still I have nothing but respect for the bond that children and their pets share.

by William Joyce
Ages 4-8
Fantastical illustrations accompany this lovely steam-punk tale of how the moon, the man in the moon, and the Guardians of Childhood (Santa, Mother Goose, etc) came to be.

by Michael B. Kaplan
illustrated by Stephane Jorish
Ages 2-6
Betty Bunny is a handful, a handful who loves chocolate cake, and has to learn how to be patient so that she can eat her chocolate cake. Betty Bunny's family, particularly her siblings play a big role in her story, and the illustrations make the Bunny family look like fashion models, in a good way. Betty Bunny is one of Oscar's favorites, thus this is not the first time I've mentioned the book. To read my first review about Betty Bunny click here.

by Jan Brett
Ages 2-8
This is perhaps the best Jan Brett book to come out since The Mitten in 1989. The story is of a wayward troll looking to find a home with all the animals except his own. In all honesty, Christmas comes up at the end, but it didn't have to be a Christmas book - alas I'm not Jan Brett's editor, I don't get a say. However, if you are going to have a Christmas story this is certainly one of the best out there. It is about family, it is about love, its got all the things the holiday should be about.

by Barbara Bottner
illustrated by Michael Emberley
 Ages 2-6
An alphabetical romp through mischievous pre-schoolers! I'm always on the lookout for books with fun ways to bring the alphabet into an actual story and this book certainly fits the bill!

Best Books for Youth from 2011!

My Favorite Books for Youth from 2011!
(Youth = ages 8-12)
by Shel Silverstein
This new compilation of Silverstein poems is just as funny and touching as Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic! Although I have this categorized as Youth, this book is wonderful for all between the ages of 4 & 99!

by Doreen Cronin
You can read all about my love for this title on my earlier blog post by clicking here, but to recap - The Trouble with Chickens is a crime noir for kids! J.J. Tully is a retired search-and-rescue dog looking forward to a life of relaxation in the yard, so of course he gets roped into finding a chicken's missing chick. There's villains, adventure, daring escapes, and lots and lots of laughs. This is the BEST crime book for grades 3-7 EVER WRITTEN! 
by Laura Amy Schlitz
I first wrote about this book in May of 2010, when it came out in hardcover. Well now in 2011 the paperback is available! This tale of an injured fairy is the best of the many fairy stories I've read. It isn't sweet, it isn't sappy, but it is touching, endearing, and very very memorable. Author Laura Amy Schlitz is a Newbery winner, and they don't give that award to just anybody.

by Astrid Lindgren
illustrated by Lauren Child
Question: What's better than Astric Lindgren's world-famous story of an unusual girl of unusual strength named Pippi Longstocking?
Answer: Her tale of an unusual girl of unusual strength illustrated by the accomplished artist & author Lauren Child. Pippi Longstocking is even more fun when bright and colorful illustrations greet you on every other page.

by Orson Scott Card
The famous author of Ender's Game has written a smashing fantasy/adventure novel for youth 10-14! A medieval world with space-age secrets is the backdrop for a young runaway king just learning to handle his magical powers. Originally published in Hardcover in 2010 this fantastic fantasy is now available in paperback.

Best Young Adult Books of 2011!

My favorite Young Adult Books of 2011!

by Amy Kathleen Ryan
A suspenseful action/adventure novel set in the claustrophobic confines of two dueling spaceships in outer space. Black and white meld into ever confusing shades of gray as two groups of teens try to survive the consequences of their elders' past decisions and current desires. This book provides a lot of food for thought on the nature of power, gender, and religion, but it doesn't give you any answers. Be warned this is only the START of a trilogy, so you will be left hanging.

by Lauren Myracle
A young teen decides to face the dark underbelly of her small Southern town head on as she tries to solve the mystery of who beat her openly gay friend to the point of near death. I particularly loved how her need to help a friend ended up helping her overcome her own rape of two years prior. This book has a lot to say about sexuality, friendship, family, and drugs, but despite the heavy subject matter it is an engaging and adventurous read with unexpected turns and twists!

by John Corey Whaley
This is a first novel from an author I'm sure we'll be hearing more from. Don't be fooled by the cover, this book has mature content and is definitely for teens! Sometimes publishers make artistic mistakes, fortunately the same cannot be said of the author. The book tells the story of a teen's struggles to make sense out of a summer of romantic pitfalls and a missing brother, while the town he lives in becomes a sort of avian Disneyland due to the supposed sighting of an extinct woodpecker. Trying to remain sane in a crazy world is a feeling most readers will identify with.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Haunted Reads for Kids

 There are some GREAT Halloween books out for kids this year!
by Micheal J. Rosen
Ages 4-8
Fantastic photos of carved pumpkin and squash leap off the page in this simple tale of vegetables trying (unsuccessfully) to give kids a scare on Halloween.

by Eric Rohmann
Ages 4-8
One of my favorite books to come out this year, Bone Dog uses the Halloween holiday to illustrate how the love between a boy and his dog can last beyond the grave. The story can be read year-round and will be especially good for those grieving the loss of a beloved pet. After his dog dies a young boy doesn't feel much like trick-or-treating, but he dresses up and goes out anyway. He encounters scary skeletons and his dog (now Bone Dog) rescues him by calling to all the living dogs; living dogs, of course, love bones and the skeletons flee.

by Guy Vasilovich
Ages 3-8
The 12 days of Christmas gets a spooky re-do in this Tim Burton–esque picture book. As Halloween gets closer the creatures get creepier.

by Kate Stone
Ages 3-8
Gorgeous! This book's awesomeness is proven by the fact that the publishers are ALREADY out of stock and are frantically printing more to get it back into stores before Halloween. The story about a little monster's walk through the woods is cute, but it is the intricately cut pages that are overlaid with shadowy vellum that make this book graphic masterpiece.

by Todd Parr
Ages 2-6
This isn't really a Halloween Book, but it certainly can be used as one. Todd Parr simply illustrates a number of fears and gives kids a way to re-frame the situation.
"Sometimes I'm scared of dogs.
I'm not scared when they give me kisses.
Sometimes I'm scared I will make a mistake.
I'm not scared when I know I tried my best."
 You could call this a self-help book for pre-schoolers; everybody needs some help sometimes.

by Patricia Reeder Eubank
Ages 1-4
This cute board book is a favorite of customers. One little witch plans her Halloween party, with the help of two brooms, three ghosts, all the way up to ten guests.
by Sam Lloyd
Ages 1-4
This book doesn't even pretend to be for Halloween, but I stuck it here because it DOES have a monster, and it is super cute. Puppet Monster Dudley has bad manners and is exhausting to take care of, but he sure is fun! Hello Dudley is actually part of a series of puppet board books; I haven't read them all but if they are all as good as Dudley I'm sure they will be a huge success.

by Chronicle Books
Ages 0-3
I confess this book didn't come out this year, but this year was the first time I saw it, and I just had to include it in our spooky reads. These small board books with little finger puppets peeking out through die-cut holes are simply beloved by babies, toddlers, and their parents. Little Spider is a great way to bring some Halloween fun to a six-month-old.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What can the Man in the Moon teach you?

by William Joyce
Many once upon a times ago I used to manage not one, not two, but THREE parent educations programs for those with children 0-5. I  had a staff of around ten that was supposed to serve the entire Inyo County, including far flung Death Valley, a four hour drive south. I was 28-years-old and had NO management experience - that is what you get for $12 an hour, no experience. When all is said and done I can say that I gave the job my all and tried my best; I may have even done a better job than others in the same situation would have. But I was inexperienced in management doing a job that normally would be done by two (in some cases even three) people, and I wasn't yet a parent. When I found myself crying every weekend I quit, I lasted a little less than two years. But while I was there I went to a great many trainings, and they all said the same thing READ TO YOUR CHILD.

At the time I fully embraced group think and never even thought to question the great educational dogma. But now that I have Oscar, and I read to him, and read to him, and read to him, sometimes I think back to all those trainings and wonder if there wasn't something I may have missed. Of course my reading to Oscar will help him become a future reader, but what other than job security for me will that accomplish. I know in truth, that it is all about school success, but after school, how important is reading, really, in the adult world?

A woman came into the bookstore the other month to buy something for her son, she couldn't remember what she wanted to buy so she called her husband on the phone, "I'm in the bookstore" she said over the phone. I could hear his reply, "Why, you don't read?". "Yes", she laughed, "I'm picking up something for Robbie....". I looked at this woman, was her life really so much less than mine because she didn't read. She looked happy, she had a family, she had money, at least she looked like she had more money than me. So she didn't read, she probably never read for pleasure, but was she less happy because of that?

Is it better for adults to read a James Patterson mystery novel or watch a movie? Is reading Twilight superior to seeing the film? Is it better to read a story to my son or have him watch Dora the Explorer? Dora teaches my son another language, she teaches him to remember instructions and complete them. Is she really so inferior to Goodnight Moon? I have never stopped reading, and reading, and reading to Oscar, but for the last six months my mind has sorta wondered - WHY?

And then two days ago, I read Oscar William Joyce's new picture book The Man in the Moon and suddenly everything clicked. The Man in the Moon is too old for Oscar, it has a rather complicated plot and takes place in outer space, a concept beyond many a two-year-olds' capabilities. But the bookstore got an advance copy of the book, and I took it home. Oscar saw the picture on the cover and I shrugged and started reading it to him. It took us half an hour to read the book through the first time, and most of the story went in one Oscar ear and out the other. But the kid LOVED it.

Oscar wouldn't let me just read the story and turn pages, instead he would stare at the pictures. At least 15 minutes was spent on one spread, a visually simple spread all in blues. The Man in the Moon (MiM) was a baby, his parents had just been killed in a battle, and he was alone on the moon looking up at a new constellation of stars and seeing his parents in the constellation. That's pretty heavy for a 2-year-old, and in all fairness the book is not written for two-year-olds. Oscar had me read the page over and over and over again. He was pouting, but he never cried, and I realized this was his first brush with the concept of death. He may have been introduced to the idea before, but now he was starting to understand it. And we talked about it, about how the baby felt, about where the parents were...I was scared I was going to scar my child with this book, but at the same time I was grateful to be having his conversation now, and NOT when something horrible actually happened. Because something horrible will happen, Oscar has four grandparents, is he going to have four grandparents when he's 20? Death is an important part of life, and I prefer to slowly introduce my son to the idea of it before it touches him.

While reading this book with my son, while introducing him to these big concepts to him it hit me - the book is letting us do this. The book is helping me raise my child. A T.V. show could never do this, not so effectively, not so delicately. My son is smarter and wiser than he was two days ago and I have a book to thank for that. Rarely when watching T.V. do people stop to THINK about what they are seeing, but it is hard to be blind to that in a book, because while reading the words you already are in your mind, it's harder to ignore your own questions.

Most of the book was over Oscar's head the first time we read it, but now he understand almost everything. He understand outer space, he understands stars, spaceships, oaths... Much of what I thought was beyond his capabilities is not. It's been a big learning experience for Mommy.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Oscar's Favorites at 2.75!

Fortunately for me, Oscar loves books. He loves rhymes, and he loves a good story. Below are the titles most frequently requested at bedtime.

It doesn't actually matter which book of Mother Goose poems it is, as long as there are some pictures Oscar will like it. We have, and Oscar adores, the fancy Sylvia Long edition, but it doesn't include as many poems as some of the other budget friendly compilations. Grandma has the edition pictured above, and when we go to her house Oscar seems to like it just fine.

When Betty Bunny eats chocolate cake for the first time, she declares, "I am going to marry chocolate cake." She loves it so much that she takes a piece to school with her in her pocket and refuses to eat anything else.

I'm a sucker for well-meaning but misbehaving children, and Betty Bunny is one of our favorites. I also love her wise-cracking big brother Bill. The only thing I don't like about this story is that Betty Bunny's mom makes me look like a frumpy dumpy mess! If only I could dress as fashionably as the Bunny family.

This entertaining  book about a family with a penchant for cat adoptions is filled with fun illustrations and repetitive rhymes that Oscar loves. I only hope he never starts to take the book too seriously as we are renters and therefore we are NOT planning on getting any cats or dogs in the future.

Chicken Big is a hilarious twist on the classic Chicken little. With all it's word bubbles and jokes it should be too old for Oscar, but he likes it anyway - hopefully he'll like it for a long long time.

The other night in the bathtub Oscar asked me to sing him the tugboat song. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked him to sing it for me, and he started reciting the words to our book Tugga-Tugga Tugboat. We started reading Tugga-Tugga Tugboat to Oscar before he was a year old, and he loved it. I thought that he would have outgrown the book by now, but he hasn't, in fact this last month Tugga-Tugga Tugboat has seen a resurgence in popularity in our house and has become his most asked for book at nighttime.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Book!

By Laura McNeal

The following is a shortened version of the dust jacket liner: Fifteen-year-old Pearl doesn't pay much attention to the migrant workers on her uncle's avocado grove...until Amiel. After coming across Amiel's makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek Pearl falls into a precarious friendship-and a forbidden romance. Then the wildfires strike. Pearl knows that Amiel is right in the path of the fire, so slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, to warn him.

The dust jacket makes this National Book Award Finalist seem like a modern Romeo & Juliet with a climatic fiery ending. And I suppose it is, but yet it really isn't.  Pearl's relationship with Amiel is only half the story. The other half is her relationship with her family: her cousin, her aunt and uncle on whose charity she and her mother live, and her father, who left them. There is also the ever present but never discussed relationship between these (white) people and the dark-skinned, Spanish-speaking people who surround them. The fact that this difficult relationship is not openly discussed gives the book a depth that would have been lost had the author, Laura McNeal, decided she had an axe to grind. There is no preaching, there is simply a description of what is.

One of the things I love about this story is that Pearl makes no excuses for her behavior, or her feelings. Introspection is not one of her stronger personality traits (nor is it for her age group in general), and her lack of questioning oddly makes her likable. Unlike most of the human race, Pearl is a girl who knows what she wants; Pearl wants Amiel, even if she doesn't really know why.

Laura McNeal has written a number of other books with her husband Tom. Their books include Zipped, Crooked, Crushed, and my personal favorite The Decoding of Lana Morris. All of these books feature teenagers in love. Another common theme I've noticed has been parental infidelity. I haven't read every book they've written, but from the ones I've read it seems as though they cover serious issues (foster care, disabilities, homosexuality) through the lens of teen love.

Dark Water is different from their previous books, it was not written by Laura & Tom McNeal, it was written by Laura herself. And unlike their previous books, Dark Water is not so much a look at serious issues through the lens of teen love, but rather a look at teen love through the lens of serious issues. Amiel, Pearl's love, doesn't talk, he mimes. It was his miming that first drew her to him. He tells people he can't talk because of an accident, but later Pearl discovers the accident was his abusive grandfather choking him when he still lived in Mexico. So Amiel can't talk. That's a pretty serious issue: he was abused and now he has a permanent disability. Yet, Amiel's difficulty with speech makes the communication between Amiel and Pearl all the more interesting and endearing. And their communication, is the point of the story.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oscar's Favorites at 2.5

For the past couple of weeks Oscar has asked for one thing at bedtime: JACK. Sometimes he says "Read Jack?" and other times he'll make it more complicated by saying "Little Critter Jack now?" but the desire is always the same. He wants us to read him the Little Critter version of Jack and the Beanstalk. Little Critter, is, of course, the furry beast created by Mercer Mayer in the late 70s who, 30 years later, is still with us. (A couple of new books are published every year.) I love Little Critter because he is not perfect, (in fact sometimes he is downright naughty), but he tries, and the mouse or insect friends who follow him around from page to page are irresistible.

The Little Critter Jack and the Beanstalk is a lift-the-flap book; it is hardcover and the pages are surprisingly sturdy for a book that retails for only $7.95. The words underneath the flaps are essential to the story, which is nice for 2.5-year-olds who want to feel like they are helping mommy read the book. I enjoy reading the book because it is FUNNY. The crow atop the cow asks if "this kid was born yesterday" when Jack trades the cow for a bag of beans. The little mouse is an adorable, doubting best friend to Jack. Every page has something to make you laugh or smile. At the end of the book Jack is a hero not because he brought riches to his poor mother, but because the hole that the giant made when he fell became an excellent wading pool that all the neighborhood kids can use.

Little Critter Jack and the Beanstalk is actually one of a series of lift-the-flap Little Critter fairytale re-tellings. There is also Little Critter Red Riding Hood and Little Critter Hansel & Gretel. Oscar doesn't have them all, right now; they are hidden away as treats for future dates. But I'm sure, given his reaction to Jack and the Beanstalk, that the other Little Critter lift-the-flap fairytales will be well loved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Refreshing Breeze of Good Work in the Early Chapter Books

I have read too many early chapter books in which nothing happens. The writing can be beautiful, poetic, exquisite; the books can have fantastic, complicated, 3-dimensional 7-year-old heroes and heroines; and the books can be utter bores. It seems as though a number of good authors have decided that because children like very simple picture books when they are young, they will like very simple chapter books when they start reading on their own. It is a logical conclusion, but it doesn't work. Early chapter books should have simple sentences, so beginning readers can read them, but the story doesn't have to be dull. Picture books are perhaps the ONLY works of fiction that don't need plot, but for all other forms, for adults, and for kids, plot is pretty essential.

Fortunately there are some authors out there writing page-turning, hilarious, heart-felt early chapter books, and most recently the best one has come from an author famous for her picture books.

Doreen Cronin is best known for her picture book Click Clack Moo which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2001, but my personal favorites of her many picture books are the books in her Diary series: Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and the truly hilarious Diary of a Fly.   She has now taken her excellent sense of humor and put it in chapter form with the exceptional The Trouble with Chickens.
The Trouble with Chickens is a crime noir where J.J. Tully, a hard-boiled, retired search-and-rescue dog agrees to help track down a missing chicken. There is adventure, a villain, an impossible escape, and more laughs than I ever would have expected. The last time I read a crime noir this good it was Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union, and that won the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for Best Novel. It was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel and the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.[1] As of December 2008, a film adaptation is in pre-production, to be written and directed by the Coen brothers. My point is, I can pick 'em, and I pick The Trouble with Chickens as the best crime novel for grades 3-7 EVER WRITTEN.
In 2009 Robert Paul Weston made an incredible early chapter book debut with Zorgamazoo. Zorgamazoo is a fantasy adventure novel for grades 3-7 that rhymes. THE ENTIRE BOOK IS WRITTEN IN RHYME! It is funny and fun, and when you are done your will not think in simple sentences but rather in iambic pentameter. 
 Publisher Marketing:
Are You a Believer in Fanciful Things? In Pirates and Dragons and Creatures and Kings?
Then sit yourself down in a comfortable seat, with maybe some cocoa and something to eat, and I'll spin you the tale of Katrina Katrell, a girl full of courage (and daring, as well!), who down in the subway, under the ground, saw something fantastical roaming around . . .
What was it she saw? I'd rather not say. (Who's ever heard of a Zorgle, anyway?)
But if you are curious, clever and brave, if intrepid adventure is something you crave, then open this book and I'll leave it to you to uncover the secret of ZORGAMAZOO!

Ursula K. Le Guin is a lion in the science fiction world, and she also happens to have written one of my favorite series for kids, Catwings. Catwings is a series of little chapter books about cats with wings. The stories are not funny -  in fact they can be heart-breaking - but they are all exciting, with happy endings and fantastic, classic illustrations that you remember forever. The books are for grades 1-5, though in truth the sentences are more complicated than most 1st graders could read on their own.  Each little book retails for $4.99, but personally I'd recommend buying the set (while it is still in print).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Watch out Vampyres, the Wolves are on the prowl!

When vampires, or excuse me vampyres overtook pirates (with the exception of the Vampirates series) I thought it would just be a phase. In 2008 I thought the vampires were heading into extinction with zombies coming in to take up the mantle. I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, the zombies came, and are still around, as are the faeries (gotta be cool, spelling it f-a-i-r-y would be a sure sign you hadn't been a book store for five years or more - but that said I've never been cool so from this moment on I'm going back to the fairy spelling). Vampyres are still around, and, these days, so are the wolves. Apparently the actor who played Isabella's werewolf boyfriend in the Twilight movie was hotter than her vampire true love. At least that is what I was told, I didn't see the film, and I haven't read the books. I know, shame on me. But don't worry, I've made up for my lack of Twilight reading by setting my eyes on numerous other vampire and mythical creature books. And lately I've fallen in love with the wolf.

To be clear, Dust City's fabulous wolven creatures are NOT werewolves. Dust City goes the fairyland route with humans, goblins, ravens, donkeys, wolves, and fairies occupying the same dirty sprawling metropolis. Except in Dust City the fairies have been killed, and what's left of their fairy dust is a rare drug, bought and sold on the black market, and highly addictive. Dust City practically opens up with a description of a saliva filled wolf kiss; this is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is a great book! My 12-year-old neighbor LOVED it, as did her mother. It has not yet become a top seller at the bookstore, but give it time, with word of mouth I am certain this title will spread all over our small town like the latest cold. It's a Blade Runner fairy tale, and is perhaps the most creative book that came out in 2010.

Red Moon Rising does have werewolves, and vampyres, and humans. All races have formed an uneasy alliance where they live and work next to each other, but not happily. Vampyres and humans are the elites, and the wolves are the poor & downtrodden. Essentially the story unfolds in a time of a civil rights battle and Dante (Danny), our 1/2 vampyre and 1/2 wolf hero would have a much easier time of it if his wolf side would disappear. Of course, that doesn't happen. In Red Moon Rising, author Peter Moore has created a world of with vampyres, werewolves, night-time high schools, lesbian best friends, first kisses, and equal rights rallies that is utterly familiar. In a somewhat disturbing way I think this book about werewolves gives one a better sense of the civil rights movement than most history tomes. Perhaps that is because most people don't read history tomes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Second looks bring greater pleasures

The Legend of the Golden Snail came out in October of 2010. We brought it into the book store right away because well, it was by Graeme Base. Graeme Base is the Australian author of many books, including Animalia a fabulous books with intricate, complex illustrations that kids (and adults) can stare at for hours. But when I first read The Legend of the Golden Snail I was dissapointed, the illustrations, though vivid, were not intricate. With Legend of the Golden Sanil Graeme Base had created a completely different kind or book, a story book, and I was expecting an art book. So I shelved it and didn't give it a second thought. 
Then Oscar recieved The Legend of the Golden Snail as a Christmas present from his Grandparents, and after reading the book to him on a near nightly basis I have to say that my first impression was blind. I can't read Animalia with Oscar, it doesn't have any cars in it and at two-years-old he isn't yet ready to play the visual games that the pictures inspire. He is, however, ready to hear a story about a boy re-living his favorite tale in a quest find the golden snail. And what a quest it is!

Wilbur, the protaganist sets sail for the ends of the earth to find the golden snail, and on the way he waters a butterfly bush, frees a monster from it's net, and saves numerous lantern fish. He then encounters some difficulties and is saved by butterflies, a monster, and numerious lantern fish. He finds the golden snail, and takes it home, to it's ocean in the sky. The ocean in the sky is amazing, full of fun fish hidden in the clouds, like pencil dolphins. Oscar doesn't recognize all the cloud fish yet, but give him time, he will.

Yesterday I took Oscar and his friend Amaya to the park, on the play structure there was a wheel. So Oscar Amaya and I set sail for the ends of the earth, and on the way we watered a butterfly bush, cut a tangled monster free, and saved the latern fish, and then of course they all saved us. It was quite fun, and it was great imaginative play, even for Amaya who had never read the book. Although I didn't realize it at first, I now recognize that The Legend of the Golden Snail is fantastic story book.