Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

From Harper Collins: Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He is now a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is well known for his paintings, which he “signs” with a thumb-print.

I had heard so much about this book and just knew I'd never be able to read it. It's about animals...I can't read books about animals, no way. Then, people just kept talking about it. Words like "life changing" & "people will be talking about this book for years to come". Well...I will add my own...everyone on earth should read this book. It's gut wrenching and wonderful all at the same time. I sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed. In a good way. Please, please, please read this book and tell other people to read it. You won't regret it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Squirrel Fever!

The amazing Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac features Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. A young friend of mine who is a marriage and family therapist, talks about how important it is to let children know that their feelings are normal. And NOT just happy emotions but ALL emotions. Anger, jealousy, sadness, and FEAR. Anita shares with us how Melanie wrote the book because of her own fears. She's afraid of sharks. This is not only a great book to get this conversation started but it's HILARIOUS, too! I must caution though, don't read books to children to TEACH them something, read them because you want to share the love of reading. If it comes up while reading, awesome. But keep it short and sweet. Being a teacher, I tend to do my "teacher" thing and go on and on and on, just ask my students. But I think I make up for it in my enthusiasm and obvious LOVE of books. At least, I hope so.

My students howled over THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS by Adam Rubin and Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. The quirky story and amazing illustrations make this one of the funniest books I've ever read! I discovered it by actually reading it's sequel first, which just came out. Well...I can't read the book that came after the original to the kids first, I'm just not built like that! But they are really excited to hear THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS AND THE CAT NEXT DOOR and I can't wait to read it to them! 

The cover of the book hooked me right away, what with the old man and his carrot-like nose, skinny arms, and fat neck, not to mention the squirrels. On the first page I roared when I read the character's name; "Old Man Fookwire". I thought, "Oh, this is going to be good." But I was's GREAT! This book surprises at every turn with Rubin's word choice and the squirrels' antics. This is one of those books where the illustrations fit perfectly. Hopefully this pair will make a lot more books together!

This is the blurb I found on Amazon about Adam Rubin: "Adam Rubin grew up in New York and now lives in Chicago. During the day, he works as a creative director. At night, he writes kids books. Really late at night, he performs improv comedy. When he sleeps, he dreams about magic tricks." Finding out that he does improv comedy explains a lot!

So Adam and Daniel, give us more squirrel adventures, PLEASE!!!