Sunday, May 25, 2014

Books with big ideas

Sometimes you want something light and fluffy to read and sometimes it's good to read something that makes you feel like you actually might learn something or change an idea that you were holding closer than you thought you were.  Since it's Memorial Day weekend, you might think that it's a good idea to read some of the light and fluffy stuff, but let me tell you, these books with big ideas are worth a look, and a read!

I just finished reading Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.  I'm a BIG fan of Wendy Mass.  Her books have THE MOST AMAZING plot twists that I never see coming.  They make me laugh and usually cry and Jeremy Fink is no exception.  The book starts at the end and then flashes back to the start of the story.  Jeremy Fink is almost 13.  His dad died when he was 8 in a terrible accident.  Jeremy has a few issues (he has a very limited choice of things he will eat and most of them are candy, he doesn't like to use public transportation (in New York City?), he only has one real friend) but has a loving, supportive group of people around him.  He gets a package a month before his birthday that has a wooden box in it. The box came from his dad and it says it contains the meaning of life.  The box requires 4 keys to open it but the keys are not there.  So the quest begins.  Jeremy learns a lot in his quest.  This was one of my favorite quotes: Before an apple seed is planted, no one will know how many apples will one day sprout from it.  It's all about potential, and potential is hidden from all of us until we embrace it, find our purpose, plant ourselves so we can grow. Awesome!  This one would be great for kids third grade and up although there isn't really anything that would be scary or inappropriate for little kids... I just think the conversation about death and dying would probably be too big for under third grade.  Here's a book trailer about it.



Another one in sort of the same vein is called "Counting by 7s" by Holly Sloan.  It's about a girl named Willow who is going into middle school.  She worries a bit about finding friends and fitting because she's really different in a lot of ways.  You come to understand that she is scary smart (like when she meets a girl and learns to speak Vietnamese in a week) and sometimes not great at communicating but has the best possible intentions.  When her parents are killed in a car accident (it's not a spoiler, it happens on like the 10th page in), she has to figure out how things are going to proceed and it's not exactly easy but it is hopeful and full of wonderful connections and plot twists.  This one you'd want for at least fourth grade, maybe 5th grade and up.  The story teller seems to be either so gifted that it's sometimes hard to figure out where she's going or on the autistic spectrum.  It's totally worth figuring out, but sometimes the inferences are big enough that you might have to point them out to the kids.


Lastly, there's Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This one is definitely for high school students.  It's about a boy and girl who both feel isolated and yet find each other inspire of their best intentions to stay isolated.  They each have their own reasons for wanting to isolate themselves (Eleanor's are related to her home life which is horrible) and Park's is mostly teen angst but their coming together and falling in love is lovely and lyrical and special.  Definitely NOT for elementary school students, but it is wonderful.  Here's a book trailer about it.


Monday, May 19, 2014

It's online!

I've been doing some work on the app (it needs some upgrading, primping and fluffing).  In a conversation I had with my app designer, Billy, we thought it would be great to move the app to the web.  It SEEMED like something I could do myself and yet it wasn't.  So I hired a web designer, re-did most of the data entry (ok so that part got a little ugly) but now the file is available on line.  And for the moment, it's free.  So check it out!  Click HERE to get to the web page.
And if you think there's something I need to change, PLEASE email me!  I'm currently working to try to make it even better!  Also, the Booksearch is now on Facebook, so make sure you like us there so you can get the latest updates!.  Like us on Facebook!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Biographies

I've been reading biographies this week.  I got a few new ones in the media center and found a few more in the Ebook section of my local library (free books!  Delivered to my ipad!  What a deal!).

The first one is called "On a Beam of Light" by Jennifer Berne is a picture book biography of Albert Einstein.  The pictures are exuberant and kind of primitive (in a good way) and it makes the life of Albert Einstein accessible to little kids (and bigger kids who might have thought that Albert Einstein was too smart for them to read about).  It explains some of Einstein's theories in very simple terms but it also talks about his persistence and his questioning attitude as well as his love of reading that took him to the places he wanted to go.



The second biography I read was about Jane Goodall.  It's called "The Watcher: Jane Goodall's life with the chimps" by Jeanette Winter.  I'm a big fan of Jane Goodall, having heard her speak at a local university many years ago and I'm also a big fan of Jeanette Winter.  I loved her book called "Biblioburro" about a man in Columbia who takes books to remote villages on his donkeys.  This one about Jane Goodall was nice too.  The text gave a good overall impression of Jane Goodall's life and the pictures are simple but engaging.  I thought it was a good elementary level biography.  Here's a little book trailer that will give you an idea of how great it looks.




The last one I read this week is one I've been trying to read for awhile. It was very highly acclaimed when it first came out and I just haven't been able to get my hands on it.  It was in my local library's ebooks collection this week (YAY!!!) and so I finally got to read it.  It's called "A Splash of Red: The LIfe and Art of Horace Pippin".  I'd never heard of Horace Pippin the artist so it was a great introduction for me.  Horace Pippin was an African American born in 1888 in Pennsylvania but moved in Goshen, NY at an early age.  He always loved to draw and used the materials that he had at hand.  He got his first art supplies from a mail order school.  He worked hard and drew and painted for people.  He joined the army and served in France during the first World War.  He was wounded in the right shoulder and it seemed that his career as an artist might be over.  However, he continued to work hard and eventually found a way to regain the use of his right arm and allow him to create art again.  He was noticed by the famous artist, N.C. Wyeth, who suggested that Horace have a show of his work in West Chester, NY.  It was quite successful and today, Pippin's paintings hang in many galleries and museums all over the country.  I love Melissa Sweet's illustrations.



And I've been really busy entering data for the last week.  I'm hoping to move my app to the web so keep watching this space for more information!