The Gallery

The Gallery

I cannot let another day go by without sharing The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald.

I don’t have time to write about it so I’ve put the publisher’s summary below.  I need to spend my limited time googling the paintings featured in the book.

“A riveting historical art mystery for fans of Chasing Vermeer and The Westing Game, set in the Roaring Twenties!

It’s 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?

Inspired by true events described in a fascinating author’s note, The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers today will love.”

Hamilton is All the Rage

Duel

Last October a book titled Aaron and Alexander:  The Most Famous Duel in American History written and illustrated by Don Brown arrived in the library just in time for me to take it to Georgia for Thanksgiving.  I’ve known about this duel far longer than most.  As a child, we would sometimes drive by the jail where Aaron Burr was jailed in Warthen, GA. (pronounced Wur-then) on the way to my grandparents.  My grandfather’s name was Warthen.  My mother lived in Warthen when she was a child.  Add in a history buff of a brother and you can see why I’ve know about the duel for so long.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, my brother’s family, ML and I packed up the car and headed toward Tennille, GA.  Along the way, I read Aaron and Alexander:  The Most Famous Duel in American History to ML, my niece and nephew.

We stopped at our favorite roadside barbecue restaurant.  It serves the same barbecue and brunswwick stew, I’ve loved for 40 years.  The building hasn’t changed either.  There’s still sawdust on the floor.  And the brunswick stew is the best in the world.  Before September 11th, I was known to carry a quart of it on the airplane from Atlanta to Raleigh.

After filling up on barbecue, we stopped at the jail in Warthen.  I have a mug shot to prove it.

We arrived in Georgia last weekend to the cd of Hamilton on full blast in my brother’s car.  Seeing that his US History paper in high school was titled “Hamiltonism vs Jeffersoniasm,” I was not surprised.  What did surprise me is how much ML loved it; even with my brother stopping the music every five seconds to give us a history lesson.  She demanded I order a copy for us; not that I hadn’t already planned to get one as soon as we arrived home.

For the past two weekends, we’ve been jamming to Hamilton with three people who most deserve front row tickets to Hamilton.  Last weekend, my brother.  This weekend, our friend and her son.  All were experts on Hamilton before Hamilton was cool.  My friend refers to Hamilton as her “historical boyfriend.”  There’s nothing like driving your child to camp with three kids in the back singing Hamilton at the top of their lungs.

I confess. I’ve been playing it full blast on my way to work this week.  It’s left me in a historical frame of mind.  Expect to read about more illustrated, nonfiction books about historical times and places in the very new future.

mugshot

Even More Picture Books

Summer at the library is CRAZY.  We continue to get great new books, but I’m too tired to write about them when I get home.  Here’s a list of my recent favorites with a very small sentence about each one.  When life calms down, I’ll link to the books and authors but I wanted to get these titles out to you because summer is the perfect time to read great books.

Dog Chicken

My Dog’s a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf – Lula Mae’s chicken is a mighty good dog.  Herding, watching and rescuing.  Delightful illustrations.

Hector

Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith – Love the artwork. Love the story line.  Love the book!

Blocks

Blocks by Irene Dickson – As a child, I loved playing with blocks.  So any picture books about blocks make me happy.  The added bonus of this book is it teaches about sharing in a not too preachy way.

Hoot and Peep

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge – Some of us sing to a different hoot.  An entertaining book about differences in siblings.  A great read aloud with phrases like “Schweep dingity dong, schweep dingity dong.”

Opposite Zoo

The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na – I get asked for books on opposites frequently.  There aren’t enough out there.  And non of them are as beautiful as this one.

Brave Bear

A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes – Seeing that it’s already reached over 90 degrees this summer, I could relate to the beginning line of this book.”The sun was hot.  The air was hot.  Even the shade was hot.”  A fun read aloud with beautiful illustrations.

 

Little Bitty Friends by Elizabeth McPike and Patrice Barton – A perfect book for baby storytime.

Quackers

Quackers by Liz Wong – A cat who thinks he’s a duck, until he meets some cats.  This cat merges the best of both worlds.

Dylan Villian

Dylan the Villain by K. G. Campbell – First line of the book, “Mr. and Mrs. Snivels were minding their own business, when they happened to have a baby.”

Maggie and Wendel

Maggie and Wendel:  Imagine Everything! by Cori Doerrfeld  – I love this brother/sister combo.

Toy Inventors

Lego InventorWhoosh

Do you have a child who loves Lego, but doesn’t like to read?  I found the perfect book for them.  Awesome Minds:  The Inventors of Lego Toys by Erin Hagar and art by Paige Garrison.  Have a child who doesn’t like to read but loves Super Soakers?  Try Whoosh!  Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate.  Both these books have engaging text and illustrations.  No boring biographies here.  An added bonus is both books show how perseverance pays off.

How I Met Mr. Pants

Mr Pants

I love how my library system runs it’s Summer Reading Program.  Children aren’t required to keep track of the amount of time they read or the number of books they read throughout the summer.  It’s a low stress program to make reading and visiting the library fun.  Children are rewarded for visiting the library and telling us about favorite books.  Each child receives a sturdy plastic bag and a reading log.  On one side of the reading log is a place to write favorite books read over the summer.  The other side has a maze featuring our library mascot.  Children receive stickers for their maze when they tell us about their favorite books, bring their bag to carry books home and attend programs.  If they check out books, they get what we call a “Weekly Wow.”  Something different and special every week.  Bubbles, bookmarks, tattoos. . . you get the idea.

Last week, a girl around ML’s age told me about a book she loved.  It was a graphic novel about a cat named Mr. Pants.  It sounded great so I immediately found the first book in the series when she left, Mr Pants:  It’s Go Time by Scott McCormick and illustrated by R. H. Lazzell.  Even though ML tells me weekly, “I don’t like comic books.”  I’ve come to realize it’s not graphic novels she doesn’t like, it’s superhero graphic novels.  She devoured El Deafo by Cece Bell a few weeks ago.  So I knew she’d enjoy Mr. Pants.  I read a bit of the first book to her before bedtime.  She asked if she could take it to bed and finished it before she went to sleep.  Then, I finished it the next morning.  We were both eager for the next book in the series.  I did something I rarely do on a day off.  We visited our local library.  Sadly, the next Mr. Pants book wasn’t on the shelf.  Luckily, I found the other two this morning at my library.

Our semi-annual trip to visit ML’s cousins is coming soon.  We always take books.  Luckily, our local bookstore had a copy of Mr. Pants:  It’s Go Time.  ML’s with her dad this week.  It’s going to be really hard for  me to hold out reading the next two titles in the Mr. Pants series without her.  The only way to resist this temptation is to put them back on the shelf.  They won’t stay there long.  I’m certain to throw them in the hands within the first hour I work tomorrow.

PS:  If you happen to order books for my library system, a new Mr. Pants book was released June, 7th.  Mr Pants: Camping Catastrophe.  I only mention this because I know children are eager for another Mr. Pants book.  It has nothing to do with me wanting to read it.

More New Picture Books

Best of today’s batch. . .

Hare Tortoise

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray – I love this rendition of the famous Aesop fable.  A fluid, interactive text for story time and beautiful illustrations.

Peep and Egg

Peep and Egg:  I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Joyce Wan – A perfect book for story time.  Every child will want to shout “I’m Not Hatching” at the top of their lungs.  I’m eager for the second in this series to arrive,  Peep and Egg:  I’m Not Trick-or-Treating.

 

Rules of House

Rules of the House by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matt Myers – Just read what the book jacket says.  You won’t be able to resist…

Follow the rules.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH.
MAKE YOUR BED.
AND NEVER
EVER
OPEN THE RED DOOR.

 

Ten Hungry Pigs

Ten Hungry Pigs by Derek Anderson – A book about counting and food with a twist at the end.  Another perfect story time book.

 

Hensel

Hensel and Gretel:Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Dan Santat – Forget Hansel and Gretel and the temptation of a gingerbread house..  Hensel and Gretel and the cornbread cottage is where it’s at.

Books for a Rising 4th Grade Dog Lover

I’m taking orders for personalized summer reading lists.  My first request was for a rising 4th grade girl who LOVES dogs.  There are 238 chapter books with the subject heading of dogs at my branch alone.  Below are my recommendations for AB.  I’ve added a story about a cat and another about a sassy girl to provide a little variety to AB’s summer reading.

rain reign

Rain Reign by Ann K. Martin – “Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.  When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.” (from publisher’s website)

Handful Stars

Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord – “When Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it’s Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.  After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily’s grandfather, and Salma’s friendship transforms Lily’s summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they’ll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant-and possibly win?” (from publisher’s website)

Honey

Honey by Sarah Weeks -“Melody has lived in Royal, Indiana, for as long as she can remember. It’s been just her and her father, and she’s been okay with that. But then she overhears him calling someone “Honey” and suddenly it feels like everyone in Royal has a secret. It’s up to Melody and her best friend, Nick, to piece together the clues and discover why Honey is being hidden.  Meanwhile, a dog named Mo is new to Royal. He doesn’t remember much from when he was a puppy, but he keeps having dreams of a girl he is bound to meet someday. This girl, he’s sure, will change everything.” (from publisher’s website)

dog diaries

Dog Diaries by Kate Klimo – “For anyone who has ever wanted a puppy, the DOG DIARIES series tells a dog’s story in a new way–from a dog’s point of view! Focusing on a different breed for each book, starting with a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd, these stories are based on true dog stories or on true-to-life situations.” (from publisher’s website)

Cat Who Came In Off the Roof

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie Schmidt – “An act of kindness brings shy reporter Mr. Tibble into contact with the unusual Miss Minou. Tibble is close to losing his job because he only writes stories about cats. Fortunately, Minou provides him with real news. She gets the juicy inside information from her local feline friends, who are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. Tibble is appreciative, but he wonders how she does it. He has noticed that Minou is terrified of dogs and can climb trees and rooftops with elegance and ease. . . . It’s almost as if she’s a cat herself. But how can that be?” (from publisher’s website)

When Mischief Came to Town

When Mischief Came to Town by Katarina Nannestad – “When Inge Maria arrives on the tiny island of Bornholm in Denmark to live with her grandmother, she’s not sure what to expect. Her grandmother is stern, the people on the island are strange, and children are supposed to be seen and not heard.   But no matter how hard Inge tries to be good, mischief has a way of finding her.     Could it be that a bit of mischief is exactly what Grandmother and the people of Bornholm need?” (from publisher’s website)