A Jesuit Sleuth in 17th Century Paris
30 April 2012
David Herlihy on bicycle history
7 May 2012

From Funny to Fanciful and In-Between: New Arrivals in the Children’s Library

fancy-nancy-mermaid-ballet 1Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet, by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Reviewed by Children’s Library volunteer Carole Black

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet is a true to life tale about friendship and the trials and tribulations of auditioning and performing in a ballet.  Nancy and her best friend Bree anticipate that, since they dress up and play mermaids the teacher will surely have to pick them for the mermaid roles in the upcoming class ballet.  This inevitably leads to disappointment and frustration when the parts are announced.   “My mermaid days are over” cries Nancy melodramatically.

Nancy’s understanding parents let her experience her conflicting emotions while supporting her when she needs it. Her mother reminds her that “being part of a ballet is thrilling, whatever part you have”.  Nancy spends time with her mother, verbalizing and accepting her emotions.  Her mother addresses Nancy’s feelings by saying:  “Being a good friend when your friend gets the part you wanted- sharing her joy, then feeling bad because you lied, didn’t mean your weren’t happy for her”, and my favorite:  “It’s hard because Bree got something you wanted very much.  You’re jealous.  But your heart is so generous and warm, it will melt all the bad feelings away”.  This frank interpretation of  her feelings seems to help Nancy and she gives her friend her best shell tiara to use for her costume.

Nancy learns to embrace the character she is assigned, to consider the feelings of other and to channel her emotions into making the best of her role – she even utilizes her sad face in her role as the weeping willow.

The colorful illustrations aptly portray the fantasies and dreams of children.

New @ the Library! You can find Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet in the Children’s Library with the Easiest Reader Picture Books under EO.


DucklingCookieThe Duckling Gets a Cookie!? words and pictures by Mo Willems

Reviewed by Children’s Library Volunteer Amy Coulter.

After trying to drive a bus (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) and finding a hot dog (The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!), the Pigeon is back!  And this time?  He watches as a sweet little Duckling gets a cookie, just for asking…  It isn’t fair!!  The Pigeon asks for things all the time!  Did the Pigeon get to drive the bus?  Did the Pigeon get to stay up late?  (Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late!) The Pigeon feels he never gets to do anything!

Do you think the Pigeon will get a cookie of his own?  Will the Duckling share?  This award winning author’s drawings and dialogue between the Pigeon and the Duckling will have you smiling and laughing.  Maybe you will be packing an extra cookie (or two) on your picnics this spring in case a duckling politely asks you for a cookie.

New @ The Library! You can find The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?, and other titles by Mo Willems, in the Children’s Library Easiest Readers section, under EW.


marktwainThe Extraordinary Mark Twain, by Barbara Kerley

Reviewed by Children’s Library volunteer Sarah Grandin

This picture book is textually rich and chock-full of excerpts from the manuscripts of Mark Twain’s daughter, thirteen-year-old Susy Clemens. Perfect for aspiring writers, historians, and anyone who likes keeping a diary or enjoys American History, Barbara Kerley’s short biography gives an insider’s perspective on the extraordianry Mark Twain. By directly quoting young Susy’s descriptions of her famous father, Kerley gives us insight into everything from his writing habits and humorous quirks to his favorite vacation spots.

In addition to illuminating the life of Twain, Kerley’s book playfully instructs the reader on how one goes about writing a biography and how one crafts historical fiction. In this regard, this book can be enjoyed by more advanced readers, particularly those who wish to explore Kerley’s historical and methodological explanations in the back.

Finally, the text is complimented by dynamic illustrations that shift boldly in perspective and scale from page to page, evoking both the unique scrawl of Susy’s diary and Twain’s larger-than-life persona. Fans of pop-ups will appreciate that collated to each page is an insert with citations lifted directly from Susy’s diary.

New @ the Library! You can find The Extraordinary Mark Twain in the Children’s Room with the Easiest Reader Picture Books under EK.


Tcloudspinnerhe Cloud Spinner, written by Michael Catchpool, illustrated by Alison Jay

Reviewed by Children’s Library volunteer Carole Black

Environmental protection meets classic fairy tale in this thought provoking story.

The opening illustration finds sheep grazing in the shape of a smile on the lush green hilltop, the river rushes by and a sprinkling of puffy clouds gently drift by against a vivid blue sky…

On the hilltop a wise boy spins a few of the clouds into thread and weaves the thread into cloth.  He is ever mindful of his mother’s sage advice:  “Enough is enough and not one stitch more“.

He weaves a modest scarf to protect himself from the cold and is spotted wearing it by the greedy King who, admiring the color and softness of the cloth, demands that the boy make a very long scarf fit for a King.  The boy explains that it is not wise to have a long scarf made from the cloud cloth, but the voracious King does not listen.  He loves his new scarf and further demands a cloak for himself, and dresses “galore” for the Queen and his daughter, the Princess.

While the King and Queen are delighted with their new clothes, the villagers, the animals and the crops start to feel the effects of the cloudless sky…. the leaves are dropping from the trees, the ponds have dried up and the countryside is turning brown.  The wise Princess understands the problem and rushes to the boy’s door, dresses in hand….”Is it too late to undo what has been done? she asks……

Throughout the book, the overall cracking in the painted illustrations remind us how truly fragile our environment has become.   The subtle shapes in the clouds, the rich colors of the landscape and its healthy, contented inhabitants contrast sharply with the dry browning landscape, and remind us that conserving our water should be a priority in our lives.  This gentle, compelling story is a wonderful choice for reading to a group or one on one….with plenty of opportunity for discussion.

New@ the Library!  The Cloud Spinner can be found in the Children’s Library with the Easiest Reader Picture Books under EC.



rubyluRuby Lu, Brave and True written by Lenore Look. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf.

Reviewed by Children’s Library Volunteer Liz Gomes.

Ruby, an (almost) eight-year-old-Asian-American girl describes the best things living at 20th Avenue South, such as starring in her own backyard magic show, or her little brother Oscar. But also the not-so-good things like her parents thinking that she is not old enough to drive.

This is Lenore Look’s chapter-book-debut, and Ruby’s stories are funny, quirky and adorable. It also includes a fantastic Cantonese glossary and pronunciation guide at the back to help readers along.

New @ the Library! You can find Ruby Lu, Brave and True in the Children’s Library with the Juvenile Fiction under J LOO.




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