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Book Reviews

November 2, 2009
Times Observer
By Valle Blair

Pre K-1st THERE WAS AN OLD MONSTER by REBECCA, ADRIAN & ED EMBERLEY (Orchard Books, 2009) *** In an interesting version of “There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly”, we have an old monster who swallows a tick. “I don’t know why he swallowed the tick ‘cause it made him feel sick.” After that ants and lizards and bats and jackals and bears go down his gullet to catch the previous creature but, of course, to no avail. But hold on! Just wait! There is an interesting twist at the end of this retelling of the story! Brightly colored creatures crawl across a black background on the pages to make a wonderfully visual interpretation of the story. This is a fun new title from our old ‘how to draw’ teacher, Ed Emberley, and his family. And you can download a free recording of the song from the Scholastic website (web address included)!

2ND – 4TH the dream stealer by sid fleishman (Greenwillow, 2009) *** There is an unusual bandit that may sit outside your window at night. He doesn’t take gold or diamonds or jewels. He steals dreams. His job is to only take nightmares but he has gotten scared and would rather steal the nice dreams. But one night he steals a wonderful dream from the wrong girl. Susana is dreaming about riding horses with her best friend who moved away. The Dream Stealer snatches her dream just as her friend, Consuelo Louisa, is falling from her horse. Susana awakens with a gasp. What happened to Consuelo Louisa? Is she alright? Susana begins a campaign to find and follow the Dream Stealer to get her dream back and find out if her friend is alright. Can she catch him? Will he return her dream? Read about the brave girl who pursues the Dream Stealer to get back what is rightfully hers.
MIDDLE SCHOOL brooklyn bridge by karen hesse (Feiwel & Friends, 2008) *** This story originated from the author reading a small tidbit about the family who created the teddy bear. Joe Michtom’s parents ran a candy store in New York. When the story about President Teddy Roosevelt sparing the life of a bear cub was in the papers, his mother brought out fur fabric and sewed a bear. Not a fierce bear as in the wilds but a friendly bear, soft and cuddly. The teddy bear was an instant hit and the Michtom’s apartment and store ended up completely turned over to making bears. Joe was not so much in favor of this bear business. There was no more candy in the store. All of his parent’s time was spent in making bears. He had little time to himself with having to help out and babysit his little brother. All Joe wanted was for his family to take a day off and go to the new park, Coney Island. Interspersed throughout the story are the tales of homeless children living under the Brooklyn Bridge. Mysteriously, the two stories intertwine in unusual ways creating a very interesting read.
HIGH SCHOOL the king’s rose by alisa m. libby (Dutton, 2009) *** Ever curious about what it was like to live in the King’s court during the reign of Henry VIII of England? Ever curious about the story behind the women who became his wives and how they lived as Queens of England during the Tudor period? This historical novel gives the reader an intimate view of the life of Catherine Howard, who became King Henry’s 5th wife when she was still a teenager. The political maneuverings, the social pressures, the personal blessings and curses are interwoven in this intriguing account of her courtly life. The vividness of the portrayal of King Henry and Catherine’s marriage relationship is a bit overdone, but it conveys the number one purpose of the union: to be sure a proper heir would be born to carry on the royal lineage at all costs. The fate of Catherine Howard is inevitable as you follow the path of this vulnerable, naive young woman from her life as a lady-in-waiting to performing the duties of the Queen.

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Valle Blair



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