Thursday, February 22, 2007

Glass, horses, apples ....

No, it's not a new version of the old rock-paper-scissors game. It's a series of Easy Reader books that have recently come into the Youth Services department, explaining how everyday things or animals are made, or grow. A tree becomes paper, sand becomes glass, maple tree sap becomes syrup, a foal becomes a horse ... it's amazing how little we know about the simplest things all around us, especially since most people are no longer farmers or craftsmen. These new books will help introduce young people to lots of new/old things. You might like:
From Sea to Salt
From Wheat to Bread
From Milk to Cheese
From Iron to Car
... and many of the 24 others in the set.

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony

This book has some real surprises for Artemis Fowl. And you know that Artemis is hardly ever surprised. The Lost Colony refers to the population related to faries that are known as the 8th Family or demons. These demons exist outside of normal time and space. This would be all right if they would just stay there. However, the magical spell is failing that keeps them in place and time. Now Artemis Fowl must do all he can to help the demons, save the faries and the earth as we know it. This book is the 5th in the series about Artemis Fowl's adventures. It was so much fun to read that I did not put it down until I had to go to work (bummer). Be sure to check it out when you want something new to read. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer is a real winner.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Being Muslim

This book could be a useful introduction to the Islamic faith for young people who don't know much about it, but author Haroon Siddiqui disappoints by not telling us nearly as much about the religion as he does about his own political views. (He is a well-known Canadian political columnist for the Toronto Star.) Only a short section in the middle of the book concerns Muslim holidays, beliefs, and traditions; but a good deal of Being Muslim blames the United States and other Western countries for problems in the Muslim world, and there are times when the author completely sidesteps important matters. He says, for example, that when Islam was an expanding faith "the majority of people ruled by Muslims remained non-Muslim," (p. 131) without exploring what this might have meant to those being "ruled." He also implies that the freedoms Western countries enjoy came from Islam: in a famous sermon, he says, the Prophet "Muhammad proceeded to lay down a series of rules, which have since evolved into the basic prnciples of many civil societies today -- the right to life, liberty, and security of person ... and the right to private property" (p. 87).

Being Muslim will tell you a lot about Haroon Siddiqui, but some more informative and interesting books in the Youth Services department about the many epic centuries of Muslim faith and history are:

The Sword of The Prophet, by Richard Suskind;
Islam, by Matthew S. Gordon;
Muslim Holidays, by Faith Winchester;
Muslim Mosque,
by Angela Wood; and
Salaam: A Muslim American Boy's Story, by Tricia Brown.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dr. Seuss's Birthday

Mark your calendars for Monday, March 5, 2007, here at the Lansing Public Library to join the fun as we celebrate Dr. Seuss's 103rd birthday! You can pin the daisy on Mayzie, make your own Seuss hat, complete the library questionnaire to win prizes, watch Seuss movies, listen to Seuss stories read by Chief of Police Dan McDevitt, enjoy Seuss treats and of course check out Seuss books! The fun begins at 6pm with the Chief's story time and lasts until 7:30pm. Don't miss out on this fun-filled evening for the whole family! Door prizes and games for kids up to 3rd grade.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Epossumondas Saves the Day, written by Coleen Salley and illustrated by Janet Stevens is an explosion of color, wit and creativity. Epossumondas is a little possum who seems to get himself into all kinds of predicaments. This is the third book about Epossumondas that I have read. And currently it is my favorite. Epossumondas is going to celebrate his birthday but first his mama needs some "sody sallyraytus" to make a special shortcake. And that's how the story starts. We meet a nasty snapping turtle, Epossumondas' friend: Baby Gator, and a store clerk: Mr. Leslie. They all have a part in this tale about going to the store to buy sody sallyraytus to make the birthday shortcake. If you have read any of the other books about Epossumondas you will absolutely want to read this one too. The story is funny. Not just "funny", but laugh out loud funny. And the pictures fill the page with color and movement and galumping and stomping aunties and mama's. It's a great book to read out loud to a group of kids. And a wonderful book to share with that one special kid too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In time for Chinese New Year

Shanghai Messenger, by Andrea Cheng (2005)
The House of Sixty Fathers, by Meindert de Jong (1956)
China's Bravest Girl: The Legend of Hua Mu Lan, by Charlie Chin (1993)

In delicate watercolors and simple "free-verse prose," Shanghai Messenger tells the story of a modern 11-year-old Chinese-American girl who is sent to China to visit her mother's family. She spends several weeks in Shanghai, meeting many uncles and "aunties", learning to cook and eat new foods, and walking in old city gardens where her great-grandfather's calligraphy is carved in stone. Loneliness, illness, and jet lag are also a part of her vacation, but when she comes home to America, she finds she misses the noise and interests of the great foreign city. "Where is the market, the honking horns, the farmers' shouting?" she wonders as she looks out at placid suburbia. It's a beautiful and not sugary-sweet book.

For a different look at an earlier China, try Meindert de Jong's The House of Sixty Fathers. This novel follows the frightening adventures of a young boy in war-torn 1930s China, who is separated from his family after the Japanese army destroys their village. With only a small pig for company, Tien Pao must make his way home through a countryside teeming with hungry refugees and bristling with soldiers.

Both of these books are illustrated by well-known artists: Shanghai Messenger's watercolors are by Caldecott winner Ed Young, and The House of Sixty Fathers features pen drawings by Maurice Sendak, of Where the Wild Things Are fame. And if you would like still more on China, try the vividly illustrated poem -- in Chinese and English -- China's Bravest Girl, by Charlie Chin. This tells the story of the teenage girl general, Hua Mu Lan, who went to war to defend her country in place of her elderly father. Of course, you can also check out the Disney movie on the same subject.