...you'll love Maze Runner. Although primarily plot-driven, the characters are well-drawn and their makeshift society carefully wrought. From Newt, the tough second-in-command with a soft-heart, to the sweet, childlike Chuck who befriends Thomas almost immediately, you come to care about these boys and their complex relationships with eachother. The tender moments between the boys are so real- with manly punches and sarcasm used to mask an errant tear or puffed up bravado laid thin over fear of spending a night locked outside the safety of the Glade walls. The action moves quickly, and like The Hunger Games, you get absorbed into this rollercoaster of a story, on the edge of your seat (or armchair, as it was in my case), rooting for Thomas and his friends, holding your breath as they delve deeper into the dark corners of the Maze.
I would venture to guess that this may be the first book in a series. I was left breathless by the last page and look forward to more.
Whether you are a math-head or woefully inept with numbers (like me), this a great introduction to some pretty complicated topics. The simple explanations and great accompanying illustrations and photographs help readers understand the patterns and Fibonacci’s theory. Pair it with Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci for a thought-provoking journey into math, art, and the hidden patterns that wind themselves through so much of our everyday lives.
Elisha Cooper (who is a man, incidentally) has created another gorgeous picture book (see his award-winning Beach). While not an ideal choice for storytime, this is just the type of book that children will want to read over and over with their grownups one-on-one. The overall story takes the reader through an entire year on a farm- through all the seasons of sowing, reaping, etc. There is information about the people (the farmer, the farmhands, a boy, a girl), the animals (a bunch of cattle, countless cats, etc.), the equipment (tractors, silos, tools), and the landscape (clouds that nearly touch the flatlands.) Cooper has an uncanny ability to take what could easily be a rote info book and transforms it into art with his lyrical text and skilled use of watercolors. The verso page includes a glossary of relevant farm terms, like Chaff and Grain Elevator.
Henrietta Hen lays her very first egg and, unfortunately, she is not sure what to make of it. When Red Fox offers to trade her a fat, juicy worm for her seemingly worthless egg, she agrees. When the other animals clue her in on the bad deal, Henrietta, with the help of her farm friends, tries to offer Red Fox another trade to get her egg back. Although an original tale, this has the feel of a classic folktale. With a nice repetition and simple plotline that will help encourage dialogic reading skills, this is a great choice for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Carmelita greets her friends, neighbors and family in over 9 different languages. Bonjour! Buenos Dias! Jambo! Ni Hao! With each greeting, the reader meets a new character and visits a different part of Carmelita’s community. The story is simple, which allows the languages presented to take center stage. In addition to Isadora’s trademark oil on paper collage style that elevates the book to more than a mere world-language primer, Isadora includes a helpful glossary at the back with a pronunciation guide. This will have wide appeal- you can use it in a baby or toddler storytime, as well as a preschool class. Wonderful!