Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teen Review: She’s So Dead To Us

I don’t normally read the typical shallow teen dramas about wealthy high school kids who are snobs, but something drew me to She’s So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott.  My instincts were right – I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book that has surprising depth.

Ally Ryan grew up in a wealthy community in Orchard Hill, in a big house with lots of friends who lived in big houses.  When she left with her parents over a year ago, after her father’s financial scandal caused her friends’ families to lose a lot of money, she never thought she’d be back.  But here she was:

I hesitated for a split second at the foot of Harvest Lane.  What was I doing here anyway?  I hadn’t seen this hill since February of my freshman year – the night my family and I had driven down it for what I thought was the last time, me staring out the back window of my dad’s soon-to-be repossessed BMW, trying to commit every detail to memory.  I hadn’t even called my friends to say good-bye.  Hadn’t texted.  Hadn’t e-mailed.  Hadn’t tweeted a less-than-140-character “See ya!”  I’d been too confused, too scared, too embarrassed.  And soon, too much time had passed, and getting in touch felt awkward and humiliating and I just…never had.  Now here I was, eighteen months later, wishing I could go back and smack my freshman self upside the head.  Because if I had said good-bye, if I had kept in touch with any of them, it would have made moving back here so much easier.  But how was supposed to know my mother would one day get a job at Orchard Hill High?  When we left, my parents had told me we were gone for good, and I believed them.

So, Ally and her mom have come back to their old town, not to live in one of those huge houses on the hill, but in a small rented condo.  Coming back poor and not staying in touch aren’t Ally’s only problems, though.  As she encounters friends from her past, she realizes it’s even more complicated than that, and it seems like Ally will always be left out of the in-group.

Meanwhile, there’s a new family living in her old house, with a son Ally’s age.  Although Jake and Ally like each other immediately, Jake is now a solid part of Ally’s old group of friends – the friends who aren’t speaking to her anymore.

I liked that this novel was multi-dimensional.  It wasn’t just about the rich kids ostracizing their old friend who no longer has money.  It’s about facing challenges in life, staying loyal to family, and discovering what true friendship really is.  The novel alternates between Jake’s and Ally’s voices (with two different narrators on the audio) which makes it even more interesting, to hear about events from their two different perspectives.  I enjoyed it very much.

Simon & Schuster Audio

(NOTE:  This book is most appropriate for older teens, since it includes profanity and teen drinking.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Books for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's seasonal topic is Top Ten Books To Read for Halloween.  This was fun!  My 16-year old son, Jamie, helped me with this list:

  1. Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett (I read this as a kid, then read it aloud to my sons each Halloween when they were younger - it's the perfect Halloween book for younger kids)
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (first one that came to mind!)
  3. Ruined by Paula Morris (awesome teen ghost story)
  4. Wake and Fade by Lisa McMann (nothing spookier than haunted dreams!)
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (I don't normally read paranormal romance but I liked this one)
  6. The Light (Morpheus Road #1) by D.J. MacHale (a fast-paced ghost story)
  7. Num8ers by Rachel Ward (loved this spooky paranormal thriller)
  8. Everlost by Neal Shusterman (what's better for Halloween than a book about the afterlife?)
  9. The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney (Jamie's top pick)
  10. Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey
What are your favorite books for Halloween?

(To read my list of favorite grown-up books for Halloween, check out Book By Book.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Monday 10/25! What Are You Reading?

Another Monday after another very busy week.  Soccer, school functions, and house guests this weekend.  My mom and her husband were visiting.  The guys all went to a Ravens-Bills football game, while my mom and I took the train to NYC to see a show on Broadway.  We saw Next to Normal which was stunningly good, with amazing music, great acting, and very powerful emotions.  So, lots of fun for all of us, but not a lot of reading time!  Things should start to slow down a bit, as the boys' soccer seasons begin to wind down.

Here's what we're reading:
  • I finished Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell, a classic coming-of-age novel set in the Canadian prairie.  It was wonderful - warm and tender, funny, sad - just like real life.  My mom is reading it now; our book group meets Wednesday to discuss it.
  • Now I'm reading a teen suspense novel/murder mystery, The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer.  I'm only on chapter 9, but it's already a very compelling story about two sisters, one of whom may have been involved in a murder.  It's hard to put down!
  • Jamie, 16, made a little more progress on The Stand by Stephen King, unfortunately because he was home sick for much of last week.  
  • Jamie also finished Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer for his American Lit class.  He said the story was interesting, but he didn't like the way the book was written (he would have preferred to hear the story told from a first-person perspective, but, of course, that's impossible).  His class has now started Fahrenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury, an old favorite of mine.  When I was in high school, I read every Ray Bradbury book in our public library!
  • Craig, 12, has started The Book of Time by Guillaume Prevost, the first book in an exciting, fast-paced time-travel series.  The real surprise is that Jamie and I both loved this series and have been trying to get Craig to read it for years.  He likes to be independent, so he rarely takes our advice on reading materials!  I think he'll really enjoy this book.
  • My husband, Ken, is still working on his English mystery, Cover Her Face by P.D. James.  He had very little reading time last week!
Last week, I posted a review of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, a wonderful teen novel about a boy who has a chimp for a baby brother.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teen/YA Review: Half Brother

I loved Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, a fascinating and well-written novel.  Oppel is the author of many other novels for kids and teens, including Airborn, winner of the Printz Honor, and Silverwing, the beginning of one of my son’s favorite middle-grade animal series.  I was intrigued as soon as I read the summary of Half Brother.

On his thirteenth birthday, Ben gets a new baby brother unlike any other.  Zan is a newborn baby chimpanzee who Ben’s scientist parents want to raise as a human so they can teach him sign language for their university research projects.  Here, they celebrate Ben’s birthday, hours after his mother brought Zan home:

She went to the kitchen and when  she came back she was holding a birthday cake, thirteen candles lit up.  She and Dad launched into “Happy Birthday to You.”  Normally it made me kind of embarrassed when they sang, but this time I couldn’t help smiling, because I honestly hadn’t thought there’d be cake.  Mom must have made a special trip earlier to get one.

I blew out the candles and made a wish.  I wish’d that we’d be happy in our new home.

Then I looked over at baby Zan, all swaddled in his basinet, and thought:

We are the weirdest family in the world.

Before long, Zan is an integral part of their family life, and he and Ben become as close as, well, brothers.  Some serious problems crop up as Zan grows bigger, but this book is not just about the relationship between a boy and a chimp.  It’s about family and fitting in at a new school and growing up. 

This plot could easily become silly in the hands of a lesser author, but it's not.  The novel is very well-written, with both warmth and humor.  And, of course, the story about teaching Zan sign language is absolutely fascinating.  It reminded me a bit of my favorite Michael Crichton book, Congo, about a gorilla named Amy who knows sign language.  The novel also touches on some serious issues such as animal rights and bullying.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish.

375 pages, Scholastic


Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Monday 10/18! What Are You Reading?

Rough Monday morning today.  I attended an all-day medical conference yesterday on my chronic illness along with two friends.  It was wonderful and interesting and very worthwhile...but a long, long day for me.  I'm pretty wiped out today.  Of course, both boys forgot assignments at home this morning, so I will be making a run to each school...Monday.

Thank goodness Monday also means What Are You Reading day!  Something to look forward to on a hectic morning.  None of us had a lot of reading time this week, but we squeezed in a little:
  • I finished Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel - review to come this week.  I loved this middle-grade novel about a boy whose scientist parents are bringing up a baby chimp as a human to try to teach him sign language.  The book is funny, touching, fascinating, and thought-provoking.
  • I'm now reading a book for my neighborhood book group meeting next week, Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell, a coming-of-age story about a young boy growing up in a prairie town in Saskatchewan.  I'd never heard of it before, but apparently, it is considered a Canadian classic.  It's enjoyable so far.
  • I finished a teen audio book, She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott, and enjoyed it - review to come.
  • My husband, Ken, planned to take 2 paperbacks with him on his trip to Texas last week but forgot both at home!  So, he bought one at the airport by one of his favorite authors, Robert Crais: The Forgotten Man, a Elvis Cole novel.  He says it was very good.
  • Now Ken is back to the novel he started last week, Cover Her Face, a mystery by P.D. James.  He was having trouble remembering all the characters last night as he tried to pick up where he left off!
  • Jamie, 16, is still reading The Stand by Stephen King for fun, and Into the Wild by Job Krakauer for school.  He was pretty sick last week and struggling to keep up with homework, so he didn't have much time for any reading.
  • Craig, 12, finished Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi for school and is looking forward to his class visit to the Renaissance Faire this week.  I don't think he's started a new book yet (that will probably require a little push from Mom!)
I had my hands full last week taking care of the kids and the house on my own while Ken was out of town, but I did manage to post reviews of a couple of old favorite animal middle-grade series, Warriors and Silverwing.  On my grown-up book blog, Book by Book, I posted a summary of all the books I read in September (better late than never!) and a short review of Blind Descent by Nevada Barr.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Mondays is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey).

P.S. Jamie just texted and said he doesn't need his assignment until tomorrow, and I e-mailed Craig's essay to his teacher...sigh...I love my couch (and my laptop!).

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Middle-Grade Reviews: Bats and Cats

    I recently came across a couple of reviews of wonderful series for middle-grade readers that I originally wrote for Family Fun magazine but that never made it into print.  As you'll see by the references to now-16 year old Jamie, I wrote these quite a few years ago, but both book series are still wildly popular and excellent choices for middle-grade readers.  Bats and cats...

    If your kids have already plowed through every Redwall book at the library and bought every Guardians of Ga’Hoole book at the school book fair, here are two series sure to satisfy their ardor for animal adventures.

    The Warriors series by Erin Hunter follows the exploits of four Clans of wild cats and one housecat’s quest to join them.  My 11-year old son, Jamie, has devoured each book in the 6-book series as soon as it was released.  I intended to read just the first book for this review, but the engaging plot kept me hooked until I had finished the whole series while my grown-up books sat unread on my nightstand.  Despite the fierce title, the Clans live by a strict honor code and fight only when necessary to defend themselves.  Erin Hunter has created a fascinating feline world filled with details of the cats’ daily lives, relationships, traditions, and spiritual beliefs and populated by compelling characters who face an array of challenges. Jamie and I have both begun the new trilogy, Warriors:  The New Prophecy, which focuses on the next generation of Clan cats.  Ages 8 – 12.  HarperCollins, $15.95 hardcover, $5.99 paperback.  

    NOTE:  Since I wrote this review, two additional Warriors series have been released: Power of Three and Omen of the Stars, and Erin Hunter has begun a new series about polar bears called Seekers.

    In Silverwing: How One Small Bat Became a Noble Hero by Kenneth Oppel, readers view the world from the perspective of bats instead of cats.  The young undersized protagonist, Shade, gets separated from his colony during their annual migration and meets all kinds of characters – both friendly and frightening – on his journey to find his family.  This soaring tale of adventure and growing up is sure to appeal to tweens, who can read more about the Silverwing bat colony and Shade’s exploits in the sequels, Sunwing and Firewing.  Jamie flew through this series during a sick week home from school and almost forgot the television was even in the room.  Ages 8 – 12.  Aladdin Paperbacks, $5.99 paperback; $15.95 boxed set.

    Have you read either of these excellent series?  They still stand as two of Jamie's favorites!


    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Tag! You're It

    I was tagged by Jan @ Eating Y.A. Books. Thanks, Jan!

    Rules of the game:

    Accept the tag and link to the tagger at the beginning of your post.

    Answer the questions honestly in your post by listing four things.

    Pass on the love by picking four other people to tag and listing them at the bottom of your post. Notify them that you tagged them.

    4 Things That Are In My Handbag
    - A 4-section, mini notebook where I write down books I want to read, things I need to do, gift ideas, music I like, and all sorts of other things.
    - My wallet which is stuffed full of receipts but usually very little cash!
    - Cell phone (I never carried a purse until I had a cell phone - then it became too much to carry in my pockets).
    - Reading glasses, a new addition!  How come print keeps getting smaller?

    4 Favorite Things In My Bedroom:
    - BOOKS!
    - 3 pillows each for me and my husband
    - My journals - a daily one, a Joy Journal, vacation journals, and more!
    - My dark sock, on my nightstand, for covering my eyes when the morning light wakes me up too early.

    4 Things On My Desk: 
    - My very old eMac, severely outdated but still loved!
    - My new MacBook, only when it needs to be charged.
    - A picture of my niece when she was a baby.
    - 10 years' worth of Family Fun magazines (I write for FF)

    4 Things I've Always Wanted To Do (but haven't yet):
    - Travel all over the world
    - Take my kids all over the world
    - Publish a memoir
    - Did I mention travel??

    4 Things I Enjoy Very Much At the Moment
    - Reading 
    - Camping
    - Family road trips
    - My book groups

    4 Songs I Can't Get Out Of My Head:
    Wow, it's different every day!  Here are some I hear a lot (mostly because my son plays the same songs over and over) that sometimes get stuck:
    - Hey, Soul Sister
    - Edge of Seventeen
    - Living on a Prayer (he played this one a dozen times while doing his homework last night!)
    - Dynamite

    4 Things You Don't Know About Me: 
    - I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, though I haven't worked in that field in a while now.
    - I was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Rochester, NY.
    - Both of my sons and I all have an immune system disorder known in the US by the very misleading name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that has dramatically changed our lives.
    - I met my husband in New Orleans, where we both used to live (we both worked for a DuPont plant there and he was assigned to be my mentor!)

     4 Bloggers I am Tagging:
    So many good blogs to choose from!  Here are some of my favorite blogs that cover kids/teens books:
    1.  Julie at My Book Retreat
    2. Andrea at The Little Bookworm 
    3.  Anne at My Head is Full of Books
    4.  Polishing Mud Balls
     Tag, you're it!  Have fun with it.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    It's Monday 10/11! What Are You Reading?

    Another Monday morning.  We had a wonderful weekend, camping with good friends.  The weather was absolutely perfect - I love fall!

    We had a busy week but managed to fit in some reading:
    • I finished Blind Descent by Nevada Barr - a satisfying mystery by a favorite author who sets all her novels in National Parks (this one was set in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico).
    • My husband, Ken, finished Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, a middle-grade novel about a family that raises a chimp as if he were a human baby in order to teach him sign language.  After he finished it, I picked it up!  I'm really enjoying it so far.  Oppel is an excellent writer (my oldest son was a huge fan of his Silverwing series) and the premise is fascinating.
    • Ken is traveling this week, so his next book is a slim paperback, Cover Her Face, a mystery by P.D. James.  We've both enjoyed her books in the past.
    • Jamie, 16, hasn't had much reading time because of so much homework, but he's still working on The Stand by Stephen King for fun and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer for his American Lit class.  He says he'd enjoy Into the Wild more if he was reading it on his own and didn't have to think about underlining important passages!  I want to read it when he's finished.  I loved the movie.
    • Craig, 12, is still reading Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi for his English class.  In conjunction with the book and their study of Medieval England, his class will be going to the Renaissance Faire next week!
    Last week, I posted two new reviews:  Suspect by Kristen Wolden Nitz, a teen mystery, and The Graveyard Book, a delightful middle-grade novel by Neil Gaiman about a boy brought up in a graveyard by ghosts.

    I participated in a fun meme, posting my ten favorite authors of kids/teen books here and my ten favorite grown-up authors at Book By Book.  I also posted a short review of the novel, A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White, at Book By Book.

    What are you and your family reading this week?

    (What are you reading Mondays is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey).

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Middle-Grade Review: The Graveyard Book

    Neil Gaiman won the Newberry Medal for his unusual novel, The Graveyard Book.   I read it recently (am I the last person on earth to do so?) based on a recommendation from my older son.  Though the book is officially targeted toward middle-grade readers, I think it is equally enjoyable for teens (my son was 15 when he read it)…and, of course, adults!

    The book begins with a rather gruesome double murder by a sinister man named Jack.  The two victims happen to be the parents of a little boy toddler, who manages to slip out of the house unnoticed while Jack is busy with his parents.  The baby walks up the hill to a nearby cemetery and slips between the bars bypassing the locked gates.

    From there, things get a little strange.  When implored by the brand-new ghosts of the boy’s parents, a married couple in the cemetery, dead for hundreds of years, decides to adopt the little boy to keep him safe.  For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, Jack still wants to kill the boy, and the only place he is safe is within the confines of the cemetery, explains Silas, a mysterious character who is neither alive nor dead and stays in the cemetery’s ancient chapel.  Here, he addresses the varied inhabitants of the graveyard, representing a wide range of time periods:

    “…For good or for evil – and I firmly believe that it is for good – Mrs. Owens and her husband have taken this child under their protection.  It is going to take more than a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child.  It will,” said Silas, “take a graveyard.”

    And that should give you some hint of the wonderful sense of humor in this odd book that is both sweet and spooky, filled with supernatural adventures and tender coming-of-age moments.  The graveyard inhabitants name the boy Nobody – Nobody Owens, Bod for short – and he grows up there, among all the ghosts.  Silas brings him food and books from the real world outside their gates, he is tutored in various subjects by cemetery residents who were teachers in a former life, and he generally has a very happy childhood.

    It’s not all sweetness, though, as the likable Bod discovers some of the darker secrets of the dead and encounters evil through some scary supernatural experiences (plus, Jack is still out there looking for him).  As he gets older, he occasionally meets some real people and becomes more curious about what is outside the gates.  The whole book is a wonderfully odd, witty mix of magic, adventure, and growing up.  It’s all thoroughly delightful.

    307 pages, HarperCollins Children’s Books

    Younger kids will enjoy Gaiman’s enchanting Norse folk tale, Odd and the Frost Giants, with his trademark wit and whimsy but less fright.

    Read more about Neil Gaiman and his books at his website

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Top Ten Favorite Authors

    Readers of my grown-up book blog, Book By Book, may remember that I used to do a weekly feature, Ten for Tuesday, with a top ten list each week (you can check out my past grown-up Ten for Tuesday posts and my past kids/teen Ten for Tuesday posts).  Well, someone else has started a very similar weekly meme, and I decided to jump in and participate!

    The Broke and the Bookish has a weekly question for bloggers for its Top Ten Tuesday meme (see the similarities?).  This week's theme is Top Ten Favorite Authors.   Sounds like fun!

    I'll limit this list to kids/teen/YA authors, but you can read my list of favorite grown-up authors at Book By Book.

    So, here we go, in no particular order:
    1. Suzanne Collins (I loved her work even before Hunger Games)
    2. C.S. Lewis
    3. Madeleine L'Engle
    4. J.K. Rowling
    5. D.J. MacHale
    6. Carolyn Keene (had to include this one since I devoured Nancy Drew as a kid!)
    7. Dr. Seuss
    8. Judy Blume
    9. Margaret Peterson Haddix
    10. Kate DiCamillo
    Wow, that was tough.  You can tell it was a stream-of-consciousness thing by the way I mixed in authors from my child with authors more recently read.  There are so many good ones to choose from!

    How about you - who are your favorite authors?

    Teen Review: Suspect

    During one of my recent sick weeks, a wonderful new teen mystery kept me glued to the pages and enjoyably distracted.  Suspect by Kristen Wolden Nitz is a classic whodunit with some unique twists.

    At the request of her dad, seventeen-year old Jen agrees to spend her summer helping out at her grandmother’s bed and breakfast.  Her grandma has an underlying motive, though, to solve a family mystery.  Here, Jen’s dad breaks the news to her about her grandma’s latest theory:

    “She thinks your mother is really gone.”

    Um, yeah.  Since my mother had left over fourteen years ago and never came back, that wasn’t exactly a newsflash.  There had to be something more.  “And that means…?” I prompted.

    “That your mother might be…dead.”

    “Dead?” I repeated.  “Hey, I knew she hadn’t written in a few years, but…”  I couldn’t go on.  Despite the hundreds of excuses I had invented for my mother – ranging from evil witches and fairies when I was younger to witness protection programs and alien abduction – I had never really considered this one.  “Is that why Grandma Kay thinks my mother stopped sending me stuff?”

    “No.”  Dad played with his chopsticks.  “Your grandmother doesn’t think your mother ever sent you anything.  She thinks that your mother died the day she left.”

    But that’s not all.  Grandma Kay runs a Mystery Weekend at her B&B every summer for friends and family, and her plan is to try to solve the real mystery while her guests – many of whom knew Jen’s mom – try to solve the pretend mystery. 

    From there it’s something of a classic mystery, with all of the suspects in one place, and plenty of clues and misdirections.  I thoroughly enjoyed Suspect.  It has interesting characters, a good mystery that kept me guessing, and even a bit of romance.

    199 pages, Peachtree Publishers

    For more information, check out the author’s website and her blog.   


    Monday, October 4, 2010

    It's Monday 10/4! What Are You Reading?

    Monday again...and my husband's birthday today!  Kind of a dark and drizzly day for a celebration, but we'll just have to make do.  I'm hoping my son's soccer game gets canceled this afternoon.  He doesn't mind playing in the rain, but it's pretty miserable sitting and watching in the cold rain for 90 minutes!

    We all enjoyed reading this week, but not much new:
    • I finished A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White, a novel about sisters, and enjoyed it very much.
    • With a train trip to NYC last week, I chose my next book based entirely on size and weight!  Blind Descent by Nevada Barr is a nice, light paperback.  Besides, I always enjoy her unique suspense novels that take place in National Parks.  The main character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger, and this one takes place in Carlsbad Caverns.  I'm a little more than halfway through it.
    • Jamie, 16, is still reading The Stand by Stephen King.  He's loving it, as we knew he would, but he just doesn't have much time for fun reading during the school year - too much homework!
    • Jamie is also still reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer for his American Lit class - I loved the movie based on this book.
    • Craig, 12, is still reading Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi for his English class and enjoying it.
    • My husband, Ken, finished The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  He was fascinated by this combination historical fiction/murder mystery novel, as I knew he would be!
    • For a change of pace after that thick, complex novel, Ken has started a new middle-grade novel, Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, with a unique plot about a family that adopts a baby chimp and treats him like a child.
    Last week, I posted a review of the middle-grade novel The Limit by Kristen Landon.  I also posted a couple of book news items - one about the prevalence of dead parents in children's literature, The Dead Dad Syndrome, and another about the 50th anniversary of the beloved Frances books by Russel Hoban.

    Finally, though Banned Book Week is now over, you might want to check out my post about the great podcast I listened to this weekend - besides their podcast on banned books, they do a fabulous book podcast each week.

    What are you and your family reading this week?

    (What are you reading Mondays is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Banned Books Week

    As usual, I'm a bit late on this since Banned Book Week officially ended yesterday, but it still feels like the same week to me until Monday arrives!

    I just wanted to share a wonderful podcast called Books on the Nightstand.  I absolutely love this podcast all about books and listen to it every week while I'm cooking Sunday dinner.  I highly recommend the podcast in general and hope you'll check it out.  You can listen online, download it from their blog, or download it from iTunes.

    But, for this week in particular, Books on the Nightstand did an excellent podcast on Banned Books Week (as usual I just listened to it while making Sunday dinner which is why I'm a bit late with this post!).  If you have any interest in banned books, you'll enjoy this wonderful podcast.

    Better late than never, right?

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    50th Anniversary of Frances

    At our house, we are all big fans of Frances, the wonderful little badger featured in Russell Hoban's popular picture books.  So, I wanted to share this excellent article on the 50th Anniversary of the Francis books from Publisher's Weekly. 

    Also, here is a reprint of a brief review I wrote of an audio collection of Frances stories which appeared in the July/August 2005 issue of Family Fun magazine.  Even though I wrote this review years ago, when my boys were much younger (you'll see our audio was actually a cassette tape!), we continued to listen and laugh to the Frances stories for years.

    Here's my original review:

    Summertime and the living is easy…and the car rides are long.  When we hit the highway with our two boys, Jamie, age 10, and Craig, age 7, we always bring plenty of audio books and stories to pass the miles.  You can bet there’s a long waiting list for the sixth Harry Potter book at your library this summer, so here are some lesser-known audio gems that have become our road trip favorites. 

    Russell Hoban’s Francis books already have many fans, but Glynis Johns, best known as the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins, adds a special charm to The Francis Audio Collection.  We’ve heard the four stories on this tape dozens of times over the past five years and we still laugh out loud at Francis’ clever songs and big sister antics.   Ages 3 and up (we haven’t outgrown it yet!)  Harper Children’s Audio, $12 cassette tape.

    Are you or your kids fans of Frances?  We may just have to dig out our old cassette tape to celebrate her 50th anniversary!