Category Archives: Children’s

Review: Mattimeo, by Brian Jacques

In this book from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Slagar the evil fox kidnaps several of the young of Redwall Abbey. Mattimeo, a mouse, son of Matthias, hero of Redwall, his friends Tim and Tess, also mice, Auma the badger and Jube the hedgehog are among the prisoners that Slagar captures and intends to sell as slaves to the evil Malkarris, a polecat, of the underground rat kingdom. Matthias is joined by several Redwallers as well as Orlando the Axe, a badger, and a band of shrews led by Log-a-log to pursue Slagar and return the young ones to Redwall. I listened to the audio version narrated by the author with various actors voicing the characters which also included delightful musical interludes. Put a visit to Redwall in Mossflower wood on your to-do list this autumn.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Audiobooks, Children's, Fantasy, Staff Picks

Fog Island, by Tomi Ungerer

Tomi Ungerer at age 82 is still creating beautiful and just a little creepy picture books. This one is set on the Coast of Ireland, today or maybe 50 or 100 years ago. Two children in their small curragh boat drift off course to the dark and gloomy Fog Island where they meet the dreaded Fog Man who turns out to be the perfect host, providing musical entertainment, seaweed and shellfish stew and a warm bed for the night. In the morning the Fog Man and the fog have disappeared. The drawings are soft and atmospheric and filled with details for children and parents to linger over. I also like Crictor, Moon Man, and especially The Three Robbers by this author.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good
Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Children's, Staff Picks

Summer Reading ideas

Looking for Summer Reading ideas?  Rebecca Blood, in her blog rebecca’s pocket, has helpfully collected dozens of lists from a wide variety of newspapers and media outlets, including all genres, and for all ages.  There’s a list for everyone here!

And don’t forget our BookLetters service!  Browse any of the lists, or sign up to receive any (or all) 0f the newsletters through your email or RSS feed.

Photo by kke227 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.  Some rights reserved.

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Filed under Blogs & websites, Children's, Lists, Young Adult

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

Twelve year old Miranda lives in 1970’s Manhattan, with typical concerns about friends, boys, school–and helping her mom win the game show The $20,000 Pyramid. Then she starts receiving mysterious unsigned notes that give her instructions, appear to predict the future, and contain vague mentions of danger.   What do they mean?  Miranda’s favorite book is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and fans of that book (or the Time Traveler’s Wife) will enjoy this one, too.

Rating:  **** Very, very good
Reviewed by:  stc

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Update, January 2010:  When You Reach Me was awarded the 2010 Newbery Medal.

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Filed under Award Winners, Children's, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Young Adult

Remembering Anne Frank

June 12 is the 80th anniversary of the birth of Anne Frank, whose Jewish family was forced into hiding during World War II. Though she lived only until the age of 15, Anne recorded her girlish hopes and her private fears in a diary that has become one of the most widely read books in the world. First published in 1947, it became an immediate bestseller and has since been translated into 67 languages. You can find Library copies in the Children’s Room, Young Adult, and Adult areas, as well as in Large Print, CD and tape. 

To learn more about Anne and her family, the Library owns many biographies and other books about Anne Frank for both children and adults.  Consider such selections as Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family, by Miep Gies, Roses from the Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank by Carol Ann Lee, or Ellen Feldman’s moving novel, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank.  Or listen to the recording of Elegy for Anne Frank, by Lukas Foss.

You can also visit the website for the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, with information on worldwide events to mark the occasion of Anne Frank’s birth.

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Filed under Biographies and Memoirs, Children's, Historical Fiction, Non Fiction, Young Adult

11 Books in 15 Minutes

1)  Joy School – Elizabeth Berg – Yes, she writes chick lit, but she captures the innermost thoughts of people that they’d never want anyone else to know about and she does it in incredible detail. This book in particular, about a 13 year old girl trying to find her way, is particularly beautiful and heartbreaking.


2)  Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Very Gothic in style, which is not my thing – but this book kept me reading breathlessly all the way through. What a storyteller! I’ve recommended this to everyone who will listen, and they have all LOVED it.


3)  Neither Here nor There – Bill Bryson – this guy is absolutely hilarious as he takes you on his travels through Europe. He is probably better known for his book about the Appalachian Trail (A Walk in the Woods), but this one is my favorite.



4)  Stiff – Mary Roach – About all the different things that can happen to dead bodies. Sounds absolutely horrific, but she makes it fascinating – and hilarious! I would like to be friends with this person as she would at turns inform me and make me laugh.


5)  Julie and Julia – Julie Powell – Yes, this is coming to a multiplex near you this summer, but this book had me laughing out loud the whole time I was reading. This woman who is unsatisfied with her work-life decides to spend a year cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Particularly great read for foodies, but I found Julie to be a very worthwhile companion when discussing what happened around the recipes too.

6)  Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert – some found this to be self-satisfied rambling, but I loved it. Did not care so much for the India section, but Italy and Indonesia were wonderful. This is another woman that I’d like to have dinner with sometime -she writes about her personal struggles in a very endearing and at times hilarious way.


7)  Wallflower at the Orgy – Nora Ephron – Wonderful essays from the 1970s. You get a little history and a lot of hilarity.

8)  The Soloist – Mark Salzman – novel about a failed violin prodigy and a court case in which he serves on jury duty. Beautifully written.

9)  The Music Teacher – Barbara Hall – an incredibly finely wrought main character. This book drew me right in from the first page. A somewhat quiet, personal novel about the human condition.


10)  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg – One of my favorite novels from childhood. This adult woman writes about the lives of children SO evocatively. All her books contain characters you’re not likely to forget. The first book that made me realize I loved reading.


11)  The Hours – Michael Cunningham – Depressing as all get out, but SO beautifully written. I just love how he connected 3 seemingly disparate stories – all equally gorgeous, evocative and sad… yet with a sense of grace when all is said and done.

All books reviewed by:  MFB

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Filed under Biographies and Memoirs, Children's, General Fiction, Non Fiction, Staff Picks, Young Adult

What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel

Photos and short essays showing 25 families from 21 countries around the world surrounded by what for them is a typical week’s worth of food. This would be a great discussion book for a family, especially this time of year as we have wonderful meals with our loved ones and consider all that we have to be thankful for.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good
Reviewed by: KH

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Filed under Children's, Non Fiction, Staff Picks

Knots in My Yo-Yo String : The Autobiography of a Kid, by Jerry Spinelli

A poignant, funny montage of 1950’s childhood memories by this award winning author who grew up in Norristown, PA.

RATING: * * * A good read
Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Biographies and Memoirs, Children's, Staff Picks, Young Adult

J. K. Rowling Goes to Harvard

OK, so you can’t expect a children’s book author to talk about the Marshall Plan.  Nonetheless, J. K. Rowling gave a wonderful speech at Harvard’s Commencement this past Thursday, titled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.”  Harvard Magazine has the full text and video of the speech.

Or, if you just want more Harry Potter, you have many choices at the library.  We have the books in the children’s, young adult, adult, paperback, and large print collections, and translations in Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin.  They’re also available on CD and cassette, and don’t forget the movies!  We also have related items, such as books on the meaning of Harry Potter, a leadership book based on Harry Potter, and even a knitting book (Charmed Knits).  Just search the catalog under author for Rowling, J. K., or under keyword for “Harry Potter” (in quotes).  

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Filed under Children's, Events, General Fiction, Young Adult

My Favorite Book: Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert Heinlein

The first book of Heinlein’s science fiction that I read and hugely enjoyed, leading me to read every one of his many novels.

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Children's, My Favorite Book, Staff Picks