Thursday, February 25, 2016

Share With Brother by Steven L. Layne, illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Big brother bunny has been patiently waiting for his baby brother to grow up. His parents promised him his brother would be fun as he got older. However, as his younger brother becomes an active toddler, lots of sharing problems occur between the two siblings. With each sharing catastrophe, big brother is always advised, "Share with brother and someday brother will share with you." This lesson is tested when baby brother gets sick and his big brother comes to the rescue. 

A sequel to Layne and Hoyt's Love the Baby, Share with Brother is a story about the trials children go through when learning to share their lives with a younger sibling. Layne's witty words and Hoyt's quirky watercolor illustrations combine to make a sincerely funny story many readers can relate to. The big brother protagonist does not like how his younger brother has taken away the attention he once had from his family and friends. But when his young brother stops receiving that attention due to his illness, big brother understands how he feels. He goes and shares his time with his brother. In return, his brother does share with him, but in an unexpected, cute way. A sweet, heartwarming read for ages 4 and up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Plague of Bogles (How to Catch a Bogle #2) by Catherine Jinks

Jem Barbary has left his thieving life behind since his past employer, Sarah Pickles, sold him to be bogle bait. With Sarah Pickles still at large, Jem is having a difficult time finding his place. But with Birdie leaving Alfred to live with Miss Eames, Alfred accepts Jem as his new apprentice. However, the two notice that one London neighborhood is swarming with bogles, an odd behavior for these solitary demons.

Jinks does it again by maintaining the same level of heightened suspense, wit, and pacing she started in How to Catch a Bogle. In this book, readers see Jinks’ world through Jem’s eyes. Jem has only known a life of petty crime. When that lifestyle betrays him, he has a hard time doing regular work for orphan boys his age. Luckily his bogling experience leads him back to the stern, but kind Alfred Bunce. However, Alfred tries to forgo his bogling job for a safer career, but too many missing children return him to his profession. Like Birdie in the first book, Jem starts to feel threatened his apprenticeship will be taken away by Birdie, Ned Roach, or by his own unwise actions. This fear is fostered by his past treatment from Sarah Pickles. Through Birdie, Jem learns that Alfred has a caring heart and he would never turn Jem away. Again, violence is only eluded to and not shown except when a bogle is destroyed. The final book in the trilogy is called The Last Bogler.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

After war destroys their home in Europe, a young boy and his parents find refuge in Central Asia. The boy’s small family live in a one-room house made from clay, straw, and camel dung. They share their home with a couple they do not know. Life is hard as they try to handle living in such a foreign place. At the end of a long, hunger-filled day, the boy’s father returns from the bazaar with a large world map and a very small piece of bread. The boy is angry at his father for not bringing home enough food. But after his father hangs the colorful atlas on the wall, the boy’s imagination ignites. He transports himself away from his hunger and misery to experience exotic locations all over the world.

How I Learned Geography is a simple but heart-felt story based on Shulevitz’s own life. At the age of four, Shulevitz and his family escaped war-torn Poland in 1939. As struggling refugees, his family moved to Turkestan—known as Kazakhstan today. This book is based on his years living there and the world chart his father brought home for him. In Shulevitz’s Author’s Note, he states that even though the wall map was lost long ago, his illustrations using collage, pen and ink, and watercolor help him convey his childhood memories of the places he dreamed about as he stared at the world’s colorful countries. The story’s theme seems to follow the old saying of “if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime”. With the gift of that atlas, Shulevitz feasted and thrived on his imagination to fuel his whole life. A beautiful, uplifting read for all ages.      

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Ten-year-old Birdie McAdam is in a dangerous apprenticeship working to destroy London’s bogles. These child-eating demons hide out in various places waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting juvenile victim. The bogler, Alfred Bunce, and Birdie have steady employment since it’s such a rare profession. Soon their work catches the attention of Miss Edith Eames, an educated woman who thinks there are more scientific approaches to killing bogles than using young Birdie as bait.

How to Catch a Bogle is an innovative, page-turning adventure with thoughtful character development. For Birdie, life as a bogler’s apprentice gives her purpose and direction, even though bogling is a life-threatening profession. But when Miss Eames enters Birdie’s life, everything seems to be turned upside down. Miss Eames tries to convince Alfred that Birdie should give up bogling for her safety sake. At first, Birdie feels threatened that her whole existence is being taken away. But as Birdie sees Miss Eames’ courage, intuition, and bravery in the face of perilous conditions, Birdie gives Miss Eames’ advice a second thought. Even though bogles thrive on eating children, Jinks has done a good job making this story element more suspenseful than gruesome. Parents, librarians, and teachers have no need to worry about their young readers coming across any violent or graphic scenes.