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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: December 19

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. It's a bit of a light installment this week, but does include the usual array of book lists. I also have a few links on the Cybils awards, diversity, growing bookworms, gift ideas, and the Kidlitosphere. Thanks for reading! I'll be taking next weekend off for Christmas, but expect to be back with a new link roundup soon afterwards.

Book Lists

Top 20 Books of 2014: 20-16 according to @100scopenotes + @MrSchuReads #kidlit

Top 20 Books of 2014: 15-11 from @100scopenotes + @MrSchuReads #kidlit

Top 20 Books of 2014: 10-6 from @100scopenotes + @MrSchuReads #kidlit

Sure to be a great resource! Announcing @NYPL 2014 100 Books for Reading Sharing List! — @fuseeight

Sharks ahoy: fun with sharks for 1st & 2nd graders -- giving books & toys for lasting fun (ages 5-8) @MaryAnnScheuer

12 Book Lists from 2014 that caught the eye of @semicolonblog (various age ranges/genres)

SLJ’s Top 10 #GraphicNovels 2014 | @sljournal  #kidlit

SLJ’s Top 10 Latino Books of 2014 @sljournal #kidlit #YAlit

Always a good read: Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Final Prediction Edition from @fuseeight #kidlit

List of recent Chanukah-themed picture books, selected by Elissa Gershowitz @HornBook #kidlit

Top 10 Chapter Book Lists for Kids from @momandkiddo (as selected by her readers) #kidlit

The Ultimate Construction Vehicle #BookList from @growingbbb #kidlit

10 Books for 10 year old girls selected by @rosemondcates  #kidlit

More Best Book Lists in #kidlit collected by @tashrow at Waking Brain Cells


Today's Featured #Cybils Review: Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by @Jon_Scieszka reviewed by @MsYingling

Today's Featured #Cybils Review is Forest Has a Song by @amylvpoemfarm reviewed at TeacherDance #poetry

This month's #Cybils Featured Blogger is Elizabeth O. @Dulemba, nominated by @valvearshecter #kidlit


Guest post by @catagator for @dos_twinjas 2nd Annual #Diversity Month Day 13: fatness + diversity in #YALit

25 #Diversity Authors & Illustrators Highlighted! @PragmaticMom #kidlit #yalit

The Answer to Implicit Racism Might Be in Children's Literature @PacificStand via @CynLeitichSmith #Diversity

Gift Ideas

Great Educational Toys for Children: Ideas & Guidelines from @TrevorHCairney

Growing Bookworms

On giving kids gift of reading + whether to give "better" vs. wanted books @brucefeiler @nytimes via @PWKidsBookshelf

Early #Literacy in Everyday Places: The Movie Theater by @mrskatiefitz


For 12 Blogs of 2014 series, @TLT16 features A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy from @LizB #YALit

On Reading

Trends in book reviews that annoy @kimberlymarief at Stacked #YALit

JK Rowling opens further windows on Harry Potter’s world for Advent | @GuardianBooks @PWKidsBookshelf

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.



Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? Eve Bunting & Sergio Ruzzier

Book: Have You Seen My New Blue Socks?
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-7

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is a highly read-aloudable picture book by Eve Bunting and Sergio Ruzzier. It's the story of a little green duck who, as the title would suggest, is unable to find a new pair of blue socks. He knows that he put them somewhere nearby, but can't remember where. He asks various friends for help, but no one knows. Until a helpful peacock finally spots a glimpse of a blue sock. 

The beauty of this book is that way that Bunting channels Dr. Seuss in her rhyming text, while still giving Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? a fresh, original feel. Like this:

"Peacocks? Have you seen my socks?
I did not put them in my box.
I asked my good friend Mr. Fox.
I asked my good friend Mr. Ox.
Peacocks? Have you seen my socks?
They are such a pretty blue!
I just got them. They are new."

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is a pure joy to read aloud, pretty much impossible to stop once one has started. And really, who can't relate to the frustrating of losing a beloved item, especially a beloved item that is new?

[My four year old daughter, on her first reading of the book, guessed where the socks were on the second page. Then later she was excited to point out her first glimpse of the socks (exactly where she had thought that they would be). This in no way diminished her enjoyment of the book - I think it enhanced it by making her feel clever and/or observant.] 

Ruzzier's pen and ink and watercolor illustrations convey clearly the disgruntlement of the little duck, and the concern on the part of his friends. The concerned blue peacocks, tails quiet, are particularly appealing. The color scheme is relatively muted. Ruzzier includes absurd details here and there, like the fact that Mr. Ox is painting a watercolor of a twisted tree, sitting on a little footstool. 

Between the rhyming text and the gentle illustrations, not to mention the universal theme, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is a perfect read-aloud for preschoolers. It would make a nice, soothing bedtime book, at least on subsequent reads, once the suspense of the location of the socks has been satisfied. Highly recommended (and long overdue for this review)!

Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Growing Bookworms Newsletter: December 17

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have seven book reviews (mostly picture books, plus a couple of early middle grade novels), a post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, and two posts with literacy and reading links that I shared on Twitter recently. I also have an infographic from Scholastic sharing survey results on what kids enjoy reading, and a post about my blog's 9 year anniversary (today!). 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I completed two middle grade and three adult titles. I read/listened to:

  • Lisa Graff: Absolutely Almost. Philomel Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed December 9, 2014, library copy. This book is wonderful! I love that it's about a boy who is not smart. Not disabled, not "special", just a kid who has to struggle academically. So refreshing!
  • Holly Goldberg Sloan: Counting by 7's. Dial Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed December 16, 2014, personal copy. This book is in many ways the opposite of Absolutely Almost, about a girl who is gifted. She has quite a unique, quirky viewpoint. 
  • Rhys Bowen: Her Royal Spyness: Naughty in Nice. Berkley Press. Adult Mystery. Completed December 5, 2014, on MP3. This series is still fun, kind of a dessert/guilty pleasure of a series. 
  • Sophia Dembling: The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World. Perigee Trade. Adult Nonfiction. Completed December 8, 2014, on Kindle. I enjoyed this book very much, and read it compulsively, but I did feel that it read more like a series of essays than like a book with an overall structure. 
  • Tana French: Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3). Viking. Adult Mystery. Completed December 13, 2014, on MP3. This was one of those books that had me spending extra time exercising, because I was so immersed in the book's world. 

I'm currently reading Noggin by John Corey Whaley and listening to Broken Harbor, the next Tana French book from the Dublin Murder Squad series. The books that we're been reading to my daughter can be found here

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook



9 Years of Blogging at Jen Robinson's Book Page

JRBPlogo-smallDifficult as it is to believe, today marks my 9 year anniversary of blogging at Jen Robinson's Book Page. Over the past nine years I have shared approximately 2950 posts, including 1043 reviews. Which sounds like a lot, but it works out to about 6.3 posts/week, of which 2.2 were reviews. The rest of the posts have been some mix of literacy links and news releases, milestones regarding my daughter's pathway to literacy, and general tips for growing bookworms. [I've also shared some 15,500 tweets in the 5.5 years that I've been on Twitter, which is rather frightening.]   

Cybils-Logo-2014-Web-Lg-300x193 (1)Clearly, my blog has been a significant part of my life. Throughout these 9 years I've become involved with the Cybils Awards and Kidlitosphere Central. I've attended all but one of the Kidlitosphere Conferences, and organized the most recent one. I've met various authors and illustrators and blogging librarians, parents, teachers, and more. And that's the part that really matters, of course. My blog has enabled me to become part of a community. A community of wonderful people who value children's and young adult books, and who share my conviction that it is essential to get these books into the hands of young readers. 

Anniversaries can make bloggers introspective (see Jennie's recent post at Biblio File on her 10 year blog birthday). I've been feeling a bit of burnout of late, particularly in regards to writing book reviews. I've been asking myself questions about who I'm blogging for, and how much time I should be putting into it. 

But then I thought of a message that I received recently from a friend who lives on the East Coast. She wanted to let me know that her son had been placed in an advanced reading class at school, and that she felt like I had played a part in that success. This message made my day. Not that I can take much of the credit -- that goes to the parents who have been reading to him, taking him to the library, and so on. But I do feel like I played a tiny part, by buying this child books from the time that he was born, and by talking, talking, talking, whenever anyone would listen, about how important I think it is for kids to grow up with positive associations for books. 

In the bigger picture, that's why I'm here, still blogging after 9 years. For whatever reason -- some combination of my upbringing and my introvert nature and the cumulative sum of all the books that I've read over my lifetime -- books are very, very important to me. More than that, it's fundamentally important to me that as many children as possible grow with at least the chance to fall in love with books. Blogging is a way that I can support that goal, at least indirectly.  

In the coming year, I may look for ways that I can support my "growing bookworms" goal with fewer book reviews, and more tips and discussions about raising readers. But whatever changes in the mix of content may occur, I think it's safe to say that a year from now you'll find me here, talking about the love of children's books, for my 10th blogging anniversary. Thanks for reading!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook



Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Called Shirley: Jennifer Allison

Book: Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Called Shirley
Author: Jennifer Allison
Illustrator: Michael Moran
Pages: 202
Age Range: 7-9

I enjoyed Jennifer Allison's first book about Iggy Loomis, and was happy to accept a copy of the second book in this entertaining illustrated chapter book series. This review will contain spoilers for the first book. 

The Iggy Loomis books are narrated by an elementary school age-boy named Daniel Loomis. At the start of this second book, Daniel has a best friend named Alistair who is an alien in disguise. An incident in the first book led to Daniel's preschool-age brother Iggy developing super bug powers. When happy or stressed or just tickled the right way, Iggy does things like sprout wings or extra legs. Daniel has managed to keep this situation a secret from their parents, but Iggy's twin, Dottie, is happily in the loop. The kids are mostly left to their own devices, but are occasionally beamed up to an alien spaceship for help and/or discipline. 

As Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Called Shirley begins, Alistair has adopted a fairly disgusting pet, the titular hagfish named Shirley. Hagfish are slime-producing eels that normally live in the ocean. Alistair is hiding one from his parents, who don't believe that Blaronites should have pets. Due to a misconception on Iggy's part about what happens to things that are flushed down the toilet, Shirley is, alas, lost. What follows is a mix of realistic "loss of a pet" response and, well, madcap adventures involving an alien and a hybrid bug-boy.

There are more than sufficient references to slime and "poo-poo" to please seven year old readers. Parents should be forewarned, however, that there is an attempt to use a fishing pole to retrieve Shirley from the toilet. Here is Iggy's response:

"Iggy didn't care; he was jittery with excitement. "Dis so awesome, Dano!" Iggy grabbed my arm. "WE FISHING IN DA TOILET!"

I suddenly realized that "fishing in the toilet" was probably the worst example we could set for Iggy, who already seems to think of toilets as some kind of playground. "Don't ever this this at home, Iggy," I warned.

"Okay, Iggy said, "I only going potty fishing a COUPLE WHILES." (Page 51)

The above excerpt highlights my personal favorite thing about the Iggy Loomis books: Iggy's preschool boy voice. Every time Iggy says something like "a couple whiles" I actually hear the voice of a young friend of my daughter's (even though said boy has moved past Iggy in his language development). Iggy's voice, and Dottie's as well, though she's a more minor character, is just dead on. Pitch perfect and hilariously funny. Iggy also has a dead caterpillar in a jar, but tells everyone that it is "napping." 

Iggy would be perfect even if he didn't grow "insect parts, like wings, antennae, stingers, and even little bug fangs or claws." The insect parts, of course, add immense kid-appeal, particularly when Iggy is able to use his special skills to save the day. 

Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Named Shirley is chock-full of black and white sketches of Iggy transforming, together with cartoon-like pictures of the other characters acting up and acting out. These illustrations augment (but don't replace) the text, helping to keep the book accessible to relatively new readers. There are 33 short chapters across the book's 200 pages, and plenty of dialog, complete with upper case and italics throughout for emphasis. 

Bottom line: Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Named Shirley is absurdly over-the-top, kid-friendly fun that will, I think, appeal especially to kids who have pesky but lovable preschool-age siblings. For what it's worth, my four-year-old was intrigued by the cover of this book (showing Iggy, Shirley, and the toilet), and asked me to start reading it to her. But when there were no color illustrations inside, she decided to wait until she is five or so. But I think if you had a seven-year-old new reader, one with a tolerance for madcap science fiction, Iggy Loomis, A Hagfish Named Shirley would be the perfect gift. Best to read the books in order, though, so look for Iggy Loomis, Superkid in Training first. This series would be a great pick for an elementary school library, too. Recommended!

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (@PenguinKids) 
Publication Date: October 9, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the author

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).