Review: Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen & Kevin Hawkes

Library Lion Library Lion
by Michelle Kundsen & Kevin Hawkes

ISBN-13: 9-780763-637842
Publication: July 2006 from Candlewick Press
Source: bought
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

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One of my favourite picture book discoveries this past year is Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. Beautifully illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, Library Lion is the perfect read aloud.

The story revolves around a lion who frequents a library. He helps the head librarian Miss Merriweather around the library and stays for story hour with the children. After his first visit when he roared very loudly at the end of story hour because he wanted to hear another, the lion was informed of the rules and allowed to stay as long as he didn’t break them (no running, no roaring or loud noises) – and he never does. Until there’s an accident and he needs to get help. The story lends itself wonderfully to being read aloud to a group of children, especially if you’re like me and like to be animated when reading out loud. From Miss Merriweather’s soft librarian voice to the lion’s hearty roar I love bringing this book to life (and kids always like helping out with the roaring, too).

5 heart

Library Lion is an exquisitely told story about rules, rule breaking, friendship and even jealousy. Students and children will easily connect with the rules of the library and understand that the lion has to abide by those rules. But they also immediately understand why he breaks the no roaring rule and why it’s maybe not a bad thing. Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes have created a brilliant story – one that I will keep around for years to come and will happily introduce to every class.

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I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato
by Lauren Child

ISBN-13: 9-780763-621803
Publication: September 2003 from Candlewick Press

Lola is a fussy eater. A very fussy eater. She won’t eat her carrots (until her brother Charlie reveals that they’re orange twiglets from Jupiter). She won’t eat her mashed potatoes (until Charlie explains that they’re cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji). There are many things Lola won’t eat, including – and especially – tomatoes. Or will she? Two endearing siblings star in a witty story about the triumph of imagination over proclivity.

Teachable Moment

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child belongs to the Seeking Meaning During Reading section of the Touchstone books. This section contains books that can be used to engage students in making connections. This helps in encouraging children to really think about what it is they are reading, by asking questions, re-reading, and talking about specific sections. All of this will aid in the student’s comprehension of the text.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is a very cute book, about an older sister who gets her younger picky-eater sister to eat various foods by telling her they are things like cloud fluff, mermaid food and twiglets from Jupiter. It is cute at the end of the story how the younger sister, Lola, turns the tables on her older sister, Charlie, by requesting to eat a tomato and calling it a moonsquirter – Charlie didn’t think they were actually tomatoes, did she? The story is good for Seeking Meaning due to all of the changes to the food made throughout the book. Students should be encouraged to stop and discuss the changes made – how are peas like green drops from Greenland? Have students clarify that the carrots are still carrots, even though Charlie gives them a different name. Question why Lola agrees to eat the food – doesn’t she realize the mashed potatoes are still potatoes, not cloud fluff? Talk about imagination and belief with the students in order to understand why Charlie and Lola give the food different names.

Lesson/Activity
Grade: two
Time: 1 hour

Materials:
Worksheet
Chart Paper

Lesson:
Read the story out loud to students in a group setting. As I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is part of the Seeking Meaning section, use frequent stops to question the students about what they are hearing. Double check that students understand that the food Lola and Charlie are eating has not actually changed – the sisters are using their imaginations to make the food more interesting to eat.
Why did Charlie tell Lola the food is different?
Are there any foods you don’t like to eat?
How does Lola’s imagination let her eat the food after Charlie changes the name?

Using chart paper, ask each student for one food that they will never eat. After the list is complete, add your own food to it. Using your own as an example, ask the students to brainstorm what they could imagine that food to be that would make it interesting and good to eat.

After the brainstorming session is complete, instruct students that they are to do the same thing with the food they listed previously on the chart paper. After explaining the instructions, hand out a worksheet. Allow them to consult with the students sitting around them for brainstorming ideas, but make sure they are doing their own work. Students will draw a picture of what their food looks like, and then write a paragraph explaining what it ‘really’ is.

Please e-mail me if you would like the worksheet to this, or any, of the lessons.

Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

The Infects
by Sean Beaudoin

ISBN-13: 9-780763-659479
Publication: September 2012 from Candlewick
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

Zombrule #4: Survival is for the ruthless. Everyone else is a hippie poet.

Stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek,” it doesn’t seem that things could get worse for seventeen-year-old Nick “Nero” Sole. But they do. Overnight, Nero’s counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants – like a monster movie comes to life. And as in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, colossal carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. These kids have seen the movies; they know the rules. Unfortunately, knowing the rules isn’t going to be enough.

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin is one of the more interesting takes on the zombie apocalypse that I’ve read lately. It definitely has the most unique beginnings to the outbreak that I’ve read yet!

Nick is your fairly normal teen – until sent to a camp for juvenile delinquents he worked at a chicken processing plant and looked after his eccentric father and Autistic sister. Even the Inward Trek starts out as a normal event in his life…until his fellow delinquents begin eating the others. Yupp, that puts a damper on everything. Nick is hard to get a grasp on, mostly because he has this voice in his head that sounds like the rock and you’re never quite sure if it’s Nick’s own ideas or the voice in his head that leads him to do everything he does throughout the course of the book. Most of the other characters are reminiscent of the “red shirts” of Star Trek fame, except for a few key plays – Swann, Petal and Estrada. Estrada because he lives, Petal because Nick’s is fairly in love with her, and Swann because she basically is the catalyst for the action that happens.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing in the book, but it began to grow on me after a while and was not a huge detractor to the story. There are a few scenes that had me fairly confused, though by the end they seem to make a bit more sense once everything that’s been going on has been explained (some scenes were still confusing, though, like a scene with Nick at a bar in this house they found to take shelter in. I still don’t know what that was about). I did find it a little weird that the outbreak managed to stay contained and none of the surrounding towns seemed to notice what had gone on. But, the zombies are sufficiently gruesome, the action scenes with the teens being chased by zombies, zombies eating people and the end with the army are amazingly detailed and bloody, and the concept is really intriguing. I liked the details near the end that had Nick and the other survivors, and some non-survivors, questioning everything about the outbreak, and if they were really zombies or something else. The whole conspiracy/experiment that is exposed is awesome.

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin is not just an intense zombie outbreak novel. With quite a bit of humour and a little bit of crazy, the story manages to be entertaining from beginning to end. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing, and at times I found the story confusing, I really enjoyed the zombies, their cause and Nick’s own special brand of loopy. Also, the book manages to answers the question of why there’s a chicken on the cover, and I totally called it way in the beginning. I love when that happens.

ARC received from LibraryThing and Candlewick in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep
by Anna Sheehan

ISBN-13: 9-780575-104730
Published: August 9, 2011 by Candlewick Press
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for 62 years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically-induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose – hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire – is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes – or be left without any future at all.

Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite fairy tales, so when I heard about this modern and futureistic retelling I was hooked. Rose is woken from a 62 year sleep to find everyone she knows and loves to be gone, and the world around her completely changed. In addition to trying to fit in to a new school, foster family and time, Rose finds herself dealing with a mysterious assassin and running for her life.

Rose is a great character. She’s at once a typical teenager and yet an old soul, resigned to the fact that she was sent away to sleep in stasis, never woken, and forgotten about though in plain view to anyone who cared to look hard enough. Rose is tough, brave, scared and damaged all at once. She feels so alone, but doesn’t know how to fit in. Bren, the boy who found and woke her, is friendly and does his best to make her feel accepted and comfortable. Her relationships with Bren and the students in his group at school are well done and believable.

Through flashbacks into Rose’s life, we find out why she was in stasis in the first place. This book is so much more than just a sci-fi-ish fairy tale; the story behind Rose and her family is so much more intense, darker and sadder than I was ever expecting. Her parents really did a number on her when she was young, and were not fit parents at all. As the people in her new life begin to make her face what happened when she was younger, Rose really begins to come into her own. I think this aspect of the story was my favourite and what really kept me interested, especially since the mysterious assassin ties into it.

The pacing of the action and the discovering of the mysterious assassin is perfect. I was kept hooked into the story and wanting to know how everything turns out for Rose, and if she ever finds out what happened to her childhood love Xavier. I wasn’t expecting some of the revelations in the end, and I was happy, sad and surprised all at once. I highly recommend this one, especially if you like fairy tale re-tellings and/or sci-fi.

Copy provided by Candlewick Press and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Eternal
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
ISBN-13: 9-780763-647735
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥

Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-schoo theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight. Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary – fighting in human guise as the princess’s personal assistant – has his work cut out for him with the Master’s Death Day gala fast approaching. Can Zachary save his girl’s soul and redeem himself before all hell arrives, quite literally, on their doorstep?

 

I was quite impressed with Eternal. It was a dark, intriguing atory about falling from grace and redemption. I finished the book and immediately wished for more.

Eternal alternates between two POVs – Zachary and Miranda. Even though each chapter is titled with the name of the character who is currently ‘speaking’, so you don’t get mixed up, I wouldn’t have needed it. I found it easy to distinguish between Miranda’s and Zachary’s voices. Each of them had their own distinct personality and style of thought, and I really enjoyed getting to see events from both their perspectives.

I loved Cynthia Leitich Smith’s style of writing. It dragged me in and made me want to keep reading. She was able to give voice to her characters and her descriptions were precise and informative, while managing to convey numerous emotions at the same time. She managed to surprise me at the end of the book, with a revelation I didn’t see coming (but should have).

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do want to mention that I felt somethign Miranda does at the end of the book seemed to go too smoothly, too easily. the action bounced around a bit, so I may have missed some indication of time or what have you, but still. Also, I feel I should warn that this book has a very ambiguous happy ending. I percieved it as happy yet still sad. It’s kind of one of those endings where you’re glad everything turned out well, but sad because it’s not the perfect ending you wished for the characters. It was perfect for this book, though.