30 December 2009

On My Reading Radar--No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season

Just in time for Red Sox fans after a long, cold offseason! This picture book about one of the few records left standing after the steroid era is due for publication on February 4, 2010. Woo hoo! Can't wait to get my hands on it.

It is my opinion that Ted Williams has not received the sort of kiddie lit attention that other baseball greats have been awarded. Think of all the books about Babe Ruth, or Roberto Clemente, or Jackie Robinson--all worthy subjects for sure. But Ted Williams was not just a great baseball player, but a patriot as well, having interrupted his professional career not once, but twice to serve in the Armed Forces. I haven't seen too many modern athletes, other than Pat Tillman, who have forfeited their lucrative careers in favor of serving their country. I have already written an open letter to Dan Gutman, in the hopes of roping him into writing about the Splendid Splinter. Thank you to Fred Bowen for getting the Ted Williams ball rolling!

20 December 2009

Rave Review: Imogene's Last Stand

In the immortal words of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, "Mine eyes have seen the glory," and her name is Imogene Tripp.

Imogene is a little girl who loves history: reading it, quoting it, sharing it. However, no one else is as enthusiastic as she it. In fact, most of the residents of Liddleville, New Hampshire, where Imogene lives with her father, are down-right apathetic about their past. When a plan is devised to tear down the local historical society to make space for a shoe lace factory, which will put Liddleville "on the map," Imogene finds that hers is the lone voice of opposition. Her fellow Liddlevillians are bemused by her passion for history, at the perceived expense of the town's future. Armed with a limitless supply of energy, ideas, and apropos quotes, Imogene fights a one-girl battle to save the historical society. Her ultimate triumph is, like America's most glorious moments, hard-fought and well-earned.

The Founding Fathers might have laid the foundation of this great nation, but it's the dedication of one inspired and focused girl who preserves it for them--at least in Liddleville. In a literary landscape dominated by princessess, fairies, and pink, Imogene's spunk and tenacity makes for a picture book heroine who will go down in history.

19 December 2009

Storybook Soldiers

I came across this article through the excellent Library Link of the Day service (if you are interested in library issues and not already subscribed--you should be!) Storybook Soldiers is an initiative established by the British Army which allows members of the armed services serving in Afghanistan to record themselves reading a bedtime story for their children. It makes a compelling argument for the power of parental reading, not just as an education tool but an emotional lifeline, especially over the holiday period.

Wartime and Christmas have crossed paths before, perhaps most famously during World War I, when the German and Allied soldiers engaged in an impromptu Christmas truce. This event is retold in John McCutchen's Christmas in the Trenches. Oil paintings by illustrator Henri Sorenson, and a CD with a recording of the folk ballad on which the book is based add to a touching, if somber, Christmas offering. War is hell, but Christmas, one hopes, is civilizing.

14 December 2009

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fancy Nancy never gets old. And with a Christmas theme, illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser can really go to town with over the top decorations. As Nancy says, her house never looks fancy except at Christmas time. I bet there are lots of would-be Nancy's who understand that situation! The book also gets the sentiment just right when decorating the tree prompts a discussion about the sentimental value of the ornaments. Glittery and full of fun, it's another winner :)

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