Can a book about the dictionary be funny? Who is the Lone Granger? And what is a Frindle? The answer to the first question is surprisingly… Yes! The story Frindle features the dictionary and the idea of word origins yet manages to be very funny indeed. But don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself and learn the answers to the remaining questions by reading this classic school story by popular children’s author Andrew Clements. What begins as a test of wills between Nick - a well know prankster and his new 5th grade teacher, soon becomes a movement that grows beyond Nick’s class, his school and even beyond his town.
Six years before Harry Potter, there was another student at another magical school learning the art of wizardry. Meet Harry… er, Henry… known at his school as Thornmallow (prickly on the outside, squishy within.) Just like Harry, Henry will have to face an evil sorcerer to save his school and his new friends before the tale is told. Will he be able to save the day when his whole life he’s failed at almost everything? Read Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen to find out!
Three suspicious cats will question your authority to read this delightful new picture book by author Jef Czekaj. As it is clearly explained in Cat Secrets, this book is strictly for cat eyes only!
In order to be allowed access, you will need to pass several cat tests that will have you meowing, purring, stretching, and napping to prove your worth. Along the way, extra observant readers may notice another silent character on the pages who is also trying to get his hands... er, paws on this top secret book.
It’s hard not to like someone who is quite clear about all of the best things in her life… especially when those things are just about everything! This is the story of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, an exuberant Chinese American girl by author Lenore Look.
The descriptions of Ruby’s life feature her friends, her teachers at school, and her extended family of Dad, Mom, baby brother Oscar, Grandpa or “GungGung”, Grandma or “PohPoh”, and cousin Flying Duck. Some of the adventures Ruby goes through include: Staging magic shows in the backyard for all the kids in the neighborhood, Making new friends at Chinese school, and even learning how to drive! A bonus at the end of the text is ‘Ruby’s Fantastic Glossary & Pronunciation Guide’ – which gives kid friendly descriptions and pronunciations to the Chinese words and cultural items described in the book.
Ultimately you will get a sense of Chinese culture (as seen through the eyes of an almost 8 year old Chinese American girl), family and community. All of it combines to make Ruby a secure, confident, adventurous girl who appreciates the best of everything.
If you have never heard about the catalog cats that come in the mail and help you tend to your garden, then you may enjoy The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron. The catalog cats are just one of several humorous stories told by Julian, a young African American boy , about the events in his life… with just a little bit of embellishment. In the six short stories you will also meet Julian’s little brother Huey, his parents, and his new maybe best friend Gloria. If you like the cast of characters you meet, you can visit them all again in several other titles: Julian, Dream Doctor, Julian, Secret Agent, Julian’s Glorious Summer, More Stories Julian Tells, The Stories Huey Tells, More Stories Huey Tells, and Gloria’s Way.
With the holidays just behind us and an new year just begun, I’ve been reflecting on the ways this season can be so wonderful for some and so difficult for others. At a time when many try to focus on family, love and goodwill to man – the absence of the same can be especially painful. And the very nature of “joy” which should be such a simple thing can be elusive.
In response to these thoughts I’ve been reminded of a book recommended some years ago by someone very special to me. A man with a philosopher’s mind and a special talent for experiencing happiness every day – in both good and bad times.
The book is A Guide to The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.
And yes, as the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the teachings of the ancient stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelias and Epictetus and how the stoic lifestyle can lead to a good – perhaps even great – life. Of course today when you think of someone being stoic, you might imagine a humorless, dour person without emotion, but the real stoics of the past were far from this. In fact, what the stoics actually believed and tried to practice in their daily lives included ideas such as – there is nothing wrong with enjoying the good things in life (including luxuries) so long as we are able to give them up without regret if our circumstances should change – and how to achieve this “goal” if you will, through practical techniques such as negative visualization, which is to practice visualizing how your current life could be worse. This also helps us to learn to appreciate what we already have today. There are many other ideas and practical techniques put forth by this insightful book that could change the way you live your life or at least some of your attitudes about control, duty, social relations, grief, anger, and more.