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November 30, 2010 > Footnotes


Happy November, everyone! Here are some titles to keep you company this fall:

For infants and toddlers:
"ABC: Baby Me!" by Susan Katz. A very gentle boardbook with sweet illustrations; each letter has something to do with the baby's day. A is for Adore me; B, Bathe me; C, Cuddle me...sure to be a favorite with parents and their young ones. Great gift idea as well! (Random House boardbook, $7.99)

For preschoolers:
"Wiggle" by Doreen Cronin. Do you know a little wiggler? Someone who seems to have energy every moment of the day? This book is for them! Funny illustrations and great silly rhymes have Dog wiggling and readers giggling as they follow him on his day. "Do you wake up with a wiggle? Do you wiggle out of bed? If you wiggle with your breakfast, it might wind up on your head!" By the end of the book, wigglers are wiggled out and Dog is falling asleep under the moon. A great choice for reading aloud at bedtime. (Simon Schuster hardback, $14.99)

For kindergarteners and 1st graders:
"The Famous Nini: A Mostly True Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star" written by Mary Nethery and illustrated by John Manders. Nini was a white stray cat who wandered into a little cafˇ in Venice one day. The owner tried to explain that there wasn't much, because she hasn't had many customers. Then one day, the great composer Verdi happened to drop by. He was very frustrated because he couldn't figure out how to finish his opera. As it happened, Nini meowed. "The perfect note!" Verdi cried, delighted at Nini's inspiration. Word soon traveled around town that there was an amazing cat who could solve problems. All sorts of folks arrive for help, including the Pope, the royals, and even the Princess of Ethiopia. Was Nini's brilliance a fluke? If so, that would have been a disaster! Loosely based on a true story from 19th century Venice, Nethery's book has a wonderful sense of humor and joy. (Houghton Mifflin hardback, $17.00)

For 3rd graders and up:
"Harmony Children's Edition: A Vision for Our Future" by Charles HRH the Prince Of Wales. With glorious photos and clear explanations, Prince Charles explains that our world is having ecological problems. He points out all sorts of wondrous things that our world has provided to science, and alludes to yet more mysteries to be uncovered. At the end he invites children to join him in his efforts to help keep our world balanced and healthy. A lovely book to share with your family. (HarperCollins hardback, $16.99)

For 3rd Grade and up:
"The Lost Children" by Carolyn Cohagan. Josephine lives a very lonely life. Her father barely speaks to her, but gives her gloves to wear every day (it's the law). School children ignore her and she has no friends. Imagine her surprise when one day she finds in her backyard a very confused boy. He can't speak, but is clearly hungry, so she invites him in for breakfast. Asked where he came from, he points at her garden shed! That can't be, she thinks, but nevertheless goes to explore it the next day. She goes towards the back, there is a blinding light, and she passes out. When she wakes up, she is in a different place altogether. She's in an orphanage, where orphans are used as factory workers in awful conditions. Josephine doesn't care where she is - she wants out! And she's determined to save the boy as well, just as soon as she can find him! Great adventure, with a surprise twist at the end. (Aladdin hardback, $16.99)

For 5th grade and up:
"The Clockwork Three" by Matthew J. Kirby. Three children with totally separate lives live in a town in the U.S. Hannah is a maid in a hotel, forced to work to support her family when her father has a stroke. Guiseppe is a busker, a street musician who at the end of each day has to turn over his earnings to his mean padrone. Frederick is an orphan who has been apprenticed to a clockmaker. One day, a chain of seemingly unrelated events will bring these three together. Hannah will be asked to work for a wealthy woman, just as her father's doctor lets her know that only a very expensive medicine will help her father. Guiseppe finds a beautiful violin, much better than his own, and learns he can make much more money with it. He desperately wishes to return to his native Italy, to his family. Could this be his chance? But how to hide his new success from his padrone? And Frederick, who has been working on a secret project, thinks he may have at last found an answer. Fate will bring them together, and together they will have to face their problems. Failure would mean disaster, jail, or much, much worse! (Scholastic hardback, $16.99)

For 5th grade and up:
"The Last Newspaper Boy in America" by Sue Corbett. Wil David has been waiting for his twelfth birthday forever! It's a tradition in his family that whoever turns 12 gets the responsibility of delivering his small town's newspapers every morning. This may not sound exciting, but it is a job, and it's a chance to earn money towards the new computer Wil's been wanting. Besides, people in Steele are dependent on the paper for job listings and the news (the cable feed just isn't that reliable). Just as he's about to take the job, Wil is called and told that his newspaper has decided to end deliveries to Steele, Pennsylvania. Meantime, Wil's father is in a fight to save the town before everyone deserts it, leaving a ghost town where it used to be. At first Wil is a bit lost - how do you take on a corporation? With his space cadet brother, a neighbor girl who won't seem to get the hint to go home, and some very loyal customers, Wil is not only going to fight for his job, but for his very home. An adventure and a comedy all rolled up in one. (Puffin paperback, $6.99)

For Junior High and up:
"Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits" by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, and "Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits" by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. Robin McKinley has written wonderful books, such as "Blue Sword," "Hero and the Crown," and "Sunshine," while Peter Dickinson has written "Flight of Dragons" and "The Ropemaker." Together this great writing duo presents two volumes of short stories, each of which would have made a terrific book. In "Water" you'll meet mer-people, sea dragons, and a Watcher charged with keeping water in its place (preferably not flooding the land!). In "Fire" there's a hellhound (not at all what you'd expect), a phoenix with his caretaker, a dragon who cannot complete her flight, and salamanders (oh, be very careful around the salamanders). With rich characters and fantastic plots, you might find yourself as I did, unable to stop reading! "Water" is available in paperback (Firebird paperback, $8.99), "Fire" in hardback (Putnam hardback, $18.99, although there are bargain prices for this one available).

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