Monday, October 18, 2010

Chester's Masterpiece

Title:  Chester's Masterpiece
Author:  Melanie Watt
Reading Level:  Picture Book
Location:  JE WATT

Chester is back with his fat red marker! After stealing author Melanie Watt's art supplies and eating her computer mouse (which, by the way, tastes like chicken), Chester decides that he will write a better story than Watt ever could. In his first attempt at storytelling, Chester steals the lines from a familiar Christmas poem with a few additions of his own. Watt decides to inform Chester of his mistakes and attempts to assist him in his writing venture through post-it notes. After learning what elements make up a story, Chester makes a couple interesting attempts and gloats until his marker finally runs out of ink.

This humorous installment in the Chester series goes beyond the predecessors by having Chester write most of the narrative. A real treat the continuation of having Chester writing the inside flaps of the book cover and copyright page. His mischievous nature comes out in the narrative and also in his little drawings. What makes this series particularly interesting is the artistic style. Watt uses a combination of 3D-Computer, pencil, and watercolor that makes it a feast for the eyes. Many of the pages consist of lined paper where Chester, who is done in watercolor, writes with his red marker. The author's voice is made apparent by using post-it notes written in pencil usually scolding Chester.

Bottom Line:  All of the Chester books are just so much fun to read and this one is no exception.  This is a  great story to help teach preschool to second grade about elements of a story and still have fun doing it.  Even if you are a child at heart, you will love this book and Watt's storytelling.

Friday, October 8, 2010

10 Minutes till Bedtime

Title:10 Minutes Till Bedtime
Author: Peggy Rathmann
Reading Level: Juvenile Easy
Location: JE Rathman

This wonderful book has very few words, which makes it all the easier for it to capture your imagination. Peggy Rathmann is also the author of Caldecott Medal winner Officer Buckle and Gloria. The story begins with a father telling his son he has 10 minutes till bedtime. The oblivious man doesn't notice the parade of tourist hamsters coming to visit his house. The hamsters' antics with the boy are adorable. Young children will enjoy trying to find all the hamsters while older ones will catch the humor and enjoy spending time with the pictures.

The Bottom Line: This is one of my favorite childrens' books. It is available as a picture or board book, but it is adaptable to most ages and makes a great bedtime story. I still find new funny things each time I look at it. Highly recommended!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Kessler (once it comes in)

Lisabeth Lewis is having a tough few weeks. She refuses to speak to her best friend after they had a big fight over Lisabeth's supposed eating disorder. Her boyfriend is going to eventually leave her because she is getting so fat. Then some guy shows up at her door and drops off a package with old fashioned scales and the message "Thou art famine!" Now Lisa has a black steed to ride around the world and a new job as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Lisa loves the freedom of her new job, but will she be able to inflict the pain of hunger on others as easily as she does herself?

After reading the plot summary for Hunger, I was not very interested in reading it. I love fantasy, but this just sounded absurd. I am so glad that I took the time to read this amazing, short novel! Lisa's voice is so genuine as a teen who is intelligent and witty but suffering from an eating disorder. At times her narration had me smiling, and other moments I found myself crying for her. The secondary characters, like the boyfriend and the best friend, played small roles in the book and existed primarily to highlight Lisa's internal problems. The only other character I found extremely intriquing was Death; hopefully we will hear more from him in later books. The fantasy element is obviously quite prevalent in this novel and utterly enjoyable, but I felt that the realistic portrayal of a girl suffering from anorexia made this book memorable for me. I appluad the author for this extremely inventive mash-up of fantasy and realism and I can't wait for her next book, due out next year.

The Bottom Line: Hunger was a terrific, short read that tackles a difficult subject with an inventive fantasy plotline. Even though there will be more books about the other horsemen, this is a stand-alone novel. No cliffhangers! If you enjoy fantasy or quick reads you should definitely pick this one up. Fans of realistic fiction who don't mind a little fantasy should give this one a try as well.

The publisher provided me with an advanced reader's copy of the book for this review. Hunger has an expected release date of October 18, 2010. The library should have a copy as quickly as possible.