What IS going to happen when the world runs out of oil, and the oceans rise 10 feet? In Paolo Bacigalupi’s vividly imagined future, central governments will fall, leaving warring traders in control of the world’s resources, island peoples displaced by water will become roving pirates on the sea, and the most efficient form of transport will once again be sailing–though future clipper ships will be high-tech, well-armed hydrofoil boats powered by high-altitude parasails that can propel them to 6o knots.
Old-world trash, like defunct oil rigs along the Louisiana coast, are future treasure troves of scarce resources: copper wire, steel pipes, and small pockets of precious leftover oil. This salvage is claimed by the highest bidder, and protected with arms and blood. The people that collect salvage are ship breakers; people so desperate for a meal that they will risk their lives crawling through toxic sludge to strip usable materials from the belly of an old rig. Heavy crews gather the steel and iron, and are made up of tough, muscled adults, but light crews need small bodies to navigate ducts and crevices where copper wire, nickel fastenings, and aluminum scraps are found, and children are best. It is on one of these light crews that we find Nailer, a young teenage boy.
Nailer trusts almost no one, including his own father, a violent hit man for a heavy crew. Competing crews will kill you as quick as look at you, and loyalty is as precious as oil. Like oil, it’s nearly extinct.
Henry is a school-aged kitten with a fresh blueberry muffin in his lunchbox. Chloe is a lovely bunny in his class. What better way for a young cat to show his affection than by sharing his treasured lunch treat?
Valentines Day is coming! How to celebrate with the preschool set? How about a beautiful picture book, like Henry in Love. Even very young kids can relate to a schoolyard crush, and books are a wonderful way to tap those strong feelings. Yet some picture books about Valentines Day are, well, a little icky, either making young crushes seem a tad tawdry, or overplaying the bullying showered on kids who show any sort of affection. Henry in Love avoids these pitfalls, with lovely, restrained illustrations and minimal text.
Short enough to read at story hour, this book will appeal to a range of ages (maybe 3-6) and would make a lovely gift, especially this time of year.
I am not making this story up.
Earlier this week I was driving a van load of kids to swim practice when the book A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett came up in conversation, and the following words came out of my son’s mouth:
“A Little Princess is a really great book. You should read it. It’s not at all like you think. It’s not really a princess book at all. I think everyone would like this book.”
My son, just turned 10, coolest of the cool, first to tell you he reads teen books and only teen books (most recent reads: The Hunger Games Trilogy and I Am Number Four), not interested in movies unless they are rated PG 13, the more violent the better (are you getting the idea here?), says this ALOUD, to a whole van full of swim teammates.
Do I need to go on? Isn’t it enough recommendation for a book that is 100 years old, about a London girls’ boarding school, that a too-cool 10-year old boy LOVED it?
Folks, it is that good.
First things first. War is ugly, but THE HORSE LIVES.
War Horse is a perfect book to introduce ideas about war to kids with an interest in military history. As war books go it is relatively gentle, and offers a unique perspective. Kids as young as 8 could certainly read this book with understanding, and I can imagine it as curriculum in a 5th or 6th grade classroom studying WWI.
War Horse is written, Black Beauty-style, from the point of view of a horse, in this case a beautiful English country horse named Joey, beloved of a teenage boy, who is sold off to the British army by the boy’s drunken father to pay down farm debts at the beginning of WWI when people still believed wars could be won with cavalry.
Joey is a dispassionate narrator. Casting no judgement, he speaks the truth of war: sometimes there is enough to eat, sometimes there isn’t. Some English are cruel, and some Germans are kind. War benefits no one, just kills innocent horses and drives good men mad. Less an anti-war rant than a very
Most biographies offer an inside look at someone we thought we already knew. Fewer provide an introduction to someone we have never met. These are a harder sell, because who has the time to read about someone we’ve never heard of?
Before reading Balloons Over Broadway I had never heard of Tony Sarg, the genius who created the giant balloon puppets for the Macy’s Parade. Melissa Sweet does a wonderful job showing the world why we should be introduced.
Tony Sarg was a puppeteer who spent his life dreaming of toys that were bigger, brighter, and more animated than anyone had imagined they could be. He started as a marionette maker, and made his way to New York City, where he took his marionettes to Broadway. Eventually he was commissioned to design animated window displays for Macy’s Department Store. These were