Posts Tagged ‘Charlesbridge Publishing’

Write a Review Wedneday: Me and Rolly Maloo

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Bunny’s Lessons. This week we read Charlesbridge Publishing‘s Me and Rolly Maloo (age 8-12), written by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Elizabeth Buttler. I have to thank Donna at Charlesbridge Publishing for my review copy.

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Jenna is a star at math which makes her not so popular at school. So when Rolly Maloo, the most popular girl in school, invites Jenna over to her house, she is beyond thrilled. This could put Jenna on the popular list, hanging with the cool kids. But when Rolly asks Jenna to help her cheat on a math test, Jenna doesn’t know what to do. She knows cheating is wrong but is it so bad helping a friend in need?

We’ve all been here, well some of us anyway, on the outside of the group, wanting anything to be included. With kids of my own I see these issues rearing their ugly head again, especially with my 8-year old daughter. Everyone wants to feel included. Sometimes that desire can take over cloud your judgement, causing you to make bad decisions and miss the good things you already have.

Me and Rolly Maloo puts you in the shoes of Jenna, wanting to fit in and struggling with right versus wrong and misconceptions of friendship. I like that Jenna’s character, though she knows cheating is wrong, really struggles with the idea. Jenna doesn’t just take the moral high ground or stoop to cheating without giving it much thought. The way the story is written we don’t really know which path Jenna would follow since the actual cheat is interrupted.

Although you might perceive Rolly Maloo to be the bad guy (or girl) in this story, her characterization depicts her as having her own internal struggles over the whole cheating issue. This just reinforces that being popular doesn’t mean life is easy either; there are pressures and stresses and influences that Rolly falls pray to also.

The unique style of Me and Rolly Maloo makes it a great read not only because of the subject matter and issues touched upon, but also in the illustrations used. Me and Rolly Maloo is a chapter book with elements of a graphic novel. This graphic novel aspect gives you a peek at some of the more subtle feelings that not only Jenna and Rolly are encountering but also their friends and mothers (there is no father presence in this story. Actually, there is only one real male figure in the story, one of the classmates). This helps give some background without having to add another whole layer to the story. Plus it is a nice way to break-up the copy for those reluctant readers.

My 8 year old daughter hasn’t had a chance to read Me and Rolly Maloo yet but I think the storyline and the illustrative treatment will be something she will enjoy. To add a copy of Me and Rolly Maloo to your personal library, visit your local bookstore or Charlesbridge Publishing. For other great book ideas for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are your kids reading?

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Write a Review Wednesday: The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Lulu and the Brontosaurus. This week we’re reading CharlesbridgeThe Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (age 6-9), by C.M. Millen and illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski. I have to thank Donna at Charlesbridge for my review copy.

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Brother Theophane lives in a tall stone building in the mountains of Mourne with other holy men. They sit at their simple brown desks, quietly transcribing wise words on simple brown parchment using simple brown ink. But Brother Theophane isn’t like all the other monks. His distraction with the beauty of the world outside has him pulled from scribing duty to ink making. While gathering more bark for the monk’s brown ink, Brother Theophane discovers wild blackberries and the purple hue they leave on his fingers. Excited by this colourful discovery, Brother Theophane sets about the grounds looking for other plants: bright violet hues of billberries, orange from weld blooms, a strong shade of yellow from crocus. Soon the other monks aren’t sitting at their simple brown desks, quietly transcribing wise words on simple brown parchment using simple brown ink. Now their parchment is covered with heavenly hues, filling their bright books with colourful phrases.

I’ve always been fascinated by the old books and their ornate and colourful illustrations produced by these monks from the middle ages. This is a wonderful story about how colours were added to these books. According to the author’s note at the back of the book, the poem The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane is based on originally scribbles by medieval monks. Aside from the historical aspect of the story, the child-like character of Brother Theophane and his natural curiosity reminds me very much of kids in general. It’s a great illustration to kids that just because something has been done one way for many years, doesn’t mean it can never change. My two girls loved Brother Theophane’s character. My 3-year old loved his ability to talk to the birds and roll around in the grass. My 8-year old loved the story of the colours. I think her mind was conjuring up ways to try to get colour out of elements in our backyard.

The illustrations are more like etchings and add to the story, mimicking, in a way, the types of illustrations the Brothers were working on. The text was surrounded on each page by a detailed border. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane is both a delight to read and look at.  The book isn’t a Christmas story, however,  the illustrations gave it a muted stained glass feel, which to me always have a Christmas feel. I wouldn’t classify The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane as a religious story either. Yes it talks about monks and the work they did, but if you appreciate books now, the story about the introduction of colour is one everyone can enjoy.

You can add a copy of The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or by visiting Charlesbridge. For other great book ideas for kids, checkout the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Boo Cow

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It. This week we looked at Charlesbridge‘s Boo Cow (age 4-7), written by Patricia Baehr and illustrated by Margot Apple. I have to thank Donna at Charlesbridge Publishing for my review copy.

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Mr. and Mrs. Noodleman packed in their city life to open a chicken farm in the country. But when their chickens don’t produce any eggs after days of trying, the Noodlemans discover the legend of Boo Cow from a neighbouring farmer.

Could it be true? Could the ghost of a cow be frightening the chickens into not laying eggs? The Noodlemans decide to sleep out in the barn, to comfort the chickens and confront Boo Cow is she arrives and are greeted with a surprise.

Boo Cow is a wonderful story that all 3 of my kids enjoyed. Although the story does have a ghost in it, Boo Cow is not the frightening ghost type. That’s not to say there weren’t tense moments when we read the story but the delightful twist in the ending banished any fear the kids may have had.

The illustrations add to the warm, tender tale and even soften the appearance of Boo Cow, adding to her gentle nature.

I enjoyed the story of Boo Cow on many levels. I love the determination of the Noodlemans to give up what they knew to try something different and perhaps scary. I love that even when things weren’t going as planned they stuck it out and worked together to make things happen, even going as far as having some chickens sleep in the house with them. And of course the story of Boo Cow and her ‘mother hen’ involvement with the chickens themselves is wonderful.

You can add a copy of Boo Cow to your own personal library by visiting your local bookseller or Charlesbrige. For other great book recommendations for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective. The Big Swat

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Silver Dolphin Books’ Snappy Sounds Space. This week, with my son’s T-ball wrapping up, I thought it was fitting to review Charlesbridge’s Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat (age 5-8), written and illustrated by David Biedrzycki. I have to thank Donna at Charlesbridge Publishing for my review copy.

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Ace Lacewing returns in his third book, The Big Swat, as part of the Ace Lacewing detective series. Like many athletes, Bugsy Goldwing, the Motham City Stinkbug’s star player, is superstitious and feels his streak of good luck is due to his lucky bat. But when this bat goes missing, Madame Damselfy calls in Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective to help solve the case.

Through language, characters and story development, the Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective series, pays homage to those classic detective stories parents may remember. Even if kids don’t recognize this, they will love solving the mystery with Ace. Kids will laugh out loud at the puns and suspects, like Hoppi Leafhopper, Mickey Mantis and Fly Cobb.

My 5-year-old son loved the baseball theme and the mystery in Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat. Even without catching or understanding some of the baseball puns he still enjoyed the characters and figuring who the thief was. He’s now interested in reading the other books in the series: Ace Lacewing Bug Detective and Ace Lacewing: Bad Bugs are my Business.

You can add Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Charlesbridge Publishing. If you’re looking for other great book for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday post.