Maeve Visser Knoth: 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

A few new books, some for children and some for adults

Here is some advice I sent to shoppers at our school's book fair last week...

So.. look at COWBOY AND OCTOPUS by John Scieszka. This is a hilarious picture book (perfect for emerging readers too) about an unusual pair of friends. Who knew that a cowboy and octopus could get along so well? We all know that there are bumps along the road to friendship. Jon Scieszka does a great job reflecting the very universal truths about friendship into this understated package.

Anne Fine's new book JAMIE AND ANGUS TOGETHER is another gem. This is a collection of stories perfect for both reading aloud to kinders and for reading alone by k-3rd graders about a young boy and his dear companion, a stuffed Highland Cow.

Older readers (not old like me, but old like a 4th grader) will pore over THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. This is part novel, part flip book, part "movie-squashed-between-two-covers". This book is not easy to describe so you will have to hold it and get involved in the illustrations yourself.

My children have just devoured THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY over this last week. This novel is an adventure, a mystery and a fantasy about four gifted children who must infiltrate a strange boarding school and find a way to save the world.

I read several interesting non-fiction books for adults this year and hope you'll take a look at STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS by Gilbert. This is an unusual look, by a Harvard University psychologist, at what we think makes us happy, and what the research shows really makes people happy. It is a funny, very well-written book with a lot to say. I also enjoyed THE ECONOMIC NATURALIST, a book that explores the mysteries of the universe (why are milk cartons square but juice bottles round? Why are buttons on men's shorts on the opposite side from buttons on women's shirts?) through the lense of basic economics. I had fun reading it and it certainly gave me some new things to think about.