Archive for category The Reading Room

We are big fans of the McSweeney's literary journal http://www.mcsweeneys.net and their 826 organization, which teaches kids expository writing through free workshops, field trips, and after school tutoring at their storefront locations around the United States, so we were thrilled when they published this super cool book, The Clock Without a Face. And, trust us, what you are about to read below is entirely true and entirely awesome. You can even follow the saga on their website and via their Twitter feed [http://twitter.com/GusTwintig].

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July 20, 1969, marked one of the climactic moments in our history—the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon. But it is only one piece of a magnificent story. Mission Control, This Is Apollo, by the acclaimed Andrew Chaikin (author of A Man on the Moon, basis of the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon), recounts space history from the Mercury missions through Apollo 17 and beyond. It is illustrated with stunning full-color paintings by astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the moon with Pete Conrad on Apollo 12 and has devoted his post-NASA life to creating art. Handsome, informative, and dramatic, this is no textbook—it is the tale of humankind's greatest adventure in the last frontier: space.

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What's this elaborate illustration? "Horrible Hairy Hogs Hurrying Homewards on Heavily Harnessed Horses," of course. Graeme Base's astonishingly creative oeuvre begins with Animalia, the 1993 alphabet book that challenges the standard idea of how long reading a book for small kids ought to take. Animalia, like many of Base's books, is a vast puzzle, built with entrancing pictures that unfold into layers and layers of objects–all matched to each page's corresponding letter. Base leaves us stunned and amazed, painting reflections into the oddest surfaces and driving the urge to page-turn. This wonderful picture book works for 2-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and adults alike–something few other alphabet books can manage.

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Nerdy, naive Abby can't wait to return to summer camp and see Rose, the older girl who was her friend last year. But this year Rose is busy, and Abby, irritated and hurt, must find someone else to hang out with. Will it be Shasta, the new girl who nobody likes but who shares some of Abby's interests; or punky Zoe (whose language reflects her desire to be supercool) and Beth, Zoe's hanger-on? It's the familiar friendship story, unfolding in somewhat jerky episodes done up in sturdy black-and-white artwork reminiscent of scratchboard. The background will be familiar to any girl who ever went to camp, as will the story's emotional content: the hurtful backbiting, the jealousy, the fear of being ostracized, the rage at being duped, and the complete preoccupation of a first crush. There's even a sweet scene of a first delightful kiss. This may be well-trod territory, but it's traversed with a freshness, sureness, and understanding that speak very well for Larson, who was recognized with a 2007 Eisner Award for new cartooning talent.

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Meet Greenie, a new mealtime mascot for young readers and eaters! A juicy red apple? A sweet yellow banana? A crisp green pepper? How about some orange carrots? Greenie helps kids choose from a rainbow of different fruits and vegetables, each healthy and nutritious. This sturdy board book is easy for kids and parents to take along for healthy mealtime fun.

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Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
This coming-of-age true story graphic novel is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.

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Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed in the Children's Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute, they are a collection of 68 exquisitely crafted miniature rooms made in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Each of the 68 rooms is designed in the style of a different historic period, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say, the rooms are magic.

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It's July 1969 and while the attention of everyone else in her Long Island neighborhood is on the impending moonwalk, Tamara Ann Simpson's focus is the black hole created by the sudden departure of her best friend, Kebsie, a foster child who lived across the street. She directs her considerable anger at Douglas McGinty, the new foster kid, whom she ironically dubs "Muscle Man." In her self-absorbed grief, Tammy fails to see that the whoppers Douglas tells-he's training for the 1972 Olympics, he's sung on Broadway-are his way of coping with a major loss of his own. "Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year old," Tammy's narration begins. "The problem is…. only I can see him for what he really is." Indeed, among the well-realized cast of scruffy neighborhood pals, no one joins Tammy's campaign to unmask Muscle Man as a phony. But author Marino, in her debut, pulls off the neat trick of having created a sullen, feisty protagonist who is worthy of redemption.

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Legendary sister duo, singer-songwriters and Grammy Award-Winners Carly & Lucy Simon Sing Songs For Children. In the mid-'60s they recorded a couple of albums for Kapp in a pleasing, pop-flavored folk style, with tight coffeehouse harmonies in the manner of Peter, Paul & Mary and early Simon & Garfunkel. Sing Songs For Children includes their hit-charting adaptation of Eugene Field's nursery rhyme "Wynken, Blynken And Nod, and the popular children's tale, "The Owl And The Pussycat." Previously released on Columbia Records as "The Simon Sisters Sing The Lobster Quadrille And Other Songs For Children" in 1969 and "The Simon Sisters Sing For Children" in 1973, this marks the first time these titles have been put together and released on CD.

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