Saturday, December 27, 2008

Piano Piano

Sometimes parents try to live their dreams through their children. “Piano Piano” by Davide Cali is about a mother like that.
Marcolino has to practice the piano every day at 3, but he hates it. He forces himself to practice for just 13 minutes, but then he escapes to the television.
“Get back to the piano now!” his mother orders.
But in another couple minutes, “Aarrh! I’m sick of this!” he yells.
Marcolino’s mother wants him to practice so he can become a grand pianist. She tells him she used to practice for hours as a child, but she never became a grand pianist because after he was born, she didn’t have time to practice. He feels guilty, even though it really wasn’t his fault. So he practices, but he doesn’t like the piano. He wants to be anything but a grand pianist.
Does Marcolino escape the piano and get to become what he really wants to be?Read this very entertaining book!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Tie Man's Miracle

It's Christmas week, but this is also the season of Hanukkah, which this year happens to be celebrated during this same week!
In honor of Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, I read The Tie Man's Miracle , A Chanukah Tale by Steven Schnur.
It's a haunting, beautiful story that doesn't tell you everything. You have to use your imagination.
The tie man is an old Jewish man, Mr. Hoffman, who sells neckties for a living. He comes to Seth's house when the menorah candles are about to be lit to begin the eight days of Chanukah. Seth's mother lets him inside and buys a few ties. The family invites the tie man to stay, and participate in their celebration. He does so, humbly.
He particularly seems fascinated by Hannah, the baby.
Seth asks questions, and finds out why.
Curious? Read the book!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Ever seen the old Disney movie Pollyanna? Did you know it was was based on a book?
I loved the movie when I was a child, and even bought a copy on VHS years ago so my kids could see it too. I have to admit they weren't as excited about the movie as I was, years ago. So it may be a generational thing. Whatever.
I remain confident that the story is timeless. Admittedly, it's a little goofy at times. Pollyanna can be almost Amelia Bedelia in her deliberate misunderstanding of people's words and actions. She's determined to put the happiest, kindest, gladdest spin on everything and everyone she encounters.
This past week I've been reading the book Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter, for the first time. I happened to notice it as I was looking for something to read during one of the library's slow times. I found out that the book was first published in 1912 -- almost 100 years ago!
But I still liked it.
Pollyanna Whittier is the daughter of a missionary and his wife, both of whom die fairly young. She's then sent back from the West to a little town in Vermont to live with her aunt. Polly Harrington is wealthy and bitter. She's about 40 and has never married. Pollyanna, with her loving, bubbly and overwhelmingly positive nature, is a shock to Aunt Polly's life, as well as to the entire town.
But it's a good shock. Pollyanna teaches one person after another to find something to be glad about in everything that happens. In doing so, she changes the sour outlook of the village residents, as well as her aunt, to one that's more loving and kind and hopeful.
The story may be a little difficult for elementary school children to understand, but girls in fifth and sixth grade should enjoy it. It even has a little romance!
Has anybody out there read Pollyanna? Or even seen the movie? Write and tell me what you thought of it!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


In Ayortha, a kingdom of singers, Aza has the most beautiful, magical voice of all. She has even learned how to throw her voice – a skill she names illusing.
Yet she spends most of her time fretting because she’s not pretty and because, in a country of small people, she is tall – two inches taller than the king.
“Fairest” by Gail Carson Levine is a fantasy about a girl who’s gifted, uniquely talented, but who just wants to be attractive in the most obvious way there is: physically.
Aza wants to be pretty, but in her own view, and that of most of her fellow Ayorthians, she’s ugly.
Still, life gets better, and more complicated, for Aza. She’s befriended by a cat-loving duchess, and the new queen makes her a lady-in-waiting. There’s a prince, too, named Ijori, who seems to like Aza.
Then the king is injured and cannot rule. The people want to hold a Healing Sing for him, but the queen, Ivi, is not a singer. Knowing Aza’s talent, she wants her to illuse for her – to make it seem that Aza’s voice is her own. Despite reservations, Aza finally agrees to do so.
Then Aza finds a magic mirror. When she looks into it, she sees herself as the fairest in the land. To find out how the mirror changes Aza’s life, you’ll have to read the rest of the book!