Saturday, April 25, 2009


I know, I know. It's not Christmas. But the library just got a new copy of "Nutcracker" by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and it is simply gorgeous. The story is the same as always, about the wonderful Christmas toys made by Godfather Drosselmeir for Fritz and Marie and given to them on Christmas Eve, when the Christ Child comes. The Nutcracker is Marie's gift, and she falls in love with him immediately.

It's a beautiful and treasured story. But it's the pictures that really make this book come alive.

This large-size book is full of beautiful and detailed illustrations by Roberto Innocenti. Most of them contain Marie, mice and the Nutcracker, as she dreams fabulous adventures throughout that Christmas Eve night. Read this classic story and enjoy staring the pictures, even if it is the wrong month!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion

I read a few Trixie Belden books by Julie Campbell when I was a pre-teen, hundreds of years ago. So when I happened to see a few books in that old series on the shelves in our library, I decided to reread one of them and see what I think of it now.
Trixie is a 13-year-old tomboy who wants a horse more than anything. Her mother gives her chores to do so she can earn some money. But Trixie is distracted, and with good reason. A new family has moved into her neighborhood – a rich family with children and horses!
She quickly makes friends with the family’s daughter, a girl named Honey (remember, this book was written back in the 1940s). She and Honey decide to explore another neighborhood mansion, an old one that looks haunted and which is owned by an old man, Mr. Frayne, who’s on the verge of death in the hospital. To add to the mansion’s mystique, Honey thinks she saw a face at a window in that house when she rode by it on her house.
The girls decide to go check out the old mansion and see if perhaps a tramp has taken up residence there. Yes, this was an extremely foolish thing to do, and eventually the police point that out to the girls. But not before they have some fascinating adventures and make the acquaintance of a very interesting boy.
I liked it! There were no dragons or wizards, but this is a story that’s realistic enough to actually have happened. Trixie and Honey seem like real people, and I found myself sympathizing with them and caring about them, and even worrying about them when they did stupid things.
I recommend this book, and others in the series. They’re old, but good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Toy Dance Party

What do toys do when their owners grow up?

Toy Dance Party, Being the Further Adventures of a Bossyboots StingRay, a Courageous Buffalo, & a Hopeful Round Someone Called Plastic, is a fanciful answer to this question.

It's a collection of six stories about Lumphy, a stuffed buffalo, StingRay, a stuffed stingray and Plastic, a ball. They're dealing with increasing abandonment by the Girl who owns them. She has graduated to Barbie dolls and her toddler toys feel it keenly that she no longer loves them. This might sound depressing, but it's not. This book is funny!

In the first story, these neurotic toys decide that the Girl may still love them but has gotten lost. So Lumphy appoints himself to go outside and look for her, even though it's winter and he could get wet. He ends up getting stuck in the snow. StingRay refuses to go dig him out with a spatula because she's dry-clean only. That leaves Plastic to do the job. After all, it won't hurt her to get wet. But Plastic has the perfect excuse: "I can't hold the spatula."

This book is about an inch thick, but it's really fast and fun to read. It's by Emily Jenkins with plenty of pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dodsworth in Paris

In the mood for a quick trip to France? Tim Egan’s new chapter book, Dodsworth in Paris, could make you feel like you’ve been there.
Dodsworth is an animal of some type, perhaps a mole. His best friend is a nameless duck. The two go around visiting various places, and somehow the duck manages to have the best adventures.
On arrival in Paris, Dodsworth makes the duck promise not to cause any trouble. But it isn’t long before the duck manages to bumble his way into several mishaps. He’s a lucky duck, though, and somehow even his worst mistakes always turn out well.Egan’s humor is dry and understated, and his artwork is lovely. This is a great book for early readers.