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  • Brian Boone 2:30 pm on 2018/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , Kid Stuff, ranking roald, , , the classics   

    A Definitive Ranking of the Children’s Books of Roald Dahl 

    When it comes to novels written for kids featuring characters who are kids, Roald Dahl ranks among the best of the best, sharing the status of all-time great with the likes of Beverly Clearly, Judy Blume, and J.K. Rowling. The British author (1916–1990) wrote enough classics to keep a fifth grader busy for months, specializing in tales of often absurd adventure peopled with appealing characters dealing with extraordinary circumstances in believable ways. Dahl knew his audience so very well, and gave them what they wanted without ever patronizing them: a mixture of heart, action, drama, scariness, humor, and, of course, the fantastical. Here then is our highly scientific ranking, of Roald Dahl’s many books for children, from least best (but still wonderful) to most wonderful of all. (We didn’t include any of those silly ones he wrote for grownups here.)

    The Magic Finger (1964)
    Sometimes it takes a writer a while to find their voice. That’s certainly the case with Dahl’s The Magic Finger. It’s a well-meaning if didactic morality tale that serves as a sweet taste of the fun that’s to come. It concerns the Greggs, a family of duck hunters, and the girl next door who simply won’t have that. Unfortunately for the family of hunters, the girl has a magic finger, and when she gets fed up after one of their hunting trips, it acts up and turns the Greggs into ducks themselves.

    George’s Marvelous Medicine (1981)
    A sharp kid named George tries to get revenge on his mean grandmother by replacing her medicine with a concoction of his own making, a mixture of toiletries, floor polish, horseradish, gin, pet meds, antifreeze, and brown paint. He gives it to his grandma, and instead of, you know, killing her, it makes her grow into a giant. George’s parents get so excited, they have him feed it to their chickens. Another medicine shrinks the grandmother into nothingness, and…yeah, kids, don’t try this at home.

    Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972)
    Did you know that there’s a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the best novels ever written (which not surprisingly ranks very high on this list; see below)? It’s not quite as indelible as its predecessor—which relies heavily on the elements of surprises and the wonder of discovery, which are hard to hit twice in one world—but it’s definitely a curiosity and worth a read to get just a little more Willy Wonka in your life. It’s basically Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in space, which is…pretty darn hard to resist, now that we think about it.

    The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me (1985)
    Dahl always knew what kids wanted, from both life and books: candy. Lots and lots of candy. The story of Charlie and his Golden Ticket isn’t the only sweet tale Dahl ever wrote. This story is about a little boy who teams up with a giraffe and a pelican (the pelly) to start a window-cleaning company, which he parlays—along with some bouts of heroism—into a shot at running his own candy store. (And yes, the book itself is actually quite delicious.)

    Danny, the Champion of the World (1975)
    Probably Dahl’s most personal work is this tender and touching story of a boy and his widowed father that mixes in Dahl’s beloved “us vs. them” sensibility. Also, Dahl seems to have changed his tune about hunting, because the plot mostly concerns Danny and his dad hunting pheasants on land explicitly owned by someone who doesn’t allow it. There’s a lot of bird drugging and killing in this book, but also a lot of parental bonding, and it takes a fascinating look into life in a Roma caravan.

    The Twits (1980)
    Reportedly inspired by his deep hatred and mistrust of beards—Dahl would’ve despised Portland—The Twits is about one of those old couples who have been together so long they both hate each other and couldn’t live without each other. They’re gross, disgusting, ugly people filled with ugly thoughts and feelings who spend their time playing cruel pranks on each other and tormenting birds, until one day they’re finally outwitted by Muggle-Wump, a kind monkey and his family. It’s a gritty, almost Seussian fairy tale in which the good guys and bad guys are clearly defined, and all that’s supposed to happen does.

    The Enormous Crocodile (1978)
    While Dahl usually eschewed the traditional children’s book conceit of anthropomorphized animals to tell parables about human nature in favor of peopling his stories with people, he occasionally used animals, with all of their brutality and bluntness, to get his point across. Take The Enormous Crocodile, essentially a book about standing up to bullies and giving them a taste of their own medicine. The titular animal is a right nasty fellow, the kind of guy who eats children and brags about it. But his tormenting ways are about to be over, when the other animals conspire to trap him and then literally throw him into the sun. Yeah, that’s what you get, Enormous Crocodile!

    The Vicar of Nibbleswicke (1991)
    Has anything ever had a more British-sounding title than The Vicar of Nibbleswicke? Published in 1991, after Dahl’s death, the book had a noble purpose: to raise awareness and sympathy for people with dyslexia, and proceeds benefitted dyslexia-related charities. That said, the story itself is a sweet one, about a small-town reverend named Robert Lee who has a (fictional) kind of dyslexia that makes him say the most important word in every sentence backward, which leads to amusing comical misunderstandings. There’s a cure, however: walking backward.

    The Minpins (1991)
    This marks Dahl’s final published children’s book, going to print a few months after his death in November 1990. And it’s the book Dahl should have published long earlier, because it’s a straight-up fairy forest adventure we all knew he had in him. A proto-Spiderwick Chronicles, it’s about a little boy named Billy who is forbidden from hanging out in the Forest of Sin, which just so happens to be in the backyard, what with all of the Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers, Whangdoodles, and other Dahltastically named creatures said to live back there. Billy goes, of course, especially since the actual Devil tricks him into it, promising scores of wild strawberries. What boy can say no to forest adventures and wild strawberries? Or an alliance with the fantastical Minpins?

    The BFG (1982)
    This book is as friendly, gentle, and playful as its title character—“BFG” stands for “big friendly giant.” It’s about how the things we ought to fear at first sight are nothing to fear at all, and how everybody has a bit of humanity in them, as well as a story to tell. Sophie is an orphan who late one night spots a giant, and follows him to his giant cave. She fears she’ll be eaten, but the BFG explains that he’s, like, the only giant who doesn’t eat people. A fast, tender, and unlikely friendship develops, one that fuels a story turn nobody saw coming: Sophie and the BFG get the Queen on board for a huge plan to catch all the bad giants.

    Esio Trot (1990)
    It’s like a romantic comedy meets Three’s Company…for kids! A tenant of a normal-seeming contemporary apartment building, lonely old Mr. Hoppy, is in love with downstairs neighbor Mrs. Silver, but she’s too focused on her pet tortoise, Alfie, for romance. Alfie won’t grow, and Mrs. Silver doesn’t know why…so Mr. Hoppy buys a series of tortoises of increasingly larger size to make Mrs. Silver happy. And, because this is a romance, these bizarre, outsized gestures actually work. Take note, kids: If you love somebody, buy them turtles. (BTW: “Esio Trot” is an anagram of “tortoise.”)

    James and the Giant Peach (1961)
    Where would children’s literature, especially British literature, be without the gift of orphans? So many orphans! It’s a nice literary device that gets a kid away from the confines of home and safety and on to doing things like, well, traveling the world inside a giant peach. After rhinos eat his parents (it happens), James goes to live with his mean aunts, until a Jack and the Beanstalk–type situation emerges, producing a house-sized peach. James foils the aunts’ plans to make a buck off the thing (as adults do) and heads inside it, where he meets a bunch of friendly insects. One of them cuts the peach away, and the whole gang is off and running, inside the peach, on a fantastical adventure.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970)
    A story so cool, stylish, and timeless it was adapted smoothly into a cool, stylish, and timeless Wes Anderson movie. We humans may have an affinity for foxes because while they look like a cross between our beloved dogs and cats, and they’re as clever and crafty as we like to think we are. None is more clever and charismatic than Mr. Fox himself, a family man who provides by stealing from local farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. The farmers devise a plan to starve him out, but Mr. Fox, like you, young reader, is far too clever to just give up.

    Matilda (1988)
    This is perhaps the most definitive Roald Dahl novel in that it’s about a pure-hearted, special child whose gifts go unnoticed by the evil and wretchedly awful adults around her…until she rises up in rebellion. Matilda Wormwood uses her superpowers to take on wicked headmistress Miss Trunchbull (not to mention her horrible family), finding the parental love she so needs and wants from an unlikely source.

    The Witches (1983)
    Part of Dahl’s enormous, enduring appeal to children is that he doesn’t shield them from the world—he doesn’t sugar-coat its evils, but rather uses metaphors to help kids understand all the bad that’s out to get them, which they of course find irresistible. Of course, it helps when his protagonists are tough, brave kids who get things done. This is the kind of story Dahl excels at telling, and The Witches is a perfect example. With some obvious parallels to history and politics, it focuses on one boy’s attempts to take down a truly evil international syndicate of child-hating, child-killing witches. Unlike other kids vs. adults tales in the Dahl canon, however, The Witches has a shocking, unfair ending. Hey, sometimes life is like that, kids.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
    Like Matilda, this one features a child in peril whose patience, perseverance, and steadfast commitment to being his true self serves allows him to get justice and rewards in the end. But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is just a little bit better than Matilda because it’s such a feast for the brain. It’s one set piece after another when Charlie finally ditches his gray London life for the technicolor world of pure imagination of Willy Wonka’s mysterious, bizarre, and vaguely menacing chocolate factory. Both film adaptations do a good job visualizing the factory, but nothing can do it as well as the eye of a child’s mind.

    The post A Definitive Ranking of the Children’s Books of Roald Dahl appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 5:00 pm on 2017/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: adam rubin, ainsley earhardt, alexandra boiger, allison oppenheim, , big nate: what's a little noogie between friends, brigette barrager, , daniel salmieri, dog man: a tale of two kitties, dream big dreams: photographs from barack obama's inspiring and historic presidency, everything is mama, good night stories for rebel girls 2, hillary rodham clinton, , Kid Stuff, malala's magic pencil, marla frazee, minecraft: the island, pete the cat and the cool cat boogie, princesses wear pants, rise of the isle of the lost, runny babbit returns, savannah guthrie, she persisted: 13 american women who changed the world, spy school secret service, the elements book, the getaway, the magic misfits, the purloining of prince oleomargarine, the ship of the dead, through your eyes: my child's gift to me, uni the unicorn and the dream come true, we're all wonders, worlds collide   

    The Best Kids’ Books of 2017 

    In the last year young readers have been rewarded with an abundance of terrific new titles. With an inspiring new collection of stories for Rebel Girls, a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel, newly discovered books from Shel Silverstein AND Mark Twain, and a hilarious return to the Dragons Love Tacos universe, our list of best kids’ books of 2017 is filled with can’t-miss titles for readers of all ages.

    Picture Books

    Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
    If every day is Taco Tuesday in your house, then Dragons Love Tacos is likely a storytime favorite. And now there’s finally a follow-up! Tacos have disappeared from Earth in this story, and the dragons must undertake a time-traveling quest to recover them. Can they do it? Without any spicy funny business? Dedicated fans will remember what happened last time…

    It Takes a Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Marla Frazee
    Clinton’s classic bestseller lends itself easily to picture book format, and young readers will instantly connect to the ideas presented in Frazee’s sunny illustrations. Watch a community grow from the ground up at your next storytime!

    Pete the Cat and the Cool Cat Boogie, by James Dean
    Pete has put his dancing shoes on, and he’s ready to boogie! But Grumpy Toad, whose deadpan delivery is spot-on, points out Pete’s multiple left feet. Will Pete dust himself off and get those paws moving again? Step-by-step dance moves are included for your little dancer!

    Princesses Wear Pants, by Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim
    Princess Penelope Pineapple wears a lot of hats as junior ruler of the Pineapple Kingdom, and most of her work requires something sturdier than a frilly dress. Indeed, every morning, she bypasses the sequins and lace, and makes a beeline for yoga pants or a flight suit – depending on what the day requires. This encouraging tale celebrates fashion and challenges gender stereotypes—the perfect recipe for an empowering storytime!

    Runny Babbit Returns, by Shel Silverstein
    The poems in Runny Babbit were winnowed from a large quantity of tongue-tied-rabbit themed poems Shel Silverstein wrote and illustrated, and lucky for readers, there’s enough material for a new volume that hit bookstores September 19. An editor who’d worked with Silverstein when he was alive collaborated closely with his family members to select the 41 poems for this volume. According to Publishers Weekly, they even laid out all the possible Runny Babbit poems and illustrations on the floor, covering the hallway of the publisher’s office, to help them make the final decision—a process Silverstein probably would have enjoyed.

    Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Brigette Barrager
    This sweet and sparkly sequel to Uni the Unicorn answers an important question: Why exactly is a double rainbow so magical? It’s been raining nonstop in the land of unicorns, which means that all the magic has drained out of these magical creatures. Their magic subsists on sunshine, rainbows, and the sparkle of belief. But one unicorn has managed to persist—Uni, who has never doubted the existence of little girls. Far away, a girl senses she is needed in the land of unicorns. Will she be united with Uni and restore magic to the land? Kids will love this whimsical and dreamy tale.

    She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger 
    This beautiful watercolor picture book from Chelsea Clinton herself details thirteen diverse women who helped change America through their tenacity and drive. The title is a play on the words used to silence Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor, and the book is meant to celebrate those women who found their voices and spoke up, even when others wanted them to stop. The book features stories of women who persisted in doing what was right despite overwhelming odds, including Harriet Tubman, Sonia Sotomayor, Maria Tallchief, and Sally Ride.

    Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me, by Ainsley Earhardt and Ji-Hyuk Kim
    Life can be cluttered and hectic, especially at this time of year. Simple joys and everyday miracles surround us, however, and often it’s our children who spot them first. FOX News anchor Earhardt follows up her bestselling Take Heart, My Child with a stirring reflection that reminds us to take a breath, take in the beauty, and follow our children as they wander.

    We’re All Wonders, by R.J. Palacio
    When Wonder wowed older kids and parents alike, and activated a meaningful new anti-bullying movement called “Choose Kind,” Palacio knew she wasn’t finished writing about kindness. So she created a picture book version of her powerful story for younger readers. Prepare to be inspired!

    Everything Is Mama, by Jimmy Fallon and Miguel Ordonez
    “Everything is Mama according to you, but there are other fun words you’ll want to know too,” begins Jimmy Fallon’s latest children’s book. In Fallon’s first kids’ book, Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, a bunch of animal dads set out to make their little ones’ first word to be “Dada!” But in this sweet and rhyming picture book, all the little baby animals call everything “Mama!”—the sun, their shoes, and even a balloon. Can the animal parents set them straight? Find out in this colorful and lighthearted read.

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
    Send your little girl off to sleep with some incredible real-life fairy tales about strong and accomplished women throughout history and the present day. This second installment of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls includes short biographies about 100 amazing women like Nefertiti, Audrey Hepburn, Rachel Carson, Sophie Scholl, Aisholpan, Beyonce, and more. The book also includes a detachable map, a glossary, and 100 beautiful portraits created by female artists.

    Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoet
    As a child, Nobel Peace Prize winner and bestselling author Malala Yousafzai would wish for a magic pencil to improve the lives of those around her. She tells the story of her own childhood and that nightly wish in her first picture book. She recalls realizing that wishes weren’t enough, and she needed to take action. “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world,” she reminds readers. This wonderful read encourages young readers to find their own magic and to share it with the world.

    Books for Young Readers

    Big Nate: What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends?, by Lincoln Peirce
    Nate’s been a little down in the dumps lately. The eleven year old record-holding detention star has been facing some tough breaks—including a crush who’s just moved across the country, and an underperforming soccer team (that loses against a team with a winless streak a mile long). Fortunately, Nate’s got some good pals who know how to cheer him up: with noogies, right? Well, we can’t fault them for trying. Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this cheerful, cheeky series delivers big laughs for young readers.

    Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe (Dork Diaries Series #12), by Rachel Renée Russell
    Dork Diaries fans, more dorktastic fun and drama is coming your way with this 12th book in Rachel Renée Russell’s bestselling series. With the end of the school year fast approaching, Nikki Maxwell is busy trying to figure out how she’s going to spend her summer in her latest diary. Not only that, but she’s facing a major crush catastrophe when she starts hanging out with a super-cute new visiting student. Nikki doesn’t want to hurt Brandon or her BFFs, Chloe and Zoey, so what will she do? Find out in this fun new illustrated diary that shows everyone it’s OK to let their inner dork shine.

    Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties (Captain Underpants: Dog Man Series #3), by Dav Pilkey
    The hero that no one knew they needed but readers can’t get enough of, Dog Man has the head of a dog and the body of a human, and he’s all set to sniff out a crafty cat criminal in Dav Pilkey’s latest in the hilarious series. Can Dog Man continue to prove he’s a worthy member of the police force and nail this cuddly crook? This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a coloring poster featuring a sneak peek at the upcoming fourth book in the series.

    The Getaway (B&N Exclusive Edition), Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #12, by Jeff Kinney
    Get ready, Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans—the twelfth book in Kinney’s beloved series hits B&N bookshelves November 7! The Getaway finds the hapless Heffley family headed for a relaxing vacation at a tropical island resort. If you’re already snickering at the thought of Greg Heffley and his family in paradise, you know you’re going to be in for a treat. Fans know Greg’s traveling misadventures are going to run the gamut, from tummy troubles, to sun poisoning, to problematic pests, and that the hilarious situations (and illustrations) will leave young readers howling with laughter.

    The Magic Misfits (Magic Misfits Series #1), by Neil Patrick Harris and Lissy Marlin
    Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris introduces young readers to a magical new series. In this kick-off book, young street magician Carter, whose parents vanished years ago, has had enough of helping his “uncle” Sly Mike, so he runs away to a small New England town. There he finds a group of like-minded, talented kids and an illusionist named Dante Vernon. And it’s up to Carter and his newfound friends to save this town from crooked carny B.B. Bosso. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch will love this fun and adventurous new read.

    Minecraft: The Island, by Max Brooks
    Minecraft fans, the first official book based on the insanely popular game has arrived! A hero is stranded on an island in the world of Minecraft. His priorities are finding food and not becoming food for the armies of zombies that emerge after nightfall. Can our hero unravel the mysteries of this strange place and survive all that’s in store for him? Find out in this exciting adventure book for middle graders.

    Rise of the Isle of the Lost (Descendants Series #3), by Melissa de la Cruz
    The baddies-turned-mostly-goodies Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay are facing another threat to Auradon in this third installment of Disney’s Descendants series. King Triton’s magical trident has passed through the barrier around the Isle of Lost. And Uma, daughter of Ursula, is assembling a villainous pirate crew—including Harry, son of Captain Hook, and Gil, son of Gaston—to get her hands on it before Mal and her gang do. Bonus: This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a pirate contract.

    The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Series #3), by Rick Riordan
    Once-homeless teen/now one of Odin’s chosen warriors, Magnus Chase, returns for the third installment in Rick Riordan’s thrilling series. Thus far, Magnus has managed incredible feats with the help of his friends Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, but now this crew is up against its most dangerous challenge yet. Loki is free of his chains and is prepping Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, to sail into battle against the gods of Asgard, thus beginning the final battle of Ragnarok. And it’s up to Magnus and his pals to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim to stop him in this page-turning new read.

    Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency, by Pete Souza
    During his historic eight years in office, President Obama encouraged young people to do their best and “dream big dreams.” Inspire young readers to continue to dream big with this beautiful book of photos from former White House photographer Pete Souza. The volume features more than 75 full-color photographs of our former president with his family, colleagues, and other world leaders. Alongside the photos are interesting behind-the-scenes stories of these iconic images, making this an excellent keepsake to have for years to come.

    The Elements Book, by Dorling Kindersley Publishing Staff
    Have a budding young scientist in your house? Take them on a visual tour of the 118 chemical elements in the periodic table with this incredible encyclopedia packed with more than 1,000 full-color photos, fun facts, and more. The book beautifully showcases the elements in their natural forms and also shows kids everyday objects in which these elements are found. Plus, this Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a poster of the periodic table.

    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, by Mark Twain, Philip C. Stead, and Erin Stead
    Author Philip C. Stead has brought to life a never-before-published, previously unfinished children’s book by Mark Twain—the story began as a tale Twain told his young daughters one evening in 1879. He then scribbled down some notes on the story about a boy named Johnny who had some magical seeds, but the tale remained unfinished, archived at the University of California at Berkeley. Stead picked up the fragments and created a whimsical book, artfully illustrated by Erin Stead, of which Twain himself would be proud.

    Worlds Collide (The Land of Stories Series #6), by Chris Colfer
    Actor and bestselling author Chris Colfer is back with the exciting conclusion to his enchanting The Land of Stories series. This time, twins Conner and Alex face a new challenge: The fairy tale characters are no longer confined to their stories, which means heroes and villains are loose and causing mayhem in the world at large. Can Conner and Alex restore order to the human world and the fairy tale world? This special Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes “Mother Goose Interviews Chris Colfer,” a never-before-seen piece written by Colfer.

    Spy School Secret Service, by Stuart Gibbs
    In this fifth installment of Stuart Gibbs’s bestselling Spy School series, 13-year-old Ben Ripley is beginning his second year of Spy School, and he’s been called upon for an important solo mission. He must prevent a presidential assassination and locate the enemy operative. But the person he thought was his in—the president’s son—has proven to be not-so-helpful, and Ben may be in over his head. This Barnes & Noble exclusive edition features a shiny jacket with silver and red foil and a map of Washington, D.C., on the other side. Plus, it includes 16 pages of bonus content like super-secret internal memos and a post-operational interview.

     

    The post The Best Kids’ Books of 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: , Kid Stuff, sam i am   

    Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss 

    Few people have done more to encourage our children to read than the late Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). With iconic picture books like The Cat in the Hat, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss made words magical and taught generations of children that reading was fun.

    For the past twenty years, the National Education Association (NEA) has honored Dr. Seuss by promoting Read Across America every March 2nd—Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The idea is to encourage kids of all ages to read more through events and partnerships and by making resources available to anyone who wants to help a child read more. But this doesn’t require anything fancy! If you want to help your child—or someone else’s—appreciate books more, the easiest thing you can do is read with them. And while Dr. Seuss’ books are an excellent choice for younger kids, you might want to spice things up a little with some modern masters who are carrying on the good doctor’s work—like these ten children’s authors who will also make books seem like magic to your kids.

    Ed Shankman & Dave O’Neill (Suggested Book: I Met a Moose in Maine One Day)
    Shankman and O’Neill understand something that Dr. Seuss knew perfectly well—kids love the absurd. With simple rhymes and a fun sense of the unexpected, like a moose that puts on sunglasses and begins dancing, they show young kids that reading isn’t drudgery—it’s a window into a world just slightly more interesting than the one they live in.

    Mo Willems (Suggested Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)
    Dr. Seuss had a way of convincing kids that they were part of the story. Willems writes books for a range of ages, but Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and its sequels achieves the same immersion when a bus driver goes on break and asks them—the readers—to watch his bus for him. When a pigeon arrives and begs to be allowed to drive the bus, the kids have a ball telling him “No!”

    Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso (Suggested Book: The Snurtch)
    Dr. Seuss managed a lot of psychological complexity in his simple books. Ferrell, an accomplished adult novelist, writes a fanciful story about a being who plagues little Ruthie’s day with mischievous pranks and other misbehaviors that she gets blamed for. There’s a clear love of language and a deep lesson for kids under all the mayhem and fun, and a lot of kids will recognize Ruthie’s predicament.

    Anna Dewdney (Suggested Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama)
    An overlooked aspect of the Seussian vibe is the sense of danger he hints at, and the underlying feeling of things being out of control. This hits home for kids, and Dewdney—who passed away in 2016—captures those fears and anxieties in this adorably-rhymed story of a baby llama worried his mama isn’t coming back to his room despite is repeated calls. Fun Awesome Fact: It’s also one of the only children’s books regularly rapped by rising hip hop stars.

    Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Suggested Book: Big Bad Bun)
    Another team that gets the Seussian sense of anarchy that bubbled under every story, Willis and Ross have created the story of Fluff, who wants to be called Big Bad Bun as he runs off to join the Hell Bunnies and say rude words and generally be bad. The slight edge to the story will appeal to kids, the sweetness of the resolution ensures a good time for all, and the occasional clever moment that leans adult will make parents snort in appreciation.

    Peggy Rathman and Anthony Edwards (Suggested Book: Good Night, Gorilla)
    Dr. Seuss understood that simple was better, and Rathman does too, offering a simple story about animals being released from their cages at the zoo by a playful gorilla and following the zookeeper home. This is a more visual book, but the words Rathman does include are perfectly chosen to give little readers a sense of adventure that will excite them for the next book.

    Julia Donaldson (Suggested Book: The Gruffalo)
    The simple through-line of this clever tale will remind you of the way Dr. Seuss always managed to surprise. Donaldson borrows an old folk tale and reinvents it: a mouse walking home through the forest encounters a series of animals, all of whom wish to eat the mouse. To discourage them, the mouse says he’s having dinner with a Gruffalo, a terrifying creature the mouse has invented whose favorite food always happens to be the animal the mouse has encountered. When the mouse encounters an actual Gruffalo, the clever twist will delight young brains.

    Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees (Suggested Book: Giraffe’s Can’t Dance)
    Andreae’s rhymes have the bouncing rhythms of prime Seuss, and that rhythm is a subtle nod to the theme of the story about an annual animal dance in Africa. Gerald the Giraffe wishes he could participate, but he has “four left feet” until he meets a friendly cricket who offers encouragement—and a beat.

    Scott M. Fischer (Suggested Book: Jump!)
    The madcap energy that Dr. Seuss brought to his stories has made them evergreen—no one can forget the Cat in the Hat causing havoc that seems to get bigger and bigger with each page. The feat is replicated by Fischer, who tells a simple story of animals jumping to evade enemies that starts small, with a ladybug, and scales up to a whale in a stirring and memorable fashion.

    Jan Thomas (Suggested Book: Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!)
    Finally, Thomas’ book has the brightly-colored sensibility of a great Seussian ride, as the second book featuring his rhyming, nervous dust bunnies finds them dealing with a cranky gray bunny who finds ways to turn all of their rhymes against them, a perfect short adventure for rowdy kids that will show them that reading can simply be fun.

    The post Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Kid Stuff   

    8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark 

    The much-loved Harry Potter series may start off with a bunch of lighthearted magical shenanigans, but by the time we hit book number four, things take a turn for the serious. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry finds himself competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous competition that pits contestants from three wizarding schools against each other in a trio of increasingly treacherous magical competitions. The thing is, he didn’t sign up for this—someone else entered his name. Possibly someone with a dark purpose and a larger plan in mind.

    So how exactly do things get dark in the fourth chapter in Harry’s story? Let us count the ways.

    1. We meet the Death Eaters.
    We already knew there were people who supported Voldemort (the wizarding world’s resident big bad) back when he was powerful. Now we have a name for them, and it’s chilling: the Death Eaters. And it looks like there are still some living among the masses in secret.

    2. It gives us a feel for the First Wizarding War.
    Harry defeated Voldemort when he was just a baby. But before that, Voldemort’s rise to power was littered with panic, confusion, and mysterious deaths aplenty—and suddenly that dark period is at the front of everyone’s minds.

    3. It pits Muggles vs. wizards.
    Voldemort’s is driven by a belief that wizards and witches are superior to Muggles (non-magical people) and Muggleborns (witches or wizards with non-magic parents—like Hermione Granger). The events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire put this conflict front and center, forcing everyone to choose where their loyalties lie.

    4. The Triwizard Tournament could be deadly.
    Hogwarts is no stranger to danger. But now that the school is hosting a magical tournament that was discontinued for 200 years after the death toll got out of hand, the stakes are higher than ever.

    5. The arrival of Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody.
    Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor used to be an Auror (basically, the wizarding world’s equivalent of a federal marshal), whose entire job involved catching dark wizards. What we’re saying is, he’s a gruff and eccentric oddball who has seen some stuff, and he’s not shy about letting his students know it.

    6. We learn that magic isn’t all fun and games.
    The imminent threat of rising dark forces throws some of the uglier realities of the wizarding world into sharp relief. Between the Unforgivable Curses—the only three spells punishable by life in wizarding prison Azkaban—and the fates of those who wound up on the wrong side of the Death Eaters all those years ago, we’re given an unpleasant look at what wizards are capable of doing to each other (besides just turning each other’s quills into ravens).

    7. The book puts Harry’s orphanhood into fresh perspective.
    Harry lost his parents the very night he inadvertently defeated Voldemort. He was a baby; he never really knew them. But now that he might be in over his head with this whole “death tournament” thing, it could not be more obvious that what Harry wants—what he really wants—is a parent.

    8. The story is rife with themes of loss. Now, no spoilers, but we may or may not lose a character or two this time around. We DID tell you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is when things get really real. The events of this novel in particular have far-reaching consequences that have a major effect on the rest of the series—right up to the brand-new two-part play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

    The post 8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/10/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Kid Stuff   

    7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes 

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban details Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it brings the story to a whole new level of intrigue, treachery, and page-turning excitement. Why? Because this year at Hogwarts, it’s not all riding broomsticks and casting spells: a notorious mass murderer has just broken out of wizarding prison Azkaban to finish what he started 13 years ago. His target? You guessed it: Harry Potter. Here are just a few ways Prisoner of Azkaban is a series turning point.

    The Marauders. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a friendship to end all friendships, but before they ever set foot on the grounds of Hogwarts, there was another group of goodhearted troublemakers running the school: the Marauders. The foursome may be gone from Hogwarts, but their legacy lives magically on. The overarching storyline of the Marauders—codenamed Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs—is one of the best in the entire series, and it all begins in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    New enchanted objects. Harry’s trusty Invisibility Cloak is back, and with it a bunch of brand-new items—like biting textbooks, crystal balls, and the Marauder’s Map, a magical mischief-maker’s guide to every secret passageway in Hogwarts castle, courtesy of the mysterious Marauders themselves. When it winds up in Harry’s possession, shenanigans ensue.

    More magical classes. In addition to Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, Prisoner of Azkaban gives us a more in-depth peek at the various Hogwarts classes we’d exchange for algebra in a heartbeat—including Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, also known as “trying not to get your hand bitten off by a creature that’s half-horse, half-eagle.”

    Professor Lupin. Remus Lupin is Hogwarts’ savvy new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He quickly locks in his reputation as the cool teacher who’s class actually studies practical applications, but beyond that, he’s a fascinating character well-versed in the art of compassion. He genuinely cares about his students, and he’s widely adored by both the characters in Harry’s world and its fans alike. There’s just one hitch: he may or may not be guarding a dark and dangerous secret.

    Hogsmeade. Prisoner of Azkaban introduces us to Hogsmeade, a nearby village that Hogwarts students are allowed to visit on weekends. Whether you’re touring the real-life model at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, or simply reading about it at home, Hogsmeade is a testament to J.K. Rowling’ superb world-building. Not only does it evoke a vivid mind portrait of every quaint British hamlet you’ve ever seen in movies, but it’s home to some of our very favorite places in the wizarding world, chief among them the Three Broomsticks pub, sweet shop Honeydukes, and Zonko’s Joke Shop.

    Dementors. We learn about a whole slew of magical creatures, but the most notable (and terrifying) is the Dementors. They’re hooded creatures that feed on despair, fear, and doubt, and they serve as a metaphor for all things terrible. But a well-learned wizard can fight Dementors using the Patronus Charm (it’s like a spirit guardian fueled by hope and happy memories), and the existence of the Patronus speaks to one of the larger thematic elements of the novel—namely that despair, fear, and doubt can be overcome.

    It’s J.K. Rowling’s favorite book. Okay, so she said it’s “one of” her favorites, but she had seven brilliantly penned, life-changing novels to choose from, so that’s saying something.

    The post 7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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