Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly; Locker Room Hero by Rachel Renée Russell

Image result for max crumblyRachel Renee Russell's ubiquitous Dork Diaries fly off the shelves at most libraries and bookshelves. Not to have the boys feeling left out, she has a new illustrated series aimed at middle grades. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly-Locker Room Hero introduces us to another lovable loser.

As is now standard practice in most of these books, our hero is a quirky kid (in this case an eighth grader) who has the usual issues (bullies, parents and girls) although not in that order. Max doesn't take himself too seriously at all and some of his flashback revelations are hilarious.

Max is new at his school and is not adjusting well to the social cues as well as to the overall structure of the institution. Worse, he soon draws the ire of the school bully, Doug Thurston. It is while fleeing his nemesis that poor Max winds up trapped with no seeming escape in sight. I can't wait to see how Max gets out of this jam.

This is another excellent addition to the burgeoning middle grade illustrated novel field. Read alikes to this would be Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Lenore Look's Alvin Ho, James Patterson's Middle School series and Stephan Pastis' Timmy Failure.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Best multicultural books 2016

What a year it has been!  There have been highs and lows but overall I have grown and  learned so much. The past few weeks have shown me that there is so much to do in terms of people getting to know about other cultures. I think that one way we can do that is through finding books that speak about cultures and experiences that are different to our own.

Early on Saturday morning someone sent me a link to the best off books compiled by the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature (CSMCL). I am ashamed to say that I have not read as many on this list as I should have.  Kwame Alexander's Booked made the list and if you liked his 2015 Newbery-award-winning Crossover, this is a good follow up and deals with similar issues that middle graders will enjoy.

Jason Alexander's All-American Boys was stirring and timely and I am glad to say that my library system will be one of the stops next year on his book tour/talk. He has two middle grade books on the  CSMCL list as well; As Brave as You which deals with two boys who spend summer in Virginia and discover that their grandfather is blind and another called Ghost which sees four kids from various backgrounds brought together on an elite track team that could see them qualify for a major competition if they can get their acts together.

Tis the season for best of lists and another that I found worth sharing is from Kirkus Reviews. They have best picture books to make you, but I want to share the Best Picture Books about Friends and Community.  Yes, some of the books in this list. Check out their best of middle grade list here.

In terms of music I have recently come across a few cds that contain tracks that can be used in dance parties, story times and the like.  When my kids were younger Putumayo's "Sesame Street Playground" cd was on heavy rotation as we traversed our city.  With songs in languages as diverse as Hindi, Russian and Hebrew I found that even though for some songs I did not understand a word, the beat was so catchy that it didn't matter.  As a matter of fact Putumayo has a treasure trove of cds with great music from across the globe!

Feel free to add your own best of books and/or music in the comments and have a great holiday season!!