Tag Archives: illustrated

Morse Pond Review: Guinea Pigs Online

Guinea Pigs OnlineGuinea Pigs Online

Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift

Illustrated by Sarah Horne


November 12, 2013

Oh no! Fuzzy is missing! Coco and her guinea pig commandos must find out who has stolen Fuzzy. This story is an action packed mystery. I found it to be a fast read and would recommend it to anyone who likes to read funny stories. I might even recommend reading this book to a younger sibling.

~ Joey, 11

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Customer Review: Treasure Hunters

9780316207560Treasure Hunters

James Patterson

Little, Borwn


Available September 2013

I enjoyed reading the book Treasure Hunters quite a bit. It had a good plot and good characters, all with a good personalities. The plot always took new twists and turns I did not expect.

The four main characters are Tommy, Storm, Beck and Bick Kidd. They are all children of Thomas Kidd. When their father disappears off their boat “The Lost” in the middle of a storm, the Kidds decide to continue the family business: treasure hunting.

The one thing I did not understand was that Bick (the narrator) communicates to his twin sister Beck (the illustrator) like this: “Beck says not to believe every thing I say. Whatever can we get on with the story? Good.” This suggests that Beck is reading everything Bick is writing. This is a cool style of writing; the only problem is that close to the end of the story Bick is writing stuff that he does not want his siblings to know, and that includes Beck.

The style that James Patterson writes in is very interesting, it is very casual (he writes as if he is talking). You do not learn any new vocabulary, except some boating terms, since he is writing as Bick (a kid). It is very funny, because he is very literal with his writing and is always making puns and jokes.

I would recommend this book to children between the ages of 8 and 10. Although the book has 451 pages it has big print and lots of pictures. The story also keeps your attention through most of the story, but I think Patterson could cut down the text in some parts.

I would give this story eight out of ten. I think younger children than me would really enjoy the book (I am very picky).

~ Helena, age 11

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Customer Review: Seven Wild Sisters


Seven Wild Sisters

Charles de Lint

Illustrated by Charles Vess

Little, Brown for Young Readers


Available February 4, 2014

I really enjoyed this book. The genre was fantasy. This book was about many different things, and holds something for everyone. There is rescuing the main characters sisters, not getting killed, and even a little bit of romance. The author ties all of these plots together to make a really interesting story. The suspense level was also pretty high, although the book was a little slow at first. Something the author could have done to make this book better would be to connect you to the characters a little bit better. In the beginning of the book he includes a little bit about each sister, but he tells you their personalities, and does not really show them. This makes you connect a little less with the sisters. There are seven sisters, but the main character is the sister named Sarah Jane. She helps out an old woman who later becomes her friend – Aunt Lillian. Aunt Lillian tells Sarah Jane tales of fairyland, and the many feuds this place holds. She warns Sarah Jane not to get involved in them. But when Sarah Jane rescues a ‘sangman, Aunt Lillian and Sarah Jane, along with the help of some special creatures must return him to fairyland. Soon, Sarah Jane’s six other sisters have all been captured. Sarah Jane must work quickly to save them. Will she be able to do so? And could her red hair be useful? Read this book to find out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

~ Shefali

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8 by Eight: I Lay My Stitches Down Poems of American Slavery

9780802853868Writer Cynthia Grady and illustrator Michelle Wood have put together an intricate collection of poems and quilt-inspired illustrations that focuses on slavery ($17). Grady explains that “Quiltmaking and poetry share similarities in craft” and shows how color, shape, sound, and structure create the overall pattern in both types of art. The poems are unrhymed verse, 10 lines of 10 syllables, which follows the shape of a quilt block. Furthermore, each poem contains three references: biblical, spiritual, and musical, to mimic the three layers of a quilt. The illustrations are equally nuanced and complex and also utilize visual references to quilting and history.

The poems range in subject matter from work to celebrations, education to freedom. The poem, North Star, for example focuses on how slaves, who were inherited by non-slavers, were often educated and highlights the North Star, which was used to navigate the way to freedom.

North Star

Age six saw me with a new master. He
was no slaver. Instead of tobacco
fields, I blowed the planes of Euclid. Instead
of flax, I spun my way through Homer’s verse.
I longed to hear the heavenly hymns of
Pythagoras one starry night, when a
voice in the salt shed said, “Make no diff’rence
what you know. A body wants to be free.”
I bade my master farewell. His blessings
send me north, lighting my way to freedom. 

For the rest of our recommendations for Black History month, visit our 8 by Eight page. The 8 by Eight books change every two weeks. Starting on February 14th, the new selections will focus on Teen Dating Violence awareness.

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8 by Eight: The Other Side

9780399231162The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis, is one of those perfect picture books. The story begins, “That summer the fence that stretched through our town seemed bigger. We lived in a yellow house on one side of it. White people lived on the other. And Mama said, ‘Don’t climb over that fence when you play’. She said it wasn’t safe”. Clover wonders about the fence. Who put it there. What it means. And why it keeps her away from Annie, on the other side. Although the fence divides them, Clover and Annie start to develop a friendship. They meet in the middle and eventually cross the divide. The ripple effect their small actions have on the community is both heartwarming and inspiring. This story has something important to say about fences, and children, and courage, but it says all of these things quietly, letting the reader slowly absorb the message, rather than forcing it. Like the narrative, the illustrations are subtle and inviting. Each image convey the sun, possibilities, and eternal fun of childhood summers. Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, if you haven’t seen this book in a while, definitely look for it on our 8 by Eight display. It is not to be missed.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Early Grade Chapter Books


Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
By Davies, Nicola
Candlewick Press 
9780763655495 $19.99

Davies’ observations of nature are transformed into poems by Hearld’s glorious illustrations. This book will encourage any child with an ounce of curiosity and creativity to create their own nature journal.


Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story
By Spinner, Stephanie
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375868467 $17.99

This book is a retelling, for children, of the book Irene Pepperberg wrote (Alex & Me : How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence —  and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process) about her language research with the African grey parrot Alex. At a time when bird intelligence was considered extremely limited, Alex proved to Pepperberg and the scientific world that he possessed vastly more smarts than anyone had guessed, and a boatload of personality as well.


Malcolm at Midnight
By Beck, W. H.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547681009 $16.99

Malcolm is such a small rat he’s mistaken for a mouse when he becomes the class pet in Mr. Binney’s fifth grade. Soon Malcolm joins the Midnight Academy. The Academy is a secret society of the pets from all the classes, and they’re a varied lot. In fact, some of them may be traitors, allied with the unknown threat that lives in the clock tower. Malcolm has to manage tricky relationships with both the humans and the other animals. The writing is charmingly believable, and the many illustrations add another lively dimension.


The One and Only Ivan
By Applegate, Katherine
9780061992254 $16.99

A quick read based on a true story. A massive silverback ape, Ivan, lived for years in a cage in a faltering roadside attraction. When a baby elephant is added to the menagerie, he realizes she will be condemned to this humiliating drudgery unless he can come up with a way to free them both. Much of the book’s strength lies in the way it recognizes the power of language.

Bestselling author Applegate presents an unforgettable and uplifting tween animal fantasy that explores the power of friendship, art, and hope with humor and touching poignancy. Illustrations.


Lulu Walks the Dogs
By Viorst, Judith
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442435797 $15.99

Lulu needs money, never mind for what, and decides her best gambit is a dog walking enterprise. She certainly does NOT want any interference from Fleischman, the goody two-shoes boy down the block. Lulu is terrible with the dogs, Fleischman keeps trying to be helpful. Chapter by chapter, compromise by compromise, they negotiate their way to a true partnership.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Picture Books


Step Gently Out
By Frost, Helen
Candlewick Press (MA)
9780763656010 $15.99

Young children examine small worlds intently, sometimes frustrated by things too busy or tiny to see well. This quiet poem is illustrated with remarkable close-up photos of delicate insects on stems, leaves, flowers, and dewy twigs.  Back pages give additional information about the eleven different insects.


Get Dressed!
By Chwast, Seymour
9781419701078 $12.95

New Yorker cartoonist Chwast provides plenty of flaps to unfold and lift. Most kids start with getting up and dressing in the morning, and end with pajamas and bed. But in between the book offers all kinds of fun prompts and attire: dragons, hiding in the jungle, cold weather, sand castles, making believe, rock star performing.


By Van Hout, Mies
Lemniscaat USA
9781935954149 $17.95

Once a child learns the basic nouns, verbs, “no!” and “please,” the way is cleared for expressing emotions. The more the emotions can be verbalized, the less they need to be acted out. Happy! is a series of colorful drawings, each of them of a fish that perfectly expresses a given emotion: happy, curious, nervous, brave, shy, surprised, and 14 others.


By Springman, I. C.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547610832 $16.99

Inspired, clever, elaborate illustrations make this the perfect book for a bright child who may or may not be reading fluently.  Those sharp young eyes will detect the visual puns as a magpie collects compulsively until its excess brings down the entire overloaded nest.Luckily, the magpie has friends who help it downsize to the final pages: “Enough? Yes, enough.”


Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
By Falconer, Ian
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442450271 $17.99

Possibly the most amusing Olivia book yet: Olivia is having an identity crisis: what will make her special if everyone is a princess! Olivia decides she’s done, done, DONE with pink. She’s seeking a “more stark, modern style.” It involves lots of black jersey, a la Martha Graham. After considering several possibilities, Olivia arrives at her latest and most definitely appropriate persona.


Cat Tale
By Hall, Michael
Greenwillow Books
9780061915161 $16.99

Three cats, Lillian, Tilly, and William J., start on an outing. Word play is part of the adventure: “They flee a steer.” “They steer a plane.” “They plane a board.” “They board a train.” In the middle the cats become confused for a couple of pages, but the tail/tale homonym sets them back on track to a comfy ending.


MOMA Color Puzzles: 4 Double-Sided Puzzles
By Komagata, Katsumi
Chronicle Books 
9780811876896 $10.99

Four reversible puzzles offer hundreds of ways to re-combine the few pieces, to explore the visual impact of shading, line, and contrast. Created for the Museum of Modern Art.


Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
By Willems, Mo
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
9780062104182 $17.99

Mo Willems is as irrepressible as ever. Three Dinosaurs , Papa, Mama, and “some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway” make a great show of setting out bowls of chocolate pudding, making their beds look comfy, and leaving the  doors open as they pretend to head out into the forest. Along comes Goldilocks, “a little girl who never listens to anyone or anything.” She ignores the many warning signs, and thing are looking ominous until she hears gloating outside the window and realizes she needs to scram.


The Monsters’ Monster
By McDonnell, Patrick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
9780316045476 $16.99

Three little monsters, Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom (he has two heads) squabble over who’s the biggest, baddest monster of all. Finally they decide to pool their efforts to make a MONSTER monster, using “tape, tacks, staples, and glue, gunk, gauze, and gobs of goo, bolts, wire, and a smelly old shoe.” When the huge creation comes to life its first booming word words are “Dank you!” because he’s thankful to be alive. The little rascals chase along behind as he crashes through the walls, marches down the mountain to the bakery, nad buys jelly doughnuts. Everyone shares them happily on a beach, completely forgetting to be monsters.


By Zalben, Jane Breskin
Roaring Brook Press
9781596435490 $16.99

By age 6,7,8, many children have visited an art museum. Like Janson, the mouse who lives in a museum, they may resonate to certain artists. Janson paints herself again and again in the styles of Albers, Rousseau, Warhol, Seurat, Braque, Picasso and 16 other major artists. Eventually she is discovered, and given an exhibition of her own. The book is a great way to introduce the idea of different styles, and associate names with them.


Duck Sock Hop
By Kohuth, Jane
Dial Books
9780803737129 $16.99

Rhythm and bounce will capture everyone’s silly sense as the catchy rhyme rolls along. This is a wake-up-and-get-moving book, not a nighty-night one. Today’s children will need a little clarification from grandparents as to the meaning of “sock hop,” and that’s likely to lead to demonstrations and imitations — in other words, a party.


A Home for Bird
By Stead, Philip Christian
Roaring Brook Press
9781596437111 $16.99

Vernon the frog is pleased to find Bird, whom he welcomes as friend, although bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird  to his friends, but Bird says nothing. Vernon is concerned that Bird might be lost, so he sets out to find Bird’s home. After an arduous journey that tests Vernon’s determination, they stumble into a little house and Bird speaks one word at last: “Cuckoo!”


Otto the Book Bear
By Cleminson, Katie
Hyperion Books
9781423145622 $16.99

Otto is a bear who lives inside a book, and is always happiest when children read his book. He has a secret: sometimes he leaves his book and goes exploring. One day while he’s out, the family moves, taking his book but forgetting Otto! Otto makes a plan, packs a bag, and sets off on a new adventure. The world is a little larger than he had expected, and he’s becoming discouraged when he sees full of light and hope: a library! There he not only finds another book bear, but also, best of all, children reading.

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