YA – Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word

Fleischman, Paul, and Melissa Sweet. Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word. Candlewick Press, 2020. 978-0-763-69066-5. 144 p. $19.99. Grades 7-12.

In the wonderful world of words, there are few who have wondered and wandered beyond the norm and taken the written word to the next level. Many of these remarkable wordsmiths are uncelebrated and previously ignored by the kid lit world. Paul Fleischman is the bookworm to shine a spotlight on these stories in this unique alphabet book. He shouts like a circus ringmaster and sells each oddity with an entertaining cadence. Melissa Sweet sweetens the narration with her captivating collages and artistic alphabetic quotations. See Robert Shields, who journaled every minute of his day for 24 straight years! Behold Ross Eckler, who coded shifting letters to rearrange the alphabet and created isogram games which don’t repeat letters! And discover the gifts of Marc Okrand, who invented a whole new language for aliens! All these and much more are waiting for you to explore. But beware, this is not a simple to follow ABC book and may leave you head scratching and brain baffled! Nonetheless, the wonder of it all will be worth your linguistic while.

THOUGHTS: While I hoped for this to be more elementary accessible, it was enjoyable from an academic standpoint. Playing with the language and learning its complexities may not appeal to the hoi polloi, yet this text will open readers to fascinating new pathways to literacy and learning. Recommended for secondary collections.

809 Linguistics        Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Picture Books – Lost Gift; Hensel & Gretel; Wonderfall

lostgift

George, Kallie. The Lost Gift. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016. 978-0-553-52481-p. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr PreK-2.

It’s Christmas Eve and four forest friends are happy to catch a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh. A gust of wind drops a package nearby and Deer, Bird, Rabbit, and Squirrel realize that it’s meant for the New Baby at a nearby farm. The friends decide to deliver the package for Santa and spend a long, cold, hungry night delivering the gift. While they have second thoughts (especially grumpy Squirrel), they realize that it was worth the effort when they see New Baby’s delight at her new rattle. The animals trudge home and find a gift from Santa waiting in the snow—a delicious treat to fill their empty bellies. When Squirrel wonders “But how did he know?” Rabbit replies “Santa always knows.” Stephanie Graegin’s simple and colorful illustrations create a real feeling of the season. THOUGHTS: This sweet, simple holiday story will be enjoyed by little kids and big kids alike.

Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

 

ninjachicks

Schwartz, Corey Rosen, and Rebecca J. Gomez. Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0399176265. 40pp. $17.99.  Gr. K – 3.

A companion book to The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood, this book is just as action packed and fun! Their mother is missing, so these smart sisters decide to get some proactive ninja training at the 3 Pigs Dojo, where the motto is “Get Empowered, Not Devoured.” When their father goes missing, they follow, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind. Bad idea, but they persevere. When suddenly a tempting cornbread house is found, will Hensel and Gretel be able to escape temptation? Fortunately one of these fowls keeps their head and is able to sneak in, distracting the fox to rescue Ma. The other, after a momentary lapse of judgement picks the lock and joins the fray!  THOUGHTS: The fast pace and perfect rhymes in this book match the success of the other two books by these fabulous collaborators. Girls and boys alike will get a kick out of these powerful poultry.

Picture Book      Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

wonderfall

Hall, Michael. Wonderfall. New York: Greenwillow, 2016. 978-0-06-238298-6. Uppaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

“In this book you will discover 1 colorful tree, 2 scurrying squirrels, and 15 blended words created to celebrate the wonder of fall!” This is the description in the inside jacket, and it sets the stage for the contents that follows. With short, simple, and touching poems that are accessible to younger readers, Hall has created a very attractive autumn book. The colorful collage illustrations will call Ehlert and Carle to mind, and closer exploration shows several continuing mini-stories with the squirrels. The titles of each poem replace the suffix -ful/full with the seasonal -fall, and it makes the words more meaningful… I mean, meaningfall! Enjoy this seasonal sensation – you’ll be thankfall that you did.  THOUGHTS: This would be a fun lesson on playing with words, studying suffixes, or creating short poems. The end of the book also connects back to animals who appear in the book and describes how they survive the coming winter. Plus, there’s a page about those pesky squirrels and their protective oak tree.

Picture Book      Dustin Brackbill, State College Area