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Friday, October 18, 2019

9 Scary Books I Survived Reading (And Actually Recommend)!


I'm not really into scary books. I don't watch scary movies.

I was terrified and haunted by a Goosebumps book I read in my childhood, so I steer clear of those, but I can recommend these scary books.

Every once in a while I read a scary book and I like it!



Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

A mix of realistic fiction, fantasy and horror, Spirit Hunters has nice balance between tension and happier moments. With strong, well developed characters and a very satisfying ending, it sets up well for a series and book two is already out. Graveyards, possessions, super creepy! Ultimately a hopeful book. Late grade school and up, depending on how brave you are. Benjamin and I both read this one. More of our thoughts here.



The Underneath by Kathi Appelt 

Breaks your heart, scares you to death and  is so so read-aloud-able. Somewhat mystical, but mostly realistic. I don't even know what age to recommend this for. This is about a dog and a cat who are friends and live under the house of a very scary man. I have wanted to read it to my kids, but not sure they're ready for it . . . sounds like it's time for a re-read!



Through the Woods by Emily Carroll 

Suuuuper creepy stories in graphic novel form. I mean these ones are just "WOW!" well written and drawn. They are definitely my favorite creepy stories since I first heard Edgar Allen Poe audio productions when I was in about 4th grade. Middle school and up.

 
Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly 

A fun creepy graphic novel about a new girl in town who thinks there is something off about the school, and she is SO right. Friendship, bullying, suspense! Recommended for second grade and up.



Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland 

I was so fascinated and creeped out by this two-book graphic novel. I loved it. There has been a mysterious Spill of some kind. Our protagonist's parents died in the big accident, and now she takes care of herself and her sister by going into the Spill Zone and taking pictures to sell to collectors. Awesome motorcycle scenes, just the right amount of mystery and I recommend it for teens and adults.



Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale

The latest from Nathan Hale (of Hazardous Tale fame). When some kids take a break from drama club rehearsal to grab tacos for the group, things go wrong. I got to read an advance copy of this one and though I'm sure my science-savvy husband would roll his eyes . . .ahem . . . at the impossibility of some of the explanation for the apocalypse, I was thoroughly creeped out and finished it in one sitting.



Closed For the Season by Mary Downing Hahn 

It's been years since I read this book, but I remember thinking "Wow, that was dark! But, actually really good!" and also wondering if I had kudzu in my back yard, because of this book. I did NOT wonder if I should explore an abandoned amusement park. Mary Downing Hahn is prolific and I would definitely re-read this or try another one of her books. Closed for the season won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. When I was at the bookstore the other day they had a table out for Halloween and it had 4 or 5 titles by Hahn on it, including this one.




Hidden by Helen Frost

This is a novel in verse, so a very quick read. The premise is that a convenience store holdup goes wrong and turns into a car heist. When the perpetrator gets home, the terrified girl who had been hiding in the back seat meets his own daughter. Years later, the two girls meet again at a summer camp. No fantasy element. I love the way that Frost's poetry activates the imagination for maximum tension. Appropriate for grade school and up, recommended for all ages.



Kindred by Octavia E Butler 

This graphic novel adaptation was absolutely unputdownable. A modern black woman is sucked into the past and back again. The mystery of why and how she time travels intertwines with the character development in such a perfect way. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole book. It would've been a top contender for me in the Cybils except I thought (and the ohter panelists agreed with me) the themes of this amazing adaptation are more "adult" than "YA." Recommended for adults.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Both Disgusting and Delicious: Compare 2 Yummy Board Books

Sam is officially two years old! I don't know if I can believe it. In some ways the time seems longer and in others I feel like he was just born yesterday. Our whole family loves this kiddo with all our hearts and he loves us back.


Our local library is running the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Is yours? When I attempted the program with Jubilee a few years back, I got discouraged and off-track. I would fill up a reading log for her, but not have the next one ready to go. I learned from that experience (growth mindset!) and decided to try the program again with Sam. I asked the librarians to give me multiple reading logs at a time, so that I could tape them all to my walls (next to the bookshelf) and just keep the log running, even when we had to peel one down to return it to the library (and it ended up lingering in my bag for a while before it got turned into a prize.)

Well, Sam loves to read and not only did he read 1000 books before kindergarten; he read 1000 books before age 2. I read a lot with my kids but I didn't know we were that good!

In celebration of Sam's second birthday, and his increasing discernment between edible and non-edible objects, here is a comparison of two board books on the subject. Spoiler: We love them both! 




Yum Yummy Yuck by Cree Lane + Amanda Jane Jones - The title of this one makes it certain to be compared to Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli. Both books are super cute, and they're quite different. 

Both books take you through a pattern. In Yum Yummy Yuck, two delicious foods (usually fruits and veggies) are presented, then the authors bring up one non-edible item that babies like to stick in their mouths, like bandaids, soap*, and crayons. The words follow the title closely, "Yum. Yummy." until the "Yuck" section. Then you get commentary on what the item is actually for, since it shouldn't be eaten. The surprise deviation from the pattern in the middle of the book is my children's favorite part, and they all chime in on the big OoOoo!


Yummy Yucky's pattern is to compare one food and one non-edible on each two page spread. The items compared usually have similar sounding names. "____ is yummy. ____ is yucky." Levi (my 9 year old) absolutely loves the page "Burgers are yummy. Boogers are yucky." and quotes it all the time.

In Yum Yummy Yuck there are more words.  I would say Yummy Yucky is better for emerging readers, and Yum Yummy Yuck is better for vocabulary building. It's aimed a smidge more at the adults who are presumably reading it to the child; it contains humourous, higher vocabulary phrases like "If you try to eat sand, you'll immediately regret it."

In both books the illustrations are top notch. Yum Yummy Yuck, illustrations are graphic and spare -- just the item in question. This does cause a disagreement for us on one page, when Levi joins in my reading to Sam. We all agree that the strawberry is a strawberry, but is that one illustration a corn cob or a pea pod? Colors are not necessarily true to life in this book, so that each set of three can match in color. It makes the book beautiful. And it gives us a chance to talk about how both peas and corn are yummy. In Yummy Yucky, illustrations also include a child interacting with the items. This really tickles the funny bone for my older kids.


Yum Yummy Yuck has matte pages, and Yummy Yucky has slick pages. The matte pages do match the look and feel of the modern board book, but I confess that I worry more about the book getting dirty and not coming clean. We treat our books pretty rough around here.

We've liked Yum Yummy Yuck so well over the last few months that I nominated it for the Cybils awards (I got a free copy, for review). Yummy Yucky we don't own, but I would own it.





*Benjamin was always trying to eat soap and lotion!
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