Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bilingual Anyone?

Do your children take a foreign language class? Both of mine did, but no longer. The school system they attend now does not offer a language class until middle school. We have to supplement their language lessons at home. That got me to thinking about books that include a second language, such as "Bebe Goes Shopping." My children always enjoyed that one, but here is another:

“The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred”

By Samantha R. Vamos
Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
For Ages 4 - 8
If you’ve ever read “The House that Jack Built” you’ll understand the progressive-structured nature of this tale. The farm maiden and all the animals come together to make rice pudding. Rated 3.5 (rhyme, Spanish, recipe)

The story of the farm maiden build as she and the animals work together to make a rice pudding for the evening fiesta. Vamos uses repetition and relationships to expose children to Spanish words and their meanings. The accompanying illustrations, by Lopez, use vibrant colors and layers to evoke a folk art style that matches well with the traditional progressive-structured narrative. Readers will enjoy this rhythmic tale as a read-aloud at story time. They’ll also enjoy the rice pudding recipe and glossary of words, which can be found at the back of the book

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Summer Techno-Adventure

I read a lot of books. I'm not complaining about it either, I love books. But I have a hard time not reading all the books in a series once I get started, which can make reviewing new books difficult. Sequels get me every time. I just have to know how the author extended the story. Sometimes they do a great job. Sometimes they don't. Occasionally they leave the first book with a second already planned. Such is the case with the book I review for you today.

“Trackers, Book Two: Shantorian”

By Patrick Carman
For Ages 9 – 12
It's like "The Usual Suspects" for the teen set. The entire story is told from the confines of an interrogation room. The twists and turns keep you guessing about what's really going on through this fast-paced techno-mystery. Rated 4 (mystery, adventure, peril)

Taking up where Book One left off; Adam, Lewis, Emily and Finn are still in custody and being questioned by the FBI. In Book One we discover that Adam and his friends are high-tech experts capable of infiltrating anything and finding anyone. Soon they catch the eye of the Internet Security Directive, led by a man named Lazlo with the help of teen, tech genius Zara. The Directive wants Adam and his gang to work with them to catch Shantorian, a super-villain determined to shut down the Internet. It’s a complicated plot with several twists. Ultimately the team of friends find themselves in FBI custody being questioned for the theft of four billion dollars.

Adam is calm and collected in both books as he lays the entire story out for Agent Ganz. Evidence is offered in the form of videos which can be seen online, or the scripts that can be read at the back of the book. The pacing is fast, with little time spent on details other than those essential to the story. As the story unfolds the mystery becomes less about the theft and more about who Lazlo and Zara really are. Adam is the only character that ever truly gets developed but readers will find it easy to relate to him. Reluctant readers and tech-savvy preteens should enjoy this tale.