Dream big with ‘Buglette the Messy Sleeper’

“BUGLETTE, THE MESSY SLEEPER,” by Bethanie Murguia, Tricycle Press, May 10, 2011, $15.99 (ages 4-8)

Buglette is a tidy little bug. She loves arranging things just so. But when it comes to bed, she’s just a messy sleeper.

In the morning when she wakes up, Buglette is tangled in blankets and her leaf is a mess. “Why can’t you be more like Spot and Red?” her mother asks. “Such neat little sleepers.”

In Buglette’s defense, she just can’t help it. Buglette has big dreams, so big she can’t control what happens with her body when she sleeps. She’s building the tallest mountain ever and swinging through the air and kicking a ball high into the sky.

But what if Buglette’s messy sleeping wakes the scary crow? Will her big dreams help her save the day?

“Buglette, the Messy Sleeper” celebrates differences and the ability to dream big. Buglette’s bravery and ingenuity also ring true. Buglette’s ladybug family comes to life in whimsical watercolor illustrations that are sure to encourage young readers’ imaginations.

© 2011, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: ages 4-8, picture books

Tara Hudson’s ‘Hereafter’ perfect for a lazy summer afternoon

“HEREAFTER,” by Tara Hudson, HarperTeen, June 7, 2011, $17.99 (young adult)

Paranormal stories abound these days, giving readers lots of choices — both good and bad. If readers are patient, though, and willing to sift through, their hard work will most likely pay off, as is the case in “Hereafter” by Tara Hudson.

Amelia is sure she’s dead, but that’s about the only thing she’s sure about. She’s been drifting through existence in the dark waters of a river somewhere in Oklahoma. Amelia can’t remember her life or her death. She floats through a numb existence not really caring.

That all changes when she wakes from a nightmare and realizes it’s not her, but someone else who is drowning. And it’s terrifying. As a ghost, there’s nothing Amelia can do for him, but she has to try. A whisper in his ear, a quick glance and he inexplicably survives.

The two, Amelia and Joshua, have a connection. No one else can see Amelia and Joshua feels drawn to her. Together they set out to uncover details of her life — her full name, where she lived and how she died.

Before Joshua, Amelia’s existence was lonely and singular. Now it’s full. But there’s another spirit that has other plans for Amelia, and he’ll stop at nothing to get his way.

“Hereafter” isn’t the best paranormal thriller out there, but it’s a strong read nonetheless. This character-driven drama is compelling and Tara Hudson’s players, particularly Amelia, are well developed.

Hudson’s plotting is in keeping with her homey prose. She never strays too far from her core and that adds an authenticity to the more fantastical elements woven throughout.

“Hereafter” is a quick and engrossing read, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.

© 2011 – 2013, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: YA review, young adult

Book tackles the big question of ‘How?’

“TIME FOR KIDS BIG BOOK OF HOW,” by Editors of Time for Kids Magazine, Time for Kids, June 7, 2011, $17.95 (ages 8-12)

Have you ever found yourself faced with a “How?” question? “The Big Book of How” addresses those question head on.

From “How were the Egyptian pyramids built?” to “How do submarines work?” a plethora of more than 500 facts are tackled in collection of questions and answers.

“The Big Book of How” is divided into 11 chapters featuring such topics as animals, being prepared, sports, buildings, science, transportation, home technology, food, space, the human body and going green. Hands-on activities and experiments are offered at the end of each chapter.

Within the chapters, each topic is introduced with a brief background necessary to understanding both the main question and its answer. Diagrams and photos also help the answer become clearer. And factoids and information boxes help further understanding.

“The Big Book of How” isn’t a book most people will read from cover to cover. Rather it’s one that young readers will most likely flip through, stopping on areas of interest and exploring from there.

Bold color and accessible design help make “The Big Book of How” enjoyable while still being educational. And the questions asked are compelling enough that older readers and adults will enjoy them, too.

“The Big Book of How” is also a good choice for reluctant readers — small sections of text and lots of pictures will appeal to those with even the shortest of attention spans.

© 2011 – 2013, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Live life to the fullest with ‘No One But You’

“NO ONE BUT YOU,” by Douglas Wood and P.J. Lynch, Candlewick Press, May 10, 2011, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

There are so many things a person can only truly understand by experiencing them on their own.

“No One But You” celebrates those experiences, those discoveries each of us make.

“No one but you can feel the rain kiss your skin or the wind ruffle your hair.” Remember the first time you walked through a rain puddle in your bare feet? What about seeing the morning sun sparkle on the water or gently holding a turtle with your own hands?

How do you describe the hum of a bumblebee or the smell of the moist earth after a rain shower? Each time you blow dandelion seeds is different than the last, and nothing compares to the first greeting with a new puppy.

With each event you create your own memories, unique to only you.

Together, author Douglas Wood and illustrator P.J. Lynch celebrate the experiences that make us who we are. The poetic text reminds readers of times gone by and generates excitement for times to come. Accompanied by rich illustrations that are almost photographic in nature, “No One But You” is sure to become a family favorite.

© 2011, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: ages 4-8, picture books

Josephine Angelini’s ‘Starcrossed’ is an addictive read

“STARCROSSED,” by Josephine Angelini, Harper Teen, May 31, 2011, $17.99 (young adult)

Greek mythology is full of drama and angst, so it stands to reason a book featuring a tie in to Greek mythology would also feature the above elements. And luckily for readers, these elements mesh harmoniously in “Starcrossed” by Josephine Angelini.

Helen Hamilton is tall, skinny and beautiful, but she’d rather you didn’t know that. She’s spent the past 16 years trying to hide, shoulders hunched, looking down. She’s been keeping her physical abilities — unbelievable speed, never getting sick — under wraps, too.

It hasn’t been easy flying under the radar on an island as small as Nantucket. And it only seems to be getting harder as Helen’s gotten older. Add in the sudden appearance of the Delos family, and it looks to be an exciting school year.

When Helen starts having nightmares of a desolate desert and wakes to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust, she begins to wonder about her own sanity. Things are even worse at school, where she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood.

Someone’s pulling the strings in Helen’s life and it’s not her. As she begins to unlock the secrets of her ancestry, she learns that there’s more to myths than just bedtime stories.

“Starcrossed” is an addictive read. Much like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, it’s not high literature, but still not something you want to put down. There’s something about Josephine Angelini’s writing style that pulls the reader in and makes them want to stay.

Elements of Greek mythology are woven throughout, increasing the interest level. And the unbelievable story is just believable enough.

Will “Starcrossed” become a classic? Probably not. But who cares? Well maybe the author does. But legions of fans won’t. It’s a fast-paced adventure with characters readers will want to root for.

© 2011 – 2013, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

Categories: YA review, young adult