Monthly Archives: April 2014

Young Rider

Young Rider. I-5 Publishing, LLC, Irvine, CA. May/June 2014.

Editor: Lesley Ward

ISSN: 1098-2442

Young Rider is a magazine for kids who love horses. While many children’s magazines include a great deal of filler or use extremely simplified text, to the point of being unappealing. Young Rider is the only children’s magazine about horses for children, and it fills this gap admirably. Each article serves a purpose. Most articles are practical, describing how to do things involved in training, horse care, or giving advice on how to deal with horse-related problems. There are also articles that encourage reader involvement, such as horse and rider spotlights and contests.

Practical articles are truly informative and applicable. Some examples from the May/June 2014 issue include “Scoop the Poop! Find out what parasites are lurking inside your horse’s intestines by doing a fecal egg count” and “Turn n Burn: Ten tips to help you run faster barrels!” Readers can send questions for horse trainer Clinton Anderson in the “Ask Clinton” column; the question for this issue is about how to stop a horse from kicking. There are also stories about interesting or famous equestrians or types of riding. For example, “Galloping Under the Big Top: Meet a teenage acrobat who travels the world with an equestrian show!” And “Dan from Down Under: Meet Trainer Dan James!”

There are plenty of giveaways of riding and horse care equipment; readers can enter some by sending in a postcard, and others through contests including picture submissions. In this issue, “YR Tack Trunk” included reviews of helmets, and the “Breed Spotlight” featured the Pony of the Americas, including brief bios of three rider-POA pairs. Book reviews, horse posters, and reader photos are other regular features.

This magazine is an excellent resource for children who are interested in horses, especially those who take riding lessons and/or own their own horse. While articles are fun and accessible, they are in no way patronizing or “dumbed down.” YR always shows riders in appropriate safety equipment in practical articles, giving readers a good example for their own riding habits.


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Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright

Borden, Louise, Trish Marx, Ills. Peter Fiore. Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, NY, 2003.

ISBN: 0-689-84876-5

Ages 5-8

In Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Louise Borden and Trish Marx use free verse to relate stories about the famous flight pioneers and the record-setting flights that they performed in September of 1909, Wilbur in New York City and Orville outside of Berlin. Peter Fiore’s colorful watercolor illustrations capture the liveliness and excitement that surrounded these historic flights.

Touching the Sky succeeds in making the legend of the Wright Brothers come to life through these two brief stories. Each story brings one brother to the center in turn, showing them as individuals instead of simply as half of the Wright Brothers. It shows another aspect of the Wright brothers that is often neglected – the huge fame that they attained after their success with flight.

The text is simple enough to not be too challenging for young children, but not overly simplistic so as to lose the interest of more advanced readers. Fiore’s pictures help to bring the stories alive visually both by portraying the emotions of the stories and showing the reader what the world looked like in 1909; not only the Wright planes, but also the clothing, buildings, and people of the time and places shown.

This book is a good choice for elementary students. The text is suitable and the pictures are interesting enough on their own to divert children who may not yet be up to the reading level of the text.


Read Alikes:

Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden

To Fly: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Wendie C. Old

Hot Air by Marjorie Priceman

The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side by Side by Susan Goldman Rubin, Illustrated by Jos A. Smith


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educating alice

Edinger, Monica. educating alice.

Monica Edinger, “teacher and reader of children’s literature,” fills the virtual pages of her blog, educating alice, with a variety of articles relating to her life and career as a teacher.

The “teaching” section includes reactions from fourth grade students to books Edinger read aloud in class, description of educational units, and projects completed by her students. This section demonstrates the high level of engagement of Edinger’s students in her classes. This section would be of great help to an elementary school teacher, school librarian, or children’s librarian, due to the examples of projects that one could adapt to one’s own situation and the reactions of students to lessons and books.

Edinger has a “review” section that includes links to reviews she has written for other publications, including The New York TimesHorn Book Magazine, and James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead. There is also an “articles” section that lists article credits, many with links. Edinger has also written four books; the bibliographic information is listed in the “books” section. There is a “talks” section with a list of locations and titles of talks Edinger has given. Some of these talks have links to the full text. There are also radio spots and a link to her Huffington Post page.

Perhaps the most rewarding section of Edinger’s page for the children’s librarian is the blog itself. Updated regularly, it includes posts about books, book award news, significant topics in the world of children’s literature, and much more. Specific posts include “Yuyi Morales on Winning the 2014 Pura Belpre Award,” a video interview with the author herself, “Housing Works’ New Book Group for Middle Grade Kids,” about a literacy program in New York, and “26 Characters at Oxford’s Story Museum,” an exhibit/event on children’s literature characters.

The breadth of topics Edinger covers in educating alice alone makes it a worthwhile resource for children’s librarians. It is also valuable for the links Edinger scatters throughout her posts to articles, information, and social media contacts.

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Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

Litwin, Eric, Ills. James Dean. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. HarperCollins. 2011.

The team of Eric Litwin and illustrator James Dean returns with Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, another installment in the popular Pete the Cat series.

This time, Pete is headed to school in red shoes. Pete goes through his day, riding the bus, eating lunch, going to the library, and more, all the while singing that he is “rocking in my school shoes.”

The repetition of these lines in the book will help young readers with learning words and becoming more comfortable reading. This is reinforced with the recording of the song that readers can access online. Not only is the song a fun feature to go along with the book, it also will assist children with reading by allowing them to follow along in the book to the words of the song.

Dean’s artwork is endearing, showing scenes from “Cat Town” and especially Pete’s school. Who can resist a drawing of a bus full of cats? Though the pictures are simple and have a childlike quality, it is clear what each picture is showing (library, classroom, cafeteria, etc.) and therefore they serve the added purpose of showing children what a day at school is like. This may ease anxieties about going to school by giving children a non-threatening example to look to.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes fills a variety of needs for young readers, helping them both with reading and starting school.

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Burt, Marissa. Storybound. HarperCollins, 2013.

ISBN: 0062020536

Age Range: 8-12

Una Fairchild would rather spend her time with a book than with other people. Books she can rely on, unlike kids at school who make fun of her and are gone forever as soon as she moves to another foster home. One day she is reading in the school library when she finds herself inside the book, living it instead of reading it. She soon learns that she has been Written In to Story, the world where characters from the books in the Land of Readers live. Being Written In may not be such a good thing; it hasn’t happened to anyone since a great war before living memory changed the face of Story. In this fantastical world, it is hard to know who to trust and what to believe. Una and her new friends must try to learn the truth about Story and its people before Una’s identity as a Write In is discovered.

Storybound is an entertaining, fast-paced book that is full of action and adventure, with a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue. Readers will fly through this book as they look for answers to all of the questions Una and her friends face as they try to find the truth of Story’s Backstory. They will be delighted by the eclectic group of characters that they will meet, including a talking cat, a Hero in training, and a dryad looking for a missing tree, not to mention fairies, Tale Keepers, possible witches, possible Villians, and especially the world of Story itself.

The fast pace of Storybound and short chapters should be a point of appeal to even reluctant readers. Though the main character, Una, is a girl, her friend Peter also gets ample time at center stage, making the book more accessible to boys who prefer reading about male characters.


Read Alikes:

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Half Upon a Time by James Riley

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles)

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The Folk Keeper

Billingsley, Franny, read by Marian Tomas Griffin. The Folk Keeper. Books On Tape. 2000.

ISBN: 030758254X

Billingsley’s novel, written in the form of journal entries by the main character, Corinna, tells the story of an unusual girl whose job is to keep the fairies happy enough to refrain from making mischief. In other words, she is a “folk keeper.” A life doing this job may sounds strange enough, but things grow even stranger when a new employer reveals a connection to her parents, who abandoned her as an infant and whom she has never heard from since.

Marian Tomas Griffin’s light Irish accent lends character to the narration of the novel, without being strong enough to make her words difficult to understand. She speaks slowly and clearly enough to be understood easily, but not so much as to become tiresome. She differentiates between characters by raising or dropping her voice, which works well enough, especially since the story is told through Corinna’s journal entries. This keeps with the form of the book while also allowing the reader/listener to understand who is speaking.

Billingsley and Griffin both build suspense well, and their work together creates a diverting audiobook.

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