Thursday, February 20, 2020

Brainstorm 204: When City Kids Meet Farm Life

I grew up in the city, but my family had close relatives who lived on a working farm not too far away. We made regular visits to the farm, and I never realized until I was older how rare it was for a city kid like me to be pretty familiar with farm life. Most city kids have only loose ideas about where their food comes from or what goes on on a working farm. One of my sisters now works on a farm putting her equine science degree to use. She has some rather entertaining and wild stories about her interactions with city kids meeting farm animals for the first time. (For example, she's had several kids tell her chocolate milk comes from the brown cows.) Book authors have capitalized on the humor, wonder, and even tenderness of these situations when city kids come face to face with domestic animals. So today I have a few books about city slickers meeting farm life for the first time.

Claude in the Country (Claude, #4) by Alex T. Smith
Claude and Sir Bobblysock take a trip to the country and get to be farmers for the day rounding up sheep, lassoing bulls, and other exciting things. And life is anything but dull with these two on the farm.

Target Readers:

  • Humor Fans, Animal Lovers, Silly Story Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Moo by Sharon Creech
After Luke and Reena's parents lose their jobs at a New York City newspaper, the family decides to move to Maine. Upon arrival, Reena finds the freedom to ride their bikes everywhere around town amazing. She does not find being volunteered to help curmudgeonly Mrs. Falala take care of the even worse tempered cow Zora amazing, and neither does her little brother Luke. Zora seems to think it is her goal in life to make Reena's life as hard and muddy as possible. But then Mrs. Falala starts to get art lessons from Luke and seems to mellow a little, and Reena gets cow handling advice from experienced cow hands, Zep and Beat. Reena's going to need all the help she can get because Mrs. Falala wants her to show Zora at the fair.
This story is written in a unique blend of prose and novel in verse text.

Target Readers:

  • Quick Read Hunters, Novel in Verse Fans, Unique Story Format Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Animal Lovers, Maine Locale Fans, Farm Life Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Moo, Katie Woo (Katie Woo) by Fran Manushkin, ill. by Tammie Lyon
Katie goes to a farm on a field trip, learns a lot about where her food comes from and gets lost in a corn field looking for popped popcorn. A trip to the farm with totally believable city kids.

Target Readers:

  • Kids Learning Where Food Comes From, Asian American Character Fans, Leveled Reader Fans, Silly Story Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Field Trip Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Silver Spoon 1 (Silver Spoon) by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Amanda Haley
Yuugo Hachiken has chosen to go to high school at Hokkaido Ooezo Agricultural High School, a boarding school that has multiple hectares of land, and gives students hands-on experience in many of the agricultural fields. All of Hackiken's classmates seem to know exactly what they want to do in the future. The only goal he's sure about is that he wants to be top of the class (he's a little obsessed about it). Most of his classmates come from farming families, and he feels like an oddball for more than one reason. Can he survive at a school for agriculture when he doesn't know the first thing about crops or domestic animals? Or is he going to be trampled to death while he mucks out stalls at some ungodly hour of the morning?
This manga series blends a realistic look at modern farming life in Japan, and the hilarious misadventures and successes of an intense city boy trying to survive in this boarding school environment by applying his serious study skills. If you’re looking for a pretty clean intro to manga (only very, very occasional minor swearing and some farm things like animal butchering rarely), this is a fun series. And it really helps city teens learn what all goes into the food they eat.

Target Readers: 

  • Manga Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Japanese Culture Fans, Those Curious about Modern Farming, Boarding School Story Fans, Humor Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Young Adult Readers

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Brainstorm 203: Hugs, a Kiss, a Hand to Hold, and Words of Encouragement

It’s Valentine’s Day, and everyone expresses their love for others in different ways. So today I have books with a couple hugs, a kiss, a hand to hold, and a word of encouragement. Several of the hug books would make great compare/contrast combinations as they have similar plot lines or themes.

Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland
Bear loves to give hugs to any and everything, but especially to trees. When a man comes into the woods and starts to chop down a tree, bear doesn't know what to do. Or does he?
The illustrations in this are hilarious. I love the expressions of the surprised animals getting hugged. The solution to the issue is quite funny too.

Target Readers:

  • Animal Lovers, Tree Lovers, Humor Fans, Love Your “Enemy” Story Fans, Picture Book Fans

Hug by Jez Alborough
A little chimpanzee is wandering through the jungle looking for someone who will hug him.
With only 3 different words, this is a great pick for an emergent reader. And the illustrations are adorable.

Target Readers:

  • Emergent Readers, Animal Lovers, Picture Book Fans

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
The Hug Machine lives for hugs, he is very good at them, and he doesn't discriminate about who gets his hugs. He hugs the young and the old and the prickly and even the metallic or wooden. But sometimes, even the Hug Machine gets tired and needs a hug of his own.
This little boy spreads cheer wherever he goes. Some of the hugs are a little silly, but his heart seems to be in the right place.

Target Readers:

  • Silly Story Fans, Sweet Story Fans, Picture Book Fans

Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo
Felipe is a cactus. He comes from a family that's prim, proper, and not very touchy feely. That doesn't change the fact that Felipe longs for a hug. After one disastrous friendship, he eventually gives up on his desire, so he says, but then he meets the perfect friend. A cute story with a warning about choosing friends wisely or getting too emotionally calloused.

Target Readers:

  • Kids Needing Emotional Guidance/Friendship Advice, Cactus Lovers, Sweet Story Fans, Picture Book Fans

I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey
Who is willing to give a porcupine a hug? Procupine gets a whole host of comical reactions to his request for a hug, and gets an unexpected solution.

Target Readers:

  • Silly Story Fans, Rhyming Story Fans, Animal Lovers, Picture Book Fans

The Kiss That Missed by David Melling
The King is in a bit too much of a hurry (as usual) and misses when he blows a kiss goodnight to the little prince. He sends his most trusted knight to go catch the wayward kiss.

Target Readers:

  • Adventure Fans, Fantasy Fans, Humor Fans, Picture Book Fans

Hold Hands by Sara Varon
A rhyming picture book celebration of all the times and situations when it is good to hold hands.
The holding hands situations covered in this book include things like companionship, safety, solidarity, friendship, love, lending bravery, care, and bittersweet moments. It’s a cute picture book with Varon’s signature style of animal characters and kids will likely eat it up. There are lots of picture books about hugs and kisses out there, but I can’t think of another one about holding hands.

Target Readers:

  • Cuteness Fans, Animal Lovers, Sweet Story Fans, Picture Book Fans

Loading Penguin Hugs: Heartwarming Comics from Chibird by Jacqueline Chen
A collection of one page comics that will help brighten a bad day, add a little cuteness in your life, encourage you to grow or enjoy the little blessings in life, motivate you, give your perfectionistic or procrastinating tendencies some redirection, give your self-esteem a little pick me up, or just encourage you to keep working hard.
There is some really good and healthy advice in here for bad days, tough times, or for people who are just a little too hard on themselves.

Target Readers:

  • Those Needing Encouragement, Those Needing Motivation, Those Needing a Dose of Cuteness, Comic Fans, Readers of All Ages