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Ages 5-11

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My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman

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Lily decides Tamika will be her best friend. She tries to impress Tamika with a new bathing suit and learning how to dive. Lily learns you can't always pick who will be your friend. This is a good book for young readers who are learning the complexity of friendships.

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Guys Read

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What fun I had reading [t:Guys Write for Guys Read] filled with funny and touching tales from guys for guys and I am a girl! [a:Jon Scieszka] edited the collection of stories and he has a fabulous website for kids and parents [http://guysread.com|Guysread.com]. Come to the downtown library to see our display of books for guys and gals like me.

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Bravo Grace by Mary Hoffman

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First there was [b:1033781|Amazing Grace] and [t:Boundless Grace] then [t:Starring Grace] and [t:Encore Grace]. Now [b:1245395|Bravo Grace] continues the story of Grace and the Gang. Grace has to face many changes. Mama is getting married, they are moving into the house next door, and her friends are starting to realize the complexity of boy girl relationships.[http://www.maryhoffman.co.uk|Mary Hoffman] gently handles the sober subjects of death, marriage, divorce and bullying in this addition to the Grace story books.

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Howl's Moving Castle

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Perhaps you saw the flick by [a:Hayao Miyazaki]? Miyazaki usually writes his own stories, but he was clearly inspired by this amazing book. Miyazaki also directed [t:My Neighbor Totoro], [t:Spirited Away], and [t:Princess Mononoke]. [t:Howl's Moving Castle] by [a:Diana Wynne Jones] is also a must read for fans of [t:Harry Potter]! The story is about Sophie who is a hat shop apprentice until a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle of the wizard Howl. [a:Diana Wynne Jones] is the author of MANY books - so you will never run out of great fantasy options.

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Did you read it over the weekend?

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We know it sold [http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzpott184348618jul18,0,5051913.story?coll=ny-business-headlines|a record 6.9 million copies] in the first 24 hours, but did you actually have time to read [t:Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince] over the weekend? I only had time enough to get through the first fifty pages, but I'm looking forward to the next 622.

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Here Come the ABC's

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A host of animators and puppeteers illustrate the wonderfully wacky [t:Here Come the ABC's], a recent children's DVD (also on CD) from the band [a:They Might Be Giants]. Highlights include the psychedelic "Pictures of Pandas Painting", "C is for Conifer," and "The Alphabet Lost and Found." [a:they might be giants|TMBG], purveyors of whimsical experimental pop, celebrated their 20-year anniversary in 2002 with the release of their first children's CD, [k:fibber island|No!]

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The Mighty Asparagus

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There's an [k:turnip|oft-reinterpreted] [s: folklore -- russia|russian folk tale] about a big turnip, and lots of people try to pull it out, etc. etc. The titular [t:Mighty Asparagus] of this book is an obvious descendant of the [k:russian turnip], but the brilliantly off-kilter style and tone of [a:Vladimir Radunsky] provide a wonderful new spin on the otherwise warmed-over folk tale that is eccentric and quite silly.

Radunsky uses famous renaissance paintings as visual fodder (and includes thanks and an apology to each pillaged artist in his dedication), and the result is a unique combination of rich texture and cross-eyed goofiness that overshadows (in a good way) whatever the parable is supposed to be about (even the smallest effort counts).

My 3-year-old son adores this book, especially the Ballad of the Mighty Asparagus at the end, but if you have a child who is into order, they may be a bit dismayed by the centerfold-style pullout of the fallen asparagus. Should that have had a spoiler warning?

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Remaking Gene Wilder

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Poor [k:Gene Wilder]: Two of his films, [k:Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, wilder|Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory] (1971) and [k:The Producers, wilder, mostel|The Producers] (1968), are getting remade this year. First, [a:Depp, Johnny|Johnny Depp] stars as Wonka in the upcoming Tim Burton film [http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0367594/|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] (which [a:Tim Burton|Burton] is careful to claim is not a remake--but we know better), then [a:Broderick, Matthew|Matthew Broderick] takes on Leo Bloom in the [http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0395251/|upcoming film version] of The Producers.

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Lance Armstrong

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The new youth book [t:Lance Armstrong, Cyclist|Lance Armstrong, Cyclist] by Michael Benson describes [s: Lance Armstrong|Armstrong's] amazing journey from cancer survivor to today's frontrunner in the [http://www.letour.fr/2005/TDF/LIVE/us/1100/index.html|2005 Tour de France].

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The Guild of Geniuses

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Frederick Lipton is a Movie Star. As is often the case with Movie Stars, his best friend is a monkey: Mr. Pip. They find themselves in need of the services of [t:guild of geniuses|The Guild of Geniuses], a co-ed group of four wizened, lab-coated scientists who solve any problem and offer prizes to those who are able to stump them, although it is noted that they haven't yet had to give out a single prize.

This is [a: Dan Santat]'s first book, both as an author and an illustrator, and while the story is sweet, it's also a bit dull. The art, however, is stylish, colorful, and retro-geeky, reminiscent of [a: Mo Willems]' excellent animated works such as The Off-Beats and Sheep in the Big City.