Columbus Parent reviews books and sites

Books for Kids

"BACK TO FRONT AND UPSIDE DOWN" by Claire Alexander

When Stan's class is asked to make birthday cards for the principal, Stan is really excited because he loves to draw. But when Miss Catnip tells him he has to write in the card as well, Stan gets nervous. His letters never go in the right direction, and writing seems so much easier for everyone else in the class. He could ask his teacher for help, but what if everyone laughs at him? Winner of the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award, this picture book will gently assure young readers that it's okay to ask for help sometimes. FOR AGES 3 TO 7.

"KEVIN KEEPS UP" by Ann Whitehead Nagda

Kevin has a cheetah report due soon, but all he can think about is his lost pet snake. Luckily, Mrs. Steele knows how to help him focus. Except Mrs. Steele says she's leaving the next day for a two-week trip. Worse still, Mrs. Beezer "The Buzzard" will be her substitute! Will Kevin be able to finish his report on cheetahs without Mrs. Steele, or will The Buzzard punish him with indoor recess like she always does? This beginner-level chapter book addresses some students' struggles with paying attention and how this makes schoolwork more challenging. FOR AGES 7 TO 10.

"I FUNNY: A MIDDLE SCHOOL STORY" by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Self-proclaimed "sit-down comic" Jamie Grimm has recently entered The Planet's Funniest Kid Comic Contest, despite his major fear of choking in front of audiences. He spends his free time researching other comedians and writing his own jokes, partly because this hobby helps him cope with a very serious secret in his past. But will Jamie be able to remember his routine when he's up on stage, staring into all those faces? Will the judges see the funniest kid comic, or just a kid in a wheelchair? Packed with middle school humor and comic book illustrations, I Funny tackles not-so-funny real-life subjects with candor, and is a great read for budding comics, or middle school readers in the mood for a good laugh. FOR AGES 9 TO 12.

"COLIN FISCHER" by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz

A handgun fires in the middle of the high school cafeteria. Resident bully Wayne Connelly, who counts Colin Fischer among his swirly victims, is the immediate suspect. But Colin knows from his powers of observation and deductive reasoning that it couldn't have been Wayne that fired the gun. So begins a gripping and Sherlockian investigation as Colin resolves to identify the real culprit and prove Wayne's innocence. Readers with an interest in forensics and crime-solving will appreciate this novel and, through Colin's first-person journal entries, gain a better understanding of Asperger's syndrome. FOR TEENS.

-Laura Johnson, Homework Help Center Specialist, Parsons Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Website

AACAP.ORG

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website offers a wealth of information for parents and guardians of children and adolescents. Its Facts for Families page offers tips and suggestions on a wide range of issues, including bedwetting, starting school, pet death, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-injury and teen pregnancy. Fact sheets are available in eight other languages, and the homepage features quick links to resource centers and helplines.

-Laura Johnson

Books for Parents

"RECIPE FOR JOY: A STEPMOM'S STORY OF FINDING FAITH, FOLLOWING LOVE AND FEEDING A FAMILY" by Robin Davis

Want honest? You'll find it here. Dispatch food editor Robin Davis was living her dream as a food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Suddenly, the woman who never thought she'd marry fell in love with an Ohio widower - and his three young children. This is her sometimes gut-wrenching, ever-fascinating story.

-Kristy Eckert

"PARENTING: ILLUSTRATED WITH CRAPPY PICTURES" by Amber Dusick

I had seen excerpts of super-mommy-blogger Dusick's work (crappypictures.com). Very funny little anecdotes, awesomely awful computer-trackpad drawings. I never would have expected that such small-dose humor would work in book form. Guess what? It does and it's fantastic. Granted (and I'll freely admit this is a familiar theme with me), the language is loose and the bathroom humor is thick, but there's a lot in this book that will ring very, very true and it would make a great new-parent gift.

-Jane Hawes