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Sunday, December 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 35.0° F  Overcast
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Sweet!: The Delicious Story of Candy; Today I will Fly!; Keeping Corner

Sweet!: The Delicious Story of Candy by Ann Love and Jane Drake

The colorful jellybeans on the cover may be eye-catching, but it's what's inside this book that's the real treat. We know today's kids (and grownups) love candy, but is the sweet tooth a modern phenomenon? Hardly! It seems humans have been chasing a sugar rush since the dawn of time. In Sweet!, the authors go from the first human to brave a beehive to the complex process of making the world's finest chocolate, with lots of ooey-gooey goodness in-between.

A map at the beginning shows the preferred sweets of children around the world. This book is packed with educational information, but kids won't know it's good for them. It seems a spoonful of sugar also helps the history lesson go down.

- Jill Olig

Today I will Fly! by Mo Willems

Every so often, a children's book is published that's both entertaining and accessible to the newest readers. This year, it's the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. One of the books is Today I Will Fly!, which plays off the saying, "When pigs fly."

Piggie decides one day that she will fly. Her friend, Elephant, has doubts. The cartoon-like illustrations, which will look familiar to fans of Willems' Pigeon books, add an element of hilarity and help emerging readers to understand the story line and make educated guesses if they can't read a specific word.

The books in the rest of the series, My Friend Is Sad, There Is a Bird on Your Head and I Am Invited to a Party are all equally amusing and fun for both reader and listener - no matter your age or reading level.

- Carissa Christner

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

Twelve-year-old Leela's enthusiasm for life is infectious; her mom can no more resist Leela's love for bright new bangles than she can her pleas to wear the sari she thinks looks the most beautiful on her.

The story, set in Gujarat, India, in 1918, reflects the times. Many think that Leela shouldn't be so indulged. She has, after all, been married for the past three years and will be going to live with her husband in the not too distant future. Won't it be that much more difficult for her to acclimate to her new life if she's spent her childhood being pampered?

Unfortunately, Leela never gets the chance to find out. After her husband dies suddenly, Leela must face the fate of the Brahmin widows she has always avoided and pitied. She loses all of the adornment she loves; her head is shaved, and she's left with a life devoid of anything beautiful or fun.

Filled with breath-taking imagery and lush descriptions, Keeping Corner sweeps its readers into the life of a girl whose future seems lost, but who finds healing and courage from different places. Madison-based author Sheth draws from the life story of her aunt for this tale, and Keeping Corner also beautifully weaves in the true-life inspiration of Gandhi from this time period.

- Bridget Zinn

Isthmus reviews are provided by the Youth Services Librarians of Madison Public Library.

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