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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 22.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Alphabet House, The First Music, I'd Tell You I'd Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy

Alphabet House
By Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Treat your eyes to a gorgeous tour through the Alphabet House. Each page in this carefully crafted book represents a different letter of the alphabet. In the "M" room, mermaids and a map of Maine decorate the walls, while a mug and a carton of milk sit on the windowsill. More "M" objects abound - it's up to you and your little one to find them.

The small amount of text and exquisite cut paper artwork make this a perfect alphabet book to use with toddlers for their first introduction to the ABCs. While they have loads of fun spotting all of the details within the pictures, they'll also be building valuable vocabulary and letter awareness skills. It's a good read for children ages 2-5.
- Krissy Wick

The First Music
By Dylan Prichett

Prichett, a well-known African American storyteller, delights readers with his first picture book. In ancient Africa, there was no music. All the animals had their sounds, but never made them together and never in harmony. Then, elephant has an accident and stubs his foot against a hollow log. The resulting beat is infectious, and one by one, the animals get into the act, dancing and playing along. Only the frogs are silent. With such short arms they cannot play. But in the end, the frogs find their own way to contribute, proving that when it comes to making music, everyone has something to add.

The illustrations by Erin Bennett Banks are dense and earthy and evoke the jungle. Elements of African decorative carving are used to great effect.

This story begs to be read out loud. Prichett includes notes encouraging the reader to share the story in a way that encourages audience participation. With all the "boom boom" and other animal noises, who could resist?
- Ruth Sias

I'd Tell You I Loved You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You and Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy
By Ally Carter

Being a Gallagher Girl is not easy. First, you're enrolled in a very competitive all-girls school where you're taught college-level course work. Second, you're expected to be able to carry on conversations in 19 languages - for example, you would speak Farsi at lunch and German at dinner. Third, you're a spy (in training).

In Ally Carter's hilarious first novel, I'd Tell You I Loved You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, adventures with these tasks - and dating - await main character Cammie Morgan. While Cammie is brilliant, it turns out she knows very little about boys.

Carter's follow-up novel, Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy, continues where the first book leaves off. Cammie and her friends are back at school, joined by boys from the Blackthorne Institute - and this creates an amusing opportunity for the use of spy techniques. This series is recommended for grades 8 and up.
- Kelly Verheyden

Reviews provided by Youth Services Librarians of the Madison Public Library.

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