Books by Susanna Natti

Released: Sept. 1, 2005

A group of six children introduces Hanukkah by each stating his or her favorite part or activity for the celebration. They progress to the detailed, intriguing facts and legends recounting the historical reason for the holiday's recognition, the origins of the dreidel game, the varieties of materials used to make one and how the rules of play evolved over generations. Most interesting are two stories of women heroines, not readily known: Judith and a mother and daughter team both named Hannah, who were responsible in their own clever and respective ways for outsmarting the Syrian General Holophernes and encouraging the Maccabees to fight their first battle for religious freedom. In addition, a section on "Sevivon ["dreidel" in Hebrew] Science" is included, explaining the game's odds within the laws of probability as well as Newton's law of inertia that allows the spinning top to stay in motion. Filled with side snippets of related facts and explanations, this is one of the most complete and cleverly written books on the winter holiday. Black-and-white sketches of the children providing informative clues as well as drawings of historical scenes round out this well-designed and entertainingly interesting little book. Great for families to share and read aloud. (Nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

It's a long shot, but Adler takes a stab at turning a mystery on the slender hope of a shopping list. Can it be done? Not in this effort, the seventh in the Young Cam Jansen, early reading series. Cam—that's short for Camera, that's short for her photographic memory—helps her dad locate a shopping list he has misplaced. But most of this story is spent introducing readers—likely for the umpteenth time—to Cam, her rare talent, and her display of that talent by repeating verbatim a book she read some time back. Natti's artwork, which provides welcome relief from the stilted prose, also provides a clue to the missing document and gives the effort its most obvious appeal. Indeed, a visual-memory game has been tacked into the endpapers and is quite fun. Which can't be said for the story, where anything at all could be substituted for the shopping list—why not a laundry ticket, which is right up there with shopping lists in the fascination department?—serving to underscore the arbitrariness and tedium of the whole endeavor. (Easy reader. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

Cam Jansen uses her photographic memory to solve two mini-mysteries that take place on a trip to the beach with her mother, her aunt, and her friend, Eric. This is Cam's eighth mystery in Adler's successful easy-reader series (Young Cam Jansen and the Library Mystery, 2001, etc.), which features the main character from his longer Cam Jansen stories. In this summertime beach adventure, Cam, Eric, and Aunt Molly stroll down the beach to look for shells, leaving Cam's mother under her red beach umbrella. Cam's group briefly loses track of Cam's mother (mystery number 1) as the tide rises and the configuration of colorful beach umbrellas changes. Cam's mother briefly loses track of her papers for work (mystery number 2), which were covered by blowing sand. Cam solves both puzzles by reviewing prior situations, a device that offers a repetitive structure for new readers to practice the same descriptive words. The mysteries are rather lame, but the plot hangs together and the controlled vocabulary and familiar, appealing character address the considerable market for new readers who can feel successful reading through a whole series of similarly leveled and structured stories. The final page offers an easy memory game with questions based on the story's first illustration. Natti's watercolor-and-ink illustrations add colorful interest, although Cam often looks a little too young for the intended audience. (Easy reader. 5-8)Read full book review >
LIONEL AT SCHOOL by Stephen Krensky
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Krensky's appealing primary-grader (Lionel in the Summer, 1998, etc.) takes on school challenges sure to interest beginning readers, and once again Natti's cheerful, two-to-a-spread, pencil, colored-pencil, and watercolor wash illustrations accompany them. In "Keeping Secrets," Lionel fears losing his privacy at Back-to-School night after his sister, Louise, tells him that parents and teachers trade secrets and end up knowing "everything about you." How to avoid this dire fate? Lionel decides to keep the adults busily separate, and his plan works without any loss of likability. "Moving" gives Lionel insight into the unsettling nature of change; even a move across town can make it hard for a new kid like Ben to feel at home. Lionel remembers his mother saying that the newcomer will probably like new friends and offers to be Ben's "trusty guide," which includes knowing what to steer away from at lunchtime. "The Stranger" centers on the peculiar behavior of sisters who ignore you in public, as well as an imaginative—and gently punitive—means of dealing with the aliens who must have taken over Louise's brain. The final story, "Passing the Time," leaves Lionel thinking that maybe "time knew what it was doing" when he attempts to manipulate it. Readers will recognize themselves and their friends in these authentically childlike characters and episodes; better yet, they'll enjoy them. (Fiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

This latest Beany adventure (Beany [Not Beanhead] and the Magic Crystal, 1997, etc.) has all the ingredients that made Wojciechowski's previous tales such rousing successes. Being the flower girl in her favorite cousin's wedding has the anxiety-ridden Beany in a tizzy. Cousin Amy is the next best thing to a sister for Beany, so despite her many misgivings, Beany is determined to do the job properly. With the wedding several months away, she has plenty of time to ponder the many pitfalls that lurk ahead. In typical Beany-fashion, she worries about what she will wear, walking down the aisle, getting the perfect wedding present, and a multitude of other fears. Yet, Beany is full of pluck and determined to meet her troubles head-on. As always, Wojciechowski's writing rings true. Beany's concerns, ruminations, and antics are grounded in reality, revealing an innate understanding of young grade-school readers, who can readily relate to Beany's keen yet comical observations. "Carol Ann is my best friend because we live on the same street and sit next to each other on the school bus, but sometimes I don't really like her that much." There are plenty of mishaps to keep readers laughing, such as Beany's lemonade enterprise, which endures a hasty demise at the paws of the neighborhood canine menace. Natti's black-and-white sketches, highlighting Beany's misadventures, are a comical counterpart to the text. Fans and newcomers alike will be rooting for Wojciechowski's intrepid heroine as she tackles her anxieties with grit and fortitude. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
LIONEL IN THE SUMMER by Stephen Krensky
Released: June 1, 1998

Lionel and his family are back for more adventures in this latest Easy-to-Read installment. Krensky's grasp of a child's perspective is readily apparent in these vignettes from Lionel's summer vacation, which is focused on some classic childhood moments: Lionel's triumphant quest to stay awake for Fourth of July festivities; his fledgling entrepreneurship with an American icon, the lemonade stand; and the ubiquitous car trip en famille. Wry humor punctuates the stories, highlighted by Natti's witty illustrations. Beginning readers will be engrossed by the engaging content and encouraged by the fluid text. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1997

Beany—Bernice Lorraine Sherwin-Hendricks, the heroine from Don't Call Me Beanhead (1994)—is back. This time, Beany has a magic crystal that she believes holds one wish. Her dilemma is what to wish for. Should she use it to get the Sharing and Caring loving cup? Or to find the lost class hamsters? In five hilarious chapters—one of which recalls the plot of Jake Wolf's Daddy, Could I Have an Elephant? (1996) - -Wojciechowski takes familiar circumstances (getting lost, school pictures, and birthday parties) and shows them from a Beany's-eye view. Beany is the girl everyone wants for a friend: She's likable and well-intentioned without being a goody-goody. Her bossy best friend's makeover of Beany for school pictures, involving hair rollers, white magic marker, and duct tape, is fresh and funny, and puts Beany into the very good company of Ramona, Fudge, and Anastasia. Natti's black- and-white illustrations are right on target; readers will use their own magic crystals to wish Beany back again. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
DON'T CALL ME BEANHEAD! by Susan Wojciechowski
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

The trials and tribulations of Bernice Sherwin-Hendricks, a.k.a. Beany (to her friends), Beanhead (to her big brother Phillip), and Bernice Lorraine Sherwin-Hendricks (to her mother, when her mother's mad). Beany knows how many freckles she has (23), doesn't really like the boy she sits next to on the bus (she just likes his birthmark, which resembles a dog's head), and has a new obsession every day (one day, Glamour Nails; next day, Mood Rings). When she loses her tooth before she can collect on it, she conscientiously writes the tooth fairy a thank-you note, a note explaining how the tooth was lost, a diagram illustrating the second note, and one highly emotional poem: Beany gets paid, of course. An amusing and enjoyable story told with great authenticity by Wojciechowski (The Best Halloween of All, 1992, etc.). (Fiction. 5- 9) Read full book review >
PUPPY LOVE by Betsy Duffey
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

First in another formulaic series (``Pet Patrol'') aimed at middle-grade readers. Though Evie's first five business ideas have ended in disaster, she has high hopes for the sixth; she and friend Megan release nine balloons with ads for a pet-care service. They return home to find a boxful of puppies already on the porch and a note asking that they be given away by four that afternoon. Can it be done? Of course—after a few false starts and minor mishaps. A typical assortment of kindly adults and slightly differentiated children comprise the cast, while the antics of the four frisky puppies supply a cupful of humor. Mild entertainment for readers who are enjoying Roos's ``Pet Lovers' Club'' books and want more of the same. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11) Read full book review >