Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Wild Robot - an audiobook review

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Read by Kate Atwater
Hachette Audio, 2016

AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award Winner

I recently reviewed The Wild Robot for AudioFile Magazine.  You can read my full review and hear an audio excerpt here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/110681/the-wild-robot-by-peter-brown/]

The Wild Robot, a novel for ages 8 and up, is a departure from Peter Brown's usual offering of picture books (Creepy Carrots, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, My Teacher is a Monster - and more), but his customary excellence is just as apparent.

The link to my review is above, however, I'd like to highlight a few things.  The Wild Robot premise is unique and thought-provoking - a robot designed with AI and programmed for self-preservation and nonviolence, is marooned on an island with animals, but no humans from which to learn.  The narrator, Kate Atwater, does a stellar job (see review) and sounds a bit like Susan Sarandon. The audio book is unique in that the beginning and the closing chapters have sound effects including music and sounds of nature.

Overall, it's very well done!  If you'd prefer to check out the print version, Little Brown Books for Young Readers offers an excerpt of the print version of The Wild Robot here. [http://openbook.hbgusa.com/openbook/9780316382014]

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy Monday! It's Children's Book Week

Just a reminder that it's Children's Book Week. #cbw16

There are plenty of resources available from the Children's Book Week Digital Toolkit.  I like to order the actual posters, but sadly, I forgot this year.  The good news is that there are plenty of last-minute event kits and activity sheets available for download [http://www.bookweekonline.com/activities].

Also, be sure to download this year's official CBW bookmark with art by Cece Bell. [http://www.bookweekonline.com/bookmark]
[http://bookweekonline.com//system/files/189/original/CeceBell2016BookmarkFINAL.compressed.pdf]


You can also add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile pic. (If you don't want it to completely obscure your profile pic, you will have an opportunity to shrink it.) [http://twibbon.com/Support/Children39s-Book-Week]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Picture Book Roundup - Darkly Funny Picture Books

A selection of darkly funny, mostly cautionary picture books.

 Share these funny gems with slightly older listeners who have a sense of humor; but spare your very timid or gentle-hearted ones - happily-ever-after is not guaranteed in these tales of comeuppance, justice served, just desserts, and cautionary advice.

If you're unable to view the slide show, visit it on Riffle Books [ https://www.rifflebooks.com/list/206136] where I occasionally create themed slide shows.

Books included in the list:
  • A Hungry Lion, Or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins 
  • How to be Famous by Michal Shaley 
  • Everyone Love Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio 
  • Jim: Who Ran Away from his Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion by HIlaire Belloc 
  • This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen 
  • The Book that Eats People by John Perry

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sticks and Stones - a review

Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2016
(Advance Reader Copy provided by NetGalley)

  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

This adage has been told to innumerable children, but in Elyse's case, words do hurt. Elyse has a rare condition called cognadjvisiblitis, or CAV. When she hears nouns or adjectives describing her, they appear as black words on her arms and legs.

In elementary school, Elyse could count on her best friend Jeg, the kindness of young children, and the assistance of teachers and school administrators to ensure that only positive words would appear on her skin, HAPPY, CUTE, SMART. These words were not only complimentary, they were non-irritating. Unkind words surfaced dark, large, and bold - causing extreme itching and discomfort.

Middle school behaviors cannot be controlled so easily. First, she is dumped by her boyfriend, and then she loses Jeg to the cool girls clique. No one can ensure that only positive adjectives find their way to Elyse's ears. It's no wonder that she takes to wearing long sleeves and pants, regardless of the season.

Things begin getting both better and worse as Elyse follows the advice she finds written on mysterious, but mostly encouraging, blue notes. The notes exhort her to compete for the school's coveted position of class trip Explorer Leader, but the contest exposes her to social situations that aggravate her CAV. Her nervous mother takes her, yet again, to the doctor renowned for, but mostly ineffective in treating CAV,

     "People go to meetings, I said. "And take walks. It's not that crazy."

     Dr. Patel scooted closer to get a better look at my words. DUMB was still there. So were IDIOT, LOSER, STUPID, UNLOVABLE, WORTHLESS, and FREAK, the whole crew. They were going in all different directions, and some were bigger than others, but they were all thick, dark, mean, and itchy, and felt like ridiculously scratchy clothes-the ones that also have ridiculously scratchy tags-I couldn't ever take off. 

While the postulate of a school choosing a class trip leader in reality-TV-style, seems a bit far-fetched, the underlying middle school drama rings true, and the book's unique premise of CAV will give readers pause for thought.

Sticks and Stones offers more than just middle-school angst and coming-of-age experiences. Similar to the lives of real children who deal with name-calling everyday, Elyse's story is not one of overcoming this adversity, but of living with it. Elyse's story is a reminder that not all things can be made "right," but we should all take care that we do not contribute to making things "wrong."

(An added bonus: it's a mystery - who is writing those blue notes?)

This is a debut novel for former teacher and school librarian, Abby Cooper.  She's off to a great start.  Look for this one in July, or pre-order a copy.