Monday, July 9, 2018

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

 If you read or listen to only one YA fiction book this year, make it this winner of AudioFile Magazine's  Earphones Award, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik .

You can read my complete review on the AudioFile site. Without giving too much away, I can safely say that this one is definitely mind-blowing. Loveable, quirky Noah Oakman has a relatively good life with his parents, his little sister Penny, and his twin best friends, Val and Alan—until the night when everything (except his strange fascinations) changes. This first-person narrative will take you deep into the suddenly changed world of the kind and introspective Noah Oakman. Even strings of text messages between Noah, Val, and Alan crackle with emotion or humor. Every one of the lesser characters is a star in his own right. Stellar writing, stellar narration! I could listen to it again!

As a side note, many will appreciate Alan, not because he is a gay character, but because he is a fully-developed and integral member of the cast of characters who just happens to be gay, the perfect foil to his dry, iconoclastic sister Val.

Fans of Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King will likely love Noah Hypnotik.

Paramount Pictures is developing a movie version of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik (details here).  You simply must read it first!  I don't think a movie will do it justice (but I'd definitely go to see it).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

What's a #kidlit "Easter egg?"

It's been a while since I've written for the ALSC Blog, but you can find me there today with a piece on *Easter eggs in #kidlit.

Hop on over 😉 and read it, please. []

And of course, Happy Independence Day!
Photo by Bryce Barker on Unsplash

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hey-Ho, To Mars We'll Go! A Space-Age Version of "The Farmer in the Dell"
by Susan Lendroth
Illustrated by Bob Kolar
Charlesbridge, 2018

Hey-Ho, To Mars We'll Go! is one of an increasing number of nonfiction books with several different uses or target audiences. The book's primary, large font text, is written for singing to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell." The singing factor, combined with large, computer-created, colorful cartoon art, makes this a perfect choice for storytime crowds. Older folks (teachers, caregivers, elder siblings, and the like) will appreciate the smaller text insets that elaborate on the verse,

"Can you catch my sock?
Can you catch my sock?
Hey-ho, to Mars we'll go—
Can you catch my sock?"

"Imagine what a mess you could make without gravity. At home, if you leave your toys on the floor, they stay where you've dropped them. But in space, anything you don't put in a cupboard or fasten in place will drift like dandelion fluff, bouncing off walls and your crewmates."

The book begins with the launch, follows the crew during the journey, and ends with exploration of Mars. To give a sense of the journey outside the Earth's gravitational pull, the text and the pages have varying orientations—several pages are designed to be read upside-down.

Anything that introduces and interest in science and space exploration is a welcome addition to any library collection.

Discussion and Activity Guide for Hey-Ho, To Mars We'll Go!

Bob Kolar is also the illustrator for one of my favorites, The Boy & the Book.
My copy of Hey-Ho, To Mars We'll Go! was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Alma and How She Got Her Name - a review

Alma and How She Got Her Name
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Candlewick Press, 2018

I admit to requesting this book only because it shared a name with one of my librarian friends, but I was delighted to find that there are so many other reasons to love it!

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Candela is unhappy with the length of her name,

"My name is so long, Daddy. It never fits," Alma said.
"Come here," he said. "Let me tell you the story of your name. Then you decide if it fits."

And with that, Daddy spins the thoughtful story of Alma's name, which honors special people from previous generations of her family. Alma finds a personal connection with each name. She too is a reader, an artist, a traveler, a caring person; and she finally understands the connection between her own unique self and those who came before her.

If the story of Alma's name is enchanting, the artwork is doubly so. Illustrations in "graphite, colored pencils, and print transfers on handmade textured paper" are gently cartoonish, in shades of gray with soft edges and muted colors used to highlight only the vibrancy of Alma in her red striped pants, and selected items from the past—the beautiful, blue painted pot that held Sofia's tree, or the chest that holds treasures from Esperanza's travels.

Short and sweet and perfect for storytime.

My copy of Alma and How She Got Her Name was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers

The tradition of naming a child after ancestors is common in many cultures.  Each of my children bears a name from a previous generation, as do I.  I requested this book because it reminded me of my friend, Alma,  but after reading it, it reminded me of a long-ago coworker named "Sue." Sue came from Mexico but traced her heritage to Spain. Her sister often stopped by the office to chat. Her sister's name was "Lulu."  Knowing that Lulu is usually a nickname, I asked Sue what her sister's real name was.  "Susana," she replied. "But your name is Susana," I countered.  "All of my sisters are named Susana," she answered.  As it turns out, every sister in the family has a lengthy name that begins with Susana.  Lulu was Susana de la Luz, or Susan of the Light. How lovely, no?