Sunday, September 15, 2019

Picture Book Roundup - Fall 2019 requests

Here are three new books that have something for every young family and busy caregiver.
If you cannot see the slide show below, you can see it on Riffle []or read ALL of my reviews on my LibraryThing account.

  • Thanks to Penguin Workshop for my review copy of Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte. A little boy in Puerto Rico misses his dad who lives "across the bay."
  • Thanks to Silver Dolphin Books for my review copy of Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown.Eight stories by a beloved author are collected in one book designed for reading in 5-minute increments. 
  • Thanks to G.P. Putnam's Sons for my review copy of Five Minutes (That's a lot of time) (No, it's not) (Yes, it is) by Liz Garton and Audrey Vernick.A little boy comes to understand that the length of five minutes is highly subjective. 
More images and "look-ins" below.

An image from Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories ©
An image from Margaret Wise Brown 5-Minute Stories ©

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hi, Jack! - a review

Hi, Jack! (A Jack Book)
by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli
Penguin Random House, 2019

I don't usually review "easy readers" because I don't like many of them. However, it's hard to resist reviewing an easy reader by the writer and illustrator duo of Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli. I admire both of them for their quirky and irreverent sense of humor.

Hi, Jack! is the first in a series of easy reader books featuring Jack—a trouble-making rabbit, Rex—an adorable dog, and The Lady. In the promo materials, Jack is described as mischievous, and The Lady is described as cranky and old, however, that will be up to the reader to decide. With Jack's thievery, graffiti, and trickstering, you may find that The Lady has due cause to be cranky—the old can't be helped.  While it's unusual to have an easy reader protagonist that is decidedly naughty, he also is quite capable of contrition and affability. In short, he's just like every kid.

The illustrations are simple and bright and are integral to the story's three chapters, "Jack," "Rex," and "The Lady." In the first chapter, Jack steals a purse from The Lady.  Although he gives the purse back, he has purloined the lipstick. In the second chapter, we see Rex with bright red, curvaceous lips, and then discover Jack hiding behind him with a devilish grin.

Rex has red lips.
Rex! Why are your lips red?
Your lips are bright red! Who did that to your lips?
Bad Jack!
 Parents will love him or hate him.  Kids will definitely "get" him.  Grab your sense of humor and enjoy the rascally humor of Jack. 😄

Other related Shelf-employed reviews:

My copy of Hi, Jack! was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dig - a haiku summary


by A.S. King
Penguin Random House, 2019

I have only read two A.S. King books to date (the phenomenal Glory O'Brien's History of the Future being the other), but I feel that I've read enough to know that A.S. King is a writer like no other.  As such, her books are difficult to parse into a review that accurately captures the spirit of the book.  You can find many reviews of this book that has garnered starred reviews from Bookpage, SLJ, Horn Book, BCCB, Booklist, and SLC.  I instead, will offer a haiku review:

Girl appears. Helps weirds.
Twisted stories buried deep.
What truths does earth keep?

Dig in and read this surreal masterpiece.

Read a bit for yourself with this peek inside Dig:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black
By Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick
Illustrated by Alexis Deacon
Walker Books, 2019

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black is a book that defies categorization, and is one of the most unique and affecting books that I've read this year.

Harry Black is a conscientious objector to the war; he is also an artist. His brother Ellis is a soldier; he is also a writer. They don't see eye-to-eye, however, both risk his their lives for his country. Harry is a firefighter—tasked with responding to the fires that break out during the devastating air raids on the city of London. In a rare wartime opportunity, Harry and his brother meet up for a beer at a London pub. Soon after they separate, the block where the pub stood is bombed to obliteration. Harry finds himself in the hospital in a hazy, surreal state of shock. Ellis' whereabouts are unknown. There is also a curious young German girl in the hospital—Agatha. 

It is in this otherworldly scenario that Harry draws and thinks, and digs to the tune of an unknown musician who plays with great beauty amidst the horrors. The reader has the benefit of understanding the musician's purpose. The story is told in prose, in Harry's sketches, and in the haunting speech of the musician, whose words turn often to song,

I've a story to tell of Harry Black,
who went to the Underworld and how he came back;
of the love for his brother, who'd pushed him away.
Of London by starlight, under attack,
of bombs falling, of people calling
   through darkened streets,
of sirens and wayfarers, of lost souls,
of vicious women and mindless dogs.
These are the things of which I'll sing.

There are many books about WWII, the Kindertransport, the bombing of London. None are like this one. Read it.

My copy of Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black was provided by the publisher.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Convenience Store Woman - a review

I try to squeeze in a few adult books between reviewing for SLJ and AudioFile.

My two latest adult reads were Where the Crawdads Sing and Convenience Store Woman. I loved them both.  I won't post a review of Where the Crawdads Sing because it is wildly popular, and good reviews may be found almost everywhere. It has cross-genre appeal (nature, crime, mystery, society) and more than a few surprises.

Here's my short review of Convenience Store Woman, an homage to those who don't fit the mold.

Convenience Store Woman
By Suraka Murata
Grove Press, 2018

Convenience Store Woman will give you greater respect for the perceived "otherness" of others, and will compel you to examine the seemingly benign social mores to which you likely adhere. Short and thought-provoking.

Both books would make excellent beach reads!

Read an excerpt from Where the Crawdads Sing here.

Picture Book Roundup - Fall 2019 requests

Here are three new books that have something for every young family and busy caregiver. If you cannot see the slide show below, you can ...