Monday, January 30, 2017

The Queen of Frogs - a review

The Queen of Frogs

by Davide Cali with illustrations by Marco Soma
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017

If you have seen the popular South African movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980, 20th Century Fox), then you will understand the premise of this delightfully illustrated cautionary tale of a colony of frogs who suddenly discover a crown. If you have not, I will suggest that queen in question has the desire and ambition of "Yertle the Turtle" (from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories) and the clueless bravado of the infamous emperor in "The Emperor's New Clothes." Turnabout is fair play is exhibited in the book's humorous ending with a twist.

The illustrations appear to be a combination of pencil sketches painted with the muted earth tones of a frog bog. The anthropomorphic frogs cavort with great expression. Humorous details include frogs fishing with spools of thread for reels and a Venus Flytraps as bait. The frogs fish up, of course, as the target catch are flies! A bottle cap can also be spotted as the official seal on the the royal spokesman's podium.

The Queen of Frogs was first published in Portugal. My copy was courtesy of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program. I highly recommend it as a read-aloud for older listeners or a read alone for elementary school students.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sachiko - an audiobook review

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story
by Caren Stelson
Read by Katherine Fenton and John Chancer
Dreamscape Media, 2016

The survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings are known as "hibakusha" in Japan. As with all combatants and victims of WWII, their numbers are dwindling; it is important for their stories to be told.  Sachiko shared her personal story and that of her family with author Caren Stelson.  Despite the horrific circumstances of the bombing, and a lifetime of related hardship, Sachiko remains amazingly positive.  Her story is compelling and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story contains the historical information that young people may need to put her story in context.  I highly recommend it.

I reviewed Sachiko for AudioFile Magazine.  You can read my entire review here: []

Sachiko was on the National Book Award Longlist for Young People's Literature, 
and has garnered numerous other awards and accolades.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I Dissent - a review

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddely
Simon and Schuster, 2016

"Disagreeable? No." "Determined? YES." Whether objecting, dissenting, resisting, or disapproving, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always done it with passion, with flair, and with conviction. This is her story, from childhood to the present. She has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of women and minorities - beginning with her refusal to write with her right hand in grade school(she has always been left-handed), and continuing today with her Supreme Court decisions in favor of equal opportunities for women and minorities. The story is compelling; the illustrations have a cartoon-like quality, but are detailed and emotive.

There should be no dissent that I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK is a powerful introduction to a determined, successful, and inspiring woman.

Back matter includes:
  • More About Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Notes on Supreme Court Cases
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Quotation Sources
I Dissent is a 2017 winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award
See the entire list of winners and honor books at the Association of Jewish Libraries website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mouse and Hippo - a review

Mouse and Hippo
By Mike Twohy
Paula Wiseman Books, 2017

How does a mouse view a hippo? How does a hippo view a mouse? And more importantly, can they be friends? Mouse and Hippo is an entertaining commentary on artistic perspective, but at heart, it's a comical story of friendship.

On a shelf near you beginning in February, 2017.

My complete review of Mouse and Hippo is in the January, 2017 edition of School Library Journal.

Advance Reader Copy provided by School Library Journal.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Father's Road - a review

Father's Road

by Ji-yun Hang. Translation from Korean by Joy Cowley.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017

Young Wong Chung is old enough to take part in his father's caravan from Chang'an (Xi'an) to Constantinople (Istanbul). He heeds his kindly father's advice and pays attention to everything he sees along the way as they travel the Silk Road from east to West.

We arrived at a place called Turpan where I could smell a sweet aroma. "That's the smell of grapes," said Father.

"Grapes?" I asked. "In a desert?"
"See that white mountain over there? The ice from Tian Shan melts into the soil, and these delicious grapes grow." Father traded some silk for a bunch of grapes that tasted sweet as honey.

I gave two grapes to my camel. He liked them too.

Illustrator Tan Jung creates delicate ink drawings on paper that is flecked and textured to mimic sand. Its color also serves to represent the skin tone of the travelers and the coats of their many camels. Only the silks and featured geographical or commercial highlights are rendered in colors outside a muted palette of tans and grays.  Wong Chung, however, is readily discernible from the rest of the caravan by the pompom atop his cloth hat and his simple, yet endearing facial expressions.

Entertaining, educational, and culturally respectful,  Father's Road is part of the Trade Winds series.

Front and endpapers combine to create a map of the ancient Silk Road.
Back matter contains the following sections:

  •     The Silk Road (a discussion of its commercial and historical significance)
  •     Key Terms and Concepts (definitions of terms related to cultural and economic globalization)
  •     Global Exchange (a discussion of "non-commodities" exchanged on the Silk Road, e.g., religion, inventions, disease)
  •     Goods from Around the World (India, Rome, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, Central Asia, China - a list of the main trading groups and their products)
  •     Geography of the Silk Road (a list of major Silk Road cities, their ancient and modern names, significance)
  •     A Timeline of Events ( 3000 BCE - 2013 )

On sale 1/30/17.
My Advance Review Copy of Father's Road was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. 

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...