Friday, August 31, 2018

The Bookshop Girl - a review


The Bookshop Girl
by Syliva Bishop
Illustrated by Poly Bernatene
Peachtree, 2018

The Bookshop Girl is a little English mystery that features books, bookshops and a young girl named Property Jones with a very unlikely secret—despite growing up in the family’s book store, Property can't read, although she does manage to keep herself busy,
Property served tea and cake to anyone who wanted to sit in an armchair and read awhile, and she kept the shop smart and tidy.  Or she tried to. It didn’t help that everything in the shop was falling apart.

Netty was at the counter, Michael was hovering by the dictionaries, and Property had put the kettle on.  The White Hart opened at nine o’clock sharp.  (If you are thinking, But the White Hart is the wrong sort of name for a bookshop, then you are quite right, but also quite impatient.  I was going to explain.  The bookshop used to be the White Hart pub, and it had a very beautiful picture of a white stag hanging outside.  When Netty bought the pub and filled it with books, she couldn’t see any good reason to change the name when there such a nice sign already there.)

When the Jones family enters a contest and wins the magnificent Montgomery Book Emporium in London, mystery begins when a silent man arrives at the bookshop,

He was mostly made of a long, gray coat, with a long, gray face perched on top and shabby shoes underneath.

The bookshop crowd
poured around him live a river around a stone.

Who was this strange man and what did he want with their new bookshop?  It will take Property’s unique powers of observation to figure it out!

The Bookshop Girl is an illustrated novel for ages 8-12, and features just the sort of humor and asides that I recall appreciating at an early age. The premise of the mystery is unique and instructive, and the peculiar workings of the fanciful Montgomery Book Emporium will read like a dream-come-true.

Extras for The Bookshop Girl:


Look for The Bookshop Girl on a shelf near you in October.
My copy was provided by the publisher at my request.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Bat Can Bat - a review

The Bat Can Bat: A True Book of Homonyms
By Gene Barretta
Christy Ottaviano, 2018

Below is my review of The Bat Can Bat as is appeared in School Library Journal.


BARRETTA, Gene. illus. by Gene Barretta. 40p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099461.
Gr 2-4–Sports and animals are perennially popular, and Baretta uses them as the common denominator in this collection of illustrated homonyms. It begins with the easily understood “The bat can bat!” featuring a bat playing baseball, then progresses to more difficult examples. The font is simple, in black or white, depending on the background color of the full-bleed illustrations. The homonyms are printed in capital letters. The use of horizontal and vertical spreads is helpful in explaining the finer points of homonyms. One of the vertical illustrations features a two-tiered, high diving board—the top deck hosts an angry, red-faced rhino who is throwing a fit over the fit of his ridiculously tiny swimsuit. For comic relief, on the lower diving deck, a young girl casts a nervous glance upwards. A “Note to the Reader” includes useful definitions of homonyms, homophones, and homographs. VERDICT More concept book than storybook, this is a fundamental purchase for school libraries and public libraries with heavy educator usage.

See a preview of The Bat Can Bat at the Macmillan Publishers site.

School Library Journal. Feb2018, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p54-56. 2p.
Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.


My copy of The Bat Can Bat was provided by School Library Journal.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge - a review

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
by M.T. Anderson
Illustrations by Eugene Yelchin
Candlewick, 2018

You may think that you view the world (and imaginary worlds) with an unbiased eye, but The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge may change your mind.

In a diplomatic mission of the greatest importance between the kingdoms of elves and goblins, you may be surprised to find that the elvish historian, Brangwain Spurge is a bit of a supercilious twit, while Werfel, his goblin host, is well-mannered, conscientious, and kindly, as well as a historian in his own right.

M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin combine to tell this epic story of adventure, politics, and diplomatic disasters in three distinct mediums: prose, letters, and illustrations.  In the manner of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, parts of the story are relayed solely in black and white illustrations, often wryly humorous. Letters from the Lord Spymaster to the king of the elves supplement the written and illustrated adventures of Spurge and Brangwain and fill in the grand clandestine plans of which the two historians are blissfully ignorant.

So, in this story of intrigue, perception, and the politics of kingdoms, which kingdom will prevail and how will history record it? Readers will not want to put it down until they find out. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is coming next month.  Make sure you have a copy in your library.

Some Brangwain Spurge extras:



Friday, August 3, 2018

Terrific Tongues - a review


Terrific Tongues!
By Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated by Jia Liu
Boyds Mills Press, 2018


I have to wait a few months before I am permitted to re-post reviews I write for School Library Journal, but here it is—better late than never.

I tested this book in a school classroom. The kids enjoyed it and were able to remember the differences between the animals' tongues. 😛

GIANFERRARI, Maria. illus. by Jia Liu. 32p. Boyds Mills. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781620917848.

PreS-Gr 3–An expressive monkey acts as a guide to the animal kingdom's most interesting tongues. Liu chooses the monkey's own mouth to illustrate, literally, the many things a tongue is similar to—straw, sword, nose, and mop. In each instance, Gianferrari's simple analogy appears in large font with a humorous illustration. “If you had a tongue like a sword, you might be a…” In the first example, the monkey's tongue is actually a sword as he dukes it out with a fencer. On the following page, we discover the answer, “Woodpecker!” and see a rendering of a woodpecker in its natural habitat, its long pointed tongue stabbing underneath the bark of a tree. A short paragraph explaining the workings of the animal's tongue is embedded within the illustration. Readers will enjoy finding the monkey in each habitat, too. Eleven creatures are featured in similar fashion. Back matter offers greater detail and also explains the workings of the human tongue. The appealing cover and bright, cheery illustrations will capture the attention of even casual browsers. VERDICT A fine addition to early nonfiction collections.


School Library Journal. Feb2018, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p112-112. 2/9p.

Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.



It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
See more nonfiction books reviews at the STEM Friday blog.

Freedom Soup - a review

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles Jacqueline Alcántara Candlewick, 2019 A young girl and her Haitian grandmother joyfully cook Freedom So...