Saturday, December 22, 2018

Holiday wishes!

Wishing you good health and serenity this holiday season.
See you next year.
"on earth peace, good will toward men"

Photo credit: NASA

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Picture book roundup - upcoming, new, and translated

Here are a few books that have recently come to my attention—one upcoming, one fairly new, and one newly translated.

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog 
By Lisa Papp
Peachtree, 2019

Sometimes a second book in a series doesn't measure up to the first. Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog not only measures up, it surpasses Madeline Finn and the Library Dog. It's a wonderful story of dog adoption, volunteering, responsibility, reading, and libraries. What's not to love?

Due on shelves near you in March, 2019.

There's a Dinosaur on the Thirteenth Floor
By Wade Bradford
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick, 2018

A smartly dressed bellhop, old-fashioned phones, and the slicked back hair, pince-nez, and bow-tie of Mr. Snore set up the retro atmosphere of this book on the first pages. Mr. Snore’s immediate need is also quickly apparent,

“Welcome to the Sharemore Hotel,” said the bellhop.
“You must be Mr. Snore. Let me show you to your room.”

“The sooner the better,” said Mr. Snore.
“I am very” —YAWN—“sleepy.”

But, alas, Mr. Snore is destined to have a long night before he finally finds a place to rest his head—and his hysterically large nose! On each floor, Mr. Snore finds himself paired with an unsuitable roommate, prompting continued calls to the ever-cheerful bellhop.

The generous 10x11 size of this book is the perfect showcase for this delightful high-rise hotel and its unusual occupants. Over-the-top illustrations are a perfect complement for often understated, but droll dialogue,

“How do you feel about bees?” asked the bellhop.
“The same way I feel about spiders,” said Mr. Snore.
“Please skip the sixth floor.”

The expressions of creatures and humans are priceless, popping in bright acrylics and ink. Even with the spoiler in its title, There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor will still surprise you!

Hello Lilac — Good Morning, Yellow
by Judith Drews

Hello Lilac — Good Morning, Yellow is a book about colors that's perfect for very young listeners and sure to invite conversation and participation. Each color is featured on a two-page illustration with a very simple introduction,
"Good day, Brown. You look so cuddly."
On the facing page, you will find things that are commonly in that color, e.g., soil, basket, door, bun

What is so interesting in this book translated from German, is the phrasing and choice of items.  For example, orange's page says
"Dear Orange,  I prefer to eat you cold."
An unusual sentiment, but understandable from a child's point of view.  What child doesn't prefer a crisp carrot or juicy orange to cooked squash?

On the brown page, in addition to the above, you will find poop (!).  On the white page, amidst the more common items (snowman, egg, bone, sheep), you'll find toilet paper, a syringe, and a plug.  These choices seem peculiar, but they give us an insight into parenting in Germany, and they reflect the wide variety of items that kids will actually see, whether we choose to point them out or not!  Also making them more endearing is the fact that they are drawn in a manner similar to a child's drawing.

So, go ahead - point out those jellyfish, trophies, bird cages, screws, and gnats.  I'm sure it will result in some interesting conversation! The more I look at it, the more it grows on me. Peek inside Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow

Sunday, December 16, 2018

When the Snow Falls - a review

I realized that I never posted this review that I wrote for SLJ last year.  It's rather timely, so I'll post it now.

When the Snow Falls
By Linda Booth Sweeny
Illustrations by Jana Christy
Penguin Random House, 2017

SWEENEY, Linda Booth. When the Snow Falls. illus. by Jana Christy. 32p. Putnam. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399547201. PreS-Gr 1–Three generations of a fun-loving family take advantage of an unexpected snow day to frolic from country to city. When Grandma spends the night at the home of two young siblings, they awake to find that school is canceled due to a snowstorm. While the parents stay home to work the farm, Grandma, a young girl, and her little brother ski to town on a winsome belled sled-chair. They make their way to Grandma and Grandpa's house and encounter natural wonders, city wonders, and friends along the way. Sweeney gives a sense of motion with simple rhyming quatrains punctuated by the recurring phrase, "When the snow falls …. Tracks curve./Skis glide./Fox curls./Rabbits hide." The transition from country to city occurs when they briefly stop on a bridge to wave at the plows below, "Trains toot./Cars slow./Plows push./Mountains grow." Softly colorful, the double-page images have the muted quality associated with a snowy day. Christie's digitally painted pencil sketches and mixed-media illustrations bounce with playful motion—snow falling, scarves flying, rabbits hopping through the forest, city folk shoveling. The family members have joyful faces and burst with enthusiasm. Their exuberant dog follows them throughout, even joining the children in making snow angels. The grandparents join in the fun, too. VERDICT Country and city kids alike will relate to this joyful romp celebrating family, snow, community, and the wonders of nature.

School Library Journal. Nov2017, Vol. 63 Issue 1, p66. Copyright © 2017 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.

Click here to look inside When the Snow Falls.

My copy of When the Snow Falls was provided by School Library Journal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Start Now and Girls Resist - audiobook reviews

Regardless of political ideology, we can all agree that the future and fate of the world is in the hands of children.

Following are two audio books with an activist theme that I've recently reviewed for AudioFile Magazine—one for older girls, one for younger children.

Click the book titles to access my full reviews which I cannot reprint here.


Girls Resist!:A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution
By Katelyn Rich
Read by Soneela Nankani
Blackstone, 2018
5.80 hours

Soneela Nankani narrates this activist's how-to guide with the inspirational power of an enthusiastic and empathetic friend.

Start Now!:You Can Make a Difference
Written and read by Chelsea Clinton
Listening Library, 2018
2.25 hours

In a style more actionable than activist, Clinton's audiobook provides early elementary students with tools to make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of others and in the preservation of our planet.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Strong is the New Pretty - a review

Strong is the New Pretty-A Guided Journal for Girls
By Kate T. Parker
Workman, 2018

The children's publishing industry is responding to  recent societal changes with a much-needed shift towards diversity—racial, religious, ethnic, physical, and gender. This book reflects that change.

Strong is the New Pretty is a tween book that celebrates the power of girls from ages 7-14.  The book combines activity, writing, and drawing prompts with photos, quotes, and challenges. The pages are colorfully decorated and invite doodling and note-taking. The blue elastic cord is attached with grommets and keeps the book from flapping open, and a colorful orange ribbon is sewn into the binding to mark the reader's page.  Strong is the New Pretty is for princesses, athletes, bookworms, and dreamers.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for a young girl, Strong is the New Pretty is inspirational and a perfect gift for a strong young girl in your life.  If you can purchase it from an independent bookstore, so much the better.

Though I usually review library books, this is definitely not a library book.  It is intended to be a celebration of one special girl, and used until it's frayed and tattered.

My copy of Strong is the New Pretty was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Snow Lion a review

The Snow Lion
By Jim Helmore and Richard Jones
Peachtree, 2018

A short and sweet review on what may be a snowy day for many of you. Enjoy.

A little girl uses her imagination to find comfort in her new house. From exercising her imagination, she finds the quiet power so useful in the real world as well. This is the book for every child who notices the faces and creatures visible in walls, ceilings, clouds, or rocks—if only one looks for them. From the moment I saw the Snow Lion peeping out on the title page, I knew that I would like this gently pleasing book.

My copy was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Ugly Five - a review

The Ugly Five
By Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Scholastic, 2018

Below is my review of The Ugly Five as it appeared in School Library Journal. Enjoy!

DONALDSON, Julia. The Ugly Five. illus. by Axel Scheffler. 32p. Scholastic. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338249538. PreS-Gr 2—This rhyming book takes place on the African plain and introduces a collection of animals not known for attractiveness, but beloved by their children nonetheless. It begins with an introduction to the wildebeest, and she soon sings a song that is repeated with variations throughout the book, “I’m the ugly one, I’m the ugly one. I’m the ugliest animal under the sun. My ungainly appearance is second to none. I’m the ugly one, I’m the ugly one.” Wildebeest meets up with spotted hyena, lappet-faced vulture, warthog, and marabou stork, and the song reflects each addition. Scheffler is a frequent artist for Donaldson and has the perfect approach for her lighthearted prose. The “ugly” beasts are not ugly at all, but endearing, with wide-eyed faces expressing playfulness while picking through garbage, crunching bones, shredding carrion, and wallowing in mud. Comical illustrations in bright, but natural colors, are unadorned by text or borders. Each features a natural habitat with plenty of creatures and small details for observant eyes to seek. The satisfying and happy ending for the actually “lovely five” is depicted in a richly hued spread. Safari notes follow the story, which is prefaced by an author’s note. VERDICT Playful and positive, this book is an introduction to creatures of the African plain and a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

School Library Journal. Jul2018 Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.

My copy of The Ugly Five was provided by School Library Journal.

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 ...