Reviews and ramblings about children's and young adult literature by an absentminded middle school librarian. I keep my blog to remember what I've read and to celebrate the wonderful world of children's and young adult literature.
WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating.
National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! Edited
J. Patrick Lewis. 192 p. National Geographic Society, October, 15, 2015. 9781426320941.
When words in verse are paired with the awesomeness of nature, something magical happens! Beloved former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis curates an exhuberant poetic celebration of the natural world in this stellar collection of nature poems. From trickling streams to deafening thrunderstorms to soaring mountains, discover majestic photography perfectly paired with contemporary (such as Billy Collins), classics (such as Robert Frost), and never-before-published works.
I really enjoyed his earlier compilation for Nat. Geo., Book of Animal Poetry from 2012.
Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 32 p. Orchard Books/ Scholastic Inc., March 31, 2015. 9780545649292. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.) Such a Little Mouse is such a sweet little book. This little mouse has serious executive functioning skills as he finds the time to explore and enjoy friends in his environment as he prepares for the coming winter. While I must say that he is decidedly brown despite the text's description of his "smart gray coat," he is so beguiling that I forgive the discrepancy. The mouse is adorable and ever-so-slightly anthropomorphized. The palette is pleasing. The spreads contain nice little details of the meadow through the four seasons as well as the whimsically decorated mouse burrow. Occasional repetition and onomatopoeia make for a cozy read aloud for parents, teachers and librarians.
StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week. Purchased:
Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper story by David Levithan. 200 p. Dutton Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March, 2015. 9780525428848. Publisher synopsis:Especially for those of us who ordinarily feel ignored, a spotlight is a circle of magic, with the strength to draw us from the darkness of our everyday lives. Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say—and he’s going to say it in song. Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan. Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage . . . and the world will never be the same again.
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3 disc. 8 hours, 22 minutes. Fairyland #3. Read by the author. Dreamscape, October, 2013. 9781624067655. Publisher synopsis: September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers. That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments.
WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating. Gah! I saw this at ALAMW and almost grabbed it and didn't. (Kicks self.) I wish I noticed that it was by Susin Nielsen! I adored Word Nerd and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen!
We are all made of molecules by Susin Nielsen. 256 p. Random House Children's Books, May 12, 2015. 9780553496864. Publisher synopsis:Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.
Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.
They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules. What are you waiting on?
Wangari Maathai: the woman who planted millions of trees by Franck Prévot. Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty. 45 p. Charlesbridge, January, 2015. 9781580896269. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.) Back in 2008, a very lovely picture book biography of Wangari Maathai was published. It was a perfect blend of succinct yet beautiful writing and pleasing, folk-style illustration. That book? Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter. So, do we need yet another? Absolutely! This one is for slightly older readers. Where Winter's book is perfect for younger readers, Prévot's book supplies more detail, enabling upper elementary and middle grade researchers to glean hard, biographical facts and enjoy gorgeously lush illustrations while doing so. There's a bit more text, more detail, including the feminist aspects and historical context. Girls didn't typically get educated at the time but Wangari not only attended school in Kenya, she traveled to the United States to further her education. Forming the Green Belt Movement meant standing up to the government, earning her threats and imprisonment. The back matter includes black and white photographs, a detailed timeline, a map and note about Kenya today, a page discussing the sad state of Kenya's forests today and, finally, a page containing source notes and books and websites for further reading. The art, oh the art! It is luscious. I want to swim in the palette! Where Winter's art is soft and creamy, Aurélia Fronty's art is bold, edgy and evocative; it just begs the eye to linger. I really loved the black & white photos added at the end. Wangari's presence just jumps off of the page with her brilliant smile and intelligent eyes. The photo of student protesters being arrested effectively hammers home the danger those activists faced in standing up for their beliefs. This is a must-purchase book. Perfect for so many curriculum areas from the study of environmentalism to Kenya; from women's history to black history. The book happened to be on my desk when a fifth grade teacher was in the library. She picked it up and proclaimed it a perfect read aloud as her class happened to be researching African countries. I hope that she will be the first of many checkouts of this brilliant biography.
StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week. For review:
Chasing Secrets: a deadly surprise in the city of lies by Gennifer Choldenko. 280 p. Wendy Lamb Books/ Random House Children's Books, August 4, 2015. 9780307975775. Publisher synopsis:San Francisco, 1900. The Gilded Age. A fantastic time to be alive for lots of people . . . but not thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy, stuck at Miss Barstow’s snobby school for girls. Lizzie’s secret passion is science, an unsuitable subject for finishing-school girls. Lizzie lives to go on house calls with her physician father. On those visits to his patients, she discovers a hidden dark side of the city—a side that’s full of secrets, rats, and rumors of the plague. The newspapers, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Why is Noah, the Chinese cook’s son, suddenly making Lizzie question everything she has known to be true? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love. The Al Capone books are some of my all-time favorite reads. I am so looking forward to clearing my reading obligations and settling down with this one.
Tagged by Diane C. Mullen. 281 p. Charlesbridge, March, 2015. 9781580895835. Publisher synopsis: Liam is a fourteen-year-old graffiti artist living in project housing in Minneapolis with his single mother and three younger siblings. When Liam’s estranged older brother coerces him to tag a graffiti symbol for a rival gang, Liam’s life is threatened. Due to his apathetic attitude in the classroom and on the baseball field, Liam’s private-school scholarship is also threatened. His mother decides to send him to Lake Michigan for the summer to live with her best friend, Kat, a sculptor and art teacher, Liam soon delves into the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and his own personal aesthetics. He’s encouraged to consider his art seriously and how it might contribute to a greater community. Having to decide between staying with Kat and returning home to his siblings who need him, Liam’s story inspires him to reinvent himself for the better.
Currents by Jane Petrlik Smolik. 326 p. Charlesbridge, September, 20, 2015. 9781580896481. Publisher synopsis:This middle-grade historical novel follows three young girls living very different lives who are connected by one bottle that makes two journeys across the ocean.
It's 1854 and eleven-year-old Bones is a slave on a Virginia plantation. When she finds her name in the slave-record book, she rips it out, rolls it up, and sets it free, corked inside a bottle alongside the carved peach pit heart her long-lost father made for her. Across the Atlantic on the Isle of Wight, motherless Lady Bess Kent and her sister discover Bones's bottle half-buried on the beach. Leaving Bones's name where it began and keeping the peach pit heart for herself, Bess hides her mother's pearl-encrusted cross necklace in the bottles so her scheming stepmother, Elsie, can't sell it off like she's done with other family heirlooms. When Harry, a local stonemason's son, takes the fall for Elsie's thefts, Bess works with her seafaring friend, Chap, to help him escape. She gives the bottle to Harry and tells him to sell the cross. Back across the Atlantic in Boston, Mary Margaret Casey and her father are at the docks when Mary Margaret spies something shiny. Her father fishes it out of the water, and they use the cross to pay for a much needed doctor's visit for Mary Margaret's ailing sister. As Bess did, Mary Margaret leaves Bones's name where it belongs. An epilogue returns briefly to each girl, completing the circle of the three unexpectedly interconnected lives.
What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments.
WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we are eagerly anticipating.
Graceful by Wendy Mass. 272 p. Scholastic Inc., April 28, 2015. 9780545773133. Publisher synopsis:An exciting new story in the bestselling Willow Falls series from Wendy Mass!
Angelina D'Angelo has left town to see the world. It's now Grace's turn to use her magic to protect the people of Willow Falls, and she is up to the challenge. This is her destiny, after all. But destiny is a funny thing-it doesn't always behave the way you'd expect it to.
Mysterious postcards from Angelina begin showing up in the mail, Grace's parents are freaking out with worry, and something BIG is coming to town that will affect everybody who lives there. But all Grace is powerful enough to do is turn leftover meatloaf into pizza.
Fortunately, she's not alone. She has Team Grace on her side! Amanda, Leo, Rory, Tara, David, and Connor know a thing or two about magic and how it works. But none of them are prepared for what's coming, and none of them know how to stop it. Life in Willow Falls is about to change forever.
Any book by Wendy Mass is an automatic purchase for my library. I am a huge fan, as are my students. The day I learned of this new Willow Falls addition, a sixth grader returned The Last Gift, saying, "There! I've read them all!" I can't wait to tell her there's more!