Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Dork Diaries 13: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday by Rachel Renée Russell

Dork Diaries 13: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday by Rachel Renée Russell. 304 p. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, October 16, 2018. 9781534426382.

Publisher synopsis: It’s Nikki Maxwell’s birthday!! Will it be a blast or a bust? Find out in Nikki’s newest diary, the thirteenth installment in the #1 New York Times blockbuster bestselling Dork Diaries series!

This series is every bit as popular as Wimpy Kid.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audio Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. Unabridged downloaded audiobook. Eight hours, seven minutes. Read by Khristine Hvam and James Fouhey. HarperAudio, 2015.

Seventeen-year-old Lane had his life mapped out. He's number two in his graduating class and planning on applying early action to Stanford. Then drug-resistant tuberculosis derails his plans. Instead of attending his AP classes, he's at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens with the disease. He thinks he can keep up with his studies and become well enough to leave. He's also captivated by Sadie and her group of cool friends. He knew Sadie from summer camp when they were thirteen but he was too shy to talk to her.

Sadie remembers Lane alright and is still furious with him for standing her up at a camp dance. Sadie has been at Latham House for over a year. She's not getting better but she's not getting worse. She has cultivated her cool persona very carefully and is a bit terrified of getting well enough to return to the real world, where she was definitely not cool.

This dual narrative makes its way down a predictable path but, the characters are interesting and the idea of a TB epidemic among teens is intriguing. The narrative doesn't go into the hows and whys of it though. Khristine Hvam is one of my favorite narrators and James Fouhey is new to me. They did a good job and sounded appropriately young. 

This story should appeal to teen fans of tragic romance like The Fault in Our Stars.

I downloaded this book from Audiobooksync's Free Summer Audiobook program. If you don't already know about it, check it out for next summer! The "summer" is already over (it starts in May), but they post links to download two audiobooks each  week for thirteen weeks.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Audio Review: Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland by Wendy Spinale. Everland series #1. Unabridged downloaded audiobook, 8 hours, 56 minutes. Read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Scholastic Audio, May, 2016.

I just adore fairy tale retellings/ reimaginings! This steampunk Peter Pan story was just superb!

England has been invaded by Germany. More specifically, Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer (HOOK) has taken London and driven out the queen. The wrinkle to his complete and utter conquest is that his bombing blitzkrieg unleashed a deadly virus (which had been sent by Germany earlier). It has killed most of the surviving adults and female children. The human race is in danger of extinction, except there may be one human female who is immune to the virus. 

Gwen Darling is trying to keep her siblings, Johanna and Mikey safe and hidden. But Hook and his troops are closing in. She is rescued by Pete and Bella while out scavenging; but Johanna, who has been left behind with Mikey is not so lucky. She has been captured by Hook's men. Gwen and Mikey join Pete and the Lost Boys in their underground hideout, but she really wants to rescue her sister, which means venturing into Hook's lair. 

Debut author Spinale has created a world that is at once familiar and brand new. Readers familiar with J.M. Barrie's work will recognize some of the quotes rolled into this incredible new twist. 

Hardingham and West are favorite narrators of mine. Together they narrate the spectacular fantasy series, Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Hardingham narrated Puck's part in Scorpio Races  by Maggie Stiefvater. The majority of the book is from Gwen's POV. Hardingham's clear and musical voice lends urgency and desperation to Gwen's story.

I cannot wait to read the second and third installments in the series, which blend other stories. Give this to fans of fantasy, steampunk fans or any reader looking for terrific worldbuilding. 

Picture Book Review: Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White

Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White. Illustrated by Robin Page. unpgd. Beach Lane Books/ Simon & Schuster, August 14, 2018. 9781534404083. (Review from finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Happy book birthday tomorrow to Who Eats Orange? This vibrant book invites young readers to consider color, food and animals. They may even think a bit about what colors they like to eat.

The Q& A format follows a fun pattern of three animals which do eat the color in question. The fourth...doesn't, but does eat a different color. The color that is being eaten may be a fruit, vegetable, an animal or even flowers. Most are recognizable, but a few puzzled. Never fear, the text is followed by a two-page spread identifying the animals as well as the foods they eat.

The illustrations are textured and set on a white background allowing each animal to pop off the page. I found the bear, marmot and reindeer particularly appealing because the fur was especially fuzzy and inviting. And those eyes on that bear!

This book will have a variety of uses from teaching colors to expanding palates with young readers.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White. Illustrated by Robin Page. unpgd. Beach Lane Books/ Simon & Schuster, August 14, 2018. 9781534404083.

Publisher synopsis: Who eats orange—a chicken? A bunny? A bear? Find out in this unique exploration of colors and animals’ favorite foods.

Animals eat a rainbow of different foods. Gorillas in the mountains eat green, octopi in the ocean eat red, and toucans in the canopy eat purple. Young animal enthusiasts will love digging into this lively journey around the world to explore the colorful diets of many animals, from the familiar to the exotic.

Purchased: Picked this fun one up at An Unlikely Story on my way home from PD in Boston.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins. unpgd. Disney Press, June, 2018. 9781368003551.

Publisher synopsis: It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .

Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

I adore Higgins' Bruce books! So excited for this.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blog Tour Picture Book Review: It's Show and Tell, Dexter! by Lindsay Ward

It's Show and Tell, Dexter! by Lindsay Ward. unpgd. Dexter T. Rexter series #2. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, July 2018. 9781503901377.

Our favorite orange dino is back! Is he still prone to panic attacks? Dexter T. Rex is Jack's favorite toy and he has been training for "show and tell day" at Jack's school for weeks. Now that the big day is imminent, Dexter is starting to worry about his big day. He wants to make a big splash and be memorable, but doubts he's good enough.

Dexter reveals that his tummy hurts and his claws are clammy just thinking about failing Jack. Readers who might have anxiety issues themselves will relate to Dexter. All readers will cheer him on and reassure him that just being himself is really enough. Who doesn't worry about impressing at show and tell?

The palette is still bright yellows and blues, allowing Dexter's orange exuberance to pop. The cut paper collages and blue backgrounds are textured and eye-catching. Little details, such as a bunny nose and too-tight bunny suit, amuse. Since Dexter is speaking right to the reader, this invites energetic responses to Dexter's worries, making this a fun choice for story-time.  

Visit Lindsay Ward's website for more about Dexter and her other books. She has a coloring page too! There's also a cute trailer

Welcome back Dexter! Hope to see you again soon!

Fact Friday: The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. 320 p. Farrar Straus & Giroux, October, 2017. 9780374303235. (Review from purchased copy.)

Happy Friday TMS Readers! As week seven comes to a close, the first day of school is on the horizon. Or should we not even think about that yet?

Our Fact Friday is a tough read. Its written for a YA audience and tackles some tough social justice issues. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater examines a hate crime that was committed in Oakland, California in 2013 on the 57 bus. Seventeen-year-old Sasha attended a private high school and fourteen-year-old Richard attended public high school. They didn't know each other but they both took the 57 bus to get to and from school. Sasha caught Richard's eye on the 57 bus because Sasha had fallen asleep and was wearing a skirt. Sasha appeared to be a boy to Richard so Richard thought it would be a funny prank to set Sasha's skirt on fire with a lighter. The skirt was made of a gauzy material and ignited suddenly, engulifing Sasha's legs in flames. Richard never intended such a catastrophic injury. Sasha spent months in the hospital and many more recovering from his burns. Richard was charged with a hate crime and was also charged as an adult, which meant he would spend many years behind bars once convicted. Slater skillfully delves into the many facets of this headlining-grabbing story. The reader learns about both boys' life, their interests, their challenges. The reader also learns many, many statistics, like how the criminal justice system in California; how the law disproportionately punishes black offenders and how lgbtq people, especially youth, are disproportionately victimized. There's a lot to digest, think about and discuss here for older teens and adults. The 57 Bus won a Stonewall Award and was an Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult finalist.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#tbt: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. 400 p. Books of Bayern series #1. Bloomsbury USA, August, 2003. 9781582348438. (own)

Happy Thursday TMS Readers! #tbt features a favorite of mine. Shannon Hale's debut, The Goose Girl was published in 2003. It is a retelling of a fairy tale of the same name that was collected by the Brothers Grimm in the 1800s. Hale remained quite faithful to the Grimm version but also created a world and secondary characters all her own. It is the story of Princess Ani who is supposed to travel to another kingdom to meet her betrothed but she is betrayed by her maid. Her maid convinces some of the guards to kill the loyal guards and the princess, but Ani flees into the forest. The maid continues to the palace posing as Princess Ani. The story is complicated but moves quickly thanks to interesting characters and a fascinating fantasy world. Hale went on to write several companion novels to The Goose Girl and set her Princess Academy series in a nearby kingdom. She collaborated with her husband on two graphic novels based on Rapunzel. These were illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation). Most recently, Hale wrote a graphic novel memoir called Real Friends, which is a TMS favorite.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Summer PD: Part Three

School Library Journal offered an optional second workshop, Diversity and Cultural Competency for Librarians. I very nearly passed on this workshop since I have had a practice of seeking, reading and promoting books with diverse characters most of my career. I also drop in on diversity presentations whenever I go to conferences. I am so glad I added the workshop to my shopping cart, because I now know what I didn't really know.

This day was jam-packed. While we were invited to take breaks throughout the day, the only scheduled break was lunch. Phew! The problem with that is feeling like I didn't want to leave because I'd be missing something! The workshop was run like a tight ship by three editors at SLJ, Kiera Parrot, Shelley Diaz and Mahnaz Dar. 

They fluidly tag-teamed each other breaking down concepts and engaging the learners in activities that not only made us think, but also got us moving around the room. 

I am still processing the information and will be for some time. Luckily, I have a folder of handouts, my conference notebook is full of jottings and I have a Diversity Toolkit. I am humbled because I realize that I still have a great deal to learn. That's a bit uncomfortable!

Here's a list of the topics discussed through the day:
What is cultural competency?
Dimensions of diversity
What is intersectionality?
Understanding and exploring privilege
What is implicit bias?
Identifying red flags
Book evaluation practice (looking at picture books armed with our knowledge of red flags)
Oppression, Allyship, and Emotional Labor

I want to say that the last segment, presented by Stacy Collins, Liaison Librarian at Simmons College was particularly powerful. She is bitingly, brilliantly funny and fierce. She curates an Oppression Guide at Simmons that is available online for anyone. This is now bookmarked on my computer. I recommend that you check it out and bookmark it on your computer. 

I need to deep-dive this resource. It is remarkable. If the entire workshop did not wake me up to the work I still need to do, this guide did. She freely admitted that there is way too much packed into the guide and doesn't care. I agree, I wouldn't change a thing. This is a gift and one I will use often.

The day ended with the invitation to address an envelope to ourselves and to list a few ideas we have to implement change in our practice. They will mail the envelopes out in a month to remind us of what we want to do. Genius.

So. If you ever have the opportunity to experience this full-day workshop, please do. I am so glad I did. 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Storyteller by Traci Chee

The Storyteller by Traci Chee. Sea of Ink and Gold series #3. 544 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, November 13, 2018. 9780399176791.

Publisher Synopsis: Sefia is determined to keep Archer out of the Guard's clutches and their plans for war between the Five Kingdoms. The Book, the ancient, infinite codex of the past, present and future, tells of a prophecy that will plunge Kelanna in that bloody war, but it requires a boy—Archer—and Sefia will stop at nothing to ensure his safety. The Guard has already stolen her mother, her father, and her Aunt Nin. Sefia would sooner die than let them take anymore from her—especially the boy she loves.

But escaping the Guard and the Book's prophecy is no easy task. After all, what is written always comes to pass. As Sefia and Archer watch Kelanna start to crumble to the Guard's will, they will have to choose between their love and joining a war that just might tear them apart. Full of magic, suspense, and mystery, Traci Chee brings her Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy to a close in this spellbinding final installment.

I loved The Reader, which I read with my ears. I haven't yet gotten to The Speaker, but plan on remedying that soon. Fantastic worldbuilding and memorable characters!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Summer PD: Part Two

School Library Journal hosted a Leadership Basecamp: Upskilling for the Next Generation of Library Leaders on Monday, August 6 at Simmons College. I attended my first (Innovators) Basecamp in May of 2017 and found the day to be interesting, so I opted to attend again. 

Basecamp opened with a keynote by noted science author, Sy Montgomery. I just love her books! Her new book, The Hyena Scientist recently released and she got a roomful of librarians to appreciate the wonders of the hyena!

Next we headed to our breakout sessions. Mine was called Unlearning Librarianship: developing a 21st-century research mind-set with students and faculty, presented by a very dynamic, Jenna Wolf. While she does work in a very unique school, I found I already approach my new (this year) classes with similar ideas but also found some new ones to add.

Next up was an illustrator panel moderated by Elissa Gershowitz, from Horn Book Magazine. The theme was Inspiration and Illumination and the illustrators were Rashin Kheiriyeh (Saffron Ice Cream), Daniel Minter (So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom) and Oge Mora (Thank You, Omu!). They each spoke about their newest projects and their process. Fascinating and not enough time!

After a nice brown bag lunch, I headed to Tech Playground. There wasn't much instruction. It was a playground. Time to jump in and explore. This is not my learning style but it was fun.

Liz Phipps Soerio and Maisha Sport presented their collaboration in Evaluating a Collection for Bias and Stereotypes with Primary Students. What wonderful deep thinking Ms. Sport's second graders engaged in!

My final session was called Getting a Handle on Social Media.

The day ended with a snack of saffron ice cream to celebrate Rashin Kheiriyeh's book.

Summer Professional Development Part One

I am in Boston right now, getting ready to attend SLJ Diversity Bootcamp. Yesterday, I attended their Basecamp. But, I came up on Sunday. I took the long way to Boston and stopped first at one of my favorite children's lit places in the world. Any guesses where?

Yes! The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! I first visited the museum in 2004 with #2 son on our way to his college orientation. The museum was celebrating 35 years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I have an old photo (an actual photo, not a digital one) of a cookie that had a hole in it. I bought it along with an absolutely memorable curried chicken salad in the cafe. When I idly wondered why the hole, the cashier said, "The very hungry caterpillar?" Ah, yes!

Well, sad to say, the cafe is no more. It's an eating space with vending machines, but everything else about the museum is intact and still wonderful!

The exhibits were of 60 years of Paddington Bear and the art of the Dillons. 

I will confess that I'm not really a fan of Paddington, but the exhibit was interesting as I was unaware that there were multiple illustrators over the years. There was also a section devoted to the movie, which I found curious until #4 son told me later that the movie was excellent. I'm teaching a new elective called Book to Film to eighth graders this year, so I tucked that tidbit away for later.

I was also struck by this:

I know that I read differently when I read a screen. I hadn't considered writing would be affected. 

The Carle curators also create some whimsy, as they did when I was here for the Beverly Cleary exhibit. 

I didn't take too many pictures of the Dillon exhibit as I was too busy getting lost in the art.

I almost skipped the library as I had been in every other time and it hadn't appeared to change. I'm so glad I went in. There was an exhibit of inclusive picture book art on the walls above the shelves. I grabbed the information leaflets and stopped to ask the librarian about the exhibit. It turns out that the librarian was also the creator/ curator of the exhibit! Score! We had a lovely chat. 

Of course, I stopped at the gift shop and showed great restraint. I can't recommend this museum enough.

But wait! "What has this to do with PD?", you might ask. I need to leave for my boot camp and will return with a part two talking about yesterday's Basecamp. But I would argue visiting the museum counts as PD!

ETA: I plan on returning during NJ Teacher Convention weekend to see this.

Teen Tuesday: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. 544 p. Candlewick Press, September 25, 2018. 9780763698225. (Review from arc courtesy of the publisher.)

When Brangwain Spurge, elfin historian, accepts an assignment to be catapulted into enemy territory to present the goblin king with a gift, he is honored and copes with the dangers. Little does he know, the gift he is bearing may just ignite a war. Oh, and kill him in the process. 

Goblin archivist, Werfel, is delighted to host. He believes he and Brangwain are kindred spirits and will have much to discuss. He rolls out the red carpet, goblin style and is nonplussed over Spurge's aloofness. He's also suspicious. Spurge keeps disappearing.

Each believes the other culture is the cause of all the problems in the world. The goblin-elfin conflict goes back over 1000 years and historical record is impeccable, is it not? As they stumble their way to an audience with the goblin king, readers discover through Yelchin's detailed illustrations what is afoot. In a world where insults are compliments, except when they're not and appreciation for other cultures is absent, how can it end, but badly?

This fantasy world is all too familiar in this sly, satirical romp. The illustrations propel the prose narrative, aided by letters from the spymaster to the elfin king. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is sophisticated, hilarious fun. 

I posted to Teen Tuesday because of the rather sophisticated humor and the fact that older readers might appreciate the satire. Younger fantasy fans and fans of Brian Selznik's illustrated novels will love this book as well. It's going in the "Everyone" section at school when it releases late September. I can't wait to see the finished product. Even the arc had heft and those illustrations! One could get lost in every one!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Mascot by Antony John

Mascot by Antony John. 330 p. Harper/ HarperCollins Publishers, September 11, 2018.9780062835642. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Monday from Boston, TMS Readers! I'm here to attend a two-day library conference. On the way up yesterday, I stopped at one of my favorite places in the entire world, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! There are three galleries, one devoted to the art of Eric Carle and two rotating exhibit spaces. Paddington Bear turns 60 this year, so the exhibit had lots of art from all the Paddington books and other fun facts. And the other room had art from Leo and Diane Dillon - who won back to back Caldecott Awards. 

Middle Grade Monday features Mascot by Antony John. I will tell you right off that I just loved this book! It's one of my favorites of 2018 - great opening lines, great voice, memorable characters, brilliantly funny dialog, cringeworthy moments, surprises and a tear or two.* 

Seventh grader Noah Savino has an attitude problem. It stinks. It's understandable though, because Noah is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a car accident that killed his father. Last spring, he was playing catcher on his Little League team; this fall, his teammates barely talk to him, except for Logan, who seems to relish humiliating Noah. He's trying to negotiate seventh grade, PE and missing his dad and it's pretty hard. Before you turn away saying, I don't want a sad book, let me say that I laughed through most of it. Noah is funny both intentionally and not. So is the new kid. His name is Ruben Spencer Hardesty, who makes an impressive entrance to class on his first day. 

Now, I will throw you a bit of a curveball and say that Mascot is not yet published. Sorry! It's coming September 11, so you don't have to wait too long! In the meanwhile, you can try his dystopian, Elemental or his YA realistic fiction, Five Flavors of Dumb. 

Mascot will be a book with wide appeal. Great for fans of baseball, sad books, humorous books, books with a possibility of romance, school stories, friendship stories. Really, any sort of reader should love this one. It won't sit on the shelf!

*Most of this review appeared on my TMS Reads group page and copied here instead of me writing a more formal review. I did want to add that John got the medical stuff spot on. Many of you may know that I am a stickler for that. I thought he did a fantastic job conveying the frustration, grief and anger that any person recovering from a catastrophic injury would experience. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review: I now have two Candlewick arc-mothers! These came this week:

1968: today's authors explore a year of rebellion, revolution & change. Edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 198 p. Candlewick Press, September 11, 2018. 9780763689933.

Publisher synopsis: Welcome to 1968 — a revolution in a book. Essays, memoirs, and more by fourteen award-winning authors offer unique perspectives on one of the world’s most tumultuous years.

Nineteen sixty-eight was a pivotal year that grew more intense with each day. As thousands of Vietnamese and Americans were killed in war, students across four continents took over colleges and city streets. Assassins murdered Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. Demonstrators turned out in Prague and Chicago, and in Mexico City, young people and Olympic athletes protested. In those intense months, generations battled and the world wobbled on the edge of some vast change that was exhilarating one day and terrifying the next. To capture that extraordinary year, editors Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti created an anthology that showcases many genres of nonfiction. Some contributors use a broad canvas, others take a close look at a moment, and matched essays examine the same experience from different points of view. As we face our own moments of crisis and division, 1968 reminds us that we’ve clashed before and found a way forward — and that looking back can help map a way ahead.

We are Here to Stay: voices of undocumented young adults by Susan Kuklin. 182 p. Candlewick Press, January 18, 2019. 9780763678845.

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September 4, 2018. 9780763689797. 

Publisher synopsis: Rosie is a good dog and a faithful companion to her owner, George. She likes taking walks with George and looking at the clouds together, but the closest she comes to another dog is when she encounters her reflection in her empty dog bowl, and sometimes that makes Rosie feel lonely. One day George takes Rosie to the dog park, but the park is full of dogs that Rosie doesn’t know, which makes her feel lonelier than ever. When big, loud Maurice and small, yippy Fifi bound over and want to play, Rosie’s not sure how to respond. Is there a trick to making friends? And if so, can they all figure it out together?

Purchased: nothing!

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Fact Friday: Stubby the War Dog: The true story about World War I's bravest dog by Ann Bausum

Stubby the War Dog: the true story about World War I's bravest dog by Ann Bausum. 80 p. National Geographic Society, May, 2014. 9781426314865. (Own)

I am a sucker for a good dog story, especially about dogs that serve. I also have a high interest in the first World War. And, I think Ann Bausum is a terrific writer! Win! Win! Win!

Stubby the War Dog is engaging and accessible, accompanied by many, well-captioned photographs. In a parallel story to Winnie, American soldier, Robert Conroy adopted a stubby-tailed stray while training to deploy overseas in WWI. He smuggled Stubby overseas where Stubby's keen senses proved valuable. Bausum's narrative weaves the story of the irrepressible Stubby with facts about the Great War, satisfying both fans of dogs and military history. I just loved this story. Share it with your students, and they will too!

Friday Memes: Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier. 260 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, September 25, 2018. 9781419731402. (Arc courtesy of publisher.)

Publisher synopsis: For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys”—orphans owned by chimney sweeps—to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived—and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life—saving one another in the process. By one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

First Line: There are all sorts of wonderful things a person might see very early in the morning.

Page 56: "Roger!" Nan shouted. "Roger, no-" Her cries were cut off by a hollow whoof as the match hit the coals. Air was drawn down through the chimney, like a beast drawing a deep breath.

I did not read Auxier's debut, The Night Gardener when it first came out because I don't like horror. I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Nimble, so I got The Night Gardener on audio and fell in love in spite of my scaredy-cat ways. I was entranced by Sophie Quire and psyched when I learned of Sweep!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Blog Tour/ Interview: Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder

Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder. unpgd. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 7, 2018. 9780735230491.

I was lucky enough to receive an fng of this delightful book and reviewed it here back in March. When I was part of an email chain asking for blog tour participants, I was thrilled to revisit Lucy and Hank. 

The finished book is lovely. The red string is slightly embossed on the wraparound cover. The pages have heft and will stand up to the multiple readings I predicted in my review. 

Lucy and the String is Author/ illustrator Vanessa Roeder's author debut and she was kind enough to answer three questions from me:

1. Do you knit? 
I actually don’t knit, though I did have a short-lived sewing obsession. My poor daughter had to suffer the shame of wearing some of my creations, one of which was made out of a curtain. She’s probably very thankful I didn’t take up knitting.

2. What were you like at Lucy's age?                                                                          
I was a pretty resourceful kid, like Lucy. I grew up in a very small town where there wasn’t a lot to do, so my imagination became the captain of many adventures. I would do things like build forts out of old billboard scraps, or construct makeshift roller coasters in our horse barn, or convert my brother’s room into a news studio to report our own version of the headlines. These escapades didn’t always work out, like when a rope I strung from the barn rafters snapped mid swing, or when the roller coaster came crashing down under the weight of four kids. I was a problem solver though, so when an old rope snapped, I just started over with my dad’s good lasso.

3. Your other books are so colorful. What about this story said, three colors only?

When I first started writing Lucy and the String, I had planned to use my colorful collage style. But after making several samples, I realized that the saturated palette took away from one part of the story that really needed to shine… the string. The story itself is simple, and I wanted a style that mirrored that simplicity. Once I pared down the palette to black, white, and poppy red, it just fit. I love the limited palette and simplified style so much that I’m now trying to weave it into future books. 

Thank you, Vanessa for taking the time to answer my questions! If you are looking for a delightful read aloud, Lucy and the String will be available August 7. Happy book birthday!

Bio: Vanessa Roeder is an author and illustrator whose work has been featured in Highlights magazine and on Apartment Therapy. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

Be sure to visit the other stops of the Lucy and the String Blog Tour!
July 30 – Read. Learn. Repeat – Q&A + Review
July 31 – Picture Book Playdate – Creative Instagram Picture
August 1 – Tuesday Stiches – Creative Instagram Picture
August 2 – Proseandkahn – Q&A
August 3 – Mundie Kids Book – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

#tbt: Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz. 320 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May, 2006. 9780142410998. (Own)

The day before fifteen-year-old Toyo Shimada is to start boarding school, his father forces him to witness his uncle commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, rather than renounce his Samurai status. It is the late 1800s and feudal Japan is embracing Western customs and modernizing. Toyo's father completes the ritual and informs Toyo that he expects him to do the same when his father's time comes. 

At boarding school, Toyo is subjected to cruel hazing by upperclassmen and his father arrives daily to teach him the way of the Samurai. While the cultures clash in many ways, Toyo falls in love with baseball and sees similarities between it and Bushido. 

Samurai Shortstop was Gratz's debut in 2006. According to his website, Samurai Shortstop made quite a few lists including, Best Picks for Young Adults; the 2006 Washington Post Top Ten Picks for Children; Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten Sports Books for Youth; Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten First Books for Youth; The New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007 and 2007 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year. Not too shabby! He has since written 14 books for young people, many of which are historical fiction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Pride by Ibi Zoboi. 304 p. Balzer + Bray, September 18, 2018. 9780062564047. 

Publisher synopsis: Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

I absolutely adored the author's debut, American Street. Pride and Prejudice happens to be one of my favorite classics. I cannot wait to read this!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Taking Stock - July, 2018

Total Books: 33/ 196
Total Posts: 27
Total Reviews: 12

Debut: 3/ 9
Audio: 8/ 45
Picture Books: 9/ 62

The Good: Got to review a bit.

The Bad: Still behind with my goal and summer vacay is more than half over!

The List:
164. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (7/1)*
165. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (7/1)*
166. Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale (7/2)
167. You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P. by Alex Gino (7/4)
168. Warcross by Marie Lu (7/4)
169. The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee (7/4)*
170. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (7/4)*
171. Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña (7/4)
173. Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck (7/5)*
174. Binge by Tyler Oakley (7/6)
175. Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler (⅞)
176. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (7/9)
177. I’m Ok by Patti Kim (7/11)
178. Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre (7/12)*
179. Speak: the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Emily Carroll (7/13)*
180. Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (7/13)
181. The Stars Beneath My Feet by David Barclay Moore (7/14)
182. Reckless by Cornelia Funke (7/14)
183.The Assassination of Brainwein Spurge by M.T. Anderson (7/15)*
184. Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (7/15)*
185. The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass (7/16)
186. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (7/18)*
187. Bounce by Megan Shull (7/22)
188. Mascot by Antony John (7/23)*
189. Grenade by Alan Gratz (7/26)*
190. Front Desk by Amy Tang (6/26)
191. Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (7/28)*
192. The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage (7/28)*
193. Surprise! By Caroline Hadilaksono (7/29)
194. Hope by Matthew Cordell (7/29)
195. Perfect by Max Amato (7/29)*

196. Grow Up, David! By David Shannon (7/30)