Friday, November 16, 2018

Fact Friday: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale


Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood: a World War I tale by Nathan Hale. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series #4. 126 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, May, 2014. 9781419708084. (Own)

Fact Friday concludes our week devoted to books about World War I with Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: a World War I tale by Nathan Hale. This is book number four in the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. Though technically this book is historical fiction because it is narrated by the (dead) historical figure, Nathan Hale, all the history in these books is factually correct and often includes direct quotations. In case you are unfamiliar with the series, in One Dead Spy, the first book, Nathan Hale is heading to the gallows but since he was a historical figure, he's in future history books and has absorbed all the American history that happened (happens?) after his demise (in the future?) Yeah, it's mind-bendy, but go with it. This is sort an Americanized 1001 Arabian Nights with Hale delaying his execution with one more story.

The causes of World War I are complex but Hale does a good job of distilling them. The war was also notable for the advancements of military technology, such as poison gas and tanks. The horrors of this war were gruesome and the loss of life on both sides was extremely high. Hale manages to convey that without bludgeoning the reader. The palette is mostly earth tones, the art is crowded and filled with detail. The representation of the countries is signified by animal heads, Bulldog = England and Rooster = France. 

The entire series is quite well done and highly recommended. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

#tbt: Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen


Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen. Translated by Terese Edelstein. 154 p. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 0618431241. (Own) 

#tbt features Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen. This novel was originally published in Belgium and was translated by Therese Edelstein for an American audience in 2005. The story opens on a battlefield during WWI. John Kipling lies mortally wounded and reflects on his life. John is Rudyard Kipling's only child and both of them suffered from poor eyesight, which prevented his father from serving in an earlier war and initially prevented his son from serving in WWI. But the elder Kipling was now a famous author and pulled some strings to get John accepted. The story switches between John, written in first-person, and his memories, written third-person omniscient. This thought-provoking novel is a fictionalized account of real events. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Picture Book Review: Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein


Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September, 2018. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Our irrepressible interrupting chicken is back and her patient papa continues to stoically submit to his little chick's insistence that the literary term is not the element of surprise, but the elephant of surprise. Papa tries to prove her wrong by whipping out a book of fairy tales and dang, if that pesky elephant doesn't show up every time! Even when he resorts to making up his own story, interrupting chicken illustrates and gets that elephant of surprise to show up!

Fans of the first book, Interrupting Chicken, which won a Caldecott Honor, will be tickled to revisit chicken and her papa. Fans who find this one will demand the first. And deservedly so. In fact, I needed to run over to the library to borrow Interrupting Chicken!

Again, the mixed media art shines here. The colors are warm and there's plenty of detail to catch the eye, such as the school bus viewed through the window of the living room. The textures are inviting as well. One can see crayon markings as well as colored pencil strokes. Papa, as caregiver continues to dote and seems to have an after-school routine. He leaves his computer to devote his entire attention to chicken. Alas, his attempts at gentle correction fall on deaf ears and he attempts to prove it with a story. 

The art for the "storybook" parts is different, seeming to be pen and ink, but the background contains interesting details for young eagle eyed readers/ listeners.

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise is a #nevertoooldforpicturebooks picture book. It can be shared with older students as a playful introduction to the literary device and younger students will hoot with glee over chicken's exuberant free spirit. She's definitely an outside-the-box thinker. Highly recommended for everyone young and old. 

Here's a link to an adorable trailer.





Waiting on Wednesday: Lovely War by Julie Berry


Lovely War by Julie Berry. 480 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, March 5, 2019. 9780451469939.

Publisher synopsis: New York City, 1942. World War II is at its zenith. A stunningly attractive couple meets in a Manhattan hotel room for a forbidden tryst. But these are no ordinary lovers. When immortals Ares and Aphrodite are caught by the latter's jealous husband, the goddess of passion must justify her actions, or face judgment on Mount Olympus.

To plead her case, she spins a tale that took place in Europe some twenty-five years earlier: the story of four mortals whose lives entwined in the crucible of World War I.

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story--filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion--reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it's no match for the transcendent power of Love.

As I said in a Stacking post a few weeks back, I adored Berry's All the Truth That's in Me and The Passion of Dolssa! I also love myth retellings and stories set during WWI. I cannot wait for this and would crack it open right this second but I have a stack of 70+ books to read for Cybils Round One judging!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Remembrance by Theresa Breslin


Remembrance by Theresa Breslin. 297 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, December, 2002. 9780385730150. (Own)

Prior to World War I class and sex roles were rigidly set. The nobility rarely mixed with the common folk and women rarely worked outside of the home. Remembrance  by Theresa Breslin tells the story of five teens during World War I. John Malcolm and his twin sister, Maggie and his younger brother Alex are children of shopkeepers and Charlotte and her brother Francis are educated and wealthy. Charlotte and John are sweethearts, which would never do according to her mother. John volunteers to enlist early and Charlotte's brother, Francis objects to the war, much to his mother's dismay. This engrossing novel tells about how their lives are forever changed by a great and terrible war. Recommended!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo


War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. 165 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., 2007. 97780439796637. (Own)

In honor of the hundredth anniversary of the end of the Great War, which would come to be known as World War I, the Daily Booktalk will feature books about it. Middle Grade Monday features a favorite of both Ms. Levy's and Ms. Kahn's - War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. War Horse was inspired by the stories of two veterans who told their own stories about working with horses during the war. He wondered if he could tell the story of this brutal war through the eyes of a horse. War Horse first published in England in 1982. The story of Joey, who was lovingly cared for by Albert but mistreated by Albert's drunken father, who sold the horse to the British military, eventually made its way to the United States. Scholastic published it in 2007. The story was adapted into a play to great acclaim. In 2010, Steven Speilberg released his movie adaptation. In 2012, a sequel called Farm Boy was released. Michael Morpurgo has written over a hundred books for children and has received many awards.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Picture Book Review: Storm by Sam Usher


Storm by Sam Usher. unpgd. Templar Books/ Candlewick Press, August, 2018.9781536202823. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Our favorite little redheaded boy and his doting granddad are back in another lovely flight of fancy. This time, the boy awakens to wind rattling the windows and he just cannot wait to get outside. When he suggests all the things the two could do in the wind, granddad suggests that "It's the perfect day to fly a kite! But we'll have to find it first." While the wind blows mightily, the two search high and low for the kite and stop to reminisce about everything they do find, like a cricket bat. When the kite is finally found, they bundle up and head out to the park where the wind gathers all the kite fliers and whisks them into the sky for a swirling, twirling adventure.

The ink and watercolor art is glorious from cover to cover. Funny little details are embedded on most pages and invite lingering. Every child needs imaginary play and a granddad like this. Share this one and all the "Granddad" books, Snow, Sun, and Rain widely.