Thursday, October 31, 2019

#tbt: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. 220 p. Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. 9780618439293.

#tbt features Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. This book was published in 2004 and was awarded both a Newbery and Printz Honor at the Youth Media Awards the following January. The story is based on true events that happened in Maine in the early part of the 20th century. Malaga Island was the legal residence of former slaves and free Black men and women. It was also prime real estate that the town leaders of Phippsburg were eyeing for development as a resort. Turner Buckminster and his parents are newcomers to Phippsburg, with his father recently installed as minister. He befriends Lizzie Bright and together they discover the plan and fight against it. 

Schmidt beautifully depicts the Maine setting and creates unforgettable characters in Lizzie Bright.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Picture Book Review: Dog Breath: the horrible trouble with Hally Tosis by Dav Pilkey

Image: Scholastic 
Dog Breath: the horrible trouble with Hally Tosis by Dav Pilkey. upgd. Scholastic Inc., October, 2019. 9781338539233. (Review of finished copy courtesy of reviewer.)

I admit to being a tad puzzled to find this in my review box. Then, it occurred to me that 2019 might be an anniversary. Happy 25th anniversary Hally Tosis and Dav Pilkey! So this post is sort of a bonus #tbt, only with a re-issue.

Poor Hally! She has such bad breath that Mr. & Mrs. Tosis see no other alternative than adoption. Their children, on the other hand, try everything in their power to save her but nothing worked. Luckily for the Tosis family, her breath was the key to foiling a pair of burglars and Hally's place in the family was secured. (And so were clothes pins.)

Colorful, energetic humorous cartoon art entertains, groan worthy puns and word play propel the dialogue. Pilkey is a perennial favorite in most school and classroom libraries with good reason. This paper on board edition should be a welcome addition. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Act by Kayla Miller

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Act by Kayla Miller Click novel #3. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 
May 20, 2020. 9780358335818.

Publisher synopsis: How do you know when the person who can make the difference . . . is you?

Olive is excited to start sixth grade: new teachers, new experiences, and a field trip to the big city with her best buds!

But when Olive finds out that a school policy is keeping some kids from going on the trip, she decides to act. She's prepared to do whatever it takes to be heard—even if it means running against Trent and Sawyer, two of her closest friends, in the student council election! With intense campaign competition and emotions running high, can Olive make a big change and keep her friends?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Teen Tuesday: White Rose by Kip Wilson

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

White Rose by Kip Wilson. 358 p. Versify/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2019. 9781328594433. Review of purchased finished copy.)

During Hitler's rise to power, Sophie Scholl, like most young Germans, joined the Hitler Youth. Her older brothers eventually joined the German Army. Her boyfriend was also enlisted in the army. Instead of blindly following Hitler's edicts, Sophie and her brothers soon realized that Hitler's tactics were unconscionable. They believed that they were complicit by staying silent, but protesting was treasonous. Sophie and her brothers procured a copy machine and were soon printing and distributing anti-propaganda fliers that called out Hitler.

The verse novel flashes backward and forward and is told mostly from Sophie's POV. The spare yet often searing free-verse poems compel and the tension ratchets up with each page turn. Sophie's fear is palpable but so is her resolve, which should prompt most readers into reflecting about what they would do in a similar situation. 

I haven't had tremendous success book talking Russell Freedman's astounding, We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement. Reading White Rose might be a way into the work of non-fiction. 

White Rose is a remarkable debut. It belongs in every public, school and classroom library!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Camp by Kayla Miller

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Camp by Kayla Miller. 224 p. A Click Graphic Novel #2. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2019. 9781328530813. (Review of finished paperback courtesy of publisher ALAAC19)

Middle Grade Monday features Camp by Kayla Miller. Besties Olive and Willow are excited to be heading to sleep-away camp together. They are bunking together and plan on  doing everything together. Problems arise almost immediately as Olive is interested in activities that Willow is not. Olive easily makes friends. Willow is instantly homesick. She hates the camp food and begins to demand more and more of Olive's attention. Will their friendship survive camp?

This terrific graphic novel won't sit in your library, so you'd better invest in a hard cover copy and consider purchasing a second copy. It's perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Johnson or for fans of friendship stories. The art is appealing in easy to follow panels. Olive and Willow are relatable and both grow as they try to salvage their friendship. There's angst and humor and some incredible camp activities. 

I got this books thanks to my book buddy, Barb, who created the website, abookandahug.  I ran into her as I wandered the exhibits at ALAAC last June. She was headed to the Houghton Mifflin Booth for Kayla Miller's signing and asked if I had read Click. I had not. She (of course) had and was eager to snag Camp. We could choose either Click or Camp.

I chose Camp partly because the story reminded me of #3 son and his best friend. BF's mom wanted him to attend the sleep-away camp that she had attended as a tween/ teen and her daughter attended. It was her daughter's last year there and she wanted BF to go. He was uninterested. She asked him if he would go if #3 went. BF said yes. So, she asked me at a Little League game if I'd consider sending #3 to camp in Colorado. It sounded like an amazing camp so I agreed to allow her to ask him if he'd like to go. He did. I had to put him on a plane (with connections) as an unaccompanied minor. I cried when I said good-bye. He never looked back.

Well. The boys were put in separate tents. #3 fell in love with the camp immediately and BF suffered from terrible homesickness immediately. It got so bad, his dad had to fly out once or twice. #3 felt terrible and tried to encourage him to join the amazing hikes and activities. Unfortunately, he never came around. When #3 got off the plane back home, he proclaimed he was going back the next year and thought #4 son should go as well. They did. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Picture Book Review: Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg

Image: Charlesbridge

Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg. unpgd. Charlesbridge, October, 2019. 9781623541071. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Saltzberg gently and beautifully deconstructs how to make a friend in this disarming and charming picture book. Both Dog and Rabbit are absolutely fine being alone. Alone time is good. Isn't it?

The back cover asks, "How hard is it to find a friend?" Sometimes, very hard. Dog is willing, but rabbit is enamored by a magnet of a rabbit on Dog's fridge. 

Spare text and illustrations allow room for contemplation and discussion in this sweet story of friendship possibilities. Perfect for the pre-school set who might be unsure about making friends.  

Saturday, October 26, 2019

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:

From Candlewick Press: 

Dasher by Matt Tavares. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September, 2019. 9781536214901.

Publisher synopsis: Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.

From the celebrated creator of Red and Lulu comes the story of a brave little doe who meets Santa and changes Christmas forever.

I have been coveting this ever since I heard about it and leapt at the chance to review it! I adored Red and Lulu.

Image: Candlewick Press

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Christmas Activity Book.  Candlewick Entertainment/ Candlewick Press, September, 2019. 9781536211382.

Publisher synopsis: There’s so much to make, do, and discover in the countdown to Christmas! Whether kids like staying indoors to make crafts or stepping outside to explore, they’ll find plenty of ideas in this gem of a book. Would you like to create a wreath, design your own cards, or make a special cake for the birds? How about learning some seasonal jokes, looking for winter creatures, or completing a Christmas tree calendar with stickers? With easy-to-follow instructions, charming illustrations, and plenty of holiday spirit, this hands-on guide to making the most of the season will keep children entertained and inspired.

Inspired by the animated special based on a beloved classic, this treasure trove of activities, fun facts, and more than a hundred stickers is the perfect gift for a magical time of year.

Purchased: My budget got frozen and I had some Amazon gift cards from students leftover so I got these:

Image: Boom! Studios

Fence: volume 3 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad. Boom! Studios, August, 2019. 9781641441872

Publisher synopsis: From the superstar team of C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes the third volume of this acclaimed, dynamic series.

Image: Penguin Random House

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden. (Dead Voices #2) 256 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, August, 2019. 9780525515050. 

Publisher synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

Sadly, I have not yet read Small Spaces. My students who have, told me that I MUST! They can't wait to get their hands on it. They need to wait. My husband found it on the kitchen table, read the summary and asked to read it.

Image: Scholastic Inc.

The Baby-Sitters Club: boy-crazy Stacey
based on the novel by Ann M. Martin. Illustrated by Gale Galligan. Baby-Sitters Club #7. 176 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., September, 2019. 9781338304527.

Publisher synopsis: Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There's a gorgeous house right on the beach, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand... and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

Mary Anne thinks that Stacey should leave Scott alone and focus on the Pike kids, but Stacey's in love. Looking for reasons to hang around his lifeguard stand takes up all of her time, which means Mary Anne has to do the job of two baby-sitters. Mary Anne doesn't like it one bit! How can she tell Stacey that Scott just isn't interested without ruining their friendship and breaking Stacey's heart?

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fact Friday: More Than a Game: race, gender and politics in sports by Matt Doeden

Image: Lerner
More Than a Game: race, gender and politics in sports by Matt Doeden. 64 p. Lerner Publishing, September, 2020. 9781541540941. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher/ SLJ Leadership Conference.)

Fact Friday features More Than a Game: race gender and politics in sports by Matt Doeden. Colin Kaepernick is not the first athlete to make a political statement on the playing field, nor will he be the last. 

Doeden focuses heavily on racism and racial discrimination in this intriguing overview. He provides important historical context which underscores the resilience and bravery these athletes such as boxers, Jack Johnson and Muhammed Ali. Johnson dared to become the first Black heavyweight champion and Ali dared to defy the draft during the Vietnam War resulting in his heavyweight title being stripped. Tommie Smith and John Carlos' Olympic medals were revoked when they raised their fists in a Black Power salute on the winner's podium in 1968. 

The narrative is informative and the plentiful, well-captioned photographs are engaging. If you are a fan of sports history, this brief overview of athletes who fought to make a difference and a statement is for you. Doeden provides plenty of resources for further reading in the back matter. More Than a Game is a worthy addition to any library collection.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Picture Book Review: Hey, Dog! by Tony Johnston

Image: Charlesbridge
Hey, Dog! by Tony Johnston. Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson. unpgd. Charlesbridge, June, 2019. 9781-58089-877-5. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Full-disclosure: I am an unabashed dog lover. There isn't a meme or video featuring a dog that I will ever not view. Those vids of dog rescues are especially compelling to me. So it goes without saying that I adore this book. 

An earnest bespectacled boy spies a stray dog shaking with fear in the bushes near his house. When he attempts to approach, the dog darts away. Thinking the dog might be thirsty, the boy fills a frisbee with water and places it near the spot in the bushes where he first saw the dog. Later, the water is gone. Thinking the dog must also be hungry, he leaves food along with more water. Later, he thinks that the dog might be cold and brings a blanket out to the bushes. He is the perfect model for compassion and empathy as he constantly tries to anticipate what the dog will need. His relationship with his mother is lovely. He feels comfortable sharing his concerns and she quietly supports him.

The spare writing is very child-centric, simple and direct and works well with the black-lined, cartoon illustrations which are also quite spare. Teachers and parents searching for a non-didactic read-aloud to teach attributes such as empathy, patience and kindness will love sharing Hey, Dog.

#tbt: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Image: Disney

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Illustrated by Greg Call. 464 p. Disney/ Hyperion, September, 2004. 9780786854455. 

#tbt wishes a happy fifteenth anniversary to Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson! These two authors frequently team up to write fast-paced adventures. In Peter and the Starcatchers, the two have created a Peter Pan reboot. While there are some familiar characters from the J.M. Barrie classic, Peter and the Starcatchers is wholly original. 

Orphan Peter and Molly, his mysterious, new friend, and their band of boys decide to overcome the pirate crew of the ship, Neverland, in order to protect its precious cargo-stardust. After adventure on the high seas, Peter and his crew end up on the faraway island of Mollusk. Their adventures are far from over though. Barry and Pearson serve up non-stop action, humor, suspense, terrific characters and vivid settings in this series starter. Call's illustrations in what looks like pencil and charcoal add interest.

Peter and the Starcatchers is a perfect read for students who love fantasy and adventure. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Image: Scholastic
The Battle of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Inc., March 20, 2020. 9781338635171.

Waiting on Wednesday features The Battle of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic caused a bit of a stir in the children's lit world when they announced that Suzanne Collins has penned a prequel to her phenomenally best selling Hunger Games trilogy.

Publisher synopsis: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.

On returning to the world of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins said, “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Teen Tuesday and Arc Review: Allies by Alan Gratz

Image: Scholastic Inc.
Allies by Alan Gratz. 325 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., October 15, 2019. 9781338245721. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher. Own hc.) 

Teen Tuesday wishes a belated happy book birthday to Allies by Alan Gratz. Gratz is a favorite author here at TMS and his latest entry has been highly anticipated. His well-researched historical fiction really connects young readers to history. Readers who think they don't like historical fiction find that they do when introduced to any Gratz title.

In Allies, the epic D-Day invasion is told from the point-of-view of multiple players. The invasion was a massive, multi-pronged assault on the beaches of Normandy and a make-or break moment for the allied forces. The action is non-stop as the reader follows the actions of a young U.S. Army recruit getting sea-sick in a boat about to storm the beach, a tween daughter of a captured French Resistance fighter who has to think quickly when her mother is captured by the Nazis, a British paratrooper, a Black medic, as well as a Cree and a Canadian soldier on that fateful day. Gratz recreates the terror, confusion, horror and heroism as over 160,000 Allied forces came together to take back the beach, France and defeat the Nazis. 

Allies is unputdownable and one for the reread pile. Highly recommended and well-deserving of all the stars and praise.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Image: Simon & Schuster
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner. 272 p. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, September, 2019. 9781534431454. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Middle Grade Monday features a debut graphic novel, The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner. Moth Hush doesn't fit in at school. Her single-mother is silent about her father or any other family. It has always been just the two of them. But when Moth suddenly comes into her magic while being bullied on Halloween, her mother reveals that she comes from a long line of witches dating back to Colonial Salem. Moth's grandmother fled into a portal to live under the protection of Hecate but Moth's mother decided to leave. She forbids Moth from practicing magic but Moss finds her diary. With the help of a talking black cat, begins training herself. What could go wrong? 

This graphic novel coming-of-age story is quite relatable even if you don't have magical powers. Inventive and engaging. The story is unique with compelling characters. The arc's art was in black and white but samples show lush coloring. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Fact Friday and Review: Playlist: the rebels and revolutionaries of sound by James Rhodes

Image: Candlewick Press
Playlist: the rebels and revolutionaries of sound by James Rhodes. Illustrated by Martin O'Neill. 68 p. Candlewick Studios/ Candlewick Press, October, 2019. 9781536212143. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

One vivid memory I have from my senior year of high school has to do with a brand new LA class called "Humanities." It was taught by a brilliant woman named Miss Kehoe. She had that rare combination of control and approachability and she was so cultured! Thanks to her, I can pretty accurately identify the major (and some minor) artists through the ages. 

She touched a bit on musicians as well. I recall a bunch of boys rolling their eyes at the idea of classical music and extolling the musical virtue of groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes and the Rolling Stones. She was prepared; explaining that most rock and roll musicians had classical training and were even adapting classical pieces in their own music. She used ELP's "Pictures at an Exhibition" as an example. Color me impressed.

Color me impressed by Rhodes' approach in this book. Colorful, cool,  and occasionally comic, this LP-sized book will captivate students of music as well as lure readers who are not musicians.

These sixty-plus pages brim with information. In straightforward and conversational text, Rhodes immediately engages the readers making the hundreds-year-old history relevant. He talks about seven classical musicians (acknowledging that they are all white and male) and highlights two pieces from each. You might be wondering how he can do this in print. He created a Spotify playlist for each and readers can log on to hear the examples he provides. 

Each musician gets a two-page "Facts of Life" spread followed by pages devoted to explaining the pieces that were chosen. There's added information about orchestras as well as a timeline interspersed among the biographies. Eye-popping sometimes psychedelic illustrations add energy and zest. A two-page vocabulary concludes the book. There are no source notes and specific recommendations for further reading. 

Playlist is a first-purchase! Book talk it and display it prominently and it won't sit. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

#tbt: Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Image: Scholastic
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick. 272 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., October, 2004. 0439755190. (Own)

#tbt celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of Jordan Sonnenblick's debut novel, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. This first-person novel is a TMS favorite. Steven relates the story of his eighth grade year starting at graduation, then flashing back. When his younger brother, Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, the entire family dynamic shifts. Everyone is rightfully worried about Jeffrey. Steven tries to keep this news hidden from his friends and teachers. He just wants to get through eighth grade and get better at drumming. But fear and financial worry as well as treatment setbacks for Jeffrey take a toll on everyone. At turns poignant and hilarious, readers who don't like sad books will fall in love. Readers who do, will find a new favorite. The voice is captivating from page one. 

Most of Sonnenblick's books are favorites here at TMS. There is a companion novel called, After Ever After. BTW, if you are looking for a great author visit, Jordan's visits are outstanding. He really connects with students. Visit his website for details about his visits

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs

Image: Simon & Schuster

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs. 336 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, March 24, 2020. 9781534443754.

Publisher synopsis: In the latest novel in New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series, Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth to solve his most improbable mystery yet—with a victim that’s 65 million years old.

Teddy was all set for a campout at his friend Sage’s family ranch—but then Sage gets terrible news: The skull of a rare dinosaur that was being excavated on his property has mysteriously vanished overnight in the middle of a rainstorm, even though it weighed 500 pounds. Not a single footprint has been left behind. Since the dinosaur was top secret, the police don’t believe anyone outside the dig could have stolen it.

A T-rex skull can sell for millions of dollars, and everyone is a suspect—including J.J. McCracken, the owner of FunJungle.

Meanwhile, Teddy’s old foes, the Barksdale twins, have gotten into trouble with an illegally purchased anaconda, and Teddy’s girlfriend Summer wants to find out who’s behind the local trade in black market reptiles. The two cases will drag Teddy into more danger and chaos than ever before, in this mystery that’s stranger than fiction.

All of Stuart Gibbs series are top circulators at my school and, with good reason, they are consistently fantastic. I had the privilege of reviewing the first and second Funjungle books for SLJ. I haven't been able to continue the series partly due to time and mostly due to the fact that Gibbs' shelf is usually empty from the second week of school through the end of the school year!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Teen Tuesday: The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Image: Penguin Random House
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~9 hours. Read by Sophie Amoss. Listening Library, March, 2019. 9781984837929. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library. Arc courtesy of publisher.)

Poe Blythe is bent on revenge. The eighteen-year-old is about to captain a ship that she designed. Two years earlier, her best friend, Call was murdered while they were crew on a ship that was dredging gold. The ship was stolen by the Raiders. Poe vowed to take revenge on the Raiders by designing an impregnable ship. That was the only thing that kept her alive these past two years and now she gets to take the ship on its last dredging mission. She has been assigned a crew by the Admiral. But can she trust them? Can she trust the Admiral? And, what of the Council, who are divided in their loyalty to Poe.

This dystopian unfolds slowly. Poe is aloof and difficult to know and so her first-person narration is guarded. Is she an unreliable narrator?  The world seems dangerous and forbidding and hopeless. People are desperate and vicious. This steampunk/ sci-fi/ dystopian is dark and unsettling. The narrator's terse, succinct delivery underscores Poe's detached demeanor effectively. 

If you're a fan of the dystopian genre, this book is for you. The patience needed in the beginning pays off as pieces start falling into place. Recommended!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

Image: Simon & Schuster

Look Both Ways: a tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds. 208 p. Atheneum/ Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, October 8, 2019. 9781481438285. (Review of borrowed arc.)

Middle Grade Monday features Look Both Ways: a tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds. My library sits above the main entrance of my school. The dismissal bell rings at 3:10 and by 3:12 students start streaming out. There's a line of three buses and usually a fairly long line of late model cars lined up for pick-up; but a majority of our nearly six hundred students seem to walk - at least across the street to the library for a while before dispersing. I've often contemplated their lives, especially if I'm worried about any in particular. 

Jason Reynolds follows a few kids home in his new book, Look Both Ways. Any new book by Reynolds is cause to celebrate. He's an automatic purchase for me even if he writes the phone book. Not surprisingly, Look Both Ways is a National Book Award Finalist.

This collection of short stories follows ten or so children home from school on the day a school bus "fell from the sky." They are loosely connected and at turns poignant and hilarious.  It is a fabulous collection of short stories featuring interesting characters, gorgeous writing, and hi and low humor. Like all well-written short stories, each feels as though they could've been expanded into a full-length novel. Perfect for reading aloud.

Jason Reynolds is a TMS favorite. Most of his books have won some type of award from the Coretta Scott King to the National Book Award, where his popular book, Ghost, was a finalist. If you think you hate to read, you need to try one of Reynolds' books. Look Both Ways is a good place to start.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

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.

It was a bit of a banner week for book mail.

For review:
Image: Candlewick Press
The Raymie Nightingale Three-Book Collection by Kate DiCamillo. Boxed set. Candlewick Press, October, 2019. 9781536210385.

Publisher synopsis: Kate DiCamillo’s sequence of novels about the Three Rancheros is now complete — and with this beautiful hardcover boxed set, readers can savor all three.

First came Raymie Nightingale, the “triumphant and necessary book”* that would become a National Book Award Finalist. Then followed the tender Louisiana’s Way Home, featuring “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” (The New York Times Book Review) and marking the first time the two-time Newbery Medalist had revisited the world of one of her novels. And finally, the much-hoped-for third novel, Beverly, Right Here, awaits its rapt audience. Here, the entire trilogy of novels — the perfect gift for both longtime fans and new devotees — is available in a beautifully designed set. Included are hardcover editions of: Raymie Nightingale
Louisiana’s Way Home
Beverly, Right Here

Image: Candlewick Press

Jon Klassen's Hat Box. Three-Book Set. Candlewick Press, October, 2019. 9780763666972.

Publisher synopsis: Hold on to all of your hats at once for this special collection of Jon Klassen’s celebrated hat trilogy.

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. A fish has stolen a hat; will he get away with it? Two turtles have found one hat, but the hat looks good on both of them. . . . Jon Klassen’s deliciously deadpan hat tales continue to surprise and delight readers of all ages, and they are all now available in one impeccably designed boxed set along with a free frameable print. Included are: I Want My Hat Back
This Is Not My Hat
We Found a Hat

This Book is Gray by Lindsey Ward. Unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, November 1, 2019. 978`541043403.

Publisher synopsis: Gray just wants to be included. But the other colors are always leaving him out. So he decides to create his own project: an all-gray book. Once upon a time, there lived a wolf, a kitten, and a hippo…

Gray just knows it’s going to be perfect. But as he adds page after page, the Primary and Secondary colors show up…and they aren’t quite so complimentary.

A book within a book, this colorful tale explores the ideas of fitting in, appreciating others, and looking at things from another perspective and also uses personality and wit to introduce basic color concepts.

Santa's Story by Will Willenbrand. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, September, 2019. 97811542043380.

Publisher synopsis: Santa is ready to leave on Christmas Eve, but he can’t find the reindeer anywhere. Dasher is busy dashing, Donner is dozing, and Cupid is crooning. It isn’t until Santa remembers their annual tradition—reading a Christmas story together—that the reindeer are ready.

Reindeer merriment abounds in this charming yuletide tale about honoring the celebration of holiday customs with those you love.

Image: Penguin Random House
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. 320 p. Kokila/ Penguin Random House, March, 2020. 9780525554974.

Publisher synopsis: One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

So far, everything I've read from Penguin's newest imprint has been awesome!

Riches from Greystone Kids via Sharon Sloan:

Image: Greystone Kids
Spur, a wolf's story by Eliza Robertson. Illustrated by Nora Aoyagi. unpgd. Greystone Kids, September, 2019. 9781771643412.

Publisher synopsis: This captivating tale will inspire children across the world to build compassion for an iconic yet vulnerable animal.

In award-winning author Eliza Robertson’s stunning debut children’s book, a young, brave wolf named Spur is looking for food with her brother when, suddenly, a flying beast appears in the sky. What was that thing? And where did her brother go? The next time the helicopter appears, Spur knows just what to do to save her wolf pack and reunite with her brother.

Stirring, gorgeous illustrations of wolves, snow, and trees illuminate this uplifting and empowering story, which offers a gentle message for protecting wild wolves in North America and beyond. Just like us, wolves have brothers, sisters, parents, and friends—and they very much need our help.

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Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the hidden life of the forest by Peter Wohlleben. 84 p. Greystone Kids, October, 2019. 9781771644341.

Publisher synopsis: With his groundbreaking, internationally bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben established himself as a global advocate for forests and our relationship with trees. Now, Peter shares his famous imagination and storytelling style with children, asking surprising questions about trees with exciting quizzes, photographs, and hands-on activities to help even the most reluctant learners discover the answers.

Did you know that trees have parents, and tree grandparents with wrinkles? That tree kids go to school for hundreds of years? That there is such a thing as the forest internet? And that trees make us healthy and strong. Sometimes, even trees get sick, but we can help them heal.

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? shares the mysteries and magic of the forest in language kids will love and understand.

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Birdsong by Julie Flett. 48 p. Greystone Kids, September, 2019. 9781771644730.

Publisher synopsis: A tender, luminous portrait of art, nature, and connecting across generations.

When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of art and nature. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed author and artist Julie Flett’s textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions.

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Hello, Crow! by Candace Savage. Illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne. unpgd. Greystone Kids, September,2019. 9781771644440.

Publisher synopsis: Will Franny ever prove to her dad that crows and kids can be friends?

Franny has a new friend—a crow who brings her presents in its beak. Like a red button! And a silver heart! Franny’s dad doesn’t believe her. He says crows and kids can’t be friends. But Franny knows better.

How will Franny prove her new playmate is real? And what will the crafty crow bring next?

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The Moose of Ewenki by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane. Illustrated by Jiu Er. 68 p. Greystone Kids, September, 2019. 9781771645386.

Publisher synopsis: When a Mongolian elder named Gree Shrek hunts a female moose by mistake, her young calf is left behind. Saddened by her loss, Gree Shrek names the calf Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) and the moose and man form an authentic attachment. Xiao Han accompanies Gree Shrek as the hunter-gatherer herds reindeer, sets up camp, forages for food in the forest, and visits his peoples’ village, where many fun adventures happen. But as the little moose grows bigger, Gree Shrek knows he must return his companion to the forest.

Richly detailed, painterly illustrations by Chinese fine artist Jiu’er bring authenticity and beauty to this thoughtful book, which illuminates the traditional and vanishing way of life for the Ewenki peoples of Inner Mongolia.

Purchased: Nothing!

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