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The Horn Book editor's rants and raves. Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996
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Five questions for Lois Ehlert
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, illus. by Lois Ehlert, Simon, 2–5 years.
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert, Lippincott, 2–5 years.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert, Simon/Beach Lane, 5–8 years.
Under My Nose by Lois Ehlert, Richard C. Owen, 6–9 years.
Hands by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 5–8 years.
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Lives lived large
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illus. by Evan Turk, Atheneum, 4–7 years.
Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully, Farrar/Ferguson, 4–7 years.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of
Kandinsky’s Abstract Art written by Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Mary GrandPré, Knopf, 4–7 years.
Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome, Holiday, 4–7 years.
Things that stop and go
My Bus by Byron Barton, Greenwillow, 2–4 years.
My Car by Byron Barton, Greenwillow, 2–4 years.
And the Cars Go… by William Bee, Candlewick, 3–6 years.
Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper, Knopf, 3–6 years.
Everything Goes: By Sea by Brian Biggs, Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 3–7 years.
Flora and friends
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by K. G. Campbell, Candlewick, 6–9 years.
Lulu’s Mysterious Mission written by Judith Viorst, illus. by Kevin Cornell, Atheneum, 6–9 years.
Ivy + Bean Take the Case [Ivy + Bean] written by Annie Barrows, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Chronicle, 6–9 years.
Operation Bunny [Wings & Co.] written by Sally Gardner, illus. by David Roberts, Holt, 8–11 years.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy written by Karen Foxlee, illus. by Yoko Tanaka, Knopf, 8–11 years.
Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, trans. from the German by Tim Mohr, Scholastic/Levine, 12–15 years.
Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano, Candlewick, 12–15 years.
Sorry You’re Lost by Matt Blackstone, Farrar, 11–14 years.
There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart, Candlewick, 12–14 years.
These titles were featured in the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
The post Books mentioned in the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book appeared first on The Horn Book.
A heartrending and hilarious junior-high road-trip novel; a story about stepping up in dire straits; an exploration of grief, false exteriors, and hope; and a riveting depiction of a boy feigning manhood. These new novels featuring teenage boys offer coming-of-age drama with real heart.
Two teens abandon their lackluster lives and hit the Autobahn in the audacious tragicomedy Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf. Unpopular Mike lives a life of quiet desperation at his Berlin junior high; new kid “Tschick” comes to class drunk and might be in the Russian mafia. When Tschick rolls up to Mike’s house in a hotwired car and proposes a road trip without a map, destination, or driver’s license, Mike says yes. Mike’s narration is an anxious stream of wry humor and linked anecdotes, but the moments when his façade slips are startling windows into the pain of social exclusion and the aching loneliness of being fourteen. (Levine/Scholastic, 12–15 years)
Jake Cole’s father had been one of the best shell fishermen in Narragansett Bay until he injured his back and settled into running the Riptide Diner. When he goes missing, Jake and his mother lose their house, and now the diner is in danger of being repossessed. A mysterious character named Captain and the seasoned fisherman Gene Hassard help Jake earn money and learn the ways of the bay. With lushly detailed sense of place and character, Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano delineates the struggle of a boy coming to terms with his situation. (Candlewick, 12–15 years)
In Matt Blackstone’s Sorry You’re Lost, seventh grader Denny “Donuts” Murphy has felt alone and small since his mother died. So he intentionally develops a big persona: clowning in the classroom, making everything into a joke. Gradually, with the help of friends and a budding romance, Donuts sheds his manic showman exterior and learns to appreciate the good of the world. The first-person narrative reveals Donuts’s inner self, and what might have been just a series of cliched middle-school antics turns out to be a story of substance and hope. (Farrar, 11–14 years)
Thirteen-year-old Tyson figures he’ll make a fine outdoorsman: he’s been to a shooting range and owns all the Great American Hunter video games and Planet Earth DVDs. So when his grandfather (and, basically, best friend) invites him to go hunting in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, he sees it as his chance to prove himself a man. But the combination of an inexperienced boy, a sickly seventy-seven-year-old man, and a killer grizzly bear reported in the park is a dangerous one. Ryan Gebhart’s There Will Be Bears is a satisfyingly complicated realistic drama that deals with big issues; excellent pacing will hold readers in its grip. (Candlewick, 11–14 years)
From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
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Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (illustrated by K. G. Campbell; Candlewick, 6–9 years) — that warmly told and illustrated story of a comics-loving girl, a superheroic squirrel, and their friendship — took home the 2014 Newbery Medal. The following primary and early intermediate novels also star smart, spirited girls on adventures big and small, all accompanied by energetic illustrations — a winning combination for Flora fans.
Lulu (Lulu and the Brontosaurus; Lulu Walks the Dogs) may not be the “serious pain in the butt” she once was, but she’s still a tough customer. When Lulu’s parents go on vacation without her, she meets her match in babysitter Sonia Sofia Solinsky. Ms. Solinsky thwarts Lulu’s schemes to oust her, eventually revealing that she is a spy and a spy-trainer. Readers may wonder: is Ms. Solinsky truly a spy? No matter; craving her tutelage, Lulu behaves with uncommon decorum. Author Judith Viorst and illustrator Kevin Cornell’s farcical Lulu’s Mysterious Mission will tickle younger listeners and emerging readers. (Atheneum, 6–9 years)
A black-and-white movie featuring a tough-talking private investigator inspires Ivy and Bean to solve some mysteries, starting with “The Mystery of What’s Under the Cement Rectangle” in everyone’s front yard. The other kids on Pancake Court become less impressed with each case — until a mysterious yellow rope appears tied to the chimney on Dino’s house and the friends investigate whodunit. With Ivy + Bean Take the Case, the tenth entry in the popular series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, it’s no mystery why these chapter books continue to please: clever stories and illustrations to match. (Chronicle, 6–9 years)
In author Sally Gardner’s and illustrator David Roberts’s Operation Bunny, Emily is demoted to Cinderella status after the birth of her (deliciously nasty) adoptive parents’ own triplets. Fortunately, an elderly neighbor and her talking cat change everything. Soon Emily is neck-deep in magic: figuring out her role as the Keeper of the Keys, tracking down a mysterious shop she has inherited, and thwarting a witch who turns people into unlikely-hued rabbits. While reaching a satisfying conclusion, this first brisk, entertaining entry in the Wings & Co. series will leave readers eager for the next. (Holt, 8–11 years)
Exploring the museum where her father is a curator, Ophelia spies a boy through a cleverly hidden keyhole. He tells her that he’s a prisoner of the Snow Queen. To defeat her, someone must find the boy’s missing sword — and that someone is clearly Ophelia. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a fable of psychic healing, in which Ophelia, mourning her recently deceased mother, must battle the queen and her sword, the Great Sorrow. Author Karen Foxlee’s deftness with characterization and setting makes this a satisfying fantasy. (Knopf, 8–11 years)
From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
The post Flora and friends appeared first on The Horn Book.
Need a break from that perennial favorite Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? These four new transportation-themed picture books for preschoolers combine well-paced texts, dynamic illustrations, and entertaining stories — the perfect companion for daytime journeys and journeys into night.
Byron Barton‘s My Bus (companion to My Car; Greenwillow, 2–4 years) takes readers along with Joe as he drives Bus #123 across a bold-hued landscape. “At my first stop, one dog gets on my bus. / At my second stop, two cats get on my bus.” After four stops, there are five dogs and five cats onboard. And then…Joe drops off his passengers in ones and twos at a boat, a train, and a plane; the last dog (“My dog!”) goes home with Joe in a car. Each stop offers more excitement for young motorheads (as well as some subtly introduced math concepts). (Greenwillow, 2–4 years)
“Here is the traffic, all ground to a halt, / and the policeman calls out… / ‘What’s causing this holdup? / Move along, now. Move along!’” The vehicles may be at a standstill in William Bee’s And the Cars Go…, but the rhythmic text motors along as the officer investigates the problem. Each double-page spread features a fancifully detailed auto and its idiosyncratic occupants; Bee’s stylish compositions with eye-popping colors have a distinctly sixties vibe. The predictably patterned, onomatopoeic verses encourage audience participation. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)
Charise Mericle Harper’s quirky Go! Go! Go! Stop! stars two traffic lights and a fleet of construction vehicles. Little Green shouts “GO!”, and Bulldozer, Dump Truck, Mixer, and friends get to work. But without a way to not go, things threaten to spiral out of control. Then a red “stranger” rolls onto the site, and disaster is averted — eventually. Harper’s action-packed illustrations feature cheerful trucks in colorful cartoonlike scenes. Lively dialogue adds to the storytime fun. (Knopf, 3–6 years)
Everything Goes: By Sea is the latest in Brian Biggs’s transportation-themed series. Henry and his parents (the intrepid travelers from Everything Goes: On Land and Everything Goes: In the Air) ride a car ferry to their island destination; along the way, they talk about the variety of boats on the water and the jobs those vessels do. There’s a brief (and helpful) explanation of buoyancy, along with some accessible history and a little science/engineering. The pleasingly busy cartoon illustrations are packed with details and visual jokes. Biggs navigates this nautical lesson with a steady hand. (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 3–7 years)
From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
The post Things that stop and go appeared first on The Horn Book.
Picture book biographies provide young children with glimpses into the lives of notable men and women. The following books highlight people whose accomplishments in the arts, on the seven seas, and on the world stage are inspirations to us all.
Arun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, tells of visiting Sevagram, India, as a child in Grandfather Gandhi (co-written by Bethany Hegedus). Young Arun, who gets fidgety during prayers and who angers easily while playing soccer with village children, feels he will never live up to the Gandhi name. After he confides this to his grandfather, Gandhi tells Arun that he, too, often feels anger but that he has learned to channel it for good. Unusual for its child-centered and intimate portrait of Gandhi, the graceful narrative is nearly outdone by Evan Turk’s vivid mixed-media illustrations, rendered in, among other materials, watercolor, paper collage, and handspun cotton yarn. (Atheneum, 4–7 years)
In the early 1800s, young Ellen Prentiss (1814–1900) learned to be a keen and fearless sailor on her father’s trading schooner. Captain Prentiss also taught Ellen navigation, and later she and her husband, Perkins Creesy, traveled the world’s oceans. When the Creesys took command of The Flying Cloud to transport passengers from New York to the California Gold Rush, Ellen accepted the accompanying challenge to smash the record for shortest voyage around Cape Horn. In lively, nautically infused text, Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern details the adventures of this remarkable woman. Ink and watercolor illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully reflect the resplendent blues and greens of vast, changeable oceans. (Farrar/Ferguson, 4–7 years)
One of the pioneers of abstract art, Vasily Kandinsky experienced “colors as sounds, and sounds as colors,” a neurological condition called synesthesia. Concentrating primarily on the artist as a child and young adult, Barb Rosenstock, in The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, takes known events and embellishes them with dialogue and specific sounds for the colors (“He brushed a powerful navy rectangle that vibrated deeply like the lowest cello strings”). Illustrator Mary GrandPré does a fine job showing color and sound as abstractions while presenting the artist and his surroundings in a more realistic manner. (Knopf, 4–7 years)
Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History begins in the early decades of the twentieth century, when Benny Goodman was a working-class Jewish boy growing up in Chicago and Teddy Wilson was a middle-class African American boy living in Tuskegee, Alabama. Jazz brought them together when their paths crossed at a party, and their styles melded so well that they soon began to record together, along with Gene Krupa on drums, as the Benny Goodman Trio. The story is recounted here in short bursts of text, almost like jazz riffs, accompanied by pencil and watercolor illustrations by James E. Ransome that capture distinctive moments in the subjects’ lives. (Holiday, 4–7 years)
From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
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by Rosemary Wells;
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary Candlewick 32 pp.
3/14 978-0-7636-1495-9 $15.99
Somewhere in the mountains, Stella the fox and her parents live in a mobile home by the side of the road. The Starliner meets all their needs. “Inside was a room for sleeping and a room for being awake. There was a kitchen and a radio and a sofa that turned into a bed.” Daddy comes home from work on the weekends, and there are pancakes on Sunday mornings and fishing on Sunday afternoons. During the week there are trips to the market and visits to the bookmobile. This peaceful life snags for Stella when a gang of weasels mock her home and call her “poor.” She tries to hide her hurt to protect Mama’s feelings, but her intuitive mother sees. Meanwhile something magical happens as the Starliner, hitched to Daddy’s truck, flies through the night sky toward palm trees, the ocean, and new bunny neighbors who see value in this “sterling silver” house. Packaged within silver starry-sky endpapers, the illustrations (in watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil on sanded paper) vary in size from spot art to a striking double-page spread of the flying Starliner. Backgrounds are full of symbols that deepen the story, and words and images work effectively together to develop the setting and this loving family looking out for one another.
The post Review of Stella’s Starliner appeared first on The Horn Book.
There are a heckuva lot of events happening in and around Boston this month — definitely a good thing, since we’re all starting to go a little stir-crazy with winter dragging on. Signings, workshops, panels, and drink nights make for a nice change from holing up at home on these dreary days. Be sure to check our monthly events calendar for all the details.
Tomorrow, Saturday the 8th, at 12:30 pm, the Cambridge Public Library’s main branch will host Jef Czekaj, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb, Bob Flynn, Dan Moynihan, Josh Dahl, and Dan Mazur for a “Comic and Graphic Novel Workshop with the Experts.”
Tomorrow evening from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, Porter Square Books will host a fundraiser for Cambridge Friends School. Author/illustrator Jef Czekaj will read and sign his books (and rap!) at the event beginning at 6:30.
Also tomorrow evening: authors Gregory Maguire (Wicked) and Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga’hoole) will participate in a 7:00 pm symposium entitled “Talking to Children About Social Injustice” before tomorrow night‘s 8:00 performance of Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Brundibar & But the Giraffe! at the Central Square Theater.
Author/illustrator Marc Brown will speak as part of BPL’s “Gateway to Reading” Lowell Lecture Series on Sunday, March 9th, at 2:00 pm. The series features authors, scholars, and experts in the field of children’s literature and literacy.
YA author Leah Cypess will sign her new book Death Sworn at the Brookline Children’s Bookshop at 2:00 pm on Sunday the 9th.
Author Angela DiTerlizzi and illustrator Brendan Wenzel will read and sign their new picture book Some Bugs at the Framingham Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, March 11th, at 7:00 pm and at Wellesley Books on Wednesday the 12th at 4:00 pm.
On Thursday, March 13th, at 4:30 pm, Hyde Square Task Force’s Youth Literacy Theater Troupe will present My Name is María Isabel, based on the children’s book by Alma Flor Ada.
The Writers’ Loft’s monthly picture book manuscript critique group meets Thursday, March 13th and on Thursday the 27th at 7:00 pm. Manuscripts for critique should be submitted by the Monday prior to the meeting.
Writers interested in breaking into nonfiction freelancing work or critiquing a nonfiction manuscript are welcome at the Loft’s new Nonfiction Think Tank., which meets this month on Friday the 14th at 10:00 am.
The monthly YA Think Tank writing group will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday the 15th. Participants will workshop their YA works-in-progress; manuscripts for critique should be submitted one week prior to the meeting.
Peter and Paul Reynolds will sign their first published collaboration, Going Places, at the Blue Bunny bookstore on Saturday the 15th at 11:00 am.
At 1:00 pm on Saturday the 15th, Natalie Merchant and Barbara McClintock will sign copies of Leave Your Sleep at The Carle Museum in conjunction with the exhibit featuring art from the book
Also on Saturday the 15th, author David A. Kelly will sign The Missing Marlin, the latest book in his Ballpark Mysteries series, at the Framingham Barnes & Noble at 2:00 pm.
The Carle Museum’s exhibition “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Friends: The Art of Bernard Waber” opens on Tuesday, March 19th.
March’s KidLit Drink Night will celebrate Candlewick Press at Orleans Restaurant on Tuesday the 19th at 5:30 pm.
The Massachusetts chapter of the national kidlit book club Chapter & Verse will meet in the Stevens Memorial Library at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 20th. This month, author Anne Broyles and librarian Marina Salenikas will facilitate discussion of The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia and Big Red Lollipop by Ruhksana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
The Writers’ Loft will host their new Middle Grade Morning Critique group on Thursday the 20th at 10:00 am. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in submitting a middle-grade manuscript in progress for critique.
Divergent, the adaptation of the first book in the trilogy of the same name by Veronica Roth, opens on Friday, March 21st.
Do you have the inside scoop on more upcoming Boston area children’s book–related events? Let us know in the comments or email email@example.com.
The post March children’s lit events in Boston appeared first on The Horn Book.
This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early chapter books.
We’re also reading two articles to go along with these books. One is Robin Smith’s “Teaching New Readers to Love Books,” where, among other things, she describes reading The Birchbark House aloud to her second graders every year. The other article is an interview with Jack Gantos from the Embracing the Child website. I find that teachers tend to have a lot of questions about Gantos’s credentials for writing about ADHD, and he addresses them especially well here.
I hope you will join our discussions of theses readings in the comments to the individual posts linked above.
The post Talking about chapter books appeared first on The Horn Book.
The Stories Julian Tells is the first book in an ongoing series about brothers Julian and Hughie, and their neighbor Gloria. This is an early chapter book, for readers who have acquired some fluency but aren’t ready to tackle longer books yet. The chapters are fairly short, there’s lots of conversation, the plot is easy to follow, and there is a clear central character.
What do you think of Ann Cameron’s writing? Is the story engaging enough for children who are still struggling a bit with reading? And how do you feel about a white author writing a book in which all the characters are African American?
The post The Stories Julian Tells appeared first on The Horn Book.
The Joey Pigza books are hugely popular with upper elementary kids. Joey Pigza is the first of the series and while it’s not spelled out, I think it’s pretty obvious that Joey has ADHD.
I like sharing this book with teachers because they tend to look at the situations so differently from the way Joey’s contemporaries — the real target audience — would. As you react to this book, it’s important to allow yourself to read it as two different people: you as a critical adult who is allowed to be horrified by the adults in the book (and maybe a little sympathetic, too?) AND as a child who is Joey’s age. If you allow yourself to read this through your student’s eyes, do you find that your reaction to the book changes?
Note that we are also reading an interview with Jack Gantos this week from the Embracing the Child website.
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Louise Erdrich’s historical novel The Birchbark House is the first in a series, each book following a child from a different generation in an Ojibwa community.
Often, books for children contain a central character who is about the same age as the book’s readers. The Birchbark House would be a tough read for most children who are Omakayas’s age. There are beautiful descriptive passages that young readers tend to gloss over, and difficult vocabulary, including some Ojibwe words. For these reasons, it works best when read aloud to those younger grades — as Robin Smith discusses in her article.
What did you think of this book? And what about reading aloud in school? For those of you who are teachers, do you? And what books have you found that work best?
The post The Birchbark House appeared first on The Horn Book.
This week in addition to our three chapter books, we are reading two articles.
The first is Robin Smith’s piece about her road to becoming a second grade teacher who loves LOVES books, and how she shares them with her classes: “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” from the September/October 2003 Horn Book Magazine.
The second is an interview with Jack Gantos that sheds some light on how he came to write the Joey Pigza books: “An Interview with Jack Gantos” from Embracing the Child website.
(If you would like to read more by Robin Smith or about Jack Gantos, there’s is plenty on the Horn Book website. Just follow the links.)
Tell us what you think of these articles in the comments below.
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It’s always time to feed the animals at Lazoo Zoo! (2013). Move from habitat to habitat dishing out all sorts of delicious foods — from reasonable fare such as bananas and grapes to more ridiculous entrees such as burgers, birthday cake, and even a saxophone — to a motley crew of eleven animal residents.
The food dispenser comes equipped with fruits and veggies; after several minutes of game play, hidden foods will begin to appear. Touch to add them to your collection. And if you don’t see your favorite food items on the menu, you can create them, or any other doodles, in the available paint shop using standard drawing tools and a nuanced color palette.
Be careful which foods you offer up, though: some animals are pickier than others. The monkey’s bib will clue you in to whatever snack he’s jonesing for, while the lion scratches outlines of his choices in the sand. They have no qualms rejecting what’s been given to them.
Other animals incorporate parts of their latest meal into their physical features. The chameleon changes colors. The giraffe’s spots change depending on what he’s eating. And when the monkey gets too full, he grows a colorful coiffure. For extra giggles, take a chance and feed the tiny bird at the edge of the pool a few times. See what happens.
The animation offers some funny surprises and silly sound effects, both of which keep things interesting and fresh. The characters and brightly colored settings are kid-friendly and inviting.
The app is more activity than linear narrative, and with neither text nor audio instructions to speak of, it’s best just to click around until you get the hang of it. There are five fanciful play areas to explore, and once you’ve doodled a bit, you’ll start to notice your own artwork peppering the posters on the zoo walls. While our iPad 1 doesn’t support the photo booth feature, later models will allow you to take photos with the animals of your choice. Delightful gameplay best suited for users ages two and up.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (requires iOS 5.1 or later); free.
The post Lazoo Zoo! app review appeared first on The Horn Book.
Readers of this blog this past fall will know exactly why I am linking to this month’s School Library Journal‘s cover story: kudos to Brian Floca, Locomotive, and our own Robin Smith!
The post Worlds collide appeared first on The Horn Book.
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
by Lois Ehlert; illus. by the author
Primary Beach Lane/Simon 72 pp.
3/14 978-1-4424-3571-1 $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-3572-8 $10.99
In a generously illustrated picture book memoir, Ehlert speaks directly to her audience, particularly readers who like collecting objects and making things. Aptly titled, the book is jam-packed with art from her books and photos from her life, beginning with pictures of her parents, the house she grew up in, and the small wooden table where she was encouraged to pursue her own art projects. Along the way, we see how autobiographical her books have been. There are her mother’s scissors and her father’s tools (used in Hands, rev. 9/97), and her sister’s cat (the star of Feathers for Lunch, rev. 11/90). The small,
square volume uses the same distinctive typeface seen in most of Ehlert’s books and serves as a reminder of her unique color sense and recurring subjects:
flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables, cats and birds. In addition to the large text for children, she includes smaller hand-written notes to fill in details, much as her books use a smaller sans serif text to label birds, plants, etc. We are treated to a description of her creative process including reproductions of thumbnail illustrations and detailed sketches. In the final stage of building collages, she uses whatever is at hand and enjoys making messes. “I use old tools to create texture; I splash paint with a toothbrush or rub a crayon over my grater.” Ehlert emerges as a woman who lives a good life surrounded by the objects and colors that make her happy. She wants the same for her readers, ending the book with “I wish you a colorful life!”
The post Review of The Scraps Book appeared first on The Horn Book.
Cindy found this one, The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer, a Newbery Honor Book in 1952–and originally published in the Horn Book Magazine in 1949. This would seem to break the award’s rule about “original work,” that the “text is presented here for the first time and has not been previously published elsewhere in this or any other form.” But maybe the rule was different then? Or perhaps here as so often, he says, drawing his emeralds warmly about him*, the Horn Book was above any such petty restrictions as criteria.
K.T. Horning, do you know?
The post Moving moments No. 2 appeared first on The Horn Book.
As we (WE?, the staff snarks) pack up the offices for our move at the end of this month, it’s just one madeleine after another as old toys and treasure unveil themselves from the shadowed recesses, bringing with them the little joies and horreurs of années passées.
Martha uncovered this copy of Magid Fasts for Ramadan, a pleasant little chapter book we reviewed back in 1996. This was my first object lesson in the necessity of careful proofreading, as it was not until the final pass through the July issue blues that we saw that somewhere along the line the title in the review had been changed to “Magid FEASTS for Ramadan.” So much for cultural sensitivity!
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“What is it?”
“It looks like a Disney princess movie!”
“It sounds like a Planet Earth episode.”
Well, not exactly, but not far off the mark, either.
Disney and author Jennifer Donnelly (A Northern Light, Revolution) are collaborating on a multimedia fantasy project set to debut in early May. The WaterFire saga is projected to include four novels, an enhanced e-book, a theme song, and an extensive website with video clips — in short, a franchise on a Disney-sized scale.
What we actually received, inspiring oohing and ahhing as well as the comments above, is a nifty little gadget created by PIM, or Printings in Motion.
Imagine a BLAD with marketing specs on the back — and inside, an embedded screen about the size of an iPhone’s. Open the cover and video begins playing: Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live a people of the water…
Buttons allow you to select between a book trailer and a “making of” short. It even came with a USB cord to charge it and/or play the videos on your computer screen.
Series-opener Deep Blue begins with Mediterranean Sea mermaid princess Serafina’s prophetic nightmares on the eve of her wedding. As the books go on, several mermaid princesses from other regions will be introduced as they fight together to protect merfolk from an “ancient evil” and impending war. In the making-of video, Donnelly says that Disney sent her a “comprehensive mermaid bible” about the characters and their cultures; she expanded upon their sketches and outlines as she wrote. It’s a bit disconcerting to think of well-respected author Donnelly taking so much direction from Disney.
PIM’s other clients include Yahoo!, HP, and Heineken. Will publishers — and presumably film studios, app developers, etc. — without The Mouse’s or Mercedes-Benz’s global reach be able to afford this technology to market their products? (As Roger exclaimed, “Good lord, how much did this cost?”) Is PIM the Next Big Thing in marketing, or a flash-in-the-pan fad?
Perhaps more importantly: is this PIM marketing ploy a little too much? And will the WaterFire books — with their clear Disney stamp — live up to it? Only time will tell.
The post The wave of the future? appeared first on The Horn Book.
This week on hbook.com…
Not on our site, but not to be missed: PW’s article about the CBB “Why Did THAT Book Win?” panel
Preview the March/April 2014 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Illustration
From the March/April issue:
Articles from the March/April 1998 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Picture Books now available
Four recommended YA books for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
Review of the Week: Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf; trans. from the German by Tim Mohr
App Review of the Week: Roxie’s Doors
Read Roger: “My sister AND my daughter”
Out of the Box:
See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!
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In the March/April 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer K. T. Horning asked author/illustrator Byron Barton about My Bus, his latest transportation celebration. Read the starred review here.
K. T. Horning: Joe from My Bus and Sam from My Car (Greenwillow, 2001) seem to lead parallel lives. And yet Joe’s passengers are animals and Sam’s are people. Do they reside in the same town, or even the same universe?
Byron Barton: Joe and Sam live in neighboring communities. They have different bus routes. The area has changed somewhat over time, but it is only by chance that, on one day, Joe had only cats and dogs for passengers. On another day and another bus route Joe or Sam could have chickens, pigs, or people on his bus. They all love to ride on buses, cars, trains, boats, and planes.
The post Byron Barton on My Bus appeared first on The Horn Book.
by Byron Barton; illus. by the author
Preschool Greenwillow 40 pp.
4/14 978-0-06-228736-6 $16.99 g
In a companion volume to My Car (rev. 11/01), we ride along with Joe as he drives Bus #123 across a bold-hued landscape populated with feline and canine passengers. “At my first stop, one dog gets on my bus. / At my second stop, two cats get on my bus.” After four stops, he points out he has five dogs and five cats riding on his bus. And here’s where the real fun for toddler transportation enthusiasts begins: Joe drops off one dog and two cats at a boat (“They sail away”), two dogs and one cat at a train, and one dog and two cats at a plane; the last little dog (“My dog!”) goes home with Joe in his car. Beyond the initial excitement many young children will feel as they share Joe’s journey and see the departing animals through the windows of their various vehicles, there is so much here for repeated readings (and there will be repeated readings). Barton ingeniously introduces the basic concepts of cardinal and ordinal numbers, addition, subtraction, and sets, but he does it all so subtly that even parents may not realize they’re getting a math lesson. And yet it’s all there for little brains to absorb and work out on their own as they “sail, ride, and fly away” again and again. Illustrated in Barton’s signature style, with bold, flat colors and with only the most important visual details included, this is a welcome companion to My Car.
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Growing up in the heart of the South, I saw firsthand how people were excluded based on skin color. I was taught that the rules weren’t the same for blacks and whites, but I also witnessed game-changers such as John Lewis and Coretta Scott King, who rose in spite of that fact. I never thought that being black or a woman would preclude me from any opportunities in life. I graduated in the top ten percent of my high school class and got into every college to which I applied.
My mother, an educator and guidance counselor, took me on a tour of my top ten schools. We met with professors, financial aid officers, and other students so that I could make an informed decision. My mother had been discouraged from pursuing her own dreams of becoming a singer, and so she always nurtured my talent. Although she herself couldn’t draw a straight line, she knew that my success would depend on my choosing a strong art program. The great news was that schools wanted me. The bad news was that most scholarships went to science majors and athletes. Undeterred, I took out thousands of dollars in loans — money I wasn’t sure I’d ever make back as an artist.
Syracuse University was my first choice. Though not in New York City (my childhood dream), it was the picture I had in my head of what college looked like. I had terrible anxiety surrounding the cost of college and the stigma of being labeled a starving artist, so I enrolled in communications design, taking illustration and creative writing as minors. I was one of only two black students in my class — both female. There was one other black student in the class ahead of me who took me under his wing as a baby designer. He pleaded with me to stay in design because, as he put it, “We need more black women.”
After my first year of design, I missed drawing and painting, and so I switched to illustration. I was then the only black female in that program. I found freedom as an illustrator and saw growth in my work. But I didn’t see myself reflected in illustration’s history. Where were the black editorial illustrators, comic makers, and book illustrators? Norman Rockwell was great, but his town didn’t look anything like mine. Maxfield Parrish was wonderful, but his angels and elves didn’t look like the ones in my head. Though most celebrated illustrators didn’t look like me, they were my only models.
I spent a semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy, and then returned to Syracuse for my senior year. There, I found that one of my instructors was Yvonne Buchanan, a black female illustrator. I was really excited to see her published work, which primarily reflected African American history. I also remember being introduced to the art of Jerry Pinkney, which made me think, “If this is what illustration is, I have a long way to go!” But I’d found a spark. I began studying the field more on my own and developing projects that might move my career forward. I worked with a local author in Atlanta that summer and made my first picture book dummy.
Senior year ended, and my future was uncertain. I had sent out promotional postcards and gotten some nice feedback, but nothing loomed on my horizon. Still, I returned home to Atlanta optimistic. I had my degree and was confident in the knowledge and experience I had gained. After some time, I landed some small freelance illustration jobs — including an easy reader with Jen Frantz, a young editor at Lee & Low Books — made a few more failed attempts at getting picture book work, and painted some commissioned portraits. Eventually a full-time position for an art teacher with the Atlanta Public Schools opened up and I took it, promising myself I would apply to grad school once my three-year provisional was up. While reading to my students every morning, I finally found myself in the pages of books like Storm in the Night, C.L.O.U.D.S., and Dancing in the Wings. These stories were about kids whose experiences reflected my own. Seeing those books gave me permission to explore ideas that interested me. I was ready to move on to the next phase of my art journey.
During my third year of teaching, I was accepted into the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts (finally — New York City!). I worked alongside nineteen other talented artists, and four of us immediately made ourselves known as “the book illustrators.” My competitive nature was fully engaged as part of “the fabulous four.” For two years, we shared books, critiqued and encouraged one another, did group portfolio drop-offs, and met with publishers. When graduation came, two members of our group — Jonathan Bean and Taeeun Yoo — landed book deals immediately, then Lauren Castillo, but not me. I was talented. I worked hard. I had knowledge of the industry and had been published in the past. I hit the pavement with my portfolio, thinking surely someone would use me, but nothing happened.
My mother had taught me to exhaust every possibility before looking to another solution, so that’s what I did. My friends helped me stay positive in those dark months. I sought guidance from Pat Cummings, who was one of the only other working black women book illustrators I knew at the time. Pat gave me a lead on part-time work assisting illustrator Christopher Myers, and on a design job where I was the only black person working in the children’s art department. I showed my colleagues my own illustration work and was told it was nice, but no book contract followed. A few weeks later, I took in samples of two of my friends’ work, and they both got offers within the month. What a blow to my ego! I was frustrated, then sad, and then angry. I worked harder and stopped making images that I thought editors wanted to see. Instead I made images that I enjoyed.
Through a serendipitous encounter at the 2007 Original Art Show opening with editor Jen Fox, then at Lee & Low Books, I landed my first big manuscript, where I found an opportunity to use the ideas and visual language that I had been experimenting with all along. That opportunity launched my career. I won the 2009 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for Bird, written by Zetta Elliott.
It’s strange being black and a woman in a field that has historically celebrated white male contributions. Before I was published, I wondered if the only way in was to write and illustrate stories about slavery and black history. When all of my graduate school friends landed book contracts before me, at times I thought, “Is it because I paint black people?” I talked myself down from that ledge, but why was I up there to begin with?
After my books were out in the world, interviewers would ask questions like, “Why do you only paint black people?” To which I would reply: My choice of characters isn’t what defines my style; it’s how I paint them and the world around them. Would you ask a white male artist why he doesn’t paint black people?
My New York chapter closed after eight years. I went home to Atlanta, with plans to try living in Paris for a year. During that time, though, my mother lost two brothers and an aunt, and I was glad to be there to support my family. Paris would have to wait. Coincidentally, illustrator R. Gregory Christie, whom I had met in New York, had recently moved to Atlanta. One day over lunch he encouraged me to apply to a position at Maryland Institute College of Art, having already given the search committee my name. I applied, gathering up all of my stories, successes, and failures from the past. The next adventure was calling.
As a professor of illustration, I understand how important it is to be visible and accessible to other artists who are looking for guidance. I now have a range of books under my belt, and my attitude about the industry has certainly shifted. Looking to the future, in addition to collaborating with talented authors I know that I will be illustrating stories I write myself, and I will do my part in reflecting a more inclusive vision of our world. The industry still has a way to go in publishing stories that reflect our diversity. As an artist and illustrator of picture books, I look forward to being a model for those who are looking for themselves in their pages.
From the March/April 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Illustration.
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I assume you are all waiting next to your mailbox for the newest Horn Book magazine. It’s ALL ABOUT ILLUSTRATION, people! While you are waiting, here are a few teasers that have been released early for your picture book pleasure. Let me walk you through the digital content while you wait for the whole gorgeous magazine to get to you.
- First, here is a link to the last time The Horn Book published a special edition about picture books. The “Studio Views” from 1989 are right here. Isn’t that amazing?
- Second, this article about design by Jon Scieszka and Molly Leach is being reprinted in the new print edition, too.
- And right here is a fabulous piece by smart person and frequent Calling Caldecott poster Julie Danielson about media.
- KT Horning, friend and brilliant reviewer (remember the guest posting on our blog??) has this review of My Bus by Byron Barton for your reading pleasure.
- Wonder just what it takes to be recognized as a new illustrator? This piece by Shadra Strickland will challenge your assumptions and make you appreciate (and read and buy) books by new illustrators and by illustrators of color.
Stay warm, check your mailbox, and settle in for some good reading about picture books and their makers.
PS And, in case you missed it, Lolly has a new blog! It’s all about teaching with good books. Join in the discussion right here.
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The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson
High School Viking 371 pp.
1/14 978-0-670-01209-1 $18.99 g
Hayley Kincain has spent the last five years riding shotgun in her father’s rig, discussing fractions and evolution — an on-the-road version of home schooling. Constant movement has helped keep the past at bay for both Hayley and her dad, a recent veteran plagued by graphic flashbacks and screaming nightmares. When they settle down so Hayley can attend her hometown high school for senior year, the dangerous memories threaten to overtake them both. Hayley’s caustic observations about the “fully assimilated zombies” who swarm the halls and the oxymoronic “required volunteer community service” are trademark Anderson. Old friend Gracie shares childhood memories with Hayley, but her stories draw blanks. What Hayley does remember, and can’t forgive, is her father’s girlfriend Trish walking out on them. Now Trish has reappeared, and Hayley blames her for making Dad’s drunken rages and blackouts even worse. How can she possibly care about math? Sweet, “adorkable” Finn offers to tutor her; he is smart enough to take it slow, and as she falls for him he even coaxes her to dare to think about a future. As ever, Anderson has the inside track on the emotional lives of adolescents; she plays high school clichés for laughs but compassionately depicts Hayley’s suffering as well as the hurts of Finn and Gracie, whose families are struggling with their own demons. The novel’s theme is woven artfully throughout as both Hayley and her dad fight the flashes of memory that are sure to tear them apart unless they confront them once and for all.
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