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Providing children's literature news and reviews for the elementary school crowd: librarians, teachers, and you. scopenotes@gmail.com
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26. Review: Look! A Book! by Bob Staake

Look! A Book!
By Bob Staake
Little, Brown
ISBN: 9780316118620
$16.99
Grades K-2
In Stores

*Best New Book*

If you throw an I Spy, a Where’s Waldo, and a fiction picture book into your children’s lit blend-o-matic and hit puree, what you get is Look! A Book! – pure entertainment in printed form. I can’t wait to start circulating this.

A boy and a girl pick up a book – the same book the reader is holding in their hands:

HERE’S a CRAZY

SEEK & FIND

With images of every kind!

So many objects,

big and small.

Let’s see if you

Can find them

ALL….

From here on out, the spreads alternate between rhyming text set against bold colors and incredible seek and find illustrations. The conclusion of the book lists many more objects to go back and locate, ensuring hours of happy hunting.

Staake’s bright, abstract style has never been more detailed, with wildly creative results. Robots serving orange juice, dolphins wearing football helmets, clowns in shopping carts, seals operating machinery – the wackiness is seemingly endless. Kids will be pleased.

More than just an I Spy read-alike, the amount of care and consideration that went into Look! A Book! is impressive. Circular die cuts reveal objects that become part of the text. Staake smartly names only one object for the reader to locate on each seek and find spread, a decision that keeps the proceedings moving along during the first reading.

The verdict on this book is short and sweet. Get it. For your children’s collection, your kids, your neighbor’s kids – basically anyone that is or even vaguely resembles a youngster. It will receive a warm welcome everywhere.

Review copy from publisher

Watch the Look! A Book! trailer:

Also reviewed by Boing Boing, Mundie Kids, books4yourkids.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.


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27. Covering the Newbery (#10): The Cat Who Went to Heaven

The cover redo-a-thon continues. Starting at the beginning and working my way up to today, I’m giving every Newbery-winning book a cover makeover. On to our current candidate…

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Original Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: I don’t mind this one too much. Cat could be a bit bigger, I think. Your opinions?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:


1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow

1928: Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1925: Tales from Silver Lands

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28. 2010 Cybils Winners Announced!

An impressive list.

The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (a.k.a. the Cybils) were just announced and demand a look-see. Having served on the Fiction Picture Book panel, I’m thrilled to see David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken take top honors in that category. Click here to see all the winners.



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29. Review: Zita the Spacegirl

Zita the Spacegirl
By Ben Hatke
First Second (Macmillan)
ISBN: 9781596434462
$17.99
Grades 2-5
In Stores

Good ol’ other dimensions – where would we be without you? The children’s literature landscape wouldn’t be quite as interesting, that’s for sure. What are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz if not inter-dimensional fantasies? The other dimension device allows the protagonist to go…anywhere, really – including other planets. And that’s exactly what occurs in Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl. Well paced and illustrated, with a story that never loses the reader, this is likely to become a well-liked member of your graphic novel collection.

After coming upon a large meteorite impact zone, Zita and her friend Joseph discover a mysterious button that opens a portal to another dimension. Joseph is accidentally sucked in, so Zita bravely decides to follow, only to arrive on an unfamiliar planet and witness Joseph captured by a alien octopus (technically, a Screed) and whisked away. After crossing paths with another human (Piper) who is willing to help, Zita begins a journey to rescue her friend. But there is one problem that might be even tougher to solve -  how to return home.

Although this is the first book for Zita, the character has been around for a bit. First appearing in webcomics and then in the anthology Flight 4.

The illustrations employ a soft-hued palette that keeps the mood on the lighter side. Hatke’s characters have a sketchy quality that reminds me a lot of Matt Phelan’s work.

Entertaining throughout with touches of adventure and humor, young readers will find much to like here.

Review copy from publisher

Watch the Zita the Spacegirl book trailer:

Zita the Spacegirl: Trailer from Ben Hatke on Vimeo.

Also reviewed by Charlotte’s Library, Waking Brain Cells.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

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30. Morning Notes: Let a Book Be Your Roof Edition

BRIAN JACQUES 1939-2011

Sad news. Brian Jacques, author of the iconic Redwall series – pivotal reading for scores of youngsters – passed away on Monday. Click here to read School Library Journal’s article.

MICHIGAN CHILDREN’S LIT – UNITE!

A Fuse #8 Production has put out an all call for children’s lit related folks with ties to the mitten state. Click here to read and add your two cents.

JUDY MOODY ABOUT TO BECOME MORE MOODY

You thought she was moody before, just wait until she appears on the silver screen. Yes, a film adaptation of the popular series by Megan McDonald is coming to theaters. Click here for details, including cast photos. Click here to read about the film in the LA Times blog.

(Thanks to Kidsmomo for the link)

HUMANKIND MAY HAVE CREATED THE WORLD’S COOLEST READING LAMP

Take a look, do you disagree?

Click here to buy.

(Thanks to Gizmodo for the link)

KIDS LIT IS MOVING

I’ve been reading (and purchasing books for my libraries based on) librarian Tasha Saecker’s reviews for years at her blog Kids Lit. She recently switched blog monikers (to Waking Brain Cells) and moved locations – be sure to make the move with her. Click here to visit her new site and subscribe.

Over at Bookends, Lynn and Cindy share a genius reading promotion tool – the Good Books Bin. Steal this idea accordingly. Click the image above to read.

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31. 10 to Note: Spring Preview 2011

Hang-wringing complete. It’s time for the quarterly look at upcoming releases I’m calling 10 to Note.

What follows are the 10 titles set to hit shelves in March, April, and May that had me most saying “Yeah, boiiiii!” (or something along those lines). Not a guarantee of quality, but a subjective list of books that struck my fancy as a K-6th grade elementary school librarian.

Middle Grade Fiction

The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Mar. 1, 2011 | Balzer + Bray | Grades 2-5

Diary of a Worm and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type have made Doreen Cronin a well known figure in children’s lit. With The Trouble with Chickens, Cronin tries something she has never done – a middle grade novel. A mystery about a search-and-rescue dog (J.J. Tully) pulled out of retirement to crack a case of missing chicks, laughs are likely. And the “A J.J. Tully Mystery” tag on the front ensures more adventures to come. I’m anxious to see how this one turns out.

Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Harry Bliss

Apr. 26, 2011 | Balzer + Bray | Grades 2-4

And hey, speaking of Diary of a Worm, the illustrator of that book, Harry Bliss, is handling the artwork for Invisible Inkling, written by Emily Jenkins. I love the premise of a boy with an invisible (I repeat: invisible – not imaginary) friend. When I hear the phrase “in the vein of Clementine”, my ears perk up, and that what the publisher is touting this middle grade title as.

Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider

May 2, 2011 | Clarion | Grades 2-4

No matter how many funny books come out, there will always be a clamoring mass of young readers ready for one more. This story about the lengths a father goes to to get his son to try new foods looks promising on the comedy front. A book that may speak to the scores of, ahem, selective eaters out there.

Nonfiction Picture Books

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss; illustrated by John Hendrix

Mar. 1, 2011 | Abrams | Grades 2-4

Have you heard of Sarah Edmonds? This woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the civil war isn’t a household name, especially with kids. This picture book biography by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix should help bring Edmonds’ story to younger readers. Is it okay for me to have favorites? I’m not sure how that works since I review books and all. Alright, I’m just gonna say it – I’m a big John Hendrix fan. Big. Fan. If you know his work from When Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek or the more recent 0 Comments on 10 to Note: Spring Preview 2011 as of 1/1/1900

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32. Covering the Newbery (#9): Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

In the grand tradition of “oh, why not” I am attempting to recover every Newbery-winning book from 1922 to the present. Today, we begin the 1930s…

1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

Original Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: I’m not sure about the kid appeal level of my redo. Too retro?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow

1928: Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes

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33. Link Du Jour: A Quintet of Blogs to Watch

In the past few weeks I’ve started following some new blogs, some of which might be of interest to you…

e is for book

Have I mentioned that 2011 is the year ebooks explode? It’s time to start figuring these things out (so says the reluctant librarian). The group blog e is for book should prove pretty helpful in this pursuit, with a bevy of authors talking about the transition to the brave new eworld.

Sample Post: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel…?

The Scop

Author blogs can be a dicey proposition. The best of them go beyond self-promotion and interact with the children’s lit world as a whole. Jonathan Auxier, author of the forthcoming Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes takes this wide-angle view, highlighting interesting topics and sharing personal knowledge. Plus, there’s funny drawings.

Sample Post: Huckleberry Finn and Literary Alteration

Klickitat

Klickitat is the brainchild of librarian Julie Judkins, and even though she’s just 9 posts in, I’m digging what I see – a nice mix of reviews, link round-ups, and discussion starters. It also don’t hurt one bit that Judkins is a fellow Michigander.

Sample Post: Should Authors Rate Their Own Books in Social Media?

Reads for Keeps

Started by a pair of children’s lit hobbyists, Reads for Keeps has all the reviews, book lists, and rambling editorials you could hope for. Bonus points for a cool header as well.

Sample Post: Top 5 Most Depressing Children’s Books

AASL Advocacy Tip of the Day

This one’s on the list for all the school librarians out there, but it may have some solid public library use as well. AASL Advocacy Tip of the Day is as straightforward as a blog can be – one post per day about how to generate support and spread good news about your school library. Brief, to the point, and useful.

Sample Post: Advocacy Tip #54

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34. Top 10 Black History Books for Youth

The appropriately-titled Booklist went and created a book list. A rather sound book list. A top 10 list of black history books for youth, all published in 2010. Click the image below to check it out, and add to your collection accordingly.



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35. Review: Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

Where’s Walrus?
By Stephen Savage
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9780439700498
$16.99
Grades PreK-1
In Stores

*Best New Books*

Simple gets a bum rap. Simple is difficult. Simple is complicated. Take picture books. When a story is boiled down to 32 pages and even fewer illustrations, there is no room for error. And if the text is removed? We’re talking a tightrope walk’s worth of difficulty. A book can flounder, or in the much rarer instance, succeed in a manner that makes the whole thing seem like no sweat. Such is the case with Stephen Savage’s delightful Where’s Walrus?. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone immune to the considerable charms of this wordless picture book. Young readers will flock.

When an open gate allows Walrus to escape from his tank, the zookeeper searches high and low to find him. Each two-page spread highlights a different location – water fountain, storefront, restaurant, etc. Each time Walrus humorously blends into the surroundings to evade capture. But when the zookeeper finally finds his escaped charge delighting an audience with amazing high-platform dives, Walrus returns to the zoo – this time as the featured attraction.

The illustrations are the definition of retro bold – simple and clear. White space plays an important role, focusing the reader’s attention and allowing Where’s Walrus? to work well at read-aloud distance.

Where’s Walrus? is a crowd-pleasing testament to the beauty of simple. Be sure to add this to your shelf.

Watch the Where’s Walrus? book trailer:

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.



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36. Morning Notes: Snow Day Edition

FUTURE OF PRINT BOOKS SAVED! PAY BY THE INCH

While I’d prefer to have book costs determined by weight (or, at the very least, water-displacement volume), I suppose paying by height will do. Click the image below to read.

(Thanks to BuzzFeed for the link)

MAYBE NOT! KINDLE BOOKS OUTSELL HARDCOVERS AND PAPERBACKS

The new numbers from Amazon showing Kindle books outselling hardcovers and paperbacks strike me as odd. I only know a couple people who have Kindles. Do I just associate with luddites, or is this the same with you? Either way, click here to check out the numbers for yourself.

(Thanks to TechCrunch for the link)

WE NEED MORE OF THESE: KOCHALKA NAMED CARTOONIST LAUREATE

How cool is Vermont? They went and named Johnny Boo creator James Kochalka their state Cartoonist Laureate. To celebrate, I liberally poured maple syrup on my waffles this morning. Oh, alright, that was going to happen today regardless. Now we have to get Michigan in on the act! Click here to read.

(Thanks to @MrSchuReads for the link)

LIBRARY PROTESTERS LEAVE NO BOOK UN-CHECKED OUT

Is your local library budget about to get cut? Do what patrons of the Lord Louis library on the UK’s Isle of Wight did – check out every book in the joint. Click here to read.

VISIT FOR THE EBOOKS, STAY FOR THE CHARLTON HESTON REFERENCE

I reviewed a new web-based eReader from Capstone in the latest issue of School Library Journal.  Click here to read it.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Currently #10 on the NYT Children’s Chapter Books list)

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm (Currently #7 on the NYT Children’s Chapter Books list)

They recently became members of the Newbery club, and this week I was pleased to see Turtle in Paradise and One Crazy Summer join the

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37. On Hold @ the Library: January 2011

They say that the hold shelf is a window into the soul.

Well, that might be overstating things a bit, but it is certainly a way to find out what kids are reading when given the freedom of choice. Let’s take a look at the books students are lining up to read at the 5th and 6th grade school where I work.

Rivers of Fire (Atherton series) by Patrick Carman

As Far as I Can See (My America series) by Kate McMullan

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn

The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) by Jeff Kinney

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

The Burning Bridge (Ranger’s Apprentice series) by John Flanigan

School’s Out – Forever (Maximum Ride series) by James Patterson

I’m seeing two common themes here:

  1. Series. While I sometimes poke fun at the proliferation if series books in recent years, it is cool that kids are able to continue on with characters and stories they’re into.
  2. Fiction. It seems like our hold shelf is always stocked with fiction titles. Do you get this too? My initial thought is that it’s due to the fact that with nonfiction, you can usually get another book on the same topic, so there is less need to put a specific book on hold.

Look for more On Hold @ the Library next month.



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38. Covering the Newbery (#8): The Trumpeter of Krakow

Every Monday (save for the Mondays where I don’t) I’ll try my hand at giving each and every Newbery Medal-winning book a new cover, beginning from the beginning. Today’s installment of Covering the Newbery bring the 20s to a close. Is it with a bang – or with a whimper? Let’s find out…

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

Early Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: Hmm – decent start, but it might be a bit too plain. What do you say?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1928: Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes

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39. Link Du Jour: And the 2012 Newbery Goes to…

Dang, just when I feel like I’m easing into this 2011 thing, 2012 pops up on the radar. The excellent Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog has the lowdown on a batch of books that may be contenders for the 2012 award. Click the image below to check them out.



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40. Cover Curiosity: Made in the Shade

Some of the entries into the Cover Curiosities file are clearly the doing of the Intentional Bogeyman (holding stuff, I’m talking about you), others I chalk up to the Ghost of Random Chance. I am very superstitious about about my cover similarities. Today’s submission strikes me as a member of the latter camp, but I can’t help but see some common ground in these two appealing covers. Up first…

Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu

and…

Calvin Can’t Fly by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Keith Bendis

And, just for kicks, lets try a new way to compare the two:

The composition, the white space, the text locations – certainly similar. Not that I’m complaining.

Click here for more Cover Curiosities



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41. Review: Ice by Arthur Geisert

Ice
By Arthur Geisert
Enchanted Lion
ISBN: 9781592700981
$14.95
Grades K-2
In Stores March 1, 2011

*Best New Books*

If you’re unfamiliar with Arthur Geisert’s work, it can usually be summed up like so:

Through books like Lights Out and Hogwash Geisert often puts his porcine characters in the position of trying to solve real world problems through staggeringly creative means. The results are almost always must-read. Add Ice to this group. Originally published in France, Ice follows 2010’s excellent The Chicken Thief in Enchanted Lion’s Stories Without Words series. An excellent entry in a series that is becoming one to watch.

The book opens with a two page spread of a tiny island dotted with small A-frame huts, massive sun looming in the sky. A small band of Geisert’s familiar human-like pigs are doing their best to beat the heat – seeking shade and cooling themselves with fans – with lackluster results. Their huge well, which provides water to the entire island, is running low. After gathering to plan a voyage, the pigs spring into action, lifting off in their frigate-meets-hot-air-balloon vessel. They journey north, hitch an iceberg, and pull it back to their home, where it provides much needed relief.

The creativity is off the charts here. Geisert’s detailed illustrations run the show, creating a pleasing mix of nuts and bolts reality and island fantasy. I think the magic comes from the fact that everything seems as if it could almost happen. The civilization looks like something humans would build. The island’s well system seems plausible. Heck, even the cover brings to mind an old photograph of remote real-life island-dwellers, discovered by the outside world for the first time.

A simple, pitch-perfect story that will serve to get the imaginative juices flowing. The year is young, but Ice will likely be a 2011 standout.

Review copy from publisher.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.


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42. Morning Notes: The Best Bad Books Edition

BOOKS SET TO BATTLE

The titles set to trade literary blows in the annual School Library Journal Battle of the Kids Books have been released, and Educating Alice has them. Click here to read.

NEWBERY HONOR AUTHOR A HIT ON JAPANESE TV

Sound the real headline alarm! The Newbery and Caldecott may not be getting love from American television networks (see: Today Show snub), but Japanese TV is keepin’ it real, covering Heart of a Samurai author Margi Preus. Click here to read.

(Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the link)

CLOTHING FOR LOVERS OF THE WRITTEN WORD

This may be one of those signs that they’ve thought of everything.

The loose leaf paper shirt.

(Thanks to BuzzFeed for the link)

The Newbery/Caldecott bump is real, folks. Let’s take a look at where the recent award winners rank on the New York Times Bestseller lists:

Click here for the entire lists.

Children’s Picture Books:

#2: A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Caldecott winner)

Oh so close to the top, but President Obama’s book stands in the way to #1.

#3: Interrupting Chicken (Caldecott honor)

#5: Dark Emperor (Newbery honor)

#6: Dave the Potter (Caldecott H

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43. Mega Cover Curiosity: Quadruple Trend Update

I don’t really know how this happened, but in my travels and perusings I’ve encountered a batch of covers that fit in with trends I’ve posted about in the past.

Let’s see if we can plug them in where they belong…

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

Ah, yes, this one goes in the Gothic Gates file:

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

Add this cover to the popular Holding Stuff group:

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Another one for the Psycho file:

And, of course…

Nerd Girls Alan Lawrence Sitomer

A new addition to the Socks crew:

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44. Video: Kickin’ it Old School with Newbery and Caldecott

Good ol’ CSPAN2.

Having attended the Youth Media Awards for the first time this year, I encountered high levels of enjoyment when I came upon CSPAN2 footage of the YMA announcements from January 15, 2001, when the world of librarianship was just a twinkle in my eye. It’s pretty clear to see that the event has grown in the decade since.

A related aside: I have to say, I really like that they used to actually hold up the winning books – even though they go the PowerPoint route these days, they should still hold up the books.

Take a look (bonus points if you can remember which books won without checking):



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45. Award Seal as Design Element: A Cover First?

Today I was checking out upcoming releases using Edelweiss (a great place to go for publisher catalogs y’all) when I came across a book that was released back in September – the paperback edition of Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston. If you remember, the original cover made an impression on me.

But this new design? It may just be a world’s first.

How is it unique? Take a look:

That’s right, the awards it has won (E.B. White Read Aloud Honor, Silver Birch) have been incorporated into the cover illustration as balloons held by the main character, Katrina Katrell. Very cool.

Now a question for the masses (this includes, of course Peter from Collecting Children’s Books) – is this the first book you’ve seen do such a thing?



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46. Morning Notes: 3 Things Edition

A NEWBERY IN 90 SECONDS

Still basking in Newbery Medal afterglow? Rather than idly gazing out the window with a goofy smile plastered on your face (as I do), why not channel your glow energy into something with a purpose? How about taking your favorite Newbery-winning story and turning it into a 90 second video? Author James Kennedy and A Fuse #8 Production mastermind Elizabeth Bird are teaming up with the New York Public Library for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. This, friends, will be fun. Click here for all the details.

NOTABLES ANNOUNCED

This is your collection speaking. If you haven’t checked out ALSC’s recently-released 2011 Notable Children’s Books list, you better get a move on. Click here to get said move on.

ROLL YOUR QUARTERS; ‘STEWART LITTLE’ AND ‘LITTLE HOUSE’ ILLUSTRATIONS UP FOR AUCTION

First it was Charlotte’s Web, now it’s Stewart Little and Little House. Garth Williams original artwork from both classics will soon hit the auction block. Click here to view the illustrations up for grabs.

(Thanks to @MrSchuReads for the link)

THINGS TO HANG ON YOUR WALL

Thing 1, Thing 2 … Thing 3? Are you able to deny this clever merger of Dr. Seuss and the Fantastic 4? You’re much stronger than I.

Buy the print at Society6

(Thanks to Popped Culture for the link)

Squish #1: Super Amoeba by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. On shelves May 10, 2011.

Abby (the) Librarian and @MrSchuReads alerted me to this one, and I’m glad they did. The team that brought Babymouse into the world is set to unleash a new graphic novel series for young readers. Consider my hopes high.

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47. Review: Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

Cloudette
By Tom Lichtenheld
Henry Holt (Macmillan)
ISBN: 9780805087765
$16.99
Grades K-2
In Stores March 1, 2011

The concept of a small protagonist making a mark on the big world is a children’s lit mainstay. It makes sense – there are few situations children can better relate to than being surrounded by those that are older and bigger and wanting to do something conspicuous. Tom Lichtenheld’s charming Cloudette ably enters this territory, and will likely garner fans big and small. But mostly small.

As her name suggests, Cloudette is a cloud of the most diminutive proportions. Clearly, there are perks to being small, but Cloudette reaches a point where she wants to do important things, like make rivers flow and waterfalls fall. She tries to help the fire department, garden center, and car wash, but is turned away at every stop. When a storm drops Cloudette in an unfamiliar place, she finally finds where her modest services can make a difference – a small, dried-up pond.

While third-person narration guides the narrative, dialog intermittently appears in smaller font, sometimes adding comic relief and other times filling out the story.

For a book about a cloud, these illustrations are certainly sunny. Ink, pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor are used to create bright, clean artwork. There are some two page spreads here that absolutely stand out as some of Lichtenheld’s best work. For example:

And when the story reaches its climax and our heroine finally lets the rain fall, the view shifts, requiring the reader to turn the book to the side (think Tops & Bottoms) to get the full effect – a nice touch.

It isn’t cloying, it isn’t didactic – it’s just a little book about self determination that works. In the end, Cloudette is perfectly pleasant, and that’s not a bad thing to be.

Review copy from publisher.

Watch the book trailer for Cloudette:

Visit Tom Lichtenheld’s website.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

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48. Link Du Jour: A Video Interview with Gary Paulsen

Few author interviews go deeper than the typical “tell us about your book” surface. Teacher, reviewer, and ALSC Notable Books committee member Ed Spicer routinely cuts through the standard chatter in his author interviews, which he posts at his website, Spicy Reads. Ed recently sat down with Gary Paulsen (as Paulsen was in the midst of recording audio versions of some of his books), and the results give rare insight into the iconic author’s life and work.

Really, who doesn’t want to know if Paulsen has ever peed on an electric fence?



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49. Nonfiction Monday: Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Me…Jane
By Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown
ISBN: 9780316045469
$15.99
Grades K-3
In Stores April 5, 2011

There are biographies that are picture books, and there are picture book biographies. The difference, you ask? The former is a fairly detailed bio with illustrations added – usually resulting in a book most appropriate for older audiences. The latter is picture book through and through – minimal text, basic vocab, simple story. With Me…Jane, Patrick McDonnell (Wag!, South) has created picture book biography – it keeps the focus narrow, with successful results.

On the first page we are introduced to a young Jane Goodall and her stuffed toy chimp Jubilee. An inseparable pair, Jubilee accompanies Jane as she liberally indulges her curiosity in the natural world, including a memorable discovery of where eggs come from:

… [S]he and Jubilee snuck into Grandma Nutt’s chicken coop…hid beneath some straw, stayed very still…and observed the miracle.

Jane recorded her findings and, with the help of the Tarzan books she read, dreamed of a life studying animals on Africa. The powerful final image, a photograph showing Goodall reaching out to a baby chimpanzee, the real-life incarnation of her childhood toy, will linger with readers and let them know that Goodall achieved her dream. Beautiful.

The choice to cover only Jane Goodall’s childhood and not her exploits in Africa could be a sticking point for some. But if viewed simply as a chronicle of Goodall’s early steps to becoming an anthropologist, this focus on childhood fits, and will work for a K-2nd grade audience. Backmatter includes more detailed information about Goodall’s work studying primates as well as a note from Goodall herself.

The lovely watercolor illustrations hit all the earth tones you would expect, with a peacefulness that matches Goodall’s famously placid demeanor. Images are also pulled from other sources and presented in rubber stamp-like single-color. For instance, on the page that describes Jane’s longing to visit Africa, an image of ship, a map, and waves adorn the blank space, adding richness.

A woman who made important anthropological discoveries began as a girl who loves the outdoors. Me…Jane isn’t a blow-by-blow of Goodall’s entire career, but a laudable introduction and jumping-off point for young readers.

Review copy from publisher.

Click here to check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Great Kid Books.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

50. Covering the Newbery (#7): Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

1928: Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff

Original Cover:

Redo:

Side by side:


Verdict: Simplified, but maybe too YA-ish. What do you say?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J. Finger

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes

1923: The Voyages of Doctor

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