What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,488
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
The Horn Book editor's rants and raves. Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996
Statistics for Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 149
1. Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger!

bow tie Look! Up in the sky! Its...Super Roger!This week Roger talked with living-comics-legend Stan Lee about his new book Zodiac. That made us think of Roger as a superhero: his bow tie doubles as a boomerang! to chase down bad-guys! and retrieve books off high library shelves! It also made us think of Roger in tights and Spandex, which just made us giggle. [Ed. note: You laugh NOW…]

We ask: do you know any superhero librarians? Either librarians who could be existing superheroes (So. Many. Catwoman. Jokes.) or those who could helm their very own, all-new Marvel franchises. Admittedly, Bow-Tie Man isn’t the most scintillating. What are some other ideas?

I’ve always thought K. T. Horning must be able to fly, for example. And Julie Roach is always smiling. But I’m not saying she’s The Joker (though, like Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace, she is cute as a button).

You can also share your thoughts here, by letting us know how you library.

Also, is Stephen Savage’s Supertruck the cutest superhero around or what?

share save 171 16 Look! Up in the sky! Its...Super Roger!

The post Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. The Farmer and the Clown

9781442497443 f3568 300x243 The Farmer and the ClownThings are beginning to heat up. Mock Caldecotts are being decided; best-of-year lists continue to be released; over at Fuse #8, Betsy Bird has made her final predictions.

It’s time to talk about a book that’s been one of my favorites all fall: Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown.

I find it difficult not to gush over this book. It is so simple and yet so profound: the classic “stranger comes to town” story brilliantly re-imagined and re-visioned. It works for me on both an intellectual and emotional level, so much so that I can start out discussing the composition of a particular page, say, and end up talking instead about the definition of family; love and loss. The search for belonging. What happens when we reveal our true selves to others. You know, the whole human condition.

So to prevent me going off the deep end, I’ll stick to bullet points and simply highlight some of the strengths of the book; some of the things that make it worthy of Caldecott consideration. I hope you will help me fill in the gaps in the comments.

  • THE EXPRESSIVENESS of the characters, through body language and facial expressions. To quote the Horn Book “Fanfare” citation: ”Rarely has posture been used so well in a picture book, here used to wordlessly portray the kindness of strangers who are thrown (literally!) together by happenstance but then changed forever.”
  • THE TENSION. The story itself has built-in tension — how are these seemingly opposite characters going to get along? will the farmer be able to comfort the child? will this be the child’s new home, or will the circus train come back? — so does the visual storytelling. As a reader/viewer I am pulled in two directions. I want both to linger over each spread to catch every nuance AND to turn the page to see what happens next. The picture book storytelling is perfectly balanced here.
  • THE LANDSCAPE. This has got to be one of the sparest landscapes ever depicted in a picture book. The horizon stretches unendingly beneath vast skies. There is no vegetation aside from the one tree on the one knoll. There aren’t even any haystacks to break up the emptiness (though there seems to be plenty of hay to make them with). The color palette is equally austere: brown, sere, desert-like. Does the empty landscape echo and make manifest the heart of the farmer? Or does it serve to keep the viewer’s focus on the characters, their interactions and emotions? I would say both.
  • THE ENDING. It is just open-ended enough. You close the book satisfied but also with a little room to fill in details yourself. It’s not the mind-blowing, drop-the-reader-off-a-cliff ending of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. But the questions asked by the ending can be answered by a the story you’ve just finished reading. It’s a very organic, very satisfying kind of open-endedness. The answers are all in the spot illustration on the last page: in the farmer’s posture (relaxed, upright, hands in pocket — he’s contemplative, but not unhappy), in the hat he’s wearing, the hat HE chose to swap with the little clown; and of course in the presence of the circus monkey, the same size and shape and dressed the same way as the departed little clown.
  • THE MULTILAYEREDNESS of the wordless narrative. One of the most brilliant parts of the book is the very first page where Frazee uses a clean white background rather than that mottled sere brown — the page just after the little clown has been jettisoned from the train. Read it one way (with makeup in place): a little clown seeks to entertain an audience. He does a little dive move, he doffs his cap, he takes a bow. All part of a performance. BUT. Read it another way (if one could see through the makeup to the scared baby/toddler beneath): he points desperately to where he came from; he mimics how he fell from the train, he bends over in despair; he runs to the farmer to plead for help. I’m not sure I know of another picture book that accomplishes this layered interpretation.
  • THE VISUAL LINKS BETWEEN THE CHARACTERS. There are many. Even when they look like complete opposites — tall skinny old farmer all dressed in black; short round young child all dressed in red — there is a relationship between them. Note the reverse symmetry of the small clown and the tall farmer: the clown’s tall pointy hat is the farmer’s long pointy beard, in reverse; the clowns horizontal ruffle around his neck is the farmer’s flat hat on his head. Then when the truth comes out and the little clown’s true self is revealed, the link becomes closer and nearer: we see their equally bald heads, and the farmer’s red long johns match the child’s red clown suit. And at the very very end, the link between them is cemented when the farmer swaps their hats, placing his black hat on the toddler’s head and donning the tall red cone hat himself.
  • THE STORY’S DEPTH. This would have been just a sweet little story of friendship and love/loss/love…but the addition of the painted-on smile of the little clown asks SUCH deeper questions and adds so many deeper layers. And so by the end of the book, this reader, anyway, is entirely emotionally invested. Look at that oversized arm on the final double-page spread (the long horizontal arm balanced compositionally by the long horizontal train, by the way). Is the farmer’s arm waving goodbye? or reaching out, trying to hold on? There’s a phenomenal amount of feeling in that disembodied arm. I am not sure many other artists could invest so much emotion in an ARM.

I’ve heard that The Farmer and the Clown doesn’t work for two- and three-year-olds. Well, no. Is it supposed to? Do people think that because the clown is a very young child, the book also must be for very young children? The age of the baby/toddler clown does not determine the audience for this book. It’s for reader-viewers who are interested in determining and decoding the situation, reading the postures, the facial expressions, watching the specific yet universal story unfold.

And no, it’s not all that funny. Again, is it supposed to be? I am not sure that all Marla Frazee books have to be laughfests. The book does have small moments of humor (the juggling eggs sequence, for instance), but it’s the kind of humor that might evoke a smile rather than a guffaw. I think readers are too involved in the pathos of the situation, the drama, the tension, to want or need to do a lot of giggling. But since the Caldecott committee is charged with looking only at the books of 2014, a comparison to Frazee’s earlier work should not apply.

Can the Caldecott committee ignore their expectations of what a Marla Frazee picture book should be? Will they see the genius of this book?

share save 171 16 The Farmer and the Clown

The post The Farmer and the Clown appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on The Farmer and the Clown as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with Roger

naomi shihab nye twr Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here.


naomi shihab nye Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with RogerBorn of Naomi Shihab Nye’s childhood fascination with Oman and a visit there five years ago, The Turtle of Oman is that rare thing in current children’s book publishing: a deliberately low-key story in which the climax is — well, read below. After Naomi and I swapped sympathies for how old we were now after our many years of acquaintance, we settled in for a good talk about her new novel.

Roger Sutton: How do you keep your enthusiasm?

Naomi Shihab Nye: I think it’s hanging out with kids all these years. I was visiting a school last week, and they were so incredible. Just being with them for the whole day and listening to their questions and looking at their writing and going into their art classes and seeing the pots and photographs they were making, I thought, “It’s okay to get old if you can still hang out with young people and feel that great energy. Because we still have it. It just gets sort of muted.”

RS: What do you think that does to your writing? Or for it?

NSN: We hear a lot of voices every day, but for me the most touching and tender voices continue to be those of kids. They’re the most direct, the most unadorned. It calls forth your own kid voice. It keeps it alive. It nourishes it. I agree with people who say you never lose that kid spirit in yourself no matter what age you are.

RS: Oh, hell, I never had it.

NSN: I think you have it right now.

RS: Making up for lost time. The Turtle of Oman is a story about a boy who’s moving. Was moving a big thing for you as a child?

NSN: It was, but I really did not think of the boy, Aref, as me, ever, when writing the book. Its source was my childhood fascination with the country of Oman. I saw a National Geographic story about it when I was around eight. At the time it was a closed country; no one could visit. I talked to my father. Did he know about it? Had he ever been there? He, too, was interested, so it was a topic we talked about together. And also, as I told kids in Oman when I did go there, my first name, juggled, becomes “Omani.”

RS: Huh.

NSN: As a child, I was always juggling words and names. So a fascination with a place. And then when my father died seven years ago, I remember thinking that I was not only going to miss him so incredibly much, but I was really going to miss the relationship he had with our son. They had a very precious bond. My father could walk in and my son would light up, and they would just take off. I wanted to honor that bond between a boy and his grandfather.

RS: It really made me wish I had known my grandfather.

NSN: That’s touching, Roger. A couple of adults have written to me that this book carried them back to their own relationship with a grandparent. So those were the two impulses. Not moving. Moving just kind of came on. When I was in Oman it was staggering to learn how common it was for Omani kids to do what Aref does in this book. I talked to a bunch of them. They said, “Oh, yeah, I lived in England for two years while my parents got their graduate degrees. I lived in the U.S. for three years. I lived in Australia for two years.” It was interesting because they’d all gone away and come back. Education is highly valued, and they don’t have — or they didn’t have, five years ago when I was there — graduate degrees. You had to leave the country to get one. But Oman has a very fine style of life, a very good economic stratosphere, so people want to go back after their schooling. And it’s a very gracious, hospitable place.

RS: It does seem very gracious and hospitable from your book. When I look at the details in the story, I think, “This is such an alien landscape to what I know.” But they’re so comfortable in it, the boy and his grandfather.

NSN: I’ve sent a few friends to Oman, people who are on their way to India. They’ve all had fascinating reports afterwards.

RS: Oh, I’d love to go. Even before your book, I knew it from childhood stamp collecting.

NSN: So did I! The Tourism Bureau of Oman has a new slogan: “Beauty has an address. Oman.” It really is a beautiful place in a striking and rather odd way, because of the mountains being tones of brown, and the city being pale colors. White, butter yellow, beige buildings; and they’re all low, because the sultan does not like skyscrapers. And then the sea is so intensely turquoise. So you have these three stripes of color, and then sunrise and sunset above that — it’s gorgeous.

RS: Let’s just bag this talk and go.

NSN: Yes, let’s. And we’ll stay at the Chedi Hotel. Look that up.

RS: You did a really good job of letting us know these kid-focused details about that landscape, but in a way that wasn’t touristy. It felt like it was coming from the inside.

NSN: That’s nice. Thank you for saying that.

RS: Do you know how revolutionary this book is?

NSN: No. What do you mean?

RS: Here we have a book about a kid who’s going to move. And by the end of the book he hasn’t even moved yet. It’s so quiet.

NSN: I was speaking about The Turtle of Oman to some kids at the school library a beloved friend runs, and I said to them at the very end, “You realize who the turtle is?” They all just stared at me. And then afterwards my friend said, “Aref’s the turtle! I didn’t realize that.” I said, “Yes, he’s the turtle.”

I really long for the slow time of childhood. I think most of us who live in this era do. I wanted Aref to live in slow time, for the book to feel as if it was almost in slow-motion. Like, oh my God, we’re back to the suitcase and there’s still only two things in it? I wanted it to be weird that way. The head of the Academy of American Poets said, “Poetry is slow art.” To me that poetry of daily life that we yearn for is the slow artfulness of movement. I keep this little German quote on my desk: Weniger, aber besser. “Less, but better.” Less stuff, less clutter, less things in a day, but better relationships with those things. I wanted there to be some sense of that with Aref and Sidi.

RS: How do you think we can convince our publishers and librarians that there is room for this kind of slow book? Everything now is super high-concept.

NSN: Yeah, there’s all this melodrama and vampire stuff. There’s a lonesomeness that human beings exhibit sometimes: I have all this stuff, I have everything at my fingertips, I’m going in all these different directions at once, and I’m lost. Whereas children have a willingness to pause and turn something over and over in their minds. I worry about what happens when you bombard children with too much stuff all the time, too many activities, too many events, too many things. I remember my kid, when he was young — he’s now a professor — coming home from school one day when he was in about fifth grade, and I asked him about a certain friend of his. I said, “Do you want to have so-and-so come over after school tomorrow?” And he looked at me, and he said, “Oh, Mom. He’s ruined.” And I said, “What do you mean, he’s ruined?” And he said, “He’s just scheduled all the time. He has no free time anymore.” I think of that sometimes when I’m feeling frustrated or frazzled, when I haven’t spent enough time with something to make it feel meaningful. That’s something that teachers, librarians, parents know kids need.

RS: The climax of the story is that they catch a fish and throw it back.

NSN: The little things that happen are really little. The threads are delicate, but they’re also strong. I did thirteen drafts, Roger. In the first draft, the baby pillow that Sidi throws into Aref’s suitcase was the star of the book. In my second draft, Aref’s house and Sidi’s house were the stars. Virginia, my editor, told me, “I don’t want a book about a relationship between two houses. They’re not even on the same street.” So I had to bring people into the book.

RS: Oh, God forbid, Naomi.

NSN: In talking to kids at schools I’ve visited, they all seem to have had experiences similar to Aref’s, even in the second and third grade. They’ve moved, their friends have moved, their grandparents have moved, they’ve changed schools. I often do events with refugee resettlement communities. In some cases I ask people to bring a poem from their country, or just a few lines from a story, or to tell us a story and then translate it. So I hope that readers would feel somewhat at home with Aref, somebody who is being challenged to face this whole new culture and who wonders: where do I find my gravity in it?

RS: That gives you a narrative line throughout. He is dealing with anxiety. It’s not just a pleasant little wander with Grandpa. There’s this fear of what the new place will be like, and as a reader you want that to be resolved.

NSN: Right. And the metaphor of going away and coming back, which so many creatures do in their lives. There’s this essential tug of home gravity. Aref is going to come back, but it’s still scary to think about being gone.

RS: Right.

NSN: My favorite line in the book is when Aref asks Sidi: “What if they make fun of my hat?” The hats of Oman are so distinctive, and so beautiful. And Sidi says, “Then you can let them try it on.” Become me, and then you won’t make fun of me.

RS: When you’re writing a novel, do you ever have to say to yourself, “Wait, I’m being too much of a poet”?

NSN: Probably when I overwrite a passage and make it too descriptive. But my poems have always been fairly plain, I would say, and always had a narrative thread in them. My poems enjoy conversation, and they try to incorporate it. But I did end up cutting back a lot of description and then trying to build up conversations or scenes with a little more velocity or energy rather than some kind of dreamy metaphor.

RS: I read poetry so differently from the way I read prose. I read a poem through quickly, then look more closely, then go back, and then look at the thing at the end and the thing at the beginning. It’s a much more singular moment than the chronology that you involve yourself in when you’re reading a piece of fiction.

NSN: Right. I wanted there to be little chunks in every chapter that feel poem-like somehow, that carry your mind in that same way, deeply, into a focus, into a moment, and then kind of drift around and blur. But I try to keep it also moving a little bit, even if it’s slow-moving.

RS: Have you seen any slow TV? It’s my new passion.

NSN: I have never even heard of it. What is it?

RS: It’s from Norway. There are these shows — there’s one I really love. It’s a train. It’s nine hours long. They just mounted a camera on the front of the train.

NSN: Oh my God. This is amazing.

RS: I’ll send you a link.

Your book kept reminding me of Little House in the Big Woods.

NSN: Oh, that’s interesting.

RS: Again, very small dramas, just “here’s what it’s like to live in my little house in the big woods.” And the anxieties of oh, Pa’s gone, is he coming back? That tends to be the climax of a lot of the chapters. It has so much respect for those small moments that do make up a kid’s life. So many books now are trying to distract kids from those moments.

NSN: That’s right. And I think they’re distracted enough, and there’s enough that will distract them. Sometimes kids will say to me, “What is the one thing that made you a poet as a child growing up?” And I would say it was an apprehension that there was so much around us that we could easily overlook, it would just slip by. I felt really haunted by that as a child. And by the way, Roger, did you know I grew up in Ferguson, Missouri?

RS: No, I didn’t know that.

NSN: I was born in inner-city St. Louis, and when I was almost three my parents moved out to Ferguson, because it was a suburb, with more trees and little parks, and a quieter pace. So all of this news and all of these images from Ferguson are very haunting to me, because in the time of childhood where I grew up, the whole town of Ferguson belonged to kids. We rode our bikes everywhere. We were really curious about what this black-white line was. It was very, very invisible, but very well known to adults, and we didn’t understand it at all. Anyway, that’s just a digression. But it has made me think a lot about slow time and that need as a child to be in spots that feel as if they will outlast you, outlive you, be there in some physical way.

RS: I like the way that the end of the book makes us wonder what it’s going to be like for Aref in Michigan. You can carry this story forward in your head because you get to know this boy really well and hope that things will work out. It’s almost as if you can write your own sequel.

NSN: A couple of people have bugged me already about writing a sequel, in first-person, of Aref in Michigan, but I thought, “Wouldn’t that undercut all the possibilities for him?” I don’t know if I would want to do that. People are still bugging me to write a sequel to Habibi.

RS: Get busy, girl. It’s been a while.

NSN: I don’t want to write a sequel. I want you to write a sequel. You figure it out.

RS: I’m really into standalone books these days. There are too many sequels.

NSN: I am too. I’m really into everyone else’s capacity to imagine what happens next. I like standalone books. There’s something intact about them. And I think poems try to trust us in that way too. It’s why poems don’t like explanation. What happens next? Where does it go? Poems have that subtlety of ending in air, hinting, suggesting, but now you take it and you go with it.

RS: And those are the poems you keep going back to. When you find the one that creates that story inside yourself, that won’t let you alone, that’s the poem that speaks to you.

NSN: It keeps living.


More on Naomi Shihab Nye from The Horn Book

share save 171 16 Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with Roger

The post Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with Roger appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Naomi Shihab Nye Talks with Roger as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

farizan tell me again how a crush should feel Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should FeelTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan
High School    Algonquin    296 pp.
10/14    978-1-61620-284-2    $16.95    g
e-book ed.  978-1-61620-435-8    $16.95

Sixteen-year-old Iranian American Leila Azadi is, in her own words, a “Persian scaredy-cat.” Afraid to tell her best friends and her conservative family that she is gay, Leila finds herself in a secret relationship with Saskia, a gorgeous, sophisticated new girl with a decidedly wicked side. As Saskia reveals herself to be a master manipulator, Leila turns to an unexpected ally, Lisa, an old friend who recently lost her brother in a car accident. When Lisa and Leila’s friendship turns romantic, a spurned Saskia threatens the couple as well as their friends, who rally in support of the girls. The humor and cleverness of Leila’s first-person narrative lightens what, in less capable hands, could be an angsty story, while well-drawn secondary characters balance the novel’s more extremely rendered villain. While Leila’s coming-out process provides narrative tension, this is not a problem novel. Instead, Farizan’s second book (If You Could Be Mine, rev. 11/13) is more of a David Levithan–style romance in which a character’s sexual identity is neither problematic nor in question, and coming out is just one of many obstacles affecting the course of true love.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

The post Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

johnson all different now All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom I have written about and talked about this book a lot elsewhere, so it seems time to put my finger on why the Caldecott committee should take a close look at All Different Now.

Before I start, I want to dispel a myth I hear a lot. It goes something like this: this is really a Coretta Scott King Award book, so the Caldecott committee will figure it will win there and might not pay much attention to it. NO. NO. NO. That’s not how it goes.

The Caldecott committee is not allowed to think or talk like that. It doesn’t work like that. When I was on Caldecott, Dave the Potter was honored by both committees. Each committee works independently of the other. I know because I have been lucky enough to serve on both the Caldecott and the CSK committees. So, I would never be surprised to see this book (or any eligible title) honored by both. It should happen more often, actually, that a book is honored by a number of committees. Though each committee has its own manual and criteria (and here I am talking about every committee, whether it’s part of the American Library Association or not), every committee is hoping to identify the best book, best art, best story of the year. I am thinking of the year Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb won in a gazillion categories: I wanted the wealth to be spread, but understood how it happened that one book pleased so many constituencies. So to repeat, there is no communication between the committees. And on the Monday morning when the awards are announced, everyone in the room is surprised (or disappointed) at the same time.

On to All Different Now. Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis have created something special here. For those of you who might not know, Juneteenth refers to the anniversary of the day that slaves in Texas heard the news that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had been abolished. Plantation owners kept the information away from their slaves, and Union soldiers had trouble getting into Texas to tell them. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th 1865; hence the moniker Juneteenth. The excellent back matter tells the reader everything that was probably skipped in American history classes.

But this is not a history book; this is a story imagining how people reacted to the news that they were finally free, that things were “all different now.” Lewis’s painterly style is perfect for this story. Using a child narrator, Johnson and Lewis tell the story of the news of Emancipation spreading from the port to the town to the country and to the fields in one stunning paneled spread. Look closely at the astonished faces of the women, the suspicious looks from the men, and the jubilant body motions of the people in the cotton field. Lewis and Johnson imagine the feelings: anger, jubilation, confusion, gratitude, frustration. Somehow Lewis is able to paint all those feelings. He also shows how strong the family is in the story: at the beginning we see the children warm under a quilt and next we see a mother or sister taking care of the children. Everyone, from one-hundred-year-old Mr. Jake to the baby in Aunt Laura’s arms, is cared for; everyone understands the seriousness of the news they have just received.

Lewis’s watercolors use color and tone to tell this story. Muted greens and browns tell the story of the first half of the book; a more hopeful blue enters at the halfway point. The white of the beach pushes away the brown of the field, and the girls’ white dresses pop against the night sky and the burning fire. The night scenes are somber.

I love the final spread, where the only words are “all different now.” The little houses are closed up and the people are leaving. For what? To go where? The text does not reveal where they are going, allowing the reader to imagine herself into the story.

I return to the cover often. The outstretched arms of so many women (and one man) give me a little chill. And sometimes a little chill is all it takes for someone to champion a book. I would champion this one, if I were on the committee.

 

share save 171 16 All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

The post All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Week in Review, December 8th-12th

banner weekinreview 550x100 Week in Review, December 8th 12th

This week on hbook.com…

 December’s Notes from the Horn Book: Special Issue: Fanfare!

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger: Last call for Selfie Sweepstakes“: Calling all self- and indie publishers!

Out of the Box:

  • BA-BA-DOOK.“: A horror movie about an evil kids’ book? Bring it on.

Calling Caldecott:

Lolly’s Classroom:We need diverse books because of Ferguson

Events calendar

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!

share save 171 16 Week in Review, December 8th 12th

The post Week in Review, December 8th-12th appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Week in Review, December 8th-12th as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. BA-BA-DOOK.

babadook poster BA BA DOOK.A horror movie about an evil children’s book is, understandably, not everyone’s thing. But given that I’m both a horror fan and a big kidlit nerd, I’ve been waiting for Australian indie film The Babadook to hit US theaters since I first saw the trailer online several months ago. Despite its cleaning up at Sundance, the movie’s US release is so limited — only two local cinemas are showing it, one in a theater the size of a living room — that the screening my boyfriend and I attempted to see over the weekend was sold out. We wound up watching it at home on demand…which was probably for the best, since it minimized the number of people I bothered with my shrieking.

The Babadook was partially based upon director Jennifer Kent’s short film Monster, about a child who’s afraid of his plush monster toy and his mother who’s exasperated by his fear — only to come face-to-face with the real monster. The Babadook expands upon and complicates this plot. Its protagonists are young widowed mother Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son Sam (Noah Wiseman). Sam has both an active imagination and serious behavioral problems: he builds weapons, in preparation for “when the monster comes,” and takes them everywhere; has nightmares that prevent him from sleeping through the night; and is ostracized by other children for both his monster obsession and his dead father. With Sam’s seventh birthday (also the anniversary of his father’s accidental death) approaching, money tight, and Sam out of school due to his weapons-smuggling, Amelia is nearing her breaking point.

Then Sam chooses Mister Babadook, a book that mysteriously appears on his book shelf, for a bedtime story.

The book is a bit crudely written and illustrated, but creepy nonetheless. Direct-address text accompanied by black-and-white pop-up illustrations inform the reader that supernatural creature Mister Babdook will come out of the darkness of your closet, ceiling corner, etc., to watch you, and “you can’t get rid” of him once you’ve seen him. (It’s actually not unlike the story line of Liniers’s What There Is Before There Is Anything There.) Reading Mister Babadook exacerbates Sam’s intense fears about monsters and disturbs Amelia, who responds by first hiding, then tearing apart and trashing the book. When it reappears on their doorstep — pieced back together and with even darker content, this time depicting a Babadook-possessed Amelia harming Sam and their pet dog in pop-ups that seem to move on their own — Amelia suspects she and Sam are being stalked. Of course, the truth is much worse.

The movie’s supernatural element is legitimately frightening. The Babadook’s inhuman sounds and movement give me the serious heebie-jeebies, and the idea that underneath his already-scary-as-hell gaping-maw-and-claws exterior lies something that will make you “wish you were dead” doesn’t help. As promised by the book, Amelia and Sam can’t get away from the creature — or each other — and are trapped in their own home, cut off from any real help. The limited setting (mostly the house’s interior plus a bit of their small town) and cast contribute to the film’s claustrophobic feel.

But what’s especially effective is the way the supernatural horror works with the more insidious horror of a parent fast approaching a psychological break. Sam is a very difficult child; Amelia is grief-stricken, sleep deprived, financially strapped, isolated, and emotionally unsupported — in a word, desperate. It’s not hard to imagine Amelia harming Sam, herself, or someone else in a rage or in a fugue state, with or without any malevolent supernatural influence.

Other horror films (perhaps most famously The Shining) also depict a stressed parent manipulated by otherworldly forces towards hurting his or her family, but I can’t think of one whose parent-off-the-deep-end is as convincing or sympathetic as Davis’s Amelia. Her vulnerability makes her moments of Babadook-fueled (or just unhinged?) violence that much more disturbing. As Sam, Wiseman is both frustrating and genuinely endearing, an impressive feat given his very young age.

Is the Babadook real, and has monster-fighter Sam been right all along? Or is it a delusion shared by mother and child? You’ll have to watch the movie and decide for yourself. And if it reaches its crowdfunding goals, Mister Babadook may soon be available as an actual pop-up book — eek!

share save 171 16 BA BA DOOK.

The post BA-BA-DOOK. appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on BA-BA-DOOK. as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Fanfare 2014 Notes

Da-da-da-daaaaaa! It’s here: the Fanfare special edition of Notes is arriving in subscribers’ inboxes right now.

We began with a long longlist, then fought it ou— er, cordially discussed the options until we whittled it down to twenty-nine favorites of 2014. With picture books, fiction, folklore, poetry, and nonfiction, there’s something — probably several things — for everyone.

Notes (and its occasional supplements Nonfiction Notes and Talks With Roger) will be back to regularly scheduled programming in January.

fanfare notes 14 Fanfare 2014 Notes

Read the issue online or subscribe to receive the monthly Notes from the Horn Book newsletter. For more recommended books plus author and illustrator interviews, check out the newsletter archives.

share save 171 16 Fanfare 2014 Notes

The post Fanfare 2014 Notes appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Fanfare 2014 Notes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Horn Book Fanfare 2014

fanfarebanner 2014 500x95 Horn Book Fanfare 2014

Although we didn’t plan it this way, this year’s Fanfare, the Horn Book’s list of the best books for children and teens published in 2014, has something for just about everyone. From a picture book about a bus driver to another about a haunted dog to a historical novel about Baba Yaga to a contemporary novel about an Omani boy to nonfiction about sharks, Romanovs and growing up black in America, the twenty-nine choices offer plenty of scope in genre, subject, age level, and mood. There, your holiday shopping list is DONE.

roger signature Horn Book Fanfare 2014

Roger Sutton
Editor in Chief


Picture Books

barnett samanddave Horn Book Fanfare 2014Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen; Candlewick
(Primary)

Sam and Dave dig a hole in hopes of finding something spectacular, but even though their dog notices the indeed-spectacular buried gems all around them, the boys pass obliviously by. Text and illustration are perfectly balanced; earthy tones work with understated wit to create a funny, smart, mind-blowingly open-ended work. Review 11/14.

barton my bus Horn Book Fanfare 2014My Bus
written and illustrated by Byron Barton; Greenwillow
(Preschool)

This companion to My Car (rev. 11/01) is pitched just as perfectly to its young audience. Along with a friendly bus driver, cat and dog passengers, and different vehicles (bus, boat, train, plane), Barton incorporates some math and counting concepts in this toddler joy-ride. Clear compositions, vibrant colors, and an engagingly simple text welcome listeners aboard. Review 3/14.

blackall baby tree Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Baby Tree
written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall; Paulsen/Penguin
(Preschool, Primary)

When a young boy asks various grownups where babies come from, he gets some confusing answers. Finally, Mom and Dad provide the boy — and young listeners — with an age-appropriate and reassuring explanation. Blackall’s fanciful illustrations bring the boy’s funny misinterpretations to life, and her graceful, respectful handling of “the facts” is about as good as it gets. Review 5/14.

colon draw Horn Book Fanfare 2014Draw!
written and illustrated by Raúl Colón; Wiseman/Simon
(Primary)

In this vividly imagined wordless story, a boy sits, confined to bed, with a book about Africa and lots of art supplies. As he sketches, he’s transported (along with sketchbook, easel, and pencils) to Africa — and adventure. Colón’s signature lush saturated colors and scratched-in textures depict a budding artist communing with his jungle-animal muses and reveal the power of art. Review 9/14.

dipucchio gaston Horn Book Fanfare 2014Gaston
written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson; Atheneum
(Preschool, Primary)

DiPucchio and Robinson play off the “one of these things is not like the other” trope in this lively tale of a rough-and-tumble bulldog in a refined poodle family. The story’s takeaway: it’s not your breed that makes you a family. Robinson’s illustrations are classic yet contemporary, bold and expressive; DiPucchio’s text begs to be read aloud. Review 5/14.

frazee farmer and the clown Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Farmer and the Clown
written and illustrated by Marla Frazee; Beach Lane/Simon
(Preschool, Primary)

What happens when a crotchety old farmer rescues a toddler clown who has fallen off a circus train? Rarely has posture been used so well in a picture book, here used to wordlessly portray the kindness of strangers thrown (literally!) together by happenstance but then changed forever. Review 11/14.

jeffers once upon an alphabet Horn Book Fanfare 2014Once Upon an Alphabet
written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; Philomel
(Primary, Intermediate)

Each letter gets a drily delivered four-page story in this intricately conceived picture book for advanced alphabet aficionados. Careful readers will spot connections between far-apart letters, often involving aspiring astronaut Edmund. Insouciant illustrations, in ink (with occasional digital spot colors added) on oversized pages, add to the abundant absurdity. Review 1/15.

morales VivaFrida 300x300 Horn Book Fanfare 2014Viva Frida
written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, with photos by Tim O’Meara; Porter/Roaring Brook
(Primary)

With the sparest of impressionistic texts in both Spanish and English (“busco / I search // Veo / I see… // Juego / I play”) and stunning digitally manipulated, three-dimensional art, Morales captures the essence of Frida Kahlo — and of an artist’s very soul. Ethereal, imagistic, and virtuosic. Review 9/14.

newgarden bow wows nightmare neighbors Horn Book Fanfare 2014Bow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors
written and illustrated by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash; Porter/Roaring Brook
(Preschool)

This wordless picture book with graphic novel–like paneling, brilliant colors, and a cinematic flair is supremely energetic, packed with movement, and populated by a cast of sassy (ghost) cats and one perplexed pup. Bow-Wow’s nightmare is surrealistic and goofy with a hint of the gothic, creating a multi-layered narrative that will have readers returning again and again. Review 9/14.


Fiction

curtis madman of piney woods Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Madman of Piney Woods
written by Christopher Paul Curtis; Scholastic
(Intermediate, Middle School)

An unlikely friendship develops, in Buxton, Ontario, 1901, between thirteen-year-old black Canadian boy Benji Alston and Irish Canadian boy Alvin “Red” Stockard. Both nature lovers, they encounter the (supposedly mythical) Madman of Piney Woods. Curtis’s poignant, often very funny companion to Elijah of Buxton (rev. 11/07) stands on its own, though familiarity with Elijah deepens emotional resonance. Review 9/14.

gantos key that swallowed joey pigza Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza
written by Jack Gantos; Farrar
(Intermediate)

He’s still wired, but Joey Pigza is growing up, assuming the role of “man of the house” and caring for his baby brother — solo — until his friend Olivia (the “meanest blind girl in the world”) shows up. “Crummy parents,” “roachy row house,” and expired meds notwithstanding, Joey soldiers on in his inimitable, imperfect way, in a series-ender that lets readers know this kid will be okay. Review 11/14.

lagercrantz my heart is laughing Horn Book Fanfare 2014My Heart Is Laughing
written by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall; Gecko
(Primary)

First-grader Dani (My Happy Life, rev. 7/13) is always happy…but not now: she misses her moved-away best friend Ella, and the class mean-girls are bullying her. The text is funny and full of fresh, convincing detail; profuse line drawings brilliantly capture emotions through facial expressions and body language. Sweet and salty — umami for the emerging reader. Review 11/14.

lockhart we were liars Horn Book Fanfare 2014We Were Liars
written by E. Lockhart; Delacorte
(High School)

This taut psychological mystery about a wealthy but broken family revolves around an unspecified accident that left eldest granddaughter Cadence with memory loss. Just as unforgettable as the book’s explosive ending is Lockhart’s unreliable narrator, Cady, whose arresting voice will stick with readers long after the shock wears off. Review 5/14.

maguire egg and spoon 170x242 Horn Book Fanfare 2014Egg & Spoon
written by Gregory Maguire; Candlewick
(Middle School)

Wealthy Ekaterina and destitute Elena accidentally exchange lives in 1907 Russia. In Maguire’s hands, what could have been a simple story of mistaken identity becomes a multilayered tale that draws from Russian folklore and features a wickedly funny Baba Yaga. Rich, consistently surprising prose propels readers through the complex but always intriguing story. Review 9/14.

martin reign rain Horn Book Fanfare 2014Rain Reign
written by Ann M. Martin; Feiwel
(Intermediate)

Rose (whose “official diagnosis is high-functioning autism”) loves homonyms, consistency, and her dog, Rain (“rein,” “reign”). When a superstorm upends Rose’s world, she must face many things that scare her — including losing Rain. Martin’s fully realized characters, and particularly Rose’s voice, make this an engaging read — or, as Rose would say, “read (reed).” Review 9/14.

nye turtle of oman Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Turtle of Oman
written by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Betsy Peterschmidt; Greenwillow
(Intermediate)

His family is packing up for a three-year stint in America, but Aref isn’t ready to leave his Oman home or his grandfather, Sidi. The bond between grandparent and child is a stalwart of children’s literature, and this novel quietly but surely evokes the classic theme against a sensuously rendered landscape that feels like home. Review 11/14.

preus west of the moon Horn Book Fanfare 2014West of the Moon
written by Margi Preus; Amulet/Abrams
(Intermediate, Middle School)

In nineteenth-century Norway, young teen Astri is determined to go to America, but first she must escape the brutish goat herder to whom her greedy relatives have sold her. Norwegian folklore and myth are seamlessly integrated into the lyrically narrated story, which features a protagonist as fearless as any fairy-tale hero. Review 5/14.

tamaki this one summer Horn Book Fanfare 2014
This One Summer

written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki; First Second/Roaring Brook
(Middle School, High School)

This graphic novel captures Rose’s summer on the cusp of adolescence, caught between her younger friend’s childish interests and the compelling (but confusing) adult world. Episodic vignettes, contextualizing flashbacks, and Rose’s own musings — all related in spare text and dynamically paced, indigo-hued illustrations — build to a poignant conclusion. Review 7/14.


Folklore

elya little roja riding hood Horn Book Fanfare 2014Little Roja Riding Hood
written by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Susan Guevara; Putnam
(Primary)

“There once was a niña who lived near the woods. / She liked to wear colorful capas with hoods.” This modern-day Little Red, along with her sassy-senior abuela, foils the wicked lobo“¡No problema!” Elya’s rhyming text, liberally sprinkled with Spanish words, never stumbles; Guevara’s sly illustrations wink at Western folklore and Hispanic culture. Review 7/14.


Poetry

janeczko firefly july2 Horn Book Fanfare 2014Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Candlewick
(Preschool, Primary)

Thirty-six brief, memorable, mostly familiar poems thoughtfully arranged into seasons meet their match in Sweet’s glorious gouache, watercolor, and mixed-media illustrations. As arresting as the poems themselves, the accompanying art is expansive yet intimate, rendered in luminous colors on oversized pages. Review 3/14.

nelson how i discovered poetry Horn Book Fanfare 2014How I Discovered Poetry
written by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper; Dial
(Middle School)

Unrhymed sonnets tell the story of Nelson’s 1950s youth, spent mostly on air force bases and in predominantly white communities. A culminating scene — in which she must read aloud a poem containing racist language — leads to a realization of the power of words. Black-and-white photographs and spare, blue-tinted illustrations allow readers space to visualize Nelson’s detailed imagery. Review 1/14.


Nonfiction

bang buried Horn Book Fanfare 2014Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth
written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illustrated by Molly Bang; Blue Sky/Scholastic
(Primary, Intermediate)

The latest book in this series about energy on Earth tackles the concept of fossil fuels. The text (narrated by the Sun) explains large ideas with clarity, while the sumptuous art illuminates both the science and the dire situation brought on by our rapid consumption of a resource millions of years in the making. A breathtaking wake-up call for young environmentalists. Review 9/14.

eldeafo Horn Book Fanfare 2014El Deafo
written and illustrated by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky; Amulet/Abrams
(Intermediate, Middle School)

Bell’s graphic memoir about growing up deaf, fictionalized only in that the people look like large-eared rabbits, depicts a childhood involving friendships, insecurities, and a “Phonic Ear” that lets her hear her teacher from anywhere in the school. Bell clearly demonstrates, through plenty of relatable humor, that “our differences are our superpowers.” Review 11/14.

bryant right word Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Eerdmans
(Primary)

This picture-book biography traces Peter Mark Roget’s journey from a lonely and solitary child, coping with loss through a compulsive keeping of lists, to the adult creator of the Thesaurus. Sweet’s visionary illustrations add layers of meaning to Bryant’s clear, linear text; gentle watercolors are embellished with all manner of realia and, appropriately, hundreds of words (the tour-de-force closing endpapers alone contain a stunning one thousand). Review 11/14.

dillon story of buildings Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond
written by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty; Candlewick
(Intermediate, Middle School)

Biesty’s talents have never been put to better use or subtler effect than in these endlessly perusable drawings of buildings from the past and present (complete with wow-factor fold-out pages). The fact that the book is a by-the-way history of humankind is a bonus. Review 7/14.

fleming romanov Horn Book Fanfare 2014The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
written by Candace Fleming; Schwartz & Wade/Random
(Middle School, High School)

This intimate portrait of Russia’s last imperial family seamlessly integrates telling details of the Romanovs’ daily lives with the sobering sociopolitical context of their reign, downfall, and eventual murders. Into this narrative, Fleming masterfully intersperses vignettes that illuminate Russian peasants’ experiences, resulting in a compelling and poignant narrative that humanizes the haves and the have-nots alike. Review 7/14.

powell josephine Horn Book Fanfare 2014Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
written by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson; Chronicle
(Intermediate, Middle School)

A dazzling book for a dazzling subject: Powell and Robinson depict, in words and pictures, the wit, the vivaciousness, the “razzmatazz,” of Josephine Baker. The text’s jazzy rhythm and the illustrations’ humor and theatricality allow Baker’s talent — along with her hustle, and her social consciousness — to shine. Review 5/14.

roy neigborhood sharks 170x217 Horn Book Fanfare 2014Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands
written and illustrated by Katherine Roy; Macaulay/Roaring Brook
(Primary, Intermediate)

Dramatic text and motion-filled illustrations in blues, grays, and blood-reds follow a great white shark as it hunts a seal off the coast of San Francisco. Along the way, sections organized by physical feature — accompanied by clear (and frequently witty) diagrams — explain the science of the great white’s predatory prowess. Informative, fascinating, and beautiful. Review 9/14.

woodson brown girl dreaming Horn Book Fanfare 2014Brown Girl Dreaming
written by Jacqueline Woodson; Paulsen/Penguin
(Intermediate, Middle School)

In Woodson’s eloquent, steeped-in-American-history verse memoir, we watch her childhood unfolding within the larger world (amidst the burgeoning civil rights movement; the deep South and urban Brooklyn) and her own particular one (of family, friends, and neighborhood). Most compelling, perhaps, is her development as a nascent writer, poised to make her mark: “My name is Jacqueline Woodson / and I am ready for the ride.” Review 9/14.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For previous years’ Fanfare lists, click on the tag Fanfare list.

share save 171 16 Horn Book Fanfare 2014

The post Horn Book Fanfare 2014 appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Horn Book Fanfare 2014 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Last call for Selfie Sweepstakes

selfiesubs Last call for Selfie SweepstakesA reminder that the due date for entries in the Selfie Sweepstakes is December 15, next Monday. Those who predicted I would be swamped with entries were wrong; right now there are about a dozen submissions. If the next week does not bring a deluge, I’ll be able to comment on each of the submissions here on the blog in the coming month. I have no idea if I will find a winner.

I think the relatively few submissions tell us something valuable about the intersection between old media and self-publishing. While it is true that some commenters said they wouldn’t submit because they thought the contest was rigged and obnoxious, more complained about the requirement of a 2015 publication date. They explained that self-published books don’t work on the same calendar as trade books do; that when a book is ready to go, it goes. Others insisted that the publication date was immaterial because good books are timeless, etc. But book reviewing is part of the news business, not simply artful critiques of whatever books we feel like writing about. I also worry that the lack of a pub date can mean a lack of other things as well–a distribution plan, for example. If the only way a book can be ordered is to mail a check to the author’s house, then it is too difficult for a library to order. To the self-publishers who complain that Baker and Taylor does not want their business, I ask, sincerely: why?

Someone recently pointed out in a comment on my original rant that it is unfair to characterize self-published children’s books as “mostly pretty terrible” when trade publishers routinely publish plenty of crap. Yes, they do. But the difference is that the trade publisher believes that any book they publish will have an audience. A self publisher is more inclined to believe that any book they publish should have an audience, which is a very different situation indeed.

See you all next week, and good luck!

share save 171 16 Last call for Selfie Sweepstakes

The post Last call for Selfie Sweepstakes appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Last call for Selfie Sweepstakes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Books mentioned in the December 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Picture books
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen, Candlewick, 5–8 years.
My Bus written and illus. by Byron Barton, Greenwillow, 2–4 years.
The Baby Tree written and illus. by Sophie Blackall, Penguin/Paulsen, 3–7 years.
Draw! written and illus. by Raúl Colón, Simon/Wiseman, 5–8 years.
Gaston written by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson, Atheneum, 3–7 years.
The Farmer and the Clown written and illus. by Marla Frazee, Simon/Beach Lane, 3–7 years.
Once Upon an Alphabet  written and illus. by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel, 6–9 years.
Viva Frida written and illus. by Yuyi Morales, with photos by Tim O’Meara, Roaring Brook/Porter, 5–8 years.
Bow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors written and illus. by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, Roaring Brook/Porter, 2–4 years.

Fiction
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis, Scholastic, 9–13 years.
The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos, Farrar, 8–11 years.
My Heart Is Laughing written by Rose Lagercrantz, illus. by Eva Eriksson, translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall, Gecko, 5–8 years.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Delacorte, 13 years and up.
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, Candlewick, 12–14 years.
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, Feiwel, 8–11 years.
The Turtle of Oman written by Naomi Shihab Nye, illus. by Betsy Peterschmidt, Greenwillow, 8–11 years.
West of the Moon by Margi Preus, Abrams/Amulet, 9–13 years.
This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Jillian Tamaki, Roaring Brook/First Second, 12–16 years.

Folklore
Little Roja Riding Hood written by Susan Middleton Elya, illus. by Susan Guevara, Putnam, 5–8 years.

Poetry
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illus. by Melissa Sweet, Candlewick, 3–7 years.
How I Discovered Poetry written by Marilyn Nelson, illus. by Hadley Hooper, Dial, 12–14 years.

Nonfiction
Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illus. by Molly Bang, Scholastic/Blue Sky, 8–11 years.
El Deafo written and illus. by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky, Abrams/Amulet, 9–13 years.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant, illus. by Melissa Sweet, Eerdmans, 5–8 years.
The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond written by Patrick Dillon, illus. by Stephen Biesty, Candlewick, 12–14 years.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, Random/Schwartz & Wade, 12–16 years.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker written by Patricia Hruby Powell, illus. by Christian Robinson, Chronicle, 9–13 years.
Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands written and illus. by Katherine Roy, Roaring Brook/Macaulay, 8–11 years.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Penguin/Paulsen, 9–13 years.

These titles were featured in the December 2014 special Fanfare issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

share save 171 16 Books mentioned in the December 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

The post Books mentioned in the December 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Books mentioned in the December 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold

sidman winter bees 300x259 Winter Bees and Other Poems of the ColdBaby, it’s cold outside. Time to look at this very wintry book.

Taking it from the top…

We notice the arresting cover: the leaping fox; the contrast between the fox’s red coat /dark paws and the white, snowy background; the overlay of snow in the air.

Open the book to see endpapers the color of a winter twilight.

Right off the bat there’s an attempt to involve the audience, visually: that fox on the cover (what is it about to pounce on, we wonder); the moose looking straight at us from out of the title page; even the vole on the front flap seems to be looking at us. (I imagine this was a calculated decision, given the nature of the subject: winter being the least active season of the year. All this pulls the audience in before the majestic double-page spreads begin.)

Immediately we notice the sense of texture on the page; the overlay of falling or swirling or even just imminent snow. You can almost breathe this book; you can feel the frozen air in your lungs. There’s a lot of accomplishment on evidence in this book, but the palpable air in this book may be its most remarkable quality.

Then we are presented with one double-page spread after another of majestically composed winter scenes featuring a range of animals, large and small. We notice the care taken to present scenes from an animal’s-eye view, the arresting perspectives, the palette that somehow communicates the sense of cold and yet uses warm colors in spots — and sometimes more than that. Particularly the orange-red of the fox, the bees’ hive, the beavers’ lodge, the chickadees’ breasts. (The cover -and title-page type presages this constant contrast between cold and warm, with the word winter in a chilly blue-purple and the word bees in that orange-red.)

My favorite two spreads in the book, however, feature no animals at all. (I will not be able to be eloquent enough about them, so be sure to take a look for yourself.) A closeup of a single branch opens the book (coming directly after the title page and before the table of contents). On the left hand page, we see the branch as it would look in autumn; as our eye travels toward the right, that same branch gradually morphs into what it would look like in winter. At book’s close (just before the final glossary page), the left-hand page shows the branch in winter, and now as our eyes move to the right, the branch morphs into spring, with the snow disappearing and small buds beginning to appear. And on the tip of the branch? Green. A bud just flowering into leaf. Taken together, those two spreads are the most elegant depiction of the changing seasons I think I’ve ever seen.

About his process for creating the illustrations for Winter Bees, Rick Allen writes (on the copyright page): “The images for this book were made through the unlikely marriage of some very old and almost new art mediums. The individual elements of each picture (the animals, trees, snowflakes, etc.) were cut, inked, and printed from linoleum blocks (nearly two hundred of them), and then hand-colored. Those prints were then digitally scanned, composed, and layered to create the illustrations for the poems. The somewhat surprising (and oddly pleasing) result was learning that the slow and backwards art of relief printmaking could bring modern technology down to its level, making everything even more complex and time-consuming.”

Does this matter? Would a knowledge of the laboriousness and complexity of the artist’s process influence the Caldecott committee? Is the committee even allowed to take such information into consideration? or must they ignore it and simply consider the finished product?

Your thoughts are welcome.

 

 

share save 171 16 Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold

The post Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Liniers on What There Is Before There Is Anything There

liniers what there is before there is anything there Liniers on What There Is Before There Is Anything ThereIn the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, editor Martha Parravano asked Argentinian cartoonist Liniers about the inspiration for his “deeply unsettling” but “bravely existential” new picture book, What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story. Read the full review here.

Martha V. Parravano: What made you decide to make such a realistic — and thus dark — picture book on this topic for children?

Liniers: I don’t like children’s books that treat them as tiny ignorant human beings. 
They are smart, and as Mr. Sendak used to say, you can “tell them anything you want.” 
I remember enjoying being scared by movies and books when I was a child. Witches and vampires! Also, the story I decided to tell actually used to happen to me. I must have been three or four because I have a very vague memory of this. When my parents would turn out the lights I thought the ceiling disappeared, and I recall imagining — almost seeing — a tiger coming down in a spiral downfall. A very weird kid I was. Or not.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

share save 171 16 Liniers on What There Is Before There Is Anything There

The post Liniers on What There Is Before There Is Anything There appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Liniers on What There Is Before There Is Anything There as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Review of What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story

liniers what there is before there is anything there Review of What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary StoryWhat There Is Before There Is Anything There:
A Scary Story

by Liniers; illus. by the author; trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado
Primary    Groundwood    24 pp.
9/14    978-1-55498-385-8    $18.95

Argentinian cartoonist Liniers’s (The Big Wet Balloon, rev. 9/13) bravely existential picture book eschews cute monsters in closets to capture the true reality of night terrors — the relentless, all-consuming, staring-into-the-void kind. “It’s the same every night”: a small boy’s parents tuck him into bed and turn off the light, and then “where there was a ceiling, now there is nothing…Now there’s only a black hole…black and infinite.” Down from that blackness floats a succession of bizarre creatures who perch at the bottom of the boy’s bed and stare at him. Finally — as happens every night the ceiling disappears — comes something dark and shapeless, “blacker than blackest darkness,” announcing, “I am what there is before there is anything there.” At this point the terrified boy hightails it to his parents’ room; they groan, “Not again,” but allow him to get into bed with them. A more conventional picture book would end here, but Liniers provides a more realistic if deeply unsettling conclusion: as the boy lies safely between his sleeping parents, another creature floats down from the ceiling. This is a scary story indeed — and the crosshatched ink and wash illustrations are as unflinching as the text, effectively interweaving the banal with the nightmarish — but for those kids who suffer through similar tortured bedtimes, it may provide validation. And though there is no happy ending, some young readers may find comfort in the mother’s reassurance — “It’s just your imagination…It’s good to be able to make things up” — suggesting they may grow up, like Liniers, to use their imaginative powers for good.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story

The post Review of What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Week in Review, December 1st-5th

banner weekinreview 550x100 Week in Review, December 1st 5th

This week on hbook.com…

Horn Book Fanfare, our choices for the best books of 2014

Starred reviews coming in the January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine

January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine preview

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger:

Out of the Box:

Calling Caldecott:

Events calendar

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!

share save 171 16 Week in Review, December 1st 5th

The post Week in Review, December 1st-5th appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Week in Review, December 1st-5th as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Special delivery

We just received this lovely advent calendar — “Christmas in the Square” by Eve Tharlet — in the mail from publisher NorthSouth. What a nice surprise (and a good way to combat my case of the bah-humbugs). Thank you, NorthSouth!

northsouth advent calendar Special delivery

share save 171 16 Special delivery

The post Special delivery appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Special delivery as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. The Human Body app review

Last week’s edition of Nonfiction Notes offered several recommended books about medicine and the human body (plus books on social change, how things work, indigenous cultures, and geography/cartography). Another resource, TinyBop’s The Human Body app, introduces the human body and its systems through exploratory play.

Begin by selecting from four child avatars. The app’s main page then shows your avatar in silhouette; a pull-out toolbar along the left side offers icon representing the body’s systems: nervous, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and muscular. Tap on a single icon to see an individual system in place in the child’s body, or select multiple icons to see systems working in tandem. Clear diagrams and sound-effect-enhanced animations present the systems in an approachable (often humorous) way.

 The Human Body app review

the nervous, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems

Tapping a system icon brings up several sub-icons (e.g., the nervous system menu offers brain, eye, nose, and ear options), allowing you to zoom in on its specific features. Select the brain icon to see its structure in more detail, then tap on the labeled lobes to see representations of their functions (for example, tapping on the cerebral cortex prompts a math equation to pop up). Move a slider bar to view the surfaces of systems’ organs, their cross-sections, or a combination of the two.

 The Human Body app review

the brain’s surface (left) and cross-section (right), with the cerebral cortex highlighted

The app also models cause and effect in relation to body systems. Tap an icon of legs at the bottom right and the child avatar goes from standing to a run, illustrating various organs’ response to exertion. “Tickle” the child with a feather to see neurological pathways in action, “feed” him or her a variety of foods to witness digestion (including burps and farts), play sounds and watch how the ear drum vibrates, or use the device’s camera function to simulate vision — and those are just a few of the many interactive opportunities to try.

 The Human Body app review

the digestive system — and a selection of foods to “digest”

Since the app is available in a huge range of languages, body part labels are the only text — download the free accompanying Human Body Handbook PDF for information about the systems of the body as well as tips for using the app. A settings icon in the sidebar allows you to turn labels and sound effects on/off and to change the language.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $2.99. Immune system and urogenital system add-ons must be purchased individually ($0.99 each).

share save 171 16 The Human Body app review

The post The Human Body app review appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on The Human Body app review as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. We’re golden

CC books 2014 300x300 Were goldenI think we would all agree that last year was a remarkable year for picture books. And that last year was SO spectacular, SO impressive, that this year might have felt a little…flat. I’ve even caught myself feeling kind of bad for the current Caldecott committee — 2013 would be a tough act to follow.

But this week, here at The Horn Book, we finalized our Fanfare list, our choices for the best books of 2014, and it was really hard to narrow down the picture book choices. Narrow we did, though, and yet: of the 29 books on the list, fully 15 — more than half — are picture books, from story books to folklore to poetry to biography to science.

Also this week, I saw the Huffington Post’s Best Picture Books of 2014 list, which Minh Le prefaced thusly:

“After the last fantastic year in picture books, it was hard to imagine 2014 reaching the same heights. And indeed, my initial impression was that this year’s offerings fell short of 2013′s stellar crop. However, as I sifted and sorted through the piles of books to put this end-of-the-year post together, the list of quality books kept growing. By the end, I was as convinced as ever that we are living in a new golden age of picture books.”

Are we convinced? I am. True, this year has fewer picture books that just scream out for Caldecott recognition (although these do exist! “Fewer” doesn’t mean “none”). But there’s a remarkable breadth and depth this year, a host of quieter treasures that deserve appreciation and admiration.

So, yes, I’m convinced. And encouraged and pleased — on behalf of the field, on behalf of the art form that is the picture book, and on behalf of the kids who are the beneficiaries of all this wealth. And also on behalf of this year’s Caldecott committee, who will have no lack of great books on the table come Midwinter.

But what about you? How do you see this year’s crop of picture books versus last year’s?

 

share save 171 16 Were golden

The post We’re golden appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on We’re golden as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Preview January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine

jan15cover 200x300 Preview January/February 2015 Horn Book MagazineHorn Book Fanfare: Our choices for the best books of 2014.

Coverage of the 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards: judges’ remarks, speeches, photos.

A Second Look: Barbara Bader examines The Planet of Junior Brown.

Elissa Gershowitz on “What Makes a Good Award Acceptance Speech?” The Horn Book‘s (unsolicited) advice.

Audrey M. Quinlan asks, “What Makes a Good Math Storybook?”

From The Guide: Math Picture Books.

 

share save 171 16 Preview January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine

The post Preview January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Preview January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Starred reviews, January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine

SissonSagan Starred reviews, January/February 2015 Horn Book MagazineThe following books will receive starred reviews in the January/February 2015 issue of the Horn Book Magazine. Coming this Wednesday: Fanfare, our choices for the best books of 2014.

Once Upon an Alphabet; written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich; written and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach (Knopf)

Supertruck; written and illustrated by Stephen Savage (Roaring Brook)

The War That Saved My Life; by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley  (Dial)

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny; written and illustrated  by John Himmelman (Holt)

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future; by A. S. King (Little, Brown)

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos; written and illustrated by  Stephanie Roth Sisson (Roaring Brook)

share save 171 16 Starred reviews, January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine

The post Starred reviews, January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Starred reviews, January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Review of Gracefully Grayson

polonsky gracefully grayson Review of Gracefully GraysonGracefully Grayson
by Ami Polonsky
Intermediate, Middle School    Hyperion    247 pp.
11/14    978-1-4231-8527-7    $16.99

Grayson, a sixth grader at Porter Middle School, passes the time doodling and daydreaming about what it would be like to go through life as a girl, despite being seen by everyone else as male. Struggling with the total isolation that comes with harboring a secret, Grayson keeps people at a distance until Amelia moves to town. The two develop a friendship that awakens Grayson’s need for companionship and acceptance. When that friendship falls apart, Grayson tries out for (and lands) the female lead in the school play as a means of testing out a female persona. Facing abuse and derision from classmates and resistance from members of her adoptive family (both birth parents were killed years before), Grayson fights for the right to present her truest self to the people around her — both on and off the stage. Luckily, an invested teacher and several open-minded cast mates offer understanding and support as Grayson begins to sort out the complexities of her own identity. Polonsky captures the loneliness of a child resigned to disappear rather than be rejected, and then the courageous risk that child eventually takes to be seen for who she is. The first-person narration successfully positions readers to experience Grayson’s confusion, fear, pain, and triumphs as they happen, lending an immediate and intimate feel to the narrative.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of Gracefully Grayson

The post Review of Gracefully Grayson appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Gracefully Grayson as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Read like the Obamas

Over the weekend, the Obamas did some shopping at the DC indie bookstore Politics and Prose to support Small Business Saturday. Here’s what they bought. And here’s what The Horn Book thought of their selections when they were originally published. Reviews are from The Horn Book Guide Online and The Horn Book Magazine.

cronin barnyardcollection Read like the ObamasCronin, Doreen A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More
120 pp. Atheneum (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) 2010. ISBN 978-1-4424-1263-7

(3) K–3 Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. This volume commemorates the tenth anniversary of the publication of modern classic Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. In addition to that story, this compendium includes Giggle, Giggle, Quack (2002) and Dooby Dooby Moo (2006), both starring the same crafty critters as in Click. A removable sticker sheet is appended.

jacques redwall Read like the ObamasJacques, Brian Redwall
351 pp. Philomel 1987. ISBN 0-399-21424-0

(2) 4–6 Illustrated by Gary Chalk. The decline in the American taste for blockbuster fantasies, no matter how good, seems to have discouraged American authors. Such lengthy but acclaimed works as Watership Down (Macmillan) or Hounds of the Morrigan (Holiday) are by British authors; American authors tend to break up long works into volumes — Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, for example. We have in Redwall another long, beautifully written, exciting British fantasy. The hero is the mouse Matthias, a novice in the handsome Redwall Abbey, a haven of bounty, kindliness, and peace. The inhabitants of the Abbey are noted for their charity toward all their neighbors of Mossflower Woods. But the tranquil life of Redwall Abbey and the surrounding countryside is threatened by the advent of Cluny the Scourge, a rat of insane ferocity, and his horde of villainous fighters. Cluny has never been defeated and expects no trouble from Redwall. But Matthias, emboldened by his admiration for the legendary Martin, a notable warrior hero, mobilizes the defense of Redwall. Matthias also begins the search for Martin’s burial place and weapons, which he instinctively feels are the key to defeating Cluny. Matthias’s adventures alternate with Cluny’s, as the attacks on Redwall are fended off and the battle intensifies. The scenes of combat are quite fascinating, with the strategy and counter strategy cleverly and clearly worked out. The book offers an immense cast of distinctive characters, including the redoubtable Constance the badger, extremely strong and utterly fearless; Basil Stag Hare, a satirical replica of the regimental British officer; the sparrows, notably Warbeak, who speak a butter language reminiscent of that of the seagulls in Watership Down; and Abbot Mortimer, the epitome of goodness and gentleness. The flaw in the book, if there is one, is that the lines drawn between good and evil are never ambiguous, not allowing for that shiver of doubt and wonder about the outcome. But the book is splendid, with a delightful hero and a smooth, charming style.

jacques mossflower Read like the ObamasJacques, Brian and Chalk, Gary Mossflower [Book 2]
431 pp. Philomel 1988. ISBN 0-399-21741-X

(2) 4–6 series. Illustrated by Gary Chalk. In Mossflower, the prequel to Redwall (Philomel), we are introduced to the mouse, Martin the Warrior, the role model for Matthias in the later novel. Martin has come upon the Mossflower community just as their oppression by the evil wildcat, Tsarmina, has become too much to bear. As an experienced fighter, he takes control of the defense of the animals who live in Mossflower, aided by his new friends, Gonff, the Prince of Mousethieves; the strong, brave badger, Bella; the squirrel archers, led by Lady Amber; and the industrious moles; clever otters; and other small woodland creatures. Their chances against Tsarmina and her hordes appear small, but the woodlanders brace themselves to learn military ways and win several minor skirmishes; they even rescue some of their unfortunate comrades from the dungeons of Tsarmina’s stronghold. Martin realizes that further help is needed, and he undertakes a perilous journey to the fabled Salamandastron, in company with Gonff and other friends, to enlist the aid of Lord Boar the badger. The help is forthcoming, although not in the way that Martin expects, and Tsarmina is finally overthrown. The story is very long and contains what seems like a cast of thousands. The characterizatino is remarkably individual, sometimes funny and often even satirical, with many notable characters. There is, however, extended use of dialect, at times hard to follow; the moles make such remarks as “‘Goo boil yurr’eads, sloibeasts.’” The nonstop action suffers from too frequent transitions from one site of battle or intrigue to another. There is much talk of the delectable-sounding food — candied chestnuts, honeyed toffee pears, maple tree cordial — which, with the emphasis on cozy homes and devoted families, is reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows. Although lengthy and quite British, the book will provide excitement, fascinating characters, and an ultimately satisfactory conclusion.

jacques mattimeo Read like the ObamasJacques, Brian and Chalk, Gary Mattimeo [Book 3]
446 pp. Philomel 1990. ISBN 0-399-21741-X

(4) 4–6 series. Illustrated by Gary Chalk. The final volume of the Redwall trilogy is a reprise of the other two books. Cruel villains, indomitable heroes, hearty adventures, and endless cozy talk of food do not quite compensate for the fact that it is far too long. For Redwall enthusiasts only.

park juniebbus Read like the ObamasPark, Barbara and Brunkus, Denise Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus [Book 1]
70 pp. Random (Random House Children’s Books) 1992.
Library binding ISBN 0-679-82642-4
Paperback ISBN 0-679-92642-9

(4) 1–3 First Stepping Stone series. Junie B. Jones is a likable character whose comic mishaps on her first day of school will elicit laughs from young readers. But the first-person narration by a kindergartner quickly becomes tedious, and the net result is more annoying than amusing.

park juniebmonkey Read like the ObamasPark, Barbara and Brunkus, Denise Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business [Book 2]
46 pp. Random (Random House Children’s Books) 1993. LE ISBN 0-679-83886-4 PE ISBN 0-679-93886-9

(4) 1–3 First Stepping Stone series. Junie brags at school that her new brother is a ‘real, alive baby monkey.’ The principal uses her misunderstanding to talk with Junie’s first-grade class about expressions that are not to be taken literally. The cutesy tone makes Junie sound babyish and bratty but is finally dropped for a satisfying ending.

perkins nuts to you Read like the Obamasstar2 Read like the Obamas Perkins, Lynne Rae Nuts to You
260 pp. Greenwillow 2014. ISBN 978-0-06-009275-7

(1) 4–6 Jed the squirrel’s odyssey begins dramatically when he is captured by a hawk and carried far away from his community. Using an “ancient squirrel defensive martial art,” he escapes and so begins his journey home. Meanwhile, his two best friends Chai and TsTs set off to find him. In the course of these two (eventually converging) adventures, our heroes meet some helpful hillbillyish red squirrels, a threatening owl, a hungry bobcat, and a group of humans who are cutting brush and trees for power-line clearance, thus threatening the squirrels’ habitat. The three make it safely home only to face their biggest challenge: convincing their conservative community to relocate before the humans destroy their homes. Part satire, part environmental fable, and all playful, energetic hilarity, this story takes us deep into squirrel culture: their names (“‘Brk’ is pronounced just as it’s spelled, except the r is rolled. It means ‘moustache’ in Croatian but in squirrel, it’s just a name”); their games (Splatwhistle); and their wisdom (“Live for the moment…but bury a lot of nuts”). Perkins uses language like the best toy ever. The storm “howled and pelted, whirled and whined; it spit and sprayed and showered. Its winds were fierce. Its wetness was  inescapable.” The book begs to be read aloud, except that you’d miss the wacky digressions, the goofy footnotes, and the black-and-white illustrations with their built-in micro-plots.

rundell cartwheeling Read like the ObamasRundell, Katherine Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms
248 pp. Simon 2014. ISBN 978-1-4424-9061-1 $16.99

(2) 4–6 Will (short for Wilhelmina), the only daughter of William Silver, white foreman of the Two Tree Hill Farm in Zimbabwe, leads a “wildcat” life with her Shona best friend Simon, filled with good rich mud, lemons pulled from the tree with her teeth, harebrained stunts on horseback, and baby hyraxes in the barn. This idyll ends abruptly and tragically with her father’s death from malaria. The farm’s European owner, gentle Captain Browne, becomes Will’s guardian, but the captain has recently married the scheming Miss Vincy, whose ambition is to sell the farm and ship Will off to boarding school in England. This she does despite Will’s concerted opposition. Will’s arrival at school is a bumpy one — the other girls at Leewood insist she’s a “stinking savage” and a “filthy tramp” — and their continual harassment causes Will to finally run away. The protagonist’s passionate engagement with the world around her, her high moral standards (but not moralism), and her unconquerable search for joy will win readers to her side from the start, while Rundell’s finely drawn etchings of the people in Will’s sphere and rich descriptions of African colonial farm life sprawl across the page in sensual largesse. Only when Will has been reduced to almost complete destitution does Rundell allow a glimmer of hope into her life, but the ending, with its promise of relief from loneliness and despair, is that much sweeter for the wait.

woodson brown girl dreaming 170x258 Read like the Obamasstar2 Read like the Obamas Woodson, Jacqueline Brown Girl Dreaming
328 pp. Paulsen/Penguin 2014. ISBN 978-0-399-25251-8 (g)

(1) 4–6 Here is a memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. It starts out somewhat slowly, with Woodson relying on others’ memories to relate her (1963) birth and infancy in Ohio, but that just serves to underscore the vividness of the material once she begins to share her own memories; once her family arrives in Greenville, South Carolina, where they live with her maternal grandparents. Woodson describes a South where the whites-only signs may have been removed but where her grandmother still can’t get waited on in Woolworth’s, where young people are sitting at lunch counters and standing up for civil rights; and Woodson expertly weaves that history into her own. However, we see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also — and equally — in the context of extended family, community (Greenville and, later, Brooklyn), and religion (she was raised Jehovah’s Witness). Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that “words are [her] brilliance.” The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery: “So the first time my mother goes to New York City / we don’t know to be sad, the weight / of our grandparents’ love like a blanket / with us beneath it, / safe and warm.” An extraordinary — indeed brilliant — portrait of a writer as a young girl.

share save 171 16 Read like the Obamas

The post Read like the Obamas appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Read like the Obamas as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Review of The Right Word

bryant right word Review of The Right Wordstar2 Review of The Right WordThe Right Word:
Roget and His Thesaurus

by Jen Bryant; illus. by Melissa Sweet
Primary    Eerdmans    48 pp.
9/14    978-0-8028-5385-1    $17.50

Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. A solitary, though not unhappy, child, Roget spends his time keeping lists and ordering the natural and cultural wonders he finds in abundance. He studies to become a doctor, teaches, joins academic societies, raises a family, and continues to capture and classify the universe, eventually publishing his Thesaurus, a catalog of concepts ordered by ideas, in 1852. Bryant’s linear telling follows Peter closely, expressing his curiosity, sensitivity, and populist spirit in language that is both decorous and warm. Clever book design and visionary illustration add layers of meaning, as images come together in careful sequence. On the cover a cacophony of iconographic ideas explodes from the pages of a book. The opening endpapers arrange these same concepts in a vertical collage that recalls spines on a bookshelf. The title spread features the letters of the alphabet as stacked blocks, as a child manages them, and from there the pages grow in complexity, as Roget himself grows up. Sweet embellishes her own gentle watercolors with all manner of clippings and realia, corralling the pictures into order according to concept, number, or color. A timeline and detailed author and illustrator notes follow the narrative, with suggested additional resources and a facsimile page of Roget’s first, handwritten book of lists. And the closing endpapers, with the comprehensive classification scheme of the first thesaurus, fully realize the opening organizational promise.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of The Right Word

The post Review of The Right Word appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Right Word as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Fanfare!

The Horn Book Magazine‘s choices for the best books of 2014. Sign up now to receive  the fully annotated list in next week’s issue of Notes from the Horn Book:

Picture books:

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)

My Bus written and illustrated by Byron Barton (Greenwillow)

The Baby Tree written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Paulsen/Penguin)

Draw! written and illustrated by Raúl Colón (Wiseman/Simon)

Gaston written by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

The Farmer and the Clown written and illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane/Simon)

Once Upon an Alphabet  written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Viva Frida written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, with photos by Tim O’Meara (Porter/Roaring Brook)

Bow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors written and illustrated by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash (Porter/Roaring Brook)

 

Fiction:

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic)

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos (Farrar)

My Heart Is Laughing written by Rose Lagercrantz; illustrated by Eva Eriksson; translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)

Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire (Candlewick)

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel)

The Turtle of Oman written by Naomi Shihab Nye; illustrated by Betsy Peterschmidt (Greenwillow)

West of the Moon by Margi Preus (Amulet/Abrams)

This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki; illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (First Second/Roaring Brook)

 

Folklore:

Little Roja Riding Hood written by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Susan Guevara (Putnam)

 

Poetry:

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Candlewick)

How I Discovered Poetry written by Marilyn Nelson; illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Dial)

 

Nonfiction:

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm; illustrated by Molly Bang (Blue Sky/Scholastic)

El Deafo written and illustrated by Cece Bell; color by David Lasky (Amulet/Abrams)

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant; illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans)

The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond written by Patrick Dillon; illustrated by Stephen Biesty (Candlewick)

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random)

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker written by Patricia Hruby Powell; illustrated by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands written and illustrated by Katherine Roy (Macaulay/Roaring Brook)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Paulsen/Penguin)

 

share save 171 16 Fanfare!

The post Fanfare! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Fanfare! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Kitten envy

echo Kitten envy

With new friend Echo. Do I have to give her back?

It seems as though all of my friends have new kittens and want to torture me by constantly posting pictures, resulting in a serious case of kitten envy. For various reasons (#1 being my neurotic adult cat), introducing a kitten to my life is not the best plan at the moment, so I’m contenting myself — for now — with a few kitty-centric books.

On the cute-overload side…

marciuliano i knead my mommy Kitten envyI Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens by Francesco Marciuliano (Chronicle, August 2014)
The latest in Marciuliano’s series of pet-perspective poetry books (I Could Chew on This, I Could Pee on This) features a kitten’s-eye view of the world. Although the brief poems admittedly aren’t great literature, they are frequently funny or touching; one of my favorites is “Not Goodbye”:

I still smell the older cat
On his favorite chair
On his favorite blanket
On his favorite toy
On me
I still smell the older cat
But I can’t find him anywhere
And now his dish is gone
And now his bed is gone
And now you are crying
But I still smell the older cat
So tomorrow I will look again

The poems are accompanied by many super-cute (stock) photos of kittens in all their fuzzy, bobble-headed glory. A good gift book for the crazy cat person on your list.

cinotto itty bitty kitty committee Kitten envyThe Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: The Ultimate Guide to All Things Kitten by Laurie Cinotto (Roaring Brook, March 2014)
Part photo album, part how-to book, this paperback inspired by “kitten wrangler” Cinotto’s blog of the same name introduces several dozen of her previous foster cats as well as basic kitten care and the responsibilities kitten-fostering entails. Instructions for DIY kitten accoutrements, an advice column “written by” adult cat Charlene, comics created with photos and speech bubbles, kid-oriented tips on keeping kittens happy and healthy, and suggestions for helping shelter cats round out this offering. The kitty pics are definitely the main attraction, though; just try not to squee at this one.

 

On the bizarre-but-kinda-awesome end of the spectrum…

kelly Downton Tabby Kitten envyDownton Tabby: A Parody by Chris Kelly (Simon & Schuster, December 2013)
Cats make a weirdly appropriate (re)cast for the Edwardian-era BBC drama about an entitled family and their servants: “A Code of Conduct for Cats and Gentlefolk” offers advice such as “Never do anything for yourself that someone else can do for you,” “Communicate disapproval [and affection] with a withering glare,” and “Loaf in a decorative and highly charming manner.” This is a strange and not entirely successful little volume, but the well-dressed hairless cat as the acerbic “Dowager Catness” is pretty spot-on. (Another gem: a diagram of a formal place setting indicating the “mouse fork,” “vole fork,” etc.)

herbert pre raphaelite cats Kitten envyPre-Raphaelite Cats by Susan Herbert (Thames & Hudson, May 2014)

Possibly even stranger (/cooler) is this collection of cat-ified Pre-Raphaelite portraits. Thirty works by Pre-Raphaelite founders Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais and their followers are reimagined with a variety of anthropomorphized kitty subjects. Some highlights: homages to Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, John William Waterhouse’s Ophelia, and Edward Burne-Jones‘s The Golden Stairs. Each painting on the recto is accompanied by a few lines of contextual information or a short quotation on the verso; about half the versos include spot line-art of the featured felines. Black-and-white thumbnail reproductions of the original art are appended.

share save 171 16 Kitten envy

The post Kitten envy appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Kitten envy as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts