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

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 1,917
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: 150
1. Week in Review, November 23rd-27th

Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

November’s Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book: world religions, natural history, medicine and diseases, space and space exploration, food and cooking

Love for Christopher Myers’s 2013 article “Young Dreamers.”

Reviews of the Week:

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!

The post Week in Review, November 23rd-27th appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Week in Review, November 23rd-27th as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Mock Caldecott Catch-up, part 1

In a recent post we asked for your local school and library Mock Caldecott lists, and several titles came up that we wanted to add to the Calling Caldecott conversation. Two of these are the subjects for today: Big Bear little chair by Lizi Boyd and The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House by Ida Pearle.

big bearBoyd’s Big Bear little chair was named a NYT Best Illustrated book this year, along with others we’re discussing this fall (A Fine Dessert; The Skunk; Tricky Vic; Leo; Funny Bones). Here’s what the NYT said about Big Bear little chair: “This ingenious take on the ‘opposites’ book shows the youngest children that big, little and tiny are all in how you look at things. Using just black, white and a velvety gray, with a bit of red, Boyd’s delightful cut paper compositions juxtapose the large and the small in unexpected ways: a ‘big meadow’ is big because it’s full of small flowers; a ‘big seal’ towers over a ‘tiny castle’ that’s made of sand.”

It is an opposites book, but it also encompasses the concept of relative size (big, little, and tiny). So it’s clever-clever. And as you can see from the cover, it has a striking shape and an equally striking palette (red, black, white, and gray) with the promise of strong, eye-catching compositions. Each individual page is striking. The art is stylish; so is the book design. The juxtapositions (of large and small) are indeed unexpected. The gouache illustrations are sometimes delicate; sometimes bold; always beautifully composed. It’s easy to see why the judges chose this book for the best illustrated list.

But who is the intended audience? The interspersed bears’ story (in which two bears eventually get matched up with her appropriate chair —and with each other) is clearly for very young readers, but the “opposites” in the intervening pages are sometimes quite sophisticated in concept. See Big Elephant/little trick. “Trick”? That’s an idea, not an object — different from and more advanced than most of the other pairs (Big Moon/little star; etc.). Visually, the use of red is inconsistent. Red almost always spotlights the “little” item on each page, but not always. Crucially, it isn’t used for the first example, where we see a “Big Plant” and a “little cocoon.” On this page the red highlights berries on the plant, not the cocoon. For the rest of the first section, though, and into the next section, red will be used for the “little” item on each page. This wouldn’t be a problem in a book for sophisticated readers, but — see the young-ish interspersed bear-chair story…

moon is going to addyThe Moon Is Going to Addy’s House is not your typical, sleepy looking-at-the-moon story. This is, rather, an ecstatic, intoxicating experience: a bacchanal for the picture-book set. In tour-de-force cut-paper collages, Pearle uses a controlled riot of vivid colors and patterns to evoke intensity and emotion. The text is much less emotional; all the feeling here is in the illustrations.

The Kirkus review said that the book is “exquisite, electrifying, soothing, and soporific, brilliant in color”; that the landscapes “throb with vitality.” The use of bright pink and deep purple is unusual and intense. Some of the double-page spreads take one’s breath away with their sheer beauty: such as the one where a striated purple sky and pink moon above and their reflection below (in a body of water) are separated by a thin stretch of dark-brown road. Other illustrations capture that universal human sense of connection with the moon: such as the one in which the girl sees the moon reflected in the car’s rear-view mirror and feels as if she could catch it in her hand (echoes of Thurber’s Many Moons?).

But in some illustrations, it’s difficult to know where to look; and although the way the moon sometimes seems to jump around in the sky may be realistic, it can be disconcerting. The book’s horizontal shape sometimes works in its favor (as in the gorgeous spread mentioned above) and sometimes to its disadvantage: see the “Look way up high / and way down low” spread, where the “high” and “low” aren’t that different.

So. Will the Real Committee have these two (very beautiful) books on its radar? Do you?

The post Mock Caldecott Catch-up, part 1 appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Mock Caldecott Catch-up, part 1 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. DinoWriMo: Great Ladies

Who was dinosaurs’ favorite children’s book review journal editor? (sorry, Roger)

Zena Sutherland

Zena Sutherland

Xenotarsosaurus Sutherland.



For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Great Ladies appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on DinoWriMo: Great Ladies as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Review of The Inker’s Shadow

say_inker's shadowThe Inker’s Shadow
by Allen Say; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School, High School   
Scholastic   80 pp.
978-0-545-43776-9   $19.99   g

This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes the fifteen-year-old Allen to Glendora, California, where he is enrolled in what seems to have been a distinctly mediocre military academy run by one of his (miserable) father’s old friends. That doesn’t go very well, and Allen soon finds himself, happily, enrolled in a regular high school, taking classes at an art institute in Los Angeles, and working part-time in a printing shop. Throughout, Kyusuke, Allen’s scapegrace comic-strip alter ego created by his revered Sensei, accompanies him in his imagination. Befitting adolescence, the tone here is sometimes sulky, even sarcastic, but, truth be told, Say can be so deadpan that it’s difficult to know when he’s kidding. The illustrations are a pleasing combination of watercolor cartoon panels — neat and nimble executions of the teen’s days — and black-and-white sketches that evoke what he was drawing at the time. Together, the two combine to provide an engaging and thoughtful view of the intersection of art and life.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Inker’s Shadow appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Inker’s Shadow as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. DinoWriMo: Imprints

You know some fossils are imprints. But did you know what a dinosaur’s favorite imprint is?


ROARing Brook Press.


For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Imprints appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on DinoWriMo: Imprints as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Native American Heritage Month resources

charleyboy_dreaming in indianNovember is Native American Heritage Month, a celebration of Native American people, their varied cultures, and their accomplishments. Check out the official website for more information and lots of resources; here some additional resources from our archives.

Recommended books

Articles on representation of Native Americans in children’s books

Check out Debbie Reese’s blog American Indians in Children’s Literature for much more on this topic.

And here’s author Sherman Alexie’s 2008 BGHB Fiction Award acceptance speech for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

The post Native American Heritage Month resources appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Native American Heritage Month resources as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Review of Flop to the Top!

davis_flop to the topstar2 Flop to the Top!
by Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing; 
illus. by the authors
Primary   TOON   38 pp.
9/15   978-1-935179-89-4   $12.95

Wanda is a superstar — in her own mind. Oblivious to her family’s dismay, she forces everyone within arm’s reach to endure invasive photos, rude orders, and diva-like dismissals. After posting a selfie taken with her droll and droopy-faced dog, Wilbur, she scores millions of online likes. Hordes of admirers fill her street, and Wanda receives her fandom, only to be swiftly snubbed by the crowd. They want “FLOPPY DOG!” Wilbur is swept away to party with the celebrity du jour, Sassy Cat, and Wanda, jealous, tails the duo. The blinged-out dog is offered a contract to leave his “old life behind,” but instead decides to devour the document after a heartfelt apology (of sorts) by Wanda. Wife-and-husband team Davis and Weing share author-illustrator duties (“Can you tell who drew what? They bet you can’t!”) for this expertly paced — and funny and topical — early-reader comic. The digitally rendered art is a departure from the pen-and-ink cartooning of Davis’s Stinky (a 2009 Geisel honoree) and more closely related to her Matisse-like work for adults. It is infused with so much warmth, color, and whimsy that young readers will gladly see this book through to its pleasing reversal of fortune.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Flop to the Top! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Flop to the Top! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Recommended books about adoption

This past Saturday, November 21st, was National Adoption Day, “a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.” To celebrate, we’ve pulled together a list of recommended titles featuring adoption, all reviewed and recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews (with dates) reprinted below.

Picture books

cordell_wish“We wish you were here.” Two elephants describe their experience anticipating their child’s arrival in Matthew Cordell’s Wish. This poetic birth/adoption tale has an exquisitely light touch; pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations make what’s at stake clear. Try to keep a dry eye when a late-in-the-book illustration shows an ocean parting to reveal a child for its expectant parents on shore. (Disney/Hyperion, 2015)

dyckman_wolfie the bunnyIn Ame Dyckman’s Wolfie the Bunny, Dot isn’t pleased when a baby wolf foundling is left on the Bunny family’s doorstep — “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!” Her smitten parents ignore her. At the market, however, Wolfie is a boon to his big sister when a bear lunges toward them yelling, “DINNER!” The text’s humor keeps scariness in check; Zachariah OHora’s cartoonish acrylic paintings with comical touches match the tone. (Little Brown, 2015)

friedman_star of the weekCassidy-Li, whose parents adopted her from China, is Star of the Week in kindergarten. She’s making a poster with photos of the important people in her life, “but something is missing.” What about her birth parents, whom she doesn’t know? Author Darlene Friedman and artist Roger Roth, adoptive parents themselves, give their protagonist plenty of personality as they thoughtfully explore questions faced by adoptive families in Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles. (HarperCollins, 2009)

heo_ten days and nine nightsA Korean American girl eagerly anticipates the adoption of her baby sister from Korea in Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story. Details are basic: Mommy leaves on an airplane, and big-sister-to-be helps Daddy, Grandpa, and Grandma prepare. Commendably, the story focuses on the girl’s experience rather than attempting to tug at parental heartstrings. Author-artist Yumi Heo’s airy illustrations match the child-friendly perspective. An author’s note offers brief facts about international adoption. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 2009)

joose_nikolai the only bearBecause he growls and doesn’t “play nice,” Russian orphan Nikolai hasn’t been adopted yet; the art portrays him (and only him) as a bear. But Nikolai turns out to be the perfect child for one American couple, who feel “soft-bearish” and who know how to growl. Touches of humor in Barbara Joosse’s text and Renata Liwska’s art keep Nikolai, the Only Bear from becoming cloying. (Philomel, 2005)

lopez_best family in the worldContrary to her fantasies, orphan Carlota’s terrific new parents don’t turn out to be pastry chefs, pirates, etc., but they do bring her yummy pastries and pretend to dig for buried treasure. In Susana López’s The Best Family in the World, the light-handedness of storytelling belies the book’s depth, and the domestic scenes of Carlota and her new family are as wondrous as the scenes she imagined in Ulises Wensell’s illustrations. (Kane/Miller, 2010)

miura_big princessTaro Miura’s The Big Princess is a companion to The Tiny King with a welcome adoption-story aspect. A childless king finds a bug-size princess. His and the queen’s love for her grows daily — as does the princess. How to stop her from outgrowing the castle (and the family)? Digital collages feature improbably harmonizing elements: geometric shapes coexist with realistic imagery, and characters with Hello Kitty–like blank faces live out emotional scenes. (Candlewick, 2015)

parr_we belong togetherTodd Parr’s We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families lists things that children need (a home, kisses) and explains that the parents and children pictured belong together because the adults can provide these things. The text is as simple as Parr’s bold illustrations, which feature many gender and color combinations (some people are blue and purple). The message is a bit obvious, but it’s a worthy and welcome one. (Little/Tingley, 2007)

sierra_wild about youWhen the zoo animals start having babies, two pandas and a tree kangaroo bemoan their childless state. Soon, however, the three find themselves with families that aren’t what they expected. Judy Sierra’s rhymes include plenty of surprises; Marc Brown’s illustrations feature a gently colored palette and little patterns. Like the duo’s Wild About Books, Wild About You! is good both for group sharing and as a bedtime story. (Knopf, 2012)

thisdale_niniA baby in a Chinese orphanage misses “a special voice and the promises it had made.” Far away, a couple longs for a baby to love. François Thisdale’s heartfelt sentiments in Nini are illustrated with a striking combination of drawing, painting, and digital imagery. At times this adoption tale strains for lyricism, but the feelings will resonate with many adoptive parents (if not their children). (Tundra, 2011)


Chapter books

harper_just grace and the terrible tutuTwo chapter books in Charise Mericle Harper’s Just Grace series have adoption-related plotlines. In Just Grace and the Terrible Tutu, Grace’s best friend Mimi’s parents are adopting a little girl. When the friends are hired as mother’s helpers by a neighbor, it seems like the perfect opportunity for Mimi to practice being a big sister. In Just Grace and the Double Surprise, Mimi’s little sister arrives, and things don’t go as planned. These entertaining stories are filled with Grace’s insightful, humorous commentary and amusing cartoon drawings, charts, and lists. (both Houghton, 2011)


Middle-grade fiction

ellis_out of the blueIn Out of the Blue by Sarah Ellis, Megan learns that as a young woman, her mother gave birth to a baby girl and placed her for adoption. Now, twenty-four years later, that child has sought out her birth mother. The family adjusts to this new situation, but Megan cannot reconcile herself to knowing that she may no longer be first in her mother’s affections. A rich story, written with grace and empathy, in which very real troubles are tempered with humor and love. (McElderry, 1995)

hof_mother number zeroIn Mother Number Zero by Marjolijn Hof, well-adjusted adopted child Fejzo decides to search for his birth mother (whom he calls “Mother Number Zero”). His hugely understanding parents are nervously supportive, but his sister (also adopted) is resentful. Once the search becomes official, Fejzo begins to have his own doubts. This quiet, thoughtful, and nuanced Dutch import is an original and touching addition to the literature of adoption. (Groundwood, 2011)

levy_misadventures of the family fletcherDana Alison Levy’s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, four adopted (and racially diverse) brothers and two dads star in this Penderwicks-esque chronicle of a year in their lives. Focusing each chapter on one boy while still keeping the whole family in the picture, Levy provides a compelling, compassionate, and frequently hilarious look at their daily concerns. Readers will want to be part of (or at least friends with) this delightful family. (Delacorte, 2014)

walter_close to the windIn Close to the Wind by Jon Walter, young Malik escapes from an unnamed war-torn country and grows up quickly in the company of older boys on the refugee ship. Once Malik arrives in the New World, he is adopted–but now that he is safe, Malik falls apart emotionally. Walter tells this suspenseful displacement story with restraint, the accumulation of small, concrete details in each scene sustaining tension. (Scholastic/Fickling, 2015)


Young adult fiction

kearney_secret of meIn Meg Kearney’s The Secret of Me, fourteen-year-old Lizzie was adopted as an infant, a fact she shares only with her closest friends. With their help, she reconciles her desire to know her birth mother with her overall contentment as part of a loving family. This sensitive, cathartic novel is told entirely through Lizzie’s poetry and includes author’s notes on poetics, recommended reading, and Kearney’s own adoption experience. The sequel, The Girl in the Mirror: A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries, is also beautifully wrought with memorable characters and true-to-life issues. (Persea, 2005 and 2012)

smith_alex crowIn Andrew Smith’s The Alex Crow, fifteen-year-old war refugee Ariel is adopted into the family of “de-extinction” scientist Jake Burgess and sent to camp with adoptive brother Max. Meanwhile, psychotic Leonard Fountain is on a deranged road trip. And the crew of the ship Alex Crow fights for survival on an ill-fated late-nineteenth-century Arctic voyage. Strong prose with a distinct teenage-boy sensibility anchors this ambitious novel’s exploration of survival and extinction. (Dutton, 2015)

zarr_how to save a lifePregnant eighteen-year-old Mandy agrees to live in the home of the woman, Robin, who is adopting her baby in Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life. Robin’s daughter Jill hates the idea, still grieving her father’s death. Mandy and Jill’s distinct voices tell their intertwined stories. The girls’ growth is made realistic through small inroads and slow progress. The depth of characterization is exceptional in this rewarding read. (Little, 2011)



deprince_taking flightMichaela DePrince’s inspirational memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina (co-written with Elaine DePrince) traces Michaela’s journey: from an orphanage in war-ravaged Sierra Leone, through her adoption by an American couple, and finally to her rising ballet stardom (appearing in the documentary First Position; joining the Dutch National Ballet). Throughout, the daughter-and-mother writing team emphasizes how important optimism, love, and perseverance were to Michaela’s success. Striking textual imagery heightens the immediacy of Michaela’s experiences, whether tragic or triumphant. (Knopf, 2014)

hoffman_welcome to the familyMary Hoffman’s Welcome to the Family, a chatty, informative survey, covers all the bases, from families formed by birth and adoption to foster and blended families. Same-sex and single parents are represented in friendly cartoon art and text; mixed-race families are depicted in the Ros Asquith’s illustrations. The tone is light, though Hoffman acknowledges that things don’t always “go smoothly.” A teddy bear appears on most spreads, adding its own commentary. (Frances Lincoln, 2014)

rotner_i'm adoptedI’m Adopted! by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly features simple, conversational text and loads of colorful, engaging photos to cover how families are formed through adoption. The authors approach the subject in very general terms, allowing children to impose their own experiences. While most of the book is upbeat, the loss inherent in adoptions is also acknowledged. Children touched by the subject will find the straightforward discussion reassuring and easy to understand. (Holiday, 2011)

skrypuch_one step at a timeOne Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (sequel to Last Airlift) describes Tuyet’s adjustment to life with her adoptive Canadian family, the drama revolves around the surgery she must have on her leg due to polio. Readers will be just as riveted to this quieter but no-less-moving story as Tuyet bravely dreams of being able to run and play. Illustrated with photos. Reading list, websites. Ind. (Pajama Press, 2013)

warren_escape from saigonIn 1975 a child named Long emigrated from Vietnam to the United States and was adopted. In Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy, Andrea Warren deftly weaves into Long’s story information about the Vietnam conflict, life in Saigon, the plight of children during war, and the political machinations involved in airlifting thousands of youngsters to safety during the American evacuation. Reading list, source notes. Ind. (Farrar/Kroupa, 2004)

The post Recommended books about adoption appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Recommended books about adoption as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. DinoWriMo: Authors

Who’s a dinosaur’s favorite children’s book creator?

Mac Barnett, Roger Sutton, Adam Rex

Mac Barnett, Roger Sutton, Adam Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s kid-brother, Adam.

Adam Rex

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Authors appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on DinoWriMo: Authors as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Lenny & Lucy

lenny lucyIt’s hard to believe that there was once a time when full-color picture books were uncommon. It was usually an indication that the artist had somehow proved himself worthy (::cough:: Maurice Sendak) and was awarded with a full palette to use on his masterpieces (::cough:: ::cough:: Where the Wild Things Are). When you look back on the Caldecott Medal books prior to the mid-1970s, one thing that stands out is the near absence of full-color books. And it’s amazing to see what artists like Evaline Ness, Marcia Brown, and Lynd Ward were able to create with black and white or one, two, or three colors. These books don’t look at all flashy to our modern eyes, accustomed to full color. But the books are a testament to the artistic discipline and commitment to craft that we often see in the picture-book artists of yore.

Erin Stead would likely be right at home among these artists. Her latest picture book, Lenny & Lucy, gracefully written by Philip Stead, is a quiet, understated story about fear, specifically fear of change, as represented by the dark woods on the other side of the bridge. Peter can see them from the bedroom window of his new house, and he knows scary things are hiding behind the trees. Accompanied by his golden retriever, Harold, he creates a gigantic figure out of blankets and pillows, names it Lenny, and places it as a sentry next to the bridge. Lenny does the job but he looks lonely, so Peter creates another pillow person, Lucy. Lenny and Lucy give Peter a bit of added security, but he doesn’t start to feel truly safe and comfortable until his new next-door neighbor Millie stops by to play.

It’s interesting to note what Stead has done with color here — or perhaps to note what she hasn’t done. She hasn’t splashed it all over the page, covering every bit of white space with pigment. She has used it sparingly — a touch of blue on Peter’s hat, gold on his jacket and shoes and all over Harold (of course), green on Lenny’s blanketed torso and pink on Lucy’s. And when Millie shows up, she’s dressed in red. These small bits of color are amplified against the monochromatic gray background used to illustrate the woods and the loud floral wallpaper on the wall in Peter’s new house. Both the woods and wallpaper loom large, and are almost claustrophobic, representing Peter’s fear of the unknown. Once he meets Millie, the woods recede, and the gray pages open up to wide white spaces.

Stead’s use of gray and white with just a bit of color demonstrates that a picture book does not need to be flashy to be distinguished. Too often, it seems, we fall victim to what I call the “magpie syndrome” — always reaching for the brightest, the shiniest, the most dazzling when we look for the best in picture books. I’m glad we have artists like Erin Stead to remind us that less is often more. Her pictures leave room for interpretation and the reader’s imagination, just as Philip Stead’s text has left room for the artist to add her own touches to the story.

It’s rare for any picture book to hit all of the criteria the Caldecott committee uses to identify a “distinguished American picture book for children.”

  1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
  2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
  4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
  5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.

This one has it all.


The post Lenny & Lucy appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Lenny & Lucy as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Review of Lost. Found.

arnold_lost foundLost. Found.
by Marsha Diane Arnold; 
illus. by Matthew Cordell
Preschool   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp.
11/15   978-1-62672-017-6   $16.99

A bear’s red wool scarf is carried off by a strong gust of wind (“Lost”). Two quarrelsome raccoons spy the scarf lying in the snow (“Found”); they get into a tiff and run off squabbling, leaving the scarf behind (“Lost”). Next, a beaver finds it and dons the scarf as headgear…until it’s snagged by a low-hanging branch and lost again. With one of the two title words on most pages (there are also some well-placed wordless pages), this effectively paced story plays out in Cordell’s lively but spare pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures (occasional silly sound effects included). The book invites participation, and young listeners will quickly catch on to the narrative pattern. The scarf is found and lost five more times by various woodland creatures who tug, pull, squeeze, swing on, jump on, and brawl over it. It’s at this point that the rightful owner re-enters the story: the bear finds the scarf completely unraveled but doesn’t lose hope. Along with some contrite-looking critters, the bear gathers the yarn and knits a new scarf, one that brings everyone together — in friendship. The final cozy, color-drenched scene (a departure from the preceding white-dominated pages) shows the characters sitting companionably around a nighttime campfire connected by the scarf, which fits everyone perfectly. Pair this with Kasza’s Finders Keepers (rev. 9/15) for more lost-and-found accessory fun.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Lost. Found. appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Lost. Found. as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Week in review, November 16th-20th

Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

Ellen Wittlinger’s article “Parrotfish Needed an Update: The Rapidly Changing Language of Transgender Awareness

Jennifer Donnelly Talks with Roger

Holiday High Notes 2015

From the Guide: Comics for Middle Graders

from Twitter friend Eti Berland: a class lesson based on “Comics Are Picture Books: A (Graphic) Novel Idea” by Elisa and Patrick Gall

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger:

Out of the Box:

Calling Caldecott:

Lolly’s Classroom: The best-of-the-year lists have begun

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!

The post Week in review, November 16th-20th appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Week in review, November 16th-20th as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Jacqueline Woodson, why are you so poet?

woodsonWhen the Cambridge Public Library announced that Brown Girl Dreaming would be this year’s Cambridge Reads book I was beyond thrilled. Now Jacqueline Woodson and I would be best friends! I’d say, Jacqueline, you are my hero, thank you for your perspective, your advocacy and for creating windows and mirrors for my students! Then she would say, Liz, I love your outfit and I would be like, I love your shoes! And together we would join forces to bring children representative literature and diversity to publishing practices and live happily ever after librarian and author best friends. The end.

While this particular fantasy did not come to fruition, she did in other ways fulfill my dreams for myself and my students who I brought with me. I don’t know if you have seen Jacqueline Woodson in person or heard her speak, but do yourself a favor and try to do just that. She is not only a dynamic author and speaker but also quite relatable, adding another layer to her already great capacity as a social commentator and leader in the field.

woodson_brown girl dreaming_170x258The audience was immediately endeared by her “Just Like Us” struggle to find the right outfit for that night (OMG you guys — I never know what to wear!). And just as you might think, she brought a deeper meaning to that seeming mundanity — recounting to the audience the advice passed down through the women in her family, now including Jacqueline’s thirteen-year-old daughter, about always looking smart. It’s a reminder that when you enter a room, your arms enter, your legs, your butt, your body…so wrap them up presentably. Jacqueline told us that’s why she usually wraps herself up in black.

The evening continued like this, bringing meaning and enlightenment to the audience. Adults were clearly moved. But it was the children in the audience — they added the poignancy and importance to the night. I felt immense pride as I looked over to see my students leaning forward not to miss a word, how they dutifully looked through the copies of their books to find the passages she was reading from, how when they asked questions, there were forethought, curiosity, and eagerness in their words.

The question-and-answer line went on for miles — all children! and all great questions (people were really interested in Jacqueline’s little brother, Roman). Close to the end, one girl in the audience asked  earnestly, “Why are you so poet?”I am not sure, little girl, but thank god she is.

The post Jacqueline Woodson, why are you so poet? appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Jacqueline Woodson, why are you so poet? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans

drowned cityI was fortunate enough to be in the crowd when the Tamaki sisters’ This One Summer was announced as a Caldecott Honor book (at the Youth Media Awards, where the Coretta Scott King, Caldecott, Newbery, etc. are announced) this past January. I remember hearing more than a few audible gasps in the theater, and with good reason: not since The Invention of Hugo Cabret had a book for the older end (what I’d consider ages 10-14) of the Caldecott age range been recognized. (Incidentally, This One Summer was arguably the most controversial pick of last year’s award winners, as evidenced by the lively discussion found here.) Admittedly, this year’s committee members don’t have anything to do with last year’s books, but at the same time the fifteen folks on the 2016 Caldecott committee do not live in a vacuum. They are no doubt aware of books for older kids, probably more so than any other committee BT (Before Tamaki).

But what about the actual books? Have there really been any graphic novels for older readers that have a chance this year? Absolutely, and to my mind, Drowned City heads the list. Don Brown’s second full-length graphic novel is brilliant in its conciseness, both textually and visually, and is certainly one of my top three Caldecott-eligible books this year.

The reader’s first glimpse of New Orleans is iconic and terrifying: an eagle’s eye–view of the city in the distance with a foreboding gray-black mass of … SOMETHING … in the foreground. The menacing cloud obscures the borders of the large panel. An inset above the faraway skyline shows a FEMA staffer claiming, “When I have a nightmare, it’s a hurricane in New Orleans.” It’s a brilliant bit of storytelling and design, with text and graphics combining to create a palpable feeling of dread.

When Katrina “crashes ashore” in the nearby town of Buras, Brown uses four panels stacked top-to-bottom to show the storm’s destruction in sequence. This is not the only time panels are laid out to maximum effect: at one point later in the book, two wordless panels follow a textbox which reads, “Swollen dead bodies lie in streets and float in the water.” The illustrations show just that: stark depictions of death over which additional words truly would have been intrusive. This gruesome, yet brutally effective, montage effect would fit perfectly in a war documentary.

But as chilling as Brown’s artwork is, it can also be quite beautiful. In one illustration, Brown depicts the storm as a sort of buzzsaw with a hole in it (the eye of the hurricane). The water being churned up by the monster storm is a gorgeous blue-green, the kind of water you’d expect to see at a resort in Cancun or off the coast of some Greek island. His people aren’t exactly pretty (they never are in any of his work; Kadir Nelson, he ain’t), but the messy lines, the imperfect humans with poorly defined features … they fit this subject perfectly.

Many from the children’s book world will question why the Caldecott committee would seriously consider graphic novels: thankfully, Elisa and Pat Gall have covered this. But for an award given to a book that “essentially provides the child with a visual experience,” why wouldn’t graphic novels get a look? Of course the committee will consider this book, and hopefully several other graphic novels (Jessie Hartland’s Steve Jobs: Insanely Great is another one that’s high on my list), but the real question is: will graphic novel–loving committee members be able to build consensus around one or more of them? Fingers crossed: I do so love those gasps of disbelief when certain award winners are announced.


The post Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. DinoWriMo: Awards

How did the dinosaur get to the award ceremony?


By following the footPrintz.

nelson_i'll give you the sun

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Awards appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on DinoWriMo: Awards as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Holiday High Notes 2015

Have yourself a merry little read-through of 
our annual selection of new holiday books, with 
reviews written by the Horn Book staff.

bailey_when santa was a babyWhen Santa Was a Baby
by Linda Bailey; 
illus. by Geneviève Godbout
Primary   Tundra   32 pp.
10/15   978-1-77049-556-2   $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-77049-558-6   $10.99

In the tradition of Agee’s Little Santa (rev. 11/13) and Krensky’s How Santa Got His Job, here’s another Santa origin story. This child is Santa from the word go, booming “HO, HO, HO!” in the cradle, delivering presents to other children as a toddler, training hamsters to pull a makeshift miniature sleigh. His proud, adoring parents speculate about his future: his insistence on wearing red might mean he’ll be a firefighter; his interest in the chimney’s soot, a scientist; etc. Young readers, who know better, will enjoy watching Santa grow up to be exactly who he is. Warm, textured pastel and colored-pencil illustrations on generous double-page spreads enrich this gentle, humorous, love-suffused tale. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO

barash_is it hanukkah yetIs It Hanukkah Yet?
by Chris Barash; 
illus. by Alessandra Psacharopulo
Preschool, Primary   Whitman   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-8075-3384-0   $16.99   g

This quiet rhyming picture book begins with a wintry outdoor scene: “When frosty winds blow and snow’s all around / And there’s no sign of green on the trees or the ground… / Hanukkah is on its way.” Two children eagerly await the holiday, first frolicking outdoors with the friendly forest animals, then playing inside. Anticipation builds as the trappings of Hanukkah appear — decorations, guests, a menorah, dreidels — until finally: “Hanukkah is here!” Warm, soft-hued illustrations of smiling, rosy-cheeked people and creatures resemble those on old-fashioned holiday greeting cards. JENNIFER TAYLOR

barton_nutcracker comes to americaThe Nutcracker 
Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers 
Created a Holiday Tradition
by Chris Barton; 
illus. by Cathy Gendron
Primary, Intermediate   Millbrook   40 pp.
9/15   978-1-4677-2151-6   $19.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4677-8848-9   $19.99

Barton’s folksy, direct-address text introduces three brothers from Utah, all dancers, who eventually teamed up at the San Francisco Ballet to present the first full production in the United States of The Nutcracker, on Christmas Eve 1944. Tchaikovsky’s music had become popular by then, but the general public didn’t know his ballets. The vaudeville-trained Christensen brothers knew a good thing when they saw it. Gendron’s art effectively reproduces traditional ballet poses and makes the most of the book’s large trim size. This is a good book to share with children after seeing a performance of The Nutcracker. LOLLY ROBINSON

chaconas_cork & fuzz merry merry holly hollyCork & Fuzz: Merry Merry Holly Holly
by Dori Chaconas; illus. by Lisa McCue
Preschool, Primary   Viking   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-451-47501-5   $16.99   g

In their first picture book, easy-reader best friends Cork (a deep-thinking muskrat) and Fuzz (a happy-go-lucky possum) roam the snowy landscape, wondering why the day feels so special. Cork keeps looking for a quiet place to think, while Fuzz distractingly sings ditties (“Merry, merry, holly, holly, ho-ho-ho!”) and shakes a jingle bell. Finally, as darkness falls, they come upon a lighted fir tree, and Cork realizes why the day is special. His conclusion is not the expected one — yet it may feel just as Christmas-y as an overt recognition of the holiday. Expansive watercolor illustrations evoke a beautiful winter’s woodland day but keep the focus tightly on the two friends. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO

cronin_click clack ho ho hoClick, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!
by Doreen Cronin; 
illus. by Betsy Lewin
Preschool, Primary   Atheneum   40 pp.
9/15   978-1-4424-9673-6   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9674-3   $10.99

It’s Christmas Eve, and Farmer Brown (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, rev. 3/00) is putting the final touches on his holiday decorations. When he hears a “pitter-patter on the roof,” he runs off to bed, believing Santa has arrived. But the pitter-patter isn’t Santa: Duck is attempting his own Santa-like entry. When Duck gets stuck in the chimney, the sheep, cows, pigs, and rest of the farm animals arrive to lend a hoof, paw, or webbed foot. Lewin’s watercolor illustrations, with their slapstick situations and expressive animal body language, work beautifully with Cronin’s humorous (“Ho! Ho! Uh-oh”) text: a smattering of expertly placed wordless spreads allows Duck’s stealth antics to do the talking. SIÂN GAETANO

crow_zombelina dances the nutcrackerZombelina Dances 
The Nutcracker
by Kristyn Crow; illus. by Molly Idle
Primary   Bloomsbury   40 pp.
9/15   978-1-61963-640-8   $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-61963-810-5   $9.99

Zombie-girl Zombelina is overjoyed to win the coveted part of Clara in the Nutcracker ballet, but she’s sad for Lizzie, cast in a minor role. Zombelina comforts her friend: “You’ll have your big moment someday.” That moment comes sooner than expected when Zombelina’s ghostly grandpa causes mischief during opening night and Zombelina lends Lizzie her (detachable) legs to take over the performance while Zombelina handles Grandpa. Colored-pencil illustrations perfectly capture 
the dancers’ graceful movements — check out that friendship duet after the casting announcement — and supplement the punny rhyming text (“everyone needs a leg up”) with visual humor. Part Nutcracker primer, part supernatural comedy, part friendship tale, and an all-around bravura performance. KATIE BIRCHER

detlefsen_time for cranberriesTime for Cranberries
by Lisl H. Detlefsen; 
illus. by Jed Henry
Primary   Roaring Brook   32 pp.
9/15   978-1-62672-098-5   $17.99

Detlefsen’s story follows a boy named Sam, who is finally old enough to participate in his first fall cranberry harvest on his parents’ farm. With waders donned, the family gets to work. From the flooding of the cranberry marshes to the booming, corralling, suctioning, cleaning, and delivering, details of the harvest throughout are educational and informative. The illustrations’ reds, yellows, and oranges create a vibrant and cozy fall setting as the family works together in a labor of love (and commerce), and the payoff comes at the end, with cranberry pie for Thanksgiving. Recipes, an author’s note, and a glossary are appended. WILLA ZHANG

holub_knights before christmasThe Knights Before Christmas
by Joan Holub; illus. by Scott Magoon
Primary   Ottaviano/Holt   32 pp.
9/15   978-0-8050-9932-4   $16.99

Brave Knight, Polite Knight, and Silent Knight are “guarding the castle / for their illustrious king” on Christmas Eve. Too bad they didn’t get the memo about Santa’s visit. When the jolly old elf tries to deliver presents, these well-intentioned protectors of the castle take a defensive stance: “Dash away, dash away! / Invader, get out!” A fierce (not really) battle plays out with Santa catapulting (via a Christmas tree) sugarplums and more as he “storms” the castle. This rousing, ridiculous medieval “Night Before Christmas” parody jingles with castle- and holiday wordplay. Cheeky digital illustrations brim with good cheer. KITTY FLYNN

isadora_bea in the nutcrackerBea in The Nutcracker
by Rachel Isadora; illus. by the author
Preschool   Paulsen/Penguin   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-399-25231-0   $16.99   g

“Here is Bea. She is excited because her ballet class is going to perform The Nutcracker. She will be Clara!” Bea (Bea at Ballet, rev. 7/12) and her diverse group of classmates put on an all-little-kid rendition of the famous Christmas ballet, gently introducing listeners to a simplified version of its story while providing a warmly humorous glimpse of life on the stage (Bea to a mouse-costumed classmate: “You forgot to put on your tail!”). The main text follows the action; word balloons allow the kids to interject their enthusiasm. Textured oil-painted paper collage adds traditional Christmas reds and greens as well as the production’s candy-hued pastels to the friendly black-and-white line art. KATIE BIRCHER

manzano_miracle on 133rd stMiracle on 133rd Street
by Sonia Manzano; 
illus. by Marjorie Priceman
Primary    Atheneum   40 pp.
9/14   978-0-689-87887-9   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-2892-7   $10.99

Mami rues having left Puerto Rico when the Christmas Eve roast won’t fit in the family’s tiny New York City apartment’s oven. Little José jokingly suggests they use a pizza oven instead. “That’s not a bad idea!” says Papi, and the two head out, carrying the roast through their snowy neighborhood to Regular Ray’s Pizzeria. Nearly everyone is curmudgeonly along the way —
 neighbors (“I thought someone’s television was being stolen!”), kids bickering outside — until the roast’s aroma knocks some holiday cheer into them and they all parade back to José’s family’s fourth-floor apartment to celebrate together. It’s a cheerful Christmas story notable for its nonchalantly multiethnic cast and its vibrant urban setting, brought to high-spirited life in Priceman’s bright, swirling gouache and ink illustrations. KATRINA HEDEEN

miller_sharing the breadSharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story
by Pat Zietlow Miller; 
illus. by Jill McElmurry
Primary   Schwartz & Wade/Random   32 pp.
9/15   978-0-307-98182-0   $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-307-98183-7   $20.99
e-book ed. 978-0-307-98184-4   $10.99

As Thanksgiving dinner approaches, everyone in this industrious nineteenth-century family — from Grandma and Grandpa down to Baby — takes part in preparing for the feast. “Mama, fetch the cooking pot… / Brother, baste the turkey well… / Uncle, swing the cider jug…” The little-boy narrator, meanwhile, checks in on all the preparations until the family is finally seated around the table to say grace and enjoy the fruits of their labor. McElmurry’s gouache illustrations, in a textured palette of browns, oranges, and dark blues, are imbued with quiet energy. Miller’s patterned rhyming text has the cadence of a folk song and captures just how joyful (and exhausting) Thanksgiving feasts can be. J. ALEJANDRO MAZARIEGOS

moore_night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas
by Clement C. Moore; 
illus. by David Ercolini
Primary   Orchard/Scholastic   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-545-39112-2   $16.99   g

In this laugh-out-loud version of Moore’s famous poem, the 1823 text is unchanged, but Ercolini’s deadpan acrylic illustrations scream modern-day America. Here, the house in which “not a creature was stirring” is the most over-decorated one in the neighborhood — or possibly the world. A huge neon “WELCOME SANTA” sign points to the blazing-with-lights house; an enormous inflatable Santa adorns the roof. Inside, every possible inch of space is devoted to Christmas (while Dad peruses Home Decor magazine for yet more ideas). Santa himself is jolly, gluttonous, and fond of playing with remote-control toys. Myriad details invite repeated readings, and the subplot involving the resident dog, cat, and (yes) mouse adds even more humor and goofy charm. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO

murray_gingerbread man loose at christmasThe Gingerbread Man 
Loose at Christmas
by Laura Murray; 
illus. by Mike Lowery
Preschool, Primary   Putnam   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-399-16866-6   $16.99   g

This jolly book, in addition to bringing us another entertaining Gingerbread Man escapade (The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, rev. 9/11; The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck, rev. 7/13), serves as a sort of pre-origin story for our hero. He may have been baked in the oven by schoolchildren, but where’d they get the recipe? Over the course of this book the students dash around town spreading cheer to community helpers. At the story’s climax, the Gingerbread Man meets his maker (don’t worry, it’s just in the literal sense; though there is some actual cookie-peril along the way). Lowery’s festive illustrations of cookie and co., done in “pencil, traditional screen printing, and digital color,” are a treat, while Murray’s rhymes are continually surprising and satisfying. She can make you work, but the payoff is there: “Next came a garbage man picking up trash, / so we dropped off some goodies to stash on his dash.” ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

naylor_shiloh christmasA Shiloh Christmas
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Intermediate   Atheneum   246 pp.
9/15   978-1-4814-4151-3   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-4154-4   $10.99

This is a Christmas story, but first Marty and Shiloh and their family must get through a new-school routine, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, not to mention a drought and subsequent wildfire. As in the three previous books centered on the now-iconic dog Shiloh, the rural West Virginia setting and the relationships among its inhabitants are warmly but unsentimentally drawn. The story is episodic, with through-lines provided by a new girl in an unhappy home and the continuing (and believable) rehabilitation of Judd Travers. The Christmas Day conclusion provides the best kind of heartwarming: earned. ROGER SUTTON

newman_hanukkah is comingHanukkah Is Coming!
by Tracy Newman; 
illus. by Viviana Garofoli
Preschool   Kar-Ben   12 pp.
9/15   978-1-4677-5241-1   $5.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4677-8837-3   $5.99

The family from Shabbat Is Coming! and other board books in publisher Kar-Ben’s series about Jewish life eagerly awaits the start of Hanukkah. “Winter is near. / Long nights are here. / Hanukkah is coming.” The yarmulke-wearing dad, pigtailed big sister, and strawberry-blondies mother and son — plus cheerful dog — light candles, fry latkes, sing songs, spin dreidels, and pretend to be Maccabees, all shown in warm digital-looking illustrations. The timeline is a titch confusing (are these scenes all in flashback? Is the family doing prep work? Are they imagining what Hanukkah will be like this year?), since it’s not until the last spread that “Hanukkah is here!” But the “Hanukkah is coming” refrain, coupled with simple, child-friendly rhymes, is reassuring, and effectively builds anticipation for the Festival of Lights. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

peet_dear santa love rachel rosensteinDear Santa, Love, 
Rachel Rosenstein
by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer; illus. by Christine Davenier
Primary   Doubleday   40 pp.
10/15   978-0-553-51061-4   $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-553-51062-1   $20.99
e-book ed. 978-0-553-51063-8   $10.99

Rachel Rosenstein is bummed to be the only kid in her decorated-to-the-hilt neighborhood who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. When her pleas for twinkly lights and a tree go unheeded in her Jewish household, Rachel takes matters into her own hands, festooning the living room with homemade decorations on Christmas Eve and waiting for the big guy to arrive. There’s lots of humor in the text (“Dear Santa…I know that you are a fair person and will not mind that I am Jewish. After all so was Jesus, at least on his mother’s side”) and in the lively, scribbly, colorful illustrations. But the authors wisely don’t gloss over Rachel’s feelings — which can be common for anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas that time of year, a notion that steers the text toward a happy, multi-culti ending. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

pingk_samurai santaSamurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas
by Rubin Pingk; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Simon   40 pp.
9/15   978-1-4814-3057-9   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-3058-6   $10.99

It’s hard to be a ninja when no one will join your snowball fight for fear of landing on Santa’s naughty list. There’s only one thing for Yukio to do: trick his fellow ninjas into chasing the “bright red intruder” away. They think they’re successful when the interloper disappears — but here comes a snowball-fighting samurai, complete with snowman army, and the desired snowball fight ensues after all. No points for guessing the samurai’s identity, but major points to Pingk for his digital art, with its simple, bold limited palette and seamlessly integrated red or white lettering that can render any scene “EPIC!!!” SHOSHANA FLAX

reagan_how to catch santaHow to Catch Santa
by Jean Reagan; 
illus. by Lee Wildish
Primary   Knopf   32 pp.
10/15   978-0-553-49839-4   $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-553-49840-0   $20.99
e-book ed. 978-0-553-49841-7   $10.99

You know you’d like some face time with Santa to ask your burning questions and maybe slip the poor guy a nose warmer. But how will you catch him? Reagan and Wildish’s (How to Babysit a Grandpa) latest how-to guide warns would-be Santa-snatchers not to get too crazy: no lassoing, for instance. Instead, listen for sleigh bells, lure him with cookies and riddles, and leave out carrots for Rudolph. Letters to Santa on the endpapers fit right in with digital illustrations that look almost hand-drawn, creating a sense that it’s all up to the kids — even if alert readers notice the parents winking in the background. SHOSHANA FLAX

simon_oskar and the eight blessingsOskar and the Eight Blessings
by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon; illus. by Mark Siegel
Primary, Intermediate   Roaring Brook    40 pp.
9/15   978-1-59643-949-8   $17.99

In 1938, the last night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, and for a young Jewish refugee in Manhattan, both holidays provided blessings. Following Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents had put him on a boat to New York with just the name and address of his aunt; his walk from the harbor takes him more than a hundred blocks up Broadway. Along the way he encounters friendly and helpful strangers, Macy’s Christmas windows, and Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt (whose historical presence in the city that night is confirmed in an author’s note). The changing light of the day and developing snow are beautifully conveyed in the illustrations, an engaging blend of large and small panels paced to echo the starts and stops and blessings of Oskar’s (successful) journey. An appended map of Manhattan details the route and visually reprises the gifts Oskar receives along the way. ROGER SUTTON

singer_parakeet named dreidelThe Parakeet Named Dreidel
by Isaac Bashevis Singer; 
illus. by Suzanne Raphael Berkson
Primary, Intermediate   Farrar   32 pp.
9/15   978-0-374-30094-4   $17.99

In this short story (from The Power of Light: Eight Stories for Hanukkah, rev. 2/81) repackaged as a picture book, a mysterious Yiddish-speaking parakeet flies to a Jewish family’s window on Hanukkah and promptly earns the name Dreidel. Though the narrator is an adult — with an unusually mature voice for a picture book — the art emphasizes his son David, who is a child for most of the story (and, when he’s older, benefits from Dreidel’s matchmaking skills). This feels like a story a reminiscent zayde might share. Lots of golden light in the cheerful, loose-lined illustrations creates a sense of Hanukkah’s warmth. SHOSHANA FLAX

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Holiday High Notes 2015 appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Holiday High Notes 2015 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Review of Inside Biosphere 2

carson_inside biosphere 2Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass 
[Scientists in the Field]
by Mary Kay Carson; 
photos by Tom Uhlman
Middle School   Houghton   80 pp.
10/15   978-0-544-41664-2   $18.99

Carson takes readers into Biosphere 2, the research facility designed to be a self-sustaining model of Earth’s environments. There’s brief coverage of the innovative engineering and original mission of the facility (complete with photos of the first jumpsuit-clad human “biospherians” who were sealed inside from 1991 to 1993), but the focus is primarily on current research under the direction of scientists at the University of Arizona. The ability to control environmental conditions within the contained rainforest, ocean, and giant soil laboratory allows researchers to investigate questions in earth science — prominently, those related to climate change — on a scale not possible in any other laboratory setting. Biogeochemist Joost van Haren has tinkered with the composition of the rainforest’s atmosphere for twenty years, examining the effects of excess carbon dioxide on the contained atmosphere, soil, and biomass. Hydrologist Luke Pangle built a huge artificial slope to study soil production and erosion. Sustainability coordinator Nate Allen researches the facility itself, examining how this “Model City” can reduce its energy footprint. Educational efforts at Biosphere 2 are also profiled, as the ocean biome is repurposed as a teaching and research lab. Plentiful photos of the researchers, facility, and surrounding environment capture the feel of a busy research center and show the nuts and bolts of maintaining controlled conditions. Uhlman’s photographs take us into back rooms and basements to see the wires, computers, pumps, and pipes that keep the place running. A glossary, index, references (including citations to the research papers produced by Biosphere 2 scientists), and places to read about the original project are appended.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Inside Biosphere 2 appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Inside Biosphere 2 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. DinoWriMo: Literary classics

What classic novel do dinosaurs love?


Allosaurus in Wonderland

tenniel alice in wonderland

For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Literary classics appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on DinoWriMo: Literary classics as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Week in review, November 9th-13th

Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

November’s Notes from the Horn Book: 5Q for Tim Wynne-Jones, YA about boys facing big issues, nonfiction PBs about all kinds of families, chapter books adventures, middle-school audiobooks

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger: and clunk clunk clunk went the folktale market

Out of the Box:

Calling Caldecott:

Lolly’s Classroom: The Thing About Jellyfish

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!

The post Week in review, November 9th-13th appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Week in review, November 9th-13th as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Fairytale of New York

BrooklynIf I ruled the world, Brooklyn would be the teen movie of the season. It has the vicissitudes of young romance, a love triangle, a heroine who blossoms from being pleasant-looking to full-on Titanic-era Kate Winslet, right down to the hair blowing and glowing in the ocean sunrise. It’s probably too quiet for wide appeal, though, and the which-guy-will-she-pick is definitely secondary to to the story of a young woman making her way in a new world both actual and otherwise. But you should go–the cinematography is as gorgeous as the music, and the strong central performance of Saoirse Ronan as Eilis is matched by great supporting performances, especially by Jane Brennan as Eilis’s mother (and Don Draper’s second wife has finally found the job she was born to do). While other fans of Colm Toibin’s novel might not be happy with the less ambiguous ending of this film adaptation, I was just so darned happy for everyone I didn’t mind it a bit.

The post Fairytale of New York appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Fairytale of New York as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Review of The Day the Crayons 
Came Home

daywalt_Day the Crayons Came HomeThe Day the Crayons 
Came Home
by Drew Daywalt; 
illus. by Oliver Jeffers
Primary   Philomel   48 pp.
9/15   978-0-399-17275-5   $18.99   g

The personified crayons who revolted against their little-boy owner, Duncan, in The Day the Crayons Quit (rev. 11/13) are writing again. This time, instead of sending indignant resignation letters, they send indignant postcards from their various travels. The world outside the crayon box is harsh, and they would (mostly) like to come home. Neon Red has been forgotten at a hotel pool; Yellow and Orange have melted together outside in the hot sun; Tan (or possibly Burnt Sienna?) was regurgitated by the dog; and little brother’s BIG CHUNKY Toddler Crayon first had its head bitten off, then was stuck up the cat’s nose. Left-hand pages show the missives written (in crayon) on the backs of realistic-looking postcards; facing pages include illustrations (done mostly in crayon) that give the mail more context and humor. Pea Green — appropriately envious of the others — and Neon Red send multiple postcards, interspersed throughout, contributing a light plot to the mix, and Glow in the Dark Crayon provides extra novelty as that page really glows in the dark. Ultimately, Duncan does right by his neglected crayons and finds a solution to which any self-respecting art supply could aspire. Zippy and delightfully full of itself, this clever epistolary picture book could stand alone — for those few children who have not read the previous book.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Day the Crayons 
Came Home appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Day the Crayons 
Came Home as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. The best-of-the-year lists have begun

Teachers often ask how to keep up with the best new books. Good intentions are one thing, and real life (long days, class prep, paper grading) is another.

For those with limited time, I recommend going online near the end of the year when children’s book review journals post their “best of the year” lists. They tend to print these lists in their December or January issues, but well before publication you can find those same lists on their websites. Take a look at each one and see which titles pop up on multiple lists and make sure you read those few titles that everyone is talking about. But do try to read all the annotations and think about which books might work in your classrooms, either for the entire class or for free reading.

Here’s a list of the lists, with links.

Already out:

Coming soon:

And of course there are the ALA awards which will be determined during the Midwinter conference in Boston in January

The post The best-of-the-year lists have begun appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on The best-of-the-year lists have begun as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Barry Deutsch on Hereville

deutsch_hereville how mirka caught a fishIn our November/December issue, reviewer Shoshana Flax asked Barry Deutsch about the third entry in his graphic novel series about “11-year-old time-traveling Jewish Orthodox babysitter” Mirka. Read the full starred review of Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish here.

Shoshana Flax: We hear more about the modern world in this third installment. What do you think the neighbors think of Hereville?

Barry Deutsch: I can honestly say no one’s ever asked me that before! The people in the next town over are pretty suspicious of Hereville. There are a lot of weird rumors flying around, as you’d expect. (The Hereville folks tend to be pretty insular.) But in real life, one of my neighbors has become a big Hereville fan! We sometimes talk about it on the bus.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Barry Deutsch on Hereville appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Barry Deutsch on Hereville as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Review of Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish

deutsch_hereville how mirka caught a fishstar2 Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish
by Barry Deutsch; illus. by the author; backgrounds by Adrian Wallace; 
colors by Jake Richmond
Middle School   Amulet/Abrams   141 pp.
11/15   978-1-4197-0800-8   $17.95

Mirka is stuck babysitting her pesky six-year-old half-sister Layele while the rest of the family is away from their all-Hasidic community. Fruma, Mirka’s stepmother, leaves strict orders to stay out of the woods, where bizarre magic always seems to happen (Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, rev. 11/10; Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite, rev. 11/12) and where Fruma saw “things” when she was Mirka’s age. Of course, Mirka does go into the woods, dragging Layele with her, and before long she’s wheedled the troll from the first book out of a hair elastic with time-travel capabilities (the illustrations denote the time travelers by superimposing them onto the landscape in transparent purple and white). The girls encounter a wishing fish, the same one who lost a battle of wits with a young Fruma (then called Fran and dressed in modern garb) and who now has a wicked plan to gain power by controlling and kidnapping Layele. Though the expressive and often humorous illustrations in this graphic novel do much to convey each scene’s tone and highlight important characters and objects, words make the world go ’round here. (Check out Mirka’s punctuation-marked skirt!) Speech bubbles wind in and out of the variably sized panels, and the eventual solution involves verbal gymnastics as much as heroics and compassion.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. From the Guide: Comics for Middle Graders

colossal_rutabega the adventure chefThis year’s ALA honorees El Deafo and This One Summer show that graphic novels and comics continue to soar in popularity and critical acclaim. In their article “Comics Are Picture Books: A (Graphic) Novel Idea,” Elisa and Patrick Gall urge audiences to look at the form with fresh (and less intimidated) eyes; and on our Writer’s Page, Matt Phelan provides a glimpse into his creative process. Below are some more recommended graphic novels from the fall 2015 Horn Book Guide.

—Katrina Hedeen
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Colossal, Eric Rutabaga the Adventure Chef
128 pp.     Abrams/Amulet     2015     ISBN 978-1-4197-1380-4
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4197-1597-6

Gr. 4–6 Chef Rutabaga’s portable kitchen; his anthropomorphic sidekick, Pot; and his love of foraging for unique ingredients (e.g., “sweetened blood berries” and “pop-shrooms”) may encourage readers to be more adventurous with their own culinary pursuits. The quirky series-starting graphic novel includes easy-to-make recipes and uses comic vignettes to concisely introduce such entertaining characters as sword-slinging Winn and comrades Manny and Beef.

Fred The Wild Piano: A Philemon Adventure
45 pp.    TOON    2015     ISBN 978-1-935179-83-2

Gr. 4–6 Toon Graphic series. To save his friend the well-digger, Phil returns to the parallel world of alphabet-named islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Landing on the letter N causes him to inadvertently break the law, and he’s sentenced to battle a wild piano, matador-style. This vibrant graphic novel first published in France in 1973 brims with Little-Nemo-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland whimsy. Back matter explains some of the story’s references.

Hugo, Victor Les Misérables
60 pp.      Candlewick     2015     ISBN 978-0-7636-7476-2

Gr. 4–6 Retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams. Colorful detail and an adroit comic-book layout make this retelling especially charming and eminently humane. Along the borders of each page, cats chase mice and rats frolic in sewer sludge in echo of Valjean’s long journey to escape Javert and provide a home for his beloved Cosette. As it condenses an immensely complicated novel, brevity is both this volume’s greatest feature and its limitation.

Liniers Macanudo #2
96 pp.     Enchanted Lion     2014     ISBN 978-1-59270-169-8

Gr. 4–6 Translated by Mara Faye Lethem. This collection of comics is by turns contemplative and slapstick. Characters such as a girl and her cat, Fellini; Oliverio the Olive; and Z-25, the Sensitive Robot, float in and out of the pages, putting on performances that range from Godot-like to foolish and seemingly pointless. The cartoonist uses a light touch in rendering his drawings, which make observations about life that are worth savoring.

Maihack, Mike Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword
190 pp.     Scholastic/Graphix     2015     ISBN 978-0-545-52844-3
Paperback ISBN 978-0-545-52845-0

Gr. 4–6 Five months after being zapped from ancient Egypt to the distant future in book one, Cleo, the hotheaded “savior of the galaxy,” tries to nab a thief, discover more about the prophecy she’s fulfilling, and navigate new friendships — all while attending school (and, ugh, the winter dance). Panels of crisp, jewel-toned art showcase the graphic novel’s blend of action and humor.

Proimos, James III Apocalypse Bow Wow
215 pp.     Bloomsbury     2015     ISBN 978-1-61963-442-8
Ebook ISBN 978-1-61963-443-5

Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by James Proimos Jr. Spouting hysterically funny dialogue, two dogs await their people’s return. Eventually desperate, they break out of the house, discover that all humans have disappeared, and make a grocery store their home. Challenged by some tough animals, they win because of a tick who dispenses military advice. Black-and-white comic panels add quirky humor, although it can be difficult to tell the characters apart.

Smith, Jeff Bone: Out from Boneville: Tribute Edition
175 pp.      Scholastic/Graphix     2015     ISBN 978-0-545-80070-9

Gr. 4–6 New ed. (2005). Color by Steve Hamaker. Greedy Phoney Bone is run out of town, and his cousins, Fone and Smiley, join him. This tenth-anniversary edition of the comics collection includes Smith’s “An Ode to Quiche,” nine pages of “Pinup Art” from the book, and a “Tribute Gallery” by sixteen comics artists, including Dav Pilkey, Dan Santat, and Raina Telgemeier.

TenNapel, Doug Nnewts: Escape from the Lizzarks
186 pp.     Scholastic/Graphix     2015     ISBN 978-0-545-67647-2
Paperback ISBN 978-0-545-67646-5

Gr. 4–6 Color by Katherine Garner. Herk, a Nnewt, is separated from his family during a covert mission to rout the Lizzarks, scaly reptilian bipeds, who have been spying on Nnewtown. Though “just a little fry,” willful Herk learns the true meaning of hope when an ancestor helps him. The spunky Nnewt’s journey is characterized by offbeat humor and portrayed through dark panel illustrations.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.

The post From the Guide: Comics for Middle Graders appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on From the Guide: Comics for Middle Graders as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts