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1. Picture Book Month: Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is having a very good 2014! He has three picture book releases this year, all of which are delightful! Be sure to check them out!


Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

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About the Book: Sam and Dave are digging a hole and they won't give up until they find something spectacular.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Mac Barnett teams up with Jon Klassen for another winner. Klassen's illustrations match the text perfectly and gives the feel of an outdoor adventure. Readers will spot the spectacular treasure that is hiding just out of Sam and Dave's reach and are sure to laugh when the get so close but then change directions. They'll also be sure to notice the dog is the only one who seems to have a nose for treasure hunting. A fun tale that is sure to inspire some digging of your own.

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

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About the Book: President Taft is stuck in the bath! How will he get out?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Mac Barnett takes on a presidential tall tale with humorous results. The president is stuck in the bath and everyone has an idea of how to help. The ideas get more and more ridiculous, from butter to explosions. There are also plenty of textual humor from the secretary of the treasury who responds with "throw money at the problem" to "the answer is inside you" from the secretary of the interior.  Chris Van Dusen's illustrations are cartoonish and add to the humor of the tale. The end of the book provides some historical facts about President Taft and his bathtub. This would pair with King Bidgood's in the Bathtub for a silly bathtime storytime.

Telephone

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About the Book: It's time for Peter to fly home, but his message about dinner gets scrambled along the telephone line.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: Remember the game telephone? Where what you start out saying ends up completely different? Mac Barnett and Jen Corace re-imagine the telephone game with a flock of birds on a telephone wire with hilarious results. Each new message gets more and more mixed up which is sure to leave young readers howling with delight. Each bird hears something new that makes sense to them and matches their own interests and hobbies. The illustrations reflect the each birds interests and helps the reader find clues as to why each bird heard what they did. A hilarious take on a the game of telephone perfect for reading aloud.

Full Disclosure: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and President Taft is Stuck in the Bath reviewed from finished copies sent by the publishers. Telephone reviewed from library copy.


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2. Challenge Completed: Vintage Mystery Bingo

Host: My Reader's Block (Sign-Up Post; Review Links)
Dates: January - December 2014
Requirements: Golden Card (mysteries published before 1960) Silver Card (mysteries published before 1989) I will be signing up for the GOLDEN CARD level.
Required Books: At least six (one bingo); two bingos encouraged (12 books)

First Bingo (Diagonal)

  1. Read One Book With a Color in the Title:  Red Mystery by A.A. Milne. 1922.  [August]
  2. Read One Book With A Number in the Title: Second Confession by Rex Stout. 1949. 
  3. Read One Book With An Amateur Detective: The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875
  4. Read One Book With A Professional Detective: In the Best Families by Rex Stout. 1950
  5. Read One Book Set in England: Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. 1948
  6. Read One Book Set in the U.S. And Be A Villain by Rex Stout. 1948.
Second Bingo (Bottom Row)
  1. Read One book Set in the Entertainment World: Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937 [October]
  2. Read One book With A Woman in the Title: Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey. 1946.
  3. Read One Book That Involves a Mode of Transportation: The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1953. [September]
  4. Read One Book Outside Your Comfort Zone: Brat Farrar. Josephine Tey. 1949 (because there are horses)
  5. Read One Book That You Have To Borrow Free Space: READ A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU'VE READ BEFORE : The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951 [August]
  6. Read One Another Book Set in the U.S.: Where There's A Will by Rex Stout (November)


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Audiobook Review

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Author: Robin Sloan Narrated by: Ari Fliakos Publisher: Macmillan Audio Publication Date: February 26, 2013 Listening copy via local library I know I'm not the first to call this a mash-up of Umberto Eco and Doug Coupland because that's exactly what Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is. It's a mystery about manuscripts and codes, it's a

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4. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody
  • The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
  • Goodbye, Piccadilly: War at Home, 1914 by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
  • Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
  • What If...? by Anthony Browne

Leftover Loot:

  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
  • McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  • Train by Judi Abbot
  • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
  • The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
  • The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  • Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. 2015 Challenges: Victorian Bingo

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Name: Victorian Bingo (Sign-Up)
Dates: January - December 2015 (you can start reading now)
# of books: minimum of 5, I'm going to try to read 10 books


First Bingo

Category:
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Second Bingo

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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. 2015 Challenges: Newbery Reading Challenge

Host: Smiling Shelves
Name: Newbery Reading Challenge 2015 (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books Points:   30 to 44 points (Spinelli) 3 points for each Newbery winner, 2 points for each Newbery Honor Book (So 30 points could be reached by 10 Newbery books, for example, or 15 Newbery Honor books)

Newbery Winners Read in 2015:

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Newbery Honor Books Read in 2015:

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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Perpetual Challenge: Victorian Bingo

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Name: Perpetual Victorian Bingo (sign up)
Dates: for me--any book read from January 1, 2014 on
# of books: minimum 8, I'd love to get multiple bingos or even fill up the whole card!!!

My card for 2014.

1837
1838
1839
1840
1841
1842
1843
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] (review coming late November)
1844
1845
1846
1847
Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own] (review coming late December)
1849
1850
1851
1852
1853
1854
A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
1855
1856
A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
1857
1858
1859
1860
1861
1862
No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
1863
1864
1865
1866
The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
1867
1868
1869
Stepping Heavenward. Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. 1869/1998. Barbour Books. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]   
1870
1871
1872
1873
The Eustace Diamonds. Anthony Trollope. 1873. 794 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
1874
Phineas Redux. Anthony Trollope. 1874. 768 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
1875
The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875. 430 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
1876
The Prime Minister. Anthony Trollope. 1876. 864 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]   
1877
Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought] 
1878
Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
1879
1880
The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
The Story of the Treasure Seekers. E. Nesbit. 1899. Puffin. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
1900
1901
Melisande. E. Nesbit. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. 1901/1988/1999. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. 2015 Challenges: Vintage Mystery Bingo

Host: My Reader's Block
Name: Vintage Mystery Bingo 2015 (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: at least 6, preferably 12

I'll be going for the gold edition which is mystery books published before 1960.

Bingo #1

Category:
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Bingo #2:

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 © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. 2015 Challenges: Alphabet Soup

Host: Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
Name: Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (sign-up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of books: 26

Titles
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Highlights from NCTE

We're sharing our presentations from NCTE with you, along with quotes I jotted down from a variety of authors and literacy leaders. ALSO, take a peek at some photos from our Slicer Dinner.

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11. #TWTBlog Session at #NCTE14: Live Tweets from the Event!

Live tweets from #NCTE14! Join us at 9:30EST at #TWTBlog.

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12. The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm: curiosity & discovery, believing in the possible (ages 8-12)

Kids and teachers are loving a new book, The Fourteenth Goldfish, and it makes me so happy to hear them raving about it. I had a chance this weekend to sit down with Milana, a ten year old I lent my copy to, and we really had fun talking about this book. Talking about books together really helps us deepen our appreciation, deepen our thinking about the layers in a story.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 8-12
*best new book*
Sixth grade is tricky for Ellie, but the day her mom brings home a new kid turns everything upside down. At first, he seems like a typical surly teenager, but something "tickles at (her) memory." Ellie is shocked when she realizes this is her grandfather Melvin, somehow turned into a thirteen year old boy. "I discovered a cure for aging... the fountain of youth!" he shouts. But he's stuck in this new body and can't get into his lab to recover the T. melvinus specimen, the species of jellyfish that helped him change back into a teen.

My young friend, Milana, loved reading this so much that she bought one of her good friends a copy. "I got it for my friend because she's really into science and she really likes sea life. Now she's started it and won't stop reading it."

Holm seamlessly weaves into the story a love of science and Milana picked up on this. Right away, she talked about wanting to learn more about Salk's discovery of the cure for polio and Oppenheimer's race to build the atomic bomb. As I've been rereading this, I love how much science Holm incorporates, especially as Ellie gets to know her grandfather.
Melvin tells Ellie, "Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don’t give up, because we want to solve the puzzle... Scientists never give up. They keep trying because they believe in the possible."
The relationship between Ellie and her grandfather is what makes this book special for me. Holms creates believable, nuanced characters and I think that's one reason so many readers are responding to this story.
When Melvin, Ellie's grandfather, tells her mother, "'Your daughter’s interested in science. She shows great aptitude. You should encourage her.' I feel a flush of pride. Maybe this part of me—the science part—was there all along, like the seeds of an apple. I just needed someone to water it, help it grow. Someone like my grandfather."
As Milana and I were talking more about the characters, I asked her if Melvin reminded her of any of her grandparents. I wish Jenni Holm could hear this young girl talking about her grandfather, a doctor who's always busy thinking and talking on the phone -- and how this story helps her see a different side of him. Milana told me, "It makes me wonder what my grandfather looked like, how he acted and what he was interested in when he was my age."

The Fourteenth Goldfish left me thinking most about the themes essential to science: curiosity, discovery, possibility. A recent TED Radio Hour explores these same things, albeit more for adults. It starts with James Cameron talking about his childhood, when he loved collecting and studying all sorts of things, curious about everything. "It's almost like the more we know about the world, the limits of what's possible start to crowd in on us." But this curiosity stayed with him--and imbues both his movies and his love of oceanography.

The real power of The Fourteenth Goldfish? It's like so many well-crafted stories: creating conversation, creating a moment to think a little more deeply about those around us, creating an ah-ha moment that curiosity and a passion for discovery lay at the heart of science--believing in the possible.

More reviews:
The review copy came from my home collection and our library collection and Milana's collection (I've already purchased many many copies!). If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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13. Thanks for Thanksgiving by Markes

Thanks for ThanksgivingThanksgiving is quickly approaching. One of my favorite Thanksgiving stories to share is Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. This simple story is told in rhyme and features a boy and a girl sharing the things that they are grateful for. It is a great book to read before talking to little ones about the things they are thankful for in their lives. Preschoolers will enjoy looking at the beautiful, detailed illustrations and can relate to the children in the story.

Posted by: Liz


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14. 2015 Challenges: 42 Challenge

Host: 42 Challenge
Name: 42 Challenge (sign up)
Dates: Officially January 1- December 31, 2015
# of "items": 42+

About the challenge: Review 42 sci-fi related items: short stories, novellas, novels, radio show episodes, television show episodes, movies, graphic novels, comic books, audio books, essays about science fiction, biographies about sci-fi authors, etc.

What I Read:

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What I Watch:

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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos  by Stephanie Roth Sisson Roaring Brook Press, 2014 ISBN: 9781596439603 Grades K-4 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local library. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is an engaging picture book biography that will inspire young readers to ask "why" and "how" as they wonder about the universe. Stephanie

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16. Hooray to Simon & Schuster for dropping the “Buy It Now” requirement on their ebooks!

In June, when Simon & Schuster made their ebooks available only to libraries who agreed to add a “Buy It Now” option to their catalog, I was torn between two important promises libraries make to kids and families: we will do everything we can to get you the books you want, and everything we offer is free.

My library holds the line on keeping things free in many ways, even to the point of refusing to offer summer reading coupons that require an additional purchase to get that free ice cream cone. Parents value libraries as places where they know they can escape the relentless pressure to buy stuff, and our commitment to keep it so extends online.

But what happens when the trade-off is keeping popular titles out of our ebook collection? I was stumped. I spent the past few months not taking a stand, simply delaying. Looking askance at every detail of the program and trying to find a good way out of two bad choices.

So I’m thrilled now that the requirement is gone and I can welcome Simon & Schuster to our ebook offerings! Welcome Bunnicula, Olivia, Lucky, Caddie, Derek and Rush! Thanks to libraries who tried “Buy It Now” and those who didn’t and everyone who keeps lines of communication open and advocates for books and readers. Thanks Simon & Schuster for listening and being flexible and working with us to find the way.

Rachel

This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force & Materials Division Chief at Arlington (VA) Public Library.

We would love to hear from you. Please email us at digitalcontenttaskforce@gmail.com.

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17. GUs & Me - a review

Richards, Keith. 2014. Gus & Me: The Story of my Granddad and my First Guitar. Hachette Audio.

Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?

Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h's and "intrusive" r's) and unmistakable fondness for his topics - his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to 'old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.

I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don't believe it could surpass the audio book.  A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums.  Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle - not musical, but surprisingly sincere.  Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.

(Run time: about 7 minutes)

My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt.  Take a listen!



Visit the Nonfiction Monday Blog, "rounding up the best nonfiction for children and teens."

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18. Where There's A Will (1940)

Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]

I always begin Nero Wolfe mysteries wanting to love them. I do love, love, love Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. And I have certainly loved plenty of them in the past. Some more than others, of course. But at the very least, the mysteries generally serve as entertainment or distraction. Where There's A Will is not one of my favorites.

Wolfe and Goodwin are in need of clients, wealthy clients preferably. That isn't exactly unexpected. They almost always are in need of clients according to Goodwin. The book opens with the two meeting a family--dysfunctional family, don't you know?! This high-status family is in mourning. Three sisters (and their lawyers) come to Wolfe upset about their brother's will. Each had been under the assumption that they'd be left a million dollars each. They'd been left nothing, or almost nothing. They were disappointed, perhaps a bit ashamed at how angry they were. But the very fact that their brother's mistress received so very, very much is infuriating. Especially since he was married. The widow is outraged. Will Nero Wolfe go about trying to persuade this mistress woman to share the inheritance? Before that case gets a proper chance to be taken up, there comes a great shock. The brother's death was no accident. Someone murdered him. Now someone else in the family comes to Wolfe and begs him to take the case and solve the murder.

Can Wolfe solve the murder? Will Goodwin reach the same conclusion as Wolfe--in the same amount of time?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne




This is a clever little picture book where the gutter of the book "eats" various items starting with Bella's dog. Soon the gutter starts swallowing the fire truck,  dog rescue truck and Bella also. The girl tosses a note out of the gutter asking the reader to help by shaking the book. Finally, the entire crew of helpers, the girl and and her dog fall out of the gutter. The book's premise sounds scary for little ones, but the drawings are whimsical and with the reader's help it becomes a funny, interactive story.

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20. Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

Hansel & Gretel, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattiotti is the newest release from TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, launched by the superb François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books. What Gaiman and Mattotti do with a very familiar fairy tale in their rendition is amazing, both for the spare starkness of

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21. I’m My Own Dog + A Giveaway

This book will serve many purposes in your writing workshop, not the least of which is a good laugh. Comment on the post to enter the giveaway!

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22. Highlights from NCTE

We're sharing our presentations from NCTE with you, along with quotes I jotted down from a variety of authors and literacy leaders. ALSO, take a peek at some photos from our Slicer Dinner.

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23. Week in Review: November 16-22

Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages.
[Source: Library]
Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Time to Dance. Padma Venkatraman. 2014.  Nancy Paulsen Books. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Sheila Turnage. 2014. Penguin. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. 2014. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
Living a Prayerful Life. Andrew Murray. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life By Beginning IN Jesus' Name. Bryan Chapell. 2005. Baker Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Christmas Quilt. Patricia Davids. 2011. Love Inspired. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Christmas Cat. Melody Carlson. 2014. Revell. 169 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

I'm torn between two books this week. I love Black Beauty. I love Bo at Ballard Creek. Black Beauty is a reread. It's a book that completely surprised me the first time around. I don't read horse books. I don't. So falling in love with a horse book surprised me. My love for the book only grew upon rereading it. And it's so quotable.

Bo at Ballard Creek is a great read. It is illustrated by LeUyen Pham. It's set in Alaska in the 1920s, I believe. It very much has a "Little House in the Big Woods" feel to it. I love the style it's written in. I loved many things about it. That being said, is it one I see myself rereading again and again and again? I'm not sure. I definitely would recommend it. So which book do I choose?!

I often choose the book that is more quotable and the book I'm most likely to reread in the future. It was a hard decision though.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Thoughts on the Debut Author/Illustrator

BrownGirlDreaming 198x300 Thoughts on the Debut Author/IllustratorLast week Jackie Woodson won The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  It was a win so deserved that I had difficulty processing it.  Under normal circumstances National Book Awards for children’s books come out of left field and are so blooming unpredictable that they almost always serve my perpetual amusement.  The fact that a deserving book (one might call it “the” deserving book of the year) won was enormously satisfying.  Of course, Ms. Woodson’s not exactly the new kid on the block.  She’s been writing for decades, her style growing sharper, her focus more concentrated.  When she wins awards it’s often for personal stories (her family story Show Way was the last picture book to win a Newbery Honor, for example).  Now Brown Girl Dreaming is poised to do the rare double win of National Book Award and Newbery Award, a move that hasn’t happened since Holes back in 1999.

It feels right that a familiar author who has honed her craft should accrue more and more awards as time goes on.  It seems logical.  Yet once in a while a wrench is thrown in the works and a debut author will pop onto the scene and win scores of awards.  It’s not a bad thing.  It just sometimes happens that such authors and illustrators get more immediate attention as a result than their longstanding hardworking fellows.

On a recent(ish) episode of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour the topic was debuts.  The show discussed musical debuts, acting debuts, and authorial ones as well.  At one point I think it was Glen Weldon who pointed out that if you look at a typical high schooler’s summer reading list, it’s just debut title after debut title.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye, Invisible Man, Catch-22, The Bell Jar, White Teeth, The Kite Runner, and on and on it goes.

Naturally, after thinking about this I wondered if this equated on the children’s side of things.  So I took a gander at those old Top 100 Picture Books and Top 100 Children’s Novels polls I did of yore to see if the debuts were the majority of the titles there.  Here are the top 20 in each category (correct me if I’m wrong about any of these):

Picture Books:

#1 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963) – No
#2 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1979) – No
#3 Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2003) – Yes
#4 Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947) – No
#5 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962) – No
#6 Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941) – No
#7 Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (2004) – No
#8 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972) – No
#9 Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (1999) – No
#10 The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Mike Smollin (1971) – Yes (?)
#11 Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (1996) – No
#12 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960) – No
#13 Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (1982) – No
#14 Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (1947) – No
#15 Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (1970) – No
#16 Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (1955) – Yes (in that it was the first he wrote and illustrated himself, I believe)
#17 The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936) – No
#18 A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010) – Yes
#19 The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902) – Yes
#20 Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean (2010) – Yes

Children’s Novels

#1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952) – Yes
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962) – No
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997) – Yes
#4 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993) – No
#5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950) – Yes (for kids anyway)
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998) – No
#7 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) – Yes (sorta – this was the weird case where her first two novels were published in the same year and BOTH received Newberys of one sort or another)
#8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) – Yes (?)
#9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) – No
#10 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977) – No
#11 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009) – No
#12 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999) – No
#13 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1997) – Yes (if a previously published short story doesn’t count)
#14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938) – Yes (for kids, though I’m not sure when he did that Santa Claus letters book)
#15 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911) – No
#16 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (1975) – No
#17 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964) – Yes
#18 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964) – No
#19 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932) – Yes
#20 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000) – Yes

I was admittedly surprised by how many “Yes”es there were here.  To my mind stunning debuts happen from time to time but are relatively rare.  This seemed to hold true for the picture books, but on the novel side of things the classics are continually peppered with debut works.

Then there’s the difference between an authorial debut and that of an illustrator.  I wasn’t able to tell if Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was Ray Cruz’s debut or if he’d been working in the field for years.  What about Mike Smollin and The Monster at the End of This Book?

Booklist Thoughts on the Debut Author/IllustratorThen there comes the question of how debut authors and illustrators are celebrated.  Recently the periodical Booklist revealed an issue called “Spotlight on First Novels“.  The cover showed primarily adult and YA titles, though there was an inclusion of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Inside the regular feature “The Carte Blanche” by Michael Cart concentrated on what could potentially have won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award if it had originated in 1967.  The Morris award, for folks who might not be familiar with it, “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.”  Cart’s list is good and worth reading, though it include the baffling inclusion of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (a book that never could have won since it’s so clearly a children’s title).  Children’s books too often get the short end of the stick when folks discuss debuts.  For example, later in the issue a list of the “Top 10 First Novels for Youth for 2014″ mentions only the entirely worthy (and rather charming) The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham as the sole children’s inclusion.

Here then is a listing of some of my favorite children’s book debuts of 2014.  I’m sure I’m getting folks here wrong when I say they haven’t published before, so if you see a mistaken entry do be so good as to let me know and I’ll amend accordingly.

Picture Books

  • Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, ill. Laura James – For Laura James.  I believe Ms. Senior has written several books before.
  • Anna & Solomon by Elaine Snyder, ill. Harry Bliss – Elaine’s debut, that is.
  • Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton
  • Sparky! by Jenny Offill, ill. Chris Appelhans – He’s contributed to the Flight series, but I hardly think that counts.  Jenny is a known entity and not a debut.

Middle Grade Fiction

  • Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine – Vinson anyway.  His mother has certainly written many of her own books over the years.

Graphic Novels

Non-Fiction

  • Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy (she did the illustrations for books like The Expeditioners but this is her formal writing debut)
  • Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus; ill. Evan Turk – For Turk, naturally, though you could probably count Arun as well.

Then there’s the question of what you count as a debut when a picture book author writes their first middle grade or a YA author writes an easy book series.  I leave that to the publishers.

Is there any debut author or artist with whom you were particularly taken this year?

 

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