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1. Ways for Caregivers To Support Children’s Writing Lives

Feel free to add on or share some ideas of how caregivers can support children's writerly lives.

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2. Review of the Day: Snow White by Matt Phelan

snowwhiteSnow White: A Graphic Novel
By Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press
$19.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7233-1
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

I’d have said it couldn’t be done. The Snow White fairytale has been told and retold and overdone to death until there’s not much left to do but forget about it entirely. Not that every graphic novel out there has to be based on an original idea. And not that the world is fed up with fairytales now (it isn’t). But when I heard about Matt Phelan’s Snow White: A Graphic Novel I was willing to give it a chance simply because I trusted its creator and not its material. The crazy thing is that even before I picked it up, it threw me for a loop. I heard that the story was recast in 1920s/ early-1930s Depression-era New York City. For longer than I’d care to admit I just sort of sat there, wracking my brain and trying desperately to remember anything I’d ever seen that was similar. I’ve seen fairytales set during the Depression before, but never Snow White. Then I picked the book up and was struck immediately by how beautiful it was. Finally I read through it and almost every element clicked into place like the gears of a clock. I know Matt Phelan has won a Scott O’Dell Award for The Storm in the Barn and I know his books get far and wide acclaim. Forget all that. This book is his piece de resistance. A bit of fairytale telling, to lure in the kids, and a whole whopping dollop of cinematic noir, deft storytelling, and clever creation, all set against a white, wintery backdrop.

The hardened detective thinks he’s seen it all, but that was before he encountered the corpse in the window of a department store, laid out like she was sleeping. No one could account for her. No one except maybe the boy keeping watch from across the street. When the detective asks for the story he doesn’t get what he wants, but we, the readers, do. Back in time we zip to when a little girl lost her mother to illness and later her father fell desperately in love with a dancer widely proclaimed to be the “Queen of the Follies.” Sent away to a boarding school, the girl returns years later when her father has died and his will leaves all his money in a trust to Snow. Blinded by rage, the stepmother (who is not innocent in her husband’s death) calls in a favor with a former stagehand to do away with her pretty impediment, but he can’t do the deed. What follows is a gripping tale the seven street kids that take Snow under their wing (or is it the other way around?), some stage make-up, a syringe, an apple, and an ending so sweet you could have gotten it out of a fairytale.

snowwhite1Let’s get back to this notion I have that the idea of setting Snow White during the Depression in New York is original. It honestly goes above and beyond the era. I could swear I’d never read or seen a version where the seven dwarfs were seven street kids. Or where the evil stepmother was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies. Snow’s run from Mr. Hunt is through Central Park through various shantytowns and he presents the stepmother with a heart that’s a pig’s procured at a butcher. Even making her glass coffin a window at Macy’s, or the magic mirror an insidious ticker tape, feels original and perfectly in keeping with the setting. You begin to wonder how no one else has ever thought to do this before.

You’d also be forgiven for reading the book, walking away, giving it a year, and then remembering it as wordless. It isn’t, but Phelan’s choosy with his wordplay this time. Always a fan of silent sequences, I was struck by the times we do see words. Whether it’s the instructions on the ticker tape (a case could easily be made that these instructions are entirely in the increasingly deranged step-mother’s mind), Snow’s speech about how snow beautifies everything, or the moment when each one of the boys tells her his name, Phelan’s judiciousness makes the book powerful time and time again. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if there had been an omniscient narrator? The skin on the back of my neck shudders at the thought.

For all that the words are few and far between, you often get a very good sense of the characters anyway. Snow’s a little bit Maria Von Trapp and a little bit Mary Poppins to the boys. I would have liked Phelan to give her a bit more agency than, say, Disney did. For example, when her step-mother informs her, after the reading of her father’s will, that her old room is no longer her own, I initially misread Snow’s response to be that she was going out to find a new home on her own. Instead, she’s just going for a walk and gets tracked down by Mr. Hunt in the process. It felt like a missed beat, but not something that sinks the ship. Contrast that with the evil stepmother. Without ever being graphic about it, not even once, this lady just exudes sex. It’s kind of hard to explain. There’s that moment when the old stagehand remembers when he once turned his own body into a step stool so that she could make her grand entrance during a show. There’s also her first entrance in the Follies, fully clothed but so luscious you can understand why Snow’s father would fall for her. The book toys with the notion that the man is bewitched rather than acting of his own accord, but it never gives you an answer to that question one way or another.

snowwhite2Lest we forget, the city itself is also a character. Having lived in NYC for eleven years, I’ve always been very touchy about how it’s portrayed in books for kids. When contemporary books are filled with alleyways it makes me mighty suspicious. Old timey fare gets a pass, though. Clever too of Phelan to set the book during the winter months. As Snow says at one point, “snow covers everything and makes the entire world beautiful . . . This city is beautiful, too. It has its own magic.” So we get Art Deco interiors, and snow covered city tops seen out of huge plate glass windows. We get theaters full of gilt and splendor and the poverty of Hoovervilles in the park, burning trashcans and all. It felt good. It felt right. It felt authentic. I could live there again.

We live in a blessed time for graphic novels. With the recent win of what may well be the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award, they are respected, flourishing, and widely read. Yet for all that, the graphic novels written for children are not always particularly beautiful to the eye. Aesthetics take time. A beautiful comic is also a lot more time consuming than one done freehand in Photoshop. All the more true if that comic has been done almost entirely in watercolors as Phelan has here. I don’t think that there’s a soul alive who could pick up this book and not find it beautiful. What’s interesting is how Phelan balances the Art Deco motifs with the noir-ish scenes and shots. When we think of noir graphic novels we tend to think of those intensely violent and very adult classics like Sin City. Middle grade noir is almost unheard of at this point. Here, the noir is in the tone and feel of the story. It’s far more than just the black and white images, though those help too in their way.

snowwhite3The limited color palette, similar in many ways to The Storm in the Barn with how it uses color, here invokes the movies of the past. He always has a reason, that Matt Phelan. His judicious use of color is sparing and soaked with meaning. The drops of blood, often referred to in the original fairytale as having sprung from the queen’s finger when she pricked herself while sewing, is re-imagined as drops of bright red blood on a handkerchief and the pure white snow, a sure sign of influenza. Red can be lips or an apple or cheeks in the cold. Phelan draws scenes in blue or brown or black and white to indicate when you’re watching a memory or a different moment in time, and it’s very effective and easy to follow. And then there’s the last scene, done entirely in warm, gentle, full-color watercolors. It does the heart good to see.

The thing about Matt Phelan is that he rarely does the same story twice. About the only thing you can count on with him is that he loves history and the past. Indeed, between showing off a young Buster Keaton ( Bluffton) and a ravaged Dust Bowl setting (The Storm in the Barn) it’s possible “Snow White” is just an extension of his favorite era. As much a paean to movies as it is fairytales and graphic novels, Phelan limits his word count and pulls off a tale with truly striking visuals and killer emotional resonance. I don’t think I’ve ever actually enjoyed the story of Snow White until now. Hand this book to graphic novel fans, fairytale fans, and any kid who’s keen on good triumphing over evil. There might be one or two such children out there. This book is for them.

On shelves now.

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3. Five Children on the Western Front

Five Children on the Western Front. Kate Saunders. 2014. 318 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The sand at the bottom of the gravel pit shifted and heaved, and out popped the furry brown head of a most extraordinary creature.

Premise/plot: For any reader who has read Five Children And It by E. Nesbit (and its sequels) will want to consider picking up Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front. The book opens in 1914 with the oldest, Cyril, heading off to the Great War. Robert, Anthea, and Jane are grown up as well--mostly. Old enough to be away to school for their final years of education at least! Still at home are Lamb (aka Hilary) and Edie (Edith). On this life-changing day, Edie and Lamb discover (again) the Psammead. Lamb has no memory of the adventures his older siblings had, though he has grown up hearing all about the magic. There is a very happy reunion of sorts. If his being cranky and sarcastic doesn't take away the children's happiness. Soon, however, they realize that something is very wrong. He lacks strength and magical power. He has even lost the ability to be invisible. Edie, his primary companion, makes it her mission to get the answers he needs.

This mission takes most of them to London to visit Old Nurse and their friend the Professor. The Professor has a new, young assistant Ernie Haywood, a soldier who has returned home because of injuries. Anthea is quite smitten!

The book covers the war years.

My thoughts: Wow! Not disappointed at all. Not even a little bit! Loved Edie, the heroine, and loved the "humbling" of "Sammy." It was wonderful to spend time with the Pemberton family yet again. If there is a flaw, it is that we still don't really get to know the parents. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. I personally just loved the kids so much, I didn't care. I think readers are in on the secret--the magic--and the parents aren't and never will be.

Is the book sad? Yes in the same way that Rilla of Ingleside is sad and happy at the same time. In fact, that is the only book that really comes to mind. Both books star characters from series that readers would have grown up reading and loving. Both books cross into the ugliness of war, interrupting a blissful innocence. L. M. Montgomery was brave in that she tackled the subject herself so very soon after the war ended. E. Nesbit was older, and most of books were published before the war. Saunders did a splendid job with this sequel.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Movie month, day 17

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions!

Today's question: What is your favorite genre? What is your favorite movie in your favorite genre?

My favorite genre. I have two that sometimes overlap. I LOVE musicals. I LOVE period dramas.

Favorite movie in my favorite genre. I could never pick just one. My top ten of historical musicals.

10) Calamity Jane
9) South Pacific
8) Moulin Rouge
7) Singin' in the Rain
6) King and I
5) Holiday Inn
4) My Fair Lady
3) High Society
2) The Sound of Music
1) Music Man 


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Something’s Coming . . . I Don’t Know What It Is But It Is Gonna Be Great!

The title of this post isn’t entirely accurate.  I know perfectly well what’s coming.  Tomorrow starts off a magnificent run of Best Books lists.  Yes, starting December 1st I will begin running the 31 Days, 31 Lists streak.  I even have a catchy visual to go with it!  Check it out:

31days31lists

You’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the coming month.

The premise behind all this is simple.  For each day in December I will run a “Best Of” list of some sort.  The reason for this is that I’ve read so many books this year that it seems a shame that I only review roughly one a month.  This will be a way of celebrating everything I’ve failed to properly praise.  Also, some lists are more useful to folks than others, so why not provide a variety?  Here’s the schedule:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

Now the caveat.  I say I’ve read a lot of books for kids this year.  This is not an untrue statement.  However, I am no longer on NYPL’s 100 Books committee and I no longer have travel time to devote to books.  That means that my knowledge of longer nonfiction and novels is very limited.  I will strive to make it clear that those lists are limited only to what I have seen.  And, of course, being only one person I can only vouch for what comes my way.  There are definitely going to be gaps, but I refuse to include any book I haven’t read personally.

So get ready for an interesting test.  How will it go?  Will I be able to keep the pace?  Will be choices be slapdash crazy?

Stay tuned . . .

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6. Poetry Quotes +

I am a sucker for great quotes about the power of poetry! 

In fact, I have compiled tons of them and am always looking for more. I've made a whole slideshow of quotes that I often use before a presentation because I love combining powerful quotes with evocative images. And if I were a tattoo-ing kind of gal, I think I would put one on my body! The problem is: which one? There are so many I love! The next best thing? Put them on Pinterest! So, if you like poetry quotes like I do, you'll find all of my favorites here at Pinterest. And if you have more to share with me that you don't find there, please do! Meanwhile, I'll also post a few below to whet your appetite and push you to Pinterest! Enjoy!









Meanwhile, I am also happy to report that the amazing, incredible, and awesome Lee Bennett Hopkins has been elected to the Florida Artists' Hall of Fame! So lovely to see him recognized in this way in his own home state. Janet (Wong) and I offered a special tribute to him here at the NCTE conference in Atlanta:


Now head on over to Friendly Fairy Tales for this week's Poetry Friday celebration hosted by Brenda. See you there!


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7. Board Book: There, There

Board Book: There, There. Taro Miura. 2016. Candlewick. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Frog says, "Ribbit, ribbit!" Chicken says, "Cluck, cluck!"

Premise/plot: This may at first appear to be a simple, predictable book. (I think of Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend!!!) But it has a twist. After the baby goes "wah, wah!" the animals, well, they mix things up a bit! Can the baby restore order in the world?!

My thoughts: I LOVE the twist in this one. It is probably still a little on the predictable side. (The title may just provide the solution.) But it is FUN. It is newly translated into English this year.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Beware of Exploding (Numbers of) Nutcrackers

nutcracker-1It sort of feels like someone took a starting pistol and called out to the universe, “Nutcracker picture books!  On your mark . . . get set . . . . GO!”  And off they went!

2016, for whatever reason, has turned out to be a VERY Nutcracker heavy year.  If you are unaware or only vaguely familiar with what The Nutcracker is, I will sum up.  In 1816 Prussian Romantic author E.T.A. Hoffman wrote an odd little children’s story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.  It was this wild bit of imagining about a girl who receives a nutcracker from her uncle and the fantastical story that ensues.  There’s even a story within a story, which concerns the tale of the Princess Pirlipat and the nut she had to eat to break a spell.  It’s good and trippy.  There was even a version of it illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

In time this story was adapted by Alexander Dumas into merely The Nutcracker.  And from that tale we get the two-act balled choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky.

nutcrackerballetFor a long time the ballet was done exactly the same way every year.  Then people started to get creative.  In 1983, Maurice Sendak (who had four years before adapted Where the Wild Things Are to the stage) designed the set for the Pacific Northwestern Ballet’s production of Nutcracker.  It was a massive hit partly, as Maria Popova puts it, because it embraced, “Hoffmann’s essential weirdness”.  Looking at the art Sendak did for the accompanying book, one really wonders why he never illustrated Struwwelpeter at any point in his career.  But I digress.

The Sendak production ran with the Pacific Northwestern Ballet until 2014 when it finally ended its run.  Weep not, little children, if you feel you might have missed a chance to see a true children’s book master’s hand on a Nutcracker production.  I come with tidings of great joy.  Here in Chicago the Joffrey Ballet is presenting from December 10th-30th a production of The Nutcracker choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, with puppets by Basil Twist and costumes and sets by Julian Crouch and our very own Brian Selznick.  Marvelous, no?  The show will this time be set during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.  Just bounce that thought around your noggin for a while.

nutcrackercomesOn the book side of things, stories about the Nutcracker are abundant.  Last year we saw a couple come out, as well as a nice behind-the-scenes story by Chris Barton called The Nutcracker Comes to America.  That may well be the only nonfiction title related to The Nutcracker you’ll find on your shelves, by the way.

This year Nutcrackers have multiplied like so many Mouse King heads.  I have found six for starters.  Yet for all that they’re now common, writing this book is an incredibly difficult affair.  The struggle each one of these books is figuring out how to tell a story that is both familiar to those kids who are either in the ballet or have seen it, and also has some relation to the original source material.  To put it plainly, there have been mixed results.

The Nutcracker by Grace Maccarone, ill. Celia Chauffrey

nutcracker5

This is one of those books that certainly feels as though it was created to appeal primarily to those kids that get to act in a production of The Nutcracker as party guests and mice.  The entire trip to the Land of Sweets is kept incredibly short.  All told it’s a pretty rote retelling of the ballet specifically.  Perfectly decent but not a top pick.

The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet, ill. Valeria Docampo

nutcracker4

Apparently an entire ballet company is capable of writing a book together.  Here the fact that the show IS a ballet is never forgotten (the cover makes that much clear).  Yet the name of our heroine isn’t Clara, as most productions of The Nutcracker name her, but Marie.  That’s her name in the original Hoffman book!  Yet the book itself acts as a younger introduction for kids to the show.  The kind of title you’d read to a five-year-old who was about to go and see their first performance.

The Nutcracker by Kate Davies, ill. Niroot Puttapipat

nutcracker1

Just a quick note here.  Remember how I said that in the original Hoffman story there was an odd little subplot involving a character with the name Princess Pirlipat?  How likely is it that a Puttapipat would illustrate a book that originally contained a Pirlipat?  The editing gods work in mysterious ways.  This is one of the lovelier Nutcrackers out this year and for good reason.  The silhouettes are delicate and delightful and the small pop-up details even nicer.  Both the original Hoffman and the subsequent Dumas stories have been combined here to try and bridge the gap between ballet and text.

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman, ill. Lisbeth Zwerger

nutcracker2

It’s not entirely fair to include this since this is technically a reprint, but the original has been unavailable for years.  This is Hoffman’s original story but instead of Sendak’s art you have Zwerger’s.  She doesn’t necessarily tap into the oddities of the text, but she has the dreamlike aspects down pat.  A lovely one.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, retold by Renate Raecke, ill. Yana Sedova

nutcracker3

I think that when it comes to the story and the mix of text and image, this may well be the most successful.  Like the Puttapipat version it does a good job of building a bridge between the ballet and the original story.  It also, as you can see here, is has some of the best art.  This is my own personal pick of the lot.

E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker by Jack Wang and Holman Wang

PrideAndPrejudice_COV_FnCrx.indd

Aww. The latest from Cozy Classics. I couldn’t finish this post without paying tribute to this one.  If you know a kid in a production of this show, just get them this book.  It’s quick.  It’s cute.  And it does a darn good job of showing a ballet slipper in flight in felt.  And what more, I ask you, do you really and truly need in this life but that?

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9. The Freedom To Create

More and more, I've been recognizing the need to give students some freedom in their writing lives. Can independent writing time be the answer?

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10. Walking and Talking with . . . Grace Lin!

Steve Sheinkin is back with his beloved series!  If you’re unfamiliar with it, Steve has a conversation with an author of books for kids or teens and then plucks from it the best parts.  So in spite of the fact that he has a brand new book out in early 2017 (Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team) he still took time to give us this great discussion with Grace Lin.  For the full list of interviews, see the links at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy!

gracelingracelin2

Catch up with the whole series!

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11. Movie month, day 16

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! 

Today's question: A soundtrack that you love more than the actual movie...

 I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this soundtrack to Jane Eyre. Alessio Vlad & Claudio Capponi.

Others that came to mind:
  • How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Serendipity



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Movie Month, day 18

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books. We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions!

Today's question:  What is your favorite movie series?

Definitely the Lord of the Rings trilogy the extended edition.

I also really love the Marvel movies. Particularly, I love all three Captain America movies and the two Thor movies. (The Avenger movies are good. And I did like Iron Man 3. Ant Man was a surprise delight!)

The Hunger Games series was very, very good.

I like many of the Star Trek movies, though not all.

I've already mentioned the Dark Knight trilogy.





© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. 31 Days, 31 Lists: 2016 Great Board Books

31days31listsWe kick off our 31 Days, 31 Lists at the lowest age level imaginable.  Finding quality board books for babies and toddlers is a challenge.  It’s not enough to simply have thick pages.  You need to be able to engage the interest and attention of someone who is still developing their visual and auditory processing skills.

That said, there is a belief amongst some people that board books are for babies alone.  Not so.  As the mother of a very active 2-year-old I can attest that one is prone to sighs of relief when he is in a room alone with a board book as opposed to a picture book with oh-so-tearable pages.

On this list today I am including a range of board book ages, as well as books that fall under the board book banner because they are big and thick and have pop-up elements or tabs, but are not a standard board book size.

Think I missed something brilliant that came out this year? If it’s an adaptation from a longer picture book you’ll find that list here tomorrow.  Otherwise, leave me a comment.  I loved these, but I am not a committee.


 

2016 Board Books: For Babies

Blue and Other Colors with Henri Matisse

blueothercolors

When I was a kid I had this pack of playing cards with famous pieces of art on each one.  That was pretty cool.  These days even the babies are getting colorful books from the masters.  Some of these books don’t make a lick of sense, but this one does.  Matisse’s bold blocks of color are just right for developing brains.  A book that goes beyond its concept.

Hat On, Hat Off by Theo Heras, ill. Renne Benoit

hatonhatoff

Babies like babies.  And after encountering this adorable one, you’ll like them too.

Lions Roar (and others in the series) by Rebecca Glaser

lions-roar

I have no idea if this Amicus series has a name.  All I know is that the books (which in 2016 included Monkeys Swing, Elephants Spray, Giraffes Stretch, and more) are a HUGE hit in my home.  Animal sounds + full color photographs of those animals is a winning combination.

Noisy Baby Animals by Patricia Hegarty

noisybabyanimals

What is the sound of a thousand librarians cursing my name en masse?  Ah yes.  There it is.  I know it well.  This book probably won’t be beloved to those with an MLIS degree when it’s IN the library (bit on the noisy side, it is) but I am all for books that cheat.  Hey, man.  If it takes crazy sounds to get a baby to love books, I say go for it.  And you have to admit that Tiger Tales does it well.

Peek-a-boo by Ruth Musgrave

peek-a-boo-2-618ifegy0cl

When in doubt, go with the photographs.

Stanley’s Colors by William Bee

stanleyscolors

There were a couple Stanley board books released this year, but of those titles this was my favorite.  Possibly because it also involved vehicles.  A twofer!

The Wheels on the Bus by Yu-Hsuan Huang

wheelsonthebus

Not many board books out this year allowed you to sing.  This is one of the few, and while it is far too short for a truly satisfying read, it’s interactive, bouncy, and colorful.  Sort of like a Bizzy Bear book with a song.

One, Two, Three Mother Goose by Iona Opie, ill. Rosemary Wells

onetwothree

If it is important to you to introduce your children to nursery rhymes as soon as humanly possible, Wells is the way to go.  Some folks may opt to wait on this until their children are toddlers, but either way this is an essential part of any kid’s library.


 

2016 Board Books: For Toddlers

Baby Loves: Aerospace Engineering!/Quarks! by Ruth Spiro, ill. Irene Chan

babylovesaerospace

babylovesquarksOkay now.  Before you start with the eye rolling, hear me out.  Have you ever actually read these books?  I know they look like a science-y version of Cozy Classics or other adult concepts siphoned down to board book formats.  Go into them, though, and they’re clever.  Just big concepts made palatable.  The titles may have a shock effect, but the contents are worth considering.  Plus we don’t have much in the way of science-related board books AT ALL these days.

Box by Min Flyte, ill. Rosalind Beardshaw

box

I gave a copy of this to my child’s daycare and they were quick to tell me that it was the hit of the room.  It’s the size of a regular picture book but the contents and tabs make it quite certainly toddler fare.

Clive and His Babies by Jessica Spanyol

clivebabies

Awwww, yeah!  Clive is my new favorite stereotype-busting preschooler.  You play with those babies, Clive!  Go, man, go!

Crocopotamus by Mary Murphy

crocopotamus

Did they ever come up with a name for these books?  Which is to say, the kind where you can flip the front and the back to come up with different combinations?  Whatever the case, this one took a little getting used to, but once the kids grasped the concept they really ran with it!

Give and Take by Lucie Felix

givetake

The most ambitious board book on this list.  I have little doubt that its pieces will disappear almost instantly upon a first read, but if you want to present someone with a board book that wows and impresses them, this is the one you pick.

I Dare You! by Nicole Maubert

idareyouThis turned out to be an EXCELLENT preschooler readaloud around Halloween.  I think it truly won me over when I had to put my hand in a crazy creature’s mouth.  Still get shudders just thinking about it.

Little Chickies / Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo

 littlechickiesA bilingual, interactive, accordion board book?!?  That’s like striking gold!  This Spanish/English combo pack is extraordinarily rare, and then to find that it’s hugely engaging to kids one-on-one or in groups just tips it over the top.

Look, Look Again by Agnese Baruzzi

looklookagain

Plays with perceptions, assumptions, and predictions.  Awfully pertinent stuff in 2016, wouldn’t you say?  You can never teach it too early.

Love Is a Truck by Amy Novesky, ill. Sara Gillingham

lovetruck

Love IS a truck!  At least it is to my son, and this book is right on the money.  There’s a companion title called Love Is a Tutu, but I’m Team Truck.  It’s great to see Sara Gillingham bringing out a new book or two too.

Maisy’s Moon Landing by Lucy Cousins

maisymoon

One of those picture/board book combos.  Did I say science was lacking in the board book category?  Maisy has always been on hand to battle that problem.  This is one of the simplest moon landing stories I’ve ever seen, but I kind of adore it.  Nothing wrong with a little Maisy when the book’s as well-constructed as this.

Music Is by Brandon Stosuy, ill. Amy Martin

musicis

One of the trendier board books out there (check out those headphones if you don’t believe me) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great.

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, ill. Julie Flett

myheartflls

I don’t normally go in for the feel good board books out there, but this one’s special.  Smith and Flett have gotten it right.

Once Upon a World: Cinderella by Chloe Perkins, ill. Sandra Equihua

cinderella

There are a couple titles in this series so far.  Of them, this is probably the most successful.  I would have loved a bilingual or Spanish version as well.  Perhaps something for the publisher to think about in the future, eh?

Peekaboo Pals: Opposites by Gareth Lucas

peekabooopposites

Again, there were a couple books released in the “Peekaboo Pals” series this year.  Of them, this was the strongest.  It came up with a couple opposite examples that I haven’t seen done to death before.  No mean feat.

Shapes by John J. Reiss

shapes

I believe that this is a reprint, but I think it belongs here.  Check out those vibrant hues!  Now good luck getting to sleep tonight.

Tinyville Town: I’m a Firefighter / I’m a Veterinarian by Brian Biggs

Print

tinyvillevet

These are fabulous!  They go through each occupation’s day from sunrise to sunset.  Though, if I’m going to be honest here, I’m pretty much just biding my time until the next in the series comes out: Librarian.

To the Rescue by Kate Riggs, ill. Nate Williams

totherescue

Really visually striking.  Not just for those kids already into firetrucks ,that’s for sure.

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, ill. Julie Flett

wesanghome

Flett’s having a good year!  And like My Heart Fills With Happiness, this book features a cast of First Nations children.


 

Interested in the other upcoming lists of this month?  Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

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14. Nurturing Our Notebook Work

On Tuesday evening I attended a lecture by Lydia Davis, an award winning writer whose published work includes short stories, essays, novels, and translations of a number of classics including Madame Bovary. Davis’s… Continue reading

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15. All Things Must End

I have wrestled with this for a while, but it is time for Tweendom to slowly sink into the sunset.  It has been a wonderful 10 years (TEN YEARS!), and I've really enjoyed blogging and getting to know so many of you in real life!
I will keep reading tween books, as this is really my sweet spot, and feel free to follow me over on goodreads (Stacy268) to see what I've been up to.
Instead of totally shutting this blog down, I am going to leave it here so that folks can find some great titles for those middle schoolers in their lives.
Thanks for following and happy reading!

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16. 2017 Picture Books I’m Really Looking Forward To

Ending on a preposition and regretting nothing.

Here are the 2017 books I’ve seen that I’ve found positively delightful.  These are all completely and utterly worthy.  Put them on your To Be Read list today:

Baby’s First Words by Christiane Engel

babysfirstwords

I like a good book for the little littles where the fact that a kid has two dads is part of the equation but not the focus.  Additionally, there’s a stay-at-home dad here that’s awesome.


 

Home and Dry by Sarah L. Smith

homedry

A peculiar little book, but I was very fond of its love of all things soggy.


 

Mrs. White Rabbit by Giles Bachelet

mrswhiterabbitIt is French.  It is funny.  You will enjoy it.  Particularly the Alice in Wonderland in-jokes.


 

My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

mybeautifulbirds

A Syrian refugee picture book done in an entirely different medium – clay!


 

Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett, ill. Poly Bernatene

princeribbit

Look. Any book that teaches kids to read everything critically is a necessary purchase in my book. Plus this is from the guys that brought us The Princess and the Pig, so that’s awesome right there.


 

Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren

rabbitmagic

Books with tons of tiny details hidden within the pages are easy sells.  I love the delicacy of the art here.


 

There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi, ill. Laurel Molk

theremightlobsters

At first it just looks like a story about a dog overcoming fears, but the text reads aloud particularly well.


 

Tony by Ed Galing, ill. Erin E. Stead

tony

I won’t!  I won’t fall in love with this adapted poem about a boy and his love for the milkman’s horse!  I won’t, I say!  I . . . oh, darn it.  Too late.


 

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

alfredfiddleduckling

Ering tends to write longer picture books.  This was has more heart in its little finger than most books have in their whole bodies.


 

Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein, ill. London Ladd

waitingpumpsie

Kids could easily get the impression that after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier it was smooth sailing for African-Americans in baseball.  This book shoots down that myth elegantly and well.


 

When the Rain Comes by Alma Fullerton, ill. Kim La Fave

whenraincomes

Remarkably dramatic for something so short.


 

XO OX by Adam Rex, ill. Scott Campbell

xoox

The return of Scott Campbell!  The pairing of Adam Rex!  And I’m calling it now: The most fabulous romantic pairing of 2017.

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17. They All Saw A Cat

They All Saw A Cat. Brendan Wenzel. 2016. Chronicle. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws...and the child saw a CAT, and the dog saw a CAT, and the fox saw a CAT. Yes, they all saw the cat.

Premise/plot: Have you ever wondered how a mouse sees a cat? how a dog sees a cat? how a fish sees a cat? how a bird sees a cat? Brendan Wenzel's picture book plays with young readers' concept of perspective.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I did. Each spread is unique and interesting. Each reveals how a creature--a flea, a bee, a skunk, a bat, a child--sees a cat. Though it is the same cat, ever creature "sees" a different cat. I'll be honest, the illustrations steal the show. That plus the premise. I would definitely recommend this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Hipy Papy Bthuthdy

Facebook just told me that it's Winnie-the-Pooh's 90th birthday today.  It's not.  The book, Winnie-the-Pooh, was 90 years old in October.  (Wikipedia gives the date of Milne's first children's story about The Bear of Little Brain as 1924.  History!  It's a puzzle.) The Queen (Elizabeth II) turned 90 in April.  Coincidence?  Hmmmm.

Still, since the Winnie-the-Pooh books count in my Top Five All Time Favorite Books Written for Young People, I jump at a chance to praise them again.

Click here, for an interview with the author of a new Winnie-the-Pooh picture book, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan.  I am grateful that the illustrator, Mark Burgess, tried hard to mimic Ernest H. Shepard's iconic artwork - and not the cutesy cartoons of the Disney studio.  (This is a Disney book.)

I love the book, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  So, here's another chance to plug THAT book. 

90 years of Winnie and Piglet and Owl and Rabbit (and Eeyore who is the embodiment of a parenthetical remark) - it's hard for me to imagine an English-speaking world without them!

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19. The Slush Pile Myth

Kids who love books sometimes find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to determining their future career.  For some, the choice boils down to librarian or a publisher.  Librarianship lacks the sophistication and potential glory of publishing, but feeds very well into a certain type of person’s need to work on a grounded level with members of the immediate public. We don’t make the big bucks but we have our own levels of influence, often directly, with our patrons.  Publishers, in contrast, often don’t make a lot of money for a very long time, yet they have the potential to shape the hopes and fears and dreams of children through the products they produce.  They get to return home on Thanksgiving and answer questions about what they do by saying, “Oh.  I’m in publishing.”  It just sounds cool.

But there is one aspect of publishing that I no longer envy.  I did once, when I was young.  Foolishly, I would dream of someday digging through one on my own.  It would be like panning for gold, right?  One conveniently forgets how rarely those who pan actually find said gold, of course.

I am referring of course to the infamous “slush pile”.  For publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, the slush pile is where those manuscripts sit for a while.  It looks a little something like this:

slushpile

My librarian instincts make me think about how satisfying it would be to cut that pile down, but realistically I know that there’s a reason that the job is often given to new hires and interns.

Still and all, there is a myth that circulates about the children’s book that is plucked from the pile and subsequently reaches hitherto untold levels of success.  I know of only three instances where this happened, and I wanted to just give them a quick glance today.  On a percentage basis, when you compare the number of manuscripts that become hits vs. those that don’t get published at all, the likelihood of a book finding a home in the hearts and minds of children everywhere is akin to that of winning the lottery.  And yet . . . and yet . . .

Here are the three successful slush pile stories:

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site! by Sherri Duskey Rinker

GoodnightGoodnight

This book has been on my mind a lot lately.  Not just because my son absolutely adores it, but also because the sequel, Mighty Mighty Construction Site, will be coming out in 2017 (and it’s a proper sequel with lots and lots of female construction equipment characters in it too, I’ll add).  I was at dinner with a friend the other day when she mentioned off-handedly that the original book had been a slush pile find.  What?  Really?  That sounded like a lovely rumor more than anything else.  So I did a tiny bit of internet digging and lo and behold found this Author Spotlight interview with Ms. Rinker.  In it she says the following:

“I guess the great thing about my submission to the infamous ‘slush pile’ at that time was that I honestly didn’t know any better. I made a long (VERY long) list of publishers who accepted slush and just started working down the line.”

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site would go on to become a hugely successful New York Times bestselling picture book.  All the more impressive when you learn that she submitted the manuscript to only one publisher.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

goodmasters

One forgets that occasionally Newbery Award winners are slush pile finds.  Yet if I’m going to be completely honest, this is the only case I know of personally.  Before you go about assuming that the book was plucked from obscurity and then immediately won its author the honor that was her due (and rightly!), please remember that, as BookPage reported, it, “was plucked out of a slush pile by an assistant at Candlewick Press in 2000 and finally published seven years after the author submitted it.”  Clever assistant, that.  Between its discovery and its publication Ms. Schlitz would publish other books with Candlewick, like The Hero Schliemann (still one of the more delightful and underrated biographies out there for kids).

And finally, one of the most famous slush stories:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

HarryPotter6

In this case we actually know the name of the woman who found Rowling’s manuscript in the pile at the Christopher Little Literary Agency.  Bryony Evens (a name that sounds like it would fit in at Hogwarts rather well) conducted an interview once where she said the manuscript originally caught her eye because it had an unusual “clamp binding”.

This actually doesn’t really fit our trends here, since Rowling was applying for an agent and not sending directly to a publisher, but that’s neither here nor there.

The thing about these stories is that often when they’re reported not much is made of the editors’ contributions prior to publication.  The bones of a great book might have been there, but it was how the book was shaped by multiple hands prior to publication that’s of particular note.  I think it’s safe to say that none of these books would be the classics we know today without that invaluable editorial input.

Any other slush pile stories come to mind?  I’m sure there are some famous books out there I’m just not thinking of.  Lay them on me!

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20. Fusenews: Some remedies are worse than the disease itself

Happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.  Today I’m going to start you off on serious news story and that will pretty much set the tone for the day.


 

hatespeechI live in Evanston, IL.  It’s home to Northwestern University and like a lot of college towns it’s a pretty liberal place.  We sit just north of Chicago.  We’re are ethnically and economically diverse.  We like to think we live apart from the rest of the world in a little bubble.  We don’t and it behooves us to remember that.  Unfortunately, we can be reminded in rather horrible ways sometimes.  Last Monday evening one of my librarians discovered that a number of books on Muslim topics had been defaced with hate speech, swastikas, and offensive comments.  Seven were specific to Islam.  One of them was Glenn Beck’s It Is About Islam.  The community responded swiftly and wonderfully, but it’s become a very big story.  I’m replacing the books now.


 

It’s almost here!  New York Public Library’s list of 100 children’s books is about to be officially released.  Recently renamed 100 Best Books for Kids (an unfortunate moniker but NYPL is very keen on the word “Best” these days) it has an interesting selection.  Odd choices too, like the fact that some of the nonfiction picture books in with the picture books section and some are in the nonfiction section.  Some titles I haven’t heard of too, so I’m super excited to look into those.  I did that list for something around 5-6 years, so my love for it is strong.  Additionally, there’s a new list of 50 YA books on there as well.  Win-win!


 

The Term “Graphic Novel” Has Had a Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore.  I have no horse in this race. Glen fails to mention libraries in the piece, which I don’t think is his fault.  He’s just ill-informed.  Getting comics into the mainstream meant getting libraries on board, and the term “graphic novel” was very useful when it came to justifying such a book on our shelves.  We still use it.  Maybe it’s outdated.  I dunno.  I could go any which way.  Still, until comics are used regularly in schools without massive quantities of eyebrow raising, I’ll not believe that comics have “arrived” quite yet.


 

The Undies are here!  The Undies are here!  If you haven’t voted over at 100 Scope Notes for the best case cover of a picture book in 2016, now is the time.


 

691. That’s how many children’s authors and illustrators signed The Brown Bookshelf’s Declaration in Support of Children.  In it, it states, “we will create stories that offer authentic and recognizable reflections of themselves, as well as relatable insight into experiences which on the surface appear markedly different.”  On the librarian side of the equation, bloggers like Roxanne Feldmann have published things like A Commitment to Social Justices and Compassion.  In the comment section Bob Kanegis posted the 1955 dedication written by the United Nations Women’s Guild in their book Ride With the Sun: An Anthology of Folk Tales and Stories from the United Nations.  It read:

The Children’s Charter
“There shall be peace on earth; but not until
Each child shall daily eat his fill;
Go warmly clad against the winter wind
And learn his lessons with a tranquil mind.
And thus released from hunger, fear, and need
Regardless of his color, race or creed,
Look upwards, smiling to the skies, His faith in man reflected in his eyes.”


 

badlittleRelated.  A not-really-a-children’s-book children’s book is coming out from Abrams called Bad Little Children’s Books by Arthur C. Gackley.  You’ve seen this kind of thing online before.  They take Little Golden Book styled illustrations and covers and then put some snarky comment with them.  This just collects a whole bunch of them.  No doubt some of you will receive it this holiday seasons from relatives who think, “You like children’s books therefore you will find this hilarious.”  And it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning except for one cover in there that sort of moves it from mildly amusing to not amusing at all.  One of the parody covers is called Happy Burkaday, Timmy. Accompanying it is a picture of a little girl in a burka holding a bomb.  So.  That.  Now you know.  Thanks to Sharon Levin for the info.


 

Let us turn our eyes to happier news.  When the Wichita, Kansas chapter of Black Lives Matter and the Wichita Police Department held a mutual cookout, this captured the attention of the publisher Tanglewood.  So moved, they decided to partner with libraries in some fashion.  They donated 250 copies of The Kissing Hand to libraries that agreed to host an event in a community where gun violence had occurred.  Then library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.  “Library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.”  Curious?  More information here.


 

Vicky Smith recently alerted us to an interesting topic.  While at the Maine Library Association conference she attended a workshop about the, “critlib movement in Maine. If you’re not familiar with critlib, it’s an attempt to marry critical race theory with librarianship in a pretty fascinating way. It encourages librarians to examine the ways the discipline privileges the dominant culture – for instance, Library of Congress cataloging places queer topics, consensual kink, and child sexual predation in the same conceptual bucket.”  FYI.


 

Daily Image:

I couldn’t say it better than Cameron Suey did.  “Damn, Aesop is subtweeting America, hard.”

hawkpigeons

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21. BUTTONS - The gift of losing things

Image result for buttons images
I need my button box.  TODAY is National Button Day and the craft I plan for tonight's storytime uses buttons.  When I went upstairs to the attic yesterday, the button box was not where I thought it was.  Our attic is, ahem, less than neat.  I shoved things around and looked on shelves and opened bins.  Nope.

So, today, I gave myself one hour to clean the main attic room and find that button box.  I threw things away!  (It was painful but I hope to be fine in a few days.)  I filled THREE huge black garbage bags with junk.  I stacked bins and reorganized my crafty items and THEN, when I was 99.7% done, I looked at the bottom of a shelf unit in the corner.  There was my button box.  Not lost at all, really.

I have an organized attic room with neatly stacked and labeled bins.  I got rid of junk.  I found my buttons! Losing things is a gift.

Books about Buttons:

Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean.    Pete loses his buttons, one by one, but never loses his cool.  The publisher's website features a video and Pete the Cat songs.

Three Little Firefighters by Stuart Murphy.   Three little firefighters have to get dressed for the parade but they don't have any buttons on their coats!!  This is a great book about sorting.

 The Button Box by Margaret S. Reid.   A little boy loves looking through his grandmother's button box. The book introduces sorting concepts.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback.    Joseph, the tailor, loves his overcoat so much he recycles it into every smaller items until all he has a button.  And, then???  Based on a yiddish folk song, this book has wonderfully colorful pictures.

Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail by Elvira Woodruff.  This wonderful historical fiction book features an orphan boy traveling across the country.  The wagon train's cook collects buttons -  (I am not alone!) - as a way to remember the people he meets.


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22. YA Poster: Great Non Fiction for Teens

I used to be a minimalist.  I believed that the library walls should be blank so the emphasis was on the books and displays on top of the shelves.

I have VERY MUCH changed my mind about that...

There are some great places to get YA Books posters:

From vendors Follett, Mackin, and Junior Library Guild
Epic Reads Blog
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Lunanshee's Lunacy

The last two are fellow librarians I absolutely love, both online and in person!  So I thought to myself that I need to start trying to create some themed YA book posters myself and emulate those I adminre.  So here's the beginning of my poster venture! As always, please feel free to download and print and post :)

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23. 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Two – 2016 Great Board Book Adaptations

31daysSo what do we mean when we say “Board Book Adaptations” exactly?  Well, you’re probably familiar with the phenomenon of taking a picture book and chopping it down into a board book  When this is done poorly the end product is strange and squished.  The most egregious example of this might be the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs board book.  With a long text appropriate for older readers, the type is tiny and even if you could read it you’d bore the toddler on your lap almost instantaneously.

That said, some board book adaptations from picture books are dead on the money.  Today, we celebrate those adaptations in 2016 that really went above and beyond the call of duty.


 2016 Board Book Adaptations

 

Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

blackwhite

Actually, Ms. Seeger released a bunch of her books in a smaller, more board bookish format this year (Lemons Are Not Red, One Boy, and Walter Was Worried).  My favorite, however, remains this one.  A perfect little blending of lift-the-flap playfulness with some pretty stellar art.

 

Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman & David Clemesha

diggerman

Actually, I have a bone to pick with this one  You know that insidiously clever thing publishers do when they’ll put the book jackets of related titles on the back of the book you’re reading to a kid?  And then the child will insist with all kinds of whines and moans and groans that they absolutely 100% MUST have the other books, and why aren’t we going to the library RIGHT NOW to get them?  I’ve been there.  And I’ve been there because of this book.  This feels like it should have been a board book in the first place, but that’s okay.  There is an advantage to looking at the other two books in the series (Train Man and Fire Engine Man).  I now can draw the connections between the toys on the hero’s floor (including the rainbow astronaut) from book to book.  Check it out.  You’ll see what I mean.

 

Edible Colors/Edible Numbers by Jennifer Vogel Bass

ediblecolorsediblenumbers

Utterly beautiful produce photographed against a white background.  Lois Ehlert may have cornered the market on alphabetical produce, but clearly colors and numbers were still up for grabs.  Great adaptations.

 

A Kiss Means I Love You by Kathryn Madeline Allen, photos by Eric Futran

akissmeans

Of all the books on this list, this was the one I was literally waiting for for years.  A Kiss Means I Love You (an insipid title that belies the brilliance inside) came out originally in 2012 when I my daughter was a one-year-old.  Naturally, the moment my second child grew old enough to appreciate books with thinner pages, that was when the board book version was released.  It doesn’t matter.  Run, don’t walk, to give it to a baby you know.  And, while you’re at it, also by the companion board book (also out this year) Show Me Happy, by the same author/illustrator team.

 

Night Owl by Toni Yuly

nightowl

Yuly has a style that was born for board books.  When Night Owl was first released I liked it just fine, but I think I actually prefer it in its current board book incarnation.  It just makes good clean sense.

 

Numbers by John J. Reiss

numbers

I think this constitutes the oldest book on this list adapted to a board book format since the original came out in 1982.  I’d love to know the sheer amount of work that went into this adaptation.  Did they find the original art?  Did they just get a book, scan it, and touch up the art’s brightness on a computer?  No idea.  Just a lovely product in the end.

 

Sing by Joe Raposo, ill. Tom Lichtenheld

sing

Of the books on this list, this is the one you can actually sing.  It was always a little too short to truly work as a picture book.  As a board book it’s a much better fit.  La la la la la . . .

 

This Train by Paul Collicutt

thistrain

I need to find the original picture book just to double check, but this book made for an ideal adaptation.  The limited word count, incredibly bright and beautiful pictures, and sheer swath of different kinds of trains works.  Be sure to also check out this year’s board book of This Plane, by Collicutt too.

 

Whose Shoes? A Shoe for Every Job by Stephen R. Swinburne

whoseshoes

When Tana Hoban died she left a great big concept-book-gap in the marketplace.  You can only reprint her books so many times before they get dated.  That’s why I’m eternally grateful for books like this one.   Shoes + occupations = a winning team.


Interested in the other upcoming lists of this month?  Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

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24. March: Book Three

March Book Three. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell. 2016. 246 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Y'all better hurry along, now. Sunday School's nearly over, and the main service'll be startin' soon.

Premise/plot: March is the graphic novel autobiography of John Lewis. So far, there are three volumes in this autobiography. Today, I am reviewing book three. It opens in Birminham, Alabama, September 15, 1963, the bombing of a church. This one covers the rest of 1963, 1964, and 1965. The 'past' story line concludes with the 1965 Voting Rights Act becoming a law. The 'current' story line concludes with him deciding to do a graphic novel autobiography.

My thoughts: From start to finish, I personally found this compelling. Not just start to finish book three. Though that is certainly true enough. But start to finish all three books in this autobiography. Even though this third book was longer than the previous two, it didn't feel weighed down by unnecessary elements. If it was weightier in substance--darker, more depressing perhaps--that is for one good reason: it reflects what was happening. The book definitely captures the ongoing struggle of the non-violent fight for freedom: the spirit of determination, the bravery and courage, the stubbornness of men and women and even children taking a stand for something they believed in heart and soul and mind. Yes, this book is violent and bloody, perhaps much more so than the first two volumes even. But it shows readers--of all ages--that this "civil rights movement" was not quick and easy. That it was something that took years--decades even. That it was exhausting. That it took not just a few dozen big names, but hundreds, thousands of people. One can't learn "everything" there is to know about the "civil rights movement" by reading one or two books. This book series showed you how BIG everything was.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Just a piece of news!


March: Book Three (March, #3)

The National Book Awards were handed out on Wednesday night.  John Lewis' final entry into his graphic memoir, March: Book Three, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, won the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Here is the School Library Journal article about the book, the prize, the event.

The book is stunning in its timeliness.  We cannot forget the fight for equal rights and equal respect.  And we must continue to uphold the American ideal that all people are created equal.  That's ALL - as in Every Single Person. 

As the banner at my place of worship says, "Love Thy Neighbor - No Exceptions".

PS.  The winner, in books for grown-ups, was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Pay attention, readers. 

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