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1. Reading about WWI

One hundred years ago today, the first shots of World War I were fired. These books about the WWI era — fiction and nonfiction for a range of ages — are all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide.

Picture Books

decker letter home Reading about WWIThe text of Timothy Decker’s unusual picture book The Letter Home is a letter from a medic serving on the front lines during World War I to his young son back at home. A mood of sometimes ironic calm pervades both the spare, observant letter and the laconic black-and-white drawings, which depict the terrors of war in childlike terms: “Sometimes we played hide and seek.” It’s not clear who this book’s audience will be, but it deserves one. (Boyds Mills/Front, 2005)

knit your bit Reading about WWIMikey’s mother and sister are knitting for the troops in Deborah Hopkinson’s Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story; asked to join them, Mikey proclaims: “No way! Boys don’t knit.” Then Mikey’s teacher encourages students to participate in the Central Park Knitting Bee, and Mikey enlists his fellow boys. Heavy on olive and khaki, Steven Guarnaccia’s illustrations indicate the WWI setting but also capitalize on white space, giving readers room to consider the book’s themes. (Putnam, 2013)

Lewis Soldiers 232x300 Reading about WWIJ. Patrick Lewis offers a fictionalized account of the 1914 Christmas Truce of World War I in a picture book for middle-grade readers, And the Soldiers Sang. A Welsh soldier relates how British and German troops facing each other in trenches of the Western Front ceased their fighting on Christmas Day to engage in songs and friendly games. Gary Kelley’s dark, somber pastel illustrations add intensity to this moving story. (Creative Editions, 2011)

mccutchen christmas in the trenches Reading about WWIThe story of the same unofficial World War I Christmas truce is narrated by a grandfather and illustrated with Henri Sørensen’s eloquent oil paintings in Christmas in the Trenches. The bleakness of the trenches is balanced by author John McCutcheon’s emphasis on the indomitable spark of humanity. Based on the author’s 1984 folk song, the book displays a gentle and moving example of how to create peace. An author’s note, musical score, and CD are included. (Peachtree, 2006)

williams archies war Reading about WWIArchie Albright, protagonist of Marcia Williams’s Archie’s War, keeps a scrapbook/journal from 1914 to 1918; he collects his own comics and commentary, letters and postcards, newspaper clippings, and trading cards. Readers will be drawn in by the collage format. The satisfyingly busy pages provide much to pore over, unfold, and lift up, as well as a glimpse into life on the home front during World War I. (Candlewick, 2007)

 

Fiction

angus soldier dog Reading about WWIIn Sam Angus’s novel Soldier Dog, Stanley watches his beloved brother go off to war and then suffers from his father’s angry bouts with grief. Determined Stanley vows to protect his puppy, Soldier, from his father, and to reconnect with his brother. Stanley secures a spot in the military’s messenger dog service where he and the unit’s clever canines provide readers with a unique perspective on the Great War. (Feiwel, 2013)

boyne stay where you are and then leave Reading about WWIFour years ago, nine-year-old Alfie Summerfield’s dad, Georgie, went off to fight in WWI. For a while, letters from Georgie came regularly. Then they stopped altogether. Now Alfie (accidentally) learns that Georgie is in a nearby hospital, suffering from shell-shock. The third-person limited narration of John Boyne’s Stay Where You Are & Then Leave keeps readers experiencing events solely from Alfie’s intelligent but childlike point of view. (Holt, 2014)

fox dogs of war Reading about WWINathan Fox and Sheila Keenan present three stories of dogs who were active participants in wars in their wrenching graphic novel Dogs of War. Fox’s illustrations highlight the chaos and grimness of war, and the text, though sometimes dense, is overall well balanced with the art. A powerful author’s note, compelling stories, and the heroism of these dogs will likely inspire and move readers. (Scholastic/Graphix, 2013)

frost crossing stones Reading about WWIIn 1917, neighboring families face a sea of troubles. Two sons enlist in WWI; a suffragist aunt goes on a hunger strike; a seven-year-old daughter nearly dies from influenza. In Crossing Stones, Helen Frost reveals her story through tightly constructed poems. The discipline of the form mitigates against sentimentality, and the distinct voices of the characters lend immediacy and crispness to the tale. (Farrar/Foster, 2009)

hamley without warning Reading about WWIDennis Hamley’s Without Warning: Ellen’s Story takes place in World War I England as rigid class and gender boundaries begin to crumble. Teenage Ellen moves from her home to work at an estate, then turns to nursing in London, and finally to overseas duty at a French field station. Not even a fairy-tale ending can diminish this poignant and insightful historical novel told from Ellen’s first-person point of view. (Candlewick, 2007)

hartnett silver donkey Reading about WWIIn Sonya Hartnett’s The Silver Donkey, a provocative and elegantly honed tale about war’s toll on innocents, sisters Coco, eight, and Marcelle, ten, discover an English soldier hiding near their French village. They bring the WWI deserter food; he tells them allegorical stories inspired by a silver donkey given to him by his terminally ill brother. Occasional full-page black-and-white art by Don Powers deftly suggests setting and mood. (Candlewick, 2006)

morpurgo medal for leroy Reading about WWIA tale about family secrets and well-intentioned lies, Michael Morpurgo’s A Medal for Leroy is inspired by the real-life experiences of the first black British Army officer, who was prejudicially denied a medal for his actions during WWI. Though the focus of the book is on family relationships and the stories people invent to protect their loved ones, Morpurgo also offers an understated, unexpectedly gentle meditation on prejudice. (Feiwel, 2014)

moss winnies war Reading about WWIWith a difficult grandmother and a troubled mother, Winnie’s family life is challenging. But when the Spanish influenza hits in 1918, Winnie’s first priority is protecting them. The fear and desperation resulting from pandemic illness ring true in Jenny Moss’s Winnie’s War as the heroine faces her limitations, accepts uncontrollable events, and discovers a future for herself. An author’s note gives more history. (Walker, 2009)

obrien day of the assassins Reading about WWIJack Christie and his best friend Angus are caught up in the plot to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Having traveled through time to 1914 Sarajevo, the two become pawns in a struggle between competing factions. They must grapple with preserving or changing history and facing the resultant implications for the future. In Day of the Assassins, author Johnny O’Brien provides a fast-paced combo of speculative and historical fiction. (Candlewick/Templar, 2009)

sedgwick foreshadowing Reading about WWIIn Marcus Sedgwick’s The Foreshadowing, seventeen-year-old Sasha is a half-trained British nurse cursed with the ability to foresee imminent death. She runs away and follows her brother to the front, intent on saving him after a vision of his demise. An ongoing exploration of contemporary reactions to shell shock during World War I complements the plot and enriches Sasha’s character, and the clever conclusion is both surprising and apt. (Random House/Lamb, 2006)

slade megiddos shadow Reading about WWIAfter his older brother dies in combat, Edward, a sixteen-year-old Saskatchewan farm boy, lies about his age and enlists. He sees action in Palestine; it’s here that the horrors of the Great War are most graphically described. Arthur Slade puts an original spin on the experience of a young man going to war in his novel Megiddo’s Shadow. (Random House/Lamb, 2006)

westerfeld leviathan Reading about WWIScott Westerfeld’s Leviathan features a mix of alternative history and steampunk. As WWI breaks out, Prince Aleksandar and his advisers flee to the Swiss Alps. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp, disguised as a boy, is aboard the British airship Leviathan, which crashes near Alek’s estate. As the two meet and begin the complicated dance of diplomacy, the story and characters come to life. Black-and-white illustrations by Keith Thompson capture Westerfeld’s complex world. Sequels Behemoth (2010) and Goliath (2011) continue the tale. (Simon Pulse, 2009)

 

Nonfiction

bausum unraveling freedom Reading about WWIAnn Bausum provides an informative overview of America’s involvement in WWI in Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I. She discusses President Wilson’s fight to enact laws against “anti-American” activities as an example of how political leaders during a national crisis have attempted to restrict personal freedom in the name of patriotism. Illustrations, photographs, and notes enhance the succinct text. A “Guide to Wartime Presidents” chart is appended. (National Geographic, 2010)

freedman war to end all wars Reading about WWIWith an abundance of historical photographs and a characteristically lucid, well-organized text, Russell Freedman’s The War to End All Wars: World War I documents the history of the First World War: from its tangled beginnings, through years of stalemate, to the collapse of empires and uneasy peace, and ending with a brief description of the rise of Hitler. Freedman’s narrative, dedicated to his WWI veteran father, is dramatic and often heart-wrenching. (Clarion, 2010)

murphy truce Reading about WWIThe first part of Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy sparely and effectively outlines the causes of the Great War. Murphy then moves into a close-up view of the trenches before providing an account of the 1914 Christmas Truce. This historical background gives the truce emotional resonance; the subsequent carnage is all the more sobering in contrast. Plentiful photographs and period illustrations convey the paradoxes well. (Scholastic, 2009)

Walker BlizzardGlass 237x300 Reading about WWIOn December 6, 1917, two ships headed for WWI-ridden Europe — one carrying relief supplies, the other carrying an extraordinary amount of explosive munitions — collided in the Halifax, Canada harbor. Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 author Sally M. Walker sets the stage, then focuses on five families that lived in the waterfront neighborhoods. Through their eyes, we experience the explosion, devastating aftermath, and eventual rebuilding. Numerous black-and-white photographs, plus a couple of welcome maps, further chronicle events. (Holt 2011)

Don’t miss Touch Press’s nonfiction WWI Interactive app (2012), reviewed here.

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2. Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

blair baby animal farm Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionBaby Animal Farm
by Karen Blair
Candlewick    18 pp.
4/14    978-0-7636-7069-6    $6.99

Blair, doing her best Helen Oxenbury impersonation (successfully!), depicts a gaggle of cutie-patootie toddlers (accompanied by a puppy and one of the kids’ teddy bear) visiting a farm populated by baby animals: ducklings, chicks, piglet, etc. Simple, active sentences include accompanying kid-pleasing sound effects: “Feed the lamb. Baa, baa, baa… / Time for lunch. Nom, nom, nom.”

 

deneux jojos first word book Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionJojo’s First Word Book
by Xavier Deneux
Twirl    60 pp.
3/14    978-2-8480-1943-7    $16.99

Little rabbit Jojo and his sister Lulu learn basic kid-skills: getting dressed, eating with utensils, using the potty, etc. Each clear, uncluttered illustration shows one or both bunnies with items around them labeled with simple words (in script, for what it’s worth): “Jojo and Lulu’s house: chimney, roof, window, mailbox, door.” The sweet illustrations feature lots of rounded edges and saturated colors. Sturdy pages include thick tabs to quickly flip to four sections (“Jojo and Lulu,” “Home,” “Out and about,” “Animal friends”).

 

holub be patient pandora Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionBe Patient, Pandora! [Mini Myths]
by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli
Appleseed/Abrams    26 pp.
9/14    978-1-4197-0951-7    $6.95

 

holub play nice hercules Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionPlay Nice, Hercules! [Mini Myths]
by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli
Appleseed/Abrams    26 pp.
9/14    978-1-4197-0954-8    $6.95

Board book master Patricelli (Yummy Yucky; No No Yes Yes; The Birthday Box, among many others starring the adorable gender-neutral baby with the single spiral curl) and Ready-to-Read maven Holub (recent coauthor of the middle-grade Goddess Girls series) team up for these witty introductions to Greek myths for preschoolers — and also starring preschoolers. Hercules’s bearded, jeans-wearing dad tells him to “play nice” with his baby sister (“I am not nice. I am strong!”). Pandora’s mom warns: “Do not open the box” — which turns out to contain cupcakes. The last page in each book gives a very brief synopsis of each Greek myth.

 

samoun how gator says goodbye Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHow Gator Says Good-Bye!
by Abigail Samoun; illus. by Sarah Watts
Sterling    22 pp.
2/14    978-1-4549-0821-0    $6.95

 

samoun how hippo says hello Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHow Hippo Says Good-Bye!
by Abigail Samoun; illus. by Sarah Watts
Sterling    22 pp.
2/14    978-1-4549-0820-3    $6.95

In each book the title animal character visits seven countries — France, Russia, Egypt, India, China, Japan, Argentina — then returns home to the U.S. (a map appears at the end). Left-hand pages include text (“He says ‘Alvida!’ in India”) with pronunciation (“[AL-veh-da]”), while right-hand pages feature friendly scenes of Hippo or Gator smiling and waving at the people (well, animals) who live in each place. Simple shapes and subdued hues make these useful books eye-pleasing and approachable.

 

thomas birthday for cow Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionA Birthday for Cow
by Jan Thomas
Houghton    38 pp.
4/14    978-0-544-17424-5    $7.99

Thomas’s gleefully silly picture book about turnip-obsessed Duck trying to hijack Cow’s birthday cake prep translates well into a board-book version. If anything, Duck’s personality is even more outsized in this smaller format, and little kids will easily be able to follow the action and the humor.

 

van genechten 8 9 and 10 2 Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 Edition8 9 and 10 [Odd One Out]
by Guido van Genechten
Clavis Toddler    20 pp.
2/14    978-1605371870    $12.95

 

van genechten happy angry sad Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHappy Angry Sad [Odd One Out]
by Guido van Genechten
Clavis Toddler    20 pp.
2/14    978-1605371863    $12.95

These lively books reward close observation from little kids. Each spread features an array of adorable, nearly identical looking critters (flamingos, camels, rhinos, spiders). The text asks a series of questions, including those that are number-based in 8 9 and 10 and emotion-based in Happy Angry Sad: e.g., for ladybugs — “Who has 4 dots and who has 5? Who can’t keep up? And who is going to the beach?” Spoiler alert: at the end of 8 9 and 10 all the animals end up at the beach; the mountains are their destination in Happy Angry Sad.

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3. Graphic novels for middle schoolers

From poignant historical fiction to introspective coming-of-age tale, hilarious space caper to action-packed superhero story, four new graphic novels for middle-schoolers showcase the range of the graphic novel format.

faulkner gaijin Graphic novels for middle schoolersIn Gaijin: American Prisoner of War, thirteen-year-old Koji Miyamoto is living in San Francisco with his (white) mother when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Despite being only half-Japanese, Koji is forced to relocate to the Alameda Downs Assembly Center across the bay. There he wrestles not only with his father’s temporary absence from the family but also with a gang of boys in the camp who constantly bully him — for being a gaijin, a foreigner. Through astute choices of medium, color, and composition, author/illustrator Matt Faulkner creates a vivid and compelling internment-camp drama for young readers. (Disney-Hyperion, 11–14 years)

tamaki this one summer Graphic novels for middle schoolersEvery summer Rose Wallace and her parents go to their cottage on Awago Beach. But this year Rose starts to feel too old for the activities she used to love — and, at times, even for her younger (and more childish) friend Windy. Meanwhile, Rose is caught up in the tension between her parents and fascinated by adult behaviors the local teens are trying on. In This One Summer, author-and-illustrator cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki examine the mix of uncertainty and hope that a girl experiences on the verge of adolescence. Dramatic purple-blue ink illustrations capture the raw emotional core of this story set at the beginning of the end of childhood. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 11–14 years)

maihack cleopatra in space Graphic novels for middle schoolersYanked from first-century B.C. Egypt to the Nile galaxy thousands of years in the future, Cleopatra (quick with both a quip and a ray gun) is hailed as a messiah destined to crush the evil Xerx. Author/illustrator Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice portrays a time-warped Egypt in crisp line art, muted jewel tones, and striking perspectives that create riveting panels featuring futuristic pyramids and a flying-sphinx motorbike. After Cleo single-handedly vanquishes mummy robots and tosses out another one-liner (“Let’s wrap this up”) readers will be clamoring for more of Maihack’s dynamic illustrations, campy humor, and, of course, more Cleo. (Scholastic/Graphix, 11–14 years)

yang shadow hero Graphic novels for middle schoolersWorld War II–era cartoonist Chu Hing reportedly wanted his comic superhero the Green Turtle to be Chinese; not surprisingly for the time, his publishers balked. Now seventy years later, author Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Sonny Liew vindicate Hing in The Shadow Hero, which imagines the Green Turtle as “the first Asian American superhero.” Hank wants to lead a quiet existence in the Chinatown of noir-ish (fictional) San Incendio. But his mother has higher aspirations for Hank: she wants her son to be a superhero. Humor, strong characters, and cracking good action — plus a nuanced portrayal of Chinese American culture — keep the requisite trials and tribulations of the superhero-in-training fresh. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 11–14 years)

From the June 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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4. To infinity and beyond!

Inquisitive intermediate readers travel into the great unknown with these four new sci-fi offerings (two of which are series openers) involving space exploration, inventions gone berserk, and UFOs.

mass space taxi To infinity and beyond!In Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer’s Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight, eight-year-old Archie learns, on “Take Your Kid to Work Day,” that his plain old dad is in fact an interstellar taxi driver. Archie also discovers his destiny: he has the rare power to be a space taxi copilot. The entertaining plot moves right along, and Elise Gravel’s occasional black-and-white cartoon illustrations add to the fun. This is just the first adventure for Archie — here’s to more to come! (Little, Brown, 6–10 years)

smith little green men at the mercury inn To infinity and beyond!Aidan’s parents own the Mercury Inn, which boasts an ideal vantage point for space launches from the Kennedy Space Center on the Florida coast. During one such launch, a blackout interrupts the countdown, and a large, unusual aircraft glows and hovers above the motel. To figure out what’s going on, Aidan, his UFO-obsessed friend Louis, and odd young motel guest Dru Tanaka band together, staying one step ahead of the media, tourists, government agents, and UFO fanatics that swarm the Mercury. The twisty plot and engaging setting of Greg Leitich Smith’s Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn, along with Andrew Arnold’s retro cartoon spot art, work well with the wacky characters and situations. (Roaring Brook, 6–10 years)

shusterman teslas attic To infinity and beyond!In Tesla’s Attic, the first book in Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman’s Accelerati Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Nick holds a garage sale of the attic junk in his new house, only to discover that Nicola Tesla himself made the items. Each one has a mysterious power; when a magnetic baseball glove begins yanking meteorites out of orbit, including one big enough to destroy the Earth, Nick and his friends must race to save humanity while avoiding a (nefarious) collection of self-proclaimed scientists called the Accelerati. Nick is a likable protagonist, and his strong narrative voice propels this humorous, well-paced action/adventure full of secret-society intrigue and quirky gadgetry. (Disney-Hyperion, 8–11 years)

pelletier summer experiment To infinity and beyond!The Summer Experiment by Cathie Pelletier takes place in rural Allagash, Maine, notorious (in real life, too) for its UFO sightings and alleged alien abductions. Eleven-year-old Roberta (Robbie) McKinnon and her best friend Marilee camp out on Frog Hill to investigate the weird goings-on for their school science project. Though much of the story is about the family dramas and school rivalries of ordinary small-town life, Pelletier keeps readers guessing throughout: is the town overrun by UFOs? Robbie’s sassy, humorous voice and wild schemes, along with the well-drawn secondary characters and vivid setting, keep things humming. (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 8–11 years)

From the June 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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5. To sleep, perchance to dream

A lyrical bedtime reverie; an open-only-at-night library run by a little librarian; a toddler’s pre-dawn escapades; and a kooky bedtime cruise: four new picture books help smooth the way from daytime activity to bedtime quiet.

zoboli big book of slumber To sleep, perchance to dreamSimona Mulazzani’s lush folk art in cozy nighttime colors lends a magical, drowsy atmosphere to Giovanna Zoboli’s The Big Book of Slumber, a large-format ode to the joys of dreamland. Translated from the Italian, soothing rhyming couplets are full of rhythm and repetition: “Mouse ate her apple and read her nice book. / Who else is sleeping? Just take a good look.” Appealingly drawn sleeping arrangements include some captivatingly out of the ordinary: Hippo sleeps on a sofa, giraffes in sleeping bags, and seals in armchairs propped up in the trees. (Eerdmans, 2–5 years)

kohara midnight library To sleep, perchance to dreamWelcome to The Midnight Library, written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara, a friendly spot for animals from “all over the town” to “find a perfect book.” A little-girl librarian and her three owl assistants cheerfully bustle around the packed bookshelves, where small dramas are happily resolved alongside library business-as-usual. This dream of a library is designed with lots of reading nooks, comfy chairs, lanterns, and trees. The gentle story and vibrant compositions have an old-fashioned sensibility and simplicity that capture the enchantment of the middle-of-the-night goings on. (Roaring Brook, 2–5 years)

sakai hannahs night To sleep, perchance to dreamHannah’s Night by Komako Sakai begins enticingly: “One day when Hannah woke up, she was surprised to find that it was still dark.” Hannah’s day holds all sorts of surprises — because it’s still the middle of the night. Everyone else is asleep, so she eats cherries from the refrigerator; then, emboldened, Hannah gleefully borrows all her sound-asleep sister’s best stuff and takes it back to her own bed to play with. Sakai is a master at capturing toddlers’ body language and expressions, and her brief text clearly telegraphs the freedom Hannah feels on this toddler-sized adventure. (Gecko, 2–5 years)

farrell thank you octopus To sleep, perchance to dreamFor those who’d rather embark on silly bedtime adventures, Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell is a hilarious nautical comedy of errors. “Bedtime, ahoy,” Octopus declares. His young shipmate isn’t thrilled. Doting Octopus knows that a warm bath, jammies, and a favorite story can help make the transition easier, and he’s prepared — in theory. He talks the bedtime talk, but his best intentions wildly miss their mark. A “nice warm bath” sounds lovely (“Thank you, Octopus”), but a page-turn shows Octopus and boy headed into a huge vat of egg salad. “Gross! No thank you, Octopus.” Farrell’s detailed cartoon illustrations cleverly foreshadow the antics. (Dial, 3–6 years)

From the June 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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6. Freedom Summer and Black History

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer, a touchstone in the civil rights movement. The following nonfiction books highlight important turning points in African American history. And for more on Freedom Summer, read Kathleen T. Horning’s Five Questions interview with Don Mitchell (author of the new The Freedom Summer Murders, Scholastic, 14–17 years) along with Deborah Wiles’s picture book Freedom Summer (illus. by Jerome Lagarrigue, Atheneum, 5–8 years) and her novel Revolution (follow-up to Countdown, both Scholastic, 10–14 years).

rubin freedom summer Freedom Summer and Black HistoryFreedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin provides a useful and informative look at the event’s organizers, the volunteers, the voter registration drives, etc. Rubin conducted many interviews, in person, by telephone, and by e-mail, with people who were directly involved, and their firsthand accounts—along with copious archival black-and-white photographs — bring the events to life. (Holiday, 11–15 years)

sheinkin port chicago 50 Freedom Summer and Black HistoryThe Port Chicago 50 was a group of navy recruits at Port Chicago in California doing one of the few service jobs available to black sailors at the beginning of the Second World War: loading bombs and ammunition onto battleships. When there was an explosion that left more than three hundred dead, fifty men refused to go back to work, occasioning a trial for mutiny. Steve Sheinkin’s 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award winner The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights focuses the events through the experience of Joe Small, who led the protest against the dangerous and unequal working conditions. This is an unusual entry point for the study of World War II and the nascent civil rights movement. (Roaring Brook, 11–15 years)

marrin volcano beneath the snow Freedom Summer and Black HistoryAccording to Albert Marrin’s A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery, Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry helped “set the stage for the Civil War.” The book begins with a chapter on Brown’s life, then takes a broader look at the history of slavery. The final chapter, “Legacy,” offers a brief commentary on Brown’s influence on the militant arm of the American civil rights movement. His violent actions raise an issue that still resonates today: to what extremes may a person go to change an unjust law? (Knopf, 11–15 years)

walker boundaries Freedom Summer and Black HistoryThe Mason-Dixon Line dates from colonial times: while the Calverts and Penns left England to found religiously tolerant colonies (Maryland and Pennsylvania, respectively), they feuded about the border’s exact location. The surveying team of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon was hired in 1763 to solve the problem once and for all. In Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud & Divided a Nation, Sally Walker provides meticulous detail about surveying and about colonial-era sociopolitics. She ends with a discussion of the cultural relevance of the Mason-Dixon Line to the North and the South, and modern-day interest in the preservation of its history. (Candlewick, 11–15 years)

From the June 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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7. Books mentioned in the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

Folklore

Duffy, Chris, Editor Fairy Tale Comics
Gr. K–3    128 pp.     Roaring Brook/First Second    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-59643-823-1

Goldman, Judy Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico
Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck
Gr. 4–6    58 pp.    Charlesbridge    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-58089-372-5

Lee, H. Chuku, Reteller Beauty and the Beast
Illustrated by Pat Cummings
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    HarperCollins/Amistad    2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-688-14819-5

McHugh, Maura Twisted Fairy Tales: 20 Classic Stories with a Dark and Dangerous Heart
Illustrated by Jane Laurie
Middle school, high school    144 pp.    Barron’s    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7641-6588-7

Munduruku, Daniel Amazonia: Indigenous Tales from Brazil
Illustrated by Nikolai Popov
Gr. 4–6, middle school    95 pp.    Groundwood (House of Anansi Press)    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-55498-185-4

 

Insects and Arachnids

Arnosky, Jim Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders
Gr. 4–6    40 pp.    Sterling    2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-4027-7766-0

Burns, Loree Griffin Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    Millbrook    2014
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-9342-9
E-book ISBN 978-1-4677-2542-2

Huber, Raymond Flight of the Honey Bee
Illustrated by Brian Lovelock
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    Candlewick    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-6760-3

Lasky, Kathryn Silk & Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider
Gr. 4–6, middle school    64 pp.    Candlewick    2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-4222-8
Photographs by Christopher G. Knight

Pringle, Laurence Scorpions!: Strange and Wonderful
Illustrated by Meryl Henderson
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Boyds    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-473-0

 

Oceanography

Butterworth, Chris See What a Seal Can Do
Illustrated by Kate Nelms
PS–Gr. 3    32 pp.    Candlewick    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-6574-6

Hibbert, Clare If You Were a Shark [If You Were A... series]
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    Smart Apple    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-962-3

Simon, Seymour Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans
Gr. 4–6    57 pp.    Chronicle    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4521-0833-9

Swinburne, Stephen R. The Sea Turtle Scientist [Scientists in the Field series]
Gr. 4–6, middle school    65 pp.    Houghton    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-547-36755-2

Turner, Pamela S. The Dolphins of Shark Bay [Scientists in the Field series]
Photographs by Scott Tuason
Gr. 4–6, middle school    76 pp.    Houghton    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-547-71638-1

 

Gardening and outdoor discovery

Ancona, George It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden
Gr. K–3    48 pp.    Candlewick    2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-5392-7

Berkes, Marianne What’s in the Garden?
Illustrated by Cris Arbo
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    Dawn    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-58469-189-1

Burns, Loree Griffin Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard
Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
Gr. 4–6    80 pp.    Holt    2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-9062-8

Grow Your Own series

Lanz, Helen Lettuce
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.    Sea to Sea    2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-311-5

Lanz, Helen Potatoes
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.    Sea to Sea    2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-312-2

Lanz, Helen Strawberries
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Sea to Sea    2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-313-9

Lanz, Helen Tomatoes
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Sea to Sea    2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-314-6

Root, Phyllis Plant a Pocket of Prairie
Illustrated by Betsy Bowen
Gr. K–3    40 pp.    Minnesota    2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-8166-7980-5

 

Sports and recreation

Girls’ SportsZone series

Hudson, Maryann Girls’ Golf
Gr. 4–6    48 pp.    ABDO    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-985-6

Lawrence, Blythe Girls’ Gymnastics
Gr. 4–6    48 pp.    ABDO    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-986-3

Peters, Chris Girls’ Hockey
Gr. 4–6      48 pp.    ABDO    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-987-0

Williams, Doug Girls’ Basketball
Gr. 4–6    48 pp.    ABDO    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-984-9

McClafferty, Carla Killough Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment
Middle school, high school     96 pp.    Carolrhoda    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4677-1067-1

Mulder, Michelle Pedal It!: How Bicycles Are Changing the World [Orca Footprints series]
Gr. 4–6    48 pp.    Orca    2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4598-0219-3

First Step Nonfiction: Sports Are Fun! series

Nelson, Robin Baseball Is Fun!
Gr. K–3   24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1101-2

Nelson, Robin Basketball Is Fun!
Gr. K–3    24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1744-1

Nelson, Robin Dance Is Fun!
Gr. K–3    24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1104-3

Nelson, Robin Football Is Fun!
Gr. K–3    24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1746-5

Nelson, Robin Soccer Is Fun
Gr. K–3
    24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1105-0

Nelson, Robin Swimming Is Fun!
Gr. K–3    24 pp.    Lerner    2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1106-7

Rosenstock, Barb The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero
Illustrated by Terry Widener
Gr. K–3    32 pp.    Boyds/Calkins    2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-992-6

These titles were featured in the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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8. Insects and Arachnids

arnosky creep and flutter Insects and ArachnidsArnosky, Jim Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders
Gr. 4–6   40 pp. Sterling

This introductory volume encourages readers to be “mindful of the small.” Arnosky highlights specimens in labeled groupings that he presents — textually and visually — in accurate, captivating, and even tender detail. Conversational prose is illustrated with the author’s own acrylic and pencil art, some “supersized,” with magnification scale noted. The information-rich layouts are attractively designed; several foldouts enable expansive viewing. Reading list.
Subjects: Insects and Invertebrates; Animals—Insects; Animals—Spiders

burns handle with care Insects and ArachnidsBurns, Loree Griffin Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
Gr. K–3   32 pp. Millbrook

Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. An explanation of the life cycle of butterflies gets an intriguing twist in this account of the work of a Costa Rican butterfly farm, where blue morpho butterflies are raised and the pupae eventually shipped to museums for display and observation. Detailed discussion of each life stage is accompanied by wonderfully sharp, close-up photographs that show intricate structural details. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Insects and Invertebrates; Animals—Butterflies; Animals—Caterpillars; Costa Rica; Farms and farm life; Metamorphosis

huber flight of the honey bee Insects and ArachnidsHuber, Raymond Flight of the Honey Bee
Gr. K–3   32 pp. Candlewick

Illustrated by Brian Lovelock. As the hive prepares for winter, worker bee Scout embarks on a food-foraging expedition, searching for enough nectar and pollen to survive. Huber’s simple but dynamic language hums with an avian vibrancy. In Lovelock’s watercolor, acrylic ink, and colored-pencil illustrations, splattered dots represent pollen and hailstones; textured brushstrokes convey flight patterns, vibrating wings, and pelting rain. A satisfying early science book. Ind.
Subjects: Insects and Invertebrates; Animals—Bees; Animals—Honeybees

lasky silk and venom Insects and ArachnidsLasky, Kathryn Silk & Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider
Gr. 4–6, middle school  64 pp. Candlewick

Photographs by Christopher G. Knight. Lasky shadows arachnologist Greta Binford as she investigates Loxosceles spiders. The text attentively explains the research in absorbing detail, clearly showing how each piece of data provides evidence for the species’ migration and evolution. This care extends to the numerous photographs and diagrams that portray Binford’s meticulous research techniques, the spiders themselves, and the people who find them fascinating. Websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Insects and Invertebrates; Animals—Spiders; Scientists; Women—Scientists

pringle scorpions strange and wonderful Insects and ArachnidsPringle, Laurence Scorpions!: Strange and Wonderful
Gr. 4–6   32 pp. Boyds

Illustrated by Meryl Henderson. Pringle cuts through misconceptions about scorpions with no-nonsense factual information. Scorpion range and habitats, hunting and feeding behaviors, and reproduction are explored. Pringle also provides explanations of scorpion body structures, including the mesmerizing, stinger-tipped tail. Numerous delicate, detailed paintings of scorpions include field guide–like illustrations of single specimens as well as portrayals of the scorpions interacting with other animals. Websites. Bib.
Subjects: Insects and Invertebrates; Animals—Scorpions

From the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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9. Folklore

duffy fairy tale comics FolkloreDuffy, Chris, Editor Fairy Tale Comics
Gr. K–3   128 pp. Roaring Brook/First Second

In this fine companion to Nursery Rhyme Comics, editor Duffy has chosen seventeen tales (“Puss in Boots,” “Rapunzel,” and “Hansel and Gretel,” among others) to be adapted by seventeen illustrators and cartoonists, including Raina Telgemeier, Brett Helquist, Charise Mericle Harper, and Jillian Tamaki. A wide range of tone and artistic styles results in a collection that offers something for everyone.
Subjects: Folktales, Myths, and Legends; Cartoons and comics; Fairy tales

goldman whiskers FolkloreGoldman, Judy Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico
Gr. 4–6    58 pp. Charlesbridge

Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck. This collection features traditional animal folktales of five lesser-known groups of Mexico’s indigenous people—the Seri, Tarahumara, Huichol, Triqui, and Tseltal. Each engagingly written tale is followed by informative material on the culture’s history, customs, and traditions. Extensive running glossaries of Spanish words and local expressions are helpful. Vivid folk-art paintings enliven the stories. Websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Folktales, Myths, and Legends; Native Americans—North America—Tseltal; Native Americans—North America—Triqui; Folklore—Mexico; Native Americans—North America—Seri; Native Americans—North America—Tarahumara; Native Americans—North America—Huichol; Folklore—Animals

Lee beauty and the beast FolkloreLee, H. Chuku, Reteller Beauty and the Beast
Gr. K–3    32 pp. HarperCollins/Amistad

Illustrated by Pat Cummings. Giving Cummings’s lushly detailed paintings center stage, Lee simplifies the tale and puts it into Beauty’s first-person voice. While the retelling retains the story’s original details, the pictures portray all of the characters as black, in settings inspired by West Africa. The retelling is crisp, the drafting is skillful, and the compositions are dramatic. Princess-lovers of any color should enjoy it.
Subjects: Folktales, Myths, and Legends; Blacks; Princes and princesses; Fairy tales

mchugh twisted fairy tales FolkloreMcHugh, Maura Twisted Fairy Tales: 20 Classic Stories with a Dark and Dangerous Heart
Middle school, high school   144 pp. Barron’s

Illustrated by Jane Laurie. In this hefty volume of fairy-tale interpretations, McHugh provides good variety, offering (often disturbing) twists on the more familiar tales and including many lesser-known stories. Laurie’s illustrations are atmospheric, haunting, and sometimes downright scary; the design, with watermarked borders, old-fashioned-looking graphic spot art, and inset quotes, is eye-catching (if occasionally distracting). No source information is provided.
Subjects: Folktales, Myths, and Legends; Fairy tales

munduruku amazonia FolkloreMunduruku, Daniel Amazonia: Indigenous Tales from Brazil
Gr. 4–6, middle school  95 pp. Groundwood (House of Anansi Press)

Illustrated by Nikolai Popov. An indigenous Amazonian tells a dozen tales from seven different tribes. Munduruku narrates with refreshing economy; though his themes are such universals as maturation and survival, the drama is grounded in the jungle. Humor abounds, along with shapeshifters, forthright deaths, and earthy details. In Popov’s full-bleed gouache and ink art, energetic creatures inhabit luminous settings.
Subjects: Folktales, Myths, and Legends; Amazon River region; Folklore—Brazil

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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10. Sports and recreation

hudson girls golf Sports and recreationHudson, Maryann Girls’ Golf
Gr. 4–6   48 pp. ABDO

Lawrence, Blythe Girls’ Gymnastics
Gr. 4–6      48 pp. ABDO

Peters, Chris Girls’ Hockey
Gr. 4–6      48 pp. ABDO

Williams, Doug Girls’ Basketball
Gr. 4–6      48 pp. ABDO

Girls’ SportsZone series. These volumes survey four sports and the female athletes at their forefronts. Each chapter pairs a technical skill with a prominent contemporary athlete. The books are more overview than how-to, but each takes its sport seriously, depicting how the development of skills has shaped the athletes’ careers. Diagrams of a golf course, ice rink, etc. are appended. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Golf; Sports—Gymnastics; Sports—Hockey; Sports—Basketball; Women—Athletes

mcclafferty fourth down and inches Sports and recreationMcClafferty, Carla Killough Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment
Middle school, high school   96 pp. Carolrhoda

McClafferty’s informative and useful book focuses on football to discuss the serious but historically trivialized condition of concussion. Starting with football’s beginnings, McClafferty details the game’s early casualties; the controversy over its growing presence as a college sport; and how it became entrenched in American culture. She then goes on to cover the neuroscience behind head trauma and the increased awareness of the dangers. Reading list. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Football; Human body—Brain

mulder pedal it Sports and recreationMulder, Michelle Pedal It!: How Bicycles Are Changing the World
Gr. 4–6   48 pp. Orca

Orca Footprints series. Divided into four chapters, this book looks at the history and mechanics of the bicycle, and explores reasons for its use, such as low cost and environmental impact. Well-captioned photos that show the unusual ways in which bikes have been put to work — from bicycle soccer in Europe to bicycle ambulances in Namibia — illustrate the accessible text. Reading list, websites. Ind.
Subjects: Machines and Technology; Sports—Bicycles and bicycling; Transportation

nelson baseball is fun Sports and recreationNelson, Robin Baseball Is Fun!
Gr. K–3   24 pp. Lerner

Nelson, Robin Basketball Is Fun!
Gr. K–3      24 pp. Lerner

Nelson, Robin Dance Is Fun!
Gr. K–3      24 pp. Lerner

Nelson, Robin Football Is Fun!
Gr. K–3      24 pp. Lerner

Nelson, Robin Soccer Is Fun
Gr. K–3
     24 pp. Lerner

Nelson, Robin Swimming Is Fun!
Gr. K–3      24 pp. Lerner

First Step Nonfiction: Sports Are Fun! series. Using the simplest of texts for new readers, these upbeat (if formulaic) books give basic and very broad descriptions of the title sports (“Do you like to throw and catch a ball? You can play football!”). Equipment, rules, and terminology are touched on; random “Fun Facts” are appended. Stock photos show kids playing sports. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Baseball; Sports—Basketball; Dance; Sports—Football; Sports—Soccer; Sports—Swimming

rosenstock streak Sports and recreationRosenstock, Barb The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero
Gr. K–3
32 pp. Boyds/Calkins

Illustrated by Terry Widener. In 1941, with “war spreading like a fever through Europe,” the heroics of Joe DiMaggio offered a summertime respite as he began a hitting streak that would beat all previous records and has yet to be surpassed. Widener is a master at capturing the larger-than-life spirit of baseball through his perfectly attuned acrylic illustrations, and the text matches the art in its exuberance. Bib.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Baseball; DiMaggio, Joe; History, Modern—World War II; Biographies

From the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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11. Gardening and outdoor discovery

ancona garden 300x257 Gardening and outdoor discoveryAncona, George It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden
Gr. K–3   48 pp. Candlewick

From spring planting to winterization, full-color photographs chronicle a year in the life of an elementary school garden in Santa Fe; students are shown composting soil, watering plants, and sampling the edible delights. While green is visually ubiquitous, the real star is the white space, which keeps each spread from becoming crowded. Ancona’s no-nonsense text is perfectly suited for newly independent readers. Websites. Bib.
Subjects: Farm Life, Husbandry, and Gardening; Schools—Elementary schools; New Mexico; Seasons; Composts; Plants; Fruits and vegetables

berkes whats in the garden Gardening and outdoor discoveryBerkes, Marianne What’s in the Garden?
Gr. K–3   32 pp. Dawn

Illustrated by Cris Arbo. Careful, realistic illustrations in this guessing book show a fruit or vegetable growing in a garden; a page turn shows each being harvested, prepared, or eaten by a child. The adequate rhyming text hints at each plant’s identity, and the reveal includes a related recipe. Additional information on produce, plant parts, and cooking terms are appended. Reading list, websites.
Subjects: Farm Life, Husbandry, and Gardening; Cookery; Fruits and vegetables; Plants; Stories in rhyme

burns citizen scientists Gardening and outdoor discoveryBurns, Loree Griffin Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard
Gr. 4–6    
80 pp. Holt

Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. Burns brings much-deserved attention to four remarkable scientific projects that enlist regular people in data collection: the Monarch Watch butterfly tagging project, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a project documenting ladybug species, and a frog study. Detailed accounts of the procedures along with the handsome color photography make the idea of participation highly appealing. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Natural History; Animals—Butterflies; Animals—Birds; Animals—Frogs; Animals—Ladybugs

lanz lettuce Gardening and outdoor discoveryLanz, Helen Lettuce
Gr. 4–6   32 pp. Sea to Sea

Lanz, Helen Potatoes
Gr. 4–6    32 pp. Sea to Sea

Lanz, Helen Strawberries
Gr. 4–6    32 pp. Sea to Sea

Lanz, Helen Tomatoes
Gr. 4–6    32 pp. Sea to Sea

Grow Your Own series. With plenty of color photos of kids demonstrating the step-by-step instructions, these guides for beginners make gardening seem approachable and enjoyable. The easy-to-read text describes planting, care, and harvesting, as well as how to spot and solve problems such as pests and disease, over- or under-watering, and frost danger. Each book ends with a gardening calendar and related recipe. Websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Farm Life, Husbandry, and Gardening; Fruits and vegetables; Fruits and vegetables—Potatoes; Fruits and vegetables—Tomatoes; Plants

root plant a pocket of prairie Gardening and outdoor discoveryRoot, Phyllis Plant a Pocket of Prairie
Gr. K–3   40 pp. Minnesota

Illustrated by Betsy Bowen. There isn’t much prairie left in the U.S., thanks to human farming and development. Readers are encouraged to reverse this trend by planting native plants in their own backyards, and watching what animals are attracted by each plant species. Mixed-media illustrations are placed on white backgrounds, their chunky outlines a modern twist on botanical illustration. The conservation and restoration message is universal.
Subjects: Farm Life, Husbandry, and Gardening; Prairies; Plants; Animals; Environment—Ecology; Environment—Conservation; Minnesota

From the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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12. Oceanography

butterworth see what a seal can do OceanographyButterworth, Chris See What a Seal Can Do
PS–Gr. 3   32 pp. Candlewick

Illustrated by Kate Nelms. Butterworth tells the story of one gray seal’s search for food. He dives down deep, and on his way back up, he comes across a mackerel shoal (an impressively illustrated motion-filled orb). Facts about seals appear in smaller italicized type throughout the conversational main text. Textured, realistic-looking mixed-media illustrations show the creature at home in both of its natural habitats. Websites. Ind.
Subjects: Natural History; Animals—Seals

hibbert if you were a shark OceanographyHibbert, Clare If You Were a Shark
Gr. K–3      32 pp. Smart Apple

If You Were A… series. This easy-to-read book provides an accessible glimpse into the world of sharks. Chapters include information on physical attributes, movement, hunting, and use of senses. Photographs show well-known species like the great white as well as the more unusual cookiecutter shark. The organized layout makes this an engaging and approachable book for interested readers. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Fish; Animals—Sharks

simon extreme oceans OceanographySimon, Seymour Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans
Gr. 4–6   57 pp. Chronicle

Simon presents an informative, wide-reaching overview of the earth’s oceans, each chapter featuring a different aspect of ocean science, from storms, tides, and tsunamis to whales, turtle migrations, and coral reefs. Conservation in light of human interaction and climate change is also discussed. High-quality color photographs in attractive, functional layouts support the text. Ind.
Subjects: General Science and Experiments; Oceans; Animals—Marine animals; Marine ecology; Weather

swinburne sea turtle scientist OceanographySwinburne, Stephen R. The Sea Turtle Scientist
Gr. 4–6, middle school    65 pp. Houghton

Scientists in the Field series. This series entry follows Dr. Kimberly Stewart, a.k.a. the “turtle lady,” who studies endangered sea turtles with The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) on the island of St. Kitts. Swinburne covers what we know about the species and how we know it, and showcases WIDECAST’s refreshingly cooperative, respectful approach to the island’s human residents as it works for the turtles’ preservation. Reading list, websites. Glos.
Subjects: Reptiles and Amphibians; Animals—Sea turtles; Scientists; Marine biology

turner dolphins of shark bay OceanographyTurner, Pamela S. The Dolphins of Shark Bay
Gr. 4–6, middle school   76 pp. Houghton

Photographs by Scott Tuason. Scientists in the Field series. In the ocean waters of Western Australia, the scientists of the Shark Bay Dolphin Project investigate the behaviors of the highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin, which, unique among the species, uses tools. The detailed descriptions of the scientists’ day-to-day activities provide a window into the practice of animal behavior studies. Color photographs portray both the dolphins and the scientists hard at work at their observations. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Mammals; Animals—Dolphins; Scientists; Marine biology

From the May 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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13. Summer Reading List 2014

Picture Books (Fiction and Nonfiction)
Splash, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke; illus. by Lauren Tobia (Kane Miller)
Journey by Aaron Becker; illus. by the author (Candlewick)
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown; illus. by the author (Little, Brown)
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio; illus. by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)
Locomotive by Brian Floca; illus. by the author (Jackson/Atheneum)
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle; illus. by the author (Chronicle)
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illus. by Melissa Sweet (Candlewick)
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales; illus. by the author (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore; illus. by Susan L. Roth (Lee & Low)
Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner; illus. by the author (Clarion)

Early Readers and Younger Fiction
Big Bad Wolf and Itsy Bitsy Spider [Urgency Emergency!] by Dosh Archer; illus. by the author (Whitman)
The Miniature World of Marvin & James by Elise Broach; illus. by Kelly Murphy (Ottaviano/Holt)
Dog Days [Carver Chronicles] by Karen English; illus. by Laura Freeman (Clarion)
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman; illus. by Skottie Young (Harper/HarperCollins)
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author (Greenwillow)
Ling & Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin; illus. by the author (Little, Brown)
The Big Wet Balloon by Liniers; illus. by the author (Toon/Candlewick)
Lulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay; illus. by Priscilla Lamont (Whitman)
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli; illus. by the author (Hyperion)
A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems; illus. by the author (Hyperion)

Intermediate Fiction and Nonfiction
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt; illus. by Jennifer Bricking (Atheneum)
Doll Bones by Holly Black; illus. by Eliza Wheeler (McElderry)
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by K. G. Campbell (Candlewick)
From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos (Farrar)
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata; illus. by Julia Kuo (Atheneum)
Bluffton: My Summers with Buster by Matt Phelan; illus. by the author (Candlewick)
Romeo Blue by Phoebe Stone (Levine/Scholastic)
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Knopf)
How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle (RoadRunner)
The Dolphins of Shark Bay [Scientists in the Field] by Pamela S. Turner; photos by Scott Tuason (Houghton)

Middle School Fiction and Nonfiction
Outside In by Sarah Ellis (Groundwood)
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Levine/Scholastic)
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleeson (Chronicle)
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd; illus. by the author (Workman)
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (Knopf)
Cress [Lunar Chronicles] by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel)
The Cracks in the Kingdom [Colors of Madeleine] by Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine/Scholastic)
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum)
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Dial)

High School Fiction and Nonfiction
He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander (Amistad/HarperTeen)
All the Truth That’s in Me
by Julie Berry (Viking)
If You Could Be Mine
by Sara Farizan (Algonquin)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner; illus. by Julian Crouch (Candlewick)
March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang; illus. by the author; color by Lark Pien (First Second/Roaring Brook)

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14. Funny business

Cockamamie mysteries, confectionary disasters, well-meaning primates, and oddball friendships. All of the above abound in the following fantastically funny chapter book series entries.

broach miniature world of marvin and james Funny businessElise Broach’s new early chapter book series Masterpiece Adventures extends the antics of Marvin (a beetle) and James (a boy) from Broach’s middle grade book Masterpiece. In The Miniature World of Marvin & James, Marvin helps James pack for a trip to the beach. Then, with James away, Marvin has some adventures inside the house. The comical tone, relatable characters, and Kelly Murphy’s lively pen-and-ink illustrations in a brown and gray palette combine with short sentences to make the book perfect for younger readers. (Holt/Ottaviano, 5–8 years)

cronin chicken squad Funny businessWhile retired search-and-rescue dog J. J. Tully (from The Trouble with Chickens) takes a nap, four of the chicks in his charge find themselves in a mess of trouble investigating “something big and scary in the yard.” Kicking off the Chicken Squad Adventure series, Doreen Cronin’s The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure combines straightforward sentences with Kevin Cornell’s expressive black-and-white illustrations on almost every page to support new chapter book readers. The zealous Chicken Squad has much to learn, but the chicks’ earnest mistakes create more than enough action, humor, and mayhem to suffice. (Atheneum, 5–8 years)

catalanotto more of monkey robot Funny businessThe title characters of Peter Catalanotto’s Monkey & Robot are back with four new humorous stories in More of Monkey & Robot. First, Monkey worries about what to be for Halloween; then, the unlikely duo take a trip to the beach; next, the two figure out the best use for a tire Monkey finds in the front yard; finally, Monkey is confused by the clock and unsure whether it is morning or nighttime. In all cases, patient Robot helps sort the whole thing out. Friendly black-and-white pencil and ink illustrations provide helpful visual cues, and lots of easy-to-decode text fills each page, making this a good bridge to chapter books for new readers. (Atheneum/Jackson, 5–8 years)

mills annika riz Funny businessThe third-grade star of author Claudia Mills and illustrator Rob Shepperson’s Annika Riz, Math Whiz, the latest in the Franklin School Friends series, is out to win the citywide Sudoku contest. However, she’ll have to out-Sudoku her rival Simon (who, series fans will remember, was also Kelsey’s biggest competition in Kelsey Green, Reading Queen). As always, Mills has her characters struggle with right and wrong behavior, and here Annika accepts that everyone is different and that sometimes simply trying is a worthwhile endeavor. (Farrar/Ferguson, 5–8 years)

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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15. Sassy siblings

There’s nothing like a sibling when it comes to trouble-making, attention-seeking, and one-upping. Also: support, companionship, and giggle-sharing. These four new picture books feature brothers and sisters doing what siblings do best.

dipucchio gaston Sassy siblingsThe star of Kelly DiPucchio’s Gaston looms over his poodle sisters Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La. At the park, they meet a family like theirs but in reverse: bulldogs Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno and their petite sister Antoinette. Were Gaston and Antoinette switched at birth? Should they trade families? It seems like the right thing to do until they try it, only to discover that what looks right doesn’t always feel right. Christian Robinson’s expressive paintings elegantly illustrate this different-types-of-families story. (Atheneum, 3–6 years)

castillo troublemaker Sassy siblingsWhile his parents tend garden and his sister plays tea party, the young narrator of The Troublemaker is bored. Seizing his wooden pirate’s sword, he kidnaps his sister’s stuffed rabbit, lashes it to his toy boat, and sets the boat free on the lake. Later on, when the bunny disappears — again! — everyone understandably suspects the narrator. With author/illustrator Lauren Castillo’s boldly rendered pictures, the book is at once handsome and child friendly — a good conversation starter for preschoolers. (Clarion, 3–6 years)

schwartz splat starring the vole brothers Sassy siblingsOut for a walk, two vole brothers look up to see a pigeon flying overhead: “Ooooooo…” But then — “SPLAT!” The clueless pigeon lets loose, dropping a bird-poo bomb on one brother’s head (pause here for preschool laughter). Splat!: Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz (creator of the Mole Sisters stories) plays out primarily in the spare ink and pencil-crayon illustrations, especially in Schwartz’s expressive characters. A few sound effects (flap flap; splat) and minimal dialogue (“Err…”; “Hee hee hee”) advance the bare-bones story, but pre-readers should be able to follow the slapstick action easily on their own. (Owlkids, 3–6 years)

kornell me first Sassy siblingsDonkeys Martha and Hal, from Me First by Max Kornell, are ultracompetitive siblings. After a family picnic — during which they find “exciting ways to try to outdo each other” — they get permission to go home a different way. One misadventure after another on the walk back helps the siblings grow to appreciate each other and realize that a little cooperation goes a long way. Kornell’s acrylic ink drawings burst with color in this sibling rivalry story minus any heavy-handedness. (Penguin/Paulsen, 4–7 years)

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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16. Bummer summer

Who says summer reads have to be all beaches and rainbows? Four emotionally resonant YA novels explore love and grief, families and friendships.

lockhart we were liars Bummer summerCadence Sinclair Eastman, eldest grandchild of a wealthy but dysfunctional clan, tells readers about an accident that happened during her fifteenth summer on her family’s private island, leaving her with debilitating migraines and memory loss. As the story in E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that the emotionally fragile Cady is also an unreliable narrator. The book’s ultimate reveal is shocking both for its tragedy and for the how-could-I-have-not-suspected-that? feeling it leaves readers experiencing. (Delacorte, 14–17 years)

caletti last forever Bummer summer The Last Forever begins six months after Tessa’s mother’s death from cancer. Still adrift in their loss, Tessa and her father take a road trip and end up in at the home of Tessa’s grandmother, who is a virtual stranger. Tessa is stunned when fly-by-night Dad gets back in the truck and leaves her there to sort out his grief. Luckily, first her grandmother, then new friends Sasha and Henry (especially Henry), and eventually the entire small town rally around Tessa to help save her mother’s rare and mysterious pixiebell plant. Author Deb Caletti’s deft hand with detail and emotionally true writing make for a wholly absorbing read. (Simon Pulse, 14–17 years)

leavitt chapel wars Bummer summerHolly is devastated when her charismatic grandfather dies — and surprised to learn that he has bequeathed his financially insolvent Las Vegas wedding chapel to her. Grandpa Jim has also asked her to deliver a letter to Dax Cranston — equally surprising, since he is the grandson of Jim’s nemesis, owner of the competing wedding chapel next door. With its quirky setting and cast, Lindsey Leavitt’s The Chapel Wars could almost be a sitcom, but the hilarity is tempered by genuine feeling. (Bloomsbury, 14–17 years)

smith geography Bummer summerIn The Geography of You and Me, lonely teens Owen and Lucy meet in the stalled elevator of their NYC apartment building during a citywide blackout and spend a memorable (but chaste) night together. But soon afterward, Lucy’s jet-setting parents whisk her off to Europe, and Owen and his widowed father move to San Francisco. Fans of Jennifer E. Smith’s previous novels will recognize the alternating narration; the reflective writing style; and the serendipitous coincidences that bring the characters back together: when you’re with the person you love, “the world shrank to just the right size. It molded itself to fit only the two of you, and nothing more.” (Little/Poppy, 14–17 years)

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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17. Digital fun and learning

Nonfiction apps and e-books can be excellent tools to supplement classroom learning or independent research. These four interactive offerings — three science, one poetry — engage young users as they educate.

i love mountains app Digital fun and learningCute kid Sloan Graham, the bear-suit-clad main character of I Love Mountains, has a passionate interest in the titular landforms. Over nineteen interactive pages, she shares fascinating geological facts including the three different types of mountains, how plate tectonics form them over time, the largest mountains on Earth and Mars, and various flora and fauna found within mountain ecosystems. The simplicity of Amanda Joyce Bishop’s textured collage art adds a playful sense of wonder to the scientific discussion. Basic animations (i.e. snow falling, clouds moving) and easy touchscreen activities push the app forward at the user’s pace. (Forest Giant, 4–7 years)

color uncovered app Digital fun and learningLike any good discovery museum exhibit, the San Francisco Exploratorium‘s Color Uncovered invites users to experiment for themselves as they learn about color. The light spectrum, humans’ and various animals’ perception of color, color blending, and complementary colors are just a few of the seventeen topics covered. In keeping with the Exploratorium’s philosophy that “having fun is an important part of the [learning] process,” the text is casual and humorous, frequently highlighting facts that are bizarre or downright (delightfully) gross. Video and interactive opportunities enhance the engaging text and crisp visuals. (Exploratorium, 6–10 years)

amnh dinosaurs Digital fun and learningNothing beats seeing dino fossils in person, but the American Museum of Natural History‘s Dinosaurs lets you get close to the real thing. Double-tap anywhere on an amazing mosaic in the shape of a T-rex’s skull to zoom in and see how individual images of fossils, scientists, dioramas, and archival photos — over a thousand — make it up. A simple three-button navigation at the bottom of the screen allows you to jump back to the full mosaic; read more about the fossils in the collection; and access “AMNH Extras” including museum information and Educators Guide PDFs. (AMNH, 6–10 years)

poetry app Digital fun and learningThe Poetry App presents over one hundred poems from sixteen of the world’s greatest poets such as W. H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, William Butler Yeats, and Sylvia Plath. Each poem available to read is paired with an audio recitation performed by one of thirty critically acclaimed performers — a veritable who’s who of British thespian elite — including Ralph Fiennes, Helen McCrory, Juliet Stevenson, and Jeremy Irons. Introductions and essays by the late author Josephine Hart accompany various poems, providing context and some explication. A composition tool allows users to compose their own poetry if inspiration strikes. (Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, 9–14 years)

From the May 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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18. April is National Poetry Month

Preschool-perfect nursery rhymes, a potpourri of new-reader-friendly seasonal verse, a presidential history lesson in rhyme, and a picture book biography about a famous poet — these new books offer unique avenues for celebrating National Poetry Month.

mcphail my mother goose April is National Poetry MonthEditor and illustrator David McPhail’s My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes is an affable collection of sixty-three nursery rhymes plus seven interspersed short sections of concepts (counting, “Getting Dressed,” “Action Words”). McPhail portrays a classic, though updated, Mother Goose world, populated with people (not all white) and anthropomorphized animals. Each spread is devoted to one or two mostly familiar poems, and the playful illustrations are afforded plenty of room to interpret the verses, giving the whole an uncluttered, approachable look. (Roaring Brook, 2–5 years)

janeczko firefly july2 April is National Poetry MonthMelissa Sweet’s child-friendly mixed-media illustrations — loosely rendered, collage-like assemblages in seasonal palettes — enhance the thirty-six excellent poems showcased in Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems. Selected by Paul B. Janeczko, the verses — some as brief as three lines or a dozen words — are largely by familiar poets (Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes), including those known for their children’s verse (Alice Schertle, Charlotte Zolotow). (Candlewick, 4–7 years)

bober papa is a poet April is National Poetry MonthNatalie S. Bober draws on her own 1981 young adult biography A Restless Spirit for her new picture book Papa Is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost, focused on the pivotal years (1900–12) when Frost lived in Derry, New Hampshire. Skillfully, Bober introduces Frost’s idiosyncrasies along with his gifts, and frequently incorporates lines from Frost’s poems. Rebecca Gibbon’s acrylic, pencil, and watercolor art quietly captures the era’s essence. Quotes from Frost on poetry and a dozen iconic poems inspired by those Derry years are included. (Ottaviano/Holt, 5–8 years)

singer rutherford b April is National Poetry MonthFor slightly older readers, Marilyn Singer’s Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents offers thirty-nine poems for our forty-three presidents, touching on sophisticated subjects such as political ideology, foreign policy, and domestic programs. A quote from George Washington in a bold hand-lettered font opens the book, and with the poem positioned on the facing page, readers have space to contemplate its meaning. John Hendrix’s expansive, richly colored art captures each man’s likeness, and brief biographical notes give pertinent background information. (Disney-Hyperion, 6–10 years)

From the April 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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19. Boys’ life

A heartrending and hilarious junior-high road-trip novel; a story about stepping up in dire straits; an exploration of grief, false exteriors, and hope; and a riveting depiction of a boy feigning manhood. These new novels featuring teenage boys offer coming-of-age drama with real heart.

herrndorf why we took the car Boys lifeTwo teens abandon their lackluster lives and hit the Autobahn in the audacious tragicomedy Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf. Unpopular Mike lives a life of quiet desperation at his Berlin junior high; new kid “Tschick” comes to class drunk and might be in the Russian mafia. When Tschick rolls up to Mike’s house in a hotwired car and proposes a road trip without a map, destination, or driver’s license, Mike says yes. Mike’s narration is an anxious stream of wry humor and linked anecdotes, but the moments when his façade slips are startling windows into the pain of social exclusion and the aching loneliness of being fourteen. (Levine/Scholastic, 12–15 years)

rocco swim that rock Boys lifeJake Cole’s father had been one of the best shell fishermen in Narragansett Bay until he injured his back and settled into running the Riptide Diner. When he goes missing, Jake and his mother lose their house, and now the diner is in danger of being repossessed. A mysterious character named Captain and the seasoned fisherman Gene Hassard help Jake earn money and learn the ways of the bay. With lushly detailed sense of place and character, Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano delineates the struggle of a boy coming to terms with his situation. (Candlewick, 12–15 years)

blackstone sorry youre lost Boys lifeIn Matt Blackstone’s Sorry You’re Lost, seventh grader Denny “Donuts” Murphy has felt alone and small since his mother died. So he intentionally develops a big persona: clowning in the classroom, making everything into a joke. Gradually, with the help of friends and a budding romance, Donuts sheds his manic showman exterior and learns to appreciate the good of the world. The first-person narrative reveals Donuts’s inner self, and what might have been just a series of cliched middle-school antics turns out to be a story of substance and hope. (Farrar, 11–14 years)

gebhart there will be bears Boys lifeThirteen-year-old Tyson figures he’ll make a fine outdoorsman: he’s been to a shooting range and owns all the Great American Hunter video games and Planet Earth DVDs. So when his grandfather (and, basically, best friend) invites him to go hunting in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, he sees it as his chance to prove himself a man. But the combination of an inexperienced boy, a sickly seventy-seven-year-old man, and a killer grizzly bear reported in the park is a dangerous one. Ryan Gebhart’s There Will Be Bears is a satisfyingly complicated realistic drama that deals with big issues; excellent pacing will hold readers in its grip. (Candlewick, 11–14 years)

From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20. Flora and friends

Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (illustrated by K. G. Campbell; Candlewick, 6–9 years) — that warmly told and illustrated story of a comics-loving girl, a superheroic squirrel, and their friendship — took home the 2014 Newbery Medal. The following primary and early intermediate novels also star smart, spirited girls on adventures big and small, all accompanied by energetic illustrations — a winning combination for Flora fans.

viorst lulus mysterious mission Flora and friendsLulu (Lulu and the Brontosaurus; Lulu Walks the Dogs) may not be the “serious pain in the butt” she once was, but she’s still a tough customer. When Lulu’s parents go on vacation without her, she meets her match in babysitter Sonia Sofia Solinsky. Ms. Solinsky thwarts Lulu’s schemes to oust her, eventually revealing that she is a spy and a spy-trainer. Readers may wonder: is Ms. Solinsky truly a spy? No matter; craving her tutelage, Lulu behaves with uncommon decorum. Author Judith Viorst and illustrator Kevin Cornell’s farcical Lulu’s Mysterious Mission will tickle younger listeners and emerging readers. (Atheneum, 6–9 years)

barrows ivy + bean take the case Flora and friendsA black-and-white movie featuring a tough-talking private investigator inspires Ivy and Bean to solve some mysteries, starting with “The Mystery of What’s Under the Cement Rectangle” in everyone’s front yard. The other kids on Pancake Court become less impressed with each case — until a mysterious yellow rope appears tied to the chimney on Dino’s house and the friends investigate whodunit. With Ivy + Bean Take the Case, the tenth entry in the popular series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, it’s no mystery why these chapter books continue to please: clever stories and illustrations to match. (Chronicle, 6–9 years)

gardner operation bunny Flora and friendsIn author Sally Gardner’s and illustrator David Roberts’s Operation Bunny, Emily is demoted to Cinderella status after the birth of her (deliciously nasty) adoptive parents’ own triplets. Fortunately, an elderly neighbor and her talking cat change everything. Soon Emily is neck-deep in magic: figuring out her role as the Keeper of the Keys, tracking down a mysterious shop she has inherited, and thwarting a witch who turns people into unlikely-hued rabbits. While reaching a satisfying conclusion, this first brisk, entertaining entry in the Wings & Co. series will leave readers eager for the next. (Holt, 8–11 years)

foxlee ophelia and the marvelous boy Flora and friendsExploring the museum where her father is a curator, Ophelia spies a boy through a cleverly hidden keyhole. He tells her that he’s a prisoner of the Snow Queen. To defeat her, someone must find the boy’s missing sword — and that someone is clearly Ophelia. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a fable of psychic healing, in which Ophelia, mourning her recently deceased mother, must battle the queen and her sword, the Great Sorrow. Author Karen Foxlee’s deftness with characterization and setting makes this a satisfying fantasy. (Knopf, 8–11 years)

From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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21. Things that stop and go

Need a break from that perennial favorite Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? These four new transportation-themed picture books for preschoolers combine well-paced texts, dynamic illustrations, and entertaining stories — the perfect companion for daytime journeys and journeys into night.

barton my bus Things that stop and goByron Barton‘s My Bus (companion to My Car; Greenwillow, 2–4 years) takes readers along with Joe as he drives Bus #123 across a bold-hued landscape. “At my first stop, one dog gets on my bus. / At my second stop, two cats get on my bus.” After four stops, there are five dogs and five cats onboard. And then…Joe drops off his passengers in ones and twos at a boat, a train, and a plane; the last dog (“My dog!”) goes home with Joe in a car. Each stop offers more excitement for young motorheads (as well as some subtly introduced math concepts). (Greenwillow, 2–4 years)

bee and the cars go Things that stop and go“Here is the traffic, all ground to a halt, / and the policeman calls out… / ‘What’s causing this holdup? / Move along, now. Move along!’” The vehicles may be at a standstill in William Bee’s And the Cars Go…, but the rhythmic text motors along as the officer investigates the problem. Each double-page spread features a fancifully detailed auto and its idiosyncratic occupants; Bee’s stylish compositions with eye-popping colors have a distinctly sixties vibe. The predictably patterned, onomatopoeic verses encourage audience participation. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)

harper go go go stop Things that stop and goCharise Mericle Harper’s quirky Go! Go! Go! Stop! stars two traffic lights and a fleet of construction vehicles. Little Green shouts “GO!”, and Bulldozer, Dump Truck, Mixer, and friends get to work. But without a way to not go, things threaten to spiral out of control. Then a red “stranger” rolls onto the site, and disaster is averted — eventually. Harper’s action-packed illustrations feature cheerful trucks in colorful cartoonlike scenes. Lively dialogue adds to the storytime fun. (Knopf, 3–6 years)

biggs everything goes by sea Things that stop and goEverything Goes: By Sea is the latest in Brian Biggs’s transportation-themed series. Henry and his parents (the intrepid travelers from Everything Goes: On Land and Everything Goes: In the Air) ride a car ferry to their island destination; along the way, they talk about the variety of boats on the water and the jobs those vessels do. There’s a brief (and helpful) explanation of buoyancy, along with some accessible history and a little science/engineering. The pleasingly busy cartoon illustrations are packed with details and visual jokes. Biggs navigates this nautical lesson with a steady hand. (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 3–7 years)

From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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22. Lives lived large

Picture book biographies provide young children with glimpses into the lives of notable men and women. The following books highlight people whose accomplishments in the arts, on the seven seas, and on the world stage are inspirations to us all.

Agandhi grandfather gandhi Lives lived largerun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, tells of visiting Sevagram, India, as a child in Grandfather Gandhi (co-written by Bethany Hegedus). Young Arun, who gets fidgety during prayers and who angers easily while playing soccer with village children, feels he will never live up to the Gandhi name. After he confides this to his grandfather, Gandhi tells Arun that he, too, often feels anger but that he has learned to channel it for good. Unusual for its child-centered and intimate portrait of Gandhi, the graceful narrative is nearly outdone by Evan Turk’s vivid mixed-media illustrations, rendered in, among other materials, watercolor, paper collage, and handspun cotton yarn. (Atheneum, 4–7 years)

fern dare the wind Lives lived largeIn the early 1800s, young Ellen Prentiss (1814–1900) learned to be a keen and fearless sailor on her father’s trading schooner. Captain Prentiss also taught Ellen navigation, and later she and her husband, Perkins Creesy, traveled the world’s oceans. When the Creesys took command of The Flying Cloud to transport passengers from New York to the California Gold Rush, Ellen accepted the accompanying challenge to smash the record for shortest voyage around Cape Horn. In lively, nautically infused text, Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern details the adventures of this remarkable woman. Ink and watercolor illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully reflect the resplendent blues and greens of vast, changeable oceans. (Farrar/Ferguson, 4–7 years)

rosenstock noisy paint box Lives lived largeOne of the pioneers of abstract art, Vasily Kandinsky experienced “colors as sounds, and sounds as colors,” a neurological condition called synesthesia. Concentrating primarily on the artist as a child and young adult, Barb Rosenstock, in The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, takes known events and embellishes them with dialogue and specific sounds for the colors (“He brushed a powerful navy rectangle that vibrated deeply like the lowest cello strings”). Illustrator Mary GrandPré does a fine job showing color and sound as abstractions while presenting the artist and his surroundings in a more realistic manner. (Knopf, 4–7 years)

cline ransome benny goodman Lives lived largeLesa Cline-Ransome’s Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History begins in the early decades of the twentieth century, when Benny Goodman was a working-class Jewish boy growing up in Chicago and Teddy Wilson was a middle-class African American boy living in Tuskegee, Alabama. Jazz brought them together when their paths crossed at a party, and their styles melded so well that they soon began to record together, along with Gene Krupa on drums, as the Benny Goodman Trio. The story is recounted here in short bursts of text, almost like jazz riffs, accompanied by pencil and watercolor illustrations by James E. Ransome that capture distinctive moments in the subjects’ lives. (Holiday, 4–7 years)

From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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23. Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

baker gallina grande Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionLa gallina grande / Big Fat Hen
by Keith Baker; translated by Carlos E. Calvo
Houghton     30 pp.
4/14     978-0-544-17398-9     $4.99

Baker’s Big Fat Hen debuted as a generously sized picture book in 1994. The popularity of the original was reinforced in 1997 with a board book edition, and the book finds new life in this Spanish/English bilingual board edition. It is unfortunate that both board versions employ a greatly reduced trim size; Baker’s brightly hued acrylic illustrations are still effective but somewhat less impressive on this smaller scale. Calvo’s translation of the traditional rhyme is fluid and rhythmic, although the ocho/bizcocho couplet and the “big fat hen” page do not exactly match their illustrations. Still, this is a valuable addition to the bilingual bookshelves.

barrett pat a cake Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionPat-a-Cake
by Mary Brigid Barrett; illus. by LeUyen Pham
Candlewick     16 pp.
1/14    978-0-7636-4358-4    $6.99

Don’t be fooled by the title: this is not an illustrated version of the ubiquitous nursery rhyme. Barrett takes the rhyme out of the baker’s shop and into the life of a toddler, inviting youngsters to pat puddings and puddles, acorns and oak trees, and finally parents and pillows. The rhyming text is complemented by Pham’s joyful illustrations, which feature a multi-ethnic cast of smiling young explorers. Additional book in the series: All Fall Down.

braun lift the flap Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionWho Can Swim?
by Sebastien Braun
Candlewick    14 pp.
3/14    978-0-7636-6752-8    $6.99

For animal-loving readers and listeners looking for a little variety, Braun moves beyond the usual parade of pets and livestock. In this stylishly illustrated offering, the repeated question, “Who can swim?” is answered as flaps lift to reveal not just fish, but also penguins, polar bears, seals, and whales. The final flap hides a happy toddler, complete with red floaties, representing for the young listener that “You can swim,” too.

huneck sally at the farm Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionSally at the Farm
by Stephen Huneck
Abrams Appleseed     20 pp.
3/14    978-1-4197-1030-8    $7.95

 

 

huneck sally in the sand Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionSally in the Sand
by Stephen Huneck
Abrams Appleseed    20 pp.
3/14    978-1-4197-1029-2    $7.95

Huneck first introduced readers to his big black Lab, Sally, and his distinctive artistic style in a series of picture books in the early 2000s. Happily, Sally is back in these adaptations of two of her early adventures (Sally Goes to the Farm, 2002; Sally Goes to the Beach, 2000). Sally is, for the most part, an endearingly realistic dog who sniffs, licks, digs, swims, and cleans her plate. Using a subdued palette that combines color washes and woodcut prints, Huneck has created a friendly and folksy landscape for young dog lovers to enjoy alongside Sally.

lin bringing in the new year Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionBringing In the New Year
by Grace Lin
Knopf    28 pp.
12/13    978-0-385-75365-4    $6.99

Originally published as a picture book in 2008, Lin’s introduction to the traditional celebration of the Lunar New Year is now available as a board book. The gatefold of the waking dragon featured in the picture book is missing in the new format, as are the decorated end pages, but the story of welcoming the new year retains all its charm and vitality. The illustrations have a festive energy that mirrors the family’s building excitement. Like the picture book, the board book closes with useful back matter for young readers or listeners.

siminovich you are my baby garden Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionYou Are My Baby: Garden [Petit Collage]
by Lorena Siminovich
Chronicle     12 pp.
3/14    978-1-4521-2649-4     $8.99

 

siminovich you are my baby ocean Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionYou Are My Baby: Ocean [Petit Collage]
by Lorena Siminovich
Chronicle     12 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-2650-0     $8.99

Continuing the series reviewed in the fall 2013 roundup, Siminovich brings her “book within a book” concept to two new environments. The use of specialized terms for several of the babies (hatchling, spiderling, calf, kit) adds a vocabulary-building element to the books. Never fear; this educational element doesn’t detract from the fun of mixing and matching the babies with their grown-ups.

zuckerman creature colors Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 EditionCreature: Colors
by Andrew Zuckerman
Chronicle    20 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-1668-6     $7.99

Vivid photographs and generous white space are the hallmarks of this concept book. Zuckerman introduces ten colors and ten creatures with seeming simplicity. His layouts, however, feature animals off center, in profile, walking on and flying off the pages. These unexpected configurations add an appealing visual sophistication. Three additional books are planned for the series: Creature: Numbers, Creature: Baby Animals and Creature: Sounds.

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24. YA fantasy you’ve been waiting for

Every fantasy fan knows the exquisite agony of anticipating the next entry in a favorite series — particularly if that entry will be the last. These four new novels continue (and in some cases, complete) popular trilogies.

moriarty cracks in the kingdom YA fantasy youve been waiting forIn The Cracks in the Kingdom, the follow-up to Jaclyn Moriarty‘s BGHB Fiction Award Honor book A Corner of White, Madeleine (in Cambridge, England) and Elliot (in the Kingdom of Cello) continue to communicate through letters they send through a “crack” between their two worlds. At the behest of Princess Ko, whose parents and siblings have disappeared into Madeleine’s world, Madeleine and Elliot attempt to cross into each other’s worlds and avert the threat of war in Cello. They achieve a measure of success and give readers a tantalizing hint of romance to come. This wholly entertaining book outdoes the first — not an easy task. (Levine/Scholastic, 13–16 years)

meyer cress YA fantasy youve been waiting forMarissa Meyer’s fairy tale/sci-fi hybrid Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet) continues with Cress, a “Rapunzel”–inspired story. Cress, taken from her Lunar parents as a baby, is forced to live alone on a satellite spying on the Earthens for Queen Levana. But her real loyalty lies with cyborg Cinder’s plan to protect Earth by dethroning Levana. After an attempt to rescue Cress goes awry, Cinder and an injured Wolf head to Africa; Scarlet becomes Levana’s prisoner on Luna; and Cress and Thorne survive a crash landing on Earth and desert trek. This action-packed page-turner is sure to please series fans. (Feiwel, 13–16 years)

hautman klaatu terminus YA fantasy youve been waiting forIn The Klaatu Terminus, Tucker and Lia (The Obsidian Blade, The Cydonian Pyramid) join together for their final confrontation with the murderous religious sect known as the Lambs of September. Born in the same geographic locale hundreds of years apart, the two have been drawn to each other since Tucker first spotted Lia with his father, Reverend Adrian Feye (soon to become Father September). Other characters, similarly intertwined, also cross paths again in wholly unexpected ways. Author Pete Hautman pulls together the elaborate strands of the previous Klaatu Diskos books, rewarding readers with a surprising yet satisfying chronicle across time. (Candlewick, 13–16 years)

taylor dreams of gods and monsters YA fantasy youve been waiting forAn uneasy truce between chimaera and seraphim allows Laini Taylor‘s star-crossed lovers Karou and Akiva (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight) the chance to reconcile. This sets the stage for looming confrontations with the despotic seraph Jael, the mysterious Stelians, and a new threat that the pair could never have imagined. For all the well-made trappings of fantasy and horror, the amalgamation of myth and legend, the machinations of plot, and the colorful menagerie of characters, Dreams of Gods & Monsters the final entry in the trilogy — remains, at heart, a tender, satisfying romance. (Little, Brown, 13–16 years)

From the April 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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25. Big-city picture books

Visiting big cities can foster both excitement and anxiety. Whether young children are already well traveled or just curious about new places, these four picture books can provide them with excellent armchair tours of New York City and Europe.

jacobs count on the subway Big city picture booksA little girl traveling on the subway counts from one (“1 MetroCard”) to ten (“10 friends sway, boogie and bop…”) and back down again in Count on the Subway. Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender’s pleasantly rhyming text is full of the sights and sounds of a subway ride. Shout-outs to some New York City stations and train lines (“Find the 7 at Times Square”) give readers their bearings, but familiarity with the city isn’t a necessity. The clean page design encourages young children to participate in counting the objects and people mentioned in the text. Dan Yaccarino’s graphically dynamic illustrations pop with crisp lines and solid blocks of dazzling crayon-box colors. (Knopf, 3–5 years)

brown in new york Big city picture booksJoin a little boy and his father In New York, an enthusiastically busy story-book guide to New York City. Just about all of Manhattan’s child-pleasing sites get a place in Marc Brown’s stupendously detailed gouache and watercolor pictures, including the Empire State Building at sunset, Rockefeller Center at Christmas, the Statue of Liberty, the dinosaur gallery of the American Museum of Natural History, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The minimal text is inviting, the endpapers offer additional child-friendly vignettes and facts, and appended info includes phone numbers and websites for all the highlights. (Knopf, 4–7 years)

banks city cat Big city picture booksIn City Cat, a small smoky-gray cat follows a family on its trip through Europe, making herself supremely comfortable wherever she goes. Kate Banks’s text is confident and rhythmic, dotted with rhymes and half-rhymes that bounce off the tongue. “She sits on piers with perked-up ears / and gazes out to sea.” Lauren Castillo’s drawings capture both the grandeur of great cities and their human dynamism. In each picture, we look for the family, and the family looks for the cat. An appended spread, both child- and cat-oriented, identifies the cities and the sights, and a map lets us trace the family’s eight-city journey. (Foster /Farrar, 4–7 years)

rubbino walk in paris Big city picture booksSalvatore Rubbino (A Walk in New York, A Walk in London) showcases another iconic city in A Walk in Paris. This time, a small girl and her grandpa tour sites such as Notre-Dame and the Pompidou Center; a bistro and an outdoor market; and the Métro. Following streets medieval and modern, they finally arrive, with a foldout, at the Eiffel Tower, “fizzing with lights!” It’s an amiable amble, the child’s travelogue nicely extended with extra facts in discreetly tiny type (“book stalls have lined the river since the mid-sixteenth century”). Rubbino’s evocative mixed-media art is full of gentle tones enlivened with verdant greens and a pâtisserie’s inviting raspberry-reds. An endpaper map details the route, and major sites are indexed. (Candlewick, 4–7 years)

From the April 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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