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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Scholastic, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 497
1. Five Little Monkeys

Board Book: Five Little Monkeys: A finger & toes nursery rhyme book. Natalie Marshall. Scholastic. 2015. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Five Little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said...No more moneys jumping on the bed!

Premise/plot: A board book adaptation of the classic nursery rhyme "Five Little Monkeys."

My thoughts: The pages are easy to turn, which is a good thing, always. The illustrations are nice enough, I suppose. The text itself isn't surprising or extra-wonderful. The book includes "helpful" illustrations for parents who are clueless on the motions of the song/rhyme. (Are they necessary?)

The traditional rhyme is fun. As is the song. Here's one of my favorite adaptations:


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Picture Books for Stubborn Kids

In typical toddler fashion, my youngest daughter (aged two and a half) has developed the “NO! I don’t like it!”, and the “Don’t want it!” approach to almost everything offered, much to the delight of her parents (that’s me). If you’re a parent or teacher of children anywhere between two and five years old, and […]

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3. All We Have Is Now (2015)

All We Have Is Now. Lisa Schroeder. 2015. Scholastic. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

No one saw it coming. Because this particular cosmic death star came from the direction of the sun, we were blind.

Did I love All We Have Is Now? Yes and no. If you're asking if it is a perfect read, then the answer is no. Yet there was something about it that kept me reading. Here's the premise, Emerson and Vince are two homeless streets getting by--barely--when the news comes in that the world is ending. Now everyone--including our two teens--are having to deal with life issues in a hurry. How will they spend their last two days? What will they learn about themselves? about each other? about humanity? life?

If you only give the book a few chapters--or a few pages--then you'll come to the wrong conclusion about what kind of book this is. For the simple reason that at first, these two decide they do not want to wait to die, that waiting would be torturous, that it would be better to decide when and where and how they'll die. So they make a plan to commit suicide together. This doesn't happen. For the two meet Carl, an older man, who has spent the past few days helping others and making other people's dreams come true. Inspired, Emerson and Vince take on a new mission: how many people can they meet in their last days? how many dreams can they help come true? 

Emerson and Vince are best, best friends. Vince is in love with Emerson, though she does have some issues. And Emerson is beginning to think that she's been wrong to keep Vince as only a friend. He is so much more than her best friend. But now time is against her. She's brave enough to face the end of the world perhaps so long as he is with her. But one of Vince's dreams is to make sure Emerson doesn't have any regrets at all before she dies...

The book is emotional and compelling. It is very sweet at times, very romantic. But I'm just not sure about the ending--the epilogue. I'm not sure it fits with the rest of the book and what it all means. But I thought there were some beautifully written scenes in this one. Most of this one is written in prose, but, some chapters are in verse.

It's like a song that
pulls you in and
fills you up
and gives you what
you didn't even know
you needed until
the sounds, the melody,
and the voices
wash away the pain.
They have each other,
and it's all they need.
A new single,
headed for the top
of the charts. (129)

The best kind of days
are the ones that make
you feel like you are living
inside a kaleidoscope,
twirling and swirling
with dazzling joy.
It doesn't happen often.
But when it does,
you hold on tight and
wish for the delight to
go on
and on
and on.
Forever. (156)

What I really appreciated about this one was the characterization. I loved getting to know Emerson and Vince. And I love following Carl's story as well.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Are You My Daddy?, by Illanit Oliver | Book Review

This delightful touch-and-feel book is sure to be a hit with babies and toddlers. It features easy prose, colorful pictures and popular zoo animals.

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5. Phantoms in the Snow

Phantoms in the Snow. Kathleen Benner Duble. 2011. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Phantoms in the Snow was a great book set during World War II. Noah, the hero, is a young man who has just lost both parents to small pox. His only living relative is an uncle that he's never met, or can't remember meeting. He's a soldier in the army, a "Phantom" part of a skiing unit. Now Noah was raised by pacifists, and, until their death he's never really thought about how he personally feels about war, and if he should be a part of it or not. He's sent to live with his uncle at a mountain camp, army camp. Once there, his uncle signs him up and lies about his age. Noah begins his training. He first has to learn to ski. He already knows how to shoot. But there's so much about army life that he doesn't know at least not yet. Noah remains conflicted through much of the book. About who he is and what he believes and where he really belongs. He learns a lot about life and about how you should never make assumptions about where another person is coming from, and what life is like for others. Anyway, it's a very strong coming-of-age story. It's a story with a lot of heart, I might add. I cared about Noah. I cared about his uncle. And I cared about a character called Skeeter. Overall, this one is oh-so-easy to recommend.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Carry and Learn Numbers

Board book: Carry and Learn Numbers. Illustrated by Sarah Ward. 2015. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
1 One 
1 Giant Elephant
Can you stomp like Me?

Premise/plot: Carry and Learn Numbers is a concept board book. Little ones are introduced (or reintroduced) to numbers one through five. And it has an animal theme as well. The animals "interact" with readers encouraging them to stomp, stand tall, growl, waddle, and wave.

My thoughts: I liked this one. The pages will be easy for little hands to turn. And the illustrations are certainly sweet enough. I think I loved the giraffes most of all. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Close to the Wind (2015)

Close to the Wind. Jon Walter. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The boy and the old man arrived at the port at night. 

Did I find Close to the Wind a compelling read? Yes, for the most part. Notice I didn't exactly say enjoyable! Close to the Wind is a book about war refugees, mainly orphans, but also some families wealthy enough to pay for a ticket out of the country. The setting? The year? I'd like to know these myself. But the truth is the author has not given readers any context for placing Close to the Wind in the real world. It could be any country, any war, any year. Or almost any.

Malik is our young narrator. There is much Malik doesn't understand or grasp that readers may pick up on much sooner. For example, his grandfather's lies. His grandfather loves him very, very much. That's not in question, but, instead of telling the young boy that he just honestly doesn't know what happened to his daughter--Malik's mother--he makes up a pleasant-sounding story about how they will meet up with her right before getting on board the ship that will take them to a much better country. The boy isn't worried about getting on board, about how they will get tickets, about money issues at all really. He's placed all his trust in his grandfather who seems to be more than capable. But readers see some vulnerability. The grandfather IS worried.

Malik is a young boy that is easy to care about. And his grandfather, well, he's a good man willing to do anything for his grandson. The book is very ugly in places--showing the desperation of the times. I personally wish for more context. But even without it, this one is a compelling read.  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Pepper & Poe (2015)

Pepper & Poe. Frann Preston-Gannon. 2015. [July] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pepper loved Sundays. Pepper loved Mondays too. Tuesdays…were usually pretty enjoyable. But on Wednesdays, something changed.

Premise/Plot: On the Wednesday in question, Pepper is surprised--and not pleasantly--by the addition of a new kitten to the family. Does Pepper like the new kitten, Poe? NO! Pepper has a hard time adjusting. But, after a few days, by the time Sunday rolls around again, Pepper has made peace with Poe--to a certain extent.

My thoughts: I loved it. I did. I love Pepper. I love Poe. I found them adorable. I really love, love, love the illustrations. I think this book is super-cute and sweet. Cat lovers may find this one too cute to resist.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Be A Star! (Amazing Stardust #2)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #2 Be A Star. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Be A Star is the second book in the Amazing Stardust Friends series by Heather Alexander. In the first book, readers meet Marlo, and her new circus friends Allie, Bella, and Carly. These three new friends help Marlo find out her own strengths thereby enabling her to join the show herself. In the second book, readers get a chance to know Allie better. This is her book.

Allie is ambitious, young and ambitious. So when she learns that a camera crew from Hollywood will be filming a performance of their circus, she loses touch with reality for a bit! She just KNOWS that once they see her, they'll be so wowed, so amazed, that they will want to make her a big, BIG star. She's on her way to being famous. Surely, thinking out what her new name--her Hollywood name--should be is more important than her schoolwork. Allie makes a few bad decisions in this one, but, her friends and family eventually show her that where she is right now is where she belongs.

I like this series.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Magic Animal Friends 1-4

Magic Animal Friends #1 Lucy Longwhiskers Gets Lost. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Lily Hart stepped into the long yard, breathing in the scent of the dewy grass. In the distance, nestled behind a grove of trees, was the barn her parents had turned into the Helping Paw Wildlife Hospital. 

 Lily Hart and Jess Forester are best, best friends. After following a magical cat, Goldie, these two have adventures in Friendship Forest where they meet plenty of lovely animals. But it isn't all sweetness, for, these two also meet some unlovely creatures who threaten the magical world. The villains (get ready to boo and hiss) are Grizelda, the witch, and her team of Boggits. (The boggits are super annoying.)

The first book in the series introduces readers to the characters and to Friendship Forest. There is even a map. The girls do have a complete adventure, involving rescuing a bunny, Lucy Longwhiskers. The book ends with a promise of more adventures in the future...

Magic Animal Friends #2 Molly Trinkletail Runs Away. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Jess Forester and her best friend, Lily Hart, were in the kitchen of the little house where Jess lived with her dad, finishing their lunch. "I'm so full!" said Lily, patting the front of her T-shirt. "Your dad's pizzas are amazing." Jess grinned. "It's lucky you live across the road so you can come over whenever he makes them." 

Jess and Lily have a second adventure in Molly Twinkletail Runs Away. The two are once again visited by Goldie the Cat and invited to return to Friendship Forest. I can't remember if they know of Grizelda's next schemes before they visit, or, shortly after. Regardless, the two find themselves in a position once again to save Friendship Forest from the nasty, evil villains. And saving Friendship Forest, of course, involves also saving at least one cute, lovely animal.

Magic Animal Friends #3 Ellie Featherbill. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

"Peep! Peep!" "Dad," Lily Hart called, "the ducklings are hungry!" "Give them some seeds to keep them happy," her dad said, clearing the work table where he treated sick animals. "I'll check on them in a moment." 

A third adventure. What can I say? The two girls, Lily and Jess, go with Goldie the cat, once again to Friendship Forest. They meet more cute, lovely animals. Of course, there's danger and an opportunity for these two to be heroes once more.  Grizelda and the Boggits always have to be stopped before the end of the book...


Magic Animal Friends #4 Bella Tabbypaw in Trouble. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Lily Hart couldn't tear herself away from the box of kittens her dad had just brought into the examining room. Neither could her best friend, Jess Forester. 

A fourth adventure. Lily and Jess must save an oh-so-precious but mischievous kitten in this one. In addition they also have to save Friendship Forest again.

Did I enjoy reading these series books? I can't say that they're recommended reading for adults. Recommended for adults to read aloud, perhaps. But the books are much too predictable and over-the-top in preciousness to read for the fun of it. I can easily imagine this series as a cartoon series from the early nineties.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. For Your Younger Sibs: Grimmtastic Girls, Goddess Girls, and Heroes in Training

New postcards! Goddess Girls on one side, Grimmtastic Girls on the other.  Series for 8-12 by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.

I have a quick recommend for all the little sibs of readergirlz! Check out Grimmtastic Girls, Goddess Girls, and Heroes in Training. These fun reads will keep your sisters and brothers busy all summer. Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams are the perfect team to spin tales for middle graders. You might even find yourself caught up in a book and smiling at the beloved characters running around in fresh story lines with charming humor.



Word is the collections have been spotted at Costco, too. Keep your eyes open for your siblings. Happy summer reading, rgz!

Goddess Girls

Grimmtastic Girls
Heroes in Training
by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Scholastic

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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12. 44 Governors’ Spouses and 4 Governors Confirmed as Reading Ambassadors

power up and read logo (GalleyCat)The organizers behind the 2015 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge have recruited a special group of reading ambassadors.

44 governors’ spouses and 4 governors have signed on to serve in this position and inspire kids to “power up and read.” Below, we’ve posted the full list of participants.

Here’s more from the press release: “To jumpstart excitement about summer reading, these Governors and Governors’ Spouses will each deliver 500 new books donated by Scholastic to schools in their states. In addition, many of the Reading Ambassadors will host reading events with local children to kick off summer reading.”

Alabama – First Lady Dianne Bentley
Alaska – First Lady Donna Walker
Arizona – First Lady Angela Ducey
Arkansas – First Lady Susan Hutchinson
Colorado – Governor John Hickenlooper
Connecticut – First Lady Cathy Malloy
Delaware – First Lady Carla Markell
Florida – First Lady Ann Scott
Georgia – First Lady Sandra Deal
Guam – First Lady Christine Calvo
Hawaii – First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige
Idaho – First Lady Lori Otter
Illinois – First Lady Diana Rauner
Indiana – First Lady Karen Pence
Iowa – First Lady Christine Branstad
Kansas – First Lady Mary Brownback
Kentucky – First Lady Jane Beshear
Louisiana – First Lady Supriya Jindal
Maine – First Lady Ann LePage
Maryland – First Lady Yumi Hogan
Massachusetts – First Lady Lauren Baker
Michigan – First Lady Sue Snyder
Mississippi – First Lady Deborah Bryant
Missouri – First Lady Georganne Nixon
Montana – First Lady Lisa Bullock
Nebraska – First Lady Susanne Shore
Nevada – First Lady Kathleen Sandoval
New Hampshire – First Gentleman Thomas Hassan
New Jersey – First Lady Mary Pat Christie
New Mexico – First Gentleman Chuck Franco
North Carolina – First Lady Ann McCrory
North Dakota – First Lady Betsy Dalrymple
Northern Mariana Islands – Governor Eloy Inos
Ohio – First Lady Karen Kasich
Oklahoma – First Gentleman Wade Christensen
Pennsylvania – First Lady Frances Wolf
Rhode Island – First Gentleman Andy Moffit
South Carolina – First Gentleman Michael Haley
South Dakota – First Lady Linda Daugaard
Tennessee – First Lady Crissy Haslam
U.S. Virgin Islands – Governor Kenneth E. Mapp
Utah – First Lady Jeanette Herbert
Vermont – Governor Peter Shumlin
Virginia – First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe
Washington – First Lady Trudi Inslee
West Virginia – First Lady Joanne Tomblin
Wisconsin – First Lady Tonette Walker
Wyoming – First Lady Carol Mead

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13. Peppa Goes Swimming (2015)

Peppa Goes Swimming. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's a beautiful, warm summer day. Peppa and her family are at the swimming pool. "Peppa, George, let Daddy put on your swimming armbands," says Mummy Pig. Today is George's first time at the pool, and he's a bit scared of getting in the water.

Premise/plot: Peppa's family is going swimming at the pool. This is George's first time in the pool. Will he like it? Will he love it? Peppa's family hangs out at the pool with Rebecca Rabbit's family. George and Richard have fun together. Rebecca and Peppa have fun together. Fun is had by one and all.

My thoughts: I do love this episode of the show. This adaptation is fun. Recommend the book series to anyone who loves the show.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. The Long Dog (2015)

The Long Dog (Scholastic Reader, Level 1) Eric Seltzer. 2015. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Calling all Dogs! This is a hot dog. This is a cold dog. This is a young dog. This is an old dog. And here comes a long dog.

Premise/plot: Readers meet all kinds of dogs in Eric Seltzer's The Long Dog. But the dog that they may just remember best is a really, really super-long dog. Just how long is this dog?!

My thoughts: The book is simple and fun. This one may pair well with Go, Dog, Go.  My favorite dogs may just be the dirty dog and the clean dog. (I really love the grin on the clean dog!)

Level 1 readers include sight words, words to sound out, and simple sentences.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Peppa's Chalk ABCs

Peppa's Chalk ABCs. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: Peppa's Chalk ABCs is an activity book for young children who are ready or nearly ready to learn to write their letters. This is a practice book. There is space to practice each letter of the alphabet. Two letters per page. (Four letters per spread.) The illustrations feature characters from the Peppa Pig show. For example, "D is for Dinosaur" shows George playing with his dinosaur. Also, this is for learning lowercase letters.

My thoughts: Cute novelty book. It isn't really a book with a story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Scholastic Creates a Captain Underpants Song Video

Tra-la-laa! The team at Scholastic have created a video showcasing the Captain Underpants Song.

The video embedded above features George Beard, Harold Hutchins, and the superhero alter ego of Mr. Krupp—what do you think? Click here to watch Dav Pilkey talk about how reading gives you super powers while drawing both Super Diaper Baby and Captain Underpants.

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17. My Brother's Secret (2015)

My Brother's Secret. Dan Smith. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Karl Friedmann loves to play war games, and can't wait to join the Hitler Youth. But after his father's death, he begins to question the rightness of the war, and the rightness of the Nazi party. This change of heart isn't immediate, it's more of a journey as he observes what the war has done to his family, to his friends, to his neighborhood. Two people definitely make an impact on him: his older brother, who does have a secret, and his new best friend, a girl around his own age.

My Brother's Secret is an intense read with plenty of action and drama.

I definitely found it a compelling read--a quick one too! It was action-packed until the very end. I was almost sure there was no way they could resolve it with so few pages left, and, in a way, it did feel rushed. But still. Quite a read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Review of the Day: The Case for Loving by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

CaseLoving1The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
By Selina Alko
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic)
$18.99
ISBN: 978-0545478533
Ages 4-7
On shelves now.

When the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015 that same-sex couples could marry in all fifty states, I found myself, like many parents of young children, in the position of trying to explain the ramifications to my offspring. Newly turned four, my daughter needed a bit of context. After all, as far as she was concerned gay people had always had the right to marry so what exactly was the big deal here? In times of change, my back up tends to be children’s books that discuss similar, but not identical, situations. And what book do I own that covers a court case involving the legality of people marrying? Why, none other than The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by creative couple Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. It’s almost too perfect that the book has come out the same year as this momentous court decision. Discussing the legal process, as well as the prejudices of the time, the book offers to parents like myself not just a window to the past, but a way of discussing present and future court cases that involve the personal lives of everyday people. Really, when you take all that into consideration, the fact that the book is also an amazing testament to the power of love itself . . . well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

In 1958 Richard Loving, a white man, fell in love with Mildred Jeter, a black/Native American woman. Residents of Virginia, they could not marry in their home state so they did so in Washington D.C. instead. Then they turned right around and went home to Virginia. Not long after they were interrupted in the night by a police invasion. They were charged with “unlawful cohabitation” and were told in no uncertain terms that if they were going to continue living together then they needed to leave Virginia. They did, but they also hired lawyers to plead their case. By 1967 the Lovings made it all the way to The Supreme Court where their lawyers read a prepared statement from Richard. It said, “Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.” In a unanimous ruling, the laws restricting such marriages were struck down. The couple returned to Virginia, found a new house, and lived “happily (and legally) ever after.” An Author’s Note about her marriage to Sean Qualls (she is white and he is black) as well as a note about the art, Sources, and Suggestions for Further Reading appear at the end of the book.

CaseLoving2“How do you sue someone?” Here’s a challenge. Explain the concept of suing the government to a four-year-old brain. To do so, you may have to explain a lot of connected concepts along the way. What is a lawyer? And a court? And, for that matter, why are the laws (and cops) sometimes wrong? So when I pick up a book like The Case for Loving as a parent, I’m desperately hoping on some level that the authors have figured out how to break down these complex questions into something small children can understand and possibly even accept. In the case of this book, the legal process is explained as simply as possible. “They wanted to return to Virginia for good, so they hired lawyers to help fight for what was right.” And then later, “It was time to take the Loving case all the way to The Supreme Court.” Now the book doesn’t explain what The Supreme Court was necessarily, and that’s where the art comes in. Much of the heavy lifting is done by the illustrations, which show the judges sitting in a row, allowing parents like myself the chance to explain their role. Here you will not find a deep explanation of the legal process, but at least it shows a process and allows you to fill in the gaps for the young and curious.

It was very interesting to me to see how Alko and Qualls handled the art in this book. I’ve often noticed that editors like to choose Sean as an artist when they want an illustrator that can offset some of the darker aspects of a work. For example, take Margarita Engle’s magnificently sordid Pura Belpre Medal winner The Poet Slave of Cuba. A tale of torture, gore, and hope, Qualls’ art managed to represent the darkness with a lighter touch, while never taking away from the important story at hand. In The Case for Loving he has scaled the story down a bit and given it a simpler edge. His characters are a bit broader and more cartoonlike than those in, say, Dizzy. This is due in part to Alko’s contributions. As they say in their “About the Art” section at the back of the book, Alko’s art is all about bold colors and Sean’s is about subtle layers of color and texture. Together, they alleviate the tension in different scenes. Moments that could be particularly frightening, as when the police burst into the Lovings’ bedroom to arrest them, are cast instead as simply dramatic. I noticed too that characters were much smaller in this book than they tend to be in Sean’s others. It was interesting to note the moments when that illustrators made the faces of Richard and Virginia large. The page early in the book where Richard and Mildred look at one another over the book’s gutter pairs well with the page later in the book where their faces appear on posters behind bars against the words “Unlawful Cohabitation”. But aside from those two double spreads the family is small, often seen just outside their different respective homes. It seemed to be important to Qualls and Alko to show them as a family unit as often as possible.

CaseLoving3Few books are perfect, and Loving has its off-kilter moments from time to time. For example, it describes darker skin tones in terms of food. That’s not a crime, of course, but you rarely hear white skin described as “white as aged cheese” or “the color of creamy mayonnaise” so why is dark colored skin always edible? In this book Mildred is “a creamy caramel” and she lives where people ranged from “the color of chamomile tea” to darker shades. A side issue has arisen concerning Mildred’s identification as Native American and whether or not the original case made more of her African-American roots because it would build a stronger case in court. This is a far bigger issue than a picture book could hope to encompass, though I would be interested in a middle grade or young adult nonfiction book on the topic that went into the subject in a little more depth.

Recently I read my kid another nonfiction picture book chronicling injustice called Drum Dream Girl by the aforementioned Margarita Engle. In that book a young girl isn’t allowed to drum because of her gender. My daughter was absolutely flabbergasted by the notion. When I read her The Case for Loving she was similarly baffled. And when, someday, someone writes a book about the landmark decision made by The Supreme Court to allow gay couples to wed, so too will some future child be just as floored by what seems completely normal to them. Until then, this is certainly a book written and published at just the right time. Informative and heartfelt all at once, it works beyond the immediate need. Context is not an easy thing to come by when we discuss complex subjects with our kids. It takes a book like this to give us the words we so desperately need. Many thanks then for that.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Misc: Don’t forget to check out this incident that occurred involving this book and W. Kamau Bell’s treatment at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café.

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19. James Patterson to Give Away $1.75 Million to School Libraries

James Patterson 200 (GalleyCat)Back in March 2015, James Patterson (pictured, via) and the Scholastic Reading Club established a partnership to help school libraries. Initially, Patterson vowed to give away $1.25 million.

Since this announcement was made, over 28,000 applications were sent in vying for these funding grants. In consideration of all these requests, Patterson has decided to increase his donation amount to $1.75 million. So far, $500,000 has been handed out to 127 different schools.

Here’s more from the press release: “Scholastic Reading Club will match each dollar with bonus points that allow teachers to buy materials, including books, for their classrooms…With the school library initiative, Patterson’s mandate was to make the application process as simple as possible for librarians. The online application poses a single question: ‘What would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?'”

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20. SDCC ’15: HEROES Actor Greg Grunberg to Pen “Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape” Graphic Novel

Well here’s a fun one.  On June 28th, 2016, Scholastic plans to release a graphic novel written by Heroes star Greg Grunberg and artist Lucas Turnbloom.  The story, entitled Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape, marks the start of a new YA comics franchise for Scholastic, which is more well known for its traditional childrens’ picture books and novels, but has also made strides in comics with stories like Captain Underpants.234706

Dream Jumper tells the story of a young boy named Ben, who discovers he’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Morpheus rolled into one when he realizes he can leap into other peoples’ dreams.  He’s forced to master his powers quickly when a monster begins trapping Ben’s friends in their dreams, preventing them from waking.

 

Grunberg says the story was inspired by his 12 year-old son Ben, who “described a dream he had about a boy who could jump in and out of his friends’ nightmares to help them fight off bad guys and monsters, it sounded like a really relatable and exciting world to build a graphic novel.”

The graphic novel will include a forward by sci-fi visionary J.J. Abrams.

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21. SDCC ’15: Eisner-Award Winner Raina Telgemeier Announces Next Her GN, “Ghosts”

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Yesterday, Raina Telgemeier, author of the Eisner-winning autobiographical comic, Smiles, announced her next graphic novel.  The book, entitled Ghosts, will be released in fall 2016, and will be published through Scholastic’s Graphix imprint, which focuses on YA and kids comics.

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22. The Sky is Falling (2015)

The Sky is Falling. Mark Teague. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. She popped up, screeching, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" "I don't think so," said Squirrel. Squirrel knew a thing or two about acorns. "See, it fell from a tree."

Premise/Plot: Chicken Little is convinced that the sky is falling when an acorn hits her on the head. Soon other chickens join her in that belief. (Not every animal on the farm is convinced. Not all get carried away). So what does a chicken getting carried away look like?! Well, in this book, it looks like DANCING. The book embraces the chicken-dancing concept. It keeps building and building. "They did the moonwalk, the mambo, and the twist." While Squirrel and his 'reasonable' friends (like Cat and Rabbit) know that the sky isn't falling, they are soon inspired to join in the dance because dancing is fun.

It was NO ACCIDENT that an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. Though I admit I didn't catch this the first time I read it. There is a certain recurring character on each page. He's to be SEEN long before attention is called to him in the text. The FOX thought the chickens would react very differently if the sky were thought to be falling. And he was ready for his plan. But the dancing reaction, well, it leaves the Fox puzzled and a bit threatened. (He hates it when it is suggested that HE CAN'T DANCE.) Will the Fox have his way and enjoy chicken for lunch or dinner?!

My thoughts: I liked this one more than I thought I would. It improved upon second reading. I've now read it twice, and browsed it a third time. It's a clever book in a way. I'm not saying I love, love, love it. But I definitely enjoyed it!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Peek-a-Boo Zoo

Board Book: Peek-a-Boo Zoo. Joyce Wan. 2015. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]

With brown fuzzy fur,
I grumble and growl.
I live in the woods
where I like to prowl.
Guess who?
Peek-a-boo!
Bear

Premise/plot: Zoo animals play peek-a-boo with young readers in Joyce Wan's Peek-a-Boo Zoo published by Scholastic.

My thoughts: I really loved, loved, loved Joyce Wan's You Are My Cupcake. I've been interested in Wan's books ever since. What did I like best about Peek-a-Boo Zoo? Well, I really liked the illustrations. The text is simple. It rhymes. Young readers can guess the animal and then lower the flap to see if they're right.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Video Sunday: The Lord of the Jello

Morning, folks.  What’s that?  Why, yes. Yes, I would like to watch this video about Nathan Hale’s newest GN The Underground Abductor. Thank you! Seems to me the man has lucked out in terms of timing too. With people rallying to put Ms. Tubman on the $20 bill, it is now vastly important to learn more about her. Plus, you cannot read this book and not become an instantaneous Tubman fan.

So here in NYC we’ve a little something called the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. Patrons nominate their local branches and the finalists have these cool videos. The first branch I ever worked in was my beloved Jefferson Market. Look at this and tell me it’s not the most gorgeous place you’ve ever seen.

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Jefferson Market Library from Well Exposed on Vimeo.

My castle.

Now lots of successful children’s authors use their money for good causes.  But really, opening an independent bookstore is just a great idea all around.  Jeff Kinney talks about his newly opened store here.  I love his reasoning behind not making it just a children’s store (though, frankly, that would have been a-okay with me too).

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For you Betsy Bird completists out there (hi, mom), here’s a chance to see me talk twice about digital stuff. Once around 6:36 and once around 24:20. This livestream video was done in celebration of a Kickstarter Campaign called Time Traveler Tours & Tales which seeks to meld interactive history with honest-to-goodness books. I was asked to speak about story and electronic media and libraries, so I did just that:

Doggone it. The Scholastic preview just went up and the books look fantastic.  And me not going to ALA either.  Oh, Book Expo . . . .

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And for our off-topic video today, this is sorta kinda on topic. If you want to stretch your definition of “children’s literature”.  Recently there’s been a lot of talk about what the 10 best pre-recorded sketches of Saturday Night Live this season were. My heart lies with The Middle Earth Office.  For fans of the British office, this is just gravy. Pure gravy.

 

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25. Rook (2015)

Rook. Sharon Cameron. 2015. Scholastic. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The heavy blade hung high above the prisoners, glinting against the stars, and then the Razor came down, a wedge of falling darkness cutting through the torchlight. One solid thump, and four more heads had been shaved from their bodies. The mob around the scaffold roared, a sudden deluge of cheers and mockery that broke like a wave against the viewing box, where the officials of the Sunken City watched from velvet chairs. The noise gushed on, over the coffins, around bare and booted feet crowding thick across the flagstones, pouring down the drains and into the deep tunnels beneath the prison yard like filth overflowing the street gutters. The city was bloodthirsty tonight.

If you love The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rook may appeal to you. Though I can't promise you'll love of it, of course. Rook is a loose retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It's not set in France and England, but in the "Sunken City" and the "Commonwealth." Also, it's not historical fiction set during the days of the French Revolution, but, is set at least eight hundred years in the future. Perhaps a love of dystopia would add to the book's appeal. But for those readers who happen to love both, well, this one has a great premise.

Did I LOVE everything about Rook? I'll be honest, I didn't LOVE, LOVE, LOVE every little thing about it. I thought, however, that it worked more often than not. That overall, it was an enjoyable, mostly compelling romantic adventure.

Sophia Bellamy is the heroine of Rook. She keeps herself very busy, mainly by saving as many as she can from the Razor, all undercover, of course. Her father has arranged a marriage for her, not that he's concerned with her happiness or her future. But a good marriage will bring in enough money to pay off his debts and keep the property out of the hands of the Commonwealth. I don't often want to boo, hiss characters, but I must say that I was oh-so-tempted here. For he not only hurts his daughter, but, his son, as well by his words and actions. Rene Hasard has his own reasons for wanting the marriage.... Both Rene and Sophia have a few secrets they'd like to keep secret until they know the other person much, much better.

One thing, however, is obvious. Rene's cousin, Albert LeBlanc, is TROUBLE for Sophia. For it is his main goal in life to find the Red Rook...and bring "him" to justice.

Action, adventure, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and ROMANCE. I wouldn't mind a good adaptation of this one!

Here's how Scarlet Pimpernel begins so that you can compare:
A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. The hour, some little time before sunset, and the place, the West Barricade, at the very spot where, a decade later, a proud tyrant raised an undying monument to the nation's glory and his own vanity.
During the greater part of the day the guillotine had been kept busy at its ghastly work: all that France had boasted of in the past centuries, of ancient names, and blue blood, had paid toll to her desire for liberty and for fraternity. The carnage had only ceased at this late hour of the day because there were other more interesting sights for the people to witness, a little while before the final closing of the barricades for the night.
And so the crowd rushed away from the Place de la Greve and made for the various barricades in order to watch this interesting and amusing sight.
It was to be seen every day, for those aristos were such fools! They were traitors to the people of course, all of them, men, women, and children, who happened to be descendants of the great men who since the Crusades had made the glory of France: her old NOBLESSE. Their ancestors had oppressed the people, had crushed them under the scarlet heels of their dainty buckled shoes, and now the people had become the rulers of France and crushed their former masters—not beneath their heel, for they went shoeless mostly in these days—but a more effectual weight, the knife of the guillotine.
And daily, hourly, the hideous instrument of torture claimed its many victims—old men, young women, tiny children until the day when it would finally demand the head of a King and of a beautiful young Queen.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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