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1. Short Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue


The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterScholastic, 2014. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to The Raven Boys (Book 1) and The Dream Thieves (Book 2).

This continues the story of the search in Virginia for a missing Welsh king. The searchers are prep school students Richard Gansey III (the driving force behind the search), his friends Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, and local girl Blue Sargent.

By the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I'm not going to lie: it's complicated. There are a mess of characters, plus the search, plus the issues that the characters are dealing with in the present. Gansey is driven by his search; Ronan discovered dangerous family secrets, including his own ability to pull things out of dreams into the real world; Adam is a scholarship student with the drive for more and a serious, well earned chip on his shoulder. Noah has his own issues.

And Blue: Blue is from a family of psychics, without any real power herself, and with a curse upon her: her kiss will kill her true love. And since she's falling hard for Gansey, and since one of her aunts foresaw Gansey's death, it's, well, messy. Like life. Now take life and add in magic and history, myth and legend.

Readers know that I like when teen books have interesting adult characters: well, this has them and then some. The enigmatic Mr. Gray -- I mean, how often is a hired killer so sympathetic and likable? (And yes, I keep picturing him as Norman Reedus). Blue's mother has disappeared, but this allows other adults to move center. And Mr. Gray's boss also enters into the picture. It's not just magic and myth that is a danger.

The only frustration with Blue Lily, Lily Blue is there is still one more book in the series. So while the adventure moves forward, and questions are answered, there's still so much more to find out


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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2. Step Into The Spotlight (2015)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #1: Step Into the Spotlight! Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Marlo's mom has just joined the circus: joined as a chef. Her and her mom will now be living on a circus train. There are several other children for Marlo to get to know: some are performers themselves, some are children of employees and/or performers. Marlo really wants to become friends with the three Stardust girls: Allie, the acrobat, Bella, the animal trainer, and Carly, the clown. She's been told she can join the Stardust Parade IF she can come up with an amazing act of her own. She has just TWO days until the next performance. She's very determined and quite ambitious. Perhaps she can learn to be an acrobat? or a clown? or work with animals? Or perhaps not. Can Allie, Carly, and Bella help Marlo find her own way of being amazing? And will Marlo become a Stardust girl too?

This is an illustrated chapter book. I liked it. I did. It's a fun book with a playful premise.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Such A Little Mouse (2015)

Such A Little Mouse. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 2015. [March 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Way out in the wide world there is a meadow. In the middle of the meadow, under a clump of dandelions, there is a hole. And way down deep in the hole lives a mouse. Such a little mouse, with his smart gray coat with his ears pink as petals, with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose.

Such a Little Mouse is a concept book about seasons. It stars a little gray mouse. Readers learn what the little mouse does each day in spring, each day in summer, each day in autumn to prepare for each day in the winter. It is a simple nature-focused book. It is very descriptive, which is a good thing. I liked some of the details and descriptions. It provides a certain perspective of the world. The mouse is aware of his surroundings, and enjoys exploring and working.

I thought the illustrations were very well done. Especially of the mouse. I definitely enjoyed this one.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Monkey and Duck Quack Up! (2015)

Monkey and Duck Quack Up! Jennifer Hamburg. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Monkey spied the bright blue sigh, hanging from a nearby vine. Rhyming contest, enter now! Register with Lou the Cow. Find a friend and rhyme in twos. (Winners win a three-day cruise!) Monkey screeched and turned to Duck. "Buddy, ol' pal, are we in luck! We can do this, we can rhyme! We're young, we're hip, we're in our prime. We'll find the perfect words to use, and then we'll win a three-day cruise!" "I'll say a rhyme, you say one back. Sound good to you?" And Duck said, "Quack."

Monkey and Duck Quack Up is an amusing picture book starring two good friends. Monkey, our hero, loves to rhyme. And he really wants to win the contest. He can picture it all: winning the contest, and enjoying the cruise.
But to win, he needs help from his friend Duck. If only, if only, if only Duck could do more--would do more--than say QUACK, QUACK, QUACK. Can Monkey find a way to win this contest with his friend?!

I liked this one very much. It was very playful. It reminded me--in a good way--of Jan Thomas' Rhyming Dust Bunnies. I'd definitely recommend this one.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Books of Love – For Kids

How will you be celebrating this Saturday February 14th?  Some see it as a chance to demonstrate the most romantic of gestures, showering their special ones with gifts of affection. Others only need to show an act of kindness to prove they care. Either way, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, International Book Giving Day or Library […]

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6. The Case for Loving (2015)

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Selina Alko. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: First comes love. Then comes marriage. Donald, Peggy, and Sidney had two parents who loved them, and who loved each other. In fact, from almost the moment Richard Loving met Mildred Jeter they wanted to get married and have a family. But for them, it wasn't that simple, and here's why: Richard was white: a fair-skinned boy who got quickly sunburned in July. Mildred was what they called "colored" in those days: her skin a creamy caramel. In 1958, they lived in the small town of Central Point, Virginia, where people every shade from the color of chamomile tea to summer midnight made their homes.

A nonfiction picture book about the legal case Loving vs. Virginia which went to the Supreme Court. The book tells the story of how interracial marriage used to be illegal in Virginia and other states. (I'm not sure if the 16 states included Virginia or if there were 16 states in addition to Virginia where interracial marriage was illegal.) Richard Loving wanted to marry the love of his life, Mildred, but was unable to do so in their hometown, in their state. So the couple married in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, as they discovered, the two could not live together as husband and wife in Virginia. They had no choice but to move. Almost a decade later, the two decided something needed to be done, that they needed to be a part of the fight, the change. Interracial marriage should NOT be illegal. The book follows the family's journey during this troubling time.

It is a compelling read. It was informative but still at its heart a story not a lesson. This one will be for older readers (as opposed to other picture books with the usual preschool audience). Definitely recommended.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. A Peek at the Creative Space of Dan Gemeinhart

Joining us today for Creative Spaces is Dan Gemeinhart. Dan's debut middle grade novel, The Honest Truth, publishes today from Scholastic Press. The Honest Truth is a moving, fast-paced story about a boy, his dog, and the adventure of a lifetime:


In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.
But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from. 
So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan. A plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier. Even if it’s the last thing he ever does.
To learn more about Dan Gemeinhart, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.







Describe your workspace.

My workspace is a big, brown couch. It's a ratty couch, scuffed and threadbare in places, but it's soft and and comfortable and it reclines with a footrest and it never complains when I spill things on it (which is often). It's in our living room, facing a big picture window that looks out on the street. There's an end table within reach and our computer (which serves as our stereo) within remote range, so I can turn the music on, off, up or down as my feverish brain requires. There are no overhead lights but there are numerous lamps around the room's perimeter, so I can adjust the lighting anywhere from sunlit meadow to burial cave, depending on mood (I write almost exclusively at night).

Describe a typical workday.

A typical writing workday (I also have a day job) begins at about 9:30 pm. The kids are in bed, as is my wife. I've made a hot cup of tea which sits on the end table beside me. There's a decent chance I've also got a glass of red wine and a chunk of really dark chocolate. I'm sitting on the couch, my laptop sitting on a pillow that's sitting on my lap. When I've got everything situated just right and everything I need within reach (an up-and-down, oops-I-forgot-something process that can take 15 minutes), I start writing. Depending on how the story is flowing and how early I have to get up the next day, my end time can vary from 10:30 to 2:00 am.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

Since I don't have a dedicated “office workspace” and have to use a shared family space, I don't really have personal, meaningful objects around me when I write. My objects are functional, but they're important:

1.      The couch. I've got to be comfortable to write. I can't do it sitting upright in some stiff  chair. I sink into that couch with my feet up and get everything set just right and I can just go.

2.      The desktop computer over in the corner, which gives me the exact music I need (see below).

3.      The end table. Sounds silly, but it's like a little workstation. I keep my drink and snacks there, right within reach, and sometimes also notes, books, notebooks, outlines, etc. I'm always reaching over there for something and would be lost without it.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

For me it's just the tea and the couch arrangement. I put one pillow behind my head to stave off a sore neck, put another under my laptop to bring it closer to eye level, prop my feet up to the perfect elevation, and cover my legs with a blanket if it's chilly. My little nest has to be just right – it's kind of pathetic, I suppose. I'm like a little old lady watching her shows, with my warm tea and blanket thrown over my legs. But, hey, it works. My brain is very easily distracted and looks for any excuse to get off-task, so getting that environment just right matters. I'm a cozy worker.

What do you listen to while you work?

It depends. Sometimes I need silence, sometimes I need just the right mood music. I've got several different playlists for different vibes . . . a pensive, gloomy list, a fast-paced tension list, etc. Sometimes the right music absolutely helps me get into a scene and capture the right kind of energy and mood. It has to be instrumental, though. . . music with words will definitely not work for me. So it's mostly classical or kind of dark, acoustic instrumental Americana. For the last book I wrote I found one song that completely embodied the tone, mood, and identity of the story I was writing; it was “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and many a night I sat there writing with that song on repeat.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Tea! Green tea mostly, black tea occasionally in the morning, herbal tea later at night. I use it as a motivator, too . . . as I finish off one cup of tea I'll set a word count mark, and I don't get to make another cup of tea until I hit it. I don't snack too much, but if I do it's probably gonna be dark chocolate.

What keeps you focused while you’re working?

I totally struggle with focus, so it's really just a matter of self-discipline. I've got to stay on myself and be mindful of when I'm just sitting there, daydreaming.  Keeping an eye on measurable productivity really helps, too (“how many words have I written so far this hour?”). This is one reason I cannot--really, truly cannot--write in coffee shops. Way too many distractions. If I spend an hour in a coffee shop I'll be lucky to get five minutes of writing in.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

Computer. I like the romantic image of scratching away at a paper notepad with a trusty pen, but rough draft writing for me has to be a computer. The story comes in quick, urgent bursts, and when I get on a tear there's no way I could keep up with a pen. Editing and revising I always do on a hardcopy, though, with a pen. I've got to be able to physically circle, cross out, underline.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

A bit of both! When I start writing a book I tend to know most of the first third of the story, and most of the last third. There are holes here and there, and the entire middle is kind of a mystery, but as I write through that first third it starts to kind of gel and develop some gravity and momentum and then it fills in as I go. There are surprises every time, though. As much as I'd like to and as hard as I try, I just really struggle to do much pre-outlining. I just stare at the paper and my brain says, “How the hell should I know what happens next? I haven't started writing the story yet!”  I wish I could outline, because I think it's better practice; I think I'd have to do less revising if I could do more planning ahead on the rough draft.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

Someone incredibly dull and quiet. Not my wife or my friends, because I'd always want to talk to them. As hard as I would find it to work with someone else in the room, though, there's no doubt that break time would be fun if I was sharing my space with another writer. It would be awesome to commiserate, bounce ideas off each other, feed off each other's energy. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, it'd be nice to have someone there in the trenches with you.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

It's the simplest, the most often repeated, the most basic, and the most important: write. That's it. You've got to get your butt in that chair (or ratty old couch) and write. Write, write, write. Then revise, revise, revise (I learned much more about writing from revising my first book than I did from writing it). You should read tons, yes; and you should elicit (and listen to) honest feedback, yes; I'm a big believer in attending writing conferences, absolutely; but at the end of the day the single most important thing is to sit down and do it. Write.


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8. Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

When Scholastic launched its Graphix imprint 10 years ago, graphic novels were a novelty, if you can pardon the expression, in the mainstream publishing world. And kids comics were an unknown quantity—comics shops didn’t want them and bookstores didn’t know what to do with them. In the first wave, there were many miscues and misunderstandings at many houses along the way. But Graphix wasn’t the one making them. Granted, starting out a line with Jeff Smith’s Bone is about as much a sure thing as possible—6.9 million copies in print and counting. But picking Raina Telgemeier to do a Babysitter’s Club relaunch and eventually Smile, and Kazu Kibuishi to publish his Amulet series weren’t as sure—but they sure paid off. Along the way Graphix has picked up multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe nomination, and 14 New York Times bestsellers. They’ve published many more top cartoonists such as Doug TenNapel, Greg Ruth, Mike Maihack and Jimmy Gownley. And there’s more to come.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary—Bone: Out From Boneville was published in 20o5—Scholastic has some cool stuff on tap. To kick things off they’re revealing two covers for the first time:

SpaceDumplins Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins comes out in August. It’s the first kids book by the acclaimed author of Blankets and Habibi, and his first one in full-color, with Dave Stewart adding hues.

SunnySideUp Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

And the sister/brother duo of  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, best selling authors of Babymouse and Squish have a new one as well: Sunny Side Up (August 25, 2015; ages 8-12), which is a semi-autobiographical story, their first.

In addition, 12 Graphix artists have created new art that will be offered as prints throughout the year at events and online. The line-up: James Burks, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Dave Roman, Greg Ruth, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, and Craig Thompson. Events include ALA Midwinter (Chicago, IL), Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA), Texas Library Association (Austin, TX), BookExpo (New York City, NY), ALA Annual (San Francisco, CA), Comic-Con International (San Diego, California), Long Beach Comic Expo (Long Beach, CA), Salt Lake Comic Con (Salt Lake City, UT), and New York Comic Con (New York City, NY).

Finally, on February  24, Graphic will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, with a new illustrated poem from  Jeff Smith and new tribute art from sixteen top artists.

Along with the cover reveal, Graphic has announced some future projects:

  • Two more installments in the Amulet series
  • A new graphic novel, as yet untitled, by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Books 3 and 4 in Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series
  • And from Raina Telgemeier, a nonfiction family story in the vein of  Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel.

It’s definitely worth giving Graphix and its founder, David Saylor, a tip of the cap. 10 years ago it was a gamble. Today it’s an institution.

 

4 Comments on Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm, last added: 1/30/2015
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9. Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

When Scholastic launched its Graphix imprint 10 years ago, graphic novels were a novelty, if you can pardon the expression, in the mainstream publishing world. And kids comics were an unknown quantity—comics shops didn’t want them and bookstores didn’t know what to do with them. In the first wave, there were many miscues and misunderstandings at many houses along the way. But Graphix wasn’t the one making them. Granted, starting out a line with Jeff Smith’s Bone is about as much a sure thing as possible—6.9 million copies in print and counting. But picking Raina Telgemeier to do a Babysitter’s Club relaunch and eventually Smile, and Kazu Kibuishi to publish his Amulet series weren’t as sure—but they sure paid off. Along the way Graphix has picked up multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe nomination, and 14 New York Times bestsellers. They’ve published many more top cartoonists such as Doug TenNapel, Greg Ruth, Mike Maihack and Jimmy Gownley. And there’s more to come.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary—Bone: Out From Boneville was published in 20o5—Scholastic has some cool stuff on tap. To kick things off they’re revealing two covers for the first time:

SpaceDumplins Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins comes out in August. It’s the first kids book by the acclaimed author of Blankets and Habibi, and his first one in full-color, with Dave Stewart adding hues.

SunnySideUp Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

And the sister/brother duo of  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, best selling authors of Babymouse and Squish have a new one as well: Sunny Side Up (August 25, 2015; ages 8-12), which is a semi-autobiographical story, their first.

In addition, 12 Graphix artists have created new art that will be offered as prints throughout the year at events and online. The line-up: James Burks, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Dave Roman, Greg Ruth, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, and Craig Thompson. Events include ALA Midwinter (Chicago, IL), Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA), Texas Library Association (Austin, TX), BookExpo (New York City, NY), ALA Annual (San Francisco, CA), Comic-Con International (San Diego, California), Long Beach Comic Expo (Long Beach, CA), Salt Lake Comic Con (Salt Lake City, UT), and New York Comic Con (New York City, NY).

Finally, on February  24, Graphic will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, with a new illustrated poem from  Jeff Smith and new tribute art from sixteen top artists.

Along with the cover reveal, Graphic has announced some future projects:

  • Two more installments in the Amulet series
  • A new graphic novel, as yet untitled, by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Books 3 and 4 in Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series
  • And from Raina Telgemeier, a nonfiction family story in the vein of  Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel.

It’s definitely worth giving Graphix and its founder, David Saylor, a tip of the cap. 10 years ago it was a gamble. Today it’s an institution.

 

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10. Little Red's Riding 'Hood (2015)

Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here and there, up and down, in and out, Little Red loved riding around his 'hood. One day, Big Blue Mama gave Little Red an important job. "Poor Granny Putt Putt is feeling run-down," she said. "Her oil is muddy, her exhaust pipe's exhausted, and her wiper fluid is wiped out. Please take her this basket of goodies right away."

Well. I almost don't know what to say about it. It's unusual and original all in one, I suppose. I'd never have thought about retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in this way. The book is set in Vroomville, and all the characters are machines. Little Red is a scooter; Granny Put-Put is a golf cart; and the Big Bad Wolf, well, he's a very mean monster truck. The story is familiar enough, I suppose, in the end, yet it has an original feel to it. That doesn't mean that I personally love it.

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

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. The Cats in Krasinski Square

The Cats in Krasinski Square. Karen Hesse. Illustrated by Wendy Watson. 2004. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

The cats come from the cracks in the Wall, the dark corners, the openings in the rubble.

The Cats in Krasinski Square is an incredible read: a picture book written in verse about the Warsaw ghetto in World War II. Readers meet a young girl, a Jewish girl, who escaped the ghetto and is trying to survive by passing as Polish.
I look like any child
playing with cats
in the daylight
in Warsaw,
my Jewish armband
burned with the rags I wore
when I escaped the Ghetto.
I wear my Polish look,
I walk my Polish walk.
Polish words float from my lips
and I am almost safe,
almost invisible,
moving through Krasinski Square
past the dizzy girls riding the merry-go-round.
But she can't forget--won't forget the Jews still "living" in the ghetto. She wants to do her part to help them. She hears through an older sister, I believe, about a project to smuggle food into the ghetto. But the Nazi's have also heard something. It might take a miracle for the food to reach the Jews now...or it might take hundreds of CATS.

I loved the story, loved the storytelling. The illustrations are great.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Best Kept Secret (2014)

Best Kept Secret. (Family Tree #3) Ann M. Martin. 2014. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Better To Wish, the first in the series, introduced readers to Abby. The Long Way Home, the second in the series, introduced readers to Dana, Abby's daughter. Best Kept Secret, the third in the series, introduces readers to Francie, Abby's granddaughter, Dana's daughter.

This is Francie's novel. The book spans a little over a decade. Francie's first grade year through her arrival at college her freshman year. (1977-1988) Each chapter captures something significant about her growing up. A chapter could be good and happy (getting a puppy, finding a friend, going on vacation). Or a chapter could be sad and depressing (finding out a loved one has cancer, a funeral, learning your parents are getting divorced). One chapter was even traumatic.

The book as a whole has a heavy feel to it. Yes, I know there are a few good things in Francie's life, and Francie herself seems to be at peace--mostly--with everything that has happened. But. It felt like it was weighed down with dozens of issues. Perhaps because the chapters tended to focus more on the dramatic, and not enough on the day-to-day, ordinary moments where you just are.

The last chapter or two had a different feel to them. The chapter where she goes to college seems over-the-top rosy and optimistic. (Perhaps how a ten year old might fantasize about college?)

Because of how this one unfolds, it seems almost impossible for any character to be truly developed except for the main character. The characterization lacks something, in my opinion. It's not that I didn't like Francie. I did. But I wanted more depth and substance in general to all the people in her life.

For readers who love, love, love drama and more drama, this series may be a must. Each book tackles an issue or two or three. The good news is that if you hated The Long Way Home, there is a chance that you might still enjoy Best Kept Secret more.

The book is set primarily in New Jersey. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe (2015)

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: How does a dinosaur stay safe all day? Whether at home or at school or at play? Does he climb up too high? Or jump on his bed? Does he race on his bike with no helmet on head? Is he rough with the cat? Does he stand up on chairs? When Mama says "No!" does he run down the stairs?

I can't say that I liked How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? Then again, I'm not sure that I have "liked" any of this dinosaur series by Jane Yolen. If you're looking for a book written in rhyme about safety for a dinosaur-obsessed child, then this is the book for you. Especially if you can embrace the idea of a dinosaur having a human mom and dad and living in the modern day world. Wearing helmets, being warned of stranger danger, and knowing to call 9-1-1 in an emergency are all good things technically speaking. But the book is far from entertaining. Should picture books tell a story or teach a lesson? Can they ever do both? Should they do both? Do they have to do both? For those looking more for a book about safety than an actual story this one may be of some use.

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. Emily Clement: Seven Essentials You Need to Know about Writing Literary Fiction

Emily Clement is an associate editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. She has worked on books by Shaun Tan, Jaclyn Moriarty, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Erin Bow, among others.

She manages her imprint’s international literature program, and has edited books translated from German, Dutch, and Russian. Emily attended Stanford University, followed by the Columbia Publishing Course, and translates children’s books from Italian. She grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and now lives in Brooklyn.

She talked to us about what that tricky word "literary" means, and how we can achieve it in our writing. But first, she told us the backstory behind a Russian novel coming out on the Arthur A. Levine spring list.

Called "Playing A Part," it was published just after Russie passed anti-gay propaganda laws. While it wasn't illegal for the book to be published, it could not be shelved with children's books.

After she read about it in The Atlantic, she looked into acquiring it, not knowing whether it was well written or appropriate for their list. She discovered a "gorgeous, beautiful, moving, and sensitive novel." And now it's the first young adult novel to be translated from Russian into English.

"It's crazy that hasn't happened before," she said.

The word "literary" is a tricky one for her. She doesn't love talking about books as literary or commercial because the two things aren't mutually exclusive. And some people are put off by the concept of literary, so she always tries to pair the word "accessible with it."

Here are four items from her list of seven essential literary qualities:
  1. It's about something. The book tackles a big idea and one of the larger themes of life, challenging the reader to think from a new angle.
  2. It has voice. Voice is informed by the character and his or her world, and makes your work engaging and feel authentic. 
  3. It has plot. You can tell if your plot is lacking if you can't explain your book's premise in a few sentences (and the usual cause is that your voice is getting in the way).
  4. It has resonant details. "Every piece of clothing, every meal, every book your characters read" is intentional. 
Some books Emily recommends for their literary qualities:




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15. It's the most wonderful MONTH of the year - Eve Ainsworth



Usually I hate February. It’s a dark, bleak little month. Rain dances through the days and frost greets every morning. You have no money and little motivation. Additional weight gained at Christmas still hangs from your waist like a guilty secret and the resolution to take regular jogs feels like a long forgotten joke.

Yep, it’s usually a month I enter with fear and loathing. It’s usually the month I put a big black cross through, before rushing back to bed and reading myself through it.
 Except this year! This year was different.
February 2015 would be significant for me in many ways.
1    
      1.  I would leave my job
      2.   I would run my first Author visit
      3.  7 Days would finally be published.

Leaving my job was the first positive more. It was a tiring and stressful job that was no good for me in the long term. A job where I would go home and feel mentally and physically exhausted, barely able to think, let alone type. Resigning was like a strange release and I already know it’s the best thing I could’ve done. Yeah ok, we’re poorer. But I’m calmer and that has to be a good thing, right?
Next was a thing that filled me with fear. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger right? That’s exactly how I felt about stepping out of my comfort zone and entering a brand new school as an author.

I’d done events at my own schools, but this was new and alien. I walked into the building, clutching my bag and trying to ignore the gnawing feeling in the pit of my tummy. BUT it ended up being the best. The students I met were so lovely and engaged and so interested in both 7 Days and my work as an author. I left feeling both inspired and accepted. I realised the buzz I’d gained was a totally new and refreshing experience. This was good for me.

And finally, February was when 7 Days was let out into the big bad world.

And it was a lovely day. I had cake mid-morning (why not). I treated myself to a dress. I received lots of wonderful tweets from supportive followers everywhere. I chatted on-line to other fabulous authors who were being published on the same day. We were all doing different things, but we all felt the same mixture of excitement and anticipation.


Then in the afternoon, I received a wonderful bouquet of flowers from my publisher that so far I have managed not to kill (a new record I feel). 



Later, I went for a meal with my husband. I had a lovely cocktail and a delicious Caribbean curry and toasted the start of an amazing year.

Because it will be an amazing year. This will be the first year I can actually admit to myself that I have ‘done it’, I have accomplished a dream. And whatever life throws at me, whatever the new ups and downs – I need to remind myself of this one moment.

The moment when I became a published author.


The moment when I finally felt like me.


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16. Angel Tree (2014)

Angel Tree. Daphne Benedis-Grab. 2014. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Angel Tree is a lovely Christmas-y read. I think it is a good, balanced blend of bitter and sweet. I'll explain more of what I mean in a bit.

Pine River. Angel Tree is set in a small, cozy community called Pine River. Every December, a large community tree goes up. No one knows--at least officially--who is responsible for putting up the tree. But by the time this novel opens, the "angel tree" is legendary. (It has had a decade or two to get that status.) What makes this tree special or legendary is the fact that EVERYONE is welcome to write down their wishes and put them on the tree. Supposedly, in all the decades, the wishes have always come true. The whole community provides for its own, in a way. It gives every person an opportunity or two to be kind and generous.

Angel Tree introduces readers to a community, and it does so through several narrators/protagonists. One is named Lucy. She's blind. She's adopted (from China). Her guide-dog is dying of cancer. Her wish for the tree: medical treatment for her dog. One is named Joe. He's new to town. He's living in a small apartment with his uncle, I believe. His mom is a soldier stationed overseas. His wish for the tree: to spend Christmas with his mom. One is named Max. His house just burned down. His wish for the tree? A new house. The last is named Cami. She has a gift for bringing people together. And a musical gift as well. I honestly can't remember her wish for the tree since her wish isn't nearly as dramatic as the others.

So before the novel starts, these four young people aren't exactly close friends. I believe they are all in the same grade, and some have classes together. I think Cami and Max might have already been friends perhaps. Most of the book is about making friends, being friends, working together, thinking of others. One thing that all the kids seem to have in common--especially Max, Joe, and Lucy--is poverty.

Cami, I believe, decides that someone NEEDS to find out who is responsible for the Angel Tree. The person deserves recognition and honor. She knows she can't do it by herself, at least not in time to honor her THIS Christmas, so she involves other people. Can four kids working together solve the mystery?

The story is sweet in that it brings people together; friendships are formed; strong connections are made. In that way, it is an affirming read. The story is not perfectly sweet in that life is never made perfect. Even with all wishes fulfilled, life can never be perfect, stay perfect. For example, even if Joe gets his wish to spend Christmas day with his mom, she'll still have to go back. He'll go back to worrying about her when she does.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. Top Book Editors Pick their Favorite Children's Books of 2014





With so many wonderful books published in 2014, it's hard to know where to begin in making reading choices. One easy way to discover amazing stories is to take a look at Publishers Weekly round-up of top children's book editors 2014 picks (only books not published by their own company). In this article you'll discover the books the editors wish they'd snagged before another publisher got to them first, how they learned about the books, and why they love them. Their favorites also include some older classics.
 
The picks include:  The Bunker Diary; The Iridescence of Birds; Grasshopper Jungle; El Deafo; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender; The Winner’s Curse; Half Bad; Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Brown Girl Dreaming; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; The Glassblower’s Children; Sideways Stories from Wayside School; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; The Storm Whale; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; Wild Rover No More; The Secret Garden; Egg & Spoon; and Grasshopper Jungle.

A few quotes from the piece:

David Levithan, Scholastic. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. "Grasshopper Jungle is a messy, repetitive, horny, ridiculous novel with a main character who will strain your sympathies about as far as they can go. And I love it for all of these qualities, and for the exuberance of its daring."

Nicholas During, New York Review Books. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. "There’s something rather melancholy about the story in combination with Sendak’s illustrations, and, don’t ask why, I find it’s a bit of sadness that makes the best children’s books."

Brittany Pearlman, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater. "There’s a line in the book where the main character, Blue, reflects about herself and her four male companions (the Raven Boys): “We were all a little bit in love with each other”; and that’s exactly how I feel about every one of the characters. The magical realism and fantasy make the story truly enchanting, but it’s always grounded in character so that you feel completely immersed."

T.S. Ferguson, Harlequin Teen. Half Bad by Sally Green. "Half Bad by Sally Green has obvious comparisons to the world of Harry Potter, but the story unfolds in such a uniquely compelling way that I couldn’t put it down. I loved the themes of racism, genocide, and terrorism as viewed through a fantasy lens."

Liz Herzog, Scholastic. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. "When I brought the book home and read it, I loved the way Riggs had so artfully built a rich and engaging world all from a collection of found photos. It made me think about where stories come from, and how pictures can be a powerful jumping-off point for the imagination."

Megan Barlog, HarperCollins Children’s Books. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. "This book takes the best elements of fairytale romps like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and transforms them into a tale of daring adventure."

Be sure to visit Publishers Weekly for the complete article.

What were your favorite books of 2014 for children?

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18. Ranger in Time

Rescue on the Oregon Trail. (Ranger in Time #1) Kate Messner. 2015. Scholastic. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Sam Abbott lugged another sack of bacon to the wagon and sat down to wipe his forehead.

Premise/plot: Ranger is a golden retriever who has been trained as a search and rescue dog. But he failed to graduate his training. Ranger wanted to let the humans know that in a real situation, he'd not be distracted by squirrels. But, of course, he couldn't make them get that. Thus he failed, despite his good intentions. But he's given a second chance, of sorts, when he digs up an old first-aid kit. This kit magically transports him BACK in time. Ranger suddenly finds himself in 1850 in Independence, Missouri. He finds a missing girl, Sam Abbott's sister, Amelia, and joins the Abbott family and the wagon train heading west to Oregon. On the way, Ranger will have PLENTY of opportunities to alert Sam and his family--really, the whole wagon train--of dangers on the trail. He proves himself trustworthy when it counts.

My thoughts: It's the first in a new series. I liked this one. I did. You do have to suspend your disbelief a bit, I admit. But once you do, it's just FUN. Time travel can be great fun after all. Readers learn facts about the Oregon trail AND meet a lovable dog. And since this is the first book in the series. Readers shouldn't worry about this dog-on-the-cover book. The book realistically portrays the dangers of trail life, but, not at the expense of the star of the book: Ranger.

Rescue on the Oregon Trail releases this month. And the second in the series, Danger in Ancient Rome, will release this summer.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups (2015)

Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups. Stephanie Clarkson. Illustrated by Brigette Barrager. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time four fairy tale misses, tired of dwarves, witches, princes, and kisses, so bored and fed up, or just ready to flop, upped and left home for a fairy tale swap…

I enjoyed this one for the most part. It is a cute and clever fractured fairy tale. It begins with a frustrated Snow White leaving the home she shares with seven dwarves. She's searching for a new place to call home. She comes across another princess who is a bit frustrated with her situation as well. They change places. Then she goes off to find someplace new…

It was a fun story starring Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. It has a fun and playful premise. The endings have all been adjusted as well. For better or worse. I enjoyed the style of the illustrations. I enjoyed the illustrations of Snow White the best. I loved her look!

I am not sure that I LOVED this one. But I definitely found it fun and worth reading!

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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20. Glamourpuss (2015)

Glamourpuss. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by David Small. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a pillow sat a glamorous cat named Glamourpuss. Glamourpuss lived with Mr. and Mrs. Highhorsen in a giant amnion on the top of a hill where they were waited on hand and foot by a pair of devoted servants named Gustav and Rosalie.

I enjoyed reading Sarah Weeks' Glamourpuss. I thought it was a charming picture book about a fabulous cat who was sometimes selfish and sometimes sweet. Glamourpuss, the star of the book, does not like it when Eugenia and Bluebelle come to visit Mr. and Mrs. Highhorsen, her owners. She finds Bluebelle and her many costumes ridiculous. But to her surprise, all the adults seem to find Bluebelle precious and wonderful and even glamorous. Shocking! Can't they tell the difference between tacky and refined?! When Glamourpuss realizes that Bluebelle actually HATES wearing clothes and performing tricks, the two bond. Glamourpuss gives her real lessons on how to behave, how to take her bow-wow to WOW, just as Glamourpuss has taken her meow to ME.

I found the story cute and charming. But I think it was the illustrations that really persuaded me that this story was wonderful. I loved the many expressions of Glamourpuss. I did. David Small did a great job of capturing this cat's magnificent personality. I think some of my favorite illustrations were when she is teaching Bluebelle how to be more refined.

Definitely recommended for cat lovers!

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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21. Owl Diaries: Eva's Treetop Festival

Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1) Rebecca Elliott. 2015. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Tuesday
Hello Diary,
My name is Eva Wingdale. I live at Treehouse 11 on Woodpine Avenue in Treetopolis. 

 Plot/Premise: Eva, the owl, shares her diary. Readers learn about Eva, what she likes/loves, what she does NOT like/love. Readers get to know her and her family/friends. They also get to see Eva at school and home. Eva gets inspired to plan a big event--the Bloomtastic Festival. The diary shows day by day or night by night, I suppose, how that is going for her! Eva has some lessons to learn definitely!

My thoughts: The book just has a cute feel to it. It's cute from cover to cover. It's heavily illustrated. Which is a good thing, I think. Some of the text is narration: diary entries to be precise. But some of the text is dialogue in speech bubbles. This early chapter book is a fun choice for young girls.

The first book in the series releases this month. The second book releases in May.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Review Round Up

I'm behind in reviews, so I'm doing a few round ups of titles -- better a couple paragraphs than nothing!

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper. Little, Brown. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

Salt and Storm is set in an alternate 1860s, where witches and magic are real. Avery is the granddaughter of the witch of Prince Island, and should have been trained and raised to be the next witch. Except, her mother -- who refuses to have anything to do with magic or witchcraft -- drags Avery away from her grandmother and forbids her to see her. At sixteen, Avery is trying to escape her mother's control and claim her inheritance.

What I liked most about Salt and Storm is that Avery wasn't aware of the full picture. She knew what she knew, believed she had the full picture, believe she knew the real story about the witches of Prince Island. She thought she knew herself, but it turns out things aren't what she thinks they are. Which means what she wants isn't what she thinks it is. I also like the historical information in here, about life on nineteenth century islands.

The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic, 2014. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to The Raven Boys (Book 1) and The Dream Thieves (Book 2).

This continues the story of the search in Virginia for a missing Welsh king. The searchers are prep school students Richard Gansey III (the driving force behind the search), his friends Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, and local girl Blue Sargent.

By the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I'm not going to lie: it's complicated. There are a mess of characters, plus the search, plus the issues that the characters are dealing with in the present. Gansey is driven by his search; Ronan discovered dangerous family secrets, including his own ability to pull things out of dreams into the real world; Adam is a scholarship student with the drive for more and a serious, well earned chip on his shoulder. Noah has his own issues.

And Blue: Blue is from a family of psychics, without any real power herself, and with a curse upon her: her kiss will kill her true love. And since she's falling hard for Gansey, and since one of her aunts foresaw Gansey's death, it's, well, messy. Like life. Now take life and add in magic and history, myth and legend.

Readers know that I like when teen books have interesting adult characters: well, this has them and then some. The enigmatic Mr. Gray -- I mean, how often is a hired killer so sympathetic and likable? (And yes, I keep picturing him as Norman Reedus). Blue's mother has disappeared, but this allows other adults to move center. And Mr. Gray's boss also enters into the picture. It's not just magic and myth that is a danger.

The only frustration with Blue Lily, Lily Blue is there is still one more book in the series. So while the adventure moves forward, and questions are answered, there's still so much more to find out!


The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Scholastic. 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Iron Trial starts a series set in the modern world, where magic is real -- but hidden. Twelve-year-old Callum's father has done everything possible to keep Callum away from this world. Call is supposed to do everything possible to fail his entrance tests to the Magisterium, a school of magic hidden in the United States. Instead, Call finds himself in the Magisterium, studying magic, and finding out his father hasn't been totally honest with him. Magic isn't the big, dangerous, evil he's been told about.

Most of this book is the "forming" part of an adventure story: Call discovering the truth about magic, that it's not a simple matter of good or evil, and Call forging friendships and allies (and sometimes enemies and frenemies) with his fellow students. He also has to study magic, and it's not all fun and games -- it's also hard work. (And, well, fun. Because magic!)

Part of what Call learns about are some epic battles from over ten years before, including those who fought on the good side and the bad side. (Magic is neither good nor bad, but those who practice it -- they fall on those two sides.) Call is sometimes frustratingly ignorant about magic and his own family's connection to it, but it works for the book -- the reader learns as Call learns.

The ending of the book -- oh, the ending! Personally, I felt as if the story was just truly beginning with the ending, and that the real story will be next year, now that the reader, and Call, has the full knowledge of what is going on. Or do we know as much as we think?



















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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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23. Big Bad Detective Agency (2015)

Big Bad Detective Agency. Bruce Hale. 2015. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Once upon a time in Fairylandia, when magic was common and cheese was two shillings a pound, there lived a wolf named Wolfgang. Being a wolf, he was widely adored, called "cute" and "cuddly," and invited to all the best parties. Not. What makes you think Fairylandia is so different from anyplace else?

Premise/Plot: Wolfgang, the hero, is falsely accused of a crime. Of breaking into the homes of all three little pigs, of destroying property, of stealing. He didn't do it. And there isn't exactly any evidence that he did it. Except for the fact that he's a wolf, and everyone in the community can get away with blaming him whenever something goes a bit wrong. "The wolf did it!" is such a handy thing to be able to say. He's been given a chance to clear his name, however. He'll have one day to find another suspect, to find proof that someone else did the crime. He teams up, reluctantly, with the fourth little pig: Ferkel. Can these two unlikely amateur detectives solve the crime? Will Wolfgang prove his innocence and avoid being locked up?

My thoughts: I liked this one very much. It was fun and playful. The premise was just too much fun to resist. I liked the detecting in this one, loved getting all the clues, watching the team piece it all together.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Please, Mr. Panda (2015)

Please, Mr. Panda. Steve Antony. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Would you like a doughnut? (panda)
Give me the pink one.  (penguin)
No, you cannot have a doughnut. I have changed my mind.  (panda)
Would you like a doughnut? (panda)
I want the blue one and the yellow one. (skunk?)
No, you cannot have a doughnut. I have changed my mind. (panda)


If the book had not been described as a book about manners, I would have been puzzled by Steve Antony's Please, Mr. Panda. In my opinion, it is still a very strange book. My first impression of the story was NOT that the animals were lacking in manners and being rude to Mr. Panda. Far from it. I actually found Mr. Panda to be the rude one since he was ASKING animals, "Would you like a doughnut?" and then abruptly changing his mind and saying NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE AFTER ALL. The description may say that Panda is patient and polite, but, that was not my impression. He came across as bored, disinterested, and disgusted. But apparently, that isn't the proper way to read Please, Mr. Panda. Readers are supposed to believe that it is the animals who say "Yes, I'd like a doughnut" who are being RUDE. At least according to Mr. Panda, no matter what else is said if you fail to include the word "Please" it means YOU are being unforgivably rude and justifies completely his subsequent actions. Perhaps further complicating the situation, I never could distinguish if Mr. Panda was offering free doughnuts he'd made OR if Mr. Panda had a job selling doughnuts. If selling doughnuts was his job, if it was his job to go around asking animals if they'd like a doughnut, he was TERRIBLE at it. Clearly Mr. Panda would be far, far happier at another job where he didn't have to interact with anyone at all. Since clearly he is not what I'd call a "people-person." If none of this was job-related, I'm still confused. Clearly, Mr. Panda hates doughnuts. And he probably hated making them just as much as he hates walking around trying to give them away. The question I have is WHY would he bother? Either way, I think Mr. Panda had a bad attitude and was extra-sensitive to "insults." It wasn't as if the animals were going: Hurry up, I want it NOW, NOW, NOW! Or whining WHY ARE THERE NO SPRINKLES?! I NEED SPRINKLES!!! Or THESE DOUGHNUTS ARE TOO SMALL. The animals didn't come across as demanding or whining or picky or complaining. If the book is teach the importance of saying Please and Thank You always, always, always, then a little exaggeration of the "rudeness" so it was less subtle and actually obvious may have been preferable. I think the animals in the story are just as puzzled as I was. They're probably thinking, WHAT WAS HIS PROBLEM, ANYWAY? Now that I've read the book three or four times, I can see that the ostrich was definitely rude and the whale was very, very tacky. But still am puzzled by the book as a whole.

This one was originally published in the UK. I do like the illustrations well enough. But it was hard to like Mr. Panda.

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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25. Chasing Freedom (2015)

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Michele Wood. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is 1904, a year in which the 28th Annual Convention of the New York State Suffrage Association met in Rochester, New York. On this occasion, Susan B. Anthony will introduce the guest speaker, the legendary Harriet Tubman. 

Historical fiction based on a what-if, the what-if being "What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives?" While the two women certainly met--at the very least twice since they spoke at the same conferences--there is no evidence that these two were friends or good friends who would sit down and spend an hour or two in conversation sharing their lives over cups of tea.

The whole book is a dialogue between the two women taking place in 1904. Their life stories are told alternately. This worked some of the time. Other times I felt the two were not so much connecting and sharing so much as talking AT one another. Susan being so focused on telling details of her life and Harriet being so focused on telling details from her life that the two were just being polite waiting for their turn to steer the conversation back to themselves. Not every page reads that way, of course. But it sometimes did. One thing that both women seemed to have in common is an admiration almost an idolization of John Brown.

For those interested in learning the basics about these two women, this book is certainly an interesting place to start. While it is fiction, the stories they are telling are based on facts. Readers will learn a handful of things about each woman and the significance of both women in history.

I liked the layout of this one. On one side, readers get text. On the other side, readers see lovely illustrations. I loved the illustrations!!! 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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