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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Notes from the Horn Book, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Graphic novels for middle schoolers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. From the Editor — June 2014

sutton roger 170x304 From the Editor — June 2014On May 31st, I announced the winners of the 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards at the BookExpo convention in New York. The awards will be bestowed at a ceremony on October 10th at Simmons College; the next day brings the Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Mind the Gaps: Books for All Young Readers.” The colloquium will feature BGHB honorees and others in a day’s discussion of what’s missing or scarce in contemporary books for young people, and how some of these gaps might be closed. We will tell you more about our plans for the day as they develop, but early-bird registration for HBAS (with a complimentary ticket to the BGHB awards the night before) is now available.

roger signature From the Editor — June 2014

Roger Sutton
Editor in Chief

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

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3. To infinity and beyond!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. To sleep, perchance to dream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five questions for Sophie Blackall
Ivy + Bean series written by Annie Barrows, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Chronicle, 6–9 years.
The Mighty LaLouche
written by Matthew Olshan, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Schwartz & Wade/Random, 5–7 years.
Pecan Pie Baby written by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Putnam, 3–6 years.
Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found, selected and illus. by Sophie Blackall, Workman, adult.
The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall, Penguin/Paulsen, 3–6 years.
Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier, Hyperion, 3–6 years.
Locomotive by Brian Floca, Atheneum/Jackson, 8–11 years.

Sassy siblings
Gaston written by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson, Atheneum, 3–6 years.
The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo, Clarion, 3–6 years.
Splat! Starring the Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz, OwlKids, 3–6 years.
Me First by Max Kornell, Penguin/Paulsen, 4–7 years.

Funny business
Masterpiece written by Elise Broach Kelly Murphy Holt/Ottaviano,
The Miniature World of Marvin and James [Masterpiece Adventures] written by Elise Broach, illus. by Kelly Murphy, Holt/Ottaviano, 5–8 years.
The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure written by Doreen Cronin, illus. by Kevin Cornell, Atheneum, 5–8 years.
Annika Riz, Math Whiz [Franklin School Friends] written by Claudia Mills, illus. by Rob Shepperson, Farrar/Ferguson, 5–8 years.
More of Monkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto, Atheneum/Jackson, 5–8 years.

Digital fun and learning
I Love Mountains by Forest Giant, 4–7 years.
Color Uncovered by Exploratorium, 6–10 years.
Dinosaurs by AMNH, 6–10 years.
The Poetry App by Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, 9–14 years.

Bummer summer
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Delacorte, 14–17 years.
The Last Forever Deb Caletti, Simon Pulse, 14–17 years.
The Chapel Wars Lindsey Leavitt, Bloomsbury, 14–17 years.
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, Little/Poppy, 14–17 years.

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

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6. Five questions for Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall author photo Credit Barbara Sullivan 226x300 Five questions for Sophie Blackall

photo: Barbara Sullivan

Sophie Blackall’s many children’s book illustration credits include Annie Barrows’s Ivy + Bean chapter books (Chronicle, 6–9 years), Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty LaLouche (Schwartz & Wade/Random, 5–7 years), and the 2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Honor–winning Pecan Pie Baby written by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam, 3–6 years; watch their award acceptance here). A book for adults, Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found (Workman), features illustrations inspired by such personal ads as: “Saw you sailing up Jay Street around 4pm on the most glorious golden bike. I think I’m in love.” If any of those “Missed Connection” couples end up connecting, Blackall’s newest picture book, The Baby Tree (Penguin/Paulsen, 3–6 years), might come in handy. Her loose, fanciful illustrations lend humor to a young boy’s interpretations of grown-up dodges to the question: “Where do babies come from?

1. When the narrator receives “the news” from his parents that he’s going to be a big brother, he has lots of questions, “but the only one that comes out is: Are there any more cocopops?” Were you consciously trying to take the edge off the subject matter with humor, or were you hoping to appeal directly to your audience’s love of sugar cereals?

SB: As a child in 1977, when our parents calmly told us they were getting divorced, my brother’s first question was famously, “Can we have afternoon tea now?” Everyone knows you need to get the urgent matters of cocopops and cookies out of the way before you can focus on the more profound ones of life and death and birth and love.

2. The answers the boy receives are standard-grown-up evasions… which turn out to be partially true! (All except for the stork.) Did you start this project knowing the story would take a circular path or did that happen organically?

SB: Some years ago I read an article in The New Yorker written by Jill Lepore, about sex-ed books for children. After examining funny but outdated books, progressive but heavy-handed books, and books with useful information but awful drawings, she concluded, or at least I fancied she concluded, “Sophie Blackall, will you please attempt a funny, sensible, beautiful book on this subject?” (What she actually wrote was: “it would be nice if it was a good book, even a beautiful book. If that book exists, I haven’t found it.”) So that was the beginning. Around the same time my children, giggling, relayed a Saturday Night Live skit in which Angelina Jolie and Madonna bicker over whose babies have come from the more exotic place, ending with one of them claiming her baby was plucked from a baby tree. The idea of the ludicrous, evasive answers each holding a grain of truth came as I began to write.

blackall baby tree Five questions for Sophie Blackall3. Did you do any research about what language to use with this age group? For example, in the very helpful appended “Answering the Question Where Do Babies Come From?” page, you suggest parents discuss intercourse as “a man and a woman lie close together,” rather than giving kids the full monty.

SB: I spoke to pediatricians and elementary teachers and other parents, and the one thing that seemed really clear is that children will absorb as much information as is appropriate for them at any given age; the rest will just spill over. A bit later they’re ready for a more sophisticated explanation and so on. This being a picture book, I wanted to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible, but also suggest ways to continue the conversation.

4. Did your own kids ask you about where babies come from? How did you handle it?

SB: My own kids must have asked the question every six months or so when they were little. They would just forget the bits which seemed too miraculous or ridiculous. Because conception really is miraculous and sex is rather ridiculous. Fantastic, but ridiculous. You mean, you put that in there? And take it out again? More than once? Why would anybody do that?

5. Sergio Ruzzier’s Bear and Bee (Hyperion, 3–6 years) and Brian Floca’s Locomotive (Atheneum/Jackson, 8–11 years) make cameo appearances on the boy’s bed — are those books telegraphing some kind of subliminal message?

SB: Definitely.

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

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7. Funny business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8. Sassy siblings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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9. Bummer summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10. Digital fun and learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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11. Notes from the Horn Book, Birds and the Bees edition

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall…


Read our 5Q interview with Sophie Blackall in the May 2014 issue of Notes. In this month’s issue you’ll also find
• more picture books featuring sibling relationships
• funny chapter book series entries
• nonfiction apps
• YA about family, friendship, grief, and healing
• a link to our 2014 Summer Reading PDF

may 14 notes Notes from the Horn Book, Birds and the Bees edition

Read the issue online here, or subscribe to receive Notes from the Horn Book newsletter (and its supplement Nonfiction Notes) in your inbox. Find more recommended books and interviews in the newsletter archives.

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12. Freedom Summer and Black History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13. Books mentioned in the June 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Picture books
Where the Wild Things Are (1963) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 3–7 years.
In the Night Kitchen (1970) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 3–7 years.
Outside Over There (1981) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 3–7 years.
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962) written by Charlotte Zolotow, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 3–7 years.

Easy readers
A Hole Is to Dig (1952) written by Ruth Krauss, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 5–8 years.
Little Bear (1957) by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 5–8 years.
Nutshell Library (1962) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 5–8 years.

Chapter books and intermediate
Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life (1967) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 7–10 years.
The Animal Family (1965) written by Randall Jarrell, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Pantheon, 7–10 years.
The Wheel on the School (1954) written by Meindert DeJong, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 9–12 years.

The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm (1973), selected by Lore Segal and Maurice Sendak, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Farrar, 7–10 years.
I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book (new edition, 1992) edited by Iona and Peter Opie, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Candlewick, 5–8 years.
We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (1993) written and illus. by Maurice Sendak, di Capua/HarperCollins, 5–8 years.

Brundibar (2003) retold by Tony Kushner, illus. by Maurice Sendak, after the opera by Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister, di Capua/Hyperion, 5–8 years.
Lullabies and Night Songs (1966) edited by William Engvick, with music by Alec Wilder, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Harper, 3–7 years.
The Nutcracker (1984) written by E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated by Ralph Manheim, illus. by Maurice Sendak, Crown, 5–8 years.

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14. Books mentioned in the July 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

5 Questions for Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illus. by Molly Bang, Blue Sky/Scholastic, 5–8 years.

Under-the-sea reading for kids
In the Sea written by David Elliott, illus. by Holly Meade, Candlewick, 3–6 years.
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems written by Kate Coombs, illus. by Meilo So, Chronicle, 5–8 years.
Dolphin Baby! written by Nicola Davies, illus. by Grita Grandstom, Candlewick, 5–8 years.
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola, Foster/Farrar, 5–8 years.

Summer fun for little ones
Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey, Knopf, 3–6 years.
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee, Ottaviano/Holt, 3–6 years.
The Best Bike Ride Ever by James Proimos, illus. by Johanna Wright, Dial, 4–7 years.
The Shark King [TOON Books] by R. Kikuo Johnson, Toon/Candlewick, 5–8 years.

Great escapes (some quite literal!) for middle-grade summer reading
Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton, Philomel, 8–11 years.
Summer in the City written by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel, illus. by Marie-Louise Gay, Groundwood, 8–11 years.
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 8–11 years.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage , Dial, 8–11 years.

Beach reads for teens
37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon, Holt, 14 years and up.
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti, Simon Pulse, 14 years and up.
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman, Lamb/Random, 14 years and up.
Seize the Storm by Michael Cadnum, Farrar, 14 years and up.


These titles were featured in the July 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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15. Summer fun for little ones

Warm weather and long days create the perfect conditions for one of summer’s greatest pleasures: playing outside. Three new picture books and one early reader offer fun-filled adventures in the great outdoors, from the everyday to the out-of-the-ordinary.

grey traction man beach odyssey 263x300 Summer fun for little onesThe action-figure hero of Traction Man Is Here!, along with his sidekick Scrubbing Brush, hits the beach in Mini Grey’s Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. Traction Man’s valiant security patrol of the family picnic comes to an abrupt end when a wave whisks the pair away, landing them in the clutches of another young beachgoer. Once again, the duo entertainingly inhabits the world-within-a-world of creative play. (3–6 years)

yee summer days 300x234 Summer fun for little onesA young girl celebrates summertime in Wong Herbert Yee’s Summer Days and Nights. During her busy day — which includes chasing butterflies, jumping into a pool, and taking an evening walk — she asks questions about the various insects and animals she encounters. Meticulously layered and blended colored-pencil art captures both the warmth of summer sunshine and the coolness of shade beneath trees. (3–6 years)

proimos best bike ride 300x300 Summer fun for little onesIn James Proimos and Johanna Wright’s The Best Bike Ride Ever, Bonnie O’Boy is so eager to ride her new bike that she takes off before learning how to stop. She rides over mountains and elephants, through downpours and windstorms, up the Statue of Liberty and down the Grand Canyon. Careful observers will realize that this whole thrilling adventure takes place in the safety of Bonnie’s cluttered backyard. Energy springs off the page; it’s no wonder that Bonnie wants to ride off without training wheels…or even training. (4–7 years)

johnson shark king 191x300 Summer fun for little onesFor primary readers, R. Kikuo Johnson’s graphic novel/beginning reader The Shark King retells the legend of an underwater shape shifter married to a mortal woman who bears their son, Nanaue. Nanaue’s aquatic superpowers make living among mortals a struggle, but eventually he discovers where he belongs. In the illustrations, the characters’ rounded black outlines convey strong energy and emotion, while the panels and spreads feature a lush, colorful Hawaiian setting. (5–8 years)

Here are some more great summer reading suggestions from The Horn Book.

From the July 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book. For bibliographic information please click here.

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16. Under-the-sea reading for kids

Taking a trip to the beach this summer? These poetry and nonfiction picture books work swimmingly to teach children about ocean life.

elliott inthesea 269x300 Under the sea reading for kidsDavid Elliott and Holly Meade’s In the Sea combines poetry and art to create memorable portraits of twenty different ocean creatures, including an octopus, golden starfish, moray eel, and blue whale. The tone of Elliott’s very short poems varies nicely, from lightly humorous to evocative and majestic, and Meade’s full-spread woodcut and watercolor illustrations are at once striking and simple. (3–6 years)

coombs water sings blue 300x288 Under the sea reading for kidsThe creatures and allure of the sea are captured in Kate Coombs’s twenty-three poems and Meilo So’s splendid illustrations for Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems. Some of Coombs’s poems are comical while others are thoughtful. The ocean itself is the star of So’s beautiful art, whether in translucent underwater greens, intense blue against a dazzling white horizon, or simply as splashes of color and light. (5–8 years)

davies dolphin baby 272x300 Under the sea reading for kidsDolphin Baby! is a lively story with scientific details about the developmental milestones in the first six months of a dolphin’s life. While Nicola Davies’s main narrative concentrates on one particular dolphin as he matures, smaller text on each spread provides more general information about the species. Brita Granström’s illustrations, set at various depths in the ocean, feature broad brushstrokes of every watery hue. (5–8 years)

nivola life in  ocean 234x300 Under the sea reading for kids

Claire A. Nivola’s picture book biography Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle focuses on Earle’s intimate knowledge of the creatures she has spent over half a century observing. Accompanying the informative text are Nivola’s exquisitely detailed watercolor illustrations that are perfect for depicting the natural world. An author’s note explains why we all need to get involved in efforts to curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and other pollutants. (5–8 years)

Here are some more great summer reading suggestions from The Horn Book.

From the July 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book. For bibliographic information please click here.

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17. Books mentioned in the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Lois Ehlert
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault, illus. by Lois Ehlert, Simon, 2–5 years.
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert, Lippincott, 2–5 years.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert, Simon/Beach Lane, 5–8 years.
Under My Nose by Lois Ehlert, Richard C. Owen, 6–9 years.
Hands by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 5–8 years.
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, Harcourt, 4–7 years.

Lives lived large
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illus. by Evan Turk, Atheneum, 4–7 years.
Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully, Farrar/Ferguson, 4–7 years.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of 
Kandinsky’s Abstract Art written by Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Mary GrandPré, Knopf, 4–7 years.
Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome, Holiday, 4–7 years.

Things that stop and go
My Bus by Byron Barton, Greenwillow, 2–4 years.
My Car by Byron Barton, Greenwillow, 2–4 years.
And the Cars Go… by William Bee, Candlewick, 3–6 years.
Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper, Knopf, 3–6 years.
Everything Goes: By Sea by Brian Biggs, Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 3–7 years.

Flora and friends
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by K. G. Campbell, Candlewick, 6–9 years.
Lulu’s Mysterious Mission written by Judith Viorst, illus. by Kevin Cornell, Atheneum, 6–9 years.
Ivy + Bean Take the Case [Ivy + Bean] written by Annie Barrows, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Chronicle, 6–9 years.
Operation Bunny [Wings & Co.] written by Sally Gardner, illus. by David Roberts, Holt, 8–11 years.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy written by Karen Foxlee, illus. by Yoko Tanaka, Knopf, 8–11 years.

Boys’ life
Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, trans. from the German by Tim Mohr, Scholastic/Levine, 12–15 years.
Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano, Candlewick, 12–15 years.
Sorry You’re Lost by Matt Blackstone, Farrar, 11–14 years.
There Will Be Bears by Ryan Gebhart, Candlewick, 12–14 years.

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

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18. Boys’ life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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19. Flora and friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20. Lives lived large

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

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

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

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

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

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

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21. March Notes

March Notes is here! This month, look for five questions for queen of collage Lois Ehlert, plus

• picture book biographies about trailblazers
• preschool books about vehicles
• chapter books starring spirited heroines
• YA novels about boys on the edge


march 14 notes March Notes

Read the issue online here, or subscribe to receive both the monthly Notes from the Horn Book newsletter and its supplement Nonfiction Notes in your inbox. Find more recommended books and interviews in the newsletter archives.

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22. YA fantasy you’ve been waiting for

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

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

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

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

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

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

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23. Big-city picture books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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24. April is National Poetry Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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25. April Notes on the way

Vampires, werepeople, and yetis — oh my! In this month’s Notes from the Horn Book newsletter, I get to ask Cynthia Leitich Smith five questions about her (ahem) tantalizing new series Feral, a spin-off to her Tantalize quartet. Other goodies in this issue:

• more YA fantasy series entries
• picture books about the big city
• recommended reading for National Poetry Month
• intermediate books about wartime

april 14 notes April Notes on the way

Read the issue online here, or subscribe to receive Notes from the Horn Book newsletter (and its supplement Nonfiction Notes) in your inbox. Find more recommended books and interviews in the newsletter archives.

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