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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
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.
The post April Notes on the way appeared first on The Horn Book.
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.
Editor 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)
Melissa 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)
Natalie 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)
For 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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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.
In 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)
Marissa 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)
In 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)
An 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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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.
A 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)
Join 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)
In 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)
Salvatore 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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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.
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.
The 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)
A 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)
In 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)
For 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.
Taking a trip to the beach this summer? These poetry and nonfiction picture books work swimmingly to teach children about ocean life.
David 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)
The 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)
Dolphin 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)
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.
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.
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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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.
Two 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)
Jake 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)
In 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)
Thirteen-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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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.
Lulu (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)
A 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)
In 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)
Exploring 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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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.
Arun 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)
In 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)
One 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)
Lesa 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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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
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.
The post March Notes appeared first on The Horn Book.
You know it’s spring when, in any available yard or park, kids can be found kneeling on the ground, inspecting the local bug population. These four picture books will help answer kids’ questions about their favorite neighborhood critters as well as about a bunch they’re unlikely to encounter in real life.
One insect you won’t find in your backyard (unless you live in the Amazon) is the titan beetle, with jaws “powerful enough to snap a pencil in half.” Kids have the opportunity to marvel over this and numerous other beetles in Steve Jenkins’s The Beetle Book. Colorful cut-paper beetles stand out crisply from the white backgrounds. They’re remarkably detailed, right down to the intricate patterns on wing casings and the delicate nature of the insects’ legs. (5–8 years)
Profiles of eight insects (and one spider) that make their own dwellings are presented in Roxie Munro’s Busy Builders. As always, Munro expertly employs perspective, on one page zooming in close enough to see the hairs on an insect’s legs and the shape of its antennae, and then on the next backing out to feature the geometric details of its home. Detailed explanations on the construction techniques and purposes of the structures are interwoven with facts about life cycles, food sources, and habitats. (6–9 years)
In Douglas Florian’s UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings, puns and wordplay enliven the poems, and rhythmic verse echoes bee behavior, as much with sound as with sense (“I’m a nectar collector. / Make wax to the max. / A beehive protector. / I never relax”). A paragraph of facts elucidates each spread, but the real energy here is in the deceptively casual watercolors that illustrate this offbeat and attractive book. (5–8 years)
As selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, poets including X. J. Kennedy, Alice Schertle, and Kristine O’Connell George celebrate Nasty Bugs. Kids who love bugs for their yuck factor will appreciate these verses about lice, ticks, bedbugs, stink bugs, cockroaches, and more. Will Terry’s luridly vivid illustrations show the anthropomorphic critters up-close and personal. Three pages at the back provide scientific information about each bug. (6–8 years)
Our Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards judges (Lauren Adams, Megan Lambert, and chair Thom Barthelmess) will finish their deliberations this month. I will be announcing the winners on Thursday, June 7 at 1:00 P.M. at BookExpo America in New York City. The press conference will take place in the Librarians’ Lounge (Booth #2148), and all BookExpo attendees are invited. There will be snacks and special guests, I am told. If you can’t be there, check out www.hbook.com later that afternoon, as we will be webcasting a video recording from the event.
Editor in Chief
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Five Questions for Paul O. Zelinsky
Z Is for Moose written by Kelly Bingham, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky, Greenwillow, 4–8 years.
Perfect animal shenanigans
Animal Masquerade by Marianne Dubuc, trans. by Yvette Ghione, Kids Can, 2–5 years.
Silly Goose’s Big Story by Keiko Kasza, Putnam, 2–5 years.
Ballerina Swan written by Allegra Kent, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully, Holiday, 3–6 years.
No Bears written by Meg McKinley, illus. by Leila Rudge, Candlewick, 3–6 years.
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins, Houghton, 5–8 years.
Busy Builders by Roxie Munro, Cavendish, 6–9 years.
UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian, Beach Lane/Simon, 5–8 years.
Nasty Bugs selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illus. by Will Terry, Dial, 6–8 years.
The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence, Putnam, 8–12 years.
Two Crafty Criminals!: And How They Were Captured by the Daring Detective of the New Cut Gang by Philip Pullman, illus. by Martin Brown, Knopf, 8–12 years.
Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind by Tom Angleberger, illus. by Jen Wang, Amulet/Abrams, 8–12 years.
Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane, Farrar, 9–13 years.
YA sci-fi and fantasy you’ve been waiting for
A Million Suns by Beth Revis, Razorbill/Penguin, 12 years and up.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, Dial, 14 years and up.
0 Comments on Books mentioned in the May 2012 issue of Notes from the Horn Book as of 1/1/1900
Left to right: Roger Sutton, Maurice Sendak, Sergio Ruzzier, Frann Preston-Gannon, Ali Bahrampour, Denise Saldutti. Photo by Richard Asch.
Last year, I went to Maurice Sendak’s house to spend a day with the Sendak Fellows, four artists who were given time and studios to work on any project they desired, as well as access to Maurice for advice and encouragement. So who better to talk about his legacy? I asked each Fellow “what’s the most important thing you learned from Maurice?” (And, as a bonus, asked them for their favorite Sendak titles.)
1. Maurice confirmed so many things that I already felt but didn’t have the confidence to admit. He taught me that while creating books everyone else should be forgotten, even children themselves. As he said during our stay: “Kids…What do they know?” In his profound and wonderful way he repeatedly told us “don’t let the bastards get you.” Most of all, the fellowship made me utterly grateful and proud to call myself an illustrator and to be doing what I love.
2. I hesitate to say Where the Wild Things Are as it seems too obvious, but that book means the world to me — and for the wicked Wild Thing inside, I believe it always will. The Sign on Rosie’s Door was also a great love of mine as a child.
1. That I will probably never be able to get rid of self-doubt. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
2. The Little Bear books, which were among the very first books I saw. Those pen drawings made an everlasting impression on me.
1. It’s hard to pick out something I learned in any didactic sense. Maurice Sendak was himself a lesson: his integrity, his devotion to his art, his warmth and generosity to the fellows. I know that if I am ever tempted to make some concession or take the easy road, I will think of Maurice and be too ashamed to betray myself.
2. Part of me wants to pick In the Night Kitchen. Another part wants to pick the gorgeous drawings for Hector Protector. But my childhood self chooses Pierre, for whom I felt a perverse admiration for sticking to his principles even from inside the lion’s belly.
Denise Saldutti Egielski:
1. Live your life, he would say, be happy (he loved to laugh), it’s okay being different, it’s okay being sad or even frightened or frightening at times, let love rule, be brave and be bold, be yourself in your art, and then tell children anything you want. Maurice has had a profound effect on my life since he was my teacher when I was twenty and more recently when I was a Sendak Fellow. I feel like I’ll never stop learning from this great artist. I know I will never stop missing him.
2. Recently my sister sent me Somebody Else’s Nut Tree and Other Tales from Children by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I had never seen this book before, and now I can’t put it down — it’s so full of life, warmth, humor, sadness and all “gracefully illogical.”
Sendak’s self-styled trilogy about children confronting and mastering fear has inspired much debate and more than a few dissertations, but generations of children have managed all on their own to “only connect” with these three masterpieces.
Where the Wild Things Are (1963), Sendak’s best-known work and the 1964 Caldecott Medal Winner, has proved utterly engrossing to children throughout the decades. As well as the pictorial grotesqueries — both deliciously monstrous and humorous — they love the idea of a small boy, punished for his naughty “wildness,” dreaming up hideous wild things, taming them, and then becoming their king, before returning home to find his supper, still hot, waiting for him. This vibrant picture book in understated full color is a sincere, perceptive contribution to literature and bears repeated examination. (3–7 years)
The star of the 1971 Caldecott Honor Book In the Night Kitchen (1970), young Mickey falls “through the dark, out of his clothes . . . into the Night Kitchen.” Mixed into cake batter, he escapes in an airplane of dough and dives into a gigantic milk bottle — then is able to supply the cake bakers with the ingredient they need (milk). Line drawings of juxtaposed geometric forms are washed with subtly darkened tones of delicate color, and the bold whites and yellows add an element of luminosity to the eerie setting, a city transformed by night. (3–7 years)
In the 1982 Caldecott Honor Book Outside Over There (1981), goblins kidnap Ida’s baby sister, leaving a changeling made of ice. In hot pursuit, Ida hears “her Sailor Papa’s song” telling her to “catch those goblins with a tune.” The story is haunting and evocative; the art, with echoes of Sendak’s previous work, mature and masterly. The setting of the book is eighteenth-century pastoral — appropriate for a story that reverberates with overtones of Grimm, Mozart, and German romantic poetry. (3–7 years)
In addition to his authored work, Sendak was a generous picture-book collaborator, nowhere better demonstrated than in the 1963 Caldecott Honor Book Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Sendak. The story has the quality of a realistic dream, wandering through scenes that change in tone from bright daylight with accents of cherry red through the blue of a starry moonlit night. The book is drenched in atmosphere, with glowing colors and lively depth in scenes that invite repeated and lingering enjoyment. (3–7 years)
Sendak drew and painted to music, and in his later career would design operas including The Magic Flute, The Love for Three Oranges, and his own Where the Wild Things Are, set by Oliver Knussen.
The Tony Kushner/Sendak collaboration Brundibar (2003) re-creates the story line of a Czech opera written by a Terezin concentration camp inmate and performed there by children whom the Nazis later murdered. It will be read on at least two different levels: adults will recognize the yellow stars sewn on the Jewish characters’ clothing and other ominous details while young listeners will want to know what happens next to the two little heroes, Pepicek and Aninku, who set out with an empty bucket to fetch milk for their ailing mother. Sendak’s crayon, colored-pencil, and brush pen illustrations feature rosy tones emphasized by bursts of crimson and yellow, or contrasted with intense blacks, browns, blues, and greens. Characters in nonstop action fill the pages, but there’s plenty of vivid white space to absorb them. (5–8 years)
Lullabies and Night Songs (1965), edited by William Engvick, with music by Alec Wilder, and illustrated by Sendak, is an extraordinary songbook, wholly enchanting in words, music, and illustrations. The editor has selected verses, in addition to some of his own, from poets notable and varied as well as many traditional pieces. The pictures – in muted yet luminous colors – are instantly engaging: by turns robust and delicate, mischievous and droll, tender and vigorous. The manuscript notation and the hand-lettered text contribute to the artistic whole. (3–7 years)
The mysterious, powerful, and slightly grotesque flavor of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s original Nutcracker is re-created through Ralph Manheim’s smooth, elegant translation (1984). The illustrations, spectacular and remarkably effective, are either taken from Sendak’s stage settings for the ballet or are newly drawn for this volume. Many of them show clearer and more pristine color and have a greater delicacy and lightness of line than do most of Sendak’s drawings (though there is an unmistakable, enormous Wild Thing peering from behind an island). Altogether a magnificent, splendid combination of talents — the author and the illustrator each worthy of the other. (5–8 years)
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.
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.