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Viewing Blog: The Excelsior File, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 490
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Children's literature, reviews, thoughts, commentary, and whatever else fits the bill.
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1. a funny thing happened on the way to school

by Davide Cali illustrated by Benjamin Chaud Chronicle Books 2015 Excuses, excuses, but it's the SIZE of the lies that impresses here. When asked why he was late for school a boy goes into a lengthy, imaginative journey into all the obstacles in his path. From a story perspective it's exactly what one teacher once described as "one dang thing after another," and the twist on the last page

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2. abandoned: taken

by David Massey Chicken House / Scholastic 2014 Teens in peril. That's where you lose me. I try to read books as "blind" as possible, knowing as little as I can going in so I can let the freshness of the story carry me. Sometimes, though, I get a sense early in a book that it's going to piss me off. In the past when I was a younger man and felt like I had a lifetime to read everything I'd

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3. goodnight brew

by Ann E. Briated illustrated by Allie Ogg Bailiwick Press  2014 No. Wrong. Sorry. Not for kids. Terrible parody with no redeeming qualities. Seriously. You would be hard pressed to find a parody of a children's classic more tone deaf and misguided as this. The idea of a children's book parody should have echoes of childhood skewered with a winking eye. Goodnight Brew seems to labor under

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4. shh! we have a plan

by Chris Haughton Candlewick  2014 Four black-ops solders take on an impossible night mission with little hope of success. Just kidding! In the depths of a purple-blue night four night stalkers our out with their nets in hopes of coming across something to catch. Actually only three of the stalkers have nets, the smallest seems to be tagging along. When they come across a bird the Little One

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5. richard scarry's best lowly worm book ever

by Richard Scarry (mostly) Golden Books  2014 A recently discovered Scarry manuscript is unearthed... and out pops Lowly Worm! Weird-but-true, and totally irrelevant, anecdote about a Richard Scary book. Once while working in the bookstore a woman came in, furious, to return one of those cute little critter books because of its "gratuitous use of meat." Specifically, she was offended by a

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6. jack the castaway

by Lisa Doan Darby Creek / Lerner  2014 Smart kid, dumb parents, and a menacing whale shark! What more could a kid want from a book?  Jack is a sheltered kid on the cusp of puberty living with his Aunt Julia safely in Pennsylvania. Or at least he was living safely until his Aunt met with misfortune and Jack was forced to call his world-traveling parents home from their latest scheme,

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7. I Am Rosa Parks

I am Rosa Parks By Brad Meltzer Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos A whitewashed (ahem) picture book biography of the famed Civil Rights icon. Parson Weems would be proud. Now that we have Phillip Hoose’s Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice out in the world I feel it is incumbent on anyone treading toward teaching kids about the Civil Rights do so with a more open understanding

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8. The Skeleton Pirate

by David Lucas Candlewick Press 2012 The unbeaten Skeleton Pirate who refuses to accept defeat is beaten not once but twice in this quirky picture book. The Skeleton Pirate knows one thing: that he will never be beaten, and will fight to the, uh, death to prove it. But when a band of pirates chains him up and throws him over board... he still will not accept defeat. rescued by a Mermaid he is

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9. if you want to see a whale

words by julie fogliano pictures by erin e. stead. roaring brook press 2013 a very old school picture book poetic in word and image now this is what i’m talking about. the title is the premise a set of instructions for what you need to do in order to see a whale it starts with a window and quickly moves to a landscape of the mind the text and instructions more of a tone poem told legato

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10. status not so quo

There's reading, and there's writing, and there's blogging about reading and writing. I haven't been doing enough of any of these lately. Actually, I have been reading. Quite a lot, and much of it kidlit. I keep meaning to come here to the ol' blog-a-roo and load up what I've been reading but... And while I've been incredibly busy with a number of writing projects I still don't feel like I'm

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11. A Little Book of Sloth

by Lucy Cooke Margaret K. McElderry Books 2013 This non-fiction book, ostensibly for kids, should forever change the synonym for sloth from "lazy" to "cute." Many decades ago when I first learned about sloths and their sloth-like behavior they seemed to me a perfect insult. Calling someone a slug was up there but there was nothing that rolled off the tongue quite like "move it, you sloth!"

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12. Happy Harry's Cafe

by Michael Rosen illustrated by Richard Holland Candlewick 2013 Harry makes great soup, or so we are told. Harry is a Bear. He work's at a cafe that bears his name. Harry's friends are birds and cats and other animals. Harry's friends love his soup so much they come running before it runs out. But on this day Matt the cat does not like the soup. Because he hasn't tried it. Because he has no

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13. Marathon

by Boaz Yakin illustrated by Joe Infurnari 2012 Some Greek guy runs from one place to another. And for this a race is named after him. Have you ever seen a movie storyboard? At its most basic, it's a collection of images with key dialog or actions described beneath the sketches to help communicate what the final film sequence should look like. It is a way for the director to communicate to

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14. 13 Days of Halloween: Flesh & Bone

by Jonathan Maberry Simon & Schuster 2012 Benny and his friends continue on their quest to find what's left of civilization before the zombies and death cults get to them first. Third in a (seemingly) endless series. Why is it so hard for writers, agents, editors and publishers to know when a story has gone on too long and jumped the shark?  Long-time readers here at the excelsior file might

2 Comments on 13 Days of Halloween: Flesh & Bone, last added: 10/26/2012
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15. 13 Days of Halloween: The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Or, After the Outing   by Edward Gorey Simon & Schuster 1963  A ghastly little abecedarian for hip little children... who might just happen to be teens or adults with a sense of humor. I think this one is best explained by example. You can probably figure out how the rest of this plays out. Twenty-six children, each with their own half of a dactylic couplet to explain their demise.

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16. 13 Days of Halloween: The Monster's Monster

by Patrick McDonnell  Little, Brown 2012  Three little monsters decide to create a much bigger monster who, it turns out, teaches them that you don't HAVE to be a monster, just because you're a monster.   Horned Grouch, hairy Grump, and two-headed Doom 'n' Gloom live in a castle atop a hill where their antics cause the villagers no end of fear. They smash and bash things, get upset over

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17. 13 Days of Halloween: Creepy Carrots

words by Aaron Reynolds  pictures by Peter Brown   Simon & Schuster 2012  Jasper Rabbit loves carrots but they're starting to creep him out. Kids everywhere will cheer - they now have a real reason for hating carrots! They're creepy! But is there a deeper message here about the haves and the have-nots?  Cute Little Jasper loves carrots, and how could he resist the temptation of Crackenhopper

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18. 13 Days of Halloween: In a Glass Grimmly

by Adam Gidwitz Dutton 2012 Jack and Jill (and a Frog) went up a beanstalk to fetch a magic mirror. Along the way they outwit Giants, Goblins, a fire-breathing salamander named Eddie, and their parents. A companion to 2010's A Tale Dark and Grimm. Lately I've been wondering if we do more harm than good by making childhood too safe. I'm not thinking about car seats or non-toxic

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19. Moby Dick

Chasing the Great White Whale   by Eric Kimmel illustrated by Andrew Glass  Feiwel & Friends 2012  Finally! A version of Melville's classic I can actually finish! In one sitting! With pictures even!  So, up front, I'm no fan of Moby Dick. I have tried and tried and simply cannot traverse the literary muck and mire of Melville's meandering meditation. I get about 60 or 70 pages in and I start

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20. Drama

by Raina Telgemeier Scholastic 2012 Romance and friendships are tried and tested during the production of a middle grade play where everything is one giant emotional... drama. Callie is crushing on Greg, and after he breaks up with his girlfriend Bonnie it looks like she might get a chance at him, but after one sweet kiss it goes south when Bonnie and Greg reunite. Good thing there's the

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21. Oh, Rats!

The Story of Rats and People  by Albert Marrin  illustrated by C.B. Mordan  Dutton / Penguin 2006  Is there any pet more widely considered vermin? The nonfiction picture book examines the facts and myths surrounding the rodent people love to hate.   Stating with a tale from his own life, Marrin recounts how he was playing in a wood pile as a kid when he first came face-to-face with rats. Out

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22. A Wrinkle in Time

The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle adaptation by Hope Larson FSG 2012 The classic middle grade book gets a solid graphic novel treatment by award winning artist Hope Larson. The weird thing about graphic novel adaptations is that they tend to be much longer than their source material, and they rarely convey all the details and explanations in their retelling. Graphic novels conceived as

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23. Squish #4: Captain Disaster

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm  Random House 2012  Squish, an amoeba, and his single-cell friends learn life lessons in a primordial soup that looks a lot like an upper elementary school.  As a kid, one of the things I used to love about going out to a restaurant was that the family-friendly places would have comic books for us to read at the table. They were cheesy, with

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24. 13 Days of Halloween: Sailor Twain

by Mark Siegel First Second Press 2012 A riverboat captain on the 19th century Hudson River nurses an injured mermaid back to health, hidden from his employer who is determined to find and kill her, but is he another of her victims caught in her wrath and fury? Captain Twain, no relation to Samuel Clemens' alter ego, is a riverboat pilot who runs a tight ship and  prefers not to meddle in

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25. 13 Days of Halloween: Zombie in Love

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio illustrated by Scott Campbell  Atheneum Books 2011   A picture book about a zombie looking for love?   Mortimer is, to be blunt, a bit clueless. He's looking for love in all the wrong places, scaring the pants off too many faces.  Does he not realize he's a zombie? Does he not understand that the living fear the living dead? In the end, it takes a personal ad

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