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Viewing Blog: Kids Lit, Most Recent at Top
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Tasha Saecker is the director of the Menasha Public Library in Menasha, WI. "I started my library career over a decade ago as a children's librarian, and continue to adore books for children and young adults. They are the majority of what I read. Luckily, as the director of a small library, I still work with children and do the children's programming for the library, so I have an excuse for my reading habits! I have two children of my own, nine-year-old Rowan and five-year-old Elijah. Both boys have been raised surrounded by the piles of books I haul home from the library. Occasionally in Kids Lit, I will refer to them as responding well to a particular book."
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1. This Blog Has Moved!

This blog has moved and changed names to Waking Brain Cells.  Click the link to visit the new site and reset your bookmarks!

There is also a new RSS feed to subscribe to: http://wakingbraincells.com/feed/

See you there!

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2. Bedtime Monster


Bedtime Monster by Heather Ayris Burnell, illustrated by Bonnie Adamson

Check out Waking Brain Cells for my review.  And make sure you change your bookmarks to the new site!

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3. Andre Norton Award Nominees Announced

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have announced the nominees for the 2010 Nebula Awards.  Check out the nominees for novel and young adult books at Waking Brain Cells.

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4. Scars Is Being Challenged!

Sigh.  It always seems to happen to the best of the teen books.  The ones that really reach out to the teen experience, the ones that explore darkness, the ones that carry truth.

Read more of my take on the challenge at Waking Brain Cells.

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5. Mudkin: Muddy, Lively and Joyous


Mudkin by Stephen Gammell

Check out my review on Waking Brain Cells.  This blog will stop being updated at the end of the week.  Change your bookmarks and RSS feeds!

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6. Nosh, Schlep, Schluff


Nosh, Schlep, Schluff: BabYiddish by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Check out my review on Waking Brain Cells.  This blog will no longer be updated at the end of this week, so change your bookmarks and RSS feed readers now!

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7. Grounded: Family, Funerals and Forgiveness


Grounded by Kate Klise

Check out my review at Waking Brain Cells, the new home of this blog.  I will stop posting here at Kids Lit at the end of the week.

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8. The Secret River: Luminous Loveliness


The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

Check out my review on Waking Brain Cells.

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9. Family Pack: Poetic Nature


Family Pack by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks

Check out my review on Waking Brain Cells.

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10. Jam & Honey: Natural Sweetness


Jam & Honey by Melita Morales, illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Check out my review at Waking Brain Cells.

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11. I’m Not: Funny Friendship


I’m Not by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Robert Weinstock

Check out my review at Waking Brain Cells.

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12. Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party


Check out my review on Waking Brain Cells of Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt.

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13. Cryer’s Cross: Thrilling Fun


Head to Waking Brain Cells to read my review of Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann. 

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14. 2010 Cybils Winners Announced!

Congratulations to all of the Cybils winners!  It was my pleasure to work on the final judging panel for the YA category this year.  I’m afraid with my new job, I was not as involved as I usually am, but I know we came up with a great pick!  The panel was a treat to work with and I thank them all for their patience in dealing with my divided attention.

Here are the winners:

Fiction Picture Books

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (my review)


Nonfiction Picture Books

The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley (my review)


Easy Readers

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems


Short Chapter Books

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Miguel Benitez



Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse (my review)


Graphic Novels

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga (my review)


Middle Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction

The Shadows by Jacqueline West (my review)


Middle Grade Fiction

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger


Young Adult Nonfiction

The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of

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15. No Passengers Beyond This Point: A Wild Ride


No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

When three siblings discover that their mother has lost their house to foreclosure, they have only a few days to pack up and get ready to move to live with an Uncle they barely know.  To get to his home, they have to take a plane to Colorado.  But that is where everything starts to get odd.  India, Finn and Mouse find themselves getting off the plane and entering a world that makes little sense.  No one has heard of Uncle Red, they are met by a pink taxi with feathers, and each of them seems to have their very own house to live in that was designed just for them.  As they struggle to figure out where they are, the clock starts ticking and the book becomes a race against time in a world that none of them understands.

Choldenko has switched genres here, away from the historical world of Al Capone Does My Shirts and into a magical alternate reality.  However, she continues to write compelling characters living ordinary yet extraordinary lives.  Though the book often has readers trying to figure out the rules of the alternate world, Choldenko’s characters never leave one in doubt.  They are well drawn, their reactions make sense, and their motivations are consistent.

The crispness of her writing continues as well.  I found myself immediately drawn into the relationship of these three siblings, which is beautifully complex.  Each of them has their own point of view and the chapters rotate between them.  The deeper disputes and issues between them are explained throughout the book, often becoming pivotal in the book’s resolution.

Choldenko’s pacing is also well done.  She gives readers a chance to get to know the three main characters at their home first, before they are drawn into the alternate world.  There the pace slows and then races, driven deftly by the writing.  At moments where the children are lingering, the book slows too.  Then when the story begins to fly, the pace matches that as well.

I can see this book being one that readers will either love or hate.  One has to be willing to follow a beloved author down a new path and take a wild ride of a journey with her.   I was happy to take this trip.  Get this in the hands of fans of The Kneebone Boy.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.

Also reviewed by

Bermudaonion’s Weblog

Book Sake

Charlotte’s Library

Killin’ Time Reading

Ms. Yingling Reads

My Brain on Books


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16. Twilight + Harry Potter = Incarceron?


As reported earlier, Taylor Lautner, star of the Twilight movie franchise, has been cast as the lead in the film version of Incarceron.  Now there are reports that Emma Watson is the top pick for the female lead.

So what do you think?  I’m still having problems with Lautner as the male lead.  Watson on the other hand seems ideal.

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17. Giant Steps to Change the World


Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Sean Qualls

This is a book filled with inspiring people that show children that everyone has the ability to be a hero.  The book contains examples of people who stood up for others, worked with a passion and vision, honored deep values, and led the world to a new place.  Among the heroes on the pages are Langston Hughes, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, and Neil Armstrong.  It is a great mix of male and female and different races.  The heroes will inspire young readers to take that first step to follow in the giant steps that their heroes left behind.

Qualls’ illustrations are amazing.  Done in acrylic, gouache, pencil and collage, the images are bold and strong.  Some are so powerful, they stay with you after closing the book, like the black and white image that represents Harriet Tubman and moves from dark to light.  The illustrations have clear lines, deep colors, and convey the essence of that hero to great effect.

Unfortunately, the text written by the Lees is less successful.  The heroes they have selected are an incredible group of people.  It is the words themselves that fall flat, often being too verbose and roundabout for a children’s picture book.  I was also disappointed that there was not a list of the heroes anywhere in the book with more information.  Readers can look at the endpages of the book to see a quote from each hero, but no further details are given.  That’s just not enough information for young readers.

An inspiring book despite some issues, this book would pair well with President Obama’s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

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18. The Perks of Being a Wallflower–The Movie

Cinematical has the news that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is going to finally be made into a feature film.  Summit Entertainment holds the rights to the book.  Author Stephen Chbosky will be writing and directing the film, which bodes well. 


The cast includes Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.

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19. Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2011


Debut author, Sita Brahmachari, has won the 2011 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize for her novel Artichoke Hearts.  The UK prize is now in it’s seventh year and was created to “champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing.”

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20. Judy Moody–The Movie


The movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer will be released on June 10, 2011. 

EarlyWord has the news that Candlewick will be publishing five movie tie-ins in May to go along with the film.  Candlewick is also releasing the entire Judy Moody series with new covers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the books.

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21. Self-published YA Series Catches On


An article in USA Today features Amanda Hocking who has sold her teen paranormal novels primarily in ebook form.  Her series is entirely self-published and is offered for download at $2.99 per book.  Her Trylle Trilogy will debut in the top 50 of USA Today’s Bestseller list on Thursday! 

Has anyone read the trilogy?  What do you think?

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22. Ribbit Rabbit: Great Rhyming Fun


Ribbit Rabbit by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Frog and Bunny are the best of friend.  They swim together.  Fight monsters together.  Even share peanut butter sandwiches.  But sometimes something happens and they stop getting along.  Like when they find a robot with a key.  One of them ends up with the robot, the other with the key.  And they don’t want to share.  After a bit of alone time though, they come together ready to share and have fun once again.

Ryan’s text is such fun to read aloud.  It trips, gallops, dashes and dances on the tongue.  The rhythm of the book is a delight and the silly rhymes add joy to the book.  It is impossible to read it without grinning. 

Lowery’s illustrations have a wonderful modern, fresh feel to them.  Done in pencil, screen printing and print gocco, they are finished digitally.  They have a simplicity that works well here.  The soft colors have an intriguing pop to them and the texture from the screen printing adds to the appeal.

Highly recommended, this is a top choice for toddler and preschool story times.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Also reviewed by The Bookbag and Young Readers.

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23. Little White Rabbit: Masterful Simplicity


Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

Little White Rabbit set off filled with imagination.  As he hopped through the grass, he wondered what it would be like to be green.  When he went by the fir trees, he wondered what being tall was like.  When he hopped over the rock, he wondered about how it would feel not to be able to move.  When he saw the butterflies, he imagined being able to fly.  But when he saw the cat, he got too scared to imagine anymore.  He hurried back to his family and didn’t stop wondering and imagining.

Henkes is a master of the picture book format.  The simple words here carry the story beautifully, giving just enough detail to keep the book moving.  The focus on wondering and imagining is one that will have young minds wondering along with the book, exactly what I love to see in any picture book. 

The illustrations, done in colored pencil and acrylic paint, are also simple.  They are nice and large, which will work well with a group of preschoolers.  The simplicity speaks to the skill of Henkes as an illustrator.   The double-page spreads of the imaginings of Little White Rabbit offer lots of exploration, moments of quiet, and space for young children to have their own daydreams too.

Simplicity by a master of the genre, this book will be adored by Henkes’ many fans and will find new fans too.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Brimful Curiosities.

Check out the video about the making of this book:

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24. Mr. Men–The Movie

Twentieth Century Fox Animation will be bringing Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Men to the big screen.  There are 48 Mr. Men books in the series, which has been adapted for television before.  No writer or director has been announced yet for the project.

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for the news.

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25. How To Train Your Dragon–The Movies

how to train your dragon

The second How to Train Your Dragon film will expand to a larger world, allowing this sequel to be the bridge to at least one more film after it.  The book series has 8 volumes, so there is plenty in the stories to pull from.  There are promises of new dragons, new characters, and yet a focus on the beloved Hiccup and Toothless. 

Thanks to /Film for the news.

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