Archive for November 25, 2009


Best Scottish Children’s Books

The Scottish children’s books of the year have been announced.  They were voted on by over 15,000 school-aged children.

Older Readers

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

 

Younger Readers

First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts by Lari Don

 

Early Years

Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell

Here is the Shortlist for Children’s Books (really much more like teen book):

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (not out yet in the US)

 

The Costa Book Award is given to the most enjoyable books of the year by writers from the UK and Ireland.  You may remember them as I do as the Whitbread Awards but they have a new name now.

When the World Is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields, illustrated by Anna Currey

It’s bedtime and the entire world starts to get ready.  The little rabbits are called back to their cozy cottage.  The flowers close, night birds sing.  The evening routine starts.  There is warm soup for supper.  Toys have to be tidied up.  Time for talking about the day.  Then baths, teeth, and faces.  Stories, prayers, and hugs.  And one final glimpse of a bright star in the sky. 

This quiet bedtime story has the warmth and feel of a very traditional English tale like Peter Rabbit.  The story is told in short rhyming verses that add to the feeling of tradition and also to the feeling of a gentle nighttime routine.  Currey’s art reflects that same sense of timelessness and coziness.  From the soft cozy furniture to the toys strewn across the floor even after tidying up. 

This is a book to sink into, read again and again, and make part of your regular bedtime routine.  Appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Ballad

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

This sequel to Lament continues the story of Dee and James, this time from James’ perspective.  Now the two of them are at Thornking-Ash, a boarding highschool for musically talented teens.  James is an incredibly talented piper and his talent draws in a faerie who seeks out musicians and gives them great music in exchange for years of their lives.  Nuala arrives ready to make a deal with James, but as they get to know one another better, her motives change.  Now they must deal with the fact that Nuala lives only 16 years and will be burned alive on Halloween only to return reborn without any memories.  And on top of that, they have to stop the cunning other faeries who are searching for more power through Dee.

Stiefvater has outdone herself here.  Her prose is thorny, magical, and gripping.  The novel draws you into its faerie ring and won’t release you until you are gasping for breath from the dance.  Her characterization of James is poignant and soul searching combined with a sarcasm and wit that really brings him to life.  Nuala is a character readers will be set to detest, but will slowly warm to just as James does.  She is a complex character who changes through the course of the book believably.

The setting of the school is done very well.  It becomes both an area of safety and a place of fear.  The campus setting is ideal for this sort of story with its separateness, community and structure. 

Impossible to put down, breathlessly turning and spinning, this novel is a wonder.  Highly recommended to all libraries and to all teens who loved Lament, this book is appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed by Bib-Laura-graphy, Angieville, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Library Lounge Lizard, The Well-Read Child, and Charlotte’s Library.

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