Archive for April, 2010


The Jane Addams Peace Association has announced the winners of their 2010 awards.

Younger Children

Award Winner

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter

Honor Books

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

You and Me and Home Sweet Home by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson

Older Children

Award Winner

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge

Honor Books

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philllip Hoose

It is confirmed on Slashfilm that Bill Condon will be directing the movie version of Breaking Dawn.  He has directed Dreamgirls, Kinsey and Gods and Monsters

It has not yet been determined if the novel will be made as two films or one. 

Tutus Aren’t My Style by Linda Skeers, illustrations by Anne Wilsdorf

Emma loves getting dirty, chasing frogs, and just being outside.  So when a package arrives from her Uncle Leo with a pink ballerina costume inside, she isn’t sure how to even pretend to be a ballerina.  The mailman offers her tips about how to float, flutter and twirl but Emma just ends up in the birdbath.  Mrs. Gurkin walks by and tells her to walk on her tippy-toes, but Emma falls into the petunias.  When Emma heads inside, her brother suggests that music might help.  Emma tries her kazoo, but that doesn’t work quite right.  As she tries to adapt to being a ballerina, Emma finds herself returning to her cowboy boots and shorts that have handy pockets. In the end, she dances in her own way and style.

This book is perfect for children who don’t fit into the mold of pink for girls and blue for boys.  Emma is a girl that one doesn’t see often in picture books.  She is her own self, yet open to trying new things to see if they work for her.  She will have readers cheering her on!  Skeers has written a heroine with plenty of personality and spunk.  There are wonderful humorous touches that really make the book a pleasure to read aloud.  The text moves along at a brisk pace.  Wilsdorf’s illustrations add to the humor with their cartoon style.  They also show the reactions of Emma’s cat which is an important piece of the story. 

Appropriate for all kids, this book should not be saved just for the tomboys who come to the library.  We all have unique things about ourselves that we don’t want to change to conform.  This book is about that, not limited to solely pink tutus.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Jen Corace

Told from the perspective of Etty, one of Charles Darwin’s daughters, this book is an invitation into the lives of the Darwin family.  Etty does not want to stuck inside with her mother and Cook learning to make honey cake.  She would much rather be outside with her father helping with his scientific observations.  The children grew up asking questions just like their father.  They measured worm holes, experimented with seeds and salt water, counted snakes, and captured moths.  So when her father appeared at the door and asked her to bring out the flour shaker, Etty happily did so.  The question was how many flowers a humblebee would visit in a minute.  The flour would make the bees the children would be observing more easily seen.  And what is the answer to the question?  You will just have to read the book to find out or dust your own humblebee with flour!

I was immediately charmed by the illustrations of this book.  They have an old-fashioned feel merged with a modern edge.  The colors used are vintage and immediately place the story in the correct era, but the illustrations themselves are crisp and add interest.  Hopkinson’s text is equally successful.  The pacing is varied which makes for an interesting read.  From the slow pace when Etty is inside baking and remembering her father’s stories to the brisk pace and excitement of following a bee from flower to flower. 

This book will make every child want to have dust a bee with flour and observe them.  It is a book that has you itching to head outdoors and measure your own worm holes or capture moths.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Charlotte’s Library.

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Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne, illustrated by Mary Haverfield

Look at family through the eyes of a young girl who lives with her grandparents.  Nonnie, her grandmother, gives her hugs all the time.  Poppy snuggles in bed, watches TV with them.  They are a close-knit and loving family made up of two grandparents and a child.  The book oozes love and warmth.  It is filled with a strong sense of home, the sort of home that every child deserves and would adore living in. This loving picture book, written by a grandmother who takes care of her granddaughter will fill an important place in library collections and speaks with love of how well different types of families work.

I was very pleased to see a book on this subject, because so many children are being raised by their grandparents.  Then after reading it, I was thrilled once again to have found a book that so embraces a child and delights in the warm world it is creating.  So yes, this is a wonderful book on grandparents being parents but is also a book that children in any sort of family with relate to and enjoy.  Byrne’s use of repetition as a framework for the story works well, particularly because the repetition is about Nonnie cuddles.  Her depiction of a special family is enhanced by the soft watercolor illustrations that help depict the connections of the family members.

Highly recommended, this book is simply lovely and will fill an important niche in library collections.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Abbeville Press.

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Two young boys dash to the toy box and dig around.  One emerges with a shark toy while the other brandishes a toy train.  So now the sides are clear, but which toy would win a battle?  Well, that all depends!  Would it be underwater or on train tracks?  Would they be eating pies or having a burping contest?  The ideas of the sorts of competitions will have readers giggling in delight as the shark wins one and then the train wins the next.  Each competition is illustrated for humor and the reasons for winning are often surprising and funny.  Get this book into the hands of children as quickly as you can!

Barton’s text is kept simple and easy.  He frames the competition and then steps back to witness who wins.  Towards the end, the competitions get wilder and neither shark nor train are comfortable.  The book ends with the two boys being called to lunch.  The illustrations are a large part of the pleasure and success of this book.  The emotions on the faces of both shark and train will have readers quickly understanding the situation.  There are small touches and asides in the illustrations that bring the story depth and added humor. 

This book is sure to be popular in any library.  Place it face out and it will disappear.  The only question is whether it is the shark or train that gets the book more attention.  Competition anyone?  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Remembering Crystal

Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth

Zelda is a young goose who adores her friend Crystal who is an aging turtle.  Despite their age difference, the two of them enjoy many of the same things.  They love reading books, swimming together, taking trips and talking about life.  But one day when Zelda goes to the garden, Crystal is not there.  The other geese try to explain that she was old and is gone, but Zelda doesn’t believe them.  She searches for Crystal and when she can’t find her begins to remember what Crystal taught her about art and the world.  After some grieving, Zelda realizes that Crystal will be with her always.

A warm, sweet book that speaks to the impact of losing a friend, pet or a grandparent. Though short sentences, Loth slowly exposes readers to the special friendship of the two characters.  It is this lingering pace and tone that makes the book work so well as you have time to think and appreciate while reading.  Loth also keeps the illustrations simple.  They are pleasingly presented on paper that is marked, creased and aged.  Beautifully and gently presented.

Books on death can verge on the saccharine at times.  This book manages to be sweet and fresh thanks in part to the humor of the book and the illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from NorthSouth.

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh

One cousin in America and one cousin in Mexico write letters back and forth describing their lives.  Carlitos lives on a farm in Mexico with all sorts of animals.  Charlie lives in a city filled with skyscrapers and lights.  The lives of the two boys are contrasted with one another from food and games to shopping and celebrations.  Underlying the differences though are the similarities between the boys with their energy and strong communities.  Tonatiuh’s art strengthens this tie between the boys, making this book a cohesive whole.

Students learning Spanish will find the words peppering Carlitos’ part of the story interesting and useful.  They serve to add more than flavor to the text, strengthening the text and tying it more closely to Mexico.  Tonatiuh’s text is simple and interesting, allowing for a glimpse of two different lives.  It is his art that will really get this book off the shelves.  He combines a primitive feel in the characters faces and bodies with a modern collage technique that uses digital components.  The juxtaposition of the two makes for dynamic art that show both boys living with tradition and modern components to their lives.

A successful book about cousins who have plenty of differences but also lots in common, this book will be useful for young students learning Spanish.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

The 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were announced on April 23rd.  They honor the best books of 2009.

The winner for best in Young Adult Literature is

Elizabeth Partridge for Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

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The Carnegie Medal is the premiere UK award for children’s book writing.  Here is the shortlist:

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

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