Archive for June, 2010


Off For a Bit

I’ll be taking a week off of blogging to spend some time with my kids.  Plenty of books, baking and general relaxation are planned.

See you after the July 4th weekend!

2010 Locus Award Winners

The 2010 Locus Award winners were announced this weekend. 

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld won for Best Young Adult Book

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest won for Best Science Fiction Novel (It is a steampunk novel for both teens and adults.)

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Brown Rabbit in the City by Natalie Russell

This book follows the story which began in Moon Rabbit about the friendship between Brown Rabbit and Little Rabbit, though this story focuses on Brown Rabbit’s point of view.  Brown Rabbit was headed to the city for the very first time to visit his friend Little Rabbit.  Little Rabbit is so excited to see him that she takes him on whirlwind tour of the city, dashing in and out of shops, sightseeing, and finally dancing.  But it’s all too much for Brown Rabbit, who finally heads out on his own.  Little Rabbit realizes then that she hadn’t really spoken to Brown Rabbit all day long and sets out to find him and make things right again.

Russell makes a nice exploration of friendship that children will easily relate to.  By mixing in the bustle and rush of the city with the excitement of a visiting friend, the story becomes about taking time in life in general and taking time with those we love.  It never gets too sentimental, but keeps it all simple and heartfelt.  Once again, it is the illustrations that really shine here in their simplicity and style.  Done in an organic palette of browns, greens, robin egg blue, and warm earthy yellow, the book is truly lovely.  Add to that the simple lines and hip styling and you have a modern classic.

Highly recommended, though you should start with Moon Rabbit first, this book builds on the first book and offers an unrushed look at our busy lives.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

Red Green Blue: A First Book of Colors by Alison Jay

On a rainy day, a little boy escapes into a world of nursery rhymes that is filled with a rainbow of colors.  He moves past icons of nursery rhymes like Little Boy Blue, Miss Muffet and her big black spider, Bo Peep’s white sheep, and five pink piggies.  Keep a sharp eye out for other nursery rhyme characters in the background, because there’s a list at the end of the book to see if you spotted them.  Told in a style that only Alison Jay could achieve with her vintage, crackling illustrations that maintain a modern energy, this book is sure to be a winner with preschoolers.

Jay has such a distinct and unique style that you can spot her books from afar.  Just as she has with counting books and alphabet books, Jay has once again captured the timelessness of childhood here.  Her exceptional illustrations bring energy and fun to the simple text which focuses on colors and characters.  It is in the illustrations that the world comes to life and there is a depth that makes exploring them ever so much fun.

Make room for this one in your section on colors and in your section on nursery rhymes.  Combining the two is a brilliantly colorful idea.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dutton.

Also reviewed by On My Bookshelf.

Gaiman Wins Carnegie Medal

File this under Unsurprising News of the Decade.  Neil Gaiman has won the Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book.  I’m a great lover of the book, but really, enough already.  Isn’t this getting to be a bit much?

The Greenaway Medal for illustration (which thankfully The Graveyard book did not win – seriously, it was nominated) went to Freya Blackwood for Harry & Hopper

Check out the news in the Guardian for a full scoop on the awards and much less snark.  I know, I should be being much nicer about it because Gaiman truly is a super hero for libraries.

That Cat Can’t Stay by Thad Krasnesky, illustrated by David Parkins

When Mom rescued the the black and white cat from the downpour, Dad insisted that it not be allowed in the house.  Then he relented and let it stay until the rain stopped.  After the rain stopped, it was too late and they had a cat.  Then Mom found a calico cat. And the story is the same, Dad said no, gives in a little, and finds himself owning another cat.  Dad came up with very funny reasons why the cats can’t stay, but one after another, he found himself allowing the cats to be their pets.  In the end, the family discovered Dad’s soft spot.  Dogs!

Krasnesky’s rhyming text is very funny with a great rollicking flow to it.  It begs to be read aloud, especially Dad’s litany of reasons he doesn’t like cats, which are sure to have children giggling since they all rhyme with one another: “They eat my cheese.  They hairball-wheeze.  Their licking makes my stomach quease.”  Parkins’ art adds a lot to the story, ensuring that the reader is charmed by the cats thanks to their friendly furriness.  He uses white space with skill, changing the illustrations for Dad’s litany of cat complaints to make each one a bit more frenzied and dynamic. 

Recommended for cat storytimes.  This is a purr-fect readaloud for any family that finds that they too seem to collect animals.  I’d even recommend it happily to dog lovers.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Flashlight Press.

Also reviewed by:

Drum City by Thea Guidone, illustrated by Vanessa Newton

A great choice for a musical story time, this book offer charming illustrations and a dynamite beat.  The beat starts with one child banging on a pot with a whisk and spoon.   Soon children take to the streets with all sorts of objects to drum with: pots and pans, kettles and cans.  They march down the street, surprising grown ups with their music.  The parade of people grows and grows, turning the entire city into a city of drums.  Not only does this book offer a catchy beat, but it also shows the delight of music and its ability to bring people together.  Drum!

Guidone’s words create all sorts of rhythm, never hesitating to be jazzy or complex.  This makes the book far more interesting to read aloud than a sedate or steady beat.  She begins most stanzas of her poem with the word “drum” and ends most with that word too.  This gives everyone a chance to stop and restart with another rhythm.  Purely infectious! 

Newton’s illustrations, done in Photoshop, are filled with a city of people of all colors, ages, and occupations.  Interestingly, they incorporate not only digital art but a collage effect with word clippings in unlikely places.  Sharp-eyed children will also spot postage marks in the pictures. The illustrations nicely capture the busyness of an urban setting along with the excitement of the music.

Recommended, this book is one you must try with children.  Just go with the rhythm, hand everyone different things to drum with, and everyone is sure to have a bang up time.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.

WESTWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Actress Nikki Ree...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Author Stephanie Meyer has stopped her work on the next installment of the Twilight saga, Midnight Sun. 

According to an article in Digital Spy, she says she is “burnt out on vampires” and will take a break for awhile before completing the book, hoping that it will come more naturally with some time off.

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City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth

I was a little concerned about a book by Willems that he didn’t illustrate himself, but I shouldn’t have.  This book is a rich exploration of friendship.  A dog who has never lived in the country before runs out through the fields and comes upon a frog sitting on a rock near the water.  The frog immediately invites the dog to be his friend and the two play frog games together that spring.  When summer comes, the dog and frog play city dog games together, including fetch.  In the fall, the frog is growing old and tired.  So the two play remembering games together, thinking of spring and summer and the games they played.  Then winter came and when the dog headed to the rock, the frog wasn’t there.  Then spring came again, and this time the dog was the one sitting on the rock waiting for a friend.  And guess who came?  A new and unexpected friend.

This book is about friendship, that deep and abiding type of friendship that is about connection.  It is also about loss and it captures it so vividly that children will immediately understand the gravity of winter and exactly what the dog is experiencing.  It is a very powerful moment, depicted in deep blues of winter cold and silence in the text.  Beautifully captured.  At the same time though, it is a book about friendship continuing, new friends arriving, and the ability to move on and resume.  Willem’s language is simple and adept, he says things is so few words yet captures feelings perfectly.  Muth’s illustrations really capture the seasons. One can almost smell the grass of spring, the autumn leaves, and the crisp snowy air.  He also imbues the animals’ faces with deep emotions yet makes sure that they are still dogs and frogs. 

Highly recommended, this pairing of author and illustrator has created an amazing story that is deep and moving.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.  Make sure when you share this with a child that there is time to talk afterwards, it is sure to start a conversation.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out the trailer that Mo Willems created for the book:

Also reviewed by:

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

Follow the energetic and very friendly green peas in an alphabet journey through various activities.  Starting with A, the peas are acrobats, artists and astronauts.  Each letter has activities that are shown in the illustrations with charming detail that invite readers to spend time with the book.  The use of activities rather than objects as the words makes for a dynamic picture book filled with lots of action.  The text reflects that same active feel with a jaunty rhyme that gallops along.  Make sure to read aloud the comments of the peas along the way, because they are worked into the verse and maintain the meter of the rhymes.  This is a charmer of an alphabet book that is sure to be a hit with kids.

The illustrations in the book are done digitally.  They have a warm and natural feel to them that suits the subject of friendly, active peas very nicely.  The smiling green peas have limbs, wear costumes, and use props.  They use the letter themselves as the basis of their activities, climbing them, mining them, using them as a stage.  This makes sure that kids are really looking at the letters themselves.  There is a superb sense of humor on display throughout, sure to have adults and children smiling and laughing along. 

A very inventive alphabet book that should find a home in every public library collection, this book is appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

Also reviewed by

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