Archive for December 3, 2012


baby penguins everywhere

Baby Penguins Everywhere! by Melissa Guion

There was a penguin who was all alone on the ice floes.  She liked the quiet, but sometimes it did get lonely. Then one day, she discovered a top hat floating in the water.  Once the hat was on land, out popped a little penguin.  And then another!  The big penguin was very happy and no longer lonely.  But then came another little penguin, and more, and more.  Soon there were many, many little penguins everywhere.  The big penguin was very busy and quite tired.  She knew she just needed on little thing – a moment of quiet and solitude.  But after that, she merrily joined in the fun with all of the other penguins again.

Guion frames her message about the need for quiet and solitude in a way that children will understand.  The big penguin needs a little break, just like their parents sometimes do.  The best part though, is that after that break, they are ready for more fun!  The writing here is simple, making it just right for toddlers.

It is Guion’s art that really shines here.  The delight of the first two little penguins is perfection and then the surprise of turning the page and realizing that they just keep on coming makes the book even more fun.  Guion has her little penguins in constant motion, playfully coming up with new ideas and new toys.  This is much more like a class than a family, so teachers may appreciate using this book as a way to explain their own need for some quiet time too.

A cheerful look at peace and quiet, this book is wonderfully rowdy too.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from author.

Here is another of Amazon’s Best Book lists for the year.  This one focuses on the top 20 books for middle grade readers.

  

After Eli by Rebecca Rupp

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce

  

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

  

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate by Scott Nash

  

Island of Thieves by Josh Lacey

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

  

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly, illustrated by Clint Young

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

  

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

 

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

vessel

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

When Liyana took her dreamwalk, she found out that she would be a vessel for her goddess to return to the world.  This meant that the Great Drought would end as the goddess Bayla would bring water to their dry wells in the desert.  Liyana worked to make sure that her body was worthy of the goddess, but when she danced the sacred dance, Bayla did not appear.  Left behind by her tribe to die in the desert alone, Liyana met Korbyn, a god inside his vessel.  He explained that five gods were missing, kidnapped by someone.  So Liyana joined Korbyn in traveling to the other nomadic tribes to tell them of their lost gods and save their vessels.  But the journey is dangerous, the tribes unwelcoming, the real enemy unknown, and as they journey, Liyana finds more and more reasons to not want to disappear when her goddess returns.

Durst has a great storytelling skill which is evident in this book.  The storyline is complex with many characters, mortals and gods alike.  Durst keeps the story moving forward at a brisk pace, populating her world with many unique characters.  Even the desert itself is wondrous with its sand wolves, giant worms, and glass sky serpents.  The ecological disaster of a world-wide drought drives the story, creating its own tension and time limits. 

But what Durst does best here is create an amazing heroine.  Liyana is not only worthy to be the vessel for the goddess, but worthy of awe herself.  She is not only strong but very vulnerable.  She is so strong but also rocked by the new emotions of love and lust that she finds awakening.  She is devoted to her goddess but also questions her own role in bringing the goddess to life.  Complex and completely human, Liyana is simply remarkable.

I must highlight here that Liyana is clearly a non-white heroine in the story and happily, the cover reflects that as well.  This is an amazing girl of the desert with skin that is described as burnt cinnamon.

Get this one into the hands of teens who enjoy the strong heroines of writers like Tamora Pierce.  They will love the world building, unique setting, and Liyana herself.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy received from McElderry Books.

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