Room on the Broom was nominated for an Oscar for best animated short film this year. Based on the picture book by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the film is great fun to watch.
It’s available right now on Hulu for free, but it expires in the next five days. Enjoy it while you can!
The official teaser trailer for Paddington has arrived with just a glimpse of the beloved bear. But even with that little peek, I want to take him home, jam sandwiches and all:
The committees have selected the books for the 2014 BEA Editor Buzz panels. Here are the book on the YA and Middle Grade Buzz lists:
YA Buzz Books
I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Middle Grade Buzz Books
Life of Zarf by Rob Harrell
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
The Truth about Twinkle Pie by Kat Yeh
The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill
Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale
Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Easter books can be so filled with yellow fluffy chicks, bright Easter eggs, and soft bunnies that the become more than a bit stale. Enter the Easter Cat, a character who offers exactly what was missing in Easter books: cats! Cat wants to be able to do what the Easter Bunny does and deliver chocolate himself. But he’s going to have to figure a lot of things out before he begins: what exactly will be deliver? How will he travel? What will he wear? All of those decisions wear him out so he decides to take his eighth nap of the day, after all, he is a cat. But then he learns that the Easter Bunny never naps at all. Are all of his plans ruined? Perhaps he just needs a little help from the famous Easter Bunny himself.
Underwood of The Quiet Book has created an uproariously funny book this time. Her Cat character doesn’t speak at all, instead the reader quizzes Cat on what exactly he is doing. Cat communicates through his expressions and holding up signs most of which have cartoon drawings on them outlining his plans. The words in the book take on the tone of a parent, making it a real delight to read aloud. The reader can go from cajoling to stern and back again.
Rueda’s illustrations carry much of the storytelling since Cat doesn’t speak. She manages to convey his emotions very clearly on his face and in his stance. Cat is a very enjoyable character with big plans that aren’t very well thought out. This book on the other hand, has illustrations and words that work together flawlessly.
With the humor of Melanie Watt or Elephant and Piggie, this picture book is sure to find an eager Easter audience. Ideal for perching in baskets, this book is good enough to share all year round. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.
Goose the Bear by Katja Gehrmann
In a Canadian forest, Fox stole an almost-hatched goose egg, planning to eat roast goose very soon. But he is so proud of himself that he forgets to watch where he’s going and runs right into Bear. Bear picked up the egg from the ground after Fox ran off and wondered what it is. Then the gosling hatched and called him “Mama!” Bear tried to explain that they were not the same type of animal, but the gosling did not understand. So Bear decided to show the little goose just how different they were. Bear demonstrated how well bears climb trees, but the gosling could reach the top too. Bear showed how fast bears can run, but the little goose ran just as quickly. Finally, Bear jumped in the river and the little goose followed him in. Then Bear got very worried. Would the little creature survive the fall into the water?
Gehrmann has created a picture book that stands out from the many books about foxes chasing smaller animals. Her addition of a bear as a main character adds a clever twist and throughout the book she continues to surprise the reader. The writing has been done to create a read-aloud that will also keep young readers guessing about what is going to happen next. With the theme of a tiny creature who can do just what a big bear can do, this book has strong kid appeal.
The premise of the book is quite unique and so is the artwork. First published in Germany, the book has a European feel, particularly in the art. It is humorous and bold with changing colors throughout. Gehrmann’s depiction of the natural world around the characters is particularly rich and layered.
Fresh, vibrant and full of fun surprises, this book is an exceptional take on fox and goose (and bear) stories. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Moms Demand Action has a very compelling anti-gun campaign. Part of it is this image that really speaks to me:
You can see more of their efforts on their website.
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Felicity’s mother loves to move to new places, so Felicity has lived all over the country. But when her mother returns to the small town of Midnight Gulch, Felicity quickly realizes she has never lived in any place quite like this one. Midnight Gulch had once been full of magic of all sorts, but then a curse took the magic away and drove two brothers apart as well. But there is magic left in town, if you know where to look. It’s not big magic, just little pieces that were left behind. Felicity has one of those pieces of magic herself, she can see words everywhere, words spoken aloud and words thought silently. She is a word collector keeping a list of the words she finds. Others in town have some magic too, including Jonah, a mysterious boy who calls himself the Beedle and does good deeds around town. Then there’s also the ice cream factory that makes a flavor that evokes memories both sweet and sour. Felicity loves Midnight Gulch, but can she figure out a way to keep her mother from moving on to new places again?
This book was such fun. Lloyd has created an entire town that is filled with a wonderful mix of magic and history. Throughout the book, we learn about what first made Midnight Gulch so magical and then how it was taken away. Then little by little in tantalizing ways readers see the magic that is left and are offered clues about how it may return someday. It’s a book that is surprising and very readable.
Felicity is a great protagonist as she struggles to keep her family in one place. As she finds out more about her own family history and discovers members of her family and community she never knew before, she finds herself less lonely in a way that she never though possible. Perhaps the most delightful piece of all is that Felicity does not need her magic to solve her family’s issues, rather it is about piecing together a mystery and solving a riddle.
Glowing with magic, this novel is a shining read that should be savored just like an ice cream cone on a hot day. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.
Time for Bed, Fred by Yasmeen Ismail
It’s time for Fred to go to bed, but this dog is not ready! Instead of heading to bed, Fred dashes outside and tries to hide in the flower bed. Then he hides in a tree until he falls out of it. Fred then runs and lands in a huge mud puddle. So then it’s bath time for Fred. But just when he’s finally clean, he dashes outside once more! Back inside, he hides in all sorts of places, even after he gets read a bedtime story. Finally, Fred is moved to the right bed and falls asleep at last.
Fred is a dog that every toddler will relate to. From his busyness as he dashes from place to place to his unwillingness to head to bed to the final collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day, Fred reacts exactly the way a young child does. Ismail keeps the book moving quickly with her dialogue-only text that captures the reaction of the owner as Fred refuses to head to bed. This makes the book great fun to read aloud as well.
Ismail’s art is reminiscent of Chris Raschka with her loose lines and free-flowing forms. It is filled with action and movement as Fred runs through the garden on the loose. The illustrations have a great ease and freedom to them that works particularly well with the storyline.
An energetic and playful bedtime read, let’s hope your little puppies settled down at the end too! Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
The 2014 winners of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards were announced in February. The awards are given annually to celebrate a new author and a new illustrator.
The New Writer Award went to
Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman.
The New Illustrator Award went to
Rain! by Christian Robinson
Honor books were selected in each category:
New Writer Honor Books
I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes! by Linda Davick
Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
New Illustrator Honor Books
My Grandpa by Marta Altes
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
Tea Party Rules by K. G. Campbell
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods
Violet feels like she just doesn’t fit into her family. Whenever she goes anywhere with her mother and sister, people are surprised to hear that she is related to them. They are both white and blonde while she has brown skin and brown hair. Violet’s father died before she was born, and while her sister knows her other grandparents, Violet has never met hers. But now Violet takes things into her own hands and starts researching her African-American grandmother who happens to be a well-known artist. Violet convinces her mother to allow her to go to her grandmother’s new gallery show but things do not go as Violet had dreamed. Violet just wants to put the pieces of her family into a whole where she fits seamlessly, but it may be too late for that.
It is a joy to have such a charming and positive book that speaks to biracial issues. Woods does a great job of focusing on both the positive and negative aspects of being bi-racial and having two distinct sides of the family. I was particularly pleased that all of the adults in the book were supportive and loving towards Violet as she explores her African-American heritage. Woods also addresses the differences in religions in the book, something that children who come from two religious heritages will appreciate.
Violet herself is a particularly radiant protagonist. Though she worries about fitting into her family and seeking out the other side of her family, at heart she is an optimist and approaches each event with a sense of adventure and openness. This is a book that cheers children on to explore their own families and discover others in their world who will adore them too.
Positive, cheery and yet addressing difficult situations, this book is a pleasure to read. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.