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Wonderstruck – The Movie

EarlyWord has the news that Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is being turned into a film. Celebrated director Todd Haynes is looking to direct and are looking at casting.

This would be the second of Selznick’s novels to be made into a film, following Hugo, based on Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was directed by Martin Scorsese.

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

Oliver Jeffers has become only the third person to ever win both the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year and their Children’s Choice Award for the same book. Jeffers took both awards for his Once Upon an Alphabet.

Here are the other CBI Awards:

Honour Award for Illustration

Chris Haughton for Shh! We Have a Plan

Honour Award for Fiction

Áine Ní Ghlinn for Daideo

Judges’ Special Award

Gabriel Rosenstock and Brian Fitzgerald for Haiku Más é do thoil é!

Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book:

Louise O’Neill for Only Ever Yours

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Released May 26, 2015.

This is the first YA novel by Priest, a well-known fantasy author for adults, and it’s a treat. May and Libby have been friends for years, the best of friends after meeting in fifth grade on a playground. The two of them wrote comics together about Princess X, a katana-wielding heroine. But then one day, Libby was gone, dead after a car crash from a bridge. Three years later, May has returned to their hometown and notices an image of a princess holding a katana on a sticker, a sticker that is brand new. May tracks down the image to a web comic where she realizes there are real similarities to the story that she and Libby had created. How can that be? And how strange is it that some of the stories seem to have messages only May could understand hidden inside of them?

There is a real joy in finding a book that does digital life so very well. The online elements of the story and the web comic are clear and make perfect sense. The hacking and dark net also work well in the way they are portrayed where there is information to be found but often it’s not legal to access it. That aspect alone, so often mismanaged in novels, is worth this read. But add to that a determined friend who quickly believes that her dead friend is still alive, an online and real life quest for information, horrible bad guys, and the exploration of Seattle both above and underground. It’s a book that is a searing fast read thanks to its pacing and the need to find out the truth.

The online comics are shared as comic inserts in the book, and were not completed in the galley that I have. The first couple of comics were available and add to the drama of the book. The mix of words and images works very well here with Priest using it both to move the story forward and to show the drama and appeal of the comic itself.

Smartly written with great characters and an amazing quest for the truth, this book is satisfying, surprising and impressive. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Arthur A. Levine Books.

Here’s the first trailer for the second Maze Runner book, The Scorch Trials:

Luna and Me by Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw

Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

This is a picture book version of the real-life heroism of Julia Butterfly Hill, a woman who lived for two years in the branches of Luna, a great redwood tree in order to save the grove from logging. In this picture book, Butterfly is shown as a girl rather than an adult. She spends many of her days exploring nature and then discovers Luna and climbs up into her branches. When she realizes that Luna is going to be chopped down, she stays in the branches. That starts her adventure high in the canopy where she has to withstand storms and cold. Butterfly stayed up in Luna for two years, figuring out how to make a home high in a tree and sharing Luna’s story with whomever she could. Until finally Luna and her entire grove her saved and made into The Luna Preserve.

As Kostecki-Shaw notes in her Author’s Note, she has simplified the political situation that the real Julia Butterfly Hill was dealing with as well as the initial response that included a group of environmental activists taking turns sleeping in Luna’s branches. This makes for a picture book that is easily understood by young readers and that hints at larger issues happening. It will serve to inspire young readers that they can individually make a difference in the world around them and protect what is invaluable to all of us.

The illustrations in this book are done in a variety of media including acrylics, watercolor and pencil. They capture the beauty of nature with dappled light through leaves, the texture of tree bark, and the dwarfed size of Butterfly against the world. They also delightfully show the other animals and creatures living in Luna with one magical page displaying a space inside her trunk.

A very special book about an environmental heroine, this picture book will be inspiring for young readers. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

A guinea fowl is worried about his lack of plumage design, so he sends off for spots in the mail. They come wrapped in brown paper and string, something that always makes a package more intriguing. But inside, they are not the spots he expected. They are too big for his taste. Luckily though, more spots arrive. Some are too small, others too sparkly. Still others glow in the dark! But eventually after looking at lots of different options, our protagonist picks out some spots that are just perfect and they may not be what you may have expected. Yet they are just right for him.

Ward has written a winning book. Written in rhyme that is never forced but feel very natural, this book is a pleasure to share aloud. The real focus here are the illustrations and those are what make the book so interesting. A large part of the joy here is the silliness of a bird shopping for spots. That is made all the more fascinating because our guinea fowl hero is drawn very lifelike and reacts like a bird would. It is a delightful mix of reality and the rather farcical humor of shopping for dots and spots.

This book is about design and personal style without it being about pink things and tulle. So it’s a very refreshing addition to book shelves where children who have different tastes will find themselves imagining what spots would suit them in life. The design of the book itself is lovely with nods to leopard print and playful die cut pieces at times.

Very young readers will find lots to love here with pages that sparkly and some that have raised spots. It’s also a great book to inspire drawing or discussions of style. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Small Wonders by Matthew Clark Smith

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri (InfoSoup)

In a small French village lives a strange man who is interested in the smallest of creatures, the insects around us. He lures flies with dead animals that he pays the children in the village to find. His home is filled with specimens. No one realized that he was one of the greatest naturalists of his time. Jean-Henri Fabre grew up in the countryside where he was fascinated by the natural world around him. No one else seemed interested in the same things that he was, but that didn’t deter him from investigating them. Henri became a teacher and studied hard, but not about insects. It was not until a book rekindled his interest that he started to study them in a serious way as an adult. He discovered things about insects that no one else had ever seen and he documented them fully. So when scientists in France nominated one of their own for a tremendous national honor, they voted for Fabre.

Smith writes with a gentle tone throughout, documenting Fabre’s entire life from his childhood to the great honor he received from his peers and his nation. The story starts with the arrival of the president of France for the award and then shows how Fabre’s fascination with insects started as a boy. The period of time when insects were not a focus is clear but also brief and then the book grows almost merry as it documents the many accomplishments of this humble man who followed his own interests in science.

The illustrations are pastoral and lovely. They capture the beauty of the French countryside and also the wonder of the insects, showing them in great detail. There is a playfulness to the illustrations that also reflects the childlike joy that Fabre found in his wonder about insects.

A lovely book about a scientist who followed his own dreams and interests to great acclaim. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

Released May 26. 2015

The Newbery Honor winner returns with another winning book for young readers. Lily can’t catch her blind dog Lucky when he escapes and runs away across the blueberry barrens in Maine. Just when she is sure he will make it all the way into traffic, Salma appears and gives the dog her sandwich and chips in order to rescue him. Lily returns with a pork pie for Salma’s family who live in the work camp on the blueberry farm, migrant workers harvesting the berries during the summer months. Soon the two girls are friends, Salma helping Lily decorate her bee houses that Lily sells to try to make enough money to get Lucky an operation to restore his vision. When the pair decide to have a booth at the blueberry festival in town, Salma also decides to compete in the beauty pageant, the first migrant girl to do so. Both girls by the end of the summer have to face hard truths, but they face them together as friends.

Lord creates short and very readable books that are deceptively readable, making them seem light and airy. But this book is anything but that, dealing with tough subjects like the death of a parent, migrant workers, racism, and difficult decisions that come with having an aging pet. Lord manages to weave all of these elements together into a strong and vibrant read that children will love. Given its short length and deep topics, it would make an ideal read aloud in an elementary classroom.

This book has two strong female protagonists. Told in Lily’s voice, the story shows how she has faced loss in her life and how it continues to impact her world. Lily is open to being friends with Salma, but she is not open to others telling her what to do with Lucky. That change comes hard to her and is only possible with the growth she achieves in the course of the novel. Salma is in many ways the opposite of Lily. Salma’s world revolves around her art but also around the tension of being a migrant worker and not having a place to call her own. Still, both girls overcome their challenges to be much more than stereotypes.

Strong writing, tight plotting, two strong girls and one amazing dog make this a book worth reading and sharing. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic Press.

Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo (InfoSoup)

This picture book biography of the great poet E. E. Cummings is exceptional. Focusing on Cummings’ early years primarily, the book invites young readers to view their own world with wonder and to try to put it into words. As a young boy Cummings was already creating poetry, starting at age three. His mother wrote down his poems for him as he recited them aloud. His imagination extended to art as well, but his real love was words which he approached very playfully, often creating his own words or mashing ones together into new ones. The book emphasizes the hard work that Cummings put into his craft, including spending lots of quiet time observing the world around him for inspiration. After graduating from Harvard, Cummings headed to New York City where he found new inspiration all around him. He served in World War I and published his first books soon after the war ended. His poems were both loved and controversial as he toyed with form and words. Filled with Cummings’ poems as examples, this picture book is a joy to read.

Burgess does a great job with his prose which introduces the young Cummings and his early poems and then follows him as he grows older and his poems grow with him. I appreciate that the book was not attempted to be written using Cummings’ unique style. Rather it is a book that pays homage to the art, the inspiration and the man himself. Spending so much time on Cummings’ youth makes the book much more appealing to young readers who will find inspiration both in Cummings’ age when he began to write and in his poems simplicity.

The art by Di Giacomo is filled with textures and patterns. Words dance across the page, playful and light. They often break free of the lines of prose, merging to be part of the art itself. Words float up on breezes, lengthen with hot summer days, and zing with the style of New York City.

A fabulous biographical picture book, this book is a great introduction to E.E. Cummings and his work. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:

Picture Books for Kids Who Like to Tinker and Invent

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

10 Upcoming Children’s Books to Get Excited About | TheReadingRoom http://buff.ly/1QwuQcY #kidlit

Evaluating Transgender Picture Books; Calling for Better Ones http://buff.ly/1JWNTwb #lgbt #kidlit

Get Ready for a Live-Action Winnie-the-Pooh Movie | TheReadingRoom http://buff.ly/1QwuUsY #kidlit

EBOOKS

People are Losing their Trust in e-books http://buff.ly/1QFrIvo #ebooks

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LIBRARIES

How One Man And His Horse Created A Mobile Library In Indonesia http://buff.ly/1cmCWWv #libraries

Librarians Versus the NSA http://buff.ly/1KRkJvY #privacy #libraries

YA LIT

Asexuality in YA Books http://buff.ly/1L3MDoC #yalit

I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell do I read? – A Queer Teen’s spoken word poem about LGBTQAI+ Representation http://buff.ly/1EHQqnf #lgbt

Liz Kessler’s top 10 books with turning points for teens http://buff.ly/1HjbXbQ #yalit

Michael Buckley discusses ‘Undertow’ and why he writes from female perspectives http://buff.ly/1H6L6zO #yalit

‘Nimona’ Shifts Shape And Takes Names — In Sensible Armor, Of Course http://buff.ly/1A2l4v9 #yalit

Stacked: What About YA Non-Fiction?: A Look at Recent and Upcoming Titles http://buff.ly/1K1GA6p #yalit

Superheroes, Royalty, and a Dystopian Adaptation | YA Graphic Novels http://buff.ly/1KN4TBS #yalit

Why teenagers have to take terrible risks in YA literature – and in real life too http://buff.ly/1EFkYFg #yalit

YA Novels Inspired by Peter Pan http://buff.ly/1F8Vkxo #yalit

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