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

Keep calm... seriously, you're in a library

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Angry parents criticise Julia Donaldson for ‘inappropriate’ smoking scarecrow – Telegraph http://buff.ly/1ouooGZ #kidlit

Author and illustrator Ashley Bryan comes of age – The Portland Press Herald – http://buff.ly/1u0YNco #kidlit

‘Creepy’? New ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ book cover confuses readers – Books http://buff.ly/1okdAM8 #kidlit

George R.R. Martin’s children’s book gets re-release http://buff.ly/1o8gzae #kidlit

It’s time to rethink what children’s non-fiction could be – Telegraph http://buff.ly/V1Q3mS #kidlit

J.K. Rowling reaches out to shooting survivor who quoted Dumbledore – CNET http://buff.ly/1r67xsS #kidlit

Picture a Novel from Lane Smith http://buff.ly/1xwhxOm #kidlit

Starred reviews, September/October Horn Book Magazine – The Horn Book http://buff.ly/1y61Cq7 #kidlit

Top Ten Novels in Verse by Katie Strawser | Nerdy Book Club http://buff.ly/1ouoD4I #kidlit

What are the best books for children who feel ‘weird’ or different? | Children’s books http://buff.ly/1ugyOec #kidlit

http://lisnews.org/how_a_new_dutch_library_smashed_attendance_records

LIBRARIES

Macmillan’s Full Catalog of Ebooks Now Available to Public Libraries | American Libraries Magazine http://buff.ly/1nnUlfl #ebooks #libraries

The Way Upward | Design4Impact http://buff.ly/1rWn0Qj #libraries

PUBLISHING TRADE

Google partners with Barnes & Noble for same-day book delivery | The Verge http://buff.ly/1ogxg4m

James Patterson: If I were Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (Opinion) http://buff.ly/1u1wE4T

TEEN READS

How Rainbow Rowell Turned A Bomb Into A Best-Selling Novel http://buff.ly/1nw59bq #yalit

WILS WORLD

"Attention is a scarce resource in this century" #wils14

Don’t just do things right, do the right things. #wils14

Don’t sacrifice good for the perfect. #wils14

If you aren’t risking failure, you aren’t moving the library forward enough. #wils14

Innovation can happen in a time of reduced funding. You don’t need additional resources. #wils14

Measure success via serendipity rather than productivity – look at things in other ways than industrial measures. #wils14

People overwhelmed by choice and full library shelves. #wils14

Relationship with publishers – do libraries pay more or walk away? #wils14

Start very small and very quickly to hear immediately from potential customers and react and reprioritize – #wils14

Your library catalog is very expensive real estate so use it to promote library events. #wils14

uni the unicorn

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

Released August 26, 2014.

Do you believe in unicorns?  One might expect the main question of this book to be just that, but instead it’s a question of whether unicorns should believe in little girls.  Uni was a normal unicorn in most ways.  She may have had extra sparkly eyes and her mane may be extra luxurious, but she could heal with her horn like the others and make wishes come true too.  But the one thing that made Uni different was that she believed that little girls were actually real!  Her parents just smiled at her when she insisted little girls were real and her friends laughed at her.  But Uni just knew that somewhere in the world was a little girl just for her.  And out in the world, there was.

Rosenthal has written a book with a surprise twist that makes it fresh and radiant.  Using the unicorn as the heart of the book and indisputably real is a delightful way to approach this mythical beast.  Rosenthal writes that both the unicorn and the girl are looking for a friend who is “strong smart wonderful magical.”  The emphasis on that rather than beauty is appreciated, particularly in a book about unicorns. 

Barrager’s art is lush and colorful.  Her digital illustrations feel like pop art with their modern edge.  Showing Uni longing for her little girl by reading books and drawing pictures is a clever and clear way to tie her to the little girls who may be longing for a unicorn.

I’m not a huge unicorn fan and hate drippy books that are too sweet.  Unicorn fans will adore this book and those of us on the lookout for books that are saccharine will be pleasantly surprised.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Random House Children’s Books.

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The Scarecrow’s Wedding by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler has garnered some criticism from parents for having an evil scarecrow who smokes.  Evidently, it’s not enough that the bad guy is the one smoking, nor that the other characters actually say out loud that smoking is bad, but just the image of a cigar is enough to cause concern for children.

I have a copy of the book and wanted to see what the fuss was about.  I must admit I was surprised at how clearly smoking was dealt with as something bad and then that even the bad guy doesn’t really successfully smoke.  I’ve taken a picture of the page in question, and honestly it is just a single page in the entire book.  This way you can make up your mind if it’s appropriate for your school, library or children.

photo 1

I also appreciate the fact that the cigar is actually part of the plot.  When it falls from Reginald’s hand, it starts a fire that is important to the progress of the story. 

So what do you think?  Should children’s books have smoking in them?  Is it ever OK? 

flashlight

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Released August 12, 2014.

The author of the fantastic Inside Outside returns with another wordless book featuring the same little boy.  Here the boy is outside in a tent at night and uses his flashlight to explore.  As he moves around, his flashlight shows white and color against the deep black and greys of the rest of the scene.  He locates his lost yellow boot, finds different animals out at night, sees plants and fish, and finds an apple to eat.  But then he trips and his flashlight goes flying until it is found by a raccoon who uses it to show the boy himself in the beam.  Then all of the animals get a turn with the flashlight until they lead the boy back to his tent.

I adore this book.  It is so simple with the pitch blackness of the page, the grey lines that show the characters and nature, and then that surprising and revealing beam of light that cuts a swath through the darkness.  One reason it works so well is that the rest of the page is not complete darkness, instead you get a feel of the woods around and the animals, but when the light does shine on them even more is shown. 

Boyd uses small cutouts on the page to great effect.  They reveal dens, flowers, small touches.  In their own subtle way, they too shine a light of attention on even smaller components of the illustrations.  They are a subtle but important part of the book.

Beautiful, dark and mysterious, this picture book is a wordless story of exploration and wonder.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

The writer of Disney’s hit movie Frozen has signed on to pen the screenplay of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction book A Wrinkle in Time.  At this time, there is no director assigned to the project, though it does have producers.

It will be very interesting to see what Disney does with A Wrinkle in Time.  Here’s hoping that it keeps its scientific, questioning wonder without going all soppy on us.

book-357293_640

Waking Brain Cells turns 11 years old today!

I am honored to have been writing things for you all to read for so many years, even more honored that people continue to read what I write, that publishers continue to work with me, and that teachers, librarians and parents take time out of their busy day to find out about new and beloved books. 

Thank you so much for spending time with me and for caring what people read.  That is what is worth celebrating.

A new study from Edinburgh and King’s College in London studied 1890 pairs of identical twins over the course of nine years.  The twins took IQ tests at age seven, nine, ten, 12 and 16.  The results showed that those children who were better at reading had a higher general intelligence.

Because the study used identical twins, genetic and environmental factors were able to be set aside.  The results showed that even with identical twins, if one twin could read better that twin would do better at IQ tests.

This fascinating result shows that being better at reading does more than allow you to read better, it speaks to being deeper than that and more profound.

graveyard book

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell

The first volume in a two volume graphic version of the award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman, this book celebrates the original story as well as several top graphic artists, who each take a chapter in the tale.  True to the written story, this graphic version has a wonderful creepy vibe and does not shy away from the horror elements.  The story is brought vividly to life by this new format and also brings it to new readers who may not have read the written work.

Thanks to the signature illustration style of each of the artists, the book takes different views of the graveyard, the characters and the story.  With each change in artist, there is a sense of refreshment and wonder anew.  At the same time, the illustrators adhere to certain elements, so that Bod looks like the same character throughout the book as do other main characters.  The various ghosts glow on the page, Silas is a gaunt dark figure who commands attention, and Bod himself is a luminous child that is the center of the story both visually and thematically.

Beautifully and powerfully illustrated, this new version of the book is a masterpiece.  Readers will wait eagerly for Volume Two.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Herve Tullet is one of the most innovative picture book authors around today.  I look forward to his books to see what he will come up with.  This year, we have two new books by him.

help we need a title

Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet

This first book is not quite ready to be read yet.  In fact, the characters inside are still getting ready.  There isn’t really a story, though they are looking for one.  And the characters themselves are rough sketches rather than lovely images.  In fact, the entire inside of the book is a mess.  Perhaps if we found an author?  But even that doesn’t help much, especially when the characters are disappointed in the story he creates for them.  Yet in the end, it is a book, with a story, some funny moments, and it even manages to tell readers how a book is created and what its elements are.

Quite clever, once you get past the rough illustrations and embrace them as part of the concept.  Tullet himself appears in the book, his photographed head and shoulders plunked onto a drawn body.  The entire book feel unfinished, but that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to feel.  This is a clever way to introduce young children to authors, writing, and how stories are crafted.

mix it up

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet

Released September 16, 2014.

Following his clever Press Here, this book invites readers to touch the pages once again.  Except in this book, readers are mixing colors, mashing things together, combining things, and having a marvelous messy time.  Tullet excels at creating books that are immensely participatory despite having no flaps or pop ups.  It’s all in the readers’ imaginations and that’s such a wonderful thing.

I consider this one of the best picture books about color that I have ever seen.  Thanks to the feel of mixing the paints yourself, readers are left with a deeper understanding of color.  They will get to add white to colors and see what happens, and black as well.  They create secondary colors from primary ones and leave their own hands on the page too.  Clever, interactive and wildly imaginative, this is another winner from Tullet.

Both books are appropriate for ages 3-5 and both will be embraced by readers of all ages.

boundless

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Will found his first adventure when he headed out into the wilderness on a train to see his father after the transcontinental railroad was completed.  Will not only got to witness the final golden spike being driven but got to finish driving it in himself!  After the ceremony though, disaster struck with an avalanche that took Will and his father along with it.  They survived despite the large amount of snow and being attacked by sasquatches.  Now a few years later, Will and his father are aboard the Boundless, the most amazing train ever created.  Will’s father is no longer a laborer, instead working as an engineer aboard the train where Will will be riding first class.  The train carries with it a circus as well as thousands of people riding in different classes.  But there is also danger aboard the train and it’s headed right for Will. 

Oppel, the author of Airborn, has created a great adventure aboard a marvelous train.  The train itself is incredible from its sheer size to the number of people aboard.  The descriptions of each class of the train are done with an attention to detail and to the feeling of each area, each one significantly different from the others.  This setting is richly drawn and used as a clever device to keep the plot moving and also to isolate Will and the others from help. 

Will is a fine protagonist.  He is brave, somewhat bored, artistically gifted and living a surprising life.  Through it all he shows a spunk and willingness to throw himself into life, exactly the thing that his father despairs of him ever having.  The other characters are also well drawn: the villains are horrifically awful, Will’s companions are complicated and have their own motivations that are revealed as the book progresses. 

This is top-notch adventure writing set on a moving train traveling across a world filled with monsters, many of which are human.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

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