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run dog

Run, Dog! by Cecile Boyer

One red ball and one yellow dog create lots of merry chaos in this picture book.  The dog chases the red ball from one scenario to the next, interacting with the people in the scene until finally one of them grabs the ball and throws it off the page.  The pages are filled with action thanks to a tiered page system where you turn on section of the page at a time and the scene changes along with it.  As the sections are turned, the ball bounces in different ways and the dog reacts making the people in the scene react too!

Near wordless, this book just has single words as the ball is thrown to the next page.  The illustrations are bright and pop off the page.  They are as simple as the words but are also very cleverly done.  The structure of the book creates a very dynamic feel and invites small hands to turn the pages to see what happens next.  There is a sense as one reads the book that the reader is the one setting the pace and creating the changes that unfold.

Very engaging, dynamic and great fun, this book is ideal for toddlers who are willing to be careful with the pages.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

mark of the dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Piper survives alone in the house she once shared with her father in Scrap Town #16.  The scrap town is built around an area where meteors crash carrying items from other worlds.  Piper makes the little money she has by salvaging things from the meteors and using her knack with machines to repair them to working order.  Then one day, Piper finds an unconscious girl in a destroyed caravan.  She takes her back to her home, where she discovers that the girl, Anna, has lost her memory but also bears the mark of the king of the Dragonfly Territories, putting her under his protection.  Anna is not alone though, there is a man following her that she calls “The Wolf” and who desperately wants Anna back.  Piper and Anna flee and sneak onto a slow-moving freight train with the help of Piper fooling the alarm systems.  They aren’t able to stay hidden on the train for very long, but Anna’s mark gets them a free ride in luxury.  Still, the train ride is not without risk and the first hurdle is convincing the young head of security that they can be trusted. 

Johnson has created a rich world filled with elements of fantasy, steam-punk and science fiction.  Blended together into one, they work to a certain point but much is left unexplained and unexplored.  Readers will have immediate questions about the meteors but those are quickly left behind as questions about fantastical beasts arise, and still more questions about the steam punk elements. That said, the book does work and there is hope that more of the world will be understood in upcoming books in the series. 

Piper is a wonderful protagonist.  I enjoyed reading a book where a girl is the one who can handle machinery better than anyone else.  She is also incredibly brave and has a huge heart that is quick to embrace new people.  Her personality shines in the book.  The pacing of the novel will keep young readers engaged in the story.  It is near breakneck speed, rushing headlong into the next part of the adventure. 

Rich and delightful, get this book into the hands of young steampunk fans who are looking for a new adventure.  Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

The winners of the 2014 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize have been announced.

BEST PICTURE BOOK

open very carefully

Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK

rooftoppers

 

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

BEST BOOK FOR TEENS

geek girl

 Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Here are the links I shared on my TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I hope you find interesting:

CHILDREN’S LIT

The 9 Most Mischievous Literary Pranksters, Ranked| BookBub |

10 diary books | Children’s books

Are We Rushing Kids Out of Picture Books? | ShelfTalker

Classic Childhood Books That Grow With You| Zola Books |

Does Winnie-the-Pooh hinder a child’s ability to learn science? | Toronto Star

Hear what ‘wordless author’ David Wiesner has to say about books

How Jean Craighead George’s ‘Ice Whale’ Got Finished Thanks to Her Surviving Children | SLJ

Marilyn Nelson: ‘Many performance poets seem to believe that yelling a poem makes it comprehensible’ – GalleyCat

Top 10 Mothers – and mother figures – in children’s books | Children’s books

EBOOKS

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Kindle | The Daily Dot

LIBRARIES

Amazing Reading Nooks: Create Cozy, Inventive Reading Havens in Your Library | School Library Journal

Libraries are branching out into digital – Fortune Tech

TEEN READS

11 Things You Learn When Your Book Is Turned Into A TV Show| Kass Morgan |

Beyond the Bestsellers: So You’ve Read SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson | BOOK RIOT

‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’ Should Be Banned: Kamloops Dad

See the cover of Scott Westerfeld’s new novel ‘Afterworlds’ | Shelf Life

The well-read teenager: brilliant classics for young adult readers | Children’s books

The 2014 Street Lit Book Award Medal winners have been announced.  The books are nominated based on their popularity in school, academic and public libraries.  They have a category for Young Adult literature.

The winner is a series:

16245125 Nicki Minaj Lil Wayne (Hip-Hop Biographies)

Hip Hop Biographies published by Saddleback Educational Publishing.

 

There are also three honor books:

Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith Way Too Much Drama Butterfly: A Novel

Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith by Gabrielle Douglas and Michelle Burdord

Way Too Much Drama by Earl Sewell

Butterfly by Sylvester Stephens

one busy day

One Busy Day by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Jessica Meserve

The siblings from One Special Day return a little bit older in this follow-up picture book.  Mia wants to play with her older brother Spencer, but he’s too busy playing on his own.  So Mia starts being busy herself.  She paints pictures, dances, explores caves, makes mudpies, and builds castles.  Slowly as Mia plays, Spencer starts joining in with her, until they are playing together side-by-side.  That’s when Mia’s castle needs defending from a dragon!  And the two played together until bedtime. 

Such a positive approach to getting an older sibling to play.  The two children don’t have any negative interactions, it’s just that Spencer is simply not interested in playing with Mia right then.  This gives Mia the space to react without anger, instead enticing Spencer to join her.  I always appreciate a book that shows no fighting between siblings but also isn’t the picture of perfection either.  This picture book has a much more complex approach to sibling interactions and it’s a welcome change.

Meserve’s illustrations add a warm richness to the story.  As Mia plays, she does something in real life then the page is turned and you can see what she is doing in her imagination.  So on one page she is making mudpies and on the next they are grand cakes and pies.  Empty boxes become pirate treasure chests.  The freezer is an icy mountain.  The images of the backyard are filled with details just like Mia’s imagination.  So there is no lack of lushness in reality, especially when Spencer plays too.

A positive and affirming look at the joy of playing together as siblings and the power of imagination.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

The shortlist for the second Little Rebels Radical Children’s Book Award has been announced.  The UK award focuses on books that celebrate social justice and equality.  Here are the titles on the shortlist:

After Tomorrow The Middle of Nowhere Moon Bear

After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross

The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean

Moon Bear by Gill Lewis

The Promise Harriet Tubman

The Promise by Nicola Davies

Real Lives: Harriet Tubman by Deborah Chancellor

Rosie Revere, Engineer Stay Where You Are And Then Leave

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne

day my father became a bush

The Day My Father Became a Bush by Joke van Leeuwen

Toda lives with her father and grandmother.  Her mother left them years earlier and went to a neighboring country.  Now Toda’s father has gone to be a soldier in a war.  Toda discovers that he has learned how to become a bush, so that he will not be shot.  At first Toda stays with her grandmother in their family bakery, but that soon becomes too dangerous.  Her grandmother sends her off to her mother, but Toda must make a dangerous journey with strangers to cross the border.  Though her grandmother has made plans, they go awry along the way and Toda must navigate much of the border crossing on her own.  Even once she is across the border, she doesn’t know where her mother is and how she will ever locate her.  This is a story told from a child’s view of war and being a refugee.

With such an unusual title, I wasn’t sure what this book was going to be about.  It was surprising to find myself in a book about war.  Even more amazing to find that it was a book filled with humor.  Van Leeuwen has written a book with a wild sense of humor but even more importantly a very unique point of view.  Toda sees the world in her own special way, often misunderstanding what adults around her are trying to say.  This gets her into all sorts of adventures along the way. 

With such a grim subject of a child refugee separated from all those who love her and continuing forward on her own, one would expect it to be frightening.  It certainly is at times, yet the grim reality is held at bay much of the time through Toda’s optimism about what is going to happen to her.  There are still moments where the reader is unsure of what is going to happen next and whether Toda is going to be severely injured if not killed.  Those moments are handled with the same frank and open attitude as the more silly moments.  Together they form the fabric of the story, one that is harrowing but also incredible.

Completely unique, this book features a fresh and noteworthy point of view that comes from a young survivor who has no idea how very brave she is.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from NetGalley and Gecko Press.

extraordinary jane

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Jane lived in an extraordinary world at the circus, but she was just an ordinary dog.  Her mother could do tricks on the back of horses.  Her father could lift an elephant.  Her brothers got shot out of cannons and her sisters performed on the high wire.  But Jane didn’t do any of that.  She tried to find her own special talent, but nothing seemed to work.  She even managed to cause some disasters along the way.  Jane was just ordinary, but in her own quiet way she was very special too.

Harrison has created a quiet heroine in her picture book.  This book will speak to dog lovers but also to children who feel that they don’t live up to their older siblings.  It is a story that celebrates kindness, supportiveness and just being yourself whether that is loud or quiet, flashy or subtle.  The setting of a circus was an inspired choice, offering the most contrast between a regular dog and the daredevil family she has.

Harrison’s art is wonderfully detailed.  She offers spreads of the entire circus and its three rings filled with action.  The dogs fur is shown in individual hairs, the wrinkles on the elephants are striking, and the perspectives are engagingly diverse.

For all of the quiet stars out there, this amazing dog will be inspiring for them to just be themselves.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

weeds find a way

Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

Weeds are the most tenacious of plants, growing where nothing else can survive.  This informational picture book looks at how these weeds are able to live in such harsh conditions.  It also explores the various ways that weeds reproduce from fluffy seeds carried on the wind to being pokey and sticky and carried along on clothes and fur.  Weeds can survive scorching heat and icy cold.  They fight back by having stems that break before their roots are pulled out, sour sap or thorns.  But in the end, this book is about survival and the beauty and wonder of weeds.  It’s a celebration of these unwanted plants.

The author has written this book in prose, but uses poetic devices like analogies and similes to show how weeds thrive.   Her language choices are very nice such as her depiction of milkweed: “…shot out of tight, dry pods like confetti from a popped balloon.”  Throughout the book there are descriptions like this and they bring the entire book a certain shine.

Fisher’s art is standout in this book.  Her illustrations are a dynamic mix of painting styles.  There are layers throughout her work, some smooth and detailed, others large and textured for the backgrounds, and almost lacy weedy touches.  They are strikingly lovely especially if you look at them closely, rather like the weeds they depict.

A choice addition to gardening story times, this will make a good summer or spring pick to share.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

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