2019 Morris Award Finalists

YALSA has announced the finalists for the 2019 Morris Award. The award is given to a debut author writing for teens and “celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” Here are the finalists:

Blood Water Paint Check, Please!: #Hockey, Vol. 1

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

What the Night Sings

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper

 

 

Review: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty (
9781338255843)

Bronte has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler since she was a tiny baby. Still, it’s a shock when she discovers at age 10 that her parents have been killed by pirates. Her parents send her on a journey with strict rules and a tight schedule where she will meet all ten of her aunts and then everyone will come together for a party in her parents’ honor. Bronte may even get to meet her maternal grandfather, who lives near where the party will be held. As Bronte sets off on her travels though, they become more and more unique and strange. There are fairies, magicians who can whisper directly into your brain, potions, and spells. Then there is the question of who Bronte herself actually is and whether she will ever discover the truth about herself. 

I am not one for travel stories where the protagonist takes all sorts of conveyances through a magical world, and yet this one is so very charming with pieces that click together so beautifully that I could not put it down. Nicely, Moriarty minimizes the travel pieces by often skipping them altogether, something that is downright applause-worthy on its own. Moriarty sets just the right tone here, allowing readers to gather that they are in a magical world slowly and then explore what that means alongside Bronte. Her world building is complex and yet also compact, keeping the story very tightly focused and enjoyable.

Bronte is a marvelous protagonist mostly because she is not the adventurous type and has spent much of her life alone with adults. Moriarty writes her like that throughout the book. She enjoys the company of other children, and yet has a wariness that makes sense given her upbringing and recent loss. As Bronte and the reader slowly piece together the full puzzle, this book really comes into its own, ending up being a grand and magical adventure where each element was necessary and important. 

A marvelous fantasy for young readers, this journey is one worth taking. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Arthur A. Levine Books.

Review: Lights! Camera! Alice! by Mara Rockliff

Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff

Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Simona Ciraolo (9781452141343)

Alice Guy-Blache was the first woman film-maker in the world. When motion pictures were first invented, they were used to show dull things like people boarding a train. Alice saw an opportunity to use them to tell stories, like the stories she had loved since she was a child. Alice figured out how to run film backward to show people flying upwards among other clever tricks. She made colored films by hand and created the first movies with sound. Alice moved to America with her new husband and discovered that no one had ever heard of her there! So she set out to create more films and eventually opened her own studio in New York State. Unfortunately, everything changed when Hollywood became the place for movies and Alice had to return to France without even a movie camera. Still, she had one last story to tell, her own.

This eye-opening picture book biography will introduce readers to an amazing woman whose vision of what movies could be led the way to new developments and implementations. Most importantly, Alice realized that film could be used to tell stories and set out to do just that. Throughout her life and this book, Alice shows a fierce determination, artistic eye, and a desire to share her imagination with others.

The art by Ciraolo is bright and full of action. It shows vintage images of ads as well as the brightness of Alice’s ideas. Some of the images take an entire page while others are small vignettes of big moments in Alice’s life. The variety makes for a dynamic book visually.

An introduction to a woman that we should all know. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.

 

Review: Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri (9781626725355)

After dinner, Tiger takes an extra plate of food to share with her monster. Monster had been under Tiger’s bed, but they soon became friends. Now they spend time together playing games until bedtime when Monster scares Tiger’s nightmares away. All of Tiger’s family thinks she has an imaginary friend, but Monster is real. Monster fights all sorts of nightmares away until she encounters one that is too big and scary to chase off. As Tiger starts to have nightmares, she realizes that the two of them will need to work together to get rid of this huge nightmare.

Tetri, a cartoonist, has written a captivating graphic novel that is just right for the picture-book set. The pacing is brisk with a concept that shines. There is plenty of humor on the pages that sets off the more dramatic parts of the story. The art is done in watercolors, adding a wonderful traditional feel to the book. One of the more delightful parts is when Monster battles one nightmare after another. The pace slows beautifully in this part and mimics epic battle montages in comic books.

A tale of friendship and teamwork, this is a great early graphic novel. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by First Second.

 

Review: Pearl by Molly Idle

Pearl by Molly Idle

Pearl by Molly Idle (9780316465670)

The mermaids of the ocean took care of the waves, the reefs, kelp, and creatures. Pearl, a little mermaid,  thinks she is old enough to take care of something too. Her mother agrees and leads Pearl to the surface of the ocean and to a sandy beach. There she gives Pearl a single grain of sand to look after. Pearl is so disappointed. There she sits on a beach filled with sand with one grain to care for. She sinks to the bottom of the ocean and clenches the grain in her hand. Then she realizes that the grain of sand has started to glow. Pearl watches after the single grain of sand, day after day. It grows and grows, transforming from a grain of sand into something much more special.

Idle has created a luminescent book about the beauty of attention and care, of taking your time and doing a task well. One might expect Pearl to simply give up, but she doesn’t, even in her disappointment about her assignment. Even after readers realize that Pearl is creating a pearl, the book will surprise and delight with a final twist and a realization that things can be even bigger and more important than first thought, even a grain of sand.

The illustrations are so beautiful. Filled with so many different sea blues, the illustrations feature mermaids with glowing white hair, shaped into shell-like forms. The mermaids glow against the water, beautiful and magical.

A lovely addition to mermaid stories, this one is a gem. Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton (9780525580966)

Take a dazzling and frightening look at our potential future in this novel for teens. Told in six linked stories, the novel starts in the near future with a look at the moral medical questions of saving one twin by killing the other. Things only get more complicated from there with genetic modifications becoming more and more prevalent. Where does a human end and a cyborg begin? What happens when a modified human loses empathy but gains so much intelligence? What about cryogenics when it falls into the wrong hands? Can humans evolve so far that they appear to be another species entirely? Each story takes the reader farther from the present day and into a wild exploration of the depths of genetic modification taken to the logical extreme.

Dayton could have created six stand-alone stories but instead wisely chose to tie all of them together but not in an expected way. Instead of one of the main characters, it is a minor but majorly influential character who is in the background of all of the stories, making an appearance himself or just having his theories mentioned. He is a religious man who starts out believing that genetic modification is the work of the devil and creates demons but then has his own personal experience with death and genetics and finds a way to become the leading figure in promoting genetic modification.

Dayton keeps a firm hand on the politics of her world as well, setting one of her stories in Australia and another in Russia while the remainder take place in the United States. This global focus allows readers to see more deeply into the divided views on genetic modification and also to see more of the questions related to how far it is alright to take this. Each of Dayton’s stories is an ethical question wrapped in a taut and fascinating plot in a shared world.

Brilliant and timely, this novel for teens is remarkable in its ethical and open questions. Appropriate for ages 13-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Delacorte Press.

 

2018 Prime Minister’s Awards

The winners of the Australian Prime Minister’s Awards have been announced. They are some of the most prestigious of the Australian book awards and carry a large monetary prize as well. Here are the winners and short listed titles for the youth categories:

CHILDREN’ S LITERATURE WINNER

42453296

Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King

 

CHILDREN’ S LITERATURE SHORT LIST

Feathers Figgy Takes the City

Feathers by Phil Cummings and Phil Lesnie
Figgy Takes the City by Tamsin Janu

Hark, It's me, Ruby Lee! Storm whale
Hark, It’s Me, Ruby Lee! by Lisa Shanahan and Binny Talib
Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner

 

YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE WINNER

This is My Song

This is My Song by Richard Yaxley

 

YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE SHORT LIST

Living on Hope Street My Lovely Frankie

Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren
My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke

Ruben - Bruce Whatley The Ones That Disappeared
Ruben by Bruce Whatley
The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

This Week’s Tweets

Here are the items I shared on Twitter this week:

Giant Library #literature #books #reading #reader #art #drawing #illustration #booklovers #bookart #sofa #cat #librarylove #librarylovers

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

2018 Buckeye Children’s and Teen Book Awards – State Library of Ohio

His bestselling book Guess How Much I Love You is only 400 words long but took six months to complete… –

Independent – Something for every bookworm: Top 50 children’s books of the year –

“The magic really comes to life.” Stack Overflow: Get Into the Holiday Spirit With These 7 Picture Books via

Moms start companies to fill demand for Spanish-language children’s books

NYPL’s 2018 Best Books for Kids

School Library Journal’s Top 10 Graphic Novels | 2018

The Story Of Barefoot Books And Its Mission To Nurture Young Readers

This is the most important lesson to teach your child if you want them to succeed

Understanding Immigration and the Refugee Experience through Picture Books

LIBRARIES

Appreciating the ‘powerful good’ of the public library

Denver Public Library nixes overdue fines to increase visits

Should Book Choices Be Private? Harold Washington Library Patron Calls For Change

TEEN LIT

14 Young Adult Authors Reveal Their Favorite YA Books Of The Year

BookRiot – 5 Hugely Underrated Diverse YA Fantasy Books

BookRiot – The Best Queer Books of 2018

Bustle – These Are The 25 YA Books From 2018 That Every Bustle Reader Should Pick Up

In Love With Teen Lit: Remembering The ‘Paperback Crush’ Of The ’80s And ’90s

NYPL’s 2018 Best Books for Teens

Paste’s 30 Best Young Adult Novels of 2018

Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts to Be Adapted for Television

Review: Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (9780316431248)

When Omu makes her thick red stew in her apartment, its delicious smell brings people to her door to discover what she is cooking. One by one, she feeds each of them some of her stew. There is the little boy, the police officer, the hotdog vendor, and many more. By the time Omu has given each of them a bowl, her large pot of stew is empty and there isn’t any left for her own dinner! Someone once again knocks on her door and it is all of the people she fed that day offering their own thanks and food to share with her.

Mora writes with the feel of a traditional tale. On just the first page, there is a cadence that feels immediately familiar and warm. Details are shared in just the right way, then the repetition kicks in, linking this even more with a traditional folktale. Mora has crafted the book with collage pages that combine different mediums. The stew itself is always red and often flowered. The smell wafts across the page in a swath of light-colored haze. Meanwhile, the vibrant urban community is brought to life and abuzz with energy.

A top read-aloud of the year, this picture book should be shared just like red stew. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.