Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan

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Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Zoe Si (9781101918203)

Renata Wolfman doesn’t have friends, she’d much rather play all alone because then you don’t need to share or compromise with others. Even her parents can’t get her to go out with them, she’d rather stay home and read her factual books about sea life. When Renata is left alone at home one day, a boy comes over. Livingston Flott, known as Fly at school, wants to hide from his older brother. Renata, called Wolfie by Fly and others at school, reluctantly lets him in, interrupting her building of a submarine out of a refrigerator box. Soon the two of them are starting to play imaginary games together, something entirely new for Wolfie. But when real water starts to pour into the windows, can they imagine their way right into the sea?

This early chapter book features a girl who loves control and facts and a boy who wants to create songs and loves to imagine. The two together are a dynamic mix, creating just the right amount of tension between them and showing how opposites can actually make the best playmates as long as ideas are shared and there’s a willingness to try new things. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the water turns out not to be entirely imaginary, something that underlines that fact that imagination and reality mix to something entirely extraordinary.

Si’s illustrations are playful and add exactly the right amount of pictures to break up the text, making this a great pick for newer readers. Her art is playful, done in black and white and shows the submarine that Wolfie made and the adventures that the two have together with a jolly merriment.

A strong pick for early chapter book collections, fans of Ivy & Bean and Bink & Gollie will find another pair of playmates worth knowing here. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NetGalley and Tundra Books.

 

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

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Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (9780553537895)

In this wordless graphic novel, a little girl brings her stuffed toy fox to school for show-and-tell and it is taken from the playground by a real fox! The girl and her friend chase after the fox, stopping to ask directions when they find a small door in a tree. The squirrel who lives there points them in the right direction. Meanwhile, a weasel tries to steal the toy from the little fox, but a bear steps in and sorts it out. The children arrive at a town where animals live together and they enlist the help of the entire area to search for the fox. Soon they discover the little fox and his stolen toy, but what will they do then?

Graegin tells a really wonderful story solely through images. Using white space to frame her images into a graphic novel format, the story is told with rich details. It clearly establishes the little girl’s long attachment to the stuffed fox and her desire to share it with her class. Then the story becomes a chase sequence and a mystery of where the fox has gone. It then enters a lovely fantasy where the entire animal town comes to life, shown in a wide panorama that makes one want to wander the streets.

One special device used through the book is that the children are shown in black, grays and whites. The color enters the book subtly at first with the little fox and a red bird who watches from above. The children maintain their more somber color palette even as the world around them is vibrant color. Yet these worlds can touch and cross, much to the joy of the reader.

This genre bending graphic-novel picture book is beautiful, rich and worthy of journeying through time and again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz and Wade.

 

2017 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Longlist

The longlist for the Kate Greenaway Medal has been announced. The UK award is given for illustration. The list is slightly more diverse than this year’s Carnegie longlist.

Here are the books on the longlist:

Alpha. Abidjan-Gare du Nord: Abidjan-Gare du Nord (Hors collection) A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting Cover

Alpha by Bessora, illustrated by Barroux

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts

Bob the Artist Cover Counting Lions Cover

Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars

Counting Lions by Virginia McKenna and Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton

A Great Big Cuddle Cover The Great Fire of London Cover

The Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell

The Great Fire of London by Emma Adams, illustrated by James Weston Lewis

Greenling Cover Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Cover

Greenling by Levi Pinfold

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

The Journey Cover The Lion Inside Cover

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field

Little One Cover The Marvels Cover

Little One by Johanna Weaver

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Perfect Rain Cover

Perfect by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Cathy Fisher

Rain by Sam Usher

Return Cover There Is a Tribe of Kids Cover

Return by Aaron Becker

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

Tidy Cover The Whale Cover

Tidy by Emily Gravett

The Whale by Vita Murrow, illustrated by Ethan Murrow

Wild Animals of the North Cover The Wolves of Currumpaw Cover

Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun

The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill

2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal Longlist

The longlist for the 2017 Carnegie Medal has been announced. The all-white list has drawn controversy and anger since not a single nominated author of color was included in the list. The award is 80 years old and authors are nominated by librarians in the UK.

Here is the longlist:

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot Beck Cover

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare

Beck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff

Beetle Boy Cover The Bone Sparrow Cover

Beetle Boy by MG Leonard

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Dreaming the Bear Cover How Not To Disappear

Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo

How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss

Island The Marvels Cover

Island by Nicky Singer

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Orbiting Jupiter Cover Pax Cover

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Railhead Cover Salt to the Sea Cover

Railhead by Philip Reeve

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Serpent King Cover The Smell of Other People's Houses Cover

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth Cover The Stars at Oktober Bend

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

Time Traveling with a Hamster Cover Unbecoming Cover

Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Whisper to Me Cover Wolf Hollow Cover

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Strange Fruit by Gary Golio

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Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song by Gary Golio, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb

Billie Holiday had survived a rough childhood that saw her jailed at age 14 and become a successful jazz singer. Despite her success though, she was still forbidden to do things that her white band members were allowed. She had to hide in rooms, take freight elevators and pretend to be someone different in order to stay in hotels and not sleep on the tour bus. This was all dangerous and eventually she quit. She found a new place to sing in Cafe Society, the first jazz club that welcomed African-American audience members. It was there that she was given the song, Strange Fruit, a song that would become her best-known work. A song that was so powerful that it was met with silence the first time she sang it. A song that would come to speak to a new generation as they stand together today.

Golio has taken a song that is about lynching and turned it into a picture book. It’s a daring subject for a book for young readers, yet he makes it entirely understandable. He uses notes at the end of the book to continue Holiday’s story and also speak about lynching and its history in the United States. The bulk of the picture book is about Holiday’s struggles in the 1930s with pervasive racism and the way that this song spoke to her personal experience and that of all African-Americans.

The illustrations are deep and powerful. They show the pain of racism, the power of song, the energy of a performance and the drama of silence and darkness. Done in acrylic paint and tissue collage, they have a wild freedom of line that works well with the intense subject matter.

An important picture book about a song that has transcended generations and speaks to the struggles of today and yesterday. Appropriate for ages 7-11.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

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

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