Monster Trucks by Anika Denise

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Monster Trucks by Anika Denise, illustrated by Nate Wragg (InfoSoup)

A revved up mix of trucks and monsters, this picture book will delight fans of either topic. Monster trucks are ready to race as their engines moan and rumble. There is Frankentruck, jumped alive by his electric cables. Werewolf Truck stops to howl at the moon. Zombie Truck is glowing and green. Ghost Truck appears suddenly out of the shadows. Vampire Truck is on the hunt for everyone’s fuel. As the race begins though, there is an unlikely entry, Little Blue Bus all cute enters the race. Soon the monster trucks are after her and she’s in a race for her life!

Denise writes in engaging rhyme that speeds the book alone, accelerating the pace along with the racing trucks. The addition of the little blue bus is wonderfully refreshing, playing on the horror movie motif and also adding a character that children can relate to. The rhythm of the book is also great fun to read aloud and this one will charm anyone listening with its dynamic subject matter.

Wragg’s illustrations are fabulous. He thoroughly embraces the idea of “monster” trucks and transforms them into real monsters while still making sure they are trucks as well. The headlight eyes are expressive and often evil, the bumper and hood leers are cleverly done, and the lightness of the little bus plays up the twist at the end.

A strong entry in the Halloween book race, this picture book will be adored by truck fans and those looking for a little monster thrill. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

 

This Weeks Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

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

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

29 books to read your kids if you want them to be kind and brave

Ashley Bryan’s latest children’s book re-imagines the lives of slaves – The Portland Press Herald

Children’s 2016 print book market up 11.7% to date | The Bookseller

Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity

A Guide to the Real-Life Homes of the Heroes of Children’s Literature

Interview with Author Deborah Hopkinson – ALSC Blog

Rob Dunlavey on creating the illustrations for Laura Godwin’s OWL SEES OWL: . Pictured here is a sketch & final art.

LIBRARIES

Alex Gino’s Words on Restriction – Intellectual Freedom Blog

Librarians Get Their GAME On | American Libraries Magazine

Pete Hautman’s Words on Restriction – Intellectual Freedom Blog

TEEN LIT

Books for Bisexual Awareness Week/Celebrate Bisexuality Day

Closing the Diversity Gap in Young Adult Literature

OY, VOYA – A great summation of the VOYA debacle this weekend –

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall by Anne Sibley O’Brien

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Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal (InfoSoup)

The second seasonal book by this author and illustrator duo welcomes autumn. A series of hinged pages open to reveal the magic of this season. Right before each gatefold is opened, there is a magical word that punctuates the book, “Open Sesame” and “Shazam!” As each page opens a moment in fall is revealed from the cloud-filled milkweed to changing leaf colors to pumpkins becoming jack-o-lanterns. It is all a dazzling magical show of seasonal change and joy.

O’Brien captures classic autumn moments in this book that all children will relate to. There are apples, pumpkins, and animals preparing for the approaching winter. School buses arrive, cranberries are harvested, and leaves blanket the ground. It is all captured with a smile and a nod, no fear or worry at the changing seasons here, just a pleasure in the wonder of nature around us.

Gal’s illustrations share that same delight in the transformation of fall. She shows parts of autumn that are not mentioned in the text, making it all the more fun to explore the illustrations. Children will enjoy the many small details in the images as well as opening the pages to reveal the magic inside. This is very intelligently designed.

A delightfully warm and magical look at autumn and the pleasures of the season. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young

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A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (InfoSoup)

When Lucy sends away for her 25 cent unicorn, she has big dreams of what it’s going to look like. It is sure to be blue with a pink tail and pink mane. She will ride on him and name him Sparkle. But when the box finally arrives, Sparkle is not what she expected at all. He does love cupcakes, but that’s not all he loves to eat. He also eats underwear, his flower necklace and the tutu Lucy puts on him. She can’t ride him at all and he doesn’t behave at show-and-tell. Lucy decides to return Sparkle, but the man can’t come and get him until the next day. In the meantime, Sparkle turns out to be scared of storms, butterflies love him, and he makes Lucy laugh. Perhaps it’s not important to be the perfect unicorn after all.

I must admit that I expected this book to be overly sweet, rather too sparkly and filled with too much princess and unicorn fluff. However, it’s not that kind of a picture book at all and I can’t resist a book that surprises me this much. Even better, it’s a unicorn book with a “unicorn” that farts, smells and has fleas. In fact, it’s a unicorn book about a goat and a girl who learns to love him. And in the end, I think readers are going to fall for Sparkle too and realize that the idealized unicorn may be very dull compared to one very active goat.

Young’s illustrations are very appealing. She does a mix of large format pages and then more detailed ones that show all of the trouble that Sparkle manages to get into. Lucy imagines herself as a princess, but throughout is clearly a colorful little girl who loves to pretend and imagine. Readers will immediately know that Sparkle is not a unicorn, but will love the fact that he’s a goat with a heart-shaped mark on his side.

A sparkling and clever story about new friends that defy expectations. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (InfoSoup)

Alex has never been the same since her older sister was murdered three years earlier. She finally started to feel something when her sister’s killer went free. Alex’s response to that was vengeance and murder and now Alex knows that she can’t ever leave the small town she has grown up in since it would not be safe for those around her. She just wants to go through the rest of her life with her head down and not be noticed. Inadvertently though, she starts to make a friend. Peekay, short for Preacher’s Kid, volunteers at the animal shelter with Alex and slowly they become friends. Peekay enjoys drinking and fooling around and brings Alex into a social group where she had never belonged before. Meanwhile, Jack is finding it impossible to keep Alex out of his head despite the attentions of another girl who uses him on the side of her own relationship. Still, Alex may have been better off isolated as her violence starts to emerge again.

Wowza. This book blew me away from the aspects of both content and writing. McGinnis writes with a beauty that is surprising and enticing. Her words capture emotions with an intensity that has the reader feeling them at a visceral level. Here is Alex in Chapter 11 describing losing her sister:

It swings from twine embedded so deeply that my aorta has grown around it. Blood pulses past rope in the chambers of my heart, dragging away tiny fibers until my whole body is suffused and pain is all I am and ever can be.

McGinnis keeps her writing filled with tension, desire, understanding and amazement. She recognizes the incredible need for connection that we have even as we destroy as well. This is humanity on the page in all of its complexity.

It is also feminism, a feminism that burns and blazes, one that looks beyond makeup and clothing to the women and girls underneath. It is a feminism that speaks to the anger inside that wants to fight and battle the darkness in society, the brutality against women and the dangers that surround girls. And because it speaks clearly to that anger, it is breathtaking in its audaciousness, in the actions that Alex takes, and the bravery and violence she embodies.

Violent and beautiful, this novel is about the complexities of being female and alive. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from e-galley received from HarperCollins and Edelweiss.

 

2016 Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Coordinated by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University and administered by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, this award celebrates authors who “authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.”

Two authors won the award this year:

Echo Out of Darkness

Pam Munoz Ryan for Echo

Ashley Hope-Perez for Out of Darkness