Review: The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (9781338209969)

Marinka never asked to be a Yaga, but since she is the granddaughter of a Baba Yaga, she has been learning to speak with the dead and guide them through the Gate and into the stars. All Marinka really wants is to make a real human friend and do things that other twelve-year-olds do. Making friends is nearly impossible though when you live in a house with chicken legs that can move you all over the world overnight. So when Marinka gets another chance to make friends with someone, she takes it, even if it breaks all of the rules that she has been taught. As her decision changes her entire life, Marinka is left to figure out who she really is and what she wants to be.

Anderson has a clear love of Russian folktales, taking a beautiful view of Baba Yaga and giving her a larger community, more chicken-footed houses and a longing for family. The folktales at the center of the book continue to reverberate throughout the story, offering Marinka distinct choices. Marinka makes her own decisions though, ones that readers will not agree with though they might understand. As her situation grows direr, Marinka becomes almost unlikeable, and yet Anderson is able to bring us back to loving her by the end.

Anderson surrounds Marinka with a beautiful and rich world. There is her own Baba Yaga, filling the house with good cooking, lots of love and ghosts every evening. Then there is Jack, Marinka’s pet jackdaw, who sits on her shoulder and puts pieces of food in people’s ears and socks. A baby lamb soon joins them as well. Yet by far, the most compelling member of Marinka’s home is the house itself. Filled with personality and opinions, the house is intelligent and ever-changing.

A dynamic retelling of the Baby Yaga folktale, this picture book offers a big world of magic and ghosts to explore. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.

2019 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Nominations

The long list of nominations for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal has been announced. The Carnegie Medal is awarded by UK children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children.

At the same time, the long list for the 2019 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was also announced. The Greenaway Medal is awarded by UK children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children.

The long lists are seriously long, so I’ll post the full shortlists here when they are announced in March. The winners will be revealed in June 2019.

 

Review: Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc (9781616897239)

Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger walks to the mountain peak. Along the way, she greets her various animal friends and finds gifts to give others later. She helps anyone who needs it too. When a young cat asks to share Mrs. Badger’s snack, she invites the cat along to the mountaintop. They need to find the little cat her own walking stick and take breaks along the way, but the two eventually make it to the peak. They enjoy one another’s company and the trip so much that they continue to make the trek together again and again. Eventually, Mrs. Badger grows older and has to be the one taking breaks and finally she can’t make the trip any longer. The cat continues to make the walk, finding her own young animal to mentor on the way.

This gentle picture book has such depth to it. Mrs. Badger is a fabulous character, exhibiting deep kindness and thoughtfulness for others. She knows everyone she encounters on the walk and makes connections easily. She demonstrates how to make and keep friends with all of her actions. This becomes even more clear as she walks with the young cat, teaching them how to make the long climb to the peak. The book can be read as a metaphor for life but children can also simply enjoy the story of the friendly badger and a young cat who become friends.

Dubuc’s illustrations move from full pages of images to smaller unframed pictures that offer a varied feel throughout the book. She makes sure to have a special feeling when the characters make it to the mountaintop. The vista is striking but it is the journey itself that makes the book sing.

A quiet book about connections and community. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

This Week’s Tweets

Here are some items I shared on Twitter this week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

12 Picture Books That Showcase Native Voices, from via :

30 Thanksgiving Books for the Little Ones In Your Life

Debating the Best Way to Teach a Child to Read – https://t.co/thosNuygXa

The Everlasting Joy of Terrifying Children – The Atlantic

“I feel strongly that by reading with your child, by the simple act of holding them close while you read to them, you let them know that you care for them, have time for them and love them.” –

LGBT+ people erased from books in Russia with ‘gay propaganda’ law | Reuters

‘Nostalgia’ wins Children’s Book of the Year award for Arabic Children’s Literature Awards

Royal Mint rejected Roald Dahl coin over antisemitic views

The Soviet Children’s Books That Broke the Rules of Propaganda

LIBRARIES

After man burns LGBTQ children’s books, donations to Orange City library skyrocket

New Calgary Public Library opens – 660 CITYNEWS

TEEN READS

12 Books to Read If You Loved ‘The Hate U Give’

Epic Reads Partners with Emma Roberts’s Book Club on ‘Why Not YA?’

There are a whole host of YA books you need to get stuck into this month including   – https://t.co/K8eJb6YVHi

Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change the Way We Read?

Young Adult Fantasy Novels That Sweep Readers Away

Review: The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker

The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker

The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker, illustrated by Mark Pett (9781419725746)

The very last castle stands in the middle of a small town. No one ever goes into the castle and no one ever comes out. A single guard looks out from the tower. The townspeople can hear noises coming from the castle. Some think it might be monsters, others think it could be giants or snakes. Ibb is a girl who lives in the town and thinks about the castle a lot. One day, she gathers her courage and knocks on the huge castle door, but no one answers and she hears a terrible hiss. Soon afterward, Ibb gets an invitation to appear at the castle gate on Sunday. Ibb goes to the castle and is let inside where she discovers the source of the noises and forms a new connection with the man who lives there.

Jonker’s first picture book is impressive. He uses a traditional picture book tone here built on wonder and curiosity. The incorporation of the various noises that emanate from the castle is a very nice touch, making the book all the more fun to share aloud. His writing is focused and tight and the story can be read both as a straightforward tale but also as an allegory for the walls we build in our lives.

Pett creates a winning young heroine for readers, someone who firmly roots this book in the modern age with her backpack and school days. The juxtaposition between the ancient castle and the young girl works particularly well. The art is playful and the reveal of the interior of the castle is worth the suspense.

A picture book worth exploring. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams.

Review: King Alice by Matthew Cordell

King Alice by Matthew Cordell

King Alice by Matthew Cordell (9781250047496)

Home on a snow day with her family, Alice declares herself “King Alice” and demands that her father plays with her. They settle on making a book together, a story about King Alice and her royal knights. At first, the book is really short, just one chapter. But after her parents suggest that there may be more to the tale, Alice has more ideas. She occasionally takes a break to play with toys but is soon back again creating more chapters. After lunch, the idea is a Unicorn Party in the book but when King Alice gets too enthusiastic and hits her father with her unicorn toy she has to sit in time out. With apologies made, the book and the story continue with new ideas all the way through dinner, bathtime and in bed.

There is such honest on the pages of this picture book. From parents who are loving and also set limits and consequences to Alice’s attention span for a large project like this. It is delightful to have a creative process documented with new ideas taking time but also being immensely exciting. Alice’s parents are involved, but it is also her book done with her father’s support. It’s great when he is caught up in the project and Alice is ready to walk away.

The illustrations are loose and flowing. They show an active family willing to make messes with their daughter. Alice’s book is shown in crayon illustrations and neatly written words by her father.

A creative and imaginative picture book sure to be king of the shelves. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Feiwel and Friends.

 

Review: The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

The Unwanted Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (9781328810151)

This graphic novel tells the stories of Syrian refugees in their own voices. Based on interviews and visits to refugee camps around the region, the book clearly tells the story of the basis of the refugee crisis in Syria. As the flood of refugees begins and then continues, the nations taking in the refugees see sentiments in their populations shift to be anti-immigrant due to the overwhelming costs and disruption. Still, the refugees need a place to live in peace, a place to make a home and a place to feel safe.

Brown returns with another gripping nonfiction graphic novel. He uses the refugees’ own stories to really create a book that is heart-wrenchingly realistic. Young readers will benefit from hearing how the crisis began and will learn a lot about refugees, the dangers they face and the risks they are willing to take for freedom. The art in the book is done in limited colors, often filled with sandy yellows and deep browns. The faces of the refugees are compellingly depicted, often with expressions of deep fear, loss and grief.

A strong and important look at the Syrian refugee crisis in a format that makes the content very readable. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from library copy.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2019

The longlists for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 were announced a bit ago and I missed it, so this is a post on those longlists right before the shortlists are announced tomorrow. A reminder, that this is a UK book prize so some of the titles may not be known by American readers. Here are the nominees:

BEST STORY

The Boy At the Back of the Class The Boy Who Grew Dragons

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Brightstorm The Clockwork Crow

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy

The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher

The House With Chicken Legs Iguana Boy Saves the World: With a Triple Cheese Pizza

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Iguana Boy Saves the World with a Triple Cheese Pizza by James Bishop, illustrated by Rikin Parekh

Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli Knights and Bikes

Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams

Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent

Sky Song Song of the Dolphin Boy

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

Song of the Dolphin Boy by Elizabeth Laird

 

BEST BOOK WITH FACTS

Absolutely Everything!: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention 

Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention by Christopher Lloyd

Alastair Humphrey’s Great Adventurers: The Incredible Expeditions of 20 Explorers by Kevin Ward

Ancient Warriors The Bacteria Book: Gross Germs, Vile Viruses, and Funky Fungi

Ancient Warriors by Iris Volant and Joe Lillington

The Bacteria Book: Gross Germs, Vile Viruses and Funky Fungi by Steve Mould

Beetle Boy: The Beetle Collector's Handbook (Beetle Boy) The Colours of History: How Colours Shaped the World

The Beetle Collector’s Handbook by M.G. Leonard

The Colours of History: How Colours Shaped the World by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre

The Element in the Room: Investigating the Atomic Ingredients that Make Up Your Home Flying Colors: A guide to flags from around the world

The Element in the Room by Mike Barfield, illustrated by Lauren Humphrey

Flying Colours: A Guide to Flags from around the World by Robert G. Fresson

Peace and Me Professor Astro Cat's Human Body Odyssey

Peace and Me: Inspired by the Lives of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates by Ali Winter and Mickaël El Fathi

Professor Astro Cat’s Human Body Odyssey by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman

 

2018 YABBAs Winners

The winners of the 2018 Young Australians Best Book Awards (YABBAs) have been announced. Started in 1985, the awards promote children engaging in reading Australian books. Children are engaged in the process by reading the recommended books and then rating them. Here are the winners:

PICTURE STORYBOOKS

Do not open this book again

Do Not Open This Book Again! by Andy Lee, illustrated by Heath McKenzie

 

FICTION FOR YOUNGER READERS

The Bad Guys: Episode 5: Intergalactic Gas

Bad Guys: Intergalactic Gas by Aaron Blabey

 

FICTION FOR OLDER READERS

The 91-Storey Treehouse (The Treehouse Series)

The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton

 

FICTION FOR YEARS 7-9 (TEEN)

The Fall

The Fall by Tristan Bancks