Carnegie Winner

The Carnegie Medal was just announced today. Tamar by Mal Peet has won.  Here is how the site describes the winner:
This is an enthralling and multi-layered novel that traces the story of two men caught up in secret operations in World War Two. It looks at the negative impact that war has on those involved and on succeeding generations. Guilt and its ramifications lie at the heart of this well-written and serious novel that skilfully interweaves past and present.

Mermaid Dreams

Mermaid Dreams by Mark Sperring, illustrated by the Pope Twins.
Mermaid Dreams is the charming story of Meriam who does not like to get ready for bed.  Meriam’s wild hair flows across both the book’s cover and many of its pages as she brushes her teeth, gets her tangles combed out, and gets ready for bed.  But what does her mother find in her hair?  A shell, a fish, a starfish, and seaweed.  Meriam describes what she has done all day:  visited the beach, swum deep down underwater.  And finally gives her mother a pearl that she found.  Only at the very end is it revealed that Meriam is a mermaid.
This clever book will have children delighted at the end by the surprise.  Yes, grownups will have it figured out long before, but part of the charm of the story is the surprise itself.  The illustrations are fabulous, filled with water, waves, sand and creatures, they echo and reinforce the magic of mermaids. 
Share this with mermaid crazed girls, but don’t forget that boys enjoy a surprise too.  It is the perfect length for reading aloud and should be added to summer storytimes about beaches and swimming. 

Half of an Elephant

Half of an Elephant by Gusti is a strange picture book but not without its own unique charm.  It is the story of what happened when all of a sudden the world cracks in two.  Poor elephant is left without his back half and sets out to find it.  On the way, he meets many other half animals and even tries to unite with some of them, but it doesn’t work out.  When the world suddenly joins back together again, elephant finds his back end, but their relationship has changed.
Strange enough for you?  Well, add in the industrial feel of the illustrations, created from collages of corrugated cardboard, wood, found items, and tools, and you have a very unique book.  The illustrations are a draw for kids, who will enjoy looking at the strange creatures made from wrenches, screws and bolts. 
Give this special book a chance.  It has a unique perspective and a fantastic visual edge. 
Published in September 2006.