Seattle PI has a nice piece: A Moment With … Jack Prelutsky, America’s first children’s poet laureate. It is a short interview with Prelutsky, but it does remind all of us that poetry and kids do mix!
A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve has just won the Guardian Prize for Children’s Fiction! Check out the announcement for more information on the book and the series it is part of.
Got an email from JacketFlap, a children’s literature portal, this morning telling me that my blog had been added to their service. How nice! And when I visited their site, I found much more than I expected. They have an incredible list of children’s publishers, an active forum, a children’s publishing blog reader that follows 161 blogs, an enormous blogroll that has my fingers itching to explore by clicking around, and a free customizable personal page for visitors to select the blogs they wish to follow. It is all professionally done, with a crisp clean feel that invites you to explore.
You will notice a link to them on the right side of my blog as well, so that you can easily start reading this blog via their interface.
Snow Sounds: an Onomatopoeic Story by David Johnson.
Through onomatopeoic words and evocative watercolors, Johnson perfectly captures the morning of a deep snowfall. The book opens with the extreme hush of falling snow, and readers glimpse a house covered in white with more snow in the air. Then as a child wakes up, the sound of the snowplow approaches. As the morning routine progresses inside, the outside world is revealed as roads and driveways are cleared, reconnecting the house and family. Finally the school bus pulls up with a honk, taking the kids off.
This is such a lovely book, especially effective because it uses only the sounds of the morning to really provide a mood. As someone who lives in Wisconsin and adores those hushed winter mornings that signal a snowfall, I know this is a book that will speak to many northern readers. It is amazingly easy to read aloud, given that it is all sound words. Children will also be able to follow the storyline easily.
Recommended for classes doing onomatopoeia, but also for new readers and anyone who loves snow.
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, pictures by Marla Frazee.
I am a fan of books about real little girls who are not obsessed with being princesses, but are more down and dirty people who refuse to conform. And in Clementine, I found exactly that.
Clementine is an eight-year-old who struggles to pay attention at school and continually finds herself in the principal’s office for some infraction. At the start of the book, Clementine finds her best friend and neighbor Margaret crying in the bathroom because she got glue in her hair and cut it out. Clementine offers to balance the haircut but it doesn’t look right, so Margaret decides she should just cut all of it off. And Clementine does. “Which is not exactly easy with those plastic art scissors, let me tell you.” And that is just the beginning of Clementine’s week.
The writing is very funny and would be perfect to read aloud to a class of first or second graders. I think they would all find a piece of themselves in Clementine. The illustrations contribute so much to the book as well. Often things that are just mentioned in passing are captured in the pictures, make the book that much deeper. And we all know how important scattered pictures in a chapter book are. These illustrations will invite young readers in and the writing will keep them there.
Clementine is a small sweet treat of a book. And just like her namesake she lingers enjoyably on your palate as well. I only hope that we see more of her in the future.
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld.
This was one of those books that made me dance with joy when I got it in on the library reserve shelf. Luckily I work with people who understand book lust, so they just humor me.
Last Days is a sequel to Peeps, the amazing vampire novel that combined vampirism with communicable diseases. This novel takes us further into the epidemic occuring in New York City where all sorts of people are becoming peeps and the society is beginning to crumble due to the epidemic. The situation is seen through the eyes of five teens, who form a band together in the middle of the chaos, looking to make themselves famous before the end of the world. Westerfeld’s writing as always is fast-paced, enjoyable, and consuming. His characters are individuals who make mistakes, find themselves caught in world-changing situations, but remain true to themselves.
Recommend this to those kids who already love Westerfeld. For those who don’t, make sure you start them on Peeps. Any kids who enjoy horror, apocalyptic fiction, or band fiction will love this. Don’t you just adore books that sell themselves and get teens asking for more by the same author? And even better, Westerfeld has several series to get teens really hooked.
NPR has a great interview with Maurice Sendak, plus a fantastic audio slideshow featuring his work: Why Maurice Sendak Puts Kid Characters in Danger. Sendak’s new book is a popup, which will turn off many libraries from ordering it, but I hope that some of you brave it.
I Can Do It by Jana Novotny Hunter, illustrated by Lucy Richards.
When I picked up this book, I expected a toddler book about a small child wanting to do things by themselves: a subject that has been covered again and again in charming ways. But this is something different.
A little guinea pig boy is off to nursery school. His day is described in adjectives. One spread is about being FAST, another about QUIET, another about CLEVER. And the adjectives carry him through his day from entering preschool to being picked up at the end of the day. This is a great book for having conversations about what words describe your day and how you can change throughout your day. Add to that the fact that it is a reassuring, sweet book about preschool and this is a real gem.
Got an email announcing the debut of Three Cats Write (Three Hollywood Cats — One Serial (but not serious) Novel, a new blog that will serialize The Amber Baboon written by Apollo Kerley, Asta Nethery and Jemima Wing, all feline authors.
What a great idea! Three children’s book authors: Barbara Kerley, Natasha Wing, and Mary Nethery collaborate to create a blogged book featuring three cat heroes. The blog is clever and the writing lots of fun.