Blood and Chocolate

How did I miss this?  A movie based on Annette Curtis Klause’s novel Blood and Chocolate is coming out in January!  The poster looks great!  You can click here for a larger image.  Hopefully they do Klause’s book justice.  I completely adored her Silver Kiss which would also make a great film.  Her newer book, Freaks: Alive, on the Inside is still on my list of books to read. 

An Independent Christmas

Publisher’s Weekly has an interesting piece The Run-up to Christmas: A Bookseller Survey, which interviews independent booksellers across the country about their picks for what is going to be popular this holiday season. I always like looking at bookseller lists vs best of the year lists because they are often so different. It is rather like collection development in general as we struggle to have both the popular and the high quality titles. This is one easy way to take a look at popularity in places other than Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wild Girl

The Wild Girl by Chris Wormell.

Wormell has once again created a story that will immediately capture children’s imaginations.  It is the story of a little girl who lives alone except for a small brown dog.  Her hair is ratty and she is dressed only in a fur slung over one shoulder.  But she is a feisty one.  She makes her own spear, catches fish, makes fire, and gathers other food.  They live high in a cave in the mountains.  In the winter, they sleep in a nest they built so they are warm and cozy.  But then something invades their cave.  A huge bear.  They manage to chase it out of their cave, but then they discover a small bear the other has left behind.  The girl must figure out what to do.

This is a great adventure story filled with self-sufficiency and danger, but also a continual sense of wonder at the skill and grace of this small girl.  Readers will feel the cold as she walks through snow in her bare feet to survive.  Wormell’s art truly capture the way a huge bear would look to a small child and their panoramic view is always reminding readers how very alone this child is.  It is an understated, masterfully done work.

I would share this book with preschoolers through first graders.  It could be used in a winter storytime but also could easily be one of those special books that is read just because there is time.  It is sure to capture the attention of an impatient class who are looking for a new adventure.

Best Beekeeper of Lalibela

The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: a tale from Africa by Cristina Kessler, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins.

Almaz, a young girl who lives in Ethiopia, vows that she will one day be a beekeeper and have the best honey.  When she goes to the other beekeepers (all adult males) for help, she is laughed at and told that she should focus on women’s work instead.  But a kindly priest tells her that she can do it.  So Almaz finds a way to raise bees that is different than the way the men do it.  She faces some setbacks, but figures out solutions that allow her to offer the best honey even though she doesn’t have the size and strength of the men.

The illustrations by Jenkins are amazing with combinations of stunning colors.  They bring the text by Kessler to life.  Kessler’s words make the book easy to read aloud and will capture the imaginations of children in Kindergarten through second grade.  I especially enjoyed the fact that Almaz solves her own problems.  She is shown support by the priest, but stands alone as she solves her problems and invents her own solutions. 

This book is recommended for units on insects or Africa.  It vividly portrays a society and culture that most American children do not know. 

Black? White! Day? Night!

Black? White! Day? Night!: a book of opposites
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

This is a wonderful lift-the-flap book that should not have librarians groaning in horror.  The premise is that each page has a small window that shows part of the image under the flap.  When the flap is lifted, the opposite of the first image is shown.  So in the first image, a black bat is show for “black?” and the the flap is lifted to show that it is actually the mouth of a “white!” ghost.  The flaps are all full-page size, so there is little chance for them to rip like smaller flaps.  Additionally, the illustrations are child-friendly but also intriguing.  This was a book that would be of interest to small children learning of opposites, but also for much older elementary children who enjoy a good guessing game.  It is pure fun, but also educational.  Libraries looking to get some quality interactive titles that will not fall to pieces immediately should purchase this one.