Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles

Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles by Jim Arnosky

Another winner from Arnosky, this book offers life-size drawings of reptiles.  The pages even fold-out for those really large animals.  In between the detailed pictures that will have everyone oo-ing and ah-ing, Arnosky offers some great scientific facts tempered nicely with personal anecdotes.  These more scientific passages are also illustrated with a facing page in color and pencil drawings surrounding the text.  Then you unfold the page to see the life-size reptiles nice and close.  Beware the sea turtles.  I nearly dropped the book much to my son’s delight.

Any fan of animals or reptiles will adore this book.  It is appropriate for a wide-range of ages with younger children enjoying the pictures and older children finding engrossing details too.  Arnosky completes the book by admitting he is afraid of snakes and a little afraid of all reptiles, but that doesn’t stop him from admiring them.  A wonderful cap on a book that will entice reptile lovers and others to take a look.

A great book for any library, this one will slither quickly off the shelves.  The fold-out pages are sturdy and if worried you could reinforce the folds with some tape.  Recommended for ages 4-8.

2009 Americas Award

The 2009 Americas Award has been announced.  It is an annual award for books for children and teens that “authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.”

The 2009 Winners are:

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book by Yuyi Morales

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle


The Honorable Mentions

The Best Gift of All by Julia Alvarez

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez


And there were several commended titles that can be found on the press release.

King of the Screwups

King of the Screwups by K L Going.

Liam messes up everything that he touches, especially in his father’s eyes.  When screws up again, Liam is kicked out of the house.  His mother engineers it so that Liam is sent to live with his gay, glam-rocker uncle in a trailer in the middle of nowhere.  This is Liam’s chance to be different, be what his father wants, and not mess up.  But things aren’t that easy.  Liam tries to be unpopular, but can’t seem to manage it.  He tries to befriend the next-door neighbor but she dislikes him at first glance.  Though he tries to be a great student, he continues to get into all sorts of trouble at school: being late, not finishing assignments, and never bringing his materials to class.  What can a handsome, well-dressed teen do to make himself something he’s not!

Going has created a teen novel that takes stereotypes and turns them on their heads.  Here we have a straight kid with an eye for fashion, a popular kid who wants to be unpopular.  There is a delight to reading this novel.  One never knows what is going to turn out to be a screwup and what will be an amazing success.  That unexpected nature combines perfectly with Liam’s voice, creating a novel that is impossible to put down.  The strength of Liam’s characterization is central to this book, avoiding anything that could be stereotypical and instead being about an individual living in a world of unique people. 

A great teen novel, this book deserves to be widely read and applauded and shared with friends.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.