The Borrowers – Anime Style

Studio Ghibli, the animation studio behind Ponyo, has announced that their next project will be an adaptation of The Borrowers.  The story will be reworked from 1950s England to a modern Japanese setting.  It will also be renamed The Borrower Arrietty after the character of the Borrower daughter.  It is to be released in Japan in the summer of 2010.


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Namaste! by Diana Cohn, illustrated by Amy Cordova

Nima lives in Nepal where her father works a few weeks every year as a mountain guide.  When he leaves this year he promises to return with a story and she must have a story for his as well.  On Nima’s long walk to school in the village, she greets the people she passes with “Namaste.”  She wishes that she could help people like her father does.  That would make a wonderful story to tell him on his return.  Before heading home after school, Nima greets her father’s friend Tenzing, who is a trader.  After her greeting, Tenzing thanks her with honey telling her that she brightens his day whenever she says Namaste!  So with every greeting, Nima is helping people. 

This book exudes the feel and style of Nepal.  The meaning of Namaste is explained to readers early in the book, so they will understand what Nima is really telling people and why it is so special.  The story is simple and gentle, filled with the daily rhythms of another part of the world which allow us a glimpse into what is similar and different.  Cohn’s prose is sprinkled with words that work well in the context and can be looked up in the glossary as well.  Cordova’s art really ties this book to Nepal through traditional art motifs and iconic images such as the prayer flags. 

This book is a fast and fascinating way to make a quick visit to Nepal and see it through the eyes of a little girl.  It is a book that celebrates the simple and the profound at once.  Namaste!

Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.


Below you can take a look at a video with the author and illustrator talking about the book:

Have You Ever Seen a Sneep?

Have You Ever Seen a Sneep? by Tasha Pym, pictures by Joel Stewart

Does a Sneep steal your picnic the minute you turn your back?  Does a Snook ruin your quiet time by being so loud?  Have you swung out over the water and landed in a Grullock’s throat?  Have you been surprised by a Floon?  Chased by a Knoo?  You haven’t? 

This funny and charming fantasy features a boy who lives in a land filled with creatures we have never seen before.  They are humanoid but strange with purple skin, large beaks, and many legs.  It is a great juxtaposition of a normal boy in what seem to be normal settings doing normal things and then an unusual creature arrives and the entire scene shifts.  Pym’s rhymes are effortless as they swing readers through the book.  Stewart’s art suits the subject perfectly with its gentle feel combined with wacky characters in wild colors. 

Highly recommended for preschool or toddler storytimes.  Children will love the fact they are being asked if they have seen such a creature themselves.  Adults reading aloud will find the pacing impeccable.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Alice in Wonderland the Trailer


The second trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has been released.  You can see it in the following formats:

Original video source (

Original video source (

Original video source (

/Film has a series of stills from the trailer because all of the images fly past so quickly.  The film will be released in both 2D and 3D on March 5th.

Red Ted and the Lost Things

Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Joel Stewart

This is a picture book graphic novel.  It is best described as sweet and quiet, two words that are rarely associated with graphic novels!  Red Ted has been lost on the train by Stevie who loves him as much as she loves cheese.  He is put on the lost and found shelf next to a green crocodile who has been there so long he can’t remember who lost him.  Red Ted doesn’t want that to happen to him, so he decides to escape.  The crocodile goes with him, jumping off the shelf and following the signs out of the station.  Once outside, they meet a cat who smells the cheese on Red Ted and then helps him find his way to Stevie by following the smell of cheese. 

The adventures they have on the way are not frightening, focusing on things like rain and dogs.  This book has a quiet story that combines an old-fashioned feel with a modern format.  It is a very good first graphic novel for young children who will enjoy the speech bubbles and the frames that they see in older siblings’ books.  Rosen tells a complete and charming story in just a few words and snatches of conversation.  Stewart’s art works really well here with the bright and bold colors of the main characters contrasting with the gray tones of the backgrounds. 

A graphic novel for the preschool set, this book has a charm about it that will find it happy owners.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Featured on 7-Imp.

Cezanne and the Apple Boy

Cezanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt

Paul had not seen his father for some time and then he got a letter inviting him to join his father in the countryside of Provence.  Paul took a train all alone and found his father partway up a mountain painting.  Paul had the same name as his father, Paul Cezanne.  When Paul found his father, he was alarmed because his father was so big, so wild looking.  But his soft voice spoke quietly to Paul, though his father would not shake hands because he hated touching other people.  The two traveled together, drawing and painting the countryside, but no one was interested in Cezanne’s new style of painting.  Until one day they met an art dealer who took all of the paintings off to his gallery.  Just as Paul and his father were running out of money, the art dealer returned with funds from selling the paintings and encouraged Cezanne to create more. 

This is a book that celebrates so many things all at once.  It celebrates the connection of father and son, the undoubting love of a child and their faith in their parent.  It celebrates Cezanne himself and his art.  It celebrates the countryside of Provence.  And it celebrates determinedly following your passion and gift even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand.  It’s a lot for a picture book to carry, but this book does it very well and with apparent ease.

Anholt has written a well-rounded and complete story from a summer in Cezanne’s life.  Though the story, he reveals the art of Cezanne, mimicking the Cezanne style in his own depictions of the Provence landscape. The illustrations are a pleasure as they reveal so much of the story told in the text as well as the story of the art itself.

This book will work well for elementary art classes studying Cezanne.  In fact, most children will want to see Cezanne’s work after reading this glimpse of a fascinating painter and his son.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Released February, 2010.

I first heard of Incarceron during the 2007 Cybils where the two panelists who had read it made such a strong case for the book that it became one of the finalists.  (It is a British import and the two panelists had read the British version.)  It had a lot to live up to after that strong an endorsement and then after I waited two years to read it!   I am very happy to say that it lived up to it and then some.

Incarceron is a prison for the worst criminals, but it is more than that.  It is a second chance, a sealed community that was planned as the perfect society.  A prison that is alive, that looks after its charges, that nourishes them.  But after being sealed for 150 years, the prison is far from idyllic.  Finn was born in the prison, from the prison.  He awoke in a cell as a teen ager and he has visions of the outside, of the stars.  That makes him one man’s way out.  Claudia is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron.  She lives on on the outside as a member of the highest society.  Her wedding day is nearing to a prince she does not love, giving her a monarchy she does not desire in a court bound by entrenched protocols that keep them from using any technology.  Everything changes when both Finn and Claudia manage to gain access to a Key that lets them communicate together.  Now Finn must escape Incarceron and all of its traps while Claudia navigates the complicated and treacherous world of the court.

This fantasy is deep, dark and complex, just like Incarceron itself.  The two protagonists are very different from one another and yet drawn to each other.  Due to the prison, Finn has had to become someone he would never be while Claudia has to play her own role and not give away anything to her father or those around her.  As readers learn about the characters and the roles they play and who they really are, they are also learning the complexities of the world, of a prison that thinks and acts and of a society so bound by tradition it is spinning out of control. 

Fisher has built a world and characters of contrasts and similarities.  We have the wealthy juxtaposed with the most penniless, but their societies are so similar.  We have two types of prisons, side by side.  We have heroes in both, villains in both, and in both is Incarceron as a pivotal, physical being. 

This book is a puzzle, an enigma that is a delight to figure out, to wander through and to wonder about.  It is unflinchingly brutal, beautiful, hopeless and hopeful.  The pacing too is varied and adds to the tension and excitement as it rushes then lingers as time likes to do.

Highly recommended, this book is filled with great world building, fascinating characters and the wonder that is Incarceron.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.


Eidi by Bodil Bredsdorff

This second book in The Children of Crow Cove series begins years after the first.  This book focuses on Eidi, the daughter of Foula who has just had a baby, Eidi’s half-brother.  The house feels to crowded with the baby and Eidi decides it is time that she heads off to help the shepherd Rossan by spinning his wool into yarn.  When she reaches his home, Rossan is about to head off to town to sell his wool, so she accompanies him.  Eidi acclimates to the town, which is the largest community she has ever seen.  While she is there, she gets work with a man to knit shawls and discovers a beaten and underfed boy.  She befriends the boy but is soon in a situation where she has to take drastic action to save him.

Bredsdorff’s language is so simple that it is poetry.  Her writing matches the simple lives of the people, their hard work, and the Danish landscape where there is beauty and harshness.  Reading this second book was like returning to a place you never knew you had been missing.  The book is without pretense as the story is told matter-of-factly but with such attention to detail that it is like living it.  Here is one lovely example from Page 15:

Eidi got out of her settle bed and put on her clothes.  When she stepped outside, she could see everything plainly in the dawn twilight, but it was all gray.  The houses were light gray, the roofs dark gray, the sky overcast, without a star.  It as a world where color didn’t exist.  She sat down on the stone steps and waited, without knowing what she was waiting for.

The passage continues as the sun rises and color returns to the landscape.  This is writing that speaks volumes without being verbose.  Haunting, beautiful and skillfully done.

Characters in the book are complex.  Bredsdorff is not afraid of having villains be human, heroes make bad choices, or having people who are both hero and villain at once.  Though simple, her book has layers of meaning.  Lessons are learned with no preaching, children are not cosseted but are seen as capable, strong and vital. 

Highly recommended, this book is a great sequel to the first.  Read both of them to have the full experience of Crow Cove.  Appropriate for ages 10-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

Laurie Halse Anderson and Censorship

Laurie Halse Anderson, Cherokee High School Visit

Image by theunquietlibrarian via Flickr has an interview with YA author, Laurie Halse Anderson who has had a year filled with censorship challenges to her novels. 

She speaks about teens and their needs, honesty in writing, and much more.

If that doesn’t tempt you, then follow the link to see the incredible window she has in her new writing space.  GORGEOUS!