Older Than the Stars

Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis

Celebrate the age of your atoms with this dynamic nonfiction picture book.  Starting with the lines:

You are older than the dinosaurs.

Older than the earth.

Older than the sun and all the planets.

You are older than the stars.

You are as old as the universe itself.

Through a traditional folktale format of cumulative rhyming lines, this book can be read in several ways.  The rhymes serve as a structure for the book, but the real pleasure is in the scientific facts that are presented with flair and an eagerness that make them fun to read.  Young readers will learn about the Big Bang, how stars were created, and how our planet and humans came about.  The book ends with a colorful timeline and a glossary of terms.

Fox’s rhyming is catchy and sound.  Her scientific information is interesting and a pleasure to read.  Featuring strong colors, deep contrasts and vivid design, Davis’ illustrations are dynamic.  They have a timeless feel that is very appropriate for the subject, yet they are definitely modern in feel as well. 

A great nonfiction picture book on a subject that will intrigue young readers, this picture book will not sit still on shelves for long.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Released March 2010.

Stork returns with his second teen novel after Marcelo in the Real World.  D.Q. and Pancho could not be more different except for their focus on life and death.  D.Q. is dying of cancer and trying to understand how to hold onto life.  Pancho is healthy but everyone in his family has died, and he is now planning to murder someone.  When Pancho meets D.Q., he wants nothing to do with him.  But he gets paid to help D.Q. and when D.Q. is sent for treatment to Albuquerque, Pancho is eager to go along because the man he is hunting for lives there.  As he spends time with D.Q. and Marisol, a girl at the recovery facility, Pancho finds himself changing but will it be enough to prevent him from taking a life?

As with his first book, Stork excels at character development and the creation of people who are damaged, fascinating and vividly human.   Pancho is a boy filled with anger and denial who has so much going for him, but is unable to see it.  D.Q. is reaching the end of his battle to live but seizes every day with a fierceness and vigor.  This book is an exploration of two boys and their unique friendship that ends up changing them both.  It is a celebration of life, an honoring of death, and a tribute to faith in the broadest sense.

Fans of his first book will adore this second book.  This is another novel to linger in, dwell with and savor.  Appropriate for ages 13 and up.

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy received from publisher.


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