Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2010 Longlist

The 2010 Guardian children’s fiction prize longlist has been announced:


Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin

Now by Morris Gleitzman

Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes

The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson

Sparks by Ally Kennen

Lob by Linda Newbery

Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick


Thanks to ACHOCKABLOG for the link.

Killer Pizza

/Film has the news that Adam Green will direct the film adaptation of Greg Taylor’s young adult novel Killer Pizza.  Christopher Columbus will produce.

Little Diva

Little Diva by LaChanze, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze brings us the story of Nena, a little girl who wants to be a diva.  Right now she is a D.I.T.: a Diva In Training.  She wears stylish clothes, does vocal exercises, and even helps her mother with her yoga.  Her mother is a diva already, a Broadway star.  Nena gets to accompany her mother to the theater where there are costumes, wigs, and makeup and much more backstage.  Nena sits in her special place to watch her mother onstage.  Then she has to go home where she tells her Nana all about the show before heading to bed to plan her own performance for tomorrow.

LaChanze brings a breezy tone to this picture book that really captures the dreams of a youngster wanting to be just like her mother.  The allure of the stage is brought to life in the book.  I particularly enjoy the fact that diva is meant positively.  It doesn’t mean tantrums and drama, rather it is art, craft and the theater.  Pinkney’s art matches the breezy style of the text so well.  He uses free-flowing lines and swirls of color to show this young diva’s life.  There is an effortlessness to this book that makes it a pleasure to read.

Perfect for any little divas in your life that would have problems taking a short bow.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel and Friends.

Amazing Faces

Amazing Faces, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

This book is a great collection of poems that really reflect diversity and America.  Diversity in race as well as the range of emotions in human experience, both are on display in this collection.  The collection moves gracefully from one poem to the next, each fitting next to the other to make a cohesive whole.  This is helped by Soentpiet’s art which celebrates emotions, humanity and community in the faces he depicts.

Hopkins has created a collection that really meshes well.  Each poem and poet has a distinct voice and point of view.  The differences are celebrated here, the poems just as diverse as the world they share.  The first poem, Amazing Face by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, welcomes readers with open arms into the collection.  It is closed just as effectively with a Langston Hughes poem, My People

Soentpiet’s art captures moments in the world that we all want to grasp and hold onto a bit longer before they pass.  There is the smile of a baby, the power of a storyteller, the evening sky, and that moment that loneliness disappears.  All are illustrated with great detail, making those moments ever so real.

Highly recommended, this collection of poetry will help you celebrate what America is all about: the diversity of its people.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Lee & Low Books.

Wanted: The Perfect Pet

Wanted: The Perfect Pet by Fiona Roberton

More than anything Henry wanted a dog.  More than chips, more than a trip to the moon, more than world peace!  Henry already has lots of frogs, 27 varieties, but they are boring compared to a dog.  He knows just the kind of dog he wants: one with personality, one that does tricks, one that has floppy ears and a warm, furry tongue.  So Henry posted an ad in the paper and waited.  The ad was read by a lonely duck who decided that being Henry’s dog was the perfect place for him.  So he disguised himself as a dog and headed to Henry’s house.  Henry was very excited to see him, but got more and more puzzled as his dog failed to live up to his expectations.  When the dog was revealed to be a duck, what would Henry do?

Roberton has created a book with an interesting feel and style.  She includes clever asides and quirky perspectives.  The book has a very charming style of writing that gives the illustrations enough space to help tell much of the story too.  The illustrations are filled with white space and offer plenty of small details that readers will enjoy discovering.  Watch for the sheep flying past in the background on a windy day. 

A special, quirky picture book that takes selecting a pet to an intelligent and wise place.  Appropriate for ages 4-7. 

Reviewed from copy received from Putnam.


Boom! by Mark Haddon

Jim is a magnet for trouble, which is why he thinks his older sister might be telling the truth when she says that the teachers at his school are talking about sending him to reform school.  So he and his best friend Charlie come up with a plan to bug the teacher’s lounge.  While listening, they discover that two of their teachers are speaking in an unknown language.  Jim and Charlie set out to discover what exactly is going on in their school and stumble onto a plot that is much larger than they had ever dreamed. 

Haddon has written a book with a fabulous blend of action, adventure and humor.  The book has a break-neck pace at times that young readers will find great fun, combined with a sense of humor that will have them laughing out loud.  The relationship between Jim and Charlie is so well done.  It completely captures the tension of two best friends, the fights, and the immense connection they have.  I also particularly enjoyed Jim’s father as a character who is losing himself in model aircraft and then discovers cooking as a passion.  There are character who will surprise readers too, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.  Let’s just say that Haddon excels at creating characters with real dimension.

Teachers and parents looking for a book to hand to reluctant readers over the summer need look no further.  It will also work well as a classroom read aloud thanks to its great pacing and writing. 

This fun blend of intrigue and science fiction will win readers over easily.  Perfect for lifting your summer vacation into orbit.  Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from copy received from Knopt Delacorte Dell.

Animal Soup

Animal Soup by Todd H. Doodler

This book is pure silliness.  Pure.  There is not an educational item here, just lots of giggles and guesses.  Take one animal, add another and the result is a mixture of the two.  The book begins with “What would I be if I had wings to fly…” with a picture of a bird.  “…but walked very slowly instead?” with a picture of a turtle.  Then one lifts the flap to see the answer which is: Bird + Turtle = Birdle along with the image of the bird wearing a turtle’s shell.  Turn the page and it begins again and it is impossible to stop opening the flaps to see the silly combinations. 

Doodler has hit upon a winning combination here of humor and surprise.  His pairing of unlikely animals (who could resist finding out what a squirrel and a whale combine to become) along with the humorous names he calls them will have children laughing out loud.  His simple colorful art adds to the humor.  The animals are all googly eyed and the combination images are delightful. 

Hand this to a reluctant young reader and they will read it again and again.  It is an ideal choice for libraries with flaps that will stand up to most use and for storytimes where children are restless.  This will have them laughing and entranced in no time.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Golden Books.

Life, After

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

Released July 2010.

Dani’s life is changed forever when a terrorist attack in her country of Argentina kills her aunt and the baby she is carrying.  Adding to the misery, the country of Argentina is in the middle of economic collapse.  Her father has lost his job and his sister and is now unable to cope.  Dani and her mother keep the family going with Dani fixing meals and caring for her younger sister.  Many people are fleeing Argentina, heading to Israel and the United States.  When Dani’s uncle makes an offer to get them visas, there is little choice but to move to the United States.  Dani must now cope with going to a large American high school, speaking and learning in English, and her father’s continued anger and depression.  In a world changed by the effects of terrorism, Dani finds understanding in the most unlikely of people and realizes that there is life afterwards.

This novel is one of many branches that twine throughout.  There are many things happening here, many things for the main character to deal with.  It is down to the skill of Littman that the book remains so cohesive and powerful.  These many branches are what make this book special and interesting.  They help tell the tale of immigration but also terrorism and economic collapse.  It is a timely story for American teens to read, one that will resound in their lives.

Dani is a great protagonist to see this experience through.  She is bright, helpful, giving, and yet can be angry, sad and confused as well.  The novel spends time in Argentina in the beginning, setting the stage to show just how much the family gave up in their move to America.  Often immigration stories start with the family already in the United States.  This time spent in Argentina really makes Dani and her family understandable and relatable.

Highly recommended, this book will reach its braches towards you and hold you tight.  Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy received from Scholastic.

Also reviewed by The Reading Zone and nomadreader.

Books in the Home Make a Difference

I know that all of us who work in education and libraries know that access to books for children make a very big difference.  A new study from Nevada University supports what we already know.

It turns out that having as few as 20 books in the home for children can have a significant impact on their education.  The researchers studied more than 70,000 people from 27 countries to get their results.  The results affect all families irrespective of parental occupation or social class.  Here are some quotes from the article in the Telegraph:

It found that being raised in a household with a 500-book library would result in a child remaining in education for an average of three years longer than those with little access to literature.

The advantage to a child was just as great as being raised by university educated parents, as opposed to those with relatively poor schooling, the study found.

The study suggested that the impact was down to the “scholarly culture” of individual households.

Now, let’s see what type of impact access to a great school and public library will have on children!