How to Clean a Hippopotamus

How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

A fascinating tour through symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom, this book uses comic book frames and short text bubbles to become incredibly appealing to reluctant readers.  Filled with Jenkins’ paperwork illustrations that offer clarity beyond that of photographs, this book is a visual treat.  It is also filled with interesting facts, and is sure to surprise even the most informed reader with several of the relationships inside.  Journey through symbiotic relationships where one animal cleans another one to others where enemies become friends and supporters for a time.  Get this one into the hands of children who love animals and struggle with books, they are sure to feel right at home here.

Jenkins’ art is done with such confidence and cleverness.  His use of fuzzy papers to get the feel of fur, of color to get the feel of skin, and of pattern to get the texture right really take him beyond most other paper artists in children’s books today.  The fact that he manages to capture what an animal actually looks like is amazing.  Animals have a light in their eyes, a focus and in this book a relationship with each other, all captured with paper. 

The facts here are done with just the right amount of text and a playful, interested tone.  The book invites readers in and marvels alongside them.  The design here is wonderfully done, breaking what could have been paragraphs of text to wade through into windows of color filled with bite-sized bits of text that get readers wanting more.

Highly recommended, every library needs this book on their shelves.  Guaranteed to go home over and over again.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out another review at A Patchwork of Books.

Picture the Dead

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin

After his death, Jennie had always felt the spirit of her twin brother near her.  Now her fiancé Will has died in the Civil War.  His brother, Quinn, has returned with injuries.  According to the army, Will died honorably in battle, but his brother tells a different story of prison and Will being a criminal.  Jennie seeks out the help of a spiritualist photographer, who takes the family’s picture and edits it by adding another image of an angle.  Jennie is not fooled, but soon she experiences things that she cannot explain.  Images of her are edited without anyone touching them, clues lead her deeper into a mystery, and time is running out as her place in Will’s family is threatened.  This paranormal, spiritualist mystery will have readers enthralled.

This book is so beautifully designed.  Lisa Brown’s illustrations take the book to another level, ensuring that readers are completely surrounded by Jennie’s world.  Jennie keeps a scrapbook and often takes small items to add to her book without the owners knowing.  As she adds these bits and pieces to her scrapbook, a series of visual clues start to emerge.  At the start of each chapter, readers will see items that will be added to the scrapbook in the next chapter.  This way each chapter starts with the clues and continues with the story itself.  This is an immensely entertaining way to read a book.

Griffin has created a book that lingers, slowly revealing its secrets.  The book is beautifully written.  Griffin has intertwined Jennie’s brother’s voice in the chapters, his advice for spies always right at hand when courage is needed.  Jennie is an intriguing protagonist who is multidimensional with her small thefts, desperation for a home, and ability to love two brothers.  It is her complexity that makes the book so fascinating.

Eerie, haunting and mysterious, this book is one that takes over your world.  Bright summer sun dims into streets at night, heat becomes a chill, breezes blow on still days.  Griffin and Brown have created a book that is an immersive experience that readers will not soon forget.

Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy received from Sourcebooks.

Check out other reviews at Bookalicious, Good Books & Wine, BookLust, Through the Looking Glass, Cindy’s Love of Books, and Poisoned Rationality.

DUFF Optioned

Variety reports that McG and his Wonderland  Sound and Vision is optioning film rights to The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), a teen novel by Kody Keplinger.  This is the 20-year-old’s debut novel that is due to be released this September.


In the same article, Variety mentions that Wonderland is also producing a film version of I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President, adapted by the author Josh Lieb.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Where in the World Is Fuse #8?

The beauty of technology that is blogging can sometimes also have a very frustrating side. 

What happens when you change blog platforms, it changes your URL, but you can’t tell anyone about it because you are posting to the new platform? 

You inform the peeps and then they blog about it for you!

So if you are missing the amazing Betsy at Fuse #8, head to her new URL and subscribe to her new RSS feed:

See you there!