Tell Me the Day Backwards: A Bedtime Charmer

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Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail

Released March 22, 2011

Timmy Bear and Mama play a game before he goes to sleep.  They tell each other their day backwards.  The story they tell one another is filled with special moments together like watching the sunset and having a picnic.  Then there are moments of fear, and told backwards they make it even more of an event.  The story builds nicely as readers discover exactly what led to Timmy Bear jumping from a high rock into the river.  The story ends as it began, with Timmy Bear in bed and Mama at his side, creating a beautiful circle of a story. 

Lamb’s writing here has such a gentle feel, it is perfect for a bedtime story.  The adventure portion in the middle keeps this from being too soft and gentle, adding a great story arc to the book that is sure to have young readers listening intently.  The exchanges between Mama and Timmy in the book have a touch of humor and a great deal of love. 

McPhail’s art captures the story with his usual style.  His illustrations are soft watercolors that work for both the active portions of the book and the slower parts.  He manages to capture so much emotion, action and movement in only a few lines.  The illustrations are simple and lovely.

This book belongs in every library and will make a wonderful gift book for toddlers who just may have similar adventures in a given day.  After reading the book it is impossible not to want to tell your day backwards, so if sharing with a group, you may have to have an activity of writing or drawing their day backwards.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick.

Camo Girl: Shining Strong

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Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon

The author of The Rock and the River returns with another amazing book.  Ella is not part of the popular crowd at school.  In fact, she is the lowest of the low.  Teased by about her uneven skin coloring, some of her classmates call her Camo Face, Ella has trouble even looking at herself in the mirror.  She has her best friend, Z, who has been her friend for many years, but Z is getting stranger and stranger, losing himself in stories and roles.  Now there is a new boy at school, a boy who doesn’t seem to notice Ella’s skin at all.  He brings her a way into the popular world, but how can she leave Z to fend for himself?  This novel speaks to issues of race, bullying, friendship and differences, never shying away from asking very difficult questions.

Magoon’s writing here is superb.  Her writing is at times filled with such longing and ache that it enters your bones.  Other times it soars, lifting readers along with it, demonstrating that anything is possible.  She illuminates the darkness of bullying, but this book is about so much more than that.  It is about the tenderness of long friendship.  It is about the hope of the new.  It is about the beauty of difference.  It is about the strength of self.

Ella is a great character who is gripped with such self-doubt that it is almost despair.  Yet she continues on, watching out for Z, caring for her family, and even hoping that the new boy’s smile might be just for her.  Beautifully, her transformation in the book is less about her changing and more about her perceptions changing about herself and those around her.  It is a powerful and important distinction.

Highly recommended, this is an amazing book for tweens looking for a book that has depth, power and strength.  Appropriate for ages 9-13.

Reviewed from copy received from Aladdin.

Also reviewed by TheHappyNappyBookseller and My Life in…

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