Review: Demolition by Sally Sutton


Demolition by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

There has been a movement recently to create some very original and fresh construction and truck books.  Before that, it was a bit of a desert of naming big trucks, telling how they work, and leaving it at that.  This book is one of the best of those new, fresh books about construction vehicles.  In rhyming lines, it tells the story of the demolition of a building.  It begins with the people getting ready, moves to the wrecking ball, then the excavator and its tearing jaws.  There are stone crushers and wood shredders.  Trucks are loaded and clear the site, then they start to build something.  Something with slides, monkey bars, and plenty of fun.

The rhyme and rhythm of this picture book really make it work.  It has a bouncy rhythm that makes the book ideal for toddlers.  The rhyming lines finish on each set of pages with noisy words that bring the work site to life.  Add to that the appeal of knocking something down and then building something new, and you have brought a toddler dream to life.  The illustrations have a great texture to them that evokes the dust and dirt of demolition.  They avoid being too cartoon-like and instead use different vistas on the project to allow young readers to see more than they could of in real life.

One of the most appealing construction or destruction books around, this belongs in every library collection.  It will also be appreciated by librarians and teachers who have long been looking for construction books worth sharing in a story time setting.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari

my mixed-up berry blue summer

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari

June has lived on Lake Champlain with her mother forever.  They run the marina with its supplies and café.  That’s where June learned to make pies, and she is determined to enter the fair this summer to prove what a great baker she is.  But this summer is going to be very different from other summers.  First, her mother’s girlfriend has moved in with them.  Then there is the pressure from Vermont’s new civil union law that has their small town divided.  There are people who won’t shop at the marina anymore because June’s mother is gay.  It is a summer unlike any other, one where June will have to figure out how she feels about having two mothers, and then whether she has the courage to speak up. 

Gennari’s debut novel courageously takes on not only the issue of gay parents but also the political backlash that can occur to a family in modern America.  Through the eyes of June, we see a strong mother and daughter connection, an understanding that her mother is gay, but then the realization that that will be much more public with a girlfriend or spouse.  Gennari makes this a very human story that embraces the power of community and the complexities as well.  As a special aside, I will mention the great librarian character who shows a lot of support for June and her family.

This book is short and active.  It’s a perfect summer read with plenty of dips in the lake, boats on the water, bike rides in the heat, and ripening berries all around.  Nicely, it is about more relationships than the mother and her girlfriend.  June is faced with losing a friend because of their difference in opinion and then June’s changing feelings toward Luke, a boy who is her best friend. 

Perfect for a summer read while floating on a lake, this book is strong, courageous and radiant.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

2012 Carnegie and Greenaway Medals

Patrick Ness has won a second consecutive Carnegie Medal for A Monster Calls.  He won last year for Monsters of Men, the third book in his Chaos Walking trilogy.  His entire trilogy was prize-winning with the first book winning both the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Booktrust Teenage Prize.  The second book in the trilogy won the Costa Book Award.

In a unique twist, A Monster Calls has also won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration.  Jim Kay’s evocative, dark and powerful art added so much to the skilled writing of Ness.  This is the first time that the same book has won both awards.