Day: October 12, 2012

Review: Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K. G. Campbell

lesters dreadful sweaters

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K. G. Campbell

When Cousin Clara’s cottage was eaten by a crocodile, she moved in with Lester and his family.  No one knows quite whether she is actually their relative, but she stayed with them anyway.  She brought her knitting along with her.  She just sat and knitted all the time, until one morning she announced that she had made Lester a sweater.  It was horrible, an ugly yellow with one arm far too long and purple pom-poms dotted all over it.  Lester was made to wear it to school where the others made fun of him, of course.  That sweater mysteriously shrunk in the laundry.  But the next morning, there was another sweater.  This one was pink with strange upside down pockets.  That one got caught in the mower.  Every time Lester did away with one awful sweater, another appeared to take its place, until one morning he awoke to a mountain of sweaters.  He did what anyone would do, and murdered them quietly with a scissors. But even then, there was one left intact.  There doesn’t seem to be anything Lester can do to end the parade of awful sweaters, but there just may be a solution in a most unlikely place!

This is a dynamite picture book that has a fabulous strangeness about it that works particularly well.  There is the oddness that Lester has already.  He keeps lists of dangerous things that start with the letter C and collects items for the Lost & Found he has.  He is particular about his socks being even and keeping his hair tidy.  He could be an unlikeable character, but those little oddities as set aside when the horrible sweaters start coming.  One immediately understands Lester’s desperation to get rid of the sweaters without confrontation and as the story unravels, it gets more and more fun to read.

Campbell’s art adds to the strangeness of the book.  She has strange objects set around the house: a pickaxe near the front door, a Viking helmet in the Lost & Found.  The pages are done in a matte finish that adds to the vintage feel, the Victorian feel of the book.  And yet, there is that unwavering sense of humor, that lifts everything to feel modern too.

For slightly older children than most picture books, this would make a great read aloud for elementary classrooms.  There is plenty of humor, moments of surprise, and a great ending that I refuse to even hint at.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta

nighttime ninja

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young

A ninja moved stealthily through the night in this picture book.  The clock struck midnight and the ninja tossed a grapple hook up.  He climbed up the sheer wall.  He crept down the hallway of the house where everyone was asleep.  He hid in the shadows.  Then he got out his tools and went to work.  Until his mother woke up!

DaCosta’s simple text slowly builds the tension as the ninja moves through the night.  The entire book is hushed and the mood brittle with stealth.  She playfully leads the reader through thinking that this is a real ninja sneaking into a house until the reveal.  It’s a great reveal that works particularly well thanks to Young’s illustrations. 

His collage art shows a shadowed ninja figure using expert skill and stealth.  At the same time, that cover clues us into the jolly nature of this book.  Young’s art is as beautiful as always, using subtle colors to evoke the world of the ninja and the darkness of night.  They have the sharp angles of Japanese architecture built into each page too, immediately conjuring another land.

Get ready to have your own little ninja prowling your house after you share this book.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts that you might find interesting:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Great list of kids bks, including PRAIRIE EVERS! The Autumn 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview | Bookselling This Week http://news.bookweb.org/news/autumn-2012-kids%E2%80%99-indie-next-list-preview#.UHHGLylYnko.twitter …

Interview: Emma Thompson, Author Of ‘The Further Tale Of Peter Rabbit’ : NPR http://buff.ly/Qm6tPR

E-BOOKS

$13 Txtr Beagle Is World’s Cheapest and Smallest E-Reader http://bit.ly/RhmzwQ

New easy-to-use iOS app works with library-owned e-books and eliminates need for browser-based downloads | TeleRead –http://buff.ly/QcOMlH

Q&A: Random House VP Skip Dye on Ebooks in Libraries – The Digital Shift http://buff.ly/Qe5lxE #ebooks #libraries

Tim Coates: publishers are placing the public library at risk – Telegraph http://buff.ly/ReDujN

LEADERSHIP

7 Productivity Links Worth Your Time | Copyblogger http://buff.ly/Qz2YYH

LIBRARIES

READING

Anthony Horowitz: politicians shouldn’t force children to read – Telegraph http://buff.ly/Q8pNQt #reading

A Lively Mind: Your Brain On Jane Austen: NPR http://buff.ly/RaJha7 A fascinating study of what great literature does to your brain. #reading

SOCIAL MEDIA

15 Pinterest Boards for Book Lovers | Delightful Children’s Books http://buff.ly/QcYFQk

TEEN BOOKS

7 Mexican studies books banned from Arizona classrooms http://huff.to/SJAQOC

Five questions for Libba Bray — The Horn Book http://buff.ly/RbvhNc #yalit

WRITING

Flavorwire » 15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels http://buff.ly/R9ZYSY

RT @arthurslade: Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing | Brain Pickings http://ow.ly/eiHv8