Astrid Lindgren Award Winner

The Argentinian illustrator Isol has won the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Award.  The award is the largest award in children’s literature with around $780,000 in prize money.  According to The Guardian, Isol is the author and illustrator of ten books on her own as well as collaborating with the poet Jorge Luján. 

The jury praises her work:

"With a restrained palette and ever-innovative pictorial solutions, she shifts ingrained perspectives and pushes the boundaries of the picture book medium," they wrote in their citation. "Taking children’s clear view of the world as her starting point, she addresses their questions with forceful artistic expression and offers open answers. With liberating humour and levity, she also deals with the darker aspects of existence."

Review: Jinx by Sage Blackwood


Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Raised in the Urwald, Jinx knows that no matter what you never leave the path through the woods.  So when his stepfather decides to get rid of Jinx, they leave the path.  That’s when Jinx meets Simon, a wizard who agrees to take Jinx from his stepfather rather than letting him die in the woods.  Jinx moves in with Simon, who makes incredibly delicious food and has only one rule, never go into certain rooms.  Jinx has his own sort of magic: he is able to see people’s emotions as colorful clouds above their heads.  He can also talk with the trees of the Urwald.  But Simon does not believe he can actually do either.  Living with a wizard brings Jinx into touch with other sorts of magic and soon he is learning about that magic too, though he doesn’t seem to be any good at it.  Life is cozy and as good as Jinx has ever had, but it can’t stay that way.  Jinx soon wants to explore the Urwald himself, which leads to all sorts of amazing adventures and deadly dangers.

Blackwood has truly invented her own fantasy world here.  While she borrows from classic fantasies for some of her creatures: vampires, werewolves, wizards, and trolls, she has created her own rules for their world.  By creating the Urwald, a living woods that takes knowing the laws to survive for any length of time, she has effectively created a smaller world inside a larger one.  There are glimpses of the other parts of the world that are tantalizing.  It’s a complex world that she has created, which makes it all the more delightful to explore.

In Jinx, Blackwood has created what seems to be a very simple character.  Jinx grows throughout the novel not just in his age but in his perspective.  At first he is just happy to have somewhere warm with good food, but quickly he becomes intrigued with the magic around him.  Readers will immediately understand the Jinx is special thanks to his unique vision of emotions, but as they grow to know him more, they will discover he is just as complicated as the world he lives in.

Blackwood has written an impressive fantasy novel for middle grade readers that is both dazzling and dangerous.   Appropriate for ages 11-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

Waterstone’s 2013 Children’s Book Prize Winner

Annabel Pitcher has won the 2013 Waterstone’s Book Prize for new and emerging talent that is considered one of the UK’s most prestigious awards.  Pitcher’s Ketchup Clouds won not only the teen category, but also the overall prize.  Here are the winners as well as the shortlists:


Ketchup Clouds

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher



Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind Insignia (Insignia, #1) Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Skin Deep Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas




Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb



Can You See Sassoon? The Journey Home. by Frann Preston-Gannon

Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher

The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon

Oh No, George! Rabbityness

Oh No, George! by Christ Haughton

Rabbityness by Jo Empson

The worst princess

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp




Wonder by R. J. Palacio



Atticus Claw Breaks the Law Deadweather and Sunrise (The Chronicles of Egg, #1) Barry Loser: I Am (Not) A Loser (Barry Loser, #1)

Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray

Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey

I Am Not a Loser by Barry Loser

The Secret Hen House Theatre  The Wolf Princess

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

Review: The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

matchbox diary

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

A great-grandfather shares his life’s story with his great-granddaughter who picks out a cigar box filled with matchboxes to find out more about.  He has been collecting matchboxes that are filled with small items documenting his life, a diary of objects.  They tell of his poor childhood in Italy where he’d be given an olive pit to suck on to make him less hungry.  There is a picture of his father who went to work in America and sent money home.  His story then turns into one of an immigrant with a trip to the port and then aboard a large ship.  He tells of arriving at Ellis Island, of the terror of possibly being denied entrance, and the eventual reunion with his father.  The entire family, including the children, worked to earn enough money to survive.  Life became better and he learned to read until he started in the printing industry and opened a bookstore. 

Fleischman writes of the tentative relationship of a young child and her great-grandfather who are just getting to know one another for the first time.  This is a story filled with small gems, treasures of stories that the two of them explore side by side.  The small matchboxes are a wonderful device to add surprise and delight to the story.  Fleischman has created an entire picture book told only in dialogue, making it a pleasure but challenge to read aloud. 

Ibatoulline’s illustrations are precise and detailed.  The matchboxes are shown up close and just opened, as if the reader had been the one exploring them.  The stories are shown in sepia tones with modern day in full color.  They are filled with a beautiful warmth in both cases.

A distinguished picture book, this is a brilliant combination of historical story and vivid illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

clementine and the spring trip

Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

In the latest installment of the Clementine series, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite series, Clementine is taking a spring field trip with her class to Plimoth Plantation.  Clementine has agreed to be partners with her friend Margaret on the trip, mostly because the fourth graders have a rule that you have to eat without making any noise.  Margaret wants to partner with Clementine too, since Clementine doesn’t mind dirty things at all and Margaret most definitely does.  Then a new classmate comes along and complicates things.  Olive has her own language that she teaches everyone and is well on her way to being very popular, when she is paired with Clementine for the field trip.  With all of their plans in disarray, what will happen on the field trip?

Just as with all of the Clementine books, Pennypacker has created a modern girl living in a modern family.  She merrily inserts levity throughout the book from the cleaning of the statues in the park to the stinky bus they have to take on the field trip.  The character of Clementine continues to be complex, artistic and monumentally creative.   This of course can lead to getting into trouble, but what jolly trouble it is!

This series belongs in every school and public library.  Get it into the hands of creative kids and those who want a good giggle.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

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


8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids From Reading

Children’s & YA Revenues Up Nearly 18% … via @galleycat

Love!-> Cleveland project to turn vacant lots into literary spaces inspired by children’s books. via @pageturner

Michael Morpurgo: my favourite children’s books – Telegraph

Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘Treasure Island’ author’s long-lost essay | Shelf Life


The Bestselling E-books of 2012

WHSmith Breaking Trust Putting DRM in eBooks without permission from the authors |


Congressman Already Claims That He Needs To Overturn Supreme Court Ruling In Kirtsaeng | Techdirt

Library Journal Movers & Shakers 2013

Oooh – love the furniture! RT @ucsf_library: Come to the party in the Library’s new Living Room, today at 3 pm!

Oxford librarian dismissed over Harlem Shake video – that she wasn’t in–Books

Play Boxes: Mini Playspaces in Your Library |

RT @hubbell Iraqi librarian saved 30,000 books during 2003 invasion /ht @elleryhubbell #librarians

RT @vpl: Have you ever wanted to be a librarian? Here are the skills you’ll need to become a 21st century librarian:

Stephen and Tabitha King offer to cover one-third of $9 million Bangor library renovation — Bangor Daily News

Supreme Court sides with bookseller in major copyright ruling, says resale is ok — paidContent

Why I Love Our Public Libraries | Open Book: Toronto

Wisconsin man banned from all libraries on earth | News|Home

Would More People Use the Public Library If It Had a Water Slide? – John Metcalfe-The Atlantic Cities


Intriguing-> Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future |

My Amazon bestseller made me nothing –

Newsroom Cutbacks Are Hurting Journalism, Study Shows

Simon & Schuster will give authors direct access to piracy data for their books — paidContent

This Is the Scariest Statistic About the Newspaper Business Today – Derek Thompson-The Atlantic


Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B |

Feedly picks up 500,000 new users following Google’s decision to can its Reader service – The Next Web

Google Reader Shutdown a Sobering Reminder That ‘Our’ Technology Isn’t Ours – Forbes

How to Backup Your Social Media Accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

How to use Twitter lists to replace Google Reader |

Pinterest rolls out a new look –

Social media life: What privacy? | The Great Debate

Why are one third of Americans turning their backs on high-speed Internet? | Digital Trends


Reading, Writing and Video Games –

Sex, Violence, and Radical Islam: Why ‘Persepolis’ Belongs in Public Schools – Noah Berlatsky-The Atlantic

Stacked: So You Want to Read YA?: Guest Post by Rae Carson (author of Girl of Fire and Thorns)

Review: Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang

red kite blue kite

Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Greg Ruth

Based on the true story of a family friend, this book tells the story of a father and son separated during the Cultural Revolution in China.  Tai Shan and his father, Baba, loved to fly kites together from the roof of their home in their crowded city.  Then bad times come and the schools are closed.  Baba is sent to a labor camp and Tai Shan is sent to life in a small village with Granny Wang.  Both Tai Shan and his father continue to fly their kites, using them as a signal to one another and a way to maintain contact.  Eventually, Baba is taken further away to another labor camp where they cannot communicate with kites.  All that can be done is to wait until Baba is free again and their kites can soar together once more.

This picture book will be best understood by older children.  There is no need to have a background in Chinese history to understand this book because the story is so universal.  The use of kites as imagery of freedom and connection works particularly well, especially in the ending which is particularly uplifting after the tension and sorrow of the rest of the tale.  Jiang writes in prose that is filled with the emotion of the time.  He writes with deep compassion and doesn’t shy away from the pain that fills Tai Shan’s days separated from his father.

Ruth’s illustrations capture the mood of the story very effectively.  He moves from bright golds and oranges in the city to the dull colors of khaki and earth when the two are separated.  The color scheme is only alleviated by the pop of color from their kites.  When the two are together again, the color begins to return to the landscape.

This is a striking and universal look at families that are torn apart by war and the haunted time they spend apart.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

exclamation mark

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

The creators of Duck! Rabbit! return with another book filled with bold but simple illustrations.  This book is about an exclamation point that is just trying to be like every other very stable period around him.  He tries everything to be the same, but it just doesn’t work.  He meets a question mark who is also very different, but he’s really bothered by all of her questions.  So he yells at her to stop!  Then he tries out other exclamations, realizing that he’s suddenly discovered exactly what he’s made for. 

An immensely simple book, I really appreciated the occasional zing of puns that kept it from becoming stale.  The illustrations are done on lined paper giving the entire book a cheery aspect.  The message is not done heavy-handedly, rather it is delivered in a playful and light-hearted way. 

This will be welcomed in classrooms as a witty and jolly way to discuss punctuation.  Expect the exclamation mark kids in the class to find a kindred spirit!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

Children’s Book Week 2013 Finalists

Childrens Book Week Logo

Children’s Book Week has announced their finalists for 2013.  These finalists will be voted on by children and teens in the 2013 Children’s Choice Book Awards.  You can head to the voting page to take part with teachers, librarians and booksellers able to participate as well.

Here are the finalists:


Big Mean Mike The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? I'll Save You Bobo!

Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

I’ll Save You Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons Nighttime Ninja

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young



Bad Kitty for President Get the Scoop on Animal Poop Homer

Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel

Get the Scoop on Animal Poop by Dawn Cusick

Homer by Shelley Rotner, illustrated by Diane deGroat

National Geographic Kids Just Joking: 300 Hilarious Jokes, Tricky Tongue Twisters, and Ridiculous Riddles Pluto Visits Earth!

Just Joking by National Geographic Kids

Pluto Visits Earth! by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Jared Lee



Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess (Dork Diaries, #4) Liar & Spy Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School

Dork Diaries 4: Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker, illustrated by Tim Probert

Rebel McKenzie Stickman Odyssey 2: An Epic Doodle, Book 2

Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom

Stickman Odyssey, Book 2: The Wrath of Zozimos by Christopher Ford



Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) The Fault in Our Stars

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Rapture (Fallen, #4)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Rapture by Lauren Kate



The Fault in Our Stars The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #7) Wonder

John Green for The Fault in Our Stars

Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid 7: The Third Wheel

R. J. Palacio for Wonder

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3) Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

Rick Riordan for The Mark of Athena

Veronica Roth for Insurgent



Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons Llama Llama Time to Share Olivia and the Fairy Princesses (Olivia)

James Dean for Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Anna Dewdney for Llama Llama Time to Share

Ian Falconer for Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet

Mo Willems for The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?