Review: Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh

pancho rabbit and the coyote

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Released May 7, 2013.

Papa Rabbit had traveled north to find work when the rains didn’t come one year.  Finally, after two years, he was returning home to his family.  A party was planned with food and music, but Papa Rabbit didn’t come back.  When the other rabbits went to sleep, Pancho Rabbit set out to find his father.  He took with him his father’s favorite meal of mole, rice and beans, tortillas, and a jug of aguamiel.  As he traveled, Pancho met a coyote, who offered to help him reach his father.  The coyote demanded payment of the mole up front, then taking Pancho to the train tracks where they jumped a train.  As the journey continued, the coyote demanded food after each part of the journey until Pancho was out of food.  Then Pancho himself was the only food for the coyote to demand.  This allegorical tale of migrant workers coming to the United States is a powerful look at the dangers they face and the love that drives them.

Tonatiuh writes with a strength here, each word seemingly chosen for its impact and power.  The importance of this sort of story for young children cannot be ignored.  This book carefully dresses the horrors of the story in folktales, but the purpose is still clear.  Those folktale devices are particularly effective in a story such as this, allowing the reader to see the dangers but not be overwhelmed by them.  The use of the different pieces of food as payment is particularly clever as is the character of the coyote being that animal.

The illustrations convey the folktale structure as well.  Done in a flattened style, they have strong lines and shapes.  Tonatiuh makes clever use of textures like jean material, tires, fur and textured paper.  This added touch ensures that readers recognize the modern nature of the tale.

This book belongs in every library since it deals with a current issue that affects many in our communities directly.  Teachers will find this book especially useful when discussion immigration as well.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

Review: Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale

stripes of all types

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale

Visit this gallery of animals who bear stripes of all sorts.  There are animals that live in the ocean, ones that slither in grass, large cats, amphibians, insects, mammals and more.  Drawn in crisp illustrations that show the stripe detail as well as pieces of their habitat.  The book reads quickly, carried forward by the rhyming text.  Children looking for more information on the intriguing animals can turn to the back of the book. 

Thanks to the rollicking rhyme and the short sentences in the body of the book, even toddlers will enjoy this nonfiction book.  Older children will enjoy talking about the different animals and reading more details. 

Entertaining and informative, this is a very flexible title that a wide range of ages will find interesting.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.

Review: The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

flame in the mist

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

Jemma thinks she is the youngest daughter of the Agromond family, readying herself for the day her Powers will finally reveal themselves fully.  But before that can happen, her true past is revealed and Jemma understands why she has never been able to do the black magic that her family does so easily.  Now she has to escape their castle and enter the dangerous mist that can read a person’s intentions.  She only has the help of her two golden rats, a decrepit old servant, and a trusted friend, Digby.  Lost and wandering in the mist, Jemma has to battle monsters, flee from those sent to find her, and convince the mist itself that she is not a threat.  As she travels, ghostly children try to seek her help, crying for their brothers and sisters in the castle.  Jemma has to learn the truth of not only her own past but of the castle and the horrors that are hidden there.

This is such a compelling read!  Grindstaff’s slow reveal of the truth is very deftly done in this carefully plotted novel.  She does not flinch away from true horrors here, never hiding from what it would truly take to create a force like the mist and have such dark powers.  The plotting during the time that Jemma is lost in the mist does meander a bit, but happily that is not made up by speeding up the ending. 

Jemma is a compelling heroine with her self-doubt and fear.  Yet she is an incredibly brave heroine, risking herself for others.  I particularly enjoyed the part towards the end when she had to continually revise her plans based on what was happening at the time.  It made for a very complex and exceptional read.  It also took away from the reader the ability to predict what would happen, making the ending a much more immediate experience.

This is a strong debut novel that reads like a stand alone.  While I wouldn’t mind more adventures from Jemma, I look forward to seeing what Grindstaff has to offer us next.  Appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from copy received from Delacorte Press.

Review: Again! by Emily Gravett


Again! by Emily Gravett

It’s nearly bedtime and that means a bedtime story.  Mama dragon and little dragon curl up together to share the story of the bright, red dragon Cedric who has never gone to bed.  When they finish, the little dragon asks for it “Again?”  Mama dragon agrees and readers will see another full page of the book that tells more about Cedric and his not sleeping.  Mama reads it one more time before falling asleep herself.  Readers will notice the little dragon getting redder and redder just as Cedric in the story is turning back to green.  But this little dragon has a burning desire for one more story that leads to a fiery ending.

Gravett cleverly reaves two parallel stories together here.  There is the main story of the little dragon who wants to be read to over and over again.  Then there is the story of Cedric in the book that Mama dragon reads.  The two play off of one another, with tension in one ebbing as the other picks up. 

The art is just as clever.  Towards the end, the little dragon shakes the book in disgust and the characters take a tumble across the pages.  This leads to the surprise of the ending, which is sure to delight young readers. 

A perfect ending for a story time, this book is one that young children (and dragons) will want to read AGAIN!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Teens’ Top Ten Finalists

YALSA has announced the finalists for the 2013 Teens’ Top Ten.  The list is nominated and chosen by teens.  Voting will take place online from August 15 – September 15.  Winners will be announced during Teen Read Week, October 13-19.  Here are the 28 nominees:

172 Hours on the Moon Between the Lines Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Butter Code Name Verity Crewel (Crewel World, #1)

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Croak (Croak, #1) Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) Every Day

Croak by Gina Damico

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Every Day by David Levithan

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1) The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

The Hunt (The Hunt, #1) I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1) Immortal City (Immortal City, #1)

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Immortal City by Scott Speer

Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Kill Me Softly Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon, #1) Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1) Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) Skinny

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Son (The Giver, #4) Tilt Underworld (Abandon Trilogy, #2) Wake (Watersong, #1)

Son by Lois Lowry

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Underworld by Meg Cabot

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Bestselling Children’s Books of 2012

Publisher’s Weekly has a list of the top selling children’s books of 2012.  Their list explores the hardcover frontlist and backlist as well as the paperback frontlist and backlist.  They also note that you will see several bestselling franchises worthy of attention, including series by Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, James Patterson, Rachel Renée Russell, Veronica Roth, Stephanie Meyer, and Lincoln Pierce.

Here are the 18 books that sold over 300,000 copies that appear on the Hardcover Frontlist:

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3) The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #7) The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)

1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

2. The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney

3.  The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess (Dork Diaries, #4) Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All (Dork Diaries, #5)

4.  Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renée Russell

5.  Insurgent by Veronica Roth

6.  Tales from a Not So Smart Miss Know-It-All by Rachel Renée Russell

Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! (Middle School, #2) Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) Hidden (House of Night, #10)

7.  Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

8.  Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

9.  Hidden by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Who Could That Be At This Hour? (All The Wrong Questions, #1) Big Nate Goes for Broke Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started

10.  “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Seth

11.  Big Nate Goes for Broke by Lincoln Pierce

12.  Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started by Justin Bieber

I Funny: A Middle School Story A Perfect Time for Pandas (Magic Tree House, #48) Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

13.  I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

14.  A Perfect Time for Pandas by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca

15.  Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Disney Bedtime Favorites Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

16.  Disney Bedtime Favorites

17.  Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

18.  Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

Graceling–The Movie

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) Fire (Graceling Realm, #2) Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Just what I needed on a late Friday afternoon!  Variety reports that Reliance Entertainment is acquiring feature film rights to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling trilogy.  This is the same studio that is producing Vampire Academy as well.

My only worry is that the worlds that Cashore builds are political and complex.  I wouldn’t want to see any of my beloved series watered down or lost. 

Tiger Eyes – The Movie Trailer

Tiger Eyes, the amazing novel by Judy Blume, has been made into a feature film. It was named the Best Feature Film at the Palm Beach International Film Festival this month. Now there is a gorgeous trailer for the film:

Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award

The Canadian Science Writers’ Association has announced the winners of their annual book awards for outstanding contributions to science writing.  The winner of the youth award for 2012 is:

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Willow Dawson