2013 Eisner Awards

The 2013 Eisner Awards have been announced.  These awards are the Comic Industry Awards and contain awards for children’s and teen materials as well as many awards for adult graphic novels and comics.  Here are the winners that were announced at Comic-Con:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)

Babymouse for President (Babymouse #16)

Babymouse for President by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12)

Adventure Time Vol. 1

Adventure Time by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17)

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson

Best Reality-Based Work

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert (tied with adult book)

And I just had to include this last one because it is one of my family’s favorites and definitely works well for older children and teens:

Best Humor Publication

Darth Vader and Son

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

Catching Fire – The Trailer

At Comic Con, they released an exclusive teaser trailer for Catching Fire.  Now it’s not so exclusive.  Enjoy!

Review: Henry’s Map by David Elliot

henrys map

Henry’s Map by David Elliot

Henry was a pig who believed in being neat and tidy with everything in its place.  So when he looked out from his very clean sty, he was bothered by the messiness of the farmyard.  He decided to make a map, so that everyone could find things on the farm.  That meant he had to travel around the farm and write things down.  He included the sheep and the woolshed, Abigail the cow with her tree, Mr. Brown the horse and his stable, and the chicken coop.  Then all of the animals climbed up a nearby hill to look down on the farm and compare it to Henry’s map.  But when they looked closely, none of them were where they were marked on the map!  Luckily though, they all knew right where they belonged thanks to the map and back they all went, even Henry.

Elliot has a feel for writing picture books.  His pacing is delightful, the storyline is dynamic but not frenetic, and the characters are personable and ones that you want to befriend.  Henry is a little pig with a big vision, and there is satisfaction in him completing a big project on his own.  Elliot also nicely navigates having just the right amount of text on the page, enough to tell a full story but not too much to overwhelm or bog it down.  Add the twist of the animals being alarmed at not being in the same place as the map tells them they should be, and you have a very strong read. 

Elliot is the artist behind the Brian Jacques series of books.  Here his art has a wonderful playfulness but also a timelessness.  This book is beautifully illustrated with lots of jolly characters and one very serious pig.  The map itself looks like something a child would make complete with drawings and misspellings. 

A top pick, this picture book is perfect for map units in preschool and elementary school.  It also makes a fun addition to any farm or pig story time.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel.

Review: 123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

123 vs ABC

123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

The letters and numbers just can’t agree in this book!  Is it a counting book or an alphabet book?  You will just have to read on to figure it out.  As the pages turn, it just gets more confusing.  Sure the first animal to appear is an Alligator, but there is just One.  Then there are Two Bears, Three Cars, and on and on it goes.  The book is narrated by the number one and the letter A, both of them arguing over what the book is really about.  Happily, they are both right in this mash up of an alphabet and counting book that is funny, silly and a romp of a read.

Boldt manages to make a counting and alphabet book that has a real freshness to it.  A large part of the success is in the humor, much of which is contributed by the two main characters, A and 1.  There little rivalry and clever asides add to the tension of the premise but also resolve in the end to something much more friendly.

Boldt’s art is bright colored and pays homage to vintage picture books.  The two main characters have a cartoon-like appeal to them with their broad expressions and Mickey Mouse gloves.  Boldt makes good use of white space throughout the book, allowing the mix of alphabet and numbers space to breathe on the page, something that becomes particularly important as the pages get more crowded.

Fresh and funny, this is one clever mash-up of ABCs and 123s that will appeal to every child who likes a lot of laughs.  It will work well with preschoolers who will enjoy the jokes as they review the content.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson

45 pounds

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson

When Ann’s parents divorced and then her parents remarried and started new families, Ann turned to food to soothe herself.  Now she is 16 years old and wears a size 17.  Her mother on the other hand is a perfect size 6.  When they shop together, it is torture for Ann.  Her mother tries to motivate her, but picking out a tiny bikini as motivation is not the right way!  Then Ann is asked to be a maid of honor in her aunt’s wedding and she decides to lose 45 pounds by the wedding in 10 weeks.  Ann starts out by ordering a kit from an infomercial and eating according their diet.  To do that, she has to get a job to pay for the food.  Her summer suddenly becomes about a lot more than watching TV and eating.  Now she is attending dance lessons for the wedding, gets invited to the party of the year, and has a boy flirting with her!  It’s a summer of change, and it’s not all about losing weight.

Thank goodness for the lightness of this title.  This subject can be heavy handed at times, but not here.  Happily, the book deals with weighty topics (pun intended) but manages to remain positive and not didactic at all.  Instead it is a voyage of self-discovery for Ann and the reader.  One notes quickly that she catches the attention of the cute boy before losing lots of weight.  The book does address fad diets and infomercials as well as the way that parental pressure can backfire. 

Yet the book is not all about weight loss.  It also explores divorce and its impact on children, the way siblings can drift away, the loss of friendships, and the way that all of that impacts self esteem.  It is this depth that makes the book so rich.  One understands Ann’s pain and why she was eating to cover it all up.  Beautifully, readers are also shown that thin people may not be quite as comfortable or healthy as they may seem either.

A great pick for teen readers, this book is about being comfortable at any size.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

2013 Wheatley Awards Finalists

The Harlem Book Fair is celebrating its 15th anniversary and is also debuting a new award, the QBR Wheatley Book Awards.  The awards span different ages and genres with two awards for youth books.

Here are the finalists in those categories:


Ellen's Broom Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure

Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

Squeak! Rumble! Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Paul Rogers

Tea Cakes for Tosh Twice as Good: The Story of William Powell and Clearview, the Only Golf Course Designed, Built, and Owned by an African American What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Twice as Good: The Story of William Powell and Clearview by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Eric Velazquez

What Color Is My World? by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld, illustred by Been Boos and A.G. Ford


The Diary of B. B. Bright, Possible Princess  Obama Talks Back: Global Lessons - A Dialogue with America's Young Leaders

The Diary of BB Bright: Possible Princess by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams, Illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Like a Tree Without Roots by Teresa Ann Willis

Obama Talks Back: Global Lessons – A Dialogue With America’s Young Leaders by Gregory Reed

Pinned Ship of Souls

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott

Thanks to Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 for the link.

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:



21 Books That Terrified You As A Kid http://buff.ly/1drxmvD #kidlit

Beyond boundaries: Reading children’s lit http://buff.ly/18nIcWt #kidlit

‘The Boy Who Loved Math’ and ‘On a Beam of Light’ http://buff.ly/1drxlb9 #kidlit

Children’s Corner: ‘Stick Dog’ and other fine new hybrid books for kids – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://buff.ly/15GqiIy #kidlit

Disability in Kidlit Blog: Add this to your “must read” pile: Disability in Kidlit. I should have blogged abou… http://bit.ly/1aGT7vb RT from @LizB

Gender stereotypes plague children’s picture books http://buff.ly/15LLpt9 #kidlit

How Scholastic Sells Literacy To Generations Of New Readers | KRWG http://buff.ly/18nIk8n #kidlit #publishers

Ringo Starr song Octopus’s Garden to be turned into children’s book | Books | The Guardian http://buff.ly/15mU30N #kidlit

‘Tails Chasing Tails,’ by Matthew Porter, and More http://buff.ly/18dVaWF #kidlit

Trans* Titles for Young Adults (Summer 2013) | Young Adult Library Services http://buff.ly/15G62H4 #yalit

Viz Media Debuts Children’s Imprint at Comic-Con 2013 http://buff.ly/13namfI #kidlit


‘Here Be Fiction’ Site Launches with 500+ Ebooks – The Digital Shift http://buff.ly/18lJ51T

The ‘Other’ E-Book Pricing Problem | Art Brodsky http://buff.ly/13mq1f9 #ebooks #libraries



Anniston Star – Shelved Who decides which books are available in the state s school libraries http://buff.ly/13mpTwk #libraries

Books, Smaller – or the reason that public libraries are vital shown in one library for one family – http://buff.ly/12DhEfD

DC Public Library Opens Digital Commons, “Dream Lab” – The Digital Shift http://buff.ly/12PhInS #libraries


The Rights of the Reader

The austerity story: How Spain fell in love with books again as locals flood back to libraries – The Independent http://buff.ly/15ODrlb

How to Create a Successful Reading Experience for Your Child | Dr. Gail Gross http://buff.ly/18SesjS #reading


Amazon’s Cloud Crash Disaster Permanently Destroyed Many Customers’ Data – Business Insider http://buff.ly/15ODlKi

How and Why Chrome Is Overtaking Firefox Among Power Users http://buff.ly/18nyYcY

Watch Out, Facebook: Why Google And Pinterest Are Gaining As Social Rivals – ReadWrite http://buff.ly/15PhWk9

Yahoo’s Fight for its Users in Secret Court Earns the Company Special Recognition in Who Has Your Back Survey | EFF http://buff.ly/15DoRdZ


From ‘The Giver’ to ‘Twilight,’ Young Adult Fiction Helps Teens Grow Up – Alyssa Rosenberg – The Atlantic http://buff.ly/1breUXd #yalit

Marvel Comics reveal new Spider Man is black and could be gay in the future | Mail Online http://buff.ly/12NCAM8

‘Megatokyo’ Raises Over $258K on Kickstarter http://buff.ly/15OX6kI #manga

What Are Grown-Ups Afraid of in YA Books? http://feedly.com/k/17omey1 #yalit

Review: Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko

al capone does my homework

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko

Released August 20, 2013

This is the third and final book in the Alcatraz trilogy.  Moose is growing up on Alcatraz where his father has just been made Assistant Warden.  But with the promotion also comes dangers that he had not faced as a guard.  Moose quickly discovers that the inmates have a point system where his father is now worth a lot more points if he is attacked.  Moose has far more to worry about though, when there is a fire in their family apartment.  Moose feels very guilty because he had been watching his sister Natalie who is autistic, but he fell asleep.  Others are all too quick to blame Natalie for setting the fire, though Moose and his family don’t see her doing something like that.  Now Moose feels that he has to solve the mystery of the fire as well as protect his father as best he can, but there may be more mysteries along to solve, one that is even hinted at by a note from Capone himself!

I have loved this series from the first book.  The historical perspective of a family living on Alcatraz is tantalizing.  Yet it is Choldenko’s skill in creating characters who are immensely human and wonderfully heartfelt that makes this series so good.  Moose is a character who grows from one book to the next and within each book as well.  The growth is strong and believable.  The mystery here fits nicely in the historical setting and one finds out from the Author’s Note that the reason it is so credible is that Choldenko based much of it on real events of the time.

This series has been strong from the first book, never suffering from lagging in the middle book or from the final book trying to do too much.  Nicely, each book is individually satisfying as well, so they stand just as nicely on their own as they do in a trio.  However, I could never not find out what happened next to Moose and the other children on the island.

Satisfying and superbly written, this book is a great conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.

Barbara J. Robinson Dies

Barbara Robinson The Best Christmas Pageant Ever The Best School Year Ever

Barbara J. Robinson, author of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, has died at age 85 according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Author of 12 books for children, she had a wonderful ear for comedic timing, basing her books on the antics of the Herdman family. 

While continuing to write, Mrs. Robinson spent the latter part of her career visiting schools across the country, speaking to children and teachers about writing, and attending writers’ conferences.

"That was the favorite part, speaking with the children who were her readers," her daughter said. "She was delighted with their questions and comments, some of which were hilarious."