2014 Hans Christian Andersen Book Award Winners

The author and illustrator winners of the Hans Christian Andersen Book Awards have been announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair



Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Moribito, #1) Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito, #2)

Nahoko Uehashi from Japan



O Gato Viriato: Um Vaso Louco O Gato Viriato: O Encontro 

Roger Mello from Brazil

Review: Dare the Wind by Tracey Fern

dare the wind

Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Ever since she was a little girl, Eleanor Prentiss dreamed of being at sea.  Her father had a trading schooner and though others thought he was a fool, he taught his young daughter how to steer it.  Most importantly though, he also taught her what few sailors and only some captains knew, how to navigate.  Ellen quickly learned how to navigate and started using her new skills on her father’s schooner every chance she got.  As she grew older, Ellen married a captain and served as his navigator.  Then the two of them acquired a clipper, The Flying Cloud.  It was a fast boat, one that could make them bonus money if they could make the trip from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn in the fastest time ever.  It would be down to the innate speed of the Flying Cloud and to the navigating skills of Eleanor.  Sea journeys are never simple, especially ones done at high speed through stormy waters.  Take an incredible ride with the amazing Eleanor Prentiss, who proved that women can be right at home at sea.

Fern writes with a dynamism that matches this heroine.  She has an exuberant quality to her writing and a tone that invites you along on a wild adventure.  At the same time, she makes sure that young readers understand how unusual Eleanor Prentiss was at the time with the way she was raised and the knowledge she built and life she led.  The book reads like fiction particularly on the journey itself where a series of misfortunes plague their maiden voyage.  Even without the race against time, the journey would be harrowing, add in that pressure and you have a nail-biting read.

McCully’s art ranges in this book.  She captures Ellen both on land and at sea, her body strong against the roll of the waves.  She also paints water with a love for its greens and blues and the depth of color.  The storms are violently dark, the harbors a shining blue, this is water in all of its glory.

I grew up in a house named after the ship Flying Cloud and am so pleased to read a picture book about the ship’s history and learn more about the woman who navigated her.  This is one dynamic and well-told biographical picture book.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.

Review: Cat Says Meow by Michael Arndt

cat says meow

Cat Says Meow by Michael Arndt

A fresh new take on animal noises in a picture book, this is a clever and artistic reinvention.  Blending animals with a typological representation of the animal and its noise, this book is pure font bliss.  The book offers 25 animals that pop against the white background. 

Simple in the extreme, this picture book explores the curves and zig zags of letters, turning them into tongues, feet, ears, whiskers and tails.  The words are sometimes obvious in the drawings but others take a bit more squinting and thinking to make out.  The art becomes a visual puzzle and makes the entire book a joy to explore and decrypt. 

Get this into the hands of art teachers and writing teachers who will adore the creativity that it displays and the way it engages on many levels.  Appropriate for ages 3-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Paper Towns–The Movie


For years I have wondered why John Green novels had not been made into movies.  And now here is news that a second one is on the way!  Deadline has announced that Paper Towns will be made into a movie by the same team that is making Fault in Our Stars. 

In fact, Nat Wolff, who is starring in Fault in Our Stars has signed on to star in Paper Towns.  Very interesting!

Review: The Story of Owen by E. K. Johnston

story of owen

The Story of Owen by E. K. Johnston

When the world saw Lottie Thorskard fall from a girder, everyone wondered what she would do next.  No one expected her to move to the tiny town of Trondheim and start slaying dragons there with her wife, her brother and his son.  But that is how Owen started attending the same school as Siobhan.  Siobhan is not a popular student, but she gets good grades and loves to play and write music.  None of this should have made her even noticeable by Owen, whom everyone wanted to know better.  Somehow though Siobhan with her biting wit gets invited over to Owen’s home for dinner and Owen’s family including the famous Lottie have a plan that involves Siobhan.  They want her to be Owen’s bard.  Which will involve being nearby when they fight dragons.  So Siobhan must train to defend herself with a sword, learn more about different types of dragons, and she becomes an important piece of Owen’s story herself.

This is one of those books that surprises right from the beginning.  Somehow I didn’t realize that this is a modern-day dragon tale set in Canada.  In this book, the world has always had dragons and they form the heart of literature and song going back into history.  Johnston takes the time to rewrite the lives of famous people for the reader, building her world so successfully that it all makes perfect sense that dragons are here and have always been. 

The juxtaposition between the two main characters is brilliantly done.  But perhaps the very best part is that this is not a romance.  Yes, a male and female main character but no sparks, no kissing, no sex.  Instead they are busy trying to save their community together.  Siobhan and Owen are both vibrant and intelligent.  They have the sort of brilliant dialogue that one would expect from a John Green book.  Except they do it while fighting dragons!  Amazing.

A completely incredible debut book, this takes fantasy and turns it on its head with a thoroughly modern take on battling dragons and extraordinarily deep world building.  This is one of the best and most unique fantasy novels I’ve read in years.

Reviewed from digital galley received from NetGalley and Carolrhoda Books.

2014 Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Finalists

The finalists have been announced for the 2014 Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards.  Booksellers across the country will vote on their picks and choose the winners.  Here are the finalists in the children’s and YA categories:


Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) Eleanor & Park

Dark Triumph, by Robin LaFevers

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater

Eleanor & Park: A Novel, by Rainbow Rowell

More Than This Rose Under Fire The Summer Prince

More Than This, by Patrick Ness

Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson



Counting by 7s Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

Counting By 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail, by Richard Peck, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy Rooftoppers The Year of Billy Miller

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee

Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Terry Fan

The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes



Crankenstein The Day the Crayons Quit

Crankenstein, by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat

The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey, by Emily Winfield Martin

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great Warning: Do Not Open This Book!

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, by Bob Shea

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, Matthew Forsythe

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

half bad

Half Bad by Sally Green

I always approach fantasies that are supposed to be the “Next Big Thing” with a lot of caution.  But this one is a wonderful surprise.  Nathan lives in a cage outside of the house where the woman paid to keep him lives.  He is let out of his shackles at dawn, forced to run for miles, train in combat, and kept close to home by wristbands filled with acid that will detonate if he goes too far.  Nathan is a witch.  But that is not why he is in a cage.  He is in a cage because he is a mix of white witch and black witch and worse, he is the son of the most notorious black witch of all time.  The white witches who keep Nathan imprisoned are training him to kill his father.  Through a series of flashbacks, Nathan’s childhood and the abuse he suffers from the white witches is exposed.  The question quickly becomes who the bad guys really are and how Nathan can survive in a world where no one trusts half of him.

Set in an alternative England where witches are real and in a constant battle for power, Nathan is trapped not just in a cage but also in between the two powerful factions.  The writing here is wonderfully clean and clear, even when it turns to violence which it does often.  Thanks to the quality of the writing, the moral questions shine on the page, clearly linking this witch world to the various moral questions at play in our own world.  Yet this does not become overbearing at all, since the world is compellingly built.

The characters are also well done.  While the “white” and “black” labels designate the factions, the question of good and evil goes much deeper.  Nathan is an exceptional protagonist.  He is complex and both in his character and the world, nothing is simple.  As he learns the truth about his parents, his family and himself, his reactions are honest, violent and superbly done.

This book is worthy of all of the fanfare it has received, but the reason to read it is to enter the violent world of witches where everyone is at least half bad.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

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


Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 Edition – The Horn Book http://buff.ly/1dgL62p #kidlit

Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Spring Prediction Edition — @fuseeight A Fuse #8 Production http://buff.ly/1guh0mo #kidlit

Stacked: Girls Kicking Ass With Their Brains: Guest Post by Sarah Stevenson http://buff.ly/1gxGf7B #kidlit

Your Kids Love ‘Cosmos.’ Keep Them Interested in Science With These Books. – Tablet Magazine http://buff.ly/1daAOAM #kidlit


Judge Rules for HarperCollins in Open Road E-Book Dispute http://buff.ly/1gPVsRW #ebooks

People Who Use E-Readers Dive Far Deeper Into Books | Underwire http://buff.ly/1l3Zi1c #ebooks

Makerspaces in Libraries | Education | Learnist - Scroll through for some interesting articles on makerspaces


Libraries designed without old-fashioned books, for new-fashioned readers http://buff.ly/1daBpCG #libraries

Who Says Libraries Are Going Extinct? – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society http://buff.ly/1l7JBWG #libraries


Darren Shan: "I wanted to write about racism in the UK – zombies seemed like a good way to do that." http://buff.ly/1gy5ZAB #yalit

DIVERGENT: Early Reviews Not Promising » EarlyWord – http://buff.ly/1gyahIe #yalit

Is The "Young Adult" Boom Dwindling In Books As Well As Movies? http://buff.ly/1gPWtcZ #yalit

LGBTQ-Friendly YA Novels Get Award Nods, But Are They Getting a Crossover Audience? | Bustle http://buff.ly/1gQ0Y7p #yalit

The Maze Runner unveils first teaser poster – Movies News – Digital Spy http://buff.ly/1gy5C9j #yalit

Nancy Pearl Interviews: Laurie Halse Anderson » EarlyWord http://buff.ly/1d6MGnk #yalit

‘Rango’ Scribe To Pen Paramount’s Miley Cyrus Project ‘Wake’ http://buff.ly/1daB1UC #yalit

Toxic Relationships in Teen TV and YA Novels – Flavorwire http://buff.ly/1l42v0J #yalit

‘Uglies’ Author Westerfeld Shines a Light on the Publishing Industry for Next YA Novel http://buff.ly/1eBygqd #yalit

The Giver – The Movie Trailer

Here is the first trailer for the star-studded movie version of the book by Lois Lowry.

Anyone else disappointed not to see black and white in the beginning?  Also, it’s a lot more firmly science fiction than I had imagined.