Review: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

blackbird fly

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Apple just doesn’t fit in. Her Filipino mother cooks food that no American kids eat. Plus she is so strict that Apple isn’t allowed to take any music classes at school because it might impact her other more important grades. Apple though desperately wants to learn to play the guitar. When they left the Philippines, she took just one picture and a tape of the Beatles that had belonged to her dead father. Apples does have friends, but once they discover that she is on the Dog Log, a list of the ugliest girls at school, they stop hanging around with her. Apple decides to start saving up for a guitar and as she does that she starts to make new friends, other kids that have been singled out as odd or different. But one misstep with a teacher’s wallet marks Apple as a thief and that is all it takes for her former friends to really turn against her. Apple has to figure out how being different can actually be a very good thing.

This tween novel has a strong mix of a multicultural main character combined with middle school popularity and racism. Kelly does not flinch away from the blatant racism that teenagers can engage in as well as the casual hate that they throw at each other, particularly kids who are different from them. Kelly’s writing has a friendly, straight-forward tone even as she deals with the drama of both middle school and a parent who is over protective. Using music as a language that bridges new friendships and new understandings works particularly well and serves as a backbone for the entire novel.

Apple is a character with lots going on in her life. She faces racism on a daily basis at school and in turn takes it out on her mother, turning her back on much of their Filipino culture. She is embarrassed by her mother and angry at her lack of support for Apple’s musical dreams. As Apple puts together a misguided plan to run away, readers will hope that she finds a way to live in the life that she already has, particularly because they will see how special she is long before Apple can realize it herself.

A great tween read, this book offer complexity and diversity in a story about individuality and friendship. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books.

Fancy Nancy – The TV Show

fancy nancy

The rights to Fancy Nancy has been acquired by Disney. Disney Junior plans an animated TV movie and then a series. They are expected to premiere in 2017.

From the article in Variety:

“This is definitely one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. When Robin and I met Nancy Kanter and her team, we knew instantly that Disney Junior was the plus-perfect home for ‘Fancy Nancy,’ ” said O’Connor.

Added Preiss Glasser: “After the thrill of seeing my two-dimensional drawings of Nancy and her ‘world’ come alive in spinoff musicals and ballets, the opportunity to see her animated by Disney is a dream I never would have dared to dream.”

Review: The Luck Uglies: Fork-Tongue Charmers by Paul Durham

fork tongue charmers

The Luck Uglies: Fork-Tongue Charmers by Paul Durham

This second book in the Luck Uglies series continues the rollicking story of Rye and her family and friends. With a new lawman in town, Rye and her family have been targeted as outlaws. It doesn’t help that Harmless, the High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies, is her father. When her mother’s shop is burned to the ground, they take refuge in the inn that belongs to one of Rye’s best friends family where lawlessness is already embraced. But that safety is breached as the soldiers march upon it and Rye and her family are sent across the sea to the safety of the Isle of Pest. It is where Rye’s mother and father first met and where her mother’s father still lives. But Pest will not be the safe haven that they are looking for as they are pursued there as well, putting the entire island in danger. It is up to Rye to figure out what exactly is going on and who the new lawman actually is.

Durham has written another great read for middle graders. He has a knack for creating stories that are fast-paced and wildly exciting. At the same time, his feel for world building is impeccable. Here he creates a new island world for readers to explore even as he continues the story of Drowning and its people. The new island has its own quirks and Durham builds it with such skill that they all make sense and feel natural.

Rye grows even further as a heroine in this second book. Her pluck, courage and grit show on every page. She is clearly the daughter of her parents, who people who don’t back down or ever cower, though they face enemies in different ways and styles. Rye’s relationships with people continue to be the heart of the story from her dear best friends to her budding relationship with her grandfather. It is these moments that add depth to the book.

A great second book in a marvelous series, I can’t wait to see what happens next and neither will young readers. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and HarperCollins.

The Children’s Choice Book Awards Voting Now Open

 

The finalists for the 8th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards have been announced and voting is now open. Children and teens across the country can now vote online for their favorites in seven categories. Last year over 1.2 million votes were cast!

Librarians and teachers can do a group vote for classes to allow them to participate as well. Winners will be announced during Children’s Book Week, May 4-10.

2015 Waterstone’s Book Prize Winners

The winners of the 2015 Waterstone’s Book Prize have been announced. This UK prize has three age groups and then an overall winner selected from those three. This year the overall winner was a debut book and also only the second picture book to take the overall prize.

OVERALL WINNER

Blown Away

Blown Away by Rob Biddulph

 

BEST TEEN BOOK

Half Bad (Half Bad, #1)

Half Bad by Sally Green

 

BEST YOUNG FICTION

Murder Most Unladylike (Wells and Wong, #1)

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Last Couple Weeks’ Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts in the last couple weeks that I think are cool:

Women's History Picture Books: Few things are as fascinating to a child as realizing that the amazing “character” and “story” she just read are true. Not only is it a great way for kids to learn about historical figures, both famous and obscure, but it’s tremendously inspiring to know that they, too, could grow up to change the world.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

. @EliotSchrefer recommends these picture books: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2015/03/15/childrens-books-misfits-yeti-and-the-bird/24451007/ …

We Need Diverse Books™ | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents http://buff.ly/1O06Xde #weneeddiversebooks #kidlit

EBOOKS

What We Got Wrong About Books http://buff.ly/1FogqHJ #ebooks #reading

Virginia Woolf, on secondhand books. Love.

LIBRARIES

HOW DO YOU DESIGN THE LIBRARY OF THE FUTURE? — Medium http://buff.ly/1EHrmyJ #libraries

Mobile Pop-Up Libraries: 12 Temporary & Traveling Book Lenders http://buff.ly/1ArMDs3 #libraries

Review: Wild! Board Books

wild bathtime wild bedtime

wild mealtime wild playtime

Wild! Bathtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Bedtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Mealtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Playtime by Courtney Dicmas

Romping animal babies and zany humor combine to make this series a great pick for toddlers and infants.

Bathtime shows all sorts of different animals taking baths, cleaning faces and other parts of the body. The humor comes at the end with a mother pig looking dejectedly at her sleeping piglets who are all clean while she is dirty.

Bedtime invites everyone to curl up to sleep but some of the little animals are not quite ready yet. Grabbing your teddy has a different meaning here as does turning out the light. Clever little touches make this one that you will read again and again.

Mealtime has animals acting very much like toddlers. They want more to eat, eat too quickly, and even try to hide their peas. Once again clever matching of animals to phrases makes for fun reading.

Playtime is the ultimate romp of a book, showing lots of wrestling and movement. And the parents are all in for the fun, mostly.

This series will be appreciated by children who love animals and also little ones who may need an excuse to slow down and read a bit. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.

Review: A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep

dragons guide to the care and feeding of humans

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder

The dragon Miss Drake has recently lost her beloved human pet, Fluffy. She is rather surprised and even irritated then when her pet’s great-niece, Winnie, shows up with a key to her lair. Winnie and her mother were given the home above Miss Drake’s and Fluffy, or Great-Aunt Amelia as she was known to Winnie left directions on how to find Miss Drake. Soon the pair are off having adventures together, though Miss Drake has plans to make Winnie far more docile and polite. After flying to a shop up in the clouds, Winnie gets a sketchbook that has a tingle of magic about it. She sets to a project of drawing each of the pretty magical creatures she has seen on their trip. But soon her drawings have come to life and left the pages of the book. Now it is up to Winnie and Miss Drake to work together to catch all of the creatures, even the one that threatens the entire city of San Francisco and the magical world.

Each chapter in this book features tips on how to best train your human pet. The entire book is filled with humor and whimsy and drenched in magic. The book is pure adventure of the fantasy sort. The world makes sense, a hidden world of magic right alongside our own, specifically in San Francisco. There are spells to keep normal people from seeing the magical ones and this book has that wonderful touch of Harry Potter where the magic is right in front of us. The writing here is playful and jolly, setting the tone of a grand adventure with plenty of danger, problems to solve, and one new best friend to discover.

Miss Drake is a grand character. Having a book with the dragon as the narrator adds to the fun of the story and also offers a unique perspective. It would have been a far different book told by Winnie, since the humor of Miss Drake is not always apparent on the surface. Winnie too is a great protagonist. She doesn’t shy away from Miss Drake even when she is rude or shows her huge teeth. She stand up to her and it looks like at the end she is going to be a very different sort of pet than Miss Drake has ever had before.

Magic and humor come together in this warm and wonderful fantasy that looks to be the first in a new series. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Crown Books for Young Readers.

Review: Good Night, Knight by Betsy Lewin

good night knight

Good Night, Knight by Betsy Lewin

When Horse and Knight are falling asleep, Knight has a dream about golden cookies. So he wakes up Horse and sets off on a quest to find the golden cookies. They search everywhere, in hollow tree trunks and under water and in the bushes, riding from one place to the next at a brisk trot. It isn’t until they return home and Knight has collapsed from exhaustion that Knight realizes that the cookies were right in their castle all along. The two have a golden cookie feast and then go to bed, but it’s not long before Horse has a golden dream of his own!

Written for emerging readers, this picture book is written with a limited vocabulary and words that repeat on the page and from one section of the story to another. The picture book format will invite reluctant readers to give reading a try. Lewin also wisely incorporates plenty of humor and galloping around, giving the reader reasons to turn the page to see what will happen next. It’s a good mix of action and silliness.

Lewin’s illustrations break the text into nice readable chunks appropriate for beginning readers. Plenty of attention is paid to the illustrations, offering humor beyond the text itself. For example, Knight never removes his armor, even to sleep! The art is simple, funny and inviting.

Head out on a quest with your beginning reader and this simple picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.