New UK Human Rights Book Prize

amnesty-logo

Amnesty International and CILIP will be working together to celebrate human rights in UK children’s books. The prize will be named the Amnesty CILIP Honour and will offer a medal to one book on the shortlist for the Carnegie Medal and one book on the shortlist for the Kate Greenaway picture book award.

The medal will begin in 2016 with the first award given in June of that year.

Amnesty International’s Nicky Parker, said: “Books have a unique ability to inspire empathy, broaden horizons and empower young readers. We hope this award will make it easy to identify books which will teach children about truth, freedom and justice and encourage them to feel they can shape a better world.”

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:

William Nicholson:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Children Want Factual Stories, Versus Fantasy, More Often Than Adults http://buff.ly/1Gmicfp #kidlit

Children’s author Cressida Cowell scoops philosophers’ award for fight against stupidity – http://buff.ly/1MH0obT #kidlit

The Deep, Dark Secret Of R.L. Stine: ‘I Never Planned To Be Scary’ http://buff.ly/1KjNyhS #kidlit

An Interview with the Director of the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” Documentary – http://buff.ly/1NUvZwM #kidlit

Shannon Hale and Dean Hale to Collaborate on a Captain Marvel Book – http://buff.ly/1Lmvmbv #kidlit

Top 10 books about adoption – chosen by adopted children – http://buff.ly/1W7ajwn #kidlit

The urgent need for diverse children’s books – http://buff.ly/1M27TzS #kidlit #weneeddiversebooks

Cath and I were indeed two peas in a pod.:

TEEN READS

Get to Know the 5 Finalists for the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature | Brightly http://buff.ly/1LoTLLk #yalit

Meg Rosoff Is Wrong: Diversity in Publishing Is Important and Marlon James Proves It – http://buff.ly/1Lowh91 #kidlit

Review: Ninja Baby by David Zeltser

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, illustrated by Diane Goode

Released November 3, 2015

Right when she was born, Nina was a ninja baby. The doctor slapped her bottom to make sure she was breathing and Nina knocked him over with a ninja kick. Nina was immediately independent, working on her ninja skills even when taking a bath or having her diaper changed. But then everything changes when her parents bring home a new baby, a Kung Fu Master. He approaches everything differently, steadily taking over her parents’ attention and time, pulling them all under his power, and doing it all with a cute gurgle. There’s a lot a ninja can learn from a kung fu master and a lot a kung fu master can learn about stealth and attacks. Soon the children are working together to build their skills, so their parents had better watch out!

Zeltser embraces his ninja-themed picture book and doesn’t slow down. The ninja theme carries through the entire book, with baby Nina escaping her crib and doing sneak attacks. The humor of the book is dynamic and clever, offering a bright mix of ninja references and normal childhood experiences. But make no mistake, Nina is a true ninja, just as her little brother is a true kung fu master. It is this additional element that makes the book really work. Nina is stealthy and fast while her little brother takes on a completely different type of martial arts energy. The combination is pure delight, especially as they begin to learn from one another.

The illustrations by Goode are wry and cheery. They have a loose line about them that makes them very friendly. The images tell the complete story, making sure that readers know that Nina really is a little ninja and that she is truly gifted at stealth. The blissful new brother is also wonderfully depicted as a contrast to Nina.

A unique take on a new sibling book, this one will sneak up and steal your heart. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books

Vera B. Williams Dies

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The New York Times has the news of the death of Vera B. Williams at age 88. Willams started her career in children’s books late in life in her late 40s. She received a Caldecott Honor for A Chair for My Mother, one of my all-time favorite picture books. Williams has illustrated other books that have become instant classics such as More More More Said the Baby which also received a Caldecott Honor.

Her art is exuberant, colorful and filled with joy. She illustrated books in a naturally diverse way, incorporating children of all colors and making her books shine even more.

Review: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (InfoSoup)

Jackson knows that it’s all about to happen again. His family is having a garage sale for a lot of their stuff, allowing Jackson and his little sister to just pick one bag of items to keep. There just isn’t enough money for rent and Jackson feels hungry a lot of the time. His father doesn’t want to ask for assistance, preferring to find a way through on their own. When Jackson was younger, the family had lived in their minivan for awhile and now Jackson sees the same signs as before. When they lived in their car, Jackson met his imaginary friend, Crenshaw. Now even though Jackson is older, Crenshaw is back and bigger than ever. Crenshaw is a huge cat with a deep purr, who tells Jackson that he is there to help and encourages Jackson to just tell the truth. As Jackson’s world gets more complicated though, how in the world can an imaginary friend make a difference?

This is Applegate’s first novel for children since winning the Newbery Medal for The One and Only Ivan. Applegate imbues this new book with a shining magic of imagination. She keeps the wonder of Crenshaw real on many levels, not only for Jackson himself but also creating moments where readers will know that Crenshaw is much more than imaginary. This luminous touch keeps the entire book dazzling for readers.

It is even more important given the issues that the book explores. Family poverty and homelessness are critical in our world today and so few books tell that story from the point of view of a child experiencing it. Applegate keeps the story real here, focusing on the impact of being hungry, on the fear that being homeless generates in a child. She also makes Jackson a real hero. A child facing immense problems who, with the help of his imaginary friend, manages to tell his parents what this kind of life does to him. It is powerful, heart wrenching and true.

An important book that mixes an imaginary friend with the harsh reality of homelessness, this is a top pick for young readers. Appropriate for ages 7-11.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel & Friends.

Review: Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin

Robo Sauce by Adam Rubin

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (InfoSoup)

Everyone knows how cool playing robots is! Except sometimes your family doesn’t think it’s quite as cool as you do. So what if someone offered you a magic and scientific potion that would let you play robot in a new way? Would you make it? Well, the boy in the book does and turns into a giant robot. But even then, none of the humans want to play with him. But the boy has a solution, more sauce! Very quickly, the story goes out of control as robo-sauce makes its way through the entire book, transforming everyone into robots. Readers can even change the book itself into a robot theme.

The collaborators of Dragons Love Tacos return with this striking robot-themed picture book. Rubin has created an adult narrator who sets things into motion by providing the robo-sauce recipe. The book feels traditional and readers will be fooled into thinking that the boy will soon realize that he doesn’t want to be a robot but a real boy. Happily, the book takes an unexpected twist and becomes something altogether different. The narrator is along to voice their objections to the changes, making it all the more delightful.

The art by Salmieri is done in subtle colors except for the robot lights and sauce which are a vivid neon orange. They are friendly and cartoon-like, filling the book with a sense of merriment. Even the transformation into a robot is a grand adventure filled with wild noises. When the book transforms into a robot book, the pages have already been doused in neon sauce and the pages have a completely different feeling about them. Very cleverly designed, this picture book embraces transformation at a whole new level.

A great read-aloud, this robot picture book will transform your story time! Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

Review: Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)

If you are lonely, you can’t just wish a friend to life. Or can you? Perhaps with a zing of electricity, some luck or even magic, you can! And it will be an imaginary friend like Fred. Fred worked hard to be the best imaginary friend a kid could have. But each time it ended the same way. The child made a real friend and Fred faded away. When Fred arrived in Sam’s life, Fred had never been happier. The two of them loved the same things like reading, figuring out how the toilet worked and listening to music. But then Sam made a new friend. Fred sat Sam down and explained that in a few days, Fred would disappear and move on and that it was not Sam’s fault. But Sam would not accept that and after making a scene showed Fred a solution that he’d never even considered possible.

Colfer’s text is pure bliss to read. While the book is wordier than many picture books, it maintains a balance that works very well. The text streams along, telling the story in a way that is robust and satisfying. It doesn’t slow the book, instead offering more detail and understanding of Fred and Sam, their dynamic together and how special it is.

As always, Jeffers’ art is very special. Fred is blue and made up of dots while the “real world” is drawn in lines. That makes Fred more colorful than the other characters and it also allows him to really fade away. The result is a shimmering combination of delicacy and graphic strength.

A winning collaboration between two masters, this book embraces imaginary friends for life. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Tory Cummings

Released October 27, 2015

A new take on Little Red Riding Hood, this picture book fills the storybook forest with snow and takes readers on a twirling ride through several fairy tales. Little Red Gliding Hood loves to ice skate down the winding river to her grandmother’s house. She does it so often that her skates are wearing out. Then she discovers that the prize for the upcoming pairs skating competition is a new pair of skates. Now she just has to find the perfect partner. But many of the good skaters have already been taken. She asks her grandmother for ideas and her grandmother suggests her new neighbors who live in a brick house. When Little Red approaches the house, the Wolf shows up and chases her on the ice where they discover that they are both great skaters!

Lazar twists and turns the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale into a wintry wonder. She pays clear homage to the original, also making many nods to other fairy tales along the way like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Three Bears, and Humpty Dumpty. The entire book has a freshness to it, that makes for a lively read that is perfect both for children new to the story and for those familiar with the original.

The art by Cummings is filled with brisk winter colors of blues and whites. It is made cozy when Little Red visits her grandmother where they sit by the fire and the colors turn to oranges and reds. The art is playful and funny with lots of small touches, particularly when there are characters from lots of fairy tales in one place.

A terrific new take on a traditional tale, this picture book is a great pick for winter story times. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House.

Review: We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich

We Forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich

We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich (InfoSoup)

Phillip’s best friend is Brock, the problem is that no one else can see Brock except Phillip. The two of them spend all of their time together and Phillip’s parents are supportive, waiting for Brock to move his motorcycle out of the way, giving him imaginary seconds at dinner. One day, the family heads to the Big Fair where Brock wants to ride the Brain Shaker. Phillip and Brock ride a lot of rides together and eventually Phillips falls asleep. Brock though still wants to ride the Brain Shaker, so he is left behind at the fair. When Phillips wakes up in the car, he discovers that they have left Brock behind! Brock is discovered by a little girl who has her own friend, Princess Sparkle Dust. She invites Brock to come home with them. But Brock misses Phillip and Phillip continues to search for Brock. Good friends are hard to find!

Goodrich is the author of the Zorro series of picture books and brings the same humor and charm to this new book. The subject of imaginary friends has been a popular one recently. This picture book shows a child not ready to leave their imaginary friend behind yet, which makes it much less of an issue book and much more cheerful in general.

The illustrations clearly keep the imaginary from reality, with Brock and Princess Sparkle Dust done in child-like crayon drawings that have a single color and a white background. Meanwhile the other art is more sophisticated and colorful. This lets the imaginary characters pop against reality, somehow giving them even more presence rather than less.

A strong and warm book about imaginary friends and friendship in general. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.