Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (InfoSoup)
Dude comes to the window to let Bro know “Surf’s up!” But Bro is busy reading his book. Dude is shocked that Bro would prefer reading to heading to the beach. Bro comes along, still reading his book as they walk along. As they walk, he tells Dude about Moby Dick’s story and then reacts with gasps and amazement as the story continues. Bro finishes the book as they reach the beach and suddenly it is Dude who wants to read more than he wants to surf.
Told in a merry back and forth between the two frogs, this picture book is entirely in dialogue. The dialogue is wonderfully effortless, reading just like any two real people shooting the breeze, lightly teasing one another, and then enjoying the drama of a tale well told. There is a breeziness and hipness to the book as well that will appeal to modern children looking for a cool read.
Miyares’ illustrations are double-spread and cover the entire page. The world he creates wraps around the reader, much the way the story of Moby Dick encompasses both of the frogs. The drama of the story is told in a deep blue and gray palette while the frogs’ world is lighter. When both frogs are caught up in the whale tale together, that story entirely takes over the page and the frogs become characters in the book.
A dynamite and fresh book to show that everyone can get into a good book, even when the surf’s up. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (InfoSoup)
This book is about the National Memorial African Bookstore and how it became a center for black culture in the 1960s. Told from the point of view of the son of Lewis Michaux, the owner of the store, this book looks at the figures like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali who come to the store. It is also the story of how Michaux fought to have a store, selling books out of a pushcart at first and being denied a business loan from banks. Michaux was known for his slogans which he shouted on the street, told to his son and painted on the front of his store. The book continues through the assassination of Malcolm X. Readers must look to the note at the end to discover what happened to the store.
This nonfiction picture book speaks to the power of bookstores to inform and to keep a culture strong. One man’s vision comes to life thanks to his own determination and also the way that it spoke to others. The choice location near the Apollo Theater also helped get African-American celebrities to come to the store. The choice to have the story told from a child’s point of view was what makes this book appropriate and understandable for children.
The illustrations by Christie are filled with deep color and thick paint. They directly show the effort and intensity of determination of running a book store like this one. Some pages light with oranges and yellows while others are darkened by death.
A powerful book about an important book store and the vital need for information and books as part of a movement. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.