The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Jess Golden (InfoSoup)
This picture book puts an Eastern Indian twist on The Wheels on the Bus rhyme. Here it’s the tuk tuk taxi’s wheels that go round and round instead. The picture book captures the hustle and bustle of a city in India with people getting on and off the tuk tuk, rupees going ching ching as payments are made, and people having to squish in together.The tuk tuk stops for cows in the road and also for a drink of chai for the driver. There are spraying elephants and then the trip ends with Diwali fireworks in the sky. It’s a merry and dynamic ride that pays homage to the original while being uniquely its own story.
It is the energy of this book that makes it so much fun. The setting is captured in small moments that make sure that readers know that they are somewhere specific and exceptional. The rhyme retains its dynamic pace with the tuk tuk filling with passengers of all ages as the book moves along the streets of India.
The illustrations in the book are bright and cheery. They show busy streets with monkeys, cows, goats and more. Good food appears like steaming chai and poppadoms and then is happily shared with one another.
A superb look at another culture through a familiar preschool rhyme, this picture book invites readers along for a ride of a different sort. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
The House that Zack Built by Alison Murray (InfoSoup)
Zack built a house out of blocks outside under a tree. A fly buzzed by, the cat stalked the fly, then got more interested in the cream up high on a shelf. The dog was asleep when down fell the cream, knocked over by the cat who was still looking to catch that fly. The lambs in the field are calm and quiet, then the dog runs through still covered in cream and the sheep dash out of the field. Then Zack looks around, amazed at the mess of the farm. He jumped into action and set it all right. Then they all sat quietly and looked at the incredible house that Zack had built.
This British import is a cumulative tale that doesn’t solely stick to the traditional structure of building and building onto the length of the sentence with each new addition. Instead here it is the story itself that is the focus and the cumulative structure is used when it works and then merrily abandoned to make the storyline work better and to also make the book much more enjoyable to read. The result is a cumulative tale that will not leave you breathless or with a spinning head when shared aloud.
Murray’s art is simple and friendly. The illustrations will work well for a crowd since they are not filled with small details. Children will enjoy the cat in particular as it causes almost all of the problems that emerge.
There is a real satisfaction in this story of watching chaos happen and then having it set to rights. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
After the Woods by Kim Savage (InfoSoup)
Julia can’t remember what happening in the woods except in brief flashbacks. She knows that she saved her best friend from an attacker and then was taken by the man for 48 hours. A year later, Julia is still trying to understand what happened to her in the woods. Liv, her best friend, is urging her to forget and move on. Then a girl’s body is found in the same woods, triggering more memories that Julia had suppressed. Liv too is caught up in what happened, seemingly intent on her own destruction by dating a dangerous boy and participating in other risky behavior. As Julia starts to recreate what really happening in the woods, the incredible truth will lead to understanding what makes someone a hero.
Savage’s writing is dark and gorgeous. Early in the novel as the two friends enter the forest, the writing shows the danger coming:
Despite the desolation – no one runs at four p.m. in November after weeks of rain – the woods pulse. The canopy shatters fast-dropping light into glittering shards. A chipmunk skitters close to my foot and ducks into a hole.
Throughout the novel, Savage offers clues of what happened in her language. It’s a wrenching combination of what Julia is discovering herself and also allowing the reader to see a bit farther ahead towards the conclusion without revealing all quite yet. The tempting and seductive mixture makes this book an especially great read.
Julia is a jagged character, covered in the pain of what happened to her, striking out at those who protected her, reaching out to those who wronged her. At the same time, she is very bright, looking at the world and this mystery as something that logic can solve. And she is funny and sarcastic too. She’s a survivor, a hero and everything that that complexity brings is shown on the page.
A brilliant novel for teens about heroism, survival and what bravery it takes to keep on going. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Edelweiss.
Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:
28 Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month
The 2015 Cybils WINNERS!
Celebrating 40 Years of ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’
92% of college students prefer print books to e-books, study finds
Majority of parents worried about children’s digital reading, survey finds
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colón (InfoSoup)
This picture book biography tells the story of Marie Tharp, a scientist who was the first to map the ocean floor. The daughter of a mapmaker, Marie grew up following her father into the field as he created his maps. In the 1940s, Marie became a scientist and looked for a place to focus her attention where she could have a new idea. Scientists were just starting to measure the ocean depths using soundings, using echoes to assess depth. Marie worked to piece all of these measurements together into a map of the ocean floor, revealing mountain ranges under water and helping prove the theory of plate tectonics as she revealed a deep narrow valley running the length of the Atlantic Ocean. Marie Tharp is one of the 20th centuries most important scientists thanks to her discoveries as she mapped the ocean floors of our planet.
Burleigh has once again captured a female scientist and the importance of her role in science and in breaking barriers. The understated drama here is nicely handled, the defensiveness of some male scientists, the way that women were not welcome on boats, and the quiet way that Tharp worked to make her own unique impact on science. As readers see the importance of perseverance in scientific discovers and the importance of resilience in the face of resistance, they will understand that these apply to their own lives as well.
Working once again with Burleigh, Colón shows in images the vital importance that mapping the ocean floor had in understanding our planet and the way that it functions. The mapping of the ocean floor offers great images from the large maps to the underwater scenes that invite readers to think about what lies unseen under the ocean.
A dynamite pick for public and school libraries, this is an opportunity to learn about an important female scientist. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (InfoSoup)
When Daniel discovers that there will be Poetry in the Park on Sunday, he begins to wonder what poetry is. The friends he has made in nature help him start to understand it. Spider says that poetry is “morning dew when it glistens.” For Squirrel, it is “when crisp leaves crunch.” Frog sees it as “a cool pool to dive into.” Owl has many ideas about stars, moonlight and her own silent wings. As Daniel listens to all of the creatures, he realizes that he has created a poem, one that lets him see poetry everywhere just as they do.
Archer’s look at poetry is delightful. She shows poetry connected to each creature’s life, each animal having its own unique way of viewing the world and then turning it into something poetic and special. Young readers will understand poetry just as Daniel does, piece by piece, symbol by symbol in an organic and natural way. While Daniel’s poetry at the end is lovely, I really enjoyed that the book had one final moment where Daniel finds his own personal piece of poetry.
Archer’s illustrations are exceptional. Using a layered technique that involves paint, hand-made block prints, and collage, the illustrations are rich and detailed. They have deep colors that sing on the page and a complexity in texture that is particularly pleasing.
A lush and striking book about poetry and its power in everyone’s life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from ARC received from Nancy Paulsen Books.
Where My Feet Go by Birgitta Sif
Follow the activities of a young panda and his feet as he goes through his day. First, in the morning his feet go into yellow boots and head outside. He pretends he is walking through a jungle (actually a garden), climbing a high mountain, splashing in the ocean, and crossing a dangerous bridge. In the afternoon, his feet help feed the dinosaurs (birds), swing high in the sky, and cross a sandy desert. At night, his feet explore underwater in his bath and shoot into the sky like the stars as he listens to a bedtime story. Where do your feet go?
This picture book is told by the little panda in first person, aiding in the use of imagination throughout the book. Children will recognize their own daydreams and moments of pretend as the panda goes through his day. The book is simple and playful, inviting children to see what their own feet are up to that day.
The illustrations are hand-drawn with pencil and then digitally colored. They are filled with bright colors like the yellow boots. At the same time, they are subtle too with some parts that read as watercolors particularly in the sky. Filled with shadows to add depth, the entire book has a very unique feel.
Something special is afoot with this picture book that is sure to give children some kicks. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.
Giant Days Volume 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar (InfoSoup)
Susan, Esther and Daisy are new friends having just met a few weeks ago at the start of university. The three could not be more different from one another. Daisy is innocent and naive, just beginning to explore her sexuality. Esther, on the other hand, is part goth and brings drama wherever she goes. Meanwhile, Susan has to deal with a man from her past suddenly appearing on campus. The three friends have lots to face, including illness, a list of the hottest new coeds, and the pressures of their courses too. It will take the three of them supporting one another to get through it all.
This graphic novel is the first four issues of the comic book. This is a colorful and glorious look at the first weeks of college, the friendships that are made, and the way that these friends are some of the most unique and special of your life. The three lead characters all have a lot of depth, surprising readers as they grow as one gets to know them better.
The entire series so far embraces important and timely issues like slut shaming, sexuality, open mindedness, and feminism. But beyond that, this is a book that is about real women, making real choices both good and bad, and learning to live after high school. Beautiful.
Perfect for fans of Lumberjanes, this graphic novel embraces girl power and LGBT issues too. Appropriate for ages 16-18.
Reviewed from library copy.
Children’s Book Council and the National Council for the Social Studies have announced the 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People List. The list focuses on books for K-12 that were published in the previous year.
The books “emphasize human relations, represent a diversity of groups and are sensitive to a broad range of cultural experiences, present an original theme or a fresh slant on a traditional topic, are easily readable and of high literary quality, and have a pleasing format and, when appropriate, illustrations that enrich the text.”