Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (InfoSoup)
This picture book is a wonderful piece of word play. On each page, animals act out the version of their names as verbs. Quails quail in fear. Fish fish with lines and hooks trying to catch other fish. Bats swing bats at baseballs. Slugs wear boxing gloves and try to slug one another. The book goes on and on, each one funnier than the last. The book nicely offers the definition of the verb because some of them can be unusual for young readers. The book ends appropriately with kids kidding.
Park’s writing is simplicity itself, just the two words next to each other, noun and verb and then the definition of the verb. She also offers a chart of the words at the back of the book that explains the origins of both the nouns and verbs so young readers interested in language can explore the words more deeply.
The illustrations by Reinhardt are so important to this book, allowing young readers to immediately understand what is happening even in the more esoteric words. She makes them all work clearly and well, even quailing, craning and badgering. It’s a very impressive feat and one that makes this book full of appeal.
Grand wordplay, this book offers a fun look at word pairs. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (InfoSoup)
This is the third and final book in the Winner’s Trilogy. Arin is now fighting to keep his country from once again falling into the hands of the Valorians. He has a new alliance with the Dacran queen who has sent her brother to monitor the war and Arin. Arin is trying to convince himself that he doesn’t love Kestrel anymore after she rejected him so clearly. Kestrel is being sent to a work camp where no one knows who she is. She mines sulfur by day, her strength increased by a drug in the food and water. At night, another drug allows her to sleep without thinking of what she has lost. Even drugged though, Kestrel cannot help but try to escape. When news comes of Kestrel’s death from disease in a remote area, Arin refuses to believe it. Then he gets a whisper of her true circumstances and sets off to find her. But it may be far too late for them.
Rutkoski has managed to keep this romantic fantasy trilogy entirely engaging and powerful through the entire series. In this third book, readers will once again discover her skill in writing battles and fight scenes which do not scrimp on blood, sweat and emotions. She is also highly skilled in creating a world that feels real with the various kingdoms at war and two people caught between them.
And then there is the romance as well. Here readers who adore Arin and Kestrel get to watch them reconnect and rebuild what was stolen from them. It is a romance of timid and tender beginnings, false starts and sudden flares of passion. It is written with a delicacy that is beautiful, particularly against the backdrop of war, personal risk and sacrifice.
A glorious end to a remarkable fantasy romance trilogy, fans will need to know how the story ends. Now we can look forward to what is next from the talented author. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.