Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh

Bread Pig_Case

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota (InfoSoup)

What do you do when you lose your job and your apartment on the same day? Well, if you have a friend with a storage unit, you move in there! Penny lands a job with her friend’s family too at their laundromat working for a 12-year-old manager. As Penny figures out the tricks to living in a storage unit, she also meets a boy who works at the community center. At first she tries to trade him a date to be allowed to shower there, but their connection grows. Still, there are problems with living in a storage unit like heat, kids trying to break in, and more. Perhaps it will take a villain and his henchmen to battle to change Penny’s luck. Or not.

I loved this playful graphic novel that will work for both teens and adults. Penny is clearly out of high school but also in that bizarre interim before becoming a “real” adult. She is entirely lovable in her own unique way with a tattoo she hates, plenty to worry about and very few plans for the future. Still, she manages to take care of herself, keep a job, flirt a little, and fall in love.

I particularly enjoyed the way that the book would suddenly have battle scenes. The majority of the book is a slice-of-life from Penny’s world. It is filled with small moments that are charming and lovely. Still, there is real humor here such as the scores above characters’ heads as they drink in a bar. The fighting too brings this graphic novel to a different and unexpected place where it pays homage to plenty of hero comic tropes.

Funny and smart, this graphic novel will be appreciated by older teens and adults, some looking forward to life beyond high school and some looking back to when they weren’t adults either. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

 

The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by  Matthew Cordell (InfoSoup)

This picture book begins with the reminder that the sky is always above you, no matter what. A little rabbit with a long scarf makes his way along an adventure with a wise narrator explaining that there are wonderful things alive in this world. There is magic where you least expect it. There is adventure if you leave the mapped roads. It is OK to both hum and cry. It’s important to trust yourself. The little rabbit gains skills on his adventure and lots of confidence too. In the end, the book returns again to the permanence of the sky above us and its beauty.

This book is completely encouraging, explaining to youth exactly what it takes to live a life filled with bravery and authenticity. In many ways it would make a great graduation gift as teens set off into the world. Yet it still works well as a picture book for younger children where the large concepts inside can be discussed and their importance reinforced in conversations. It’s a book that celebrates the individual and their personal journey through life, one that asks us all to follow our own roads and live as we were meant to live.

Cordell’s illustrations are lovely. Their fluid lines and deep colors reinforce both the necessary fluidity of life and our journey and then also the beauty of the world around us if we take time to see it. His little rabbit is entirely engaging, making sure that the book stays relevant to younger children.

An inspirational read that is all about living your personal life and following your own path, this picture book is just right for young and old. Appropriate for ages 4 and older.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (InfoSoup)

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his father who is known as Big Thunder. But Thunder Boy wants a more normal name, like Sam which is what his mother wanted to name him. People call him Little Thunder, which sounds “like a burp or a fart.” Thunder Boy hates his name and wants one that is all his own. He thinks of other names that would be more cool and would speak to what he has done in life. He doesn’t know how to tell his father that he wants a different name, but his father may understand a lot more than Thunder Boy thinks.

Amazing, amazing, amazing. Alexie proves here that he can write for children with a voice that is clear and resonant. He writes almost like a poem, one that dances and moves. There is not a classic structure to the book, which makes it a treat to read. One isn’t quite sure where it is going to head next. There is the whimsical part there Thunder Boy is thinking of new names that shows again and again the actual power of his real name. Then his father steps in, showing his son that he understands him and builds upon the name he has been given. It is a book that takes you on a journey and by the end ties it all together.

Morales’ illustrations are luminous. She captures the emotions clearly with characters who pop against calm patterned backgrounds. The characters shine with an internal light that is very compelling. On every page, parenting with warmth and love is shown, just like it is in the story itself.

A powerful and beautiful picture book that respects modern American Indian culture and families. This book belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (InfoSoup)

Faith appears to be a very somber and dutiful daughter to her father who is a clergyman and a natural history scholar. When their family is forced to leave Kent for a small island, Faith discovers that her father’s entire body of work has been discovered to be based on lies and that their family is disgraced. Faith desperately wants to be seen as more than a burden to her father, so she helps him move a valuable specimen to a secret sea cave reached by boat. Soon afterwards, her father dies and people suspect it was suicide. Only Faith thinks that it could have been murder and may have something to do with the tree they moved to the cave. It’s a tree that only bears fruit when a lie is whispered to it and grows in strength as the lie grows too. Now Faith is the only one who knows where the tree is and that may be enough to have her become a target too.

Hardinge’s writing is breathtaking. She uses unique and unusual metaphors that are compelling and vivid, further building her world of lies, distrust and isolation. At times the writing is so beautiful that it stops the reader so that it can be reread again. At other times, the pace rockets forward, the reader clinging on and whooping along. Hardinge has created in the tree itself a beautiful metaphor for lies, the fruit they create and the power they can bring.

Throughout the strictness of Victorian society is at play, creating a world of rules that must not be altered or broken. In that world is Faith who must figure out how to solve a murder that only she believes has happened in a society where she is to be quiet and docile lest her reputation be forever ruined. As the book continues, readers will be carefully shown their own sexism about female characters to great effect. This is feminist writing at its finest.

Stunning writing, a compelling young heroine and a world filled with rules and lies, this is one amazing read that mixes fantasy, historical fiction and a big dash of horror. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

 

2016 Indie Book Awards

 

The winners and finalists for the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards have been announced. Here are the winners for the juvenile categories. The full list of finalists can be found here.

CHILDREN’S FICTION WINNER

The Alien Logs of Super Jewels

The Alien Logs of Super Jewels by BK Bradshaw

CHILDREN’S NONFICTION WINNER

Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston

Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston by Denise D. Price

CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK WINNER (TIE)

A Home for Kayla Honouring the Buffalo: A Plains Cree Legend

A Home for Kayla by Kim English, illustrated by Yis Vang

Honouring the Buffalo by Judith Silverthorne and Ray Lavallee, illustrated by Mike Keepness

YOUNG ADULT WINNER

Immurement (The Undergrounders, #1)

Immurement: The Undergrounders by Norma Hinkens

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:

The Art Of Animation, Imaginism ✤ || CHARACTER DESIGN REFERENCES | キャラクターデザイン • Find more at https://www.facebook.com/CharacterDesignReferences:

CHILDREN’S  BOOKS

20 children’s books for mini-feminists

“Books on Film: Morris Micklewhite’s Controversy”

Ignite her curiosity with these books starring science-loving Mighty Girls!

Lane Smith explains the origins of his darkly funny picture books

Michael Rosen’s greatest quotes to mark his 70th birthday!

Middle Grade Books Take on Mature Topics

My Brother is a Superhero wins best children’s book award

Revered children’s illustrator told to ‘change stereotypical images’

Through The Looking Glass: How Children’s Books Have Grown Up – NPR

Why every parent should read to their kids

Reading:

LIBRARIES

“Knowledge Is Power: Serving Gender Diverse Youth in the Library”

“North Carolina Librarians, Library Associations React to HB2 [Library Journal]”

Ah, the good old days, when we ignored each other with books instead of smartphones.:

TEEN READS

“10 New YA Books to Read This Summer”

Kentucky Parent Warns of ‘Filth’ in Looking for Alaska via

Why we shouldn’t protect teenagers from controversial issues in fiction

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana, illustrated by Francisco Javier Olea (InfoSoup)

Maia and Nico are best friends. They love playing together. But then one day, Nico’s family announce that they are moving across the world. When Nico leaves, Maia is left with an empty feeling inside. The emptiness gets bigger and bigger, not allowing her to play with other kids. But things get better as time passes. Maia finds a kitten, learns to play the piano, and makes a new friend at school. Soon it is time for Nico to return. At first, Maia is scared that things will be different, but soon she discovers that Nico once again fills the emptiness for her.

This story told from the point of view of the person left behind when someone moves away is a nice change of perspective from most picture books about moving. Originally published in Mexico, this picture book captures the progress of emotions that come from losing a close friend. The empty feeling is beautifully portrayed in the story and then the gentle change to meeting new people and finding new hobbies is shown with delicacy.

Olea’s illustrations are striking. I particularly appreciate the way he incorporates the empty feeling visually on the page, shadows cast by other objects but that also speak to the emotions that Maia is feeling right then. Characters in the book have skin of wildly different colors that show various but indistinct races. The result is a book of shadows, light and rich color.

A lovely book on moving and grief, this picture book is one worth sharing. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Kids Can Press and Edelweiss.

 

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen

The Not So Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher (InfoSoup)

Theo’s grandfather, Poppa, had traveled all over the world. He has a big trunk packed with items from his travels. Now it is Poppa’s birthday and Theo wants to give him the perfect gift. She realizes that it would be wonderful to go on an adventure together. When he speaks of traveling to the ocean once, Theo decides that they will head to the beach and eat at a restaurant. They create a map of their plans together and the next day their board a bus. Soon they reach the beach and the water which they pretend is the ocean. It’s a beach where Poppa came as a little boy. The two spend time on the beach, eat gazpacho and then head home on the bus. Now Theo has items to add to the trunk that are from their adventure together.

A dynamic picture book, this book demonstrates that adventures can be right in our own cities and need not take much time, money or effort. It is also a beautiful look at a granddaughter spending time with her Poppa and a grandfather who has more than enough energy to keep up with her. The urban setting is captured with people of various ethnicity on the page. It’s a bustling and busy place but also welcoming.

Luxbacher’s illustrations are done in PhotoShop and have the feel of collage. Textures and patterns are used throughout, creating a setting that is rich and layered. The city is done with just enough pops of color to keep it dynamic and not so many to make it entirely overwhelming. The page on the beach where they imagine the water is the ocean is captivating with the water entirely swallowing the page and filled with glimpses of their imagination.

A lovely look at a grandchild and grandfather going on their own personal adventure together. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Kids Can Press and Edelweiss.

 

Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi

Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi

Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi

Released May 17, 2016.

Originally published in Japan in 1979, Gomi has created a timeless picture book that will speak to modern children beautifully. A child is standing on a beach looking over the ocean. The child wonders what is beyond the ocean. Is it more ocean? Perhaps many boats. The land beyond may be filled with farms, or huge cities, or small houses. Children may live in those houses, ones who could be friends or could be bullies. Are there icebergs? Is it night? Or perhaps there is another solitary child looking right back across the ocean.

So simple, this Japanese picture book offers an imaginative look at what is in our world from a child’s point of view. Gomi captures that childlike view perfectly, allowing jumps of attention and new thoughts to create a natural flow to the narrative. The ending is a gorgeous cap to the book, showing throughout that the people on either side of an ocean are more similar than they are different in a subtle way.

The art is filled with deep colors that are so rich they almost bleed on the page. The art is so vibrant, each page anchored by the child looking across the ocean with small waves breaking. It is a place where imagination soars and a journey is made from right there without ever getting wet.

A vibrant picture book from Japan that offers a glimpse of what lays beyond our doors. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.