Review: Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming

Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming

Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Diana Sudyka (9781481459181)

Told in rhyming couplets, this picture book explores the wonders of each of the four seasons in turn. The book begins at the end of fall with a rained-upon picnic that is met with smiles. The weather then turns colder and soon there is snow enough for sledding. Snow eventually melts into mud that then turns into sunny hillsides of flowers. Summer is filled with visits to the beach and exploring nature. Autumn brings apples and piles of crunchy leaves to play in. The book ends as winter returns once more and everyone is snug and warm at home.

Fleming’s verse is so controlled and concise. She writes in just a few words an entire feeling or moment in time. The fact that she can do this and still create rhyming couplets that don’t feel stilted at all is near magic. Children may not realize they are reading poetry, but the adults sharing the book with them with marvel at the skill and the delight of such a well written book in verse. The illustrations are done in watercolors that are evocative and completely capture each season. The characters are always happy and enjoying that time of year even with rain, wind, or snow.

A charming picture book written and illustrated for pure joy. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis

A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis

A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver (9780802855145)

A haunting look at the plight of refugees, this short piece of fiction will work well for children and adults alike. Rami floats in the water in a small dinghy with seven other people. All of them are fleeing their homeland in the hopes of finding shelter elsewhere. But the boat motor has broken down and they are now adrift. Rami is alone except for his violin, and he begins to weave a tale filled with music to keep their spirits up. It is a tale of a young man who rescues an orphaned colt from the snow and grows to be able to ride the stallion because he respects the horse’s freedom. As the tale is woven, it is not just a story about horseriding, but also one about power, brutality and the cost of freedom.

Lewis has written a book that dances the line between children’s book and adult book very nicely. It can also seem almost a picture book as the illustrations sweep across the pages. Lewis’ writing is beautiful and filled with emotion. The dangers of the refugee experience are shown tangibly on the page, as are the stories of what they have lost from war. The story of the stallion is given equal weight in the book, rounding out the book and offering another angle from which to view the same story in the end. It is a story that arcs around and creates a whole out of two separate tales wrapped in song.

The illustrations by Weaver are breathtaking, woven from blues and whites. They fill with light and dark, playing against one another and revealing images built from luminescence, music, and wind. The illustrations suit the dark tale so perfectly that the book is one cohesive story.

A dramatic and human look at the refugee crisis and its many victims. Appropriate for ages 9 and up.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers.

Review: You’re Snug with Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

You're Snug with Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

You’re Snug with Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry (9781911373476)

This new picture book follows You’re Safe with Me, this time journeying to the Arctic. A mother polar bear digs a den deep in the snow and there she gives birth to two cubs. Once they are born, she tells them “You’re snug with me.” As the cubs grow up, they have lots of questions about the world outside their den. Their mother answers all of them, ending each answer with “You’re snug with me.” The bears talk about taking care of their snowy home, of ice melting and how important the oceans and ice are for their survival. Eventually, the season changes and the cubs are large enough to head out into the world with their mother who still tells them they are snug with her.

The poetic text of this picture book offers both a snug den and a warmth but also a journey into the frozen world of the Arctic. Soundar also inserts environmental information into the swirling text, creating moments to learn about our interconnected world and the perils of the polar bears. The use of a refrain in the book anchors it firmly to oral traditional tales, making it all the more impactful.

Mistry’s illustrations are exceptional. Here she has created Arctic landscapes out of a series of geometric patterns that celebrate the cold, snow, and ice. The bears too as well as their den is filled with the motions of these detailed and patterned images. These are illustrations to linger and marvel over.

Another unique picture book from this team, this time focused on polar bears and the environment. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets & Pins

Here are some cool things from my Twitter and Pinterest over the last week:

Pooh was so wise... ~

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

19 2019 Middle Grade Books To Have On Your Radar — Teen Librarian Toolbox

Publishers Weekly – Q & A with Gennifer Choldenko

Winter 2019’s Best Children’s and Middle Grade Books | Bookish

A Reader's Comic - Writers Write Creative Blog

LIBRARIES

Library on the Border Acts as Haven for Immigrant Families » Public Libraries Online

A millennial’s view of the value of a public library

Northwest Iowa Man Charged For Burning LGBTQ Library Books

TEEN LIT

Big Girl, You Are Beautiful: Six Post-Dumplin’ Reads

Winter 2019’s Can’t-Miss Young Adult Books | Bookish

Winter 2019’s Most-Anticipated Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy | Bookish

 

YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalists

YALSA has announced their finalists for their 2019 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. The award is for the best nonfiction book published for ages 12-18 during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.  Here are the finalists: 

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler Hey, Kiddo

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

Review: Mallko and Dad by Gusti

Mallko and Dad by Gusti

Mallko and Dad by Gusti (9781592702596)

This autobiographical picture book takes a raw and impassioned look at fatherhood and unconditional love. It is the story of the author and his son who was born with Down Syndrome. Mallko was not what his father was expecting, and Gusti did not accept his son at first. Steadily though, he quickly realized that Mallko was complete and fine as he was. Mallko’s mother and older brother accepted him much faster, showing Gusti the way forward. The book explores Mallko, his humor and his life. His art is shown side-by-side with his father’s on the pages. This is a book that is a clarion call for parents to realize that their children don’t need to change to be loved, they are worthy of it always.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this book is Gusti’s willingness to be this open about his hesitation of having a child who is different than he was expecting. Gusti does not try to rationalize his response or make apologies for it. It is clear he is pained by how he first reacted and is making up for those days of doubt. The rest of the book simply celebrates Mallko and exactly who he is. He is captured in a rainbow of images, cartoons capturing his activities, playing with his family, and simply being a child. It is a breathtaking display of love and feels like Gusti put his heart on every page.

An incredible book that is a picture book, but as thick as a novel thanks to the quantity of images crammed inside waiting to inspire you to love. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Enchanted Lion Books.

 

 

2019 Morris Award Finalists

YALSA has announced the finalists for the 2019 Morris Award. The award is given to a debut author writing for teens and “celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” Here are the finalists:

Blood Water Paint Check, Please!: #Hockey, Vol. 1

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

What the Night Sings

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper

 

 

Review: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty (
9781338255843)

Bronte has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler since she was a tiny baby. Still, it’s a shock when she discovers at age 10 that her parents have been killed by pirates. Her parents send her on a journey with strict rules and a tight schedule where she will meet all ten of her aunts and then everyone will come together for a party in her parents’ honor. Bronte may even get to meet her maternal grandfather, who lives near where the party will be held. As Bronte sets off on her travels though, they become more and more unique and strange. There are fairies, magicians who can whisper directly into your brain, potions, and spells. Then there is the question of who Bronte herself actually is and whether she will ever discover the truth about herself. 

I am not one for travel stories where the protagonist takes all sorts of conveyances through a magical world, and yet this one is so very charming with pieces that click together so beautifully that I could not put it down. Nicely, Moriarty minimizes the travel pieces by often skipping them altogether, something that is downright applause-worthy on its own. Moriarty sets just the right tone here, allowing readers to gather that they are in a magical world slowly and then explore what that means alongside Bronte. Her world building is complex and yet also compact, keeping the story very tightly focused and enjoyable.

Bronte is a marvelous protagonist mostly because she is not the adventurous type and has spent much of her life alone with adults. Moriarty writes her like that throughout the book. She enjoys the company of other children, and yet has a wariness that makes sense given her upbringing and recent loss. As Bronte and the reader slowly piece together the full puzzle, this book really comes into its own, ending up being a grand and magical adventure where each element was necessary and important. 

A marvelous fantasy for young readers, this journey is one worth taking. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Arthur A. Levine Books.

Review: Lights! Camera! Alice! by Mara Rockliff

Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff

Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Simona Ciraolo (9781452141343)

Alice Guy-Blache was the first woman film-maker in the world. When motion pictures were first invented, they were used to show dull things like people boarding a train. Alice saw an opportunity to use them to tell stories, like the stories she had loved since she was a child. Alice figured out how to run film backward to show people flying upwards among other clever tricks. She made colored films by hand and created the first movies with sound. Alice moved to America with her new husband and discovered that no one had ever heard of her there! So she set out to create more films and eventually opened her own studio in New York State. Unfortunately, everything changed when Hollywood became the place for movies and Alice had to return to France without even a movie camera. Still, she had one last story to tell, her own.

This eye-opening picture book biography will introduce readers to an amazing woman whose vision of what movies could be led the way to new developments and implementations. Most importantly, Alice realized that film could be used to tell stories and set out to do just that. Throughout her life and this book, Alice shows a fierce determination, artistic eye, and a desire to share her imagination with others.

The art by Ciraolo is bright and full of action. It shows vintage images of ads as well as the brightness of Alice’s ideas. Some of the images take an entire page while others are small vignettes of big moments in Alice’s life. The variety makes for a dynamic book visually.

An introduction to a woman that we should all know. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.