Review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (9781250312853)

Deja and Josie are completing their last night working at the Pumpkin Patch before they leave for college. The two have worked at the Succotash Hut together, perfecting the stirring technique. Josie has won most valuable employee every year but one and is definitely in the running again. He’s also had a huge crush on a girl who works at the pie stand, so it’s Deja’s mission on their last night to get him to actually speak to her for the first time. So the two of them leave the Succotash Hut and head out to find his crush. But it won’t be easy to find her and their quest takes them on a full tour of the Pumpkin Patch complete with delicious snacks like Freeto Pie, S’mores and candy apples.

These two very talented teen book creators have designed an amazing graphic novel together. They take the Midwestern pumpkin patch experience of corn mazes, picking pumpkins, and treats and turn it into a quest for love that is charming and enticing. It’s very rare to find a teen book that is this seasonal. When you read this one though, you can almost smell the cinnamon autumnal scents on a breeze.

The two main characters are wonderful. They have a clear chemistry on the page. Deja is bisexual, having dated several of the other workers at the Patch over the years. Josie is marvelously shy except with Deja with whom he really shows his personality. The entire book is a delight of a read thanks to these two characters who are such a joy to spend time with.

A tremendous graphic novel that I dare you not to “fall” for. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from copy provided by First Second.

The Secret Garden – The Trailer

OK, so I feel like a cantankerous person saying this, but this trailer is not for The Secret Garden. They have introduced elements of fantasy that weren’t in the original book and frankly, I don’t approve. Even Colin Firth can’t distract me from the mess that this looks to be:

What do you think?

Review: I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day (9780062871992)

Released October 1, 2019.

Edie knows that her mother was adopted by a white couple, but the only thing she knows about her mother’s background is that she is Native American. Her mother won’t talk about her childhood at all. While looking in the attic with her friends, Edie discovers a box of old photographs and documents with a woman who looks a lot like her and has the same name! As Edie explores the documents, she realizes that her parents have been lying to her for her entire life. Even when she tries to give them a chance to tell the truth, they continue to avoid it. One of her best friends seems to be more interested in filming Edie’s story than in really supporting her, so Edie must figure out who she can really trust.

This is Day’s debut children’s book and it’s a very special one. Based on her own family history and the government’s role in separating Native children from their families, the book offers a glimpse into the heart wrenching loss of a child. Day also takes on the vital need for Native Americans to be portrayed fully in film, TV and the media.

With those big issues at play, it is to Day’s credit that this story stays firmly focused on Edie and her own journey to understanding her family and her culture. As the mystery of her name and her family is solved, readers will get to experience Edie’s first glimpses of her Native family. The stories are full of deep wounds caused by white government policies that damaged Native families for generations. Still, it is full of hope as well and the promise that healing can continue and justice can be found.

An important book about one Native girl’s journey to learn about her people and herself. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

Review: What Does an Anteater Eat? by Ross Collins

What Does an Anteater Eat by Ross Collins

What Does an Anteater Eat? by Ross Collins (9781536205916)

Anteater wakes up hungry, but he can’t figure out what anteaters eat. He tries asking the other animals that he encounters. Sloth is too busy to answer his question. Snake offers advice on chewing food. Toucan is certain that anteaters eat watermelon, but the melon doesn’t fit in Anteater’s mouth. Other animals are too busy eating their own meals or considering Anteater for their next meal. So Anteater ends up asking the ants. Anteater has figured it out! Or has he?

This is one of those picture books that simply must be shared aloud to get its full impact. From the very clueless anteater to the unhelpful other animals to the twist at the end, the book is full of silliness and giggles. Young listeners will love being in on the entire joke from the beginning and watching the humor play out. The illustrations are large and bold, just right for sharing aloud with a group. Done in watercolor and charcoal, the images are full of deep colors and add to the humor of the text.

A great book for closing out a storytime with laughter. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Nosy Crow.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – Sept 20

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

6 new children’s books for the Jewish New Year – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

A Rosh Hashanah apple cake bake-off fit for reality television and another installment in the Scarlet and Sam series from the award-winning author Eric A. Kimmel are among the highlights in the crop of new High Holiday books for children.

8 children’s books for Hispanic Heritage Month that vibrantly share the culture – Romper

It can sometimes be tricky to convey big themes like “familial heritage” and “cultural contributions” to little kids, and I really feel like picture books — even more so than movies or film — do the best job of this.

Fifty years on, veteran Kiwi Author Joy Cowley still writing children’s books… – NewsNow

Veteran author Joy Cowley says she feels like the country’s grandmother, but after more than 50 years publishing books she hasn’t finished yet.

Instead of limiting screen time, encourage children’s love of reading – The Globe and Mail

Evidence shows that higher literacy skills are linked to greater levels of employment and higher incomes. Moreover, raising literacy rates seems to be the most effective way to decrease poverty. Therefore, focusing on improving your child’s reading skills is arguably the best way to prepare them for a successful future.

Jon Klassen’s Latest Solo Act – Publisher’s Weekly

“The two main characters are wearing little black bowlers, as kind of a nod to both surrealist plays and Laurel and Hardy,” Klassen said. “It sort of makes them into little comedic guys before they even get to say anything. And there is a snake that wears a beret for reasons I have not explained to myself—but I know it is the right choice. There is one other character in the book, and he does not wear a hat, but I won’t spoil his identity here.”

Why New Raina Telgemeier Graphic Memoir ‘Guts’ Has a One Million Copy Print Run – Forbes

Telgemeier’s audience has been steadily growing since her first release struck a chord with young readers, with 18 million copies of her books in print across Scholastic’s U.S. distribution channels, and her books translated into 22 languages.

LIBRARIES

ALA Announces #eBooksForAll Campaign – American Libraries

“Libraries serve the local needs of their communities. Macmillan’s embargo will make that impossible. That’s why it is vital we get the public involved.”

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card – Eater

Waugh found a new way to enjoy an old pastime, and this experience is exactly what Lax thinks libraries should be fostering. “A lot of times at the library, you can check out the book or the cookbook or something, or you can go on YouTube and watch a video on how to do something,” he says, “but the actual thing you need to do it, it was kind of the missing piece.”

How to download the books that just entered the public domain – Vice

Basically, 2019 marks the first time a huge quantity of books published in 1923—including works by Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, and Robert Frost—have become legally downloadable since digital books became a thing.

Phoenix to become more populous US city to drop library fees – US News

A unanimous City Council decision this week makes Phoenix, the fifth-largest metropolis in the U.S., also the largest one nationwide to dump the fines.

Physical Books Still Outsell E-Books – and Here’s Why – CNBC

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,”

YA LIT

5 books about going to a new school – BookRiot

The YA books about new schools are always going to hit hard because it can be such a turbulent time.

8th graders assigned book on police brutality has some concerned – WSOC

Eighth graders at Bailey Middle School were supposed to read “All American Boys,” which is about police brutality. Police call the book reckless and are now trying to get it banned at all schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district.

13 Teen Horror Novels That Are Actually Perfect for All Ages – Women

15 Scary YA Books That Are Perfect for Halloween – PopSugar

If you’re anything like me, you may find adult horror a bit daunting. There’s no doubt that YA horror can be sleep-with-the-lights-on levels of scary, but it’s not quite as daunting as say The Exorcist.

Spooooooky: 25 of the Best YA Ghost Books – Book Riot

These, like all good ghost books, range from being dark and disturbing to being lighter and more fun.

Review: Fly! by Mark Teague

Fly! by Mark Teague

Fly! by Mark Teague (9781534451285)

Baby Bird has spent his time having worms delivered right to him in the nest by Mama Bird. So when Mama Bird coaxes him out onto the branch, he throws a bit of a fit. It’s a tantrum big enough to get him out of the nest finally, but it also makes him fall down down down to the ground. Mama Bird encourages him to try to fly back up, but Baby Bird has other ideas. Maybe Mama could carry him or perhaps a hot air balloon? Mama bird warns him that he won’t be able to come along when they migrate to Florida if he can’t fly. Baby Bird thinks that maybe a bike, skateboard, car or train might work even better than flying. Mama Bird next tried to scare baby into flying by talking about dogs, cats, and owls. Owls! Mama Bird may just have convinced her silly Baby Bird to take flight.

Teague’s wordless book is a joy. He cleverly uses speech balloons on the page but fills them with images so that children can “read” this themselves very easily. The conversations between mother and baby are clear and very funny. In particular, Baby Bird’s ideas and jokes will have little ones giggling along. The frustration of Mama Bird is also very clear on the page, her motherly glare is one that most children will recognize from personal experience. Full of great illustrations that tell a complete and compelling story.

A great wordless book that really takes flight. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.

Review: Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

Spencer's New Pet by Jessie Sima

Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima (9781534418776

A boy leaves a circus tent with a pet dog made from a red balloon. The dog walks on a leash, does tricks, and begs for treats. The two read books and sleep together, the dog snuggled under the covers. When they head to the vet, the boy notices a sharp quill on a hedgehog in the waiting room and quickly moves away. The boy and dog head to the park where the dog plays with the other dogs, chasing a Frisbee, but they leave when the boy notices the sharp teeth of a large dog. The wind catches the dog, carrying him through the park and into a birthday party. The party is full of potential threats to a balloon, like burning candles and the pinata. When the dog gets lost in with other balloon animals though, the boy stops paying attention to sharp things. And that’s when the book gets all the more interesting!

Sima has created a book where one thinks they know what the story is, but it is something else entirely. The joy of discovering the real story will make readers demand to hear the book again and explore that new story fully. Sima’s book is wordless, the images done in grays and blacks with the red balloon dog serving as the only color on the page. There is a grand sense of drama throughout, as readers see the dangers alongside the boy.

Clever and with an ending that reinvents the entire book, this one is amazing. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.

Review: I Want a Dog by Jon Agee

I Want a Dog by Jon Agee

I Want a Dog by Jon Agee (9780525555469)

A little girl heads to the Happydale Animal Shelter to get a dog. The man there agrees that a dog makes an excellent pet, but keeps on offering the girl different animals. Perhaps an awesome anteater? A python? A baboon? Maybe a frog that barks and hides bones? Except frogs can’t do that. How about a lizard dressed up as a dog? It turns out that Happydale Animal Shelter doesn’t have a dog, so the man asks the girl why she wants a dog. Based on her list, he offers her a seal. And you know what? It’s just the right pet for her.

Agee has such a great way of incorporating the surreal with the normal in his books. In this one, we have the normal process of adopting a pet entirely sidetracked with wild animals that would make horrible pets. Readers will love seeing each of the interesting animals and not knowing what is coming next. Agee merrily breaks his series of animals with a dead goldfish and then with the final twist of the seal as the right pet. Agee’s art is his signature watercolor with thick black lines and subdued colors.

A great pick for dog storytimes, even if it doesn’t actually have a dog. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Dial Books for Young Readers.

Review: Free Lunch by Rex Ogle

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle (9781324003601)

Rex is starting sixth grade hungry and with a black eye. At school, he has an English teacher who dislikes him on sight. He isn’t in any classes with his best friends either, since he is in high level ones that they make fun of. He also is on free lunch, which he has to announce to a school worker every day. His home life though is even worse. Living with almost no furniture, no bed, and with a mother who is verbally and physically abusive, Rex struggles to find any moments of safety. His mother’s boyfriend beats her up regularly, something that Rex feels responsible for as well as helpless to stop. Still, this book does have hope that things can improve and change, but there is no magic bullet out of poverty and abuse.

Ogle writes of his own childhood in this very personal book. He doesn’t shrink away from any of the tough subjects, showing the layers of anger and abuse that a family can have, the variety of triggers and the inability to make it stop. He writes of a grandmother who served as a place of hope and refuge, but also was a person who angered his mother. Ogle tells of hunger in a way that only someone who has experienced it can speak of it, hunger for food but also hunger for love and understanding in his family.

There is a rawness to Ogle’s writing, an honesty that shines on the page. His weaving in of hope makes reading this book possible, not leaving the reader to languish in the haunting and horrible world he writes of. That hope is vital for the character of Rex too, it keeps him making new friends, finding a way forward, and being willing to change himself to make his family better.

Profoundly honest and full of heart, this book is one that all teachers and librarians need to read to understand the children they serve. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Norton Young Readers.