Hurry Up! by Kate Dopirak, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (9781534424975)
A child with wild black hair wakes up to a ringing alarm clock, rushes down the stairs and off to the school bus. At school everyone continues to rush and hurry throughout their day, until they hurry back onto the bus. The child rushes home, dashes through their homework, and then hurries to walk the dog. Stop! Slow down and look around at the day. Spend time with your dog and take a breath. Stay out until the stars emerge, find fireflies, and then head home. The rush is done.
Dopirak creates a breathless beginning to her book that is impossible to read without your heart rate increasing a bit. The hurried and harried life of this child reflects many of our own. The slower part is just as successful, encouraging the character and the reader to breathe and slow down. The abrupt STOP! is very effective in changing the pace and insisting upon a new one.
Neal’s illustrations provide us with a young protagonist who could be any gender. With a shock of wild hair that captures the frenzy of the early part of the book, this character is central to the story and manages to slow down and point out the small things that make a day special.
Trying to slow down to pandemic speed? This picture book shows alone time outside as one of the best times of day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.
Burn by Patrick Ness (9780062869494)
Sarah and her father are meeting the dragon he hired to help clear fields on their farm. Sarah has been forbidden to talk to the dragon, and even more forcefully reminded not to tell it her name. But Sarah can’t think of the dragon as an it. The dragon is remarkable, even though he is a smaller blue dragon. As the dragon, Kazamir, and Sarah get to know one another, they must face the hatred of a local deputy along with Sarah’s boyfriend Jason. Sarah and Jason are the only people of color in town, something that gets unwelcome attention in 1957. But Sarah doesn’t know what Kazamir does, that she is part of a prophecy. The prophecy is also what is drawing an assassin from a dragon worshiping cult towards her. Malcolm is hunting her, but also being trailed by the FBI. As he approaches, he leaves a trail of bodies but also finds himself unexpectedly in love for the first time. As the moment of the prophesy nears, everything is in place but for what?
Ness as always surprises and amazes in this new novel. His world building is remarkable, combining alternative history of the late 1950’s with fantasy into a world that is entirely believable. The novel is layered and complex, becoming even more so as it continues. The book incorporates marvelous science fiction elements as well as it builds, burning hotter and hotter, making its title all the more appropriate.
Ness’ characters are just as complicated as his plot and world building. He spends time making each of the three protagonists fascinating. There is Sarah, a girl who may or may not be trapped in a prophecy but certainly is caught in poverty and yet will not give up. Malcolm may have grown up in a cult and be there weapon of destruction, but new love is a power thing, something that can change a destiny. Kazamir, the dragon, is someone readers will adore from his first sarcastic comment and quirked eyebrow.
Brilliantly built, layered and populated, this is a new world created by a master. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Quill Tree Books.