This Thing Called Life by Christian Borstlap

Cover image for This Thing Called Life

This Thing Called Life by Christian Borstlap (9783791374437)

A book all about life, this picture book starts at the very beginning when life first arrived on earth. Seeds fall through the air and then the author explains the many things that life is about. It’s about reproducing (shown with an egg-shaped bird next to an equally large egg.) It’s about moving, feeling, perceiving, breathing. There is giving and taking, complete with a visual poop joke. It’s also about survival, about hiding when necessary and being obvious and loud too. You may have to fight or flee. Life comes in all sizes and is still being discovered. Life is not fair and is unpredictable. It can be long or very short. But most importantly, life is to be lived together, connected to one another.

Originally published in French in Canada and created by a Dutch author/illustrator, this picture book is based on a short animated video that he did. The video, embedded below, shares a lot of the characteristics of the book and some of the same art. The book is a wild and whimsical look at life that doesn’t quite resemble life on earth, yet is not so dissimilar at times. This is not a book cataloging the animals in the world rather it’s philosophical and scientific, a mix of whimsy and fact that is captivating.

The art is done in a similar style to that of the video with lots of details and fine lines but also amazing creatures that take up almost the entire page like the “feeling” starfish that is a glowing pink or the moving two-legged creature with no real head.

Dazzling and original, this picture book is a weird look at life, just what we need. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Prestel.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – January 29


10 of the best Latinx children’s books out in 2021 – Hiplatina

The best tweets from the 2021 Youth Media Awards – 100 Scope Notes

Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade–Two tribally enrolled women–made history today, for We Are Water Protectors – American Indians in Children’s Literature

Grace Lin was early to champion diversity in children’s literature – Boston Globe

Q & A with Christina Soontornvat – Publishers Weekly

Tae Keller’s Newbery Win: ‘My brain short-circuited’ – Publishers Weekly


Forget Prime Reading, public libraries are still as important as ever – Input

Why you should surround yourself with more books than you’ll ever have time to read – Inc.


17 books featuring black teens that everyone needs to read at least once – BuzzFeed

Great YA nonfiction for your 2021 TBR – Book Riot

The Grishaverse comes to life in the first photos from Shadow and Bone – Tor

SFWA announces the 2021 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Recipients (one of whom is Rachel Caine) – Tor

2021 RISE List

Rise: A Feminist Book Project announced their Top Ten List for their 2021 RISE List. The list is a project of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association and includes books for ages 0-18. Here is the 2021 Top Ten:

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Red Hood by Elena K. Arnold

Ritu Wed Chandni by Ameya Narvankar

Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott

Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes

Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (9781492638292)

This follow-up to Bedtime for Sweet Creatures returns to the same child and their family. This time the focus is bath time, which has the child hiding at first, until the magic of bath time becomes evident. There is the roar of the flowing tap which is like a waterfall. The tub is like a soft-scented sea that has monsters like the rubber duck floating in it! Bubbles and splashing are also part of the fun. Diving deep under water has the boats floating in the tub almost capsizing. Eventually, hair gets washed too and then the tub is drained and it’s towel time. The sea is left behind in the bathroom, until tomorrow.

Grimes takes another everyday event for small children and imbues it with real magic and imagination. Throughout this book, there is a definite playfulness from both parents that makes the entire bath time successful and fun. Grimes has written the book in the second person, so the book speaks directly to the child listening to the story. This lets the child remain non-gendered in the story, wonderfully inclusive writing.

Zunon’s illustrations are done in collage. She creates shining faces filled with love and emotion in this small family. There is joy in her depictions of the evolving imaginary world and also in the real world too. Using bright colors, action and flowing water filled with patterns, this book is vibrant.

Another winner from this collaborative pair. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Sourcebooks.

2021 Edgar Awards Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America have announced their nominees for the 2021 Edgar Awards which honor the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television published or produced in 2020. Here are the nominees in the youth categories:


Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

My and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce


The Companion by Katie Alender

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Silence of Bones by June Hur

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent

Cover image

Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent (9781547605231)

Beckett is the girl that everyone looks at when she walks through the halls. She’s the girl with the addict of a father, who supposedly found him after he killed himself. There is some truth to the rumors, but Beckett also knows there are a lot of truths being hidden from her. After coming to school late, Beckett hides in the girls’ locker room that is undergoing remodeling until her class starts. That’s when she notices the trail of blood leading from the showers to a gym bag, a bag that holds a dead newborn baby. Soon rumors are swirling about Beckett again, this time insisting that she is the baby’s mother. While Beckett knows the truth about herself, she begins to think that those around her may be more involved than they might admit. With her mother the lead police investigator on the case, Beckett finds herself under lots of scrutiny, needing to prove the baby is not hers, but also realizing that due to other evidence that it must be someone close to her.

Vincent has created a riveting book that show the power of rumors in a small town, escalated and empowered by social media. Beckett stands no chance at staunching the wild rumors, with people in town even willing to say the most vile things directly to her face. She becomes more and more isolated, even as her own investigation into the baby’s death becomes more intense. The writing of this novel is particularly skilled, the tension so tight at times that it almost hurts. The final reveal of the truth is satisfying, since all the pieces click in place nicely.

At times, Beckett seems to be the lone truth teller in her family and in the entire town, standing against the rumors that almost drown her. She is profoundly strong, someone not only unwilling to bow before the social pressure but also someone who must know the truth, no matter how shattering it might be. Her relationships with her family members and her boyfriend are well drawn and show the impact of the loss of a father only a few months earlier.

Gripping and tense, this rumor-filled novel calls for us all to do better by one another. Appropriate for ages 13-18.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury.

YALSA 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers

YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, has released their 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list. The list has 64 titles on it selected from 81 nominations. The list is specifically aimed at titles that encourage reading among teens who dislike reading for any reason. I find that this list contains titles you won’t see on other award lists that teens will love and read. Here is the selected Top Ten:

Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis

Found by Joseph Bruchac

Golden Arm by Carl Deuker

Heartstopper Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff

The Loop by Ben Oliver

#NoEscape by Gretchen McNeil

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yuself Salaam

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

2021 Walter Dean Myers Awards

We Need Diverse Books has announced the winner and honor books for the 2021 Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature. The awards are given in two categories: Teen (ages 13-18) and Younger Readers (ages 9-13). Each category has one winner and two honor books:


Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam


Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee


When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed


Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Newbery Medal


All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team Cover

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat


When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller