Vacation!

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I will be on vacation this week, so there won’t be any book reviews or other posts. Enjoy the last days of August! I’ll be back next week hopefully with some more books finished.

This Week’s Tweets

Here are the tweets I shared this week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Cape Coral poet Lee Bennett Hopkins dies at age 81 after prolific career in children’s literature buff.ly/2KyWji6 #kidlit

‘Greta effect’ leads to boom in children’s environmental books buff.ly/2TnUCYN #kidlit

The Importance of Picture Books – Psychology Today – buff.ly/31CJ0Eh #kidlit
Must-Read Picture Books for the First Day of School – https://t.co/hMcEbAvjlE?amp=1

The Pinkneys Are A Picture Book Perfect, Author-Illustrator Couple buff.ly/300VLbh #kidlit

Where Are All The Plus-Size Characters In Children’s Books? buff.ly/2YNWrn6 #kidlit

LIBRARIES

15 things you can check out from the library (besides books)- Shareable buff.ly/2KxVB65 #libraries

Closing libraries means abandoning society’s most isolated and vulnerable | Dawn Finch buff.ly/2KcNxYd #libraries

Is Summer Learning Loss Real? How I lost faith in one of education research’s classic results – Education Next buff.ly/2EO65La

Librarians facing new tasks say crisis isn’t in the catalog buff.ly/300NJPx #libraries

Libraries can have 3-D printers but they are still about books buff.ly/2ZTiENZ #libraries

Library receipt goes viral after reader saves more than $7,000 by borrowing books buff.ly/2KOqjXc #libraries

Verizon demands $880 from rural library for just 0.44GB of roaming data arstechnica.com/information-te… #libraries

Review: The Feather by Margaret Wild

The Feather by Margaret Wild

The Feather by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (9781760124212)

A giant white glowing feather floats down into a dystopian world where the sky is always gray. Two children find it and take it to the village, amazed by how light it is to carry. The children know it doesn’t belong inside. The adults in the village though want to contain its beauty, but before they can, the feather changes. It becomes dirty and dull, absorbing the weight of their ideas and thoughts. The villagers disperse, angry at being tricked. The children carry the heavy feather back with them, caring for it through the night until in the morning it is brilliant once more. The children decide to set it free, and as the feather floats skyward, it leaves behind a promise of blue skies.

Wild’s story is deep and wondrous, rather like the feather itself. The gigantic nature of the feather, its ability to remind people of blue skies and fresh breezes, makes it magical. And yet, it can be squandered by needing to own that magic, to contain it. The dulling of the feather is a profound answer to that selfishness. The children’s own willingness to care for the feather cleanses it once more. It’s a lovely analogy about selflessness, sharing joy, and finding hope together.

Blackwood’s illustrations are glorious. She creates a feather that is both light and weighty, radiant and white. It lights the world around it, then absorbs the darkness into itself in a way that is heartbreaking. Her vision of the gray world is haunting and aching for a brightening, a possibility.

A picture book that will spark discussion about hope, change and making a difference in your world as a child. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin

Migration Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin, illustrated by Jenni Desmond (9781547600977)

Explore the many animals who migrate each year from all over the world in this nonfiction picture book. The book focuses on each animal’s amazing journey and provides a wide look at migration in general, the various types of animals who migrate, and the specific story of each animal. The animals include birds like the emperor penguin, the Arctic tern, the swallow, and the ruby-throated hummingbird. It also tells the story of mammals like the whales, elephants and caribou. Then there are surprising stories of migrations of crabs, dragonflies, and bats.

The text of the book offers real details of the animal’s lives and their migrations. The book ends with a map of all of the different migration paths shared in the book, nicely covering much of the globe with their travels. The information provided is fascinating and just enough to discover whether you want to learn more about that animal or not.

The illustrations are done in full-page color where the animals take center stage against their various habitats. From the Christmas crabs filling the street with their red color to the beauty of a mother whale and her calf to the woods filled with monarch wings, each of them are unique and just as interesting to explore as the text.

A fascinating and scientific look at migration and the creatures who do it year after year. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury.

Review: Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis (9781536204988)

Based loosely on the story of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary, this graphic novel is remarkable. Margaret has been on the island since she was a baby, cared for by the nuns that live there, not knowing who her parents are. The island has only a few residents, including goats and chickens. The nuns help those whose ships sink or crash making their way around the island, and they take in political prisoners as well. In fact, when Margaret is old enough to be curious, she discovers that the nuns are all political prisoners on the island who became nuns after being sent there. Things change when William arrives, the first person Margaret has ever known who is about her own age. But their friendship is short lived and he is taken back to Albion. The next person to arrive is Eleanor, the deposed Queen of Albion, sent to the island by her sister who is now queen. Margaret struggles to connect with the aloof Eleanor, even after her own origins are revealed as being entwined with Eleanor’s. As Margaret learns more about politics and royalty, she is caught up in a web of power that she has to find her way through or lose everything she holds dear.

This is not a slim graphic novel, but more of a tome. Meconis tells a sturdy tale, a graphic novel that reads fully as a novel with well-developed characters whose motivations are cleverly concealed but are always understandable when all is revealed. Margaret has a bucolic upbringing on the island, filled with the care of the nuns, their strict rules, and helping with the animals. As she learns the truth, the book changes around the reader, the beauty of the island becoming more like the prison it is.

The pairing of an imaginative world with roots in real history makes for an incredible read. Those who know the English history will love the parallels between the stories, glimpsing that history often enough to keep it well-rooted. Margaret is a great lens to view the history through, providing context to the world around her as she learns things alongside the reader.

A stellar graphic novel for middle grades. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh

Skulls by Blair Thornburgh

Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh, illustrated by Scott Campbell (9781534414006)

This picture book is a rousing look at your head bones or skull. The book uses clever analogies to allow young children to understand the importance of your skull, such as skulls are “like a car seat for your brain” in the ways that they keep your brain safe. Skulls have your jaws and also your teeth, until they fall out. They have holes for various senses, including eating grilled cheese sandwiches. The book encourages children to not be scared of skulls because they are so very important.

This is Thornburgh’s debut picture book and it’s wonderfully unusual and interesting. She uses repetition cleverly in the middle of the book, almost creating a refrain about the holes in skulls, grilled cheese sandwiches and teeth falling out. Her focus on a child’s understanding is clear, creating scenarios that they will respond to and not making skulls frightening but fascinating.

Campbell’s watercolor illustrations are full of energy. He creates scenes full of life that then turn to full of bones at the turn of the page. His humor and zaniness keep the book from ever being creepy except in the friendliest of ways.

Face this one head on! Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider

Ultrabot's First Playdate by Josh Schneider

Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider (9781328490131)

When Ultrabot’s professor invites their neighbor Becky to come over for a playdate at their secret lab, Ultrabot is very nervous. He wonders if Becky will share or break his toys. He pictures her as an enormous furry dog-person with barrettes all over. But Becky turns out to be a little human girl. She brings a ball along with her and after some initial shyness, Ultrabot sees that they can share. The two played ball together, drew cats, and had sandwiches for lunch (with the crusts cut off.) They shared all of Ultrabot’s toys too, though afterwards the professor thought it best if they met at Becky’s house next time.

Schneider tells a very touching and funny story of a shy giant robot and his first playdate. Ultrabot’s emotions mirror those of a young child going to their first playdate or meeting a new person. The questions he thinks about, the worries he has and the resolution are all very human.

However, the illustrations show that this is still one giant robot who has toys like real airplanes, eats sandwiches made of girders and diesel tanks, and is able to do wild math calculations. The illustrations are wildly funny and set a perfect tone. I particularly love that the secret lab is ever-so-obvious and out-of-place in their residential neighborhood.

Funny and friendly, this is just right for any reluctant robot in your house. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.