My First Busy World by Eric Carle (9781534443914)
Beloved author, Eric Carle, brings us a board book to explore and touch. The pages are filled with special cut outs, a mirror to look at yourself in, and textures. There are flaps to lift, sparkly elements, and windows to look through. The book is also filled with elements that are labeled. These are basic things like different foods, what you see outside, and what is in your bedroom. Parents can also talk about colors, the child’s own family members, and much more along the way.
Just right for the youngest of children, this board book is done in a larger format than most. The design is one that invites talking about what is on the page with little children. They are encouraged to count stars, touch different items, and explore the universe inside the book fully. Done in a robust format, the book will stand up nicely to use in a public library setting too.
An inviting book to explore. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy provided by Little Simon.
You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood by Aimee Reid, illustrated by Matt Phelan (9781419736179)
Celebrate the life of the person who became Mister Rogers, a beloved children’s television creator. As a child, Freddie was often sick and filled his days with puppets. He found it hard to make friends and was bullied sometimes. Freddie found that piano was a way he could express his feelings. His mother also told him to look for people around who were helpers, which made him feel safe and supported. His grandfather allowed Freddie to take risks as a child and know that he was adored. When Fred Rogers created his television show, he incorporated all of these childhood inspirations. His show had lots of helpers who shared their talents, talked about difficult subjects, and always told children that they were valued.
Reid draws clear parallels between Fred Rogers’ childhood experiences and the television show he eventually created. The use of his own childhood as inspiration resonates with the readers, allowing them to better understand the impetus behind the iconic show. Even his own talents with puppetry and piano which were highlighted on the show are shown as ways that he expressed himself in the darker times of growing up.
Phelan’s art is done in watercolor and pencil. Special small moments are created in the images such as Freddie Rogers wearing a cardigan or the simple images of Rogers on the television in a variety of situations.
A book that vibrantly captures one of the pioneers of children’s television. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.
YALSA has announced the winners of the 2019 Teen’s Top Ten List. Here they are:
#MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil
American Panda by Gloria Chao
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
Wildcard by Marie Lu
This Book of Mine by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small (9780374305468)
A lovely quiet book about the power finding that book that is just for you. Told in simple words, this picture book explores the joys of reading at all ages. From being so young that you chew on books while you read to having that perfect book of music that you play all your life. From needing a great bedtime after-lights-out read to being inspired to make your own illustrations for a book you love. There is the pleasure of burying your nose in a book and breathing in that smell and the joy of becoming a character from your favorite book. There are books that teach and book that are just for pleasure.
All bibliophiles will adore this book written by a gifted husband-wife team who have brought us award-winning books in the past. This one is such a warm tribute to the immense pleasure of books and reading. It escapes being overly sweet nicely by having a wry sense of humor in its images. Small’s illustrations are done in a dynamic purple with pops of color from the covers of the books. He fills his illustrations with diverse people and makes sure to capture the steps and lions of the New York Public Library.
A wonderful read all about books! Appropriate for ages 3-5, and any age of book lover.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Farrar Straus Giroux.
Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean (9781536201604)
At first Davie doesn’t believe that Joe Quinn has a poltergeist in his home. After all, Joe has told lies before about his family. But when Davie and his best friend head over to Joe’s house to witness it themselves, they see bread and butter fly through the air, chips hit the wall, and dishes break. Davie himself lost a sister when she was very little, and he longs to know if ghosts are real because if so, she might still be there. But could it just be Joe playing a prank? Perhaps bringing the village priest in will help make things more clear and perhaps it will cloud things even more.
Almond and McKean have created several of the most inventive and incredible graphic novels in the last few years, including The Savage, Slog’s Dad, and Mouse Bird Snake Wolf. It is great to see another of their weird collaborations. This book is not about answering questions about whether ghosts exist. It’s about grief and loss, violence and families, and being willing to live with questions unanswered. It is a book that takes a short story by Almond and turns it into something visceral and pointed, a book for Halloween yes, but also for everyday darkness and wonder as well.
The illustrations by McKean are filled with sharp edges, fractured panes. They have characters who writhe on the page, almost beyond human and filled with amazing flaws. There are times of amazing green grass and sunshine, others of the sun breaking through blood-red clouds, others of filled with shadows of prison bars. The images are stunning in their stretched-out haunting nature.
A graphic novel that is not for everyone, but fans of dark corners will love what they find here. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from library copy.
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki (9781524771874)
Released on September 24, 2019.
Tyrus Wong entered the United States by using papers that belonged to another Chinese boy. In 1919, Chinese people entering the U.S. had to prove that they were of high status. Tyrus and his father both traveled under other people’s identities, making him a paper son. He had to memorize details of the other boy’s life and village, knowing that he would be tested to see if his identity was real. When they reached immigration, his father was let through easily but Tyrus was held for weeks until he was finally released after being interrogated about his identity. Tyrus didn’t like school much and his father was often away for work. Tyrus loved art, studying both western and eastern art styles. After he graduated from art school, he worked for Disney Studios, doing painstaking work. Then he heard of a new movie, Bambi, that the studio was working on. He began to create backgrounds for the film and Walt Disney loved them. Fired from Disney after a worker’s strike, Tyrus continued to make art throughout the rest of his life.
Leung tells Wong’s story with a lovely clarity. From his entry into the country through his career, Wong’s tale is not linear but rather a series of opportunities that he seized upon. The beginning of the book shows a family trapped in the red tape of immigration and that harrowing experience blossoms into a book about art and opportunity to express one’s self. That again narrows when Wong finds himself doing grunt work for Disney Studios and once again opportunities appear to move him forward. Throughout there is a sense of grace and resilience when faced with real obstacles.
The art work is clearly done with Wong in mind, with its ethereal backgrounds. The images are powerful, often showing things from a unique perspective from a look at a line of people on a long pier to directly gazing into Wong’s window to looking down at an image painted with a mop. The result is dramatic and beautiful.
A picture book biography that celebrates a lesser-known artist whose work we have all seen. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade.
Slay by Brittney Morris (9781534445420)
Kiera spends her days at high school as one of the only black kids other than her boyfriend and her sister. She is regularly asked by the white kids about what is discriminatory and asked to speak for her entire race. Her sister and boyfriend are both activists and speak loudly and clearly about what is oppressive. But Kiera has her own opinions and they come out in the video game, SLAY, she designed that is specifically focused on giving black gamers their own safe space online. Hundreds of thousands of people now play SLAY, but no one in her life knows that Kiera plays it at all, much less that it is actually her game. When a boy gets killed over game money though, everyone is looking for the elusive game developer. The game gets labeled anti-white by some people and soon Kiera finds herself in the battle of a lifetime to defend her game and keep it from collapsing.
Writing about video games can be nearly impossible. The problem is capturing the action and abilities on screen while still keeping the game believable and understandable. Morris does this extremely well. She marries a battle card game with an MMORPG, which works particularly well. It’s a game that readers will want to play themselves, which is a tribute to how well Morris describes the game, gameplay and the world she has created.
Morris has also created great human characters in this novel. Kiera is smart and capable, channeling her energy and anger at the casual racism of other games into building one of her own. I love that we get to enter Kiera’s story after the development of the game and once it is already popular. The novel also wrestles very directly with racism, with stereotypes, and with being yourself in a world that excludes you and your voice.
A brilliant video game book that celebrates being black and the many dimensions that brings. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
The Sunburst Award is given “for excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.” They just announced this year’s winners in both their adult and young adult categories. Here is the winner as well as the books that were in the longlist for the young adult category:
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Antilia: Sword and Song by Kate Story
Black Chuck by Regan McDonell
Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith
Feeder by Patrick Weekes
North to Benjamin by Alan Cumyn
Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones
Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Super! by Jennifer Chen
A World Below by Wesley King
Worldshaper by Edward Willett