Review: Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers (9780823442867)

Jamie spends her time at the edge of the quiet beach near the waves. She is hard at work making something, but she isn’t sure what quite yet. People walk past and ask her pesky questions, but Jamie just wants to be alone with the swish of the waves and her own humming as she works. Then someone else comes to the edge of the water. She has a lot of things along with her and sets up an easel to paint. She starts to work, and Jamie asks her what she is making but the painter isn’t sure yet. Jamie agrees. The two work side-by-side silently with only the hum and swish of their work making noise. Still, they are clearly friends. Finally, Jamie is done with her sandcastle, bridge and creatures made of rocks and objects. The painter is done too and they share their work with one another.

Myers captures the intensity of a young artist who just wants to be left alone to quietly work on their project. The importance of silence and space to think and be creative is emphasized here, along with the need to not explain during the creative process. The simple and limited text in the book is used very successfully to show Jamie’s brisk responses to those who ask her questions and also her connection to the ocean and her kindred spirit.

Myers, who has illustrated several picture books previously, shows great skill in his illustrations here. From the images of Jamie and the ocean together in their isolation to the lovely connection she forms with the painter. There is a strong sense of place, of art and of introversion on the page that is very welcome.

A lovely look at creating art and finding space to be quiet. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander

How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander

How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (9780062307811)

What a treat to have a picture book from a Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree! This is a picture book about how to read a book told through poetry and imagery. The book begins with finding the right place to read, like under a tree or on a stoop. The book should be peeled open like a bright orange clementine. The scent will be of morning air and butterfly kisses. Read it page by page, plump orange section by section. Inside you will find new friends, places to wander, drops of magic created by the words. No need to rush, just let it create new dreams and hopes that you may never reach.

Alexander doesn’t shy away from writing a real poem for young readers. It’s one that will stretch them, using a lot more imagery than they may be used to. He plays with colors, turning moons purple and zinging orange throughout. He also speaks to what books can do to us and for us in our lives without getting narrative or preachy about it. Instead his own book embodies this, taking us on a new journey of exploration.

Sweet’s illustrations are incredible. She works Alexander’s words into her art, forming them out of zinging bright neon colors, or quiet steady blues. She creates smaller pages at times, pages that are special and make you slow down and really feel the words and the illustrations.

An incredible work of poetry and art, this one should win awards. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

2019 Eisner Award Winners

The Eisner Awards, which celebrate the comic book industry, were announced at Comic-Con. Here are the winners in the categories for children and teens as well as other winners that are books for younger ages:

BEST CONTINUING SERIES and BEST HUMOR PUBLICATION

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1)

Giant Days by John Allison and Max Sarin

 

BEST WRITER/ARTIST

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang for The Prince and the Dressmaker

 

BEST PUBLICATION FOR EARLY READERS (up to age 8)

Johnny Boo Book 8: Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer

Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer by James Kochalka

 

BEST PUBLICATION FOR KIDS (ages 9-12)

The Divided Earth (The Nameless City, #3)

The Divided Earth by Faith Erin Hicks

 

BEST PUBLICATION FOR TEENS 

The Prince and the Dressmaker

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

 

BEST U.S. EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu, translated by Montana Kane

Review: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett (9780316417273)

The war has been going on for years, the Union of the North now scrambling to keep ahead of the flying machines that are being used by the Elda. When her city is firebombed, Revna barely escapes death as she leaves her factory job in her wheelchair. The only reason she survives is that she uses illegal Weave magic to save herself; yet by doing so she reveals her powers. Her father is already in prison, so Revna expects the worst. She is saved by a new program that will teach female pilots to fly using Weave magic. That same program is where Linne finds herself after being discovered to be female while she served in the Union military. The daughter of a Union general, she desperately wants to fight rather than fly. Linne doesn’t trust Revna to be more than a liability thanks to her prosthetic limbs. Still, the two of them form a team in the air, neither of them willing to give up their one chance to fight and fly.

Bartlett weaves fantasy with a military story line that really creates something special on the page. Coming into a war that has been ongoing for years gives the book an immediate fatigue and desperation. It is that backdrop that allows the entire premise of the book to work, and one that is immediately believable. The world building is sound and interesting, based on the Soviet Night Witches who flew in World War II. The naming conventions in the book reflect that Soviet influence as well.

The story is told from the point of view of both main characters. Revna is a young woman who has been scarred by an accident, saved by her father, and then has suffered losses. She makes friends easily, yet is angered when people treat her as if she needs coddling. Linne meanwhile is pure steel, fighting to be taken seriously and always managing to anger the other female pilots along the way. She takes honor very seriously, clinging to the military structure to keep her world aright. Their interactions are difficult and angry, exactly what this book need to set it on fire.

A dramatic and magical look at war, resilience and respect. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

This Week’s Tweets

Here are the items I shared on Twitter this week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

10 of the Best Books for Newborn and Baby Showers – Book Riot – https://t.co/0Y0TNMT9t1

17 Children’s Books To Prep Your Kid For A Visit To The Dentist — Dun Dun Dun buff.ly/2JOP4Cq #kidlit

Cressida Cowell: ‘Books are better than films at teaching children creativity and intelligence’ – https://t.co/KWU83JwgyT

A Debut Middle-Grade Author’s Life-Changing Tweet buff.ly/32ovdlK #kidlit

Free Book Vending Machines Launched Across All NYC Boroughs buff.ly/2jKmbOu #kidlit #yalit

Recent children’s and young adult books on immigration buff.ly/2lnApFy #kidlit #yalit

States Are Ratcheting Up Reading Expectations For 3rd-Graders buff.ly/2NXetPq #reading

We Live in a Diverse World. The Books Kids Read Should Reflect That. – EdSurge News buff.ly/2LrjXzZ #kidlit #Diversity

LIBRARIES

These 2 Men Are On A Mission To Visit Every Public Library In Massachusetts buff.ly/2lz6bQ9 #libraries

Write Now: Library Is An Essential Tool In Writer’s Kit | News, Sports, Jobs – Post Journal buff.ly/2xRW63L #libraries

Your Local Library May Have A New Offering In Stock: A Resident Social Worker – NPR – buff.ly/2XOSy1u #libraries

Review: Even More Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Even More Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown (9781338349610)

Released July 30, 2019. 

Brown returns with another look at wildlife that never get featured in children’s book about animals. Each of these animals is fascinating and Brown offers really interesting facts and tidbits about each of them. The book includes a kangaroo that lives in trees and can jump down over 60 feet without getting hurt. It also has beaked whales with peculiar teeth that hunt fish and squid. There are giant colorful squirrels from India, a killer marten from Afghanistan who can hunt deer, and a Chinese deer with fangs who can leap into trees. Page after page has an unusual animal that demonstrate that we are still learning about wildlife on Earth and that there are more animals than tigers, lions and giraffes to discover.

As with his first book, it is Martin’s writing that makes this such a pleasure to read. I find it impossible to read this book without sharing the information and humor with those around me. The facts shared are interesting and told with plenty of attitude and aside comments that make it great fun to keep learning. Each animal has data points too, such as size, what they eat, where they live, and status. Size in particular is done very nicely, using comparisons like dogs, cats and humans. Brown’s art gives each of the animals rather googly eyes and they often seem to be looking directly at the reader. They are shown in their habitat and often in motion. Other details are called out in images as well and are embedded in the text.

Smart, funny and sure to teach you something new. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from ARC provided by David Fickling Books.

Review: I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson

I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson

I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins (9781338349894)

Released July 30, 2019. 

A very confident little mouse declares that he is actually a tiger. The other animals don’t believe him at first, but he manages to demonstrate that he can growl like a tiger, climb trees like a tiger and even hunt for his lunch. When a real tiger comes along, the mouse declares that the tiger is a mouse! After all, the tiger has a twitchy nose, little hands and feet, and probably ate cheese recently. Mouse continues to show that he has all sorts of tiger-like skills. The defeated real tiger asks then what the other animals are and Mouse gives them all sorts of new identities, including a banana and a balloon. When Mouse leaves and gets a glimpse of himself in the water though, he realizes that he isn’t a tiger after all. Maybe he still isn’t a mouse either?

Newson’s writing is brisk and bright. Done entirely in dialogue, this book begs to be shared aloud with children. Children will love the confident little mouse and his ability to make ludicrous claims and stand by them. Mouse is a great character, becoming all the more interesting when he discovers he isn’t really a tiger after all. The twist at the end is a delight that doesn’t discourage Mouse in the least. The illustrations by Collins are large and colorful. They help tell the full story of what is happening and carry a lot of the humor too.

An uproarious picture book about a little mouse with a big imagination. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.

 

Review: This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill

This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill

This Beach Is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill (9780525553458)

A little boy is so excited to be headed to the beach with his father! He even made breakfast, packed and got dressed before his father woke up. On the way to the beach, he keeps up an excited chatter. But once they get there, the beach is crowded and loud. They set up their umbrella and towel a little apart from the crowd, but it’s still too sandy and hot. The boy wants to go home, right now! But his patient father helps him breathe and count. They set up a quiet fort and take some time. Soon everyone is ready to build sandcastles and have some ice cream together.

Cotterill looks at sensory overload in this picture book in the new Little Senses series. Children on the autism spectrum or highly sensitive children will recognize their response to new situations that are loud and crowded here. It is dealt with using sensitivity and exercises that are soothing and give back some control to the child. The tone here is reassuring that children can do it, with a little help.

The illustrations are bright and friendly. On the title page, readers will notice that the family has been planning and working up to going to the beach for awhile by using a chart. The noises of the beach are shown as overwhelming and loud, the chatter in the car forms the hills along the way, and the eventual shared noise making is smaller and more enjoyable. It’s a clever way to use words to create the environment around the characters and show the impact of noise.

A welcome subject for all libraries, this one is also a good read. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.