Review: This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold (9781553797586)

In a graphic novel format, this book tells the story of 150 years of indigenous history in Canada. The book begins with the story of Annie Bannatyne, the daughter of a wealthy store owner and a Metis-Saulteaux woman. Angered by racist comments published by Charles Mair, Annie literally horsewhips him in public, inspiring a young Louis Riel. There are stories of First Nation chiefs continuing their tribes’ traditional ways, despite them being forbidden by Canadian law. Other stories tell of the damage of residential schools. There is the story of Francis Pegahmagabow, the best sniper in North American history, and how his heroism in World War I was not enough to get the Canadian government to treat him as a human being. There are stories of children taken away, of families broken, of great heroism and deep connection to traditions and to the land itself. The book ends with a science fiction look at native people in space and a message of hope for change.

Told by various First Nation authors and illustrators, this book is simply incredible. At the beginning of each story, the author speaks about their inspiration and then a timeline is given that shows how little progress was made in Canada. Information is shared in the timeline that allows the stories to be more focused but for readers to learn about more historical points. As the history grows shockingly modern, the events remain just as searingly racist as those before the turn of the century. Still, the message here is one of strength, resilience and resistance. It is about standing up, insisting on being seen, and demanding to be heard. There is hope here in each of these heroes.

One of the top graphic novels of the year, this may be Canadian focused, but it speaks to everyone in all nations. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald

The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald

The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald (9780399548871)

Penny is an unusual pig, since she’s actually a dachshund puppy. She doesn’t get bigger like her pig siblings, instead she gets longer. She’s different in other ways too, like her bark compared to their oinks. But her mother pig loves her just the same as her litter mates. When the piglets root in the mud, Penny digs with her paws instead. Penny also prefers to practice her barking instead of playing in mud puddles. Her piglet siblings teased her about how different she is, but Penny just kept being herself. Then one day, a snake appeared in the barnyard and suddenly Penny started growling and barking. She chased that snake away! Her own unique abilities saved the day.

Steuerwald has written a lovely little picture book about the value of being yourself and your own peculiar traits being your strengths. She nicely skirts the impact of bullying, keeping the piglets from being too aggressive, instead focusing on Penny and her personal gifts. The writing and story is told briskly and with a directness that will work well with small children.

The artwork is particularly captivating with each of the pigs unique from one another as well as from Penny, of course. The small brown dog stands out on the page against the pink and black piglets. The bright eyes and smiling mouths of the different animals make for a happy tone throughout the book.

Embrace your differences with this neat little picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Bruce’s Big Fun Day by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce's Big Fun Day by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce’s Big Fun Day by Ryan T. Higgins (9781368022811)

Nibbs, the mouse, wants Bruce to have a fun day, but Bruce doesn’t seem to be having any fun at all. Breakfast in bed turns into a messy disaster. The long walk is exhausting. A picnic turns into a feast for the ants. The boat ride is wet, particularly when Nibbs uses Bruce himself as the boat. They do make it back home in time for supper, but supper is too dainty and fancy for Bruce and dessert is even worse. By the time they are in bed, Bruce is very, very grumpy. Which is really nice, since Bruce loves to be grumpy. It might have been the perfect day out after all.

Higgins cleverly turns his picture book series about Mother Bruce into an easy reader format. His use of limited vocabulary is done seamlessly with the story. It helps that there is zany action on many of the pages that can be explained in Higgins’ rather dry tone in just a few words. The illustrations help too. Done in full color and with Higgins’ signature style, they show the story playing out on the page with great clarity and additional moments of silliness.

A great addition to easy reader shelves, this one is big fun. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Vroom! by Barbara McClintock (9781626722170)

One evening, Annie puts on her helmet and gloves and drives her car right out her bedroom window and out onto the road. The road is straight and flat, just right for driving really fast. When she reaches the mountains, the road gets curvy and cold, then descends into the hot desert. She drives through a forest, then across a huge bridge and into a city where she gets caught in traffic for awhile. She goes fast through the traffic jam, and then faster onto a racetrack. Getting tired, she heads for home, arriving just in time for a bedtime story about cars.

This picture book embraces imaginative play in a little girl’s world as she pretends to be taking the perfect drive. Her white car is pristine at the beginning of the story and ends up covered in dirt and grass with a little smoke coming out of the hood. Annie doesn’t bother to slow down much and not even her imaginary traffic jam can hold her for long. The book, just like Annie, is fast moving with just enough words to hold the story together. The illustrations are filled with the dust of Annie’s racing past. Done in bright colors, the world around her is friendly and vivid with Annie at its center going fast.

A wild ride of a book that is a joy. Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 

 

Review: Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond

Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond

Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond (9781534421851)

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, a neighborhood united by good food from many different cultures. Told in thirteen linked stories, this novel explores the power of food to connect, change, grow and even fall in love. There is the story of food that can give you courage and other dishes that can help you get revenge as long as it’s justified. There is the story of a food competition that unites a grandmother and her grandson. There is the quiet girl who knows just what pastry you need just then. There are haunting tales of sacrifice and pain. The stories bridge generations and cultures, they show a neighborhood brimming with new and old connections, and they fill the world with more than a little magic built on shared food.

More than a simple collection of short stories, these short stories are beautifully connected to one another. There are characters who appear across multiple stories long before they have their own tale told. There are restaurants glimpsed over the course of the entire novel, sharing their magic across many tales. Throughout the entire book, it is the neighborhood itself that is always consistent and full of details. Frankly, I’m not sure how this many authors managed to write such a cohesive and yet diverse set of stories. It is extraordinary!

One element of many of the stories is a sense of deep heritage that bridges generations. There are stories about grandparents and parents, about magic shared and taught, about food and the skill to make amazing meals together. Each story has mouthwatering descriptions of different foods, enough to make readers want to try something new and amazing immediately.

A remarkable short story collection about food and magic. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon Pulse. 

 

Review: My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky

My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky

My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky (9780714878652)

This is the second board book in a series that links fine art to a single concept. In this case, the book is focused on sleep. In the book, you will find 35 images of art works from a variety of time periods and cultures that depict sleeping in a number of different ways. The book explores naps and also getting ready for bed and bedtime. It also looks at dreams and what you might see in them. The book also shows sunsets and night skies.

Accompanying the art is a simple set of sentences that cleverly tie together the disparate pieces of art. It offers a loose connectivity to the images that makes the book able to be shared aloud. The use of the connecting words is a critical element here that makes more than an art collection and turns it into a bedtime story with amazing art. Each piece of art is also labeled with its title and artist. The book ends with more information on each piece of art.

An intelligent look at art for the youngest of children. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets

Here are the items I shared on Twitter this week:

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CHILDREN’S BOOKS

2019 Caldecott Medal Acceptance by Sophie Blackall buff.ly/2XuVV8Z #kidlit

2019 CSK Author Award Acceptance by Claire Hartfield buff.ly/2JgCgWh #kidlit

2019 Newbery Medal Acceptance by Meg Medina buff.ly/2JdRA5P #kidlit

Beatrix Potter: history of the children’s author, farmer and conservationist buff.ly/2RU7PaY #kidlit

BookBar’s Extremely Official Response to Extremely Negative Comments… With Book Recommendations! buff.ly/2YIEEdu #kidlit #LGBTQ

UK Society of Authors launches £5000 prize for illustrated children’s books | Books+Publishing buff.ly/2LaJvRZ #kidlit

You could be putting your child off reading – here’s how to change that buff.ly/2NBnHkf #reading

LIBRARIES

Arkansas Librarians Launch Summer Book Bus, Inspire Community buff.ly/2FU3wrI #libraries

Public libraries help fill social services gap buff.ly/2RXMJss #libraries

Small Wonders: Rural and Small Libraries Provide Vital Infrastructure for Communities buff.ly/2FV5VC6 #libraries

YA LIT

12 Young Adult Novels Featuring Characters With Chronic Conditions, Mental Illnesses and Disabilities buff.ly/2Jggz8N #yalit

Magical library foundlings, restless skeletons, and more amazing summer YA blessing us this summer: ow.ly/MooY50uU8gW

The Walking Dead: Idaho High School Bans Image Comics Series buff.ly/2L3BH4l #yalit

Review: Bunny in the Middle by Anika A. Denise

Bunny in the Middle by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Bunny in the Middle by Anika A. Denise, illustrated by Christopher Denise (9781250120366)

Three rabbit siblings fill these pages with their daily activities as being the middle child is explored. When you are a middle child, you are the one in between. Your older sibling helps you and you help your younger sibling. You know when to share and when to hold on. You know the best time to lead and the best time to follow, but you also know when to do things your own way. Yes, you get hand-me-downs and also have to share a room. But it also means that you are often just the right size for a lot of things, including being right in the middle.

While the words in this book focus on explaining the good and bad of being the middle child, it is the pictures that are something entirely special. The images of the three rabbits are filled with sunlight, sticky frosting, leafy adventures, and coziness. From the lankier and rather bossy older sister to the plump toddler younger sibling, this little family is a joy to spend time with. The middle child is often unperturbed in the midst of chaos or demands, showing just what it takes to excel at being that special on in the center of a family.

Gorgeous illustrations illuminate a story of a little group of siblings. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Henry Holt and Company.

Review: Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon

Rocket Says Look Up by Nathan Bryon

Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola (9781984894427)

Rocket is a little girl who is really interested in astronomy and science. There’s a meteor shower happening tonight, and Rocket wants everyone to know about it and watch it with her. So when her big brother heads to the store with her, Rocket grabs the announcement microphone and tells everyone about the meteor shower. But when she laughs at her brother for not looking up from his phone and getting splashed by a car, he tells her that he won’t take her to the park that night. Luckily, her mother intervenes and they head out to the park. There’s a group of people who want to see it with them, but as time goes by and nothing appears in the sky except for stars, they all wander off. Only Rocket and her brother are left and Rocket is so sad that she dragged them out for nothing. But when her brother finally looks up from his phone, it’s show time!

Bryon has written a very dynamic picture book about a girl scientist with a love for science that she just has to share. The older brother is a great character too with his head down looking at his phone all the time, but also someone who patiently leads his little sister around all day and even into the night. Their interplay with one another is written with honesty and a modern look at technology.

The illustrations show a busy African-American family and a young girl who is dressed to head into the stars immediately. The pictures are filled with humor and the characters show real emotions on the page. Using beams of light in the final pages filled with darkness works nicely to highlight the action both on earth and in the sky.

A diverse and dynamic STEM picture book. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.