The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (9781626721593, Amazon)

The second book in The Nameless City, this book continues the story of Kaidu and Rat as the political situation grows even tenser in the city. The Dao nation is exploring new paths to solidify peace, but factions within are seeing their personal plans for power evaporating. Soon violence becomes the solution within the Dao factions and someone new is in power. Meanwhile, Kaidu and Rat are discovering that the monks that raised Rat may have the key to the power that the original founders of the City used to create it. But that power could be used as a weapon by the Dao nation, so there is danger in even trying to find it.

Hicks has taken on an incredible challenge in this graphic novel series. The story is complicated and fascinating. Hicks creates real danger and drama in the tale, never taking it too far but allowing the political pieces to push the story forward. Kaidu and Rat are marvelous characters, their friendship growing stronger. They offer a critical humorous interlude amongst the politics even as they play an important role in the heart of the story.

As this is a graphic novel, the art is just as important as the writing. Hicks has created a truly diverse city filled with various races and religions. She fills the pages with small details, allowing readers to feel the press of the city, the danger it poses and the security it offers.

This second novel hints at the adventures to come. Readers will look forward to the third and final book even more after finishing this one. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

Wake Up! by Helen Frost

Wake Up by Helen Frost

Wake Up! by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder (9780763681494, Amazon)

This is the fourth collaboration of poet Helen Frost and photographer Rick Lieder. Once again, there is a focus on nature and its wonder. In this book, spring is the subject with new eggs, newly hatched animals, and babies galore. Frost’s poetry is simple and skillful, filled with rhymes and rhythm that carry the book forward inviting investigation. Lieder’s photography is wonderful, capturing that same love of the wild.

Frost’s poetry is particularly deft. She invites readers to explore the outside world, look up into the sky and the trees. She looks below the water and at seeds on the breeze. The photography follows these invitations, capturing eggs, tadpoles and baby deer in their natural habitat. The book ends with more in-depth information on the animals featured in the images.

Another delightful success by this pair, this picture book deserves a place in every library to help celebrate spring. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

YALSA’s Teen Top Ten Nominees for 2017

The nominees for the Teen Top Ten have been announced by YALSA. Nominations are made by teen book groups in schools and libraries across the country. Teen are then invited to vote for their favorites each year. Voting for teens opens on August 15th and runs through Teen Read Week in October. Here are the nominated titles followed by the video from YALSA:

All We Have Left The Art of Being Normal

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Burning Midnight The Diabolic

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

Don't Get Caught Genius: The Game

Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

Girl in Pieces The Great American Whatever

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Heartless If I Was Your Girl

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

The Killing Jar Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)

The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Love & Gelato Nightstruck (Nightstruck #1)

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Nightstruck by Jenna Black

Once Upon a Dream (A Twisted Tale, #2) P.S. I Like You

Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Passenger (Passenger, #1) Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Starflight (Starflight, #1) Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

The Sun Is Also a Star Tell Me Three Things

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

This Is Where It Ends Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

25897678 The Year We Fell Apart

We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Braced by Alyson Gerber (9780545902144, Amazon)

Rachel is looking forward to a great year. She has two best friends and it’s looking like she may not just make the soccer team but may be playing forward. She even has a crush on a boy, Tate, in her class. Just as her plans start to take off though, she is hit with news about her scoliosis which has been being monitored for years. Rachel must wear a brace to correct the curve of her spine. She has to wear it 23 hours a day, every day. The brace changes how she can kick the soccer ball, how she breathes, how she runs and how she eats. Worse though, it changes how everyone sees her, including her best friends and Tate. What had been going to be the best year ever has become the worst year ever.

Gerber, who wore a brace herself for scoliosis, has created a piercingly clear look at life-changing events like wearing a brace. She takes the time to really look at the brace itself, the impact that it has on an athlete, and the changes it makes in self-perception. I haven’t read a book since Deenie by Judy Blume that tackles this subject and it was high time for a new take on it.

As the adults in Rachel’s life push her to quickly accept the brace, Rachel pushes back and insists on continuing to play soccer. Rachel appears to be coping well, but she is bottling so much up inside her. She is a great character, demonstrating with honesty and strength the importance of voicing aloud to those you love what you are experiencing and feeling. Once Rachel begins to do that, others can support her and help her through. It’s a lesson in vulnerability leading to better understanding that is gracefully presented.

Strong, human and timely, scoliosis impacts ten percent of teens. Appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (9780763674991, Amazon)

All you need to create a farm anywhere is soil, sunshine, water, and a seed. Which means you can make a farm just about anywhere! The book shows children and adults working together to make a garden in an empty lot. They find things in the garbage to use as pots and places for soil. The book also shows the kind of insects and animals that you might find in an urban garden, including neighbors who are excited by the green changes.

Root writes with a lovely warm tone, inviting readers along on this gardening adventure. The use of an urban setting is great to see in a picture book, especially showing children the creation of the space from the empty lot into a green center of activity. Root uses repetition and rhymes, creating a picture book that is a joy to share aloud. There is a wonderful playful nature about the book, the garden and the bounty.

Karas always creates a delightful feel in the picture books he illustrates. The children he shows are of various races and backgrounds. He shows a vibrant urban setting, filled with activity and energy. It’s just the sort of place that feels like something could happen, and here we get to see it from the ground up, literally.

A strong addition to gardening picture books, this is a perfect read aloud for spring. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Colorful Poetry: 22 Diverse Poetry Picture Books for Kids via

Emma Donoghue’s New Novel Makes Diversity an Understatement

Great interview with , author of BRONZE AND SUNFLOWER Book:

How Western Mass. became kids’ lit central – The Boston Globe

Jude Law Cast as Young Dumbledore

The world is facing a refugee crisis; half of them are children. Talk to kids about the need to help w. these books:

LIBRARIES

Bookmobiles and Beyond: new library services on wheels serve newborns through teens

Public Libraries May Be in Jeopardy Under Trump — So Here’s How to Support Them

TEEN LIT

3 On A YA Theme: Pansexuality

5 YA Reads on the Asian Immigrant Experience

Bulk up your TBR with over 175 YA books hitting shelves between April and June 2017:

Fave Five: Biracial Bisexual MCs in YA

Tales as old as time — The Horn Book

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything by Jenna McCarthy, illustrated by Molly Idle (9780385390866, Amazon)

Poppy is not scared of anything at all. She likes spiders and snakes; she has monsters as imaginary friends; she loves the dark and scary stories. Her sister Petunia is seen as the more careful one. When Poppy is asked what kind of pet she’d like she thinks of tarantulas, sharks, or bears! Petunia tries to scare Poppy, but nothing seems to work. Sometimes, Petunia finds Poppy’s bravery handy like when she needs something out of the basement. Then one day, Poppy suddenly discovers that there are things that make her scared and she needs Petunia’s help to overcome it.

McCarthy’s writing is light and playful. She has created two very different siblings who manage to support one another even though they tease each other too. It’s a natural sibling dynamic that is neither overly sweet or too cantankerous. The story has plenty of action and moves ahead swiftly as Poppy’s bravery is shown again and again, though she has friends and family who also help keep her safe.

Caldecott Honor winner, Idle has illustrated this in her signature style. There is a lovely merriment in the illustrations. I particularly enjoy the boredom of Poppy on the children’s roller coaster as others are cheering, frightened or ill. It captures the entire book quite nicely.

A jolly picture book about bravery, sensibility and personal limits, this picture book is great fun. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers.