Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane

Who Wants a Tortoise by Dave Keane

Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane, illustrated by KG Campbell (InfoSoup)

Released July 19, 2016.

A little girl has been longing for a puppy for her entire life. She has lists of dog names, read about training, and dreamed about life with a puppy. So when she opens the box with holes in the top on her birthday, she is dismayed to discover a tortoise inside. Her father had told her he was allergic to dogs, but she had still dreamed of having one. Now she has a cold-blooded reptile. She has no ideas for names for him, so she doesn’t name him anything. She figures out that he can’t play fetch, does not like rolling over, doesn’t do many tricks, and doesn’t get excited when she returns home. Slowly though, she does figure out things that she can do with a tortoise, including selling turns holding it and painting its nails. When she tries playing hide-and-seek though, she discovers that tortoises are far too good at it. Now she is the owner of a lost tortoise. How will she ever find him again?

Keane has written a witty story that shows the natural progression of falling in love with a different kind of pet. The protagonist tells the story in her own voice, filled with righteous indignation at being given a reptile and then turning to grudging respect for what it can do, and finally becoming an expert on tortoises. The characters throughout the book are thoroughly realistic and human, from the father who mentions his allergy to no avail to the little girl and her friends as they try to find the hiding tortoise. The reactions and emotions here are honest and true, creating a book that is funny and heartfelt.

Campbell’s illustrations add so much to this picture book. The little girl’s pigtails show her emotions just as much as her face. They are perky when hopeful, limp when lonely, and almost stiff when angry. Using plenty of white space, the illustrations show both a loving family and a warm community where people are willing to line up for lemonade and a tortoise.

A dynamite picture book that is ideal for pet-themed story times or to introduce a new pet to a classroom or family. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.

 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (InfoSoup)

A ship carrying crates of robots capsizes in the ocean. Some of the crates float, only to be dashed on the rocks of a small island. One crate though survives and is left safely on the island. Some curious otters explore the crate and accidentally turn on the robot inside. That robot is Roz, designed to ensure her survival and help people. Soon Roz is exploring the island, climbing high on the rocks to see her surroundings. As she explores, the animals of the island declare her a monster and avoid her. Roz begins to acclimate to the island, figuring out how to camouflage herself. It is by sitting still and hidden that she starts to learn the language of the animals around her. As time passes, Roz is no longer gleaming and clean and she can speak with the animals. It isn’t until a deadly accident happens though that Roz shows the island residents who she really is.

This book is entirely magnificent. It is a book about nature, its beauty and grandeur and danger. It is a meditation on the outside, the power of it to change even a robot’s life. It is a look at the importance of listening and learning and finding one’s own way forward in unexpected circumstances. But most of all, it is a book about love and life and the way that finding someone to love transforms each of us.

There is something achingly beautiful about this book. Yes, there is more than enough action and humor to keep the book moving and of interest to children. Yes, the characters are brilliantly created and their relationships are drawn with skill and attention. Yes, its pacing is exceptional. It that ache though, that makes this book exceptional. The way that it is allowed to just be there, loneliness and acceptance, loss and love.

Truly an exceptional read created by a picture book author in his first foray into middle-grade books. Wow. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S. Perl

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S Perl

Ferocious Fluffity by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Henry Cole

Released July 19, 2016.

The author and illustrator of Chicken Butt return with another uproariously funny picture book. Mr. Drake brings a new pet into his classroom. It’s a tiny hamster. They aren’t allowed to hold her, but one day when Mr. Drake is late, the children take her out of her cage. But Fluffity is not as sweet as she looks. She bites all of the children! Then she chases them down the hall and continues to bite them as they hide in the library. When Mr. Drake discovers them all, Fluffity bites him too and won’t let go. They finally get Fluffity back into her cage and figure out that she needs exercise and lots of things to chew on to be happiest. In fact, they do so well that Mr. Drake brings in a new pet for the classroom!

Now, I must admit that when I start a picture book and it is in rhyme I tend to worry and even shudder a bit. Here Perl handles her rhyme with panache, using it to up the frenzied action and to increase the humor as well. The rhyme adds a galloping pace to the book that is wonderful as well as making it a treat to read aloud. The humor is broad and never subtle, in other words perfect for small children to laugh right along with. It is also appreciated that in the end the students learn how to care for Fluffity rather than getting rid of the little nipper.

Cole’s illustrations add to the zany feel of the book. Just look into the eyes of Fluffity and you will know that something is about to go wrong. The ball of fur may be tiny, but her glare would have me hiding in a library too. Just like the writing, the illustrations are ideal for sharing out loud too with their bright colors, large format and action-filled images.

Sure to keep even the wiggliest preschooler listening, this picture book is a great finishing read for a story time welcoming children back to school. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

 

Flannery by Lisa Moore

Flannery by Lisa Moore

Flannery by Lisa Moore (InfoSoup)

At age 16, Flannery is dealing with huge issues. Her mother, an artist, is unable to pay for her biology book or heating bills. Her best friend, Amber, has a new boyfriend that Flannery does not trust because he is over-controlling and their friendship is falling apart. And now Flannery has been put into a Entrepreneurship class project with her long-term crush, a graffiti artist who seems to think he’s too cool for school. So she is left doing all of the work for their project herself. Flannery works to hold it all together, even managing to create a project that sells out: love potions. While Flannery may realize they are entirely pretend, everyone who drinks one seems to be finding love. As things start to shatter around her though, Flannery discovers who is there for her and who is not.

OK, everything I read about this book seems to focus on the love potion aspect. This book does have that, but oh my it is so much more. The writing here is strikingly unique. Moore does away with quotation marks, creating dialogue poetry on the page, the voices running together exquisitely and somehow becoming even more clear without the punctuation. That is great writing. She plays with the mysticism of love, the power of control, and the illusion of it as well.

Beyond the love potions, this is a book about a teenager finding her own strength, her own voice and her own way of living which is not about conforming at all. Flannery knows throughout the book that she is unique and in love and that everything is not what it should be. Still, there are revelations even as she lives her truth, ones that change her point of view and make her grow. That is done so naturally and organically. Beautiful.

A stunning teen read, pick this one up not for the love potions but for the deep story and strong unique heroine that you will want to meet. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Moon’s Almost Here by Patricia MacLachlan

The Moons Almost Here by Patricia MacLachlan

The Moon’s Almost Here by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Tomie dePaola (InfoSoup)

A collaboration between a Newbery medalist and Caldecott Honor and Newbery Honor winner, this picture book is a dreamy bedtime read. As two people get ready for the moon to arrive, the animals around them are also preparing for bed. A hen gathers her chicks close and safe in their pen. The ducks head to the shore. Horses and cows head inside. Fireflies blink in the meadow. The dog and cat fall asleep. Then the moon has arrived, big and bright in the sky, just as the child falls asleep in the adult’s arms.

MacLachlan’s text is a poem that leads readers around the farm, from one animal to another as they prepare for bed. The animals are not anthropomorphic at all, but nicely realistic. She adds in touches of butterflies as well as the fireflies that echo the stars above. The entire effect is of tranquility and a slowing down as the evening arrives. It feels entirely natural and organic as it gets sleepier.

The illustrations by dePaola are filled with teals and blues, but also lit with moonlight. The adult character wears white with a white clown face as well that evokes Pierrot. It creates a surreal and dreamlike effect in the picture book, but is not frightening at all. The deep colors add to the nighttime quiet and sleepiness.

A superb bedtime picture book that works because of the virtuoso blend of poetry and illustration. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (InfoSoup)

A little boy heads home after school, excited about a trip to the beach the next day with his family. His teacher did warn that a storm was coming and as the evening goes by, the sky gets darker. His parents prepare for a storm and reassure him that even if they can’t go to the beach the next day, they will go another weekend. Soon rain starts to fall and then the wind picks up and blows hard. When it gets too loud, the boy jumps into his bed and pulls his covers over his head. Soon he is dreaming about being on a ship with big propellers that help to drive the storm away. Finally the storm moves off and his ship can sail higher into the sky. When the boy wakes up the next morning, he discovers a lovely day. Just right for a visit to the beach!

Miyakoshi’s picture book is filled with tension. Not only of the storm itself but of the waiting for the storm to arrive and then the concern about how it will impact their plans for the next day. It is a tension that children will understand, whether about weather and storms or about big plans being disrupted. It is also a picture book that speaks to the power of nature and the way that children can have plans with little control over them.

The illustrations in the book are black and white with small touches of color like the blue sky after the storm. The charcoal style has a lovely texture throughout. Light and dark play on the page with one storm page filled with rain showing the falling water as bright zings of light in the darkness. There is both a feeling of drama and also one of safety throughout, particularly during dinner and at bedtime.

This stormy picture book is one that children will relate to on a variety of levels. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Kids Can Press and Edelweiss.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

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

 :

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

13 Children’s Books That Break Racial Stereotypes

2016 Caldecott Medal Acceptance by Sophie Blackall — The Horn Book Gorgeous speech.

2016 Newbery Acceptance by Matt de la Peña — The Horn Book – A must-read speech for everyone.

The Audacious Choice of Sophie Blackall — The Horn Book

Bringing diversity and brown faces to children’s books

GeekDad Charts a Course With Hope Larson and ‘Compass South’ – GeekDad

Jerry Pinkney and the Power of Story: Profile of 2016 Wilder & CSK–Virginia Hamiliton Award Winner – The Horn Book

On the Importance of Creepy Kids’ Books  – https://t.co/TalwbiLOQC 

One Mom’s Fond Farewell to the Beloved Elephant & Piggie Series

Raquel D’Apice’s Open Letter To The Female Hat-Wearing Dog in “Go, Dog. Go!”

Silent and Strong: 14 Books for Introverted Kids and Teens | Brightly

‘Swallows and Amazons’ Forever: Why a now-obscure children’s novel is great summer reading

Tween Pride Reads – ALSC Blog

Which is why there ALWAYS have to be books in the playroom, between the toys ;-):

LIBRARIES

“An Evening to Paint” at North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Pearsall Library:

Libraries that Listen | American Libraries Magazine

Officials break ground on $115 million Enoch Pratt renovation

TEEN READS

Out of the Box – Transgender lives — The Horn Book

RT : From The Hub: Booklist: YA Alternate History

A Safe and Sacred Space – Guest Post by Benjamin Alire Saenz –