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Showing posts from October, 2013

How to Train a Train, written by Jason Cater Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco

How to Train a Train is written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco, author and illustrator of the fantastic Caldecott Silver Medal winning Blackout and illustrator of The Flint Heart : A Fairy Story, a retelling of Eden Phillpotts's 1910 fairy tale by John and Katherine Paterson. Oh yeah, and Rocco has created the cover art for all of Rick Riordan's series.


How to Train a Train is part field guide, part pet care manual that very cleverly tells kids how to best locate a pet train ("Different trains live in different places,") how to get a train's attention (smoke signals) and how to get it to follow you home by making the call of the wild train (CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA!). Then, once you get your train home, you'll want to give it a name. This is my favorite spread in the book and I wish I could share it with you here, but I can tell you that there is a great illustration of a train with fairy wings. There are tips on how to help your train …

The Silver Button by Bob Graham

The Silver Button is the newest picture book from Bob Graham, author of the wistful April and Esme Tooth Fairies, the sweetly powerful A Bus Called Heaven. Graham is also the author of the wonderfully uplifting How to Heal a Broken Wing of which Graham said, "In troubled times, when many of us are losing contact with the natural world, I wanted to show that there is still hope in a coming generation of children who have curiosity and empathy with the world around them, and that care and attention can sometimes fix broken wings." Graham's stories eloquently express the quiet, sometimes overlooked, deeply meaningful moments in childhood that send ripples into adulthood while his illustrations are equal parts cartoonishly simple and intricately detailed at the same time, a mix of rich, vibrant colors anchoring airily washed watercolor earth tones.
The Silver Button is a telescopic book that, as the jacket flap notes, "celebrates the extraordinary in the everyday," …

Captain Cat by Inga Moore

Captain Cat is the newest picture book by Inga Moore, author an illustrator of A House in the Woodsand illustrator of the best adaptation The Wind in the Willowsof that I have read and third best illustrated version after Ernest H. Shephard and Arthur Rackham's editions. Moore's illustrations are magically pastoral and domestically cozy, creating a world you can step into and live in and one that will linger with you long after you have left. Captain Cat is the kind of book that your children will read now, over and over, then remember well into their adulthoods with fondness.

The story of Captain Cat is fairy tale-like in its setting and straightforward telling. Captain Cat and his ship, the Carlotta, sail the seas, making trades in ports all over the world. But, Captain Cat's favorite time of day comes in the evening when he settles into his cabin with his many, many cats, poring over maps and charts and dreaming of the lands he would like to visit.When the day finally c…

Toys Galore by Peter Stein, illustrated by Bob Staake

Toys Galore is the third fantastic "Galore" book from Peter Stein and Bob Staake. Stein and Staake are perfectly paired - Stein's adjective packed rhymes are often as colorful and kooky as Staake's generously populated illustrations. Despite the title, Toys Galore is so much more than a cataloguing of toys.

Stein's quatrains highlight the functions of toys and the fun you can have with them, always emphasizing the benefits of sharing toys while playing. Staake's illustrations support this sense of communal play and mutual fun. What I love most about the text, though, is the way that Stein and Staake feature homemade-creative-thinking-toys like blocks, clay, tin can phones, go carts and cardboard box robots.

The final stanzas of Toys Galore end brilliantly, pondering what the best toy in the world could possibly be. In tune with the rest of the book, readers discover that the best "toy's found inside yourself. It's there - right now! A toy SENSATI…

The Screaming Staircase: Lockwood & Co., Book 1, by Jonathan Stroud, 400 pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE

Lockwood & Co. : The Screaming Staircase is the new series by Jonathan Stroud, author of the amazing fantasy novels, The Bartimaeus Trilogy and the prequel, The Ring of Solomon. I greedily read The Amulet of the Samarkand, the first book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy when it was released in 2003 (and each book afterwards) and they have been on my mind non-stop for the last five years, nagging to be re-read and properly reviewed. 

While you will still have to wait a while longer for my review of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, I am thrilled to be able to review Stroud's new series, Lockwood & Co. : The Screaming Staircase, the first four chapters of which can be read on the website. When I first read The Amulet of the Samarkand, I was four or five books deep into the Harry Potter series and was excited to find that Stroud had set his book about a young magician's apprentice in a modern day London, albeit alternate, where magic was known to all. This felt so different to the almost …

Love and Other Fiascos : Popularity Papers #6, by Amy Ignatow, 208 pp, RL 4

Love and Other Fiascos by Amy Ignatow is the sixth book in her fantastic series, The Popularity Papers. Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang have to be my favorite middle schoolers and I don't say that lightly. Just in case you don't know these two lovely young ladies, let me take you back to the first book, the full title of which is, The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldbaltt and Julie Graham-Chang. About to embark on their middle school careers, the bold, outgoing Lydia and the shy, artistic Julie decide to study the popular girls and emulate them in the hopes of learning how to be popular too. Lydia will be the guinea pig and Julie will take scientific notes - notes that become the book itself. The journal format of the series lends itself perfectly to the personalities of Julie and Lydia, who takes over writing and illustrating duties when pressed, and is completely, totally engaging and always entertaining. In f…

The Doodle Circle: A Fill-In Journal for BFFs to Share by Dawn DeVries Sokol

The Doodle Circle: A Fill-In Journal for BFFs to Share by Dawn DeVries Sokol is not your typical doodle book. First off, despite the title, The Doodle Circle: A Fill-In Journal for BFFs to Share is really a place for art journaling. But, that might sound a little stuffy or academic to the intended audience, which I would guess are the same girls who read Amy Ignatow's fantastic Popularity Papers series, books that could be described as graphic-journal-novels in which the middle school aged characters Lydia and Julie take turns recording (often quite artistically) the details of their lives. With The Doodle Circle: A Fill-In Journal for BFFs to Share, Dawn DeVries Sokol gives girls a chance to do something similar.
Meant to be used yearbook style, meaning the book should be passed around and filled in by the owner and her friends, The Doodle Circle: A Fill-In Journal for BFFs to Share seems like the perfect party theme for a tween sleepover or birthday. Set up a table filled with s…

Accessorize by Hennie Haworth

AccessorizebyHennie Haworth is yet another amazingly funBig Picture Pressbook that is guaranteed to engange and entertain kids and adults. With over 600 stickers and 16 art cards, the options and hours of fun are almost endless. So how does it work? The art cards each feature a unique illustration and instructions. So, the page below, which tells you to "Spec these Spectators," becomes...

Spectacular!(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

The image above (and those below bordered in hot pink) was created by a workshop participant at the Cheltenham Literature Festivalwhere Hennie was a guest speaker.

You also have the opportunity to accessorize some photos of parakeets on the page that instructs you to, "Take a Bow." And you can fill the compartments of a jewelry box when you "Stock this Box Until It Rocks."

Another art card gives you the chance to "Pack Your Backs" and "Pack it In." My favorite page, which I couldn't find an image of, feature…