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Showing posts from June, 2016

Ferocious Fluffity: A Mighty Bite-y Class Pet by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Henry Cole

Ferocious Fluffity: A Mighty Bite-y Class Pet is a rhyming cautionary tale about getting to know a pet before you interact with it. Just hearing the title of this new book by Erica S. Perl with illustrations by Henry Cole, and you know you are in for a good laugh. And, even though I knew what was coming, I still laughed out loud and had to put the book down for a minute when it happened.



What knocks Ferocious Fluffity out of the park are Perl's perfectly paced rhymes and Cole's expressively hilarious illustrations. Even though Mr. Drake, the teacher cautions the class, "Look -don't touch. She's too little. It's too much," the one morning he is late to school, the class can't wait to get their hands on Fluffity. They find out very quickly that Fluffity can't wait to get her teeth in them... Cole's illustrations of the ferocious hamster lunging, teeth bared, are fantastically funny. Once things settle down and Fluffity is back in her cage, the cl…

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour, 256 pp, RL: TEEN

David Levithan is one of my top five favorite writers of YA fiction. His a gifted writer when it comes to getting the intricacies and delicacies of relationships - be they platonic or romantic - on the page, and his work always reminds me that making and maintaining connections is possibly the most important work we can do. Besides being an editor at Scholastic, Levithan is the author/co-author of twenty books! His newest, You Know Me Well, written with Nina LaCour, is the dual narrative of Mark and Kate, junior and senior at the same high school who, before bumping into each other at a bar in the Castro district on the first night of Pride Week, had never spoken to each other.
Mark and Kate are at a crossroads with their longtime best friends and feeling pushed to change. Mark, varsity baseball playing, straight A student is good looking enough to get asked if he is a model and secretly in love with Ryan. Ryan, who is not out, takes a big step forward, just not with Mark. Kate, a pain…

Science Comics: Coral Reefs - Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks AND Dinosaurs - Fossils and Feathers by MK Reed and Joe Flood, 120 pp, RL 3

The fantastic publisher FirstSecond, whose motto is precisely and perfectly, "Great graphic novels for every reader," started a new non-fiction series for kids this year. Science Comics: Get to Know Your Universe debuts with superb creators and subjects, Coral Reef: Cities in the Ocean by Maris Wicks and Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers by MK Reed  and Joe Flood
Wicks, author of the excellent non-fiction graphic novel for kids, Human Body Theater, worked as a part-time program educator at the New England Aquarium and just spent two months doing scientific outreach for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on board the R/V Atlantis! Her passion and knowledge shine through in Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean and her introduction is definitely worth reading, especially when she tells readers that we, "make choices that impact the environment with every dollar you spend, every action you take, and every vote that you cast," and encourages us to plant a milkweed, listing…

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 587 pp, RL 4

I missed Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan when it came out in February of 2015. Scholastic is one of the few publishers I don't get review copies from and, working in a library instead of a bookstore now, I an not as up on what's new in the world of kid's books as I once was. I even missed the March, 2015 review of Echo in the New York Times Book Reivew, which I usually scour. Echo crossed my radar in January of this year when it won a Newbery Honor, along with two other superb books, The War that Saved My Lifeand Roller Girl. While I hate the fact that I didn't read Echo right when it came out, I am so, so glad that I knew absolutely NOTHING about it (save that it won an award) before I began listening/reading it. Having worked with and been an avid reader of children's literature for more than 20 years, I've kind of read it all. There aren't too many plots or characters that surprise me or feel really new and original. Echo surprised me - it's as if A. S. Byatt…

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke is a gifted graphic novelist who creates stories perfectly balance themes of family, bravery, and belonging with wonderfully detailed illustrations and characters you won't forget. For his second picture book, Nobody Likes a Goblin, Hatke visits a medieval world where even a goblin needs a friend.

Goblin has a daily routine, and his best friend, Skeleton, is part of it. Skeleton lives in the Treasure Room and one day while  he and Goblin are goofing around with the treasures, the room is raided! Goblin decides to abandon the safety of his routine and head out into the world to find his friend. He stops to as a hill troll if he has seen anything and in the process agrees to find the troll's "Honk-Honk," which was also plundered. The troll's parting words warn Goblin to be careful because, "Nobody like a Goblin." Across the fields and through the village, with an angry horde (that includes a few warrior women) on his little green tail, Goblin sea…

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, illustrated by Sara Watts, 350 pp, RL 4

I love books about books and I love mysteries. However, especially in the world of children's literature, it's very challenging to find a well written book of either genre, let alone both together. A solid, believable mystery often means character development is sacrificed. Or, as in two of my all-time favorites, The Westing Game and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, superb character development overshadows the mystery that sets the plot in motion. As an eleven-year-old reader, Ellen Raskin's characters, from Turtle to Theo Theodorakis to Sydelle Pulaski, stuck in my memory well into adulthood. But, as a kid, I was also a little disappointed that the actual clue-gathering game in the book wasn't entirely solvable for readers. With Book ScavengerJennifer Chambliss Bertman has written a miraculous middle grade novel that almost perfectly balances character development with a solid, believable, puzzle filled mystery that readers can unravel themselve…

Red's Planet by Eddie Pittman, 192 pp, RL 4

Red's Planet is the first in a comic book series from Eddie Pittman. Pittman, who says he taught himself to draw in the back of math class, has been a professional cartoonist, working in animation, comics and illustration for over 25 years. He has worked on films like Mulan, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove and most recently the show Phineas & Ferb and the influence this work has on his graphic novel is delightfully evident, in both the bright color palette and cinematic sweep of his panels. And, Red's Planet is overflowing with visually fantastic, fascinating characters that I want to get to know better. At first glance, I feel like I can almost begin to guess their back stories. And, while Red's Planet is the first book in the series and almost entirely set up for the rest of the series, every panel of every page is engrossing and exciting. There will be many, many readers waiting for the second book, due out Spring 2017!

Red&#…

Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsy, illustrated by Mark Fearing

Kristy Dempsey and Mark Fearing join forces to deliver the Superhero Instruction Manual! Despite the comic book feel and solid set of instructions, the Superhero Instruction Manual remains wonderfully free of conflict and violence, instead delivering a wonderful story of familial love.


As a boy pores over the Superhero Instruction Manual, ready to take the "seven easy steps" that will turn him into a superhero, his sister watches in the wings, hoping to join forces with him. He picks a name, a partner and a disguise. He secures a secret hideout and chooses his superpower with quite a few amusing missteps. Fearing's colorfully funny illustrations alternate action packed comic book panels with full page illustrations that include instructions from the manual - and disclaimers.

Superhero Instruction Manual culminates with a true emergency when Fluffy the sidekick takes off after a squirrel in the park. Happily, Super Sister is not too far away and she saves the day. Dempsey a…