Showing posts from September, 2009

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell 176pp RL 3

The first book in the Ottoline Series, Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, is now available in paperback. Full of superb illustrations and details, this is a great book for an emerging reader. All the books by the team of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddellthat I have ever encountered have knocked my socks off. The combination of creative creatures, wild circumstances and great adventures in their Far-Flung Adventuresis pitch perfect for the younger crowd, where are their series for older readers, The Edge Chronicles, adds suspense, life threatening danger and occasional violence and even death. Sort of Tolkein for the pre-teen... Their newest series, Barnaby Grimesis set in a Victorian London. Barnaby, who has a nose for intrigue, is a tick tock lad who jumps from rooftop to rooftop in the poorer, crowded part of the city in which he lives and works. TheOttoline series represents Ridell's first chapter book on his own, and, as to be expected, it is spectacular.

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat …

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, 278 pp, RL 5

Artemis Fowl by Irish author Eoin Colfer(first name pronounced Owen) is an impressive series of books that is a mash-up of fantasy, science fiction and spy novels with a twelve-year old genius at it's heart. And, amidst all the spectacular weaponry, reconnaissance gizmos, fairies, trolls, dwarves and centaurs, the characters are truly the heart of the books. Colfer takes such care and precision with the intellects, emotions and motivations of his creations, human or magical, that it is difficult not to be drawn into the stories regardless of your genre preferences. There are so many intricate, interconnected details that it is near impossible to describe this book with a handful of sentences. The short(ish) line that I give at work at the bookstore when trying to hook a reader goes like this: Have you heard that story about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Well, Artemis Fowl is a child genius and he decides that he is going to figure out how to trick the leprechauns …

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, 322 pp RL 5

Every Soul a Staris now available in paperback and I would like to call it to your attention - again. My apologies to those of you who read this review when it first posted, and to those of you who haven't read it, I hope you are inspired to seek out this spectacular book!

With her latest novel Every Soul a Star, Wendy Mass confirms that she is the young adult version of the literary novelist AS Byatt. Like Byatt, who often weaves the subjects like the study of ant colonies, works of art and poetry into her stories and books, Mass has a scientific, philosophical knowledge that she is able seamlessly sew into her works that always focus on the small (and sometimes big) things in life that shape us as human beings.
Every Soul a Star begins with three quotes and a definition, the title of the book coming from Plato's "Timaeus." The title is thought provoking and works on many levels, referring both to the self discovery and growth of the main characters as well as the …

The Trouble With Mark Hopper, by Elissa Brent Weissman, 240 pp, RL 4

The Trouble with Mark Hopper, the second yound adult novel from Elissa Brent Weissman secures her spot on the shelf next to the great "school story" writer, Andrew Clements. Her first novel, Standing for Socks, another school story, follows the life of a girl who makes one, seemingly harmless choice that leads her life in many new, not always great, directions. The Trouble with Mark Hopper takes a coincidence and turns it into a remarkable, surprising and ultimately redeeming story.
Mark Geoffrey Hopper has a reputation, and not a good one. A sixth grader who has spent his academic career achieving a perfect record as well as arguing with teachers and administrators alike over grades, he is known by all and liked by few. As Weissman describes him, "Mark Hopper was smart. And he knew it. But he wasn't smart enough to know that nobody wanted to be reminded all the time of how smart he was and how he knew it." Mark has an older sister named Beth who teases…

Standing for Socks by Elissa Brent Weissman, 220 pp, RL 4

Standing for Socks, the debut novel from Elissa Brent Weissman employs one of my favorite plot devices in adult literature, children's literature and even movies, namely, how one, seemingly miniscule, unconscious act can shape and change a person's life forever. In Standing for Socks, fifth grader Fara Ross unwittingly wears one white and one dark grey sock to school and starts a kid-sized revolution.
Fara, the only child of socially and environmentally conscious parents, shares their views and is an active supporter of these causes at school. She has a close-knit, comfortable relationship with her best friends, Jody, the budding journalist, and Phillip, artistic but clumsy. She is a good student who is looking forward to going to middle school and maybe even winning the Harvey Award for Outstanding Student at the end of the year assembly. Everything seems perfect - except for one or two seemingly small things. Fara's unintentional sock mix-up garners the attention of …

Amulet by written and illustrated by Kazo Kibuishi, 192 pp, RL 3

I picked up Kazu Kibuishi's graphic novelAmuletone day on my lunch break and I was sucked in instantly. It's like a cross between The Spiderwick Chronicles and a Miyazaki movie with something special, amazing and hard to forget thrown in for good measure.

Amuletbegins with a sad prologue that leaves Emily and her brother Navin without a father. There are intense emotions and internal thoughts in Kibuishi's work that can be conveyed more immediately and precisely with images than words and his style utilizes this magnificently, both in emotional situations and scenes of action.Fast forward a few years and the family is moving to a small town in the country to a house owned by Emily's great-grandfather Silas Charnon. While cleaning, Emily explores Silas's study and discovers a hidden amulet that Navin helps her tie around her neck. In the middle of night the night the amulet begins talking to her, giving her instructions, telling her of the danger her family is in. W…

Terrible Yellow Eyes: Artists' Appreciations of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are

I discovered the superb, sometimes startling, always imaginative paintings of Bill Carman when writing my review for Kate Saunders' magnificent fairy tale, The Little Secret.  Bill did the cover art for the book and I was thrilled get the chance to view unused artwork for the book when I subscribed to Bill's blog.  Bill's most recent post features a second painting (left) that he contributed to the online gallery show titled Terrible Yellow Eyes, curated by Cory Godbey.  The show is a tribute to Maurice Sendak and his landmark picture book published in 1963, a book that has embedded itself in the consciousness of millions of children in the ensuing years - Where the Wild Things Are. Contributing artists have re-imagined the iconic images of Max and the Wild Things from the book in new and amazing ways, including some 3-D paper creations. I encourage anyone who has been touched by this book to scroll down the website and view the 25+ pieces of artwork that have been created…